Union League Clubs, in U.S. history, organizations formed throughout the North in the Civil War after the military defeats and Republican election losses of 1862. A convention at Cleveland (May, 1863) provided for national headquarters of the Union League at Washington. The clubs distributed war literature, raised money for soldier relief, and recruited both white and black volunteers for the army. In the South after the war, the league, led by officials of the Freedmen's Bureau, carpetbaggers, and scalawags, developed into a strong Republican political organization that controlled the black vote. Its influence was curtailed by the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and vanished with the end of Reconstruction. The Union League Clubs of New York City, Philadelphia, and Chicago survived as conservative social organizations.
See studies of the New York club by W. Irwin et al. (1952) and of the Chicago club by B. Grant (1955).
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