Abraham Lincoln, Honest Abe, is one of the greatest American Presidents. He is known today for his Presidency in which he fought the Confederacy duringthe Civil War and abolished slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation and laterthe Thirteenth Amendment. He was an intelligent, honest, and just leader whogoverned at a critical time in American history. PRE-PRESIDENCY Lincoln was bornon the twelfth of February 1809 in a cabin three miles outside of Hodgenville,Kentucky. He was later forced to move to Indiana. As a child Lincoln worked onhis familys farm clearing fields and tending crops.
He liked to read butunfortunately received hardly any formal education. In fact, his entireschooling only amounted to about one year of attendance. (Brit. 23) In 1830Lincolns family moved to Illinois. Lincoln didnt want to be a farmer, sohe tried other professions: rail-splitter, flatboat man, storekeeper,postmaster, surveyor, an army man, and a profession in Law. In 1932 Lincoln, attwenty-three years old, decided to run for the Illinois State legislature.
Lincoln was to campaign for local improvements such as better roads and canals. However, a war with the Indians broke out before Lincolns campaign could getgoing. In response, he joined the Army. After his short wartime, Lincolnreturned to politics and lost the race of Illinois Legislature. In 1834 he ranagain and was elected- second of thirteen. At the age of 25 Lincoln was a memberof the Illinois Legislature.
After his term in the legislature, Lincoln found heneeded more money. So, he started studying law on his own. He accepted a job inSpringfield at John Todd Stuarts practice. In the late 1830s Lincoln foundthe love of his life, Mary Ann Todd, the daughter of a rich banker.
She gotengaged to Abe in 1840 and the two were married in 1842. They had thee childrentogether, Willie and Tad Lincoln. In 1946 Lincoln won the Whig nomination for aseat in the House of Representatives for Illinois and sat in Congress in 1847. The major issues of the time were the Mexican-American war, which Lincolnopposed, and slavery. Lincoln was not an anti-slavery crusader. However, he didvote in Congress to stop it from spreading.
Morally, Lincoln hated slavery andsaid slaver was “founded on both injustice and bad policy. ” He wanted toabolish slavery over time because he thought dramatic actions to end slaverywould lead to violence. Lincoln felt that Congress should not interfere withslavery in states in which it already existed. After his term in Congress,Lincoln left politics again for a full time law practice. In the early 1850sSenator Stephen Douglas opened the issue of slavery in the territories of Kansasand Nebraska.
In 1854, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska act, allowing theissue of slavery in Kansas and Nebraska to be decided by popular sovereignty. Lincoln was “thunderstruck and stunned. ” This act brought him back intopolitics. He felt obligated to speak out against the Kansas-Nebraska act. So,after Lincoln left law he traveled across Illinois campaigning for anti-slaveryWhigs.
In his campaigning Lincoln called slavery a “cancer” and a”monstrous injustice. ” He said he believed in the Declaration ofIndependence, which states “all men are created equal. ” However, he wasntsure of what to do with slavery in the states where it already existed in. In1856, Lincoln switched from the Whig Party to the Republican Party because theWhigs were weak and could never unite against slavery. Lincoln felt that if hewanted to make a point he would have to be with a strong party.
In 1858, Lincolnwon the Republican Nomination for the Illinois Senate seat. He wanted the seatof his long time rival, Senator Stephen Douglas. In Lincolns first speech forhis Senate campaign Lincoln said, “I believe this government cannot endure,permanently, half slave and half free. ” Lincoln warned his opponents that thespread of slavery must be stopped or else it would become “lawful in all thestates; old as well as new- north as well as south.
” In July of 1958, Lincolnchallenged Senator Douglas to a series of seven three-hour, public debates. Thousands of people showed up to watch the Little Giant (Douglas) vs. Long Abe. Douglas fought for white supremacy. He believed the country could endure halffree and half slave.
Douglas said whites made this country therefore they shouldrun it. Lincoln wanted equality. During one debate Lincoln said: “There is noreason in the world why the Negro is not entitled to all the natural rightsenumerated in the Declaration of Independence, the right of life, liberty andthe pursuit of happiness. I hold that he is as much entitled to these as thewhite man. ” In the end, Douglas won the Senate election by a hair. However,Lincoln did not give up.
