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Battle of Gettysburg
Many people consider the Civil War to be the darkest event in American history. The tension between the North and the South was the most important issue of the 19th century. People are still arguing today about how we should remember the war and who should be honored for their role in it.

As you learn about New Hampshire in this period, think about the following questions:
  1. How did sectionalism threaten the United States?
  2. How did the presidential election of 1860 divide the country?
  3. What did New Hampshire soldiers experience during the Civil War?
  4. How should we remember the Civil War in New Hampshire today?
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The Politics of Slavery

How did sectionalism affect New Hampshire and the nation?

When America became its own country after the American Revolution, it had 13 states that went all the way from New Hampshire in the north to Georgia in the south. All the states were different. They were founded under different circumstances. They had different natural resources. Different groups of people moved to each one. And each one had different traditions.

But they all wanted to be independent from Great Britain, and after they won their independence, they all joined together to form one country—the United States of America. There were still differences between the states, though. Some of those differences became very important as the country developed and expanded.
The United States in 1783 and 1860
Plantation Slavery

Mason Explains: Slavery in the United States

Mason Explains: Slavery in the United States
The biggest difference between the states in the 1800s was whether or not they had slavery. Enslaved people lived throughout America at one time, but after the American Revolution, the states in the northern part of the country decided to gradually get rid of slavery while the states in the southern part of the country decided to expand slavery.
By 1820, slavery divided the country into two sections or parts: a northern section that did not have slavery and a southern section that did have slavery. In the years ahead the differences between these two sections, the slave states and the free states, would affect almost everything in America. This tension between the sections of the country became known as sectionalism.
In the 1820s and 1830s, sectionalism did not affect New Hampshire very much. Almost all of the political leaders in the state were members of the Democratic Party, led by a young lawyer named Franklin Pierce
Franklin Pierce
. His family was very important in New Hampshire politics. In fact, his father had even once been the governor. Franklin Pierce represented New Hampshire in the U.S. Congress, first in the U.S. House of Representatives and then in the U.S. Senate.

Under Franklin Pierce’s leadership, the Democrats in New Hampshire controlled the state government. All of New Hampshire’s representatives in the federal government were Democrats too. Although not all Democrats believed the same things, Pierce expected them to be loyal to the party and to support it no matter what. No other political party had as much influence in New Hampshire.
Franklin Pierce
During the 1830s, many people in the North started to become more upset about slavery. There were very few enslaved people living in the North by then, but the South had more enslaved people than ever before. In fact, as new southern states joined the United States in the early 19th century, slavery started to spread across the continent.

Although some people in the North thought the federal government should try to prevent slavery from expanding, other northerners thought the federal government had no right to interfere with slavery at all. They believed decisions about slavery should be left to each state.

The Democratic Party in New Hampshire agreed with this view. Franklin Pierce did not personally like slavery, but he thought the federal government had no right to stop states from enslaving Black people. Since Pierce was the leader of the Democratic Party in New Hampshire, his ideas about slavery and the federal government became the views of the Democratic Party in the state. But not all Democrats in New Hampshire agreed about slavery, and some of them began to speak out about their own opinions.
Anti-Slavery Convention
John Parker Hale
John Parker Hale
John Parker Hale
was one of the Democrats who disagreed with Franklin Pierce about slavery and the role of the federal government. Hale believed that slavery should not exist anywhere in the United States and that the federal government should not support it.

The people of New Hampshire elected Hale to the U.S. Congress in 1844, and Hale often spoke in Congress against the expansion of slavery into the country’s new territories.
Franklin Pierce was very angry with John Parker Hale. In fact, Pierce kicked Hale out of the Democratic Party in New Hampshire. Hale decided to run for Congress again anyway, and he told voters that if they elected him as their representative, he would keep speaking out against slavery. This argument between Hale and Pierce started to split the Democratic Party in the state, with some Democrats supporting Hale and others supporting Pierce.

In June 1845, Franklin Pierce and John Parker Hale held a debate about slavery and the federal government’s right to control slavery in the states. On a hot June day, over 1,000 people came to hear the debate at a church in Concord, including most of the men who served in the state legislature. Newspapers all over the country published stories about the debate. These kinds of debates about slavery would become more common in the years ahead, but this one in New Hampshire was the first political debate to really cover the issues related to slavery and the federal government.

