Lincoln And The Emanciption of Slaves

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What were President Lincoln's attitude emancipation of
slaves before and during the early days of the Civil War?
The Emancipation Proclamation was a declaration by Abraham
Lincoln that seemed like it was a revolutionary idea on the
potential treatment and freeing of blacks, but really, the
Emancipation Proclamation was just a politically inspired
hoax. It did not give freedom to slaves, or create a bigger
hope for equality. Although the Emancipation Proclamation
sounded like a realistic and impressive demand for the stop
of slavery in the South, its function as a political
declaration is clear in the language. Consider the
beginning, which states,
That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord
one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held
as slaves within any State or designated part of a State,
the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the
United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever
free; and the Executive Government of the United States,
including the military and naval authority thereof, will
recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will
do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them,
in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.
The obvious legal tone to this declaration makes it clear
that the military and battle are evenly significant in this
proclamation. It is not until later on that Lincoln made it
clear about the issues of human rights and freedoms for
blacks, but instead seemed focused on the function of the
military forces and more notably, he initially addressed the
rebellion as one of the foremost elements. (1)
What Lincoln did was free the slaves in Confederate
territories where he could not free them and to leave them
in slavery in Union-held territory where he could have freed
It was not to end slavery that Lincoln initiated an invasion
of the South. He stated over and over again that his main
purpose was to ’save the Union,’ which is another way of
saying that he wanted to abolish states’ rights once and for
all. He could have ended slavery just as dozens of other
countries in the world did during the first sixty years of
the nineteenth century, through compensated emancipation,
but he never seriously attempted to do so. A war was not
necessary to free the slaves, but it was necessary to
destroy the most significant check on the powers of the

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Lincoln And The Emanciption of Slaves." 24 Mar 2017

central government: the right of secession.
Lincoln comes across as seeming extremely committed to
spreading liberty and equality in the Emancipation
While his private letters expose the more indecisiveness
about the topic of slavery against more direct political
problems. In his letter to Horace Greeley Lincoln, who
already had a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation formed,
said, My vital point is to save the Union, and is not to
either save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union
without freeing any slave, I would do it, and if I could do
it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could
save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would
also do that. The primary goal in this letter shows that
Lincoln is using slavery for political purposes and it is
merely the issue of the day rather than a cause that he
seems genuinely committed to. (3)
The Emancipation Proclamation was an effort to mask
Lincoln’s political obligation since he is halfhearted about
the issue of slavery. While it does seem that the past may
have led many to consider in the general figure of Lincoln
as a liberator of the country, this may not be an entirely
correct assumption. When addressing Charleston in southern
Illinois he stated:
I will say, then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in
favor of bringing about in any way the social and political
equality of the white and black races (applause); that I am
not, nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors
of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to
intermarry with white people
It is clear that the Emancipation Proclamation was not as
simple as it may have seemed at first and in fact, Lincoln
had other motives that were more political in life than they
were compassionate. (4)
B. What groups and individuals made their views known to
President Lincoln during these days on this topic?
Many people voiced their opinions on the
Emancipation Proclamation. One was Robert E. Lee. It is
suggested that Lee was in some ways against slavery. In
December of 1864, Lee read a letter written by General John
Liddell, which stated that Lee would be pressured in
Virginia, and the need to consider a plan to emancipate the
slaves and put all men, black and white, in the military
that were willing to join. Lee agreed to the points and
wanted to get black soldiers, simply stating that he could
make excellent soldiers out of any person with arms and
legs. (5)
Southern newspapers criticized the action, and reported that
Jefferson Davis had announced that the confederate army
would not exchange hostages anymore and would kill instead
of taking hostage any African-American soldiers. He like
most Southerners believed freeing slaves would destroy the
Southern economy. He did believe that gradual emancipation,
at some time in the future, would come for the slaves. He
just didn’t want it to occur so soon. (6)
C. What was the public reaction to this Proclamation and why
was it so important
Domestic reaction to the Emancipation Proclamation can be
seen by examining the Congressional election of 1862. The
Democrats fought against the emancipation policy. Seldom had
a subject torn the parties so distinctly, with the
Republicans collectively behind Lincoln and the Emancipation
Proclamation, and Democrats against it. The outcome seemed
to support the Democrats anti-emancipation and other
successes including the governing of New Jersey as well and
New York. (7)
Most abolitionists had been pushing Lincoln to free all
slaves. A rally in Chicago, Illinois in September of 1862,
insisted on immediate emancipation of all slaves. Another
group lead by William Patton met with President Lincoln at
the White House on September 13. Lincoln had declared during
peaceful times that he had no constitutional authority to
free the slaves. Even used as a war power, emancipation was
a risky political act. Public opinion as a whole was against
it. There would be strong opposition among Copperhead
Democrats and an uncertain reaction from loyal Border
States. (8)
President Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation brought a
range of positive and negative responses in the Union, while
the Confederacy completely disregarded the Proclamation. The
Southern response was not only heated, but fierce. The
thought of Negros opposing whites had been a terrifying
thought of Southerners for a long time. Lincoln's
proclamation approved the thought of training slaves taken
from Confederate farms and sending them into the South to
fight against their former masters. (9)

1. Lincoln, Abraham. "Emancipation Proclamation 1863."
2. DiLorenzo, Thomas J. The Real Lincoln: a New Look At
Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War. 8-12.
3. Zinn, Howard. A People's History of the United States:
4. Lincoln, Abraham. "Letter to Horace Greeley 1862."
5. Liddell, St. John R. Liddell's Record. 189-92.
6. Parish, Peter J. The American Civil War. 146-48.
7. Carson, Jamie L., Jeffery A. Jenkins, David W. Rohde, and
Mark A. Souva. "The Impact of National Tides and District-
Level Effects on Electoral Outcomes: the U.S. Congressional
Elections of 1862."
8. "Rev. William Patton."
9. Bennet, Lerone. Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln's
White Dream. 64-65.

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