:
:

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln
Iconic black and white photograph of Lincoln showing his head and shoulders.
Abraham Lincoln at age 54, 1863
16th President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1861 – April 15, 1865
Vice President Hannibal Hamlin
Andrew Johnson
Preceded by James Buchanan
Succeeded by Andrew Johnson
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 7th district
In office
March 4, 1847 – March 3, 1849
Preceded by John Henry
Succeeded by Thomas Harris
Personal details
Born February 12, 1809
Hodgenville, Kentucky, U.S.
Died April 15, 1865 (aged 56)
Petersen House, Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political party Republican (1854–1865)
National Union (1864–1865)
Other political
affiliations
Whig (Before 1854)
Spouse(s) Mary Todd
Children Robert
Edward
William
Tad
Profession Lawyer
Religion  
See article
Signature
  Cursive signature in ink
Military service
Service/branch Illinois Militia
Years of service 1832
Battles/wars Black Hawk War

Abraham Lincoln Listeni/ˈbrəhæm ˈlɪŋkən/ (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. He successfully led his country through a great constitutional, military and moral crisis – the American Civil War – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and promoting economic and financial modernization. Reared in a poor family on the western frontier, Lincoln was mostly self-educated. He became a country lawyer, a Whig Party, Illinois state legislator in the 1830s, a one-term member of the United States House of Representatives in the 1840s, but he failed in two attempts to be elected to the United States Senate in the 1850s. After opposing the expansion of slavery in the United States in his campaign debates and speeches,[1] Lincoln secured the Republican Party nomination and was elected president in 1860.

Before Lincoln could take office in March of 1861, seven southern slave states declared their secession and formed the Confederacy. When war began with the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter on April 12, Lincoln concentrated on both the military and political dimensions of the war effort, seeking to reunify the nation. He vigorously exercised unprecedented war powers, including the arrest and detention without trial of thousands of suspected secessionists. He prevented British recognition of the Confederacy by skillfully handling the Trent affair late in 1861. His efforts toward the abolition of slavery include issuing his Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and encouraging Congress to propose what would become the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Lincoln closely supervised the war effort, especially the selection of top generals, including commanding general Ulysses S. Grant. He brought leaders of various factions of his party into his cabinet and pressured them to cooperate. Under his leadership, the Union set up a naval blockade that shut down the South's normal trade, took control of the border slave states at the start of the war, gained control of communications with gunboats on the southern river systems, and tried repeatedly to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond. Each time a general failed, Lincoln substituted another until finally Grant succeeded in 1865.

An exceptionally astute politician deeply involved with power issues in each state, he reached out to War Democrats and managed his own re-election in the 1864 presidential election. As the leader of the moderate faction of the Republican party, Lincoln found his policies and personality were "blasted from all sides": Radical Republicans demanded harsher treatment of the South, War Democrats desired more compromise, Copperheads despised him, and irreconcilable secessionists plotted his death.[2] Politically, Lincoln fought back with patronage, by pitting his opponents against each other, and by appealing to the American people with his powers of oratory.[3] His Gettysburg Address of 1863 became the most quoted speech in American history.[4] It was an iconic statement of America's dedication to the principles of nationalism, republicanism, equal rights, liberty, and democracy. At the close of the war, Lincoln held a moderate view of Reconstruction, seeking to reunite the nation speedily through a policy of generous reconciliation in the face of lingering and bitter divisiveness. But six days after the surrender of Confederate commanding general Robert E. Lee, Lincoln was assassinated by Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth. His death was the first assassination of a U.S. president and sent the nation into mourning. Lincoln has been consistently ranked by scholars and the public as one of the three greatest U.S. presidents.[5][6]

Family and childhood

Early life

Abraham Lincoln was born February 12, 1809, the second child of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Lincoln (née Hanks), in a one-room log cabin on the Sinking Spring Farm in Hardin County, Kentucky,[7] (now LaRue County). Lincoln's paternal grandfather and namesake, Abraham, had moved his family from Virginia to Jefferson County, Kentucky,[8][9] where he was ambushed and killed in an Indian raid in 1786, with his children, including Lincoln's father Thomas, looking on.[9] Thomas was left to make his own way on the frontier.[10] Lincoln's mother, Nancy, was the daughter of Lucy Hanks, and was born in what is now Mineral County, West Virginia, then part of Virginia. Lucy moved with Nancy to Kentucky. Nancy Hanks married Thomas, who became a respected citizen. He bought and sold several farms, including the Sinking Spring Farm. The family attended a Separate Baptists church, which had high moral standards and opposed alcohol, dancing, and slavery.[11] Thomas enjoyed considerable status in Kentucky—where he sat on juries, appraised estates, served on country slave patrols, and guarded prisoners. By the time his son Abraham was born, Thomas owned two 600-acre (240 ha) farms, several town lots, livestock, and horses. He was among the richest men in the county.[8][12] However, in 1816, Thomas lost all of his land in court cases because of faulty property titles.[13]

