Abraham Lincoln: "Great Emancipator" or Common Politician?

Topics: American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, Abolitionism Pages: 4 (1497 words) Published: March 8, 2008
President Abraham Lincoln has been revered as one of the greatest presidents in the history of the United States. He is known for his great effect on slavery and served his terms during the civil war in a time of great controversy. The American Civil War (1860-1865) occurred at the exact time of Lincoln's presidency (1861-1865). The North and the South were divided and a big issue was slavery, on which Lincoln took an anti-slavery stance. Lincoln has been called many things because of his views "from the great emancipator to the reluctant emancipator to the white supremacist, or, in more vulgar terms, Lincoln as just another honkie" (Hubbell 1). While many people believe Abraham Lincoln to be the "Great Emancipator" of the times, he was really just a politician who took a political stance on the current issue of slavery.

In opposition, Lincoln was considered by some as one of the greatest advocates for slaves' rights and a fighter for emancipation as a social cause. In a letter to Albert G. Hodges in 1864, Lincoln writes, "I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I can not remember when I did not so think, or feel," (qtd. in Gienapp 194). Abraham Lincoln openly opposed slavery and thought it was extremely unethical. He never wanted to have slavery in the United States and believed it wrong according to his moral standards. As a social issue, he personally did not support it. Lincoln believed that a person's fate should not be determined by birth and he supported the Whig ideal of economic growth (Hubbell 1). Therefore, Lincoln believed that black men should be free and not restrained by their color, and he believed in fostering economic growth by the extensive amount of jobs that would arise after eliminating slave labor.

In the words of Arthur Zilversmit, "no American story was as "false" as the traditional picture of Lincoln as the Great Emancipator" (Zilversmit 1). Lincoln necessarily had to accept, and then defend, policies...

Cited: Berwanger, Eugene H., Lincoln 's Constitutional Dilemma: Emancipation and Black Suffrage. Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association 5.NA (1983): 26 pars. 19 Nov. 2007 .
Gienapp, William E. This Fiery Trial. New York: Oxford UP, 2002.
Hubbell, John T., Abraham Lincoln and the Recruitment of Black Soldiers. Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association 2.NA (1980): 27 pars. 19 Nov. 2007 .
Klingaman, William K. Abraham Lincoln and the Road to Emancipation. New York: Viking, 2001.
Lincoln, Abraham. "Emancipation Proclamation." 1 Jan. 1863. 19 Nov. 2007 .
Zilversmit, Arthur, Lincoln and the Problem of Race: A Decade of Interpretations. Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association 2.NA (1980): 38 pars. 19 Nov. 2007 .
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