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Abraham Lincoln Biography


byname Honest Abe, the Rail-Splitter , or the Great Emancipator

(18091865)

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Life

Reputation and character

VIDEO & IMAGES

Watch Videos about Abraham Lincoln


>> View Photo Gallery and More

RELATED PEOPLE

Barack Obama
Booth, John Wilkes
Clay, Henry
Douglass, Frederick
Grant, Ulysses S.

Jackson, AndrewLincoln, Mary ToddPolk, James K.Scott, DredTaylor, ZacharyWebster, Daniel More
RELATED SITES

Abraham Lincoln Full Biography Episode


Abraham Lincoln Featured Biography
US Presidents at Bio.com
Abraham Lincoln Online
Black History at Bio.com
(born February 12, 1809, near Hodgenville, Kentucky, U.S.died April 15, 1865, Washington, D.C.) 16th president of the United States (186165), who preserved
the Union during the American Civil War and brought about the emancipation of the slaves. (For a discussion of the history and nature of the presidency,
presidency of the United States of America. Cabinet of President Abraham Lincoln.)

Among American heroes, Lincoln continues to have a unique appeal for his fellow countrymen and also for people of other lands. This charm derives from his
remarkable life storythe rise from humble origins, the dramatic deathand from his distinctively human and humane personality as well as from his historical
role as saviour of the Union and emancipator of the slaves. His relevance endures and grows especially because of his eloquence as a spokesman for democracy.
In his view, the Union was worth saving not only for its own sake but because it embodied an ideal, the ideal of self-government. In recent years, the political side
to Lincoln's character, and his racial views in particular, have come under close scrutiny, as scholars continue to find him a rich subject for research. The Lincoln
Memorial in Washington, D.C., was dedicated to him on May 30, 1922.

Life

Born in a backwoods cabin 3 miles (5 km) south of Hodgenville, Kentucky, Lincoln was two years old when he was taken to a farm in the neighbouring valley of
Knob Creek. His earliest memories were of this home and, in particular, of a flash flood that once washed away the corn and pumpkin seeds he had helped his
father plant. His father, Thomas Lincoln, was the descendant of a weaver's apprentice who had migrated from England to Massachusetts in 1637. Though much
less prosperous than some of his Lincoln forebears, Thomas was a sturdy pioneer. On June 12, 1806, he married Nancy Hanks. The Hanks genealogy is difficult
to trace, but Nancy appears to have been of illegitimate birth. She has been described as stoop-shouldered, thin-breasted, sad, and fervently religious. Thomas
and Nancy Lincoln had three children: Sarah, Abraham, and Thomas, who died in infancy.

Childhood and youth

In December 1816, faced with a lawsuit challenging the title to his Kentucky farm, Thomas Lincoln moved with his family to southwestern Indiana. There, as a
squatter on public land, he hastily put up a half-faced campa crude structure of logs and boughs with one side open to the weatherin which the family took
shelter behind a blazing fire. Soon he built a permanent cabin, and later he bought the land on which it stood. Abraham helped to clear the fields and to take care
of the crops but early acquired a dislike for hunting and fishing. In afteryears he recalled the panther's scream, the bears that preyed on the swine, and the
poverty of Indiana frontier life, which was pretty pinching at times. The unhappiest period of his boyhood followed the death of his mother in the autumn of 1818.
As a ragged nine-year-old, he saw her buried in the forest, then faced a winter without the warmth of a mother's love. Fortunately, before the onset of a second
winter, Thomas Lincoln brought home from Kentucky a new wife for himself, a new mother for the children. Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln, a widow with two girls
and a boy of her own, had energy and affection to spare. She ran the household with an even hand, treating both sets of children as if she had borne them all; but
she became especially fond of Abraham, and he of her. He afterward referred to her as his angel mother.

Page:

PREV

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Print Article
Abraham Lincoln Biography
byname Honest Abe, the Rail-Splitter , or the Great Emancipator

(18091865)

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Life

Reputation and character

VIDEO & IMAGES

Watch Videos about Abraham Lincoln


>> View Photo Gallery and More

RELATED PEOPLE

Barack Obama
Booth, John Wilkes
Clay, Henry
Douglass, Frederick
Grant, Ulysses S.

Jackson, AndrewLincoln, Mary ToddPolk, James K.Scott, DredTaylor, ZacharyWebster, Daniel More
RELATED SITES

Abraham Lincoln Full Biography Episode


Abraham Lincoln Featured Biography
US Presidents at Bio.com
Abraham Lincoln Online
Black History at Bio.com
(born February 12, 1809, near Hodgenville, Kentucky, U.S.died April 15, 1865, Washington, D.C.) 16th president of the United States (186165), who
preserved the Union during the American Civil War and brought about the emancipation of the slaves. (For a discussion of the history and nature of the
presidency, presidency of the United States of America. Cabinet of President Abraham Lincoln.)

