In February of 1861 the Lincoln's left by train for Washington D.C.
Over the next two months, as the armies on both fronts stalled, the inevitability of Emancipation remained the best-kept secret in America. Even as Lincoln re-wrote his first draft, he continued to deny that he was planning such an announcement. So he told Horace Greeley, the influential editor of the , who had attacked him for being "disastrously remiss"for not freeing the slaves. "What I do about slavery, and the colored race," Lincoln replied, "I do because I believe it helps to save the Union." Lincoln was not telling the full truth in this famous response, for he had already decided to issue his Proclamation. But he was shrewdly preparing Northerners to think of the forthcoming document as a measure necessary to win the war and preserve the federal authority, not to achieve humanitarian goals. Only then, Lincoln felt, would the North accept it. Critics often point to Lincoln's letter to Greeley as proof that the evil of slavery was never as important to Lincoln as the blessing of Union. Such critics forget that Lincoln knew full well when he wrote it that he was about to re-launch the fight for the Union to embrace union and liberty alike.
Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 15, 1865 by John Booth.
The Union believed it would be easy for a member of the Confederacy to feel the need to plot an evil plan for the murder of the Union leader, Abraham Lincoln....
On July 22, a blisteringly hot summer day in Washington, Lincoln called his Cabinet together and told them that he had reached a momentous decision. A President who customarily polled his Cabinet on all issues of public policy, and then deferred to their collective wisdom, he bluntly told them this time that he would entertain no opposition or debate on the main point. He had already made up his mind. Then he unfolded some hand-written papers and slowly read aloud a sketchily composed preliminary order freeing slaves in the rebellious states. No one present dissented. But Secretary of State Seward expressed a sensible concern. With the war going so badly, he worried, would not most Americans regard an emancipation announcement be as "a cry for help—our last shriek on the retreat?" Seward proposed postponing the Proclamation until the Union could win a victory on the battlefield. Reluctantly, Lincoln conceded the wisdom in Seward's suggestion. But he must have felt enormous frustration. His top commander in the East, General George B. McClellan, had just led his massive army in a lumbering, clumsy attempt to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond, only to be repulsed by a much smaller defending army. The humiliation had all but obscured the heartening news from the West, where a rising general, Ulysses S. Grant, had won a costly but convincing victory at the Battle of Shiloh.
As a strong republican, Lincoln believed in the abolition of slavery.
Lincoln developed a dislike of slavery early in life, probably inheriting it from his father. Throughout his political career he proposed and backed numerous bills intended to prevent the spread of slavery into new U.S. territories and abolish it in states where it already existed. His well-known opposition to slavery was a major factor in the secession of the Confederate States of America in 1861 and his determination to hold the union together led, via the Civil War, to the end of slavery in the USA. Although his famous Emancipation Proclamation only freed slaves in the CSA - which at the time he had no authority over - it effectively doomed slavery even in the northern states where it did not apply.
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A hundred days before, Lincoln had issued a preliminary Proclamation, vowing to free the slaves in all the states still in active rebellion against the federal authority on this very day, January 1. That handwritten document, still lovingly preserved in the New York State Library, essentially gave the South a hundred days' notice to end the rebellion or forfeit their human property. But the rebellion had continued. The order would now be executed.
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Lincoln was 28 years old at the time he gave this speech and had recently moved from a struggling pioneer village to Springfield, Illinois.William Herndon, who would become Lincoln's law partner in 1844, describes the event this way: "we had a society in Springfield, which contained and commanded all the culture and talent of the place.
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On this New Year's afternoon, Abraham Lincoln took pen in hand, dipped it in ink, and then, unexpectedly, paused and put the pen down. To his surprise, and to the surprise of all the witnesses looking on, Lincoln’s hand was trembling. It was not, the President later insisted, "because of any uncertainty or hesitation on my part." As he put it at that decisive moment: "I never in my life felt more certain that I am doing right than I do in signing this paper." But greeting so many New Year's guests downstairs had taken a toll. "I have been shaking hands since 9 o'clock this morning, and my hand is almost paralyzed," Lincoln explained. And he did not want his signature to look hasty. "If my name ever goes into history it will be for this act," he told the people gathered in the room, "and my whole soul is in it. If my hand trembles when I sign the proclamation, all who examine the document hereafter will say, 'He hesitated.'"