John Parker Hale eventually won a seat in the U.S. Senate. He fulfilled his promise to New Hampshire voters and spoke out against slavery. In fact, he called for slavery to end right away all over the United States, a position that was known as abolitionism. Hale was the first abolitionist senator in the country, meaning he was the first person in the U.S. Senate to say that the federal government should end slavery even in the southern states.
By 1850, there was another big sectional crisis to sort out: whether slavery would be allowed in new states and territories in the American West. The United States had recently captured all this land from Mexico after the Mexican-American War ended in 1848. The area that the United States seized after winning this war eventually became the states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado.

The problem of getting all this new territory was deciding whether to allow slavery or not. The federal government reached a compromise with the help of Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster
, who was one of the most important political leaders at that time. He was originally from New Hampshire.

Working with two other political leaders in Washington, D.C., Daniel Webster created a complicated agreement that allowed these new states to eventually join the Union. Part of the compromise was that northerners had to be more helpful in capturing enslaved people who had run away from slavery in the South. No one was happy with the Compromise of 1850, but it kept a war from breaking out between the North and the South—at least for a time.
Daniel Webster Addressing the United States Senate

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After the American Revolution, some states banned slavery and other states expanded slavery. There was a lot of tension between free states and slave states. This tension was known as sectionalism because the United States was divided into two sections.

Pierce vs. Hale

In New Hampshire, the Democratic Party split in the 1840s over the issue of slavery. Franklin Pierce thought the federal government should not interfere with slavery in the South, but John Parker Hale thought the federal government should end slavery right away in all the states.


John Parker Hale became the first U.S. senator to support abolitionism, which was the idea that slavery should be banned right away throughout the United States.

Uneasy Compromise

Political leaders worked out a compromise between northern states and southern states in 1850 that would allow more states to join the Union as free states while also protecting slavery in the South.
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Franklin Pierce's Presidency

How did sectionalism become worse during Franklin Pierce’s presidency?

In 1852, Franklin Pierce
Franklin Pierce
was elected president of the United States. Some people hoped he would be able to overcome sectionalism because he was from the North but he often supported the South. Unfortunately, his time as president just made sectionalism worse, which brought the United States closer to a civil war.

Pierce was president for one term, from 1853 to 1857. There were many arguments between political leaders from the North and the South during his presidency, and almost all of them were about slavery.
Pierce Campaign Poster

Mason Asks: Who Was Franklin Pierce?

Mason Asks: Who Was Franklin Pierce?
The United States and Cuba
People in the South wanted to expand slavery and even conquer new territory in the Caribbean so that slavery could spread. People in the North strongly disagreed with this idea. When Pierce suggested that the United States should invade the country of Cuba so that slavery could expand there, people in the North got very angry. People were so upset that Pierce had to drop the idea.
Southerners also wanted northerners to help them capture enslaved people who were trying to escape. In fact, a new law called the Fugitive Slave Act stated that people in the North were required to help send enslaved people back to the South.

Many northerners hated this law and refused to follow it. They believed that the law was morally wrong because it tried to make people do something they believed was wrong. In fact, some people in the North even began helping enslaved people escape and protected them from being recaptured by southern slaveholders.
Caution Poster
Kansas-Nebraska Act

Kansas-Nebraska Act

The biggest argument of Pierce’s presidency was over the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. Both of them wanted to become states, but it was unclear whether they would become slave states (which would allow slavery) or free states (which would not allow slavery). The federal government decided to let the people who lived in Kansas and Nebraska decide for themselves. Everyone in those territories would vote for what they wanted.

It sounded like a good idea, but it did not work out the way the government planned. An election was held in Nebraska, and the people who lived there voted that their state should be free. Slavery would not be allowed. But the vote in Kansas was much more complicated.
Before the vote could be held in Kansas, thousands of southerners moved into the territory because they wanted to influence the vote. When northerners saw all these southerners going to Kansas, they started moving there too. If enough northerners moved there, they could outvote all the southerners who had moved there. Fighting broke out between the two sides, and several people were killed.

