Why did Abraham Lincoln issue the Emancipation Proclamation?

Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation to turn the Civil War into a moral battle, thereby discouraging European countries from supporting the South and galvanizing the North, to free slaves in rebellious states to undermine the South, and because Lincoln himself had become convinced that it was the moral thing to do.

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The Emancipation Proclamation was a wartime measure, one which only applied to those states that had seceded from the Union. For Lincoln, it was motivated by a combination of moral and pragmatic factors.

First of all, remember that Lincoln was morally opposed to slavery, a factor which has to be...

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The Emancipation Proclamation was a wartime measure, one which only applied to those states that had seceded from the Union. For Lincoln, it was motivated by a combination of moral and pragmatic factors.

First of all, remember that Lincoln was morally opposed to slavery, a factor which has to be recognized as contributing to his decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. At the same time, practically speaking, it had the result of galvanizing support among abolitionists by introducing a new moral dynamic into the war effort, transforming the struggle into one against the institution of slavery. In this respect, the moral and pragmatic dimensions go hand-in-hand.

However, the Emancipation Proclamation had a diplomatic purpose as well, aiming to isolate the rebellious Southern states from attaining allies in Europe. Remember, during the Civil War, the Confederate States hoped to draw support from Britain. However, these hopes were complicated by the Confederacy's support of and reliance on slavery, given the British Empire's opposition to slavery. Thus, the Emancipation Proclamation was, at least in part, also aimed towards the British: by transforming the Civil War into a struggle against slavery, Lincoln ensured that Britain would not side with the Confederacy, keeping the Southern states diplomatically isolated throughout the struggle.

These intentions were realized, as the Emancipation Proclamation is rightly regarded as one of the critical turning points of the Civil War and an important moment in American History.

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First, Lincoln used the rhetoric of the Emancipation Proclamation to prove that he was still in charge of the United States and that the Confederacy did not exist. Throughout the war, Lincoln never used the words "Confederate States of America" because that would invite international recognition. Lincoln made the Proclamation applicable to the "states in insurrection" thus making those states aware that they were still under US governance. Another implication of this statement was that the states who rejoined the Union could keep their slaves. The Border States did not have to follow the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln was hoping to draw support away from the Confederacy.

The Emancipation Proclamation also brought a moral tone to the war. It was now seen as a greater cause than simply binding the two warring factions together. After the Emancipation Proclamation, the British debate on whether or not to help the South subsided a little bit though Britain would continue to build privateers for the Confederacy throughout the war.

Many slaves who lived in occupied territory in the South took the Emancipation Proclamation to mean that they were free. Lincoln hoped that the possibility of all the slaves escaping would lead to Southerners leaving the battlefield and returning home to establish racial law and order.

Lincoln had many reasons for issuing the proclamation, both moral and practical. He used rhetoric to drive off foreign interlopers who would act on behalf of the rebellious states. While several people in the North disliked the idea of an abolitionist crusade, by turning the war into a higher cause he helped galvanize many in the North to see the war to its conclusion.

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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 rebellious states, not the ones in border states. 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.

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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.

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