Commander In Chief:
Abraham Lincoln arrived in Washington in February 1861 with a firm set of principles upon which he would govern. Some, however, saw him as untested and even ill equipped for the presidency. As the Union army suffered setbacks, popular support for the war flagged.
Lincoln understood the power of politics and tried various approaches to rally the public and his troops to win the war. His dismissed generals from command until he found one who would carry the fight to the enemy. In an age before radio and television, he carefully worded his speeches, which were transcribed and widely reported in newspapers. He astutely timed his addresses to the public as he moved deliberately to link the end of slavery with the Union war effort.
"My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union."
-- Abraham Lincoln, August 22, 1862.
Choosing to regard the Union victory at Antietam in September as a "divine sign," Lincoln announced publicly he would proceed with emancipation -- a move that would ultimately bolster Union forces by authorizing free blacks and former slaves to enlist. But he was aghast as McClellan's failure to follow up the victory, even after the president traveled from the Soldiers' Home to urge his general to act. "I said I would remove him if he let Lee's army get away from him... He has got the slows." Shortly after the midterm elections, Lincoln fired McClellan.