Abraham hardly any formal education. In fact,

Abraham Lincoln, Honest Abe, is one of the greatest American Presidents.

He is known today for his Presidency in which he fought the Confederacy during
the Civil War and abolished slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation and later
the Thirteenth Amendment. He was an intelligent, honest, and just leader who
governed at a critical time in American history. PRE-PRESIDENCY Lincoln was born
on 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 on
his familys farm clearing fields and tending crops. He liked to read but
unfortunately received hardly any formal education. In fact, his entire
schooling only amounted to about one year of attendance. (Brit. 23) In 1830
Lincolns family moved to Illinois. Lincoln didnt want to be a farmer, so
he tried other professions: rail-splitter, flatboat man, storekeeper,
postmaster, surveyor, an army man, and a profession in Law. In 1932 Lincoln, at
twenty-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 get
going. In response, he joined the Army. After his short wartime, Lincoln
returned to politics and lost the race of Illinois Legislature. In 1834 he ran
again and was elected- second of thirteen. At the age of 25 Lincoln was a member
of the Illinois Legislature. After his term in the legislature, Lincoln found he
needed more money. So, he started studying law on his own. He accepted a job in
Springfield at John Todd Stuarts practice. In the late 1830s Lincoln found
the love of his life, Mary Ann Todd, the daughter of a rich banker. She got
engaged to Abe in 1840 and the two were married in 1842. They had thee children
together, Willie and Tad Lincoln. In 1946 Lincoln won the Whig nomination for a
seat 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 Lincoln
opposed, and slavery. Lincoln was not an anti-slavery crusader. However, he did
vote in Congress to stop it from spreading. Morally, Lincoln hated slavery and
said slaver was “founded on both injustice and bad policy.” He wanted to
abolish slavery over time because he thought dramatic actions to end slavery
would lead to violence. Lincoln felt that Congress should not interfere with
slavery 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 1850s
Senator Stephen Douglas opened the issue of slavery in the territories of Kansas
and Nebraska. In 1854, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska act, allowing the
issue of slavery in Kansas and Nebraska to be decided by popular sovereignty.

