Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) was the 16th president of the United States. Self-educated, Lincoln had a knack for asking the right questions about important issues, such as slavery and war, and then examining all sides of the arguments before coming to a conclusion.
Lincoln’s election as president in 1860 led to the secession in 1861 of southern slave-owning states and to a 4-year civil war that cost approx. 600,000 American lives, North and South. Although Lincoln had long agreed that slavery should be permitted in the states where it was already legal, in the course of the Civil War he concluded that if slavery is immoral, then it should not be legal at all in the United States. Lincoln also realized that taking a position on issues was not simply an intellectual exercise but should have real-life consequences. A man of action as well as strong principles, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, freeing slaves in the rebellious states.
Section A: Was Lincoln’s decision to stand by his conclusion that slavery should be illegal a wise one, given that it escalated the hostilities in the Civil War? Are there times when it is best, from the point of view of critical thinking, to back down on an argument rather than risk conflict?
Section B: What are some of the struggles the south faced after the civil war? How does reconstruction impact the African-American community? Please reference at least 3 specific examples from your American Yawp textbook chapter and video on Reconstruction.
Section C: How was America affected by the assassination of President Lincoln? What else did you learn from the video about this tragic event?
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