President Abraham Lincoln is credited with freeing the slaves, though that was not his initial intent. Lincoln believed that slavery went against the Declaration of Independence. The idea that all men are created equal was not being followed with slavery. At first Lincoln was not concerned with freeing slaves, but only conserving the union. His position evolved over time with event after event until he finally came to an abolitionist way of thinking.
The first event was the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which overturned the Missouri compromise, which prohibited slavery in the Louisiana Territory, except for in the proposed state of Missouri. The Kansas-Nebraska Act decided that the issue of whether or not slavery was legal was a decision that went to state government. It also lead to a fight inside Kansas known as “Bleeding Kansas” abolitionists and pro-slavery citizens of Kansas fought over whether Kansas should be a free state or a slave state. Because of abolitionist settlers that moved from the east, Kansas became a free state, which lead to more turmoil in Kansas.
The next event that helped Lincoln's position on slavery was the Dred Scott decision of 1857, which stated that outlawing slavery would violate southerners' property rights, and also that people of African descent (both slave and free) were not protected by the Constitution and were not U.S. citizens. The decision was fiercely debated across the country, the best examples are the Lincoln–Douglas debates of 1858, a series of seven debates when Lincoln ran for Stephen A. Douglas' seat in the senate. Douglas accused Lincoln and his “Black Republican” party of being abolitionists and essentially said that Lincoln was a Negro lover. Lincoln said that Douglas ignored the basic humanity of blacks, and that slaves did have an equal right to liberty.
Lincoln lost the 1858 election, and edited and published the debates. The debates became very popular as well as his book, which lead to Lincoln...
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