Civil War Governor of Pennsylvania
United States Congressman from Pennsylvania
(1817-94) A lawyer by occupation, he was active in Whig politics before the Civil War. In 1860, he was the Republican nomination for Governor of Pennsylvania, the hope being that his election would help carry the state for Abraham Lincoln. An active supporter of the Federal government, he supplied many troops and much material for the Union war effort. Curtin organized the Pennsylvania Reserves into combat units and oversaw the construction of the first Union military camp for training militia. To coordinate the Union war effort, he convened the Loyal War Governors' Conference, September 24-25, 1862, at Altoona, Pa. This event was one of his most significant contributions during the war. Re-elected in 1863, Curtin was well known for the exceptional care he took of the dependents of his Pennsylvania troops. He formed the Pennsylvania State Agency in Washington, and later formed another branch in Nashville, Tennessee, to provide support for wounded Union soldiers, and founded the state-funded Orphan's School to aid and educate children of military men who had died for the Union cause. Unlike most Northern governors, he faced the tremendous trauma of the Confederate invasion of his state, this occurring during the 1863 Gettysburg campaign! Curtin was very active in working with Major General Darius N. Couch to delay General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia and try to prevent it from crossing the Susquehanna River. The Rebels were brimming with confidence as they recently had a great victory at Chancellorsville, Va. After the Battle of Gettysburg, Governor Curtin was a principal force behind the establishment of the National Cemetery there. He sat with President Abraham Lincoln on the platform when Lincoln delivered his immortal Gettysburg Address, on November 19, 1863. Shortly after the war, Curtin was elected a Companion of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States in recognition of his support for the Union Army during the Civil War. In his post war career, he served as Minister to Russia in the President Ulysses S. Grant administration, and later served 3 terms as United States Congressman from Pennsylvania, from 1881-87. He served as Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs and was a member of the Committee on Banking and Currency.
Inventory Number: AUT 052