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Home > History > Abraham Lincoln Biography in Seven Pages - the Presidential Years Part 2

Abraham Lincoln Biography in Seven Pages - the Presidential Years Part 2

This page describes the beginning of the Civil War during Abraham Lincoln's presidency.

Fort Sumter

Fort Sumter

Secession

Following Abe's election, the state of South Carolina seceded from the Union on December 20, 1860. Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Texas, and Georgia would secede in the following weeks. These states formed the Confederate States of America (CSA) and declared themselves an independent nation. Upon entering office, Abe was faced with the most pressing crisis in the history of the young nation.

Mortal Threats

Abe's road to the White House was not easy either. According to some accounts, he had to ride through Baltimore on a secret train in disguise to evade would-be assassins on his way to inauguration in Washington. After Abe’s inauguration, the Confederacy continued to mobilize. It elected Jefferson Davis as president and set up its capital headquarters in Montgomery, Alabama. War was imminent.

War Begins

As war approached, President Lincoln sent provisions to American forts that were now in Confederate territory, including Fort Sumter, near Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. Secessionists in South Carolina considered this an act of war and began bombarding the fort on April 12, 1861. Union forces at Fort Sumter surrendered and thus, the American Civil War began. On April 15, Abe requested the mobilization of 75,000 troops from the states for the purposes of "preserving the Union." In the following days, North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Virginia seceded from the Union, refusing to mobilize against their southern neighbors. The secession of Virginia, one of the most populous states in the country, was a major prize for the Confederacy. To reward it, the Confederate capital was moved from Montgomery, Alabama to Richmond, Virginia.

Suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus and Hard Times for Lincoln

As Union troops descended from Massachusetts to the nation's capital, pro-secession residents of Baltimore, Maryland attacked Union soldiers and destroyed railroads linking Washington to the north. In response, President Lincoln suspended the Writ of Habeas Corpus in Maryland, allowing the Government to arrest suspected perpetrators and keep them in jail indefinitely without a trial or conviction. He also authorized the blockades of southern ports. During this difficult time, Abe was also suffering depression likely caused by the stresses of the war, the death of his son Willie, and the increasingly erratic behavior of his mourning wife.

Trent Affair

Later in 1861, Abe endured an embarrassing and potentially dangerous episode, when the British ship Trent was intercepted by the Union Navy in the Atlantic Ocean. Two Confederate agents on their way to England and France were seized and brought back to America as prisoners. Although the American public was in full support of the illegal seizure, England considered it an act of war. Eventually, Lincoln was compelled to release the Confederate agents to avert the British threat. Despite the demands of England, however, Abe never issued a formal apology and hostilities between England and America died.

Strategic Move After the Disaster at Bull Run

Abe had other things to worry about as well. Union forces had been routed in the war's first major battle at Manassas, just thirty miles west of Washington. This was a major blow to the morale of the North, which underestimated the resolve and fight of the Confederacy. After the devastation at Manassas, Abe realized the war would not end any time soon. Throughout 1861 and much of 1862, Abe became dissatisfied with the progress of the war and turned his attention to leadership in the major branch of the Union Army, the Army of the Potomac. Early in 1862, Lincoln replaced War Secretary Simon Cameron with Edwin M. Stanton. Stanton would prove an excellent choice. His tireless work effort and superb managerial skills helped organize the massive military efforts of the Union.

 

Next: Presidential Years Part 3

 

Abraham Lincoln Articles

Abraham Lincoln Reading Comprehension (Grades 5 and up). These Include Between 7-10 Critical-Thought, Multiple Choice Qustions. Online Versions Give Immediate Feedback and Score Reports

