The Legacy of President Abraham Lincoln
More than 150 years have passed since Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. His quest to prevent slavery from spreading into western U.S. Territories, which began as a political platform for his candidacy for President of United States continued as an ideological mission throughout his administration until his death. It should have ended a political career before it even started. Lincoln’s own evolution which led to an allegiance to a higher authority with respect to the morality of slavery went directly against every social, political, economic and constitutional norm of his day. His belief that every man is created equal under God which included slaves was an issue that divided a nation, precipitated one of the bloodiest civil wars and nearly destroyed a form of democratic government that the founding fathers had fought hard to create a century before Lincoln’s time. While the issue of slavery was at the forefront of every political, social and economic debate in America during Lincoln’s first term candidacy for President, the overriding goal and greater concern was preservation of the Union at all costs. The obstacles that Lincoln faced in seeking to bridge a divided nation during his presidency may not be that far removed from very similar issues that the Obama Administration faced in its first term and continuing into the second. The differing economic and social debates between North and South in the 1860’s are now replaced by battles between Conservative Republicans and Liberal Democrats. Slave labor issues that were at the fore in precipitating a Civil War are not too different from the serious concerns of a modern day dwindling middle class and outsourcing of work to China, Southeast Asia and India where cheaper labor is abundant. The Lincoln presidency immediately began with a declaration of War and the Obama Presidency beginning with a nation trying to end two wars as well as on the verge of financial collapse. This essay will compare and contrast the administrations of Lincoln and Obama and how their election into office came at very critical junctures in our Nation’s history. During the campaign for Lincoln’s first term as President, the Republican platform was more about preventing the extension slavery in the U.S. Western Territories than actual abolition in the southern states. Although Lincoln may have believed that slavery in itself was morally wrong, he did believe that under the Constitution, slavery was a state’s rights issue and was not as interested in forcefully abolishing it in the south. In actuality, by the 1860’s, slavery was practically abolished in the northern states. Lincoln felt that so long as slavery was not allowed to spread into the U.S. Territories or newly formed states, the morality of slavery would take hold of the South’s better judgment and would extinguish itself over time. Unfortunately for Lincoln, by the time he made his first Inaugural Speech in March of 1861, seven states had already declared succession with the formation of the Confederate States of America. When Lincoln entered into the Oval Office as the 16th President of the United States, the focus of his presidency had shifted away from the morality of slavery to an even greater concern of preserving Democracy and the Union. Lincoln was firmly convinced that preservation of Democracy was tied to preserving the Union of all of the States, at all costs. In Lincoln’s mind there was absolutely no room for discussion of succession and any peaceful negotiations between Northern, Southern and Border States would have to lead towards acceptance of a northern federalist approach to the future of the country or war. Leaving the Southern States with no actual alternative, South Carolina forces attacked the Union controlled Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861 and the U.S....
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