The Emancipation Proclamation Essay Research Paper Why

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The Emancipation Proclamation Essay, Research Paper Why did Lincoln issue the Emancipation Proclamation in January 1863 and what were its consequences? When Abraham Lincoln declared the emancipation proclamation on 22nd September 1862, he was putting his neck on the line in a desperate attempt to clinch a swift victory in the civil war. The cons seemed to far outweigh the pros and consequently it was essential Lincoln got his timing right, he had to persuade people that emancipation was the way the war needed to go. It was important that he was not seen to go deliberately against his election promise not to abolish slavery and he did not want to repel the prosperous Border States who still supported the union but upheld slavery. He was worried he may add weight to the

anti-war movement in the North, wanting to let the South secede but he thought that this extra boost would add strength to the Union war effort so he went ahead with it. During his election campaign and throughout the early years of the Civil War, Lincoln vehemently denied the rumour that he would mount an attack on slavery. At the outbreak of war he pledged to restore the Union, but to accept slavery where it existed and was supported in this line by congress. However, during 1862 Lincoln was persuaded for a number of reasons that the emancipation of the slaves in the south as a war measure was both essential and sound. Public opinion seemed to be going that way, slaves were helping the Southern war effort, and a string of defeats had left Northern morale low. A new moral boost

to the cause might give weary Union soldiers added impetus in the fight. Furthermore, if the Union fought against slavery, Britain and France could not possibly support the South, since the institution of slavery was now largely abhorred in both European nations. Having eased the American public into the idea, through speeches that hinted at emancipation, Lincoln finally signed the Proclamation on January 1st 1863, releasing all slaves behind rebel lines. It was argued b those disapproving of the Proclamation that Lincoln had been hypocritical in confining the law only to those slaves in the South and not those in the border states. Lincoln also faced calls for him to be impeached, due to the Proclamation being unconstitutional. Despite public opinion in the North mainly being

with Lincoln s Proclamation, the feelings of front-line troops were often somewhat different, with horrific reports of violence against Negroes, and a general reluctance to further the cause of emancipation. Even those regiments who welcomed black contrabands set them to menial work such as cooking and washing clothes. The circumstances generated by the war forced generals to make decisions about what to do with escaped slaves who sought refuge in their lines. Some, like Butler in May 1861, put Negroes to work, while others went much further. In August 1861, John C Fremont declared all slaves belonging to rebels free, while Hunter declared all slaves in the states of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida to be free. Neither general had consulted Lincoln; both earned a severe

reprimand. However, their actions made Lincoln acutely aware of both the need for a policy decision, and the independence with which his generals might interpret one. Lincoln was not an abolitionist. He would have preferred to persuade slaveholders into freeing their slaves through persuasion, compensation and possibly slight intimidation. However, during 1862, his position gradually shifted towards emancipation. In March, he offered federal compensation to slaveholders in the Border States who released their slaves. This was defeated in Congress through border state opposition. In April, Lincoln successfully abolished slavery in the District of Columbia, with compensation for those affected. In June he outlawed slavery in the territories, and in July he went further still,