Lesson 3: Abraham Lincoln and Wartime Politics

While armies clashed on battlefields from Virginia to Tennessee, partisan politics continued in Washington DC. At the beginning of the war Northerners, both Republicans and Democrats, joined together in support of the Union. It was not long, however, before old animosities found their way to the surface as members of both parties jockeyed for political advantage. Congress—as well as the nation at large—hotly debated issues related to President Lincoln's handling of the war. This lesson will look at these issues and examine Abraham Lincoln's role as a wartime president. Through an examination of primary documents, students will focus on Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus, the Emancipation Proclamation, his decision to arm the freed slaves, his refusal to accept a compromise peace with the South, and the election of 1864.

Guiding Questions

Did Lincoln's performance as a wartime president during his first term of office justify his reelection in 1864?

Learning Objectives

After completing the lesson, students should be able to argue whether it was necessary for Abraham Lincoln to suspend habeas corpus.

Assess whether the Emancipation Proclamation was sound wartime policy.

Explain why the decision to arm slaves was so controversial in the North.

Evaluate Lincoln's refusal to conclude a compromise peace with the Confederacy.

Identify the major issues in the 1864 presidential election, and make an overall judgment as to whether Lincoln deserved a second term.