Abraham Lincoln Policies Leading to Civil War and their Effects on its


AbrahamLincoln Policies Leading to Civil War and their Effects on itsOutcome

AbrahamLincoln Policies Leading to Civil War and their Effects on itsOutcome

TheAmerican Civil War is often seen as one of the most fundamentalperiods in the history of the country and the world at large. Thismay be attributable to the fact that as much as the AmericanRevolution that took place between 1776 and 1783 established theUnited States, the Civil War that took place between 1861 and 1865determined the type of a nation that it was going to be. It may beacknowledged that the Civil War gave a solution to two crucialquestions that the revolution had not answered. First, it resolvedthe question on whether the country would be an indivisible nationthat had a sovereign national government or a confederation ofsovereign states that could be dissolved. Secondly, it answered thequestion on whether the country, which had been established on thefoundation of a declaration that every person is created with anequal entitlement to liberty, would remain as the largestslaveholding nation across the globe. It has, however, been debatablethe elements or aspects of the society at that time that may haveresulted in the civil war. Indeed, it may be acknowledged that theCivil War was a product of a myriad of activities undertaken by thepresidency, policymakers and even the individual states’ leaders.Perhaps one of the key players prior to, during, as well as after thecivil war is Abraham Lincoln.

Lincolnwas an inexperienced and undereducated frontier lawyer who eventuallybecame a shrewd military leader and politician in time to weather themost enormous crisis that has ever plagued the United States.Scholars have noted that the election of President Lincoln triggered11 pro-slavery Southern States to secede from the Union1.The Civil War started almost immediately after Lincoln took theoffice. However, it is acknowledged that as much as the federalgovernment’s disarray resulted in early missteps, the leadershipthat Abraham Lincoln imbued into the United States alongside GeneralUlysses S Grant turned the fortunes of the Union Army. AbrahamLincoln is often remembered for the issuing of the EmancipationProclamation, as well as the signing of the 13thamendment, a departure from the established conventions, resulting inthe abolition of slavery. Nevertheless, Lincoln had a number offundamental policies leading up to the Civil War.

Perhapsone of the most fundamental policies of Abraham Lincoln revolvedaround the future of slavery and slave trade. As at 1860, there wasalready growing tensions between the abolitionists (Republicans) andSoutherners whom felt that slavery should never be abolished. It isacknowledged that the Democratic Party was divided into threefactions along regional lines, each of which vied for control of theparty and each incorporating varying ideas pertaining to the mannerin which slavery in the West should be dealt with. The factions stoodagainst the Republican Party’s nominee Abraham Lincoln, who was astrong advocate of getting the West to be free of slavery completely.Abraham won simply because of the deep divisions of his opponentseven though he won in none of the slave states. It is noteworthy thathis election, despite being fair, caused the Southern States tosecede from the Union.

Ofcourse, it is questionable why Abraham Lincoln’s stand on slaveryshould have caused the secession and the subsequent civil war.Nevertheless, scholars note that the production of cotton had becomeextremely profitable since the invention of cotton gin in 17932.This caused an increase in the number of farmers that wanted toabandon other crops and take up cotton. This created an increase inthe need for large amounts of cheap labor, which could only beobtained from slaves3.Essentially, the South was a one-crop economy that depended on cottonand, subsequently, slavery. This may be distinguished from the North,whose economy was dependent more on industry rather than agriculture.The industrialized city life of the North implied that there wereindividuals of different classes and cultures working together,meaning that there was bound to be a modification of attitude towardsslavery, while the South persistently held onto antiquated socialorder4.Essentially, the policies that were espoused by Abraham Lincoln werebound to rub the Southerners the wrong way, resulting in theirdecision to secede. However, the incoming Lincoln administration anda large proportion of individuals in the North did not recognize thissecession as legitimate as they feared that they would result in thediscrediting of democracy and the creation of a fatal precedent thatwould ultimately divide the United States into different small andquarrelsome countries.

Atthe time of the Civil War, Abraham also had to make fundamentalforeign policy particularly with regard to the European Nations. Itis noted that in the course of his presidency, he had suspended thehabeas corpus law in varied regions, thereby giving his governmentthe capacity to imprison dissenters without trial5.However, there was a fundamental foreign policy question regardingwhether the major European counties would acknowledge the confederacyas sovereign state. However, his foreign policy revolved aroundneutrality to European nations, an aspect that was safeguarded by themacroeconomic forces, given the necessity of agriculture to the Unionin the face of crop failure6.Imports from India, Egypt and Europe made up for the inadequaciesthat had been brought about by the blockage of the agriculturalproducts by the American South, while the loss of textile exportswere compensated for by the Union’s desire for manufacturedproducts and arms. Essentially, the major world nations desisted fromrecognizing the confederacy as such a thing would have meant riskinghaving their rivals forming an alliance with the Union, which was waymore important7.

