Abraham Lincoln - Hero or Racist?

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22 Aug. 2009
Abraham Lincoln - Hero or Racist?
Abraham Lincoln is arguably one of the most interesting presidents in the history of the United States. Any research done on Lincoln will show, whether you agree or disagree with his philosophies, that he was, and still is, a fascinating historical figure. There have been numerous discussions regarding Lincoln before the Civil War, during the war as Commander In Chief, or his views on slavery and racial equality; furthermore, vast debates on his views, strategies, and solutions regarding events that helped shape our nation. Abraham Lincoln is such an interesting person that discussions and debates will lead to more questions open to more discussion and debate. What was Lincoln’s view on racial equality and slavery? What was the reason behind the Civil War? Was there an ulterior motive for the Emancipation Proclamation? These are just some of the wide variety of questions asked when the topic of discussion is Abraham Lincoln. What was Lincoln’s view on slavery and racial equality? Many people were pro-slavery. Stephen Douglas, Lincoln’s opponent for the Illinois Senate, was one and aggressively challenged Lincoln on his anti-slavery views. Lincoln’s statements concerning slavery were used to turn his constituency against him. Forced to defend his views, Lincoln held several public debates with Douglas around the United States. James McPherson notes that while in Charleston, Illinois for a debate with Stephen Douglas on September 18, 1858, Lincoln was asked if he was actually interested in racial equality. Responding defensively, Lincoln stated, “Anything that argues me into his idea of a perfect social and political equality is but a specious and fantastic arrangement of words by which a man can prove a horse chestnut to be a chestnut horse.” (“Mudsills and Greasy Mechanics for A. Lincoln” 185-186). While he did think that blacks were “entitled to all the natural rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence,...
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