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To What Extent Did President Lincoln's Decisions Shape The Civil War?

1866 words - 8 pages

Section A: Scope of the Investigation
The focus of this investigation will be: What are some of President Lincoln’s major decisions during the Civil War, and to what extent did they shape the war? The study will start chronologically at the beginning of Abraham Lincoln’s first term as President of the United States, and focus on who Lincoln picked as part his cabinet. The examination will then look at the start of the Civil War to its finish, and will focus on some of the major political and war-related decisions Lincoln made during this time period, starting with his use of the bombing of Fort Sumter to declare war, then on his selection of generals for the Union army. It will then move to his more unorthodox decisions, such as those regarding suspension of habeas corpus and his push for emancipation. The investigation will use a variety of primary sources, mostly Lincoln’s writings that have been collected in anthologies. It will also use secondary sources that give a greater overview of the decisions Lincoln made and how they impacted the war.

Section B: Summary of Evidence
When Abraham Lincoln was elected as President of the United States in 1860, he “…made the unprecedented decision to incorporate his eminent rivals into his political family, the cabinet, …” (Goodwin xvi). Lincoln added political rivals to his cabinet, men like William Seward, Salmon Chase, Simon Cameron, and Edward Bates (Goodwin xvi). He choose to do this because “Every member of this administration was better known, better educated, and more experienced in public life than Lincoln.” (Goodwin xvi).
The Civil War began on April 12, 1861 with the bombing of Fort Sumter. President Abraham Lincoln, following the secession of the southern states, sent a relief force to resupply the fort with food and supplies, as a relief mission (Basler 425). The Civil War broke out when southern states saw this as a threat and began bombing of Ft. Sumter, of which President Lincoln spoke in a special session of Congress, “It is thus seen that the assault upon, and reduction of, Fort Sumter, was, in no sense, a matter of self defence on the part of the assailants.” (Basler 425). Throughout the war, Lincoln replaced the commander of the army multiple times (Smithsonian). After General George McClellan had failed to successfully engage or cut off the Confederate Army several times, Lincoln choose to replace him (Foote 752). Despite the fact that there were many McClellan supporters, such as Francis Blair, Lincoln held that, “‘I said I would remove him if he let Lee’s army get away from him, and I must do so.’” (Foote 753). After trying different generals throughout the war, Lincoln finally choose Gen. Ulysses S. Grant on March 4, 1864 (Smithsonian).
Early on in the war, President Lincoln took measures for public safety, as when he suspended habeas corpus in order to immediately arrest southern sympathizers who posed threats to the Union (Raymond 374). He later ignored the Supreme Court when...

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