Among American heroes, Lincoln continues to have a unique appeal for his fellow countrymen and also for people of other lands. This charm derives
from his remarkable life storythe rise from humble origins, the dramatic deathand from his distinctively human and humane personality as well as
from his historical role as saviour of the Union and emancipator of the slaves. His relevance endures and grows especially because of his eloquence as
a spokesman for democracy. In his view, the Union was worth saving not only for its own sake but because it embodied an ideal, the ideal of self-
government. In recent years, the political side to Lincoln's character, and his racial views in particular, have come under close scrutiny, as scholars
continue to find him a rich subject for research. The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., was dedicated to him on May 30, 1922.

Life

Born in a backwoods cabin 3 miles (5 km) south of Hodgenville, Kentucky, Lincoln was two years old when he was taken to a farm in the neighbouring
valley of Knob Creek. His earliest memories were of this home and, in particular, of a flash flood that once washed away the corn and pumpkin seeds he
had helped his father plant. His father, Thomas Lincoln, was the descendant of a weaver's apprentice who had migrated from England to Massachusetts
in 1637. Though much less prosperous than some of his Lincoln forebears, Thomas was a sturdy pioneer. On June 12, 1806, he married Nancy Hanks.
The Hanks genealogy is difficult to trace, but Nancy appears to have been of illegitimate birth. She has been described as stoop-shouldered, thin-
breasted, sad, and fervently religious. Thomas and Nancy Lincoln had three children: Sarah, Abraham, and Thomas, who died in infancy.

Childhood and youth

In December 1816, faced with a lawsuit challenging the title to his Kentucky farm, Thomas Lincoln moved with his family to southwestern Indiana. There,
as a squatter on public land, he hastily put up a half-faced campa crude structure of logs and boughs with one side open to the weatherin which
the family took shelter behind a blazing fire. Soon he built a permanent cabin, and later he bought the land on which it stood. Abraham helped to clear
the fields and to take care of the crops but early acquired a dislike for hunting and fishing. In afteryears he recalled the panther's scream, the bears that
preyed on the swine, and the poverty of Indiana frontier life, which was pretty pinching at times. The unhappiest period of his boyhood followed the
death of his mother in the autumn of 1818. As a ragged nine-year-old, he saw her buried in the forest, then faced a winter without the warmth of a
mother's love. Fortunately, before the onset of a second winter, Thomas Lincoln brought home from Kentucky a new wife for himself, a new mother for
the children. Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln, a widow with two girls and a boy of her own, had energy and affection to spare. She ran the household with
an even hand, treating both sets of children as if she had borne them all; but she became especially fond of Abraham, and he of her. He afterward
referred to her as his angel mother.

The next year he moved to Springfield, Illinois, the new state capital, which offered many more opportunities for a lawyer than New Salem did. At first
Lincoln was a partner of John T. Stuart, then of Stephen T. Logan, and finally, from 1844, of William H. Herndon. Nearly 10 years younger than Lincoln,
Herndon was more widely read, more emotional at the bar, and generally more extreme in his views. Yet this partnership seems to have been as nearly
perfect as such human arrangements ever are. Lincoln and Herndon kept few records of their law business, and they split the cash between them
whenever either of them was paid. It seems they had no money quarrels.

Within a few years of his relocation to Springfield, Lincoln was earning $1,200 to $1,500 annually, at a time when the governor of the state received a
salary of $1,200 and circuit judges only $750. He had to work hard. To keep himself busy, he found it necessary not only to practice in the capital but
also to follow the court as it made the rounds of its circuit. Each spring and fall he would set out by horseback or buggy to travel hundreds of miles over
the thinly settled prairie, from one little county seat to another. Most of the cases were petty and the fees small.

The coming of the railroads, especially after 1850, made travel easier and practice more remunerative. Lincoln served as a lobbyist for the Illinois
Central Railroad, assisting it in getting a charter from the state, and thereafter he was retained as a regular attorney for that railroad. After successfully
defending the company against the efforts of McLean county to tax its property, he received the largest single fee of his legal career$5,000. (He had to
sue the Illinois Central in order to collect the fee.) He also handled cases for other railroads and for banks, insurance companies, and mercantile and
manufacturing firms. In one of his finest performances before the bar, he saved the Rock Island Bridge, the first to span the Mississippi River, from the
threat of the river transportation interests that demanded the bridge's removal. His business included a number of patent suits and criminal trials. One of
his most effective and famous pleas had to do with a murder case. A witness claimed that, by the light of the moon, he had seen Duff Armstrong, an
acquaintance of Lincoln's, take part in a killing. Referring to an almanac for proof, Lincoln argued that the night had been too dark for the witness to have
seen anything clearly, and with a sincere and moving appeal he won an acquittal.

