Why didn’t Lincoln just let the Southern states secede and leave the Union?

American87

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Aug 27, 2016
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PENNSYLVANIA
"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 black and white races -- that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making VOTERS or jurors of negroes, NOR OF QUALIFYING THEM 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 of [ot]her man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race."(Lincoln)

Is this supposed to imply that since Lincoln was racist, he was also a supporter of slavery? Because he certainly wasn't. He was opposed to slavery and wanted to remove it from the Union, his views on race relations notwithstanding.
 

Horrido67

Private
Joined
Sep 29, 2019
"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 black and white races -- that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making VOTERS or jurors of negroes, NOR OF QUALIFYING THEM 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 of [ot]her man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race."(Lincoln)

And how does that relate to slavery and secession?

Same here. Not sure why our esteemed member thought the quote was relevant to Lincoln's belief that the crsis of 1860-61 was something to do with slavery.

I wish our member had quoted something relevant to Lincoln’s Interpretation of the Civil War.

Like this one.

"One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war."

March 4, 1865
Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address

What's curious to me is our esteemed member somehow opted not to quote the next sentence of Lincoln's speech when it was really what Lincoln wanted to say.

"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."

September 18, 1858
Lincoln's Fourth Debate with Stephen A. Douglas at Charleston, Illinois

Lincoln didn't believe in 'racial equality' (I doubt he ever believed whites and blacks were equal) and Lincoln's view on 'racial equality' had evolved over the time, but I think It is safe to say the guy had personal conviction that slavery was wrong and blacks, even if they were inferior, were entitled not to be denied to their rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence, which include "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." (Lincoln did say this in his debate with Douglas at Ottawa, Illinois).

I find it unfortunate that some civil war history buffs who I believe should know better imply, either intentially or unwittingly, that being anti-slavery & believer in racial equality were a mutually inclusive thing back in 1850s when one could be both non believer in racial equality and anti-slavery at the time like the most of anti-slavery of this period.

In my humble opinion, those who think that Lincoln of not believing in racial equality in 1850s means that Lincoln was never sincere with his personal belief that slavery was wrong and therefore the secession of slave-holding states could not have been something to do with slavery are ignorant and evidently wrong much as those vandals who want to tear down Lincoln's statues by accusing him being "racist".
 

danny

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Location
Hattiesburg
Thank you one and all for your comments.

Lincoln had other things to say about slavery and secession that would seem in contradiction to such interpretation.

Executive Mansion,
Washington, August 22, 1862.
Hon. Horace Greeley:

Dear Sir.

I have just read yours of the 19th addressed to myself through the New-York Tribune. If there be in it any statements, or assumptions of fact, which I may know to be erroneous, I do not, now and here, controvert them. If there be in it any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here, argue against them. If there be perceptible in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right.

As to the policy I "seem to be pursuing" as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.
I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.

Yours,
A. Lincoln

Source: http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/greeley.htm
 

Horrido67

Private
Joined
Sep 29, 2019
Thank you one and all for your comments.

Lincoln had other things to say about slavery and secession that would seem in contradiction to such interpretation.

Executive Mansion,
Washington, August 22, 1862.
Hon. Horace Greeley:

Dear Sir.

I have just read yours of the 19th addressed to myself through the New-York Tribune. If there be in it any statements, or assumptions of fact, which I may know to be erroneous, I do not, now and here, controvert them. If there be in it any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here, argue against them. If there be perceptible in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right.

As to the policy I "seem to be pursuing" as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.
I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.

Yours,
A. Lincoln

Source: http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/greeley.htm

Our esteemed member appears to think that the letter implies something actually it doesn't imply.

Could you kindly elaborate why do you think the letter contradicts Lincoln's interpretation why the Civil War had happened?
Because It doesn't.

A group of seceding slave-holding states which claimed to be CSA fought to destroy the Union and achieve independence from USA to protect their interests, chiefly (the expansion of) slavery.
USA only fought the war to preserve the Union (up until 1863).

