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By Louise Chipley Slavicek

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The inexperienced Union troops performed well at first, but when their line broke, they fled back north in confusion. In the wake of this humiliating event, Lincoln ordered General George B. McClellan, a skilled organizer and administrator, to take charge of the main Union army, the Army of the Potomac. q 6/19/03 11:11 PM Page 55 “TO SAVE THE UNION” composed a memorandum on military policy that called for tightening the naval blockade on the South and recruiting and training long-term volunteers.

Now in his 40s, Lincoln feared he had accomplished nothing of enduring importance in his life. His dream of making his mark in American society, it seemed, would remain forever unfulfilled. ” he complained to his law partner, William Herndon, one day when he was feeling particularly low. Then, in 1854, an event occurred that convinced Lincoln he could still make a difference and pulled him back into the political arena for good: the passage of the Kansas–Nebraska Act. Pushed through Congress by Illinois’s prominent Democratic senator, Stephen A.

The preceding excerpt is from what has been called the first great In October, Lincoln speech of Lincoln’s political career— gave a speech against the his address against the Kansas-Nebraska Act at Peoria, Illinois on October 16, 1854 Kansas – Nebraska Act in the city of Peoria that historians have called the first great speech of his political career. q 6/19/03 11:13 PM Page 40 ABRAHAM LINCOLN the 1850s. By opening a way for slavery to expand, the Kansas–Nebraska Act rejected the policies of the Republic’s creators, Lincoln declared, insisting that the Founding Fathers, although hesitant to outlaw slavery in the Constitution, had expected the Old World institution to gradually wither away in the new nation.

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