Essay: Inductive Argument Analysis Original Argument: Prompt: Abraham

Pages: 6 (1740 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: American History  ·  Buy for $19.77

Inductive Argument Analysis

Original Argument:

Prompt: Abraham Lincoln ( 1809-1865 ) was the sixteenth president of the United States. Self-educated, Lincoln had a knack for asking the right questions about important issues, such as slavery and war, and then examining all sides of the arguments before coming to a conclusion.

Lincoln's election as president in 1860 led to the secession in 1861 of southern slave-owning states and to a 4-year civil war that cost 600,000 American lives, North and South. Although Lincoln had long agreed that slavery should be permitted in states where it was already legal, in the course of the Civil War he concluded that if slavery is immoral, then it should not be legal at all in the United States. Lincoln also realized that taking a position on issues was not simply an intellectual exercise but should have real- life consequences. A man of action as well as strong principles, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, freeing slaves in the rebellious states.

Response: The Civil War was arguably America's most important conflict; only the Revolution compares in terms of long-lasting significance and change. It was also the bloodiest and most tragic; 600,000 lives lost in battles not with any foreign foe (excepting the foreigners who came over to fight for one side or another), but with countrymen. Yet, at the same time, the Civil War brought several important improvements to America. Slavery was crushed and the period of Reconstruction, which began the process of ensuring political and social equality for African-Americans one hundred years before the Civil Rights Act, began. The last major challenge to the security and unity of the nation was brought to an end and it was thus determined that no state could ever threaten that unity again. The country emerged united in more ways than one, however, as Westerners, Northerners, Midwesterners, and yes, even a few Southerners put aside regional differences to save and restore the Union, creating for the first time a true sense of national, rather than regional, patriotism; it is no exaggeration to say that America's unique brand of fervent patriotism was forged in the battlefields of the Civil War. The Union victory secured the industrialization of the country and allowed America to emerge as a world-power for the first time in history, setting it on track to eventually become the world's only superpower. Finally, the Civil War gave the American nation a true national myth; names such as those of U.S. Grant, Robert E. Lee, William Tecumseh Sherman, Stonewall Jackson, Sheridan, Beauregard, Meade, Longstreet, and above all Abraham Lincoln would be made truly immortal by the conflict.

The question assigned to be answered here is: Should Abraham Lincoln have held to his anti-slavery stance despite its causing the secession of the South? To answer this, let us look first at the institution of slavery. Slavery is by its very nature a cruel and dehumanizing thing, and thus it does not need to be said that it is immoral. Slavery was, since before the founding, a blight on the American nation and character. How could a country founded on the ideal that "All men are created equal" allow and even praise the existence of slavery? Of course, this being the 1800s, a slave-trade or slave-holder would merely argue that Africans are not mentally or humanly equal to Europeans, slavery benefits slaves by making them more civilized, the European race is destined to take over the world, etc., all of which were clearly then to those willing to give due consideration and are clearly now completely incorrect, unsupported, and ignorantly mistaken to say the least. Thus, to save the oppressed and bring the American nation back in line with its rightful path, Lincoln was right to oppose slavery.

Let us not suppose, however, that, as the wording of the question may make it seem, Lincoln was saber-rattling or attempting to force the Southern states into insurrection. He tried repeatedly before, during, and after his candidacy to reassure the South and convince them that fighting would be in neither side's best interests. He said to them that he would not threaten their slave-holding, but would only prohibit it in new states. In Lincoln's opinion, this would allow slavery to wither and die with no new markets while also allowing the South to modernize and remove the institution in a way that would be peaceable and would not inconvenience the slave-holders. Even the famous Emancipation Proclamation exempts the four loyal slave states (the so-called "border states") from losing their slaves (the Thirteenth Amendment, another Lincolnian achievement, abolished slavery there at the war's close). Such was a practical position given the circumstances of the era, and the end was the same, but still it caused many of the Anti-Slavery Societies to turn against him, as they would turn against others who attempted to fit the abolition of slavery to the realities of its existence. Surely they never would have done this if Lincoln was a maniacal abolitionist of the John Brown sort.

