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Partly because of that single-minded dedication, the American people, in time, gave to Lincoln a loyalty that proved to be another of his great assets. Making himself accessible to all who went to the White House, Lincoln learned what ordinary citizens felt about their government. In turn, his availability helped create in the popular mind the stereotype of "Honest Abe," the people's president, straightforward, and sympathetic.

Lincoln's mastery of rhetoric further endeared him to the public. In an age of pretentious orators, he wrote clearly and succinctly. Purists might object when he said that the Confederates in one engagement "turned tail and ran," but the man in the street approved. Lincoln's 268-word address at the dedication of the national cemetery at Gettysburg meant more than the preceding two-hour oration by Edward Everett.

Another of Lincoln's assets was the fact that he was a genius at the game of politics. He astutely managed the patronage at his disposal, distributing favors so as to bind local politicians to his administration and to undermine potential rivals for the presidency. He understood the value of silence and secrecy in politics and refrained from creating divisive issues or causing needless confrontations. He was extraordinarily flexible and pragmatic in the means he employed to restore the Union. "My policy," he frequently said, "is to have no policy." That did not mean that his was a course of drift. Instead, it reflected his understanding that, as president, he could only handle problems as they arose, confident that popular support for his solutions would be forthcoming.

Lincoln believed that the ultimate decision in the Civil War was beyond his, or any other man's, control. "Now, at the end of three years struggle," he wrote, as the war reached its climax, "the nation's condition is not what either party, or any man, devised or expected. God alone can claim it."

Sumter Crisis

In 1861, Lincoln's weaknesses were more evident than his strengths. Immediately after his inauguration he faced a crisis over Fort Sumter in the Charleston (S. C.) harbor, one of the few remaining U.S. forts in the seceded states still under federal control. Informed that the troops would have to be supplied or withdrawn, the inexperienced President anxiously explored solutions. Withdrawal would appear a cowardly backdown, but reinforcing the fort might precipitate hostilities. Lincoln painfully concluded that he would send supplies to Sumter and let the Confederates decide whether to fire on the flag of the Union. Historians differ as to whether Lincoln anticipated that hostilities would follow his decision, but they agree that Lincoln was determined that he would not order the first shot fired. Informed of the approach of the federal supply fleet, Confederate authorities at Charleston during the early hours of April 12 decided to bombard the fort. Thus, the Civil War began.

Because Congress was not in session, Lincoln moved swiftly to mobilize the Union by executive order. His requisition to the states for 75,000 volunteers precipitated the secession of Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas. Kentucky tried to adopt an official policy of "neutrality," while secession sentiment in Maryland was so strong that for a time Washington, D.C., was cut off from communication with the North. In order to restore order, Lincoln directed that the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus be suspended, at first along the line between Washington and Philadelphia and later throughout most of the North, so that known secessionists and persons suspected of disloyalty could be held without trial. At the same time the President, without congressional authorization--and thus in direct violation of the Constitution--ordered an increase in the size of the regular Army and Navy. Doubting the loyalty of certain government officials, he also entrusted public funds to private agents in New York to purchase arms and supplies.

Реферат опубликован: 9/09/2007