Was Abraham Lincoln a Successful President?
Like all mortals, Lincoln was fallible, and had both strengths and weaknesses. From the weaknesses side, we can mention the following things: * He relied on much on his own judgment, even in areas where he lacked expertise, causing some diplomatic problems with the European powers. He was slow to act, and kept his Secretary of State (Seward) from acting in a timelier manner, in the Trent Affair, needlessly complicating relations with England. * The suspension of many Civil Rights was also questionable as changing the right at any time is likely to cause a stir. * He was also slow in handling the military problems he had with incompetent and insubordinate field commanders, and the Northern cause would have possibly been lost if Ulysses Grant and William Sherman had not reached the top as and when they did. * The problem with the earlier commanders was that they were all disciples of Jomini in their ideas, and Lincoln was too willing to let them have their way instead of being more forceful in his direction of the war effort. All that being said, his strengths far outweighed his weaknesses, shown in the points below: * He was able to convince Congress that the extraordinary situation of Civil War called for extraordinary remedies. In his time, the Congress was the dominant branch of government and had been so since the election of 1836. Starting then, no President had been reelected to office, and there had been, in fact, no strong President as Van Buren, Harrison, Tyler, Polk, Van Buren, Fillmore, Pierce and Buchanan were all nonentities. By achieving the preponderance of power within Congress, Lincoln was able to effectively have a program, and to achieve parts of it with the rest at least presenting the appearance of progress.
* Other achievements were the passage of the Homestead Act, the passage of the Pacific Railway Act and the establishment of the State of Nevada which were all...
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