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The Victory of Union in the American Civil War

The American civil begun following the election of President Abraham Lincoln of the Republican Party in November 1860, which the Confederate states felt was a threat to their culture of slavery. Lincoln’s antislavery sentiments sparked this fear during the campaign. The election led to the secession of eleven states (Dew 2017). As this paper demonstrates, Abraham Lincoln applied several policies that ensured that the Union won the war against the Confederate states.

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Abraham Lincoln felt that the Southern states were ill-prepared for the war. Thus, his mind was preoccupied with getting the Right Generals who would engage the enemies at all cost in materials and lives. He opined that the army’s rigorous preparation and training unnecessary, given the Unions’ advantage due to its superior numbers. Thus, every soldier would learn on the job, against the criticism and the thinking of the professional soldiers. Lincoln was not bothered by the political affiliations of the officers, whether Republican or Democrats. All that mattered was their political acceptability and their ability to manage the soldiers. Thus he made political appointments that would help him win Congress support for that war. For instance, in the battle of Antietam, Maryland, General George B. McClellan defeated Robert E. Lee, a confederate General, causing Lee’s army to retreat (Work 2020). McClellan’s failure to pursue the retreating army caused Abraham Lincoln to dismiss him (Ryan 2018). The Western Commander, General Ulysses S. Grant, amused Lincoln when he led Vicksburg’s capture in 1863 (Johnson 2020). The capture of Vicksburg was a significant milestone towards the Union victory.

Lincoln also believed in raising a citizen army. Thus, Lincoln engaged volunteer citizen soldiers on either a contractual basis of ninety days or to fight in the whole period of war (Murrell 2021). These volunteers would gain privileges and bonuses, making them enlist in the battle again upon their contract’s expiry (Keefer 2017). The Union passed a conscription law that required military service. Still, most of the new soldiers comprised of volunteers. Lincoln bestowed the responsibility of equipping, feeding, and transportation of the Union forces on Edwin M. Stanton (Lippman 2017). The secretary of war, Edwin, worked with individual states that at first equipped their militia soldiers. President Lincoln actively involved himself in the battle by visiting the camps, giving presidential pardons to the soldiers whose crimes in the army warranted execution, and demonstrating gratitude to the military for the service that they gave to the Union.

Lincoln also marshalled the American economy for war. He, therefore, ensured that he appointed the members of his cabinet based on their efficiency. For instance, Simon Cameron, his first secretary and Pennsylvania’s party boss who had supported Lincoln, was considered inefficient and corrupt. Thus, Lincoln replaced Cameron with Edwin M. Stanton in 1862, who worked to restore the department’s efficiency (Smith 2017). He also appointed Salmon P. Chase of Ohio as the director of the Finances at the treasury. Chase innovated ‘greenbacks’ in the form of paper dollars, a currency which, although not backed by gold and silver, would be accepted as legal tender to finance the war (Day 2019). He also revived the national banking system. Chase also sold war bonds in a small amount of $50 using his patriotic appeal (Newman 2018). He had also led the U.S. in borrowing money amounting to about $2.6 to finance the war.

In 1862, Peace Democrats opposed Lincoln’s policies and programs by objecting to centralization laws and other Republicans’ measures in Congress. The peace democrats had won several seats in Congress, giving them an upper hand. They opposed any talk of slaves’ emancipation, protective tariffs, the national banking system, and martial law. At the beginning of the war, Lincoln made an executive order that would subject anybody to discourage the citizen’s enlistment in the army to martial law (Clarke 2017). This decree led to the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, and thus, the government was free to hold disloyal citizens even without trial (Forsyth 2020). For instance, a former congressman from Ohio, Clement Vallandigham advocated for anti-war demonstrations and negotiated peace, causing the military court to convict him of treason (White 2019). The court confined Vallandigham throughout the war.

When the war started, many of the slaves ran to the Union Lines, while others rebelled and showed insubordinate behavior on their home plantations. This rebellion was mainly in the Southern states, where white males joined the war. The Northern freed blacks persuaded Lincoln to push for slave rebellion and declare slave emancipation. In July 1862, Lincoln declared to his cabinet his intention to use his capacity as the Commander in chief of the armed forces to make a slave Emancipation Proclamation (Rodrigue 2017). The pronouncement would see all the slaves in rebellion set to freedom and make it the Union’s objective to eradicate slavery in the Confederate south. The president delayed this decree when the cabinet persuaded him to wait until the Union gained victory (Foster 2018). He delayed the declaration until December 1862 when he made it. The freed slaves, mainly blacks, were allowed to join the Union army. In conclusion, Abraham Lincoln’s policies and methods worked to help the Union win the civil war.


Clarke, Frances M., and Rebecca Jo Plant. 2017. “No Minor Matter.” Law and History Review 35(4): 881-927. Web.

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Day, Kathleen. 2019. “4. The Civil War Tames Currency” In Broken Bargain, edited by Day Kathleen, 35-44. New Haven: Yale University Press. Web.

Dew, Charles B. 2017. Apostles of disunion: Southern secession commissioners and the causes of the Civil War. University of Virginia Press. Web.

Forsyth, John. 2020. “Free Speech or Sedition: Clement L. Valladigham and the Copperheads, 1860-1864.” Master thesis, James Madison University. Web.

Foster, Gaines M. 2018. “What’s Not in a Name: The Naming of the American Civil War.” Journal of the Civil War Era 8 (3): 416-454. Accessed April 10, 2021. Web.

Johnson, Fred L. 2020. “Vicksburg: Grant’s Campaign That Broke the Confederacy.” Civil War Book Review 22 (2): 17. Web.

Keefer, Bradley S. 2017. Review of The Brave Men of Company A: The Forty-first Ohio Volunteer Infantry, by Edward S. Cooper. Ohio History 124 (1): 87-88. Web.

Lippman, Ellen, and Martin McMahon. 2017. “Professionalism and Politics in the Procurement Process: United States Civil War Early Years.” Accounting Historians Journal 44 (1): 63-76. Web.

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Murrell, Amy E. 2021. “15. Union Father, Rebel Son: Families and the Question of Civil War Loyalty” In The War Was You and Me, 358-392. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Web.

Newman, Patrick 2018. “The Origins of the National Banking System: The Chase—Cooke Connection and the New York City Banks.” The Independent Review 22 (3): 383-401. Web.

Rodrigue, John C. 2017. ““Repudiating the Emancipation Proclamation, and Re-establishing Slavery”: The Abolition of Slavery in the Lower Mississippi Valley and the United States.” Louisiana History: The Journal of the Louisiana Historical Association 58 (4) : 389-403. Web.

Ryan, Thomas J., and Richard R. Schaus. 2018. “”Our Task Is Not Yet Accomplished”: Meade’s Decision Making after Victory at Gettysburg, July 4, 1863.” Gettysburg Magazine 59: 30-48. Web.

White, Jonathan W. 2019. Journal of the Civil War Era 9 (3): 470-72. Web.

Work, David. 2019. “A Fierce Glory: Antietam—The Desperate Battle That Saved Lincoln and Doomed Slavery by Justin Martin.” Journal of Southern History 85 (3):704-705. Web.

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