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Analyze Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, the Emancipation Proclamation, his views on slavery, and the political obstacles he encountered.


President Abraham Lincoln, November 1863
President Abraham Lincoln, November 1863

Focus Question: What were the major events in Abraham Lincoln’s presidency?


Map_of_USA_MA.svg.pngFor more, see AP United States History 11.

Topics on this page

A. Background and Presidency

  • The Gettysburg Address

B. Views on Slavery

C. Emancipation Proclamation

  • Juneteenth or Freedom Day

D. Political Obstacles

  • Teaching about Lincoln (Why Lincoln Matters)


Background

timeline2_rus.svg.pngTimeline of Lincoln's Life

WhiteHouseSouthFacade.JPGOverview of Lincoln's Presidency

primary_sources.PNGtimeline2_rus.svg.pngA Word Fitly Spoken: An Interactive Timeline of Lincoln's Most Famous Speeches on Union from TeachingAmericanHistory.org and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
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  • Looking for Lincoln from PBS includes video resources about the 16th President presented by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Doris Kearns Goodwin.
  • See also Lincoln Learning Hub, a website companion to the 2012 film by Steven Spielberg.
    • Click here to view the trailer and here for a 20 minute featurette ((interviews with Doris Kearns Goodwin, Steven Speilberg, Daniel Day-Lewis, and the procuder, Kathleen Kennedy, and film footage) for the movie Lincoln.
    • Click here for whole Lincoln movie (2 hours 11 minutes).
  • Documentary on Abraham Lincoln

external image 200px-Quill_and_ink.svg.png Abraham Lincoln was the president of the United States between March 4, 1861 and April 15, 1865.
  • He presided over the country during the American Civil War.
  • Prior to Lincoln’s presidency, the U.S. had acquired a lot of new territory in the west. Tension erupted between northern and southern states over whether or not the new territory should be turned into slave states or free states.
  • The election of President Lincoln motivated the southern states to break with the union, because Lincoln opposed the expansion of slavery into the new territories.
book.pngSee also, Lincoln: Man, Martyr, Myth
  • William Safire, writing in The New York Times Book Review (February 8, 2009), contends that Lincoln's overriding goal as President was to maintain the Union, and in so doing, "to establish the principle of majority rule in the world's most daring experiment in self-government by insisting that the whole country abide by the results of its national election" (p. 10).
  • See Abraham Lincoln, a new 79 page biography by historian James M. McPherson.
  • Lincoln is the only President to also hold a patent. See Abraham Lincoln, Inventor.

Mural, Lobby to Main Reading Room, Library of Congress
Mural, Lobby to Main Reading Room, Library of Congress

The Gettysburg Address


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The Address Mashup

Learn the Address organized by Ken Burns has readings of the speech by famous and everyday
Americans.

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Historian Shelby Foote and former Congressman James Symington analyze the Gettysburg Address in this excerpt from Ken Burns' famed documentary "The Civil War."

A reading of Lincoln's famous "A House Divided" speech.

Screen Shot 2016-01-04 at 11.31.08 AM.pngSee Lesson Plan Based on Word Mover on the Gettysburg Address using SOAPSTone that ask students to identify:
  • Speaker of the text
  • Occasion of the speech
  • Audience (both present and after it was distributed)
  • Purpose that Lincoln had in delivering it
  • Subject matter discussed
  • Tone of the piece

Focus Question: What were Lincoln’s views on slavery?

Depiction, 1864 cabinet meeting, presidency of Abraham Lincoln (1921)
Depiction, 1864 cabinet meeting, presidency of Abraham Lincoln (1921)

Abraham Lincoln thought that slavery was morally repugnant.
  • Yet he did not believe it was within his power to completely abolish the institution of slavery.
  • This is because Lincoln believed that the United States constitution protected slavery in states where it already existed.
  • However, he also believed that he did have the power to stop the expansion of slavery and refused to allow it to spread west.
  • He did know; however, that the country would split either way eventually: completely free or completely enslaved.

Lincoln-Douglas Debates
  • See also United States History I.36
    • Lincoln debated the issue of slavery in his Senate campaign versus Democratic U.S. Senator Stephen Douglas.
    • Douglas was considered the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president in 1860, but needed to hold on to his senate seat in order to move forward politically.
podcast icon.pngClick here for podcasts of the seven “Lincoln-Douglas Debates” held in seven different Illinois towns over six months starting in August 1858. Douglas won that senate election, but the debates served to not only solidify the Republican anti-slavery stance in people’s minds, but also to increase Lincoln’s profile, and make him a contender for President in 1860.

