Mocking a Perilous Prediction: Currier and Ives’ Political Cartoons

By Meg Sutter ’16

Currier and Ives’ political cartoons, while comical, also represent the general undertones of the time as well as people’s feelings regarding this era of political controversy. The election of 1860 was an incredibly important one because, not only were there numerous political and social divides, but the South had threatened to secede. The political cartoon “The Irrepressible Conflict” or “The Republican Barge in Danger,” released in 1860, gives historians a good understanding of the reactions to not only Seward’s speech but also the wariness of Lincoln’s nomination and eventual election.


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An Institution Sanctioned by God?: Slavery and Religion in the North and South

By Tyler Leard ’16

While a young student at the University of North Carolina, Iveson Brooks, an optimistic student of promise, wrote several speeches arguing that slavery was an impediment to the future. After graduating, he decided his best prospects following graduation lay in the Baptist ministry. By 1851, while his piety remained, Brooks’ antislavery had vanished, replaced by a deeply conservative outlook which held slavery as not merely essential to southern society, but as intended by God. In his pamphlet, A Defense of Southern Slavery against the Attacks of Henry Clay and Alexander Campbell, Brooks argued that slavery was not only allowed by the Bible, but was an integral part of Christianity “intended to exist until the Day of Judgment.” This passage, found in the Old Testament, was one of many instances in which Brooks read that the Bible implied that God desired a hierarchical society. Like many other southerners, Brooks argued that the curse laid upon God to the descendants of Ham, whose descendants were allegedly the people of Africa, sanctioned slavery along racial lines.


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“Lincoln: The Uncertain President”

By Avery Lentz ’14

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.


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The Harris Family’s Tale of Woe on the Erie Canal

By Tiffany Santulli ’13

In 1850 terror swept through the African American population with the updated installment of the Fugitive Slave Act. Now all citizens were required to aid in the capture of any fugitive slaves they encountered, or face heavy fines or even jail time. While this law was directed toward runaway slaves, free black people still had a great deal to fear. Anyone could accuse them of being a runaway slave and if they were brought before a judge the law worked against them because the court would receive more money if a black person were declared a slave rather than free. The threat of the Fugitive Slave Act forced many free black people in the lower free states, such as New Jersey and Pennsylvania, to abandon their homes and push northwards to escape the scope and reach of slave bounty hunters and accusatory neighbors.

One of these black families who fled was the Harris family. Catherine Harris, William Harris, and their three year old daughter left their home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and headed north towards Canada. In Albany, New York, the Harris family boarded a ship to travel on the Erie Canal during the chilly month of October. Little did this family know that this journey would ruin their lives.
harris family
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