Happy President’s Day: Lincoln on Slavery

Happy President’s Day!! Nice to back where I have reliable internet access. In keeping with this month’s theme on slavery, we’ll check out some of Abraham Lincoln’s lesser known quotes about slavery in America.

One of Lincoln’s earliest references to slavery was in a letter to Joshua Speed in 1855. “In 1841 you and I had together a tedious low-water trip, on a Steam Boat from Louisville to St. Louis. You may remember, as I well do, that from Louisville to the mouth of the Ohio there were, on board, ten or a dozen slaves, shackled together with irons. That sight was a continual torment to me; and I see something like it every time I touch the Ohio, or any other slave-border.”

Lincoln opposed slavery in the Lincoln – Douglas debates of 1858. “Now, I confess myself as belonging to that class in the country who contemplate slavery as a moral, social and political evil, having due regard for its actual existence amongst us and the difficulties of getting rid of it in any satisfactory way, and to all the constitutional obligations which have been thrown about it; but, nevertheless, desire a policy that looks to the prevention of it as a wrong, and looks hopefully to the time when as a wrong it may come to an end.”

After Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, he was forced to defend his action. “I repeat the declaration made a year ago, that ‘while I remain in my present position I shall not attempt to retract or modify the emancipation proclamation, nor shall I return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of that proclamation, or by any of the Acts of Congress.’ If the people should, by whatever mode or means, make it an Executive duty to re-enslave such persons, another, and not I, must be their instrument to perform it.  Lincoln’s Fourth Annual Message to Congress, December 6, 1864.

Tomorrow, Viking Slavers in Eastern Europe.  Rita Bay

 

 

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