Lincoln’s Attitude to Slavery Evolve During the War

How did Lincoln’s attitude towards slavery evolve during the war and what evidence is there to show that both politics and military self-interest played a role?

During the Civil War, Lincoln demonstrated his leadership skills to unite people. He called for separation and colonization, but his feelings were not stable. He was aimed at promoting the idea of public recognition of the rights of black people and their interests, although his party did not support some of his ideas. Lincoln’s attitude towards slavery depended on his attitude towards black people and their beliefs regarding race, which was changed significantly during the years of the Civil War. Initially, Lincoln was a racial separatist, but eventually, he began to view black people as equals with writes. In the world of a colour-blind democracy, it was crucial to promote racial equality.

In fact, in 1854, Sen. Stephen Douglas was the one who managed to force the Kansas-Nebraska Act through the US Congress. The key goal of the bill was to promote expansion of slavery in the Midwest. It was found that the Kansas-Nebraska Act repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820. According to historians, “signed by President Pierce at the end of May, 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act shattered the already weakened second party system and triggered renewed sectional strife” (Boyer et al. 381). The major political rival of Sen. Stephen Douglas in this complicated political situation was the former Illinois Congressman Abraham Lincoln. He provided response to this bill, presented in the form of public speeches, including the Peoria Speech, which lasted three hours. Lincoln demonstrated his grievances over the bill proposed by  Sen. Stephen Douglas, highlighting his moral, economic, political and legal arguments against expansion of slavery. Lincoln proved the fact that during the Civil War, his opinion about slavery was based on his personal attitudes and desire to fight in the cause of justice.

As a matter of fact, Lincoln did not know what should be done after the abolishment of slavery. In the Peoria speech, Lincoln mentioned that slavery was wrong and unjust for a democratic society like American society. Initially, he planned to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia, their own native country. Lincoln’s position on slavery affected his decisions made during the Civil War. He was not an abolitionist who criticized the Southern states. He wanted to abolish slavery and construct a just society. Later on, he changed his opinion and considered that black people could become an intrinsic part of American society. They should not be represented as aliens in the United States, although he knew that they were unjustly brought to America from Africa. The Emancipation Proclamation led to changes in Lincoln’s views. The declaration of the freedom of all slaves  led to changes in territorial division of states. After the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln did not support the idea of  colonization. Lincoln’s shift in his position regarding slavery was due to the need for new soldiers. Freed slaves were ready to join the Union Army and to continue the ongoing struggle against slavery.

Actually, there is much evidence that can show that both politics and military self-interest played a role in the Civil War and in Lincoln’s decision to abolish slavery. The Anaconda Plan was used as an effective strategy to suppress the Confederacy in the Civil War. The plan was aimed at ensuring blockade of the access to the Southern ports and cutting the South in two parts. In addition, Lincoln was focused on political and military interests in his decision making. Lincoln considered that morality could play an important role in resolution of the conflict. According to historians, “Lincoln quickly ordered a blockade of the Southern coast, the North lacked the troops and naval flotillas to seize the Mississippi in 1861” (Boyer et al. 409). Lincoln was interested in developing new strategic approached to win the war. This fact means that his military self-interest had a considerable impact on his decision making regarding abolishment of slavery.

Besides, political interests supported Lincoln’s strategy in the Civil War. The fact that the election of Lincoln led to Southern states rapidly passing ordinances of secession in their respective legislative houses means that Lincoln’s political interests were based on expansion of his political views across the United States. Lincoln would try one final time to hold the Union together with the Crittenden Compromise (Plan), which proposed re-establishing the Missouri Compromise line and extending to the Pacific. Unfortunately, it was unrealistic because of the inability to establish popular sovereignty. The nation could be plunged into crisis caused by the territorial issues (Boyer et al. 377). In the months before announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln had combined personal moral progression with a number of canny political maneuvers to form the basis for the new strategy implementation. Hence, Lincoln did not lose his interest in politics during the Civil War and hi decisions were directed towards promotion of justice both in political and military campaigns.

Thus, it is necessary to conclude that the evolution of Lincoln’s views regarding the adoption of the Emancipation Proclamation can be explained by changes in his personal attitudes toward black people and race. Lincoln had a good understanding of the consequences of his plan to abolish slavery in the United States and give freedom to slaves. In addition, Lincoln realized that changing thoughts about slavery could influence American society and the highlight the role of freed slaves in the transformation of the United States. The role of black people in the Civil War was significant and affected Lincoln’s position regarding racial attitudes. He became the defender of the inter-racial society.

Works Cited

Boyer, Paul S., Clark., Clifford E., Halttunen, Kett, Joseph F., Salisbury, Neal. The Enduring Vision: A History of the American People Volume I: To 1877. Concise Seventh Edition. Cengage Learning, 2016.

The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016.

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

freeessays.club (2016) The terms offer and acceptance [Online].
Available at:

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: October 27, 2021]
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