Daily Archives: August 11, 2008

American History 101

Okay, time for a history lesson. Kids, pay attention, because you won’t read this in your public school textbooks. The really good history teachers will confirm it, but you won’t read it in your schoolbooks.

U.S. President Abraham Lincoln never freed a single solitary slave.

What? You’re shocked! You’re astounded! He is, after all, called “The Great Emancipator.”

The Great Dictator is a more appropriate title.

Don’t believe me? The next time someone tells you that Lincoln freed the slaves, ask them to name one.

Just one.

Any one.

That’s right, they won’t be able to because he never freed any.

You see, Lincoln was very much like Bill Clinton—he was a very good politician and he did things that needed to be done to accomplish his tasks. The Emancipation Proclamation was a brilliant move on Lincoln’s part—it accomplished what he wanted, which was furthering the cause of war. But it didn’t free any slaves. You see, Lincoln’s war wasn’t going well—the Southerners were winning most of the battles and embarrassing the Federal troops. England and France were close to recognizing the South as an independent nation. If that happened, they would likely help the South (because they didn’t really like the U.S.) and then Lincoln would lose his war. Slavery was the issue that was causing England and France to delay so Lincoln CHANGED the war and caused it to be about slavery (more on that at a later date).

But read The Emancipation Proclamation carefully. You can find it easily online. If you need to, check out one of those really cool big wall maps that your history teacher has hanging in the classroom. You’ll note that it does not sweepingly “free” all slaves. In fact, Lincoln did not free any slaves over which he had any authority—he left them slaves. Even the U.S. government acknowledges this, even if not loudly. The archives.gov website explains “the Emancipation Proclamation was limited in many ways. It applied only to states that had seceded from the Union, leaving slavery untouched in the loyal Border States. It also expressly exempted parts of the Confederacy that had already come under Northern control. … Although the Emancipation Proclamation did not immediately free a single slave, it fundamentally transformed the character of the war.”

If you’ve never read it, I encourage you to do so—it frees slaves “except” those in such and such a county, etc. All other counties, it says “are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.”

If Lincoln had intended to free the slaves, why didn’t he free them all?

It was because he really didn’t want to free them—he wanted to win the war. It wasn’t his intention to free any slaves.

Archives.gov said the proclamation transformed the character of the war. It did indeed transform the war—it changed it from being a federal vs. state war to one of slavery.

Again, we have to credit Lincoln for being a brilliant politician. He was a tyrant and illegally threw many into jail, but he was a brilliant politician. What? You didn’t know that President Lincoln had many people who opposed him illegally thrown into jail? What? Want me to name one? Okay. Clement Vanlandingham. You can look him up easily. If that isn’t enough for you, go next to all the Maryland legislators who were opposed to Lincoln and the war.

The Emancipation Proclamation was simply another war strategy. It was a good one and a good move on Lincoln’s part in the war efforts, but it didn’t free any slaves.

So, the next time you hear someone say Lincoln freed the slaves, ask them to name one—they can’t because he didn’t.

This lesson was free, by the way.


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