Did Lincoln Abhor Slavery? (poll)

Did Lincoln Abhor Slavery?

  • Yes

    Votes: 40 63.5%
  • No

    Votes: 20 31.7%
  • Don't Know

    Votes: 3 4.8%

  • Total voters
    63

Kirk

Private
Joined
Aug 9, 2018
Thanks. My objective is not simply to show that Lincoln spoke the same language as every other American at that time ( language that many thought was acceptable and in no way derogatory). It is to find out how the language is evidence for the assertion that "Lincoln was a firm believer in slavery."


You have asserted that every American used the "n-word". Please show me a source which supports that claim.
 

StephenColbert27

First Sergeant
False. I'm in my personal library. As to what it proves, it proves that Lincoln was an unabashed white-supremacist who used grotesque and dehumanizing language to describe African-Americans.
But so did most everyone else of that time period. So we in my mind must judge according to this question: did Lincoln advance or hinder the welfare of African Americans, and did he contribute to the end of slavery? I'd say the answer to both these questions is an emphatic yes.
 

cash

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Right here.
In your case the language was "most every other person in the 19th century". Now please show me a source which supports the claim.

Sure. The fact that Lincoln was able to use it in public speech shows it was a widespread usage and almost every person who heard or read his speech, which was reported in the papers, would not take offense.
 

WJC

Major General
Judge Adv. Genl.
Thread Medic
Answered the Call for Reinforcements
Joined
Aug 16, 2015
You have asserted that every American used the "n-word". Please show me a source which supports that claim.
Thanks for your response.
No, I said that the term was "language that many thought acceptable and in no way derogatory".
But let's stipulate that Lincoln was a racist. How does that show that he "was a firm believer in slavery"?
 

Burning Billy

Sergeant
Joined
Jul 6, 2016
As of this post 31.8% of the people who voted are incorrect, and do not understand one of the central figures of the American Civil War.

"Slavery is founded in the selfishness of man's nature---opposition to it, is [in?] his love of justice. These principles are an eternal antagonism; and when brought into collision so fiercely, as slavery extension brings them, shocks, and throes, and convulsions must ceaselessly follow. Repeal the Missouri compromise---repeal all compromises---repeal the declaration of independence---repeal all past history, you still can not repeal human nature. It still will be the abundance of man's heart, that slavery extension is wrong; and out of the abundance of his heart, his mouth will continue to speak....

...The doctrine of self government is right---absolutely and eternally right---but it has no just application, as here attempted. Or perhaps I should rather say that whether it has such just application depends upon whether a negro is not or is a man. If he is not a man, why in that case, he who is a man may, as a matter of self-government, do just as he pleases with him. But if the negro is a man, is it not to that extent, a total destruction of self-government, to say that he too shall not govern himself? When the white man governs himself that is self-government; but when he governs himself, and also governs another man, that is more than self-government---that is despotism. If the negro is a man, why then my ancient faith teaches me that "all men are created equal;" and that there can be no moral right in connection with one man's making a slave of another."

Abraham Lincoln - Peoria Speech, 1854
 

Kirk

Private
Joined
Aug 9, 2018
Thanks for your response.
No, I said that the term was "language that many thought acceptable and in no way derogatory".
But let's stipulate that Lincoln was a racist. How does that show that he "was a firm believer in slavery"?

Here are your exact words:

" My objective is not simply to show that Lincoln spoke the same language as every other American at that time ( language that many thought was acceptable and in no way derogatory)"

Please stop dodging and show me a source which supports this claim

PS- You think two can't play your little games?
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
Allow me to step in and lend a hand.

Here is the online Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln.

https://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/lincoln/

Simply plug in the word in the simple search window and a number of usages will come up, including usages by Lincoln as well as his opponent, Stephen A. Douglas.

As to what it proves, it proves nothing except like most every other person in the 19th Century, Lincoln used the word.

cash,

Thank you, for once again, stepping up and providing historical evidence in response to such requests.

It is appreciated.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 

wbull1

First Sergeant
Official Vendor
Joined
Jul 26, 2018
Perhaps Kirk has a point. I read Jefferson Davis's Proclamation General Orders 111. In that document ordering the execution of General Butler and other white officers as well as sending black Union soldiers to the states with the expectation that the states will execute them like they did when slaves revolted Davis refers to the troops respectfully as "black slaves." So clearly his language is respectful as he orders the murder without trial of white officers and indicates the expected death of black soldiers. It is easy to see how Davis is more respectful than Lincoln...unless you consider behavior over word choice.
 