Both southerners and northerners tried to steal the election by casting false ballots. Then both sides claimed they had won the election, and each side set up a new state government. There were two different state capitals, two different state constitutions, and two different state legislatures.

With two state governments, no one really knew who was in charge, and the basic functions of government started to break down, especially the rule of law. Then more violence broke out between the two sides. In fact, there was so much violence that the territory became known as Bleeding Kansas.
Bleeding Kansas
Free States and Slave States
At first, Franklin Pierce could not decide which side to support. Eventually he sided with the southerners and declared that Kansas should be a slave state. His decision made people in the North very angry, especially as it seemed like most of the people who lived in Kansas and planned to make their lives there did not want slavery. Kansas was eventually admitted to the Union as a free state, but not until 1861, by which time the Civil War between the North and the South had begun.
When Pierce’s term as president was over, he wanted to run for office again, but the Democratic Party did not want him to be their candidate. Pierce returned home to New Hampshire, but Granite Staters were so angry with him that they did not even celebrate his return to the state. Pierce settled in Concord, but he was not very involved in politics anymore.
Franklin Pierce, 1861

The Founding of the Republican Party

Why did a new political party form in New Hampshire?

While Franklin Pierce was in Washington, D.C., serving as president, a new political party formed in New Hampshire. The men who created this new party were all opposed to Franklin Pierce and the Democrats.

The group came together in a meeting held in October 1853 in Exeter. They decided to call themselves the Republican Party. This political party was founded on the idea that slavery should not spread into any states where it did not already exist. In fact, they hoped that slavery would disappear over time, like it had in the northern states after the American Revolution.
Republican Convention
Republican Banner
Political leaders in other states formed their own chapters of the Republican Party soon after it was established in New Hampshire. Within just a few years, the Republican Party was in every northern state.

The formation of the Republican Party marked a realignment in American politics. A political realignment is when old political parties break apart and new political parties form. That is what happened in New Hampshire in the 1840s and early 1850s, and then it happened in other northern states as well.

By the mid-1850s, the United States had two main political parties: the Republicans, who were only in the North, and the Democrats, who were all over the country but were strongest in the South. But there were smaller political parties too. Everyone was trying to figure out a way to hold the United States together when it seemed to be splitting apart over slavery.

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Pierce Becomes President

Franklin Pierce was elected president of the United States in 1852. He was from the North but sympathetic to the South. Unfortunately, sectionalism got worse during his presidency, not better.

Kansas-Nebraska Act

During Pierce's presidency, there was a sectional crisis over the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. Both wanted to become states, but would they be free states or slave states?

Bleeding Kansas

Violence broke out in Kansas after partisans created two competing state governments, one that supported slavery and one that didn't. Several people were killed, and the new state became known as Bleeding Kansas.

A New Political Party

In NH, political leaders who were against slavery formed a new political party called the Republican Party. Other political leaders in northern states joined the Republican Party as well.
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The Divided Union

How did the election of 1860 split the nation?

After Franklin Pierce’s presidency, sectional tension between the North and the South became even worse. Many people were worried that the election of 1860 would divide the country even further.

Normally, there are only two main candidates in a presidential election, but in 1860, there were four men running for president! Having so many candidates running for the presidency was a sign of how divided the nation had become. One of the men who wanted to be president was named Abraham Lincoln, and he was the candidate for the Republican Party.
Dividing the National Map
Lincoln at Cooper Union
Abraham Lincoln was from Illinois. He did not have much experience serving in the government, but he was very good at getting people to work together for a common goal. He also gave very good speeches that expressed just how people felt about sectionalism. His speeches also inspired people to fight for the American ideals of justice and equality.

In early 1860, Abraham Lincoln came to New Hampshire to visit his son, who was a student at Phillips Exeter Academy. While he was in New Hampshire, Lincoln gave four speeches. Lots of people in the Granite State were very impressed with him. In his speeches, he said that he hoped people in the North and the South could learn to get along and stop arguing over slavery because we are all Americans. He promised to leave slavery alone in the states where it already existed, but he said he did not want slavery to expand into any new states. Eventually he hoped slavery would go away on its own.
Southerners did not believe Abraham Lincoln. They were sure he wanted to get rid of slavery everywhere. When the election was held in November 1860, Abraham Lincoln’s name was not even on the ballot in the southern states! Many northerners voted for him, though, and he won the election even without the support of the South.
Election of 1860 Results
The Union is Dissolved
For southerners, Abraham Lincoln’s election was the last straw. If the North could elect someone to the presidency without any votes from the South, then southerners didn't have enough political power. They feared northerners would soon end slavery throughout the country.