Essentially,the policies for which Abraham Lincoln was popular were theemancipation proclamation and the foreign policy. However, it isacknowledged that in the course of the war, Abraham argued for thesuspension of varied components of the constitution for thepreservation of the Union. For instance, the habeas corpus rule wasto be suspended alongside the freedoms of press and speech. In thecase of the emancipation proclamation, it was an executive order andpresidential proclamation made on 1stof January 1863 as a measure of war targeting all executive branchsegments and the areas that were in rebellion. This proclamationstated that slaves were free in the ten states that were inrebellion. The slaves numbered a total of 3-4 million at the time.Further, this proclamation stated that the freed slaves could enrollin paid service. This proclamation made slavery eradication anexplicit goal of war, apart from reuniting the Union. It is notedthat some portions of the freed slaves managed to join the army andeven the navy, fighting alongside the Union and eventually resultingin the defeat of the Confederate8.

Ofcourse, the policies of Abraham Lincoln had an immense effect on theoutcome of the Civil War. It is well acknowledged that theConfederates lost the battles and the war to the Union, especiallyafter the capture of the Confederate President Jefferson Davis on10thMay 1865 in Georgia. It may be noted that the clarity of AbrahamLincoln’s policy regarding slavery and its place in the future ofUnited States may have mobilized other states particularly in theNorth to stand up and speak against it9.As much as the confederates may have become even more emboldened intheir quest for autonomy from the Union, it is acknowledged that theother states in the Union became even more vigilant in their desireto see to it that the secession plans were quashed and the statesreturned to the Union.

Inaddition, his policies may have robbed the South of the much neededsupport from the major European countries during the Civil War.Indeed, Abraham knew better than to start an aggression with themajor European powers, while the later acknowledged the need to be inthe good books of the Union since it held much more prospects10.Eventually, the Southern states or confederates ended up having noallies and losing up on the much needed assistance of major Europeanstates, leading to their subsequent defeat and their return to theUnion after the collapse of the resistance. This, eventually, kickstarted the arduous journey of rebuilding a united country that wasfree of slavery.

Inconclusion, Abraham Lincoln’s policies played a key role in theeruption of Civil War between the Union and the Confederates. It isacknowledged that the same thing that Abraham Lincoln is known forwas also the cause of the Civil War his desire to not only curtailthe expansion of slavery but also eliminate it from the UnitedStates. His “unexpected” win of the 1860 elections resulted inthe secession of varied states from the United States, something thathe vehemently objected to11.As much as his emancipation proclamation may have emboldened theSouthern States in their quest for autonomy, it also mobilized otherparties to come out in support of quashing slavery and enshrining thefreedoms of every man irrespective of the color of their skin. Inaddition, his foreign policies may have resulted in immense supportfrom the European countries as they did not want to sacrifice theiralliance with the Union just to have the confederates. These policiesmay have caused the defeat of the confederates and the collapse ofthe resistance, which paved way for the creation of an entirely newcountry that was deficient of slavery.


Escott,Paul D. MilitaryNecessity: Civil-Military Relations in the Confederacy.Praeger Security International. 2006. p. 42

Foreman,Amanda. AWorld on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War.New York, NY: Random House. 2011. p. 85

Gienapp,William E. AbrahamLincoln and the Civil War America.New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. Pp. 239

Hamilton,Richard F and Holger H. Herwig (eds.). TheOrigins of World War I.Cambridge University Press. 2003, p. 451.

Harsh,Joseph L. ConfederateTide Rising: Robert E. Lee and the Making of Southern Strategy,1861-1862.Kent, OH: Kent State University Press. 1998

NeelyJr. Mark E. “Was the Civil War a Total War?” CivilWar History50(4). 2004. pp. 434-458.

Rawley,James A. Abraham Lincoln and a Nation Worth Fighting For. Lincoln:University of Nebraska, Press, 2003. Pp 240

1 Escott, Paul D. Military Necessity: Civil-Military Relations in the Confederacy. Praeger Security International. 2006. p. 42

2 Gienapp, William E. Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. Pp. 239

3 Escott, Paul D. Military Necessity: Civil-Military Relations in the Confederacy. Praeger Security International. 2006. p. 42

4 Neely Jr. Mark E. “Was the Civil War a Total War?” Civil War History 50(4). 2004. pp. 434-458.

5 Gienapp, William E. Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War America. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. Pp. 239

6 Escott, Paul D. Military Necessity: Civil-Military Relations in the Confederacy. Praeger Security International. 2006. p. 42

7 Rawley, James A. Abraham Lincoln and a Nation Worth Fighting For. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, Press, 2003. Pp 240

8  Rawley, James A. Abraham Lincoln and a Nation Worth Fighting For. Lincoln: University of Nebraska, Press, 2003. Pp 240

9 Harsh, Joseph L. Confederate Tide Rising: Robert E. Lee and the Making of Southern Strategy, 1861-1862. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press. 1998

10 Hamilton, Richard F and Holger H. Herwig (eds.). The Origins of World War I. Cambridge University Press. 2003, p. 451

11 Foreman, Amanda. A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War. New York, NY: Random House. 2011. p. 85