Politics.Did Abraham Lincoln know how to play the system? There was a perception that Lincoln intentionally crafted his speeches in order to gain his way into power. Initially, Lincoln discusses this idea of mob law. A way in which groups of people do not follow the law in place and instead become the law. Lincoln states, “Accounts of outrages committed by mobs, form every-day news of the times. They have pervaded the country…” (Lincoln, 286). He illustrates that America is in a bit of a predicament, citizens are breaking the law and creating their own type of justice. Whether it be hanging the gamblers or burning the murderer, citizens were the judges and executioners. Lincoln claims that if the U.S. citizens did not follow the laws and allow the judiciary system to serve justice, then a precedent will be set leading to a domino effect. Lincoln wants people to follow laws and create change through the system rather than taking the law into their own hands. He goes so far and say, “-let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and tear the character of his own, and his children’s liberty.” (288). This seems to be a plausible standpoint. That is why the Founding Fathers created the Constitution. The people can create change through government in order to achieve righteousness. I do not disagree with that belief, but did Lincoln?

Lincoln later makes speeches regarding equality of people. After the Dred Scott decision Lincoln’s anger is expressed by stating, “He finds the Republicans insisting that the Declaration of Independence includes all men, black as well as white, and forthwith he boldly denies that it includes negros at all…” (291). He wants the system to change and give rights to slaves, but he clearly supported the Fugitive Slave Act during his inaugural speech. According to Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), “The Fugitive Slave Act required citizens to assist in the recovery of fugitive slaves. It denied a fugitive’s right to a jury trial. (Cases would instead be handled by special commissioners — commissioners who would be paid $5 if an alleged fugitive were released and $10 if he or she were sent away with the claimant.) The act called for changes in filing for a claim, making the process easier for slaveowners. Also, according to the act, there would be more federal officials responsible for enforcing the law.” I began to question this obvious contradiction. Why would Lincoln call for equality, but enforce this law? Was he merely doing his job as the President? His actions would later show that he would stand up for equality of men, but he did this through war. He did not go through the system as he earlier preached. Did he simply ask people to follow the laws just to get into office so he can have the power to abolish laws he wanted to?

I see him as a politician that got into office. I do not believe he was an unjust man. Many people claim he is the greatest president in American history. While I do not entirely disagree, I do see the influence he has had on politicians. Many get elected through a political platform and many do not act the way they promised. Lincoln tells Americans to follow laws, but he goes to war to change them. Can we really say give him the title “Honest Abe”?

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1 Response to THE POLITICIAN

  1. fern1007 says:

    This post did a great job question a man that most American’s would not even think to question. Lincoln has been so lionized that any questioning of his motives is seen as un-American. This lionization actually does a disservice to Lincoln. He was a great man, but he did play politics, and he also made some dubious statements about Black men. However, this just shows that Lincoln was a man just like any other. We are all deeply flawed individuals, yet we each have the ability to do great things with our lives.
    It’s blog posts like yours that help us reevaluate our historical heroes.
    Thank you.

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