Who Was Abraham Lincoln? by Janet Pascal, Nancy Harrison, John O'Brien
By Janet Pascal, Nancy Harrison, John O'Brien
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But back then the president didn’t often address the nation directly. Lincoln’s chance came at the dedication of the cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Battle of Gettysburg had been a great victory for the Union. Union soldiers had stopped the rebels from pushing their way north. But more than three thousand Union soldiers and almost five thousand Confederate soldiers had been killed, and a special cemetery was created to bury them all. The dedication of the cemetery took place on November 19, 1863.
Many Americans were fed up with the war. They were ready to vote for anyone who promised a quick end. But Lincoln knew that the soldiers supported him. So he made sure they were able to vote. Then, right before the election, the Union won some huge victories. General William Sherman, who had been trained by Grant, captured Atlanta. General Philip Sheridan, also trained by Grant, won a series of battles in the Shenandoah Valley. And Grant himself was close to taking the Confederate capital at Richmond, Virginia.
For example, they hoped Lincoln would find a government job for them. Sometimes there were such huge crowds that the staircase was completely blocked. The most painful requests were from parents and wives begging Lincoln to pardon a soldier. Perhaps their son had been condemned to death for cowardice or neglecting his duties. Lincoln always tried to grant these requests. He understood that sometimes a man meant to be brave but just had “cowardly legs” that made him run away from battle. Lincoln’s openness to ordinary people earned him their loyalty, even when the war seemed endless.