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1

Details of the Election of Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln as minority president: 39% of popular vote Nationwide
i. Lowest amount of popular vote in history and still win the election
ii. Four Presidential candidates at the vote
iii. Lincoln wasn’t on ballot in the south
iv. Won substantial elector college because more of that vote was in the North
1. The secession of southern states started to take place right after Lincoln’s election

Lincoln as representative of Northern public opinion: wins majority of Northern vote
i. Representation of most northerners on the issues of slavery
1. Almost a vehicle of understanding the north through Lincoln
2. See what views northerners had adopted from abolitionist
a. Also, those that they didn’t

2

Lincoln as an abolitionist

Slavery is morally wrong
i. Repeated this in speeches and writings over and over again
ii. Principle of most Republican colleagues
iii. To own an African American was wrong and deprived them of natural rights as human beings
iv. “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong” – Lincoln
1. No one would choose the life of slavery – Fredrick Douglass
v. Frequently referred to DoI in his speeches
1. Didn’t really use the biblical argument

Prohibit growth of slavery into the western Territories
i. Ought not be allowed to grow
ii. It was protected in the states that it existed, shouldn’t apply to new states
1. Lincoln never made an argument for taking slavery away from the existing slave states
2. Argued it should not be allowed to grow

Slavery and freedom are incompatible
i. House Divided speech – “A house divided against itself cannot stand”
1. One shall rise, one shall fall
2. His ideas grew from abolitionist ideas that were first articulated in the 1830’s

Feared a plot to nationalize slavery
i. More contained than the abolitionist ideas
1. But he believed it could once again be a national institution
2. Thought if peopled didn’t see it as morally wrong, then there is nothing to stop it from growing back to the North.
3. Possibility of a second Supreme Court decision that would follow the Dred Scott Decision – “Slave owner could not take their slaves into the North and reestablish slavery”
a. If they decided that slaves were property, they could rule on a case that would seek to argue that they slave owners could take their slaves into a Northern state and not have them lose their status as slaves
b. Once a Supreme Court ruling is made, the only thing that can overturn it is another Supreme Court decision
c. Same Supreme Court justices that made the Dred Scott decision were still in power during Lincoln’s tenure as president

3

Lincoln vs. abolitionists

Championed “ultimate extinction” vs. Immediate emancipation
i. Did not believe they could just abolish slavery, because it was protected by law
ii. Believed in “ultimate extinction”
1. Keeping it out of the western territories
2. If you do that, you can put slavery on a path of death. If it cannot grow then it will die
3. Both abolitionist and anti-slavery supporters believed it but differed on how to approach it
4. Ultimate meant there was no time-table, if could happen in 50 years, 100 years, etc.
a. He couldn’t be a full abolitionist because he would have no political career

Supported compliance with Fugitive Slave Law of 1850
i. Not going to be asked a essay question about the Law
ii. Lincoln was a lawyer and believed that you should support the law as long as it is there and seek to change it if you don’t agree with it.
iii. He didn’t support it but believed people had to follow it

Condemned John Brown and “lawlessness”
i. John Brown believed abolitionism was a holy cause
1. He and some of his supporters murdered some pro-slavery settlers in Kansas
2. Brown justified radical action
3. Raided Federal Arsenal in West Virginia with some of his supporters
a. Got arrested, tried for treason and was hanged
b. Abolitionists supported John Brown’s actions
i. Said he was an admiral of the Lord Almighty fighting for a just cause
ii. Said Brown was justified
c. Lincoln disagreed, and that he should be tried, and the outcome would be just
i. This separated abolitionist from Lincoln

Favored colonization of free blacks
i. He favored it. Abolitionist did not
ii. Suggested that a colonization was the best solution to the race issue/hatred
iii. There was such antagonization on both of Whites towards African Americans and vice versa that a separation between them was a best way to solve the problem
iv. Still believed there should be equal rights

4

Lincoln's principled moderation

Principles
i. Slavery is morally wrong
ii. Slavery and Freedom are incompatible
iii. Slavery cannot grow
iv. Plot to nationalize slavery again was possible

Moderate
i. Did not believe they could launch a frontal assault on slavery in the southern states
ii. Very lawful
iii. Very careful of his rhetoric because going to far in one direction could ruin his political career

Lincoln as political instrument for bringing about an end to slavery
i. No abolitionist could ever be elected president
ii. The most likely way for abolitionism of slavery was to exercise the war time power of Lincoln
iii. When elected, was not for the act of war, but gradually came to it as a preemptive measure

5

Achievements of abolitionist rhetoric

a. Discredited ACS and initiated campaign for immediate emancipation

b. Created network of abolitionist organization and body of abolitionist opinion in the North

c. Kept movement alive despite opposition during the 1830’s

d. Injected slavery into national political discussion during the 1840’s

e. Focused on dangers of allowing slavery into Western territories during the 1850’s

f. Overall, developed and promulgated core ideas hostile to slavery on moral and practical grounds
i. Slavery as morally evil
ii. Dangers of GSPC

6

Failure of abolitionist rhetoric

Failed to obtain equal rights for African Americans.

Only completed one of two objectives of the abolitionists