American History / Lincoln And The Emanciption

Lincoln And The Emanciption

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Autor:  anton  03 April 2011
Tags:  Lincoln,  Emanciption
Words: 1292   |   Pages: 6
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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

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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