Pierre Beauregard was a Confederate general who led forces on the firing of Fort Sumter and in battle at First Manassas. He later oversaw unsuccessful campaigns in Florida and Georgia during the closing years of the war.
John Bell was the Constitutional Union candidate for president in 1860. He received support mainly in the border states, finishing a distant third in the electoral college and last among the major candidates in the popular vote.
A devoted abolitionist, John Brown (1800-1859) decided the slaves must be freed by force. Leading 18 men on an attack of the U.S. arsenal and armory at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, (presently West Virginia), he seized the complex and took control of the town. He was defeated by a company of U.S. marines led by Robert E. Lee, arrested and charged with various crimes, including treason and murder. During his trial he spoke eloquently on behalf of the abolition of slavery, and when he was hanged in December, he became a martyr to the abolitionist cause. He was immortalized in the song "John Brown's Body Lies A-Mouldering in his Grave...," a song which became the trademark tune of the North. The events surrounding his death served to further heighten the tensions that would lead to civil war.
John Wilkes Booth was Lincoln's assassin. A southern sympathizer loyal to Virginia, Booth was a twenty-six-year-old struggling actor at the time of the assassination. Shortly thereafter, after escaping to Maryland and then Virginia, he was apprehended and shot to death during a struggle with federal agents in a barn in rural Virginia.
Braxton Bragg was a Confederate general whose main service came in Tennessee, at Shiloh, Mumfreesboro and Chickamauga. He later served as a military adviser to President Davis.
John Breckenridge, of Kentucky, served as Vice President of the United States under James Buchanan from 1857-1861. Backed by the Southern Democrats, he ran unsuccessfully for president in 1860, finishing a distant second to Lincoln. He later served as a Confederate general, seeing action at Shiloh, Mumfreesboro, and Chickamauga. In the final year of the Civil War, he served as Confederate Secretary of War.
James Buchanan served as the fifteenth president of the United States, from 1857-1861. A Pennsylvanian, he had previously served as minister to Great Britain, and gained the Democratic nomination by virtue of his neutrality in domestic affairs. However, his weak administration did little to help save the rapidly fragmenting nation, and he did not seek re-election.
Ambrose Burnside was a Union general who fought at First Manassas and Antietam before being promoted to command the eastern forces in battle at Fredericksburg, where he was soundly defeated by Confederates under the command of Lee.
John C. Calhoun served as Vice President under Andrew Jackson from 1829-1833, and later gained further prominence as a senator from South Carolina. He was a vocal champion of nullification, and vigorously opposed the high tariffs that were regularly imposed by northern special interest groups.
As the result of a political bargain, Simon Cameron, who held considerable political influence in Pennsylvania, was named Secretary of War in Lincoln's first cabinet. After less than a year, he was replaced by Edwin Stanton, and thereafter served as minister to Russia.
Salmon Chase was governor of Ohio from 1855-1859. As Secretary of Treasury during Lincoln's first administration, Chase spearheaded several significant policy decisions involving banking, currency and taxes. After conspiring to obtain the nomination for president from Lincoln in 1864, he was relieved of his cabinet duties. Later that same year, Lincoln appointed Chase as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, a post which he filled during the majority of the reconstruction years, up until 1873.
Henry Clay was a prominent Whig senator from Kentucky who ran unsuccessfully for President on three occasions. He was a supporter of internal improvements per his American System, and is well known as "The Great Compromiser" for his role in the Missouri Compromise and the Compromise of 1850.
John J. Crittenden was a senator from Kentucky who attempted to avert an impending Civil War with a Compromise in 1860. The so-called Crittenden Compromise failed after Lincoln dismissed it as too lenient with regard to the containment of slavery. Crittenden later authored a resolution declaring the preservation of Union to be the sole war aim of the federal government.
David Davis was the Eighth Circuit Court Judge in the State of Illinois, and a crucial engineer of Lincoln's bid for the presidency in 1860. Thanks to Davis's ingenuity, the Wigwam in Chicago was packed with Lincoln supporters for the Republican Convention, and his political wheeling and dealing helped secure the necessary delegates for Lincoln's nomination.
