Lincoln on Race and Slavery

By Abraham Lincoln; Henry Louis Gates Jr. et al. | Go to book overview

56

AL to John M. Schofield:
CW, 6:291

Missouri, a critical border state, suffered deep divisions during the Civil War. Many of its citizens openly served the Confederate cause. The state also became a testing ground for the administration's emancipation policy as the president sought simultaneously to prevent Missourians from joining the rebellion and to respect constitutional order. In 1863, a state convention attempted to end slavery, but divided into “Charcoals,” radical abolitionists favoring immediate emancipation, and “Claybanks,” conservative Republicans who favored a gradual process lasting as long as ten years. In July, the “Claybanks” succeeded in adopting a measure that would end slavery on July 4, 1870. Lincoln relied on Major General John Schofield to recruit local volunteers into federal service and “keep the peace” in a state that could influence further emancipation in the South and West. Unsure of how to proceed, the general appealed to Lincoln. The president agreed that loyal slaveowners should receive federal protection, provided that the gradual emancipation they adopted be “comparatively short” and that no slaves be sold “during that period, into more lasting slavery.” He cautioned Schofield to exercise patience and not use the military at his disposal, as General Frémont had done early in the war, to hastily terminate slaveholders' rights. As elsewhere, Lincoln continued to move slowly toward emancipation, hoping to cement Unionist sentiment in the border states. On January 11, 1865, a constitutional convention met in St. Louis, reversed course, and immediately abolished slavery. Donald B. Connelly, John M. Schofield and the Politics of Generalship (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2006), 70–71.

-274-

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