Lincoln’s Efforts to Preserve the Union Essay
To what extent did Lincoln’s economic, military, and political policies from 1861 to 1865 contribute to the preservation of the Union? Abraham Lincoln won the election of 1860. As a president of the United States, Lincoln’s goal was to keep the Union together. The problem of slavery and the secession by the South are mainly the two issues that lead to the dissolve of the Union, in which Lincoln put all his efforts to deal with during his presidency. “He believes this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. He does not expect the Union to be dissolved; He does not expect the house to fall; but he does expect it will cease to be divided.” Lincoln claimed that it is either all free or all slaves in the Union, the Union cannot tolerate half free and half slaves. Lincoln viewed slavery as “a moral, social, and political wrong”. He “does not believe it is a constitutional right to hold slaves in a territory of the United States” (Paul Boyer 360). Lincoln’s dream was to free all the slaves, but this dream can only go by gradually, he cannot end slavery immediately because it will further the dissolve of the Union.
However, Southerners viewed his victory of being a president of the United States as a victory for abolition. Here the problem raised, southern states decided to begin the process of secession from the Union. Lincoln’s hard time began from now on. How was he going to solve this problem? Lincoln help preserved the Union in three different aspects which are economic, military and political policies. His economic strategy was to use capital, weapon and trade; his military strategy was the war of attrition and the three-part strategy to take over the control of Mississippi River and Richmond; his political strategy was to promise he will not end slavery immediately but gradually and establish the Emancipation of Proclamation to claim that every slaves in South will be free so that they will give up to fight against the Union. Since the process of secession is inevitable, the southern states were joining together to form a new nation called the Confederacy. This new formation indicated that Lincoln was losing part of the Union.
As a president, Lincoln was trying his best to help preserve the Union. At the beginning of the Civil War, Lincoln applies the northern advantages to help strengthen the military. First, the North had a huge population advantage, so that the North were able to recruit more soldiers and volunteers to help fight for the war. Second, “the North controlled more than 85 percent of the nation’s industry and significant material resources. These advantages enabled the North to produce military supplies and replace lost or damaged equipment more rapidly than the Confederacy” (Boyer 371). With these economic advantages, Lincoln was able to supply the army with better foods, shelters and clothing. The soldiers did not need to suffer as more as the Confederate. Even if the Union was out of supplies during the war, it would be more fasten to resupply it. “In addition, since most of the nation’s railroad lines were located in the Northeast and Midwest, the Union could move troops and supplies with ease” (Boyer 371).
The economic and transportation advantages also helped fasten the process of resupply and aiding the army. The percentage for the Union to win the war was higher since the North was having better economic advantages than the South. During the Civil War, Lincoln’s military strategies was mainly to divide the south geographically, so that southern states are finding difficult to connect with each other. Lincoln used a three part strategy, first, he plan to take over the control of the capital of the Confederate which is Richmond. Second, Lincoln plan to gain control of the Mississippi River, this “allowed north to penetrate deep into the south, and prevent the Confederacy from using the waterway to resupply its forces” (Boyer 375).
To take over the control of the Mississippi River, North needed to control the largest city in the south which is New Orleans. “New Orleans is a central port for supplying troops along and west of the river, capturing New Orleans would allow the Union to cut off supplies to western confederate forces and to move troops up the Mississippi River” (Boyer 383). Third, Lincoln used the Anaconda Plan to institute a naval blockade of the south to slowly squeeze the life out of the South like anaconda snake. This hurts the south economy by stopping the south from trading with foreign countries. This three part strategy helped weaken the forces of the Confederacy and further the process to win the war. Lincoln’s another military strategy was to trap the Confederacy army force inside Vicksburg until they are died by starving. In this way, they can force the Confederate to surrender without wasting any manpower and using any violence. In addition, Lincoln used “the war of attrition” to continue to fight until the South ran out of men, supplies, and the will to fight (Boyer 392).
Also, Lincoln used the strategy called the “total war” to strike at the Confederate economic resources by taking away what supplies they could use and destroying anything that might be helpful to the Confederate, burning farmhouses, slaughtering livestock, and tear up railroad tracks (Boyer 394). These military strategies gave the Confederate a hard time in both economic and war. Near the end of the Civil War, Lincoln was forced to change the purpose of the war from preserving the Union to abolish slavery by abolitionists. Frederick Douglass said it did not worth if the war was only fight for saving the Union without ending slavery. “A house divided against itself cannot stand” means that the United States cannot always divided into two parts, one is the Union who opposed slavery, and another is the Confederacy who supported slavery.
As Lincoln said in his speech “I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so” (Abraham Lincoln) to claim that slavery should be abolished gradually, not immediately, because it would upset the South. And it is wrong to allowed slavery to spread to every other part of the wide world. Lincoln helped preserve the Union politically by making the Emancipation of Proclamation to free all slaves living in areas still rebelling against the United States. He assured it would apply only to the Confederate states to peace the conflict in the Border States. “Lincoln hoped that if slaves learned that the North was fighting to free them, they would desert their masters, thereby weakening the South’s economy” (Boyer 385).
Lincoln’s political strategy to free slaves in the Confederacy help preserve the Union by weakening the Confederacy’s economy and making them cannot stand by oneself and was forced to unite with the Union. Abraham Lincoln was a great leader and president of the United States. Although, he was having a hard time during his presidency, he never planned to stop helping the Union. Instead, he helped save the Union in three different aspects: economic, military and political strategies to gain back the territories from the Confederacy and united them to develop the United States of America. Without the help of Lincoln, the United States would be dividing into two parts and slavery would still exist. Without the help of Lincoln, the United States would not be able to reunite together as a complete nation. Lincoln’ efforts to help preserve the Union will always stay in every Americans’ mind.
1. Boyer, Paul S. “Chapter 12 The Civil War 1861-1865.” Holt American nation. Austin: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 2005. 360, 368,-372,375,382-387,390-395. Print. 2. Abraham, Lincoln. “From Lincoln’s Cooper Union Address.” The Cooper Union Speech. Library of America. Cooper Union, New York City. 27 Feb. 1860. Address. 3. “Abraham Lincoln’s Speech at Peoria, Illinois.” Editorial. The OAH Magazine of History Oct. 2007: 35. Print. 4. “Abraham Lincoln: First Inaugural Address. U.S. Inaugural Addresses. 1989.” Bartleby.com: Great Books Online — Quotes, Poems, Novels, Classics and hundreds more. 02 Feb. 2013
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