His debates with Douglas had made him famous acrossIllinois. Lincoln kept debating and got a lot of Republican support. Lincoln gotso much support that the Republicans felt he could win the presidentialelection. So, they tried to get him nominated. The Lincoln-Douglas debates wereincredibly crucial to Lincolns future career.
It was this series of debatesthat made Lincoln well known throughout the country. In fact, Lincoln probablywould not have won the Presidential Election in 1860 if he hadnt debated withDouglas. Douglas was far better known than Lincoln was throughout the countryand in Illinois. At the Lincoln-Douglas debates people from miles around wouldcome to watch the two men speak in the remote towns of Illinois. Reporters fromaround the nation came and jotted down what the two men said. What was said atthe debates could be read in the newspapers of major cities the very next day.
It was Lincoln-Douglas debates that first gave Lincoln nation wide publicity. Lincoln probably would not have ended up in the White House if it had not beenfor these debates. PRESIDENCY PRE-CIVIL-WAR At the Illinois RepublicanConvention in May 1860 Lincoln was chosen as the Republicans favoritePresidential Candidate. One week later at the National Republican Convention,Lincoln was nominated on the third ballot.
Lincoln was running against twoDemocrats Stephen Douglas of Illinois, and John C. Breckenridge, a southernDemocrat from Kentucky. On Election DayNovember 6, 1860Lincoln won theelection with 1,866,000 votes. He carried every Northern State. Southernershated this “black Republican” and his name did not appear on any southernballots. Douglas got 1,377,000 votes and Breckenridge received 850,000.
If theDemocratic Party had not split Lincoln would not have been elected. Douglas andBreckenridges votes combined were more than the total number of votes forLincoln. So, if Breckenridge hadnt run, almost all Democratic votes wouldhave gone to Douglas. I also believe, that if Douglas were elected, a civil warwould not have broken out.
Douglas believed the nation could endure half-freehalf slave. He did not feel strongly about slavery. Unlike Lincoln, Douglas didnot care if slavery spread through America. If it werent for Lincoln slaverycould have spread into new states and territories.
It was Lincolns boldnessagainst slavery that created nation wide freedom in America. As soon as Lincolnwas elected some southern states threatened to secede from the Union. The Southhated Lincoln. An Atlanta newspaper said, “Let the consequences be what theymay. .
. the south will never submit such humiliation and degradation as theinauguration of Abraham Lincoln. ” And so, sure enough, in December, the slavestate South Carolina seceded from the Union. During the next three months beforeLincolns inauguration, seven more slave states seceded from the Union andformed the Confederate States of America with their capital in Richmond,Virginia. In February, Senator Jefferson Davis of Mississippi became thepresident of the Confederacy. On the 4th of March 1861, Lincoln was sworn intooffice.
In his inaugural address Lincoln told the people he would not tamperwith slavery in the states where it already existed. “I have no purpose,directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in thestates where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have noinclination to do so. ” Little did the people know what Lincoln was going todo.
He later said in his address “In your the American people hands, mydissatisfied countrymen, and not mine is the momentous issue of civil war. “Lincoln went on to say he would do everything he could to “preserve, protect,and defend” the Union. THE CIVIL WAR Lincoln believed the Union could be savedwithout any blood. However, On April 14, 1861 Fort Sumter, at the entrance tothe Charleston Harbor in South Carolina, was taken over by the Confederacy.
Thelong Civil War had begun. The Union had claimed the loyalty of 23 states, 22million people. It was had an industrial economy which could produce rifles,cannons, shoes and everything else an army might need quickly. One thing,however, which the factories could not produce was good generals. Throughoutmost of the Civil War this would be a constant problem. The Confederacy had 11states, 9 million people of which almost four million were slaves.
Its economywas agricultural. Unlike the Union, the Confederacy “held a monopoly ofmilitary talent. ” (LPB 73) Soldiers also knew the land on which the war wasfought and had acquired military skills from hunting. Lincoln decided he neededto keep other countries from helping the confederacy.
So, he set up navalblockades in Confederate ports. Then, Lincoln launched three major offensives:One into Virginia, another into Tennessee, and a third to take control of theMississippi River. He gave General George B. McClellan control of easternarmies. McClellan trained his men very carefully but took a long time doing it. Lincoln found relief from the pressures of the war in his home life with hiswife Mary and his two boys: Willie and Tad.
However, in February of 1862 bothboys became ill. Tad recovered. Willie, on the other hand, was not as fortunate. On February 20, 1862 William Wallace Lincoln died. This devastated the Lincolnfamily.
Mary was so disturbed that she could not attend his funeral. By thespring of 62, the north had captured New Orleans and was gaining control ofthe Mississippi. Around June, McClellan led his troops to Richmond. He broughthis troops there slowly and thus, the Confederates found out and had time tomuster their defenses.
While McClellans troops were waiting outside ofRichmond, Lee launched a counter-offensive driving McClellan all the way back tothe James River. More than 23,000 men were killed, wounded, or missing. McClellans long anticipated attack on Richmond had failed. On the easternfront the Union had not won a battle yet and he could not find a competentcommander. So, he made himself the Commander in Chief of all armies. McClellanremained supreme commander.
Lincoln tried General Henry W. Halleck at the topmilitary position. He was a failure. Halleck gave good advice but was a flakewhen it came to being decisive in military action. Initially, Lincoln statedthat he would leave slavery alone where it existed.
However, abolitionists wereurging Lincoln to “teach rebels and traitors that the price they are to payfor the attempt to abolish this country must be the abolition of slavery. ” Onthe other hand, there were also Northerners who supported the Union but notemancipation. Lincoln worried about the support of these states and the loyalslave states: Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, and Delaware. Lincoln wanted tostart emancipation in the loyal states and sweep the rebel states with it asthey were conquered, giving money to slave owners as their slaves were freed. Hesuggested this plan to the loyal slave states congressmen. However, theydidnt like it.
“Emancipation in the cotton states is simply anabsurdity,” said a Kentucky congressman. So, Lincoln changed his plan. Herealized that slavery was crucial to the Souths success in the war. If hecould get rid of slavery the south would be crippled and would lose any supportfrom Britain. Britain was willing to help the south because they supplied cottonto them. Without slaves the South could not produce nearly as much cotton.
Therewas too much antislavery sentiment in Britain for them to support a countrysfight for the preservation of slaves. Besides, the Union also needed troops andslaves were eager to get out of their chains and fight for the North. Withoutemancipation the Civil War wouldnt mean enough. The reason for the SouthernStates secession in the first place was slavery. Lincoln thought that even ifthe Union was reunited there would be another war over slavery. However, hequestioned his own authority to abolish slavery.
When Lincoln was inaugurated hesaid he did not have the right to emancipate. However, as a wartime measure hefelt he did have the power to do so. So, Lincoln devised a plan to crush slaveryin the rebel states but preserve the loyalty of the Union slave states. His planwas called the Emancipation Proclamation.
The Emancipation Proclamation said allslaves were “then, thenceforward, and forever free” on the first of January1863. Lincoln then planned to gradually emancipate slavery in the loyal states. However, the Union had not had a victory in a long time. Lincoln felt that ifthe proclamation were released then it would seem like an act of desperation.
So, he awaited a decisive military victory by the North. In July the Union waswhipped once again at the second battle of Bull Run. However, at the Battle ofAntietam McClellan tried to repel Lee in Maryland while he was advancing toPhiladelphia. He was successful and on September 17, 1862 Lee retreated back toVirginia. The Battle of Antietam was the bloodiest battle yet in the Civil War. It was the victory Lincoln had been waiting for.
Five days later, on thetwenty-third of September, Lincoln released the Emancipation Proclamation to thepress. This proclamation changed the Unions war effort. Before theEmancipation Proclamation the North was fighting for the preservation of theUnion. Now, the Union was fighting to free slaves as well. The EmancipationProclamation also let black men serve in the army. By the end of the war morethan 180,000 blacks would enlist in the Union army and would serve in everytheater of war.