The next year he moved to Springfield, Illinois, the new state capital, which offered many more opportunities for a lawyer than New Salem did. At first
Lincoln was a partner of John T. Stuart, then of Stephen T. Logan, and finally, from 1844, of William H. Herndon. Nearly 10 years younger than Lincoln,
Herndon was more widely read, more emotional at the bar, and generally more extreme in his views. Yet this partnership seems to have been as nearly
perfect as such human arrangements ever are. Lincoln and Herndon kept few records of their law business, and they split the cash between them
whenever either of them was paid. It seems they had no money quarrels.

Within a few years of his relocation to Springfield, Lincoln was earning $1,200 to $1,500 annually, at a time when the governor of the state received a
salary of $1,200 and circuit judges only $750. He had to work hard. To keep himself busy, he found it necessary not only to practice in the capital but
also to follow the court as it made the rounds of its circuit. Each spring and fall he would set out by horseback or buggy to travel hundreds of miles over
the thinly settled prairie, from one little county seat to another. Most of the cases were petty and the fees small.

The coming of the railroads, especially after 1850, made travel easier and practice more remunerative. Lincoln served as a lobbyist for the Illinois
Central Railroad, assisting it in getting a charter from the state, and thereafter he was retained as a regular attorney for that railroad. After successfully
defending the company against the efforts of McLean county to tax its property, he received the largest single fee of his legal career$5,000. (He had to
sue the Illinois Central in order to collect the fee.) He also handled cases for other railroads and for banks, insurance companies, and mercantile and
manufacturing firms. In one of his finest performances before the bar, he saved the Rock Island Bridge, the first to span the Mississippi River, from the
threat of the river transportation interests that demanded the bridge's removal. His business included a number of patent suits and criminal trials. One of
his most effective and famous pleas had to do with a murder case. A witness claimed that, by the light of the moon, he had seen Duff Armstrong, an
acquaintance of Lincoln's, take part in a killing. Referring to an almanac for proof, Lincoln argued that the night had been too dark for the witness to have
seen anything clearly, and with a sincere and moving appeal he won an acquittal.

With his wife, Lincoln attended Presbyterian services in Springfield and in Washington but never joined any church. He once explained:

When any church will inscribe over its altar, as its sole qualification for membership, the Saviour's condensed statement of the substance of both Law
and Gospel, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbor, as thyself, that church will
I join with all my heart and all my soul.

Early in life Lincoln had been something of a skeptic and freethinker. His reputation had been such that, as he once complained, the church influence
was used against him in politics. When running for Congress in 1846, he issued a handbill to deny that he ever had spoken with intentional disrespect of
religion. He went on to explain that he had believed in the doctrine of necessitythat is, that the human mind is impelled to action, or held in rest by
some power over which the mind itself has no control. Throughout his life he also believed in dreams and other enigmatic signs and portents. As he
grew older, and especially after he became president and faced the soul-troubling responsibilities of the Civil War, he developed a profound religious
sense, and he increasingly personified necessity as God. He came to look upon himself quite humbly as an instrument of Providence and to view all
history as God's enterprise. In the present civil war, he wrote in 1862, it is quite possible that God's purpose is something different from the purpose of
either partyand yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect His purpose.

Lincoln was fond of the Bible and knew it well. He also was fond of Shakespeare. In private conversation he used many Shakespearean allusions,
discussed problems of dramatic interpretation with considerable insight, and recited long passages from memory with rare feeling and understanding. He
liked the works of John Stuart Mill, particularly On Liberty, but disliked heavy or metaphysical works.

Though he enjoyed the poems of Lord Byron and Robert Burns, his favourite piece of verse was the work of an obscure Scottish poet, William Knox.
Lincoln often quoted Knox's lines beginning: Oh! why should the spirit of mortal be proud? He liked to relax with the comic writings of Petroleum V.
Nasby, Orpheus C. Kerr, and Artemus Ward, or with a visit to the popular theatre.

With his wife, Lincoln attended Presbyterian services in Springfield and in Washington but never joined any church. He once explained:

When any church will inscribe over its altar, as its sole qualification for membership, the Saviour's condensed statement of the substance of both Law
and Gospel, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbor, as thyself, that church will
I join with all my heart and all my soul.

Early in life Lincoln had been something of a skeptic and freethinker. His reputation had been such that, as he once complained, the church influence
was used against him in politics. When running for Congress in 1846, he issued a handbill to deny that he ever had spoken with intentional disrespect of
religion. He went on to explain that he had believed in the doctrine of necessitythat is, that the human mind is impelled to action, or held in rest by
some power over which the mind itself has no control. Throughout his life he also believed in dreams and other enigmatic signs and portents. As he
grew older, and especially after he became president and faced the soul-troubling responsibilities of the Civil War, he developed a profound religious
sense, and he increasingly personified necessity as God. He came to look upon himself quite humbly as an instrument of Providence and to view all
history as God's enterprise. In the present civil war, he wrote in 1862, it is quite possible that God's purpose is something different from the purpose of
either partyand yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect His purpose.

Lincoln was fond of the Bible and knew it well. He also was fond of Shakespeare. In private conversation he used many Shakespearean allusions,
discussed problems of dramatic interpretation with considerable insight, and recited long passages from memory with rare feeling and understanding. He
liked the works of John Stuart Mill, particularly On Liberty, but disliked heavy or metaphysical works.

