Abraham Lincoln's Presidency

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What did the North and the South think of Abraham Lincoln?  

Lincoln was very popular in the North, but the South did not think highly of him. Southerners were convinced Lincoln would completely ruin their way of life by abolishing slavery and turning their lives upside down. His election actually led to multiple states seceding, although the North stood firmly behind him.

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The conflict between Abraham Lincoln and the South was, many historians believe, one of the early indications of an oncoming war. Lincoln favored abolishing slavery, though he conceded that he would allow slavery to exist where it already had extended its influence in order to keep the Union in one piece. This, however, was not enough for the South. They felt Lincoln was out to destroy their way of life, and that he sought to abolish the system on which their agrarian economy had become dependent. When he was elected in 1860, multiple Southern states immediately seceded, followed by several more later.

For the most part, Lincoln was popular in the North. Many abolitionists stood firmly behind his ideas and supported him during his election. Northerners felt the South was wielding too much power; they particularly disliked the Fugitive Slave Act. They feel it was immoral, and believed the North was being forced to comply with Southern laws. Even though Lincoln enjoyed mostly strong support in the North, there were some who believed that the issue of slavery was not worth jeopardizing the stability of the Union. They sought to avoid conflict with the South and pushed for compromise, but this proved to be ineffective. Even when Lincoln admitted that he would allow slavery to exist where it had prior, the South did not trust him.

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Generally speaking, Northerners were very supportive of Lincoln. Opposition to slavery and its extension were widely held, so Lincoln's campaign pledge not to extend slavery was warmly welcomed. There was also a common perception in the North that the American system of government had been skewed too far towards entrenching the interests of the Southern states. Henry Clay's notorious compromise of 1850 was seen by many in the North as a blatant example of how much disproportionate power was now wielded by the South. The Fugitive Slave Act was particularly resented in the Northern states, not just on moral grounds, but also on the basis that it infringed their own rights by forcing them to cooperate in the apprehension and return of runaway slaves.

That said, there were a number of Northerners who took a different view of Lincoln. Northern Democrats such as Lincoln's debating opponent Stephen A. Douglas, believed that slavery was not worth breaking the Union over. They urged greater compromise with the Southern states, seeing this as the best way to avoid conflict. Though very much in the minority, Northern opponents of Lincoln had large pockets of support, concentrated mainly in the big cities. During the Civil War, their hostility towards African Americans often broke out in serious acts of public disturbance, most notably in the New York City draft riots of 1863.

The vast majority of Southerners took a diametrically opposite view of Lincoln to most of those north of the Mason-Dixon line. They regarded him as a threat to a whole way of life. When running for office in 1860, Lincoln had pledged not to extend slavery, but he was also clear that his priority was keeping the Union together, even if it meant that slavery existed in every state.

Yet this concession wasn't enough for most Southerners. As far as they were concerned, preventing the extension of slavery was simply the thin end of the wedge. It was just a matter of time, they believed, before Lincoln went one step further and outlawed slavery altogether. Come the election, it was no surprise when Lincoln failed to carry a single slave state. In fact, his name didn't even appear on the ballot in ten Southern states, an indication of just how deeply unpopular he was in that part of the world.

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The North and the South had very different views of Abraham Lincoln. The South had very negative views of his political ideas. President Lincoln made it clear that he was against slavery. He clearly didn’t want it to spread beyond where it already existed. He did, however, say he would allow slavery to exist where it already existed if it would keep the country together. The South didn’t trust Abraham Lincoln. When he won the election of 1860, many southerners were convinced he was going to get rid of slavery. They viewed his ideas as a threat to the entire southern way of life. Abraham Lincoln didn’t win any southern states in the election of 1860. Seven southern states seceded from the Union immediately after Abraham Lincoln won the election. Eventually, four more southern states also left the Union.

The North was very supportive of Abraham Lincoln. More northerners were against slavery. Northerners definitely didn’t want slavery to spread. If slavery spread, this would give the South more power in Congress. Northerners believed Abraham Lincoln’s ideas about slavery, and especially about the spread of slavery, were very good ideas. He received a great deal of support from the North in the election of 1860.

Both regions had very different views about Abraham Lincoln because each region had different views about slavery and the spread of it.

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