Lincoln and Jefferson Davis Essay

This essay has a total of 1487 words and 7 pages.

Lincoln and Jefferson Davis



Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis
In this report I compare two great historical figures: Abraham Lincoln, the 16th
president, steered the Union to victory in the American Civil War and abolished slavery,
and the first and only president of the Confederate States of America, Jefferson Davis.
Abraham Lincoln was the President of the Union, and Jefferson Davis struggled to lead the
Confederacy to independence in the U.S. Civil War. Lincoln was treasured by the African
Americans and was considered an earthly incarnation of the Savior of mankind (DeGregorio
20-25). On the other hand, Davis was both admired and hated. Lincoln had a different view
of how the U.S. should be in abolishing slavery. Davis was a politician, president of the
Confederate States of America, and also a successful planter. He had beliefs for the South
to continue in the old ways with slavery and plantations. Both Lincoln and Davis had
strong feelings for the protection of their land (Arnold 55-57).


Both Abraham and Jefferson Davis shared several differences and similarities. Lincoln was
known to have an easy going and joking type attitude. In contrast, Davis had a temper such
that when challenged, he simply could not back down (DeGregorio 89). Davis had been a
fire-eater before Abraham Lincolnís election, but the prospect of Civil War made him
gloomy and depressed. Fifty-three years old in 1861, he suffered from a variety of
ailments such as fever, neuralgia, and inflamed eye, poor digestion, insomnia, and stress.
Lincoln also suffered from illnesses during the war. He had severe cases of headaches and
stress. Both presidents had a lot of pressure of them due to the fact of defending their
region. Lincoln had difficulties growing up because of the deaths early in his childhood,
poverty, and little education. Davis; however, studied at a Roman Catholic school in
Kentucky and at Transylvania University, and entered West Point in 1824. Davis seemed to
have had an outreaching environment to his success. The major difference, personality
wise, was Davisís weakness in his inability to get along with other people where Lincoln
was a well liked and easygoing man.


Both men shared a common bond in their education towards war. Davis served at frontier
military posts and in the Black Hawk War before resigning in 1835. Lincoln gained the
respect of his fellow townspeople and was elected captain of his company in the Black Hawk
War. Lincoln started his political career running unsuccessfully for the Illinois
legislature in 1832. Tow years later he was elected to the lower house for the first of
four successive terms as a Whig. Davis moved to Mississippi where he managed a plantation
and studied. In 1845, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Democrat.
He soon had to leave due to the Mexican War. Wanting to be made the commander of the
Southern army, he was instead elected president of the Confederacy on February 8, 1861. In
1860 Republicans nominated Lincoln for the presidency on a platform of slavery
restriction, internal improvements, homesteads, and tariff reform. He took oath of office
on March 4, 1861. The Civil War started after Lincoln took oath, and the battle at Fort
Sumpter occurred. The upper South had not yet seceded and when Lincoln took action to
defend Ft. Sumpter, the Confederates opened fire starting the Civil War. The South, lead
by Davis, suffered due to his poor health, which didnít make him an ideal chief executive.
Davis became increasingly unpopular as the war continued. Both President Davis and
President Lincoln still had to deal with Congress- in Davisís case with a weak one, in
Lincolnís case with a much stronger one (Eaton 160-163). During the last year of the war,
Jefferson Davisís speeches were in fact inspiring that spring of 1865. Davis was in poor
health under the strain of war, he changed noticeably. He developed a closed sphinx like
personality. The finally of the war happened at Appomattox. Lee, Davisís army commander,
surrendered to Grantís army under Lincoln. When Jefferson Davis heard about Leeís
surrendered he wept, but refused to admit defeat. The combined Union and Confederate
casualties amounted to 33 to 40 percent of the forces involved. The northerners had lost
359,000 dead, the Southerners, 258,000 (Canfield 85-87).


At the second inaugural, Lincoln summed up his attitude in the famous phrase "with malice
toward none, with charity for all." Lincoln publically announced his support for black
suffrage. This act sparked, the evil, John Wilkes Booth to take action on which he had
been plotting for an attack against the president. John Wilkes Booth was a prominent
Shakespearean actor with militant Confederate sympathies. He believed that most Americans
hated Lincoln so adamantly that they would hail his assassin as a national hero. He was
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