Thousands of people had just lost their lives at Gettysburg, and Sherman was preparing for his march to the sea, laying waste to Atlanta in the process.
New York City was embroiled in the most violent riots in its history.
The southern economy was in shambles with the prices of staple food items skyrocketing, and citizens of the Union were stuck paying income taxes for the first time ever.
Much of the country had still not recovered from the Panic of 1857. And just when it seemed that things couldn't be any more chaotic, the President would be assassinated soon.
All in all, it seemed that the whole world was on fire. This was United States in the 1860s.
And had you been born at this time amid so much chaos, death, and pessimism, most people would have thought your future prospects would be pretty dim.