Lincoln, emancipation and cart-before-the-horse approaches

Mark Lause MLause at
Mon Aug 25 06:59:30 MDT 2003


There are several outright mistakes, whether McPherson or others are
expressing them.

1. Lincoln's views on slavery were well documented and quite clear.  The
issue at stake here is whether he thought he should or could employ the
Federal government to destroy it.

2. The Federal military command as such was never ahead of Lincoln in
moving towards emancipation.  Military administrators who took action
that direction--Butler, Fremont, Lane, Blunt, Hunter--were hardly
mainstream commanders and men usually at odds with the military power
structure much more than with the president.

3. As I've pointed out before, Lincoln was not taken seriously by his
army...certainly not at the start of the war.  Witness his order to
advance on all fronts Feb. 22, 1862--virtually ignored everywhere by his
generals.  This is to say nothing of explicit orders to commission black
officers---something not done until vitually the close of the war.

4. Compensated emancipation in the border states is a red herring.  It
was proposed as a means to an end.  Moreover, nothing proposed there can
be understood separate from the war effort.

5. The evolution and implementation of emancipation needs be understood
as something other than a sui generis issue of political morals. I'd see
it as inseparable from matters of Indian policy, conscription, and,
perhaps most importantly, the question of war contracts.

Mark L.


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