Does Abraham Lincoln deserve his reputation as one of the greatest of American presidents?

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Does Abraham Lincoln deserve his reputation as one of the greatest of American presidents?

Abraham Lincoln was born in the most modest of circumstances in a log cabin near Kentucky on February 12, 1809. His family was poor and had no education. His entire childhood and young manhood were spent on the brink of poverty as his pioneering family made repeated fresh starts in the West. Opportunities for education, cultural activities, and even socializing were meager. Abraham Lincoln taught himself what he needed to know. He became a lawyer and served in the Illinois state legislature and in the United States Congress. In 1860, he was elected to the country's highest office. Abraham Lincoln was the sixteenth American president and many consider him, to be one of the greatest leaders of all time.

One of the major events that led to the election of Abraham Lincoln was the Lincoln-Douglas debates. These debates were a series of formal political debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas in a campaign for one of Illinois two United States Senate seats. There were a series of seven debates ranging from topics such as the Dred Scott Case to domestic slavery, and even the candidates personal lives. At the end of the seven debates, each candidate summoned their parties’ ideals and platforms. “These debates revealed that, while Douglas had rebelled against his own party on the issue of slavery extension, there were important differences of principle between him and Lincoln.” (Jones 1995: pg 209) Although Lincoln lost the 1858 Senatorial debate, he went on to defeat Douglas in the Presidential Election of 1860. These debates gave Lincoln the national recognition that allowed him to win the presidency.

Lincoln entered office at a critical period in U. S. history, just before the Civil War. He brought to the office personal integrity, intelligence, and humanity, plus the wholesome characteristics of his frontier upbringing. He also had the liabilities of his upbringing - he was self-educated, culturally unsophisticated, and lacking in administrative and diplomatic skills. Although relatively unknown and inexperienced politically when elected president, he proved to be an accomplished politician. He was above all firm in his convictions and dedicated to the preservation of the Union.

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On March 4, 1861 Abraham Lincoln delivered his first inaugural address focusing on supporting the North without further alienating the South, where he was almost universally hated or feared. “The presidential oath commits him who takes it to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. On taking the oath Lincoln explained what he understood by it. ‘The power confided in me, will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the government, and to collect the duties and imposts’; for his pledge to protect the government was registered in heaven. In this way a line ...

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