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JUSTICE & RACISM - Term Paper Example

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Professor Name Day Month Year President Lincoln’s Attitude and Position on Slavery and Race Introduction The measure of a great man is marked by when he wrestles with his conscious, and his conscious wins. President Lincoln can arguably be considered to be such a man…
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Download file to see previous pages... Upon becoming President, these same convictions had to be balanced against what he felt in his soul was right for the country. It was a difficult time in the country, ending with the Civil War, yet Lincoln showed resolve and determination through it all. The purpose of this essay is to examine the attitudes that President Lincoln had about slavery and race before becoming President, coupled with the gradual shift in those opinions during his Presidency leading up to his eventual assassination. Lincoln’s Personal Convictions Before Becoming President As is the case with many an educated and rational thinking human being, Lincoln’s views toward certain social issues gradually evolved over time. Race and slavery are certainly no exception to his notion, as Lincoln implemented different policies as situations dictated. Interestingly enough, however, his personal views about the subjects did not radically change, but as he saw certain benefits to the country as a whole, he felt obliged to put country first, and his personal moral opinions second. Lincoln never really expressed an inherent desire to abolish slavery before he was president. While he personally did not believe the practice should exist in the United States, he was a strict constitutionalist. This meant that the constitution at the time allowed states to permit slavery should they choose to do so, so he did not believe the federal government had any role in changing that. He did, however, see a difference between blacks and whites. On the issue of race, he did not support the position that blacks were entitled to the same rights and freedoms that whites had (Podgers 38). In a senatorial campaign in 1858, for example, Lincoln clearly stated, “I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races” (Davis 158). As senator, he openly opposed such issues as blacks being able to vote freely in elections and he did not think that they should be permitted to serve on juries either. Politically, he did not think that blacks should be permitted to hold public office, and he opposed interracial marriage. As a young adult, leading up to his winning public office, Lincoln did support the idea that blacks should be allowed to better themselves and gain opportunities for themselves and their families. If they worked hard, contributed to society, and were moral and upstanding citizens, then they should be able to improve their lot in the life. As we know, however, it was an uphill battle supporting this idea because blacks were denied many of the rights and freedoms that they really needed in order to accomplish the same dreams and ambitions that whites had. As Lincoln gained prominence in the Senate, and began to come to light on the national stage, he often held firm to his convictions and did not waver on issues of race and slavery. As we will discuss in the next section, his early presidency contained many of his earlier policy statements, with a few notable exceptions. Perhaps Lincoln’s personal convictions about these social issues, balanced with his obligations to the people who elected him, can be best seen through a speech he gave in Illinois back in 1854. This was a full six years before being elected President of the United States. In the speech, he reaffirmed his own moral, legal, and economic opposition ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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