Abraham Lincoln as Emancipator the Term Paper

  • Length: 6 pages
  • Sources: 4
  • Subject: American History
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #1363510

Excerpt from Term Paper :

Thus, as a candidate for a particular region of the United States, regardless of its importance, he could promote the morality of slavery or its lack. However, as a major public figure, he did not have the political support or the democratic one to advocate the freedom of the slaves. Nor did he want to take that road. One of the most evident proofs was the fact that "Lincolnin the first year of the war repeatedly defined his policy as a restoration of the Union- which of course meant a Union with slavery" (M. McPherson, 2002, 108). Therefore, despite the noble discourse, neither Lincoln nor the public were ready for a change that would, on the one hand uphold the Declaration of Independence, and create disequilibrium in the Union.

Despite the serious oscillations Lincoln experienced throughout discussion on slavery, the issue of the empowerment of slaves was addressed in 1865 as he pointed out that "it is also unsatisfactory to some that the elective franchise is not given to the colored man. I would myself prefer that it were now conferred on the very intelligent and on those who serve our cause as soldiers" (Lincoln, n.d.). This change in attitude can be considered to be the result of a thorough reflection on the role played by slaves in the Civil War. This particular aspect was dealt with in his Second Inaugural Address as he pointed out the fact that the war in itself was a punishment from God, one which must be understood as a sign of reconciliation. More precisely, "The Almighty has His own purposes. 'Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.' If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him?" (the Avalon Project, n.d.) the answer to such a question was in Lincoln's view one that the nation must act according to God's will and offer the rights to all individuals "who have prayed to the same Bible" (the Avalon Project). Although his arguments were yet again moral based and in touch with religion, he pointed out the necessity of considering slaves as human beings with the same God as white people.

Overall, it can be said that the political background of Abraham Lincoln's activity was important for the way in which he managed to construct his beliefs on the issue of slavery. Although at times he reduced the enthusiasm for the reconsideration of the conditions of the black people, he tried to promote a new direction in the discussions on the matter by introducing the element of morality related to slavery. Towards the end of his presidency however he came to acknowledge the role slaves played in waging the Civil War, in winning it and most importantly the role they must have in healing the wounds of the new nation.

Works Cited

Ericson, David. The Debate Over Slavery: Antislavery and Proslavery Liberalism in the Antebellum America. New York: New York UP, 2000.

Fehrenbacher, Donald. Prelude to Greatness: Lincoln in the 1850s. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 1962.

Jenkins, P. (1997). A history of the United States. New York: Palgrave.

Lincoln, Abraham. "Last Public Address. April 11, 1865." Lincoln Home National Historical site. N.d. 1 June 2008. http://www.nps.gov/archive/liho/slavery/al18.htm

Lincoln, Abraham. Abraham Lincoln's Speech at Peoria, Illinois, in Reply to Senator Douglas,16 October 1854. 1 June 2008. http://medicolegal.tripod.com/lincolnpeoria.htm

M. McPherson, James. How President Lincoln Decided to Issue the Emancipation Proclamation. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education, No. 37 (Autumn, 2002), pp. 108-109.

The Avalon Project. "The Second Inaugural Address: Abraham Lincoln, 1865." The Yale Law School Project. N.d. 1 June 2008 http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/presiden/inaug/lincoln2.htm

The Declaration of Independence. U.S. History website. 2008. 1 June 2008. http://www.ushistory.org/Declaration/document/index.htm

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