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The Lincoln Administration Pursuit of Freedom

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Essay title: The Lincoln Administration Pursuit of Freedom

The Lincoln Administration Pursuit of Freedom

There are many ways to describe what freedom is; in fact Webster's dictionary offers nine different explanations of what the word means. "A right or the power to engage in certain actions without control or interference," is one of the most ubiquitous definitions. There are many ways to describe freedom and American history has portrayed it in very contradictory manners. In the late 1700's, it was very obvious that America's forefathers sought freedom as they based their revolution on the principal of emancipation but it was only a short while later that the freedoms of others within the country were being inhibited by slavery. Slavery inhibits civil liberties and in a land of equal opportunity, such as America, needed to be removed. Freedom and slavery have always been closely related but the issues that surround the terms have been handled very differently by the leaders of the nation. Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the USA, is a key figure against the oppression of people and an activist in the struggle to remove slavery and gain freedom for all.

Freedom is an antonym of slavery. After years of fighting to gain independence and essentially freedom from the King of England, America became a slave endorsing entity. This era of American history is a bit of a paradox, why would people fight so hard for justice just to take away the freedoms of another people? In the United States, Slavery existed primarily in the southern states. In 1800, there were nearly 900,000 slaves in the U.S. only 40,000 of which were in the Northern states. It was in the south where large plantation owners bought people to perform grueling manual labor. These dark skinned people were literally worked to death on many occasions and rarely saw any form of retribution from their owners. Men, women and children alike had their civil liberties ripped from them at birth and were treated like misused animals for all of their lives. Many people believed that this treatment of African Americans was inhumane but sadly did not act to stop the brutal imprisonment.

Many of society's earliest leaders "regarded slavery as evil and inconsistent with the principles of the Declaration of Independence." However they hesitated to take political action to prohibit the enslaving of people because many southerners saw the ownership of slaves was their own right. Many other entities also opposed slavery; the Quakers and the Presbyterian Church were two groups that formally declared a need to abolish slavery.

The opposition grew steadily with no unified leader until 1854 when a politician associated with the contemporary Whig party declared his opposition to the Kansas and Nebraska Act. That man's name was Abraham Lincoln and he based his political career around the abolition of slavery. He opposed the Kansas and Nebraska Act because it gave each state the right to choose whether to make itself a slave state or not. This countered the former ways of the Missouri Act established in 1820 which declared a line of latitude to distinguish whether a new territory would be slave free or not. His main opposition was Steven Douglas who had ratified the Kansas and Nebraska Act. Douglas saw slavery as a strictly political dilemma but Lincoln found it to be a profound moral issue as well. Lincoln stated that the act would be fine if it did not compare black men to pigs and horses with this he declared that "slavery was incompatible with America democracy." Abraham eloquently explained himself by reasoning, "If a Negro is a man, when then my ancient faith teaches me that ‘all men are created equal,' and that there can be no moral right in connection with one man's making a slave of another." Later in his Peoria speech he called for the gradual abolishment of slavery. Lincoln's views did not get him elected on many occasions but he never stopped his conquest to have justice for all.

In 1856, after the Whig party diminished, Lincoln declared himself as a Republican. After a compelling speech at the Republican convention he was nominated for vice president but did not receive enough votes to run. The next year the Supreme Court decision in the Dred Scott Case prohibited congress from stopping slavery in any new territory. This heightened political tension concerning slavery. In 1858, Lincoln ran against Douglas for his seat in the Senate. In their heated debates, Lincoln reinforced his views that America can not survive without unity, equality and freedom for all. After this defeat, Lincoln had a national platform. He spoke about his antislavery concerns and earned himself the Republican Presidential nomination.

Lincoln won the election without a single southern electoral vote. Even before he was able to take office, states

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