Abolishing Slavery: Abraham Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation, and the end of slavery all go hand in hand in modern day United States classrooms. Lincoln, a Kentucky native, was the great 16th president of the United States who brought freedom to black slaves throughout the country, forever abolishing slavery in the nation. Well, that’s at least what has been instilled in the young minds of children across the US. Before we can start calling Lincoln the “Great Emancipator,” or an abolitionist we need to take a look at the facts.
Lincoln’s reign as a political leader was in an extremely crucial time of need in our country as the country was tearing apart with the eventual Civil War looming. In 1858 Lincoln ran for, and lost, the senator position in Illinois. His running mate Stephen Douglass made a veteran political move by accusing Lincoln of supporting black equality, which helped put fear into many voters’ ballots when they decided to vote for the less radical Douglass.
Lincoln, being the knowledgeable politician he was, responded with a statement in an attempt to clear his name with the white population by saying “I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races. ” Although these views were most likely used as a political ploy, they didn’t sit well with the black community when Lincoln started receiving credit for freeing the slaves. Fast-forward about a decade when Lincoln was in the presidential seat and Lincoln was facing similar issues in his struggle to unify the wilting United States.
As president Lincoln’s main goal was to unify the two sides of the United States: the Union and the Confederacy. In order to unify the country Lincoln had to hurdle his biggest obstacle in abolishing slavery. Perhaps the only reason Lincoln supported the freeing of slaves was because he realized it was the only way to unify the country, which is a solid argument in itself to the idea of Lincoln receiving too much credit for freeing the slaves. Anyhow, Lincoln somewhat reluctantly proceeded to announce his plans to abolish slavery with his first plan called compensated emancipation.
In this plan Lincoln would free the slaves by paying off the slave owners large sums of money in return for the slaves freedom. Once freed, the slaves must move out of the country to foreign lands such as the Caribbean, Latin America, or West Africa. Although this plan would work for Lincoln in his main goal of unifying the country, the black community was outraged, rightfully so, in that the United States was just as much the blacks land as it was the whites land. After some time, Lincoln finally came to the realization that in order to avoid a country separation he had to release the Emancipation Proclamation (EP).
The EP was a two-part document, the first being known as the preliminary EP, which was released on Sep 22, 1862. This gave the confederate states 100 days to join the union or Lincoln would abolish slavery in the states that continued to rebel. On Jan 1st, 1863 the proclamation went into affect and Lincoln abolished slavery in the nine of the ten states that had yet to join the Union (Texas was exempted). This is the day in history that is perceived to be the day that slavery was forever abolished.
However, slavery was only abolished in nine rebellious states while it was legal in states that had been apart of the Union before that Jan 1st date. Although this was clearly not the end of all ends in slavery, it was a genius political move by Lincoln who achieved his goal of unifying the country. But that’s all it was. Lincoln did his job; he unified the country. But, to pronounce Lincoln as the man who ended all slavery is simply put, ridiculous. It was defiantly a start as over 50,000 slaves were freed on that historic day, but was far from over as pockets of the country were continuing on with slavery as if nothing had happened.
This included the entire state of Texas who was somehow exempt from the whole ordeal. Lincoln indeed was a great president who brought the country out of deep times, but he was not the man who ended slavery on the spot as we have been inclined to learn over the years. It was the next two or so years leading up to the 13th amendment that deserve most of the credit. The time following the EP was joyous for some, insulting to others, but in truth was most important to the complete freedom of blacks in America. Slavery continued on in the states for quite some time after the EP, which started to confuse many black leaders of the time.
One of the most important dates in freeing the blacks was June 19th, 1865, two and a half years after the EP, when General Gordon Granger landed in Galveston, Texas to announce that slavery had been abolished and that at that moment all slaves had equal rights to their slave masters and could do as they please. This created much jubilation in the state and around the country, as these slaves had been “illegal” slaves for over two years. This date, now celebrated as Juneteenth as an official holiday in 38 states, is considered to be the beginning of the end of slavery in the United States.
About 6 months later on Dec 6th, 1865 the 13th amendment was added to the constitution stating that slavery was officially prohibited in the United States of America under any circumstances. It took nearly three years since the EP to completely abolish slavery, which by some people is considered completely ridiculous and insane, but it must be noted that the EP was not put in place to abolish slavery, but was in fact an intricate and in many ways brilliant political move by Abe Lincoln to unify the country.
It was not intended to free the slaves as most of us are falsely led to believe. So, when are we going to get the celebration of abolished slavery in America right? No more should Lincoln receive credit for abolishing slavery, we need a real holiday to celebrate this historic event. How about December 6th? The day when over 4 million slaves were finally free and slavery was officially abolished in the states. So here’s to a December 6th holiday, the day the 13th amendment of the constitution was established.
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