Though he enjoyed the poems of Lord Byron and Robert Burns, his favourite piece of verse was the work of an obscure Scottish poet, William Knox.
Lincoln often quoted Knox's lines beginning: Oh! why should the spirit of mortal be proud? He liked to relax with the comic writings of Petroleum V.
Nasby, Orpheus C. Kerr, and Artemus Ward, or with a visit to the popular theatre.

Lincoln devoted much of his time to presidential politicsto unmaking one president, a Democrat, and making another, a Whig. He found an issue and a
candidate in the Mexican War. With his spot resolutions, he challenged the statement of President James K. Polk that Mexico had started the war by
shedding American blood upon American soil. Along with other members of his party, Lincoln voted to condemn Polk and the war while also voting for
supplies to carry it on. At the same time, he laboured for the nomination and election of the war hero Zachary Taylor. After Taylor's success at the polls,
Lincoln expected to be named commissioner of the general land office as a reward for his campaign services, and he was bitterly disappointed when he
failed to get the job. His criticisms of the war, meanwhile, had not been popular among the voters in his own congressional district. At the age of 40,
frustrated in politics, he seemed to be at the end of his public career.

The road to presidency

For about five years Lincoln took little part in politics, and then a new sectional crisis gave him a chance to reemerge and rise to statesmanship. In 1854
his political rival Stephen A. Douglas maneuvered through Congress a bill for reopening the entire Louisiana Purchase to slavery and allowing the
settlers of Kansas and Nebraska (with popular sovereignty) to decide for themselves whether to permit slaveholding in those territories. The Kansas-
Nebraska Act provoked violent opposition in Illinois and the other states of the old Northwest. It gave rise to the Republican Party while speeding the
Whig Party on its way to disintegration. Along with many thousands of other homeless Whigs, Lincoln soon became a Republican (1856). Before long,
some prominent Republicans in the East talked of attracting Douglas to the Republican fold, and with him his Democratic following in the West. Lincoln
would have none of it. He was determined that he, not Douglas, should be the Republican leader of his state and section.

Lincoln challenged the incumbent Douglas for the Senate seat in 1858, and the series of debates they engaged in throughout Illinois was political oratory
of the highest order. Both men were shrewd debaters and accomplished stump speakers, though they could hardly have been more different in style and
appearancethe short and pudgy Douglas, whose stentorian voice and graceful gestures swayed audiences, and the tall, homely, almost emaciated-
looking Lincoln, who moved awkwardly and whose voice was piercing and shrill. Lincoln's prose and speeches, however, were eloquent, pithy, powerful,
and free of the verbosity so common in communication of his day. The debates were published in 1860, together with a biography of Lincoln, in a best-
selling book that Lincoln himself compiled and marketed as part of his campaign.

In their basic views, Lincoln and Douglas were not as far apart as they seemed in the heat of political argument. Neither was abolitionist or proslavery.
But Lincoln, unlike Douglas, insisted that Congress must exclude slavery from the territories. He disagreed with Douglas's belief that the territories were
by nature unsuited to the slave economy and that no congressional legislation was needed to prevent the spread of slavery into them. In one of his most
famous speeches, he said: A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe the government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. (
primary source document: A House Divided.) He predicted that the country eventually would become all one thing, or all the other. Again and again
he insisted that the civil liberties of every U.S. citizen, white as well as black, were at stake. The territories must be kept free, he further said, because
new free states were places for poor people to go and better their condition. He agreed with Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers, however,
that slavery should be merely contained, not directly attacked. In fact, when it was politically expedient to do so, he reassured his audiences that he did
not endorse citizenship for blacks or believe in the equality of the races. I am not, nor ever have been, in favour of bringing about in any way the social
and political equality of the white and black races, he told a crowd in Charleston, Illinois. I am not nor ever have been in favour of making voters or
jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people. There is, he added, a physical difference between the white
and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. Lincoln drove home the
inconsistency between Douglas's popular sovereignty principle and the Dred Scott decision (1857), in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that
Congress could not constitutionally exclude slavery from the territories. ( primary source document: The Dred Scott Decision and the Declaration of
Independence.)

In the end, Lincoln lost the election to Douglas. Although the outcome did not surprise him, it depressed him deeply. Lincoln had, nevertheless, gained
national recognition and soon began to be mentioned as a presidential prospect for 1860.
On May 18, 1860, after Lincoln and his friends had made skillful preparations, he was nominated on the third ballot at the Republican
National Convention in Chicago. He then put aside his law practice and, though making no stump speeches, gave full time to the direction of his
campaign. His main object, he had written, was to hedge against divisions in the Republican ranks, and he counseled party workers to say nothing
on points where it is probable we shall disagree. With the Republicans united, the Democrats divided, and a total of four candidates in the field, he
carried the election on November 6. Although he received no votes from the Deep South and no more than 40 out of 100 in the country as a whole, the
popular votes were so distributed that he won a clear and decisive majority in the electoral college.

