Abraham Lincolns Slavery

The Slavery Abolition Efforts of Abraham

Abraham Lincoln’s father, Thomas, was a strict Baptist and held strong beliefs against slavery. He kept no slaves himself and his abolitionist leanings were at least part of the reason for his family moving from Kentucky to Indiana. It is widely held that young Abraham encountered slaves on a trip to New Orleans when he was 19 it left a lasting impression on him. In a Letter to his friend Joshua Speed, Abraham wrote “You know I dislike slavery; and you fully admit the abstract wrong of it.” (1855).

Reports from most who knew Abraham Lincoln personally frequently refer to his thoughts against slavery and his wish to see it ended. In the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 though Abraham slavery attitudes were brought into question. Douglas was Lincoln’s opponent in the senate race and accused Abraham Linclon of being inconsistent in his views on slavery. Lincoln however states in the debates “Now I confess myself as belonging to that class in the country who contemplate slavery as a moral, social and political evil…” and that “He [Stephen Douglas] is blowing out the moral lights around us, when he contends that whoever wants slaves has a right to hold them; that he is penetrating, so far as lies in his power, the human soul, and eradicating the light of reason and the love of liberty, when he is in every possible way preparing the public mind, by his vast influence, for making the institution of slavery perpetual and national.”

Abraham Lincoln was responsible for the Emancipation Proclamation (1862) which declared freedom for slaves. Many believe that initially he saw Emancipation mainly as a war tactic. While it is true that Abraham was also initially in favor of colonization for freed slaves he later changed his mind on that issue. In a letter to Albert Hodges in 1864 Abraham states “I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I can not remember when I did not so think, and feel.” Shortly before his assassination in 1865 Abraham Lincoln was speaking of giving voting rights to at least some blacks.

Abraham never kept slaves himself though he did have some black servants in his household. While there is some evidence too that initially Abraham saw slavery as a necessary if unpleasant factor in life. Exactly how equal he saw black people is a may matter for some debate. There is no doubt though that Abraham Lincoln brought about the abolition of slavery through the Emancipation Proclamation.

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