Abraham Lincoln And Slavery Essay

1560 words - 6 pages

Abraham Lincoln and Slavery


Many Americans believe that Abraham Lincoln was the
“Great Emancipator,” the sole individual who ended slavery,
and the man who epitomizes freedom. In his brief
presidential term, Lincoln dealt with an unstable nation,
with the South seceding from the country and in brink of
leaving permanently. The differing ideologies between the
North and South about the economy and slavery quickly lead
to civil war. It was now the duty of Lincoln to maintain
the unity of the nation. Therefore, Lincoln is not the
“Great Emancipator” because his primary goals throughout his
presidency was always to maintain the unity of the nation
and not achieve the emancipation of slaves.

First of all, by looking at Lincoln’s road to the white
house, one can see that Abraham Lincoln was a man undecided
on the issue of slavery. He wisely used the issue of
slavery to appeal to both the abolitionists and to
Negrophobes, Northerners who were afraid of living side-by-
side with Negroes and competing with them for jobs. For
example, on July 10th of 1959, Lincoln gave a speech in
Chicago, a primarily abolitionist town. Lincoln stated that
inequality was unnecessary in this country. If all men were
created equal then were should look past race, saying, “Let
us discard all these things, and unite as one people
throughout this land, until we shall once more stand up
declaring that all men are created equal” (Hofstadter, pg.
148). On the other hand, Lincoln gave a speech in
Charleston, on September 18, 1858, a primarily pro-slavery
town and gave a totally contrary opinion. Lincoln stated
that he is not, or has ever been, in favor of freeing slaves
and giving them social equality. Lincoln stated, “I am not,
nor ever have been, in favor of making voters or jurors of
Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office” (Hofstadter,
pg. 150). Clearly, Lincoln was an undecided politician who
was merely looking for votes. He never had any intention of
ending slavery, but was rather looking for his own personal
gains, and by appealing to both ideologies; he gained the
necessary support to elect his president.

From the beginning of his presidency, at Lincoln’s First
Inaugural Address, it is clear to see he was not the “Great
Emancipator,” but a man trying to maintain the unity of the
nation. Lincoln believed that he had “no purpose, directly
or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery
in the States where it exists.” Lincoln continues and says,
“I believe that I have not lawful right to do so, and I have
no inclination to do so” (Majewaki, pg. 70). Lincoln was a
humble politician. He in no way wanted to endanger the
unity of the nation. But it is important to see that his
First Inaugural Address was given in March of 1861, already
after the Southern states had succeded from the nation.
What Lincoln was trying to accomplish was to return the
Southern states to the union. ...

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