Abraham Lincoln And The Civil War

Abraham Lincoln's presidency from beginning to the end with filled with nothing more than trying to put and end to the Civil War. It began when he took office and ended towards the end of his life. Learn more.

The Campaign of 1860 was a campaign that would decide the United States fate. There were two main candidates, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas; Buchanan had retired from public service. The South had said if Abraham Lincoln won the Campaign of 1860 and became the next President they would withdraw from the Union. Abraham Lincoln won the Presidency in 1860, having won two-thirds of the electoral votes, but he only had forty percent of the popular vote.

President Abraham Lincoln had quite a bit to deal with: within the first four months of him becoming President seven states had already seceded from the Union, letting him know that he was not wanted as President. But Lincoln had a job to do: his main interest at this point was keeping the Union together, and he did not have any real concerns about abolishing slavery.

When the southern states of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas seceded they formed the Confederate States. The Confederate states had set out to attack Fort Sumter in 1861. Lincoln tried to halt this attempt by ordering the navy to blockade southern ports, this preventing the trade of the South's moneymaker, cotton. This also prevented the South from obtaining manufactured goods it needed from the North, goods that were essential such as guns and clothing the South could not produce for itself. The beginning of the war forced four more states to reluctantly join the Confederacy.



Virginia, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Arkansas felt they had no other choice, due to the fact they also were slave states.

The main problem the South had was that they did not have a Unified Army. They had regional pride: each state or region would have their own small army, and there was not a lot of unification. But they soon got their act together; when the first real battle of the Civil War took place at a creek called, Bull Run, the Confederates surprised the Union. Under the leadership of General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson, the Confederate army soon sent the Union running back to Washington. With this defeat the Northerners realized that this was not just a rebellion that would be easily defeated, this was WAR.

After loosing the battle of Bull Run, Lincoln changed generals; his new appointed General was George B. McClellan. During the summer of 1862, General Robert Lee and General George McClellan met, again at Bull Run; this meeting would mean a second victory for the Confederate Army at Bull Run. Then Lee moved onward North, into the Union State of Maryland. In Maryland is where the Battle of Antietam occurred. This is considered one of the bloodiest days of the Civil War. Both the Union and Confederate armies suffered great losses. This was barely a victory for the Union army, but it was a victory. With this loss Lee retreated back towards the South, the Union gave chase but was not quick enough to catch them.

With the victory at Antietam, Lincoln choose this time to deliver The Emancipation Proclamation: this executive order freed the slaves in the areas that rebellion was established, but it did not free the slaves in the Union slave states or in areas that the Union recaptured. At this point, the point of the war completely changed from preservation of the Union to the abolition of slavery.

Lincoln also decided to change generals again: he was not satisfied with the performance of McClellan, nor was he satisfied with the next two generals, General Ambrose Burnside and General Joseph Hooker: neither of these really wanted the job. Finally, Lincoln appointed General George Meade, very soon after his appointment there came the bloodiest, most gruesome battle of the Civil War, Gettysburg. This battle was fought on July 1, 1863: it was a hard battle, and it became a Union victory, with more than forty-five thousand men killed and wounded. It was a devastating site for both Meade and Lee, General Lee had lost almost two-third of his entire army, and Meade had lost one-forth of his. Their thoughts were focused on that there were so many dead for the cause.

Lincoln chose this time to travel to Gettysburg to deliver what is now known as the Gettysburg Address. The address was 272 words long, and did not mention slavery, the battle or the Union Army. It was widely accepted by all people.

After Gettysburg, Lincoln had decided to change Generals again. This time his choice was Ulysses S. Grant, his best change for the Union yet. Grant was a fighter, he captured important Confederate forts in Tennessee and led the Union army in a battle at Vicksburg and won. Then Grant's only thought was getting Lee and Richmond. This was the beginning of the end, with William Tecumseh Sherman destroying the Confederate's way of getting materials to fight the war by destroying railroads, factories and its plantations. He was breaking the spirit of the Confederacy: when Sherman burned Atlanta it was all but over. Grant surrounded Richmond and it fell to the Union army on April 3,1865. Lee surrendered and it was a mournful day for the Confederacy: the Union had stripped it of its most valued treasure, their PRIDE, and the Confederacy was on its knees, they thought, never to rise again.

Just twelve days after the surrender of Lee, President Lincoln was attending a show at the Ford Theater, where he was fatally wounded. He died on April 15, 1865.

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