The family moved north across the Ohio River to free (i.e., non-slave) territory and made a new start in Perry County, Indiana. Lincoln later noted that this move was "partly on account of slavery" but mainly due to land title difficulties.[13] In Indiana, when Lincoln was nine, his mother Nancy died of milk sickness in 1818.[14] After the death of Lincoln's mother, his older sister, Sarah, took charge of caring for him until their father remarried in 1819; Sarah later died in her 20s while giving birth to a stillborn son.[15]

Thomas Lincoln's new wife was the widow Sarah Bush Johnston, the mother of three of her own children. Lincoln became very close to his stepmother, and referred to her as "Mother".[16] As a pre-teen, he did not like the hard labor associated with frontier life. Some in his family, and in the neighborhood, for a time considered him to be lazy.[17][18] As he grew into his teens, he willingly took responsibility for all chores expected of him as one of the boys in the household and became an adept axeman in his work building rail fences. He attained a reputation for brawn and audacity after a very competitive wrestling match to which he was challenged by the renowned leader of a group of ruffians, "the Clary's Grove boys".[19] Lincoln also agreed with the customary obligation of a son to give his father all earnings from work done outside the home until age 21.[14] In later years, Lincoln occasionally loaned his father money.[20] Lincoln became increasingly distant from his father, in part because of his father's lack of education. While young Lincoln's formal elementary education consisted approximately of a year's worth of classes from several itinerant teachers, he was mostly self-educated and was an avid reader.[21]

In 1830, fearing a milk sickness outbreak along the Ohio River, the Lincoln family moved west, where they settled on public land in Macon County, Illinois, another free, non-slave state.[22] In 1831, Thomas relocated the family to a new homestead in Coles County, Illinois. It was then that, as an ambitious 22-year-old, Lincoln decided to seek a better life and struck out on his own. Canoeing down the Sangamon River, Lincoln ended up in the village of New Salem in Sangamon County.[23] In the spring of 1831, hired by New Salem businessman Denton Offutt and accompanied by friends, he took goods by flatboat from New Salem to New Orleans via the Sangamon, Illinois, and Mississippi rivers. After arriving in New Orleans—and witnessing slavery firsthand—he walked back home.[24]

Marriage and children

Lincoln's first romantic interest was Ann Rutledge, whom he met when he first moved to New Salem; by 1835, they were in a relationship but not formally engaged. She died on August 25, most likely of typhoid fever.[25] In the early 1830s, he met Mary Owens from Kentucky when she was visiting her sister. Late in 1836, Lincoln agreed to a match with Mary if she returned to New Salem. Mary did return in November 1836, and Lincoln courted her for a time; however, they both had second thoughts about their relationship. On August 16, 1837, Lincoln wrote Mary a letter suggesting he would not blame her if she ended the relationship. She never replied and the courtship was over.[26]

In 1840, Lincoln became engaged to Mary Todd, who was from a wealthy slave-holding family in Lexington, Kentucky.[27] They met in Springfield, Illinois, in December 1839[28] and were engaged the following December.[29] A wedding set for January 1, 1841, was canceled when the two broke off their engagement at Lincoln's initiative.[28][30] They later met again at a party and married on November 4, 1842, in the Springfield mansion of Mary's married sister.[31] While preparing for the nuptials and feeling anxiety again, Lincoln, when asked where he was going, replied, "To hell, I suppose."[32]

In 1844, the couple bought a house in Springfield near Lincoln's law office. Mary Todd Lincoln kept house, often with the help of a relative or hired servant girl.[33] Robert Todd Lincoln was born in 1843 and Edward Baker Lincoln (Eddie) in 1846. Lincoln "was remarkably fond of children",[34] and the Lincolns were not considered to be strict with their children.[35] Edward died on February 1, 1850, in Springfield, likely of tuberculosis. "Willie" Lincoln was born on December 21, 1850, and died on February 20, 1862. The Lincolns' fourth son, Thomas "Tad" Lincoln, was born on April 4, 1853, and died of heart failure at the age of 18 on July 16, 1871.[36] Robert was the only child to live to adulthood and have children. His last descendant, grandson Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith, died in 1985.[37]

