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Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

Overview
Abraham Lincoln 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
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 – preserving the Union, while ending slavery, and promoting economic and financial modernization.
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Timeline

1809   Abrham Lincoln is born in a one-room cabin in Kentucky

1832   Lincoln becomes a candidate in a failed bid for the Illinois General Assembly

1858   Abraham Lincoln delivers his House Divided speech in Springfield, Illinois.

1858   First of the Lincoln-Douglas debates in which Lincoln debates Stephen Douglas during a campaign for the U.S. Senate.

1860   Abraham Lincoln makes a speech at Cooper Union in the city of New York that is largely responsible for his election to the Presidency.

1860   Abraham Lincoln wins the Republican Party presidential nomination over William H. Seward, who later becomes the United States Secretary of State.

1861   President-elect Abraham Lincoln arrives secretly in Washington, D.C., after the thwarting of an alleged assassination plot in Baltimore, Maryland.

1861   President of the United States Abraham Lincoln suspends the writ of ''habeas corpus''.

1861   American Civil War: at the order of President Abraham Lincoln, Union troops begin a 25 mile march into Virginia for what will become The First Battle of Bull Run, the first major land battle of the war.

1861   U.S. President Abraham Lincoln suspends the writ of ''habeas corpus'' in Washington, D.C., for all military-related cases.

 
Quotations

I have now come to the conclusion never again to think of marrying, and for this reason; I can never be satisfied with anyone who would be blockhead enough to have me.

Letter to Mrs. Orville H. Browning (1 April 1838)

I believe it is an established maxim in morals that he who makes an assertion without knowing whether it is true or false, is guilty of falsehood; and the accidental truth of the assertion, does not justify or excuse him.

Letter to Allen N. Ford (11 August 1846), reported in Roy Prentice Basler, ed., Abraham Lincoln: His Speeches and Writings (1990 [1946]).

The true rule, in determining to embrace, or reject any thing, is not whether it have any evil in it; but whether it have more of evil, than of good. There are few things wholly evil, or wholly good. Almost every thing, especially of governmental policy, is an inseparable compound of the two; so that our best judgment of the preponderance between them is continually demanded.

Speech in the House of Representatives (20 June 1848)

Determine that the thing can and shall be done, and then we shall find the way.

Speech in the House of Representatives (20 June 1848)

The way for a young man to rise, is to improve himself every way he can, never suspecting that any body wishes to hinder him.

Letter to William H Herndon (10 July 1848)

The better part of one's life consists of his friendships.

Letter to Joseph Gillespie (13 July 1849)

The Autocrat of all the Russias will resign his crown, and proclaim his subjects free republicans sooner than will our American masters voluntarily give up their slaves.

Letter to George Robertson (15 August 1855)
Encyclopedia
Abraham Lincoln 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
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 – 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, an Illinois state legislator
Illinois House of Representatives
The Illinois House of Representatives is the lower house of the Illinois General Assembly, the state legislature of the U.S. state of Illinois. The body was created by the first Illinois Constitution adopted in 1818. The state House of Representatives is made of 118 representatives elected from...

, and a one-term member of the United States House of Representatives
United States House of Representatives
The United States House of Representatives is one of the two Houses of the United States Congress, the bicameral legislature which also includes the Senate.The composition and powers of the House are established in Article One of the Constitution...

, but failed in two attempts at a seat in the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

.

After opposing the expansion of slavery in the United States in his campaign debates and speeches, Lincoln secured the Republican nomination and was elected president in 1860
United States presidential election, 1860
The United States presidential election of 1860 was a quadrennial election, held on November 6, 1860, for the office of President of the United States and the immediate impetus for the outbreak of the American Civil War. The nation had been divided throughout the 1850s on questions surrounding the...

. Following declarations of secession
Secession in the United States
Secession in the United States can refer to secession of a state from the United States, secession of part of a state from that state to form a new state, or secession of an area from a city or county....

 by southern slave states
Southern United States
The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

, war began on April 12, 1861, and he 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
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

 by skillfully handling the Trent affair
Trent affair
The Trent Affair, also known as the Mason and Slidell Affair, was an international diplomatic incident that occurred during the American Civil War...

 late in 1861. He issued his Emancipation Proclamation
Emancipation Proclamation
The Emancipation Proclamation is an executive order issued by United States President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863, during the American Civil War using his war powers. It proclaimed the freedom of 3.1 million of the nation's 4 million slaves, and immediately freed 50,000 of them, with nearly...

 in 1863 and promoted the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment
Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution officially abolished and continues to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. It was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, passed by the House on January 31, 1865, and adopted on December 6, 1865. On...

 to the United States Constitution, abolishing slavery.

Lincoln closely supervised the war effort, especially the selection of top generals, including commanding general Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

. He brought leaders of various factions of his party into his cabinet and pressured them to cooperate. Under his leadership, the Union
Union (American Civil War)
During the American Civil War, the Union was a name used to refer to the federal government of the United States, which was supported by the twenty free states and five border slave states. It was opposed by 11 southern slave states that had declared a secession to join together to form the...

 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 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
War Democrats
War Democrats in American politics of the 1860s were adherents of the Democratic Party who rejected the Copperheads/Peace Democrats who controlled the party...

 and managed his own re-election in the 1864 presidential election
United States presidential election, 1864
In the United States Presidential election of 1864, Abraham Lincoln was re-elected as president. The election was held during the Civil War. Lincoln ran under the National Union ticket against Democratic candidate George B. McClellan, his former top general. McClellan ran as the "peace candidate",...

.

As the leader of the moderate faction of the Republican party, Lincoln's 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. 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. His Gettysburg Address
Gettysburg Address
The Gettysburg Address is a speech by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and is one of the most well-known speeches in United States history. It was delivered by Lincoln during the American Civil War, on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery...

 of 1863 became the most quoted speech in American history. It was an iconic statement of America's dedication to the principles of nationalism, equal rights, liberty, and democracy. At the close of the war, Lincoln held a moderate view of Reconstruction, seeking to speedily reunite the nation through a policy of generous reconciliation in the face of lingering and bitter divisiveness. However, just six days after the surrender of Confederate commanding general Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee
Robert Edward Lee was a career military officer who is best known for having commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War....

, Lincoln was assassinated by actor and Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth
John Wilkes Booth
John Wilkes Booth was an American stage actor who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre, in Washington, D.C., on April 14, 1865. Booth was a member of the prominent 19th century Booth theatrical family from Maryland and, by the 1860s, was a well-known actor...

 at Ford's Theatre
Ford's Theatre
Ford's Theatre is a historic theater in Washington, D.C., used for various stage performances beginning in the 1860s. It is also the site of the assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865...

 while watching the play Our American Cousin
Our American Cousin
Our American Cousin is an 1858 play in three acts by English playwright Tom Taylor. The play is a farce whose plot is based on the introduction of an awkward, boorish but honest American, Asa Trenchard, to his aristocratic English relatives when he goes to England to claim the family estate...

. His death marked the first assassination of a U.S. president. Lincoln has been consistently ranked by scholars as one of the three greatest U.S. presidents.

Early life



Abraham Lincoln was born February 12, 1809, the second child of Thomas Lincoln
Thomas Lincoln
Thomas Lincoln was an American farmer and father of President Abraham Lincoln.-Ancestors:Thomas Lincoln was descended from Samuel Lincoln, a Puritan from East Anglia who landed in Massachusetts in 1637...

 and Nancy Lincoln (née Hanks), in a one-room log cabin on the Sinking Spring Farm in Hardin County
Hardin County, Kentucky
As of the census of 2000, there were 94,174 people, 34,497 households, and 25,355 families residing in the county. The population density was . There were 37,673 housing units at an average density of...

, Kentucky, (now LaRue County
LaRue County, Kentucky
LaRue County is a county located in the U.S. state of Kentucky. It is included in the Elizabethtown, Kentucky, Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of 2000, the population was 13,373. Its county seat is Hodgenville...

). Lincoln's paternal grandfather and namesake, Abraham, had moved his family from Virginia to Jefferson County
Jefferson County, Kentucky
As of the census of 2000, there were 693,604 people, 287,012 households, and 183,113 families residing in the county. The population density was . There were 305,835 housing units at an average density of...

, Kentucky, where he was ambushed and killed in an Indian raid in 1786, with his children, including Lincoln's father Thomas, looking on. Thomas was left to make his own way on the frontier. Lincoln's mother, Nancy, was the daughter of Lucy Hanks, and was born in what is now Mineral County
Mineral County, West Virginia
Mineral County is a county located in the U.S. state of West Virginia. It is part of the Cumberland, MD-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area. As of 2010, the population was 28,212. Its county seat is Keyser.-Ancient history:...

, 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. 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 acres (242.8 ha) farms, several town lots, livestock, and horses. He was among the richest men in the county. However, in 1816, Thomas lost all of his land in court cases because of faulty property titles
Title (property)
Title is a legal term for a bundle of rights in a piece of property in which a party may own either a legal interest or an equitable interest. The rights in the bundle may be separated and held by different parties. It may also refer to a formal document that serves as evidence of ownership...

.
The family moved north across the Ohio River to free (i.e., non-slave) territory and made a new start in Perry County
Perry County, Indiana
Perry County is a county located in the southwestern part of the U.S. state of Indiana. As of 2010, the population was 19,338. The county seat is Tell City. It is the hilliest county as well as one of the most forested counties of in Indiana as it features more than of Hoosier National Forest...

, Indiana. Lincoln later noted that this move was "partly on account of slavery" but mainly due to land title difficulties. In Indiana, when Lincoln was nine, his mother Nancy died of milk sickness
Milk sickness
Milk sickness, also known as tremetol vomiting, or in animals as trembles, is characterized by trembling, vomiting, and severe intestinal pain that affects individuals who ingest milk or other dairy products, or meat from a cow that has fed on white snakeroot, which contains the poison...

 in 1818. After the death of Lincoln's mother, his older sister, Sarah
Sarah Lincoln Grigsby
Sarah Lincoln Grigsby was born in Elizabethtown, Kentucky to Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Lincoln on February 10, 1807. She was the older sister of the future president Abraham Lincoln and cared for him when they were young...

, 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.

Thomas Lincoln's new wife was the widow Sarah Bush Johnston
Sarah Bush Lincoln
Sarah Bush Lincoln was the second wife of Thomas Lincoln and stepmother of President of the United States Abraham Lincoln. She was born in Elizabethtown, Kentucky to Christopher and Hannah Bush. She married her first husband, Daniel Johnston, in 1806, and they had three children. When Daniel...

, the mother of three of her own children. Lincoln became very close to his stepmother, and referred to her as "Mother". 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. 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". 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. In later years, Lincoln occasionally loaned his father money. 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.

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. In 1831, Thomas relocated the family to a new homestead
Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site
The Lincoln Log Cabin State Historic Site is an 86-acre history park located eight miles south of Charleston, Illinois, U.S.A., near the town of Lerna. Its centerpiece is a replica of the log cabin built and occupied by Thomas Lincoln, father of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln...

 in Coles County
Coles County, Illinois
Coles County is a county located in the U.S. state of Illinois. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 53,873, which is an increase of 1.3% from 53,196 in 2000. Its county seat is Charleston, which is also the home of Eastern Illinois University....

, 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
Sangamon River
The Sangamon River is a principal tributary of the Illinois River, approximately long, in central Illinois in the United States. It drains a mostly rural agricultural area between Peoria and Springfield...

, Lincoln ended up in the village of New Salem in Sangamon County
Sangamon County, Illinois
Sangamon County is a county located in the U.S. state of Illinois. According to the 2010 census, it has a population of 197,465, which is an increase of 4.5% from 188,951 in 2000...

. In the spring of 1831, hired by New Salem businessman Denton Offutt
Denton Offutt
Denton Offutt was a 19th-century American general store operator who hired future President Abraham Lincoln for his first job as an adult in New Salem, Illinois....

 and accompanied by friends, he took goods by flatboat
Flatboat
Fil1800flatboat.jpgA flatboat is a rectangular flat-bottomed boat with Fil1800flatboat.jpgA flatboat is a rectangular flat-bottomed boat with Fil1800flatboat.jpgA flatboat is a rectangular flat-bottomed boat with (mostlyNOTE: "(parenthesized)" wordings in the quote below are notes added to...

 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.

