October 26, 2013 at 1:21 am #15279murphy560Member
Professor McClanahan, could you give a brief synopsis of all the plausible reasons for Lincoln’s issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Do we have much historical evidence for Lincoln’s true motives or are these more or less educated guesses? Also, I’ve heard conflicting reports as to the effect of the EP ranging from “it never freed a single slave” to “thousands of slaves were freed almost immediately with many more thousands to follow as union victories progressed.” Where do you stand on the truth of these claims?October 27, 2013 at 11:32 pm #15280gutzmankParticipant
Lincoln’s emancipation policy ultimately meant the end of slavery in North America. The point that it didn’t free them immediately is a bit silly: within three years, they were all free.
Lincoln said it was a war measure. Harry Jaffa says that was just another lie in what had been an unbroken string of lies by Lincoln to hide from people that he really had always intended to abolish slavery. There is of course no way dispositively to disprove that he had always intended to do what he finally did, but there’s no proof other than that he ultimately did it to support that he had always intended to do so. It’s hard to believe that anyone could have been so committed a liar for decades on end, but you can believe that if you’d like.October 30, 2013 at 12:41 pm #15281Brion McClanahanMember
Lincoln floated several proposals to end slavery during the war, ranging from compensated emancipation to colonization. Both were rejected by congressional leaders for being too expensive. In fact, members of his administration met with the largest slave-owner in Delaware (a Republican) and the two hammered out a deal which would have paid slave-owners quite well for emancipation. Lincoln was a typical politician who said what he thought people wanted to hear. He had long been against slavery extension but was not a committed abolitionist. The Proclamation, as Kevin suggests, was the first step in ending de jure slavery in North America, but Delaware maintained slavery until December 1865. The EP did nothing to free slaves in the North or border States, only those under military occupation. I have long said that people should celebrate the 13th amendment if they wish to mark the end of slavery, not the EP.October 30, 2013 at 5:53 pm #15282murphy560Member
Professors Gutzman and McClanahan, thanks for the responses. For a man who was never a “committed abolitionist” and said in his first inaugural address that he didn’t intend to interfere with the institution of slavery, my real question is why was it that he decided to issue the EP at all? As a “war measure” do you think he did it to damage the southern economy further, to provoke a slave uprising, to gain European support for the north, etc.? Or did he decide in the middle of the war that, with how horribly things were going, he should take this as an opportunity to end slavery once and for all? If this was the case then why would he free slaves in only rebel states?November 6, 2013 at 9:56 pm #15283gutzmankParticipant
We can only know what he said, not what he had in mind. Reasonable inferences can lead us in several different directions in this regard. One motive that you left out is that he hoped it would yield further black enlistment in the Union military, which it apparently did.
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