Society today has been changing over the years, and in this day and age, we can equally stand together as a nation. Although racism and types of discrmination still occur, society has become more developed and socially aware unlike the times of the civil war. The civil war was a pivotal point in history regarding slavery. It was constantly kicked under the rug until tensions increased. One of the most popular and important politicians that played a huge role is Abraham Lincoln. He is probably one of the most well known men taught in history class. From his upbringing to the end of his time, he has made many impacts for the nation as a whole through trial and error. From the beginning of Lincoln’s upbringing and experience in law that lead to his utmost diligence in the Republican Party, his role in preserving the union during the era of the Civil War, and his process in abolishing slavery, and overall impact on the future America, Lincoln is most arguably the most influential president to be seated in office.
To start off Abraham Lincoln’s life long journey, he was born on February 12th, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky. His parents were Nancy Hanks Lincoln and Thomas Lincoln, but unfortunately Nancy ends up passing away leaving Abraham devastated. Until then his father remarries another widow just like his father, her name was Sarah Bush Johnston. She ended up becoming the mother figure that Abraham lost; she also became very close with Abraham . She was an important figure in shaping the way how Abraham behaved and how he will later become one of the most famous presidents. Sarah motivated Abraham to read and write, and he willingly obliged and would walk miles from home to bring back books to read. Sarah, Abraham’s father, and his biological mom were all illiterate but they still (both of the mothers) motivated Abraham to read and write. Sarah also believed that Abraham was a very honest boy and patient which is how he presents himself in the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Abraham’s father then takes the family to move to different places, but they finally end up in Illinois. By that time Abraham is old enough to leave the house; he then specializes and becomes well known in axe wielding. He makes money from manual labor, but eventually heads to New Salem, Illinois. Where he becomes a shopkeeper, postmaster, and later on a general store owner. These jobs helped Abraham acquire social skills which obviously he will need later. Another thing that happened before he got into the political world, was him getting selected for the Illinois militia to fight against the Native Americans. He then was selected by his peers as captain; he ended up not fighting. Which led him to avoid the spread of Cholera, that ended up killing many soldiers who fought. Maybe things would’ve turned out differently if maybe he did fight in the war? Nonetheless these events of Abraham‘s up bringing were very important to the way he starts to present himself in the political field.
Now, we move onto the start of his political years before he became president. This is where he starts to gain political experience and applies his traits. As he grew up the hard labor he did when he was younger made him hate it even more. Then in August of 1832 is when his political ambitions began. He was defeated in a run for a seat on the general assembly as a nominee of the Whig party (General assembly=part of legislative branch, legislative branch of the state government). In 1834 he then gets elected for the Illinois state legislature(the general assembly); he represents Sangamon County as a member of the Whig party. This was his second time running for political office. Abraham also becomes a lawyer. Abraham’s lawyer-career isn’t as well known or as “significant”, it was most likely because it was already expected of every politician to have some foundation around law. Abraham was a self-taught lawyer, and in 1836 he gained his lawyer’s license at age 26. While he was a lawyer he partnered with many experienced lawyers, John T. Stuart (his wife’s cousin), William Herndon, and Stephen T. Logan. It was also to be said that he believed in compromises and arbitration instead of litigation. In one of his cases, there were two merchants and the dispute was over quality of flour. In this case, Abraham told them to resolve conflicts without leading to litigation. He believed talking out the problem is better. The way he responded is also similar to how he was going to bring the South back in after the civil war ended, try to make peace and not lead to serious matters(but he ends up dying before applying that method). During the case, Lincoln told his client that if the dispute was solved there would be no fee to Lincoln’s services. This reflects his personality as a calm man who just wants peace and unity(somewhat even though he was racist). Lincoln continues to serve in the Illinois legislation for 8 years, while fueling good things to his reputation as a lawyer. Then in August 3rd, 1846 (presidency of James K. Polk), he was elected for a seat in the thirtieth congress of the U.S. House of Representatives as a Whig. He served one two-year term (March 4, 1847-March 3, 1849). One of the most well known things he does is the “spot resolution”. During the Mexican-American war, James K. Polk (president at that time) claimed that Mexico had killed Americans on U.S. soil. Lincoln then kept questioning where was the specific “spot” of where American blood was shed. Which led to his “Spot Resolutions”, he then got the name “spotty Lincoln”. He as a member of the Whig party brought it up to stall the Democrats from acquiring more land for slave states. This congressional seat was the only one he held since he got less popular after and decided not to run a second term. This doesn’t necessarily stop him from entering the political field again. After he finished his term he heads back to Illinois and practices law, still surrounding himself with politics and such but not getting as involved. Lincoln’s experiences and beliefs through his career as a lawyer and involvement in the Illinois’ general assembly, Thirtieth Congress, and House of Reps. is going to give him platform when he enters the political ring as a republican.
