Abraham Lincoln and American History

Last Updated: 16 Apr 2020
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Abraham Lincoln was an important part of American history. He ended slavery and helped America through the civil war. Abraham Lincoln was one of the truly great men of all time. Even as a boy, Lincoln showed ability as a speaker. He often amused himself and others by imitating some preacher or politician who had spoken in the area. People liked to gather at the general store in the crossroads village of Gentryville. Lincoln's gift for telling stories made him a favorite with the people there. In spite of his youth, he was well known in his neighborhood. In 1834, Lincoln again ran for the legislature.

He had become better known by this time, and won election as a Whig. He served four successive two-year terms in the lower house of the Illinois General Assembly. During his first term, he met a young Democratic legislator, Stephen A. Douglas. Lincoln quickly came to the front in the legislature. He was witty and ready in debate. His skill in party management enabled him to become the Whig floor leader at the beginning of his second term. He took leading parts in the establishment of the Bank of Illinois and in the adoption of a plan for a system of railroads and canals. This plan broke down after the Panic of 1837.

Lincoln also led a successful campaign for moving the state capital from Vandalia to Springfield. While in the legislature, Lincoln made his first public statement on slavery. In 1837, the legislature passed by an overwhelming majority resolutions condemning abolition societies. These societies urged freedom for slaves. Lincoln and another legislator, Dan Stone, filed a protest. They admitted that Congress had no power to interfere with slavery in the states where it existed. They believed "the promulgation of abolition doctrines tend rather to increase than abate its evils. *1 Their protest arose from the legislature's failure to call slavery an evil practice. Lincoln and Stone declared that "the institution of slavery is founded on both injustice and bad policy.

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"*2 Later, Lincoln continued with his dream to become part of the law. He wanted to become president. On March 4, 1861, Lincoln took the oath of office and became the 16th President of the United States. In his inaugural address, Lincoln denied that he had any intention of interfering with slavery in states where the Constitution protected it. He urged the preservation of the Union.

Lincoln warned that he would use the full power of the nation to "hold, occupy, and possess" the "property and places"*3 belonging to the federal government. By "property and places," he meant forts, arsenals, and custom houses. Lincoln's closing passage had great beauty and literary power. He appealed to "the mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land. " The attack on Fort Sumter marked the start of the Civil War. Lincoln met the crisis with energetic action. He called out the militia to suppress the "insurrection.

He proclaimed a blockade of Southern ports, and expanded the army beyond the limit set by law. He then led the United States during the Civil War (1861-1865), which was the greatest crisis in U. S. history. During the Civil War, Lincoln's first task was to win the war. He had to view nearly all other matters in relation to the war. It was "the progress of our arms," he once said, "upon which all else depends. " But Lincoln was a peace-loving man who had earlier described military glory as "that attractive rainbow, that rises in showers of blood--that serpent's eye that charms to destroy.

*4 The Civil War was by far the bloodiest war in U. S. history. Lincoln became a remarkable war leader. Some historians believe he was the chief architect of the Union's victorious military strategy. This strategy called for Union armies to advance against the enemy on all fronts at the same time. Lincoln also insisted that the objective of the Union armies should be the destruction of opposing forces, not the conquest of territory. Lincoln changed generals several times because he could not find one who would fight the war the way he wanted it fought.

When he finally found such a general, Ulysses S. Grant, Lincoln stood firmly behind him. Lincoln's second great task was to keep up Northern morale through the horrible war in which many relatives in the North and South fought against one another. He understood that the Union's resources vastly exceeded those of the Confederacy, and that the Union would eventually triumph if it remained dedicated to victory. For this reason, Lincoln used his great writing and speechmaking abilities to spur on his people. If the Union had been destroyed, the United States could have become two, or possibly more, nations.

These nations separately could not have become as prosperous and important as the United States is today. By preserving the Union, Lincoln influenced the course of world history. By ending slavery, he helped assure the moral strength of the United States. His own life story, too, has been important. He rose from humble origin to the nation's highest office. What did Abraham Lincolns Emancipation Proclamation do to help the Civil War? It declared freedom for slaves in all areas of the Confederacy that were still in rebellion against the Union.

The proclamation also provided for the use of blacks in the Union Army and Navy. As a result, it greatly influenced the North's victory in the war. The 11 states of the Confederacy seceded from the Union in 1860 and 1861. They seceded primarily because they feared Lincoln would restrict their right to do as they chose about the question of black slavery. The North entered the Civil War only to reunite the nation, not to end slavery. During the first half of the war, abolitionists and some Union military leaders urged Lincoln to issue a proclamation freeing the slaves.

They argued that such a policy would help the North because slaves were contributing greatly to the Confederate war effort. By doing most of the South's farming and factory work, slaves made whites available for the Confederate Army. Lincoln agreed with the abolitionists' view of slavery. He once declared that "if slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. "*5 But early in the war, Lincoln believed that if he freed the slaves, he would divide the North. Lincoln feared that four slave-owning border states; Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri, would secede if he adopted such a policy.

In July 1862, with the war going badly for the North, Congress passed a law freeing all Confederate slaves who came into Union lines. At about that same time, Lincoln decided to change his stand on slavery. But he waited for a Union military victory, so that his decision would not appear to be a desperate act. On Sept. 22, 1862, five days after Union forces won the Battle of Antietam, Lincoln issued a preliminary proclamation. It stated that if the rebelling states did not return to the Union by Jan. 1, 1863, he would declare their slaves to be "forever free.