Lincoln was “thunderstruck and stunned.” This act brought him back into
politics. He felt obligated to speak out against the Kansas-Nebraska act. So,
after Lincoln left law he traveled across Illinois campaigning for anti-slavery
Whigs. In his campaigning Lincoln called slavery a “cancer” and a”monstrous injustice.” He said he believed in the Declaration of
Independence, which states “all men are created equal.” However, he wasnt
sure of what to do with slavery in the states where it already existed in. In
1856, Lincoln switched from the Whig Party to the Republican Party because the
Whigs were weak and could never unite against slavery. Lincoln felt that if he
wanted to make a point he would have to be with a strong party. In 1858, Lincoln
won the Republican Nomination for the Illinois Senate seat. He wanted the seat
of his long time rival, Senator Stephen Douglas. In Lincolns first speech for
his Senate campaign Lincoln said, “I believe this government cannot endure,
permanently, half slave and half free.” Lincoln warned his opponents that the
spread of slavery must be stopped or else it would become “lawful in all the
states; old as well as new- north as well as south.” In July of 1958, Lincoln
challenged 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 half
free and half slave. Douglas said whites made this country therefore they should
run it. Lincoln wanted equality. During one debate Lincoln said: “There is no
reason in the world why the Negro is not entitled to all the natural rights
enumerated in the Declaration of Independence, the right of life, liberty and
the pursuit of happiness. I hold that he is as much entitled to these as the
white 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 across
Illinois. Lincoln kept debating and got a lot of Republican support. Lincoln got
so much support that the Republicans felt he could win the presidential
election. So, they tried to get him nominated. The Lincoln-Douglas debates were
incredibly crucial to Lincolns future career. It was this series of debates
that made Lincoln well known throughout the country. In fact, Lincoln probably
would not have won the Presidential Election in 1860 if he hadnt debated with
Douglas. Douglas was far better known than Lincoln was throughout the country
and in Illinois. At the Lincoln-Douglas debates people from miles around would
come to watch the two men speak in the remote towns of Illinois. Reporters from
around the nation came and jotted down what the two men said. What was said at
the 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 been
for these debates. PRESIDENCY PRE-CIVIL-WAR At the Illinois Republican
Convention in May 1860 Lincoln was chosen as the Republicans favorite
Presidential Candidate. One week later at the National Republican Convention,
Lincoln was nominated on the third ballot. Lincoln was running against two
Democrats Stephen Douglas of Illinois, and John C. Breckenridge, a southern
Democrat from Kentucky. On Election DayNovember 6, 1860Lincoln won the
election with 1,866,000 votes. He carried every Northern State. Southerners
hated this “black Republican” and his name did not appear on any southern
ballots. Douglas got 1,377,000 votes and Breckenridge received 850,000. If the
Democratic Party had not split Lincoln would not have been elected. Douglas and
Breckenridges votes combined were more than the total number of votes for
Lincoln. So, if Breckenridge hadnt run, almost all Democratic votes would
have gone to Douglas. I also believe, that if Douglas were elected, a civil war
would not have broken out. Douglas believed the nation could endure half-free
half slave. He did not feel strongly about slavery. Unlike Lincoln, Douglas did
not care if slavery spread through America. If it werent for Lincoln slavery
could have spread into new states and territories. It was Lincolns boldness
against slavery that created nation wide freedom in America. As soon as Lincoln
was elected some southern states threatened to secede from the Union. The South
hated Lincoln. An Atlanta newspaper said, “Let the consequences be what they
may… the south will never submit such humiliation and degradation as the
inauguration of Abraham Lincoln.” And so, sure enough, in December, the slave
state South Carolina seceded from the Union. During the next three months before
Lincolns inauguration, seven more slave states seceded from the Union and
formed the Confederate States of America with their capital in Richmond,
Virginia. In February, Senator Jefferson Davis of Mississippi became the
president of the Confederacy. On the 4th of March 1861, Lincoln was sworn into
office. In his inaugural address Lincoln told the people he would not tamper
with slavery in the states where it already existed. “I have no purpose,
directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of slavery in the
states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no
inclination to do so.” Little did the people know what Lincoln was going to
do. He later said in his address “In your the American people hands, my
dissatisfied 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 saved
without any blood. However, On April 14, 1861 Fort Sumter, at the entrance to
the Charleston Harbor in South Carolina, was taken over by the Confederacy. The
long Civil War had begun. The Union had claimed the loyalty of 23 states, 22
million 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. Throughout
most of the Civil War this would be a constant problem. The Confederacy had 11
states, 9 million people of which almost four million were slaves. Its economy
was agricultural. Unlike the Union, the Confederacy “held a monopoly of
military talent.” (LPB 73) Soldiers also knew the land on which the war was
fought and had acquired military skills from hunting. Lincoln decided he needed
to keep other countries from helping the confederacy. So, he set up naval
blockades in Confederate ports. Then, Lincoln launched three major offensives:
One into Virginia, another into Tennessee, and a third to take control of the
Mississippi River. He gave General George B. McClellan control of eastern
armies. 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 his
wife Mary and his two boys: Willie and Tad. However, in February of 1862 both
boys became ill. Tad recovered. Willie, on the other hand, was not as fortunate.

On February 20, 1862 William Wallace Lincoln died. This devastated the Lincoln
family. Mary was so disturbed that she could not attend his funeral. By the
spring of 62, the north had captured New Orleans and was gaining control of
the Mississippi. Around June, McClellan led his troops to Richmond. He brought
his troops there slowly and thus, the Confederates found out and had time to
muster their defenses. While McClellans troops were waiting outside of
Richmond, Lee launched a counter-offensive driving McClellan all the way back to
the James River. More than 23,000 men were killed, wounded, or missing.

