Lincoln, Slavery, and Racism

This page is your gateway to a series of articles on President Lincoln and slavery. Just click the link at the end of this post to go on through the series.

One of the most damaging myths about American history is that Abraham Lincoln was a terrible president. That he was a racist who loved slavery, and worked hard to keep the Civil War from ending it. That Abraham Lincoln was a pro-slavery weasel whom black Americans should scorn and whose memory we should all trample in the dust.

I will stamp out this ridiculous myth about Lincoln in a series of posts. To help me, I will lean heavily on the great historian David Potter, and his invaluable book The Impending Crisis: 1848-1861, and just about drown in the fantastic, should-be-required-reading-for-all-Americans Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America, by Allen Guelzo.

To get to the truth about Lincoln, we have to go back to his statements and personal thoughts about slavery when he was on the road campaigning in Illinois to win the 1858 senate race against Stephen Douglas.

When Lincoln and Douglas spoke to the people, and debated each other, slavery was a major topic. Douglas had a typical “moderate” position on slavery: since black people were not the equal of white people, black people had to be kept in check somehow. Slavery took that too far; there was no need to enslave black people. But when it came to figuring out exactly what else to do to keep them in line, Douglas had no real ideas. He was willing to grant black people their freedom as a gift, rather than a real right, but he was in no hurry to do so, since there didn’t seem to be a clear way to keep black people in order once they were free. Douglas firmly stated that black Americans were not equal to white, and that black people ought to be treated with the charity one gives to inferior beings. “To a man who, as Lincoln observed, had ‘no very vivid impression that the Negro is a human,’ slavery did not appear either as a great moral issue or as an agonizing dilemma. The most important thing about it was to avoid a violent national quarrel about it…” [Potter, 340-341, 342].

Lincoln knew slavery was wrong. He knew that the reason the Founders didn’t put the word “slavery” into the Constitution was because they were ashamed of it and hoped that slavery would die, or, as Lincoln put it, they “intended and expected the ultimate extinction” of slavery. Lincoln believed black people were the equals of white people. “Let us discard all this quibbling about [this] race and that race and the other race being inferior… Let us discard all these things and unite as one people throughout this land until we shall once more stand up declaring that all men are created equal.” (Ibid., 342-3] Lincoln also believed slavery could not be allowed to spread to the west, and that containing it would indeed set it on a course to die.

Waiting for slavery to die naturally worked for Lincoln because it preserved the Union. Like the Founders, Lincoln believed that the existence of the United States was crucial to the quotient of good in the world. Lincoln believed he was obligated to live with slavery on this basis, waiting for it to die on its own. He also didn’t know how black people could be integrated into white American society. He did not believe black and white people could live peacefully together, not after hundreds of years of slavery had driven them so far apart. Lincoln felt that black people would never be given their full rights as Americans, and that black people could never really forgive whites for enslaving them. He knew that there was no point in “[freeing black Americans] and [keeping] them among us as underlings.” Therefore, he decided the only solution, once slavery ended naturally, was to send all the black people in America “back” to Africa, “their own native land.” This despite the fact that America was their own native land.

So Lincoln aspired to high ideals, and knew intellectually that black and white people were equal, but in his daily life he was not ready to end slavery or begin the work of racial integration in the United States. And when he was addressing racist audiences during his senate campaign, he ramped up the racism in his own comments, assuring people he would never want to see blacks living equally with whites, and that the U.S. was a nation by and for whites alone.

What makes this man admirable? The fact that he changed. In 1858, he believed that black people were equal to white people, but when it came down to visualizing a truly mixed and equal society, he just couldn’t see it, and didn’t want to risk it for fear of civil war. He believed that black and white people shared a common humanity. But nothing in his life in America had prepared him to try to introduce a truly just, racially equal society.

Unlike Douglas, and most other Americans, however, Lincoln couldn’t rest with this attitude. He struggled over it. In his private papers, he wrote this: “If A can prove… that he may, of right, enslave B.—why may not B snatch the same argument, and prove equally, that he may enslave A? –You say A. is white, and B. is black. It is color, then; the lighter having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with a fairer skin than your own. You do not mean color exactly? –You mean the whites are intellectually the superiors of the blacks, and therefore have the right to enslave them? Take care again. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with an intellect superior to your own. But, say you, it is a question of interest; and if you can make it your interest, you have the right to enslave another. Very well. And if he can make it his interest, he has the right to enslave you.”