The South rejected Lincoln's policy, and so he issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863. Lincoln took this action as commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States. He called it "a fit and necessary war measure. " The Emancipation Proclamation did not actually free a single slave, because it affected only areas under Confederate control. It excluded slaves in the border states and in such Southern areas under Union control as Tennessee and parts of Louisiana and Virginia. But it did lead to the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

This amendment, which became law on Dec. 18, 1865, ended slavery in all parts of the United States. As the abolitionists had predicted, the Emancipation Proclamation strengthened the North's war effort and weakened the South's. By the end of the war, more than 500,000 slaves had fled to freedom behind Northern lines. Many of them joined the Union Army or Navy or worked for the armed forces as laborers. By allowing blacks to serve in the Army and Navy, the Emancipation Proclamation helped solve the North's problem of declining enlistments.

About 200,000 black soldiers and sailors, many of them former slaves, served in the armed forces. They helped the North win the war. The Emancipation Proclamation also hurt the South by discouraging Britain and France from entering the war. Both of those nations depended on the South to supply them with cotton, and the Confederacy hoped that they would fight on its side. But the proclamation made the war a fight against slavery. Lincoln"s decisions and Emancipation Proclamation led to the 15th amendment which freed slaves. Without it, life today would be much different.

He changed life for all Americans, black and white. How did the Pacific Railroad Act have an impact on American History? It provided for the building of the nation's first transcontinental rail line. Abraham Lincoln was in office when the Pacific Railroad Act was signed. He made a huge impact by signing the act. It was the first step to trading with other states that were far apart and new ways of transportation. States could now trade meat and states could focus on the products that are most practical for their part of the country. The act gave two companies responsibility for building the railroad.

The Union Pacific was to start laying track westward from a point near Omaha. The Central Pacific Railroad was to lay track eastward from Sacramento. Congress granted both railroads large tracts of land and millions of dollars in government loans. Work began on the Central Pacific track in 1863 and on the Union Pacific in 1865. The railroads faced the gigantic task of crossing the rugged Rockies and the towering Sierra Nevada. To obtain the necessary labor, the Central Pacific hired thousands of Chinese immigrants to work on the railroad. Thousands of European immigrants worked on the Union Pacific.

On May 10, 1869, the tracks of the two railroads finally met at Promontory, Utah. North America became the first continent to have a rail line from coast to coast. By the end of the 1800's, the United States had five transcontinental rail lines. The Canadian Pacific Railway (now CP Rail) completed Canada's first transcontinental line in 1885. It extended from Montreal, Quebec, to Vancouver, British Columbia. The completion of these rail lines opened vast regions of the continent to settlement and trade. How did the sayings of Abraham Lincoln help people?

Abraham gave many speeches in his life that inspired people to be all that they can be and do what is right. Gettysburg Address is a short speech that United States President Abraham Lincoln delivered during the American Civil War at the site of the Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania. He delivered the address on Nov. 19, 1863, at ceremonies to dedicate a part of the battlefield as a cemetery for those who had lost their lives in the battle. The principal speaker was Edward Everett, one of the greatest orators of his day. He spoke for two hours. Lincoln was asked to say a few words, and spoke for about two minutes.

Lincoln wrote the address to help ensure that the battle would be seen as a great Union triumph and to define for the people of the Northern States the purpose in fighting the war. Some historians think his simple and inspired words, which are among the best remembered in American history, reshaped the nation by defining it as one people dedicated to one principle--that of equality. Lincoln wrote five different versions of the speech. He wrote most of the first version in Washington, D. C. , and probably completed it at Gettysburg. He probably wrote the second version at Gettysburg on the evening before he delivered his address.

He held this second version in his hand during the address. But he made several changes as he spoke. The most important change was to add the phrase "under God" after the word "nation" in the last sentence. Lincoln also added that phrase to the three versions of the address that he wrote after the ceremonies at Gettysburg. Lincoln wrote the final version of the address--the fifth written version--in 1864. This version also differed somewhat from the speech he actually gave, but it was the only copy he signed. It is carved on a stone plaque in the Lincoln Memorial.

Many false stories have grown up about this famous speech. One story says that the people of Lincoln's time did not appreciate the speech. But the reaction of the nation's newspapers largely followed party lines. Most of the newspapers that backed the Republican Party, the party to which Lincoln belonged, liked the speech. A majority of the newspapers that supported the Democratic Party did not. Edward Everett, the principal speaker at the dedication, wrote to Lincoln: "I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion in two hours as you did in two minutes.

*6 Abrahams two minute speech had more of an impact that a two hour speech. Lincoln touched many hearts and others despised him. It does not matter if they liked him or not, they were still affected by his words and actions. Abraham Lincoln affected the U. S. in many different ways. He led the United States during the Civil War, one of the most brutal battles in history. Lincoln helped end slavery in the nation and helped keep the American Union from splitting apart during the war. Lincoln thus believed that he proved to the world that democracy can be a lasting form of government.

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, second inaugural address, and many of his other speeches and writings are classic statements of democratic beliefs and goals. Lincoln, a Republican, was the first member of his party to become President. He was assassinated near the end of the Civil War and was succeeded by Vice President Andrew Johnson. Lincoln was the first U. S. President to be assassinated. Without President Lincoln life today would be much different. We have him to thank for a lot of the great accomplishments in history.

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Abraham Lincoln and American History. (2018, Jun 22). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/abraham-lincoln-and-american-history/

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