Abraham_Lincoln.jpgAbraham Lincoln
Lincoln used the war powers of the presidency, ignoring inconvenient parts of the Constitution because, he said, it would be foolish to lose the whole by being afraid to disregard a part. He sent troops into battle without getting Congress to give him a declaration of war. (Lincoln insisted on calling the conflict a domestic insurrection, which required no formal declaration of war; to ask for a declaration would, he believed, constitute implicit recognition of the Confederacy as an independent nation.) He increased the size of the regular army without receiving legislative authority to do so and he proclaimed a naval blockade of the South.

Lincoln's greatest political problem was the widespread popular opposition to the war, mobilized by factions in the Democratic Party. The Peace Democrats feared that the agricultural Northwest was losing influence to the industrial East and that Republican nationalism was eroding states' rights. Lincoln used crazy methods to suppress them. He ordered military arrests of civilian dissenters and suspended the right of habeas corpus (the right of an arrested person to a speedy trial). At first, Lincoln used these methods only in sensitive areas such as the border states; but in 1862, he proclaimed that all persons who discouraged enlistments or engaged in disloyal practices were subject to martial law. In all, more than 13,000 persons were arrested and imprisoned for varying periods.The most prominent Copperhead in the country--Ohio congressman Clement L. Vallandigham--was seized by military authorities and exiled to the Confederacy after he made a speech claiming that the purpose of the war was to free the blacks and enslave the whites. Lincoln defied all efforts to curb his authority to suppress opposition, even those of the Supreme Court. When Chief Justice Taney issued a writ requiring him to release an imprisoned Maryland secessionist leader, Lincoln ignored it.

Lincoln was a successful Commander in Chief because he knew that the North had much more resources and that if they used them the North's victory would be assured. He also knew that to defeat the Confederacy was to defeat their army. Lincoln's problem was finding a general who had a good grasp of the strategy that would be needed for a quick victory. Lincoln went through 3 Chief of Staffs before he found one that he liked. Ulysses S. Grant was a man who knew that to win he would have to send troop after troop to kill every confederate soldier.

Lincoln was very busy and did not have much time to give speeches to his people about the war. The Gettysburg Addresswas a short speech given to close the dedication of the national cemetery built there. Lincoln's Gettysburg Address was three paragraphs long and took him a few minutes to read.his speech goes,

"Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that this nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. "

While this speech was not supposed to be the most important thing that was going to take place on that day but it bacame the most known American speech ever. It is also the most quoted speech by all presidents including Obama who quoted it in a speech on election night. The phrase from the his speech that he quoted was, "A New Birth of Freedom," which was adopted as the theme of his inaugural celebrations.


Sources Alan Brinkley. American History: A Survey. New York. Lyn Ubl
Robert McNamara. Abraham Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address. About.com. About.com. 11th January http://history1800s.about.com/od/abrahamlincoln/a/gettysburgadd01.htm
Robert McNamara. Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. About.com. About.com. 11th January http://history1800s.about.com/od/abrahamlincoln/a/gettysburgtext.htm