Abraham Lincoln And Slavery Essay, Research Paper
Abraham Lincoln and Slavery
What did Abraham Lincoln do and think regarding slavery during the Civil War? In Abraham’s First Inaugural Address he states “I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”" (Pg 53-54) Lincoln did not want the South to be afraid of his Republican Presidency either. That was why he made these statements at his Inauguration about slavery. Lincoln also talks about leaving the returning of fugitive slave clause alone, and keeping it in the Constitution. He feels he should still abide by the clause because to Lincoln the intention of the lawgiver was the law. This clause was debated whether it was to be enforced by either national or state authority. ” If the slave is to be surrendered, it can be of but little consequence to him, or to others, by which authority is done.” (Pg 55)
Lincoln during his inauguration also talks of how Congress may prohibit slavery in the territories, and must Congress protect slavery in the territories? Lincoln says the Constitution does not say therefore it will not happen. Lincoln was a follower of the Constitution and did not plan on changing clauses. He abided by the fugitive slave clause and the suppression of the foreign slave trade.
In the letter to Horace Greeley, Lincoln writes of saving the Union, and not destroying or saving slavery. Lincoln states “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.” Lincoln was strictly for the Union and if he could save the Union and end slavery he would, but his first thoughts were for the Union, and only the Union. He deals with slavery in this manner because he does not want to upset or cause turmoil in the South. Even though the Civil War was going on, he wants it to end and the Union to be whole.
The difference between the First Inaugural Speech and the letter to Horace Greeley was to facilitate in the inauguration speech Lincoln did not want to disarray the entire slavery issue with the South, in addition to abide by the Constitution and keep it that way. In the letter Greeley, Lincoln writes of freeing slaves and saving the Union at the same time if he could have. In the letter Lincoln was entirely for saving the Union.
What these writings tell us about the Civil War and Lincoln as a National Leader was with the purpose of saving the Union was Lincoln’s idea. He goes through time and changes his mind on altering the current status of slavery. When he wrote the Emancipation Proclamation his intentions were to free the slaves. As a National Leader Lincoln at first tried to please everyone, but then realized this was not possible and he went with his own thoughts of slavery. Time went on and distorted over his position of slavery as well as saving the Union. This also showed in Lincoln’s mind the real end to slavery in the United States was the real goal of the war.
There is a contradiction between the letter to Horace Greeley from Lincoln, and the Emancipation Proclamation. In the letter to Greeley, Lincoln writes “If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them.” Therefore the letter states Lincoln is neither for nor against slavery, or by any means does not want to mess with it. In the Emancipation Proclamation, which was written before the letter, says “That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord 1863, 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.” (Pg 98-99) Lincoln was for the removal of slavery in the States, he did not publicly announce it until his release of the Emancipation Proclamation.
When the Emancipation Proclamation was put into effect, but in reality nothing changed in the South with slavery. The whites kept on harassing the African-Americans, and it really did not end until the 1960’s and 70’s. Lincoln was different because when he was first put into office he was not for or against slavery, but leaving slavery how it was in the Constitution. As time went on Lincoln changed his thoughts on slavery, and with intention made the Emancipation Proclamation.
I agree with Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation, because it said that the end of slavery was the purpose of the Civil War. The “North” and the “South” fought against each other to defend their views and opinions of slavery. The South wanted to keep it. Even after the Civil War it did not quite change the ways of slavery and prejudice against African-Americans. Lincoln had the right thoughts, and was on the right track with the Emancipation Proclamation.