Abraham Lincoln: Leadership and Democratic Statesmanship in Wartime

Author
Mackubin Thomas Owens
Content Type
Book
Institution
Foreign Policy Research Institute
Abstract
No president in American history has faced a greater crisis than Abraham Lincoln confronted in 1861. Although sections of the country had threatened disunion many times in the past, the emergency had always passed as some compromise was found. But in 1861, Lincoln, who had won the election of 1860 because of a split in the Democratic Party, faced a rebellion “too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings.” By the time of his inauguration on March 4, 1861, seven states had declared their separation from the Union and had set up a separate provisional government called the Confederate States of America. A little over five weeks later, at 4:30 am on April 12, 1861, rebel gunners opened fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor. In response, Lincoln issued a call for 75,000 volunteers to serve ninety days. Denouncing the president’s policy of “coercion,” four more states left the Union. The ensuing war, the most costly in American history, would last for four agonizing years. When it was over, some 600,000 Americans had died and the states of the South had suffered economic losses in the billions of dollars when measured in terms of today’s currency
Topic
Civil War, Politics, History, Elections
Political Geography
United States