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HIST 101-Role of Lincoln in freeing slaves and Emancipation Proclamation

HIST 101-Role of Lincoln in freeing slaves and Emancipation Proclamation. Role of Lincoln in freeing slaves and Emancipation Proclamation


This paper examines the role Abraham Lincoln played in slavery and his Emancipation Proclamation that technically had slaves freed. It explains the Abraham Lincoln led up to the Emancipation Proclamation issuance. This paper will revolve around the role of slaves in the Civil War as soldiers and contrabands and the parts ignited by these conflicts. Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States of America who played a significant role in freeing slaves by signing the Emancipation Proclamation one of the most revolutionary pronouncement ever been approved by an American president (Berlin, 1998). His legal shackles act struck four million black slaves that set the face of the US towards the total slavery abolition in not more than three years. Although a section of historians holds the view that the slaves freed themselves, some argue that the slaves were freed by Lincoln (Lincoln, 2005). However, slaves also had to put the pressure to force Lincoln to act; despite, the act of emancipation was due to be issued by him, thus crediting having him credited for freeing the slaves. Presently, nevertheless, the Emancipation Proclamation is best known for its achievement. According to Karl Marx, the Proclamation language, reminds of ordinary summonses lawyers send for one another position disagreement. Therefore, Abraham Lincoln had kept his promise of freeing the slaves when he signed the Emancipation Proclamation Bill. Regardless of the manner of legality as well as the tone of the document, Abraham had a belief that the decision he made to free the slaves was an act of justice. However, his proclamation only freed slaves in the territories that were rebelling while giving freedom for the period that he was in power (Lincoln, 2005). The declaration, however, sought the slaves not to stage a violent revolution against their masters. However, it encouraged lobbying for reasonable wages for their labor. Thus, slaves for the first time had an opportunity to join the armed services. Other areas that got listed in the proclamation document included areas already occupied by Union troops, Tennessee, the newly created West Virginia, and the slaveholding regions loyal to the Union (Lincoln, 2005).

Role of Lincoln in freeing slaves and Emancipation Proclamation

Lincoln and his family did not own slaves and did not consider holding any; this is because he viewed the act as immoral and unjust (William, 2005). His first encounter with slavery was in 1830 in his early 20s when he was employed at Denton when he went to deliver goods to New Orleans. He considered the practice morally incompatible, bad policy and an injustice. Thus he became antislavery but not abolitionist. This is because; abolitionists were only seeking to end slavery and the African Americans assimilation to the society. They did not have any interest working within the Constitutional framework to solve the impasse as Lincoln was. As a lawyer, Lincoln represented the slaves in several cases. For example, in 1841, he represented a black woman and her children in Bailey and Cromwell who were free and could not be sold back to slavery (Guelzo, 2004). Lincoln supported the measures of antislavery in the US where it was legal affirmed that the United States Congress had powers, as provided in the constitution, to tamper with the institution of slavery in the different state. Lincoln had no consideration of the Civil War as a struggle to liberate slaves yet a way of keeping the Union as one. In 1862, before Emancipation Proclamation announcement, Lincoln issued a compensation emancipation policy. The policy was to offer states fair indemnity for the economic losses realized during emancipation of slaves. Nevertheless, not even a single state in the Southern part of US, not even Border States complied. The act prompted Lincoln to free all slaves in Confederate State (William, 2005).

