Thursday, December 7, 2017

Lincoln Ch 5 & 6 by J. V.

  1. In chapter 5 of George McGovern's "Abraham Lincoln", it talks about the time during the civil war; the strategies taken and Lincoln's position on the war. Towards the beginning of the chapter, McGovern explains that Lincoln ultimately advocated for a limited war, which meant taking back secessionist states into the Union and not reshaping southern society. As stated within, "the authority of the national government was to be reestablished by respecting, not abusing, the constitutional rights of the rebels." In all, in pushing limited war it meant that, with little force and just threats the Confederacy was expected to recall their army and rejoin the Union. The concept of limited war however, did not work and so Lincoln had to come to the realization that total war was a must.  As time came around, Lincoln had to work with various generals to strategize a plan for victory. One general in command was General George McClellan, commander of the Army of Potomac, who was later relieved of his duties multiple times for not being pushy enough on his army to attack.  Lincoln also had General Winfield Scott, who came to suggest an "Anaconda Plan", in which naval forces were to block and completely cutoff Confederate supplies in the east while the Union armies were to secure the Mississippi River in the west. The plan is seemed to have been dismissed because, "it did not call for a direct invasion into rebel territory." As reluctant as he was for not knowing much on military battle, by 1862 Lincoln started to grow inpatient that the war was not advancing and took affairs into his own hands. He became irritated over the fact that his generals were not pushing war against the Confederate army even when forces were in retreat. He read books on military theory, consulted with his advisors, carefully studied maps and organizational charts, and continuously requested information as to the location of forces, their state of readiness and the levels of arms and ammunition they held. While still growing weary about the war, there was much success in the west where General Ulysses S. Grant was determined to control the Mississippi Valley. Grants aggressive actions produced many victories for the Union and it was the win over Vicksburg that made Lincoln believe he had found the leader he was looking for. As read in the previous chapters, Lincoln was known for his profoundly well written and spoken speeches, and during the civil war he lived nothing short of that, in November of 1863 Lincoln traveled to Gettysburg, PA where he delivered yet another memorable speech which, "redefined the meaning of the Union and of the sacrifice that had sanctified its preservation." Till this day as explained by the author McGovern, the Gettysburg speech has lived through history as a remarkable enduring and political treasure. Grant, now Lieutenant General and Supreme Commander, had advised to pressure from different places at the same time in attempt to expose rebel weaknesses, which would result in breakthroughs. Meanwhile, General William Sherman, commander of the Army of Cumberland and Grants successor in the west, attacked the South with full force burning and destroying everything to the ground. As the months passed, the war was far from over and while having many victories, during the turn of 1864 the turn came for the worst, for the casualties, and the state of the war, would greatly affect Lincoln for presidential reelection.
In Chapter 6, we come to the realization that Abraham Lincoln is not considered to be fit as president and therefore for the elections of 1864 he had to work hard to secure a nomination for if he was to be reelected he would be the first president to serve a second term. In the beginning of the chapter we are shown that Lincoln had to persuade a war weary public that victory was well within plain sight and as stated within, "he had to engage in some hardball politics." Since many saw him as lazy and undecisive and lacked the respect of congress, republicans longed for a stronger more mature candidate that would lead the Union out of what was considered Lincoln's disaster, the war. Radicals came to nominate Secretary of the state Salmon P. Chase and while he did seem like a great opponent, Chase withdrew the election after fraud scandals surfaced. After Chase, radicals nominated John C. Fremont whom they saw equally fit for presidential candidate, Lincoln, worried that he would steal votes sought ways to withdraw Fremont from the race. Lincoln made a proposal that if Fremont withdrew, then he would remove Montgomery Blair from cabinet. And on September 22, 1864 Fremont withdrew from the race. After Fremont the radicals sought yet another nominee fit for president, Ulysses S. Grant, but Grant having no political aspirations declined the nomination, expressed his support for Lincoln's reelection and went back to the battlefield as the commander of all the Union Armies determined for success. Having no one else the Republicans showed no choice support presidency other than Lincoln. However, the Democratic candidate George McClellan posed a different threat. With the Union showing little victories in the war, Lincoln feared heavily that he was no match for Democratic candidate George McClellan. After having been relieved from his duties, McClellan seemed like the perfect opponent to run against Lincoln for office. What was controversial about this nominee was his position on the war; and the ideas on how to defeat Lincoln divided the Democratic party. "Copperheads" advocated peace at all cost, "Moderates" supported limited war, and the "Hawks" sought to win the war but disagreed virtually with all of Lincoln's decisions and policies. McClellan found himself running against Lincoln, but disagreeing with Democrats proposed policies. After gaining full support of the soldiers, Abraham Lincoln was reelected for a second tern as president on November 8, 1864.
  1. The purpose and point of view of the author of this book, is to bring back to mind the struggles that Lincoln faced during his candidacy and presidency. Through the authors words we have come to know the layout of the war, its commanders, it casualties, and the very laid out detailing of the general's strategies to preserve the Union. In chapter 5, McGovern was able to explain the struggle Lincoln faced to bring the army to total war, his position and ultimately his role in the war itself. While the detailing was great I still believe that the voice that was missing was that of the president and his army generals. In chapter 6, while still in battle we are shown the Unions position of Lincolns cabinet and his duties as president. The author explains Lincoln's concern for nomination and ultimately for reelections. We see a great play from the Democrats and the Republicans, but no match for who is considered a very great president in history today. Throughout this chapter the voices that I would have so much like to have heard were those of the president, his wife, and that of his opponents.
  2. The in-class discussion better enabled our understanding of the battle plans, and how some things altered more causalities than others. We were able to comprehend that as gruesome as the battle seems the war would not have been over for the lack of soldiers. We need to take into consideration that during the war, we still had immigrants migrating to the states, and slaves positioning themselves at the hands of the Union. We also explored the many ways that worried the president during his time at reelection and the reason why he was so reluctant to interfere with war affairs. In class the instructor was able to provide a video that demonstrated the battle plans, it casualties and the strategies utilized to conquer the South.
  3. Based on the questions discussed class, we concluded that Lincoln although reluctant at first was able to come around and lead, along with generals a fiercely battle between the Union and the South. The class was able to conclude that throughout the first term of his presidency Lincoln was determined to restore the Union, bring peace and equality to all. He was able to find his mistakes during candidacy and learn from them to command a nation. He was determined to restore the nation just like it was meant to be and just like it is stated in the Constitution.
  4. In these two chapters we were given detailed information about the Civil War and Lincoln's position on the war and on the election. Some questions that are still left unanswered are questions like:
    1. What were the views of the Southern people and the Confederacy?
    2. If Lincoln had not interfered in the affairs of the war, what would the outcome had been.
    3. Who was Montgomery Blair and why was he wanted out of the cabinet?
    4. In the end of chapter 5 the author mention meeting in present day with the granddaughters of a confederate in the south and questioned them about Lincoln, what might have other people in the south have to say about Lincoln after the war and in present day?
    5. For the Union the south was seen as rebels, how was the Union viewed in the South?.