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Home > History > Abraham Lincoln Biography in Seven Pages - the Presidential Years Part 3

Abraham Lincoln Biography in Seven Pages - the Presidential Years Part 3

This page describes the middle part of the Lincoln presidency

Emancipation Proclamation

Questionable Leadership in the Union Army

After the First Battle of Bull Run, Lincoln had appointed West Point graduate General George McClellan as Commander of the Army of the Potomac. McClellan set his sights upon the capture of the Confederate capital of Richmond. In what he called the Peninsula Campaign, McClellan planned to move the huge army by boat to the Eastern Shore (Peninsula) of Virginia and then over land to Richmond itself. McClellan, however, took an inordinate amount of time planning and mobilizing the movements, and challenged the president's authority several times in the process. Furthermore, McClellan was slow to strike when he had the opportunities and always exaggerated the number of enemy troops waiting to engage his army.

Replacing McClellan

On September 16, 1862, the Union Army scored a major victory at Sharpsburg, Maryland in what came to be known as The Battle of Antietam. Antietam would prove to be the bloodiest one-day battle of the war. The battle forced the battered Confederate Army under General Robert E. Lee to cross the Potomac River back into Virginia and foiled Lee's attempt to carve a path of military victories in Union territory. Despite the urgings of the President and Congress, McClellan failed to order his army to pursue the fleeing Confederates, enabling them to regroup in their own territory. Lincoln, having had enough of McClellan's indecision and insubordination, replaced him as commander of the Army of the Potomac. Finding a suitable replacement, however, would prove no easy task. In fact, Lincoln went through several more commanders before settling on General Ulysses S. Grant.

Is the War for the End of Slavery?

From the time the war had started, Lincoln had wrestled with himself and members of his cabinet concerning the proper timing of emancipating slaves in the South. With the momentum of the war swinging back to the Union, and on the heels of the major victory at Antietam, Lincoln issued his famous Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862 to be effective on January 1, 1863. The decree freed all slaves in "enemy territory." The proclamation, however, failed to address slavery in the border states. Lincoln believed forcing the border states of Kentucky, Maryland, Delaware, and Missouri to free their slaves would push them to join the Confederacy. Despite his failure to free slaves in the border states, Lincoln believed that slavery would die as long as it did not extend into new territories.

Despite the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln maintained his primary goal was not the liberation of slaves, but rather, the preservation of the Union. In fact, Lincoln believed the best plan of action for the newly freed slaves was to set up a colony for them in Africa. Lincoln enjoyed little if any support for the plan, and by 1863 abandoned the idea. By the end of 1863, Lincoln had formulated a plan to recruit Black soldiers to the Union Army in the belief that "the bare sight of 50,000 armed and drilled black soldiers on the banks of the Mississippi would end the rebellion at once."

Good News for the Union - the Turning Point

July of 1863 would prove a major turning point in the war. On July 3, the Army of Northern Virginia led by Robert E. Lee was repulsed at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania in arguably the most storied battle in American history. The following day, on July 4, 1863, General Ulysses S. Grant and Union forces took Vicksburg, Mississippi after a long siege, gaining control of the Mississippi River for the Union Army and splitting the Confederacy into two separate parts. For Lincoln, control of the Mississippi River, its ports, and its navigation, were one of the main objectives in eventual military victory.

Next: Presidential Years Part 4

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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