Through My Eyes

the thoughts and musings of Justin Thorp; the 21 year old college of God...friend...boyfriend...and internet geek

Friday, April 01, 2005

Lincoln Conf: Allen C. Guelzo - Emancipation Proclamation; Myth or Reality?

If Lincoln is our greatest President, then the Emancipation Proclamation is his greatest document and the greatest example of prudence. Not prudence but passion is found important today. Today in politics we want drama and confrontation. Prudence has lost its luster as a virtue. Thus the Emancipation Proclamation has lost its importance.

Many people were dissastified with the the proclamation. Some thought it had a lack of style. This some people think shows that Lincoln didn't really care about the emancipation. Why was the language so bland? Why did he wait almost two years to issue it?

The reason it goes to the heart of where this all was in American History.

Why did Lincoln wait so long since he wrote it? The real question was, if the civil war was really about slavery why didn't he free the slaves earlier? Why does it look if Lincoln dallied?

He wouldn't have been able to free the slaves of the South because they left the union. The constitution doesn't allow the president to do whatever they pleased, no matter how well founded. Slavery was a creation of state enactments not federal government. Lincoln couldn't touch it. If he would have it would have been challenged in federal court and probably gone up to Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Tauney.

Lincoln started his plan for emancipation back in 1861 when the war was 7 months old. Lincoln aimed at Delaware where there weren't that many slave holders. He wanted to have a federal buyout of the slaveholders. This meaned that slaveholders would fleed to the other slave states and that would increase supply and decrease the price and make it easier for a federal buyout.

There were many other plans to emancipate. The confiscation of rebel property was going to confiscate slaves but it didn't actually emancipate them. Was this and many other emancipation plans pass judical muster?

Delaware didn't buy into Lincoln's buyout plan. None of the other plans worked. Lincoln could have given them time but Lincoln didn't have time. Lincoln was worried that General McClellan was going to do something with the Army of Potomac. Lincoln knew that it was time for Lincoln to emancipate by proclamation.

What did the emancipation proclamation do? It didn't apply to the border states or the occupied areas, during the war. Lincoln's war powers only applied to where we were at war with.

Lincoln issued the proclamation on July 1, 1863. Lincoln signed into law on New Years day.

For Lincoln, the emancipation was the strongest feeling of his soul. The law that Lincoln signed had real force. A lot of the other proclamations of that time were equally technical and hard to read.

Lincoln was not pushed towards emancipation proclamation by abolitionists. It was the anti-emancipators that really made Lincoln want to do this more. Lincoln did not issue the proclamation to trick the north into supporting him or to save the union. The south left because of they knew of the character of Lincoln.

We need a new birth of Lincoln's prudence if we ever want to understand the freedom and the liberty that Lincoln understood.


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