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Tag: weird but true

Censorship and the C*** W**

Clement Vallandigham, the only man exiled by Abraham Lincoln (111-B-3627)

Clement Vallandigham, was exiled by Abraham Lincoln. (111-B-3627)

Censorship has always been a delicate subject in American history. From John Adam’s Alien and Sedition Acts to the publication of the “Government Information Manual for the Motion Picture” during World War II, national security and the freedom of speech have always had a tenuous existence, especially in wartime. The Civil War was no exception.

During the Civil War, President Lincoln famously suspended habeas corpus to make it easier to deal with people “guilty of any disloyal practice.” There was also a congressional investigation over whether the government was censoring the telegraph in 1861. And then there was the case of Clement Vallandigham.

In the early years of the war, Ohio and much of the Midwest was outspokenly against the war. Fighting for states’ rights and a peaceful solution to a war that seemed to have no end, the Copperheads made their home here. Also known as peace Democrats, Copperheads wanted to reconcile with the South and pretend this whole Civil War thing never happened. Lincoln was famously terrified of “the fire in the rear”—dissension, that is, to his war policies, especially from the Copperheads.

In an effort to tamp out dissenting voices, Gen. Ambrose Burnside issued General Order No. 38 in April 1863. It declared martial law and forbade the “habit of declaring sympathies for the … [ Read all ]

What’s in your wallet?

The Department of Treasury building under construction in 1861

The Department of Treasury building under construction in 1861 (121-BC-9A)

During the Civil War in 1861, a nearly broke Federal Government came up with a clever way to get rich quick: print money. Prior to this the United States Treasury had never issued the paper dollars we have all come to recognize as U.S. currency, relying instead on coins and paper banknotes.

The mastermind of the paper currency was Salmon P. Chase, an aspiring politician and the Secretary of the Treasury. Not one to miss an advertising opportunity to boost his political career, Chase put his own portrait on America’s first greenback dollar bill (he also appears on the $10,000 bill, but that wasn’t his call) and emblazoned the currency with the words “In God We Trust.”

While Chase’s greenbacks helped pull the Government from the brink of financial ruin, a hastily created paper currency used throughout the Union (and much of the Confederacy) made it a target for counterfeiters. By the end of the Civil War, one in every three bills was fake. At some points during the war, a dollar bill was only worth 34 cents due in part to counterfeiting schemes.

Abraham Lincoln understood this problem. On April 14, 1865, President Lincoln created the Secret Service to purge the country of counterfeit bills. Later that night, Lincoln was shot.

Ironically, the Secret … [ Read all ]

Inside the Vaults – Discovering the Civil War

Part Two of Discovering the Civil War opens at the National Archives in Washington, DC, on November 10!

 Rarely seen footage of Civil War veterans, intelligence gathering with balloons, prosthetic limbs, two different Thirteenth Amendments, and the Confederate States of Mexico are just a few of the ways that the National Archives Experience is showing you the Civil War as you’ve never seen it.

Watch the latest “Inside the Vaults” video below, and then visit us at the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery at the National Archives in Washington, DC, on November 10.

If you enjoy this video, don’t forget to ‘Like’ it down below on Facebook and share it with your friends.

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A midterm referendum on Abe Lincoln

Speaker of the House Schuyler Colfax and members of the House of Representatives (111-B-4176)

Speaker of the House Schuyler Colfax and members of the House of Representatives (111-B-4176)

History tends to show that  midterm elections are never particularly good for the sitting President. In 2006, many Republicans were moved from their seats due to dissatisfaction with George Bush’s policies. In 1994, Republicans swept the House as a referendum on the policies of Bill Clinton. Even one of the most revered Presidents, Abraham Lincoln, was not spared the anti-incumbent sentiments during the 1862 midterm elections. Not only did Lincoln’s party lose the House, but Abe Lincoln’s hometown of Springfield even voted for the opposition.

There were reasons to be upset. What was supposed to be a quick war now seemed endless. Lincoln had suspended habeas corpus. There were concerns about Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Earlier that summer, for the first time in U.S. history, Congress  instituted an income tax.

By 1864, the country’s mood had changed yet again, even if the circumstances on the ground had not. That endless war was still ongoing, though the outcome now favored the Union. Habeas corpus remained suspended. The Emancipation Proclamation was still unsettling to many. There was still an income tax, and to top it off, the government had instituted a draft so unpopular that Federal troops coming back from Gettysburg were sent to quell rioting in New York.

Following his party’s loss … [ Read all ]

Ten things you didn’t know about the Civil War

Part two of Discovering the Civil War opens November 10 in Washington, DC

Part two of Discovering the Civil War opens November 10 in Washington, DC

Part two of Discovering the Civil War opens at the National Archives in Washington, DC, in just 10 days! Spies, code breaking, personality conflicts over balloons, prosthetic limbs, two different Thirteenth Amendments, and the Confederate States of Mexico are just a few of the ways that the National Archives Experience is showing you the Civil War as you’ve never seen it.  One hundred and fifty years after the conflict began we’re still uncovering strange facts we didn’t know. We’ve posted ten below, but there’s no need to stop there! Help us by sharing the weirdest fact you’ve ever heard about the Civil War in the comment section.

  1. Abe Lincoln referred to Robert E. Lee as “Bobby Lee” and Jefferson Davis as “Jeffy D.”
  2. Despite serving as a member of the House of Representatives, a Senator on two separate occasions and as the President of the Confederate States, Jefferson Davis never completed a full term in any office.
  3. More people earned the Medal of Honor in the Civil War than in World War I, World War II, and Vietnam combined.
  4. The same cipher code used by the Confederate government, including Jefferson Davis, was found on John Wilkes Booth’s remains, leading many to believe Davis had ordered the assassination.
  5. John Wilkes Booth’s assassination of
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