Two Presidents were chosen on this day, November 6th. Abraham Lincoln was elected President of the United States in 1860. On the same day in 1861, the Confederacy appointed Jefferson Davis to be their President. Two Presidents that believed that the country was heading in a direction that required change were chosen by the will of the electorate.
Abraham Lincoln was chosen against two other candidates. He is the first Republican President as we know them today. He was elected while the threat of succession was hanging on the horizon. Lincoln, in his inaugural address, warned the south that not only was the idea of a civil war setting squarely on the citizens of the southern United States, but that he would not condone it, and would take any action necessary to keep the country in one piece. He promised to "preserve, protect, and defend it" in his speech. Abraham is historically known as a very intelligent, self-taught, attorney who was eloquent in speech.
This eloquence gained him national attention when he was a candidate for the Illinois State Senate, even though he lost to Stephen A. Douglas in that election. Once elected President he managed to build the strength of the Republican Party, as well as convince northern Democrats to agree to the Union cause. He took the support that he had garnered from the northern states and drafted the Emancipation Proclamation. This document was written to claim independence to all men, and to declare all slaves to be freed, even those that were still part of the newly formed Confederacy.
In memorable and recorded for posterity speeches, President Lincoln managed to continue his trek toward the freedom of all men. In the Gettysburg Address, he ensured that he put in the words "â€¦nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom-and that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth." Strong words with a pertinent meaning today as it was true in 1863.
The confederate war, the only civil war in United States history, started with the capture of Fort Sumter by Confederate forces. The Union was caught off guard, not being aware that there was military action being waged by the south. The Union soldiers were succeeding in battles more than they were losing. Lincoln was re-elected in 1864 based on his strength, the Union success, and the reasons for the Civil War strummed the heartstrings of most of America. When the war was won, Lincoln used a generous heart and offered full reinstatement of the southern Confederate states back into the Union.
Lincoln was assassinated on Good Friday, April 14, 1856 at the hands of John Wilkes Booth. Booth was an actor, but also a Confederate sympathizer who was not able to move beyond the losses of the Confederacy at the lead of President Lincoln. When Lincoln lost his life, his promises to the southern states, and full recovery was lost. His Vice President did not fully accept the forgiveness of his predecessor.
Confederate President Davis met his primary Confederate General, Robert E. Lee while attending West Point University. Both Davis, and President Lincoln served in the military, both having been involved in the Black Hawk War in 1832. Davis and Lincoln had many such similarities. Both men were born in Kentucky of families of low means. Both Lincoln and Davis were extremely educated, however Davis managed to attend many schools universities where most of Lincoln's initial education was self-administered. That seems to be where the similarities end. Where Lincoln was a great opponent to slavery, Davis argued in Congress that each territory should be given express rights to determine the necessity of slavery, and it should not be a national responsibility. He also opposed the inclusion of California as a free state. Davis took the opportunity of the "compromise of 1850" and stepped down as senator to run for Governor of Mississippi, which he lost. The platform he was running on was considered pro-compromise, and it was not the direction that Mississippi wanted for the state.
Davis was not well known by those who were not in his inner circle. He was slight in build, quite a contrast from the formidable height of President Lincoln. He had sharp features and was perceived to be quite severe, again being a contrast from President Lincoln, who was forgiving and patient with many of his associates and even his enemies. Where Davis was passionate about the Confederacy and the necessity and basic human right of farmers to own slaves, President Lincoln was adamant in the counter belief that those who were enslaved were to be afforded the same rights of freedom that were given to those of lighter skin.
Under President Franklin Pierce, he became the secretary of war. After President Pierce was no longer sitting President, Davis returned to the Senate where he was a strong voice in support of continuedslavery in the southern plantations states. He would state that it was a Constitutional right of those who chose to possess slaves. Davis did not immediately agree to succession, but he did support the move by his state, Mississippi.
Jefferson Davis was appointed the President of the South based on the desire and belief that they were allowed to succeed from the Union that had been built on the Constitution of the United States. Although Confederate President Davis was not happy with the decision, he was hoping for a military leadership role, he reluctantly took the position to lead the south to victory from behind the lines. The southern states were adamant that their own economic growth and ways of producing financial gain were perfectly fine and were not going to consider any other method of prosperity. Their livelihoods were consumed in tobacco and cotton, peanuts, rice, and other produce. The rich lands of the south were perfect for producing various cash crops. The inclusion of slaves helped to keep the southern plantation farmers profitable. After all, they did not have to pay for the work force and purchasing them young would ensure a low price and long term investment opportunity.