Jefferson Davis was a two-term senator from Mississippi who resigned his seat in the face of the impending southern secession. Mere weeks later, he was named president of the Confederate States of America, a position he held throughout the Civil War. Reluctant to give up his post in the aftermath of Appomattox, Davis was treated leniently by the federal government during reconstruction, and lived to the ripe old age of eighty-one.
Stephen Douglas was a senator from Illinois who rose quickly up the ranks of the Democratic Party. He proposed the controversial Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 and defended his doctrine of popular sovereignty during a series of debates with Lincoln in 1858. Although he defeated Lincoln in this senate race, he later lost the presidential election to Lincoln in 1860. Undeterred from fighting for what he believed was right, he joined forces with Lincoln in an attempt to preserve the Union, but died just after the outset of the Civil War in 1861.
Edward Everett was a senator from Massachusetts who was nominated for Vice President on the Constitutional Union ticket under John Bell in 1860. Everett is perhaps best known today as the principal speaker at the dedication of the Gettysburg cemetery, where Lincoln made his famous two- minute Gettysburg Address.
David Farragut was the impetus behind several Union naval successes, most notably at New Orleans in 1862 and Mobile in 1864. By the end of the war he had risen to the rank of Vice Admiral.
John C. Fremont, a notable frontier explorer, was nominated for President in the 1856 election on the first-ever Republican ticket. Fremont saw significant action as a general in the western theater during the early stages of the Civil War, but was relieved of his duties after freeing several slaves in an unauthorized show of abolitionist spirit. Later he would mount a challenge to Lincoln's authority in the Republican-turned National Union Party, briefly flirting with a run for president in 1864 before withdrawing to improve Lincoln's chances of re-election.
Mentor Graham was a schoolmaster in New Salem who taught Lincoln and Ann Rutledge in their youth. He later recalled the romance between Lincoln and Rutledge to William H. Herndon.
Union General U.S. Grant began his service in the Civil War in the western theater, enjoying early successes in Tennessee, at Shiloh, and later on the Mississippi with the seizure of Vicksburg. These victories led to his promotion by Lincoln as the overall commander of Union forces in 1864. After a bloody campaign in Northern Virginia, Grant finally arrived in Richmond and accepted Lee's surrender at Appomattox a few short days later. In the years following the Civil War, Grant was venerated as a national hero, and subsequently served as the eighteenth president of the United States, from 1869- 1877.
Horace Greeley was a journalist turned politician who supported abolitionist causes and was highly critical of Lincoln's policies throughout the war. He later mounted an unsuccessful challenge on the Democratic ticket to the incumbent Grant in the presidential election of 1872.
Henry Halleck served as overall commander of Union forces during the middle stages of the Civil War, and was later named as Lincoln's chief of staff after being replaced by U.S. Grant.
Hannibal Hamlin served as senator from Maine for over a decade, and was Lincoln's Vice President from 1861-65. He was replaced on the National Union ticket by Andrew Johnson, who had a more needed regional appeal and brought in the support of the War Democrats.
Rutherford B. Hayes was the nineteenth president of the United States, serving from 1877-1881. He was elected by the narrowest of margins after a government committee declared him the winner in exchange for an end to reconstruction. This arrangement became known as the Compromise of 1877.
William H. Herndon was Lincoln's law partner from 1844 on. He later wrote a controversial biography of Lincoln's early life.
John Bell Hood was a Confederate General who fought in the eastern theater during the early stages of the Civil War, seeing action at Second Manassas, Antietam and Gettysburg. Later he was transferred to the western theater, where he led a victory at Chickamauga and fought a losing battle in Tennessee up until the closing days of the war.
Joseph Hooker fought at Antietam and Fredericksburg and served briefly as overall commander in the eastern theater, suffering an ignominious defeat at Chancellorsville. He later served under Sherman during the siege of Atlanta.
Andrew Jackson was a heroic general who had won military honor at the Battle of New Orleans, the concluding conflict in the War of 1812. He later served as seventh president of the United States from 1829-1837, emerging as the most significant Democratic leader of his era. Although an advocate of states' rights, Jackson asserted the power of the federal government during the Nullification Crisis sparked by John C. Calhoun of South Carolina.
Stonewall Jackson was a Confederate General who commanded victories at First Manassas, during the Seven Days' Battles, and at Fredericksburg. Tragically, he was inadvertently shot and killed by his own men during the Battle of Chancellorsville.
