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Abraham Lincoln: The Man Behind The Myth

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Abraham Lincoln:

The Man Behind the Myth

Brittany Marroquнn

Abraham Lincoln is by far our most revered president in the history of the United States. He had a strong moral vision of where his country must go to preserve and enlarge the rights of all her people, but he was also a good man with a strong sense of character and a great discipline in the art of law; and he sought to continue the great and mighty legacy of the Constitution. He believed that the Founding Fathers had drawn up the Constitution without the mention of slavery because they felt that it would later die of a natural death. He would soon learn that that would not be the case.

Lincoln's greatness can be seen from the very beginning of his presidency, even from the Great Debates with Stephen A. Douglas. His speeches, above all else, would enthrall his audiences and paint beautiful pictures of the future of the American way of life, as he would hope it to be, and would keep the morale of his listeners high. In his Inaugural Address of March 4, 1861, he spoke to the South, saying, "In your hands... and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war." It was a harsh blow to the President when he learned that Unionism was dead in all the seceded states, and that many wanted a skirmish to unite the Confederacy to its cause. But Lincoln was fully aware that the men of Fort Sumter needed supplies in order to live, and chose to stand strong for his beliefs. And in that attempt, not to attack the Confederacy, but to lend aid to the Union Fort Sumter, thereby the first ringing shot of the Civil War was sounded.

After a harsh year of fighting with no end in sight, Lincoln adopted more ruthless war policies, something he had hoped he would not have to do. He instigated martial law, property confiscation, the emancipation of the slaves in the rebel states, the taking on of black troops, conscription, and scorched-earth warfare. When Lincoln spoke to Congress in December of 1864, he enhanced the idea of freedom for all by saying, "In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom for the free..." He was fully aware that the Civil War would change the course of the future of the United States of America, and that his choices during the war would tip the scale towards continued democracy, or the death of it. He strongly believed that if the Confederacy were to win the war, and the American experiment in democracy were to fail, that the 'beacon of hope for oppressed humanity the world over would be destroyed.'

Lincoln understood that bondage of the African race was inherently wrong, "a vast moral evil," one that he could not help but hate, but that it was indeed protected by the Constitution and in several national and state laws. In fact, Lincoln held no ethnic prejudices. Before the Civil War commenced, Lincoln was a strong advocate of the colonization of the blacks back in Africa after they were freed, not because he himself was racist, but because he was afraid that the white Americans were simply too discriminate to live peacefully along blacks. In the creating of the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln was careful to ensure that the four slave states that had stayed in the Union - Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri - would not be offended and so join the Confederacy. Instead, he freed slaves only in the states that had rebelled, which pacified the four union slave states. In his response to Horace Greeley, Lincoln made clear that he would do almost anything in regard to the slaves if it meant saving the Union. "What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union."

Lincoln proved his crowning greatness not in his blustering movements in the beginning, nor even in his surefootedness towards the end of the war, but by his understanding of his place in history and what the outcome of the war would entail for the future of the American dream, and that is truly his most outstanding virtue. For a mere human to comprehend his role in life is something that does not occur much, and for one to follow it so willingly is practically unheard of. Even more so, he would not let it go to his head, but remained humble and modest throughout his life. I refer back to Lincoln's response to Horace Greeley, and to the Emancipation Proclamation itself, and to all the countless decisions he made during his presidency. In all his actions, the future of the American experiment was the central idea of the war, and he would do all that is necessary to preserve it. Lincoln worked to uphold the Constitution and continue the work that the Founding Fathers had begun. His immense moral decisions in the political arena helped to secure the future, and he did it all, not for himself, but for the people.

Stephen Oates has, for some time now, tried to show the world that the assassination theories that have propped up since the death of Lincoln are all false. The absurd theory that



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