The Union Leagues
were quasi-secretive, male-oriented "clubs" established during the American Civil War
(1861-1865), to promote loyalty to the Union
of the United States of America
, the policies of newly elected 16th President Abraham Lincoln
(1809-1865, served 1861-1865), and to combat what they believed to be the treasonous words and actions of anti-war, antiblack "Copperhead" Democrats. Though initially nonpartisan, by the war's last year they were in open alliance with the Republican Party
, and the Union military. The most famous of these clubs were formed in Philadelphia, New York, and Boston and were composed of rich men who donated money for war-related service organizations, such as the United States Sanitary Commission
, which provided medical care to treat Federal soldiers wounded in battle at a time when the military was ill-prepared for the scale of need. The clubs supported the Republican Party with funding, organizational support, and activism. Union Leagues also existed throughout the land which were created primarily by working-class men. By the spring of 1863, these disparate councils were organized under the Union League of America (ULA) organization which was headquartered in Washington DC. Like-minded organizations aimed at the working class were also created in New York which became known as Loyal Leagues
. Similar patriotic organizations also existed for women and were known as Ladies Union Leagues.
In December 1862, the Union League of Philadelphia
was the first of the elite eastern Leagues to be established, though the first ULA council had formed in Pekin, Illinois in the summer of 1862. The famous Union League of Philadelphia building on Broad Street in center city Philadelphia
, south of City Hall was built in 1865, and is designed in the Victorian style
. It is still active, as are the Union League Clubs of New York
. Membership in the league is selective, and is comparable in social status to membership in a country club. Union League buildings often serve as private social clubs
, with areas devoted to drinking establishments, meetings, lectures, libraries, dinners/banquets, speeches/addresses, socializing and relaxing, etc. Read more...