Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation of Slaves

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The Emancipation Proclamation

The Emancipation Proclamation was an executive order as well as a presidential proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 to free slaves (Schwartz). Initially, this directive was applicable to slaves in the Confederate states that had seceded from the Union. Lincoln had called on states that had rebelled to return to the union or else slaves in their territory would qualify as free citizens. The states did not relent, forcing Abraham Lincoln to enforce the declaration.

Significance of the Emancipation Proclamation

The Emancipation Proclamation was significant in that it granted freedom to 3.1 million slaves out of the 4 million in the nation. It also marked a turning point in the conflict between Union members and the Southern states that wanted to secede and eventually contributed to the victory of the Northern states (Williams). After the initial victory at the beginning of the conflict, the Southern states achieved a series of victories against the Northerners. These losses gave impetus to the Northerners to free slaves who were a crucial source of labor to their rivals. By this one act, they would weaken the Southerners and increase their own troops. Army officers thereby operated under directives not to return any escaped slaves to their masters.

Impact on Southern States

By granting contraband status to escaped slaves, the Union dealt a severe blow to the Southern states that depended heavily on slave labor for the production of fiber, food, and other necessities need for daily life and the war effort. Slaves fled in record numbers from their owners to Union army lines, and this further strengthened the Northerners' resolve to take the war as not only a means of preserving the Union but also as a human rights fight to free slaves (Smith). The Southern States went on to win the war and Abraham Lincoln set in place measures that would ensure the freedom of all slaves in the nation by amending the Constitution.

Role in Union Victory

The Emancipation Proclamation was very important in that it rallied the Union members into reacting and pushing relentlessly for the freedom of slaves. It also played a pivotal role in defining the attitudes that the South had towards the North regarding its perspectives on the use of slave labor. Eventually, these slaves played a role in the Union victory in the civil war and consequently led to the preservation of a united nation.

Works Cited

Schwartz, Barry. "The Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln’s Many Second Thoughts."Society (2015): 590–603.

Smith, John David. "Lincoln and the U.S. Colored Troops."Louisiana Historical Association (2016): 227-229.

Williams, Frank J. "Lincoln's Hundred Days: The Emancipation Proclamation and the War for the Union."Civil War History (2014): 86-88.

November 24, 2023


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