Marriage and children


Lincoln's first romantic interest was Ann Rutledge
Ann Rutledge
Ann Rutledge was allegedly Abraham Lincoln's first love.-Relationship:Born near Henderson, Kentucky Ann Mayes Rutledge was the third of ten children born to Mary and James Rutledge. In 1829, her father, along with John M. Cameron, founded New Salem, Illinois...

, whom he met when he first moved to New Salem; by 1835, they were in a relationship but not formally engaged. She died, however, on August 25, most likely of typhoid fever
Typhoid fever
Typhoid fever, also known as Typhoid, is a common worldwide bacterial disease, transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the feces of an infected person, which contain the bacterium Salmonella enterica, serovar Typhi...

. 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.

In 1840, Lincoln became engaged to Mary Todd
Mary Todd Lincoln
Mary Ann Lincoln was the wife of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, and was First Lady of the United States from 1861 to 1865.-Life before the White House:...

, who was from a wealthy slave-holding family in Lexington
Lexington, Kentucky
Lexington is the second-largest city in Kentucky and the 63rd largest in the US. Known as the "Thoroughbred City" and the "Horse Capital of the World", it is located in the heart of Kentucky's Bluegrass region...

, Kentucky. They met in Springfield
Springfield, Illinois
Springfield is the third and current capital of the US state of Illinois and the county seat of Sangamon County with a population of 117,400 , making it the sixth most populated city in the state and the second most populated Illinois city outside of the Chicago Metropolitan Area...

, Illinois, in December 1839 and were engaged the following December.
A wedding set for January 1, 1841 was canceled when the two broke off their engagement at Lincoln's initiative. They later met at a party and were married on November 4, 1842, in the Springfield mansion of Mary's married sister.
While preparing for the nuptials and feeling reluctance again, Lincoln, when asked where he was going, replied, "To hell, I suppose."

In 1844, the couple bought a house in Springfield near Lincoln's law office. Mary Todd Lincoln worked diligently in their home, assuming full household duties which had previously been performed for her in her own family in Kentucky. She also made efficient use of the limited funds available from her husband's law practice. Robert Todd Lincoln
Robert Todd Lincoln
Robert Todd Lincoln was an American lawyer and Secretary of War, and the first son of President Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln...

 was born in 1843 and Edward Baker Lincoln
Edward Baker Lincoln
Edward Baker "Eddie" Lincoln was the second son of Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln. He was named after Lincoln's friend Edward Dickinson Baker, and the youngest Lincoln son to die....

 (Eddie) in 1846. Lincoln "was remarkably fond of children", and the Lincolns were not considered to be strict with their children. Robert was the only child to live to adulthood. Edward died on February 1, 1850, in Springfield, likely of tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

. "Willie" Lincoln
William Wallace Lincoln
William Wallace "Willie" Lincoln was the third son of Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln. He died at the age of 11. He was named after Mary's brother-in-law Dr. William Wallace.- Final illness and death :...

 was born on December 21, 1850 and died on February 20, 1862. The Lincolns' fourth son, Thomas "Tad" Lincoln
Tad Lincoln
Thomas "Tad" Lincoln was the fourth and youngest son of Abraham and Mary Lincoln. The nickname "Tad" was given to him by his father who found Thomas "as wriggly as a tadpole" when he was a baby. Tad was known to be impulsive, unrestrained, and did not attend school...

, was born on April 4, 1853 and died of heart failure at the age of 18 on July 16, 1871.

The death 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. Abraham Lincoln suffered from "melancholy", a condition which now may be referred to as clinical depression.

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. 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
Illinois General Assembly
The Illinois General Assembly is the state legislature of the U.S. state of Illinois and comprises the Illinois House of Representatives and the Illinois Senate. The General Assembly was created by the first state constitution adopted in 1818. Illinois has 59 legislative districts, with two...

. 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.

Before the election Lincoln served as a captain in the Illinois Militia during the Black Hawk War
Black Hawk War
The Black Hawk War was a brief conflict fought in 1832 between the United States and Native Americans headed by Black Hawk, a Sauk leader. The war erupted soon after Black Hawk and a group of Sauks, Meskwakis, and Kickapoos known as the "British Band" crossed the Mississippi River into the U.S....

. Following his return, Lincoln continued his campaign for the August 6 election for the Illinois General Assembly. At 6 in 4 in (193.04 cm), 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. Lincoln finished eighth out of thirteen candidates (the top four were elected), though he received 277 of the 300 votes cast in the New Salem precinct.

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
William Blackstone
Sir William Blackstone KC SL was an English jurist, judge and Tory politician of the eighteenth century. He is most noted for writing the Commentaries on the Laws of England. Born into a middle class family in London, Blackstone was educated at Charterhouse School before matriculating at Pembroke...

's Commentaries on the Laws of England
Commentaries on the Laws of England
The Commentaries on the Laws of England are an influential 18th-century treatise on the common law of England by Sir William Blackstone, originally published by the Clarendon Press at Oxford, 1765–1769...

and other law books. Of his learning method, Lincoln stated: "I studied with nobody". His second campaign in 1834 was successful. He won election to the state legislature; though he ran as a Whig
Whig Party (United States)
The Whig Party was a political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. Considered integral to the Second Party System and operating from the early 1830s to the mid-1850s, the party was formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and his Democratic...

, many Democrats favored him over a more powerful Whig opponent. Admitted to the bar
Admission to the bar in the United States
In the United States, admission to the bar is the granting of permission by a particular court system to a lawyer to practice law in that system. Each U.S. state and similar jurisdiction has its own court system and sets its own rules for bar admission , which can lead to different admission...

 in 1836, he moved to Springfield, Illinois, and began to practice law under John T. Stuart
John T. Stuart
John Todd Stuart was a lawyer and a U.S. Representative from Illinois.Born near Lexington, Kentucky, Stuart graduated from Centre College, Danville, Kentucky, in 1826. He then studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1828, and commenced practice in Springfield, Illinois...

, Mary Todd's cousin. 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
Stephen T. Logan
Stephen Trigg Logan was an American lawyer and politician.He practiced law with Abraham Lincoln from 1841 to 1843. He served as Illinois circuit court judge and in 1847 was elected to the Illinois Constitutional Conevention. He also served in the Illinois House of Representatives...

 from 1841 until 1844, when he began his practice with William Herndon
William Herndon (lawyer)
William Henry Herndon was the law partner and biographer of Abraham Lincoln.-Biography:Born in Greensburg, Kentucky, Herndon and his family moved to Illinois in 1820, and they settled in Springfield when he was five. Herndon attended Illinois College from 1836-1837. In 1840 he married Mary J....

, whom Lincoln thought "a studious young man". He served four successive terms in the Illinois House of Representatives
Illinois House of Representatives
The Illinois House of Representatives is the lower house of the Illinois General Assembly, the state legislature of the U.S. state of Illinois. The body was created by the first Illinois Constitution adopted in 1818. The state House of Representatives is made of 118 representatives elected from...

 as a Whig representative from Sangamon County.

In the 1835–1836 legislative session, he voted to expand suffrage to white males, whether landowners or not. He was known for his "free soil" stance of opposing both slavery and abolitionism
Abolitionism
Abolitionism is a movement to end slavery.In western Europe and the Americas abolitionism was a movement to end the slave trade and set slaves free. At the behest of Dominican priest Bartolomé de las Casas who was shocked at the treatment of natives in the New World, Spain enacted the first...

. 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." He closely followed Henry Clay
Henry Clay
Henry Clay, Sr. , was a lawyer, politician and skilled orator who represented Kentucky separately in both the Senate and in the House of Representatives...

 in supporting the American Colonization Society
American Colonization Society
The American Colonization Society , founded in 1816, was the primary vehicle to support the "return" of free African Americans to what was considered greater freedom in Africa. It helped to found the colony of Liberia in 1821–22 as a place for freedmen...

 program of making the abolition of slavery practical by helping the freed slaves to settle in Liberia
Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

 in Africa.

Congressman Lincoln


From the early 1830s, Lincoln was a steadfast Whig
Whig Party (United States)
The Whig Party was a political party of the United States during the era of Jacksonian democracy. Considered integral to the Second Party System and operating from the early 1830s to the mid-1850s, the party was formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and his Democratic...

 and professed to friends in 1861 to be, "an old line Whig, a disciple of Henry Clay". The party, including Lincoln, favored economic modernization in banking, protective tariffs to fund internal improvements
Internal improvements
Internal improvements is the term used historically in the United States for public works from the end of the American Revolution through much of the 19th century, mainly for the creation of a transportation infrastructure: roads, turnpikes, canals, harbors and navigation improvements...

 including railroads, and espoused urbanization as well.

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. 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. On foreign and military policy, Lincoln spoke out against the Mexican–American War
Mexican–American War
The Mexican–American War, also known as the First American Intervention, the Mexican War, or the U.S.–Mexican War, was an armed conflict between the United States and Mexico from 1846 to 1848 in the wake of the 1845 U.S...

, which he attributed to President Polk
James K. Polk
James Knox Polk was the 11th President of the United States . Polk was born in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. He later lived in and represented Tennessee. A Democrat, Polk served as the 17th Speaker of the House of Representatives and the 12th Governor of Tennessee...

's desire for "military glory—that attractive rainbow, that rises in showers of blood". Lincoln also supported the Wilmot Proviso
Wilmot Proviso
The Wilmot Proviso, one of the major events leading to the Civil War, would have banned slavery in any territory to be acquired from Mexico in the Mexican War or in the future, including the area later known as the Mexican Cession, but which some proponents construed to also include the disputed...

, which, if it had been adopted, would have banned slavery in any U.S. territory won from Mexico.

Lincoln emphasized his opposition to Polk by drafting and introducing his Spot Resolutions
Spot Resolutions
The spot resolutions were offered in the United States House of Representatives on 22 December 1847 by Abraham Lincoln, Whig representative from Illinois. The resolutions requested President James K. Polk to provide Congress with the exact location upon which blood was spilt on American soil, as...

. 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". Lincoln demanded that Polk show Congress the exact spot on which blood had been shed and prove that the spot was on American soil. 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". Lincoln later regretted some of his statements, especially his attack on the presidential war-making powers.

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
Zachary Taylor
Zachary Taylor was the 12th President of the United States and an American military leader. Initially uninterested in politics, Taylor nonetheless ran as a Whig in the 1848 presidential election, defeating Lewis Cass...

 for the Whig nomination in the 1848 presidential election
United States presidential election, 1848
The United States presidential election of 1848 was an open race. President James K. Polk, having achieved all of his major objectives in one term and suffering from declining health that would take his life less than four months after leaving office, kept his promise not to seek re-election.The...

. Taylor won and Lincoln hoped to be appointed Commissioner of the General Land Office
General Land Office
The General Land Office was an independent agency of the United States government responsible for public domain lands in the United States. It was created in 1812 to take over functions previously conducted by the United States Department of the Treasury...

, 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". The administration offered him the consolation prize of secretary or governor of the Oregon Territory
Oregon Territory
The Territory of Oregon was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from August 14, 1848, until February 14, 1859, when the southwestern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Oregon. Originally claimed by several countries , the region was...

. 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.

Prairie lawyer


Lincoln returned to practicing law in Springfield, handling "every kind of business that could come before a prairie lawyer". Twice a year for sixteen years, ten weeks at a time, he appeared in county seats in the midstate region when the county courts were in session. 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. His reputation grew, and he appeared before the Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

, arguing a case involving a canal boat that sank after hitting a bridge. 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.

In 1851, he represented Alton & Sangamon Railroad
Alton Railroad
The Alton Railroad was the final name of a railroad linking Chicago to Alton, Illinois, St. Louis, Missouri, and Kansas City, Missouri. Its predecessor, the Chicago and Alton Railroad , was purchased by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1931 and was controlled until 1942 when the Alton was...

 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. 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
Supreme Court of Illinois
The Supreme Court of Illinois is the state supreme court of Illinois. The court's authority is granted in Article VI of the current Illinois Constitution, which provides for seven justices elected from the five appellate judicial districts of the state: Three justices from the First District and...

 has been cited by numerous other courts in the nation. Lincoln appeared before the Illinois Supreme Court in 175 cases, in 51 as sole counsel, of which 31 were decided in his favor. From 1853 to 1860, another of Lincoln's largest clients was the Illinois Central Railroad
Illinois Central Railroad
The Illinois Central Railroad , sometimes called the Main Line of Mid-America, is a railroad in the central United States, with its primary routes connecting Chicago, Illinois with New Orleans, Louisiana and Birmingham, Alabama. A line also connected Chicago with Sioux City, Iowa...

