Lincoln and King - Compare and Contast Essay Example

Published: 2019-11-11
Lincoln and King - Compare and Contast Essay Example
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  History Slavery Abraham Lincoln
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 1005 words
9 min read

Both Lincoln and King are connected through their struggle for the justice and equality of people of color in the United States. For Lincoln, all peoples were created equal, and the desire by the South to enlarge slavery not only violates the Constitution of the United States but also contravenes the moral principles as defined by nature and God. Lincoln also recognizes that the institution of slavery epitomizes injustice as people of color have worked for centuries without proper compensation for the labor that has enriched the white slave owners of the South (Yale Law School, 2008). Similarly, King (1963) champions justice in response to the segregation laws that were enacted after the end of slavery. He also invokes the Declaration of Independence and God to justify the criminality of the discriminative actions of the American majority on Americans of African descent. According to King, everybody was born free, and it is a violation of Gods forsaken rights to segregate against others.

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Lincoln and King also connect to each other in regards to the hypocrisy of the church towards justice of the people of color. Lincoln expresses dismay over the Godliness of the benefits of other peoples sweat as such practices do not conform to the teachings of the Bible whereas King bemoans the lukewarm commitment of the clergy towards the freedom of the Negro communities (University of Pennsylvania, 2016; Yale Law School, 2008). According to King, the clergy and white religious leadership prefer order to the struggle for justice of black people.

Lincoln and King further converge on the necessity of force to achieve justice for the oppressed. Lincoln posts that diplomatic measures were employed to prevail upon the Confederate states to resolve the issue of slavery but failed (Yale Law School, 2008). According to Lincoln, under such conditions, the use of force was necessary to preserve the union. Similarly, King (1963) contends that lack of honesty in negotiations for the freedom of the Negro community necessitates the use of force to demand the same. Also, rights must be demanded especially when some parties of the conflict prefer status quo to the freedom of others.

Lincoln and King differ on the outcome of their objectives. Although Lincoln recognizes the necessity for the end slavery in the South, his primary objective is to protect the Union against secession (Yale Law School, 2008). The wounds described by Lincoln were borne by the Union forces and Confederacy forces during the civil war. Essentially, the equal rights struggle for black people was a portion of the wider objective of preserving the Union. Conversely, Kings primary focus is the end of the segregation laws that alienated fundamental rights and freedoms of people of color after the Civil War (King, 1963). The wounds mentioned by King denote the injustices and brutality that the Negro has endured since the early 17th century. His ultimate objective is to see equality and freedom of black people in all spheres of American life.

Peace and reconciliation stand out of Lincolns address to the Union. The address emphasizes that the Civil War was not fought against Americans but for Americans (Levin, Levin, & Lincoln, 2014). Despite the wounds and differences of the Civil War, Lincoln calls for care for the victims of the war, and all needy citizens of the United States to unite for the purpose of rebuilding the nation based on the framework of equality of all races (Yale Law School, 2008). On the other hand, King focuses on love for fellow Americans as the strategy to end racial discrimination. According to King (1963), his actions are directed to the problems rather than the perpetrators of the problems.

Learning to Love Machiavelli adds an important perspective to the actions and causes that Lincoln and King pursued during their respective eras. Machiavelli was a 16th-century employee of the city-state of Florence-current region of Italy. He wrote a book that encouraged the prince of the time to use violence to instill fear as a technique of protecting the monarch against rebellions (Mc Donald, 2012). In the context of Lincolns actions, the reader gets the impression that there was a more important reason for the use of violence to quell the secessionist attempts in the South. Although Lincolns actions led to the deaths of many Americans, the actions were a blessing in the sense that they kept the Union intact (Levin, Levin, & Lincoln, 2014). For this reasons, Lincoln should not be viewed a destroyer of Southern livelihoods of people of the South but as a leader determined to preserve a fledgling nation like Machiavelli did to defend his livelihood in the Florence government.

Don Mc Donald offers perspective on underlying reasons as to why Machiavelli writes to the Prince on the use of fear to rule. As Mc Donald (2012) explains, Machiavelli was a family man, loved the republic, a decent person to fellow citizens of Florence, and was not Machiavellian as portrayed in the Prince. Rather, circumstances necessitated his actions. In the context of Kings agitation for civil rights, the letter from jail reveals the negative perceptions of authorities and some Americans about his activities of civil disobedience and direct action. According to King, he is portrayed as a rabble-rouser, disruptive, controversial, and a threat to peace (University of. Pennsylvania, 2016) As Mc Donald urges, Kings actions should be viewed in a wider context of the discrimination that the state was perpetrating against its people of color and not the outcomes of the mass actions in the streets.


King, M. L. (1963). Letter From Birmingham Jail. Retrieved from

Levin, J. E., Levin, M. R., & Lincoln, A. (2014). Malice toward none: Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address.

McDonald, D. (2012). Learning to Love Machiavelli: Don MacDonald at TEDxBoston [Video file]. Retrieved from

University of Pennsylvania. (2016). Letter from a Birmingham Jail [King, Jr.]. Retrieved from

Yale Law School. (2008). Second Inaugural Address of Abraham Lincoln. Retrieved from

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