One by one, the southern states decided to secede from the Union, which means they were no longer part of the United States. The first state to secede was South Carolina in December 1860. Over the next few months, 10 more southern states left the Union. These states formed a new country and called it the Confederate States of America, or the Confederacy. The first president of the Confederacy was Jefferson Davis, who was from Mississippi. He was one of Franklin Pierce’s closest friends.
People in the North did not believe that the southern states could just leave the Union, though. There were too many ties that bound the North and the South together, such as all the property that the federal government owned in the South, like forts and military bases. What would happen to that property now? Would it remain part of the United States, or would it become part of the Confederacy?

Also, all the states had agreed to join together when they adopted the Constitution in the 1780s. People in the North said states could not just get mad and leave the Union once they had agreed to support the Constitution. The Constitution’s framers wanted the states to work together and find compromises for their arguments. If the states were on their own, then other countries from places like Europe might try to conquer them and make them colonies again. If that happened, Americans would no longer have their own country or be able to govern themselves.

No one knew the answers to these questions, but one thing became clear: the northern states were not willing to let the southern states leave the Union without a fight.
U.S. Constitution
Bombardment of Fort Sumter
Soon after the southern states seceded, fighting broke out between the North, which was now called the Union, and the South, which was now called the Confederacy. The fight was over a fort in Charleston, South Carolina called Fort Sumter. The federal government owned the fort, but the Confederacy captured the fort in April 1861.

Before long, many more fights, or battles, broke out between the Union and the Confederacy. America was in acivil war, with Americans fighting other Americans.

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Election of 1860

Sectional tension came to a head in 1860 when four different candidates ran for president of the United States.

Lincoln in New Hampshire

Abraham Lincoln gave four speeches in New Hampshire and impressed many Granite Staters. He won the presidency even though his name didn't appear on the ballot in southern states.

Secession Crisis

After Lincoln was elected president, southern states began to leave the Union. They formed their own country, called the Confederacy.

Fort Sumter

Fighting broke out between the North (called the Union) and the South (called the Confederacy) over a fort in Charleston, South Carolina. It was the start of a civil war between Americans.
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New Hampshire Fights

What role did New Hampshire play in the war?

Like people in the other states, Granite Staters played a big role in the Civil War. It was a war that involved the entire country, and it changed nearly everyone’s lives.

Thousands of New Hampshire soldiers fought in the war. Women from the state also served on or near the battlefield, caring for soldiers who were hurt or sick. New Hampshire’s factories produced all sorts of goods to support the Union war effort. The Portsmouth Naval Yard made ships for the Union. Farmers grew food to send to the soldiers, and towns took care of the families at home when their fathers or sons went off to fight.

But not everyone in New Hampshire agreed that the Union should fight the Confederacy. Some people thought that the North should just let the South go, and America should become two separate countries.
Volunteers Wanted
First N.H. Regiment

New Hampshire's Soldiers

During the four years of the war, about 10% of the state’s population served in the military. Although some men were in the navy, most New Hampshire men were in the army. There were 18 New Hampshire regiments in the army. New Hampshire soldiers also served in special units, like the sharpshooters, or made other military contributions.
Each town provided supplies to support its soldiers. Most towns contributed things like blankets, clothing, guns, and backpacks. People back home joined together to form the New Hampshire Soldiers’ Aid Society, which gathered things soldiers needed and sent them to where the soldiers were fighting.

Soldiers spent a lot of their time in camp or marching from one location to another. They had to carry most of their equipment, and they slept mostly outdoors in tents. For a lot of the time, they did not have anything to do, but when the Union Army and the Confederate Army met on a battlefield, the men had to fight.
New Hampshire Union Soldiers on Morning Duty
There were no battles in New Hampshire during the Civil War. All of the fighting was further south in places like Virginia, Georgia, and Tennessee.

But New Hampshire soldiers fought in almost every battle in the conflict.

