Abraham Lincoln (see Fig. 1), the United States sixteenth President, has productively led his nation through its most difficult crisis: the American Civil War. He was eventually assassinated as the war was coming to a halt. Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer, a Legislator in the Illinois State, and a House of Representatives member. He was the proponent in the fight against slavery in the United States and in 1861 won the Presidency. 1 During his term in office, he contributed much of his effort in the preservation of the United States by defeating the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War.
He introduced countermeasures that led to the abolishment of slavery on his Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, though various criticisms was put unto him by the opponents of war (also called “copperheads”), and the faction of the Republican Party called the Radical Republicans. He also promoted the passage of the Thirteenth Constitution Amendment, which was ratified by the states later after his death. Figure 1. Photograph of Abraham Lincoln During the war, Lincoln closely monitored the proceedings, choosing on his own the top Generals that will lead the army.
He successfully handled the factions on the Republican Party, and defused the so-called war scare of 1861 with the United Kingdom. Under his intense leadership, the Union was able to take control of the slave border states when the war was about to start. As the war was about to end, he viewed a concept of reconstruction to speed up the unification of the nation through policies on reconciliation. His eminent assassination in 1865 was the first conducted assassination in the United States history. The incident made him a martyr and an epitome of national unification. Early Life
Abraham Hanks Lincoln, son of Nancy Hanks and Thomas Lincoln, was born on a small cabin in a spring farm in Kentucky on February 12, 1809. The area was the called Hardin County but now a part of the LaRue County. This made him the first United States President to be born outside the initial Thirteen Colonies. His ancestor was originally from Massachusetts in Hingham, but later departed westward up to the Virginia states to the frontier (see Fig. 2). Figure 2. Symbolic representation of the Cabin log where Lincoln was born 2 His father initially bought the spring farm for $200 and became a respected citizen of Kentucky.
The family belonged to a Baptist church (Hardshell), though Abraham never joined any church including of his own family. In 1816, his family was forced to depart to a new County (the Perry County) in Indiana. This move can be accounted for the existing slavery conditions, and land difficulties in Kentucky wherein people had a hard time securing land titles and properties. In 1830, the family decided to settle on Illinois in Macon County due to problem in land title, and then later transferred in Coles County, Illinois. He was about 9 yrs.
old when his mother died of “milk illness”, and soon his father re-married Sarah Bush Johnston. Though affectionate on his stepmother, his attitude towards his father was distant. 3 Lincoln was known to be a self-educated person and only attended 18 months of formal education. He was an athletic person standing 6 foot 4 inches, and also an active wrestler, and skilled on using axes. He was also concerned on animal welfare by significantly avoiding fishing and hunting. At the age of 22, the young Lincoln set forth on his fortune by eagerly canoeing on the Sangamon River to reach the New Salem village.
Denton Offut, later that year, hired Lincoln as goods transporter from New Salem towards Sangamon by using flatboat. Early Military Service and Political Career In 1832, Abraham Lincoln started his political career at the age of 23 as an affiliate of the Whig party. Though unsuccessful on his first campaign, he proposed on the navigational enhancements of the Sangamon River. He believed that the improvement would open the door for trading utilizing the river and will eventually improved sea traffic.
During the Black Hawk War, he was elected as captain of the Illinois militia that eventually gave him a sense of satisfaction. He then managed a small store for several months before winning a slot on the state legislature in 1834. 4 This gave him the opportunity to come across the Laws of England and eventually inspired him to self educate. In 1837, he was admitted to the bar and began his practice of law together with John T. Stuart. He developed a reputation of being a redoubtable antagonist on cross-examinations and closing arguments; then later on became a successful and able lawyer.
He was able to serve four terms in the House of Representatives in Illinois being the representative of the Sangamon County. He made his first dispute on slavery in the House in 1837, emphasizing that the society was founded on both bad policy and injustices. This was also the year where he met his close friend, Joshua Fry Speed. He then started writing unknown letters in 1842 on the Sangamon journal, scornful of the Democrat and State auditor James Shields. Marriage and Family Lincoln married Marry Todd (see Fig. 3) on November 4, 1842 who was the daughter of a well-known slave-owner family coming from Kentucky.
The couple had several offspring’s but only one had survived towards adulthood, Robert Todd Lincoln was born on August 1, 1843 at Springfield Illinois; the other children that died either during their teen years or early years were: Edward Baker (born March 10, 1846 and died February 1, 1850), William Wallace Lincoln (born December 21, 1850 and died February 20, 1862), and Thomas Lincoln (born April 4, 1853 and died July 16, 1871). Figure 2. Photograph of Mary Lincoln Legislative Activity In 1846, Lincoln was elected as a member of the United States’ House of Representatives.
