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Historiography of Abraham Lincoln, Essay Example

Pages: 6

Words: 1709

Essay

Abraham Lincoln Historiography as Commander in Chief

Abraham Lincoln held several offices in his rise to the top where he eventually held the highest office on the land as president of the United States of America. Not only that, he also scored several first records albeit some unenviable like being the only person to hold a patent and become president as well as the first president to be assassinated while in office.  Several aspects of Abraham Lincoln’s life have been documented by various writers and historians as well as reporters. The historiography analysis seeks to verify the underlying sources of these accounts as well as how well the writer has elucidated these facts.

Abraham Lincoln had several other responsibilities that were connected to his office of presidency. These responsibilities required his attention at varied times and the success he achieved in these endeavours can be measured by way of the results he achieved. Abraham Lincoln held the post of the commander in chief of the armed forces. This role demanded a lot of war front intelligence from him as well as tactical tenacity to enable him overcome his enemies. More still, the wars that Lincoln was engaged in were fought against the very citizens of his country who sought to secede from the central federation (McPherson 2009).

In this text, we examine the way Abraham Lincoln’s role as commander in chief has been presented by the author, McPherson as well as examining the underlying and related references to verify the accuracy of the presented as well as any biases that can be identified from the publication. Lincoln’s triumphs as well as challenges in his efforts the combat slavery and succession from periphery states comes as a big writing point for this text.

For a start McPherson borrows heavily from other historians on who have written extensively on the life and the various roles played by Lincoln. He has cited works from such authors as Ballard C, William T, Ferenbahcer as well as various other sources such as debates and academic papers that make reference to Lincoln. One of the most outstanding observations by McPherson that he has sufficiently supported from the various articles he has made a passing reference to is the fact the by the time of ascending to power, Lincoln was not the most suitable candidate for the post of commander in chief. To his credit, in an effort to overcome these shortcomings, Lincoln vociferously studied all available literature about war and military strategy (Simon J, 1974). Lincoln was able to develop a very good understanding of strategy at both national level and military level. He seemed to follow the maxim of various military strategists that war is second alternative of propagating national policies where political approach does not seem to be working (Allan N 1990)

McPherson has brought out a picture of a Lincoln who was a quite aggressive commander besides being quite persistent as well as brilliant. He was known as a self trained commander besides being a self educated lawyer. His belief in aggressively pursuing his enemies at times posed a challenge since it required that he operates with generals who shared a common intensity of ideal in pursuing the victory that they sought after. McPherson details the energy with which the commander in chief pursued these victories. It was due to such pursuits that Lincoln was often forced to replace his general s in an effort to get one with the appropriate level of aggressiveness.

This view as stated by McPherson is reiterated by a separate source. According to History.Net a history magazine, Abraham Lincoln was actively engaged in offensives on all fronts in the year 1863. Such was the urgency in which Lincoln expected the generals to prosecute the war that in 1863 he was forced to replace General Haleck H and later General McLellan G B as generals. All this was done in an effort to ensure that the right degree of aggressiveness. As presented by McPherson, the commander in chief was intent on finding a general who would find offer appropriate synergy to his political genius.

Lincoln later, through the military assumed the control of the telegraph services. This was placed under military control. The main reason behind this was to give the presidency a means through which to reach the generals on the front and give them orders on the way to progress with the engagement (Neevins 1950). One of the key needs on any commander in chief is the ability to effectively communicate and stay in touch with his generals on the ground. This increases efficiency as well as enabling the commander in chief to easily give directions to the generals.

In the article, Abraham Lincoln as commander in chief, McPherson states that there constitution is not very detailed on matters around the responsibilities of commander in chief. However, Lincoln built on the provided details on his responsibilities vague as they seemed to go on record as being the most active commander in chief during their time (History.net).  Lincoln managed to stay in touch through the telegraph as well as direct all the war efforts personally thereby enabling him determine whether the generals he had were good for the job they were doing and if not dismissing and replacing the speedily enough to avoid defeats and keep the federation efforts on track.

