Lincoln, Davis, and the Political Leaders of the Civil War

A look at some of the major leaders in the Civil War, with a special focus on Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis.

Jefferson Davis
Robert Toombs
Thaddeus Stevens
In May 1865
Emancipation and racial equality

A new nation: establishing the Confederacy

Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis were the two most important political leaders of the Civil War. Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, was the leader of the Union forces while Davis, the President of the Confederate States of America, was the leader of the Confederate forces. Both men had a vision for the future of their respective nations, and both were extremely passionate about bringing that vision to fruition.


The Confederate States of America was established in February 1861, with Jefferson Davis as its first President. Davis sought to create a nation that was independent from the United States and that would protect the rights of its citizens.

He worked to create a government that was based on the principles of states’ rights, limited government, and the protection of slavery. The Confederate Constitution was written to reflect these principles, and the Confederate flag was adopted to represent the new nation.

The Confederate Constitution: similarities and differences from the United States Constitution

The Confederate Constitution was adopted in 1861, shortly after the start of the Civil War. It was heavily based on the United States Constitution, but there were some key differences.

The Confederate Constitution strengthened the powers of the executive branch and gave the President the power to declare martial law.


It also allowed the Confederate government to suspend *habeas corpus*, which is the right to an immediate legal hearing, and gave the government the power to issue paper money.

Additionally, the Confederate Constitution prohibited the importation of slaves from abroad, while the US Constitution did not.

The Confederate Constitution also had some similarities to the US Constitution. It had a bicameral legislature and a system of checks and balances. It also contained a bill of rights, which was similar to the US Bill of Rights.

The Confederate Constitution also contained a clause that prohibited the government from passing laws that interfered with the right of citizens to own slaves. This was a key difference from the US Constitution, which did not explicitly protect the right to own slaves.

Jefferson Davis

Jefferson Davis was born in Kentucky in 1808 and graduated from West Point in 1828. After serving in the military, he was elected to the US House of Representatives and then the US Senate. He was a strong advocate for states’ rights and slavery, and he was a vocal opponent of the Mexican-American War.


Jefferson Davis was the first and only President of the Confederate States of America. He was a former U.S. Senator from Mississippi, Secretary of War, and a Mexican War veteran.

He was a strong supporter of states’ rights and slavery, and believed that the Union should be dissolved. Davis was a passionate speaker and an effective leader, but his lack of military experience caused him to be out of touch with the realities of the war. He was also criticized for his lack of decisiveness and for his inability to appoint competent generals.

Despite his efforts, the Confederacy was ultimately defeated in 1865. Davis was arrested and charged with treason, but he was never convicted. He died in 1889, and his legacy as a leader of the Confederacy remains controversial to this day.

Other key political figures in the Confederacy

Jefferson Davis was supported by a cabinet of other leaders in the Confederacy.

One key figure was Alexander Stephens, the vice president. Stephens was a former Whig and Unionist who ultimately came to support secession. As vice president, he played a major role in shaping the policies of the fledgling nation.


However, he did not always see eye to eye with Davis. Stephens, for example, was more willing to negotiate with the Union than Davis was, and he was critical of the Confederacy’s policy of conscription. Despite their differences, though, Stephens remained a key figure in the Confederacy until its collapse in 1865.

Another key figure in the CSA was Robert Toombs, the first Secretary of State. Toombs, like Stephens, had been a Unionist before the Civil War. However, Toombs became a staunch advocate for secession once Lincoln was elected.

Toombs struggled in his role as Secretary of State, however, and was ultimately replaced by Robert Turner in 1861. Nonetheless, he remained a prominent politician and Confederate advocate throughout the Civil War.

Lincoln and the Unionist leaders

The most important figure in the Union cause during the Civil War was President Abraham Lincoln. As the leader of the country, Lincoln was the one who ultimately set the agenda and policy for the Union forces.


Throughout the conflict, Lincoln made crucial decisions about the war effort, such as suspending habeas corpus, ordering the Emancipation Proclamation, and appointing key generals to lead the Union Army.

In Lincoln’s cabinet, several individuals played important roles in the Union war effort. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton was an important figure, as he was responsible for organizing and overseeing the army’s logistics and operations.

Another key political figure for the Union was Thaddeus Stevens. As the leader of the Radical Republicans in the House of Representatives, Stevens worked to pass legislation that aimed to protect the rights of African Americans. He was a driving force behind the passage of the 13th Amendment, which ended slavery in the United States.