McClellans long anticipated attack on Richmond had failed. On the eastern
front the Union had not won a battle yet and he could not find a competent
commander. So, he made himself the Commander in Chief of all armies. McClellan
remained supreme commander. Lincoln tried General Henry W. Halleck at the top
military position. He was a failure. Halleck gave good advice but was a flake
when it came to being decisive in military action. Initially, Lincoln stated
that he would leave slavery alone where it existed. However, abolitionists were
urging Lincoln to “teach rebels and traitors that the price they are to pay
for the attempt to abolish this country must be the abolition of slavery.” On
the other hand, there were also Northerners who supported the Union but not
emancipation. Lincoln worried about the support of these states and the loyal
slave states: Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, and Delaware. Lincoln wanted to
start emancipation in the loyal states and sweep the rebel states with it as
they were conquered, giving money to slave owners as their slaves were freed. He
suggested this plan to the loyal slave states congressmen. However, they
didnt like it. “Emancipation in the cotton states is simply an
absurdity,” said a Kentucky congressman. So, Lincoln changed his plan. He
realized that slavery was crucial to the Souths success in the war. If he
could get rid of slavery the south would be crippled and would lose any support
from Britain. Britain was willing to help the south because they supplied cotton
to them. Without slaves the South could not produce nearly as much cotton. There
was too much antislavery sentiment in Britain for them to support a countrys
fight for the preservation of slaves. Besides, the Union also needed troops and
slaves were eager to get out of their chains and fight for the North. Without
emancipation the Civil War wouldnt mean enough. The reason for the Southern
States secession in the first place was slavery. Lincoln thought that even if
the Union was reunited there would be another war over slavery. However, he
questioned his own authority to abolish slavery. When Lincoln was inaugurated he
said he did not have the right to emancipate. However, as a wartime measure he
felt he did have the power to do so. So, Lincoln devised a plan to crush slavery
in the rebel states but preserve the loyalty of the Union slave states. His plan
was called the Emancipation Proclamation. The Emancipation Proclamation said all
slaves were “then, thenceforward, and forever free” on the first of January
1863. 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 if
the 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 was
whipped once again at the second battle of Bull Run. However, at the Battle of
Antietam McClellan tried to repel Lee in Maryland while he was advancing to
Philadelphia. He was successful and on September 17, 1862 Lee retreated back to
Virginia. 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 the
twenty-third of September, Lincoln released the Emancipation Proclamation to the
press. This proclamation changed the Unions war effort. Before the
Emancipation Proclamation the North was fighting for the preservation of the
Union. Now, the Union was fighting to free slaves as well. The Emancipation
Proclamation also let black men serve in the army. By the end of the war more
than 180,000 blacks would enlist in the Union army and would serve in every
theater of war. During a New Years day reception Lincoln and his cabinet left
the party and went into Lincolns office. There, Lincoln read them the final
draft of the Emancipation Proclamation. “If my name ever goes into history it
will be for this act,” he said. Although many rejoiced over the Emancipation
Proclamation, there were some Northern Democrats who didnt care about the
abolition of slavery and were angered by the Emancipation Proclamation. Northern
Democrats had supported the war to save the Union with slavery intact. They did
not want to fight for the freedom of slaves. The proclamation brought out a lot
of anti-Lincoln feelings. Northern Democrats accused Lincoln of being a dictator
and a tyrant. However, Lincoln held his ground. When he was asked to change the
Emancipation Proclamation Lincoln said, “I am a slow walker, but I never walk
backwards.” In order to deal with the anti war northerners Lincoln suspended
the right of habeas corpus in some areas of America. Habeas corpus is the right
to a fair trial in front of a judge. When an area is put under martial law the
people of that area lose their rights to a trial along with some other
individual rights. Lincoln felt it was necessary to declare martial law because
southern sympathizers in the North hurt the Union war effort. Suspending the
right of habeas corpus was legal because it was a measure of war to get rid of
the “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 the
first Conscription Act. The Conscription Act allowed Lincoln to draft men
between the ages of 20 and 45. Only was a man allowed to get out of the draft if
he could hire another man for $300 to take his place in the army. Between
martial law and the new draft law there were a lot of anti-war feelings
throughout the country. In 1863, Northern Democrats organized a peace movement
to end the whole war. These Peace Democrats protested against Lincoln, the
draft, the Emancipation Proclamation, Martial Law, and blacks in military.

