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Why Did President Lincoln Issue The Emancipation Proclamation

Info: 1348 words (5 pages) Essay
Published: 1st Jan 2015 in History

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The Emancipation Proclamation is said to be the turning point in slavery, but through a deeper analysis of the document, I learned that it was a hidden agenda behind Lincoln’s decision to “free the slaves”. Many individuals who praise Lincoln for his bravery and choice to be different have more than likely not taken the time to further investigate the hidden intentions behind this proclamation that was written on January 1, 1863. According to the document, the only slaves that would be set free were those that resided in the states that where part of the confederacy or “that were in rebellion” not the states that where a part of the Union. To fully understand what Lincoln’s real reason was for this I took a deeper look into the history of the war that was going on at that time. The Union was not only at war with the confederate states but as with the British colonies. As a slave, you were not allowed to enlist in any war. Only free men were allowed to enlist and this did not include many African Americans. When one takes a look at the Military strategy behind the Emancipation Proclamation, the time line in which these strategies where to take place, and the importance of the role that agriculture mainly cotton played in the southern states that where a part of the confederacy, then you can see why Lincoln chose to Emancipate certain slaves (US National Archives and Records Administration n.d.).

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As I look at a perfect military strategy unfold in the declaration I realized that the only way to fight and win is to enlist men that have a reason deeper than that of separation from the confederacy. Who better to fit this category of strong willed men than those that you have set free. Lincoln had two spades in his back pocket; he can convince the Confederate states to join the Union by threatening to free their slaves or free the slaves of the rebelling states and they can come running over to the union to join in the war thus giving him the soldiers with the much needed drive. It was written in the proclamation that the freed slaves could join the union army to fight against the confederacy. At first, before the proclamation was given, the “coloreds” free or not where not allowed to join the army because they did not want to offend the states that where a part of the union that had slaves. An interesting statement was made by William Seward that was found on the PBS.org website was “We show our sympathy with slavery by emancipating slaves where we cannot reach them and holding them in bondage where we can set them free.” By Lincoln releasing the slaves in the confederate states he ensured that majority of them will want to join the union army to fight under the pretense that they are fighting to the freedom of all slaves which now know to only be partly true at the time. This coupled with the strategically planed timeline was sure to win the war for the Union and for Lincoln.

The next thing I took a look at was the deadlines that Lincoln set for what he referred to as a “gradual emancipation.” The Confederate states which had the French and the British on their side had until January 1, 1863 to join the Union or their slaves would be considered emancipated. Shortly thereafter, on April 9, 1865 General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant. This occurred at Appomattox in which all of the Confederate armies followed by surrendering in the months to come. Lincoln had used this war against the Confederate army as his means for issuing the Emancipation. Many feel that this was Lincoln’s way to “gradually” weaken the opposing armies by affecting their agriculture. Another reason Lincoln’s Ace seems to be paying off in his strategies to win the war. When a deeper analysis of the dates that we know today as the U.S. Civil War was conducted, the question of what was the reason for this war was evident. On April 12, 1861, a confederate army attacked and took over Fort Sumter in South Carolina. This caused the Union to seek out volunteers from each of its 25 states to regain control over this fort. The chief Agricultural means of income for the South was Cotton and when the Union regained control of Fort Sumter, it ceased the trade of cotton (Anti-Slavery Society 2011). This was a devastating blow to the southern states that owned slaves and thus started the Civil War. So, the key word for this war was Agriculture.

Let us take a look at the slaves’ role for the agriculture. Slaves where used to cultivate the land and do all of the gruesome labor that the owners chose not to do. The slaves were the working mules and oxen for those times. The larger your land the more slaves one tended to need and acquire to maintain the land which in those days where referred to as plantations. The largest source of income for the southern states was cotton because the South had the necessary climate to grow the cotton. According to cotton.org a website from the National Cotton Council of America cotton came to the US approximately in 1556 and was planted in Florida. In 1616 it was widely planted and cultivated in Virginia along the James River. Another interesting fact that I found out was that Texas plants their cotton in February and other states along the “Cotton Belt” plant in June. It takes a little less than three months for the cotton to be ready to be harvested. Not to back track but as mentioned in the earlier paragraph, the Confederate started to give in around April which is right around the time that their cotton should have been ready to cultivate if they planted in February and there was no one there to help them harvest the land. Also, with the emancipations deadline being January 1, the slaves rushed to leave the plantations leaving the owners with no one to plant the crops. Imagine, all of your workers walking off the job and leaving your factory unattended. If you do not hire someone soon to run the machinery, you would have to run it yourself; if you cannot then your business folds. The same concept, I believe, is what Lincoln was using to cause the confederate army to fold. And it worked.

There could not have been a better strategy to use to win the US Civil war. The fact that Lincoln himself owned slaves led me to believe that he did not want to truly free all slaves, just the ones that were owned by his enemies for no other reason than to help the Union have a huge advantage over the Confederacy. All of these interesting facts that lead to the end of the Civil War leads me to also believe that this war was not about freeing the slaves, but about he who has the most of the money making commodity wins. This is sort of what seems to be happening today. The government is once again using the plight of the other nation’s people as an excuse to wage war when it all boils down to he who owns the most oil reserves wins! I believe that this was the same case of the US Civil War and Lincoln used the slavery as the main cause behind the Civil War and as his cause for the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln’s excellent military strategy, the timeline in which he planned his attacks and the Emancipation, and the Reason behind the whole war which is Agriculture mainly cotton is what aided him in winning.


Anti-Slavery Society. February 20, 2011. Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Visited on February 10, 2011. http://www.anti-slaverysociety.addr.com/hus-emancproc.htm

National Cotton Council of America. 1998-2009. The Story of Cotton. Visited on January 10, 2011. http://www.cotton.org/pubs/cottoncounts/story/how.cfm

PBS. n.d. Africans in America: Judgment Day. Visited on January 21, 2011. http://www.pbs.org/ wgbh/aia/part4/4h1549.html

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. n.d. Emancipation Proclamation. Visited on February 1, 2011. http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/featured_documents/ emancipation_proclamation/transcript.html


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