The main impact of the Emancipation Proclamation was to mitigate the Civil War as far as slavery is concerned (Guelzo, 2004). According to Davis, there would be three effects of proclamation including total separation of these states from the United States, the exile of the whole white population of the Confederacy or absolute and the extermination of the slaves. However, not even a single of these adverse effects took place; thus the conjectures of Davis illustrated the level of uncertainty and fear for Southerners fell in the idea of emancipation. The response of slaves to freedom occurred in many ways (Hooper, 2005). First, they either added a name to their old names or changed their names as a measure of manhood and self-respect. Men rushed to claim their families and wives. Some slaves searched for their family members who were sold away. Thus they considered this war their exodus from bondage as well as the road to competent, honorable and responsible citizen. Through Lincoln interjection, several slaves were freed who later took advantage of coming out of the slavery bondage. Thus, they moved to cities while others fled to Union camps (Hooper, 2005). There were many contemporaries with some historians seeing the conflict as the force behind the conspiracy housed either in the South or North depending on their regional perspective. The civil war, as well as secession talks and the constitutional struggles between defenders of the federal government and the states' rights advocates, prompted Lincoln to understand the role slavery was playing fully. To perpetuate and strengthen this interest, Lincoln claimed no right to do more but to bar the enlargement of territory (Hooper, 2005). While recognizing this, Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation came up with a policy to end slavery. Thus, the war aimed to end slavery which earned Lincoln a place in history as the Great Emancipator.

As president, Lincoln hoped that there is need to practice prudence, thus, in 1861; he managed the Civil War with much prudence without encouraging the degeneration of war into a fierce and violent struggle of revolution (Klingaman, 2001). It is this prudence politics that opened up the strategy of Lincoln in the mighty experiment of emancipation as well as it proclamation. In 1862, Lincoln set a salient emergence toward of achieving emancipation goals. Prudence understanding was the fundamental political behavior of Lincoln which gave him the big picture regarding Emancipation in the process of liberating slaves. Since it was a legal document thus, it could not afford many flourishes. The Proclamation encouraged freed slaves for enlisting in the Union army service, of which many slaves took advantage of the opportunity (Klingaman, 2001). This provided much slavery with a chance to prove equal to whites as well as engaging in the war for their liberation. Failure of issuance of the Proclamation by Lincoln, then this opportunity would not have taken place. However, this empowered slaves to fight for their rights with their masters on equal measures. Slaves in the Border States were enlisted to gain liberation for themselves as well as their families; however, this risked their detention as well.


Lincoln embarked to battle the war on slaves to end slavery after he became president. His Emancipation Proclamation and efforts to liberate slaves proved a pivotal juncture both in the US and the history of the Civil War. Lincoln, however, did not intend to emancipate the Negro; he meant to liberate the Republic of America from the curse of slavery (Harry, 1963). Lincoln said; corroborate "It was not only the Negro that I freed but the white man no less” (Klingaman, 2001; pp. 233). Even though he faced enormous pressures during his administration, both from the people he had been elected to govern and his peers, he listened to the cries of the soldiers, abolitionists, commanders, and slaves who all petitioned for emancipation. The interpretation of his position as the president was the only tool that legitimately helped him free the slaves. He ultimately signed the Emancipation Proclamation at the behest of those who had much hatred on slavery as well as in the interests of the Union for the Emancipation Proclamation. This reminded every citizen of America that real change was only anchored on the of constitutional authority imprimatur. Also, the sufficient pressure from the slaves themselves to the government to act and finish slavery also played a role; this prompted Lincoln to respond and finally freed the slaves.


Berlin, Ira (1998). “Who Freed the Slaves? Emancipation and Its Meaning.” in Major Problems in the Civil War and Reconstruction, 2nd ed., ed. Michael Perman. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company

Guelzo, Allen C. (2004); Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004.

Hooper, E.W, (2005); “Let There Be Light. Important Facts Concerning the Negro,” in From Slavery to Freedom: The African-American Pamphlet Collection, 1824-1909, collected by the Emancipation League, [].

Klingaman, William K. (2001); Abraham Lincoln and the Road to Emancipation, 1861-1865. New York: Viking Penguin.

Lincoln, Abraham (2005); “First Inaugural Address of Abraham Lincoln.” [ avalan/presiden/inaug/lincoln1.htm].

William E. Gienapp, (2005); "Abraham Lincoln and the Border States," Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, 13, no. 1 (1992): par. 59, print page.cgi.

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