After Lincoln leaves, a couple years later the Whig party died out because of the Kansas-Nebraska Act. This Act leads to the birth of the Republican party, which most definitely sparks Lincoln’s way back into running for political office. He then joins the Republican party in 1856. The year after Lincoln joined the Repubs. Came the Dred-Scott case happened. The Dred-Scott was a case over a slave who was in free territory and sued for his freedom, but lost the case and led to slaves as property everywhere (repealing Missouri Compromise and calling it unconstitutional). Lincoln’s opinion, was that although he did not think blacks were equal to whites he still believed every man had their own rights that should not be stripped away. But, in the end he really viewed slavery as a hinderance towards economic developememt and not that it’s morally wrong. After the Dred-Scott case in 1858, he decides to run for U.S. senate a second time (first time was in 1854), but he lost. Although when running for senate, it lead to important debates he had with another running candidate. Stephen Douglas, he was the opposite of Lincoln and was part of the Northern Democractic party. They both lived in Illinois and both ran for Senate. Lincoln ends up challenging Douglas to a debate, and people would think that Lincoln would get his butt kicked, but actually Lincoln makes good points and does gain popularity for himself. The important things that came out of these debates were the “Freeport question” and the “Freeport Doctrine”. These were brought up after the Dred-Scott, and since Douglas believed in popular sovereignty Lincoln decided to ask a “controversial question” also known as the Freeport Question during the debate. The question was that “if a territory does not want slavery, but the Supreme Court allowed slavery. Who will win?”. Douglas’s response was important, and it was called “The Freeport Doctrine”. His response was that if a territory has majority vote of no slavery the it will keep slavery out, and history has even backed up his response. If majority of the people do not approve they have power to overthrow, like the American Revolution. Although it seemed that Lincoln bringing it up was not significant, it actually was. This leads to the southern Democratic party to be pissed off at Douglas’s response. The southern Democratic party’s response later leads to why they lose to the Repubs. in the election of 1860. Even though he ends up losing the senate spot to Douglas, the debates still gave him popularity in the North. His beliefs and claims appealed to a lot of groups up north who didn’t like slavery for different reasons. Now after joining the republican party, and building his reputation. He can now use his popularity to be selected as a candidate for the Republicans in the election of 1860.
The election of 1860, where Abraham Lincoln runs for president and the time where the Civil War starts. Why? It was because the conflict over Douglas’s response caused separation between the party; also gave Lincoln somewhat most of the votes and he becomes 16th president. The South was furious with him and South Carolina became the first state to secede which will be in total 11 states that leave. During this period of time the “Crittenden Amendments” were proslavery compromises proposed to appease the South from seceding. When it was Lincoln’s turn to approve, he ends up turning it down. Even though he really focused on unity and bringing the South together, he did get elected to abolish slavery not encourage it. This strengthens the moral cause of slavery, encouraging the moral cause was also smart because it blocked European countries from defending the South. Although the South still seceded and formed the Confederate States of America, violence did not breakout. Until one of the last Union forts in the South was resupplied since Lincoln needed to supply the fort even though knowing that it could piss off the South. In the eyes of the South, they saw it as a declaration of war. Which led to the first shots to the civil war, well technically, they were bombs. April 12th, 1861, Fort Sumter, South Carolina is where the Confederates began to bomb the fort to kick the Union out. The South really did not want to fight but just wanted the Union to back off. Abraham however in response bulks up the military which makes the war go even deeper because it pisses the South off. During the war, Lincoln had gone through many officers, this choice of being picky also lengthened the war since all his officers did not find Lee and his men and stomped them down in the beginning. Another thing Lincoln did in office was that he used/gained more power since congress mainly contained Unionists and it wasn’t in session at the time. What he did was proclaim a blockade which only the legislative branch could do, he also then suspends Writ of Habeas Corpus. Allowing him to arrest anti-unionists who spoke against the Union, this obviously goes against the first amendment. All of these bends of powers Lincoln made was later dismissed by the Supreme court and Congress. In the beginning of the war, Lincoln told the Border States (Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, West Virginia, and Missouri) that if they stayed in the Union he would allow them to keep their slaves. The decision of the Border States deciding to stay were very significant, especially Kentucky, Kentucky had good resources that benefited the Union. Also most of the southern population rested on the Border states. Three years later into the bloody civil war, Lincoln finally releases the Emancipation Proclamation after the battle of Antietam because this battle assured the Union’s victory even though many died in that battle. The Emancipation Proclamation did not apply to the border states but it did apply for the Seceded states, but the South did not listen. It was too late, the Proclamation already set forth the end of slavery. Lincoln’s release of the Emancipation Proclamation led to the thirteenth amendment. Finally after the fourth year, Robert E. Lee – guilt-filled and traumatized after Gettysburg – surrenders his army to Ulysses S. Grant and this gives Union the ultimate victory. Finally the war ended, then in 1864 Lincoln runs again as president and defeats a former general he booted off George McClellan. Lincoln through his first presidency up until now was very successful even though he had failed sometimes, he still had the persistence to get up back up and succeed. Unfortunately, Lincoln was assassinated on April 14th, 1865, at Ford’s theater. This was bad, at least for the south because the presidents after Lincoln were not going to go easy on the South. Lincoln, if he was alive, initially planned to slowly and surely bring back the South and heal the wounds from the war. Despite the fact that Lincoln passed away, it was still important because what if Lincoln didn’t die? Maybe things would’ve changed for the South and the Union. Regardless his whole political career has impacted the two groups in some form.
In summary, Lincoln has been very influential person even if it took him awhile to get to where he was. A lot of things have made him who he is, like his not so great upbringing after his mother died, but he gets treated well by his step mom. Who also encourages him to study. Learning how to read and write and being self taught, brings him into law. Although in the beginning he wasn’t very popular and failed at some times. He still gradually became more successful and came back strong into politics and ran for president. Being successful in not only that but also keeping a stronghold of abolishing slavery with the Emancipation Proclomation. Learning about Abraham Lincoln and how he impacted history is a lot, but I believe it’s important to know about the man who stood forward for freeing slaves and brought us a new step of equality.