The First Battles: April 1861 to February 1862

One Special Young Man

What was so special about the Fourth of July in 1861?

For starters, it was the eighty-fifth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence: the young republic had lasted almost four generations. For a second, both the Union and the Confederacy claimed the founding fathers and the Revolution as a basis for their ideas and ideals. This Fourth of July was also different in that Lincoln had called for a special congressional session to begin, and that he now asked for four million men and four hundred million dollars. Lincoln expressed his views of the war in a special message to Congress:

“This is essentially a People’s contest. On the side of the Union, it is a struggle for maintaining in the world, that form and substance of government, whose leading object is, to elevate the condition of men—to lift artificial weights from all shoulders—to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all.”


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