By George M Fredrickson
“Cruel, merciful; peace-loving, a fighter; despising Negroes and permitting them to struggle and vote; keeping slavery and liberating slaves.” Abraham Lincoln was once, W. E. B. Du Bois declared, “big sufficient to be inconsistent.” sufficiently big, certainly, for each iteration to have its personal Lincoln—unifier or emancipator, egalitarian or racist. with a view to reconcile those perspectives, and to supply a extra complicated and nuanced account of a determine so valuable to American heritage, this publication specializes in the main debatable point of Lincoln’s inspiration and politics—his attitudes and activities relating to slavery and race. Drawing recognition to the restrictions of Lincoln’s judgment and guidelines with no denying his importance, the publication offers the main complete and even-handed account to be had of Lincoln’s contradictory remedy of black americans in concerns of slavery within the South and uncomplicated civil rights within the North. George Fredrickson exhibits how Lincoln’s antislavery convictions, despite the fact that real and powerful, have been held in cost via an both powerful dedication to the rights of the states and the restrictions of federal strength. He explores how Lincoln’s ideals approximately racial equality in civil rights, stirred and bolstered by means of the African American contribution to the northern struggle attempt, have been countered by means of his conservative constitutional philosophy, which left this topic to the states. The Lincoln who emerges from those pages is way extra understandable and credible in his inconsistencies, and within the abiding ideals and evolving rules from which they arose. Deeply principled yet still improper, all-too-human but undeniably heroic, he's a Lincoln for all generations. (20080218)
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Extra info for Big Enough to Be Inconsistent: Abraham Lincoln Confronts Slavery and Race (The W. E. B. Du Bois Lectures)
It is clear that no one who did not at least pay lip service to white supremacy could get elected to a statewide ofﬁce in Illinois. Did Lincoln mean the things he said about blacks and race relations in the Great Debates, or was he simply dissembling in order to get himself elected? Neither alternative puts him in a very favorable light. One way to overcome the sharp dichotomy between the closet egalitarian and the hard-core racist would be to acknowledge that “racism” is an imprecise umbrella term and that there is a plurality of orientations that might be considered racist or racialist, some of which may be more benign or less malignant than others.
The Kansas-Nebraska Act led to a miniature civil war between proslavery and free-state settlers in Kansas. ” Belief in such a conspiracy seemed to be 34 A Clash of Images conﬁrmed in 1857 when the Supreme Court in the Dred Scott decision denied the right of the federal government to prohibit slavery in the territories and declared the Missouri Compromise to be unconstitutional. Further proof of what Republicans saw as the aggressive advance of slavery came in 1857–58, when President Buchanan attempted to force the admission of Kansas as a state despite overwhelming evidence that the majority of Kansans wanted to keep slavery out.
This hypothesis will be explored in the next chapter. 41 2 N Free Soil, Free Labor, and Free White Men: The Illinois Years lincoln did not concern himself much about slavery before the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 made the status of slavery in the territories a major political issue. As he explained in a speech in 1858: “Although I have always been opposed to slavery, so far I rested in the hope and belief that it was in course of ultimate extinction. ”1 There is no reason to doubt that he had disapproved of slavery from an early age.
Big Enough to Be Inconsistent: Abraham Lincoln Confronts Slavery and Race (The W. E. B. Du Bois Lectures) by George M Fredrickson