Abraham Lincoln's Presidency

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What problems did Abraham Lincoln face during his presidency?

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Abraham Lincoln faced many serious problems during his presidency, including secession and the Civil War. He had to manage the war politically as well as militarily and make decisions about such major issues as slavery and reconstruction.

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Abraham Lincoln was elected president at a time of deep crisis in American history. For decades, the United States had not been able to resolve the tensions that grew out of being made up of a mix of slave states and free states. In fact, these tensions grew worse as...

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the country moved from a situation in which both North and South saw slavery as an unfortunate institution that would fade out over time into two fiercely opposed camps. By 1860, abolitionists wanted the immediate end to all slavery, while Southerners increasingly defended slavery as a positive good for the slaves. Lincoln's election triggered Southern states to secede from the Union, starting the Civil War, but by the time he was elected, either war or the breakup of the Union had become inevitable.

Lincoln was tasked with managing and winning one of the worst and bloodiest wars Americans were ever involved in. He also had to make politically tricky determinations about when and how to free the slaves, negotiate keeping superpowers like England from helping the South (the South's only hope of winning), balance the Constitutional rights of citizens against the need to wage an effective war, and plan for healing the wounds of a divided nation after war ended. All of these were heavy burdens, not made easier from opposition from his own party. Fortunately, Lincoln was the right man for the job and rose to the occasion.

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Abraham Lincoln was elected president on a purely sectional vote, and as he prepared to begin his presidency, he was faced with the possibility, even probability, of disunion, as many people in the South renounced his election. The issues at the top of the list were states' rights, the expansion (or not) of slavery into US territories, and the Northern lack of enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act.

Before Lincoln even took office on March 4, 1861, seven Southern states had already seceded from the Union, and the new president had to decide what to do about it. On April 15, he chose to call for 75,000 troops, an action that nudged four more states out of the Union. After the debacle at Fort Sumter, Abraham Lincoln ended up with a civil war on his hands.

Lincoln's primary task for the next four years was to manage a war, both militarily and politically. He had to cope with everything from incompetent generals to opposition in the North. He had to decide what to do about slavery and when to do it, and he finally issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863.

In 1864, Lincoln faced a campaign for reelection against George McClellan. He won, but only after a time in which his victory was in serious doubt. At the beginning of Lincoln's second term, the war was starting to draw to a close, and Lincoln needed to plan for the renewal of the Union and the reconstruction of the South. Again, he faced serious opposition here. Indeed, Lincoln's presidency was far from easy, and his problems only multiplied as the years passed.

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The biggest problem that Lincoln faced was trying to hold the Union together. Not long after he was elected, a number of Southern states seceded to form the Confederacy. Inevitably, this undermined the integrity of the Union, which made Lincoln's job all the more difficult.

Once the Civil War broke out, Lincoln then had to figure out how to win it, which was by no means an easy task. The war would be fought primarily on Southern soil, and it would involve not only with defeating the South militarily, but also with incorporating them back into the Union once the war was finally won. The successful accomplishment of these twin aims would've been hard for anyone, but for a new president without any military experience, they were doubly so.

It may seem hard for us to believe, given the deep reverence with which Lincoln is held today, but many of his contemporaries, including many within his own party, seriously doubted his abilities. Many were convinced that the South would win the Civil War and in the process destroy the Union forever.

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Abraham Lincoln faced several problems. Soon after he won the election in 1860, seven southern states seceded from the Union. President Lincoln tried to convince the other southern states to remain in the Union, but four more southern states seceded after the attack at Fort Sumter.

Once the Civil War began, President Lincoln needed to keep some of the Border States in the Union. For example, if Maryland seceded, Washington, D.C. would have been in the Confederacy. He arrested many Maryland lawmakers who were sympathetic to Confederacy, which prevented them from voting to secede. As a result, Maryland remained in the Union.

President Lincoln had to deal with ineffective military leadership. For example, General McClelland was so hesitant to move his army that he lost opportunities to defeat the South in battle. One example was after the battle fought at Antietam. General McClelland didn’t pursue General Lee’s army.

President Lincoln also had to deal with opposition in the North. There were Northerners who wanted a peaceful end to the war. Other people were opposed to the draft. President Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus to deal with possible disloyal activities.

