Civil War 1861 Essay Contest

High School Division

Click on the title to view a pdf of a winning essay.

First Prize

Anjelica Matcho, Bridgewater Raritan High School, Bridgewater, New Jersey
"Dethroning King Cotton: The Failed Diplomacy of the Confederacy"

Second Prize

Stefano E. Jacobson, Collegiate School, New York, New York
"Andrew Johnson’s Pardoning Policy and the Failure of Freedmen’s Land Ownership during Reconstruction"

Third Prize

Dante Mangiaracina, Collegiate School, New York, New York
"The Army for Lincoln in 1864: Electing the President, Ending the War, and Changing the Voting Process"

Middle School Division

Click on the title to view a pdf of a winning essay.

First Prize

Justin Swanson, Johnson Creek Middle School, Johnson Creek, Wisconsin
"How Was the Strategy of Blockades Influenced by Britain?"

Second Prize

Jamie Joung, The Manning School, Golden, Colorado
"Our Strengths As Women"

Third Prize

Maya Jowers, Endeavor Hall Charter School, West Valley City, Utah
"The Emancipation Proclamation: A Key Factor in the Civil War"

Honorable Mention (in alphabetical order)

Zachary Cherian, Crystal Springs Uplands School, Hillsborough, CA
"The Role of the Civil War in the Expansion of the American Healthcare System"

Jane Colon-Bonet, Rocky Mountain High School, Fort Collins, CO
"The Backbone of Motivation: How Incentive in the North vs. the South Aided the Union to Victory"

James Creissen, East Chapel Hill High School, Chapel Hill, NC
"Southern Inequality: The Planter Class and the American Civil War"

Isabel Cushing, Concord Academy, Concord, MA
"Voices from Behind the Veil: The Literary Tradition of African American Women"

Abigail Doroshow, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC
"‘Potomac Calls to Chesapeake’: Maryland as a Microcosm of the Civil War"

Scott Fairbanks, Stuyvesant High School, New York, NY
"Descent into Tyranny? Civil Liberties in a Wartime State"

Eli Guenzburger, The Bronx High School of Science, Bronx, NY
"The American Civil War and Perceptions of Jewish-American Identity"

In his social history of the Civil War, Phillip Shaw Paludan titled the very first chapter, “Communities Go to War.” In doing so, he acknowledged that the war was not fought by the whole nation so much as it was fought by individual communities. As Paludan noted, the federal government and the states could call for troops, “but it was the communities—the towns, villages, and cities—that would send the men” and outfit, provision, and inspire them in their service, particularly in the first year of the conflict.[1] The imperatives of community mobilization during the Civil War exemplify how Americans engaged with the world in the Civil War era primarily through their relationships with their local community.

The theme of community encompasses collections that trace the myriad ways individuals joined together to build and maintain communities. Americans belonged to multiple communities, delineated by geography, ethnicity, race, religion, and sex, among other factors. The collections cataloged here record a wide array of people’s engagement with their neighbors in forming mutually beneficial communities. These collections include the records of aid societies that raised money to provision volunteer soldiers and support their families; the papers of fraternal organizations and reform societies like the Odd-Fellows and abolitionist groups; church and school records; municipal poor relief records: the papers of veterans organizations, and more.

[1] Phillip Shaw Paludan, A People’s Contest: The Union & Civil War, 1861-1865, 2nd ed. (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1996), 3, 19.

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