.

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. The case is famous for Lincoln's use of a fact established by judicial notice
Judicial notice
Judicial notice is a rule in the law of evidence that allows a fact to be introduced into evidence if the truth of that fact is so notorious or well known that it cannot be refuted. This is done upon the request of the party seeking to have the fact at issue determined by the court...

 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. 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.

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. Lincoln disapproved of slavery, and the spread of slavery to new U.S. territory in the west. He returned to politics to oppose the pro-slavery Kansas–Nebraska Act (1854); this law repealed the slavery-restricting Missouri Compromise
Missouri Compromise
The Missouri Compromise was an agreement passed in 1820 between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the United States Congress, involving primarily the regulation of slavery in the western territories. It prohibited slavery in the former Louisiana Territory north of the parallel 36°30'...

 (1820). Senior Senator Stephen A. Douglas
Stephen A. Douglas
Stephen Arnold Douglas was an American politician from the western state of Illinois, and was the Northern Democratic Party nominee for President in 1860. He lost to the Republican Party's candidate, Abraham Lincoln, whom he had defeated two years earlier in a Senate contest following a famed...

 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. 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
Republicanism in the United States
Republicanism is the political value system that has been a major part of American civic thought since the American Revolution. It stresses liberty and inalienable rights as central values, makes the people as a whole sovereign, supports activist government to promote the common good, rejects...

 of the Founding Fathers, especially the equality of all men and democratic self-government as expressed in the Declaration of Independence.

On October 16, 1854, in his "Peoria Speech
Abraham Lincoln Peoria speech
Abraham Lincoln's Peoria speech was made in Peoria, Illinois on October 16, 1854. The speech, with its specific arguments against slavery, was an important step in Abraham Lincoln's political ascension....

", Lincoln declared his opposition to slavery, which he repeated en route to the presidency. Speaking in his Kentucky accent, with a very powerful voice, 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..."

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. 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
Lyman Trumbull
Lyman Trumbull was a United States Senator from Illinois during the American Civil War, and co-author of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.-Education and early career:...

, who defeated opponent Joel Aldrich Matteson
Joel Aldrich Matteson
Joel Aldrich Matteson was the tenth Governor of Illinois, serving from 1853 to 1857. In 1855, he became the first governor to reside in the Illinois Executive Mansion. After his term as governor ended he was for many years the president of the Chicago and Alton Railroad...

. 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." 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. At the Republican convention in 1856, Lincoln placed second in the contest to become the party's candidate for vice president.

In 1857–58, Douglas broke with President James Buchanan
James Buchanan
James Buchanan, Jr. was the 15th President of the United States . He is the only president from Pennsylvania, the only president who remained a lifelong bachelor and the last to be born in the 18th century....

, 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
Lecompton Constitution
The Lecompton Constitution was the second of four proposed constitutions for the state of Kansas . The document was written in response to the anti-slavery position of the 1855 Topeka Constitution of James H. Lane and other free-state advocates...

, which would have admitted Kansas as a slave state
Slave state
In the United States of America prior to the American Civil War, a slave state was a U.S. state in which slavery was legal, whereas a free state was one in which slavery was either prohibited from its entry into the Union or eliminated over time...

. In March 1857, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford
Dred Scott v. Sandford
Dred Scott v. Sandford, , also known as the Dred Scott Decision, was a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that people of African descent brought into the United States and held as slaves were not protected by the Constitution and could never be U.S...

; Chief Justice Roger B. Taney
Roger B. Taney
Roger Brooke Taney was the fifth Chief Justice of the United States, holding that office from 1836 until his death in 1864. He was the first Roman Catholic to hold that office or sit on the Supreme Court of the United States. He was also the eleventh United States Attorney General. He is most...

 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 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'."

After the state Republican party convention nominated him for the U.S. Senate in 1858, Lincoln delivered his House Divided Speech
Lincoln's House Divided Speech
The House Divided Speech was an address given by Abraham Lincoln on June 16, 1858, in Springfield, Illinois, upon accepting the Illinois Republican Party's nomination as that state's United States senator. The speech became the launching point for his unsuccessful campaign for the Senate seat...

, drawing on Mark's gospel from the Bible: "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." The speech created an evocative image of the danger of disunion caused by the slavery debate, and rallied Republicans across the North. 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.

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. The principals stood in stark contrast both physically and politically. Lincoln warned that "The Slave Power" was threatening the values of republicanism
Republicanism in the United States
Republicanism is the political value system that has been a major part of American civic thought since the American Revolution. It stresses liberty and inalienable rights as central values, makes the people as a whole sovereign, supports activist government to promote the common good, rejects...

, and accused Douglas of distorting the values of the Founding Fathers that all men are created equal
All men are created equal
The quotation "All men are created equal" has been called an "immortal declaration", and "perhaps" the single phrase of the United States Revolutionary period with the greatest "continuing importance". Thomas Jefferson first used the phrase in the Declaration of Independence as a rebuttal to the...

, while Douglas emphasized his Freeport Doctrine
Freeport Doctrine
The Freeport Doctrine was articulated by Stephen A. Douglas at the second of the Lincoln-Douglas debates on August 27, 1858, in Freeport, Illinois. Lincoln tried to force Douglas to choose between the principle of popular sovereignty proposed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the majority decision of...

, that local settlers were free to choose whether to allow slavery or not, and accused Lincoln of having joined the abolitionists. The debates had an atmosphere of a prize fight and drew crowds in the thousands. Lincoln stated Douglas's popular sovereignty
Popular sovereignty
Popular sovereignty or the sovereignty of the people is the political principle that the legitimacy of the state is created and sustained by the will or consent of its people, who are the source of all political power. It is closely associated with Republicanism and the social contract...

 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.

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. 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.

On February 27, 1860, New York party leaders invited Lincoln to give a speech at Cooper Union
Cooper Union speech
The Cooper Union Speech, or Address, was delivered by Abraham Lincoln on February 27, 1860, at Cooper Union, in New York City. Lincoln was not yet the Republican nominee for the presidency, as the convention was scheduled for May. It is considered one of his most important speeches...

 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". Despite his inelegant appearance—many in the audience thought him awkward and even ugly—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
Noah Brooks
Noah Brooks was a journalist and editor who worked for newspapers in Sacramento, San Francisco, Newark, and New York, and authored a major biography of Abraham Lincoln based on close personal observation. Born in Castine, Maine, he moved to Dixon, Illinois in 1856, where he became involved in the...

 reported, "No man ever before made such an impression on his first appeal to a New York audience." Donald described the speech as a "superb political move for an unannounced candidate, to appear in one rival's (William H. Seward
William H. Seward
William Henry Seward, Sr. was the 12th Governor of New York, United States Senator and the United States Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson...

) own state at an event sponsored by the second rival's (Salmon P. Chase
Salmon P. Chase
Salmon Portland Chase was an American politician and jurist who served as U.S. Senator from Ohio and the 23rd Governor of Ohio; as U.S. Treasury Secretary under President Abraham Lincoln; and as the sixth Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.Chase was one of the most prominent members...

) loyalists, while not mentioning either by name during its delivery." In response to an inquiry about his presidential intentions, Lincoln said, "The taste is in my mouth a little."

1860 Presidential nomination and campaign


On May 9–10, 1860, the Illinois Republican State Convention was held in Decatur
Decatur, Illinois
Decatur is the largest city and the county seat of Macon County in the U.S. state of Illinois. The city, sometimes called "the Soybean Capital of the World", was founded in 1823 and is located along the Sangamon River and Lake Decatur in Central Illinois. In 2000 the city population was 81,500,...

. Lincoln's followers organized a campaign team led by David Davis, Norman Judd
Norman B. Judd
Norman Buel Judd was a U.S. Representative from Illinois, and the grandfather of U.S. Representative Norman Judd Gould of New York....

, Leonard Swett
Leonard Swett
Leonard Swett was a civil and criminal lawyer who advised and assisted Abraham Lincoln throughout the president's political career.-Early life:...

, and Jesse DuBois, and Lincoln received his first endorsement to run for the presidency. Exploiting the embellished legend of his frontier days with his father, Lincoln's supporters adopted the label of "The Rail Candidate". On May 18, at the Republican National Convention
1860 Republican National Convention
The 1860 National Convention of the Republican Party of the United States, held in Chicago, Illinois at the Wigwam, nominated former U.S. Representative Abraham Lincoln of Illinois for President and U.S. Senator Hannibal Hamlin of Maine for Vice President...

 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
Hannibal Hamlin
Hannibal Hamlin was the 15th Vice President of the United States , serving under President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War...

 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. On the third ballot Pennsylvania put him over the top. Pennsylvania iron interests were reassured by his support for protective tariffs. 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".

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. Meanwhile, Douglas was selected as the candidate of the Northern Democrats, with Herschel Vespasian Johnson
Herschel Vespasian Johnson
Herschel Vespasian Johnson was an American politician. He was the 41st Governor of Georgia from 1853 to 1857 and the vice-presidential nominee of the Douglas wing of the Democratic Party in the 1860 US presidential election....

 as the vice-presidential candidate. Delegates from 11 slave states walked out of the Democratic convention
1860 Democratic National Convention
The 1860 Democratic National Convention was one of the crucial events in the lead-up to the American Civil War. Following a fragmented official Democratic National Convention that was adjourned in deadlock, two more presidential nominating conventions took place: a resumed official convention,...

, disagreeing with Douglas's position on popular sovereignty, and ultimately selected John C. Breckinridge
John C. Breckinridge
John Cabell Breckinridge was an American lawyer and politician. He served as a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from Kentucky and was the 14th Vice President of the United States , to date the youngest vice president in U.S...

 as their candidate.

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. 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.

1860 election and secession



On November 6, 1860, Lincoln was elected the sixteenth president of the United States, beating Democrat Stephen A. Douglas, John C. Breckinridge of the Southern Democrats, and John Bell
John Bell (Tennessee politician)
John Bell was a U.S. politician, attorney, and plantation owner. A wealthy slaveholder from Tennessee, Bell served in the United States Congress in both the House of Representatives and Senate. He began his career as a Democrat, he eventually fell out with Andrew Jackson and became a Whig...

 of the new Constitutional Union Party
Constitutional Union Party (United States)
The Constitutional Union Party was a political party in the United States created in 1860. It was made up of conservative former Whigs who wanted to avoid disunion over the slavery issue...

. 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 ten of the fifteen Southern slave states, and he won only two of 996 counties in all the Southern states. 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. Bell won Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky, and Breckinridge won the rest of the South. The States' Electoral
United States Electoral College
The Electoral College consists of the electors appointed by each state who formally elect the President and Vice President of the United States. Since 1964, there have been 538 electors in each presidential election...

 votes were decisive: Lincoln had 180 and his opponents added together had only 123. There were fusion tickets
Electoral fusion
Electoral fusion is an arrangement where two or more political parties on a ballot list the same candidate, pooling the votes for that candidate...

 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.

As Lincoln's election became evident, secessionists made clear their intent to leave the Union before he took office the next March. 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. Six of these states then adopted a constitution and declared themselves to be a sovereign nation, the Confederate States of America
Confederate States of America
The Confederate States of America was a government set up from 1861 to 1865 by 11 Southern slave states of the United States of America that had declared their secession from the U.S...

. The upper South and border states (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, and Arkansas) listened to, but initially rejected, the secessionist appeal. President Buchanan and President-elect Lincoln refused to recognize the Confederacy, declaring secession illegal. The Confederacy selected Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Davis
Jefferson Finis Davis , also known as Jeff Davis, was an American statesman and leader of the Confederacy during the American Civil War, serving as President for its entire history. He was born in Kentucky to Samuel and Jane Davis...

 as their provisional President on February 9, 1861.

There were attempts at compromise. The Crittenden Compromise
Crittenden Compromise
The Crittenden Compromise was an unsuccessful proposal introduced by Kentucky Senator John J. Crittenden on December 18, 1860. It aimed to resolve the U.S...

 would have extended the Missouri Compromise
Missouri Compromise
The Missouri Compromise was an agreement passed in 1820 between the pro-slavery and anti-slavery factions in the United States Congress, involving primarily the regulation of slavery in the western territories. It prohibited slavery in the former Louisiana Territory north of the parallel 36°30'...

 line of 1820, dividing the territories into slave and free, contrary to the Republican Party's free-soil platform. 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." Lincoln, however, did support the Corwin Amendment
Corwin amendment
The Corwin Amendment is a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution passed by the 36th Congress, 2nd Session, on March 2, 1861, in the form of House Resolution No. 80...

 to the Constitution, which had passed in Congress and protected slavery in those states where it already existed. 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.

