Abraham Lincoln's Right Decision

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In March 1861, President Abraham Lincoln was faced with one of the most difficult decisions in the history of the United States, which would decide the fate of the Union. When Americans elected Abraham Lincoln as the nation’s first Republican president in November of 1860, there was already tension between the North and the South because of their differing views on the spread of slavery. Ever since the first slave arrived in America in 1619, there had been many disputes between the North and the South about how slavery should be handled. The Republican party had formed only a few years before the election of Lincoln in order to combat the spread of slavery. The South had been well aware of the North’s opinions on slavery and the election of Lincoln in 1860 solidified the divide between the North and the South that would change the economics, politics, and culture of America. President Lincoln had to make a decision that would affect the state of the nation for many years to come during a battle between the North and the South at Fort Sumter. In an attempt to keep the Union together and to end the dispute on slavery between the North and South, Lincoln made the correct decision in resupplying Fort Sumter.

There were many factors that accounted for the persistent political tension between the North and the South, such as the differing opinions on slavery, differing economies, and many compromises that just fueled more anger between the North and South. Early on in United States history, the South became responsible for collecting, farming, and harvesting raw materials due to their physical layout and conditions that better suited farming than those conditions of the North. These raw materials would then be shipped to the North in order for those raw materials to be manufactured. These two differing economies benefited one another because the South provided the North with raw goods, then the North would manufacture these goods to be sold back to the South. Because there was such a high demand for raw materials in the North, the South turned to a cheap and easy way for raw materials to be harvested in a more efficient way: slaves. The North became opposed to the idea of slavery because they thought that it was immoral and unfair to treat any human this way. Being a factory worker required education, while farming was a job that anybody could do and that is why the South turned to slaves in order to mass produce raw materials. It was unfair for children in the North to have to go to school, although it was a privilege, in order to become factory workers while the majority of the Southerner’s children did not attend school because they had turned to slavery so children had no reason to learn how to work. These differing opinions on slavery led to political tension and it was the beginning of a divide between the two economies. The North began to realize that they did not need slavery in order for their economy to prosper and took a gigantic leap ahead of the Southern economy due to the Industrial Revolution. During the 1850’s, the Industrial Revolution led to mass production which helped the North spiral upward ahead of the Southern economy. In 1860, the per capita income of the total population was $141 in the North, compared to $103 in the South. The North took another jump head of the Southern economy because of the millions of people who immigrated to the North because of the opportunities that arose due to the Industrial Revolution. Economically, the North was able to take a massive step over the Southern economy due to the increase in population. The North was home to 10,279,170 people, while the South only had 5,224,279 inhabitants. Another statistic that contributes to the North’s superiority is their total population literacy rate of 94% compared to the South’s 58%. However, the South did make some advances with their exports as they exported about 20% more products in value than the North, due to their focus on harvesting cotton. Because the South did not have the infrastructure to switch their focus from harvesting raw materials to manufacturing, they missed out on the income and population boost that came with the advancement of factories and would ultimately leave them a step behind the North, economically.

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Both the North and the South wanted their ideas to be represented in the government and neither side was willing to bend their ideas, so they had to turn to compromises. There were many compromises and conflicts that fueled the tensions between the North and the South, such as the Three-Fifths Compromise, the Louisiana Purchase, and Bleeding Kansas.

The Three-Fifths Compromise was a compromise negotiated in the Constitutional Convention in 1787 that dealt with whether or not slaves should be counted as a member of the population, thus contributing to the number of representatives each state got. The South wanted slaves to count as a full member of the population, while still not having the right to vote. Obviously, the North was completely opposed to this idea as they did not want slaves to count at all towards the population. Since the convention had representatives from both sides, they came up with the Three-Fifths Compromise, declaring that all slaves would count as three-fifths of a person toward the population. This compromise was made in order to give both sides what they wanted, but the North was still unsatisfied. In 1790, although the population of the United States was split almost dead even between the North and the South, only 64% of the South was made up of whites, while 96% of the North was made up of white people. The North was justifiably furious that the southern states were getting more representation than them because they had an advantage with the number of slaves. This compromise just added more political tension to the already hostile sides of the North and the South.

The Louisiana Purchase was made by Thomas Jefferson in 1803 through his use of the Elastic Clause that states that the Constitution may be stretched if the proceeding act was done in order to benefit the people. This clause was controversial amongst the people of the United States. When Jefferson made the Louisiana Purchase, he only saw the positives in it and was blind to the negatives. The Louisiana Purchase ultimately caused more tension between the North and the South because by increasing the land in the South, the population of slaves in the South increased by 4%.

Bleeding Kansas was the first event that led to an actual violent result, which split up the North and South further than before. At this point, it seemed difficult to fix the tensions between the North and South and these tensions would ultimately lead to more armed conflict.

Armed conflict between the North and the South became inevitable from the moment that the slavery dispute began because both sides were so adamant that they get their ideas to be represented in the government and there was no chance that either of them would have budged in one way or the other. This democracy fell short in this case because a democracy relies on the people to support the government and to make decisions as a whole. When those people that make up the democracy are split dead even on two sides of one problem, then the governance ultimately fails because democracies rely on the people to make rational and reasonable decisions. Both sides were so passionate about their opinions on slavery that there was no way it could be resolved without war. The only way that armed conflict could have been prevented is if slavery was not accepted when the colonies first began. If slavery was prevented before it even began, then the South would not know a life with slavery and they would not be so reliant on slavery for their economy to flourish.

It was in the best interest for the United States that President Lincoln resupply Fort Sumter because if he did not, then Lincoln would have been allowing the Confederacy to win and the crisis of slavery could have gone on for many years to come. At this point, Lincoln was in a lose-lose situation. If he decided not to resupply Fort Sumter, then the South likely would have seceded and became its own nation. On the other hand, if he were to resupply Fort Sumter, fighting would continue and the fate of the Union would lie in armed conflict. By resupplying Fort Sumter, Lincoln saved the Union because the South would have likely seceded and continued on with slavery for many years to come. In order to save the nation, Lincoln had to make the tough decision to let the sides continue fighting, as opposed to surrendering to the South and allowing them to secede by not resupplying the Fort. Lincoln had a good idea about how the government may have played out had the South seceded because he ultimately made the right decision in resupplying Fort Sumter. If the South had seceded, then the North’s economy would plummet because their landscape does not allow them to farm, therefore they would have no raw materials to manufacture goods with. The South would have been better off than the North had they seceded, but both economies flourish and benefit from one another more if they are united. Had the South seceded, they would have had an unstable economy and a weak central government which could have lead to a complete fall of the South as a whole. Lincoln made the right decision in electing to resupply Fort Sumter because it showed that he could stand his ground in order to unite the nation as a whole and prevent secession from the Union.

After many years of struggle and dispute between the North and the South, President Lincoln was able to save the fate of the Union by preventing secession in his final act of resupplying Fort Sumter. Although resupplying the Fort would cause the Confederacy to bombard the Union at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, it saved the United States. Had Lincoln not resupplied Fort Sumter, the South would have seceded, creating their own struggling economy and government, while leaving the North to do the same. Because of these events, the North and the South were able to realize how much they rely on each other’s economy. Therefore, it was crucial that the North push for unity with the South so that both economies could flourish.

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Abraham Lincoln’s Right Decision. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved July 17, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/abraham-lincolns-right-decision/
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