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Lincoln as a Fighter Against Slavery Essay

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Updated: Sep 9th, 2021

Introduction

Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809 to uneducated farming parents, in his young ages he was respected and prosperous inhabitant of Kentucky. His family worshipped in the Baptist church, which opposed slavery practices in the region. However, Lincoln never belonged to the church and he showed no interest in any religion. At her young ages, he had encountered the side effects of slavery practices and poor tenure systems/ policies when his family was forced to move out of Kentucky and inhabit Spencer County.

In 1830 after settling in Indiana, they encountered even more problems related to financial and land ownership as the tenure system was not well defined. This forced them to be settled at the government land as his father could not obtain title deed for their land and they had encountered financial hardships. Many believe that these problems made Lincoln to study law in college so that he could assist his community as well as his family. At one time, he encountered a slave public sale while in New Orleans, though he could have came across the same rather this time it was brutal and seem unfair.

Slavery was prevalent in United States between 1619 to 1865 as slaves were considered as private property and law legally recognized it. Most of the slave issues were dealt with in court where many of these slaves were Africans, people with African origin and few American natives. Slave trade was prevalent in southern settlements than the north areas, as one family out of four owned a slave. By 19th century, the economy growth was influenced by presence of these slaves, as they were never paid despite their hard work in cotton plantations. In 1810 almost I million slaves were sold to Kentucky and Tennessee, but afterwards many were moved to other states where they were highly demanded.

However, starting 1750 there were campaigns to abolish slave trade as it was considered a social evil. These movements were started by northern states, which declared that all people are equal and free. In addition, insisted on special rank for the freed men. However, this faced great resistance from the south states, which highly profited from these practice. This is because many of them had large cotton plantations and they appreciated the free slave labor.

Analysis

Lincoln became actively involved with politics at the age of 23 in 1823, where he was campaigning in Illinois as state representative bur he lost. Then he started being involved business across the Sangamon River where he owned a steamboat and became familiar with slave trade practices. Similarly, he became well known as a businessperson but later employed as a community postmaster and surveyor. As businessperson, Lincoln came face to face with how the slaves are treated by their masters during an auction. While he was concentrating on a business to improve the navigation of the Sangamon River, he could not understand how a human being could treat another as a property. All through Lincoln was focused towards improving the standard of living of the poor.

In 1834, he became a lawyer with state administration where he had a chance to practice law. Due to his experience in cross-examining his challenger and his argumentative remarks in court, he became successive and famous. This gave him a good view of the oppression and suffering that the slaves undergo, as they have no one to fight for their rights and justice. Despite being taken as properties by their owners. More so, many would listen to his arguments against the slavery as he was perceived as intelligent and learned.

He later served as a representative in the Sangamon County for four consecutive terms and became a leader of Illinois Whig party. It is while a leader of the party he made her first moves to fight slavery in the Illinois house where he argued that slavery was a social evil and ought to be dealt away with. He then started to write unsigned articles in the Sangamon magazine scorning the state auditor who was also a outstanding leader of democrats. When this leader learnt that, Lincoln was behind writing the articles, he invited him to a duel where he requested the longest sword giving him advantage over his opponent. This earned him more respect as many perceived to be well- informed on legal and justice matters, because the auditor felt threatened by his writings.

In family matters, Lincoln was married to Mary Todd, who came from well-known slave-owning family. This also contributed to his knowledge about the slaves. He became aware of the hatred the white had against the blacks and the adverse effects of the slave trade. He later broke up with Mary, but they later reconciled with the Lincoln efforts. His in-laws were southerners where many favored slavery, as they would get big profits from the practice. Most of them were slave traders and depended on it as a source of livelihood hence they resented the abolishment of the slave trade. However, Lincoln got support from the area due to the influence of his in-laws. Similarly, this contributed much to dealing with issues of slavery, as many perceived him to be neutral in terms of slave abolition and saw him as lawyer practicing law and trying to advocate for fairness in legal matters.

While promoting his political career, Lincoln faced great opposition from his opponents and the citizens due to his open comments about slavery, which he tried to link with religion. This forced him to leave politics for sometime. Not until 1854, when responding Kansas-Nebraska act that he re-joined politics. In his speech, he protested against the injustice of slavery and considered it as civil war against the innocent. He opposed the democrats’ proposal of slavery, who advocated that slavery issues should be dealt with depending on the majority rule.

However, Lincoln argued that all people are equal and free. This earned him respect and prosperity in Republican Party and elected as a senator. When giving the speech about slave abolition he quoted a bible verse to enhance a good relationship with Christianity, as his earlier comment had caused him to leave politics due to their resentment against him when he said that God had left his own people referring to slaves.

Due to his consistent arguments to formulate a constitution that recognized all people equal and free, he was nominated as the candidate to run presidency with Republican Party in 1960. In addition, his positive feelings towards the blacks earned much respect and led to prosperity in his political career as many saw him as a just and fair leader. More so, the republicans used his poor background when he was growing up to campaign for him for presidency. His encounter with slavery practices and land ownership problems due to poor land tenure policies earned him much prosperity as many perceived as the savior who understood Americas hardships.

When Lincoln won the presidency, he had only been elected in two states in the southern region.In his inauguration, the Lincoln advocated for unity in United States and use of the constitution to legally-bind all the citizens. This was due to the southern states threat to leave the union and form their own confederation. They threatened to fight against abolishment of slave trade in their states. The confederates’ states had decided to secede from the union as they benefited from the slavery.

Conclusion

In the wake of secession, Lincoln leaned on his political and personal values to stop the civil war that emerged after he won his presidential election. In his inauguration speech, he declared to use the constitution to legally-bind all the states and people to promote unity and fight against slavery. More so, he advocated for various amendments to the United States constitution so stop slavery in all states. He knew that major constitutional changes had to be made, in order to stop slavery completely but making compromises would not assist in anyway. At the same time, he believed in the unity of all states and peace for all. Hence, he was committed to making the union work, despite the resistance from the affected states. This value he gained when practicing law, as he knew that constitution is binding to all and failure to obey leads to confiscation.

Due to problems he encountered in his younger years, he offered millions of acres of government owned land to be bought at lower affordable price. This could be traced from the problems he faced when they had to migrate from one state to another, when they could not afford their own land. He further recommended for grants and low interest loans to all agricultural universities in order to promote agriculture in all states. He knew that agriculture was the backbone of the American and a source of livelihood to many.

Similarly, he knew that there is need to improve the infrastructural facilities of the all states. Therefore, his government offered support to the construction of the pacific railway that saw the building of the first transatlantic railway in the United States. When acting as a businessperson, he was committed to opening up of sparsely inhabited land by he decided to provide a steamboat to improve the navigation of the area for development, hence he carried his values to the end.

In his efforts, to eradicate poverty he reduced the amount of the income tax imposed on all the citizens to encourage people invest especially in buying the land available.

Consequently, he increased tariffs to protect the local and new industries from international competition through dumping of cheap products. Similarly, this value of developments can be traced from his business aspirations when at one time he had decided to buy land from his small income. In addition, he encouraged the promotion of the financial system through establishments of national banks meant to assist the poor by providing low-interest rates to empower them. All this developments, he attempted to put them into place through constitutional amendments and he focused in those areas that he had familiarized himself with, before becoming the president.

References

Stephen B. O. With Malice towards None: A life of Abraham, Lincoln HarperCollins publishers, New York 1994.

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