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Lincoln With Annotations

Lincoln With Annotations

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Published by: gkulo on Jun 03, 2009
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Chapter 14
Abraham Lincoln: Great or Reluctant Emancipator 
erhaps no other American president is as revered as Abraham Lincoln. The self-educated rail splitter rose from an humble background to guide the US through itsgreatest crisis, the Civil War. Long known as the “Great Emancipator”, Lincoln has beencredited with having fulfilled a lifetime ambition of ending this accursed institution while alsoreuniting this country.But another view of Lincoln has also emerged. Writing in Ebony Magazine, LeroneBennett in 1962 complained that Lincoln was like most whites at the time a racist at heartwho loved to tell ‘darky’ jokes, and was forced against his own inclinations to end slavery.As you read Lincoln’s speeches and learn of the steps he took toward ending slavery, decidefor yourself, was he the “Great” or only a “Reluctant” emancipator.
 
Lincoln as Candidate for Office
 
Lincoln’s Speeches
1. 1854: First Public anti-slavery speech 
Slavery is unquestionably a wrong. The great mass of mankind con-sider slavery a great moral wrong. [This feeling] lies at the very foun-dation of their sense of justice, and cannot be trifled with. No statesmancan safely disregard it.
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2. 1856: On Slavery
Let us draw a cordon so to speak, around the slave states and thehateful institution, like a reptile poisoning itself, will perish by its owninfamy.
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3. 1858: House Divided Speech
A house divide against itself cannot stand. I believe this governmentcannot endure permanently half-slave and half-free. I do not expect thehouse to fall, but I do expect it will cease to be divide. It will become allone thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest thefurther spread of it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that itis in the course of ultimate extinction or its advocates will push it for-ward, till it shall become alike in all the states, old as well as new,North as well as South.
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Have we no tendency to the latter condition?
Social and PoliticalBackground
During Lincoln’s boy-hood, slaves were un-known. But people inthe Northwest heldhostile attitudes to-ward Negroes.Lincoln's wife camefrom a prominentslave-holding family.In Illinois, runawayslaves were oftencaught and returnedto slavery.Free blacks could notvote, were requiredto pay high taxes,and were thus forcedto leave the state. 
1
 
Quoted in Richard Hofstadter,
The American Political Tradition
, Random House, New York, 1948, p.111.
P
 
2
Lincoln as Candidate for Office (continued)
Lincoln’s Speeches4. 1858: On the Territories
The whole nation is interested that the best use shall be made of theseterritories. We want them for homes of free white people. This theycannot be, to any considerable extent, if slavery be planted withinthem. Slave states are places for poor white people to move from, not tomove to. New free states are the places for poor people to go to, tobetter their condition.
5. 1858: On racial equality in Chicago
 
Let us discard all this quibbling about this man and the other man,this race and that race and the other race being inferior, and thereforethey must be placed in an inferior position. Let us discard all thesethings, and unite as one people throughout this land, until we shallonce more stand up declaring that all men are created equal.
6. On racial equality in Charleston, Illinois
 
I will say then, that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringingabout in any way the social and political equality of the white andblack races; that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of making votersor jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor tointermarry with white people. And inasmuch as they cannot so live,while they do remain together there must be the position of superiorand inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having thesuperior position assigned to the white race.
7. 1858: The Difference with Douglas
The real issue in this controversy is the sentiment on the part of oneclass that looks upon the institution of slavery as a wrong and anotherclass that does not look upon the institution of slavery as a wrong. Thesentiment that contemplates the institution of slavery as a wrong is thesentiment of the Republican party. They insist that it should as far aspossible be treated as a wrong: and one of those methods of treating itas a wrong is to make provision that it should grow no larger. Theyalso look to a peaceful end of slavery at sometime, as being wrong.
Social and PoliticalBackground
Most Americans who
opposed slavery didnot believe in Negroequality. Many whoopposed slaverymerely did not wantblack people, eitherfree or slave, livingamongst them in theNorth or in theterritories.Workers were wor-ried that slaves couldcompete with whitesfor jobs. Settlersfeared slavery wouldhurt their chances inthe territories.Lincoln was underpressure todifferentiate hisposition on slaveryfrom Douglas's, andwas vying for votesin Illinois. 
2
 
Quoted in Dwight Dumond,
 Anti-Slavery Origins of the Civil War in the United States
, University ofMichigan Press, Ann Arbor, 1959, p. 108
3
Quoted in Paual Angle,
op. cit.,
 p. 2.
 
3
Lincoln’s Speeches and Actions As President
1. 1861: Repeats previous promises not to interfere with slaverywhere it already exists. Refuses to compromise on issue ofextension of slavery. Would not accept Crittenden proposal ofextending Missouri Compromise line to California.2. 1861: Although Confederate states are out of the Union,Congress organizes Colorado and other territories on the basis ofpopular sovereignty.3. 1861: Reverses General Fremont's order to free the slaves ofmen who are fighting against the Union in Missouri.4. 1862: Proposes compensated emancipation for slaves in loyalstates and in Washington, D.C. Lincoln proposes deporting allslaves thus freed to Africa.5. 1862: Issues following explanation for his wartime policiesregarding slavery: 
My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and it is noteither to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union withoutfreeing any slave, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all of theslaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leavingothers alone, I would also do that. What I do about slavery and thecolored race I do because I believe it helps to save the Union.
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6. January 1, 1863: Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation.It frees all slaves South of the Union armies. Emancipation is nowan official war aim of the North. But no slaves are immediatelyfree. Slaves in Union territory or in the border states are notcovered by the Proclamation.7. 1863: Lincoln offers to re-admit to the Union all Southern statesthat abolish slavery. He does not require that slaves be guaranteedConstitutional rights such as speech, trial by jury, vote, ownproperty, etc. Lincoln still considers deportation of freed slaves toAfrica or South and Central America.8. 1864: Lincoln uses his influence to convince reluctantCongressmen to pass Amendment 13 (abolishing slavery) andsends it to be ratified by the states. Still has no plan to help freedslaves except for deportation9. Under Lincoln’s plan carried out by his successor, ten states areadmitted to the Union; all pass laws severely restricting the rightsof freed blacks and elect former Confederate leaders to hold high 
Social PoliticalBackground
Confederacy formedfrom 7 states out of theUnion. 8 more statesconsidered secession. 4slaves states remain inthe Union after the warstarted.Many in North wouldsupport a war to savethe Union, but would notsupport a war to freethe slaves.Pressure from abol-itionists to do some-thing about slavery in-creased. Many in Northwere unhappy withLincoln's policies onslavery.Criticism against Lin-coln's slave policyincreased. England wasabout to recognize theConfederacy as aseparate nation. TheBritish would notrecognize it if the CivilWar became an anti-slave crusade.War still raged. Somestates, were conqueredand could be readmittedinto the Union.Lee surrendered atAppomattox April 9,1865.Lincoln is assassinated &his Vice-presidentcarries out his plan for
restoring the Union

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