The Fighting Fifth

The most famous regiment of Granite State soldiers was the Fifth N.H. Volunteer Infantry Regiment, which became known as the “Fighting Fifth” because it fought in so many battles. This unit fought in some of the worst battles of the war. More men were wounded or died while serving in the Fifth New Hampshire than in any other Union regiment.

The commander of the Fifth New Hampshire was a man named Edward Cross
Edward Cross
, who was from Lancaster. Before the war, he was a journalist who ran a newspaper in Arizona. But when the war broke out, he returned to New Hampshire to fight for the Union. Cross was very strict with his men, and he made them drill and practice a lot. But all of that training paid off because the Fifth became a very good fighting force. The regiment fought in nearly every major battle in Virginia from 1862 to 1865.
Fifth N.H. Regiment at Camp
Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
The Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863 was the most important battle for the Fifth New Hampshire. In fact, it was the turning point of the war. After the Union Army won the battle, it looked more likely that the North would win the war.

The Fifth New Hampshire played a very important role in this battle. At one point, it looked like the Confederates would overrun the Union soldiers. The Fifth New Hampshire rushed to the Union Army’s weak spot on the battlefield and helped stop the Confederate attack. Many soldiers from the Fifth New Hampshire were wounded or died in this battle, including its commander Edward Cross, but the regiment helped the Union forces win at Gettysburg.

New Hampshire Nurses

Granite State women also played a role on or near the battlefield, even though women did not serve as soldiers at this time. Many women from New Hampshire traveled to Washington, D.C., where the Union had set up large hospitals. These women worked as nurses and took care of New Hampshire soldiers who were sick or injured.
The Letter for Home
Harriet Dame
One New Hampshire woman got even closer to the battlefield. Her name was Harriet Dame
Harriet Dame
, and she helped take care of the soldiers in New Hampshire’s Second Regiment. Harriet Dame was from Concord. When the war broke out, she joined the Second New Hampshire as a volunteer nurse.

Harriet Dame traveled with the regiment in Virginia and stayed with them through many battles. After the fighting was over in a battle, she would go onto the battlefield and take care of the soldiers who had been wounded. She also arranged for them to be moved to hospitals, wrote letters home to their families for them, found supplies for the regiment, and fixed their clothing when it became torn or worn out.

Harriet Dame was so close to the battlefield that she was captured as a spy twice! Each time, the Confederates released her. They worried that she was gathering information to share with the Union Army, but in the end, the Confederates realized that she was there to take care of the men, not act as a spy. She was very important to the soldiers of the Second New Hampshire, and they gave her a nickname: the Angel of the Battlefield.

Granite State Industry

When the war broke out in 1861, New Hampshire was full of mills, factories, and workshops that produced all sorts of goods. With the country at war, all that industry was used to make supplies for the Union war effort.

The textile mills in New Hampshire produced uniforms and clothing for Union soldiers. Some mills made blankets for the soldiers’ horses. So many blankets were made in the Granite State that people began calling them “New Hampshire blankets.” They had a reputation for being warm and durable. Other factories made boots and guns for the soldiers.

Many of these products for the Union war effort were made in Manchester, including steam engines for trains so that all these goods could reach the soldiers at the front.

The Abbot-Downing Company in Concord was already famous throughout the world for making stagecoaches. During the Civil War, it made wagons and ambulances for the Union Army.
Manchester Locomotive Works Steam Engine
U.S.S. Kearsarge
The Portsmouth Naval Yard made many ships for the Union Navy during the Civil War. These ships were used to blockade the South, which means the Union ships prevented Confederate ships from bringing goods, food, or other supplies to southern ports. Not having enough supplies became a big problem for the Confederacy as the war went on. Confederate soldiers didn't have enough to eat. They also didn't have enough weapons or ammunition.
Did everyone in New Hampshire agree with the war?

Most people in New Hampshire supported the Union war effort, but there were a minority that did not. They were called dissenters. Many dissenters did not like slavery, but they thought the North should just let the South go and form its own country, separate from the United States. Dissenters did not want to fight a war over it, and they did not want New Hampshire soldiers to be injured or die.

One of the dissenters was Franklin Pierce
Franklin Pierce
. After Abraham Lincoln’s election as president of the United States, Franklin Pierce tried to work with his friends in the South to find a compromise so the southern states would not secede, but his southern friends were not interested.

