The most notable figure in the fight against slavery and slave trade in the United States is Abraham Lincoln. He incessantly mooted for equal treatment of all people in the whole country and this advocacy was actualized in the end when he was elected president in 1860. The input of Lincoln has elicited a number of editorial reviews especially with respect to his opinions and stance on slavery during enactment of the Kansas Nebraska Act and shortly after during the 1860 elections
The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854
As a matter of fact, the enactment of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 rejuvenated Abraham Lincoln’s political career (Beveridge et al., 1928). He immediately rescinded his earlier decision to retire and started engaging in active politics. Lincoln vehemently opposed the Act and the machinations of political figures then to annul the Missouri Compromise line. The rationale for this is that restriction of slavery was the part of the bargain to be fulfilled by the southerners in exchange for the Northerners’ accession to allowing Missouri into the Union as a slave state. Therefore, since such a compromise had been inexplicably withdrawn, it would open new wounds and make the region susceptible to fresh civil strife.
Since Congress had purchased this territory, it had the ultimate authority to decide the status of slavery in this region. Therefore it is not plausible to assert that in both Kansas and Nebraska, only citizens in this region were allowed to decide the fate of slavery. Such matters could only be sufficiently dealt with through a legally binding statute or law; which in this case, could not contravene the Missouri Compromise set out earlier in the 1820s. Also, the spirit of America is premised on the notion that all people are equal and therefore, even though slaves may not be allowed the right to political participation, it is still not proper for a man to purport to own another in such an arrangement (Guelzo, 2003).
The 1860 ElectionsThe political career of Abraham Lincoln having been significantly rejuvenated by his arguments against the Kansas-Nebraska Act; his future campaigns and political inclinations clearly took account of anti-slavery sentiments. Here are the most profound reviews given in light of the electioneering period.
With the Republicans composed of a fusion of many politicians with an abolitionist ideology, it was imperative that they sell the gospel of anti-slavery during the campaigns. By this time this movement had gained traction. To Lincoln’s credit, he had managed to synergize all political parties and factions opposed to slavery and became one of the members of the larger movement and subsequently was nominated Republican candidate. The overriding objective of the Republican Party was to prevent any extension to slavery. At the same time, given the political atmosphere, the politicians and Lincoln had to approach the issue with much trepidation and caution as not to portray the image of extreme abolitionism. This is because this was a transition period and it was not feasible to expect a paradigm shift in the mindset of electorates (Guelzo, 2003). The real policy changes could be implemented only after power had been safely secured.
The greatest parting point between democrats and republicans in the run-up to the elections was that while the Democrats advocated for a popular sovereignty, where people would bear the ultimate vote on the status of slavery; republicans pontificated that the government ha d to reign on this process and orchestrate barring any extension of slavery activities. It is this approach that enabled Lincoln to end slave trade during his tenure as president of United States (Beveridge et al., 1928).
Beveridge, A. J., Rouben Mamoulian Collection (Library of Congress), & Oliver Wendell Holmes Collection (Library of Congress). (1928). Abraham Lincoln, 1809-1858. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.
Guelzo, A. C. (2003). Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President. Grand Rapids, Mich: W.B. Eerdmans.
Tagg, L. (2009). The unpopular Mr. Lincoln: The story of America’s most reviled president. New York: Savas Beatie.
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