To What Extent Was The Emancipation Proclamation Effective In Abolishing Slavery?

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The 19th century was a significant period in the history of the United States. Various changes were enacted at this time; one such change was the abolishment of slavery. Slavery had taken root in the United States; it was the primary means through which labour had been acquired in the early centuries (Chambers, 73). Moreover, slavery was a lucrative business which explains why the United States civil war with the north did not have any initiative which was aimed at stopping or rather inhibiting slavery. This leaves us with one question, why then was slavery ended? Evidence suggests that majority of the United States citizens including the army were against slavery. However, they did not make any effort to halt the practice. Due to this hidden interest, Lincolns proposition to end slavery received considerable public support. This paper investigates the extent to which the Emancipation Proclamation was effective in abolishing slavery.

A Summary of Evidence

The end of the eightieth century saw a reduction in the slave trade; the United States was begging to integrate and unite after the freedom war that they had been involved in with the British regarding independence. Issues of human rights were becoming important to the people (Smith,, 148). This coincided with the efforts to build the nation; there was much need for labour while at the same time there was a feeling in people that using slaves as labour sources was inhuman and should not form part of the history of the United States. However, what lacked among the people was the actions that were aimed at stopping the practice. The north was particularly more interested in stopping the slave trade; they had formed a movement that stood for the abolition of the slave trade (Berlin, 17). The drawback to efforts to eliminate slave trade was the thought and the mentality in people that the practice would end on its own. Even though the civil war with the north did not have an initial objective that was aimed at stopping the slave trade, the war brought out many ills that were being propagated by the existence of slave trade. The northern people openly expressed their plight at the evil which was reaping deep into their society (Chambers, 73). Their efforts led to widespread campaigns against the vice. However, the efforts were not being felt by the state because the nation still permitted slavery. This led to increased influence and recruitment of individuals by the slave abolition unions. Their efforts resulted in the incorporation of members of state cooperations such as the police; this was witnessed when a Kentucky police officer freed slaves. This was followed by the throw down of arms by various union officers in support of the abolition of slavery.

Because of the escalating tension between the sections that were for the slave trade and those that were against, there was a perceived insecurity of slaves. Many feared that they may become the victim of the two antagonising sections of the public. This was solved by President Abraham Lincoln through his emancipation proposal.

The emancipation proposal was officially declared on the 1st day of January 1863. This was after months of contemplation of the ideas that formed the proposal by Lincoln (Lincoln, 1864). The plan was first proposed to the cabinet of the then president, Abraham Lincoln in the summer of 1863. At the time, the proposal was not entirely for stopping slavery as a technique to solve the inequality issues within the population, but it was presented as a measure against war, this is because Lincoln believed that it could cripple the Confederacy (Smith,, 148). Abraham Lincolns thoughts were that if the slaves that had been held in the southern states were freed, the Confederacy would have reduced power because the support that the fighting army in the field had been receiving from the slaves through the provision of labour will be cut. As per Lincoln, this would significantly hamper the effectiveness of the Confederate war. What was difficult was proving that the government could adequately protect the slaves when they get freed. Concentrated efforts by the unions which were against the practice of slavery led to various contests and on the 22nd day of September 18632, the proclamation of emancipation proposal was undertaken (Gules, 2006). This was after the victory of the Union at the Battle of Antietam.

Evaluation of sources

Lincoln Abraham. Emancipation Proclamation. Law Transition 1963 1862-1864.

This source gives the exact order of events as were published in the Federal Democratic Republic of the United States Gazette. The importance of this publication is that it gives the order of the events that led to the Emancipation Proclamation in chronological order. The years are documented appropriately. The source is legitimate because of the positive peer reviews that it has received (Lincoln, 1864). As per the source, there was an urgent need to end the Confederate war. However, it was challenging to find a way to stop the conflict peacefully or without accruing many costs. The costs could also involve losing human life, therefore as the president, Abraham Lincoln felt that weakening the Confederate army would be the best solution to ending the war, therefore, he found means to do that which was denying them labour support by withdrawing refugees labour from them.

Gules, Allen C. Lincolns Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America. Simon & Schuster, 2006. Print.

