Abraham Lincoln is considered to be one of the greatest American presidents who expressed himself as not simply a forceful war while demonstrating the vast power inherent in the presidency, but as a dictator, albeit in many accounts a benevolent and constitutional dictator. Lincoln, it is said, took the law into his own hands in meeting the attack on Fort Sumter and subsequently in dealing with the problems of internal security, emancipation, and Reconstruction. The author of a well-known treatise on emergency government in the Western political tradition states that "it was in the person of Abraham Lincoln that the constitutional dictatorship was almost completely reposed. . . ." In the following paper I would like to discuss Abraham Lincoln's policies during the civil war. The discussion will be structured in the way that will shape President's motives in actual conducting the war and mostly pointed into defining whether the reasons were to abolish slavery or receive economic benefit. Faced with heavy Union losses and the destructive nature of the war, Abraham Lincoln, an antislavery proponent, gradually adopted slave emancipation as the most prudent means of ending the conflict between North and South, bringing an end to the war, and thus paving the way to a reunited nation. Lincoln's role in the destruction of the institution of slavery during the Civil War and afterward is widely accepted to be the reason of Civil War as the institution of slavery, so instrumental in dividing the nation, provided Lincoln with an effective tool for ending the conflict. Slowly, at a pace too deliberate for most blacks and many Republicans, Lincoln gradually approached emancipation through the Confiscation Acts, compensation plans, and the Emancipation Proclamation (Abbott, 1968).
[...] Even an emphasis on the more moderate stance of antislavery, Lincoln knew, would alienate large groups of Americans, both North and South. A substantial number of these same people fell into the antislavery camp, whose attitudes ranged from lukewarm to heated but nonetheless remained moderate in setting no timetable for success and condoning compensation to owners of emancipated slaves. The abolitionists, however, called slavery a sin, rejected compromise, and advocated equal rights for blacks. Only total and immediate emancipation without compensation was acceptable to them. [...]
[...] in all the Border States and in Confederate areas controlled by the Union as of January offering freedom only to those slaves living in Confederate strongholds--the very areas in which Lincoln could not enforce his proclamation. At best, the Emancipation Proclamation opened the door to freedom, but it left millions still enslaved. Even when war seemed inescapable, Lincoln remained the premier politician and chief adherent to the Constitution regarding the slavery issue; but observers thousands of miles away lacked his keen understanding of these domestic political and legal realities and began to ponder the wisdom of intervention. [...]
[...] Nevertheless, Rhodes concluded on a favourable note, declaring that Lincoln was "no Caesar or Napoleon . sought no self-aggrandizement [and] had in his own loyal and unselfish nature a check to the excessive use of absolute power . " (Kelly, 1956). Speaking of Lincoln's personal attitude toward the Civil War and slavery that all encompassed it, it is needed to say that the latter distressed him. He realized how wrong it was that slavery should exist at all in a self-proclaimed free and enlightened Republic. [...]
[...] Then Lincoln and his party would resume and implement their policy of slave containment (Moreno, 1995). There were other reasons for Lincoln's hands-off policy about slavery. Four slave states— Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri—remained in the Union. Should he try to free the slaves, Lincoln feared it would send the crucial border spiralling into the Confederacy, something that would be catastrophic for the Union. A Confederate Maryland would create an impossible situation for Washington, D.C. And a Confederate Missouri and Kentucky would give the rebels potential bases from which to invade Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio. [...]
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