Abraham Lincoln 's Emancipation Proclamation

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Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation declared “all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free”. While it continues to be a symbol of equality and social justice, his legacy has generated a century and a half debate that questions if he was the “progressive man” whose death was an “unspeakable calamity” as Frederick Douglass proclaimed or had he done “more to trick Negroes than any other man in history” as Malcolm X claimed in 1964.
In order to offer an answer, one must look at Lincoln’s evolving views on slavery and more importantly his reasons for drafting the executive order that
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While opposed to slavery, the early settlers were still deeply prejudice and vehemently discouraged growth of the free black population. John Woods, an English farmer who settled in Illinois, once said, “Though now living in a free state, they retain many of the prejudices they imbibed in infancy, and still hold negroes in the utmost contempt” Being raised in this environment, Lincoln most likely had very little actual contact with slaves and his early beliefs, if any existed, were based on those of his family and society.
On a trip down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to sell farm goods in New Orleans, nineteen year old Lincoln observed how the market revolution of the early nineteenth century was consolidating the national economy, while further dividing the slave and free societies. Changes in the north, brought on by the building of canals and use of steamboats, created an integrated economy of commercial farms and growing urban and industrial centers; while the South remained mostly agricultural, moving towards westward expansion of its slave system and growth of the cotton industry along the gulf shores. These conflicting cultures would eventually shape him into a politician who was ever adapting to political necessities, willing to compromise for the good of
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