The Greatest Man In US Histr Essay

The Greatest Man In U.S. Histr Essay, Research Paper

The Greatest Man in U.S. History

Abraham Lincoln, the greatest man in U.S. history, had many great accomplishments for this nation throughout his presidency. The most significant of these accomplishments was the abolishment of slavery. His love for America motivated him to do what he knew to be just. Lincoln had a meaningful, but shortened life, but he still accomplished more things than most other people in their lifetimes. Abraham Lincoln, the greatest man in U.S. history, had a childhood, education, and achievements that are exceptionally commendable.

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809 in a log cabin in Hardin County, Kentucky. (Donald 22; Neely 347) Abe liked to work outdoors, and was raised to do farm work. (Sandburg 14; Neely 347) When Abe was seven, his family moved to Indiana. (Donald 23) Partly on account of slavery, Abraham recalled, but chiefly on account of difficulty in land titles in Kentucky. (Neely 347) His formal education he received in an Indiana Blab School, using only the spelling book. (Angle 23) He loved to read, especially the Bible, Aesop s Fables, and Robinson Crusoe, to name a few. (Angle 23-24) In 1817, his grandparents Tom and Betsey Sparrow died of milk sick . Abe s mother also died from this on October 15, 1818. (Sandburg 11)

Lincoln reached his full height, 6 4 , before he was 20. Abe was thin, awkward, big-boned, and strong in the arms. (Baritt 313) Abe was interested in politics, and would walk 30 miles to a courthouse to hear lawyers speak and to see how they argued. Abe also heard political speakers and mimicked them. In 1830, he made his first political speech, on improving the Sangamoon River for better navigation. (Sandburg 15, 21)

On March 1, 1830, he left for Illinois to the town of New Salem, looking for a career to pursue. (Sandburg 20) In 1831, however, he was still unsure of his career. (Donald 38) In April of 1831, he went to New Orleans on a job and saw many advertisements for slaves. That same year, he cast his first ballot for Henry Clay of the Whig Party for his seat in Congress. (Sandburg 23) Abe joined the New Salem Debating Society, and started studying legal books and documents. On March 9, 1832, he wrote a paper telling the public he was stepping into politics as a candidate for the legislature of the State of Illinois. (Sandburg 26-27) Unfortunately, he ran unsuccessfully, but this pointed him in the direction of his career. (Neely 348)

Abe ran again in 1834, and was elected. (Sandburg 40) Between 1832 and 1834, he had served in the Black Hawk War briefly as a captain. (Sandburg 29) He gained leadership and strategy skills that later helped him in his presidency when commanding the army. In 1836, he received his lawyer s license, but did not enter on the roll of attorneys until March of 1837. (Barritt 314) In April of 1837, he left the town of New Salem, and headed to Springfield, Illinois. (Angle 62) He wanted to practice in the Supreme Court of the State and in federal courts. (Angle 89) He became the junior partner of the law firm Stuart and Lincoln, but the partnership ended in 1841. (Baritt 314) During this time, he became the leader of the Whigs in the state legislature, and began his opposition of slavery. (Donald 78; Neely 348) In 1838, he was nominated to the Speaker of the House.

Lincoln thought of his legal career as an adjunct to his political aspirations. (Donald 74) He argued in the famous Supreme Court case Bailey vs. Cromwell. (Sandburg 79) In 1845, he was elected into Congress, in which he served one term, from 1847-1849, as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. He then returned to Springfield, and to law. Lincoln kept in law, but in 1854, he began to lose interest in politics with the Kansas-Nebraska act of 1854, due to slavery. But in 1856, he joined the newly formed Republican Party, returning to politics. (Sandburg 81; Neely 348-349).

In 1858, Lincoln campaigned against Stephan A. Douglas for the Senate. Lincoln acquired fame by asking Douglas to appear in debates with him. Douglas agreed to seven debates. By winning the debates, Lincoln received his first national fame, but unfortunately, he did not win the Senate spot. In 1860, Abe made his first major political appearance in the Northeast at Cooper Union. At this point in time, Lincoln was a well-known presidential candidate. Lincoln s competition for the presidency was William H. Seward, the leading candidate, but Seward had some qualities that made him undesirable in critical states. (Neely 349) Throughout the campaign, rallies and political meetings were held nightly in Springfield. The presidential election was held on November 6, 1860. (Angle 290-291) Lincoln won the presidential election! (Neely 349) On November 20 the Republicans of Illinois celebrated their victory in the election. (Angle 296)

Lincoln became the first Republican president. (Baritt 310) On February 11, he left Springfield for Washington. Donald 275) His wife, Mary Todd, whom he had married on November 4, 1842, came along, as well as his four sons: Robert Todd, William Wallace, Edward Baker, and Thomas Tad . (Neely 348) Unfortunately, Will died at the age of 11, and Tad at the age of 18. Robert would later attend Harvard, and would stay there until February 1865, when he was appointed to captain of General Grant s staff. (Baritt 323)

On Lincoln s inauguration in March of 1861, seven states seceded from the Union. (Neely 349) Lincoln believed the real object of the secessionists was to change the nature of the American government. (Donald 268) But secession was only one of the problems he was thinking about. He was also thinking about the composition of his cabinet. (Angle 326) During the winter of 1860-1861, while Lincoln constructed his cabinet, the country was falling to pieces. (Donald 267)