As Potter points out, “Here, clearly, Lincoln saw blacks and white together, caught indiscriminately in the web of injustice which society often weaves. …it was only random chance which had made him free and made [blacks] slave.” [Ibid., 352-3]

Lincoln was conflicted between an ideal and reality. The ideal—all people are equal, and brothers and sisters. The reality—he was uncomfortable living that out with actual black people. This is hardly surprising. Think of our own lofty ideals of liberty and justice for all and how we often fall short in living them out. We all fall short of living out our ideals.

Do we hand Lincoln a big prize for falling short of his ideals? No. And if he had stopped there, he would not be the great man that he was and the American hero that he is. But he didn’t stop there. What makes Lincoln admirable at this point is what he did next: he kept thinking about his inconsistency, and he changed his position. Slavery mattered to him. His own inconsistency mattered to him. Potter sums this up so well:

“The difference between Lincoln and Douglas… was that Douglas did not believe that slavery really mattered very much, because he did not believe that Negroes had enough human affinity with him to make it necessary to concern himself with them. Lincoln, on the contrary, believed that slavery mattered, because he recognized a human affinity with blacks which made their plight a necessary matter of concern to him. This does not mean that his position was logically consistent or that he was free of prejudice. …In a very real sense his position was ambiguous. …And, one must add, an ambiguous position is by definition one in which opposing values conflict with one another. It is hard to believe that, in Lincoln’s case, the conflicting values were really of equal force. …By a static analysis, Lincoln was a mild opponent of slavery and a moderate defender of racial discrimination. By a dynamic analysis, he held a concept of humanity which impelled him inexorably in the direction of freedom and equality.” (our italics) [Ibid., 354]

Lincoln had conflicting values, like most of us. Unlike most of us, he came pretty quickly to see that this was completely unacceptable, and he acted decisively to end slavery and to successfully integrate the United States after the war. That was in 1862, when he wrote the Emancipation Proclamation.

Part 2: The Emancipation Proclamation WAS the end of slavery in the U.S.

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38 Responses to “Lincoln, Slavery, and Racism”

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Listen kid – what you dont seem to grasp is what the OTHER side was saying about what to do with freed blacks.

This is often missed. But the SOUTH leaders were saying that they would have to EXTERMINATE the slaves — kill the slaves — if they freed them. Davis said it, other leaders said it.

A huge argument AGAINST freeing the slaves was that no one wanted to live with them in equality. Either the slaves would have to die – or the whites would have to die.

This was said often — and people don’t understand that now.

Let me repeat that – -Southern leaders were saying they would have to KILL the slaves.

So THATS the idea that Lincoln was working so hard to avoid. When you hear Lincoln talk about olonization – realize what the OTHER side was saying – -that we will kill the slaves. If you dont understand that , you dont understand Lincoln.

And Lincoln said colonization wouldnt work. It just wasnt practical. Read his Peoria speech – where he seems to be thinking out loud about it – eventually saying – regardless of what we do with freed slaves, slavery is wrong and should stop.

His first goal was to stop the SPREAD of slavery. He saw non way to end slavery – he predicted a lot of violence if anyone tried to free the slaves where they were.

You dont seem to grasp that.

Hello Dan; your passion for Lincoln is admirable, and the points you bring up are valuable reminders in an age of revision.

Lincoln was reviled in his day. And should be today. He was a tyrant with good intentions. The latter does not excuse the former if you believe in liberty. Slavery did not start the war between the States. The slavery issue was the excuse to continue with the north’s aggression. Ever hear the saying those who win the war get to write the history? This is true in our history as well. Try reading The Real Lincoln by Thomas DiLorenzo to get a different perspective. Or try The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln: The Story of America’s Most Reviled President by Larry Tagg. The truth is usually somewhere in between the two lies! :) Lincoln was no hero.
Anyone who has read The Real Lincoln would not be surprised at all to hear that Lincoln was hated and reviled by most of the “great men” (and the Northern masses) of his time. As Tagg hesitantly admits in his Introduction, Lincoln was widely criticized in the North as a “bloody tyrant” and a “dictator” for his “arbitrary arrests, the suspension of habeas corpus, and the suppression of newspapers . . .” More specifically, imprisoning tens of thousands of Northern civilians without due process for verbally opposing his policies; shutting down over 300 opposition newspapers; deporting an opposing member of Congress; confiscating firearms and other forms of private property; intimidating and threatening to imprison federal judges; invoking military conscription, income taxation, an internal revenue bureaucracy, and huge public debt; and ordering the murder of hundreds of draft protesters in the streets of New York City in July of 1863 are all good reasons why Lincoln was so widely despised.
He was a tyrant.

