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Junior Division Category: Research PaperWord Count: Introduction The Copperheads had every chance to change the world forever. Had they succeeded, everything would be different in the world as we know it. In 1864, Lincoln was fighting “two wars” for the Union. He didn’t only have to worry about the Confederates, he had to worry about a group from within. President Lincoln feared “fire in the rear” (Weber, ix) Throughout the war, a vocal faction of Democrats, based in the Midwest, had arisen to full strength and were now in seige with words and threats. These men were the Copperheads.
At first, the Union was very confident. Soldiers were marching in towns with pride, and there was no support for the Copperheads. Soon, as the war went on, and Lincoln realized that the war would take time, and it wouldn’t be easy. This dropped Union morale, and soldiers that were once full of pride had a bit of doubt in them. Citizens that were once full of joy and happiness turned nervous and shaken. The Copperheads took advantage of this, and at during these times, was where they would strike. They used newspapers to gain support, and were always so close to getting what they wanted-peace during the war, and a seceded south. They once got so much support, Lincoln worried about the midwest seceding. Since the Copperheads were based in the Midwest, most of their support came from there. It was clear that Lincoln did not have all of the support of the Union. Most of the people opposing his ideas were democrat. Lincoln knew that he had to do something about this, but there was nothing that would take support away from the Copperheads except for one thing. The Union needed to start winning the war. That’s exactly what they did. As the Union started winning the war, support for the Copperheads dropped, and never recovered. During the final parts of the war, Robert E. Lee was fending off attacks from the Union, until Ulysses S. Grant finally defeated Lee at Appomattox in 1865. Most of the Confederate armies surrendered by the spring of 1865.
The whole resistance was defeated when the Union captured the Confederate President Jefferson Davis in Georgia on May 10, 1865(McPherson). This conflict took 625,000 American lives-making it the deadliest war in American history. This war alone took a little less than half of the total amount of American lives taken away in any war(McPherson). Although the Copperheads never succeeded, they really proved how quickly things could have changed.Timeline of the Civil War. On April 12, 1861, the American Civil War formally begins, as the Confederate Army attacks Fort Sumter. Virginia then secedes from the Union, followed by Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. This formed a Confederacy of 11 states. On April 20, 1861 Robert E. Lee resigns his commission in the United States Army. “I cannot raise my hand against my birthplace, my home, my children.” Lee quoted. He then traveled to Richmond, where he was offered command of the Virginia military and naval forces. On July 21, 1861, the first battle of bull run results in a Union defeat, as Lincoln realizes that the war will be long.
Following the defeat, on November 1, 1861, Lincoln appoints George B. McClellan as general-in-chief of all Union forces. On April 6/7, 1862, the Battle of Shiloh results in a Union defeat, and Lincoln is pressured to relieve Grant. He chooses not to. Then, the Second Battle of Bull Run takes place on August 29/30, 1862, where the Union are once again defeated, and Lee invades the North with an army 50,000 strong. On September 17, 1862, the deadliest day in United States military history as the Union stop General E. Lee’s invasion of the North. 26,000 Americans are either dead, missing, or wounded at the end of this. On December 13, 1862, the battle of Fredericksburg happened, which was one of the greatest confederate victories in this war. On January 1, 1863, the day where Lincoln issued the final Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves in Confederate states. On May 1-4, 1863, the battle of Chancellorsville led to a confederate victory. This was very important because Lee had a much smaller force, but still managed to win because of his superior war tactics. General Stonewall Jackson was wounded in this battle, and eventually died on May 10, 1863, which was a huge loss for the confederates. On July 1-3, 1863, the tide of war turns in favor of the Union. The battle of Gettysburg commences, and it leads to a Union victory. After that, on July 4, 1863, Vicksburg, the final confederate stronghold on the mississippi river, fell to the Union, which cut the Confederates in half. An important Confederate victory followed at Chickamauga on September 19/20, 1863. Lincoln then gives a 2 minute Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863. On November 23-25, 1863, the rebel siege of Chattanooga ends when the Union stormed out and defeat the sieging army. On June 3, 1864, 70,000 Union soldiers are lost in 20 minutes as they attack Cold Harbor. This was a huge mistake by Grant. On June 15, 1864, a 9 month siege of Petersburg begins.
Finally, General E. Lee surrenders to Ulysses S. Grant on April 9, 1865. Lincoln is then shot on April 14, 1865 while watching a play. His murderer is John Wilkes Booth. In may of that year, the rest of the Confederate forces surrender, and on December 6, 1865, slavery is abolished in the 13th amendment.The Copperheads The Copperheads were a vocal group during the American Civil War that fought for peace. They also wanted the south to secede, and seperate from the Union. This group was based in the midwest, and mainly tried to gain support by using newspapers like “Harper’s Weekly”(Weber, 33-47). The Copperheads tried to accomplish this by having various rallies, and speeches, especially when the Union was not doing very well in the war. Whenever the Union looking good in the war, support for the Copperheads dropped, and the opposite happened when the Union was losing battles. This put pressure on Lincoln, and even brought up the idea of discussing a peace treaty, that kept slavery legal. At times, an idea of a third country that would consist of the Midwest came up. This was because the Copperheads were gaining rapid support at time in this area.
