Secession and Civil War

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How did the absence of Southern representatives during the Civil War affect the agenda of Northern Republicans?

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The United States Congress, in the years leading up to the Civil War, was a virtual battleground in which Democratic Southerners and mainly Republican Northerners would bully each other as often as debate. Threats, fistfights, and the carrying of weapons were common. People elected representatives to Congress partially based on their confrontational ability. This attitude, in which compromise was seen as a sign of weakness, made it very difficult to agree on specific items of legislation.

All this changed when Southern states began to secede from the Union and their representatives withdrew from Congress. Just before secession, in 1860, there were 234 representatives and sixty-six senators in Washington. The Democrats held a Senate majority, and the Republicans had a majority in the House of Representatives. However, after secession, in the beginning of 1863, there were only 180 representatives and fifty senators, and Republicans held comfortable majorities in both the Senate and the...

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