The United States of America's 16th President
Career Before Presidency
A military measure during the American Civil War signed by U.S. president Abraham Lincoln on September 22, 1862 to take effect on January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves in all areas rebelling against the Union at that point. Despite the limited practical impact of the proclamation, however, it had an enormous psychological impact, elevating the abolition of slavery to one of the North's stated war aims and leading the way for the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution after the war ended in Union victory in 1865.
Lincoln never let the world forget that the Civil War involved an even larger issue. This he stated most movingly in dedicating the military cemetery at Gettysburg: "that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain--that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom--and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
By this point in the Civil War, it was clear that Lincoln needed to make some preliminary plans for postwar reconstruction. The Union armies had captured large sections of the South, and some states were ready to have their governments rebuilt. The proclamation addressed three main areas of concern. First, it allowed for a full pardon for and restoration of property to all engaged in the rebellion with the exception of the highest Confederate officials and military leaders. Second, it allowed for a new state government to be formed when 10 percent of the eligible voters had taken an oath of allegiance to the United States. Third, the Southern states admitted in this fashion were encouraged to enact plans to deal with the freed slaves so long as their freedom was not compromised.
"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."
Honest Abe's Popularity
Abraham Lincoln only had 40% of the popular vote in the 1860 election, and only a 25% approval rating throughout the nation. In the 1864 election the popular vote rose to 54%. Only after his assassination did his popularity soar. He is now known as one of the greatest presidents of all time.