Although this never happened, the idea was there. The Copperheads believed in slavery, and the right to secede. They believed that “secession was constitutional because the Constitution (they rightly pointed out) says nothing about the terms of membership in the Union” (Weber 33-47). Although the Copperheads were close at times, they never got close enough to achieve their goal of peace, and slavery. Everytime they started gaining support, and putting more pressure on Lincoln, the Union would start winning battles, which made the Copperheads lost its power and support. Eventually, all of this ended when the Union won the Civil War, and the Copperheads weren’t classified as “Copperheads” anymore. They were just called “Democrats” after the war, which ended the whole conflict.
The Copperheads gave a huge fight, but in the end, all of that was in vain, and they didn’t get anything they wanted.Important leaders of the CopperheadsClement Vallandigham was one of the major leaders of the Copperheads. He strongly opposed the Civil War. Clement Vallandigham was born on July 29, 1820, in New Lisbon, Ohio. He was homeschooled by his father, who was a Presbyterian minister. Vallandigham entered Jefferson University in Pennsylvania as a Junior, because of the prior education he had with his father. He only stayed there for one year before he left to become a teacher. He returned to the university in 1840 but never finished. He left early to study law and he was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1842. He went into politics in 1845.
In 1852 and 1854, Vallandigham ran for a seat in the United States House of Representatives against Fusion Party candidate Lewis Campbell. He lost both elections but still ran against him again in 1856. Although it seemed clear that Vallandigham lost the vote by 19 votes, it was seen that he won by 23 votes in a recount. In 1858, he won the reelection against Campbell by 188 votes. Then won again in 1860, by 134 votes. Although it seemed like he was having a lot of success, he was crushed in the 1862 elections by nearly 1,250 votes. In the years before the Civil War, he tried to stop a possible war between the North and South. When the war did break out, he believed that the South should be allowed to secede. In April 1863, General Ambrose Burnside, commander of the Department of the Ohio, issued General Order No. 38. General order No.38 stated “The habit of declaring sympathy for the enemy will not be allowed in this department. Persons committing such offenses will be at once arrested with a view of being tried. or sent beyond our lines into the lines of their friends. It must be understood that treason, expressed or implied, will not be tolerated in this department.” On On May 5, 1863, Vallandigham was arrested for violating General order No.38. This was because he led the Copperheads in trying to start an uprising. He also strongly opposed Lincoln, and made it clear through newspapers.
Lincoln was afraid that Peace Democrats all over the Union would rise up if they threw Vallandigham in jail, so they sent him across the border, into Confederate land. Vallandigham still helped the Copperheads, and stayed active in politics and the Democratic party for the rest of the war, even though he wasn’t in the midwest any longer. He then returned to the United States in 1864, even though he wasn’t allowed to, but he was not arrested. After the war, he emerged as a leader of Ohio’s Democratic Party. He was then the chairman of the Ohio Democratic Convention in 1865. He was preparing to defend an accused murderer. He thought a prop gun was unloaded, so he turned it onto himself, and fired. He was mortally wounded and died shortly after. How the Copperheads could have changed history
If the Copperheads had enough support, they could have forced Lincoln to give up the war, and let the south secede. This would have created 2 different nations, and even a third nation, if the midwest chose to secede. That wasn’t that impactful to the world back then, as England was still the world power, but the world today would have been heavily impacted. First, the United States would not be as powerful in terms of economy or military. If they broke apart, they would not be allies. This could spark future wars. This would have a huge effect on World War two. The United States would not be powerful enough to stand up to Japan in the Pacific. The worst case scenario would be that the US would ally with England, and the Confederacy would ally with Germany. This would start a huge and deadly war in North America.
Also, this would allow Japan to rule the pacific unchallenged. One could argue that the U.S. was not really needed in WW2, which could be true because of the Soviet Union. But even then, the Soviet Union would rule over Europe if the US was not powerful enough to fight Germany. Japan would have eventually lost to the Soviet Union after Germany. But it would still be a deadly war, that would take a lot longer, and it would take more lives. With a separated United States, many more wars would happen between the two. They will never agree on one thing. The only reason they separated was because they had different beliefs. Also, the Soviet Union would be able to rule the world because they would be the first ones to develop nuclear weapons. This is because the United States would have been separated, which would have delayed the process for obvious reasons. Also, many nations would have been stronger than both the US and the Confederacy.This could lead to a nation like England invading either. This could even be the downfall of the US. Separation. There could also be many internal conflicts that could have wiped the United States right off the map.
In conclusion, the Copperheads had every chance to change the world forever. Had they succeeded, everything would be different in the world as we know it. This is because of many reasons. First, they could have successfully separated the United States, which would lead to a weaker United States. This would lead to a country ruling the world. Countries like the Soviet Union/Russia could have easily conquered the world because the United States wouldn’t be there to stop it. Also, the United States could have broken up further if the midwest decides to secede. The Copperheads were based in the Midwest, so they had most of their support there. This would lead to a North America in pieces. Everything would be chaotic, and things would be a lot worse than they are today. Also, another nation could have invaded and ruled this land. Lincoln, and the whole United States today should be grateful that the Copperheads could not succeed. One mistake by Lincoln, and there could have been an uprising of peace democrats, that really caused the United States to collapse.
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