Before in each of the seven congressional districts
Before becoming president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln bounced around in careers he held. Lincoln despised physical labor, especially farming, which was his father’s career. Instead, Lincoln found himself in the fields of carpentry, riverboat man, store clerk, soldier, merchant, postmaster, blacksmith, and surveyor. After experience in each of these fields, he realized he could never make an honest living in them, so he settled on law and politics. Formal schooling was not possible for Lincoln, and in fact he attended school for less than a year. That was common back then for lawyers, so instead they usually apprenticed with someone who was quite experienced in the field who could teach them through experience. However, he could not afford to do even this, so he borrowed legal texts from friends and taught himself law. Abraham Lincoln began professionally practicing law in 1837. Lincoln’s rise to the presidency was one marked by stinging failures and persistence. Over about a 20 year period, Lincoln had handled over 5,000 law cases, appeared over 300 times in front of the Illinois Supreme Court, and was a success in the federal courts. Being a lawyer was not all that defined Lincoln before his presidency, however. Lincoln was quite active in the Whig Party, and when that disbanded, the Republican Party. He held office in Congress from 1847-1849, and could have for much longer except he suffered close losses in multiple elections. The worst of these was against Stephen Douglas after the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. These debates consisted of seven key debates, in each of the seven congressional districts of Illinois Douglas had not previously spoken in. The topic of these debates was whether slavery was acceptable or not, and Douglas just edged out Lincoln. Because of these losses and lack of experience, the public thought Lincoln had too little experience in office and had very low expectations after he won the election with only forty percent of the popular vote. Abraham Lincoln expanded presidential powers through the Emancipation Proclamation which freed slaves in the South. Lincoln believed it was his constitutional duty as Commander and Chief to seize property from enemies in war. Although it was not legal to seize people, Lincoln found a loophole because in that time period slaves were not regarded as people, but as property. No president had ever used that right to seize enemy property before, so Lincoln set the precedent for future presidents. Lincoln also expanded the president’s wartime powers. Congress had not yet declared war on the recently seceded Confederate Army, but Lincoln established a blockade on ports in the South anyway. He claimed that the Constitution never specified when a president may activate their commander in chief authority. He therefore legitimized that it is a judgement call of when the president may activate the authority they possess. Lincoln’s relationship with Congress was vital for his success’ with them. The first of these success’ was establishing the Land-Grant College Act of 1862. Lincoln’s predecessor, James Buchanan, had vetoed this bill in 1860, but Lincoln passed it on July 2, 1862. This bill largely closed the gap between the federal government and the states because it outlined a way for colleges to be specialized in a single area, which had been previously left to private religious schools. Buchanan had also vetoed the Homestead Act, which stated that for $10 and the promise to live on 160 acres of land, the head of a family could acquire a farm basically for free. Lincoln signed this into law in May of the same year. This act boosted immigration and westward movement in the states. Another act passed by Lincoln in 1862 was the Pacific Railway Act, which helped lay foundation for establishing transcontinental railroads. Two years later, he persuaded Congress to increase subsidies for railroads that established the transcontinental railroad. This became the world’s first major engineering accomplishment of the century, and boosted the economy and overall made the nation more connected and closer to each other. Lincoln had two more major success’ with Congress throughout his presidency. The Emancipation Proclamation was an informal end to slavery. It stated that if Confederate states did not join the Union by January 1, 1863, all slaves in them would be freed. Although this did not end slavery in its entirety, as it only freed slaves not apart of the Union, it sent a clear message to the country and the rest of the world that slavery was on its way out. His later accomplishment with Congress was lobbying the 13th Amendment, which officially ended slavery in 1865. It was passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified on December 6, 1865. Unfortunately, Lincoln was assassinated at the start of his second term on April 15, 1865, so he never got to see the amendment ratified. Abraham Lincoln was very successful in policies he pushed and as a president. The Emancipation Proclamation was probably Lincoln’s greatest success, but he also had many others. Lincoln understood self-government and was willing to trust those around him to help establish a “law of war” that would be largely accepted by the country and maybe even the world. Lincoln told a small team of his beliefs about war, and the were able to author 157 articles that made up “Lincoln’s