Abraham Lincoln Essays

Essay Introduction

This essay is going to discuss the contributions of Abraham Lincoln, arguably one of the most influential Americans to ever live and serve the country. Lincoln served as a lawyer and politician up until his election as the 16th President in 1861. Lincoln led the country during the years of the Civil War, the bloodiest war in the nation’s history, coincidentally also its greatest moral and political crisis.

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While serving during this time, he reunited the nation with the defeat of the Rebel South and abolished slavery. Abraham’s feats weren’t limited to slavery-like most of us are taught in our history classes. He also strengthened the federal Government and overhauled the economy after the Civil War, modernizing it almost completely. In this essay, I’m going to go over some of Lincoln’s key contributions to the nation and explain why I think they’re so impactful.

First of Lincoln’s contributions to the nation was his signing of the Homestead Act. The Homestead Act of 1862 was signed and passed during the early years of Lincoln’s presidency and allowed applicants ownership of land parcels at little to no cost to themselves. This allowed people living in poverty to apply for a parcel of land with the United States government for a chance to improve their lives and become self-sustainable. The only conditions to the act were that applicants, including women and freed slaves, had to be 21 years or older or the head of a family and never have taken up arms against the United States. This was a great implementation by Lincoln as it allowed people who were not contributing to the Government with taxes due to lack of wealth a chance to finally be contributing members of society as well as boost the country’s overall agricultural output as many of the families turned to farming to survive on their new land.

On the side of humanitarianism, this was a great choice for Lincoln as it showed concern for his citizens and the desire to help those in poverty by giving them their big break. The Homestead Act of 1862 was a great and important contribution by Lincoln because it increased the Government’s tax revenue and caused the agriculture industry to flourish. It also showed the common folk that under Lincoln, there would always be someone to care for and look out for them, which was a far cry from the standard politician. If politicians of today held Lincoln’s morals and attempted to contribute to the nation as much as he did, we’d be in a much better place.

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Relating back to the Homestead Act discussed in the previous paragraph, Lincoln also established the United States Department of Agriculture, a department still in place to this day. The department was to be led by a head Commissioner without a connecting Cabinet. Lincoln created it this way so that it would be the “people’s department,” as he put it, meaning that the people were to oversee their agriculture and food and not some random politician that could be bought or swayed by any specific market or company. This is influential because of the representation it gives the common people in their Government, especially in something so important as their food. The implementation of the United States Department of Agriculture solidified Lincoln’s standing with farmers across the nation as someone who had their best interests at heart and that he truly served the people, making this one of Lincoln’s smartest moves as every politician vies for the public’s love.

Thesis Statement for Abraham Lincoln

The fourth contribution I’m going to discuss is his issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation in 1963, which only strengthened discourse within the Union (specifically the South) because it started the procedure to free slaves in America and as well as laid the groundwork for the 13th Amendment. With the passing of the Emancipation Proclamation, African American soldiers were permitted to fight for the Union against the Confederacy. Although Lincoln didn’t live to see the enactment of the Amendment in December of 1865, it still remains to this day one of his greatest contributions to the United States of America.

Without his forward-thinking policies, the start of the 13th Amendment may have never happened, and African Americans may very well still have been held in chains. Another thing to consider is without its passing, and the Confederate South might have been able to capture victory, as the only reason the Union was able to defeat the South was due to their higher numbers and use of attrition tactics. Without the added support of African American troops, the Union’s numbers may have been too thin to hold onto victory. This is insanely important because if the Confederacy was able to clutch victory, the entirety of the nation would be much different than it is today. The Confederate states held onto the ideas of the governments of individual states ruling themselves and scoffed at the idea of a federal government. Without a federal government, the United States very likely would not have been able to become the world’s leading superpower due to constant infighting between the states and every state having its own agendas and goals.

On top of this, with America’s lack of input on the world’s affairs, the entire world would be a very different place. Empires such as Britain and Spain may have continued their stranglehold over underdeveloped nations and stomped out democracy in favor of a monarchy, a truly frightening idea. Because of Lincoln’s victory and the reunification of the Federal Government, America was able to push itself to the top of the food chain and secure its place in the world and lead as a shining example of democracy.

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In relation to the previous paragraph, another massive contribution by Lincoln is his leading the Union to victory against the Confederacy in the American Civil War. Lincoln faced untold pressures during the war, such as massive casualties with numbers never seen before, Generals who were unprepared, opposition from sects of the North, and assassination threats. Despite these daunting pressures, Lincoln refused to surrender and continued to fight to reunite the nation. He eventually succeeded on the 9th of April 1865 when Confederate General Robert E. Lee finally surrendered. Unfortunately, Lincoln was assassinated a swift six days later, putting an end to this larger-than-life President. On the bright side, his contributions still stand strong to this day. With his winning the Civil War, he was able to reunite the country he held so dear and accomplish his main goal, that being a united Union.

The victory of the Union over the Confederates is still felt to this day, as the events that followed the ending of the war shaped this nation, like the final freeing of all slaves and the Reconstruction that followed immediately after. The freeing of all African American held in chains in the South led to the participation of African Americans in the American Government, although not for many, many, many more years, as well as the entire culture of some parts of the nation shifting. Because of the massive impact it had on the nation and how groundbreaking it was for American society, I would honestly say this is tied to his biggest contribution to American society tied alongside the Emancipation Proclamation.

Preserving the Federal Union and its Ideals during the Civil War

The final contribution of Lincoln I am going to discuss is his laying the groundwork for the Reconstruction of the South after the conclusion of the Civil War. Lincoln was documented to have been planning ahead for Reconstruction even before the Union’s victory. His plans included detailed guides on how to reintegrate the conquered southern states in a timely and peaceful manner. Lincoln fell on the moderate side of the political spectrum and opposed the radical Republicans who wished to punish the South severely for their insubordination and the trouble they had put them through. Lincoln’s plan was to reform and unite the nation once again instead of alienating the South like a punished child. In the year 1863, Lincoln drafted the Proclamation of Amnesty and announced his plans for the official Reconstruction of the South.

Lincoln was even quoted as telling a Union general to “let the South up easy,” referring to putting the past behind them and looking towards the future of a united nation. This is extremely important because if someone a bit more radical was in charge of Reconstruction, the South may very well have been forced into servitude for the North. While entirely deserving of hard punishment, Lincoln’s mercy on the South in regard to punishment no doubt led to a more peaceful reunification and served to heal some of the bad blood between the Union and the Confederacy. Once again, Lincoln demonstrates his ability to think strategically and play for the overall advantages of the country, making him one of our greatest, smartest, and most influential presidents.


Throughout this essay, I have documented and discussed what I believe to be President Abraham Lincoln’s greatest contributions to the nation he served. He was shown to be a shrewd yet friendly politician that truly had the greater interests of the nation at heart, as shown by his treatment of the South post-defeat in the civil war. He also stood as a moral beacon in a dark era of American slavery by passing numerous proclamations and laws in an attempt to make African Americans equal to white men. On top of his moral and strategic strengths, he appears to be an overall kind person in his dealing with those struck with poverty by the passing of the Homestead Act. Surely more of his kind of generosity and kindness are needed in today’s political landscape. For these aforementioned reasons, I believe President Abraham Lincoln to be one of the most influential people in the history of the United States and a stellar example of what all Americans should strive to be morally sound and kind.

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