Tagg quotes the abolitionist Wendell Phillips as saying that Lincoln was “a first-rate second-rate man.” Historian George Bankroft called him “ignorant, self-willed, and is surrounded by men some of whom are almost as ignorant as himself.” The Lacrosse, Wisconsin Democrat newspaper editorialized in November of 1864 that “If Abraham Lincoln should be reelected for another term of four years of such wretched administration, we hope that a bold hand will be found to plunge the dagger into the tyrant’s heart for the public welfare.” In May of 1864 the New York Times said this of Lincoln:

No living man was ever charged with political crimes of such multiplicity and such enormity as Abraham Lincoln. He has been denounced without end as a perjurer, a usurper, a tyrant, a subverter of the Constitution, a destroyer of the liberties of his country, a reckless desperado, a heartless trifler over the last agonies of an expiring nation. Had that which has been said of him been true there is no circle in Dante’s Inferno full enough of torment to expiate his iniquities.

Every president has foes, especially during a war. Most of the insults and charges laid against Lincoln were also leveled against FDR. But I’d like to address your specific charges:

“More specifically, imprisoning tens of thousands of Northern civilians without due process for verbally opposing his policies;” -Without doubt, revoking habeas corpus was not a good or democratic decision.

“shutting down over 300 opposition newspapers;” – I would like to see sources for this.

“deporting an opposing member of Congress;” – If you are referring to Clement Vallandingham of Ohio, what happened there is that he was sentenced to imprisonment as a traitor, Lincoln commuted this to “banishment” to the Confederacy, which would not accept Vallandingham, so Vallandingham went to Canada for the duration of the war, then returned.

“confiscating firearms and other forms of private property;” – I’d like to see sources on this.

“intimidating and threatening to imprison federal judges;”- I’d like to see sources on this.

“invoking military conscription, income taxation, an internal revenue bureaucracy, and huge public debt;” – Again, during war, every president does this. And I’m good with the IRS myself.

“and ordering the murder of hundreds of draft protesters in the streets of New York City in July of 1863″: – This is patently false. Sending in the militia to stop race riots is hardly ordering murder. And these were not simple draft protesters. This was a lynch mob that attacked and killed black Americans, and launched a special murderous attack on a black orphanage. Still, they were not ordered to be murdered by President Lincoln.

The art of history is objectivity informed by sensibility.

Lincoln was a tyrant?

Actually he stood up to the tryants. Presidents before him should have, but did not.

Lincoln had no choice BUT to stand up to the tyrants. He was pushed into a corner.

Far from “just wanting to be left alone” the South had issued Five Ultimatums from Montgomery, in March of 1861. See the Richmond newspaper’s gleeful reporting of these Ultimatums…

Hello Mark; thanks for writing. Do you have URL where people can read your entire post? It was too long to fit here.

http://deathofsoutherngod.blogspot.com/

Death of Southern God

http://fivedemands.blogspot.com/

Five Demands by Southern Leaders in March of 1861 show the South’s entire purpose was to spread slavery by violence, against the will of the people in new states and territories.

Hey Colonial Revolutionary…I’d say the ends justified the means in Lincoln’s case. I have to approve of any actions committed back then to remove the abomination of slavery from American society. It had to be done. It was a difficult, almost impossible task. The atrocities of slavery are an embarrassment to this nation’s history, nearly unforgivable. Were it not for Lincoln, I shudder at how much longer those atrocities would have gone on. The Confederacy trying to keep slavery made it pure evil, which is why anyone who still sports a Confederate flag should be regarded as morally reprehensible and a traitor to the decent values of this good nation.

[...] Lincoln, Slavery, and Racism [...]

