Learning Lincoln On-line
FROM-- SET TWO, CIVIL WAR STUDIES
. . . Holding the Union Together
A. What was country was going through around the time of Lincoln's first
The nation's capital, Washington, D.C., was surrounded by the populations of
two slave states, Maryland and Virginia. Many of these people were hostile
to President Lincoln and the Republican party, and they were sympathetic to the
Confederacy. And, Fort Sumter, a federal military post in the harbor of
Charleston, South Carolina was under threat of seizure by armed forces of the
extensive use of presidential war powers during the early months of the war
D. In his July 4, 1861, “Message to Congress”
President Lincoln said "no choice was left but to call out the war power of the
Government; and so to resist force employed for its destruction by force for its
preservation." Lincoln claimed "nothing was done beyond the constitutional
competency of Congress." And decisions were made, Lincoln said, "trusting that
Congress would readily ratify them." Congress did not disappoint him.
E. Presidential Public Respect
Lincoln tried to avoid adding fuel to the attacks on him. During the 1860 campaign, he refrained from making any policy pronouncements – for fear they would be misconstrued in both North and South. After the election, Lincoln told one journalist: “I know the justness of my intentions and the utter groundlessness of the pretended fears of the men who are filling the country with their clamor. If I go into the presidency, they will find me as I am on record – nothing less, nothing more. My declarations have been made to the world without reservation. They have been often repeated; and now, self-respect demands of me and of the party that has elected me that when threatened, I should be silent.” As far back as 1856, Mr. Lincoln had told a Republican convention in Illinois: “We say to the southern disunionists, we won’t go out of the Union, and you shan’t.” Southern failure to abide by majority rule was at the center of the secession crisis.
Lincoln focused on returning the seceding states to the Union and ignored the question of abolition publicly, also aiming to keep the slave-owning boarder states in the fold. He had wanted to announce the Emancipation Proclamation earlier, but his cabinet persuaded him to wait until the North could claim a battlefield victory. With Antietam in the fall of 1862, Lincoln felt the opportunity had finally presented itself. Even then, he made the effective date January 1, 1863, to give the rebel states a chance to return to the fold before the Proclamation took effect.
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