Abraham Lincoln is remembered for his vital role as the leader in preserving the Union during the Civil War and beginning the process (Emancipation Proclamation) that led to the end of slavery in the United States. He is also remembered for his character and leadership, his speeches and letters, and as a man of humble origins whose determination and perseverance led him to the nation's highest office.
President Lincoln endured extraordinary pressures during the long Civil War. He carried on despite generals who weren't ready to fight, assassination threats, bickering among his Cabinet members, massive loss of life on the battlefields, and opposition from groups such as the Copperheads. However, Lincoln remained brave and persevered. He didn't give in to the pressures and ended the war early. He kept fighting until the Confederacy was defeated. A lesser man would have given in and stopped the war before the goals had been achieved. Lincoln did not do this.
The Emancipation Proclamation didn't immediately free any slaves because it only applied to territories, not under Lincoln's control. Legal freedom for all slaves in the United States did not come until the final passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in December 1865. Lincoln was a strong supporter of the amendment but was assassinated before its final enactment.
President Lincoln's domestic policies included support for the Homestead Act. This act allowed poor people in the East to obtain land in the West. He signed the Morrill Act, designed to aid in establishing agricultural and mechanical colleges in each state. Lincoln also signed the National Banking Act legislation, establishing a national currency and creating a national bank network. In addition, he signed tariff legislation that offered protection to American industry and a bill that chartered the first transcontinental railroad. Lincoln's foreign policy was preventing foreign intervention in the Civil War.
Lincoln's most famous speech was the Gettysburg Address, given while he suffered from a mild case of smallpox. Lincoln explained that our nation was fighting a Civil War to see if we could survive as a union. He stated it was proper to dedicate a portion of the Gettysburg battlefield to honor the men who had fought and died there. Lincoln said that the people still alive must commit to finishing the task that the soldiers who lost their lives had begun, saving the nation as a union of the North and South.
One crucial way Lincoln affects contemporary society is that we look back on his presidency as a role model for future generations. Lincoln's character affects us because we now compare all politicians to the example Lincoln set. Another effect of Lincoln is his sophisticated quotations. Politicians love to quote Abraham Lincoln because he is considered America's wisest, problem-solving president. Lincoln's primary effect on America today is simply through the good example he set regarding leadership and integrity. Many American politicians in our time tried to emulate his thinking by using Lincoln's quotes in their speeches.
Lincoln had a Charismatic leadership style (persuasiveness, charm and sympathy), Transformational (causes change), and Democratic leadership (run by the people) style, compared to an Oppressive (authoritarian) or Laissez-Faire (hands-off).
When there was disagreement between advisors and himself, he often told a story demonstrating his point and influenced others to follow his lead. This method often worked, and people admired and respected Lincoln for it. He could virtually disarm his enemies with his highly moralistic debate and competent leadership. Lincoln possessed qualities of kindness and compassion combined with wisdom. One of his nicknames was "Father Abraham." Like George Washington (Indian tribes called President Washington "Father"), Lincoln demonstrated an extraordinary strength of character.
Seven hundred professors, elected officials, historians, attorneys, authors, etc., participated in the poll and rated the presidents. Abraham Lincoln was ranked number one, Franklin Roosevelt was second, and George Washington finished third. The categories included leadership qualities, accomplishments, crisis management, political skill, party appointments, character and integrity. Lincoln was ranked first, second, or third in all categories, and his overall ranking was first among all American presidents.
A 2009 C-SPAN poll consisted of a survey of 65 Doctoral historians. The participants were asked to rank the presidents in ten categories ranging from public persuasion and economic management to international relations and moral authority. Abraham Lincoln finished number one, George Washington came in second, and Franklin Roosevelt was third.
Lincoln became successful through sheer ambition and hard work. He spent less than 1 year attending ABC schools as a youth growing up on the frontier. The lessons were taught orally, and schools thus got the nickname "blab" schools. Lincoln would read any book he got his hands on. Later when Lincoln moved to New Salem, Illinois, at 22 years old, he began to study law books in his spare time. In New Salem, he earned the nickname "Honest Abe," He was self-educated and became a lawyer in 1836, although he never attended college. Lincoln was a very successful attorney with extensive practice before his election as president in 1860. Additionally, Lincoln served four terms in the Illinois State House of Representatives and one term in Congress.
Lincoln's most significant action was his decision to fight to preserve the Union. Ultimately, this decision to fight the Civil War resulted in the USA remaining one nation rather than splitting into two separate countries or worse.
Although Lincoln was criticized for stepping over the traditional bounds of executive power, he faced the greatest threat to federal authority in the country's history. He felt his job was to protect the Union from disintegrating. Also, Lincoln's contribution to freedom for the enslaved people was significant, and he got the ball rolling with the Emancipation Proclamation. We honor Abraham Lincoln for preserving the Union and beginning the process of freedom for Negroes.
- Abraham Lincoln decided to fight to prevent the nation from splitting apart.
- Abraham Lincoln was a resolute commander-in-chief during the Civil War, which preserved the United States as one nation.
- Abraham Lincoln's foreign policy successfully prevented other countries from intervening in America's Civil War.
- Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which led to the end of slavery in the United States. He is also remembered for his character, which began the process of freedom for America's slaves. The document also allowed negro soldiers to fight for the Union.
- Abraham Lincoln strongly supported the Thirteenth Amendment, formally ending slavery in the United States.
- Legislation Abraham Lincoln signed into law included the Homestead Act, the Morrill Act, the National Banking Act, and a bill that chartered the first transcontinental railroad.
- Abraham Lincoln set an example of strong character, leadership, and honesty, which succeeding presidents tried to emulate. Barack Obama stated during his presidential campaign that he would look to Lincoln as a role model.
- Abraham Lincoln gave many great speeches before and during his presidency, including the House Divided Speech, the Cooper Union Address, the First Inaugural Address, the Gettysburg Address, and the Second Inaugural Address.
- Abraham Lincoln wrote famous letters to Grace Bedell, Horace Greeley, Fanny McCullough, and Lydia Bixby.
- Abraham Lincoln's quotes are among the most famous passages in the world. Unfounded Quotes Attributed to Abraham Lincoln.
Compiled by Dr. Neil Gale, Ph.D.