Lincoln and slavery split from Compromise and Peace: The Road Not Taken

brass napoleon

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Lincoln and the Republicans' actions on slavery provide further evidence that the war was not being fought over slavery but over maintaining the Union/Southern independence.

No, they don't. They demonstrate that Lincoln and the Republicans were willing to compromise on slavery to allow it to be peacefully, but ultimately, extinguished. And it's just plain downright hypocritical that on another thread on this very forum at this very moment you're condemning Lincoln and the Republicans for NOT being willing to compromise.
 

Mike Griffith

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Please show me an example of Lincoln's "ardent" support for fugitive slave laws. My understanding is that he felt they were necessary to preserve the union and avoid civil war, but that private citizens of free states should not be compelled to help enforce them. In my book, that is hardly "ardent" support. To the contrary, my understanding of Lincoln's pre-war position on the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 supports my earlier contention that he considered the preservation of the union a necessary and sufficient condition for the eventual extinction of slavery. Many abolitionists found this moderate position unsatisfactory. Nevertheless, there is ample evidence that Lincoln personally despised slavery and always did.

I am saying that Lincoln's position on slavery was complicated and included aspects that most modern folks would find disappointing and even appalling. Yes, Lincoln most certainly did "ardently" back fugitive slave laws and the fugitive slave clause of the Constitution, not because he harbored any sympathy toward slavery but because he viewed them as a legal duty and a necessary evil to maintain peace among the sections. In fact, Lincoln even made the--valid--argument in his first inaugural that fugitive slave laws would become pointless if the Southern states left the Union, that enforcement of such laws would be almost impossible if the South were out of the Union. IOW, he was saying, "Hey, boys, if you want your fugitive slaves returned, you should stay in the Union."

In his letter to Seward regarding compromise provisions, Lincoln not only said he did not care about "fugitive slaves, District of Columbia, slave trade among the slave states," but he indicated that he would support allowing NM to join the Union as a slave state "if further expansion were hedged against."
 

Bee

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In my opinion, the debate over Lincoln's views and actions on slavery stems in large part from the over-generous, misleading portrayals of them in most modern Civil War books. These portrayals have allowed far-left authors like Lerone Bennett to make the opposite extreme look like fact, when in reality the truth is somewhere in the middle and is overall favorable to Lincoln.

Just curious: Which modern Civil War books are you talking about -- can you give some titles?
 

ivanj05

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Of course, the only reason Crittenden had to propose his "compromise" in the first place was because there was yet another Southern ultimatum of "Give us what we want, and like it **** it, or we quit." It was yet another example of the classic take their ball and go home strategy that slaveholders had been holding the rest of the nation hostage to since the creation of the Union.

Can Lincoln and the Republicans really be at that much fault for saying "Not this time guys." Can they really be faulted for not wanting yet another "compromise" that was heavily biased towards the South, for not wanting to be blackmailed into submission by yet another threat of secession? Is representative government really built on a minority holding a majority at bay with threats of disunion and violence? Is democratic government built on the premise that those who win a free and fair election must bow to the desires of those who lost or else?
 

cash

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Lincoln and the Republicans' actions on slavery provide further evidence that the war was not being fought over slavery but over maintaining the Union/Southern independence. They were willing to let the slave state of West Virginia join the Union and to keep the state's slaves enslaved for up to 20-30 years or longer.

You've been corrected on this several times so we know you know it's a dishonest way to phrase it.

West Virginia applied for admission and that application was at first not accepted because they were a slave state. They were not admitted until they had changed their constitution to begin gradual emancipation.

They were willing to exempt eastern Tennessee from the Emancipation Proclamation in order to keep that region loyal to the Union.

Again, you've been corrected on this before, so you know you're not being honest. Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation under his war powers. He could do this because he was depriving rebels of a critical labor source. In areas that were under Union control, he could not directly emancipate slaves by proclamation because the necessity of depriving rebels of a critical labor source didn't exist.

All of Tennessee was exempted from the Emancipation Proclamation because Andrew Johnson requested it, and he was a governor cooperating with the Federal government. Yet don't think slaves in Tennessee weren't being emancipated.

