Ambrotype of Abraham Lincoln; Lincoln’s Photographs: A Complete Album by Lloyd Ostendorf; Wikimedia Commons


Abraham Lincoln was President during the American Civil War, years 1861-1865. Seven Southern states declared secession from the U.S.A., in order to become the Confederate States of America.


The War broke out over trade, finance, and civil rights. The problem involved slavery. Elected in 1860, president Lincoln disproved of slavery as a violation of Constitutional principles. The President issued his Emancipation Proclamation in 1863. It freed all slaves in the USA.


The rebel states had trade ties with England. A British author and Conservative politician, Alex Beresford-Howe, chaired and housed the London branch of the Southern Independence Association, which supported the secession. The Confederate Cotton Bond sold in the London market and raised money for the Confederacy.


President Lincoln, as many Americans, opposed another war against England. His diplomatic manner proved effective, not only in the Trent Affair. The affair involved the interception of the British RMS Trent, carrying secessionist mail and diplomats. The War ended in year 1865. The USA united again. In the same year, John Wilkes Booth, an actor and a Confederate spy, assassinated president Lincoln.


The Gettysburg address is one of the most famous speeches in American history. President Lincoln delivered it on Thursday afternoon, November 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. About four months earlier, Union troops won over the Confederacy in the Battle of Gettysburg.



There are a few drafts of the Address. We can compare them online, over the Library of Congress website. The transcript below comes from “Lincoln’s first draft”, known also as “the Nicolay copy”. John George Nicolay was president Lincoln’s private secretary.



Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that “all men are created equal”.


Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so concerned, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it, as a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do. But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow, this ground—The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have hallowed it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here; while it can never forget what they did here.


It is rather for us, the living, to stand here, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that, from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here, gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve these dead shall not have died in vain; that the nation, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people by the people for the people, shall not perish from the earth.



The form can not, as in the Gettysburg Address, gives more emphasis to the Negative Modal form. Naturally, the strength of the Address remains related to its context. The form “can not” is hardly ever used today, and we may make a better-learned impression, if we write or say cannot, in contemporary American.


We also do not have to follow the punctuation of historic documents. For example, we can space our dashes — clarity in writing may help communicate. History is worth learning and remembering—but not necessarily repeating.


The context of the Gettysburg Address


We may know the American Civil War as “the War Between the States”, “the War of Secession”,  “the War for Southern Independence”, “the War of Rebellion” or ― mostly in tongues other than American English ― “the North against the South”, “the North versus the South”, as well as “the North-South”.


In the United States, people mostly say “the Civil War“. This does not mean the war did not involve violence and hostility. The word “civil” comes from the Latin “civis“, a word to connote citizenry and matters as well as businesses of citizens.


CSA flag

The Confederate States of America flag


The Civil War was a war waged by American citizens on other American citizens. It was not a war declared by foreign powers, military forces, or religious orders ― it was a war waged by civilians. The Civil War remains the only instance of an armed rebellion against the Constitution on the domestic scale. Americans do not praise conflicts.


Article 4 Section 3 of the Constitution forbids forming new states within the USA without Congressional approval. The Confederate states declared independence from the USA in 1861, without Congressional vote. The Congress decided it was illegal.


Confederate infantry


The conflict required drafting troops. Confederate uniforms are easy to tell from the Union military clothing.


US infantry


Researchers and historians differ in opinions about the etiology of the Civil War. Some would have the Northern response to the Southern refusal to abolish slavery for purely idealistic. Many would be skeptical: you never leave your home, family, friends, and a good job, just to help out.


Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune criticized Abraham Lincoln for the cost of abolition.

Horace Greeley Baker by J.E. Baker, Library of Congress


Abraham Lincoln answered he primarily minded the Union.



“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that”, said the president.


He signed Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.


Civil rights were literally a capital concern to the American economy. Civil rights never are just some ideology.


Slavery brings the price of labor down. Low pay rates limit the buying potential of the people. Production becomes impeded with market shrinking: slave workers have very little purchasing power. If not prevented, inflation follows.


An aerial view of the Wall Street area. Wall Street is the “financial capital” of the USA.


America is one of the most potent economies in the world. It is not a gold parity economy ― no gold standard alone could make it work. Part the New Deal reform was to give up on the gold exchange. An economy like the American requires effective civil rights, to motivate and protect the people and, in turn, to bring out the market as well as the currency.


The Morrill Tariff of 1861 attempted to encourage the economy. James Buchanan, a Democrat president, wanted to enhance American workers against the cheap labor products from Europe. Southern cotton planters and slave owners rejected the tariff and abandoned the Congress.


Southern cotton sold well in Europe, especially in England. The trade connections were mutual. Southerners bought low-cost European commodities, exporting own harvest. The jack below is a Southern battle flag to correspond in pattern with royalist maritime and Commonwealth flags.

Confederate jack


The conflict brought much damage to both sides. Although there would be reports of a Wall Street boom during the War, there have not been economy data for the time to except the tariff effects, and there is no evidence it was the conflict to improve the national finance. Another well-known fact in history is that war economies are not sustainable economies.


We may learn more about American history and economy further in the grammar travel. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal sure can help comprehend the interrelationship between democratic standards and economy.


Finally, Federal authorities were concerned with slave high mortality and human trafficking, that is, organized crime. Naturally, we cannot exclude human affect from the War causes. There were many people in the North as well as the South to state that slavery was not acceptable on human grounds. Awareness that somewhere in the same country there are people treated in non-human ways certainly can be a factor distressing enough to upset the public. Human affect is the person’s general emotional predilection to involve memory, thinking, and personal autonomy.


America was not founded on ideals if imperialist capitalism:
“Many circumstances have, and will arise, which are not local, but universal, and through which the principles of all Lovers of Mankind are affected, and in the Event of which, their Affections are interested.”

Thomas Paine, Common Sense (feel welcome to my public domain translation into Polish).


At the same time, it might be important to realize that the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and further amendments are not just works of idealism or ― whatsoever ― any “political naïveté”. They are works of conscious minds to have formulated substantial provisions for human dignity and thus economic prosperity in a country to thrive.


Major developments in the Civil War


(We may learn more online and in libraries. The present-day Flag is to symbolize the Union as the sustained US national form.)

Read about the Flag.


April 12-14, 1861

Confederate attack on Fort Sumter near Charleston, South Carolina; fort taken;


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April 19, 1861
The Union “Anaconda” blockade of the Atlantic and Gulf coasts; Confederate trade and mobility limited;


March 9, 1862
The battle of the Hampton Roads to begin the ironclad warfare;


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The “Four Axes” strategy; Gen. Ulysses Grant to capture Fort Henry and Fort Donelson, opening the Western Theater;


The Eastern Theater: Gen. Robert Lee to progress in his Northern Virginia and Maryland campaigns;


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September 17, 1862
Union Gen. George McClellan stops Gen. Lee in the battle of Antietam (Sharpsburg);


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January 1, 1863
President Abraham Lincoln’s announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation;


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July 1-3, 1863
Gen. Gordon Meade wins over Gen. Lee in the battle of Gettysburg;


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November 19, 1863
President Abraham Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address;


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April 9, 1865
Gen. Grant receives the official surrender from Gen. Lee at the Appomattox Court House;


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December 18, 1865
The 13th Amendment affirms that slavery is outlawed in the USA.