By George M Fredrickson
“Cruel, merciful; peace-loving, a fighter; despising Negroes and permitting them to struggle and vote; holding slavery and liberating slaves.” Abraham Lincoln used to be, W. E. B. Du Bois declared, “big sufficient to be inconsistent.” large enough, certainly, for each new release to have its personal Lincoln—unifier or emancipator, egalitarian or racist. that allows you to reconcile those perspectives, and to provide a extra complicated and nuanced account of a determine so important to American background, this publication makes a speciality of the main arguable element of Lincoln’s inspiration and politics—his attitudes and activities concerning slavery and race. Drawing cognizance to the restrictions of Lincoln’s judgment and guidelines with no denying his value, the booklet offers the main entire and even-handed account to be had of Lincoln’s contradictory therapy of black american citizens in concerns of slavery within the South and simple civil rights within the North. George Fredrickson exhibits how Lincoln’s antislavery convictions, even if real and powerful, have been held in payment through an both powerful dedication to the rights of the states and the constraints 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 conflict attempt, have been countered through his conservative constitutional philosophy, which left this topic to the states. The Lincoln who emerges from those pages is much extra understandable and credible in his inconsistencies, and within the abiding ideals and evolving rules from which they arose. Deeply principled yet still wrong, all-too-human but undeniably heroic, he's a Lincoln for all generations. (20080218)
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Additional resources for Big Enough to Be Inconsistent: Abraham Lincoln Confronts Slavery and Race (The W. E. B. Du Bois Lectures)
The majority of the new party’s support came from former northern Whigs like Abraham Lincoln, although there was a substantial minority of ex-Democrats. 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.
But not all the early settlers were antislavery. Some in fact brought slaves with them and attempted to keep 36 A Clash of Images them, if not as chattel property, at least as lifetime indentured servants. In 1824 there was a serious effort in Illinois to fully legalize slavery through a constitutional convention. When the referendum authorizing the convention was defeated, Illinois was denied the opportunity to develop a slave-based economy. 46 A principal consideration in the generally successful effort to exclude slavery was the desire to keep Illinois all white, or as white as possible.
He may have been constrained by the exigencies of an Illinois political career, but he had sufﬁcient integrity to ﬁnd principled and intellectually defensible justiﬁcations for the stands that he took. Unlike the abolitionists, who either repudiated the Constitution entirely (as did Garrison) or strained to ﬁnd an interpretation that would permit direct action against slavery in the states, Lincoln both revered the Constitution and believed that it provided no basis for abolition. He could have proposed an amendment banning slavery, but in 1856 he made it clear that the Constitution should be left alone: “Don’t interfere with anything in the Constitution.