Crisis Greets the New President
Even before Lincoln’s inauguration, crisis was looming. Apprehension over the slavery issue, dissatisfied that Lincoln would contain slavery and work against it, South Carolina was the first state in the Union to declare secession from the United States. The idea of popular sovereignty as advocated by Democrats for states to decide by popular vote whether a state should allow slavery was a position advocated by the Kansas/Nebraska Act. But President Lincoln would not waver, declaring, “I am sorry any Republican inclines to dally with Pop. Sov. of any sort. It acknowledges that slavery has equal rights with liberty, and surrenders all we have contended for” (as cited in Keneally, 2003, p. 88).
Lincoln unceasingly confronted slavery and the division of the United States. “All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership” (Galbraith, 1977, n.p.).
Spurred on by South Carolina, other states joined a Confederacy. Fort Sumter, besieged by Confederate forces, soon fell as the rebellion fired the first shots of the Civil War. Lincoln was soon confronted with not only the dissolution of the nation, but the vulnerability of the Capital. Troops amassed to defend the Capital and thoughts of an offensive began at Manassas in the first battle of Bull Run. Lincoln blockaded ports in the South. (Gienapp, 2002)
© Neal Huffman 2015 all rights reserved
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