En route to his inauguration by train, Lincoln addressed crowds and legislatures across the North. The president-elect then evaded possible assassins
Baltimore Plot
The Baltimore Plot was an alleged conspiracy in late February 1861 to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln en route to his inauguration. Allan Pinkerton, founder of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, played a key role by managing Lincoln's security throughout the journey...

 in Baltimore, who were uncovered by Lincoln's head of security, Allan Pinkerton
Allan Pinkerton
Allan Pinkerton was a Scottish American detective and spy, best known for creating the Pinkerton National Detective Agency.-Early life, career and immigration:...

. On February 23, 1861, he arrived in disguise in Washington, D.C., which was placed under substantial military guard. Lincoln directed his inaugural address
Lincoln's first inaugural address
Abraham Lincoln's first inaugural address was delivered by President Abraham Lincoln, on Monday, March 4, 1861, as part of his taking of the oath of office for his first term as the sixteenth President of the United States...

 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." The failure of the Peace Conference of 1861
Peace conference of 1861
The Peace Conference of 1861 was a meeting of more than 100 of the leading politicians of the antebellum United States held in Washington, D.C., in February 1861 that was meant to prevent what ultimately became the Civil War. The success of President Abraham Lincoln and the Republican Party in the...

 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.

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
Battle of Fort Sumter
The Battle of Fort Sumter was the bombardment and surrender of Fort Sumter, near Charleston, South Carolina, that started the American Civil War. Following declarations of secession by seven Southern states, South Carolina demanded that the U.S. Army abandon its facilities in Charleston Harbor. On...

, forcing them to surrender, and began the war. Historian Allan Nevins
Allan Nevins
Allan Nevins was an American historian and journalist, renowned for his extensive work on the history of the Civil War and his biographies of such figures as President Grover Cleveland, Hamilton Fish, Henry Ford, and John D. Rockefeller.-Life:Born in Camp Point, Illinois, Nevins was educated at...

 argued that the newly inaugurated Lincoln miscalculated in believing that he could preserve the Union, and William Tecumseh Sherman
William Tecumseh Sherman
William Tecumseh Sherman was an American soldier, businessman, educator and author. He served as a General in the Union Army during the American Civil War , for which he received recognition for his outstanding command of military strategy as well as criticism for the harshness of the "scorched...

, then a civilian, visited Lincoln in the White House during inauguration week and was "sadly disappointed" at Lincoln's seeming failure to realize that "the country was sleeping on a volcano" and that the South was preparing for war. 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."

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
Richmond, Virginia
Richmond is the capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia, in the United States. It is an independent city and not part of any county. Richmond is the center of the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Greater Richmond area...

 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.

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
Baltimore riot of 1861
The Baltimore riot of 1861 was an incident that took place on April 19, 1861, in Baltimore, Maryland between Confederate sympathizers and members of the Massachusetts militia en route to Washington for Federal service...

 traveling to the capital. George William Brown
George William Brown
George William Brown was the mayor of Baltimore, Maryland from 1860 to 1861.-Pratt Street Riot:Brown played an important role in controlling the Pratt Street Riot on April 19, 1861, at the onset of the American Civil War. After the Pratt Street Riot, some small skirmishes occurred throughout...

, the Mayor of Baltimore, and other suspect Maryland politicians were arrested and imprisoned, without a warrant, as Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus. John Merryman
John Merryman
John Merryman was the petitioner in one of the best known habeas corpus cases of the American Civil War, a militia officer during the Civil War, and a Maryland politician.-Early life:...

, a leader in the secessionist group in Maryland, petitioned Chief Justice Roger B. Taney
Roger B. Taney
Roger Brooke Taney was the fifth Chief Justice of the United States, holding that office from 1836 until his death in 1864. He was the first Roman Catholic to hold that office or sit on the Supreme Court of the United States. He was also the eleventh United States Attorney General. He is most...

 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.

Assuming command for the Union in the war


After the fall of Fort Sumter
Battle of Fort Sumter
The Battle of Fort Sumter was the bombardment and surrender of Fort Sumter, near Charleston, South Carolina, that started the American Civil War. Following declarations of secession by seven Southern states, South Carolina demanded that the U.S. Army abandon its facilities in Charleston Harbor. On...

, 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
Commander-in-Chief
A commander-in-chief is the commander of a nation's military forces or significant element of those forces. In the latter case, the force element may be defined as those forces within a particular region or those forces which are associated by function. As a practical term it refers to the military...

, 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.

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. On August 6, 1861, Lincoln signed the Confiscation Act
Confiscation Act of 1861
The Confiscation Act of 1861 was an act of Congress during the early months of the American Civil War permitting the confiscation of any of property, including slaves, being used to support the Confederate insurrection....

 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

In late August 1861, General John C. Frémont
John C. Frémont
John Charles Frémont , was an American military officer, explorer, and the first candidate of the anti-slavery Republican Party for the office of President of the United States. During the 1840s, that era's penny press accorded Frémont the sobriquet The Pathfinder...

, 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
Department of the West
The Department of the West, later known as the Western Department, was a major command of the United States Army during the 19th century. It oversaw the military affairs in the country west of the Mississippi River to the borders of California and Oregon.-Organization:The Department was first...

 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. Union enlistments from Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri increased by over 40,000 troops.

The Trent Affair
Trent affair
The Trent Affair, also known as the Mason and Slidell Affair, was an international diplomatic incident that occurred during the American Civil War...

 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. 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
Charles Sumner
Charles Sumner was an American politician and senator from Massachusetts. An academic lawyer and a powerful orator, Sumner was the leader of the antislavery forces in Massachusetts and a leader of the Radical Republicans in the United States Senate during the American Civil War and Reconstruction,...

, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and an expert in British diplomacy.

To learn technical military terms, Lincoln borrowed and studied Henry Halleck's book, Elements of Military Art and Science from the Library of Congress. Lincoln painstakingly monitored the telegraphic reports coming into 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 Cameron with Edwin Stanton as Secretary. Stanton was one of many conservative Democrats (he supported Breckenridge in the 1860 election) who became anti-slavery Republicans under Lincoln's leadership. 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. 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. Lincoln learned from his chief of staff General Henry Halleck
Henry Wager Halleck
Henry Wager Halleck was a United States Army officer, scholar, and lawyer. A noted expert in military studies, he was known by a nickname that became derogatory, "Old Brains." He was an important participant in the admission of California as a state and became a successful lawyer and land developer...

--a student of the European strategist Jomini
Antoine-Henri Jomini
Antoine-Henri, baron Jomini was a general in the French and later in the Russian service, and one of the most celebrated writers on the Napoleonic art of war...

--of the critical need control strategic points, such as the Mississippi River; and he also knew well the importance of Vicksburg, and understood the necessity of defeating the enemy's army, rather than simply capturing territory.

General McClellan


After the Union defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run and the retirement of the aged Winfield Scott in late 1861, Lincoln appointed Major General George B. McClellan
George B. McClellan
George Brinton McClellan was a major general during the American Civil War. He organized the famous Army of the Potomac and served briefly as the general-in-chief of the Union Army. Early in the war, McClellan played an important role in raising a well-trained and organized army for the Union...

 general-in-chief of all the Union armies. McClellan, a young West Point graduate, railroad executive, and Pennsylvania Democrat, took several months to plan and attempt his Peninsula Campaign, longer than Lincoln wanted. The campaign's objective was to capture Richmond by moving the Army of the Potomac by boat to the peninsula and then overland to the Confederate capital. McClellan's repeated delays frustrated Lincoln and Congress, as did his position that no troops were needed to defend Washington. Lincoln insisted on holding some of McClellan's troops in defense of the capital; McClellan, who consistently overestimated the strength of Confederate troops, blamed this decision for the ultimate failure of the Peninsula Campaign.

Lincoln removed McClellan as general-in-chief and appointed Henry Wager Halleck
Henry Wager Halleck
Henry Wager Halleck was a United States Army officer, scholar, and lawyer. A noted expert in military studies, he was known by a nickname that became derogatory, "Old Brains." He was an important participant in the admission of California as a state and became a successful lawyer and land developer...

 in March 1862, after McClellan's "Harrison's Landing Letter", in which he offered unsolicited political advice to Lincoln urging caution in the war effort. McClellan's letter incensed Radical Republicans, who successfully pressured Lincoln to appoint John Pope
John Pope (military officer)
John Pope was a career United States Army officer and Union general in the American Civil War. He had a brief but successful career in the Western Theater, but he is best known for his defeat at the Second Battle of Bull Run in the East.Pope was a graduate of the United States Military Academy in...

, a Republican, as head of the new Army of Virginia
Army of Virginia
The Army of Virginia was organized as a major unit of the Union Army and operated briefly and unsuccessfully in 1862 in the American Civil War. It should not be confused with its principal opponent, the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by Robert E...

. Pope complied with Lincoln's strategic desire to move toward Richmond from the north, thus protecting the capital from attack. However, lacking requested reinforcements from McClellan, now commanding the Army of the Potomac, Pope was soundly defeated at the Second Battle of Bull Run
Second Battle of Bull Run
The Second Battle of Bull Run or Second Manassas was fought August 28–30, 1862, as part of the American Civil War. It was the culmination of an offensive campaign waged by Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia against Union Maj. Gen...

 in the summer of 1862, forcing the Army of the Potomac to defend Washington for a second time. The war also expanded with naval operations in 1862 when the CSS Virginia, formerly the USS Merrimack, damaged or destroyed three Union vessels in Norfolk, Virginia, before being engaged and damaged by the USS Monitor. Lincoln closely reviewed the dispatches and interrogated naval officers during their clash in the Battle of Hampton Roads
Battle of Hampton Roads
The Battle of Hampton Roads, often referred to as either the Battle of the Monitor and Merrimack or the Battle of Ironclads, was the most noted and arguably most important naval battle of the American Civil War from the standpoint of the development of navies...

.

Despite his dissatisfaction with McClellan's failure to reinforce Pope, Lincoln was desperate, and restored him to command of all forces around Washington, to the dismay of all in his cabinet but Seward. Two days after McClellan's return to command, General Robert E. Lee
Robert E. Lee
Robert Edward Lee was a career military officer who is best known for having commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia in the American Civil War....

's forces crossed the Potomac River into Maryland, leading to the Battle of Antietam
Battle of Antietam
The Battle of Antietam , fought on September 17, 1862, near Sharpsburg, Maryland, and Antietam Creek, as part of the Maryland Campaign, was the first major battle in the American Civil War to take place on Northern soil. It was the bloodiest single-day battle in American history, with about 23,000...

 in September 1862. The ensuing Union victory was among the bloodiest in American history, but it enabled Lincoln to announce that he would issue an Emancipation Proclamation in January. Having composed the Proclamation some time earlier, Lincoln had waited for a military victory to publish it to avoid it being perceived as the product of desperation. McClellan then resisted the President's demand that he pursue Lee's retreating and exposed army, while his counterpart General Don Carlos Buell
Don Carlos Buell
Don Carlos Buell was a career United States Army officer who fought in the Seminole War, the Mexican-American War, and the American Civil War. Buell led Union armies in two great Civil War battles—Shiloh and Perryville. The nation was angry at his failure to defeat the outnumbered...

 likewise refused orders to move the Army of the Ohio against rebel forces in eastern Tennessee. As a result, Lincoln replaced Buell with William Rosecrans
William Rosecrans
William Starke Rosecrans was an inventor, coal-oil company executive, diplomat, politician, and United States Army officer. He gained fame for his role as a Union general during the American Civil War...

; and, after the 1862 midterm elections, he replaced McClellan with Republican Ambrose Burnside
Ambrose Burnside
Ambrose Everett Burnside was an American soldier, railroad executive, inventor, industrialist, and politician from Rhode Island, serving as governor and a U.S. Senator...

. Both of these replacements were political moderates and prospectively more supportive of the Commander in Chief.