In their basic views, Lincoln and Douglas were not as far apart as they seemed in the heat of political argument. Neither was abolitionist or proslavery.
But Lincoln, unlike Douglas, insisted that Congress must exclude slavery from the territories. He disagreed with Douglas's belief that the territories were
by nature unsuited to the slave economy and that no congressional legislation was needed to prevent the spread of slavery into them. In one of his most
famous speeches, he said: A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe the government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. (
primary source document: A House Divided.) He predicted that the country eventually would become all one thing, or all the other. Again and again
he insisted that the civil liberties of every U.S. citizen, white as well as black, were at stake. The territories must be kept free, he further said, because
new free states were places for poor people to go and better their condition. He agreed with Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers, however,
that slavery should be merely contained, not directly attacked. In fact, when it was politically expedient to do so, he reassured his audiences that he did
not endorse citizenship for blacks or believe in the equality of the races. I am not, nor ever have been, in favour of bringing about in any way the social
and political equality of the white and black races, he told a crowd in Charleston, Illinois. I am not nor ever have been in favour of making voters or
jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people. There is, he added, a physical difference between the white
and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. Lincoln drove home the
inconsistency between Douglas's popular sovereignty principle and the Dred Scott decision (1857), in which the U.S. Supreme Court held that
Congress could not constitutionally exclude slavery from the territories. ( primary source document: The Dred Scott Decision and the Declaration of
Independence.)

In the end, Lincoln lost the election to Douglas. Although the outcome did not surprise him, it depressed him deeply. Lincoln had, nevertheless, gained
national recognition and soon began to be mentioned as a presidential prospect for 1860.

On May 18, 1860, after Lincoln and his friends had made skillful preparations, he was nominated on the third ballot at the Republican National
Convention in Chicago. He then put aside his law practice and, though making no stump speeches, gave full time to the direction of his campaign. His
main object, he had written, was to hedge against divisions in the Republican ranks, and he counseled party workers to say nothing on points where
it is probable we shall disagree. With the Republicans united, the Democrats divided, and a total of four candidates in the field, he carried the election
on November 6. Although he received no votes from the Deep South and no more than 40 out of 100 in the country as a whole, the popular votes were
so distributed that he won a clear and decisive majority in the electoral college.

No sooner was he in office than Lincoln received word that the Sumter garrison, unless supplied or withdrawn, would shortly be starved out. Still, for
about a month, Lincoln delayed acting. He was beset by contradictory advice. On the one hand, General Scott, Secretary of State William H. Seward,
and others urged him to abandon the fort; and Seward, through a go-between, gave a group of Confederate commissioners to understand that the fort
would in fact be abandoned. On the other hand, many Republicans insisted that any show of weakness would bring disaster to their party and to the
Union. Finally Lincoln ordered the preparation of two relief expeditions, one for Fort Sumter and the other for Fort Pickens, in Florida. (He afterward said
he would have been willing to withdraw from Sumter if he could have been sure of holding Pickens.) Before the Sumter expedition, he sent a messenger
to tell the South Carolina governor:

I am directed by the President of the United States to notify you to expect an attempt will be made to supply Fort-Sumpter [sic] with provisions only; and
that, if such attempt be not resisted, no effort to throw in men, arms, or ammunition, will be made, without further notice, or in case of an attack upon the
Fort.

Without waiting for the arrival of Lincoln's expedition, the Confederate authorities presented to Major Anderson a demand for Sumter's prompt
evacuation, which he refused. On April 12, 1861, at dawn, the Confederate batteries in the harbour opened fire.

Then, and thereby, Lincoln informed Congress when it met on July 4, the assailants of the Government, began the conflict of arms. The
Confederates, however, accused him of being the real aggressor. They said he had cleverly maneuvered them into firing the first shot so as to put upon
them the onus of war guilt. Although some historians have repeated this charge, it appears to be a gross distortion of the facts. Lincoln was determined
to preserve the Union, and to do so he thought he must take a stand against the Confederacy. He concluded he might as well take this stand at Sumter.

Lincoln's primary aim was neither to provoke war nor to maintain peace. In preserving the Union, he would have been glad to preserve the peace also,
but he was ready to risk a war that he thought would be short.
After the firing on Fort Sumter, Lincoln called upon the state governors for troops (Virginia and three other states of the upper South responded by
joining the Confederacy). He then proclaimed a blockade of the Southern ports. These stepsthe Sumter expedition, the call for volunteers, and the
blockadewere the first important decisions of Lincoln as commander in chief of the army and navy. But he still needed a strategic plan and a command
system for carrying it out. ( primary source document: A War to Preserve the Union.)