The deaths of their sons had profound effects on both parents. Later in life, Mary struggled with the stresses of losing her husband and sons, and Robert Lincoln committed her temporarily to a mental health asylum in 1875.[38] Abraham Lincoln suffered from "melancholy", a condition which now is referred to as clinical depression.[39]

Lincoln's father-in-law was based in Lexington, Kentucky; he and others of the Todd family were either slave owners or slave traders. Lincoln was close to the Todds, and he and his family occasionally visited the Todd estate in Lexington.[40] He was an affectionate, though often absent, husband and father of four children.

Early career and militia service

In 1832, at age 23, Lincoln and a partner bought a small general store on credit in New Salem, Illinois. Although the economy was booming in the region, the business struggled and Lincoln eventually sold his share. That March he began his political career with his first campaign for the Illinois General Assembly. He had attained local popularity and could draw crowds as a natural raconteur in New Salem, though he lacked an education, powerful friends, and money, which may be why he lost. He advocated navigational improvements on the Sangamon River.[41]

Before the election Lincoln served as a captain in the Illinois Militia during the Black Hawk War.[42] Following his return, Lincoln continued his campaign for the August 6 election for the Illinois General Assembly. At 6 feet 4 inches (193 cm),[43] he was tall and "strong enough to intimidate any rival". At his first speech, when he saw a supporter in the crowd being attacked, Lincoln grabbed the assailant by his "neck and the seat of his trousers" and threw him.[44] Lincoln finished eighth out of 13 candidates (the top four were elected), though he received 277 of the 300 votes cast in the New Salem precinct.[45]

Lincoln served as New Salem's postmaster and later as county surveyor, all the while reading voraciously. He then decided to become a lawyer and began teaching himself law by reading Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England and other law books. Of his learning method, Lincoln stated: "I studied with nobody".[46] His second campaign in 1834 was successful. He won election to the state legislature; though he ran as a Whig, many Democrats favored him over a more powerful Whig opponent.[47] Admitted to the bar in 1836,[48] he moved to Springfield, Illinois, and began to practice law under John T. Stuart, Mary Todd's cousin.[49] Lincoln became an able and successful lawyer with a reputation as a formidable adversary during cross-examinations and closing arguments. He partnered with Stephen T. Logan from 1841 until 1844, when he began his practice with William Herndon, whom Lincoln thought "a studious young man".[50] He served four successive terms in the Illinois House of Representatives as a Whig representative from Sangamon County.[51]

In the 1835–1836 legislative session, he voted to expand suffrage to white males, whether landowners or not.[52] He was known for his "free soil" stance of opposing both slavery and abolitionism. He first articulated this in 1837, saying, "Institution of slavery is founded on both injustice and bad policy, but the promulgation of abolition doctrines tends rather to increase than abate its evils."[53] He closely followed Henry Clay in supporting the American Colonization Society program of making the abolition of slavery practical by helping the freed slaves to settle in Liberia in Africa.[54]

Congressman Lincoln

From the early 1830s, Lincoln was a steadfast Whig and professed to friends in 1861 to be, "an old line Whig, a disciple of Henry Clay".[55] The party, including Lincoln, favored economic modernization in banking, protective tariffs to fund internal improvements including railroads, and espoused urbanization as well.[56]

In 1846, Lincoln was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served one two-year term. He was the only Whig in the Illinois delegation, but he showed his party loyalty by participating in almost all votes and making speeches that echoed the party line.[57] Lincoln, in collaboration with abolitionist Congressman Joshua R. Giddings, wrote a bill to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia with compensation for the owners, enforcement to capture fugitive slaves, and a popular vote on the matter. He abandoned the bill when it failed to garner sufficient Whig supporters.[58] On foreign and military policy, Lincoln spoke out against the Mexican–American War, which he attributed to President Polk's desire for "military glory—that attractive rainbow, that rises in showers of blood".[59] Lincoln also supported the Wilmot Proviso, which, if it had been adopted, would have banned slavery in any U.S. territory won from Mexico.[60]

