Controversy Over Lincoln's First Emancipation Term Paper

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" Without a fundamental leg of the Southern structure taken out from underneath the Confederacy, Lincoln gained a strategic advantage. He did so using complete military preconceptions in order to carefully avoid breaking the peacetime rules and regulations set forth by the American Constitution.

Thanks to the free labor of the slaves, the South had more than enough white men willing to fight. Tons of able-bodied young men enlisted and left home, but the economy was not drastically affected due to the fact that there were still laborers available to support the war effort. Therefore, freeing the slaves in the rebellious States, Lincoln was encouraging a mass escape which would strike a crucial blow in the infrastructure of the Confederacy. Unlike other wars both before and after the Civil War, America had rarely shown the man power of a nation in war such as the South had done. The economy was still able to thrive with the fact that there was little to no labor shortages during the beginning of the war. However, the Emancipation Proclamation but a hug dent in the war machine of the South. With millions of slaves running from their plantations to head North, the South was dealt a crippling blow which slowed the force of the economy and war machine. Now the South had to over compensate for their lack of workers at home, just as the North had been doing all along during the duration of the Civil War.

One further justification of the Emancipation was the belief that droves of slaves would flee North and willingly support the Union's war effort. Despite the belief that the Proclamation, in its inception and in its motive, had nothing to do with the employment of slave laborers in the army," many Northern supporters believed that droves of former slaves would enlist with the Union, and therefore strengthen their own fighting force. Within the Proclamation itself, Lincoln states "And I further declare and make known that such persons, of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service." Lincoln initiated the Emancipation Proclamation for strategic military advantages as well. His proclamation freed millions of slaves both in the remaining Union, and those who had run from the shackles of the Confederacy. This then opened up thousands of qualified men to fight for the Union cause.

Lastly to show the strategic nature of Lincoln's decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, one needs to examine his strategic dealings with slave states who stayed loyal to the Union. Lincoln strategically chose which "states and parts of states" this proclamation would apply to, "In his interview with the Representatives of the Border States, held on the 10th of March 1862, Mr. Lincoln had said that, as long as he remained President, the people of Maryland (and therefore of the other Border States) had nothing to fear for their particular domestic institution either by direct action of the Government or by indirect action, as through the emancipation of the slaves in the District of Colombia, or the confiscation of Southern property as slaves." He had even negotiated with slave states still in the Union to protect their own interests, showing the true military side of the Proclamation. Many mistake the Emancipation Proclamation as the document which freed all the slaves on the American continent, both within and without of the Union itself. However, the documents which had accomplished that feat came in the form of Congressional Amendments to the Constitution which were passed after the end of the Civil War. The Emancipation Proclamation only freed slaves within specific chosen territories already held by Confederate troops, "in which he orders and declares all slaves within ten of the States of the Confederacy to be free, except such as are found within certain districts now occupied by the armed forces of the enemy." Many states that had stayed loyal within the Union were not affected by the Proclamation, in a strategic move to keep those Border States from seceding into the Confederate hold.

Due to the high level of controversy surrounding the entire debate of slavery, Lincoln's decision will continue to be one of praise and debate, "No other act of Mr. Lincoln's has been so warmly praised on one hand, or so warmly denounced on the other; and perhaps it has sometimes been equally misunderstood, in its real nature and bearing by those who have praised it and those who have denounced it." Lincoln caused an uproar of criticism and controversy in the Southern Confederacy with his bold move. Southern radicals claimed that Lincoln was overstepping his boundaries and therefore justifying the very reason the states had seceded in the first place. Jefferson Davis, the President of the short-lived Confederacy, had his own views of Lincoln's proclamation, Many viewed what Lincoln did as unconstitutional, "Both before and after the actual commencement of hostilities the President of the United States repeated in formal official communication to the cabinets of Great Britain and France that he was utterly without constitutional power to the act which he has just committed." Lincoln's eventual actions left many in the South utterly stunned at his decision to override the Constitution in favor for a state of war type government which had given him much more power than anticipated by the Confederacy. Jefferson Davis himself could not digest Lincoln's actions in a manner which still held the American Constitution as legal law within the Union, "was there any authority by virtue of which he could either restore a disaffected State to the Union by force of arms or make any change in any of its institutions." To those die hard Confederates, this was the biggest sign of disrespect Lincoln could have commenced onto the newly formed Confederacy, made up of former Southern states. This was the absolute show of power which the Confederacy sought to avoid with its promise t keep the sanctity of state legislation. Too many in the South the Emancipation Proclamation had "established a state of things which can lead to but one of three possible consequences -- the extermination of the slaves, the exile of the whole white population from the Confederacy, or absolute and total separation of these States from the United States." To the Confederacy, this was just another example of the exact reasons they had seceded. This break from Constitutionality within Lincoln's protocol represented the final blow to the Southern conscience. The South began to further realize the dire nature of the situation, and the extremities which the Civil War would eventually go to. With this understanding, the desperation of the South began to take hold and eventually caused its decline.

After the South had lost the war and was forced to re-enter the Union on Northern terms, the ideals behind the Emancipation Proclamation continued to take hold in American law. The United States Congress had passed the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments in 1868 after about two years of drafting within Congress itself. These radical amendments freed all slaves within the American nation, and solidified the freedom of those who were released under Lincoln's Proclamation. These amendments set a Constitutional precedent that every man was to have the same rights as every other citizen on American soil. Since the South had been brutally defeated, there was little former slave owners could do but to continue to watch the economy of their beloved South fall into ruins. With droves of free laborers gone, thousands of able-bodied soldiers left dead and severely injured as to not be able to work, and huge amounts of Southern debt thanks to the war, the South was lead into a dark period of poverty and struggle for the next generations.

Although Abraham Lincoln had his own set of morals which pushed him time and time again to attempt to defeat the evil of slavery, he was bound to the Constitution and could not order a Federal proclamation against slavery in a time of peace. However, as the Civil War broke out, Lincoln grabbed the opportunity to use his presidential war time powers to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, effectively freeing the slaves within the rebel Confederacy. Along with achieving his dreams of morality, Lincoln also used this Proclamation as a condemning military strategy aimed at taking the legs out from under the Southern war machine. Once he had effectively done so, the South had lost a major advantage, and later crumbled under Union forces.

Andrus, Albert, Emancipation Proclamation: Speeches…

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