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December 02, 2012


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Allan D

The Emancipation Proclamation of 1862 only applied to the Confederacy (where the Union writ did not run anyway). Slave-holding states such as Maryland which had not seceded were exempted. The purposes of the Proclamation were to encourage a slave rebellion in the Confederate states (which never occurred) or discourage the entry into the war of Britain and France on the side of the Confederacy in a bid to break the Union blockade of the Confederacy's cotton trade.

Lincoln was more than willing to compromise at the outset of his Presidency. In a famous letter to Horace Greeley Lincoln declared he would be willing to apply slavery to every state if it would save the Union. However virtually all of the Confederate states had seceded from the Union in the period between Lincoln's election in November 1860 and his inauguration in March 1861 when he actually assumed the powers of the Presidency.

The main arguments surrounding the abolition of slavery concerned not so much slavery itself but whether the freed slaves should be thereby entitled to immediate enfranchisement.


As an American Southerner who has seen the movie, read numerous reviews of it, but confessedly not Ms. Goodwin's book, a few observations are in order. The differences between the North and South, as the differences between England and Scotland, Canada and Quebec?, etc., etc., exist to this day, and will likely persist into the distant future. The very existence of the United States of America was the result of secession, so as long as there is a real or even a perceived oppression of a free people by otherwise legitimate governments, there will be efforts to find relief through secession. The American situation, though, was tainted by a different factor, slavery, which for some, gave moral purpose to the war. Not everyone in the North was anti-slavery, though, nor was everyone in the South pro-slavery. Only some 6% of the population owned slaves. The South's basis for seceding was similar in basis to the British colonies secession, a government acting outside its bounds, which they believed no longer had a legitimate right to their allegiance. Even then, it was a minority who supported independence from Britain. The South however, appeared to be using secession as a way of preserving an abominable practice (written in to some of their resolutions) which at the time, most Western nations had abolished. Over time, one hopes, the slaves would have been freed in the South, as trends both moral and economic were against it. Lincoln believed the war was justifiable on the basis of secession alone, and used slavery as a trump card. We need fewer Lincolns, and more Thomas Paines.

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