Lincoln emphasized his opposition to Polk by drafting and introducing his Spot Resolutions. The war had begun with a Mexican slaughter of American soldiers in territory disputed by Mexico and the US; Polk insisted that Mexican soldiers had "invaded our territory and shed the blood of our fellow-citizens on our own soil".[61][62] Lincoln demanded that Polk show Congress the exact spot on which blood had been shed and prove that the spot was on American soil.[62] Congress never enacted the resolution or even debated it, the national papers ignored it, and it resulted in a loss of political support for Lincoln in his district. One Illinois newspaper derisively nicknamed him "spotty Lincoln".[63][64][65] Lincoln later regretted some of his statements, especially his attack on the presidential war-making powers.[66]

Realizing Clay was unlikely to win the presidency, Lincoln, who had pledged in 1846 to serve only one term in the House, supported General Zachary Taylor for the Whig nomination in the 1848 presidential election.[67] Taylor won and Lincoln hoped to be appointed Commissioner of the General Land Office, but that lucrative patronage job went to an Illinois rival, Justin Butterfield, considered by the administration to be a highly skilled lawyer, but in Lincoln's view, an "old fossil".[68] The administration offered him the consolation prize of secretary or governor of the Oregon Territory. This distant territory was a Democratic stronghold, and acceptance of the post would have effectively ended his legal and political career in Illinois, so he declined and resumed his law practice.[69]

Prairie lawyer

Lincoln returned to practicing law in Springfield, handling "every kind of business that could come before a prairie lawyer".[70] Twice a year for 16 years, 10 weeks at a time, he appeared in county seats in the midstate region when the county courts were in session.[71] Lincoln handled many transportation cases in the midst of the nation's western expansion, particularly the conflicts arising from the operation of river barges under the many new railroad bridges. As a riverboat man, Lincoln initially favored those interests, but ultimately represented whoever hired him.[72] His reputation grew, and he appeared before the Supreme Court of the United States, arguing a case involving a canal boat that sank after hitting a bridge.[73] In 1849, he received a patent for a flotation device for the movement of boats in shallow water. The idea was never commercialized, but Lincoln is the only president to hold a patent.[74][75]

In 1851, he represented Alton & Sangamon Railroad in a dispute with one of its shareholders, James A. Barret, who had refused to pay the balance on his pledge to buy shares in the railroad on the grounds that the company had changed its original train route.[76][77] Lincoln successfully argued that the railroad company was not bound by its original charter in existence at the time of Barret's pledge; the charter was amended in the public interest to provide a newer, superior, and less expensive route, and the corporation retained the right to demand Barret's payment. The decision by the Illinois Supreme Court has been cited by numerous other courts in the nation.[76] Lincoln appeared before the Illinois Supreme Court in 175 cases, in 51 as sole counsel, of which 31 were decided in his favor.[78] From 1853 to 1860, another of Lincoln's largest clients was the Illinois Central Railroad.[79]

Lincoln's most notable criminal trial occurred in 1858 when he defended William "Duff" Armstrong, who was on trial for the murder of James Preston Metzker.[80] The case is famous for Lincoln's use of a fact established by judicial notice in order to challenge the credibility of an eyewitness. After an opposing witness testified seeing the crime in the moonlight, Lincoln produced a Farmers' Almanac showing the moon was at a low angle, drastically reducing visibility. Based on this evidence, Armstrong was acquitted.[80] Lincoln rarely raised objections in the courtroom; but in an 1859 case, where he defended a cousin Peachy Harrison, who was accused of stabbing another to death, Lincoln angrily protested the judge's decision to exclude evidence favorable to his client. Instead of holding Lincoln in contempt of court as was expected, the judge, a Democrat, reversed his ruling, allowing the evidence and acquitting Harrison.[80][81]

Republican politics 1854–1860

Slavery and a "House Divided"

By the 1850s, slavery was still legal in the southern United States, but had been generally outlawed in the northern states, such as Illinois.[82] Lincoln disapproved of slavery, and the spread of slavery to new U.S. territory in the west.[83] He returned to politics to oppose the pro-slavery Kansas–Nebraska Act (1854); this law repealed the slavery-restricting Missouri Compromise (1820). Senior Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois had incorporated popular sovereignty into the Act. Douglas' provision, which Lincoln opposed, specified settlers had the right to determine locally whether to allow slavery in new U.S. territory, rather than have such a decision restricted by the national Congress.[84] Foner (2010) contrasts the abolitionists and anti-slavery Radical Republicans of the Northeast who saw slavery as a sin, with the conservative Republicans who thought it was bad because it hurt white people and blocked progress. Foner argues that Lincoln was a moderate in the middle, opposing slavery primarily because it violated the republicanism principles of the Founding Fathers, especially the equality of all men and democratic self-government as expressed in the Declaration of Independence.[85]