Burnside, against the advice of the president, prematurely launched an offensive across the Rappahannock River
Rappahannock River
The Rappahannock River is a river in eastern Virginia, in the United States, approximately in length. It traverses the entire northern part of the state, from the Blue Ridge Mountains in the west, across the Piedmont, to the Chesapeake Bay, south of the Potomac River.An important river in American...

 and was stunningly defeated by Lee at Fredericksburg
Battle of Fredericksburg
The Battle of Fredericksburg was fought December 11–15, 1862, in and around Fredericksburg, Virginia, between General Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside...

 in December. Not only had Burnside been defeated on the battlefield, but his soldiers were disgruntled and undisciplined. Desertions during 1863 were in the thousands and they increased after Fredericksburg. Lincoln brought in Joseph Hooker
Joseph Hooker
Joseph Hooker was a career United States Army officer, achieving the rank of major general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Although he served throughout the war, usually with distinction, Hooker is best remembered for his stunning defeat by Confederate General Robert E...

, despite his history of loose talk about a military dictatorship.

The mid-term elections in 1862 brought the Republicans severe losses due to sharp disfavor with the administration over its failure to deliver a speedy end to the war, as well as rising inflation, new high taxes, rumors of corruption, the suspension of habeas corpus, the military draft law
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

, and fears that freed slaves would undermine the labor market. The Emancipation Proclamation announced in September gained votes for the Republicans in the rural areas of New England and the upper Midwest, but it lost votes in the cities and the lower Midwest. While Republicans were discouraged, Democrats were energized and did especially well in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and New York. The Republicans did maintain their majorities in Congress and in the major states, except New York. The Cincinnati Gazette contended that the voters were "depressed by the interminable nature of this war, as so far conducted, and by the rapid exhaustion of the national resources without progress".

In the spring of 1863, Lincoln was optimistic about a group of upcoming battle plans, to the point of thinking the end of the war could be near if a string of victories could be put together; these plans included Hooker's attack on Lee north of Richmond, Rosecrans' on Chattanooga, Grant's on Vicksburg, and a naval assault on Charleston. Lincoln became despondent when none of these plans, at least initially, succeeded.

Hooker was routed by Lee at the Battle of Chancellorsville
Battle of Chancellorsville
The Battle of Chancellorsville was a major battle of the American Civil War, and the principal engagement of the Chancellorsville Campaign. It was fought from April 30 to May 6, 1863, in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, near the village of Chancellorsville. Two related battles were fought nearby on...

 in May, but continued to command his troops for some weeks. He ignored Lincoln's order to divide his troops, and possibly force Lee to do the same in Harper's Ferry, and tendered his resignation, which Lincoln accepted. He was replaced by George Meade
George Meade
George Gordon Meade was a career United States Army officer and civil engineer involved in coastal construction, including several lighthouses. He fought with distinction in the Second Seminole War and Mexican-American War. During the American Civil War he served as a Union general, rising from...

, who followed Lee into Pennsylvania for the Gettysburg Campaign
Gettysburg Campaign
The Gettysburg Campaign was a series of battles fought in June and July 1863, during the American Civil War. After his victory in the Battle of Chancellorsville, Confederate General Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia moved north for offensive operations in Maryland and Pennsylvania. The...

, which was a victory for the Union, though Lee's army avoided capture. At the same time, after initial setbacks, Grant laid siege to Vicksburg and the Union navy attained some success in Charleston harbor.
After the Battle of Gettysburg, Lincoln clearly understood that his military decisions would be more effectively carried out by conveying his orders through his War Secretary or his general-in-chief on to his generals, who resented his civilian interference with their own plans. Even so, he often continued to give detailed directions to his generals as Commander in Chief.

Emancipation Proclamation


Lincoln understood that the Federal government's power to end slavery was limited by the Constitution, which before 1865, committed the issue to individual states. He argued before and during his election that the eventual extinction of slavery would result from preventing its expansion into new U.S. territory. At the beginning of the war, he also sought to persuade the states to accept compensated emancipation
Compensated Emancipation
Compensated emancipation was a method of ending slavery in countries where slavery was legal. This involved the person who was recognized as the owner of a slave being compensated monetarily or by a period of labor for releasing the slave...

 in return for their prohibition of slavery (an offer that took effect only in Washington, D.C., in April 1862). Lincoln believed that curtailing slavery in these ways would economically expunge it, as envisioned by the Founding Fathers
Founding Fathers of the United States
The Founding Fathers of the United States of America were political leaders and statesmen who participated in the American Revolution by signing the United States Declaration of Independence, taking part in the American Revolutionary War, establishing the United States Constitution, or by some...

, under the constitution. President Lincoln rejected two geographically limited emancipation attempts by Major General John C. Frémont
John C. Frémont
John Charles Frémont , was an American military officer, explorer, and the first candidate of the anti-slavery Republican Party for the office of President of the United States. During the 1840s, that era's penny press accorded Frémont the sobriquet The Pathfinder...

 in August 1861 and by Major General David Hunter
David Hunter
David Hunter was a Union general in the American Civil War. He achieved fame by his unauthorized 1862 order emancipating slaves in three Southern states and as the president of the military commission trying the conspirators involved with the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.-Early...

 in May 1862, on the grounds that it was not within their power, and it would upset the border states loyal to the Union.


On June 19, 1862, Congress passed an act banning slavery on all federal territory, and in July 1862 passed the Second Confiscation Act
Confiscation Acts
The Confiscation Acts were laws passed by the United States Congress during the Civil War with the intention of freeing the slaves still held by the Confederate forces in the South....

, which set up court procedures that could free the slaves of anyone convicted of aiding the rebellion. Although Lincoln believed it was not within Congress's power to free the slaves within the states, he approved the bill in deference to the legislature. He felt such action could only be taken by the commander-in-chief using war powers granted to the president by the Constitution, and Lincoln was planning to take that action. In that month, Lincoln discussed a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation with his cabinet. In it, he stated that "as a fit and necessary military measure, on January 1, 1863, all persons held as slaves in the Confederate states will thenceforward, and forever, be free."

Privately, Lincoln concluded at this point that the war could not be won without freeing the slaves. However Confederate and anti-war propagandists had success spreading the theme that emancipation was a stumbling block to peace and reunification. Republican editor Horace Greeley
Horace Greeley
Horace Greeley was an American newspaper editor, a founder of the Liberal Republican Party, a reformer, a politician, and an outspoken opponent of slavery...

 of the highly influential New York Tribune fell for the ploy. and Lincoln refuted it directly in a shrewd letter of August 22, 1862. The President said the primary goal of his actions as president (he used the first person pronoun and explicitly refers to his "official duty") was preserving the Union:
Lincoln had over and over again made clear that he wanted the states to emancipate the slaves (which they officially did in 1865 by ratifying the Thirteenth Amendment). His role in leading the national army would be to save the union, using every tool available, including complete or partial emancipation (he employed partial emancipation). As for the Confederates, they would return only at the point of a bayonet.

The Emancipation Proclamation, issued on September 22, 1862, and put into effect on January 1, 1863, declared free the slaves in ten states not then under Union control, with exemptions specified for areas already under Union control in two states. Once the abolition of slavery in the rebel states became a military objective, as Union armies advanced south, more slaves were liberated until over three million of them in Confederate territory were freed. Lincoln's comment on the signing of the Proclamation was: "I never, in my life, felt more certain that I was doing right, than I do in signing this paper." For some time, Lincoln continued earlier plans to set up colonies for the newly freed slaves. He commented favorably on colonization in the Emancipation Proclamation, but all attempts at such a massive undertaking failed. A few days after Emancipation was announced, 13 Republican governors met at the War Governors' Conference
War Governors' Conference
The Loyal War Governors' Conference was an important political event of the American Civil War. It was held at the Logan House Hotel in Altoona, Pennsylvania on September 24 and 25, 1862. Thirteen governors of Union states came together to discuss the war effort, state troop quotas, and the...

; they supported the president's Proclamation, but suggested the removal of General George B. McClellan as commander of the Union Army.

Using former slaves in the military was official government policy after the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. At first, Lincoln was reluctant to fully implement this program, but by the spring of 1863, he was ready to initiate "a massive recruitment of Negro troops". In a letter to Andrew Johnson, the military governor of Tennessee, encouraging him to lead the way in raising black troops, Lincoln wrote, "The bare sight of 50,000 armed and drilled black soldiers on the banks of the Mississippi would end the rebellion at once". By the end of 1863, at Lincoln's direction, General Lorenzo Thomas had recruited 20 regiments of blacks from the Mississippi Valley. Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass was an American social reformer, orator, writer and statesman. After escaping from slavery, he became a leader of the abolitionist movement, gaining note for his dazzling oratory and incisive antislavery writing...

 once observed of Lincoln: "In his company, I was never reminded of my humble origin, or of my unpopular color".

Gettysburg Address



With the great Union victory at the Battle of Gettysburg
Battle of Gettysburg
The Battle of Gettysburg , was fought July 1–3, 1863, in and around the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The battle with the largest number of casualties in the American Civil War, it is often described as the war's turning point. Union Maj. Gen. George Gordon Meade's Army of the Potomac...

 in July 1863, and the defeat of the Copperheads in the Ohio election in the fall, Lincoln maintained a strong base of party support and was in a strong position to redefine the war effort, despite the New York City draft riots. The stage was set for his address at the Gettysburg battlefield cemetery. Defying Lincoln's prediction that "the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here," the Address became the most quoted speech in American history.

The Gettysburg Address was delivered at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery
Gettysburg National Cemetery
The Gettysburg National Cemetery is located on Cemetery Hill in the Gettysburg Battlefield near the borough of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and adjacent to Evergreen Cemetery to the south...

 in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on the afternoon of Thursday, November 19, 1863. In 272 words, and three minutes, Lincoln asserted the nation was born, not in 1789, but in 1776, "conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." He defined the war as an effort dedicated to these principles of liberty and equality for all. The emancipation of slaves was now part of the national war effort. He declared that the deaths of so many brave soldiers would not be in vain, that slavery would end as a result of the losses, and the future of democracy would be assured, that "government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." Lincoln concluded that the Civil War had a profound objective—a new birth of freedom in the nation.

General Grant


Meade's failure to capture Lee's army as it retreated from Gettysburg, and the continued passivity of the Army of the Potomac, persuaded Lincoln that a change in command was needed. General Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant
Ulysses S. Grant was the 18th President of the United States as well as military commander during the Civil War and post-war Reconstruction periods. Under Grant's command, the Union Army defeated the Confederate military and ended the Confederate States of America...

's victories at the Battle of Shiloh
Battle of Shiloh
The Battle of Shiloh, also known as the Battle of Pittsburg Landing, was a major battle in the Western Theater of the American Civil War, fought April 6–7, 1862, in southwestern Tennessee. A Union army under Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant had moved via the Tennessee River deep into Tennessee and...

 and in the Vicksburg campaign
Vicksburg Campaign
The Vicksburg Campaign was a series of maneuvers and battles in the Western Theater of the American Civil War directed against Vicksburg, Mississippi, a fortress city that dominated the last Confederate-controlled section of the Mississippi River. The Union Army of the Tennessee under Maj. Gen....

 impressed Lincoln and made Grant a strong candidate to head the Union Army. Responding to criticism of Grant after Shiloh, Lincoln had said, "I can't spare this man. He fights." With Grant in command, Lincoln felt the Union Army could relentlessly pursue a series of coordinated offensives in multiple theaters, and have a top commander who agreed on the use of black troops.

Nevertheless, Lincoln was concerned that Grant might be considering a candidacy for President in 1864, as McClellan was. Lincoln arranged for an intermediary to make inquiry into Grant's political intentions, and being assured that he had none, submitted to the Senate Grant's promotion to commander of the Union Army. He obtained Congress's consent to reinstate for Grant the rank of Lieutenant General, which no officer had held since George Washington.

Grant waged his bloody Overland Campaign
Overland Campaign
The Overland Campaign, also known as Grant's Overland Campaign and the Wilderness Campaign, was a series of battles fought in Virginia during May and June 1864, in the American Civil War. Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, general-in-chief of all Union armies, directed the actions of the Army of the...

 in 1864. This is often characterized as a war of attrition
Attrition warfare
Attrition warfare is a military strategy in which a belligerent side attempts to win a war by wearing down its enemy to the point of collapse through continuous losses in personnel and matériel....