I need to point out something that I fear is often lost in discussions about the cause of the Civil War: the fact that most white Northerners were fighting to preserve the union and keep their money does not explain why the South seceded. Abolitionists, though making up a small percentage of the Northern public, had been demanding an immediate end to slavery and, in many cases, the introduction of racial equality. This enraged white Southern leaders, and they responded by seceding. This is corroborated by the resignation speeches made by Jefferson Davis and Robert Toombs to the U.S. Senate, the Cornerstone Speech of Alexander Stephens, a private letter John Calhoun wrote in 1830, the Confederate Constitution, and the Georgia, Texas, South Carolina, and Mississippi Declarations of Secession. Most Northerners, like Lincoln, felt no great love for abolitionists or blacks but were unwilling to let the South secede due to a belief in the supremacy of the Union and a desire to protect their economic livelihood. Thus the war began. ColonialRevolutionary, I want to praise one thing you said: Wendell Phillips was without a doubt a great man, perhaps the greatest American in history. But while Lincoln does not measure up to Phillips, he did not come to support a constitutional amendment ending slavery. In some way, this sets him apart from Thomas Jefferson, who owned and whipped slaves throughout his life, or fellow slaveholders George Washington and James Madison, who built a nation with a proslavery Constitution.

Oops. I just saw a typo I made. Lincoln DID come to support a constitutional amendment ending slavery, which is why, despite him not being as great a man as Wendell Phillips, he was more admirable than Washington, Jefferson, or Madison.

Nice long spiel.
Except the civil war was fought over the same reasons the revolutionary war was fought over. Lincoln didn’t care about free the slaves. He said so.
Reinterpreting the past is at best dangerous to future generations.
The North was forcing its will upon the southern states which were, are sovereign nations even today.
The north Won and then forced its will upon the south.

The best way to resolve any debate over what happened in the past is to read the primary documents–not just a few (like the statements Lincoln made before 1860) but as close to all of them as possible (to include documents that show Lincoln’s steady and substantial change of opinion on slavery). Apostles of Disunion is a good book to start with when it comes to the Civil War. Cherished myths are generally short and easy to remember, while primary docs are long and take more effort to parse, but the work is worth the effort to know what really happened in our shared past. Good luck with your continued research.

Hey Dire…No, Lincoln was an abolitionist in his heart and mind and he made it clear on many occasions. Of course, he cared about freeing the slaves. He freed them. He fought the war, in part, so he could free them. He made statements to the contrary sometimes, only out of political shrewdness and toward strategic ends in terms of the war. For example, he didn’t want to alienate the Border states who remained in the union, by freeing their slaves, etc. And Dire…what are you talking about that the Southern States are sovereign nations today? They’re not nations at all. All 50 states have some regional power within state lines, but they all submit to the authority of the Federal government along many Constitutional grounds. In what way do you believe states to be sovereign nations? They cannot authorize war or treaties or trade deals with other foreign sovereign nations and therefore they are NOT sovereign nations, themselves. All citizens pay taxes to the federal government and live under federal law, for better or worse. Really, what are you talking about? People having such vastly distorted understandings about this country are the reason why this country is so politically twisted up.

“That was in 1862, when he wrote the Emancipation Proclamation.”

And only freed slaves in the confederate states, not in the union states where slavery was still legal. This is telling and does more to dispute the Lincoln’s whitewashed history than almost anything else.

Hello Circesadreim; Lincoln had no power to free enslaved people in the Confederacy–it was not part of the United States. It was a separate nation. If he had tried to do that, it would be like an American president today saying “I free all of the political prisoners in China.” It would have no effect at all, because the U.S. president has no power to enforce U.S. laws in foreign nations. The EP freed enslaved people where it could: in the U.S. While each northern state had state laws against slavery, slavery was not illegal in the U.S. until the EP made it so. Without Lincoln’s EP, those Americans calling for southern states to be allowed to keep slavery if they re-entered the Union after the war would have been able to push that agenda.
The EP could not apply to the border states, which were technically neutral entities during the war, but after the war it applied to them and to the ex-Confederate states. There was no offer of gradual abolition after the war ended: slavery was abolished throughout the U.S., thanks to Lincoln.

Hey, “HistoricPresent”…I’ll take exception to your last point about the Confederacy being “a separate nation.” The legitimate United States government remained in Washington D.C., even while the Southern States tried to legitimize their illegal rebellion. You talk as if Lincoln and the federal government ever recognized the sovereignty of “The Confederate States of America.” Clearly, he did not. If he had, he would not have prosecuted the war against them.

