Slavery before the 1840s – Lincoln
“Lincoln did not think much of slavery before the 1840s, other than the fact that it was morally unsuited with his principles and the opinion of slavery was that it was founded both on injustice and bad policy. Lincoln believed in anti-slavery, however, he was not an abolitionist. Abolitionists pursued the end of all slavery and believed in the integration of all African Americans into society, and they were not interested in working in the limitations within the Constitution, like Lincoln was. Lincoln preferred to emancipate the slaves gradually by compensating their owners with federal funds. With that, he advocated and supported the idea of providing government aid to the freed slaves, which helped allow them to begin building colonies away from colonial life. Lincoln strongly believed that slavery was a dying custom and that is was the “great evil” and believed that if slavery would expand, it would become so unprofitable that it would soon be abandoned.
Within the Constitution, Lincoln did not support the anti-slavery measures in states where it was legal, upholding the fact that it states, “the Congress of the United States has no power, under the Constitution, to interfere with the institution of slavery in different states.” Lincoln was very adamant and stood up for what he believed in. From the start to the end of his tenure, Lincoln believed in the constitutionality of slavery, especially where it already existed. He was a firm supporter and advocate of the 13th Amendment and even though “slavery” was not directly mentioned in the constitution, there were clauses protecting it and upholding the integrity of the issue. He believed that American Democracy meant equal rights and equality of opportunity, however, in his mind, he still drew a line between basic civil rights and the ones influenced by the political side and left it up to the states to decide who should be able to exercise those rights.
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During Lincoln’s House Divided Speech, he states “. . . In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” (Matthew 12:25) I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved – I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.” (Document #3, Lincoln) This goes to show that he was well aware of the issues being caused by the mere fact that slavery even exists and that it is tearing his presiding country apart. Through the Missouri Compromise and the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Lincoln had a bloody mess on his hands and was dealing with the beginnings of a civil war. Within this speech he argued that slavery would have to eventually come to an end everywhere or be legalized in all states in order for the country to survive.
Lincoln then gives his Gettysburg Address, as an advocate of the Constitution and believing in the word the founding fathers laid for us to follow, he stated, “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” (Lincoln, 1863) He began his speech by dating the origin of American Democracy, straight from the Declaration of Independence. With that being said, in my opinion, Lincoln did more than enough for the slaves while still maintaining his morality and reputation with the country. He never did what he thought was easy and always did his best to make both parties happy with his decision. He did so much for the slaves, from helping them with acquiring more rights, which would end up being based solely on the states, to sending government aid to the freed states and to compensating the slaves’ owners by taxing them with federal funds. I truly believe that Lincoln had a major impact in the turning point of what a Democracy stood for in the United States, his presidency is one that will forever reign and set standards for others to follow.”