The Civil War
When Lincoln left Springfield, Illinois, for Washington D.C., and his inauguration as president, he was under no illusions about the task that faced him and his administration. In his farewell address to his hometown, he said, he left here with "a task before me greater than that which rested upon George Washington." The new president's hopes of a peaceful reconciliation of the crisis were dashed by the outbreak of war in April 1861. Initially both sides were confident that each would achieve a short, sharp, and painless victory over the other. Both sides were wrong. The Civil War, the first industrial war, ground on for four years. As Lincoln managed the war, he changed the terms on which the war was fought, transforming it into a war that insisted that the Union could only be restored through "a new birth of freedom" for all Americans.
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