In discharging his duties, Lincoln was not shy of taking controversial positions especially in times of adversity. This was exemplified when port Sumter fell. The president took rather controversial measures including recalling the senate as well as ordering a blockade on the dissenting states (McPherson 2001). This information owes its source to the journals so written on Lincoln. According to Renhard (1944) Lincoln was not shy of controversial decisions. He states that when this port was attacked, Lincoln used the term commander in chief to refer to himself during the time he was waging a war on the dissenting states.

Lincoln was not all about war. The biography of him as commander in chief also goes on to mention his involvement in other declarations such as the proclamation of emancipation. This followed requests by Chicago Christians. True to his role as the commander in chief Lincoln issued this declaration with the consideration that as commander in chief he ought to take any action that serves to weaken the opposition then this action should be taken. This statement is reiterated by the article on Abraham Lincoln which seeks to identify the way the commander in chief played his role in the other aspects of his responsibilities as the commander in chief (Simon 1998). This served to strengthen Lincoln’s presidency since he used his political acumen to maintain his control on matters surrounding the general citizenry of his country.

Lincoln was also not shy of taking other bold steps through what would otherwise have been viewed as tricky territory. He pioneered in allowing the recruitment of blacks and slaves as soldiers. This according to McPherson was as a result of extreme pressure that was applied on Lincoln to use all the available resources and enhance the chances of victory. This is a fact that does not seem to hold upon an analysis of the underlying sources this fact is represented differently. Apparently Lincoln is the one who upon the declaration of emancipation authorised the recruitment of black slaves and Negroes in the forces (Mark 1992).  In Lincolns words the mere sight of the many numbers of black soldiers on the war front was enough to send a scare into any of the enemy forces. This eventually led to the recruitment of blacks and negroes into the forces and it give a huge boost to the progress of the uniting the states.

The commander in chief did not fall short of using all means as well as exploiting all resources within his reach to ensure that victory was achieved. This is a key characteristic that was left out by McPherson in his book. A look at other related sources demonstrate the lengths to which the commander in chief went in an effort to instil momentum into the campaign to defeat the dissenting sections. A key example is the when he offered two commanders the posts of major general if they delivered a key victory (History.net). This had a mixed result with one commander embracing it as a welcome challenge while the other one viewed it as an offensive gesture aimed at pressuring him into pushing forward against his better judgement.

The story of Lincoln has been fairly represented by McPherson, he has captured the key events as well as decisions taken by the commander in chief in his effort to defeat the secessionist southern states as well as advance the efforts at creating a united confederacy. The fact that the commander in chief was heavily involved in military control as well as strategic planning has been given the appropriate attention. Much as most writers do not give extensive attention to the role of Lincoln as commander in chief, it’s his success in this role that made him stand out and be considered a successful president. Had Lincoln failed in the efforts to defeat the secessionists and enhance the unity, he would not be as fondly remembered   as he currently is. Of all his achievements however, Lincoln was faced with many challenges around the choice of commanders as well as making the various opposing voices realise the entire aim behind the push for a unified confederacy. Much as Lincoln succeeded in making the unification of the states a reality, it did not end up well with him. The assassination of Lincoln might not have any connection with his role as commander in chief however its connection though not all apparent cannot be rule out.

References

History.net. Abraham Lincoln: Commander in Chief. Retrieved 12 April 2010, Available http://www.historynet.com/abraham-lincoln-commander-in-chief.htm.

Luthin, Reinhard H. (1944). The First Lincoln Campaign. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

McPherson, James M. (1992). Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution. Cambridge. Oxford University Press

McPherson, James M. (1993). Battle Cry of Freedom: the Civil War Era. US: Cambridge. Oxford University Press

Neely, Mark E. (1992). The Fate of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties. Oxford University Press.

Nevins, Allan (1950). Ordeal of the Union; Vol. IV: The Emergence of Lincoln: Prologue to Civil War, 1859–1861. Washington.  Macmillan Publishing Company.

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