Abraham Lincoln And The Civil War

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, remains one of the most pivotal figures in American history, particularly for his leadership during the Civil War. This period, arguably the nation’s most turbulent, tested the very fabric of American society, democracy, and the principle of unity. Lincoln’s Presidency, which spanned from 1861 until his assassination in 1865, was dominated by this conflict, shaping his policies, his leadership style, and, ultimately, his legacy.

This article explores Lincoln’s profound connection with the Civil War, examining his role, decisions, and the enduring impact of his leadership on the United States.

Who Was Abraham Lincoln?

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States. He was born on February 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky. Both of his parents were born in Virginia and were born of undistinguished families. Lincoln’s mother died when he was at the tender age of 10. When Lincoln was eight, his father moved him and his family to Indiana. There were many

Bears and other wild animals were still in the area at the time of their relocation. At the age of 18, Lincoln could read, write, and cipher, but that was about it. He made extraordinary efforts to attain knowledge while working on a farm. He was a captain in the Black Hawk War, spent eight years in the Illinois legislature, and rode the circuit of courts for many years.

In 1858, Lincoln married Mary Todd, and they had four boys. Only one of the boys, though, lived to maturity. In 1858, Lincoln ran against Stephen A. Douglas for Senator. Although he lost the election, debating with Douglas gained a national reputation that won him the Republican nomination for President in 1860.

As President, he built the Republican party into a strong national organization. He rallied most of the northern Democrats to the Union cause. On January 1, 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation that declared forever free those slaves in the Confederacy. Lincoln would never let the world forget that the Civil War involved even a larger issue. In his struggle to maintain the Union at all costs, the war had found an even higher purpose.

In 1864, Lincoln won re-election as the Union military triumphs heralded an end to the war. The President was flexible and generous, encouraging Southerners to lay down their arms and join speedily in the reunion. The Second Inaugural Address was the spirit that clearly guided him.

On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theater in Washington. John Wilkes Booth, an actor, somehow thought that by killing the President, he was helping the South win a cause that was already fought in the war. The opposite was the result, for with Lincoln’s death, the possibility of peace with magnanimity died.

Lincoln’s Ascendancy and the Onset of the Civil War

Abraham Lincoln’s Presidency, from beginning to end, was filled with nothing more than trying to put an end to the Civil War. It began when he took office and ended towards the end of his life.

The Campaign of 1860 was a campaign that would decide the United States’ fate. There were two main candidates, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas; Buchanan had retired from public service. The South had said that if Abraham Lincoln won the Campaign of 1860 and became the next President, they would withdraw from the Union. Abraham Lincoln won the Presidency in 1860, having won two-thirds of the electoral votes, but he only had forty percent of the popular vote.

President Abraham Lincoln had quite a bit to deal with: within the first four months of him becoming President seven states had already seceded from the Union, letting him know that he was not wanted as President. However, Lincoln had a job to do: his main interest at this point was keeping the Union together, and he did not have any real concerns about abolishing slavery.

When the southern states of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas seceded, they formed the Confederate States. The Confederate states had set out to attack Fort Sumter in 1861. Lincoln tried to halt this attempt by ordering the navy to blockade southern ports, thus preventing the trade of the South’s moneymaker, cotton. This also prevented the South from obtaining manufactured goods it needed from the North, goods that were essential, such as guns and clothing, the South could not produce for itself. The beginning of the war forced four more states to reluctantly join the Confederacy.

Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Arkansas felt they had no other choice due to the fact they also were slave states.

The main problem the South had was that they did not have a Unified Army. They had regional pride: each state or region would have its own small army, and there was not a lot of unification. But they soon got their act together; when the first real battle of the Civil War took place at a creek called Bull Run, the Confederates surprised the Union. Under the leadership of General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, the Confederate army soon sent the Union running back to Washington. With this defeat, the Northerners realized that this was not just a rebellion that would be easily defeated; this was WAR.

After losing the battle of Bull Run, Lincoln changed generals; his newly appointed General was George B. McClellan. During the summer of 1862, General Robert Lee and General George McClellan met again at Bull Run; this meeting would mean a second victory for the Confederate Army at Bull Run. Then Lee moved onward North into the Union State of Maryland. In Maryland, the Battle of Antietam occurred. This is considered one of the bloodiest days of the Civil War. Both the Union and Confederate armies suffered great losses. This was barely a victory for the Union army, but it was a victory. With this loss, Lee retreated back towards the South; the Union gave chase but was not quick enough to catch them.

With the victory at Antietam, Lincoln choose this time to deliver The Emancipation Proclamation: this executive order freed the slaves in the areas that rebellion was established, but it did not free the slaves in the Union slave states or in areas that the Union recaptured. At this point, the point of the war completely changed from preservation of the Union to the abolition of slavery.

Lincoln also decided to change generals again: he was not satisfied with the performance of McClellan, nor was he satisfied with the next two generals, General Ambrose Burnside and General Joseph Hooker: neither of these really wanted the job. Finally, Lincoln appointed General George Meade; very soon after his appointment, there came the bloodiest, most gruesome battle of the Civil War, Gettysburg.

This battle was fought on July 1, 1863: it was a hard battle, and it became a Union victory, with more than forty-five thousand men killed and wounded. It was a devastating site for both Meade and Lee. General Lee had lost almost two-thirds of his entire army, and Meade had lost one-fourth of his. Their thoughts were focused on the fact that there were so many dead for the cause.

Lincoln chose to travel to Gettysburg at this time to deliver what is now known as the Gettysburg Address. The address was 272 words long and did not mention slavery, the battle, or the Union Army. It was widely accepted by all people.

After Gettysburg, Lincoln decided to change Generals again. This time, his choice was Ulysses S. Grant, his best chance for the Union yet. Grant was a fighter; he captured important Confederate forts in Tennessee and led the Union army in a battle at Vicksburg, where he won. Then Grant’s only thought was getting Lee and Richmond.

This was the beginning of the end, with William Tecumseh Sherman destroying the Confederate’s way of getting materials to fight the war by destroying railroads, factories, and plantations. He was breaking the spirit of the Confederacy: when Sherman burned Atlanta, it was all but over. Grant surrounded Richmond, and it fell to the Union army on April 3, 1865. Lee surrendered, and it was a mournful day for the Confederacy: the Union had stripped it of its most valued treasure, its PRIDE, and the Confederacy was on its knees, they thought, never to rise again.

Lincoln’s Legacy

Abraham Lincoln’s role in the Civil War defines much of his legacy. His leadership preserved the Union, abolished slavery, and set the United States on a path toward reconciliation and healing. Lincoln’s vision for America, one in which all individuals are guaranteed the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, continues to inspire.

Abraham Lincoln on Mount Rushmore

The Civil War, under Lincoln’s Presidency, was a crucible that tested and ultimately strengthened the ideals upon which the United States was founded. Lincoln’s steadfast commitment to these ideals in the face of unprecedented challenges underscores his place as one of the most significant figures in American history. His life and leadership during the Civil War era offer enduring lessons on courage, integrity, and the importance of national unity.

As we reflect on Lincoln’s contributions and the monumental period of the Civil War, we are reminded of the resilience of the American spirit and the costs of freedom and equality. Lincoln’s legacy, characterized by his unwavering commitment to the Union and the principles of democracy, continues to resonate, embodying the highest ideals of American leadership and the unending pursuit of a more perfect union.

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