This was, of course, not enough for the South. Southern suspicions of abolitionists and the regions of the country which supported them went back almost to the Revolution itself, certainly to the framing of the Constitution. Decades after South Carolina had first seemed on the verge of seceding, it finally did so, and most of the other slave states made good on the long-standing threat. Can Lincoln be blamed for this? Certainly, he did everything he could to prevent it short of compromising on his principles, which would have made his candidacy useless and would have failed to reassure the South in any case. Ultimately, Lincoln did what was right in opposing slavery and was even willing to compromise, but the South took the initiative of seceding. A person cannot be blamed if others take actions, for whatever reason, outside of their control; a person can only be blamed for what they themselves do. The southern states had the power to control their own actions, and Lincoln cannot be blamed for their actions, as they were beyond his control. It was their own choice to secede and their own blame if that was deemed the cause of the devastation.

Yet, the great devastation of the war was not the work of one man and if several other individuals had acted differently, there could have been far less bloodshed. President Buchanan, under whose watch the states began seceding, had the opportunity to quell the insurrection immediately with almost no bloodshed, but due to his own beliefs and the unpopularity of his recent military operations in Utah, chose to do nothing. Surely, the blame rests more clearly on him who had the opportunity to avert the bloodshed completely but did nothing than on him who as of yet had no personal ability to avert the conflict but still made the attempt. Also, it cannot be forgotten that one of the reasons for the war's length and the great amount of bloodshed was that the conflict was a back-and-forth one without a likely winner for the first three years. Certainly, much of the blame for this must fall on the shoulders of General McClellan and the others whose arrogance, narrow-mindedness, and incompetence nearly destroyed the Union cause. It could also be said, and it has been said, that if Robert E. Lee had not fought such a brilliant defense of the eastern Confederacy, the war should have ended within a year and most of the bloodshed averted. Yet, should Lee, a man considered even by those who hate the Confederate cause as a great and valiant hero, be blamed for the 600,000 deaths which resulted from the conflict?

In the end, however, Lincoln's election ultimately had less to do with causing the Civil War than may be initially supposed. It cannot be denied that the election did move the southern states to secede; it gave them the opportunity, but that is the extent of it. Tensions between the South and the rest of the country over slavery had existed since at least the Constitutional Convention of 1787; the "three-fifths" compromise over slavery is a proof of this. The prospect of Civil War was already looming long before 1861. In Jackson's tenure, the Nullification Crisis of 1832 first gave credence to the idea that the Southern states might secede and that the federal government would oppose them with all its might. Since then, every compromise, such as that infamous one of 1850, had only served to put off rather than avert the coming conflict. Besides, these compromises, perhaps inevitably, were always dissatisfying to one or both sides, and thus did more to enflame passions than extinguish them. The country by 1860 was already on the brink of civil war and all that was needed was the opportunity. Had Lincoln not provided that opportunity, someone or something else would have. The actions of John Brown in 1859, and the opposing movements to canonize him in the… [END OF PREVIEW]

Influence of Women on the Progress of Knowledge Dissertation


Biblical Analysis of Ephesians 2:1-10 Assessment


Social Variables in the Development and Maintenance Thesis


Situational Awareness: High Reliability or Normal Accidents Dissertation


Presence of Multiple Views and Voices Term Paper


View 42 other related papers  >>

Cite This Essay:

APA Format

Inductive Argument Analysis Original Argument: Prompt: Abraham.  (2010, May 6).  Retrieved November 19, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/inductive-argument-analysis-original/620157

MLA Format

"Inductive Argument Analysis Original Argument: Prompt: Abraham."  6 May 2010.  Web.  19 November 2019. <https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/inductive-argument-analysis-original/620157>.

Chicago Format

"Inductive Argument Analysis Original Argument: Prompt: Abraham."  Essaytown.com.  May 6, 2010.  Accessed November 19, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/inductive-argument-analysis-original/620157.