Lincoln and Position on Slavery

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“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and it is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.” For the first year of the Civil War, this was the position of President Abraham Lincoln in regards to slavery. Although slavery was not the initial concern of President Lincoln, it did play the most important role in the war. Slavery played its most essential roles in the Border States, the emancipation proclamation, and black soldiers.

The Border States were the first cause for concern for President Lincoln. When the war began, Delaware was the only state that was certain to remain in the Union. This made Lincoln’s immediate goal to retain the loyalty of Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri. Lincoln was successful in maintaining the states, which was even more important when he developed a plan to move towards slaves’ freedom. In the movement toward freedom, the Union army adopted a policy declaring any runaway slaves as contraband of war. Lincoln ignored these acts instituted by Congress; rather he warned the Boarder States that the war was bound to destroy slavery of its own momentum. Therefore, he encouraged those states to start adopting processes of emancipation. He developed a proclamation that would weaken the Confederacy militarily by making the struggle one of freedom versus slavery. Lincoln needed to wait for a Union victory to announce his plan so it would have the most effect. The battle of Antietam soon followed and was a major Union victory.

The emancipation proclamation was announced following the victory at Antietam. “The proclamation stated that all slaves within rebel lines would be freed unless the seceded states returned to their allegiance by January 1, 1863.” The proclamation only applied to the slaves that...
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