Abraham Lincoln on Slavery and Race from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

primary_sources.PNGClick here for a long list of noteworthy quotes delivered by Abraham Lincoln.

Focus Question: Why Did Lincoln Issue the Emancipation Proclamation?

Cartoon, Lincoln's provisional emancipation proclamation, Harper's Weekly, October 11, 1862
Cartoon, Lincoln's provisional emancipation proclamation, Harper's Weekly, October 11, 1862

1) Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, freeing slaves in the confederate states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. The Emancipation Proclamation did not free slaves in states that were still part of the union.

2) He stated "decisive and extreme measures must be adopted." Emancipation was "a military necessity absolutely necessary to the preservation of the Union. We must free the slaves or be ourselves subdued."

3) Lincoln hoped to activate newly freed Blacks to fight against the South, a move that provoked great opposition among Northern Democrats and border state Unionists.

Source: "Commander in Chief," James M. McPherson, Smithsonian, January 2009, pp. 38-45.


Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 11.47.54 AM.pngFor kid-friendly information on the Emancipation Proclamation followed by a short quiz on the information, see Civil War for Kids: Emancipation Proclamation.

primary_sources.PNGEmancipation Proclamation. Lincoln, Abraham (January 1, 1863). Retrieved April 19, 2007, from The Avalon Project Web site.
  • The decisive Union victory at the Battle of Antietam was essential for Lincoln's issuance of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.
    • Learn more about Antietam here

Multimedia.pngAn informative 6 minute video detailing the battle of Antietam and the issue of the Emancipation Proclamation.

lessonplan.jpgA long list of different lesson plans centered around the Emancipation Proclamation.

Rotating_globe-small.gifJuneteenth or Freedom Day for African Americans
Juneteenth day celebration in Texas, June 19, 1900
Juneteenth day celebration in Texas, June 19, 1900

June 19 is celebrated as the date that slavery was abolished in Texas in 1865.

For more, go to the Juneteenth website from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. The date was first celebrated in the Texas capitol in 1867 under the direction of the Freedman's Bureau and became part of the public calendar of events in 1872.

Rotating_globe-small.gifThe Emancipation Proclamation Story That Should be Taught in Schools focuses on the efforts of African Americans to resist slavery and fight for freedom.


Emancipation Day, April 16, 1862
primary_sources.PNGDistrict of Columbia Emancipation Act freed more than 3000 slaves living in the District of Columbia.
  • Emancipation is celebrated in Florida (May 20), Puerto Rico (March 22), Texas (June 19), and in many nations in the Caribbean on August 1 when slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1834.

Focus Question: What political obstacles did Lincoln encounter?


Lincoln’s major political obstacle was preserving the union.
  • Lincoln made clear in his first inaugural address that he did not want the southern states to secede.
  • Once the southern states did secede Lincoln was forced to go to war and win the war in order to save the union.
  • Winning the war was a difficult task.
    • Lincoln struggled to find competent Union generals who could pave the way to victory. The confederate states had very talented military leadership.
    • The North had a series of largely incompetent military leaders before Lincoln appointed General Ulysses Grant who helped lead the country to victory.
      • Lincoln had to deal with the incompetence of several Union Army Commanding Generals. Among the most notable of these leaders is George McClellan, whose unnecessary caution forced Lincoln to replace him with Ambrose E. Burnside. Eventually, the position fell to the future president Ulysses S. Grant.

George McClellan, Commanding General of the Union Army (1861-62)
George McClellan, Commanding General of the Union Army (1861-62)
Ulysses S. Grant, Commanding General of the Union Army from 1864 onward
Ulysses S. Grant, Commanding General of the Union Army from 1864 onward


primary_sources.PNGClick here to view a letter from Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd, urging McClellan's replacement.

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external image Red_apple.jpg PBS lesson plan on Reconstruction & Lincoln's role (goes along with the Ken Burns Civil War Documentary)

Many people don't know about Lincoln's service in the Black Hawk War. During this war, groups of Native Americans were attempting to move back onto their ancestor's homelands. Lincoln served as a captain and learned a lot of military tactics during his time serving. Click here for more details on his service.

primary_sources.PNGLincoln's Second Inaugural Address

primary_sources.PNG Lincoln's Constitutional Dilemma: Emancipation and Black Suffrage For a new take on Lincoln's struggles and how he was perceived.

Multimedia.pngFord's Theatre: Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address. Ford Theatre Society historian Sarah Jencks discusses Lincoln's speech with teachers.

