Diplomacy and Military Strategy Concerning Non-Citizens

Abraham Lincoln on the battlefield, circa 1863

The Confederate attack on the United States military, coupled with the ballooning power of the state, forces us to consider Lincoln's policies toward many kinds of non-citizens as essentially an international conflict. Should freed slaves have the right or duty to fight in the military? How about Native Americans, who were previously considered foreign or foreign belligerents? Lincoln has been admired around the world for his careful leadership in uniting the country. To what extent did the outcome of this international conflict depend on him?

Web Essays:

The American Civil War: A "Terrible Swift Sword"

This unit plan on the Civil War grounds the conflict in the executive balance between cultivating political support and morale, strategizing militarily and constructing a savvy plan that dealt with slavery. Did Lincoln deserve a second term, the plans query, and was the Emancipation Proclamation sound military strategy? Many excellent links in primary and secondary sources lead students to question the inevitability of the Union’s victory and the passage of the Reconstruction amendments. While very thorough, the unit relies on the assumption that the federal government and military were the prime agents of change in the war. The lessons are paired well with primary documents that raise African Americans and abolitionists’ roles in determining the outcome of the war.

Lincoln's Foreign Policy

This short essay on the role of British merchant ships in the military strategies of the Civil War opens a Pandora’s box to considering how the war both disrupted global trade routes and encouraged other nations to take sides. It may serve as a springboard to discussing what other nations could gain or lose from the outcome of the war.

Native American Relations

US military operations with Native Americans provided the experience for many Civil War generals. Even during the war, American Indians were technically considered foreigners, if not foreign belligerents. However, many tribes were of mixed heritage in both culture and blood. This essay introduces students and teachers to the fact that the legal and social status of Native Americans’ within the predominantly white-run nation was also in contest during the Civil War. The essay, though short, can be paired with a prompting to students to reconsider the Northern quest for “expansion” and “free soil” from the perspective of Native Americans.

Cooper Union Speech

In 1861, Lincoln unabashedly declares in his Cooper Union Address that slavery is wrong. The website contextualizes the speech in time, space and political landscape and forces students to consider its impact on the formation of the Republican Party. Constructed by the Lehrman Institute of New York, this professional website charts Lincoln’s visits around New York. It can be helpful for exercises contextualizing political rhetoric in social and economic realities.

Primary Sources:

Address at Cooper Union

Letter from Julian Stutevant to Abraham Lincoln

Letter from Thomas Bramlette to Abraham Lincoln

Resolution Requesting Relocation of Indian Reservation

Address on the Constitution of the Confederate States of America