During a New Years day reception Lincoln and his cabinet leftthe party and went into Lincolns office. There, Lincoln read them the finaldraft of the Emancipation Proclamation. “If my name ever goes into history itwill be for this act,” he said. Although many rejoiced over the EmancipationProclamation, there were some Northern Democrats who didnt care about theabolition of slavery and were angered by the Emancipation Proclamation.
NorthernDemocrats had supported the war to save the Union with slavery intact. They didnot want to fight for the freedom of slaves. The proclamation brought out a lotof anti-Lincoln feelings. Northern Democrats accused Lincoln of being a dictatorand a tyrant. However, Lincoln held his ground. When he was asked to change theEmancipation Proclamation Lincoln said, “I am a slow walker, but I never walkbackwards.
” In order to deal with the anti war northerners Lincoln suspendedthe right of habeas corpus in some areas of America. Habeas corpus is the rightto a fair trial in front of a judge. When an area is put under martial law thepeople of that area lose their rights to a trial along with some otherindividual rights. Lincoln felt it was necessary to declare martial law becausesouthern sympathizers in the North hurt the Union war effort.
Suspending theright of habeas corpus was legal because it was a measure of war to get rid ofthe “enemy in the rear. ” By 1863, the Union was hard pressed for soldiers. In fact, they needed soldiers so much that on March 3, 1863 Congress passed thefirst Conscription Act. The Conscription Act allowed Lincoln to draft menbetween the ages of 20 and 45. Only was a man allowed to get out of the draft ifhe could hire another man for $300 to take his place in the army. Betweenmartial law and the new draft law there were a lot of anti-war feelingsthroughout the country.
In 1863, Northern Democrats organized a peace movementto end the whole war. These Peace Democrats protested against Lincoln, thedraft, the Emancipation Proclamation, Martial Law, and blacks in military. Lincoln reminded his people that there were thousands of black soldiers fightingand dying for the Union cause: “You say you will not fight to free Negroes. Some of them seem willing to fight for you. .
. . Why should they do anything forus if we will do nothing for them? If they stake their lives for us, they mustbe prompted by the strongest motiveeven the promise of freedom. And thepromise being made, must be kept. ” Lincolns fellow Republicans foughtagainst the anti-war Democrats as well.
The pro-war Republicans called the PeaceDemocrats “Copperheads. ” The Republicans said Peace Democrats were hurtingthe war effort and helping the rebels. Lincoln fought against the Copperheadswith martial law. He told army officers to arrest anyone who obstructed thedraft or helped the rebels in any way. Draft riots broke out across the country.
In New York City on July 13, 1863 mobs went through the city attacking houses,shops, and people for days. In total, 128 people were killed; most of which wereblack. Lincoln was still having trouble finding good commanders. At AntietamMcClellan defeated Lee but failed to pursue him when he retreated.
“McClellanhas got the slows,” said Lincoln. In November 1862, Lincoln fired the cautiousMcClellan. Then, Lincoln tried Generals Burnside and Hooker, both of whichfailed. After General Hooker, Lincoln tried General George Meade, who rushed toPennsylvania to stop Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 1, 1863. There,170,000 troops clashed.
The Battle of Gettysburg was the bloodiest battle of thewar. By, July 4, with 50,000 casualties on both sides Lees troops began toretreat. When Lincoln learned of this he told Meade to go after Lee and destroyhis army. Meade, however, hesitated– letting Lees men escape. “We had themin our grasp,” said Lincoln. “We only had to stretch forth our hands andthey were ours.
” Four months after the Battle of Gettysburg a ceremony washeld to “dedicate a portion of it the Gettysburg battle field as the finalresting place of those who here gave their lives. ” (Gettysburg Address) EdwardEverett was the main speaker and spoke for about two hours. After Everett wasthrough, Lincoln said the few words that America now knows so well, theGettysburg Address. At the time Lincoln and most of the people who heard himspeak at Gettysburg were disappointed.
