Jerry Landcaster AP US History 1/20/97 Abraham Lincoln During the years of the Civil War, from 1860 to 1865, Abraham Lincoln underwent a tremendous change in his physical traits. There were many different reasons for these transformations; some more obvious than others. One obvious, and rather large, cause was the Civil War. However, there were also other less visible causes as well. Causes that were less apparent because they stemmed from his private, rather than his public life. Lincoln's aging was due to a large amount of stress between the years of 1860 and 1865 and that stress was caused by pressures as president in war time, pressures at home, and loss. One visible cause of Lincoln's stress, and thus his aging, was the fact that during his presidency, the nation was splitting apart because of the seceding nations. Lincoln had been given a task that no other president before him had even had to think of; preserving the union. Another thing about the war was the fact that no Northerner expected it to last for more than a year. At the battle of Bull Run, Lincoln realized that it would go on for a much longer time. The devastation caused at Bull Run can be seen in the attached document. Lincoln, as most northern republicans, did not support the war. A Chicago editor once stated, "What form of liberty and free institutions is to be constructed, when the cornerstone of its constitution blazes with the lurid, revolting glare of slavery?" (anonymous, p. 80) This must also have been a cause of stress: the fact that he was fighting a war he did not want to fight. . Lincoln repeatedly was facing former acquaintances in government elections. Stephen A. Douglas, whom he had first met while a member of the Illinois General Assembly, opposed him twice. Once in 1858 for a Senate position, and then again in 1860, for the presidency. George B. McClellan, whom he had appointed commander of the Department of the Potomac in 1861, later opposed him in the presidential election of 1864. In 1864, McClellan was quoted as saying, "I have never seen a man speak and act with such vigor, and yet look as our president does.(McClellan, ww.historyplace.com/Lincoln/McClellan) This demonstrates his very visible change in appearance during the period of the Civil War. Lincoln's private life in those five years was shattering. His son, Willie, died at age 12 and his wife never really fully recovered. At this point, Lincoln had lost two sons (The first was Edward in 1850). Lincoln had already suffered from depression In the past. Once when his business partner died, doubling his debt, and once when he broke off his engagement with Mary Todd when they were courting. It is no surprise that Lincoln "let himself go" for these five years. While there is no documentation, the pressures of preserving the union could send any man into a depression, thus affecting his physical appearance. Mary Todd once was quoted saying, "I love that man as no other woman can. After all, how could any other woman love him?" (anonymous, Packard Bell CD Encyclopedia). While Lincoln's appearance was quite obviously affected by the war, and other things going on during that time period, his spirit and drive were not. At one point, he even took direct command of a section of the army. The war did drive him to do many unconventional things, such as make decisions without the consent or knowledge of Congress, but most of these decisions were for the best. Abraham Lincoln was, without a doubt, one of the country's greatest leaders of all time.