LINCOLN “THE Great Emancipator” ???? The most important constitutional matter coming up during the Civil War was that of the Emancipation Proclamation itself. Lincoln had for some time wondered whether or not he had such authority. He long hesitated to issue this mandate declaring free all the Blacks in the districts then in rebellion against the United States. Fremont, Hunter and Butler, in charge of Union armies, had undertaken to do this, but had to be restrained. One of the members of Lincoln’s cabinet was of the opinion that he had no such power and that such a step would doubtless do more harm than good. In the end, however, just after a number of encouraging union victories, the Emancipation Proclamation was issued and had its desired effect; but to become legal it had to be fortified by the 13th Amendment. It declared that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, should exist within the United States. This was passed in congress and ratified by 12-18,1865. Few persons have since questioned the 13th Amendment, although peonage still exists in parts of the United States. However the 14th and fifteenth which followed thereupon have since given rise to all sorts of constitutional questions involving the rights of the Blacks and of others. The reasons for these different attitudes on constitutional matters cannot be readily understood now by the layman. We are so far removed from that time that we cannot easily appreciate the underlying reasons for the positions which statesmen of that day took. Blacks of today, for example, severely criticize Abraham Lincoln for his inaction and hesitancy in matters respecting the emancipation and in recognition of the race; and they, therefore, laugh at the idea of recording him in history as the “Great Emancipator”. Lincoln often expressed his contempt for abolitionists like Sumner and Stevens. They worried him by urging the instant liberation of the “d….d nig…s”. He repeatedly said that he would save the Union with slavery or that he would save it without slavery. Lincoln countermanded the emancipating orders of Butler, Fremont and Hunter. Lincoln could not easily come to the position of immediate emancipation. He had thought only of gradual and compensated emancipation to be completed by the year 1900. With respect to black after they became free, moreover, he was not very liberal. He did not care to have black soldiers in the Union Army, and when finally all but forced by circumstances to admit them, he did not desire to grant them the same pay and the same treatment accorded to white soldiers. He believed, moreover, that Negroes, if liberated, should be colonized abroad, inasmuch as they could not hope to remain in this country and become socially and politically equal to white men. His attitude was made clear in 1862, when after the liberation of the Blacks in the District of Columbia, he summoned certain members of their group to urge them to emigrate. “And, why,” said he, “should the people of your race be colonized and where? Why should they leave this country? You and we are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races. Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss, but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think. Your race suffer very greatly, many of them, by living among us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word we suffer on each side. If this is admitted, it affords a reason why we should be separated”. Lincoln, however, should not be unsympathetically condemned as the Blackman’s enemy who sought to exterminate slavery merely because it was an economic handicap to the white unemployed man. It must be remembered that Lincoln was not elected on an Republican abolition platform. His party had merely repudiated the Dred Scott decision and opposed the extension of slavery. How the blacks got their freedom. If Blacks would have stayed in their cabins and watched the Union duke it out with the Confederates they might of never been freed. Slaves took the initiative to seek out union camps they saw at night with their fire camps burning. The Union camps were swarmed to the max with escaped slaves and they didn’t know what to do with them but to free them to get them out of their hairs. The so-called "contrabands" (enslaved blacks within Union lines prior to the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863) were more than a curiosity, however, they also posed a real problem to whites in general and the Union army in particular as to what to do with them. Up to this point in the war, the Union had not fully committed its forces to the idea of the Civil War as a war to end slavery rather than a limited war to preserve the Union. Slaves, on the other hand, forced the issue by seeking out the Union forces in droves, looking for protection, and offering their services to the army that would one day free them permanently. W.E.B Dubois wrote: “Evidently, too, slaves were a source of strength to the Confederacy, and were being used as laborers and producers. "They constitute a military resource," wrote the Secretary of War, late in 1861; "and being such, that they should not be turned over to the enemy is too plain to discuss." So the tone of the army chiefs changed, Congress forbade the rendition of fugitives, and Butler's "contrabands" were welcomed as military laborers. This complicated rather than solved the problem; for now the scattering fugitives became a steady stream, which flowed faster as the armies marched. Then the long-headed man, with care-chiseled face, who sat in the White House, saw the inevitable, and emancipated the slaves of rebels on New Year's, 1863. A month later Congress called earnestly for the Black soldiers” Excepts from the Emancipation Proclamation: (Clearly a war measure) “And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defense; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages. …, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service“. -A. Lincoln Note: Blacks were tricked into fighting with Confederates being told they would be set free if they helped the south win the war.