In war studies, it is sometimes overlooked that every war is fought on two fronts: military and political. The armed forces fight against a foe across the field, but political warriors face a far messier battleground—a convoluted arena, where the lines are blurred between friend and enemy. Representative Alexander Coffroth of Pennsylvania’s 16th District was one of most paradoxical of the Civil War Era political warriors. Mr. Coffroth was a Democrat from Somerset County, newly incorporated into the legislative district, also including Gettysburg, that he would come to represent. His election in 1862 defeated incumbent Republican Congressman Edward McPherson (namesake of McPherson’s Ridge) and dramatically changed the representation of Gettysburgians.
The easiest way to sum up Coffroth’s role in the Union war effort is to imagine him as a white hat cowboy riding a black horse. In the congressional session immediately following the Battle of Gettysburg, Coffroth proved to be an ardent defender of the Democratic Party. He called the Republican Party treasonous for using the Constitution to oppress the minority and for pushing Southern rebels to violence through the fear of slave property confiscation. He also called President Lincoln to withdraw his Emancipation Proclamation because it violated the objects of the war and energized the Confederate soldiers. Continue reading “The Soldiers’ “Silent” Defender”
A glance at the work of virtually any political philosopher, no matter the era, will often reflect the argument that the primary purpose of a government is to protect its people. That obligation, combined with the age-old adage that “all politics are local,” raises questions about the responsibilities and duties of Gettysburg’s borough government during the town’s fateful battle of 1863. Sadly, the duty felt by the borough’s leaders to protect the town and their actions in relation to that duty have long been overshadowed by what is considered by many to be the more exciting narrative of military glory. Other historians have written off Gettysburg’s local politicians as being too weak to have had measurable significance in the titan armies’ collision. Neither conclusion should be accepted, because their actions not only prevented the Confederate forces from gaining tactical supplies, but also saved the borough of Gettysburg from fiery retribution for not complying with Confederate demands.
Many historians who study the United States share a passion for studying Abraham Lincoln’s intricacies and complexities. One of those historians is none other than Dr. Allen Guelzo. Dr. Guelzo has given many lectures on Lincoln, the most noteworthy of which is his four-part lecture series on the President’s life. On January 28, 2014, Dr. Guelzo presented a lecture in Gettysburg College’s Kline Theatre called “Lincoln: The Uncertain President”. The lecture was primarily focused on Lincoln’s rise to power, starting with his debates with Stephen Douglas to the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Dr. Guelzo’s main theme throughout the lecture was showing how Lincoln, during the early years of the Civil War, was confronted with a situation that no president had ever dealt with before. Lincoln was new to the presidency and a war of secession was new to the country.
???Liberty and Union???: November 14, 2012 Reviewed by Alex Barlowe, ’14 On Wednesday, November 14th, in the Kline Theatre of Gettysburg College, Professor Allen Guelzo delivered his lecture, ???Liberty and Union???, as the second of his four part series …