“A house divided against itself cannot stand”
This is perhaps one of my favorite speeches or quotes made by Abraham Lincoln. Many Americans are familiar with this name. The name probably rings a bell to most people due to his significant role in the civil war. I believe once the Emancipation Proclamation is mentioned, Lincoln’s name always comes up. In order to understand his strong opposition to slavery, one has to fully understand where Lincoln came from. And often times, people’s morals and values are influenced by where they grew up at and the forces that helped shape them. Lincoln’s parents were members of a Baptist Congregation. The Baptist church had separated from another church due to their strong opposition to slavery. His parents were strongly anti-slavery because they believed that slavery was morally wrong and went against God’s will. Later in his life, his family moved to Indiana because it was a free state and had abolished slavery long ago.
Although he had a rough education (he never went to college) he spent a lot of time reading books that he had borrowed from his neighbors. Lincoln rose to fame when he went to a debate with Douglas (author of Kansas-Nebraska Act), he was later invited to speak more about slavery in other states. What Lincoln was debating about might often be misunderstood by many. Lincoln wasn’t an abolitionist. He wasn’t too concerned about ending slavery anyways. What bothered him was the expansion of slavery to new territories that had been acquired either through imperialism or war. Lincoln did not have a problem with slave states but he however did not want slavery to be spread to new territories. Although he had lost the debate to Douglas (apparently most people supported the expansion of slavery), his popularity made him a presidential candidate in the 1860 election. His Republican Party supported prohibition in the new territories but opposed the interfering of the states where it already existed. Many southerners warned that if Lincoln won the election, they would secede from the union and become their own separate nation. As president, this was scary; you can’t afford to lose half of your country. Half a nation cannot survive.
Once elected president, South Carolina was the first to secede on December 20, 1860, followed by many other states seceded from the union. The union was splitting into two gradually. Lincoln was such a cool guy, he said nothing, and most presidents would probably have ordered an army to bring back the seceded states. Lincoln’s biggest fear was losing a section of the country but he kept calm and allowed the states to leave but of course Lincoln had his game plan laid out. This plan is what would change the course of history as we know of it.
Lincoln knew that the seceded states left the union because they didn’t want to give up slavery, they were afraid that Lincoln might abolish slavery. Lincoln’s plan was to only abolish slavery in new territories. Lincoln figured that if the states were seceded to continue slavery, then he would end slavery permanently to bring them back. He knew that the south depended heavily on slaves for its economy, he wanted to hit them hard right in their pocket. If this happened, then the seceded states would have no option but to return back to the union for help. I mean what is a nation without a strong economy, they will fall down. If the south seceded they would fall regardless because they can’t only depend on cotton to boom their economy.
Being such a gentleman, Lincoln gave them an option, they had a choice to either return back to the union or lose all of their slaves they had and this included states that already were slave states. When the states refused to return back, Lincoln knew he had to make a permanent law. To hold the country together, Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation. This granted freedom to slaves that were in the areas of the rebellion states. On January 1, 1863 the law was passed. This was Lincoln’s declaration of freedom for all slaves in the Confederacy not under the union control. The Emancipation also allowed for slaves to be enlisted in the union army. Slaves saw this as perhaps an opportunity to fight for liberty, 180,000 slaves fought in the army. Some argued that although the constitution did not say anything about the abolition of slaves, it did say that all men were created equal. Lincoln mainly wanted to free the slaves because he needed more people to fight in the army and also to outnumber the number of people in the confederate army. But maybe perhaps this did not apply to everyone. Lincoln ratified the amendment in order to effectively abolish slavery in the nation. The war was now not only to preserve the union but also to free slaves and end slavery. Lincoln is perhaps remembered for preserving the nation during the civil war and also beginning the process that led to the end of slavery. Lincoln saved America. There are those who argue that Lincoln’s decision to emancipate the slaves was not right because although he liberated the slaves, the slaves faced difficulties such as discrimination and the competition for jobs. The Emancipation Proclamation might not have officially ended slavery but it was a head start and Lincoln is to be credited for it!!
Did you know that…
Abraham Lincoln was the first president to make THANKSGIVING a national holiday. It is true. On October 3, 1863 Lincoln issued the proclamation that set a day to be observed as a thanksgiving day.!
– Christabel Fosu Asare