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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
What were the major events in Abraham Lincoln’s presidency?
For 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)
Timeline of Lincoln's Life
Overview of Lincoln's Presidency
A Word Fitly Spoken: An Interactive Timeline of Lincoln's Most Famous Speeches on Union
from TeachingAmericanHistory.org and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Looking for Lincoln
from PBS includes video resources about the 16th President presented by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Doris Kearns Goodwin.
Lincoln Learning Hub
, a website companion to the 2012 film by Steven Spielberg.
to view the trailer and
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
for whole Lincoln movie (2 hours 11 minutes)
Documentary on 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.
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).
, 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
The Gettysburg Address
The Address Mashup
Learn the Address
organized by Ken Burns has readings of the speech by famous and everyday
To watch an animated depiction of the Gettysburg Address,
Listen to Lincoln's
The Gettysburg Address
read aloud by Alex Wilson on TeacherTube.
Gregory Peck reading the Gettysburg Address
Historian Shelby Foote and former Congressman James Symington analyze the Gettysburg Address in
from Ken Burns' famed documentary "The Civil War."
A reading of Lincoln's famous
"A House Divided"
Lesson Plan Based on Word Mover on the Gettysburg Address using SOAPSTone
that ask students to identify:
peaker of the text
ccasion of the speech
udience (both present and after it was distributed)
urpose that Lincoln had in delivering it
ubject matter discussed
one of the piece
What were Lincoln’s views on slavery?
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.
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.
Click here for podcasts of the seven “
” 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.
Click here for a long list of noteworthy quotes delivered by Abraham Lincoln.
Why Did Lincoln Issue the Emancipation Proclamation?
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,
, January 2009, pp. 38-45.
For kid-friendly information on the Emancipation Proclamation followed by a short quiz on the information, see
Civil War for Kids: Emancipation 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
An informative 6 minute video detailing the battle of Antietam and the issue of the Emancipation Proclamation
A long list of different lesson plans centered around the Emancipation Proclamation
Juneteenth or Freedom Day for African Americans
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
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.
The 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
District 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.
: 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)
Ulysses S. Grant, Commanding General of the Union Army from 1864 onward
to view a letter from Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd, urging McClellan's replacement.
National Archives article on political implications of
black soldiers in the Civil War
on the Union side
African American Soldiers
United States History I.39
for more on African American soldiers
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
for more details on his service.
Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address
Lincoln's Constitutional Dilemma: Emancipation and Black Suffrage
For a new take on Lincoln's struggles and how he was perceived.
Ford's Theatre: Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address
. Ford Theatre Society historian Sarah Jencks discusses Lincoln's speech with teachers.
An interactive history.com game which shows a great amount of information about the civil war.
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
Teaching About Lincoln
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.
Sample 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
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
ANSWER: D (Center for Individual Freedom,
History & Civics Quiz
The 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.
Smithsonian's Timeline of the Civil War
A link about important women in the Civil War, and their rights and roles during this time
To learn about the Civil War experience of Walt Whitman, a celebrated poet and notable LGBTQ community member, and how it influenced his writing, click
To read one of his most notable works, Drum Taps, click
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:
VandeCreek, Drew (2000). Lincoln's Biography. Retrieved April 19, 2007, from Lincoln/Net Web site:
Abraham Lincoln Papers. Retrieved April 19, 2007, from Library of Congress Web site:
Abraham Lincoln. Retrieved April 19, 2007, from The White House Web site:
The Lincoln Studies Center at Knox College
Podcasts of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, as interpreted by two Lincoln scholars; this link also gives good summaries of the debates in podcast list
Picture of President Lincoln from
Also includes lesson plan for unit on President Lincoln
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.
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