, given high Union losses at battles such as the Battle of the Wilderness
Battle of the Wilderness
The Battle of the Wilderness, fought May 5–7, 1864, was the first battle of Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's 1864 Virginia Overland Campaign against Gen. Robert E. Lee and the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Both armies suffered heavy casualties, a harbinger of a bloody war of attrition by...

 and Cold Harbor
Battle of Cold Harbor
The Battle of Cold Harbor was fought from May 31 to June 12, 1864 . It was one of the final battles of Union Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's Overland Campaign during the American Civil War, and is remembered as one of American history's bloodiest, most lopsided battles...

. Even though they had the advantage of fighting on the defensive, the Confederate forces had "almost as high a percentage of casualties as the Union forces". The high casualty figures of the Union alarmed the North; Grant had lost a third of his army, and Lincoln asked what Grant's plans were, to which the general replied, "I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer."

The Confederacy lacked reinforcements, so Lee's army shrank with every battle, forcing it back to trenches outside Petersburg, Virginia, where Grant began a siege. Lincoln then made an extended visit to Grant's headquarters at City Point, Virginia. This allowed the president to confer in person with Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman
William Tecumseh Sherman
William Tecumseh Sherman was an American soldier, businessman, educator and author. He served as a General in the Union Army during the American Civil War , for which he received recognition for his outstanding command of military strategy as well as criticism for the harshness of the "scorched...

 about the hostilities, as Sherman coincidentally managed a hasty visit to Grant from his position in North Carolina. Lincoln and the Republican party mobilized support for the draft throughout the North, and replaced his losses.

Lincoln authorized Grant to target the Confederate infrastructure—such as plantations, railroads, and bridges—hoping to destroy the South's morale and weaken its economic ability to continue fighting. Grant's move to Petersburg resulted in the obstruction of three railroads between Richmond and the South. This strategy allowed Generals Sherman and Philip Sheridan
Philip Sheridan
Philip Henry Sheridan was a career United States Army officer and a Union general in the American Civil War. His career was noted for his rapid rise to major general and his close association with Lt. Gen. Ulysses S...

 to destroy plantations and towns in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley
Shenandoah Valley
The Shenandoah Valley is both a geographic valley and cultural region of western Virginia and West Virginia in the United States. The valley is bounded to the east by the Blue Ridge Mountains, to the west by the eastern front of the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians , to the north by the Potomac River...

. The damage caused by Sherman's March to the Sea
Sherman's March to the Sea
Sherman's March to the Sea is the name commonly given to the Savannah Campaign conducted around Georgia from November 15, 1864 to December 21, 1864 by Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman of the Union Army in the American Civil War...

 through Georgia in 1864 was limited to a 60 miles (96.6 km) swath but neither Lincoln nor his commanders saw destruction as the main goal, but rather defeat of the Confederate armies. As Neely (2004) concludes, there was no effort to engage in "total war" against civilians, as in World War II.

Confederate general Jubal Anderson Early
Jubal Anderson Early
Jubal Anderson Early was a lawyer and Confederate general in the American Civil War. He served under Stonewall Jackson and then Robert E. Lee for almost the entire war, rising from regimental command to lieutenant general and the command of an infantry corps in the Army of Northern Virginia...

 began a series of assaults in the North that threatened the Capital. During his raid on Washington, D.C.
Battle of Fort Stevens
The Battle of Fort Stevens was an American Civil War battle fought July 11–12, 1864, in Northwest Washington, D.C., as part of the Valley Campaigns of 1864 between forces under Confederate Lt. Gen. Jubal A. Early and Union Maj. Gen. Alexander McD. McCook. Although Early caused consternation...

 in 1864, Lincoln was watching the combat from an exposed position; Captain Oliver Wendell Holmes
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. was an American jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1902 to 1932...

 shouted at him, "Get down, you damn fool, before you get shot!" After repeated calls on Grant to defend Washington, Sheridan was appointed and the threat from Early was dispatched.

As Grant continued to wear down Lee's forces, efforts to discuss peace began. Confederate Vice President Stephens led a group to meet with Lincoln, Seward, and others at Hampton Roads
Hampton Roads
Hampton Roads is the name for both a body of water and the Norfolk–Virginia Beach metropolitan area which surrounds it in southeastern Virginia, United States...

. Lincoln refused to allow any negotiation with the Confederacy as a coequal; his sole objective was an agreement to end the fighting and the meetings produced no results. On April 1, 1865, Grant successfully outflanked Lee's forces in the Battle of Five Forks
Battle of Five Forks
The Battle of Five Forks was fought on April 1, 1865, southwest of Petersburg, Virginia, in Dinwiddie County, during the Appomattox Campaign of the American Civil War. The battle, sometimes referred to as the "Waterloo of the Confederacy," pitted Union Maj. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan against...

 and nearly encircled Petersburg, and the Confederate government evacuated Richmond. Days later, when that city fell, Lincoln visited the vanquished Confederate capital; as he walked through the city, white Southerners were stone-faced, but freedmen greeted him as a hero. On April 9, Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox
Appomattox Court House
The Appomattox Courthouse is the current courthouse in Appomattox, Virginia built in 1892. It is located in the middle of the state about three miles northwest of the Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, once known as Clover Hill - home of the original Old Appomattox Court House...

 and the war was effectively over.

1864 re-election



Lincoln was a master politician, bringing together—and holding together—all the main factions of the Republican Party, and bringing in War Democrats
War Democrats
War Democrats in American politics of the 1860s were adherents of the Democratic Party who rejected the Copperheads/Peace Democrats who controlled the party...

 such as Edwin M. Stanton
Edwin M. Stanton
Edwin McMasters Stanton was an American lawyer and politician who served as Secretary of War under the Lincoln Administration during the American Civil War from 1862–1865...

 and Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States . As Vice-President of the United States in 1865, he succeeded Abraham Lincoln following the latter's assassination. Johnson then presided over the initial and contentious Reconstruction era of the United States following the American...

 as well. Lincoln spent many hours a week talking to politicians from across the land and using his patronage powers—greatly expanded over peacetime—to hold the factions of his party together, build support for his own policies, and fend off efforts by Radicals to drop him from the 1864 ticket. At its 1864 convention, the Republican Party selected Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States . As Vice-President of the United States in 1865, he succeeded Abraham Lincoln following the latter's assassination. Johnson then presided over the initial and contentious Reconstruction era of the United States following the American...

, a War Democrat from the Southern state of Tennessee, as his running mate. To broaden his coalition to include War Democrats as well as Republicans, Lincoln ran under the label of the new Union Party
National Union Party (United States)
The National Union Party was the name used by the Republican Party for the national ticket in the 1864 presidential election, held during the Civil War. State Republican parties did not usually change their name....

.

When Grant's spring campaigns turned into bloody stalemates and Union casualties mounted, the lack of military success wore heavily on the President's re-election prospects, and many Republicans across the country feared that Lincoln would be defeated. Sharing this fear, Lincoln wrote and signed a pledge that, if he should lose the election, he would still defeat the Confederacy before turning over the White House:
Lincoln did not show the pledge to his cabinet, but asked them to sign the sealed envelope.
While the Democratic platform followed the Peace wing
Copperheads (politics)
The Copperheads were a vocal group of Democrats in the Northern United States who opposed the American Civil War, wanting an immediate peace settlement with the Confederates. Republicans started calling anti-war Democrats "Copperheads," likening them to the venomous snake...

 of the party and called the war a "failure", their candidate, General George B. McClellan, supported the war and repudiated the platform. Lincoln provided Grant with more troops and mobilized his party to renew its support of Grant in the war effort. Sherman's capture of Atlanta in September and David Farragut's
David Farragut
David Glasgow Farragut was a flag officer of the United States Navy during the American Civil War. He was the first rear admiral, vice admiral, and admiral in the United States Navy. He is remembered in popular culture for his order at the Battle of Mobile Bay, usually paraphrased: "Damn the...

 capture of Mobile ended defeatist jitters; the Democratic Party was deeply split, with some leaders and most soldiers openly for Lincoln. By contrast, the National Union Party was united and energized as Lincoln made emancipation the central issue, and state Republican parties stressed the perfidy of the Copperheads. Lincoln was re-elected in a landslide, carrying all but three states, and receiving 78 percent of the Union soldiers' vote.

On March 4, 1865, Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address
Lincoln's second inaugural address
Abraham Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address on March 4, 1865, during his second inauguration as President of the United States. At a time when victory over the secessionists in the American Civil War was within days and slavery was near an end, Lincoln did not speak of happiness, but of...

. In it, he deemed the high casualties on both sides to be God's will. Historian Mark Noll concludes it ranks "among the small handful of semi-sacred texts by which Americans conceive their place in the world". Lincoln said:

Reconstruction



Reconstruction began during the war, as Lincoln and his associates anticipated questions of how to reintegrate the conquered southern states, and how to determine the fates of Confederate leaders and freed slaves. Shortly after Lee's surrender, a general had asked Lincoln how the defeated Confederates should be treated, and Lincoln replied, "Let 'em up easy." In keeping with that sentiment, Lincoln led the moderates regarding Reconstruction policy, and was opposed by the Radical Republicans, under Rep. Thaddeus Stevens
Thaddeus Stevens
Thaddeus Stevens , of Pennsylvania, was a Republican leader and one of the most powerful members of the United States House of Representatives...

, Sen. Charles Sumner and Sen. Benjamin Wade
Benjamin Wade
Benjamin Franklin "Bluff" Wade was a U.S. lawyer and United States Senator. In the Senate, he was associated with the Radical Republicans of that time.-Early life:...

, political allies of the president on other issues. Determined to find a course that would reunite the nation and not alienate the South, Lincoln urged that speedy elections under generous terms be held throughout the war. His Amnesty Proclamation
Ten percent plan
During the American Civil War in December 1863, Abraham Lincoln offered a model for reinstatement of Southern states called the 10 percent Reconstruction plan. It decreed that a state could be reintegrated into the Union when 10% of the 1860 vote count from that state had taken an oath of...

 of December 8, 1863, offered pardons to those who had not held a Confederate civil office, had not mistreated Union prisoners, and would sign an oath of allegiance.

As Southern states were subdued, critical decisions had to be made as to their leadership while their administrations were re-formed. Of special importance were Tennessee and Arkansas, where Lincoln appointed Generals Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States . As Vice-President of the United States in 1865, he succeeded Abraham Lincoln following the latter's assassination. Johnson then presided over the initial and contentious Reconstruction era of the United States following the American...

 and Frederick Steele
Frederick Steele
Frederick Steele was a career military officer in the United States Army, serving as a major general in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He was most noted for his successful campaign to retake much of secessionist Arkansas for the Union cause.-Early life:Steele was born in Delhi, New...

 as military governors, respectively. In Louisiana, Lincoln ordered General Nathaniel P. Banks to promote a plan that would restore statehood when 10 percent of the voters agreed to it. Lincoln's Democratic opponents seized on these appointments to accuse him of using the military to ensure his and the Republicans' political aspirations. On the other hand, the Radicals denounced his policy as too lenient, and passed their own plan, the Wade-Davis Bill, in 1864. When Lincoln vetoed the bill, the Radicals retaliated by refusing to seat representatives elected from Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee.

Lincoln's appointments were designed to keep both the moderate and Radical factions in harness. To fill Chief Justice Taney's seat on the Supreme Court, he named the choice of the Radicals, Salmon P. Chase
Salmon P. Chase
Salmon Portland Chase was an American politician and jurist who served as U.S. Senator from Ohio and the 23rd Governor of Ohio; as U.S. Treasury Secretary under President Abraham Lincoln; and as the sixth Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.Chase was one of the most prominent members...

, who Lincoln believed would uphold the emancipation and paper money policies.

After implementing the Emancipation Proclamation, which did not apply to every state, Lincoln increased pressure on Congress to outlaw slavery throughout the entire nation with a constitutional amendment. Lincoln declared that such an amendment would "clinch the whole matter". By December 1863 a proposed constitutional amendment that would outlaw slavery absolutely was brought to Congress for passage. This first attempt at an amendment failed to pass, falling short of the required two-thirds majority on June 15, 1864, in the House of Representatives. Passage of the proposed amendment became part of the Republican/Unionist platform in the election of 1864. After a long debate in the House, a second attempt passed Congress on January 13, 1865, and was sent to the state legislatures for ratification. Upon ratification, it became the Thirteenth Amendment
Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution officially abolished and continues to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. It was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, passed by the House on January 31, 1865, and adopted on December 6, 1865. On...

 to the United States Constitution on December 6, 1865.