ForeverFree

Major
Joined
Feb 6, 2010
Location
District of Columbia
He also said the following:
Lincoln Douglas 4 th debate

http://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/the-lincoln-douglas-debates-4th-debate-part-i/

"I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, [applause]—that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race."

As one historian whose name escapes me put it, Lincoln was an anti-slavery moralist but not an anti-slavery activist. It was perfectly possible, and I'm sure it was the case with many (perhaps even most) white people in the North, that a person could both detest slavery and feel that people of European descent were superior to people of African descent.

On this forum, it seems that many people feel that if a white person was a racist, then of course they were pro-slavery. That's not correct. Racist behaviors and beliefs exist on a continuum. Many whites back then could and did profess a belief in free labor and natural rights (including the right to liberty) while feeling that whites should have more privileges and civil rights than negroes.

I guess a question is, can a person who is an anti-slavery moralist but not an anti-slavery activist be considered one who "abhors" slavery? I answer that question in the affirmative, but I understand why some might not.

- Alan
 
Last edited:

damYankee

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 12, 2011
This is what I conclude from the replies so far,
Abe Lincoln was a racist who didn’t care about slavery therefore I must also conclude that the leaders of the secession movement lied about Lincoln’s threat to the Southern way of life and mislead the public into a civil war for reasons other than the alleged threat from Lincoln’s election.
According to those who seem to know more about Lincoln than anyone else, Lincoln’s election was no threat to slavery at all because he was even more racist than Jefferson Davis !
So all of the dead Confederates and Unionist died because of the lies spread by Southern propaganda.
 
Last edited:

ForeverFree

Major
Joined
Feb 6, 2010
Location
District of Columbia
This is a useful quote from Lincoln, which might already have been cited; from the Fourth Debate with Douglas (September 18, 1858):

I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything. I do not understand that because I do not want a negro woman for a slave I must necessarily want her for a wife. [Cheers and laughter.] My understanding is that I can just let her alone. I am now in my fiftieth year, and I certainly never have had a black woman for either a slave or a wife. So it seems to me quite possible for us to get along without making either slaves or wives of negroes.
Lincoln believes in the superiority of whites AND believes that slavery is wrong. That proposition is confusing to modern Americans: most of us equate anti-racism with anti-slavery, and equate racism with pro-slavery. But Lincoln is an example of someone who found slavery wrong (he believed it counter to the principles of the DofI, and believed in the concept of free labor as being superior to slave labor; and I think he found it wrong from a Christian viewpoint) but also thought that whites should be in a superior position.

- Alan
 
Last edited:

ForeverFree

Major
Joined
Feb 6, 2010
Location
District of Columbia
Here's another useful quote from Lincoln. It's in a letter to James C. Conkling of Illinois, and was printed in the Northern press. This is during the Civil War, and addresses misgivings many white Northerners had about the Emancipation Proclamation:

Executive Mansion,
Washington, August 26, 1863.

There are those who are dissatisfied with me... But to be plain, you are dissatisfied with me about the negro. Quite likely there is a difference of opinion between you and myself upon that subject. I certainly wish that all men could be free, while I suppose you do not. Yet I have neither adopted, nor proposed any measure, which is not consistent with even your view, provided you are for the Union. I suggested compensated emancipation; to which you replied you wished not to be taxed to buy negroes. But I had not asked you to be taxed to buy negroes, except in such way, as to save you from greater taxation to save the Union exclusively by other means.

...You say you will not fight to free negroes. Some of them seem willing to fight for you; but, no matter. Fight you, then exclusively to save the Union. I issued the proclamation on purpose to aid you in saving the Union. Whenever you shall have conquered all resistence to the Union, if I shall urge you to continue fighting, it will be an apt time, then, for you to declare you will not fight to free negroes.

I thought that in your struggle for the Union, to whatever extent the negroes should cease helping the enemy, to that extent it weakened the enemy in his resistence to you. Do you think differently? I thought that whatever negroes can be got to do as soldiers, leaves just so much less for white soldiers to do, in saving the Union. Does it appear otherwise to you?

But negroes, like other people, act upon motives. Why should they do any thing for us, if we will do nothing for them? If they stake their lives for us, they must be prompted by the strongest motive--even the promise of freedom. And the promise being made, must be kept.

