Big Enough to Be Inconsistent: Abraham Lincoln Confronts Slavery and Race

By George M. Fredrickson | Go to book overview

3

Becoming an Emancipator:
The War Years

AS THE HISTORIAN David Potter wrote more than forty years ago, Lincoln “always regarded the perpetuation of the Union as more important than the abolition of slavery.”1 Although recent historians have tended to give greater weight to Lincoln’s antislavery convictions than some of their predecessors, they have not been able to reverse the priorities. Lincoln made it clear early in the war that he would have saved the Union without abolishing slavery if that had been possible. His sincere hatred of the South’s “peculiar institution” is not in doubt, however. In a letter written in 1864, he succinctly explained the process that had led him to become an

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Big Enough to Be Inconsistent: Abraham Lincoln Confronts Slavery and Race
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • 1: A Clash of Images 1
  • 2: Free Soil, Free Labor, and Free White Men 43
  • 3: Becoming an Emancipator 85
  • Notes 129
  • Index 146
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