Thursday, December 7, 2017

Lincoln Ch 7 & 8 by M. F.

In the closing chapters of the book, chapter 7 and 8, McGovern covers the political aspects of Lincoln's second term, the closing of the civil war and the eventual Union victory, and the events leading up to Lincoln's assassination. We first learned in chapter 7 that Lincoln completely reworked his cabinet. Lincoln composed a politically balanced group for his second cabinet. As opposed to his first term cabinet, no one in his second cabinet had presidential aspirations, and most political groups were satisfied with the make up. He had also appointed Salmon Chase to the Supreme Court to replace the deceased Chief Justice Roger Taney. We also learned of several acts that Lincoln had passed during his first and second administration, which included the Homestead act, the Land Grant College Act, and the Pacific Railway Acts. Lincoln had also devised a plan to get confederate states to rejoin the union, which was named the Ten Percent Plan. The thirteenth amendment had also come into debate during Lincoln's second term, and Lincoln promised federal jobs to any congressmen who voted for the thirteenth. When it came to voting, the amendment passed with a vote of 119 to 58.
In chapter 8 we learned that the apparent death toll of the war was over 600,000, mostly due to diseases. The gruesomeness of the war had negative impacts on Lincoln leading to his own poor physical health. The war had lasted long, but it was obvious to Lincoln, Grant, and even Lee that the longer the war waged on the less of a chance the Confederacy had to win due to the sheer numbers of the north. Nonetheless, Lincoln and co. opted to stay aggressive in the war. Sherman and Grant pushed to capture Robert E. Lee and Richmond, succeeding in the latter but failing to keep Lee contained. Though they weren't able to capture Lee at Richmond, Phil Sheridan was able to catch up to Lee's fleeing army, overwhelming them and forcing Lee and his remaining soldiers to surrender. With Lee's surrender, it was evident that the war had been won by the Union, and all fighting would be ceased within two months. Though the war was won, Southern hostility towards the Union was still in full effect, personified by a Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth. Booth planned to assassinate Lincoln, and carried out his plan on April 14, 1865 in Ford's Theatre. Booth shot Lincoln in the back of the head during the third act of a play Lincoln was in attendance of, severely injuring Lincoln and eventually killing him hours later.
Through the historical perspective of George McGovern, we learned of the various cabinet changes and acts during Lincoln's second term, as well as the tactics Linocln used to ensure the passing of the 13th amendment. The purpose of chapter 7 is to not only provide the readers with noteworthy accomplishments of Lincoln's administration other than the 13th and the Civil war, but to also dispell the notion of "honest Abe". The author shows that our outlook on Lincoln is wrong, and that he was willing to get into dirty politics in order to get what he wants. The purpose of chapter 8 was to show the end the civil war as well as Lincoln's death.
In class, we did an activity in which we were to finish the beginning of a sentence in a way that sounds similar to what Lincoln would have said or thought. This activity brought about what the book has left us students feeling about Lincoln. The general consensus of the class seemed to believe that Lincoln had placed great value on perseving the Union through reconstruction, and that he placed importance on aggressivness in both war and politics. During class, we were also given an article that claims that the highly accepted death toll of 600,00 for the civil war may be inaccurate. The article claimed that the actual death toll was between 650,000 and 850,000. This led us to the conclusion that historical accounts may not be accurate all the time, and that it is impossible for us to know the exact death toll of the Civil war.
Some historical questions not answered by the book are: What was the fate of Lincoln's killer John Wilkes Booth? If not for his assassination, what could we have seen Lincoln work towards? Was his only goal after the war ended reconstruction, or was there more that he had planned?