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Biography of Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809 and was reared in a western frontier poor family as he had to struggle to learn and earn a living as his childhood was not that easy. He used sketches to describe his parents and childhood, which explained why he had to struggle really hard to be able to study and gain knowledge (White, 2009).

Lincoln later moved to Illinois where he worked on a firm by splitting rails that were used for fences. He studied law, and later in his life decided to join politics where he won three consecutive re-elections in the Illinois state legislature elections in 1835. Lincoln got married to Marry Todd in 1842, and he later became the United States 16th president, and people commonly termed him as “Honest Abe” (Bonna, 2007). Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth in Washington at the Ford’s Theatre as he was serving his second term. He had been mistaken to be assisting the South by his assassinator (White, 2009).

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Lincoln’s Main Idea

The idea which made Lincoln very famous was opposing both abolitionism and slavery, fighting for the preservation of the nation, and fighting in the war against the Southern part of the United States. As Lincoln was running for the presidential seat, he promised not to tamper with the states which already had slaves, but he did not support the admission of new slaves in the states. This political goal by Lincoln was fulfilled in 1863, whereas the president issued the Emancipation Proclamation, where he declared that all slaves who were within the Confederacy were supposed to be free. Lincoln talked about the fallen soldiers and the ending of the Civil War.

Few details of Lincoln’s Life

Lincoln was a very determined man, and he also had tremendous power, which was described by his law partner to be a little engine that never rested at all. He was much focused when it came to his political career, and he never had the intention to give up his idea.

The Ideas and Events which Motivated Lincoln

Lincoln was influenced by law which he studied in college to run for the presidential seat. After he became the president, slavery and Civil War significantly influenced him into wanting to adapt the country’s Constitution to the country’s current situation, which led him to support the 13th Amendment which abolished slavery. The law which he studied instilled him to get the idea to want to change the Constitution as well as the country’s situation.

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Key Events of Lincoln’s Life

February 12, 1809 – Lincoln was born in Virginia.

1860 – Abraham Lincoln was nominated for the President of the USA.

1860 – First Inaugural Address.

1863 – Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation.

1864 – Lincoln was re-elected for the second term.

1864 – He delivered the Second Inaugural Address.

April 14, 1865 – one week after the Civil War, Lincoln was shot in the theatre on a Good Friday.


Quotes Expressing Lincoln’s Ideas

Lincoln’s idea was evident when he delivered the speech he made in Chicago in 1958 when he stated that “I have always hated slavery, I think as much as any Abolitionist” (Vorenberg, 2001). In the house divided speech in Springfield, Illinois, on the 16th of July, 1858, he also expressed his idea by stating that:

“I believe this Government cannot endure; permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved – I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it will cease to be divided” (Stringer, 2001).

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Other Comments on his Ideas

In his attempt to reunite the South and the North, he had to move with caution. After his speeches, people like Maria Child and Fredrick Douglass appreciated the depth of his speeches as they claimed that they helped in eliminating slavery and also protecting the country.

Rhetorical Strategy


Abraham Lincoln used speeches to be able to reach his audience and to make his idea valid. Lincoln used logos as a rhetorical strategy to catch the attention of his audience. Throughout his speeches, he used reasoning to try to persuade his audience. Having a firsthand interaction with slavery when he moved to Illinois, Lincoln did not have a very good experience in persuading the audience, as in his speeches he used inductive logic where he was able to give his audiences several examples to draw them to come to a general proposition (Stringer, 2010).


The audiences of Lincoln’s speech were the soldiers and the union which was the people of the United States and were further divided into four types, namely:

  • friendly: Lincoln only reinforced their ideas;
  • the apathetic audience where Lincoln had to first convince them into believing his strong idea;
  • the uninformed audience who had to be well educated on the importance of the idea before the beginning of the action;
  • the hostile audience whose viewpoints had to be respected.

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Rhetorical Situation, Language and Identification

Lincoln employed rhetorical devices in his speeches, which gave his words an extended meaning. He used graphic and striking imagery when he made the description of slavery practice. Lincoln made the use of juxtaposition where he compared two ideas and demonstrated how the two ideas could become one-like. This is the case of the half slave and half free, as he termed it in his house divided speech (Winkle, 2001). He used “will” and “shall” commands in describing the future years of the U.S., which showed how confident he was of the success of the nation. Consequently, this brought up his main argument which was to push forward the Civil War for the union without having any fear of failing in the war (Speech in Galesburg, 1858).

Social Movements

Social movements were organized to resist the ideas brought up by Lincoln through the use of persuasive strategies. These types of social movements were revivalist, radical, moderate, and innovative where they were intended to benefit the union and the slaveholders. The ideology of the movement was to oppose the big idea of ending slavery in the United States.

Different Audience Reactions

The responses from different audiences were muted due to the surprises of his speeches. These reactions from his different audiences made his remark to a companion that the people were disappointed.

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Critique of the Effectiveness of Lincoln’s Ideas

The overall critique was that not everything that Lincoln said in his speech was logically true. This was because he evoked a sense of shame in the United States by claiming that war was the sole element that was responsible for slavery. This made the argument by Lincoln continue to fight to be a holy extent, as he claimed that both the South and the North were responsible for the war. Many people thought Lincoln was a dictator and a mean man, which is evident in The Gettysburg Address, where his quest for might and power was believed to cause many deaths. The critics believed that he destroyed the union instead of saving it by causing harm that destroyed the country.

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