Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Aaron Sheehan-Dean


This thesis examines the ideology and politics of Andrew Gregg Curtin throughout his entire career, specifically during his time as the governor of Pennsylvania in the American Civil War. As a self-described liberal, Curtin's vision for his state and nation was emblematic of broader Whig and Republican mentalities before and during the Civil War. Central to his ideas were notions of contractual theory, a harmony of interests between workers and industrialists, free labor, the right to property, and the rights of the individual to seek autonomy and agency in a democratic society. The outbreak of war expanded his sense of liberalism to include factors dealing not solely with economics but nationalism, emancipation, military welfare, and state-sponsored education. In all these areas, Curtin's emphasis on contract is evident. He demanded loyalty to the Union but rewarded that behavior as well. In Curtin's view, the staunch defense of Union and emancipation were humanitarian endeavors to protect the liberties of the free citizen as well as tactics to defeat the Confederacy.;The Loyal War Governor's Conference coordinated by Curtin in 1862 supported emancipation, Federal troops, and the constitutional and military policies of Abraham Lincoln. The governor's efforts in creating the Soldiers' National Cemetery following the Battle of Gettysburg in addition to his establishment of veterans' welfare and state-sponsored orphans' homes reinforced the sense of partnership between a people and their nation. In the later days of Reconstruction, Curtin became a moderate Democrat and continued to express concerns over the protection of free labor and ideas of contract and loyalty. Andrew Curtin's ideology reflected classical liberal tendencies but also demonstrated the broader social changes brought about by the Civil War. Curtin's ideological journey emphasized the importance of individual liberty and also reflected the transformation of the Union into a nationalist state grounded in humanitarian sensibilities.