On October 16, 1854, in his "Peoria Speech", Lincoln declared his opposition to slavery, which he repeated en route to the presidency.[86] Speaking in his Kentucky accent, with a very powerful voice,[87] he said the Kansas Act had a "declared indifference, but as I must think, a covert real zeal for the spread of slavery. I cannot but hate it. I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world..."[88]

In late 1854, Lincoln ran as a Whig for the U.S. Senate seat from Illinois. At that time, senators were elected by the state legislature.[89] After leading in the first six rounds of voting in the Illinois assembly, his support began to dwindle, and Lincoln instructed his backers to vote for Lyman Trumbull, who defeated opponent Joel Aldrich Matteson.[90] The Whigs had been irreparably split by the Kansas–Nebraska Act. Lincoln wrote, "I think I am a Whig, but others say there are no Whigs, and that I am an abolitionist, even though I do no more than oppose the extension of slavery."[cite this quote] Drawing on remnants of the old Whig party, and on disenchanted Free Soil, Liberty, and Democratic party members, he was instrumental in forging the shape of the new Republican Party.[91] At the 1856 Republican National Convention, Lincoln placed second in the contest to become the party's candidate for vice president.[92]

In 1857–58, Douglas broke with President James Buchanan, leading to a fight for control of the Democratic Party. Some eastern Republicans even favored the reelection of Douglas for the Senate in 1858, since he had led the opposition to the Lecompton Constitution, which would have admitted Kansas as a slave state.[93] In March 1857, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford; Chief Justice Roger B. Taney opined that blacks were not citizens, and derived no rights from the Constitution. Lincoln denounced the decision, alleging it was the product of a conspiracy of Democrats to support the Slave Power[94] Lincoln argued, "The authors of the Declaration of Independence never intended 'to say all were equal in color, size, intellect, moral developments, or social capacity', but they 'did consider all men created equal—equal in certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness'."[95]

After the state Republican party convention nominated him for the U.S. Senate in 1858, Lincoln delivered his House Divided Speech, drawing on Mark 3:25: "A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved—I do not expect the house to fall—but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other."[96] The speech created an evocative image of the danger of disunion caused by the slavery debate, and rallied Republicans across the North.[97] The stage was then set for the campaign for statewide election of the Illinois legislature which would, in turn, select Lincoln or Douglas as its U.S. senator.[98]

Lincoln–Douglas debates and Cooper Union speech

The 1858 senate campaign featured the seven Lincoln–Douglas debates of 1858, the most famous political debates in American history.[99] The principals stood in stark contrast both physically and politically. Lincoln warned that "The Slave Power" was threatening the values of republicanism, and accused Douglas of distorting the values of the Founding Fathers that all men are created equal, while Douglas emphasized his Freeport Doctrine, that local settlers were free to choose whether to allow slavery or not, and accused Lincoln of having joined the abolitionists.[100] The debates had an atmosphere of a prize fight and drew crowds in the thousands. Lincoln stated Douglas's popular sovereignty theory was a threat to the nation's morality and that Douglas represented a conspiracy to extend slavery to free states. Douglas said that Lincoln was defying the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court and the Dred Scott decision.[101]

Though the Republican legislative candidates won more popular votes, the Democrats won more seats, and the legislature re-elected Douglas to the Senate. Despite the bitterness of the defeat for Lincoln, his articulation of the issues gave him a national political reputation.[102] In May 1859, Lincoln purchased the Illinois Staats-Anzeiger, a German-language newspaper which was consistently supportive; most of the state's 130,000 German Americans voted Democratic but there was Republican support that a German-language paper could mobilize.[103]