"Exemption meant only that an area was loyal, not that slavery was untouchable. Loyal areas were those that had sent duly elected representatives to Congress, but that was an unreliable guide to the progress of emancipation in any particular are. Slaves were already freed, for example, in several occupied parts of the Confederacy that were nevertheless covered by the proclamation. Emancipation had begun a year earlier in the Sea Islands, and by late 1862 it was already under way in western Mississippi as well as in Arkansas, but none of those areas were exempted because none had held legitimate elections that sent unionist representatives to Congress. On the other hand, slaves were being emancipated in several of the areas that were exempted, such as southern Louisiana and western Tennessee, both of which were represented in Congress by unionists. The day before he issued the Emancipation Proclamation Lincoln signed the West Virginia statehood bill, which required abolition as a condition for admission to the Union. Yet the entire state was exempted. Even in theory the exemptions in the Emancipation Proclamation did not correspond to the areas where slaves were or were not being freed. In practice exempted areas often felt the proclamation most immediately." [James Oakes, Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865, pp. 362-363]

The Emancipation Proclamation, even though it exempted Tennessee, also freed slaves in that state because it authorized the enlistment of black soldiers, and any enslaved men who enlisted, along with their families, would be freed automatically. "On March 26, 1863, Lincoln wrote to Andrew Johnson, the military governor of Tennessee, urging him to help recruit blacks into the Union army. 'The colored population is the great available and yet unavailed of, force for restoring the Union,' Lincoln wrote. 'The bare sight of fifty-thousand armed, and drilled black soldiers on the banks of the Mississippi, would end the rebellion at once.' This letter is generally cited as evidence of how fully Lincoln had changed his mind about black enlistment over the previous year--and it certainly does show that--but it is scarcely noticed that Johnson was the governor of Tennessee, a state Lincoln had exempted from the Emancipation Proclamation three months earlier. In urging the recruitment of Tennessee slaves, all of whom would be freed by virtue of their enlistment, Lincoln was directly undermining slavery in a loyal slave state. Not only would slaves recruited from the loyal states be emancipated, so would their wives, mothers, and children. The emancipation of soldiers and their families was part of a broader Republican effort to undermine slavery in the Border States. In 1863 the War Department opened recruiting offices for blacks in Maryland, Tennessee, and Missouri. The results were dramatic. Of the 146,000 black men recruited from the slave states, nearly 60 percent--as many as 85,000--enlisted from areas exempted from the Emancipation Proclamation." [Ibid., p. 387]


They were not willing to impose emancipation on the Union slave states for fear of losing their support.

And yet, they did impose emancipation on the Union slave states in the form of enlistment in the Union Army. All those enslaved people in the loyal states who enlisted in the Union Army [and permission of their owner was not required] were automatically freed, and their families were also automatically freed.

For example, by the end of the Civil War over 70 percent of enslaved people in Kentucky, a state exempted from the EP, were freed due either to enlisting in the Union Army or by being family members of men who enlisted.

https://books.google.com/books?id=9...q=70 percent of Kentucky slaves freed&f=false

Lincoln used the Emancipation Proclamation to eviscerate slavery, even in areas exempted within that document.

For that matter, before Lincoln issued the EP, he attempted to get support for a gradual emancipation plan that would have left Union slaves in bondage for 20 years or more.

He tried to get the border states to abolish slavery by using gradual emancipation, which contradicts your position.

Before that, he strongly supported the Corwin Amendment, which would have expressly prohibited the federal government from abolishing slavery, in the hope of keeping the Southern states in the Union.

The Corwin Amendment, as you have been told time and time again, merely codified the existing constitutional interpretation of the time, namely that slavery was a state matter over which the Federal Government had no authority. It did nothing about the expansion of slavery.
 

Mike Griffith

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Just curious: Which modern Civil War books are you talking about -- can you give some titles?

Let me answer your question with a question: Which CW books would you say present the whole picture about Lincoln's views and actions on slavery, that not only mention the negative aspects of his record on the issue but give them at least something close to equal time with the positive aspects so as to give the reader the full picture? I've read upwards of 30 books on Lincoln, and I can't think of one that tells the whole story on this matter. How many CW books mention, for instance, Lincoln's refusal to pardon William Walker, a black soldier executed for mutiny for leading a protest over the unequal pay and treatment that black soldiers were receiving?
 
