Before Abraham Lincoln became President of the United States, he said, “America cannot be a house divided. This government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. It will become all one thing, or all the other”. Abraham Lincoln became the United States’ 16th President on March 4, 1861. He would remain President until his death on April 15, 1865.
Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809. He was nineteen years old when he witnessed his first slave market in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was shocked to see that people were being sold like property. Soon, he acquired his law degree and became interested in politics. He also began to publicly speak out against slavery.
Abe Lincoln married Mary Todd in 1842. They had four sons together; however, one son, Edward, died when he was just three years old. Another son, Willie, also died as a child. Willie died in February, 1862, just a few months before America would experience the worst battle in history, the Battle at Antietam.
Shortly following the Battle of Antietam, Abraham Lincoln created the Emancipation Proclamation. The Emancipation Proclamation was not popular with all people. It stated that slaves in the southern states should be free. Most white southerners did not agree with President Lincoln.
The Emancipation Proclamation did not actually end slavery. Instead, it provided slaves who could escape from their owners or those that came into contact with Union solders, freedom. Many slaves in the South were unaware of the Emancipation Proclamation; therefore, their situations did not change.
The Emancipation Proclamation was an Executive order stated by President Lincoln. It was not a law that was passed by Congress. In addition, the Emancipation Proclamation only affected slaves that were located in Confederate states. There were more than a million slaves that were not affected.
The one thing that the Emancipation Proclamation did create was an optimism among slaves that had not been there previously. Many slaves attempted, and were successful, at escaping to northern areas where they could be free. The Emancipation Proclamation provided them with courage and hope for a brighter future for themselves and for their families.
In 1865, Congress agreed to the ratification of the U.S. Constitution and the addition of the thirteenth amendment. This amendment ended slavery in the United States.
As for President Lincoln, he is credited with unifying the United States as a whole country. He believed that the U.S. could not progress as a divided country and his dedication and diligent work changed the way our country progressed from that point of the Civil War onward.
Imagine how our country would be today without the sacrifice of those involved in the Civil War, and the strong leadership of Abraham Lincoln.