On February 27, 1860, New York party leaders invited Lincoln to give a speech at Cooper Union to a group of powerful Republicans. Lincoln argued that the Founding Fathers had little use for popular sovereignty and had repeatedly sought to restrict slavery. Lincoln insisted the moral foundation of the Republicans required opposition to slavery, and rejected any "groping for some middle ground between the right and the wrong".[104] Despite his inelegant appearance—many in the audience thought him awkward and even ugly[105]—Lincoln demonstrated an intellectual leadership that brought him into the front ranks of the party and into contention for the Republican presidential nomination. Journalist Noah Brooks reported, "No man ever before made such an impression on his first appeal to a New York audience."[106][107] Historian Donald described the speech as a "superb political move for an unannounced candidate, to appear in one rival's (William H. Seward) own state at an event sponsored by the second rival's (Salmon P. Chase) loyalists, while not mentioning either by name during its delivery."[108] In response to an inquiry about his presidential intentions, Lincoln said, "The taste is in my mouth a little."[109]

1860 Presidential nomination and campaign

On May 9–10, 1860, the Illinois Republican State Convention was held in Decatur.[110] Lincoln's followers organized a campaign team led by David Davis, Norman Judd, Leonard Swett, and Jesse DuBois, and Lincoln received his first endorsement to run for the presidency.[111] Exploiting the embellished legend of his frontier days with his father, Lincoln's supporters adopted the label of "The Rail Candidate".[112] On May 18, at the Republican National Convention in Chicago, Lincoln's friends promised and manipulated and won the nomination on the third ballot, beating candidates such as William H. Seward and Salmon P. Chase. A former Democrat Hannibal Hamlin of Maine was nominated for Vice President to balance the ticket. Lincoln's success depended on his reputation as a moderate on the slavery issue, and his strong support for Whiggish programs of internal improvements and the protective tariff.[113] On the third ballot Pennsylvania put him over the top. Pennsylvania iron interests were reassured by his support for protective tariffs.[114] Lincoln's managers had been adroitly focused on this delegation as well as the others, while following Lincoln's strong dictate to "Make no contracts that bind me".[115]

Most Republicans agreed with Lincoln that the North was the aggrieved party, as the Slave Power tightened its grasp on the national government with the Dred Scott decision and the presidency of James Buchanan. Throughout the 1850s, Lincoln doubted the prospects of civil war, and his supporters rejected claims that his election would incite secession.[116] Meanwhile, Douglas was selected as the candidate of the Northern Democrats, with Herschel Vespasian Johnson as the vice-presidential candidate. Delegates from 11 slave states walked out of the Democratic convention, disagreeing with Douglas's position on popular sovereignty, and ultimately selected John C. Breckinridge as their candidate.[117]

As Douglas and the other candidates went through with their campaigns, Lincoln was the only one of them who gave no speeches. Instead, he monitored the campaign closely and relied on the enthusiasm of the Republican Party. The party did the leg work that produced majorities across the North, and produced an abundance of campaign posters, leaflets, and newspaper editorials. There were thousands of Republican speakers who focused first on the party platform, and second on Lincoln's life story, emphasizing his childhood poverty. The goal was to demonstrate the superior power of "free labor", whereby a common farm boy could work his way to the top by his own efforts.[118] The Republican Party's production of campaign literature dwarfed the combined opposition; a Chicago Tribune writer produced a pamphlet that detailed Lincoln's life, and sold 100,000 to 200,000 copies.[119]

Presidency

1860 election and secession

On November 6, 1860, Lincoln was elected the 16th president of the United States, beating Democrat Stephen A. Douglas, John C. Breckinridge of the Southern Democrats, and John Bell of the new Constitutional Union Party. He was the first president from the Republican Party. Winning entirely on the strength of his support in the North and West, no ballots were cast for him in 10 of the 15 Southern slave states, and he won only two of 996 counties in all the Southern states.[120] Lincoln received 1,866,452 votes, Douglas 1,376,957 votes, Breckinridge 849,781 votes, and Bell 588,789 votes. Turnout was 82.2 percent, with Lincoln winning the free Northern states, as well as California and Oregon. Douglas won Missouri, and split New Jersey with Lincoln.[121] Bell won Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky, and Breckinridge won the rest of the South.[122] Although Lincoln won only a plurality of the popular vote, his victory in the electoral college was decisive: Lincoln had 180 and his opponents added together had only 123. There were fusion tickets in which all of Lincoln's opponents combined to support the same slate of Electors in New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island, but even if the anti-Lincoln vote had been combined in every state, Lincoln still would have won a majority in the Electoral College.[123]

