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The Emancipation Proclamation

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Emancipation was not a new idea in the world. Many countries had freed the slaves earlier in the 1800's even going into the 1830's for the British slaves. This may have caused a fear on the parts of the proslavery people. Because of this, the slave owners in the south wanted a ban on slaves coming from the West Indies and other places where slaves were being freed. The Emancipation Proclamation did not come easy to President Lincoln. The President took over two years to come to the decision that there was even a need for such a document. In that time there was pressure coming from both sides of the issue at President Lincoln. Many events led to the proclamation. What drove Lincoln to finally write it? Did he feel an obligation to free the slaves? Was it a stance to take to keep the Union engaged in the war? Was it pressure from his generals and political figures? Some might be astonished that Abraham Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation based on his non-action on the slavery issue.

John H. Franklin noted in his book on the Emancipation Proclamation, In his inaugural address President Lincoln declared that he had no purpose, 'directly or indirectly, to interfere with slavery where it exists. Due to federalist principles, Lincoln did not feel that it was his place, as president; to intervene with an issue that he felt was a state matter. Lincoln did question slavery in the territories. You can trace this back to the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. Suppose, he queried, the people of a territory should vote slavery down? The Supreme Court in the Dred Scott decision had decreed that they could not. Who would prevail, the Court of or the people? We know from history that slave states did not want to be outnumbered by free states. No matter how the Supreme Court ruled, Douglas argued, slavery would stay down if the people voted it down. This is supported by the many of the abolitionists of the day.



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