The Black Hawk War of 1832

In May of 1832 Sac and Fox Indians under the leadership of Black Hawk left the Iowa territory and returned to their homes across the Mississippi River in northern Illinois. These Native Americans had lost their Illinois lands in a disputed treaty signed in St. Louis in 1804. Their return to northern Illinois sparked widespread panic among white settlers, and Illinois Governor Reynolds quickly called up the militia, which included a young Abraham Lincoln.

Both the militia and regular army troops proved unable to locate the elusive Indians at first, but by July they had begun to pursue Black Hawk's band across northern Illinois and southwestern Wisconsin, engaging them in a major conflict at Wisconsin Heights before finally routing the Indians at Bad Axe on the Mississippi River.

Here you will find a historical overview of the Black Hawk War of 1832, as well as primary documents and images related to the conflict.

Mexican-American War

In the Mexican-American War the United States decisively defeated the Republic of Mexico and acquired over five hundred thousand square miles of new territory that today comprises much of the nation's Southwest. The conflict emerged from many Americans' belief that their "Manifest Destiny" pointed toward a nation of continental scope, stretching from Atlantic to Pacific. While the seizure of new territories provided Americans with new lands for settlement, this development also exacerbated the growing sectional conflict over the expansion of slavery. Northerners and southerners grappled in Congress and at the polls in hopes of shaping the new territories in the image of their own social order. Unable to resolve the matter of the Mexican Cession's future by political means, the two sections took up arms in 1861 in the American Civil War.

Here you will find a historical overview of the Mexican-American War (1846-1848).

Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858

In 1858, a series of seven debates for the Illinois State Senate were held across the state of Illinois between Republican nominee Abraham Lincoln and Democratic nominee Stephen Douglas. The debates served as a precursor for the issues that Lincoln would face in the 1860 presidential election. The debates were well-attended and covered heavily by the press throughout the state. After ;losing the election, Lincoln edited the transcripts for the debates and published them into a book. The success of this publication helped Lincoln secure the Republican party's nomination in the 1860 race. Use the links in the navigational bar to your left in order to read newspaper accounts of the debates as well as commentary by newspaper reporters. 

Getting the Message Out!

Getting the Message Out! National Political Campaign Materials, 1840-1860 presents an examination of national popular political culture in antebellum America. It includes histories of the presidential campaigns from 1840-1860, as well as primary source material, such as campaign biographies and campaign songbooks. Recordings of some of the songs are also available.

This project was made possible by a generous grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services and is provided by the Abraham Lincoln Historical Digitization Project at Northern Illinois University Libraries.