The signs look better... Peace does not appear so distant as it did. I hope it will come soon, and come to stay; and so come as to be worth the keeping in all future time. It will then have been proved that, among free men, there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and that they who take such appeal are sure to lose their case, and pay the cost.

And then, there will be some black men who can remember that, with silent tongue, and clenched teeth, and steady eye, and well-poised bayonnet, they have helped mankind on to this great consummation; while, I fear, there will be some white ones, unable to forget that, with malignant heart, and deceitful speech, they strove to hinder it.

Yours very truly
A. Lincoln​

I often make the point to people that we can't assume that any person who was president during the war would have favored an emancipation proclamation. I would guess that the majority of northern Democrats had misgivings with it, and certainly some number of Republicans as well.

We tend to forget that freeing millions of slaves was a radical act, a very radical act. Because Lincoln was already anti-slavery, he was more pre-disposed to a policy of emancipation and black enlistment than, for example, Union Gen George McClellan. During the war McClellan stated privately “Help me to dodge the ni****–we want nothing to do with him. I am fighting to preserve the integrity of the Union… To gain that end we cannot afford to mix up the negro question.”

- Alan
 
Last edited:

wbull1

First Sergeant
Official Vendor
Joined
Jul 26, 2018
https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/08/the-real-problem-with-white-abolitionists/

To be sure, radicals like William Lloyd Garrison and Charles Sumner were committed to a more robust anti-racist project than were mainstream antislavery politicians like Lincoln. But in the middle decades of the nineteenth century, Lincoln and his fellow moderates stood out — and were most often attacked — for the extent rather than the limits of their commitment to racial equality. Whatever the differences between the radical and mainstreams of the antislavery movement, it was the Republican Party that steered the Civil War toward the abolition of slavery, passed the Civil Rights Act of 1866, and sponsored the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments to the Constitution.
 

BlueandGrayl

First Sergeant
Joined
May 27, 2018
Location
Corona, California
Well if we're talking on an expansion basis then yes Lincoln did abhor the institution however he understood at the time that legally speaking the Constitution sanctioned slavery and as stated in his inaugural address could not interfere (Abraham Lincoln and the Road to Emancipation: "But secession, Lincoln argued, would actually make it harder for the South to preserve slavery. If the Southern states tried to leave the Union , they would lose all their constitutional gurantees with it, P. 31) with it plus he was a politician and a pragmatic one at that since he already was born in a slave state (Kentucky) like his mentor and idol Henry Clay (the founder of the Whig Party) he knew that if he wanted to win he had to appease the border states of Kentucky and Missouri (slavery was on the decline in Maryland and Delaware and so secession sentiment wasn't that strong in these two states) in his own eyes losing the former and/or the latter state(s) would be losing the war for the Union as summed up by what he said "I think to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to lose the whole game. Kentucky gone, we can not hold Missouri" this was shown by when he had to overturn the famous explorer John "Pathfinder" Charles Fremont's emancipation order in Missouri even when he did change it a bit and with David Hunter's emancipation to those in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida the former had the potential to drive away Unionists and Union sentiment in MO and KY which was acknowledged by his followers and himself while the latter was when the Union had yet to adopt a formal emancipation policy towards their enemy and mostly avoided taking contrabands away in the cases of George B. McClellan and Don Carlos Buell.

Lincoln's initial plan for emancipation was less Emancipation Proclamation and more "colonizing" blacks back to Africa in the summer of 1862 which back then was a very popular concept endorsed by the Founding Fathers like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in the late 18th and 19th centuries he like many American whites (Northern or Southern) believed there could be no way for them to coexist with American blacks and believed that they should be back in their original homeland he knew that they were "separate races" in a speech to a delegation of free blacks on September 22, 1862 just a week after Antietam it didn't involve arming blacks either and it was compensated emancipation rather than radical emancipation.

Even some of his members in the party hated him for his intial policies in 1861-1862 prior to the Emancipation Proclaimation and his planned reconcilitory Reconstruction policy to the Southern states (executed by Andrew Johnson) there's a reason why the Radical Republicans decided that they didn't want to be part of Lincoln's National Union Party (comprised of War Democrats and Conservative/Moderate Republicans) in 1864 so instead they decided that they wanted to run for the presidency themselves under the label of Radical Democracy Party and nominated the aforementioned John C. Fremont as their presidential candidate only to drop out at the last minute, Benjamin Wade of Ohio for example denounced Lincoln as "poor white trash" for being perceived as too sympathetic to slaveholders while in the case of the Conservative Republicans (centre-right party members) they did not want to have emancipation because they wanted to appeal to some of the more anti-black Northern states such as Illinois and felt that doing such a policy would upset support there.