Andrew Johnson was appointed military governor of Tennessee in 1862. The only major official from a Confederate state to remain loyal to the Union, he was later named Lincoln's running mate as Vice President on the National Union ticket in the election of 1864. After Lincoln's assassination, Johnson became the seventeenth president of the United States, serving from 1865-1869. He suffered from a rocky administration due to the complications of reconstruction, later abandoning the Republicans who opposed him to pursue re-election on the Democratic ticket in the election of 1868, which he lost to U.S. Grant.
A Kentucky widow, Sarah Bush Johnston was remarried to Thomas Lincoln in 1819, and raised the young Abraham Lincoln from the age of ten.
Robert E. Lee was offered command of the Union armies at the outset of the Civil War, but refused out of loyalty to his native Virginia. Later emerging as general-in-chief of the Confederate army, Lee fought brilliantly in the eastern theater for over three years despite inferior manpower and munitions. Lee signed the surrender to Grant at Appomattox and went on to become the president of what is today known as Washington and Lee College.
Edward Baker Lincoln was the second son to Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. He died prematurely in 1850 at the age of three.
Mary Todd Lincoln, born of a prominent Kentucky family, married Lincoln on November 4, 1842. She bore him four children, and struggled to harmonize with her aloof husband throughout their marriage. After his assassination, her already delicate constitution was upset beyond repair. Her son Robert committed her to an institution in 1875, and she later died in Springfield in 1882.
Nancy Hanks Lincoln was Lincoln's mother. Little is known about her, as her origins are obscure and she died at a young age of milk sickness. According to Herndon, Lincoln believed her to be the product of an illegitimate union.
Robert Todd Lincoln was the eldest son to Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. He attended Harvard University during his father's administration, later serving under Grant in the closing months of the Civil War. He later went on to a successful political career in his own right, functioning as minister to Great Britain and ultimately as Secretary of War.
Sarah Lincoln was the eldest child born to Thomas and Nancy Hanks Lincoln. She died while giving birth in 1828, leaving Lincoln as the only surviving child of his birth parents.
Thomas "Tad" Lincoln was the youngest son to Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. Born in 1853, he lived only into his late teenage years, dying in 1871.
Thomas Lincoln was born and raised in Virginia, later moving to Kentucky to establish himself and his young family. He was married twice. Later moving to Indiana and finally Illinois, he had a distant relationship with his son, who declined to attend his own father's funeral in 1851.
William Wallace Lincoln was the third son to Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln. He died prematurely at the White House in 1862 at the age of eleven.
Stephen T. Logan was Lincoln's second law partner. The two men worked together between 1841 and 1844.
Union General George McClellan saw early action during the Civil War in Western Virginia, where he enjoyed several victories. After earning promotion to command forces in the eastern theater, McClellan suffered a defeat in his Peninsular Campaign, later redeeming himself in part at Antietam. Nevertheless, Lincoln dismissed him from his duties. Earning the Democratic nomination for President in 1864, McClellan mounted an unsuccessful campaign against Lincoln's bid for re-election.
Irvin McDowell was a Union general who suffered defeats at First and Second Manassas and was subsequently relieved of his duties.
George Meade was a Union general who fought at Antietam and Fredericksburg and later took command of the eastern theater in 1863, enjoyed a rousing success at Gettysburg. He remained in control of the eastern forces until the end of the Civil War.
Napoleon III became the Emperor of France in 1852, after having previously served as leader of the Second French Republic for four years. He ruled France until suffering defeat in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. During the Civil War, he attempted to negotiate a peace treaty between the Union and the Confederacy, and violated the Monroe Doctrine when he occupied Mexico and set Archduke Maximillian on the throne there in 1863.
Mary Owens was a Kentucky woman whom Lincoln briefly courted in the late 1830s, only for her to reject his proposal of marriage.
Archduke Maximillian of the Hapsburg dynasty was set up on the throne of Mexico by Napoleon III's occupying forces in Mexico in 1863. After the Civil War, when the United States came to Mexico's defense and removed the French influence there, Maximillian was deposed and beheaded.
Franklin Pierce served as the fourteenth president of the United States, from 1853-1857. As a result of his ineffectual administration, he failed to secure re-nomination on the Democratic ticket in the election of 1856.