As Lincoln's election became evident, secessionists made clear their intent to leave the Union before he took office the next March.[124] On December 20, 1860, South Carolina took the lead by adopting an ordinance of secession; by February 1, 1861, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas followed.[125][126] Six of these states then adopted a constitution and declared themselves to be a sovereign nation, the Confederate States of America.[125] The upper South and border states (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, and Arkansas) listened to, but initially rejected, the secessionist appeal.[127] President Buchanan and President-elect Lincoln refused to recognize the Confederacy, declaring secession illegal.[128] The Confederacy selected Jefferson Davis as its provisional President on February 9, 1861.[129]

There were attempts at compromise. The Crittenden Compromise would have extended the Missouri Compromise line of 1820, dividing the territories into slave and free, contrary to the Republican Party's free-soil platform.[130] Lincoln rejected the idea, saying, "I will suffer death before I consent ... to any concession or compromise which looks like buying the privilege to take possession of this government to which we have a constitutional right."[131] Lincoln, however, did support the Corwin Amendment to the Constitution, which had passed in Congress and protected slavery in those states where it already existed.[132] A few weeks before the war, he went so far as to pen a letter to every governor asking for their support in ratifying the Corwin Amendment as a means to avoid secession.[133]

En route to his inauguration by train, Lincoln addressed crowds and legislatures across the North.[134] The president-elect then evaded possible assassins in Baltimore, who were uncovered by Lincoln's head of security, Allan Pinkerton. On February 23, 1861, he arrived in disguise in Washington, D.C., which was placed under substantial military guard.[135] Lincoln directed his inaugural address to the South, proclaiming once again that he had no intention, or inclination, to abolish slavery in the Southern states:

The President ended his address with an appeal to the people of the South: "We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies ... The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."[137] The failure of the Peace Conference of 1861 signaled that legislative compromise was implausible. By March 1861, no leaders of the insurrection had proposed rejoining the Union on any terms. Meanwhile, Lincoln and nearly every Republican leader agreed that the dismantling of the Union could not be tolerated.[138]

War begins

The commander of Fort Sumter, South Carolina, Major Robert Anderson sent a request for provisions to Washington, and the execution of Lincoln's order to meet that request was seen by the secessionists as an act of war. On April 12, 1861, Confederate forces fired on Union troops at Fort Sumter, forcing them to surrender, and began the war. Historian Allan Nevins argued that the newly inaugurated Lincoln made three miscalculations: underestimating the gravity of the crisis, exaggerating the strength of Unionist sentiment in the South, and not realizing the Southern Unionists were insisting there be no invasion.[139] William Tecumseh Sherman talked to Lincoln during inauguration week and was "sadly disappointed" at his failure to realize that "the country was sleeping on a volcano" and that the South was preparing for war.[140] Donald concludes that, "His repeated efforts to avoid collision in the months between inauguration and the firing on Ft. Sumter showed he adhered to his vow not to be the first to shed fraternal blood. But he also vowed not to surrender the forts. The only resolution of these contradictory positions was for the confederates to fire the first shot; they did just that."[141]

On April 15, Lincoln called on all the states to send detachments totaling 75,000 troops to recapture forts, protect Washington, and "preserve the Union", which, in his view, still existed intact despite the actions of the seceding states. This call forced the states to choose sides. Virginia declared its secession and was rewarded with the Confederate capital, despite the exposed position of Richmond so close to Union lines. North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas also voted for secession over the next two months. Secession sentiment was strong in Missouri and Maryland, but did not prevail; Kentucky tried to be neutral.[142]

Troops headed south towards Washington to protect the capital in response to Lincoln's call. On April 19, secessionist mobs in Baltimore that controlled the rail links attacked Union troops traveling to the capital. George William Brown, the Mayor of Baltimore, and other suspect Maryland politicians were arrested and imprisoned, without a warrant, as Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus.[143] John Merryman, a leader in the secessionist group in Maryland, petitioned Chief Justice Roger B. Taney to issue a writ of habeas corpus, saying holding Merryman without a hearing was unlawful. Taney issued the writ, thereby ordering Merryman's release, but Lincoln ignored it. Then and throughout the war, Lincoln came under heavy, often vituperative attack from antiwar Democrats, called Copperheads.[144]

Assuming command for the Union in the war

After the fall of Fort Sumter, Lincoln realized the importance of taking immediate executive control of the war and making an overall strategy to put down the rebellion. Lincoln encountered an unprecedented political and military crisis, and he responded as commander-in-chief, using unprecedented powers. He expanded his war powers, and imposed a blockade on all the Confederate shipping ports, disbursed funds before appropriation by Congress, and after suspending habeas corpus, arrested and imprisoned thousands of suspected Confederate sympathizers. Lincoln was supported by Congress and the northern public for these actions. In addition, Lincoln had to contend with reinforcing strong Union sympathies in the border slave states and keeping the war from becoming an international conflict.[145]