General Scott advised him to avoid battle with the Confederate forces in Virginia, to get control of the Mississippi River, and by tightening the blockade to
hold the South in a gigantic squeeze. Lincoln had little confidence in Scott's comparatively passive and bloodless Anaconda plan. He believed the war
must be actively fought if it ever was to be won. Overruling Scott, he ordered a direct advance on the Virginia front, which resulted in defeat and rout for
the federal forces at Bull Run (July 21, 1861). After a succession of more or less sleepless nights, Lincoln produced a set of memorandums on military
policy. His basic thought was that the armies should advance concurrently on several fronts and should move so as to hold and use the support of
Unionists in Missouri, Kentucky, western Virginia, and eastern Tennessee. As he later explained:

I state my general idea of this war to be that we have the greater numbers, and the enemy has the greater facility of concentrating forces upon points of
collision; that we must fail, unless we can find some way of making our advantage an over-match for his; and that this can only be done by menacing
him with superior forces at different points, at the same time.

This, with the naval blockade, comprised the essence of Lincoln's strategy.

Leadership in war

As a war leader, Lincoln employed the style that had served him as a politiciana description of himself, incidentally, that he was not ashamed to
accept. He preferred to react to problems and to the circumstances that others had created rather than to originate policies and lay out long-range
designs. In candour he would write: I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me. His guiding rule was: My
policy is to have no policy. It was not that he was unprincipled; rather, he was a practical man, mentally nimble and flexible, and, if one action or
decision proved unsatisfactory in practice, he was willing to experiment with another.

While still hoping for the eventual success of his gradual plan, Lincoln took quite a different step by issuing his preliminary (September 22, 1862) and his
final (January 1, 1863) Emancipation Proclamation ( original text). This famous decree, which he justified as an exercise of the president's war powers,
applied only to those parts of the country actually under Confederate control, not to the loyal slave states nor to the federally occupied areas of the
Confederacy. Directly or indirectly the proclamation brought freedom during the war to fewer than 200,000 slaves. Yet it had great significance as a
symbol. It indicated that the Lincoln government had added freedom to reunion as a war aim, and it attracted liberal opinion in England and Europe to
increased support of the Union cause.

Lincoln himself doubted the constitutionality of his step, except as a temporary war measure. After the war, the slaves freed by the proclamation would
have risked re-enslavement had nothing else been done to confirm their liberty. But something else was done: the Thirteenth Amendment was added to
the Constitution, and Lincoln played a large part in bringing about this change in the fundamental law. Through the chairman of the Republican National
Committee he urged the party to include a plank for such an amendment in its platform of 1864. The plank, as adopted, stated that slavery was the
cause of the rebellion, that the president's proclamation had aimed a death blow at this gigantic evil, and that a constitutional amendment was
necessary to terminate and forever prohibit it. When Lincoln was reelected on this platform and the Republican majority in Congress was increased, he
was justified in feeling, as he apparently did, that he had a mandate from the people for the Thirteenth Amendment. The newly chosen Congress, with its
overwhelming Republican majority, was not to meet until after the lame duck session of the old Congress during the winter of 186465. Lincoln did not
wait. Using his resources of patronage and persuasion upon certain of the Democrats, he managed to get the necessary two-thirds vote before the
session's end. He rejoiced as the amendment went out to the states for ratification, and he rejoiced again and again as his own Illinois led off and other
states followed one by one in acting favourably upon it. (He did not live to rejoice in its ultimate adoption.)

Lincoln deserves his reputation as the Great Emancipator. His claim to that honour, if it rests uncertainly upon his famous proclamation, has a sound
basis in the support he gave to the antislavery amendment. It is well founded also in his greatness as the war leader who carried the nation safely
through the four-year struggle that brought freedom in its train. And, finally, it is strengthened by the practical demonstrations he gave of respect for
human worth and dignity, regardless of colour. During the last two years of his life he welcomed African Americans as visitors and friends in a way no
president had done before. One of his friends was the distinguished former slave Frederick Douglass, who once wrote: In all my interviews with Mr.
Lincoln I was impressed with his entire freedom from prejudice against the colored race.

While still hoping for the eventual success of his gradual plan, Lincoln took quite a different step by issuing his preliminary (September 22, 1862) and his
final (January 1, 1863) Emancipation Proclamation ( original text). This famous decree, which he justified as an exercise of the president's war powers,
applied only to those parts of the country actually under Confederate control, not to the loyal slave states nor to the federally occupied areas of the
Confederacy. Directly or indirectly the proclamation brought freedom during the war to fewer than 200,000 slaves. Yet it had great significance as a
symbol. It indicated that the Lincoln government had added freedom to reunion as a war aim, and it attracted liberal opinion in England and Europe to
increased support of the Union cause.
Lincoln himself doubted the constitutionality of his step, except as a temporary war measure. After the war, the slaves freed by the proclamation would
have risked re-enslavement had nothing else been done to confirm their liberty. But something else was done: the Thirteenth Amendment was added to
the Constitution, and Lincoln played a large part in bringing about this change in the fundamental law. Through the chairman of the Republican National
Committee he urged the party to include a plank for such an amendment in its platform of 1864. The plank, as adopted, stated that slavery was the
cause of the rebellion, that the president's proclamation had aimed a death blow at this gigantic evil, and that a constitutional amendment was
necessary to terminate and forever prohibit it. When Lincoln was reelected on this platform and the Republican majority in Congress was increased, he
was justified in feeling, as he apparently did, that he had a mandate from the people for the Thirteenth Amendment. The newly chosen Congress, with its
overwhelming Republican majority, was not to meet until after the lame duck session of the old Congress during the winter of 186465. Lincoln did not
wait. Using his resources of patronage and persuasion upon certain of the Democrats, he managed to get the necessary two-thirds vote before the
session's end. He rejoiced as the amendment went out to the states for ratification, and he rejoiced again and again as his own Illinois led off and other
states followed one by one in acting favourably upon it. (He did not live to rejoice in its ultimate adoption.)

