By the mid-1800s, the issue of slavery had literally split The United States of America in half, severed between North and South. The free citizens of our adolescent nation were to soon elect their 16th president. On November 6th of 1860, Republican Candidate, Abraham Lincoln from Illinois won the election by a landslide. Lincoln, like many presidents who came before him, gave his word to approach the issue of slavery peacefully. Shortly after the election, 7 southern slave states sent representatives to the Montgomery Convention of 1861. Here the representatives decided to secede from the Union, giving birth to a fickle nation known as The Confederate States of America.
Lincoln saw this action by the southern slave states as an act of rebellion, and not as secession. As newly elected Commander in Chief, Lincoln had to be very careful in his actions regarding the issue of slavery and the Confederate States. In The journal Legal system of the Confederate States, William M. Robinson, Jr., explains Lincoln by stating, “He was ever fearful, lest by the slightest implication, he should recognize the existence, de facto or de jure, of the government of the Confederate State.” 1) Lincoln thought that in recognizing the Confederacy as an independent nation, he would be confirming that the law of the federal government and his executive powers over the states in rebellion were greatly diminished.
After many failed attempts by Lincoln to peacefully compromise with Confederate political leaders, it was clear that he must prepare the nation for war. On April 12th of 1861, Confederate troops attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina, in response to Lincoln’s unwillingness to surrender the fort. Immediately following this battle, President Lincoln made it known the public and declared that the United States are now engaged in civil war. In doing this he now processed wartime presidential powers, enabling him to send volunteers to regain the fort and stop the rebellion. As the war raged on, the question of slavery was brought to the forefront. Many military officers were not sure whether captured slaves shall be returned to their owners or freed. In Lincolns mind if the slaves were returned, he and the federal government again would be referring to the states in rebellion, as a separate nation. This is was the main topic of Lincolns inaugural address letter to Congress. In this letter he makes clear that the objective of the war is to restore the Union, on common grounds based upon the constitution. Lincoln believed the abolishment of slavery was necessary step towards a peaceful transition, once the war had ended. Congress was quick to respond, issuing multiple acts surrounding slavery and its abolishment. Both Lincoln and Congress were now determined to abolish slavery throughout the union. Lincoln called upon the state governments to pass legislation forever freeing slaves. In return he offered both the former slave and the state compensation towards a peaceful transition. Lincoln and his cabinet members promptly began discussing a preliminary draft of what Lincoln referred to as the Emancipation Proclamation. This draft was previously written by Lincoln and kept from everyone until, he was sure it had to be used. With a few changes in wording, Lincoln released the document that same day. 7)
Lincoln’s proclamation was seen by many northern Democrats, as an example of Lincoln’s recent radical behavior. Although Lincoln is remembered for approaching issues collectively, his view upon slavery abruptly changed and he believe that God called upon him to rid the country of this pest. On September 22nd of 1862 Lincoln, released a pilot version of his proclamation. The preliminary proclamation was to stay in effect for the next 100 days, when he would release a more aggressive final version. The first proclamation gave each state that was in rebellion 100 days to side with the Union, or else every slave in that state