As a neophyte member, he was not predominantly influential or a powerful figure. Nonetheless, he relentlessly argued his objections on the Mexican-American War. He eventually challenged the then President Polk’s desire of a “military haven” and eagerly demanded for a resolution to know the exact spot on the US area the blood was first spilled. After two weeks, President Polk sent a letter of peace treaty to the Congress. 5 Lincoln later on damaged his political figure when he made a speech on the killings of children, women, and men of those murderers and “demons”, and God has forgotten to shield the innocent and the weak.
This statement drew outrage among the Democrats and was held against him when he applied for a post in the administration of President Taylor. He decided to give up his political activities for a number of years and concentrated on practicing law. In his practice of law in the mid-1850, Abraham Lincoln handled a vast amount of cases focusing on different aspects. Some were common but others were celebrated such as the case of the Alton and Sangamon railroad of 1851, the civil case of Hurd V. Rock Island Bridge Company, the criminal trial of William Anderson, to name a few.
Lincoln was involved in almost 5,000 cases during his 23 years of practicing law during which he appeared almost 400 times on the Supreme Court of Illinois State. Republican Politics Abraham Lincoln returned to politics as a reaction to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which was authored by Stephen Douglas of the Democrat. Douglas argued that in a democratic settings the people have the right to choose whether or not their state will allow slavery or not, and the Congress should not impose any decisions on them. Lincoln argued on the matter and established a new Republican Party.
Accepting his nomination as a Republican Senator in 1858, Lincoln delivered his famous speech where it created a reminiscent image of the possible break up or disunion caused by the slave issue. The 1860 Presidential Election Lincoln was then elected as the Republican candidate for the 1860 Presidential elections. The bearings why he was elected as the candidate stood on the premise of his stand on slavery, in addition to his perceived western origins. It was thought of he could get the West and the North was the distressed party.
During the electoral campaign, Lincoln did not make any speeches for many of the Republicans handled their own State and County. Little effort was made to alter non-Republicans, and there were no relative campaigns in the South. But in the North, a large-scale campaign took place with Republicans speaking on assemblies, leaflets, and editorial newspapers were eminent. 6 The campaign focused on the platform of the party, on Lincoln’s childhood and his rise from poverty, it also showcased his natural gift of intelligence and was given several nicknames such as “Rail-Splitter” and “Honest Abe”.
The campaign also emphasized on how a common farm boy can rise to adversity and become successful in life. After the election, Lincoln won the Presidency garnering a vast 39. 9% of the total votes, next is Douglas with 29. 5% of the total votes. Presidency and Civil War After Abraham Lincoln won the Presidency n 1860, several uprisings were eminent coming from the South. On December 20, 1860, South Carolina took the first step to leave the Union, and soon followed afterwards by six other States in the South. These seven States established a new nation called the Confederate States of America.
The new nation consists the States of Maryland, Delaware, North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Virginia, The newly –elected President Lincoln and former President Buchanan both refused to distinguish the newly established confederacy. Though there were several attempts to compromise, such as the Crittenden Compromise, but President Lincoln denounced the proposal and maintained his position for a unified States. He successfully evaded the assassination plot on him in Baltimore on February 23, 1861 and on his inauguration as President on March 4, 1861.
Sizable troops of German- American Turners were front-lined during on his first inaugural Address. He emphasized on a unified State with strong reference on the United States constitution. But even though he exerted tremendous effort to maintain a unified State, the Confederacy was able to establish itself: therefore compromise seemed to be impossible. The inevitable happened on April 1861 when the Union troops were forced to give up the Fort Surnter and eventually surrender. The event forced President Lincoln to call some 75,000 troops to restore the forts, protect the capital state, and eventually preserved the Union.
Almost 18,000 rebels were arrested and held in prison, at the same time President Lincoln negotiated with the uprising States. In July 1862, the Second Confiscation Act was implemented liberating the slaves owned by the rebels. The goal of the Act was to weaken the rebellion, which was relatively controlled and led by slave owners. This new law was termed the “Emancipation Proclamation”, had the support of the Congress for the enactment. To end slavery was the primary objective of Abraham Lincoln’s administration, but the American people were relatively slow to clinch the idea.
The Act took effect in January 1, 1863 and slaves were freed on territories not under the control of the Union. As the army of the Union continued to march south, more and more slaves were freed until almost the entire Confederate’s army (mostly slaves) was liberated (approximate 3 Million people). During the war, the Battle of Gettysburg was considered the most devastating and bloodiest among the casualties of both parties. It has brought a big blow to Lincoln’s effort towards war and sentiments greatly rose on the war and to President Lincoln.