For much of the war, Franklin Pierce did not speak about his objections to the fighting. But by July 1863, he thought the Union was losing the war. On the Fourth of July, he gave a speech in Concord saying he thought the North should stop fighting and let the South go in peace, even though he was sad that the country would be split into two separate countries. His speech made many people mad. It was also bad timing because he gave the speech at the same time the Battle of Gettysburg was going on. When the Union Army won at Gettysburg, most people in New Hampshire thought it would be foolish to stop the war because the North had a good chance of winning. Franklin Pierce did not make any more speeches about the war after that.

A few people in New Hampshire were even more opposed to the war than Franklin Pierce. In fact, they thought the South was right to protect slavery, leave the Union, and start their own country. These people also criticized the Union war effort, which made them unpopular with the rest of the people in New Hampshire.
The Copperhead Party
Attack on a Newspaper Editor

Democratic Standard Riot

In the early days of the war, a Concord newspaper called the Democratic Standard published several articles that praised the Confederacy and criticized the Union. It even made fun of Union soldiers when they lost the first major battle of the war, the Battle of Bull Run. On a hot August day in 1861, the people of Concord stormed the offices of the Democratic Standard, beat up the printer of the newspaper, and smashed the printing press.

Afterwards, a few people complained about the attack on the Democratic Standard, even though they disagreed with what the newspaper published. They argued that if free speech and freedom of the press were important American values, then newspapers should be able to print their opinions without people attacking them. Many other people felt differently and said that during a time of war, Americans should be loyal to their country even if they disagreed with the war.

The attack on the Democratic Standard was the first attack on an American newspaper during the Civil War, but several more newspapers in other states were attacked after that. Many people struggled with balancing freedom of the press with loyalty to their country.

War's End

The Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863 was the turning point of the war, but there was still nearly two more years of fighting before the war ended. In April 1865, the Confederate Army in Virginia surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse, which brought an end to the fighting. The North won the war, and the country was reunited. There were celebrations throughout the North, including in New Hampshire.
General Lee Surrenders
Lincoln Assassination
But a few days later, President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by a southern sympathizer while he was attending a play at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. Lincoln’s death was a great tragedy, and the people in the North mourned him deeply. He still had important work to do in bringing the United States back together. When he died, that work was left to other political leaders who tried to help the country heal, but they were not as good at getting people to work together as Lincoln was.
Throughout the course of the war, about 34,000 men from New Hampshire served in the war. Roughly 5,000 of them died. The men who survived were often injured or sick. When they returned to New Hampshire, their families cared for them.

The state of New Hampshire also established a veterans hospital in Tilton to provide care for those with more serious injuries or illnesses. For many of the soldiers, it was years before they recovered from the war.
Grand Review of the Armies

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New Hampshire Fights

About 10% of the state's population served in the war as soldiers. Women also served as nurses. New Hampshire factories made all sorts of products to support the war effort, including clothes, guns, blankets, ambulances, train engines, and ships.

Fighting Fifth

The most famous military unit from New Hampshire was the Fifth N.H. Volunteer Infantry. The regiment fought in many of the war's biggest and most important battles. More men from the Fifth were killed or wounded than any other Union regiment.


Not everyone in New Hampshire agreed with the war. Some people thought the Union should just let the South go. They wanted the fighting to stop. Franklin Pierce was the most well-known dissenter in New Hampshire.

Lincoln's Assassination

Just days after the Union won the war, Abraham Lincoln was killed while a southern sympathizer. Other political leaders tried to heal the country, but no one was as good as Lincoln in bringing people together.
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Remembering the Civil War

How should we remember the war today?

Thousands of veterans returned to New Hampshire after the war ended. They were happy that the fighting was over and they could return to their families. But some of them found that they missed their fellow soldiers and wanted to talk to them about their experiences during the war. They formed veterans' groups and held reunions where they could all get together.
A Camp Fire at the Weirs
New Hampshire Veterans' Association Campgrounds, Weirs Beach
In 1875, a statewide organization was formed called the New Hampshire Veterans’ Association, which held a three-day reunion for former soldiers in Manchester later that year.