Lincoln reminded his people that there were thousands of black soldiers fighting
and 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 for
us if we will do nothing for them? If they stake their lives for us, they must
be prompted by the strongest motiveeven the promise of freedom. And the
promise being made, must be kept.” Lincolns fellow Republicans fought
against the anti-war Democrats as well. The pro-war Republicans called the Peace
Democrats “Copperheads.” The Republicans said Peace Democrats were hurting
the war effort and helping the rebels. Lincoln fought against the Copperheads
with martial law. He told army officers to arrest anyone who obstructed the
draft 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 were
black. Lincoln was still having trouble finding good commanders. At Antietam
McClellan defeated Lee but failed to pursue him when he retreated. “McClellan
has got the slows,” said Lincoln. In November 1862, Lincoln fired the cautious
McClellan. Then, Lincoln tried Generals Burnside and Hooker, both of which
failed. After General Hooker, Lincoln tried General George Meade, who rushed to
Pennsylvania 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 the
war. By, July 4, with 50,000 casualties on both sides Lees troops began to
retreat. When Lincoln learned of this he told Meade to go after Lee and destroy
his army. Meade, however, hesitated– letting Lees men escape. “We had them
in our grasp,” said Lincoln. “We only had to stretch forth our hands and
they were ours.” Four months after the Battle of Gettysburg a ceremony was
held to “dedicate a portion of it the Gettysburg battle field as the final
resting place of those who here gave their lives.” (Gettysburg Address) Edward
Everett was the main speaker and spoke for about two hours. After Everett was
through, Lincoln said the few words that America now knows so well, the
Gettysburg Address. At the time Lincoln and most of the people who heard him
speak at Gettysburg were disappointed. Little did they know how famous those
words would become. On the western front things were looking bright. Ulysses S.

Grant had been winning decisive victories. The day after the battle of
Gettysburg, Grant had taken control of the last important Confederate stronghold
on the Mississippi, Vicksburg. Early in 1864, Lincoln appointed Grant as the
commander in chief of all Union armies. Together, Lincoln and Grant came up with
a master plan to finally beat the Rebels. They planned to launch coordinate
offensives against the Confederacy from all directions. In the East, Grant would
attack Lee in Virginia, driving towards the rebel capital, Richmond. In the west
General Sherman would go from Tennessee into Georgia, capturing Atlanta which
was, at the time, a crucial railway center for the rebels. From there, Sherman
would go towards Virginia, squeezing the Confederacy and eventually taking over
their 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. I
am glad to find a man who can go ahead without me.” In May 1864 the offensive
began. Grant marched down to Virginia but was met my Lees newly rebuilt army
in a densely wooded area call the Wilderness. Grant fought three major battles
near Richmond but still could not take the city. During Grants Wilderness
campaign roughly 54,000 Union soldiers were killed or wounded. Things were
better for Sherman. After a long siege at Atlanta the city fell and was
evacuated. Shermans men then went into the city and destroyed everything that
could be used by the South for war. Sherman then marched through Georgia ruining
everything in his path: crops, houses, livestock etc. Meanwhile, Grant was
slowly taking hold of Richmond. By November the end of the war was in sight for
the Union. In the election of 1864 recent Union victories gave Lincoln much
support and sure enough, Lincoln was reelected on November 8, 1865. He had won
by almost half a million votes out of some four million cast. Lincoln felt he
should now, after winning the election, push for a Constitutional Amendment
permanently outlawing slavery everywhere in the United States. Lincoln pressured
anti-abolition Congressmen who apposed the amendment in the winter of 64.

