Civil War and Abraham Lincoln
Thesis: To what extent did Abraham Lincoln’s election influence the outcomes of the Civil War?
Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th president of the United States in November of 1860 before the start of the Civil War and continued as president during the War. He sought to unify the nation, to create a better country and to abolish slavery. Abraham Lincoln described the reality that you can’t avoid destiny so you must prepare yourself for it. “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading today”.
This can be connected to his decisions around and about slavery, we cannot ignore the fact that the country was evolving and that slavery would not be apart of its future but rather would be terminated.
The extent to which Abraham Lincoln’s election would direct the course of the United States as a whole is seen even as early as his campaign and subsequent election by popular vote. Through his decisions, he was able to bring a torn country together again and abolish slavery after the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln’s influence on the Civil War was what carved out a path to a better nation.
Even as early as the start of Lincoln’s campaign, one can see the influence he had. Lincoln was part of the new Republican Party in the United States. The party’s platform was to prevent the spread of slavery westward, add a transcontinental railroad and to incorporate a Homestead Act that would provide free land to settlers. This new Republican Party offered to bind the nation together as a free-labor society modeled on Northern capitalism, free wage-labor, and the ultimate extinction of slavery.
Although Lincoln encountered challenges during the campaign, his supporters were able to gain sympathetic votes for him by using the “Vote Yourself a Farm” slogan. This was the promise of the Homestead Act, which eventually occurred in 1862. The promise of land was a draw for many undecided voters.
During the election of 1860 no Northern president had ever won reelection and the Southern presidents had won two-thirds of the times since 1789. When the votes were finally tallied, Lincoln, who was not on the ballot in any Southern state, carried all of the North but one state in the popular vote. The 1860 election revealed the importance of the heavily populated Northern states in achieving victory in the Electoral College.
Abraham Lincoln was eventually elected on November 6th, 1860, and won by a landslide of 39.9% of the popular vote or 180 electoral points. He defeated three other candidates. Not everyone was pleased with the results of the election. His winning the presidential election evoked the Civil War. The South was extremely worried and hated that he was elected. They began to rebel because they feared what he would do to their economy.
Abraham Lincoln was a Republican of the North and although he did not see African Americans as politically or socially equal, he despised the idea of slavery. He was not and abolitionist but would often recite the Constitution depicting that all men were created equal in an attempt to eliminate slavery.