Multimedia.pngAn interactive history.com game which shows a great amount of information about the civil war.

game_icon.svg.png An interactive game in which students learn about the political decisions that Lincoln faced during his career, and then must make the decisions themselves and learn which choice Lincoln made. Abraham Lincoln's Crossroads

Overseas, Lincoln worked to gain support for the Union and to keep countries like France and Great Britain from recognizing and aiding the Confederacy. Learn more about Lincoln's foreign affairs here.

Teaching About Lincoln

A. Lincoln, 1863
A. Lincoln, 1863

In “Why Lincoln Matters,” (USA Weekend, January 30-February 1, 2009), presidential historian Michael Beschloss presents seven themes for teaching about Abraham Lincoln, 200 years after his birth.

1) Scholars and the public recognize Lincoln as our best president. Teachers can discuss what makes a president great, both in that person’s own time and in our historical memory.

2) Lincoln’s story embodies the American Dream, rising from poverty and illiteracy to become President. Teachers can explore how people can overcome challenges to achieve success.

3) Lincoln was a man of high moral character and purpose, known as “Honest Abe.” Teachers can explore his character and his actions as a study in moral leadership.

4) Lincoln made significant contributions to race relations in America. He issued the Emancipation Proclamation, a seminal document in the quest to end slavery and, yet many felt he did not go far enough in promoting freedom and legal equality for African Americans. Teachers can discuss Lincoln in the context of the struggles of African Americans in this country.

5) Lincoln is a popular culture figure whose name is found in many parts of our culture—automobiles, Lincoln logs, pennies, land of Lincoln. Teachers can explore Lincoln’s enduring place in the popular culture.

6) Lincoln’s life contains many mysteries. Teachers can explore how he rose to the presidency and what might have been different if he had lived.

7) Lincoln understood the power of words. His speeches contain phrases and language that influenced people during his lifetime and remain relevant today. Teachers can study how Lincoln used language to convey his messages.



external image Test_hq3x.pngSample MCAS Test Question (2008)

President Abraham Lincoln temporarily suspended the writ of habeas corpus during the Civil War. When he did this, which of the following rights of citizens did he temporarily revoke?
A. the right to bear arms
B. the right to own property
C. the right to vote in Congressional elections
D. the right to be formally charged when arrested
Correct Answer: D

external image Test_hq3x.pngTest Question
What was the source of the following phrase: "Government of the people, by the people, for the people?"
  • "I Have a Dream" speech
  • Declaration of Independence
  • United States Constitution
  • Gettsburg Address

ANSWER: D (Center for Individual Freedom, History & Civics Quiz, 2000).

Additional Resources:


external image Red_apple.jpgThe Multiple Dilemmas of Abraham Lincoln presents students with five difficult decisions Abraham Lincoln made between his election in November 1860 and the battle of Fort Sumter in April 1861 and asks the students to investigate primary sources to compare what they would do with what Lincoln himself chose to do.


timeline2_rus.svg.pngSmithsonian's Timeline of the Civil War


womens history.jpgA link about important women in the Civil War, and their rights and roles during this time.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 12.56.56 PM.pngTo learn about the Civil War experience of Walt Whitman, a celebrated poet and notable LGBTQ community member, and how it influenced his writing, click here.
  • To read one of his most notable works, Drum Taps, click here.

Quill_and_ink.pngWalt Whitman biography from LGBTQA Resource Office, University of Illinois, Springfield







For More Information on Abraham Lincoln:

(2007). Education Links. Retrieved April 19, 2007, from Abraham Lincoln Online Web site: http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/education/educate.htm

VandeCreek, Drew (2000). Lincoln's Biography. Retrieved April 19, 2007, from Lincoln/Net Web site: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/abio.html

Abraham Lincoln Papers. Retrieved April 19, 2007, from Library of Congress Web site: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/alhtml/malhome.html

Abraham Lincoln. Retrieved April 19, 2007, from The White House Web site: http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/al16.html

The Lincoln Studies Center at Knox College
http://www.knox.edu/lincolnstudies.xml

Podcasts of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, as interpreted by two Lincoln scholars; this link also gives good summaries of the debates in podcast list
http://www.knox.edu/x20497.xml

Picture of President Lincoln from http://www.americanpresidents.org/classroom/overview.asp
Also includes lesson plan for unit on President Lincoln

Other Sources:
Our Lincoln: New Perspectives on Lincoln and His World, Eric Foner (ed.) W.W.Norton, 2008
Out of Many: A History of the American People. Armitage, Susan H.; Mari Jo Buhle; Daniel Czitrom; John Mack Faragher; Fourth Edition; Prentice Hall, N.J.; 2003.