Themes that Defined Abraham's Lincoln's Presidency

Themes that Defined Abraham's Lincoln's Presidency

Abraham Lincoln's Presidency

Abraham Lincoln was a self-made individual who rose against all the odds to become the sixteenth President of the United States from 1861 to 1865. Abraham Lincoln's popularity was evident during the election when he won the entire Northern State's support except New Jersey. According to Holzer (2008), Lincoln garnered 180 electoral votes, more than the 152 votes needed for an absolute majority. However, there was a great rift between the North and South, which was a challenge that would affect his tenure. He was an intelligent military strategist and unique leader ready to use force to defend the Union and the Federal Law. In this regard, an analysis of the themes that defined his presidency will be integral.

Abraham Lincoln's profile rose in 1860 when he delivered a remarkable speech at the Cooper Union in New York City. The Republicans choose Lincoln as their presidential candidate despite his unpopular congressional term on his profile. He won with the most outstanding support from the North and the Electoral College, which affirmed the win. As the President, he built a strong cabinet team that consisted of many of his political rivals such as Edwin Stanton, Salmon Chase and Edward Bates. The Lincoln presidency focused on public opinion, which he valued throughout his tenure.

Themes that defined the Lincoln Presidency

First, the country's division between the North and the South was evident during President Lincoln's presidency. The election of an antislavery northerner as the President of the United States was unacceptable for most southerners. Based on Gienapp (2002), by the time Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as the President in 1861, approximately seven southern states had formally withdrawn from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America. The Civil War began when the confederates attacked the Union fleet and the Fort, which influenced President Lincoln to acquire 500,000 more troops in preparation for a prolonged conflict.

At the beginning of the war, the South was well-positioned for success due to its terrain, material resources, and the significant advantage of interior lines of war. As highlighted by Rafuse (2012), the South enjoyed substantial benefits over the North's overall population and economic position. On the other hand, the North was considered as the underdogs during the Civil War. Despite the challenges, President Lincoln's leadership was fundamental in the attainment of victory. This is because he managed to achieve a distinct level of psychological maturity that equipped him with the skills to win the war (Burlingame, 2011). Lincoln viewed the civil war as a violation of the law. Hence he managed the politics by acting on the theory that a united North was more critical.

Next, the emancipation of slaves was a key theme in President Lincoln's administration. President Abraham Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863. The proclamation stated that "all the individuals held as slaves within the rebellious states are free." According to Farber (2018), the Civil War established that the United States is a nation and not a confederation of states and that slavery had to be prohibited. Nonetheless, the Emancipation Declaration applied to states that had withdrawn from the Union, which left slavery untouched in the loyal Border States. Additionally, the proclamation disregarded areas of the Confederacy under Northern control. Notably, the freedom promised by the Emancipation Proclamation relied on the Union military victory.

The Lincoln administration's main focus was to save the Union. However, emancipation became one of the most significant themes which facilitated the implementation of a constitutional amendment that outlaws slavery. This Amendment was later referred to as the 13th Amendment after his death in 1865 (Holzer, 2008). The Lincoln administration ensured the country’s policies align with its promises. Hence the Emancipation Declaration by President Lincoln was the first step towards the abolition of slavery.

Finally, President Lincoln's Gettysburg address was a monumental act that changed the political dynamics in the United States. The Gettysburg address was delivered in 1863 at the official dedication event for Gettysburg's National Cemetery in Pennsylvania. Based on Willis (2012), this address was a theme that stood out during his tenure since he promoted the principle of human equality mentioned in the Declaration of Independence. Besides, the Gettysburg address associated the sacrifices of the Civil War with the presence of freedom. President Abraham Lincoln used his influence and power in preserving the Union created in 1776 and the ideals associated with self-rule.

Presently, the Gettysburg address still impacts how the government is managed in the United States. The President used the opportunity to enforce and highlight that it's the citizens' responsibility to ensure that the "government of the people, by the people, for the people will not perish from the earth" (Willis, 2012). The objective was to ensure that the government and its citizens work together to pursue unity and implement the principles on which the nation is founded. Hence, as a theme that defined his presidency, the subsequent governments also achieved unity and freedom.

In conclusion, Abraham Lincoln was a renowned leader in American history. Despite his upbringing, he managed to rise against all the odds to lead as the 16th President of the United States. The themes that stood out in history include his involvement in the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg address, which has been instrumental in the nation's progress. He became a national martyr after he was assassinated in 1865. On his birthday, he is honoured on President's day on the third Monday of February.



Burlingame, M. (2011). Lincoln and the Civil War. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.

Farber, D. A. (2018). Lincoln, Presidential Power, and the Rule of Law. Nw. UL Rev., 113, 667.

Gienapp, W. E. (2002). Abraham Lincoln and Civil War America: A Biography. Oxford University Press.

Holzer, H. (2008). Lincoln President-elect: Abraham Lincoln and the great secession winter 1860-1861. Simon and Schuster.

Rafuse, E. S. (2012). Lincoln and the Civil War, by Michael Burlingame. Ann Arbor, MI: Michigan Publishing, University of Michigan Library.

Wills, G. (2012). Lincoln at Gettysburg: The words that remade America. Simon and Schuster.

Published on: 11 Sep 2020

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