Essay Preview: Honest Abe
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Abraham Lincoln, Honest Abe, is one of the greatest American Presidents. He is known today for his Presidency in which he fought the Confederacy during the Civil War and abolished slavery with the Emancipation Proclamation and later the Thirteenth Amendment. He was an intelligent, honest, and just leader who governed at a critical time in American history. PRE-PRESIDENCY Lincoln was born on the twelfth of February 1809 in a cabin three miles outside of Hodgenville, Kentucky. He was later forced to move to Indiana. As a child Lincoln worked on his familyÐ²Ð‚™s farm clearing fields and tending crops. He liked to read but unfortunately received hardly any formal education. In fact, his entire schooling only amounted to about one year of attendance. (Brit. 23) In 1830 LincolnÐ²Ð‚™s family moved to Illinois. Lincoln didnÐ²Ð‚™t want to be a farmer, so he tried other professions: rail-splitter, flatboat man, storekeeper, postmaster, surveyor, an army man, and a profession in Law. In 1932 Lincoln, at twenty-three years old, decided to run for the Illinois State legislature. Lincoln was to campaign for local improvements such as better roads and canals. However, a war with the Indians broke out before LincolnÐ²Ð‚™s campaign could get going. In response, he joined the Army. After his short wartime, Lincoln returned to politics and lost the race of Illinois Legislature. In 1834 he ran again and was elected- second of thirteen. At the age of 25 Lincoln was a member of the Illinois Legislature. After his term in the legislature, Lincoln found he needed more money. So, he started studying law on his own. He accepted a job in Springfield at John Todd StuartÐ²Ð‚™s practice. In the late 1830Ð²Ð‚™s Lincoln found the love of his life, Mary Ann Todd, the daughter of a rich banker. She got engaged to Abe in 1840 and the two were married in 1842. They had thee children together, Willie and Tad Lincoln. In 1946 Lincoln won the Whig nomination for a seat in the House of Representatives for Illinois and sat in Congress in 1847. The major issues of the time were the Mexican-American war, which Lincoln opposed, and slavery. Lincoln was not an anti-slavery crusader. However, he did vote in Congress to stop it from spreading. Morally, Lincoln hated slavery and said slaver was Ð²Ð‚Ñšfounded on both injustice and bad policy.Ð²Ð‚Ñœ He wanted to abolish slavery over time because he thought dramatic actions to end slavery would lead to violence. Lincoln felt that Congress should not interfere with slavery in states in which it already existed. After his term in Congress, Lincoln left politics again for a full time law practice. In the early 1850Ð²Ð‚™s Senator Stephen Douglas opened the issue of slavery in the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. In 1854, Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska act, allowing the issue of slavery in Kansas and Nebraska to be decided by popular sovereignty. Lincoln was Ð²Ð‚Ñšthunderstruck and stunned.Ð²Ð‚Ñœ This act brought him back into politics. He felt obligated to speak out against the Kansas-Nebraska act. So, after Lincoln left law he traveled across Illinois campaigning for anti-slavery Whigs. In his campaigning Lincoln called slavery a Ð²Ð‚ÑšcancerÐ²Ð‚Ñœ and a Ð²Ð‚Ñšmonstrous injustice.Ð²Ð‚Ñœ He said he believed in the Declaration of Independence, which states Ð²Ð‚Ñšall men are created equal.Ð²Ð‚Ñœ However, he wasnÐ²Ð‚™t sure of what to do with slavery in the states where it already existed in. In 1856, Lincoln switched from the Whig Party to the Republican Party because the Whigs were weak and could never unite against slavery. Lincoln felt that if he wanted to make a point he would have to be with a strong party. In 1858, Lincoln won the Republican Nomination for the Illinois Senate seat. He wanted the seat of his long time rival, Senator Stephen Douglas. In LincolnÐ²Ð‚™s first speech for his Senate campaign Lincoln said, Ð²Ð‚ÑšI believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free.Ð²Ð‚Ñœ Lincoln warned his opponents that the spread of slavery must be stopped or else it would become Ð²Ð‚Ñšlawful in all the states; old as well as new- north as well as south.Ð²Ð‚Ñœ In July of 1958, Lincoln challenged Senator Douglas to a series of seven three-hour, public debates. Thousands of people showed up to watch the Little Giant (Douglas) vs. Long Abe. Douglas fought for white supremacy. He believed the country could endure half free and half slave. Douglas said whites made this country therefore they should run it. Lincoln wanted equality. During one debate Lincoln said: Ð²Ð‚ÑšThere is no reason in the world why the Negro is not entitled to all the natural rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence, the right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I hold that he is as much entitled to these as the white man.Ð²Ð‚Ñœ In the end, Douglas won the Senate election by a hair. However, Lincoln did not give up. His debates with Douglas had made him famous across Illinois. Lincoln kept debating and got a lot of Republican support. Lincoln got so much support that the Republicans felt he could win the presidential election. So, they tried to get him nominated. The Lincoln-Douglas debates were incredibly crucial to LincolnÐ²Ð‚™s future career. It was this series of debates that made Lincoln well known throughout the country. In fact, Lincoln probably would not have won the Presidential Election in 1860 if he hadnÐ²Ð‚™t debated with Douglas. Douglas was far better known than Lincoln was throughout the country and in Illinois. At the Lincoln-Douglas debates people from miles around would come to watch the two men speak in the remote towns of Illinois. Reporters from around the nation came and jotted down what the two men said. What was said at the debates could be read in the newspapers of major cities the very next day. It was Lincoln-Douglas debates that first gave Lincoln nation wide publicity. Lincoln probably would not have ended up in the White House if it had not been for these debates. PRESIDENCY PRE-CIVIL-WAR At the Illinois Republican Convention in May 1860 Lincoln was chosen as the RepublicanÐ²Ð‚™s favorite Presidential Candidate. One week later at the National Republican Convention, Lincoln was nominated on the third ballot. Lincoln was running against two Democrats Stephen Douglas of Illinois, and John C. Breckenridge, a southern Democrat from Kentucky. On Election DayÐ²Ð‚”November 6, 1860Ð²Ð‚”Lincoln won the election with 1,866,000 votes. He carried every Northern State. Southerners hated this Ð²Ð‚Ñšblack RepublicanÐ²Ð‚Ñœ and his name did not appear on any southern ballots. Douglas got 1,377,000 votes and Breckenridge received 850,000. If the Democratic Party had not split Lincoln would not have been elected.