Limitations of the Emancipation Proclamation

Limitations of the Emancipation Proclamation

President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1,
1863 declaring that all persons held as slaves within the rebellious states
shall be free. However, despite this expansive wording, the Proclamation was
limited in many ways. It applied only to states that withdrew from the Union,
leaving slavery untouched in the loyal border states. It also specifically
excluded parts of the Confederacy that had already come under Northern control.
Most importantly, the freedom it promised depended upon Union military victory.

In the early life of Lincoln, he formed a strong opinion on the issue of
slavery. Slavery, for Lincoln, violated everything for which he stood. Lincoln
was born into a poor pioneer family, and worked hard on the farm. He knew what
it was like to till soil and raise crops. Through his hard work and
determination, Lincoln was able to become a successful lawyer. "Lincoln
believed that all Americans should have the opportunity to enhance their lives
as he had enhanced his own" (Tackach 30). Lincoln felt slavery violated the
principle in the Declaration of Independence that stated "all men are
created equal"(Tackach 31).

The Emancipation of January 1, 1863, contained no indictment of slavery, but
simply based emancipation on "military necessity". However, the
Federal Constitution still held the slaves as property, except in Missouri and
Maryland, two states which had legalized emancipation (Sandburg 643). Lincoln is
often known as the "Great Emancipator", and was loved for
"freeing the slaves".(Donald 154) The purpose for issuing the
proclamation is not always fully understood. "Although Lincoln\'s judgement
as well as timing were in the long run fully vindicated, it is perhaps easier to
understand the Proclamation in the terms in which Lincoln himself presented
it-as a war measure, issued on the narrow grounds of military necessity, and
designed to hurt the enemy both at home and abroad" (Canby 291).

In the beginning, the Civil War was not being fought over the issue of
slavery, but it war was being fought primarily to save the Union (Tackach 43).
Lincoln accurately hypothesized that any freeing of slaves elsewhere would hurt
the border states, and the Union could not afford to lose any more states than
it had already lost. Lincoln once said

If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I

would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the

slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by

freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do

that(Canby 292).

As he wrote these words to Horace Greeley, Lincoln had already knew he was
going to issue the Emancipation Proclamation at the first favorable opportunity.

Part of the "military necessity" justification for the proclamation
was the opinion that freed blacks could not be used in the armed forces. In
aiding to restore the Confederate states and their citizens to the Union,
Lincoln was explicit and took his authority in action (Phillips 92). As the war
entered its second year, the abolitionists in Congress began pressing the
president to free the slaves. Freeing the slaves would cause problems because it
would cripple the South\'s ability to wage war. This would occur because the
labor by slaves would have to be performed by men who might otherwise enlist in
the Confederate army (Tackach 43).

As predicted, the South condemned Lincoln for the Emancipation Proclamation.
"To pro-slavery Southerners, Lincoln was no better than John Brown, who
had, in 1859, attempted to ignite a bloody war to free the South\'s
slaves---Lincoln\'s Emancipation Proclamation steeled the South\'s resolve to win
the Civil War. To lose the war would mean an end to Southern slavery and the
ruination of the South\'s economy." (Tackach 46).

In some ways, Lincoln had changed the purpose of the Civil War. It went from
a war to restore the Union to a war to end American slavery (Sandburg 331).

The Emancipation Proclamation itself was no ringing call for an all-out
attack on slavery. It did not lay hands on slaves in the Confederacy and set any
of them free immediately. But it did, slowly but surely, take hold of the minds
of men and inspire them to fight for the freedom of millions of men, women, and
children in bondage. The proclamation was a promise for the futureóa promise
that changed the war for the Union into a fight for freedom.(Latham 5)

The many limitations and fine points in the proclamation provided fuel for
Lincolnís critics during the war and right into present day, but while he
lived, those critics were mostly conservatives that were not going to admire any
policy that led