Andrew Curtin and the Politics of Union

Furniss, Jack, History - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Varon, Elizabeth, Department of History, University of Virginia

This paper looks at Pennsylvania politics during the Civil War, focusing on Governor Andrew Curtin. Although commonly referred to as a Republican, Curtin never campaigned at the head of a statewide Republican ticket in Pennsylvania. Instead he ran in 1860 for the People's Party and in 1863 for the Union Party. Examining Curtin’s elections and record allows two core arguments about Unionism to be made: one about Union parties as a substantive political movement; and the other about Unionism as a meaningful political ideology undergirding those parties, and embodied in Curtin’s policies and principles. Historians have generally overlooked Union parties, and emphasized the survival of the two-party system in the wartime North. This close study of Pennsylvania politics demonstrates the need to recognize the fluidity of party labels and ideology, and to understand the significance of the Union Parties that emerged between the traditional Democratic and Republican organizations.

MA (Master of Arts)
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