Little did they know how famous thosewords would become. On the western front things were looking bright. Ulysses S. Grant had been winning decisive victories. The day after the battle ofGettysburg, Grant had taken control of the last important Confederate strongholdon the Mississippi, Vicksburg.
Early in 1864, Lincoln appointed Grant as thecommander in chief of all Union armies. Together, Lincoln and Grant came up witha master plan to finally beat the Rebels. They planned to launch coordinateoffensives against the Confederacy from all directions. In the East, Grant wouldattack Lee in Virginia, driving towards the rebel capital, Richmond. In the westGeneral Sherman would go from Tennessee into Georgia, capturing Atlanta whichwas, at the time, a crucial railway center for the rebels.
From there, Shermanwould go towards Virginia, squeezing the Confederacy and eventually taking overtheir capital. Lincoln was hopeful. “Grant is the first general I have had. You know how it has been with all the rest. They wanted me to be the general.
Iam glad to find a man who can go ahead without me. ” In May 1864 the offensivebegan. Grant marched down to Virginia but was met my Lees newly rebuilt armyin a densely wooded area call the Wilderness. Grant fought three major battlesnear Richmond but still could not take the city. During Grants Wildernesscampaign roughly 54,000 Union soldiers were killed or wounded.
Things werebetter for Sherman. After a long siege at Atlanta the city fell and wasevacuated. Shermans men then went into the city and destroyed everything thatcould be used by the South for war. Sherman then marched through Georgia ruiningeverything in his path: crops, houses, livestock etc. Meanwhile, Grant wasslowly taking hold of Richmond.
By November the end of the war was in sight forthe Union. In the election of 1864 recent Union victories gave Lincoln muchsupport and sure enough, Lincoln was reelected on November 8, 1865. He had wonby almost half a million votes out of some four million cast. Lincoln felt heshould now, after winning the election, push for a Constitutional Amendmentpermanently outlawing slavery everywhere in the United States.
Lincoln pressuredanti-abolition Congressmen who apposed the amendment in the winter of 64. Finally, on January 31, 1865 Congress passed the 13th Amendment to theConstitution outlawing slavery “within the United States, or any place subjectto their jurisdiction. ” On March 4, 1865 Lincoln was sworn into office. In hisaddress he denigrated slavery, calling it a hateful and evil practice. He saidthat now that slavery had been abolished it was time for healing. However,Lincoln said he did not feel “malice” towards Southerners.
Even as Lincolnspoke, the Union victory machine was in action. Sherman marched up the coastcapturing the city of Savannah. Then, he moved up towards Virginia and on hisway captured Charleston, South Carolina. Then on April 2, after a long siege,the Confederate capital, Richmond, was evacuated and the Confederate governmentwas moved to their new capital in Danville, Virginia.
The next day Union troopsmoved in to officially take control of the city. Then, on April 9, 1865 Lee andGrant met with their armies at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia. There, Grantaccepted Lees surrender. Lees men then lay down their weapons, thus,ending the long Civil War. The Civil War had lasted almost four years.
More than600,000 United States men had died. Thats more than the total number of liveslost from every war the U. S has fought in combined. Neither side had expectedthe war to last as long as it did or for the war to put an end to slavery. Afterthe Civil War, many friends of President Lincoln were worried about the safetyof his life. He had been receiving threats of assassination in the mail andeveryone knew how much hate there was towards Lincoln, especially from theex-Confederates.
So, bodyguards, cavalry escorts, and even troops camping out onthe White House lawn protected Lincoln as best they could. However, all theprecautions failed. On, the night of April 14, 1865 Lincoln and his wifeattended the theater. Then, in the third act John Wilkes Booth came into thePresidents box and shot Lincoln in the head.
Doctors rushed to try and savethe wounded President. However, on the morning of April 15, 1865 Abraham Lincolndied in his bed at the age of 56. Lincolns funeral was held in the East Roomof the White House on April 19, 1865. After his funeral a long processioncarried the President to the Capital Building.