Lincoln always viewed the Confederates as citizens of the U.S. in an illegal rebellion against the union, as any U.S. government from Washington to Obama would. In light of the fact that the institution of slavery undermined many of the founding principles of the United States, the Southern argument that the South had “States’ Rights” to continue treating human beings like property, is difficult to accept. Lincoln siding with the abolitionists doesn’t make him any sort of dictator at all. It only makes him the first President in our history to use his power to correct one of the great Constitutional errors in early American society. That anyone would hate him or view him as a hateful dictator in present-day America is truly mind-boggling.

Hello General Washington; thanks for writing. You make a very good point: Lincoln did always aver, as you say, that the Confederacy were US states in rebellion, and he didn’t want any European nation offering them recognition as a foreign nation. But for the EP, he did describe them as states in rebellion and thus not under the control of the US federal government. Therefore, any laws issued by the US president would not apply to the Confederacy because they could not be enforced there. This was a temporary state of affairs, Lincoln would insist; when the war was over and won by the US then US law would be enforceable in the previously rebellious southern states. But for the moment, in January 1863, the EP could only be applied to the states currently not in rebellion against or neutral toward the US.

Iwould like to save this particular blog post, , “Lincoln, Slavery, and
Racism The Historic Present” on my web site. Do you really mind if perhaps I actuallydo it?

Thanks a lot Isiah

You are welcome to link to it–thanks!

Racism and classist hierarchies are biologically determined. That means our genes socially organize our lives. Do we live aware of our animal-genetic drives? No! Culture is also based on biology. Look at male hierarchies and think Alpha Male structure. Think more balls than brains. We have the biological drives, but not the intelligence to see the pattern and variations in all cultures of these alpha male hierarchies that make God the alpha male and model this “alpha male” socio-biological drive in military, courts, corporations and religions.

Lincoln challenged his biology, as did Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. Can you? We share 99% of the same genes that the Great Apes have, making humans black, white, Chinese to Peruvian or Native American to Australian Aboriginal people more similar to each other than humans are with the Great apes by 1% of our genes. That said, our hormones, biologically driven monotheistic Alpha Male religions causing misogyny to world wars is our greatest denial of our own nature.

Isn’t time we challenge ourselves to recognize our humanity can only be expressed if we accept the fact that we are beasts, NOT Alpha Male god’s gift to the world and control our machismo and misogyny to territoriality and resource domination drives as our animal nature we NEED to control if we are to survive as a species. Slavery and Lincoln are our legacy to mirror flexibility and humility, not a debate of political winners or losers. Racism is an extension of our genetic materialism, economic Darwinism, and hierarchical thinking that foils true cultural plurality and personal racial equality.

I disagree. Actions speak louder than words. In my opinion, this man was born a racist and died wiser concerning racism but (I question if but do believe) a racist. I do not hate him as a black women because that is what he knew and the world he lived in but I pity his soul if he learnt and knew otherwise and chose not to changed.

Hello Cheryl; thanks for writing. What are the actions you are thinking of, that speak louder than words? I think we can all agree that Lincoln was probably raised to be racist, but it does seem very clear that his feelings and beliefs changed over the course of his life. He took enormous risks to end slavery permanently, not just during the war, and was planning to go even further after the war. He was not perfect, but I am thinking of President Obama’s words in his Second Inaugural speech today: We must act, knowing that our actions will be imperfect. Lincoln acted, he was imperfect, but he acted to end slavery and change the nature of this nation and I for one only wish he had not been killed before he could begin the work of real Reconstruction.

claiming that Lincoln was not a racist becuase he was against slavery is flawed. I believe gays should have the freedom to practice their live style. That does not mean that I think homosexuality is OK.

Executive Mansion,
Washington, August 22, 1862.

Hon. Horace Greeley:
Dear Sir.

I have just read yours of the 19th. addressed to myself through the New-York Tribune. If there be in it any statements, or assumptions of fact, which I may know to be erroneous, I do not, now and here, controvert them. If there be in it any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here, argue against them. If there be perceptable in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right.

As to the policy I “seem to be pursuing” as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.

I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be “the Union as it was.” If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. 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 do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.

Yours,
A. Lincoln.

Hello James; thanks for writing. We refer you to “The Victory of the Emancipation Proclamation“:
In the months before Lincoln published his proclamation, Horace Greeley, of the New York Tribune, wrote an editorial letter on August 20, 1862 blasting the president for not abolishing slavery already. No one outside Lincoln’s cabinet knew he had the EP written and waiting. Lincoln’s response is famous, or infamous, to us now. It is the letter in which he said that if he could save the Union by freeing all the slaves, he would, and it he could save it by freeing none, he would, and if he could do it by freeing some and leaving others, he would do that.

