I know that Lincoln was no abolitionist and that he was more than willing to compromise with slaveholders throughout his political career. But I’ve seen and heard arguments that, since he was a politician, he took a politician’s approach to ending slavery and had to appear to compromise even as he was working behind the scenes to end it?
Does anyone have any thoughts as to what degree this is true? Just looking at his words and actions, I don’t see a lot of evidence that he was all that concerned with ending slavery in the South.
That he always intended to do what he ultimately did do is a non-falsifiable claim. The chief problem is that there is no evidence to support the idea that he was a secret abolitionist in, say, 1845 other than the fact that in 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation and by the end of his life, he had shepherded the 13th Amendment to adoption.
I find it incredible that Lincoln always was an abolitionist and wisely never acted like one. (Not only did he not act like one, but he attended minstrel shows (whose subject matter was mockery of blacks’ speech, appearance, walking, etc.) commonly, used the n-word on several recorded occasions, etc.) In fact, I tend to accept Phil Magness’s argument that Lincoln never abandoned his desire to deport all American blacks from the country–that is, to “colonize” them abroad.