Abraham Lincoln Presidency – Republican Presidential Candidate
The debate over the status of slavery in the territories exacerbated sectional tensions between the slave-holding South and the free North. Lincoln, a former Whig Congressman, emerged as a major Republican presidential candidate.
Lincoln won every county in New England and most of the remaining counties in the North, but he won just two of the 996 Southern counties.
Nationwide, Lincoln took 39.8% of the popular vote, while Douglas won 29.5% of the popular vote, Breckenridge won 18.1%, and Bell won 12.6%. Despite Republican success in the presidential election, the party failed to win a majority in either house of Congress.
The presidency of Abraham Lincoln began on March 4, 1861, as the 16th President of the United States. It ended upon his assassination and death on April 15, 1865, 42 days into his second term.
Lincoln was the first member of the recently-established Republican Party elected to the presidency.
Abraham Lincoln Presidency – War President
Lincoln was called on to handle both the political and military aspects of the Civil War.
As commander-in-chief, he ordered the suspension of the constitutionally-protected right to habeas corpus in the state of Maryland in order to suppress Confederate sympathizers.
He also became the first president to institute a military draft. The Union faced several early defeats in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War.
Lincoln cycled through numerous military commanders during the war. He finally settled on General Ulysses S. Grant, who had led the Union to several victories in the Western Theater.
Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation freed about millions of slaves in Confederate-held territory, and established emancipation as a Union war goal.
In 1865, Lincoln was instrumental in the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, which made slavery unconstitutional.
Lincoln also presided over the passage of important domestic legislation. He helped in passing the first of the Homestead Acts, the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862, and the Pacific Railroad Act of 1862.
He ran for re-election in 1864 on the National Union ticket. War Democrats in addition to Republicans supported him.
Though Lincoln feared he might lose the contest, he defeated his former subordinate, General George B. McClellan of the Democratic Party, in a landslide.
Months after the election, Grant would essentially end the war by defeating the Confederate army led by General Robert E. Lee. Lincoln’s assassination in April 1865, five days after the surrender of Lee, left the final challenge of reconstructing the nation to others.