In other words, Lincoln of recognizing his official duty of defending & preserving the Constitution and the Union should be prioritized over any issue including slavery had nothing to do with the fact that slave-holding states seceded from the Union mostly over the issue of (the expansion of) slavery nor Lincoln’s Interpretation of the Civil War. (and Lincoln was already toying with the idea of issuing the emancipation proclaimation and he had actually issued the preliminary emancipation proclaimation within a month or so)

I politely suggest you to listen to what he actually said about the subject at the time rather than incorrectly implies something that your source doesn't actually imply.

"One section of our country believes slavery is right and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute."

MARCH 4, 1861
First Inaugural Address of Abraham Lincoln

"One eighth of the whole population were colored slaves not distributed generally over the union but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war."

March 4, 1865
Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address

It seems clear that at least Lincoln thought, rightfully or wrongfully, the conflict had something to do with the sectional dispute over the issue of (the expansion of) slavery, don't you think?
 

Horrido67

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Joined
Sep 29, 2019
I have provided Lincoln's words that IMHO clearly indicate he would set aside war to maintain the Union; slavery notwithstanding.

You have provided Lincoln's words that don't contradict with the fact slave-holding states mostly seceded over the issue of (the expansion of) slavery and Lincoln thought it was the cause of the war. USA fought to preserve the Union (up until 1863) and it was Lincoln's priority. This doesn't imply that Lincoln did not think slave-holding states seceded over the issue of slavery and the war was fought on the issue.

Again, the letter doesn't imply what you think it implies. Please, explain yourself why do you believe so.

Listen to what Lincoln actually commented on the subject.

"One eighth of the whole population were colored slaves not distributed generally over the union but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war."

March 4, 1865
Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address
 
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I have provided Lincoln's words that IMHO clearly indicate he would set aside war to maintain the Union; slavery notwithstanding.
Lincoln was not a dumb backwoods hick. The President already had the draft of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation written and planned for release when he responded to Greely's criticism of his war policies. Lincoln's reply of August 25, 1862 to Greely was a masterful stroke in setting up the stage for the issuance of this preliminary Proclamation on September 1, 1862 to meet the Congressional requirements of the Confiscation acts -- less than 1 week after this response in Greely's Tribune newspaper.

edited- added "Congressional" before the word "requirements.
 
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danny

Sergeant
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Location
Hattiesburg
You've provided a public letter to a newspaper publisher at a time when Lincoln was simply waiting for the right moment to issue the proclamation. You'd be wise to avoid treating the letter as "true confessions"
First, your threat seem totally unnecessary.

Wise or otherwise, I certainly don't agree that I was treating it in such a manner as you describe. And I don't think Lincoln's words are benefitted by interpretations crafted to further agendas.

For your added consideration:

“So long as I am president, It [the war] shall be carried on for the sole purpose of restoring the union”-Abraham Lincoln Aug 15 1864
Kansas State Journal Sept 15, 1864


Lincoln confided to James W. Singleton that his primary concern was the Union. In Singleton's words: "that he never has and never will present any other ultimatum—that he is misunderstood on the subject of slavery—that it shall not stand in the way of peace".[18] HYPERLINK "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hampton_Roads_Conference"[19]​ Lincoln's reassurance earned him Singleton's support in the 1864 election.[20]​

[20]​Cox & Cox, Politics, Principle, and Prejudice (1963)
 
First, your threat seem totally unnecessary.

Wise or otherwise, I certainly don't agree that I was treating it in such a manner as you describe. And I don't think Lincoln's words are benefitted by interpretations crafted to further agendas.

For your added consideration:

“So long as I am president, It [the war] shall be carried on for the sole purpose of restoring the union”-Abraham Lincoln Aug 15 1864
Kansas State Journal Sept 15, 1864


Lincoln confided to James W. Singleton that his primary concern was the Union. In Singleton's words: "that he never has and never will present any other ultimatum—that he is misunderstood on the subject of slavery—that it shall not stand in the way of peace".[18] HYPERLINK "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hampton_Roads_Conference"[19]​ Lincoln's reassurance earned him Singleton's support in the 1864 election.[20]​

[20]​Cox & Cox, Politics, Principle, and Prejudice (1963)

When the Southern states seceded, which was considered an act of rebellion, Lincoln had only one Constitutional duty he was required to obey and that was to put down that rebellion. The Constitution did not allow a president to call up the militia or use the military of the United States solely to free enslaved people. Officially and constitutionally, his primary reason to continue the war was to end the rebellion. The emancipation of slaves in the areas of rebellion became a secondary goal a little over a year into the war. The freeing of the slaves could never constitutionally take precedence over the ending of the rebellion in the Southern states as the Federal government's main purpose for the war.
 

