Hesitant Emancipator- Lincoln Essay

2922 Words Oct 11th, 2014 12 Pages
BU
WR 150
Paper 3 The Hesitant Emancipator Never boring: simple words that describe the simple life of one of the greatest American Heroes of all time. Over the years we have come to understand the Great Emancipator’s struggles and his determination to push for a better future for his nation. In the blink of war, Lincoln came to the nation’s rescue. But was Lincoln really the Great Emancipator? Was Lincoln actually opposed to the slavery movement? Or did he not consider the blacks to be an equal race? Did he make an active effort to free the slaves? Or was the emancipation a never Lincoln’s priority? In my opinion, although freeing the slaves was never Lincoln’s top priority during his tenure as president, Lincoln was
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Maybe Lincoln was emotionally hurt by the treatment of the slaves that he witnessed down South and this sparked his hatred towards its existence. This reference is crucial because it tells me that Lincoln wasn’t entirely unsympathetic towards slavery. Paludan later quotes John Hanks’ experiences with Lincoln in New Orleans as a shock towards slavery:

“There it was we saw Negroes chained—maltreated—whipt & scourged. Lincoln saw it—his heart bled—said nothing much—was silent from feeling—was sad—looked bad—felt bad—was thoughtful & abstracted—I can say knowingly that it was on this trip that he formed his opinions of slavery: it ran its iron in him then & there—May 1831. I have heard him say—often & often. [10]”

It seems clear that Lincoln never expected to see such brutality. Hanks’ reference that Lincoln’s “heart bled” [10] is a clear indication that Lincoln felt pain when he saw the brutal treatment that the slaves were going through. Later in a letter to Joshua Speed in 1855, Lincoln says that, “[the mentioned] sight was a continued torment to me; and I see something like it every time I touch the Ohio, or any other slave-border [11].” Lincoln’s words here clearly indicate a deep sense of sympathy towards the slaves. Lincoln clearly says that he opposes slavery and that was “because [his] judgment and feelings so prompt [him]” [10].

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