Taking Side part 2 - 1 Todd Moeller History 210 Professor...

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1 Todd Moeller History 210 Professor Iolongo Taking Sides: Did Lincoln Free The Slaves? In this paper we are going to discuss weather Abraham Lincoln was responsible for freeing the slaves or not. There are many people who believed that Lincoln was in fact, responsible for freeing the slaves. One notable person is Stephen B. Oates. Oates does believe Lincoln freed the slaves. He argues that Lincoln’s unprecedented use of the military, and his issue of the Emancipation Proclamation against slave holding states, is what actually encouraged the slaves themselves to flee from the plantations, and their slave masters. On the other hand, Vincent Harding does not believe Lincoln freed the slaves. He credits the slaves themselves for their freedom. Harding states that the Emancipation Proclamation actually failed to free slaves, but in fact Lincoln couldn’t even free slaves in states that he still had control of. Stephen B. Oates is the author of Abraham Lincoln: The man Behind the Myths. Oates believes Lincoln did in fact free the slaves, and makes several valid points to support this. There is no doubt Lincoln recognized the significant role slavery played in the civil war. The war may not have started over slavery, but it sure turned into that pretty quickly. Oates states “None should find it surprising that the Emancipation Proclamation, which the president issued, established a policy to end slavery.” 1 Lincoln was undoubtedly against slavery, but he was reluctant to take an active stance at first on emancipation. Lincoln first suggested a voluntary, 1 Stephen B. Oates, Abraham Lincoln: The Man Behind the Myths, in Taking Sides: Clashing Views in United States History, vol. 1, 13th edition, ed. Larry Madaras and James M. SoRelle (New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2009), 330
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2 gradual, compensated emancipation, followed by colonization of the former slaves outside of the United States. 2 All of that changed once Lincoln was able to link emancipation with the nation’s war aims, which led him to issue his famous proclamation, which Oates characterized as “the most revolutionary measure to come from an American president up to that point.” 3 During the civil war President Lincoln had to be careful about not alienating certain parts of the Union. The war itself did not start over the emancipation of slaves, but it quickly became about slavery. The Union Army was suffering tremendous losses, and loosing many battles. At this time, slaves in the south were escaping by the thousands to Union Lines. With so many slaves escaping, Frederick Douglass suggested to Lincoln that he grant them freedom, and enlist them into the Union Army. 4 At first Lincoln rejected a presidential move against slavery, because he felt a move at this time would weaken their cause. In 1862 is when he proposed his gradual compensated emancipation, to take place first in the loyal states. He also discussed the idea of colonization, because he knew most northern whites would never accept emancipation. 5 July
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