Finally, on January 31, 1865 Congress passed the 13th Amendment to the
Constitution outlawing slavery “within the United States, or any place subject
to their jurisdiction.” On March 4, 1865 Lincoln was sworn into office. In his
address he denigrated slavery, calling it a hateful and evil practice. He said
that now that slavery had been abolished it was time for healing. However,
Lincoln said he did not feel “malice” towards Southerners. Even as Lincoln
spoke, the Union victory machine was in action. Sherman marched up the coast
capturing the city of Savannah. Then, he moved up towards Virginia and on his
way captured Charleston, South Carolina. Then on April 2, after a long siege,
the Confederate capital, Richmond, was evacuated and the Confederate government
was moved to their new capital in Danville, Virginia. The next day Union troops
moved in to officially take control of the city. Then, on April 9, 1865 Lee and
Grant met with their armies at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia. There, Grant
accepted Lees surrender. Lees men then lay down their weapons, thus,
ending the long Civil War. The Civil War had lasted almost four years. More than
600,000 United States men had died. Thats more than the total number of lives
lost from every war the U.S has fought in combined. Neither side had expected
the war to last as long as it did or for the war to put an end to slavery. After
the Civil War, many friends of President Lincoln were worried about the safety
of his life. He had been receiving threats of assassination in the mail and
everyone knew how much hate there was towards Lincoln, especially from the
ex-Confederates. So, bodyguards, cavalry escorts, and even troops camping out on
the White House lawn protected Lincoln as best they could. However, all the
precautions failed. On, the night of April 14, 1865 Lincoln and his wife
attended the theater. Then, in the third act John Wilkes Booth came into the
Presidents box and shot Lincoln in the head. Doctors rushed to try and save
the wounded President. However, on the morning of April 15, 1865 Abraham Lincoln
died in his bed at the age of 56. Lincolns funeral was held in the East Room
of the White House on April 19, 1865. After his funeral a long procession
carried the President to the Capital Building. On the 21st a funeral train
brought Lincoln to his final resting-place in Springfield, Illinois. A GREAT
COMMANDER WHO HANDLED SLAVERY WELL In the Civil War, Lincoln was a great
commander. For most of the war he had trouble finding a good commander to run a
campaign in the East. So, Lincoln was forced to almost single handedly head the
Union campaign in the East. Early in the war, Lincoln could rely on the good
strategic advice of his general in chief, Winfield Scott. Scott had proposed the
“Anaconda Plan.” In his plan, Scott wanted to blockade the Southern coast
and take control of the Mississippi squeezing the Confederacy and isolating them
completely. Lincoln agreed with his plan but wanted to go further. He wanted the
Union to take more of an offensive. So, he tightened the blockade and called for
more troops. In this sense Lincoln was ruthless. Later, towards the end of the
war, Lincoln, with the help of General Grant devised the plan that crushed the
rebellion. Today, when we think of Lincoln, the fact that he was a good
commander doesnt stand out in our minds. However, after carefully looking
over his bold, decisive actions in the Civil War I realized that he was indeed a
great commander. Lincoln handled slavery very well. Even though he was morally
against slavery he was careful in dealing with it. His handling of slavery suits
Roosevelts saying, “Walk softly and carry a big stick.” In the election
of 1860 Lincoln knew he had to have minimal enemies. So, as to not anger any
pro-slavery voters Lincoln said he would not tamper with slavery in states in
which 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 slave
states felt they needed to expand slavery. In order to do so they needed to get
out of Lincolns domain. Once slave states started seceding Lincoln knew he
had 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 kept
a lot of Union support. Lincolns Emancipation Proclamation raised a lot of
anti-war feelings. Before announcing his plan he consulted politicians from the
loyal slave states to make sure they approved. In his original plan Lincoln was
going to start emancipation in loyal states. However, after listening to the
views of a Kentucky Congressman Lincoln found that the border slave states would
be infuriated if they became free states. At that point, when Lincoln was
writing the Emancipation Proclamation, the Union was being beaten right and left
and could not afford to lose the loyalty of the border states. Throughout the
war Lincoln had the support of Republicans. However, after the Emancipation
Proclamation was released many neutral and pro-war people became critical of
Lincoln and the war. To control these Copperheads Lincoln declared martial law
in 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 forward
with emancipation. If his actions had been too strong before the election he
would have lost a lot of votes. So, that winter Lincoln started strongly
pressing for the 13th Amendment, outlawing slavery permanently. Lincolns
timing for the amendment was impeccable. Also, to ensure two-thirds vote in the
house, Lincoln asked an Ohio congressman to get three doubtful Democratic votes
for the 13th Amendment by bribing the doubtful voters with certain positions in
office and other areas that Lincoln had influence over. The greatest thing
Lincoln ever did was handle slavery so well. He appeased the border states by
not 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 that
sense Lincoln carried “a big stick.” In general Lincoln is an American hero
but he is most famed and rightfully famed for the freeing of slaves. IN
CONCLUSION Lincoln was one of the best Presidents, if not the best, in American
history. In his era, Lincoln was viewed by some as dictator and a tyrant.

However, over time the American people have come to recognize and appreciate
what Lincoln has done more and more to the extent of the Lincoln Memorial and
his face on Mount Rushmore. He governed the country at possibly the most
critical time in the United States history, a time when the very existence of
America 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. He
handled slavery extremely well and was a great commander. His speaking ability
engrossed audiences throughout his career. He died because of what he believed
in and he will never be forgotten. I personally, believe that Abraham Lincoln
was the finest President this country has ever had.


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