Lincoln deserves his reputation as the Great Emancipator. His claim to that honour, if it rests uncertainly upon his famous proclamation, has a sound
basis in the support he gave to the antislavery amendment. It is well founded also in his greatness as the war leader who carried the nation safely
through the four-year struggle that brought freedom in its train. And, finally, it is strengthened by the practical demonstrations he gave of respect for
human worth and dignity, regardless of colour. During the last two years of his life he welcomed African Americans as visitors and friends in a way no
president had done before. One of his friends was the distinguished former slave Frederick Douglass, who once wrote: In all my interviews with Mr.
Lincoln I was impressed with his entire freedom from prejudice against the colored race.

Lincoln was already the candidate of the Union (that is, the Republican) party for reelection to the presidency, and the Wade-Davis manifesto
signalized a movement within the party to displace him as the party's nominee. He waited quietly and patiently for the movement to collapse, but even
after it had done so, the party remained badly divided. A rival Republican candidate, John C. Frmont, nominated much earlier by a splinter group, was
still in the field. Leading Radicals promised to procure Frmont's withdrawal if Lincoln would obtain the resignation of his conservative postmaster
general, Montgomery Blair. Eventually Frmont withdrew and Blair resigned. The party was reunited in time for the election of 1864.

In 1864, as in 1860, Lincoln was the chief strategist of his own electoral campaign. He took a hand in the management of the Republican Speakers'
Bureau, advised state committees on campaign tactics, hired and fired government employees to strengthen party support, and did his best to enable as
many soldiers and sailors as possible to vote. Most of the citizens in uniform voted Republican. He was reelected with a large popular majority (55
percent) over his Democratic opponent, General George B. McClellan.

In 1864 the Democratic platform called for an armistice and a peace conference, and prominent Republicans as well as Democrats demanded that
Lincoln heed Confederate peace offers, irregular and illusory though they were. In a public letter, he stated his own conditions:

Any proposition which embraces the restoration of peace, the integrity of the whole Union, and the abandonment of slavery, and which comes by and
with an authority that can control the armies now at war against the United states will be received and considered by the Executive government of the
United States, and will be met by liberal terms on other substantial and collateral points.

When Conservatives protested to him against the implication that the war must go on to free the slaves, even after reunion had been won, he explained,
To me it seems plain that saying reunion and abandonment of slavery would be considered, if offered, is not saying that nothing else or less would be
considered, if offered. After his reelection, in his annual message to Congress, he said, In stating a single condition of peace, I mean simply to say that
the war will cease on the part of the government, whenever it shall have ceased on the part of those who began it. On February 3, 1865, he met
personally with Confederate commissioners on a steamship in Hampton Roads, Virginia. He promised to be liberal with pardons if the South would quit
the war, but he insisted on reunion as a precondition for any peace arrangement. In his Second Inaugural Address ( original text) he embodied the spirit
of his policy in the famous words with malice toward none; with charity for all. His terms satisfied neither the Confederate leaders nor the Radical
Republicans, and so no peace was possible until the final defeat of the Confederacy.

At the end of the war, Lincoln's policy for the defeated South was not clear in all its details, though he continued to believe that the main object should be
to restore the seceded States, so-called, to their proper practical relation with the Union as soon as possible. He possessed no fixed and uniform
program for the region as a whole. As he said in the last public speech of his life (April 11, 1865), so great peculiarities pertained to each of the states,
and such important and sudden changes occurred from time to time, and so new and unprecedented was the whole problem that no exclusive and
inflexible plan could safely be prescribed. With respect to states like Louisiana and Tennessee, he continued to urge acceptance of new governments
set up under his 10 percent plan during the war. With respect to states like Virginia and North Carolina, he seemed willing to use the old rebel
governments temporarily as a means of transition from war to peace. He was on record as opposing the appointment of strangers (carpetbaggers) to
govern the South. He hoped that the Southerners themselves, in forming new state governments, would find some way by which whites and blacks
could gradually live themselves out of their old relation to each other, and both come out better prepared for the new. A program of education for the
freedmen, he thought, was essential to preparing them for their new status. He also suggested that the vote be given immediately to some African
Americansas, for instance, the very intelligent, and especially those who have fought gallantly in our ranks.
On the question of reconstruction, however, Lincoln and the extremists of his own party stood even farther apart in early 1865 than a year before. Some
of the Radicals were beginning to demand a period of military occupation for the South, the confiscation of planter estates and their division among the
freedmen, and the transfer of political power from the planters to their former slaves. In April 1865 Lincoln began to modify his own stand in some
respects and thus to narrow the gap between himself and the Radicals. He recalled the permission he had given for the assembling of the rebel
legislature of Virginia, and he approved in principleor at least did not disapproveStanton's scheme for the military occupation of Southern states.
After the cabinet meeting of April 14, Attorney General James Speed inferred that Lincoln was moving toward the radical position. He never seemed so
near our views, Speed believed. What Lincoln's reconstruction policy would have been, if he had lived to complete his second term, can only be
guessed at.

