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I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races. This statement was just one of many that President Lincoln addressed to the people as his stand to the aim of the war. From the beginning of the war, President Lincoln had insisted that his primary aim was the restoration of the Union, not the abolition of slavery. However, the 1858 statement that he made about his position on slavery can be reconciled with his 1862 Emancipation Proclamation because as the war continued, Lincoln saw that the preservation of the Union depended, in part, on the destruction of slavery. The Lincoln Administration believed that if they made the abolition of slavery a war aim, they could stop Great Britain or France from recognizing the Confederacy. Both Great Britain and France had long since abolished slavery and would not support a country fighting a war to defend it. Furthermore, emancipation might allow the North to undercut the South’s war effort, which was supported by slave labor.

Lincoln, and many people like him , believed that slavery was wrong, but they were not abolitionists. This was due to the fact that he, nor his counterparts, could augur an alternative to it in the areas where it already existed. He also shared the view that the black race was not prepared, and may never be prepared, to live on equal terms with whites. He and his party believed that by restricting slavery to the South, that the institution of slavery would ultimately wither away. As the war came about, Lincoln had to take drastic measures to ensure the stability of the union. Lincoln had tried to keep the issue of slavery out of the reason why the civil war was taking place, but these actions proved to be futile. As the war progressed, Republican radicals against slavery began to gain influence among the people and among their peers in the Congress. Lincoln saw this and decided to jump on the band wagon of the rising antislavery sentiment sweeping the Union. Lincoln came to accept the fact that to fully unite the union as one that he had to abolish slavery through the Emancipation Proclamation.

The Lincoln Administration also believed that if they made the abolition of slavery a war aim, they could stop Great Britain or France from recognizing the Confederacy. Britain and France were ready to jump in on the side of the Confederacy, due to the fact that the South and not the North was where they received their materials for their textile industry. During that time, the North s textile industry was a great competitor of Europe s and putting and end to that would be a immense advantage to them. Also the ruling classes of both Britain and France were sympathetic to the Confederacy because some of them admired the supposedly aristocratic social order of the South, which they believed resembled the hierarchical structures of their own societies. Also, France was would not join the side of the Confederacy unless, Britain did so first. But as clever as Lincoln was, he knew that both Great Britain and France had both abolished slavery and fighting on the side that was in favor of the institution they found so abominable would be hypocrisy on their part. So, Lincoln also through the Emancipation Proclamation made it clear that the North was in favor of abolishing slavery, so now the European nations hands were tied and either had to side with the Union or be neutral and many picked neutrality.

Another quote that Lincoln is famous for stating is: A house divided against itself can not stand. I believe this government can not endure permanently half slave and half free. I do no expect the Union to be dissolved– I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other. This statement is like the saying, a house dived against itself can not stand. Lincoln knew this to be true. The South depended heavily on the labor of its slaves, but this dependency would not only be the ruin of the nation if it continued, but of also the South itself. The main war effort for the South was to continue its peculiar institution of slavery and to also spread it to other places. If Lincoln could cut off their labor supply, their war effort would be futile. And as a result, that is what he did wit the Emancipation Proclamation, undercut the South’s war effort, which was supported by slave labor.

In conclusion, Lincoln s 1858 statement could be reconciled with his 1862 Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln was not an abolitionist, but knew in his heart and mind that the institution of slavery was morally wrong. However, his main concern was the state of the country, if that meant continuing slavery and looking the other way while it was practiced, so be it. Fortunately, it came to the point that the only way the Union could be made whole was if the peculiar institution of slavery was abolished.


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