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Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War

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According to Zinn, Foner, and the Biography of America, issues including slavery and liberty are the tensions that led to the start of the Civil War. The biggest tension between the north and south was slavery. During the prewar, there were new understandings of liberty according to Foner, “millions of northerners who had not been abolitionists became convinced that preserving the Union as an embodiment of liberty required the destruction of slavery.” (Foner, pg. 520) It was very obvious that during this time, the north wanted to preserve the Union, and they had to do this by ending slavery. Another tension between the north and south was economic expansion. According to Zinn, “The northern elite wanted economic expansion-free land, free labor, a free market, a high protective tariff for manufacturers, a bank of the United States.” (Zinn, ch. 9) this was a conflict because slave interest opposed all of what the northern elites wanted. Overall, the conflict between the northern freedom and the southern slavery continued to grow overtime, and they were never able to reach a compromise, which is why eventually the war started. (BOA, 10)

Abraham Lincoln was a man known for his honesty, presidency, and his efforts to preserve the Union during the Civil War and for the emancipation of slaves. The documentary showed much more of who Abraham Lincoln was and what he did. The first interesting fact was that Lincoln used sarcasm, he would “slice up his political opponents using sarcasm.” (Lincoln Doc, 5 min) However, he learned very fast that sarcasm could get him in a lot of trouble because he then was challenged to a dual. Another interesting detail about Lincoln was that he struggled with depression because many important people in his life died. (Lincoln Doc, 8 min) His work distracted him from his depression. The documentary is important to our study of Abraham Lincoln because it mentioned many small details about Lincoln that many people are unaware of. The small details are what made Lincoln the popular man we know him as.

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The Failure of the Reconstruction, the Ku Klux Klan, and the Confederate Flag

The reconstruction after the Civil War can be considered a failure because of its many downfalls. One major idea of the reconstruction had to do with land, labor, and freedom for former slaves. The freed slaves wanted a right to landownership, self-ownership, family stability, religious liberty, political participation, and economic autonomy. (Foner, pg. 569) The freepeople failed to fully achieve the freedom they wanted, and their definition of freedom shaped the national debate during the reconstruction. (Foner, pg. 569) Since there was no land distribution, many of the freed people were poor and without land during the reconstruction. Also, another part of the reconstruction that caused problems was the Presidential Reconstruction. The Presidential Reconstruction failed because the conduct of the southern governments elected under Johnson’s program, however, turned most of the Republican north against the president. (Foner, pg. 580) White voters put Confederates and members of the old elite to power, and then violence directed against former slaves in the South was alarming to the Republicans. Overall, the reconstruction failed because the North was unable to come together to rebuild the South.


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