In February 1861, representatives of six states of the South met in Montgomery, Alabama and drew up a constitution for the New Confederate States of America. (Neely 349; Donald 267) Jefferson Davis was the leader of the South. The Confederate ground ran from the Potamac River to the Gulf Coast and Rio Grande. (Sandburg 239) Lincoln decided to send provisions to Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, a Union base in Confederate territory, to keep their hold, just in case something were to happen. On April 12, 1861, South Carolina fired on the fort, and the Civil War began. (Neely 349) On April 15, Lincoln called for his first deployment of 200,000 men. (Sandburg 231) At the outbreak of war, many Northerners were confident that their superiority would prevail. Lincoln however, said, Man for man, the soldier from the South will be a marten for the soldier from the North, and vice versa. (Donald 313)

The first major battle of the Civil War was Bull Run, in Virginia, on July 21, 1861. Unfortunately, the North lost. (Miers 102-103) Lincoln was in command of the armies, but he was looking for a general. He appointed George B. McClellan. McClellan was a good organizer and disciplinarian, but was hesitant to fight in the field. (Miers 107-108) After the defeat at Bull Run, support for the President lessened, because the nation realized it face a long and costly war. (Donald 313)

Lincoln and McClellan conflicted because of McClellan s hesitancy to fight. (Neely 349) Lincoln continued looking for a general who would. The North was having a hard time winning, and the heart of the problem being the failure of the armies to advance and win victories. (Donald 329) McClellan fell ill in January of 1862, and Lincoln took command again. (Miers 111) Attorney General Bates commented: The President is an excellent man, and, in the main wise, but he lacks will and purpose, and I greatly fear he has not the power to command. (Donald 328)

The Quakers approached Lincoln in June of 1862 urging a proclamation to emancipate the slaves. (Donald 354) By the end of July 1862, Lincoln decided if the South persisted in War, he planned to free the slaves. On September 22, he issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. It warned that if states then in rebellion didn t return to the Union by January 1, 1863, he would issue a second proclamation declaring the slaves to be forever free and able to join the army. (Miers 119-120) On New Year s Day of 1863, Lincoln signed the final proclamation of emancipation stating, I never, in my life felt more certain that I was doing right, then I do in signing this paper. (Donald 407) Lincoln came to think of the Proclamation as the crowning achievement of his administration. (Donald 377)

The Union armies had two great victories in 1863, Battle of Antietam and Gettysburg. Lincoln gave the Gettysburg Address, and on November of 1863 ceremonies were held to dedicate a cemetery on the Gettysburg battlefield, because of the 45,000+ casualties. (Baritt 310, 323) In the summer of 1864, Ulysses Grant, a lower ranking general, who had been winning small but significant battles, won the important battle of Chattanooga. Because of his win, Lincoln promoted him to command all Union armies. (Angle 459) By this time, Lincoln had endorsed the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery. (Neely 349)

The South, by this time, realized they would lose the war. Lincoln sent Horace Greenly to Canada to meet Confederate emissaries, but the Confederate emissaries had no authority to begin negotiations. (Angle 496) Grant continued to fight Robert E. Lee, the South s commander of army. But on April 5, 1865, Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia. (Baritt 325) Lincoln later stated, My poor friends, you are free-free as air. You can cast off the name of slave and trample upon it; it will come to you no more. Liberty is your birthright. (Angle 510)

On April 14, 1865, seven days after Lee s surrender, Lincoln attended Our American Cousin at Ford s Theatre in Washington. (Baritt 326) While attending this play, Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, who was using a one-shot brass derringer pistol. Lincoln was shot in the left side of the head, and died on April 15,1865 at 7:21 A.M. (Sandburg 709, 717) The country greatly mourned his death, and some couldn t accept the fact their beloved president was dead. Broadway ran the sentence, The great person, the great man, is the miracle of history. (Sandburg 728) Booth, who fled to Virginia, had killed Lincoln to give the Confederacy one last chance to win the war, and he was killed by Union soldiers on April 26, 1865. (Sandburg 326; Donald 596) Lincoln was buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois. (Baritt 326)

Lincoln achieved many great things throughout his lifetime. He led the U.S. through the biggest crisis in United States history, managed to unite us again after the war, and most importantly, put an end to slavery. Slavery was the cruelest subjugation we could have participated in. Through his childhood and education, Lincoln was gaining knowledge and skills that would later help to save a country. Without him and his love for this country, we would not be what we, as a country, are today.

Works Cited

Angle, Paul M. The Lincoln Reader. New York: Rutgers University Press, 1947.

Baritt, Gabor S. Lincoln, Abraham. The World Book Encyclopedia. 1999 ed.

Donald, David Herbert. Lincoln. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995.

Miers, Earl Schenck. Abraham Lincoln in Peace and War. New York: American

Heritage Publishing Co., Inc., 1964.

Neely, Jr., Mark E. Lincoln, Abraham. Academic American Encyclopedia. 1992 ed.

Sandburg, Carl. Abraham Lincoln The Prairie Years and The War Years. New York:

Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1954.


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