• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Was Lincoln a genuine advocate for civil rights for African Americans?

Extracts from this document...


´╗┐Was Lincoln a genuine advocate of civil rights for African Americans? Abraham Lincoln is known by historians today for his staunch determination to protect the Union, even if that meant using force. With this in mind, it is hardly surprising that his public views on African American?s civil rights have been disputed - whether they were just a tool to protect the Union or whether he actually believed that they should be equal. It is arguable that Lincoln?s own views were that slavery should be abolished; however it may also be the case that he did not want to lose popularity by advocating civil rights for African Americans. Lincoln came to attention to the public during seven debates in 1857 and 1858, with the Democrat Senator Douglas, both trying to get elected in Illinois. Slavery was the key topic during these debates, with each candidate stating their views. In one speech in Edwardsville, Illinois Lincoln said, ?they [the Republican Party] will use every constitutional method to prevent the evil [slavery] from becoming larger[1]?. This shows his disapproving stance on slavery and his unwillingness to let slavery expand to other areas in the United States. ...read more.


Lincoln was simply a realist, he believed in equality but could do the most work for African Americans by getting elected and making small changes. The Emancipation Proclamation is often used as evidence of Lincoln?s advocacy of civil rights for African Americans. Effective from the 1st of January 1863, this order meant that slaves in rebel states became freedmen. This is clear proof that Lincoln supported the freeing of slaves. In a letter from Hannah Johnson, the mother of an African American soldier, she writes that ?When you are dead and in Heaven, in all a thousand years that action of yours will make the Angels sing your praises?[6]. This is obviously only one person?s view of the Proclamation but it is likely that many other African Americans felt the same. Johnson?s letter illustrates how important Lincoln?s Act was to the lives of African Americans, and also how significant an act like this was as it was so unprecedented. Lincoln believed that to gain eventual civil rights for African Americans, they must first be freed hence the Emancipation Proclamation. However, the introduction of African American soldiers, although seen by many as a step towards civil rights, did not result in all that was promised. ...read more.


Although Lincoln could not advocate civil rights as much as he perhaps would have wanted to, at the risk of losing votes and support, he did sincerely believe in the evil of slavery and said as much at the risk of states succeeding from the Union. This, along with the Emancipation Proclamation, makes it clear that Lincoln was a genuine advocate of civil rights for African Americans. ________________ [1] Speech at Edwardsville, Illinois September 13th 1858 [2] Letter to Horace Greeley at the New York Tribune August 22nd 1862 [3] Speech at Springfield, Illinois June 26th 1857 [4] Declaration of the immediate causes which induce and justify the secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union 24th December 1860 [5] Speech at Charleston, Illinois September 18th 1858 [6] Extract from letter from Hannah Johnson to Abraham Lincoln 31st July 1863 [7] Letter from James Henry Gooding to Abraham Lincoln 28th September 1863 [8] Letter to Horace Greeley at the New York Tribune August 22nd 1862 [9] Speech at Edwardsville, Illinois September 11th 1858 [10] ?Lincoln and Civil Rights for Blacks? Mary Frances Berry Extract from the Journal of Abraham Lincoln Association Volume 2, Issue 1 [11] Letter to Horace Greeley at the New York Tribune August 22nd 1862 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level History of the USA, 1840-1968 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level History of the USA, 1840-1968 essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    Assess the view that the Supreme Court was the most important branch of federal ...

    4 star(s)

    federal control, hence the same soldiers who had been keeping the children out of the school on one day were the same ones who ensured their safe entry into the school. This was the only case in which the President felt moved to use his authority to enforce the Supreme

  2. Peer reviewed

    Essay on civil rights

    3 star(s)

    However, it is also important to understand the extent to which Black Americans tried to help themselves and their cause. First and foremost during the inter- war periods there was no real sense of leadership and Black Americans were lost in terms of knowing what to do and how to react within their situation.

  1. Political Causes of the Civil War

    However, once again Lincoln's message fell on deaf ears as Southerners feared the consequences of Lincoln's presidency. The political storm surrounding the issue of slavery also had its foothold in the economic issues of the time. Specifically free labor which is the definition of slaves provided those who utilize it with significant economic advantages.

  2. To what extent do you agree with Abraham Lincoln that slavery was 'somehow the ...

    So in this way nationalism became a central issue to causing the Civil War. Most South even still saw themselves as loyal Americans and before 1860 the fire eaters who had been arguing for secession were the minority. They saw themselves in this way as most South still saw themselves as loyal Americans even though they had left the Union.

  1. Assess the short term significance of Thurgood Marshall in helping Black Americans gain improved ...

    Source 3 also says that, Marshall's "Self assured air, commanding presence and confident tone" made her believe that she "deserved to be admitted to Little Rock High", and in this way it agrees with Source 2 and 4 about Marshall's strong character being key to his success, and also shows his significance as a role model to others.

  2. The Eisenhower years saw significant improvement for the African Americans

    integrated and in Texas the governor and Eisenhower's political ally used state troopers to prevent school integration. These are all examples where the social improvements, i.e. people's opinions of black people, showed limited improvement. There were some areas that accepted the integration but there were also those that quite frankly refused to comply.

  1. The Debate over African American troops in the Civil War.

    Many whites though it would be extremely difficult to now fight alongside those that they had so recently had control over. Although there were many good reasons to keep blacks out of the army, there was also great reason for why they should pick up arms.

  2. Research on the major Civil rights events between 1963 to 1968

    Those in jail would be released on bond or their own recognizance. Urged by Kennedy, the United Auto Workers, National Maritime Union, United Steelworkers Union, and the American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) raised $237,000 in bail money ($1,800,000 in 2012)

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work