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Essay/Term paper: Lincoln - greatest man of the 19th century

Essay, term paper, research paper:  American Civil War

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The man of the nineteenth century.

Many historians argue that American culture is based on Civil War and its outcome. It is easy to agree with that statement, because one cannot even imagine living in a slave-owning society that would most definitely develop if the South had won. Abraham Lincoln, America"s sixteenth President was the most influential man of the war. He was responsible for mobilizing the North"s power, getting people, both Republicans and Democrats, to sympathize with the Union cause and consequently, winning the war. This is what makes Lincoln the most influential man of the nineteenth century.

Lincoln was born into an "undistinguished family". His parents died, when Lincoln was just a child, and he had to struggle greatly in order to get some education. Lincoln served as a captain in the Black Hawk War after which he continued with a law career. Lincoln spent eight years in the Illinois legislature. In 1858 Lincoln ran against Douglas in series of debates for Senator"s position. Although Lincoln lost, these debates won him the nomination of 1860. His greatest accomplishments were to come much later.

When Lincoln was inaugurated in 1861, he made it perfectly clear that the secession of the South was unconstitutional. He was willing to compromise with the South on the issue of slavery, the driving force behind South"s secession. Unfortunately, South was not interested in compromising. After the Fort Sumter was forced to surrender by the Confederate troops, Lincoln declared war. Since he was running a centralized government rather than the South that believed in states" rights over central government, Lincoln was able to efficiently mobilize Union"s people and resources. That, of course, played an essential role in the final victory, and is one of Lincoln"s greatest accomplishments.

The victory of the Union affects today"s society just as much, or maybe even more that the War for Independence. As mentioned, Civil War is the underlying event of American history and further formation of its culture. It is impossible to even conceive a society that would develop as a result of Confederate victory. Asides from being a slave owning and perhaps, a slave trading nation for many years, America would also lack a centralized government and much of its international power. No one knows how many years it would take for the Confederacy to abolish slavery.

Lincoln, on the other hand, abolished slavery in 1863 , two years after the beginning of the war. Every single person in the United States has heard the words "Emancipation Proclamation", a formal document composed by Lincoln that freed every single slave in the United States. Just like the winning of Civil War, (which made it possible for this Proclamation to be reinforced), this historical document touches every single person in today"s, just as well as Lincoln"s days. This Proclamation is something that finally started to actually make the first sentence of the Declaration of the Independence come true.

Of course, Lincoln was not perfect. He violated the rights of the Southern citizens with the First and Second Confiscation Acts. However, his merits far outweighed his flaws.

By the virtue of the impact of Civil War and Emancipation of Proclamation on today"s society, Lincoln can be said to have been the most successful man of the nineteenth century. He accomplished all the goals that he set for himself and fulfilled the promises he made to his country. Unfortunately, Lincoln was killed at a crucial time for the United States, in 1865. Reconstruction did not go as smoothly as it could have if Lincoln was alive. He was one of the greatest Presidents that the United States ever had and his accomplishments still continue to shape today"s society.


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