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Torchlight Parades

By the mid-1800s, spectacular events became the hallmark of American political campaigns. And a highlight of every election was the torchlight parade. Designed to inspire the most apathetic of voters, such parades took place in cities across the country in the days leading up to an important election.


Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

Abraham Lincoln was well known for his opposition to the expansion of slavery, and his election as president in 1860 triggered the secession of 11 southern states from the Union to form the Confederate States of America. Lincoln viewed the Southern action as unconstitutional, and he was well aware that a civil war would be a very likely result of any attempt to reunite the country. When Confederate soldiers fired on Fort Sumner in April of 1861, war did break out, resulting in the four bloodiest years the United States has ever seen. In the second year of the raging war, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all slaves in the Confederate states. Later that year, Lincoln gave his most famous speech, the Gettysburg Address, on the site of the most pitiless battle of the war.

In 1865, with Confederate resources dwindling and ever more soldiers deserting, the Union army was able to force a surrender at Appommatox court house in Virginia on April 9. Just five days later, Lincoln was shot by actor John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theater in Washington, DC. The president died the following morning, throwing the nation into intense mourning. Lincoln had plans for bringing the country back together again, but without his leadership, the country was plunged into confusion that would take many years to resolve.


"Lincoln and Liberty Too," Abraham Lincoln campaign song

"Lincoln And Liberty Too" from the recording entitled Presidential Campaign Songs 1789-1996, Folkways 45051, provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. © 1999. Used by permission.

Words: Jesse Hutchinson, Melody: "Rosin the Beau," arranged by Oscar Brand/TRO-Hollis Total Music Services., BMI

Partial lyrics:
"…We 'll go for the boy from Kentucky
The hero of hoosierdom through
The pride and the 'Suckers' are lucky
For Lincoln and Liberty too…"


"Excerpt from the Emancipation Proclamation"

"Excerpt from the Emancipation Proclamation" from the recording entitled The Glory of Negro History, Folkways FC 7752, provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. © 1955, 1960 Used by permission.

On January 1, 1863 Abraham Lincoln signed a document freeing slaves from the states that were no longer under Union control.

Partial Transcript:
"…On the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free…"


Related Images

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

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