Lincoln, Patriotism's Poet

in Making Patriots

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2001 | ISBN: 9780226044378
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226044514 | DOI:
Lincoln, Patriotism's Poet

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This chapter describes the role played by Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War. Lincoln had never held an executive office, yet the situation faced by him while taking office called for statesmanship of the highest order. He began his first Inaugural Address by arguing that the Southern states had no good reason to secede, and in contemplation of universal law and of the American Constitution, the Union of these States is perpetual. He could not threaten to use force because that would almost certainly cause the other slave states to join the Confederacy. Besides, with an army consisting of only some 16,000 men, most of them scattered in the forts and posts on the other side of the Mississippi, he had very little force to use. He reminded his fellow citizens in the North that war was likely, even imminent, that the Union was at risk, and that they might be called on to fight for it. Much of Lincoln's greatness consisted in the power and beauty of his words.

Keywords: Abraham Lincoln; American Civil War; Confederacy; Inaugural Address; Southern states

Chapter.  7403 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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