Code.” These were based on the Declaration of Independence and the Emancipation Proclamation as Lincoln’s ideologies were parallel to them. The main focus of these articles was to forbid practices such as poison, torture, and others that had previously been accepted by leaders. By writing this he was protecting newly freed slaves that were captured as prisoners of war as he feared if they had no protection they would be murdered instead. Lincoln was also successful in ending the Civil War. The Emancipation Proclamation struck a blow to the Confederacy, and General Sherman would go on to lead his army to capture Atlanta, the killing blow to the Confederacy. A final major success Lincoln had was the way he handled the Sioux Uprising of 1862. In Minnesota, the Sioux Tribe began an uprising where they slaughtered hundreds of German men, women, and babies. This was regarded as a state matter, and Lincoln could have easily avoided it as it was a high risk high reward situation. Most of the American Indians were given death sentences, but Lincoln stepped in and brought these sentences down. Only thirty-eight of the hundreds charged were hanged because of Lincoln. Lincoln had much less failures in office than his successes. However, a main failure was the Southern secession from the country. The situation was a lose-lose for Lincoln. As he was not scheduled to take office until March of 1861, his hands were tied as to what he could do. Lincoln could either reassure the South that they were being heard and lose Republican support, or stand with the Union and increase the risk of secession. President James Buchanan told Lincoln to not step in and that he would handle it, so Lincoln took the third option: silence. Buchanan inevitably lost control of the situation and the South began seceding in late December of 1860. Also, even though the Emancipation Proclamation was argued as his biggest success, there was still a fatal flaw. Slavery was only abolished in the South and not the North. Thus, slavery was still evident in the nation. The main controversy that influenced Lincoln’s presidency was slavery. He battled slavery for two years before he was able to informally abolish it in the South. Ending slavery was a major push Lincoln had throughout his presidency. Another controversy surrounding the presidency of Lincoln was his view on states’ rights. He did not believe in federalism, instead he believed that the federal government was law. An ideology he had was that the president had supreme rule over state governments and he gave them no freedom in their rights. The Civil War was the biggest threat to national security for Abraham Lincoln. The United States was on the cusp of falling apart after the Confederacy seceded from the Union. Lincoln needed to fix that fast, as it was a known fact that France and England were going to begin aiding the Confederacy. Both countries knew that a fractured and broken United States would benefit them greatly. However, they both strongly opposed slavery. When Lincoln freed the slaves that was a deal breaker for France and England. The Union presented themselves as an army of liberation rather than an army of self-preservation, so it was impossible for France and England to intervene. Lincoln’s public approval was low at the start of his presidency, over the years and recently he is regarded as one of the best presidents in history. He was elected president at only a forty percent popular vote. He had only two years of experience in political office, and the country viewed him as an ameteur politician who had no chance at running the country. These expectations were built around the fact that his victory was not convincing and the Union was starting to collapse along the Mason-Dixon Line. However, Lincoln did not let this phase him, and after big decisions and the way he handles several scenarios the public support began to steadily rise. A recent poll in 2003 discovered that seventeen percent of the country’s population regards Lincoln as the greatest president in history. Lincoln was tied for number one with John Kennedy as they both received seventeen percent of the votes. When the poll is taken by more specific details such as party affiliation and age, Lincoln ranks still in the top five. However, he ranks second best for Republicans and Democrats, behind Kennedy and Reagan, and first for Independents. He enjoys equal support from all parties, which is unique to only Lincoln. He has the same effect with the three major age groups, and enjoys the most steady support across the board. Abraham Lincoln left a strong mark on history and the world as one of the best and most popular presidents. He is remembered across the globe as he has had more books and biographies published about than any other political leader in the world. He also has the most memorials, streets, schools, and businesses dedicated to him than any other political leader in the world. Lincoln is also featured in several countries constitutions because they use his definition of democracy. Abraham Lincoln will always be remembered as the man who abolished slavery. Also, his assassination has been historically proven to improve his image because presidential deaths are almost the same as a family member’s death to the public. Lincoln died on Easter Sunday, so some view him as a saint because he died on the same day Jesus rose again. Abraham Lincoln will go down in history as one of the greatest political leaders in the world.