Many Southern states made it clear that if Lincoln
was elected, they would secede (leave the Union).
The South was against Lincoln because he opposed
slavery. South Carolina was the first to secede
in December 1860. Six other Southern states
followed: Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia,
Louisiana, and Texas. After Lincoln's inauguration,
Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina
also left the Union. These states became known
as the Confederacy. The secession of the Southern
states led to the first shots of the Civil War
when the Confederates seized Fort Sumter in
South Carolina in April 1861.
faced the greatest national crisis of any U.S.
President. He hated war and the death and destruction
it would bring. However, he accepted war as
the only means of saving the Union. He warned
the South in his Inaugural Address:
"In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen,
and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil
war. The government will not assail you... You
have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy
the government, while I shall have the most
solemn one to preserve, protect and defend it."
(Abraham Lincoln Web Site)
the nation neared the third year of the bloody
Civil War, President Lincoln issued the historic
Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863.
The proclamation declared "that all persons
held as slaves" within the rebellious states
"are, and henceforward shall be free."
proclamation actually freed few people. It did
not apply to slaves in the Border States of
Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware;
nor did it affect slaves in southern areas already
under Union control. Naturally, the states that
had seceded did not act on Lincoln's orders.
But the proclamation showed Americans
and the world that the war was being
fought to end slavery.
the Emancipation Proclamation did not immediately
free a single slave, it changed the way black
men were accepted during the war. Black men
could join the Union Army and Navy. The liberated
could become the liberators. By the end of the
war, nearly 200,000 black soldiers and sailors
fought for the Union and freedom.
November 19, 1863, President Lincoln gave his
famous Gettysburg Address in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
The speech dedicated the battlefield to the
soldiers who had died there. The battle site
became a military cemetery. Lincoln stated in
his moving speech: "...we here highly resolve
that these dead shall not have died in vain
that this nation, under God, shall have
a new birth of freedom and that government
of the people, by the people, for the people,
shall not perish from the earth." (The National
more about Abraham Lincoln:
Before the Presidency
Did You Know?
A Deadly Premonition
Lincoln's Lasting Legacy