This source evaluates the importance of the proclamation of the emancipation proposal to ending slavery and the slave trade. The analysis in the document has primarily centred on the techniques used to protect the slaves after they had been freed and the means through which President Abraham Lincoln utilised in convincing the cabinet to agree with the proposal. The president had to demonstrate that the freeing of the slaves was not the primary objective of the proposal, but a beneficial occurrence that was going to occur in the process of stopping the war with the Confederate (Gules, 2006). Moreover, the president managed to make the cabinet members realise how important the proposal would be in uniting the nation and stopping the formation of more antislavery movements, especially in the north. This was important to the country as it was building after the recently acquired freedom.


A review of the sources explained in the text shows how the proclamation of the emancipation proposal was significant to the end of slavery. The time frame in which the plan was enacted coincides with the time that slavery was abolished. The formation of the abolition movements in the North must have caused pressure on the United States regime to find a solution to settle the northern people. The abolition movements efforts to incorporate state officials such as the police were very significant in ending slavery, more and more people were getting into the unions which supported the end of slavery abolishment.

The reasons presented by President Abraham Lincoln in support of his first presentation of the proposal to the cabinet included an aspect of stopping slavery. This means that ending slavery was very crucial for ensuring existence of peace in the US. This peace could be achieved by ending the war with the Confederate army. Therefore, it means that the Emancipation Proclamation was the key to stopping slavery for it led to freeing of the held slaves in the south and protection of the slaves. In this consideration, it is right to say that the Emancipation Proclamation gave slaves their freedom. Moreover, it kept them safe from any harm both from the Confederates and other discriminating groups that could enslave them.

The United States Congress had prohibited various forms of slavery at the start of the 19th century. However, illegal practices regarding the practice still continued. Moreover, the domestic slave trade was lucrative in the United States because of the high labour demands particular by the cotton industry. Everything seemed well until slave labour began to be utilised in the army, this was primarily from the Confederate army and it gave them enough strength to keep their army at war with the rest of United States (Lincoln, 1864). Therefore, to end the labour supply to Confederate armies, the government had to find a socially responsible solution to do this. Isolating the slaves who were associated with the military and leaving those who were working in other sections would have been discriminatory. Therefore, the withdrawal of slaves from forced labour was carried out collectively, capturing all the slaves who were in different working situations.

The Emancipation Proclamation earmarked the start if various reforms in the United States judiciary and legal systems regarding slaves and slavery. There was an increase in legal responsiveness towards refugees, laws that were discriminating against individuals who were slaves were eliminated. Some changes as a result if the proclamation involved banishment of importation if slaves, this was followed by limitation of slave trade within the nation, and later there were efforts that were aimed at freeing the slaves while those who were involved in employment were supposed to be remunerated for their services (Gules, 2006).

The factors mentioned here all point to the effect of Emancipation Proclamation on the whole subject of the slave trade. The proposal had a negating effect on slavery and this is reflected in the thoughts of Abraham Lincoln about the abolishment of slavery, moreover, it brought to fruition the efforts of many slave abolitionist movements that were present in the nation especially in the north (Young, 5).

In conclusion, the analysis shows that indeed the Emancipation Proclamation ended the slave trade; this is because of the objectives of the proposal and the means with which it was going to achieve these goals. Moreover, even though President Lincoln was more concerned with the ending the war, there are allegations that he had for long formulated the ideas of the proposal while basing them on how to do away with the slave trade. Moreover, the United States had just come out of war with their British colonial masters over the United States freedom and independence. Therefore, as a sovereign nation, the nation had to be socially responsible to its entire people. Additionally, the nation had to operate in a way that was to set it aside in comparison to the British, therefore, creating equality was viewed as a viable option that could yield better results regarding the nations developments.

Works Cited

Berlin, Ira. The Long Emancipation: The Demise of Slavery in the United States. Vol. 17. Harvard University Press, 2015.Chambers Jr, Henry L. "Lincoln, the Emancipation Proclamation, and Executive Power." Md. L. Rev. 73 (2013): 100

Gules, Allen C. Lincolns Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America. Simon & Schuster, 2006. Print.

Lincoln Abraham. Emancipation Proclamation. Law Transition 1963 1862-1864.

Smith, Ted, David A. Somerfield, and David N. Pellow. "EMANCIPATION AND RECONSTRUCTION (UNITED STATES)." Industrialisation in the Modern World: From the Industrial Revolution to the Internet (2013): 148.

Young, Elizabeth D. "Lincoln and the Constitution." Sober and Scroll 1.3 (2015): 5.


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