The role of rhetoric

Both Lincoln and Davis were skilled speakers who used rhetoric to encourage their people.

Their speeches and writings during the conflict were key in shaping the course of the war. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is one of the most famous speeches in American history. In it, he declared 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.”


Davis’s speeches and writings were influential in rallying support for the Confederacy and in keeping morale high among Confederate soldiers.

In his first inaugural address, he claimed that the federal government had violated the Constitution, and that the southern states were merely following their rights in breaking away.

Davis also made clear that the Confederacy was prepared to fight in order to protect their new nation. While he did not mention slavery directly, he implied that the Confederacy was founded to maintain their way of life, which depended on the institution.

He also outlined plans for a strong military and a stable economy, both of which he considered essential to the new nation’s survival. By articulating these goals, Davis sought to present the Confederacy as a legitimate nation, with its own distinct political philosophy and long-term objectives.

Lincoln’s use of executive power

Abraham Lincoln was a master of the use of executive power during the Civil War. He was able to use his authority to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared the freedom of all slaves in the Confederate states. This was a bold move that was met with both praise and criticism. Lincoln also used his executive power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus, which allowed him to detain individuals without trial.


This was a controversial move, but it allowed Lincoln to protect the Union from potential threats. He also used his authority to create the Union army and navy, which were essential in the Union’s victory. Lincoln’s use of executive power was a major factor in the Union’s success during the Civil War.

Davis’ struggles to unite the Confederate states

Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederate States of America, faced a difficult task in uniting the states of the Confederacy. He was faced with a number of challenges, ranging from a lack of resources to a lack of support from the states.


Despite these obstacles, Davis worked hard to build a unified government and to provide for the needs of the people. He was able to create a number of laws and regulations that helped to bring the states together, and he was able to create a military that was able to defend the Confederacy. However, Davis was unable to fully unite the Confederate States and the Union remained divided until the end of the war.

Davis’s efforts to unify the Confederacy were further hindered by the fact that he had to contend with a number of different political factions. These factions had different ideas about how the Confederacy should be governed and this led to disagreements and debates that further weakened the unity of the Confederacy.

Despite these difficulties, Davis was able to create a strong government and a unified military. He was also able to create a number of laws and regulations that helped to bring the states together.

The end of Lincoln’s presidency

Abraham Lincoln’s presidency ended with his assassination in April 1865. He was shot by John Wilkes Booth, a Confederate sympathizer, at Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C. Lincoln’s death was a shock to the nation, and it left a void in the Union’s leadership. Lincoln’s successor, Andrew Johnson, was unable to fill the void, and the Union’s victory in the Civil War was not as complete as it could have been.


At the same time, Jefferson Davis was also facing a difficult situation. He had been forced to flee from Richmond, Virginia, and was eventually captured by Union forces in May 1865. With the Confederacy’s defeat, Davis was taken into custody and held for two years before being released. The end of the war marked the end of Davis’ presidency, and the end of the Confederacy.

Post-war legacies of major Civil War figures

Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis were two of the most influential political leaders of the Civil War. Following the war, both men left behind legacies that would shape the future of the United States. Lincoln’s legacy was one of emancipation and racial equality, while Davis’ legacy was one of continued racial inequality.

Lincoln’s legacy was one of the most significant in American history. He issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared the end of slavery in the United States. He also pushed for the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery in the United States. Additionally, he was a strong advocate for racial equality, and his assassination in 1865 was an early catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement.

Jefferson Davis’ legacy was much different. He was a strong advocate for the Confederacy, and his legacy was one of continued racial inequality. However, many in the South still see him as emblematic of their pride in values that they see as oppressed by the North.

You will forget 90% of this article in 7 days.

Download Kinnu to have fun learning, broaden your horizons, and remember what you read. Forever.

You might also like

Life on the Battlefield: Soldiers’ Stories from the Civil War;

What life was like for those on the front line of the Civil War.

Reconstructing a Nation: How the United States Attempted to Heal After the Civil War;

How the United States attempted to heal after the Civil War

Slavery, Emancipation, and the African American Experience During the Civil War;

Slavery, emancipation and the new challenges for the African American community by the Civil War.

The Catalysts of War: Exploring the Causes of the American Civil War;

Exploring the causes of the American Civil War.

Women in the Civil War: Roles, Experiences, and Contributions;

Roles, experiences, and contributions made by women in the Civil War.

Lasting Impacts: How the American Civil War Continues to Shape the United States Today;

How the American Civil War continues to shape the United States today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *