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Explain how each of the following people viewed slavery and what each thought should be done about it: Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, and John Brown. Then, explain who you believe had the best idea and why - Essay Example

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The issue of slavery has been a highly debated political topic in the United States during the first half of the 19th century to the 1860s until slavery was finally abolished in the nation. Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln and John Brown were the major proponents of this…
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Explain how each of the following people viewed slavery and what each thought should be done about it: Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, and John Brown. Then, explain who you believe had the best idea and why
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Views on slavery: Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, and John Brown of the of the module 9 March 9, Views on slavery: Abraham Lincoln, Stephen Douglas, and John Brown
The issue of slavery has been a highly debated political topic in the United States during the first half of the 19th century to the 1860s until slavery was finally abolished in the nation. Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln and John Brown were the major proponents of this anti-slavery debate. While Stephen Douglas stood for popular sovereignty whereby the settlers themselves could decide whether or not to allow slavery John Brown held an extremist abolitionist view. Abraham Lincoln, on the other hand, followed a moderate abolitionist point of view whereby he envisioned a gradual emancipation of slaves. Historical evidences clearly demonstrate that Abraham Lincoln’s views on slavery and the way he abolished slavery from within the nation deserve a big round of applause.
The first half of the 1800s witnessed new territories and subsequent formation of new states in the US. However, there had been growing debates over whether these newly formed states would be formed as Free states or slave states. It was Stephen A. Douglas who sought to find a solution or compromise to this debate through the doctrine of popular sovereignty which guaranteed settlers in the new territory “the right to decide for themselves whether it should be admitted to the union as a slave or free state” (Bordewich, 2008, p. 63). Thus, Douglas stood for territorial sovereignty that emphasised “the right of the people of the territory to admit or exclude, to establish or abolish, slavery, or whatever was best for that particular territory” (Miller, 2008, p. 217). Douglas regarded the Federal attempts to impose slavery on newly formed states as quite undemocratic and he strongly opposed such an attempt in Kansas against the wishes of the people. However, the introduction of the controversial Kansas-Nebraska Act by Douglas in 1854 offered fresh provisions for new territories to expand slavery into more U.S Territories. It can thus be seen that Douglas’ attempts were inadequate for preventing or abolishing slavery.
Abraham Lincoln, on the other hand, argued that the nation cannot survive as half slave and half Free states and emphasized on federal intervention for the gradual extinction of slavery. However, Lincoln “preferred gradual emancipation and the compensation of slave owners for their lost property to immediate abolition” (Bordewich, 2008, p. 63). Lincoln’s seven public debates with Douglas clearly demonstrate his views on slavery within the nation. Lincoln’s oft-quoted statements such as “a house divided against itself cannot stand;” “this government cannot endure permanently, half slave and half free;” and “there is no reason in the world why the negro is not entitled to all the natural rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence,—the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” reveal his incessant thirst to wipe out the evil of slavery from the American society (Voelker, 2006, p. 1-2). Unlike Douglas Lincoln regarded slavery as a moral issue and he firmly believed that Douglas’ doctrine of popular sovereignty would lead to more slave states.
John Brown was a strong abolitionist who sought to put an end to slavery through armed revolutions. He organized black slaves, formed the League of Gileadites, gave his land to fugitive slaves, and protected escaped slaves (People & Events, 1998). He became the leader of antislavery guerrillas and attacked proslavery towns. However, his army was defeated during his raid of the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia on October 16, 1859. During his trial John Brown made a heroic speech where he stated that he was ready to forfeit his life for the “furtherance of the ends of justice” for the millions of slaves in the country “whose rights are disregarded by wicked, cruel, and unjust enactments” (People & Events, 1998). It can thus be seen that John Brown was an ardent anti-slavery activist even though the means through which he wished to achieve his goals were bloody and undemocratic.
To conclude, it can be stated that Abraham Lincoln’s views on slavery and the way he abolished slavery from the nation are commendable and praiseworthy. While no one doubts about the sincerity of Stephen Douglas’s anti-slavery initiatives his views were aimed at compromising rather than finding out a permanent solution to the issue. Similarly, even though John Brown is regarded as a martyr of abolition of slavery by African Americans his armed revolutions were inadequate to bring about a positive outcome. Abraham Lincoln, on the other hand, resorted to a middle path-a moderate abolitionist point of view that aimed at the complete eradication of slavery through gradual emancipation initiatives.

References
Bordewich, F.M. (2008). Face the nation. Smithsonian. Retrieved 9 March 2014, from http://www.mpsaz.org/rmhs/staff/jxcollums/class1/ap2/files/lincoln-douglas_debates.pdf
Miller, C.A. (2008). Frederick Douglass American Hero: And International Icon of the Nineteenth Century. USA: Xlibris Corporation.
People & Events: John Brown 1800 – 1859. (1998). Africans in America. WGBH educational Foundation. Retrieved 9 March 2014, from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4p1550.html
Voelker, D.J. (2006). Abraham Lincoln on Slavery and Freedom 1858–1860. Retrieved 9 March 2014, from http://www.historytools.org/sources/lincoln-slavery.pdf Read More
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