The Passing of the Emancipation Proclamation as the Result of Lincoln’s Desire to Undermine the Southern Economy

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The Passing of the Emancipation Proclamation as the Result of Lincoln’s Desire to Undermine the Southern Economy

Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation completed the most significant u-turn in American history. Months before, in the Crittendon Resolution, Lincoln had explicitly stated that Union forces would not target Southern plantations, and that the South would be welcomed back into the Union with or without the slave system. At this point, Lincoln regarded slavery as a potentially divisive issue and, as noted by the historians Johansson and Hofstatder, aimed to avoid anything that would associate him as being either for or against its abolition. However, by 1863, Northern forces had
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The highly industrialised Northern economy was perfectly adapted to the extra demand, and was able to facilitate the production of all the equipment needed. Conversely, the Southern economy was sluggish in its attempts to update its primitive economy, and because of this remained reliant on the slave trade. Thus, in depriving the South of a big proportion of its workforce, Lincoln was able to significantly reduce their production capabilities. More directly, the North benefited by being able to acquire the slaves for themselves. This had the advantage of increasing the number gap twice: the Northern soldiers occupying Southern plantations would be free to fight again, and the released blacks themselves could become Northern fighters. Thus, the Emancipation Proclamation was seen not only as a way of weakening the South, but of strengthening the North. In such a way, Lincoln was able to widen the disparity between North and South. From a popular perspective, slavery was seen as a symbol of Southern independence. Being otherwise incapacitated by the ongoing Civil War, the Confederate states’ only outlet was the desire to inflict some form of victory over the domineering North. The obliteration of the slave trade would end any hope of this moral-boosting ambition. With the 1864