Lincoln's Personal Beliefs Outweighed His Political Views

By: Terra Harnish and Heather Rodgers

By freeing the slaves Lincoln put into effect his personal views, but it contradicted his political views on slavery which was to allow slavery to exist where it always had.

South Carolina threatened to secede from the union if Lincoln was elected President. They lived up to their words because after Lincoln's election their legislature unanimously voted to secede from the Union. In response to South Carolina and other states that seceded Lincoln stated "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institutions of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so." This supports Lincoln's political view while this statement, "Slavery is a moral, social and political evil." supports his personal view. Also, at the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation he said, "I have been shaking hands since nine o'clock this morning and my right arm is almost paralyzed. If my name ever goes into history it will be for this act, and my whole soul is in it." This seems as though he wanted to be remembered for helping to end slavery.

Lincoln also wrote a letter to Horace Greeley in August 1862 that stated if he could save the Union and not free any slave that he would do so. His major concern was the Union and it had nothing to do with slavery. The Emancipation Proclamation was only written because Lincoln thought it was the last resort. He stated, "Things had gone from bad to worse, until I felt that we reached the end of our rope on the plan we had pursuing; that we had about played our last card, and must change our tactics or lose the game. Then on September 22, 1862 the Emancipation Proclamation was signed that set free all slaves in all states and territories in rebellion against the Union.

On January 1, 1863 the slaves were set free and Lincoln's political stand was in agreement with his personal beliefs.

New York Tribune, August 25, 1862.
United States Statutes at Large, XII (1859-1863)
R. P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (New Brunswick, N.J.)
Rutgers University Press, 1953), vol. 5, 388-389 (August 22, 1862).
The American Presidents: Biographies of the Chief Executives from Washington
through Bush. p.139

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