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I am saying that Lincoln's position on slavery was complicated and included aspects that most modern folks would find disappointing and even appalling. Yes, Lincoln most certainly did "ardently" back fugitive slave laws and the fugitive slave clause of the Constitution, not because he harbored any sympathy toward slavery but because he viewed them as a legal duty and a necessary evil to maintain peace among the sections. In fact, Lincoln even made the--valid--argument in his first inaugural that fugitive slave laws would become pointless if the Southern states left the Union, that enforcement of such laws would be almost impossible if the South were out of the Union. IOW, he was saying, "Hey, boys, if you want your fugitive slaves returned, you should stay in the Union."

In his letter to Seward regarding compromise provisions, Lincoln not only said he did not care about "fugitive slaves, District of Columbia, slave trade among the slave states," but he indicated that he would support allowing NM to join the Union as a slave state "if further expansion were hedged against."

You have invented an imaginary strawman who believes that Lincoln opposed slavery unconditionally and at all costs, and have alleged that recent popular books on the subject have deliberately sought to create such a false impression. But when asked to name such a book, you have not, as yet, done so, perhaps because there aren't any.

I'm sure that somewhere an ignorant person draws breath whose beliefs are just as you allege, but I very much doubt that any such person participates on this website. So what is your point?

The treatment of American history in our educational system is notoriously rose-colored. For example, most Americans don't even realize we lost the War of 1812. Most Americans know about Jackson's victory at New Orleans (which occurred after the Treaty of Ghent was signed). They may know of the successful defense of Baltimore that inspired the Star Spangled Banner, and they may even know of how the USS Constitution sank the Guerriere (a French prize ship under British colors). But Americans usually don't understand that the US failed to accomplish any of its war aims. Our invasion of Canada was repulsed, our capital was burned, we lost most of the naval engagements, and the impressment of American seamen on the high seas (the bogus casus belli still presented to American school children) wasn't even mentioned in the Treaty of Ghent. Conversely, what is popularly taught about Lincoln is essentially correct. If I could have a sixth grade history student's attention for only five minutes to teach him or her something about Lincoln, what I would want him or her to understand about Abraham Lincoln is that Lincoln's leadership preserved the union and brought about the end of slavery - both outcomes that Lincoln fervently desired. None of the "complexities" to which you alluded detract from that basic truth!
 
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Let me answer your question with a question: Which CW books would you say present the whole picture about Lincoln's views and actions on slavery, that not only mention the negative aspects of his record on the issue but give them at least something close to equal time with the positive aspects so as to give the reader the full picture? I've read upwards of 30 books on Lincoln, and I can't think of one that tells the whole story on this matter. How many CW books mention, for instance, Lincoln's refusal to pardon William Walker, a black soldier executed for mutiny for leading a protest over the unequal pay and treatment that black soldiers were receiving?

So you really don't get why a commander-in-chief simply can't pardon a mutineer in wartime, regardless of the perceived legitimacy or illegitimacy of his grievance? Do you really mean to suggest that that particular decision is some kind of meaningful window on Lincoln's beliefs about race and slavery?
 

Bee

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Let me answer your question with a question

That's not how it works. I asked you a question, and all I am looking for is an answer to that question. You make an assertion that is presented with the assurance of someone who has experienced the inequity first hand, thus, ready at the helm to provide examples. Since you are well ahead of me in your reading , I was hoping for examples of "the over-generous, misleading portrayals of them in most modern Civil War books" so that I might perhaps want to avoid these offending books in the future.
 
How many CW books mention, for instance, Lincoln's refusal to pardon William Walker, a black soldier executed for mutiny for leading a protest over the unequal pay and treatment that black soldiers were receiving?



"Walker was tried at Hilton Head by a military court January 9 - 12 of 1864 on specifications of inciting a mutiny, failing to report a mutiny and insubordination. Evidence at trial showed the soldiers had been worked nearly to exhaustion doing fatigue duty, including preparation of camps for white regiments contrary to standing orders from Gen. Gilmore. Litttle time was left for actual military training for the regiment. Walker and some of the other recruits had clearly been promised full pay when they enlisted. It was alleged at the trial that the men had never been read the general orders of the army as required by the Articles of War or any of the regulations which indicated that their acts were mutiny and punishable by death prior to the strike. Walker was convicted by a vote of 4 to 2 and executed before President Lincoln could consider his case."
Civil War Court Martial Case Files - Sgt. William Walker of the 3rd. S.C. Colored Infantry
 