At the end of the war, Lincoln's policy for the defeated South was not clear in all its details, though he continued to believe that the main object should be
to restore the seceded States, so-called, to their proper practical relation with the Union as soon as possible. He possessed no fixed and uniform
program for the region as a whole. As he said in the last public speech of his life (April 11, 1865), so great peculiarities pertained to each of the states,
and such important and sudden changes occurred from time to time, and so new and unprecedented was the whole problem that no exclusive and
inflexible plan could safely be prescribed. With respect to states like Louisiana and Tennessee, he continued to urge acceptance of new governments
set up under his 10 percent plan during the war. With respect to states like Virginia and North Carolina, he seemed willing to use the old rebel
governments temporarily as a means of transition from war to peace. He was on record as opposing the appointment of strangers (carpetbaggers) to
govern the South. He hoped that the Southerners themselves, in forming new state governments, would find some way by which whites and blacks
could gradually live themselves out of their old relation to each other, and both come out better prepared for the new. A program of education for the
freedmen, he thought, was essential to preparing them for their new status. He also suggested that the vote be given immediately to some African
Americansas, for instance, the very intelligent, and especially those who have fought gallantly in our ranks.

On the question of reconstruction, however, Lincoln and the extremists of his own party stood even farther apart in early 1865 than a year before. Some
of the Radicals were beginning to demand a period of military occupation for the South, the confiscation of planter estates and their division among the
freedmen, and the transfer of political power from the planters to their former slaves. In April 1865 Lincoln began to modify his own stand in some
respects and thus to narrow the gap between himself and the Radicals. He recalled the permission he had given for the assembling of the rebel
legislature of Virginia, and he approved in principleor at least did not disapproveStanton's scheme for the military occupation of Southern states.
After the cabinet meeting of April 14, Attorney General James Speed inferred that Lincoln was moving toward the radical position. He never seemed so
near our views, Speed believed. What Lincoln's reconstruction policy would have been, if he had lived to complete his second term, can only be
guessed at.

At the end of the war, Lincoln's policy for the defeated South was not clear in all its details, though he continued to believe that the main object should be
to restore the seceded States, so-called, to their proper practical relation with the Union as soon as possible. He possessed no fixed and uniform
program for the region as a whole. As he said in the last public speech of his life (April 11, 1865), so great peculiarities pertained to each of the states,
and such important and sudden changes occurred from time to time, and so new and unprecedented was the whole problem that no exclusive and
inflexible plan could safely be prescribed. With respect to states like Louisiana and Tennessee, he continued to urge acceptance of new governments
set up under his 10 percent plan during the war. With respect to states like Virginia and North Carolina, he seemed willing to use the old rebel
governments temporarily as a means of transition from war to peace. He was on record as opposing the appointment of strangers (carpetbaggers) to
govern the South. He hoped that the Southerners themselves, in forming new state governments, would find some way by which whites and blacks
could gradually live themselves out of their old relation to each other, and both come out better prepared for the new. A program of education for the
freedmen, he thought, was essential to preparing them for their new status. He also suggested that the vote be given immediately to some African
Americansas, for instance, the very intelligent, and especially those who have fought gallantly in our ranks.

On the question of reconstruction, however, Lincoln and the extremists of his own party stood even farther apart in early 1865 than a year before. Some
of the Radicals were beginning to demand a period of military occupation for the South, the confiscation of planter estates and their division among the
freedmen, and the transfer of political power from the planters to their former slaves. In April 1865 Lincoln began to modify his own stand in some
respects and thus to narrow the gap between himself and the Radicals. He recalled the permission he had given for the assembling of the rebel
legislature of Virginia, and he approved in principleor at least did not disapproveStanton's scheme for the military occupation of Southern states.
After the cabinet meeting of April 14, Attorney General James Speed inferred that Lincoln was moving toward the radical position. He never seemed so
near our views, Speed believed. What Lincoln's reconstruction policy would have been, if he had lived to complete his second term, can only be
guessed at.