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By David P. Press

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These steps included allowing the federal government to interfere with the slavery laws of individual states. Lincoln wrote an early draft of the Emancipation Proclamation in July 1862. At the time, some Northerners had grown weary of the war. Many dozens of battles were waged in the first half of 1862, and the tolls of dead and wounded were high. Some Democrats, known as “Peace Democrats,” called on Lincoln to meet with the Confederates and to accept their policies on slavery. While most Republicans supported Lincoln’s handling of the war, some urged him to conduct the war even more aggressively and to make the end of slavery the central purpose of 39 Abraham Lincoln the war.

If the Mexican-American War threatened the Missouri Compromise, the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 did away with it completely. Sponsored by Illinois senator Stephen Douglas, the bill proclaimed the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, both well north of Missouri’s southern border, open to slavery if white settlers voted for it. Both pro- and anti-slavery people from neighboring Missouri and other states and territories rushed to Kansas to sway the vote in their favor. The battle between these two groups went beyond the ballot box to attacks and counterattacks.

Booth’s plan was to shoot President Lincoln the night of Friday, April 14, 1865. He knew the president, Mrs. Lincoln, and guests would attend a play at Ford’s Theatre in Washington. The play was a comedy, Our American Cousin. When the big “punch line” of the play came, the audience laughed loudly, as Booth knew they would. At that moment, he stepped into the presidential box seats and, with a handgun, shot Lincoln point blank behind the ear. The President slumped forward, and Booth made his escape.

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Abraham Lincoln. The Great Emancipator by David P. Press


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