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Abraham Lincoln was one of the most well known presidents of the United States. Lincoln was known to be the president that ended slavery. He was also the president that published the famous speech known as the Gettysburg Address. As well as ending slavery, he also eventually reunited the North and South states when the Southern states seceded from the Union. In fact, the Emancipation Proclamation was created because of the South seceding from the Union in hopes that that would somehow fix the problem. The Emancipation Proclamation however, was an act he did that showed liberalism, or equality, in his presidency. Lincoln showed leadership and left an untouchable legacy through liberalism with the Emancipation Proclamation. His leadership and legacy was shown through the creation of the Emancipation Proclamation, reuniting the North and South, and because of the famous Gettysburg Address.
For instance, Lincoln showed leadership and liberalism through the Emancipation Proclamation. Because he wrote the Proclamation itself, this showed liberalism. That being said, President Lincoln was originally not against slavery. This is shown because originally, “Although Lincoln abhorred slavery, he did not attempt to abolish it after taking office or after the Civil War began in April 1861” (Emancipation Proclamation). Even though he originally had not planned on abolishing slavery in the slightest, Lincoln attempted to free the slaves in declaring, “That on the 1st day of January, A.D. 1863, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free” (Emancipation Proclamation). The reason why Lincoln decided to produce this document was because of the South’s secession. The Emancipation Proclamation in turn made the war about slavery and not state’s rights. Many seemed to think that the war was about slavery in the beginning, which is proved false by Lincoln’s thoughts on the war that state, “Although Lincoln had always detested the institution of slavery, during the first year of the war, he repeatedly emphasized that the purpose of the conflict was the maintenance of the Union rather than the emancipation of the slaves” (Trefousse). The Emancipation Proclamation was ultimately the thing that ended slavery; “Although slavery had been destroyed by the Emancipation Proclamation (1863) and the Thirteenth Amendment (1865), the legal status of the freedpeople remained unclear” (Sandoval-Strausz). Even though Lincoln was originally not going to free any slaves whatsoever, the act of the Emancipation Proclamation was still an act of liberalism regardless.
Secondly, Lincoln’s leadership and his untouchable legacy were also during the course of his reuniting of the North and South states. While the peace was not fully there before Lincoln’s death, he did have a lot of hand in leading the states to reconstruction. After all, Lincoln had created the Emancipation Proclamation because of the secession of the North and South. Lincoln was easily credited for bringing the North and South back together as he had been there through the war and through the beginning of reconstruction. Reconstruction started the year he was assassinated, 1865, and had ended in 1877. Despite that, his contribution stated, “President Abraham Lincoln had in 1863 proposed leniency toward the South, planning widespread pardons and a “10-percent plan” whereby a rebelling state would be recognized as having regained all rights in the Union when 10 percent of the 1860 voters took a loyalty oath and agreed to end slavery” (Hoar). Lincoln eventually pocket vetoed the plan as Radical Republicans opposed the plan. Although the plan had failed, Lincoln still got credit for bringing the North and South states together despite having failed his reconstruction plan. Even though he had little say in reconstruction, Lincoln’s leadership and legacy carried over to the reuniting of the North and South.
Finally, Lincoln’s leadership and legacy was caused by the famous Gettysburg Address. The 272 word speech was one of the most well known speeches known in American history. Everyone knows the first five words, “Fourscore and seven years ago…”. Even if they do not know what it is from, a person tended to know those words. The Address was made less than six months after the closing of the Gettysburg campaign, which was one of the bloodiest battles during the Civil War in the United States. The battle was so bad that “The losses for both sides were immense with more than 7,000 killed and 44,000 wounded or missing” (Phelps). The Address contained things such as, “Quoting from the Declaration of Independence, Lincoln spoke of the great achievement of the founding fathers in creating a nation on the principle that all men are created equal. Lincoln framed the Civil War as a test of this noble ideal, but he made no direct reference to slavery, instead focusing on the preservation of self-government” (Stock). One of the more powerful lines in the Address was “It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that 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” (Lincoln). This is an important line because it talked about how the people that died would not have died for no reason. Because of their deaths, the people have a new freedom and that they will not go away anytime soon. The man who spoke before him at the ceremony, Edward Everett, had spoken for over two hours while Lincoln only said a simple 272 words. Despite the fact that Everett’s speech was far more complex and exemplary in its own right, in current time, people forgot about it as time went on. At the time, people were less impressed with Lincoln’s speech than with Everett’s. Even Lincoln did not think it to be a good speech. The people’s reactions seemed to be, “Many of the fifteen thousand spectators who heard it that day were surprised that it was so short. Lincoln himself believed that it had been a failure. But once the Gettysburg Address had been reprinted in newspapers across the country and people had time to think about it, they began to express appreciation for his remarks” (Hillstrom). School children now memorize the Gettysburg Address, and some have most likely never heard of Everett’s speech. Because of how widely known Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is, his leadership and legacy was unmatched by any other.
Lincoln’s unmatched legacy and leadership was shown through the liberalism of the Emancipation Proclamation, his work in reuniting the North and South when the South seceded, and because of the famous speech known as the Gettysburg address. His leadership and legacy especially were very positive according to the present day. If he had not created the Emancipation Proclamation, the war would not have become an issue of slavery. This most likely would have slowed down the positive outcome of slavery in the South and the rest of the United States being treated. His work in reuniting the North and South tied back into the Emancipation Proclamation as well, seeing as though he had originally created the document because of the South seceding from the Union. The famous Gettysburg Address is one of the most well known things Lincoln had ever done in his presidency. Though it is a very short speech, it truly left a mark on American society. Lincoln’s time as president, though easily flawed in many ways, truly left behind inspiration for American’s today through his leadership and legacy through liberalism.
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