The Civil War
In This Issue
On the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, we present this commemorative issue featuring Atlantic stories by Mark Twain, Henry James, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, and many more. Purchase on newsstands through March 5, or order your print or digital copy here.
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The president of the United States reflects on what Abraham Lincoln means to him, and to America.
“To speak as the slave would, to say that we are as happy for the Civil War as most Americans are for the Revolutionary War, is to rupture the narrative.”
What the 12 most famous words ever published in The Atlantic tell us about the spirit that inspired the Union
Part I: Pre-War
In its second issue, The Atlantic urged readers to take a stand against slavery.
An account of America's bloodiest slave revolt and its repercussions.
In his first Atlantic contribution, the author tells the story of a mother’s surprise reunion with her son, a former slave.
An escaped slave recalls his violent showdown with slave-catchers.
The famous Revolutionary War poem that’s really about slavery
How a coterie of New Englanders—including the author—secretly funded the raid on Harpers Ferry
The author’s first Atlantic poem
In 1861, the grandson of John Quincy Adams argued that slavery could still end without war.
Harriet Beecher Stowe describes her encounter with the legendary African American activist.
A journalist who covered the Lincoln-Douglas debates recalls the future president’s bawdy appeal.
In 1860, The Atlantic endorsed Abraham Lincoln for president.
A Northern journalist records his visit to Charleston during the Fort Sumter standoff.
Part II: The War
A dispatch from a Union soldier who was later killed in action
A poem in praise of soldiers who gave up their lives for the Union
In 1861, an Atlantic editor captured the anxious mood on the home front.
A scholar argues that the Union debacle at Bull Run was not such a disaster.
The novelist visits Washington in wartime—and is then censored by The Atlantic.
A poem commemorating a mighty Union ship done in by the Virginia, a rebel “ironclad”
An account of the author’s frantic search for his wounded son, who lived to become a Supreme Court justice
The classic poem mythologizing an old woman who flew her Union flag as the rebels marched past
The famous short story about an Army officer who learns, too late, to love his country
An Atlantic founder argues vehemently for the emancipation of the slaves.
Seven months after his call to free the slaves, Emerson hails the Emancipation Proclamation.
The author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin issues a call to action.
One of the earliest pieces published by the author, who was 21 years old at the time
A Union general is stymied by the ornery women of the South.
The white colonel of the first official black regiment recounts his experience.
A young black woman describes her experience teaching freed slaves.
Set in a wartime hospital, a short story about a family with a poisonous secret
The significance of the Gettysburg Address
A Confederate soldier from a plantation family provides a Southern perspective.
A Northerner pays tribute to the general’s humility and heroism.
Reliving the war’s final battles
A reporter describes the rebels’ flight from Richmond, and Lincoln’s surprise visit two days later.
Part III: Post-War
A Confederate soldier recalls the chaotic days following surrender.
Three months after Lincoln’s murder, The Atlantic seeks to make sense of it.
The magazine’s first editor gives poetic voice to the nation’s grief.
In 1866, a journalist offered a scathing report on post-war life in the South.
The famous novelist’s tale of an elderly Southerner, oblivious to what the war had cost her.
An absurdist short story about a Union doctor—which many Atlantic readers erroneously believed at the time to be nonfiction.
The classic 1960 poem pays tribute to the glory of the Civil War era.
A leading black intellectual surveys the government’s efforts to aid the freed slaves.
A former slave urges Congress to grant black Americans the vote.
A poem hailing the demise of slavery’s “cruel reign”
A Southerner describes mounting racial tensions in the aftermath of Reconstruction.
An educator’s controversial argument contends that blacks should advance by making themselves useful to whites.
Taking issue with Booker T. Washington, the author argues that blacks should attend college.
Du Bois gives voice to the aspirations of black Americans in the post-Civil War world.
How a re-creation of its most famous battle helped erase the meaning of the Civil War
These photos and lithographs bring the turbulent period to life.
From facial-hair crazes to Lincoln's naughty sense of humor, a collection of surprising historical tidbits