Abraham Lincoln's Opinion on Slavery During the Civil War

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Date:  2021-03-26

Abraham Lincoln was the President of the United States of America from March 1861 up to April 14, 1865, when he was assassinated by a shooter who sympathized the Confederate States. His views on slavery started in 1854 when he opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act which opened these two states to slavery. This act revoked the Missouri Compromise which outlawed slavery in some regions. Abraham Lincoln opposed slavery because it violated the principles of Republicanism which stresses liberty and sovereignty among the citizens. When Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1960, he became outspoken about slavery and was a weapon of untold value in representing his ideas of Negro slavery and freedom (Oakleaf 203). Lincoln's call for anti-slavery during his presidency was one of the leading causes of the American civil war of 1861-1865.

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Abraham Lincoln advocated for the abolishing of slaves and slavery in the American territories. Ferries notes that no one ever denied that Abraham Lincoln opposed slavery in America with all his heart and soul (552). His call against slavery in the territories dominated the 1860 presidential election and went on long after being elected President. The Republican Party, which Abraham Lincoln was a candidate, campaigned against slavery in the American territories. The Democrats nominated their candidate and wanted the protection of the slaves in their territories because they lived in the vast farming land, and wanted cheap labor for their farms. This fact was against Abraham Lincolns view of abolishing slavery and hence led to conflict with the territories which wanted slaves to work on their farms.

During Abraham Lincoln's reign as the President, he decreed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, as a strategy to win the Civil War because the South was using slaves in fighting the war against the North. This proclamation changed the status of over 3 million slaves who were held in different parts of the American states and hence were made free. The paramount effect of this proclamation was that the moment a slave escaped from the hands of the Confederate, either by running away from where they were held or if the Federal government troops freed them, they became free. The military and the naval authority were tasked with recognizing and maintaining the freedom of such persons, neither were they to suppress or act to repress them but should put efforts to make sure that they make the freedom of such slaves a reality.

The Emancipation Proclamation was made by the President with the virtue that the Federal law allowed him to enact such as he was the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States. There were several States which held slaves. This decree only applied to the Confederate regions who forced slaves to work for them. Despite some regions such as Delaware, Missouri and Virginia holding slaves, they were excluded from Emancipation Proclamation because Abraham Lincoln feared to alienate them because they remained loyal to the Union (Guelzo 10).

In addition to the Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln further declared that any slave who managed to run away from the hands of their master had the choice of being drafted into the United States Army depending on ability. They were to serve in various parts of the military such as manning vessels, fortifying garrisons, positions, and stations. When they were drafted into the army, the colored officers served in black units only and were under the command of white officials. Even though discrimination existed, they courageously fought and helped the North in winning the battle (McPherson 1).

The President also gave an order that the slaves who were set free after the Emancipation Proclamation should desist from any form of violence but were only permitted to do so only if they were defending themselves from any aggression. President Lincoln also allowed them to work unflinchingly for wages that were reasonable by figuring out on their own. No one was to force them. The slaves were flexible in that they could work according to their needs, unlike when their masters gave them work they wanted. The freed slaves tasted their first freedom, and this came with an opportunity to go to school. Some started building houses, formed communities and worked for wages, contrary to what happened in the South where women and men were forced to work as nurses, blacksmiths, building fortifications and working in factories.

Abraham Lincolns letter to the editor of the New York Tribune times on August 22, 1862, marks another great opinion that he talked publically against slavery. This message was a response to an article that written by Horace Greeley to President Lincoln demanding him to fight slavery with liberty and wanted an immediate action on emancipation. Abraham Lincoln wanted to save the Union after some states seceded and formed the Confederate States of America because of the Presidents call to abolish slavery. These Confederate states depended solely on agriculture mainly cotton, and the chief source of labor was the slaves. President Lincoln wanted to save the Union and at the same time abolish slavery but did not agree with anyone who would not save the Union and continue with slavery (Ferries 553). Saving the Union was Abraham Lincolns main aim during the Civil War. He said in the letter that if it were possible for him to save the Union without setting free any slave, he would do it and that saving the Union by setting free some slaves or all the slaves was what he would also do. He believed that whatever he did about slavery would help in saving the Union.

Moreover, Abraham Lincoln disagreed with other people when it came to making decisions regarding slavery. He revoked a previous Proclamation that freed slaves in Missouri issued in 1861 by Major General John C. Fremont who was the commander of the Union forces. These slaves supported the South by taking up arms or were active in the fight against the Federal government of the United States. Abraham Lincoln saw that General Fremont declaration was purely political and far out of range from the military law. He believed that the general made a reckless decision and instead of it being a way of saving the Federal government, it was going to endanger it.

President Lincoln issued his emancipation proclamation a year later which declared free all the slaves held in the South. He accused General Fremont of confiscating the lands of the people who were loyal to the president and even freed slaves who were working for the dedicated people. The President was angered by the decree because the volunteers of the Federal government laid down their arms and disbanded when they heard that the slave owners had released their slaves. The arms these people had was likely to be used by the enemies of Abraham Lincoln.

In conclusion, Abraham Lincoln had opinions over slaves and slavery when the Civil War raged in the American States. Emancipation Proclamation was a view that led to the abolishment of slavery in the territories that were against Abraham Lincoln's anti-slavery call all over the United States. Despite this, slavery still continued in some states which seceded after the election of Abraham Lincoln as President in 1860 and later led to the start of the American Civil War. Other opinions which brought slavery to an end include the letters he wrote to different people which publically admonished slavery. In a nutshell, he succeeded in the abolishing slavery in the United States. He proved to be a swift and determined leader who rallied the people against slavery and perhaps no other person could have accomplished more than him.

Works cited

Ferris, Aaron A. The Validity of the Emancipation Edict. The North American Review, vol. 131, no. 289, 1880, pp. 551576. www.jstor.org/stable/25100918.

Guelzo, Allen C. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America. Simon and Schuster, 2005.

Lincoln, Abraham. "Letter to Horace Greeley." Accessed on June 29 (1862): 2011.

McPherson, James M. Who Freed the Slaves? Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, vol. 139, no. 1, 1995, pp. 110. www.jstor.org/stable/986716.

Oakleaf, J. B. Abraham Lincoln and Rock Island County. Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society (1908-1984), vol. 5, no. 2, 1912, pp. 202206. www.jstor.org/stable/40194008.

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Abraham Lincoln's Opinion on Slavery During the Civil War. (2021, Mar 26). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/abraham-lincolns-opinion-on-slavery-during-the-civil-war

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