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

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

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

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.

Excerpt

Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable! Daniel Webster, 1830 Abraham Lincoln, 1856

Why another book on Abraham Lincoln? Admittedly, numerous writers have discussed nearly every conceivable aspect of his life. Yet no one has fully examined his impact on Civil War diplomacy, particularly as it derived from his constantly evolving views toward slavery and the way these ideas fitted into his concept of the Union. In 1945 Jay Monaghan published his classic work, A Diplomat in Carpet Slippers: Abraham Lincoln Deals with Foreign Affairs, but it rested almost entirely on American sources and reflected both a Union and a Lincoln bias. Moreover, Monaghan brought insufficient focus to Lincoln's efforts to tie antislavery to the creation of a better Union. This gap in the historiography of the period provides the rationale for this book.

Lincoln realized early in his presidency that the slavery issue proved that domestic and foreign affairs were inseparable. He had always found slavery morally objectionable, but not until a year or so into his presidency did he regard the demise of that institution as integral not only to the preservation of the Union but to its betterment. Emancipation, Lincoln also insisted, became a crucial ingredient in Britain's deliberations on whether to intervene in the Civil War, thereby making slavery a vital element in U.S. foreign relations from 1861 to 1865. Only when the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect on January 1, 1863, did the Lincoln administration finally end southern hopes for a British intervention. The French threat, however, lingered throughout the remainder of the war. Even though the British decision seemed irrevocable, Emperor Napoleon III appeared ready to act on his own. At stake was his puppet regime in Mexico, which he intended to use as a magnet for reestablishing monarchical governments all over the Americas. Throughout this intricate and weblike series of events, President Lincoln sought above all else to save the Union by using the growing popular sentiment against slav-

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