Lincoln's Main Goal

In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln had just one goal. This idea was to preserve the Union rather than concentrate on the issue of slavery. Lincoln was prepared to take any actions to save the Union regardless of the slaves being held and laboring in the South.

Lincoln's views were clearly evident in his letter to Horace Greeley. He wrote many words that led us to believe that the Union was his main concern.

"I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way [that can be taken] under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored, the nearer the Union will be 'the Union as it was'.

Lincoln also stated that,
"My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy slavery."

The actions Lincoln took or did not take concerning slavery are only done because he believes that they will help the Union. Lincoln would save the Union whether all slaves, some slaves, or no slaves were freed (Lincoln's letter to Horace Greeley, August 1862).

As president, Lincoln tried to exclude slavery from his goals to be concerned with, yet he actually imposed slavery again after two of the Northern generals freed slaves in some Southern areas. Horace Greeley and other abolitionists thought that Lincoln was helping the South achieve their goals even as he was fighting them. Lincoln appeared to be opposed to blacks' social equality of whites. He had to avoid abolitionists to get elected with a platform against slavery in the territories because the territories were the only area where he could keep up on the spread of slavery (TIME, Wills, 41). G.K. Chesterton expressed Lincoln's combination of views:

"He loved to repeat that slavery was intolerable while he tolerated it, and to prove that something ought to be done while it was impossible to do it...."

A political cartoon from Lincoln's era portrays Abraham Lincoln attempting to fix a cracked wall, one half North, and the other half, South. Lincoln is trying to attach the two pieces of the wall with Union Glue. The space between the wall was quite large, representing the differences between the North and South. Lincoln could obviously not fix this situation with the Union glue, or by himself, meaning that everyone had to come together to end the war and preserve the United States.

The foremost objective in Lincoln's eyes was to save the Union. He attempted various tactics in order to accomplish the Union "as it was", and eventually slavery was destroyed, and the Union preserved.

Sources: TIME MAGAZINE Wills, Gary (October 5, 1992) "Dishonest Abe", page 41

Lincoln's letter to Horace Greeley, August 25, 1862. Adapted from New York Tribune

"A House Divided against itself Cannot Stand" (political cartoon found in The American Pageant

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