Abraham Lincoln Activities

  • Important Places in the Life of Abraham Lincoln Interactive Map - This interactive map allows students to explore the important places in Abraham Lincoln's life such as New Salem, Springfield, New York City, and many others.
  • Mr. Polk's War - This captivating printable requires students to understand the concept of manifest destiny and to conduct a mock interview in which they answer tough questions in the role of Abraham Lincoln (against the Mexican-American War) and in the role of President James K. Polk (in support of the war).
  • Futility Versus Immortality - This activity requires students to analyze the qualities of poor leaders such as Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan and contrast them with a leader such as Abraham Lincoln.
  • I'll Always Remember Where I Was - This historical prompts requires students to imagine the earth-shaking effect the news of the Emancipation Proclamation had on Americans in 1862. In the spirit of the Emancipation Proclamation, students must write about the biggest news event of their lives and describe its impact.
  • The Power of Dreams - This printout describes Abraham Lincoln's famous dream about his own assassination and then requires students to describe and draw a scene from a powerful dream they've had.
  • Oh Captain! My Captain! - This printout describes Walt Whitman's famous Oh Captain! My Captain! elegy to President Lincoln and then asks students to think of their own hero and to write a similar poem.
  • Primary Source Analysis - Lincoln's Letter to Fanny McCollough This printable activity requires students to analyze a famous condolence letter written by Abraham Lincoln to a teenage girl after her father was killed in the Civil War.
  • With Malice for None, With Charity for All Decoding Puzzle - This activity requires students to decode and interpret the famous presidential quote uttered by Abraham Lincoln.
  • Dr. Samuel Mudd - Critical Thought Questions The printable narrative that describes the role Dr. Mudd played after Lincoln's assassination. It includes three short-answer questions regarding the main ideas of the article content, critical thought about the content, and vocabulary from the passage.
  • Ms. Laura Keene - Critical Thought Questions This printable narrative that describes the role Ms. Laura Keene played after Lincoln's assassination. It includes three short-answer questions regarding the main ideas of the article content, critical thought about the content, and vocabulary from the passage.
  • The Execution of Mary Surratt - Critical Thought Questions - This printable narrative describes the circumstances in the Mary Surratt execution . It includes four short-answer questions regarding the main ideas of the article content, critical thought about the content, and vocabulary from the passage.
  • Abraham Lincoln Paragraph Paramedics - Find and correct the spelling, punctuation, and usage errors in the paragraph. Click on the error and then type in the correction. Immediate feedback is given.
  • Presidential Quotes - This activity first requires students to match the famous quote with the president. Next, students must choose their favorite quote and attempt to explain it in detail.
  • Presidential Heights - Did you know James Madison was the shortest president? Did you know Abraham Lincoln was the tallest president? This fun math activity requires students to answer questions about the heights of presidents by viewing the bar graph and making conversions from feet to inches and inches to feet.
  • Printable Presidents Word Search
  • - All 45 are in there!
  • Illinois State Quarter (Featuring Lincoln) Coloring
  • Lincoln Memorial Coloring
  • Lincoln Home National Historic Site Video

Online Games Involving Lincoln

  • Presidential Mismatch - Students must rearrange the presidential chart so that the presidents are in the correct order in which they served. The number of presidents used in the game is customizable. The timer allows for friendly competitions. Students who enjoy history will love this game!
  • Currency Mismatch - This is a wildly fun game that requires students to drag and drop the correct presidential faces to their correct dollar bills. The game is timed and makes for awesome friendly competitions within a classroom.
  • Glamour Legends - This fun game allows students to dress up George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Harriet Tubman, or Christopher Columbus in more modern, or more primitive clothes.
  • Presidents Word Search - This is an online word search with the 45 presidents. Choose with or without a timer.

United States Presidents

 1. George Washington  16. Abraham Lincoln  32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
 2. John Adams  17. Andrew Johnson  33. Harry S. Truman
 3. Thomas Jefferson  18. Ulysses S. Grant  34. Dwight D. Eisenhower 
 4. James Madison  19. Rutherford B. Hayes  35. John F. Kennedy
 5. James Monroe  20. James A. Garfield  36. Lyndon B. Johnson
 6. John Quincy Adams  21. Chester A. Arthur  37. Richard Nixon
 7. Andrew Jackson  22/24. Grover Cleveland  38. Gerald R. Ford
 8. Martin Van Buren  23. Benjamin Harrison  39. Jimmy Carter
 9. William Henry Harrison  25. William McKinley  40. Ronald Reagan
10. John Tyler  26. Theodore Roosevelt  41. George H.W. Bush
11. James K. Polk  27. William Howard Taft  42. Bill Clinton
12. Zachary Taylor  28. Woodrow Wilson  43. George W. Bush
13. Millard Fillmore  29. Warren G. Harding  44. Barack Obama
14. Franklin Pierce  30. Calvin Coolidge  45. Donald J. Trump
15. James Buchanan  31. Herbert Hoover  

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