The war effort was the source of continued disparagement of Lincoln, and dominated his time and attention. From the start, it was clear that bipartisan support would be essential to success in the war effort, and any manner of compromise alienated factions on both sides of the aisle, such as the appointment of Republicans and Democrats to command positions in the Union Army. Copperheads criticized Lincoln for refusing to compromise on the slavery issue. Conversely, the Radical Republicans criticized him for moving too slowly in abolishing slavery.[146] On August 6, 1861, Lincoln signed the Confiscation Act that authorized judiciary proceedings to confiscate and free slaves who were used to support the Confederate war effort. In practice the law had little effect, but it did signal political support for abolishing slavery in the Confederacy[147]

In late August 1861, General John C. Frémont, the 1856 Republican presidential nominee, issued, without consulting Washington, a proclamation of martial law in Missouri. He declared that any citizen found bearing arms could be court-martialed and shot, and that slaves of persons aiding the rebellion would be freed. Frémont was already under a cloud with charges of negligence in his command of the Department of the West compounded with allegations of fraud and corruption. Lincoln overruled Frémont's proclamation. Lincoln believed that Fremont's emancipation was political; neither militarily necessary nor legal.[148] Union enlistments from Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri increased by over 40,000 troops.[149]

The Trent Affair of late 1861 threatened war with Great Britain. The U.S. Navy illegally intercepted a British merchant ship the Trent on the high seas and seized two Confederate envoys; Britain protested vehemently while the U.S. cheered. Lincoln resolved the issue by releasing the two men and war was successfully averted with Britain.[150] Lincoln's foreign policy approach had been initially hands off, due to his inexperience; he left most diplomacy appointments and other foreign policy matters to his Secretary of State, William Seward. Seward's initial reaction to the Trent affair, however, was too bellicose, so Lincoln also turned to Senator Charles Sumner, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and an expert in British diplomacy.[151]

To learn technical military terms, Lincoln borrowed and studied Henry Halleck's book, Elements of Military Art and Science from the Library of Congress.[152] Lincoln painstakingly monitored the telegraphic reports coming in to the War Department in Washington, D.C. He kept close tabs on all phases of the military effort, consulted with governors, and selected generals based on their past success (as well as their state and party). In January 1862, after many complaints of inefficiency and profiteering in the War Department, Lincoln replaced Simon Cameron with Edwin Stanton as War Secretary. Stanton was one of many conservative Democrats (he supported Breckenridge in the 1860 election) who became anti-slavery Republicans under Lincoln's leadership.[153] In terms of war strategy, Lincoln articulated two priorities: to ensure that Washington was well-defended, and to conduct an aggressive war effort that would satisfy the demand in the North for prompt, decisive victory; major Northern newspaper editors expected victory within 90 days.[154] Twice a week, Lincoln would meet with his cabinet in the afternoon, and occasionally Mary Lincoln would force him to take a carriage ride because she was concerned he was working too hard.[155] Lincoln learned from his chief of staff General Henry Halleck, a student of the European strategist Jomini, of the critical need to control strategic points, such as the Mississippi River;[156] he also knew well the importance of Vicksburg and understood the necessity of defeating the enemy's army, rather than simply capturing territory.[157]

continued on page 2

Author:Bling King
Published:May 20th 2012
Modified:Feb 27th 2013
Please Sign In to Add a Comment
or

 

 

Add Member

Add video

Add a Chat Room

Add Photos

Add Website Link

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Alcatraz

In Room: 0
The prison
 

 

 

 

California

In Room: 0
Welcome
 

CONCERT

In Room: 0
This is the video room for all online live concerts
 

Darrell on camera

In Room: 1
video messanger with Darrell here.
 

General Chat

In Room: 0
 

Gillian Howards

In Room: 0
A place to chat with me.
 

Grand Canyon

In Room: 0
Thee Grand Canyon
 

Ground Zero, New York City

Harvard University

In Room: 0
 

Jamie Perrins

In Room: 0
This is a place to talk with me.
 

Jessica Mott

In Room: 0
Talk to me here.
 
Categories

This website is powered by Spruz