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date: 05 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This essay traces political developments in the Civil War Era between 1861 and 1877. In doing so, it argues that unpredictability and uncertainty defined the politics of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Political parties and party labels were fluid and malleable in the midst of contemporary predictions of political realignment. The essay attempts to interpret the major events of the period through this lens of political instability. It outlines party politics during the Civil War in both the North and the South, discusses the Lincoln administration, and interprets the elections of 1862 and 1864. The essay then moves to the politics of Reconstruction, discussing the clash between Andrew Johnson and Congress, Radical Reconstruction, and the presidential elections of 1868 and 1872. The essay concludes with political developments in the South, the failure of Reconstruction, and the presidential election of 1876.

Keywords: Democratic Party, Republican Party, Union Party, Liberal Republican Party, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, Civil War, Reconstruction

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