Who Freed the Slaves
The long standing question of “who freed the slaves” has been under debate since the conclusion of the Civil War. One side of the argument takes the more obvious claim that emancipation came at the hand of the great Abraham Lincoln. The other side of the argument claims that the Slaves themselves attained their freedom. Both sides have been heavily researched and strongly supported with many facts. Do we give credit to one person for generating the political backing and eventually passing the legislation to emancipate the slaves? Do we give credit to those with so much drive to survive that they manage to escape their lives of oppression? Additionally, the Union Military enabled the Slaves to seek refuge. It would be unfair to simply give all the credit to one or the other. No one person or effort can be given full credit for the eventual outcome. There are aspects of both arguments that when combined led to the eventual freedom of slaves. Abraham Lincoln was arguably our finest president. His contributions to our country while in office set in motion the direction this country would eventually take. Following the notable “Lincoln/Douglass” debates in Illinois, Lincoln ran under the Republican Party and was elected into president in 1860. His goals initially were for the preservation of the union. In his first inaugural address, Lincoln spoke about the impending secession. “Physically speaking, we can not separate. We can not remove our respective sections from each other nor build an impassable wall between them.” (Olsen, pg. 65) Lincoln’s true genius was seen in the timing he had with passing policy regarding emancipation. Maintaining a difficult balance of allowing Union Army commanders to take in escaped slaves, abolishing slavery in individual states, and maintaining relations with Union friendly slave states like Kentucky and Maryland was nothing short of artwork. Lincoln’s eventual reelection in 1864 solidified his goals and...
Cited: Olsen, Christopher J. The American Civil War.
McPherson, James M. Who Freed the Slaves?
Fields, Barbara J. Who Freed the Slaves?
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