Friday, December 7, 2012

Foner on Lincoln and Slavery

     The second book on Lincoln is bringing into reality a little bit more.  As a young lawyer he defended a slaveowner against the suit of one of his slaves claiming they should be freed.  As Foner said, there's no excuse for this.  Foner's approach has so far been balanced.  Lincoln's maturation seems to occur in fits and starts, with occasional steps back.  He seemed to be enamored of new industrialization, PROGRESS, etc.. that swept across America at this time.  This led him to think in terms of city-dwelling and market places rather than the farm. 

It is also implied that his internal convictions were occasionally at odds with his ambition and sometimes he chose his ambition.  This last point is an interesting one to consider.  Could a more devoted abolitionist have been elected President in 1860?  If so, could they have held the border states in the Union, including Missouri, Kentucky(which were crucial waterway states obviously), and/or Maryland, which surrounds D.C.?  If not, would there now be an independant confederacy?  Question to ponder: "was Lincoln's own inconsistency part of what made him a success, where a more consistent President would have ended up losing the war, or not ending slavery?"

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