Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power by Richard Carwardine delves into great detail regarding Abraham Lincoln’s early political career and the campaign that led him to become the 16th president of the United States. Carwardine provides many insights into Lincoln’s political and career path from law to serving on the Illinois state legislature, to Congressman and then U.S House of Representatives, and finally as the 16th president of the United States. To add, Lincoln’s spiritual and moral beliefs are described as the justification for his passing of the Emancipation Proclamation and abolition of slavery. Carwardine quotes Lincoln on his view toward slavery as stating, “I am naturally antislavery” and “If slavery is wrong, nothing is wrong. I can not remember when I did not so think, and feel” (p.21).
Carwardine and others speculate that Lincoln was very in sync with public opinion and changed the purpose of the war with regard to what the public was ready to embrace. In this case, he held off on making emancipation a necessary tactic to winning the war until the people within the union were in agreement that this was the key to winning the war (pgs. 191-192). It would seem that Lincoln only used the abolition of slavery as a way of weakening the South in order to win the war, although by analyzing his views on the practice of slavery and his own moral philosophy it is also likely that emancipation was always one of Lincoln’s goals and not just a last resort to winning the war.
- From what you have read of Lincoln’s life, his political career, and his moral stance, do you think the abolition of slavery was one of his ultimate goals while in office?
Carwardine states, “Many Americans thus drew from Lincoln’s assassination what Henry Ward Beecher described as ‘a new impulse of patriotism’” and it was thought that Lincoln’s death was perhaps something that was meant to be (pg. 320-321).
- Do you agree with the opinion that Lincoln’s death increased patriotism and led to a renewed energy and successful political reconstruction and passing of amendments after the war, or do you think the country would have been better off had Lincoln lived and served his second term in office?