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Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee Essay

Abraham Lincoln and Robert E. Lee wanted to achieve diverse goals during the Civil War. Lincoln was determined to save the Union and help the United States move into a new era. He wanted to settle the issue of slavery in the United States, founded on the principles of liberty and equal rights for all. Robert E. Lee fought the war for the Southern traditions. Lee wanted to defend Southern traditions. He fought the war not only to protect slavery, but also to preserve a whole culture, a way of life. Southerners’ wealth and identity belonged to the land they lived on. Lee fought to protect sovereignty, pride, identity, and a decision to secede from the Union. Despite the differences, both men will be heroes for American people.

Abraham Lincoln created a sense of nationhood based on equality and coupled it with an American national culture which enabled the United States to maintain its unity. Lincoln became extraordinarily popular not only because he came from a “common background” but also because of the unusual strength and clarity with which he felt and saw the troubles that were affecting the nation. Lincoln was able to exhibit both warring and emotional leadership. After he established the fact that slaves should be free, he knew he had to make peace with the South to pull the country back together.

Despite the dignity, professionalism, and military skills that Lee demonstrated, he represented a country that enslaved an entire race, traded, and sold human beings like livestock. Although the Confederate leaders insisted that they fought for “states rights,” one of the “rights” was the continuation of slavery. Robert E. Lee came from a good family. He chose to fight for the confederates although President Lincoln asked him to fight for the North. Lee was a symbol of the Southern chivalry; he did not have any demerits. His way of fighting was very noble. General Lee did not kill everything that moved and did not burn everything that was on his way, unlike the armies from the North. In Lee’s opinion, actions like that were immoral. He insisted that armies should only fight other armies. He did not fight a total war. Lee fought the old-fashioned way. He stood for the old way of life, for nostalgia.

Both the North and the South gained knowledge from this horrid experience of war. Lincoln’s achievements – saving the Union and freeing the slaves – and his sudden death just at the war’s end assured his continuing fame. Lincoln had qualities that made him a great American political leader. His keen intellect, humor and boldness, and compassion all contributed to his presidency in unifying the nation and extending freedom. Despite the differences, both men showed courage, determination and will to pursue their goals, and are now symbols not only of North and South, but also of the United States as a whole.

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