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Research paper topic: Abraham Lincoln - 1088 words
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.. in acceptance of the Republican senatorial nomination (June 16, 1858) Lincoln suggested that Douglas, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, and Democratic presidents Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan had conspired to nationalize slavery. In the same speech he expressed the view that the nation would become either all slave or all free: "A house divided against itself cannot stand." The underdog in the senatorial campaign, Lincoln wished to share Douglas's fame by appearing with him in debates. Douglas agreed to seven debates: in Ottawa, Freeport, Jonesboro, Charleston, Galesburg, Quincy, and Alton, Ill.
Lincoln knew that Douglas--now fighting the Democratic Buchanan administration over the constitution to be adopted by Kansas--had alienated his Southern support; and he feared Douglas's new appeal to eastern Republicans now that Douglas was battling the South. Lincoln's strategy, therefore, was to stress the gulf of principle that separated Republican opposition to slavery as a moral wrong from the moral indifference of the Democrats, embodied in legislation allowing popular sovereignty to decide the fate of each territory. Douglas, Lincoln insisted, did not care whether slavery was "voted up or voted down." By his vigorous showing against the famous Douglas, Lincoln won the debates and his first considerable national fame. He did not win the Senate seat, however; the Illinois legislature, dominated by Democratic holdovers in the upper house, elected Douglas. Election to the Presidency In February 1860, Lincoln made his first major political appearance in the Northeast when he addressed a rally at the Cooper Union in New York. He was now sufficiently well known to be a presidential candidate.
At the Republican national convention in Chicago in May, William H. Seward was the leading candidate. Seward, however, had qualities that made him undesirable in the critical states the Republicans had lost in 1856: Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, and New Jersey. As a result Lincoln won the nomination by being the second choice of the majority. He went on to win the presidential election, defeating the Northern Democrat Douglas, the Southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge, and the Constitutional Union candidate John Bell.
Lincoln selected a strong cabinet that included all of his major rivals for the Republican nomination: Seward as secretary of state, Salmon P. Chase as secretary of the treasury, and Edward Bates as attorney general. By the time of Lincoln's inauguration in March 1861, seven states had seceded from the Union. His conciliatory inaugural address had no effect on the South, and, against the advice of a majority of his cabinet, Lincoln decided to send provisions to Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor. The fort was a symbol of federal authority--conspicuous in the state that had led secession, South Carolina--and it would soon have had to be evacuated for lack of supplies.
On Apr. 12, 1861, South Carolina fired on the fort, and the Civil War began. The Civil War As a commander in chief Lincoln was soon noted for vigorous measures, sometimes at odds with the Constitution and often at odds with the ideas of his military commanders. After a period of initial support and enthusiasm for George B. McClellan, Lincoln's conflicts with that Democratic general helped to turn the latter into his presidential rival in 1864.
Famed for his clemency for court-martialed soldiers, Lincoln nevertheless took a realistic view of war as best prosecuted by killing the enemy. Above all, he always sought a general, no matter what his politics, who would fight. He found such a general in Ulysses S. Grant, to whom he gave overall command in 1864. Thereafter, Lincoln took a less direct role in military planning, but his interest never wavered, and he died with a copy of Gen. William Sherman's orders for the March to the Sea in his pocket. P3Politics vied with war as Lincoln's major preoccupation in the presidency. The war required the deployment of huge numbers of men and quantities of materiel; for administrative assistance, therefore, Lincoln turned to the only large organization available for his use, the Republican party.
With some rare but important exceptions (for example, Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton), Republicans received the bulk of the civilian appointments from the cabinet to the local post offices. Lincoln tried throughout the war to keep the Republican party together and never consistently favored one faction in the party over another. Military appointments were divided between Republicans and Democrats. Democrats accused Lincoln of being a tyrant because he proscribed civil liberties. For example, he suspended the writ of habeas corpus in some areas as early as Apr. 27, 1861, and throughout the nation on Sept.
24, 1862, and the administration made over 13,000 arbitrary arrests. On the other hand, Lincoln tolerated virulent criticism from the press and politicians, often restrained his commanders from overzealous arrests, and showed no real tendencies toward becoming a dictator. There was never a hint that Lincoln might postpone the election of 1864, although he feared in August of that year that he would surely lose to McClellan. Democrats exaggerated Lincoln's suppression of civil liberties, in part because wartime prosperity robbed them of economic issues and in part because Lincoln handled the slavery issue so skillfully. The Constitution protected slavery in peace, but in war, Lincoln came to believe, the commander in chief could abolish slavery as a military necessity. The preliminary Emancipation Proclamation of Sept. 22, 1862, bore this military justification, as did all of Lincoln's racial measures, including especially his decision in the final proclamation of Jan.
1, 1863, to accept blacks in the army. By 1864, Democrats and Republicans differed clearly in their platforms on the race issue: Lincoln's endorsed the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery, whereas McClellan's pledged to return to the South the rights it had had in 1860. Lincoln's victory in that election thus changed the racial future of the United States. It also agitated Southern-sympathizer and Negrophobe John Wilkes Booth (see Booth, family), who began to conspire first to abduct Lincoln and later to kill him. On Apr.
14, 1865, five days after Robert E. Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House, Lincoln attended a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre in Washington. There Booth entered the presidential box and shot Lincoln. The next morning at 7:22 Lincoln died. Lincoln's achievements--saving the Union and freeing the slaves--and his martyrdom just at the war's end assured his lasting fame. No small contribution was made by his extraordinary eloquence--exemplified in the Gettysburg Address (Nov.
19, 1863), in which he defined the war as a rededication to the egalitarian ideals of the Declaration of Independence, and in his second inaugural address (Mar. 4, 1865), in which he urged "malice toward none" and "charity for all" in the peace to come.
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