Abraham Lincoln: Abolitionist?

Topics: Abolitionism, American Civil War, Slavery in the United States Pages: 5 (903 words) Published: April 7, 2008
Abraham Lincoln is considered a hero for freeing slaves with his Emancipation

Proclamation, yet if you were to take a long, hard look at Honest Abe, you would find that his

reputation is quite skewed in relation to his true character. Considered the ultimate Abolitionist

and a defender of enslaved blacks, Lincoln didn’t hold truly strong anti-slavery beliefs, and can

actually be considered a racist and bigot by today’s standards. To judge Lincoln by today’s

standards may be a bit unfair though, due to the society he was a part of and the time period he

lived in, and the feats he accomplished during his presidency were nothing short of revolutionary

Abraham Lincoln is viewed today, by many, as a defender of blacks and an abolitionist.

This notion is actually false. Although Lincoln believed slavery was morally wrong, “Those who

deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain

it” (Basler 376), he wasn’t actually anti-slavery, and believed that he was to do whatever was

best for the unification of the Union. “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union,

and 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 so it... what I about slavery...

I do because I believe that it helps to save the Union.” (Basler 388) Lincoln was also a racist and

felt that blacks did not deserve equal rights as whites. He believed, as did many whites at this

time, that his rave was the superior. “I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the rave ti

wgucg u belong having the superior position. I have never said anything to the contrary.”

(www.lewrockwell.com/orig/young8.html) Lincoln even went as far as stating that all blacks

should move from America and that the nation should be ethnically cleansed. “Send them to

Liberia, to their own native land.” (www.lewrockwell.com/orig/young8.html) Lincoln was not a

true abolitionist either. Even William Lloyd Garrison, one of the most influential abolitionists of

the time, has said that “[Lincoln] has not a drop of anti-slavery blood in his veins.”

(www.lewrockwell.com/orig/young8.html) Although this is probably a bit of an exaggeration on

Garrison’s part, he was partially right. Lincoln as stated before, only helped to abolish slavery in

order to stabilize a unified Union “I too, go for saving the Union. Much as I hate slavery, I would

consent to the extension of it rather than see the Union dissolved” (Neely pg. 39), and only truly

freed slaves in secession states. As on can see from these quotes and ideas, many of today’s ideas

about Abraham Lincoln are untrue.

I believe that when judging Abraham Lincoln as both a leader and a human being, one

must use the context of his character to do so. If one were to use the 21st century measuring stick

(Set of standards) while judging members of society in the 19th century, one would write off a

good majority of the population as immoral and indecent. Yet if one were to base judgement in

relation to the views and values of Lincoln’s time, one would find that his opinions on blacks

were common for his time. Lincoln’s deeming of slavery as immoral and wrong during th 19th

century could be considered a liberal stand, yet today, no matter what political views one holds,

almost anyone would agree with Lincoln on the subject. Although I feel that it is necessary to

judge Lincoln by the set of standards of his time, at the same time I feel that no matter what time

period you are in, racism is racism, and racism is wrong. Living in an educated, open-minded

society, everyone knows and accepts this today. Despite his questionable, ethnocentric views at

the time, I still feel that one needs to judge Abraham Lincoln by 19th century standards....

Bibliography: The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln
Edited by Roy P. Basler
The Last Best Hope of Earth
By Mark E. Neely, Jr.
1993 The Harvard University Press
Abraham Lincoln in his own words - By Adam Young
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