Abraham Lincoln: Changing Views on Slavery

What can I say about Lincoln that hasn't already been said?

He's got an entire section at most book stores, so the chances of me coming to any great insight here are slim.

For the project, I read "Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power" having already read the other main modern Lincoln biography "Team of Rivals".

The difference between the two books was that this one focused on the evolution of Lincoln's thinking, philosophy and religious views that allowed him to lead the country through its most turbulent time ever whereas "Team of Rivals" focused much more between the interactions and conflicts between members of his cabinet and Lincolns quiet management of them.

Lincolns views on slavery changed over the course of his life and circumstances.

At an early age in Kentucky and Illinois, Lincoln didn't have too much direct interaction with slaves and spent his energy on self education and improvement, trying to find a way out of his hellish frontier existence. He did however get exposed to his parents' adamant anti slavery views.

As he grew older, he started to look at odd jobs to escape his frontier life. He was famously a rail splitter on the new railroads blanketing America and worked taking a load of cargo by ferry to New Orleans from Springfield. There, he witnessed a slave auction for the first time which left a lifelong impression. He now knew that he hated slavery.

He entered local politics back in Illinois and had no real official dealings on that level with slavery although it's believed that he felt it should be confined to the old south and never come north or west. He also believed as Monroe and almost all prior politicians that there should be some colony created in Africa where slaves could eventually return to, never being able to make a life for themselves in America due to hatred and oppression even if they are freed.

When he hit the national stage in Congress, his resolve was strengthened, again, witnessing the slave auctions and workers in D.C. He came out against the Mexican War not only because he saw it for what it was, an ugly land grab of another countries territory but most likely also because he knew that it was primarily southern slave owners that wanted to find new lands for their slaves to grow the profitable cotton crop.

After the war, he hesitated to declare the slaves free so the south would not have it's assumptions that the North was trying to impose its 'lifestyle' on them and to not be seen as a radical in a time of war, but eventually saw that he had no choice.

One of the most interesting questions in history is what would have happened if Lincoln had lived to oversee Union victory and the reconstruction.

Most reconstruction presidents other than Grant were downright hostile to blacks and did everything they could to undermine any real change of balance of power in the south.

The real Lincoln is so much more interesting than the marble statue version.

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