How Did The Interior Department Function During The Civil War?

The Civil War threw the federal government into a measure of chaos, as the country was divided and the focus was winning the war. How did the Interior Department function during this time? A new book from Eastern National recounts the department's history during those trying years.

In the thousands of volumes written about the Civil War, there has never been a comprehensive history of the Department of the Interior during this tumultuous time. The newly released publication, The Department of the Interior in the Age of the Civil War, fills that void.

The executive departments of the Lincoln administration were very busy during the Civil War. The War Department was busy fighting the war. The Treasury Department was busy finding ways to raise money to fight the war. The State Department was busy trying to keep European countries happy so they wouldn’t recognize and support the Confederacy. And the Attorney General’s office was busy defending the government in legal matters.

All matters outside each of these department’s purview fell to the newest agency—the Department of the Interior, which was created in 1849. It’s not surprising that its nickname became “the Department of Everything Else.”

Over the course of the Civil War, the Interior Department role evolved to include Western land policy and mineral wealth, the transcontinental railroad, Indian affairs, resettlement of freedmen, African slave trade suppression, and more. Read about the department’s role in these important issues in The Department of the Interior in the Age of the Civil War, available now for $6.95 at this website.