We take that as the basest kind of position. This is the quote most people use to show how racist and pro-slavery Lincoln was. They are wrong. Let’s look at the whole letter.

Lincoln starts by saying that his main aim in the war is to preserve the Union. He sees a few options when it comes to saving the Union. He might be able to do it by freeing all the slaves. If that was the best option, he would take it. He might, though, be able to save the Union without freeing any slaves. If so, he would take that option. Or, he might be able to save the Union by freeing some slaves.

You, by now, should see that he is hinting very broadly at his Proclamation, which did just that: it freed some enslaved people and left others (in the border states) enslaved. (For the reasons we have already described—under war powers, he could only free slaves in territory at war with the U.S. without Taney and the courts striking the measure down.)

We still shudder at Lincoln calmly talking about not freeing anyone. But people at the time saw what was really shocking: Lincoln was saying that ending slavery was on the table. For the first time in the history of the United States, a president was saying he would outlaw slavery. This had never been on the table before.

It would be like an American president today saying, “If I can bring peace to the Middle East by using no nuclear weapons, I won’t use them. If I have to launch a few nuclear strikes to bring peace, I’ll do that.” We would say, wait a minute—when did nuclear weapons come into this question? No one has ever talked about nuclear war in the Middle East before, but now the President is saying it’s on the table.

So with Lincoln’s statement that suddenly abolition was on the table. No longer could anyone in the U.S. or the Confederacy believe that slavery was protected and would not be abolished. Lincoln was telling the nation that he was thinking about abolishing it—that he was willing to abolish it, to win the war. To Americans at the time, it didn’t matter that it might be partial abolition. Any move toward abolition coming from Washington was unheard of, and again, certainly no president had ever moved to abolish slavery at all, anywhere, ever.

Lincoln underlined this new attitude by adding, “I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.” This was a pretty clear message—or warning—to the nation and the Confederacy that slavery was not going to make it out of the war intact. Lincoln was just waiting for the moment to make a move that would be effective and lawful. As Lincoln said himself after his letter appeared, his intention was to make clear that “he would proclaim freedom to the slave just as soon as he felt assured he could do it effectively…” [my italics; Ibid., 135-36]

So much of what people have written is wrong. But as stated, Since history is written by the Victors. I guess that’s probably what history books taught them. Unaltered Primary Sources tend to say different things. The general consensus was that Much of the South did live as Semi-Equal with their slaves. Slaves went to church with them, so forth. Of course there was always the bad apple racist slave beaters and such, but I’d like anyone to take a group of even 100 random people and show me that none of them have a bit of evil in them. The North and Lincoln said that Blacks would Never be equal to Whites. This can be found reading through transcripts of some of Lincoln’s actual speeches. Lincoln wanted all Blacks to be sent Back out of America as he believed they tainted the society of the White’s and had no place here. As mentioned by some here, and as I told my college history professor when he made the false claim, the Civil War was Not fought over slavery, nor was it the reason for secession. Hence why if looking through registers of soldiers you can find countless Blacks who Volunteered to fight For the South.

Hello; we would be glad to see your Unaltered Primary Sources and learn what they say. In the meantime, we’ll only reiterate that racism is not the same thing as slavery, slavery is evidence of more than a “bit” of evil, Lincoln’s statements changed and evolved greatly over a few short years from racist to non, secession was carried out to protect and support slavery, and there simply were not “countless” black Americans who volunteered to fight for the south. We would all do well to remember that truth is not always found in the contrary claim.

dude…read the five southern ultimatums…slavery was the foundation of the souths departure from the union, in their vice presidents own words on many public and newspaper occations

you are right my man :)

I would like to suggest a great read from Theodore W. Allen “The Invention Of The White Race” Volume 1 & 11, and The Origin of Racial Oppression In Anglo America, for context. The second book is Hubert Harrison text “The Voice Of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918. From my perspective in having a debate on the issue of slavery, their needs to be records that illustrate in quotes what was stated and why. The author has obviously done his home work, lets look at Ireland shall we, prior to America colonization. Would this not be the premise and the foundation of oppression? Hence, the control group. The first one hundred years was by far was the most difficult, which many people died from starvation just to name one. Or, you can look at “Traces of The Trade” by Katrina Brown which cover’s her family’s past histories in the America’s. You might ask how does this relate to Lincoln considering he was a lawyer that understood “common law”. Everything came in the form of a source like Reformation and Counter-Reformation are the context that relate to slavery.