So in regards to Lincoln's policies on the peculiar institution it's pretty complicated to say the least.
 
  • Like
Reactions: gem

cash

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Right here.
Well if we're talking on an expansion basis then yes Lincoln did abhor the institution however he understood at the time that legally speaking the Constitution sanctioned slavery and as stated in his inaugural address could not interfere (Abraham Lincoln and the Road to Emancipation: "But secession, Lincoln argued, would actually make it harder for the South to preserve slavery. If the Southern states tried to leave the Union , they would lose all their constitutional gurantees with it, P. 31) with it plus he was a politician and a pragmatic one at that since he already was born in a slave state (Kentucky) like his mentor and idol Henry Clay (the founder of the Whig Party) he knew that if he wanted to win he had to appease the border states of Kentucky and Missouri (slavery was on the decline in Maryland and Delaware and so secession sentiment wasn't that strong in these two states) in his own eyes losing the former and/or the latter state(s) would be losing the war for the Union as summed up by what he said "I think to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to lose the whole game. Kentucky gone, we can not hold Missouri" this was shown by when he had to overturn the famous explorer John "Pathfinder" Charles Fremont's emancipation order in Missouri even when he did change it a bit and with David Hunter's emancipation to those in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida the former had the potential to drive away Unionists and Union sentiment in MO and KY which was acknowledged by his followers and himself while the latter was when the Union had yet to adopt a formal emancipation policy towards their enemy and mostly avoided taking contrabands away in the cases of George B. McClellan and Don Carlos Buell.

David Hunter actually had two proclamations in which he freed slaves. Lincoln allowed the first one to stand because it was in compliance with the Confiscation Acts. He overturned the second one because Hunter, like Frémont before him, had gone beyond what the legislation had allowed. Frémont didn't change his order on his own. Lincoln wanted him to do so and Frémont refused unless Lincoln ordered him to change it, which Lincoln did.

The Union did have a formal emancipation policy from August 8, 1861 onward, and McClellan abided by it. Slaves who came into their lines were freed, especially after Congress ordered, with Lincoln's approval, military officers to stop returning fugitives to their owners, even if the owners were said to be loyal citizens.


Lincoln's initial plan for emancipation was less Emancipation Proclamation and more "colonizing" blacks back to Africa in the summer of 1862 which back then was a very popular concept endorsed by the Founding Fathers like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in the late 18th and 19th centuries he like many American whites (Northern or Southern) believed there could be no way for them to coexist with American blacks and believed that they should be back in their original homeland he knew that they were "separate races" in a speech to a delegation of free blacks on September 22, 1862 just a week after Antietam it didn't involve arming blacks either and it was compensated emancipation rather than radical emancipation.

Lincoln's preference was for gradual, compensated emancipation accompanied by voluntary colonization. He even was able to get Congress to appropriate funds for colonization, and a couple of experiments were carried out with disastrous results. The colonization program was a huge failure, primarily because most African Americans didn't want to go.


Even some of his members in the party hated him for his intial policies in 1861-1862 prior to the Emancipation Proclaimation and his planned reconcilitory Reconstruction policy to the Southern states (executed by Andrew Johnson)

Johnson carried out his own program, not Lincoln's. It's easy to get the two confused because Lincoln wanted to be lenient, but Johnson didn't want any protections for African Americans in the South, whereas Lincoln would not have abandoned them like that.

there's a reason why the Radical Republicans decided that they didn't want to be part of Lincoln's National Union Party (comprised of War Democrats and Conservative/Moderate Republicans) in 1864 so instead they decided that they wanted to run for the presidency themselves under the label of Radical Democracy Party and nominated the aforementioned John C. Fremont as their presidential candidate only to drop out at the last minute, Benjamin Wade of Ohio for example denounced Lincoln as "poor white trash" for being perceived as too sympathetic to slaveholders while in the case of the Conservative Republicans (centre-right party members) they did not want to have emancipation because they wanted to appeal to some of the more anti-black Northern states such as Illinois and felt that doing such a policy would upset support there.

So in regards to Lincoln's policies on the peculiar institution it's pretty complicated to say the least.

Far more nuanced than most understand.
 
Top