As the war drew to a close, Lincoln's presidential Reconstruction for the South was in flux; having believed the federal government had limited responsibility to the millions of freedmen. He signed into law Senator Charles Sumner's Freedman's Bureau bill that set up a temporary federal agency designed to meet the immediate material needs of former slaves. The law assigned land for a lease of three years with the ability to purchase title for the freedmen. Lincoln stated that his Louisiana plan did not apply to all states under Reconstruction. Shortly before his assassination Lincoln announced he had a new plan for southern Reconstruction. Discussions with his cabinet revealed Lincoln planned short term military control over southern states, until readmission under the control of southern Unionists.

Redefining the republic and republicanism


The successful reunification of the states had consequences for the name of the country. The term "the United States" has historically been used, sometimes in the plural ("these United States"), and other times in the singular, without any particular grammatical consistency. The Civil War was a significant force in the eventual dominance of the singular usage by the end of the nineteenth century.

In recent years, historians have stressed Lincoln's redefinition of republican values
Republicanism in the United States
Republicanism is the political value system that has been a major part of American civic thought since the American Revolution. It stresses liberty and inalienable rights as central values, makes the people as a whole sovereign, supports activist government to promote the common good, rejects...

. As early as the 1850s, a time when most political rhetoric focused on the sanctity of the Constitution, Lincoln redirected emphasis to the Declaration of Independence as the foundation of American political values—what he called the "sheet anchor" of republicanism. The Declaration's emphasis on freedom and equality for all, in contrast to the Constitution's tolerance of slavery, shifted the debate. As Diggins concludes regarding the highly influential Cooper Union speech of early 1860, "Lincoln presented Americans a theory of history that offers a profound contribution to the theory and destiny of republicanism itself." His position gained strength because he highlighted the moral basis of republicanism, rather than its legalisms. Nevertheless, in 1861, Lincoln justified the war in terms of legalisms (the Constitution was a contract, and for one party to get out of a contract all the other parties had to agree), and then in terms of the national duty to guarantee a republican form of government in every state.

In March 1861, in his First Inaugural Address
Lincoln's first inaugural address
Abraham Lincoln's first inaugural address was delivered by President Abraham Lincoln, on Monday, March 4, 1861, as part of his taking of the oath of office for his first term as the sixteenth President of the United States...

, Lincoln explored the nature of democracy. He denounced secession as anarchy, and explained that majority rule had to be balanced by constitutional restraints in the American system. He said "A majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people."

Other enactments


Lincoln adhered to the Whig theory of the presidency, which gave Congress primary responsibility for writing the laws while the Executive enforced them. Lincoln only vetoed four bills passed by Congress; the only important one was the Wade-Davis Bill with its harsh program of Reconstruction. He signed the Homestead Act
Homestead Act
A homestead act is one of three United States federal laws that gave an applicant freehold title to an area called a "homestead" – typically 160 acres of undeveloped federal land west of the Mississippi River....

 in 1862, making millions of acres of government-held land in the West available for purchase at very low cost. The Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act
Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act
The Morrill Land-Grant Acts are United States statutes that allowed for the creation of land-grant colleges, including the Morrill Act of 1862 and the Morrill Act of 1890 -Passage of original bill:...

, also signed in 1862, provided government grants for agricultural colleges in each state. The Pacific Railway Acts
Pacific Railway Acts
The Pacific Railroad Acts were a series of acts of Congress that promoted the construction of the transcontinental railroad in the United States through authorizing the issuance of government bonds and the grants of land to railroad companies. The Pacific Railroad Act of 1862 was the original act...

 of 1862 and 1864 granted federal support for the construction of the United States' First Transcontinental Railroad
First Transcontinental Railroad
The First Transcontinental Railroad was a railroad line built in the United States of America between 1863 and 1869 by the Central Pacific Railroad of California and the Union Pacific Railroad that connected its statutory Eastern terminus at Council Bluffs, Iowa/Omaha, Nebraska The First...

, which was completed in 1869. The passage of the Homestead Act and the Pacific Railway Acts was made possible by the absence of Southern congressmen and senators who had opposed the measures in the 1850s.
Other important legislation involved two measures to raise revenues for the Federal government: tariffs (a policy with long precedent), and a new Federal income tax. In 1861, Lincoln signed the second and third Morrill Tariff
Morrill Tariff
The Morrill Tariff of 1861 was a protective tariff in the United States, adopted on March 2, 1861 during the administration of President James Buchanan....

, the first having become law under James Buchanan. In 1861, Lincoln signed the Revenue Act of 1861
Revenue Act of 1861
The Revenue Act of 1861, formally cited as , included the first U.S. Federal income tax statute . The Act, motivated by the need to fund the Civil War , imposed an income tax to be "levied, collected, and paid, upon the annual income of every person residing in the United States, whether such...

, creating the first U.S. income tax. This created a flat tax of 3 percent on incomes above $800, which was later changed by the Revenue Act of 1862
Revenue Act of 1862
The Revenue Act of 1862 , was passed by the United States Congress to help fund the American Civil War. The Act was signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln, introducing the first progressive rate income tax to the country....

 to a progressive rate structure.

Lincoln also presided over the expansion of the federal government's economic influence in several other areas. The creation of the system of national banks by the National Banking Act
National Banking Act
The National Banking Acts of 1863 and 1864 were two United States federal laws that established a system of national charters for banks, and created the United States National Banking System. They encouraged development of a national currency backed by bank holdings of U.S...

 provided a strong financial network in the country. It also established a national currency. In 1862, Congress created, with Lincoln's approval, the Department of Agriculture
United States Department of Agriculture
The United States Department of Agriculture is the United States federal executive department responsible for developing and executing U.S. federal government policy on farming, agriculture, and food...

. In 1862, Lincoln sent a senior general, John Pope, to put down the "Sioux Uprising
Dakota War of 1862
The Dakota War of 1862, also known as the Sioux Uprising, was an armed conflict between the United States and several bands of the eastern Sioux. It began on August 17, 1862, along the Minnesota River in southwest Minnesota...

" in Minnesota. Presented with 303 execution warrants for convicted Santee Dakota who were accused of killing innocent farmers, Lincoln conducted his own personal review of each of these warrants, eventually approving 39 for execution (one was later reprieved). President Lincoln had planned to reform federal Indian policy.

In the wake of Grant's casualties in his campaign against Lee, Lincoln had considered yet another executive call for a military draft, but it was never issued. In response to rumors of one, however, the editors of the New York World and the Journal of Commerce published a false draft proclamation which created an opportunity for the editors and others employed at the publications to corner the gold market. Lincoln's reaction was to send the strongest of messages to the media about such behavior; he ordered the military to seize the two papers. The seizure lasted for two days.

Lincoln is largely responsible for the institution of the Thanksgiving holiday
Thanksgiving (United States)
Thanksgiving, or Thanksgiving Day, is a holiday celebrated in the United States on the fourth Thursday in November. It has officially been an annual tradition since 1863, when, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of thanksgiving to be celebrated on Thursday,...

 in the United States. Before Lincoln's presidency, Thanksgiving, while a regional holiday in New England since the 17th century, had only been proclaimed by the federal government sporadically, and on irregular dates. The last such proclamation had been during James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

's presidency 50 years before. In 1863, Lincoln declared the final Thursday in November of that year to be a day of Thanksgiving. In June 1864, Lincoln approved the Yosemite Grant enacted by Congress, which provided unprecedented federal protection for the area now known as Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is a United States National Park spanning eastern portions of Tuolumne, Mariposa and Madera counties in east central California, United States. The park covers an area of and reaches across the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain chain...

.

Supreme Court appointments


Lincoln's declared philosophy on court nominations was that "we cannot ask a man what he will do, and if we should, and he should answer us, we should despise him for it. Therefore we must take a man whose opinions are known." Lincoln made five appointments to the United States Supreme Court. Noah Haynes Swayne
Noah Haynes Swayne
Noah Haynes Swayne was an American jurist and politician. He was the first Republican appointed as a justice to the United States Supreme Court.-Birth and early life:...

, nominated January 21, 1862 and appointed January 24, 1862, was chosen as an anti-slavery lawyer who was committed to the Union. Samuel Freeman Miller
Samuel Freeman Miller
Samuel Freeman Miller was an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1862–1890. He was a physician and lawyer.-Early life and education:...

, nominated and appointed on July 16, 1862, supported Lincoln in the 1860 election and was an avowed abolitionist. David Davis
David Davis (Supreme Court justice)
David Davis was a United States Senator from Illinois and associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. He also served as Abraham Lincoln's campaign manager at the 1860 Republican National Convention....

, Lincoln's campaign manager in 1860, nominated December 1, 1862 and appointed December 8, 1862, had also served as a judge in Lincoln's Illinois court circuit. Stephen Johnson Field
Stephen Johnson Field
Stephen Johnson Field was an American jurist. He was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court of the United States Supreme Court from May 20, 1863, to December 1, 1897...

, a previous California Supreme Court justice, was nominated March 6, 1863 and appointed March 10, 1863, and provided geographic balance, as well as political balance to the court as a Democrat. Finally, Lincoln's Treasury Secretary, Salmon P. Chase
Salmon P. Chase
Salmon Portland Chase was an American politician and jurist who served as U.S. Senator from Ohio and the 23rd Governor of Ohio; as U.S. Treasury Secretary under President Abraham Lincoln; and as the sixth Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.Chase was one of the most prominent members...

, was nominated as Chief Justice, and appointed the same day, on December 6, 1864. Lincoln believed Chase was an able jurist, would support Reconstruction legislation, and that his appointment united the Republican Party.

States admitted to the Union


West Virginia, admitted to the Union June 20, 1863, contained the former north-westernmost counties of Virginia that seceded from Virginia after that commonwealth declared its secession from the Union. Nevada, which became the third State in the far-west of the continent, was admitted October 31, 1864. Lincoln recognized both of these state governments when formed locally, but was not otherwise involved prior to their admission by Congress.

Assassination


John Wilkes Booth
John Wilkes Booth
John Wilkes Booth was an American stage actor who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre, in Washington, D.C., on April 14, 1865. Booth was a member of the prominent 19th century Booth theatrical family from Maryland and, by the 1860s, was a well-known actor...

 was a well-known actor and a Confederate spy from Maryland; though he never joined the Confederate army, he had contacts with the Confederate secret service. In 1864, Booth formulated a plan (very similar to one of Thomas N. Conrad previously authorized by the Confederacy) to kidnap Lincoln in exchange for the release of Confederate prisoners.
After attending an April 11, 1865, speech in which Lincoln promoted voting rights for blacks, an incensed Booth changed his plans and became determined to assassinate the president. Learning that the President, First Lady, and head Union general Ulysses S. Grant would be attending Ford's Theatre
Ford's Theatre
Ford's Theatre is a historic theater in Washington, D.C., used for various stage performances beginning in the 1860s. It is also the site of the assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865...

, Booth formulated a plan with co-conspirators to assassinate Vice President Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson was the 17th President of the United States . As Vice-President of the United States in 1865, he succeeded Abraham Lincoln following the latter's assassination. Johnson then presided over the initial and contentious Reconstruction era of the United States following the American...

, Secretary of State William H. Seward
William H. Seward
William Henry Seward, Sr. was the 12th Governor of New York, United States Senator and the United States Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson...

 and General Grant. Without his main bodyguard, Ward Hill Lamon
Ward Hill Lamon
Ward Hill Lamon was a personal friend and self-appointed bodyguard of the American President Abraham Lincoln. Lamon was famously absent the night Lincoln was assassinated, having been sent by Lincoln to Richmond, Virginia....

, Lincoln left to attend the play Our American Cousin
Our American Cousin
Our American Cousin is an 1858 play in three acts by English playwright Tom Taylor. The play is a farce whose plot is based on the introduction of an awkward, boorish but honest American, Asa Trenchard, to his aristocratic English relatives when he goes to England to claim the family estate...

on April 14. Grant along with his wife chose at the last minute to travel to Philadelphia instead of attending the play.