Though political sentiments were eminent, Lincoln was able to establish victories on Vicksburg, Gettysburg, and Chattanooga: major victory was at hand. The Confederate army continued to weaken but with high casualties on the part of the Union. As the next election was near, there were fear and doubts if Lincoln would be able to sustain his leadership and win again. At the Republican convention, He was then again elected to run for Presidency alongside with Andrew Johnson. They were able to unite the War Democrats and the Republicans under a new-formed Union Party.
Lincoln, with the concern of having the possibility of being defeated, made a pledge that if so he would continue to beat the Confederate before turning over the post. This pledge was sealed and signed by him and all of the representatives of the Republican Party. The eventual splitting of the Democratic Party led to the landslide victory of Lincoln garnering a total of 212 out of 233 electoral votes. He outstandingly delivered his second inaugural speech on March 4, 1865 with the victory over the Confederacy was eminent, the slavery was abolished, and he was looking forward for a new future of the Nation.
Reconstruction began and his subordinates initiated the integration of the Southern States, what would be the course of action towards the defeated Confederate leaders, and also for the slaves who were freed. Amnesties were given and each affected State was under reconstruction policies. Governors were appointed on Louisiana, Tennessee, and Arkansas. The war has officially ended on April 9, 1865 with the Confederate surrendered at the court house in Appromatox. The other rebels also surrendered and there have been no any signs of rising guerilla conflict.
During the war, Lincoln has subsequently used his political powers: formed a blockade, suspended relatively the writ of habeas corpus, used huge amount of money without any authorization from Congress, imprisoned without trial some 18,000 alleged Confederate leaders and sympathizers. Assassination Though Lincoln was able to unite the States and abolished slavery, many of his detractors were eagerly anticipating a hostage or a possible assassination plot against him. 7 On April 14, 1865, John Wikes Booth, a Confederate spy, shot Lincoln to the head.
With only a single bodyguard on his post, Booth waited for the main line of the play, Our American Cousin, where the audience would be all laughing. He hoped that the magnitude of the audiences’ laughter would camouflage the gunshot noise. As the main line was told, Booth immediately jumped on the state box and shot Lincoln at point blank. Major Henry Rathbone struggled with Booth but eventually was injured by Booth’s knife. He jumped from the box to escape and was chased by Federal agents. A nationwide manhunt were conducted for 12 days before he was consequently cornered and shot in a barn house at Virginia, he died soon after.
Abraham Lincoln, with a bullet on his skull was comatose for 9 hours before finally death crossed his path on April 15, 1865. His remains were returned to the White House and laid inside the East room. A train in a funeral grand procession passing through several states on its journey back to Illinois carried his body. Several bronze statues of himself and the tomb stood at 54 m. tall surrounded the Lincoln Tomb located at Oak Ridge Cemetery. To prevent continuous attempts to steal and hold Lincoln’s cadaver for ransom, Robert Lincoln decided to exhume the body of his father and re-buried back with several feet thick of concrete encasement.
His death consequently made him a martyr and repeated polls indicated him as one of the most popular and greatest President of the United States. 8 He was clearly personified as an epitome of values in terms of integrity, honesty, love for freedom, respect for minority and individual rights. He was named after several corporations and structures such as the Lincoln National Corporation, the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, and the ballistic missile Abraham Lincoln, to name a few.
He had several memorial statues in different States, his birthday was declared a President’s holiday, the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery, and the Abraham Lincoln Memorial (see figure 3). Figure 3. The Abraham Lincoln Memorial Abraham Lincoln, the orator and the great debater, can be considered one of the finest Presidents of the United States. Having the gift of extraordinary knowledge, being formally educated only for 18 months, he diligently worked hard and self-studied to become a successful lawyer. He represents the common people that strived and worked hard to achieve one’s ambition.
He was the pioneer in the attempt to abolished slavery, he was an advocate of human rights, and strength fully kept and re-united the States in times of rebellion and uprisings. His death, being the first U. S. President to be assassinated, was symbolic and paved the way for him to become an icon of peace, honesty, respect, and love for freedom. References  Thomas, Benjamin T. 1952. Abraham Lincoln: A Biography. University Press, 18.  Kunhardt, Philip G. 1992. Lincoln: An Illustrated Biography. Gramercy Books New York, 324 – 450.  Lea, Henry James D. 1909.
The Ancestry of Abraham Lincoln. Houghton Miffin, 65.  Goodwin, Doris K. 2005. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. McGraw Hill, 101.  Waugh, John C. 2007. One Man Great Enough: Abraham Lincoln’s Road to Civil War. Harcourt Publishing, 156.  Donald, David E. 2003. Lincoln Reconsidered: Essay on the Civil War Era. Simon and Schuster, 176.  Gienapp, William C. 2002. Abraham Lincoln and Civil War America: A Biography. McGraw Hill Publishing, 267.  Basler, Roy L. 1955. Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Rutgers University Press, 67.
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