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"Walker was tried at Hilton Head by a military court January 9 - 12 of 1864 on specifications of inciting a mutiny, failing to report a mutiny and insubordination. Evidence at trial showed the soldiers had been worked nearly to exhaustion doing fatigue duty, including preparation of camps for white regiments contrary to standing orders from Gen. Gilmore. Litttle time was left for actual military training for the regiment. Walker and some of the other recruits had clearly been promised full pay when they enlisted. It was alleged at the trial that the men had never been read the general orders of the army as required by the Articles of War or any of the regulations which indicated that their acts were mutiny and punishable by death prior to the strike. Walker was convicted by a vote of 4 to 2 and executed before President Lincoln could consider his case."
Civil War Court Martial Case Files - Sgt. William Walker of the 3rd. S.C. Colored Infantry

Thank you for that, Copperhead. The Walker case had even less to do with Lincoln's beliefs and attitudes about slavery and race than I had presumed.
 

cash

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How many CW books mention, for instance, Lincoln's refusal to pardon William Walker, a black soldier executed for mutiny for leading a protest over the unequal pay and treatment that black soldiers were receiving?

If you're going to make up stuff that Lincoln never did, then I suppose only DiLiarenzo and Bennett will be able to fit your criteria. Actual historians who have to write about stuff that really happened are out of the running.
 

brass napoleon

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"Walker was tried at Hilton Head by a military court January 9 - 12 of 1864 on specifications of inciting a mutiny, failing to report a mutiny and insubordination. Evidence at trial showed the soldiers had been worked nearly to exhaustion doing fatigue duty, including preparation of camps for white regiments contrary to standing orders from Gen. Gilmore. Litttle time was left for actual military training for the regiment. Walker and some of the other recruits had clearly been promised full pay when they enlisted. It was alleged at the trial that the men had never been read the general orders of the army as required by the Articles of War or any of the regulations which indicated that their acts were mutiny and punishable by death prior to the strike. Walker was convicted by a vote of 4 to 2 and executed before President Lincoln could consider his case."
Civil War Court Martial Case Files - Sgt. William Walker of the 3rd. S.C. Colored Infantry

But... but.... but... Lincoln was President! He should have done more! Except when he did do more, in which case he should have done less!!!
 
But... but.... but... Lincoln was President! He should have done more! Except when he did do more, in which case he should have done less!!!

The military court was required by the Act of July 17, 1862, to present all military death sentence trial transcripts to the President for review and his authorization to proceed with the court's sentence. Lincoln did not find out about Walker's trial until after he had been buried.
 

Hunter

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If you're going to make up stuff that Lincoln never did, then I suppose only DiLiarenzo and Bennett will be able to fit your criteria. Actual historians who have to write about stuff that really happened are out of the running.


Or, you should research and write a book about Lincoln and slavery, being careful to cite only primary sources, if any, that address the issues you and others raise, as well as providing relevant context. You will see that, for a lawyer-politician, he had a lot of political courage. You will also find it impossible to dislike him even though he was not always consistent.
 

brass napoleon

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The military court was required by the Act of July 17, 1862, to present all military death sentence trial transcripts to the President for review and his authorization to proceed with the court's sentence. Lincoln did not find out about Walker's trial until after he had been buried.

Sorry. No excuse. He should have used a crystal ball. Or at the very least raised Walker from the dead.
 
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Let me answer your question with a question:

I note from several threads that you aren't responsive to questions asked of you. Why is that?

Which CW books would you say present the whole picture about Lincoln's views and actions on slavery, that not only mention the negative aspects of his record on the issue but give them at least something close to equal time with the positive aspects so as to give the reader the full picture? I've read upwards of 30 books on Lincoln, and I can't think of one that tells the whole story on this matter.

I can't account for your reading choices. That may be where the problem lies. You might want to read David Donald's biography, or Eric Foner's recent study.

How many CW books mention, for instance, Lincoln's refusal to pardon William Walker, a black soldier executed for mutiny for leading a protest over the unequal pay and treatment that black soldiers were receiving?

I believe someone has already answered that question. Why didn't your extensive reading cover the facts of the case?
 
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