Portal:American Civil War

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The American Civil War (1861–1865) was a bitter sectional rebellion against the United States of America by the Confederate States of America, formed of eleven southern states' governments which moved to secede from the Union after the 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States. The Union's victory was eventually achieved by leveraging advantages in population, manufacturing and logistics and through a strategic naval blockade denying the South access to the world's markets.

In many ways, the conflict's central issues – the enslavement of African-Americans, the role of constitutional federal government, and the rights of states  – are still not completely resolved. Not surprisingly, the Confederate Army's surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865 did little to change many Americans' attitudes toward the potential powers of central government. The passage of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments to the Constitution in the years immediately following the war did not change the racial prejudice prevalent among Americans of the day; and the process of Reconstruction did not heal the deeply personal wounds inflicted by four brutal years of war and more than 970,000 casualties – 3 percent of the population, including approximately 560,000 deaths. As a result, controversies affected by the war's unresolved social, political, economic and racial tensions continue to shape contemporary American thought. The causes of the war, the reasons for the outcome, and even the name of the war itself are subjects of much discussion even today.


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Eli Lilly (July 8, 1838 – June 6, 1898) was a soldier, pharmaceutical chemist, industrialist, and founder of the eponymous Eli Lilly and Company pharmaceutical corporation. Lilly enlisted in the Union Army during the American Civil War, he recruited a company of men to serve with him, and was later promoted to colonel and given command of a force of cavalry. He was captured near the end of the war and was held in a war prison until its conclusion. After the war, he attempted to run a plantation in Mississippi but failed and returned to his pharmacy profession after the death of his wife. After remarrying and working in several pharmacies with partners, he opened his own business in 1876 with plans to manufacture drugs and market them wholesale to pharmacies.

His company was successful and he soon became wealthy after making numerous advances in medicinal drug manufacturing. Two of the early advances he pioneered were creating gelatin capsules to hold medicine and fruit flavoring for liquid medicines. Eli Lilly & Co. was the first pharmaceutical company of its kind; it staffed a dedicated research department and put in place numerous quality assurance measures. Using his wealth, Lilly engaged in numerous philanthropic pursuits. He turned over his company's management to his son in 1890 so he could continue his engagement in charity and civic advancement as his primary focus. He helped found the organization that became the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, was the primary patron of Indiana's branch of the Charity Organization Society, and personally funded the creation of the city's children's hospital. He continued his active involvement with many organizations until his death from cancer.

Lilly was an advocate of federal regulation of the pharmaceutical industry and many of his suggested reforms were enacted into law in 1906, resulting in the creation of the Food and Drug Administration. He was also among the pioneers of the concept of prescriptions, and helped form what became the common practice of only giving addictive or dangerous medicines to people who had first seen a physician. The company he founded has since grown into one of the largest and most influential pharmaceutical corporations in the world, and the largest corporation in Indiana. Using the wealth generated by the company, his son and grandsons created the Lilly Endowment to continue Lilly's legacy of philanthropy. The endowment remains one of the largest charitable benefactors in the world.

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Mississippi was the second state to secede from the Union on January 9, 1861. It joined six other Cotton States to form the Confederate States of America in February. Mississippi's location along the lengthy Mississippi River made it strategically important to both the North and South; dozens of battles were fought in the state as armies repeatedly clashed near key towns and cities.

Mississippi troops fought in every major theater of the war, although most were concentrated in the west. The only President of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis, was a native Mississippian. Prominent Mississippi generals included William Barksdale, Carnot Posey, Wirt Adams, Earl Van Dorn, and Benjamin G. Humphreys.

For years prior to the Civil War, Mississippi had heavily voted Democratic, especially as the Whigs declined in their influence. During the 1860 presidential election, the state supported Southern Democrat candidate John C. Breckinridge, giving him 40,768 votes (59.0% of the total of 69,095 ballots cast). John Bell, the candidate of the Constitutional Union Party, came in a distant second with 25,045 votes (36.25% of the total), with Stephen A. Douglas of the Northern Democrats receiving 3,282 votes (4.75%). Not a single Mississippian voted for Abraham Lincoln, who won the national election.

Long a hotbed of secession and states' rights, Mississippi left the Union on January 9, 1861, briefly forming the Republic of Mississippi before joining the Confederacy not a month later. Although there were small pockets of citizens who remained sympathetic to the Union, the vast majority of Mississippians embraced the Confederate cause, and thousands flocked to the military. Around 80,000 white men from Mississippi fought in the Confederate Army; some 500 white Mississippians fought for the Union. As the war progressed, a considerable number of freed or escaped slaves joined the United States Colored Troops and similar black regiments. More than 17,000 black Mississippi slaves and freedmen fought for the Union.

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Sir William Christopher Macdonald (February 10, 1831 – June 9, 1917) was a Scots-Quebecer tobacco manufacturer and major education philanthropist in Canada. At eighteen he left his Island home, making his way to the United States, where he found clerical work in Boston, Massachusetts. Although he had limited education, Macdonald quickly showed an entrepreneurial spirit and, joined by his brother Augustine, he organized himself as a broker to handle the shipping of American-made goods to merchants in his native Prince Edward Island. However, after a ship carrying some of his merchandise sank in an ocean storm, the venture had severe problems and Macdonald closed the business and left Boston.

The Macdonald brothers moved to Canada where they settled in Montreal, Quebec, a city that was then undergoing an economic boom. There, they made a living as brokers, earning commissions from the resale of a variety of products until 1858 when they opened McDonald Brothers and Co., a company that made tobacco products. The business procured tobacco leaf from suppliers in the southern United States that was converted to pipe and chewing tobacco at their small Montreal facility. While the use of tobacco products was growing in popularity, the American Civil War afforded the fledgling company an opportunity that brought enormous financial success, leading to Macdonald Brothers becoming the preeminent company in the field in Canada. Virtually all of the tobacco growers were located in states that were part of the Confederacy and with the onset of the war, the northern states faced a huge shortage of tobacco leaf. Because Macdonald's company was in Canada, he was able to buy the leaf from the South and have it brought by ocean cargo vessels to Montreal. There, it was processed then the finished product was shipped to the tobacco-starved market in the northern United States.

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Credit: George L. Andrews

George Armstrong Custer, a Union major general (brevet) and cavalry commander in the American Civil War and the Indian Wars

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