Lincoln's bodyguard, John Parker, left Ford's Theater during intermission to join Lincoln's coachman for drinks in the Star Saloon next door. The now unguarded President sat in his state box in the balcony. Seizing the opportunity, Booth crept up from behind and at about 10:13 pm, aimed at the back of Lincoln's head and fired at point-blank range, mortally wounding the President. Major Henry Rathbone
Henry Rathbone
Henry Reed Rathbone was a United States military officer and diplomat who was present at the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Rathbone was sitting with his fiancée, Clara Harris, next to the President and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, when John Wilkes Booth entered the president's box at...

 momentarily grappled with Booth but Booth stabbed him and escaped.

After being on the run for ten days, Booth was tracked down and found on a farm in Virginia, some 30 miles (48.3 km) south of Washington D.C. After a brief fight, Booth was killed by Union soldiers on April 26.

An Army surgeon, Doctor Charles Leale
Charles Leale
Dr. Charles Augustus Leale M.D. was a surgeon in the Union Army during the American Civil War.He was the first doctor to be admitted into the presidential box at Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865 after John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln in the back of the head with a Philadelphia...

, assessed Lincoln's wound as mortal. The dying man was taken across the street to Petersen House
Petersen House
The Petersen House is a 19th-century federal style rowhouse located at 516 10th Street NW in Washington, D.C. On April 15, 1865, United States President Abraham Lincoln died there after being shot the previous evening at Ford's Theater, which was located across the street. The house was built in...

. After being in a coma for nine hours, Lincoln died at 7:22 am on April 15. Presbyterian minister Phineas Densmore Gurley
Phineas Densmore Gurley
Phineas Densmore Gurley was Chaplain of the United States Senate and pastor of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, DC.-Early life:...

, then present, was asked to offer a prayer, after which Secretary of War Stanton saluted and said, "Now he belongs to the ages."

Lincoln's flag-enfolded body was then escorted in the rain to the White House by bareheaded Union officers, while the city's church bells rang. Vice President Johnson was sworn in as President at 10:00 am the day after the assassination. Lincoln lay in state in the East Room, and then in the Capitol Rotunda from April 19 – April 21. For three weeks his funeral train brought the body to cities across the North for large-scale memorials attended by hundreds of thousands, as well as many people who gathered in informal trackside tributes with bands, bonfires and hymn singing.

Religious and philosophical beliefs


Scholars have extensively written on topics concerning Lincoln's beliefs and philosophy; e.g. whether Lincoln's frequent use of religious imagery and language reflected his own personal beliefs or was a device to appeal to his audiences, who were mostly evangelical Protestants. Though he never joined a church, Lincoln was familiar with the Bible, quoted it and praised it.

In the 1840s Lincoln subscribed to the Doctrine of Necessity, a belief that asserted the human mind was controlled by some higher power. Some scholars maintain that in the 1850s, Lincoln acknowledged "providence" in a general way, and rarely used the language or imagery of the evangelicals; instead, they argue, he regarded the republicanism of the Founding Fathers with an almost religious reverence. Some historians also conclude that when he suffered the death of his son Edward, Lincoln more frequently acknowledged his own need to depend on God.

As Lincoln grew older, it maybe the idea of a divine will somehow interacting with human affairs increasingly influenced his beliefs and public expressions. On a personal level, the death of his son Willie in February 1862 may have caused Lincoln to look towards religion for answers and solace. After Willie's death, in the summer or early fall of 1862, Lincoln apparently attempted to put on paper his private thoughts on why, from a divine standpoint, the severity of the war was necessary. He wrote at this time that God "could have either saved or destroyed the Union without a human contest. Yet the contest began. And having begun He could give the final victory to either side any day. Yet the contest proceeds." In April 1864, discussing Emancipation, Lincoln wrote, "I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me. Now, at the end of three years struggle the nation's condition is not what either party, or any man devised, or expected. God alone can claim it."

Historical reputation


In surveys of scholars ranking Presidents, Lincoln is ranked in the top three, often #1. A 2004 study found that scholars in the fields of history and politics ranked Lincoln number one, while legal scholars placed him second after Washington.

President Lincoln's assassination made him a national martyr and endowed him with a recognition of mythic proportion. Lincoln was viewed by abolitionists as a champion for human liberty. Republicans linked Lincoln's name to their party. Many, though not all, in the South considered Lincoln as a man of outstanding ability.

Schwartz argues that Lincoln's reputation grew slowly in the late 19th century until the Progressive Era (1900-1920s) when he emerged as one of the most venerated heroes in American history, with even white Southerners in agreement. The high point came in 1922 with the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial on the Mall in Washington. In the New Deal
New Deal
The New Deal was a series of economic programs implemented in the United States between 1933 and 1936. They were passed by the U.S. Congress during the first term of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. The programs were Roosevelt's responses to the Great Depression, and focused on what historians call...

 era liberals honored Lincoln not so much as the self-made man or the great war president, but as the advocate of the common man who doubtless would have supported the welfare state. In the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 years, Lincoln's image shifted to emphasize the symbol of freedom who brought hope to those oppressed by communist regimes.

In recent decades, Lincoln became a hero to political conservatives (apart from neo-Confederates) for his intense nationalism, support for business, his insistence on stopping the spread of un-freedom (slavery), his acting in terms of Lockean and Burkean principles, and his devotion to the principles of the Founding Fathers. As a Whig activist, Lincoln was a spokesman for business interests, favoring high tariffs, banks, internal improvements, and railroads in opposition to the agrarian Democrats
Jacksonian democracy
Jacksonian democracy is the political movement toward greater democracy for the common man typified by American politician Andrew Jackson and his supporters. Jackson's policies followed the era of Jeffersonian democracy which dominated the previous political era. The Democratic-Republican Party of...

. William C. Harris found that Lincoln's "reverence for the Founding Fathers, the Constitution, the laws under it, and the preservation of the Republic and its institutions undergirded and strengthened his conservatism.". James G. Randall emphasizes his tolerance and his especially his moderation "in his preference for orderly progress, his distrust of dangerous agitation, and his reluctance toward ill digested schemes of reform." Randall concludes that, "he was conservative in his complete avoidance of that type of so-called 'radicalism' which involved abuse of the South, hatred for the slaveholder, thirst for vengeance, partisan plotting, and ungenerous demands that Southern institutions be transformed overnight by outsiders."

By the late 1960s liberals were having second thoughts, especially regarding Lincoln's views on racial issues. Black historian Lerone Bennett
Lerone Bennett, Jr.
Lerone Bennett, Jr. is an African-American scholar, author and social historian, known for his revisionist analysis of race relations in the United States. His works include "When the Wind Blows" and "History of Us".-Biography:...

 won wide attention when he called Lincoln a white supremacist in 1968. Critics complained that Lincoln used ethnic slurs, told jokes that ridiculed blacks, insisted he opposed social equality, and proposed sending freed slaves
American Colonization Society
The American Colonization Society , founded in 1816, was the primary vehicle to support the "return" of free African Americans to what was considered greater freedom in Africa. It helped to found the colony of Liberia in 1821–22 as a place for freedmen...

 to another country. Defenders retorted that he was not as bad as most politicians; and that he was a "moral visionary" who deftly advanced the abolitionist cause, as fast as politically possible. The emphasis shifted away from Lincoln-the-emancipator to an argument that blacks had freed themselves from slavery, or at least were responsible for pressuring the government on emancipation. Historian Barry Schwartz wrote in 2009 that Lincoln's image suffered "erosion, fading prestige, benign ridicule," in the late 20th century. Whereas, Donald in his 1996 biography opined that Lincoln was distinctly endowed with the personality trait of negative capability
Negative Capability
Negative capability is the ability to perceive and to think more than any presupposition of human nature allows. It describes the capacity of human beings to reject the totalizing constraints of a closed context, and to both experience phenomenon free from any epistemological bounds as well as to...

, defined by the poet John Keats and attributed to extraordinary leaders who were "content in the midst of uncertainties and doubts, and not compelled toward fact or reason."

Memorials


Lincoln has been memorialized in many town, city, and county names, including the capital
Lincoln, Nebraska
The City of Lincoln is the capital and the second-most populous city of the US state of Nebraska. Lincoln is also the county seat of Lancaster County and the home of the University of Nebraska. Lincoln's 2010 Census population was 258,379....

 of Nebraska. The first public monument to Abraham Lincoln was a statue erected in front of the District of Columbia City Hall
District of Columbia City Hall
District of Columbia City Hall, also known as Old City Hall and the District of Columbia Courthouse, is a historic building at Judiciary Square in downtown Washington, D.C. Originally built for the offices of the D.C...

 in 1868, three years after his assassination. Lincoln's name and image appear in numerous other places, such as the Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial
The Lincoln Memorial is an American memorial built to honor the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The architect was Henry Bacon, the sculptor of the main statue was Daniel Chester French, and the painter of the interior...

 in Washington, D.C. and Lincoln's sculpture on Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore near Keystone, South Dakota, in the United States...

. Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Park in Hodgenville, Kentucky, Lincoln Boyhood
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial is a United States Presidential Memorial, a National Historic Landmark District in present-day Lincoln City, Indiana. It preserves the farm site where Abraham Lincoln lived with his family from 1816 to 1830. During that time, he grew from a 7-year-old boy to a...

 National Memorial in Lincoln City, Indiana, Lincoln's New Salem, Illinois, and Lincoln Home
Lincoln Home National Historic Site
Lincoln Home National Historic Site preserves the Springfield, Illinois home where Abraham Lincoln lived from 1844 to 1861, before becoming the 16th President of the United States...

 National Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois commemorate the president.
Ford's Theatre
Ford's Theatre
Ford's Theatre is a historic theater in Washington, D.C., used for various stage performances beginning in the 1860s. It is also the site of the assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865...

 and Petersen House
Petersen House
The Petersen House is a 19th-century federal style rowhouse located at 516 10th Street NW in Washington, D.C. On April 15, 1865, United States President Abraham Lincoln died there after being shot the previous evening at Ford's Theater, which was located across the street. The house was built in...

 (where he died) are maintained as museums, as is the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum documents the life of the 16th U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln, and the course of the American Civil War. Combining traditional scholarship with 21st century showmanship techniques, the popular museum continues to rank as one of the most visited...

, located in Springfield. The Lincoln Tomb
Lincoln Tomb
Lincoln's Tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, Illinois, is the final resting place of the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, and three of their four sons. The monument is owned and administered by the State of Illinois as Lincoln Tomb State...

 in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois, contains his remains and those of his wife Mary and three of his four sons, Edward, William, and Thomas.

Within a year of this death, his image began to be disseminated throughout the world on stamps, and he is the only U.S. President to appear on a U.S. airmail stamp. Currency honoring the president includes the United States five-dollar bill
United States five-dollar bill
The United States five-dollar bill or fiver is a denomination of United States currency. The $5 bill currently features U.S. President Abraham Lincoln's portrait on the front and the Lincoln Memorial on the back. All $5 bills issued today are Federal Reserve Notes...

 and the Lincoln cent
Lincoln cent
Below are the mintage figures for the Lincoln penny-Mintage figures:Lincoln wheat cent, 1909-1958 Lincoln Memorial cent, 1959-1982 ...

, which represents the first regularly circulating U.S. coin to feature an actual person.

Abraham Lincoln's birthday, February 12, was never a national holiday, but it was at one time observed by as many as 30 states. In 1971, Presidents Day became a national holiday, combining Lincoln's and Washington's birthdays and replacing most states' celebration of his birthday. The Abraham Lincoln Association
Abraham Lincoln Association
The Abraham Lincoln Association is an American association that observes each anniversary of the birth of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, preserves and makes more accessible the landmarks associated with his life, and actively encourages, promotes, and aids the collection and dissemination of...

 was formed in 1908 to commemorate the centennial of Lincoln's birth. In 2000, Congress established the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission
Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission
The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission was the Congressionally created 14-member federal commission focused on planning and commemorating the 200th birthday of the United States' 16th president on February 12, 2009. The commission served for ten years, from 2000 to 2010...

 to commemorate his 200th birthday in February 2009.

Lincoln sites remain popular tourist attractions, but crowds have thinned. In the late 1960s, 650,000 people a year visited the home in Springfield, slipping to 393,000 in 2000–2003. Likewise visits to New Salem fell by half, probably because of the enormous draw of the new museum in Springfield. Visits to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington peaked at 4.3 million in 1987 and have since declined. However crowds at Ford's Theatre in Washington have grown sharply.

Cited in footnotes



, also published as vol 3–4 of Ordeal of the Union; also published as vol 5–8 of Ordeal of the Union

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