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Primary Sources


Primary Sources – Lincoln and Emancipation
Abraham Lincoln has often been called the Great Emancipator due to his efforts to end slavery in the United States. Though he was elected on the pledge to stop the spread of slavery to the territories and promised not to interfere with slavery in the states where it existed, Lincoln understood that slavery was a major issue in the Civil War. As you read the attached excerpts from the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment, think about what Lincoln hoped to accomplish by freeing certain enslaved persons during the war. Answer the attached questions in complete sentences.
Take the time to read the attached documents and analyze them using the SOAPSTone method. Remember, SOAPStone asks reader to identify the following before analyzing the document:

  • Speaker (Who wrote this document?)

  • Occasion (When was it developed?)

  • Audience (Who was it developed for?)

  • Purpose (Why might it have been developed?)

  • Subject (What is this document about?)

  • Tone (What is the general mood of the document?)

After reading each document, answer the questions which follow in complete sentences. Be sure to use support from the documents with your answers.

http://www.abelincoln.com/ostendorf_positives/images/sc-11.jpg

Lincoln to Horace Greeley

Executive Mansion,


Washington, August 22, 1862.

Hon. Horace Greeley:


Dear Sir.

. . . .As to the policy I "seem to be pursuing" as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.

I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.

Yours,
A. Lincoln.



  1. In this letter, how far was Lincoln willing to go in order to end slavery?



  1. According to Lincoln, what was his paramount goal in the current crisis?



  1. What is the significance between his distinction of his official duty and his personal wish?


The Emancipation Proclamation

January 1, 1863

“Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, . . . order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit: Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, [except certain Parishes] Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, [except certain counties], and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.

And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.

And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.

And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.”



  1. Upon what authority does Lincoln issue this proclamation?



  1. Why is emancipation proclaimed as a "fit and necessary war measure"?

  2. Why does the proclamation only apply to slaves in certain states? Why is the geographical location significant?


  1. By what authority did Abraham Lincoln issue the Emancipation Proclamation?




  1. What enslaved people does the Emancipation Proclamation free? What enslaved people does it not free?



  1. What does Lincoln encourage these freed slaves to do and to refrain from doing?



  1. Explain how each of these provisions was expected to contribute to the Union war effort.


U.S. Constitution, Amendment XIII, Article 1. (1865)

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”




  1. In what way does the Thirteenth Amendment expand on the Emancipation Proclamation?



  1. Why do you suppose Lincoln chose not to free all persons in the Emancipation Proclamation? Explain your answer in a short, 5-7 sentence paragraph. Be sure to cite what we learned in class in your answer.


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