In This Nation citizens have Freedom of Religion. All Religions including Muslims and their Koran. The U.S. will have to acknowledge their religion . Many foreign nations do. I see a problem in that the Koran allows slaves. How will our government be able to control the believers that worship as indicated in their Bible ,The Koran?
Slavery is a slippery slope
The Mexican government outlawed Slavery. This did not sit well with the anglo slave owners in the Mexican state of TEJAS. The result!
Bowie bought slaves from La Fitte and smuggled them across the border into Louisana. Yet he is one of the Heros of Texas. But I could be wrong!!!

Christians allowed for slaves also, read your Bible!

Nice try. For me, it’s a lot of speculation as to what was in Lincoln’s mind. Why he did and/or said what he said. I haven’t heard anything from Lincoln’s mouth saying, I was just pleasing my audience, I really don’t believe the things I said. I do believe he was conflicted an changed some of his thinking before he died, so did George Wallace. But regardless of when he lived, I find that a poor excuse for being a racist. I feel the same about the “founding fathers”. A racist in 1785, 1860, 1920, etc is still a racist. Lincoln was who he was, let’s not cover him with anything less than the truth.

Hello Daniel; thanks for writing. We would all like to see quotes from Lincoln if you have them that disprove the theory that he was posturing when he said racist things. It’s always good to have more data. Of course racism is a human trait that no time or place or people escaped, and something we have to take into consideration when studying anyone anywhere, not to excuse it, but to understand the extent of its impact on someone’s actions and how they grappled with it–or not. We know Douglass’ opinion on Lincoln’s racism, but it would be great to get other quotes as well. Anyone who has them is welcome to share them!

Lincon stated: “There are those in our congress that support slavery and those that oppose, I believe that one will win out over the other”
He didn’t care as long as the states stayed united!

Where is this quote from? Can you send us a link to it, or quote it in context? Thanks!

The subject of Lincoln, slavery, and racism is difficult. What is clear is that during the Civil War Lincoln wanted to voluntarily deport African-Americans believing that blacks were the cause of the war and that whites and blacks just could not get along. He lectured this message to African-American leaders in August 14 1862. Part of the Emancipation Proclamation was that blacks be expatriated from the United States living harsh circumstances in foreign countries. Lincoln did expand his views in 1865 and this is the Lincoln historians want you to remember. Lincoln wanted the 200,000 African-Americans who fought in the Civil War to meet voting rights or citizenship. John Wilkes Booth thought otherwise and this he assassinated Lincoln. Black citizenship was deplorable in the racist world view of Booth. Lincoln however did not want citizenship for all blacks. He told Benjamin Butler on April 11, 1865 he wanted to continue is earlier deportation plan and send African-Americans to Panama. We do not know what Lincoln would have done had he continued in office. Lincoln would have been in the control of the greatest military in the 19th Century and he could have in theory deported thousands of blacks from the country. Lincoln was always a moderate and colonization was part of his moderate Reconstruction plan. Historians want you to believe Lincoln was a compassionate abolitionist. That is not true. His message to the black leaders in 1862 was very stern. Lincoln, a Kentucky southerner, was in charge of Reconstruction, his way.

Hello Charles; thanks for writing. Lincoln did want to send enslaved black Americans “back” to Africa before the war, but abandoned this after his Delaware Plan was not accepted. From that point, he was determined to end slavery in the U.S. and bring black Americans into citizenship. The EP does not say anywhere that black Americans should “be expatriated from the U.S. living in harsh circumstances in foreign countries”. Here’s what it does say about them:

“I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.

And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.

And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.

And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.”

You can’t issue this statement if you still support expatriation, which, by 1863, Lincoln simply did not support any more. I think if you look at Lincoln’s life there is nothing in it that would lead you to believe that he would have used the army to forcibly deport all formerly enslaved black Americans. That’s not moderate, and not part of a moderate Reconstruction plan. Chronology matters, and Lincoln’s evolution was rapid, as Douglass pointed out, and what he proposed in 1860 is not what he proposed in 1862 or 1863, and from late 1862 on he was absolutely in favor of and committed to abolition and the U.S. citizenship of black Americans.


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