Abraham Lincoln and a New Birth of Freedom: The Union and Slavery in the Diplomacy of the Civil War

Synopsis

In Abraham Lincoln and a New Birth of Freedom Howard Jones explores the relationship between President Lincoln's wartime diplomacy and his interrelated goals of forming a more perfect Union and abolishing slavery. From the outset of the Civil War, Lincoln's central purpose was to save the Union by defeating the South on the battlefield. No less important was his need to prevent a European intervention that would have facilitated the South's move for independence. Lincoln's goal of preserving the Union, however, soon evolved into an effort to form a more perfect Union, one that rested on the natural rights principles of the Declaration of Independence and thus necessitated emancipation.

Lincoln realized early in his presidency that the slavery, issue illustrated the inseparability of domestic and foreign affairs. The central paradox of slavery and freedom in a self-professed republic affected both domestic and foreign policy, and failure to resolve the issue on either front threatened to undermine the republic itself. Lincoln had always found slavery morally objectionable, and he soon came to regard its demise as integral not only to the preservation of the Union but also to its betterment. The eradication of slavery also became an essential step toward blocking foreign intervention, for only when the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect did the Lincoln administration finally end Southern hopes for a British intervention.