The reunion was a chance for veterans to get together with people they had known during the war, honor the men who had died in the fighting, and remember their experiences. The reunion was such a success that the veterans’ association held another one three years later, in 1878. This time, the reunion was at Weirs Beach on Lake Winnipesaukee. Veterans and their families came to Weirs Beach and set up campgrounds. The veterans saw their old friends, and their families had a vacation on the lake.

In the years ahead, Weirs Beach became the permanent location for the veterans reunions. More and more people came every year. Each New Hampshire regiment of veterans built a house. The New Hampshire Veterans’ Association built a dining hall, a dance hall, a theater, and a grandstand. It became the largest veterans campground in the country.

Civil War Statues and Monuments

As each regiment of soldiers came home from the Civil War, they turned their regiment’s flags over to the state government. For many people, military flags are symbols of the sacrifices soldiers made to their country, which makes them important reminders of our history.

The state government placed the flags on display in the main rotunda of the New Hampshire State House. This part of the state house became known as the Hall of Flags. It remains today as a tribute to New Hampshire’s Civil War soldiers.
After the war, people in towns and cities wanted to honor the men who fought in it, especially the soldiers who died. Every community in the state lost men to the war. Most of them put up plaques, statues, or monuments dedicated to those who fought or died in the Civil War.
Soldier at Rest
State House Aerial View
The state government also decided to start putting up statues on the lawn around the state house. Today, there are four statues in front of the New Hampshire State House, and three of them are related to the Civil War.
The first statue to go up was of Daniel Webster
Daniel Webster
, the political leader who played such an important role in the years before the Civil War. He tried to find compromises so that sectionalism did not lead to fighting between the North and the South.

Webster’s statue was placed right in front of the state house so that everyone would see it. When the statue was finished in 1886, the state government held a big celebration to dedicate it. Nearly 30,000 people came for the dedication ceremony!
Daniel Webster Statue
John Hale Statue
The second statue to go up was of John Parker Hale
John Parker Hale
, who was the country’s first abolitionist senator. Hale’s statue was finished in 1892, and it was placed near Webster’s statue on the state house lawn.
The third Civil War statue to go up was of Franklin Pierce
Franklin Pierce
, but there was a lot of controversy about his statue. Franklin Pierce died in 1869, but for decades after that, many people in New Hampshire were still angry with him because he had often supported southerners when he was president. Other people thought Granite Staters should honor him because he was the only U.S. president to come from New Hampshire.

Pierce’s supporters and critics argued back and forth for many, many years about whether there should be a statue of him at the state house. Finally, in 1914, Pierce’s supporters won the argument and put up a statue of him. Pierce’s statue is far away from the other statues at the state house, though. It stands on the edge of the state house grounds and faces away from the state house, almost as if he is being kept separate from New Hampshire’s other honored men.

Now, there are many things named after Franklin Pierce, including a college, a bridge, a mountain, a highway, and a lake, among other things, but the people of New Hampshire are still conflicted about how they should feel about him.
Franklin Pierce Statue
Removal of Stonewall Jackson Statue
The controversy over Franklin Pierce’s statue shows how much the Civil War impacted the people of New Hampshire. Most people agree that Franklin Pierce did his best when he was president, even if he was not able to stop the Civil War from coming. But some people cannot forget that Pierce was willing to support slavery.

Today, people in other states are still arguing over their Civil War statues, especially in the South where they have statues of Confederate leaders.

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Veterans' Reunions

New Hampshire soldiers began holding reunions to meet with the people they had served with during the war and talk about their experiences. The veterans' campground at Weirs Beach became the largest veterans camp in the country.

Honoring the Soldiers

Towns around the state put up monuments to the people who had fought during the Civil War, especially to those who had died. The N.H. State House also preserves the flags of the state's Civil War regiments in the Hall of Flags as a tribute to the soldiers.

State House Statues

Three of the four statues on the State House lawn are of men who played important roles in years leading up to the Civil War. Some of the statues were very controversial, though.

Remembering the Civil War

There is still controversy about how Americans should remember the Civil War. In New Hampshire, people are conflicted about the role Franklin Pierce played in the conflict.

Unit 10 Student Reading

A printable version of the student reading for this unit, without pictures or graphics.