Among a variety of agreements, orders, and laws taken in the American history, the Emancipation Proclamation is considered to be one of the most significant issues due to its effects on the Civil War, attitudes to slavery, and the ability to change the whole history in several years. The roots of slavery were traced at the beginning of the 1600s, and during the period lasted for about two centuries, the role of slavery became crucial for America. The country was divided into two parts, the Union and the Confederation. It was hard to gain control over the divided nation where people could not find similar goals, and the Emancipation Proclamation was an attempt to unite the country and bring the required order. Of course, the North should take leading positions and set its own rules neglecting the ideas supported by the South.
Slavery as a Burning Issue in the mid 1800s
When people talk about slavery, most of them consider the period of the American history when the North and the South started the Civil War and use African Americans as the meaningful power in war development. Cullen admits that “the Civil War was a huge personal and political vortex for Lincoln, in which he was forced to consider all kinds of matters” (p.94). In fact, Lincoln was a person far from successful military strategies. He, as a Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, had to take certain decisions and encourage the Union. And he decided to make use of slavery as the main issue of the war. The North had already made African Americans freed, but the representatives of the South did not want to lose their free working power. Economic, trade, and political relations depend on how stable slavery was in the South. The representatives of the North understood that slavery was the issue that made the South stronger and more ready to the war. This is why it was necessary to deprive the Confederation of such power, and Lincoln used the Emancipation Proclamation as the only possible way to take winning positions.
Emancipation Proclamation Is a War Strategy with Doubtful Meaning
Many historians still cannot come to one agreement: whether the Emancipation Proclamation was a strategic move taken by Lincoln, or it was a desire to create equal rights for all American citizens and prove the idea of independence in all states, or it was a cowardly planned step. Chamberlain (2012) writes that the end of slavery brought the end of control and punishment that were obligatory to the system existing on the South. So, on the one hand, emancipation was a gift for the majority of people living in America; on the other hand, it was a crush, a disaster for all South slaveholders. African Americans got a chance to become free, still, their freedom was of doubtful nature as well as the law itself. There were no slaves on the North but all African Americans had to serve in the army and defend their country supporting the North. It seemed that ex-slaves did not have a choice, but still, they were freed, and they struggled for their freedom. It was their main motivation. The situation on the South was a bit different: African Americans did have neither choice, nor freedom, nor voice. They had to fight, but they were not properly stimulated.
Emancipation as a Means to Change the Focus of the Civil War
The peculiar feature of the Emancipation Proclamation was that freedom of slavery extended to slaves of rebel states only (American Antiquarian Society, 2006). These were the states free from Union troops. Lincoln could not gain control over this part of America, this is why he tried to diminish the power of confederates by means of law. The Battle of Antietam in 1982 was a crucial point in the history of American emancipation. The South wanted to take more states and promote slavery. Its main goal was to support slavery and offer slaveholders more protection. The North could not allow this happen, and they set a goal to win the battle and deprive the South of the possibility to have more slaves. Victory of the North was the final evidence for Northern people to make slaves freed and offer them fight for the North, fight for their freedom. Within a short period of time, the focus of the Civil War was changed dramatically. It was not about the North and the South. It was about the existence or destruction of slavery. And it turned out to be more stimulating factor for the warriors.
America Didn’t Want to See Foreigners in the War
It is necessary to admit that abolishment of slavery on the North was not supported by all its representatives as it seemed to be. This is why it was necessary to create a powerful reason to prove the urgency of the emancipation proclamation. And Lincoln found a brilliant idea. If America made all slaves free, it would get the support of the countries like Russia that had already abolished slavery. Of course, there were the countries which support confederate states. For example, France and Britain did not want to abolish slavery as it could be a serious threat for their trade relations. Therefore, the measures had to be taken in order to deprive the South of a chance to develop the relations with the countries which offer solid help.
Abraham Lincoln and His Leading Role in American History
As it has been already said, Lincoln’s decision to proclaim emancipation for all African Americans in the states was considered as a decision of a weak person. Still, the evaluation of the conditions under which America was in the mid of 1800s shows that Lincoln’s steps were thoughtful and properly planned. First, the Civil War touched upon each person, who lived in America. Even if people were far from the war, the war impacted them somehow (Zonger, 2012). The creation of one goal interesting to many people at the same period of time was an important step that united many people with different social levels, and the addition of slaves to the army was a good thought. Second, Lincoln understood that slavery abolishment should be taken in a certain place and time (Guelzo, 2006). He had to proclaim slaves’ freedom and make guarantees that this freedom would not disappear as soon as the war ended. At the end of the war, Lincoln signed the Thirteen Amendment that proclaimed slavery illegal in America (Fradin, 2007). He proved his powers and showed that his promised made sense in case people support and trust him. It was one of the most powerful examples of how the leader should behave in the crisis.
Slavery is the period that changed the lives of many people. It was a serious decision to abolish it and find support and understanding. Lincoln showed how one step may change the whole history. Sometimes freedom may become a crucial point for many people especially if these people are slaves. The Emancipation Proclamation turned the Civil War into the social one. It was evident that Lincoln did not have powers to win the Civil War having such enemy as confederates with slaves; therefore, he had enough powers to change the course of the war and achieve great results providing people with hope and safe future.