Why did Abraham Lincoln issue the Emancipation Proclamation?

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jilllessa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There were several reasons that Lincoln announced and implemented the Emancipation Proclamation at the end of 1862,  early 1863. His basic goal was to turn the war from a political focus to a morally based focus. First, Lincoln was in a difficult situation, militarily. The North had lost most of the battles that had been fought, and many Northerners were beginning to grumble about the war. Lincoln hoped that the change to a moral focus on slavery would cement Northern support. In addition, several European countries, including England and France, were considering formal recognition of the Confederacy. Lincoln correctly believed that the shift to a moral focus on slavery would prevent that recognition. Thirdly, Lincoln hoped that the promise of freedom would cause revolts among Southern slaves and lead them to support the Northern armies. Finally, Lincoln, himself, had come to believe personally that freeing the slaves was the right thing to do. The move was risky on his part because he could have easily pushed the border states into joining the Confederate cause, which is why the Proclamation only frees the slaves in rebellious territory. However, while the Proclamation did become a campaign issue in the 1864 elections, it did exactly what Lincoln had hoped, changed the war from a political conflict into a moral struggle which needed to be fought to the end.

j9lipson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Emancipation Proclamation was issued by Lincoln during the Civil War so that slaves would be freed. The only slaves that were affected by this were the ones in the United States, not the ones in the Confederacy. As a result of this important document, Europe was less likely to help the South in their battle. Lincoln also chose to issue this document at a key time: after the victory at the battle of Antietam, so that the public would be in a good mood.

parama9000 | Student

This was to strengthen the North's cause and other countries were considering supporting the South, the Confederacy. 

Yojana_Thapa | Student

Abraham Lincoln himself said that he issued the Emancipation Proclamation , "to aid you in saving the nation" to the members of the Democratic party.The Emancipation Proclamation strengthened the Union's moral cause. It freed only the slaves in confederate states that were still in rebellion. Moreover, it was to encourage and boost northerns moral.

smartkidz | Student

the emancipation proclamation was issued for multiple reasons:

1- abraham lincoln realised that the war was beginning to look like a loosing battle and saw that he needed to boost northern moral. he issued the proclamation hoping that it would encourgage the soldiers from the north on.

2- in the proclamation it says that only the slaves of the rebelling states would be freed. this was done to prevent the border states to join the south and also so that hopefully the confederacy (the south) would surrender so as to keep their slaves.(this failed causing the south to fire up even more)

3- he hoped that by ordering the proclamation the other european countries thinking of joining would reconsider ... (please research this fact before quoting)


unfortunately the issuing of the emacipation proclamation didnt stop the war but rather rekindle it as the south fired up to rebel.

revolution | Student

By making this "Proclamation", he is driving the point and emphasizing his message that he will make slavery his top priority.  He wanted to liberate the slaves from the rebel states. Hitting hard at the abolishment of slavery, he wanted other countries, like france and Britian to not enter the war and aid the Confederation, as they both abhored slavery. He wanted to garner support amongst the Northern people, and help him in his election and political ambitions. Also, he might want to arouse some resentment among the Southern slaves, and later they would rebel against their state and support Lincoln's cause. This would propelled him to stardom.

muhgoops | Student

To the claim that the emancipation proclamation freed slaves in the north and NOT the south:

"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free."

Notice the part that says ". . . the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States"

This is one of the first sentences of the Emancipation Proclamation. It did NOT free slaves in the North; in fact, it specifically abstained from doing so in order to keep the border states who still had slaves loyal to the union in the time of war.

Just wanted to clear up that misunderstanding for anyone who might happen upon this page and get the wrong idea.