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"Texas...I can't argue with you at all on Lincoln's attitudes towards the black - white issue. I think he was more forward thinking than the typical white man of his times though. In the 1858 election with Douglas the racism was incredibly appalling even by 19th century standards. Democrats launched attacks on Lincoln as a man who thought blacks were the equal to whites. Negro lover was probably the least of the insults they hurled at him. They insinuated that he wanted blacks and whites to marry etc. They held signs at Democratic rallies showing Lincoln with baboons for a family.
At the start of the war he had no intention of freeing the slaves. By the time of the Emancipation Proclamation though he had become more religious in his thinking. He was looking at the war as God's wrath against America for making a deal with the devil on slavery. There were political benefits also but he was shifting his opinion on the issue towards abolishment. The border states he was in favor of paying the slave owners for releasing their slaves. Frederick Douglas was a strong critic of his for not taking bolder action. But yet the South that Lincoln was an out of control tyrant set on trampling on their rights.
Lincoln wanted preservation of the Union above all else. He wasn't going to preside over the dissolution of the United States. Even in the lowest points of the war he was a rock in not letting this happen on his watch. Which is why no peace was going to be had that involved a separated South. Lee could have marched into Washington DC then Baltimore setting fire to both and Lincoln wouldn't have flinched in carrying on the war from New York.
Because of this steadfastness I believe in the post war years he would have had a lot of political capital in having a lenient reconstruction with the South. Up until the fall of Atlanta he wasn't the most popular guy to be President. He jailed journalists that didn't agree with him and suspended Habeus Corpus. He was either a hated or loved man throughout the North. Getting shot turned him into a martyr no doubt. But bringing the war to a victorious conclusion was already making him into a great president.
A lot of my viewpoints expressed on Lincoln come from Stephen Oates book, "With Malice Toward None." I readily admit that I have a strong Yankee view of the war so bear with me. Hell I just found out I have two Reb ancestors in the war. So maybe with time I'll be more balanced."
What makes you think this in the bold above? I feel the same way about Lincoln's religious beliefs changing while in office. I disagree it had anything to do with the Emancipation Proclomation though. That was simply a war measure, a political ploy. But I think Lincoln changed while in office. I think he went from a shrewd politician to one that realized the corruption in the the country, North and South. I believe Lincoln instigated war by his actions in dealing with Fort Pickens and Fort Sumter. He was very smart and knew what he was doing. What ambitious politician didn't want a war to seal his legacy? A Civil War at that. But something changed him. The battlefield deaths, the suffering, the loss of his child, maybe all of it. But he changed. I think he became a Christian during that time, possibly 1864, the North's darkest hour. His darkest hour with the election coming.
Lincoln was changing his views on slavery as the war dragged on. By late 1862 there had already been over a year of carnage. He was already feeling pretty stressed by seeing a hell of a lot of Americans being slaughtered. It makes a person think about stuff. He was already seeking religious comfort by then. The view of the war being God's judgement upon America for the institution of slavery was seeping into his thinking. There were political benefits to the Proclamation no doubt...but I think it was mostly from his own inner feelings on the matter that he issued it. The chances of the south peacefully coming back were basically nil....so what the hell...just go for broke and end the institution of slavery once and for all. The war was up for grabs by late 1862...so issuing it for legacy reasons wasn't at the top of his list.