On the 21st a funeral trainbrought Lincoln to his final resting-place in Springfield, Illinois. A GREATCOMMANDER WHO HANDLED SLAVERY WELL In the Civil War, Lincoln was a greatcommander. For most of the war he had trouble finding a good commander to run acampaign in the East. So, Lincoln was forced to almost single handedly head theUnion campaign in the East. Early in the war, Lincoln could rely on the goodstrategic advice of his general in chief, Winfield Scott. Scott had proposed the”Anaconda Plan.
” In his plan, Scott wanted to blockade the Southern coastand take control of the Mississippi squeezing the Confederacy and isolating themcompletely. Lincoln agreed with his plan but wanted to go further. He wanted theUnion to take more of an offensive. So, he tightened the blockade and called formore troops.
In this sense Lincoln was ruthless. Later, towards the end of thewar, Lincoln, with the help of General Grant devised the plan that crushed therebellion. Today, when we think of Lincoln, the fact that he was a goodcommander doesnt stand out in our minds. However, after carefully lookingover his bold, decisive actions in the Civil War I realized that he was indeed agreat commander. Lincoln handled slavery very well. Even though he was morallyagainst slavery he was careful in dealing with it.
His handling of slavery suitsRoosevelts saying, “Walk softly and carry a big stick. ” In the electionof 1860 Lincoln knew he had to have minimal enemies. So, as to not anger anypro-slavery voters Lincoln said he would not tamper with slavery in states inwhich it already existed. When Lincoln was inaugurated he said the same thing. He did this to try and keep America out of a Civil War. However, many slavestates felt they needed to expand slavery.
In order to do so they needed to getout of Lincolns domain. Once slave states started seceding Lincoln knew hehad to crush the rebellion, but keep the border slave states loyal. So, Lincoln,once again, promised he would not take away their slavery. By doing this he kepta lot of Union support. Lincolns Emancipation Proclamation raised a lot ofanti-war feelings.
Before announcing his plan he consulted politicians from theloyal slave states to make sure they approved. In his original plan Lincoln wasgoing to start emancipation in loyal states. However, after listening to theviews of a Kentucky Congressman Lincoln found that the border slave states wouldbe infuriated if they became free states. At that point, when Lincoln waswriting the Emancipation Proclamation, the Union was being beaten right and leftand could not afford to lose the loyalty of the border states. Throughout thewar Lincoln had the support of Republicans.
However, after the EmancipationProclamation was released many neutral and pro-war people became critical ofLincoln and the war. To control these Copperheads Lincoln declared martial lawin certain parts of the country. In this sense he carried “a big stick. “After Lincoln won the election of 1864 he decided it was time to push forwardwith emancipation.
If his actions had been too strong before the election hewould have lost a lot of votes. So, that winter Lincoln started stronglypressing for the 13th Amendment, outlawing slavery permanently. Lincolnstiming for the amendment was impeccable. Also, to ensure two-thirds vote in thehouse, Lincoln asked an Ohio congressman to get three doubtful Democratic votesfor the 13th Amendment by bribing the doubtful voters with certain positions inoffice and other areas that Lincoln had influence over. The greatest thingLincoln ever did was handle slavery so well.
He appeased the border states bynot taking away slavery in their states and in that sense he walked”softly. ” He had to deal with the Copperheads with an iron fist and in thatsense Lincoln carried “a big stick. ” In general Lincoln is an American herobut he is most famed and rightfully famed for the freeing of slaves. INCONCLUSION Lincoln was one of the best Presidents, if not the best, in Americanhistory. In his era, Lincoln was viewed by some as dictator and a tyrant. However, over time the American people have come to recognize and appreciatewhat Lincoln has done more and more to the extent of the Lincoln Memorial andhis face on Mount Rushmore.
He governed the country at possibly the mostcritical time in the United States history, a time when the very existence ofAmerica was at stake. We were lucky to have Lincoln in office during that time. He has affected the world today more than any other man in that century. Hehandled slavery extremely well and was a great commander. His speaking abilityengrossed audiences throughout his career.
He died because of what he believedin and he will never be forgotten. I personally, believe that Abraham Lincolnwas the finest President this country has ever had.