Other people were dismayed that the Civil War had not ended as the election of 1864 approached. Fortunately, there were some victories in 1864 that helped boost Northern morale. Also, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, making it clear that this was a war that was being fought to end slavery in the United States.

Abraham Lincoln had several issues with which he had to deal.

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What were some of the major issues Abraham Lincoln faced while he was in office?  

One of Lincoln's earliest and most serious challenges was the secession of Southern states. Before he took office, South Carolina had already seceded, and it was followed by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee in 1861. Lincoln was against expanding slavery, but the American South depended on it to support its largely agrarian economy. When South Carolinians attacked Fort Sumter in April of 1861, the Civil War began. It raged until April of 1865 when General Lee of the Confederacy surrendered to General Grant of the Union.

In 1863, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves, but he remained concerned that after the war ended the judiciary could overrule his proclamation. Lincoln wanted a Constitutional amendment to protect it, and it came in December of 1865, months after his death.

Though there were not approval polls for the president's performance like there are now, Lincoln was fairly unpopular by 1863. He faced the challenge of maintaining control of the Union army and building support for his presidency. He was widely regarded as being indecisive; he was said to give his generals too much latitude to make their own strategic decisions. He was forced to revise his leadership style, and in doing so, soon saw victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg, though casualties reached catastrophic numbers. In his address at Gettysburg, Lincoln not only dedicated the military cemetery but also emphasized the need to finish the was so that the casualties would not have died in vain and that the nation would be reunified.

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What were some of the major issues Abraham Lincoln faced while he was in office?  

In addition to the major issues that Lincoln grappled with—secession, slavery, and the danger of Peace Democrats suing for peace with the confederacy—Lincoln also faced a number of other issues that were greatly concerning.

For a good portion of the Civil War, Lincoln faced the constant threat that Great Britain would enter the war on the side of the Confederacy. Britain had close mercantile ties to the South and was generally sympathetic to the South's aims. But with the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863 and the Union victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg six months later, the threat that Great Britain would ever actively support the Confederacy was greatly diminished.

Lincoln also dealt almost daily with a cabinet that often did not support his policies, especially regarding the ultimate fate of slavery. As Doris Kearns Goodwin makes clear in her fine book on Lincoln and his cabinet—A Team of Rivals—Lincoln chose his cabinet to include several of his rivals during the election so that he could have the full impact of their expertise and viewpoints as the nation moved toward civil war. But it was a constant struggle dealing with their high opinion of themselves and their low opinion of Lincoln.

Finally, Lincoln spent a great deal of time during the war making sure that the border states—Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri—all stayed with the Union, even though by geography and cultural ties they were more Southern than Northern. A good example of how he managed this situation is the Emancipation Proclamation. The issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation carefully only included the freeing of slaves in states in rebellion against the Union (the Confederacy) and not the pro-union border states, whose support for the Union would have been seriously called into question had slavery been eliminated within their borders during the war.

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What were some of the major issues Abraham Lincoln faced while he was in office?  

While Abraham Lincoln was President, he faced many issues. One issue dealt with the secession of some of the southern states. Since the United States had forts in the South, President Lincoln was going to need to send supplies to these forts. He knew this could start the Civil War. President Lincoln decided to announce he was sending unarmed ships with supplies to Fort Sumter. This would force the South to decide if they would attack our ships and start the Civil War.

When the Civil War began, President Lincoln had to ensure that certain states remained in the Union. For example, if Maryland seceded, Washington, D.C. would have been in Confederate territory. President Lincoln arrested those members of the Maryland legislature that supported secession. As a result, Maryland remained in the Union.

President Lincoln had to deal with a lack of success in the Eastern Front of the Civil War. General McClellan hesitated at times to move his army. Opportunities were lost to attack the South as a result of this failure to move the army. President Lincoln eventually replaced General McClellan.

There were people, called Peace Democrats, who believed we should stop fighting in the Civil War and make an agreement with the Confederacy. President Lincoln refused to do that, and eventually, the Union prevailed.

President Lincoln also needed to make a statement regarding slavery. He issued the Emancipation Proclamation. This symbolically freed the slaves in the South. It also made it clear that President Lincoln wanted to end slavery.

There were many issues facing President Lincoln while he was President.

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