Why Was the Emancipation Proclamation Written?

emancipationAs the years passed, questions as to why the Emancipation Proclamation was written continue to be asked. Looking back, historians point to several reasons why it was penned and issued by Lincoln in 1862.

To Cripple the South’s War Effort

The first reason was to reduce the South’s edge in the war. They were outnumbered but their leaders were more skilled. However, the slaves played an important role. They were the ones who readied the uniforms and other necessities of the soldiers. The slaves were also responsible for rebuilding the railways and factories damaged during the conflict.

The blacks also worked in the hospitals and constituted the bulk of the labor force. They were also involved in making fortifications.
Lincoln knew this, which was one reason why the Emancipation Proclamation was written.

By giving the slaves their freedom, the South would be crippled. When the slaves realized they were free, they ran away. This left the South with no one to mind these important tasks.

To Win International Support

Lincoln also drafted it for political reasons. At the start of the war, European support was for the South. They were after all, fighting for independence. Previous events like the Trent Affair had strained relations between the US and the UK. If the South were to declare independence and gain international support, the Union would be lost.

By issuing the decree, Lincoln forced Britain, France and other European countries to withdraw their support. When studying the reasons why the Emancipation Proclamation was written, this fact can’t be ruled out. Lincoln knew that slavery was outlawed in Britain. It would be unthinkable for the Empire to go against a group that also abhorred slavery.

True enough, the proclamation drew international support. It proved very popular with the British and international opinion swung in favor of the Union.

To Free the Slaves

The final reason is that the President had always been against slavery. Even before 1862, he had already issued a draft aimed at ending slavery. However it got bogged down due to legalities and lack of state cooperation. The reason why the Emancipation Proclamation was written was because Lincoln believed slavery was wrong.

One of the questions often asked is why it only covered those of the rebelling states. The reason involved legalities. He did not have the authority to issue such a decree on states that were not seceeding. If he did, it would have been unconstitutional. It would open the door to all sorts of legal problems.

By 1865 however, he had Congress pass the law that abolished slavery in the entire country. This act would be commemorated especially in the years following his assassination.

It’s been argued that the directive did little in giving blacks actual rights. Indeed there were still problems of racial discrimination around the country.

However the reason why the Emancipation Proclamation was written should not be forgotten. However slow the process, it allowed for the blacks to be free. It was the first necessary step for their total assimilation into American life.

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