James K. Polk served as the eleventh president of the United States, from 1845- 1849. A fierce proponent of manifest destiny, Polk spearheaded westward expansion and oversaw the progress of the Mexican War. His powerful Democratic administration was bitterly opposed by a cadre of congressional Whigs, including Lincoln.
Union General John Pope was roundly defeated at Second Manassas and later served as a commander in the western theater.
Ann Rutledge was a New Salem woman rumored to have been engaged to Lincoln when both were in their young twenties. After she died unexpectedly in 1835, Lincoln was distraught, and remained a frequent visitor to her gravesite for the rest of his life.
William Seward was a former governor and senator from New York who opposed Lincoln for the Republican nomination for president in 1860. After being defeated, he accepted a post in Lincoln's cabinet as Secretary of State, and played a significant role in the development of Union policy during the Civil War. Nearly assassinated on the night of Lincoln's assassination, Seward recovered to continue as Secretary of State in Johnson's cabinet, and negotiated the purchase of Alaska from Russia.
Horatio Seymour was twice governor of New York and a prominent Copperhead leader in opposition to Lincoln. The New York City Draft Riots occurred under his administration.
Winfield Scott earned distinction as a general in both the War of 1812 and the Mexican War. He ran unsuccessfully for President on the Whig ticket against Franklin Pierce in the Election of 1852. Later, he masterminded the Anaconda Plan in the early stages of the Civil War, retiring from duty in late 1861.
Phil Sheridan fought for the Union in the Tennessee campaign of 1863 at Mumfreesboro and Chickamauga and was later promoted to General, where he fought in various battles alongside Grant and Sherman.
Union General William Tecumseh Sherman fought at First Manassas and Shiloh, later directing the masterful siege of Atlanta: he captured, evacuated, and burned the city before laying waste to the state of Georgia in his march to the sea. In the closing months of the Civil War, forces under Sherman pushed North toward Richmond in a successful effort to close out the Confederates.
James Shields was the Illinois State Auditor who challenged Lincoln to a duel in 1842, in violation of existing state laws. The confrontation was later called off after a series of conciliatory letters.
Edwin Stanton served as Union Secretary of War from 1862 to 1868. He had a strong role in Lincoln's cabinet and assumed near-total control of the nation in the wake of Lincoln's assassination. After President Johnson attempted to remove Stanton from office in 1868 over a disagreement regarding reconstruction, Johnson was impeached and nearly removed from office. Stanton died in the following year.
J. E. B. Stuart was a Confederate general who fought at First and Second Manassas, Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, among others. He was wounded in battle and died in the spring of 1864.
John T. Stuart encouraged Lincoln to take up the study of law. The two men formed a law partnership between 1837 and 1841.
Charles Sumner was a staunch abolitionist and a founding member of the Republican party. A longtime senator from Massachusetts, he was attacked by Preston Brooks of South Carolina on the Senate floor after making an eloquent argument against the Kansas-Nebraska Act. During reconstruction, Sumner led a radical push to penalize the south for their transgressions, but eventually he softened his stance.
Roger B. Taney was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court from 1835-1864. He issued the landmark Dred Scott decision in 1857, and fiercely opposed Lincoln's extension of executive privilege during the Civil War.
Zachary Taylor served as twelfth president of the United States, from 1849-1850. He was elected on the Whig ticket on the strength of his performance in the Mexican War. Opposed to the appeasement of southern interests, he died in office as the Compromise of 1850 was being negotiated in Congress.
Clement L. Vallandigham was a congressman from Ohio and a prominent Copperhead. In 1863 Lincoln banished him from the Union after he was arrested on charges of treason. He later returned to campaign on behalf of McClellan against Lincoln in the 1864 presidential election.
Queen Victoria was the reigning monarch in Britain from 1837 until 1901, and served as Empress of India from 1876 until 1901. Under her rule, Britain remained neutral during the American Civil War, although tensions ran high during the Trent Affair of 1861.
Walt Whitman was a renowned American poet who authored the much-lauded Leaves of Grass. He served as a nurse in Washington during the Civil War, and later became a close friend and adviser to Lincoln. (For more information, see the SparkNote on Walt Whitman's Poetry.