Money, Religion, and Politics during the Civil War

What does the Civil War have to do with our lives today? Plenty.

Here I’ll share with just a few excerpts from insightful resources I discovered during my research for Soldier’s Heart.


Money during the Civil War changed dramatically. Once a system divided and uniform the Civil War brought massive unification and a better consistency in the money we now use today. An excellent article I came across during my research clarifies this well. 

How the Civil War United Our Money– For years the U.S. relied on a chaotic system of notes issued by thousands of banks, until a divisive war gave birth to a unified banking system.

The Civil War changed the country more than any other event in U.S. history, and its echoes are very much with us yet in many aspects of American life. Even the paper money we use every day is a consequence of the war.

The Civil War affected all areas of American finance. It turned Wall Street into the second-biggest financial market in the world. It brought the first income tax into being (and with it, the forerunner of the IRS). The national debt rose from a trivial $65 million in 1860 to $2.7 billion in 1866. But perhaps the most significant, and positive, financial change wrought by the Civil War was in the banking and monetary systems.” Steel Gordon, John. How the Civil War United Our Money. “”. January 19, 2013.




Joseph Hoag was one in a long line of Christians upon whom God saw and still sees fit to bestow deep spiritual gifts. Born in 1762, he died in 1846 aged 85, a recorded minister since the age of 18.

What follows is the introduction to his recorded account of a vision he experienced in
1803. (Cited from: From The Journal of the Life of Joseph Hoag, Philadelphia: 1909. p. 347-349. from the article August 2006 of The Conservative Friend.) 

“In the year 1803, probably in the eighth or ninth month, I was one day alone in the fields, and observed that the sun shone clear, but that a mist eclipsed the brightness of its shining. As I reflected upon the singularity of the event, my mind was struck into a silence, the most solemn I ever remember to have witnessed, for it seemed as if all my faculties were laid low, and unusually brought into deep silence. I said to myself, “What can all this mean? I do not recollect ever before to have been sensible of such feelings.”And I heard a voice from heaven say, “This that thou seest, which dims the brightness of the sun, is a sign of the present and coming times. I took the forefathers of this country from a land of oppression; I planted them here among the people of the forest. I sustained them, and, while they were humble, I blessed them and fed them, and they became a numerous people; but they have now become proud and lifted up, and have forgotten Me, who nourished and protected them in the wilderness, and are running into every abomination and evil practice of which the old countries are guilty, and I have taken quietude from the land, and suffered a dividing spirit to come among them. Lift up thine eyes and behold.” And I saw them dividing in great heat. This division began in the Church upon points of doctrine. It commenced in the Presbyterian Society, and went through the various religious denominations, and in its progress and close the effect was nearly the same; those who dissented went off with high heads and taunting language, and those who kept to their organised sentiments appeared exercised and sorrowful. And when this dividing spirit entered the Society of Friends, it raged in as high a degree as any I had before discovered, and, as before, those who separated went with lofty looks and taunting, censuring language; those who kept to their ancient principles retired by themselves. It next appeared in the Lodges of the Freemasons, and it broke out in appearance like a volcano, inasmuch as it set the country in an uproar for a length of time. Then it entered politics throughout the United States, and did not stop until it produced a civil war, and an abundance of human blood was shed in the course of the combat…”


Read the full article on below on page 6. 


One of the great political mysteries of the Civil War era involves the so-called “Lincoln’s Lost Speech.” Some observers of the era credit his rousing convention speech with securing his election as well as influencing the decision to enter into war. An introduction and excerpts from a published version follow:

The lost speech of Abraham Lincoln was delivered at the first Republican State Convention of Illinois, at Blootnington,
on the 29th of May, 1896. The excitement caused among the audience by the speech was so great that the reporters forgot to take their notes, and for many years it was generally supposed that no record of the speech had been preserved. It appears, however, that Mr. H. C. Whitney, then a young lawyer of Illinois, did take notes of the speech, which he preserved; and after a lapse of forty years they were transcribed and were published in ”McClures Magazine”
for September, 1896, together with a letter from Mr. Joseph Medill, of the ” Chicago Tribune,” who was present at the Convention confirms the accuracy of Mr. Whitney’s report.

“We are in a trying time—it ranges above mere party—and this movement to call a halt and turn our steps backward needs all the help and good counsels it can get; for unless popular opinion makes itself very strongly felt, and a change is made in our present course, blood will flow on account of Nebraska^ and brother s hand will be raised against brother! [The last sentence was uttered in such an earnest, impressive, if not indeed tragic, manner as to make a cold chill creep over me. Others gave a similar experience.]
I have listened with great interest to the earnest appeal made to Illinois men by the gentleman from Lawrence [James S. Emery] who has just addressed us so eloquently and forcibly. I was deeply moved by his statement of the wrongs done to free-State men out there. I think it just to say that all true men North should sympathize with them, and ought to be willing to do any possible and needful thing to right their wrongs. But we must not promise what we ought not, lest we be called on to perform what we cannot; we must be calm and moderate, and consider the whole difficulty, and determine what is possible and just…” 


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