Abraham Lincoln’s Changing Attitudes About Slavery & Blacks
By the time Abraham Lincoln became President in 1861, he had harbored anti-slavery sentiments. In spite of these anti-slavery views, he did not wish to destroy the slavery institution in the country. In his Inaugural Speech, he publicly declared that he did not intend to interfere with this institution in the States where it existed. At the onset of the war in 1861, Lincoln maintained his non-abolitionist position, and he opposed proposals to free slaves in the rebelling states. President Lincoln actually revoked an order in 1862 by General David Hunter that declared the slaves in the Confederacy States forever free. When the US Congress responded to this by passing the “Confiscation Act,” which made slaves whose owners were a part of the rebellion free, Lincoln still expressed reluctance to sign the bill to law.
Lincoln held the belief that the country’s Negro population should be resettled outside the US in colonies. However, he failed to get support for his resettling plans due to opposition from abolitionists and pro-slavery groups. Due to growing pressure from party abolitionists, Lincoln declared in March 1862 that the State was in support of the gradual abolishment of slavery. In response to growing public support for doing away with slavery in 1862, Lincoln declared slavery abolished in the federally held territories. This was followed by the even more dramatic preliminary Emancipation Proclamation of September 1862. Lincoln made the famous Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1893, effectively declaring every slave in the US free. From this period, Lincoln took an abolitionist stand on the issue of slavery. His commitment culminated in his support for the Thirteenth Amendment of the US constitution, which led to the eventual abolition of slavery in the US in January 1865.