danny

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Joined
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Location
Hattiesburg
You have provided Lincoln's words that don't contradict with the fact slave-holding states mostly seceded over the issue of (the expansion of) slavery and Lincoln thought it was the cause of the war. USA fought to preserve the Union (up until 1863) and it was Lincoln's priority. This doesn't imply that Lincoln did not think slave-holding states seceded over the issue of slavery and the war was fought on the issue.

Again, the letter doesn't imply what you think it implies. Please, explain yourself why do you believe so.

Listen to what Lincoln actually commented on the subject.

"One eighth of the whole population were colored slaves not distributed generally over the union but localized in the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war."

March 4, 1865
Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address

When the Southern states seceded, which was considered an act of rebellion, Lincoln had only one Constitutional duty he was required to obey and that was to put down that rebellion. The Constitution did not allow a president to call up the militia or use the military of the United States solely to free enslaved people. Officially and constitutionally, his primary reason to continue the war was to end the rebellion. The emancipation of slaves in the areas of rebellion became a secondary goal a little over a year into the war. The freeing of the slaves could never constitutionally take precedence over the ending of the rebellion in the Southern states as the Federal government's main purpose for the war.
At the time of the Civil War, the legality or illegality [according to the Constitution] of secession had not been determined.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
First, your threat seem totally unnecessary.

Wise or otherwise, I certainly don't agree that I was treating it in such a manner as you describe. And I don't think Lincoln's words are benefitted by interpretations crafted to further agendas.

For your added consideration:

“So long as I am president, It [the war] shall be carried on for the sole purpose of restoring the union”-Abraham Lincoln Aug 15 1864
Kansas State Journal Sept 15, 1864


Lincoln confided to James W. Singleton that his primary concern was the Union. In Singleton's words: "that he never has and never will present any other ultimatum—that he is misunderstood on the subject of slavery—that it shall not stand in the way of peace".[18] HYPERLINK "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hampton_Roads_Conference"[19]​ Lincoln's reassurance earned him Singleton's support in the 1864 election.[20]​

[20]​Cox & Cox, Politics, Principle, and Prejudice (1963)
"Threat"??? You cannot be serious, or you have an odd working definition of that word. And why do you put unquestioning reliance on another published item in a newspaper? By the time of the campaign in 1864 Lincoln was working towards what eventually became the Thirteenth Amendment. He ran on a platform endorsing it and Fremont withdrew from the campaign in September in part because of Lincoln's position.
 

Belfoured

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 3, 2019
So, which story are you going with?
If you're asking me, I'll go with "watch what we do, not what we say" a/k/a "actions speak louder than words" every time. Turns out that anybody who used that rule at the time would have looked pretty smart, while other folks ... well, not so much.
 

American87

Sergeant
Joined
Aug 27, 2016
Location
PENNSYLVANIA
Thank you one and all for your comments.

Lincoln had other things to say about slavery and secession that would seem in contradiction to such interpretation.

Executive Mansion,
Washington, August 22, 1862.
Hon. Horace Greeley:

Dear Sir.

I have just read yours of the 19th addressed to myself through the New-York Tribune. If there be in it any statements, or assumptions of fact, which I may know to be erroneous, I do not, now and here, controvert them. If there be in it any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here, argue against them. If there be perceptible in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right.

As to the policy I "seem to be pursuing" as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.
I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.

Yours,
A. Lincoln

Source: http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/greeley.htm

Yes, you also forgot to bold the bottom part,

"I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free."

And his success at passing a compensation law, to compensate border state slave owners who liberated their slaves.

And his House Divided Speech, where he famously said the country would become all slave or all free.

Lincoln was unequivocally opposed to slavery. That much is certain, and not that you are suggesting otherwise, perhaps, but he certainly was.

His efforts to preserve the Union came first, but he was also working to end slavery, as his compensation law shows.

He just believed outright abolition, done by the means of a Constitutional amendment, was the worst way to go about it.

He would rather have the states free the slaves themselves.
 
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