Abraham Lincoln Vs. Jefferson Davis

This essay has a total of 836 words and 4 pages.

Abraham Lincoln Vs. Jefferson Davis

Abraham Lincoln was a very effective leader throughout the Civil War. Although he had no
prior military experience, he proved to be an asset throughout the war. According to his
contemporary critics, Abraham Lincoln's Presidential record was notable for his despotic
use of power and his blatant disregard for the Constitution. Lincoln ordered thousands of
arrests, kept political enemies in prison without bringing charges against them, refused
these hapless men their right to trial by a jury of their peers, and ignored orders from
the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to release them. In his first few months in office
he made the most direct violations of the Constitution in the Nation's history. He
increased the size of the Regular Army without Congressional approval, spent money without
Congressional authorization, suspended the writ of habeas corpus without authority and
generally acted as if he had never heard of the other two branches of the government. He
threw out the Constitution and retained popular appeal of the masses.

Davis lacked popular appeal. At no time in his life did he mingle freely with the masses
under circumstances that might have enabled him to develop an appreciation of their
aspiration and virtues. He never felt close to them, and they didn't to him. Davis never
succeeded in dramatizing the issues of the war or in arousing public enthusiasm for their
support. Confederates like to compare their struggle with the Colonial revolt against
England. But their President was never able to infuse the Southern movement with the lofty
purposes and timeless qualities that Jefferson and Paine breathed into the American
Revolution.

Jefferson Davis was known for his integrity. He was not always as forthright as he might
have been in dealing with difficult persons and situations, but he observed a strict code
of conduct with respect to money, favors and gifts. As President he repeatedly
demonstrated his moral courage by unwavering support of unpopular individuals and
measures. He had rich experiences in public affairs. He was an effective public speaker,
known for their clarity and logic. He was profoundly dedicated to the Southern cause. It
seems quite contradictory when you think about it. Jefferson Davis was never known as
"Honest Jeff," and Lincoln, the man who led the Union by basically ignoring the
Constitution, was known as "Honest Abe."

When Lincoln felt it was necessary he could act in the most undemocratic manner (as he
delivered the Gettysburg Address, his troops guarded the polls at a state election in
Delaware, insuring a Republican victory). Realizing that the Constitution was not made for
war, especially civil war, and knowing that it took too long to change it, he was willing
to bypass it and create his own emergency powers in order to preserve it for peacetime.
Events were moving too rapidly to stay within the due process of the law.

Both presidents hovered closely to the War Department. Davis began to become very
unpopular with the populace of the South for his persistent support of discredited
officers such as Lucius B. Northrop, the Confederate commissary General, and Generals
Theophilus Holmes, John Pemberton, and Braxton Bragg. Northrop and Bragg were grossly
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