Abraham linkon - Essay Example

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Lincoln was critical of slavery and its effects in America, to Lincoln, though Africans Americas could not be given the same political and social equality as enjoyed by the whites, they were however entitled to enjoy the most basic human rights, the same rights that the whites…
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Abraham Lincoln vs. Stephen Douglass Abraham Lincoln vs. Stephen Douglass Lincoln was critical of slavery and its effectsin America, to Lincoln, though Africans Americas could not be given the same political and social equality as enjoyed by the whites, they were however entitled to enjoy the most basic human rights, the same rights that the whites enjoyed after the Declaration of Independence. For instance, Lincoln argued that if slavery were to continue, it would imply that even the white servants working in the western territories by the mere facts of being servants could not be treated in the same way as other whites. Moreover, though Lincoln believed slavery was morally wrong, he could not have been an abolitionist for fear of losing favor among the whites. As a result, he took an approach of preventing the spread of silvery into other territories and expected it to die a natural death without attacking it directly. On the contrary, Douglas believed that slavery as morally wrong, though he believed the people reserved the right to either observe it or not. For instance, Douglas believed that despite the Dread Scott Supreme Court ruling, municipalities had a duty not support legislations that supported slavery if they chose to. Settlers according to Douglas could also prevent slavery by not adopting the local legislations in such localities, which would have led to slavery being combated from a moral point of view despite the legislation permitting it.
The controversial Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 was responsible for alienating the northerners, resulting in political turmoil and violence that largely ate into the democrat’s political power. Douglas advocated for a popular sovereignty approach in abolishing slavery in this region. To Douglas this was a deeply rooted in democracy and in the republic principles as envisaged by declaration of independence (Etcheson, 2008). On the contrary, to Lincoln, this was a subversion of the spirit of republicanism; he blamed Douglas for the chaos that led to a bleeding Kansas. Lincoln directly attacked the legitimacy of the sovereignty meaning as stated in the act. Lincoln took it as his lawful and constitutional obligation to uphold the law, prohibit slavery, and encourage the return of fugitives. On the contrary, Douglas opted to use the “let the people decide” approach to prevent angering the whites in including the free states into senate voting blocs (Etcheson, 2008). Though Douglas was trying to organize the northern territories, the southern politicians who were not interested to add more voters to the Free State block in the senate blocked him. Lincoln on the contrary, alienated the Northern part by recommending its closure for immigrants from free states and abroad, towards achieving a larger territory with free citizens.
In the Supreme Court Dred Scotts decision, Douglas responded that the actions of the people were more important that the court’s ruling; no law would force citizens to permit slavery even if the Supreme Court had ruled in its favor. Consequently, to Douglass, the people had the final say and right to determine whether to allow or prohibit slavery in their localities. However, Lincoln was not in favor of the ruling and remarked that the blacks just as whites were entitled to enjoy the basic human rights and was envisaged in the independence declaration.
In the debate, Douglass portrayed Lincoln as being out of touch with reality. For instance, in dismissing the bleeding Kansas, Douglass remarked that if Illinois were to sink, slavery would have continued, which portrayed Lincoln as not knowledgeable about the causes and deep roots that slavery had in the American society. Moreover, Douglas portrayed that Lincoln was not in touch with people whom he wanted to lead in attacking the Kansas –Nebraska Act that alienated the Northerners. According to Douglass, the wishes of the people overruled any other law; the people had to decide what they wanted.
Abraham Lincoln v. Stephen Douglas speech, 5th Debate, October 7, 1858.
Etcheson, N (2008). "A living, creeping lie": Abraham Lincoln on Popular Sovereignty. Journal of the Abraham Lincoln association, 29(2), 1-23. Read More
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