Abraham Lincoln

Historical Figure Project by Aditya Iswara

Book Trailer for Team of Rivals

Team of Rivals

Figure's Life Influences

Type of Upbringing:

  • Grew up as the son of farmer
  • This taught him hard work and patience
  • Self-educated
  • Frequently read books
  • His parents were members of a Separate Baptists Church, which opposed slavery
  • This may have influenced his personal view of slavery

Influential People:

  • His Parents
  • African Americans living near Lincoln
  • These African Americans ranged from landowners to slaves themselves, showing Lincoln all aspects of the African American experience
  • Lincoln appreciated Zachary Taylor's leadership ability and he followed many of the same Constitutional principles
  • Theodore Parker, a transcendentalist and abolitionist
  • Thomas Paine
  • Henry Clay


  • While growing up, he disliked farm labor and wanted more intellectual challenges
  • He worked to stop the spread of slavery
  • His goal as president was to preserve the Union, not to end slavery
  • Many books that he read motivated him as well
  • The Declaration of Independence motivated him and he saw it as more important than the Constitution

Parallels/Conclusions Drawn Based on Time Period:

  • Lincoln grew up in a time when the nation was divided
  • This may have influenced him to work for unity
  • During this time period, America wanted to expand West to fulfill its "Manifest Destiny"
  • Lincoln actively opposed the spread of slavery because the country was acquiring more territories. Lincoln knew that if these places were allowed to have slaves, the issue of slavery would never be solved and America would remain divided

Defining Quote

"A house divided against itself cannot stand." - Abraham Lincoln

This quote shows Lincoln's focus on uniting the country. He realized that the country had to be all slavery or all free to remain standing. He focused on stopping the spread of slavery hoping that it would allow slavery to eventually disappear from society. Complications during the Civil War forced him to end slavery immediately and make America all free in order to preserve the Union.

Lincoln in a Different Time Period: Modern Era

Public Perception:

  • Even during his own time period, Lincoln was not a popular president. He was recognized as a great president after the war ended and after his death
  • He would probably not be perceived favorably by the public in today's society because he did not worry about the public's perception of himself. He focused on solving the issues he faced even if that meant resentment from the public.
  • He would not have been as successful in the current time period because today, we do not have the same kind of adversity faced by Lincoln during his time period.
  • Lincoln was very successful in his own time period as he was able to unite the country and abolish slavery. He would not have been able to do this much for America today.

If I had Lincoln's ability to incorporate the interests of many different people and unite groups of people, I would try to unite the belligerent political parties that constantly argue today. These parties fight over every issue and little work is actually accomplished. If these parties were more united, Congress and the government would actually get work done.

Political Cartoon

This political cartoon shows how Lincoln's focus throughout the war was always on preserving the Union. Even as people argued over issues such as slavery, Lincoln focused on the big picture and maintained his goal to preserve the Union. This was his goal above everything else.
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Link to Secondary Source:


Historical Summation for Lincoln and Emancipation by Howard Zinn

This piece discusses Lincoln’s political strategies and the road to the freedom of the slaves. Zinn states that Lincoln was able to blend the interests of the many different types of people in America. Lincoln was personally against slavery, but politically, he did not approve of abolition. He believed that abolition would only make matters worse. Furthermore, he followed the Constitution strictly and did not believe that the federal government had the authority to end slavery. Eventually, Lincoln was elected to the presidency, leading to the secession of numerous Southern states. Initially, Lincoln stated that he did not want to end slavery where it already exists as a way to reconcile with the rebellious states, but this did not work and so the war grew on. Moreover, his primary goal was to preserve the Union, not to save or end slavery. He issued the Emancipation Proclamation as a threat to the South that their slaves would be freed unless they stopped rebelling. This proclamation inspired antislavery forces to increase pressure on Congress to end slavery. Congress did end slavery with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment and as an increasing number of blacks joined the war, the war began to seem like a war for their freedom. Zinn goes on to say that the reason the North were able to finally win was that the slaves in the South could refuse to work and damage the economy and lead to starvation. The two options were to either free the slaves and use them to fight the war or join the North and hope that their way of life would remain. The South were conflicted over this but eventually surrendered. The slaves were legally free, but their social status did not change much. Their way of life remained similar as the slaves turned into serfs. Former slaves wanted to have their own land, but much of the land confiscated during the war was returned to the Confederate owners. Lincoln and the American government did not set out to end slavery initially, but pressures from many different groups of people led to the freedom of the slaves. Overall, Zinn argues that Lincoln never sought to end slavery but rather to preserve the Union. However, he was pressured to do so by many groups of people, which Zinn believes to have been Lincoln’s plan all along. Zinn’s argument is compelling and effective because he uses a variety of examples to show the pressures for emancipation and Lincoln’s political strategies. Zinn’s tone throughout this piece is primarily appreciative of Lincoln’s political strategies and ideas. He expresses this tone by discussing how great Lincoln was in being able to combine the interests of many different people and eventually end slavery. He also expresses this tone through the use of words such as "perfectly" and "skillfully" to describe Lincoln's actions as president.

Conclusion: What was Lincoln's American Experience?

Lincoln grew up in a time when America was not entirely united and sectionalism was rising. As a young boy, he lived the life of an American farmer before becoming a politician and, eventually, the President of the United States. He certainly changed the American experience through his work as president during the civil war. He kept the North united throughout the war and reunited all of America by the end of his presidency. Also, by ending slavery, he permanently altered the social landscape of America.

Campaign Slogan

"Make America One Again!"

This campaign slogan expresses Lincoln's unique ability to keep people united even through adverse situations. He would be able to unite the different political parties today that constantly argue over many issues.

Gettysburg Address

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met here on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But in a larger sense we can not dedicate - we can not consecrate - we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled, here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but can never forget what they did here.

It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they have, thus far, so nobly carried on. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom; and that this government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Analysis of Speech

Speaker: Abraham Lincoln

Occasion: The Battle of Gettysburg

Audience: the American people

Purpose: To express the significance of the war and gain more support for the war

Subject: The purpose of the war

Tone: Patriotic and hopeful for the future of America

Rhetorical Strategies:

  • Repetition of "the people" in last sentence - emphasizes that this government is truly the people's government
  • Anaphora: Repetition of "we" - shows that this is a war for every American and ever American must take part in it
  • Juxtaposition "living and dead" - demonstrates how all the soldiers, whether they died or were still alive, were heroes