To Free the Slaves When the nation was founded, the southern stated favored slavery and the northern states did not. Had the presidents that came before Abraham Lincoln stood up and made the much needed change, then it would not have fallen on Lincoln’s shoulders to stand up and free the slaves. Because this duty was laid upon him, Lincoln took many steps to abolish slavery. Among the many things that he did was to stand up during the Civil War, enact the emancipation proclamation, and pass the 13th amendment.
Had he not taken these steps to abolish slavery, history would have been completely different, and the road to civil rights would have been delayed longer than the hundred years that it took to begin achieving equality. On November 6, 1860 Abraham Lincoln was elected the President of the United States; this event caused outrage among the southern states. Because Lincoln had run on anti-slavery, the southerners believed that they no longer had a place in the Union. By February 1st, 1861 seven states had seceded from the Union.
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The seceded states collaborated to create the Confederate States of America and elected Jefferson Davis as their president. Lincoln decided to fight because he felt that it was his duty as the president to preserve the union. During his first inaugural address he appealed to the rebellious states to rejoin the union. (Civil War) The Civil War began on April 12th, 1861 in South Carolina at Fort Sumter. The Civil War was not entirely caused by the election of Lincoln. However, it was the primary reason the war broke out when it did.
It also in my opinion set the stage for abolishing slavery. At this time Lincoln upheld that blacks could not join the army, however they were allowed to fight for the navy. Many blacks rushed in to fight because; although Lincoln stated that the war was not about slavery, but instead about the union. The African Americans knew this war was about slavery (Handlin). Slaves were escaping in masses, and because there was no consistent law regarding fugitives, commanders could make their own decisions on what to do with them.
Some were put to work for union forces, some returned to their owners. Then on August 6th, 1861, the fugitive slaves were considered to be “contraband of war,” and it was decided that if they fought, and they were found to be contraband of war then they were declared free. As they continued to move south many slaves flooded the north. As a result both white and black northern citizens pulled together, providing aid, and organizing relief. And throughout the war they also organized schools to teach the African Americans to read and write (McPherson).
Then in 1862 Lincoln began considering emancipation as a stepping stone toward winning the war. In the south they began to force blacks to build forts, work as blacksmiths, nurses, boatmen, laundresses, and work in hospitals, armories and factories. However, in the north the African Americans who wanted to defeat the slaveholders the most were being turned away from the military, because in the beginning of the war Lincoln did not want the south to believe that the war was about slavery not the not the Union.
At this time, if Lincoln declared that the war was about slavery, European public opinion would back the north. On September 22nd, 1862, Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. The proclamation warned that if the Confederate states did not surrender by January 1st, 1863, their slaves would be freed. Many believed that this was the beginning of the end of slavery. But, they also feared that Lincoln would give into pressure and fail to keep his promise. Then on January 1st, 1863, he issued the final Emancipation Proclamation, freeing all slaves in states that were not part of the union.
At this point, the purpose of the war changed; they were not only fighting to protect the union, but also fighting to end slavery. After the final draft was issued, the federal army began to officially accept black soldiers into ranks (Goodwin). A new chapter of history began, when the Thirteenth Amendment passed in January 1865. This Amendment abolished slavery in the United States, and provided that “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. (McPherson) The Amendment was passed at the end of the war, before Confederate States had rejoined the Union, making it easy to pass. Finally, on April 18, 1865, the Civil War ended with the surrender of the Confederate army. The southern landscape was destroyed, and four million slaves were freed. Former slaveholders faced emancipation with rage, concern, and despair. The slaves were freed and began to attempt to rebuild their lives. The country then began reconstruction, which held many promises and tragic disappointments for the people of the United States.
As part of the reconstruction there were two new amendments added to the constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment, which granted to all people born or naturalized in the United States. And, the Fifteenth Amendment, which said that no American can be denied the right to vote on the basis of race (McPherson). The Civil War paved the way for President Lincoln to abolish slavery in the United States. First he took a stand; he enacted the Emancipation Proclamation, and finally he was able to pass the Thirteenth Amendment.
Had Lincoln not taken these steps to abolish slavery, History would have been completely different, and the road to civil rights and equality would have been delayed much longer. We will never know who would have finally stood up if he hadn’t, nor how long it would have taken. However, we do know it would have been different. Would we have had Martin Luther King? Or would we have President Obama? Bibliography 1. Tried by War – McPherson M. James. 2008 2. Team of Rivals – Goodwin Doris Kearns. 2005 3. Abraham Lincoln and the Union – Handlin Oscar and Lillian – 1980 4. www. CivilWar. org