Prior to and during the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860, slavery was a major issue in the United States. From 1830-1850 (also known as the Era of Reform) cotton became the center of America’s economy. The more cotton that was grown, the more slave labor was needed to pick it. This drew a lot of attention to slaves and their human rights. Many anti-slavery societies were formed and slavery soon became a major issue. By 1860, slavery became the center of attention in the US.
You either lived in a slave state or a free state, owned slaves or were protesting against it. The election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 was the climax of the issue of slavery. Since he had proposed to forbid the extension of slavery in new territories, seven of the slave states seceded from the Union and established there own Confederacy. They were prepared to fight for their rights to own slaves. This caused a Civil War. So this leaves one question- should the ending of slavery been a goal of the Lincoln administration?
The Grolier Encyclopedia defines slavery as “a societal institution based on the ownership, dominance and exploitation of one human by being another human’s property. ” There is proof that slaves xisted as far back as 4th millennium bc. The first slaves to exist in the US where in 1680 in Jamestown, VA. In 1860 there where 14 slave states in the US and 15 free states. Slaves in the 1860’s were used for doing laborious work on plantations, often picking/growing crops, they were also used as domestic servants.
They often received a shelter ,of some sort, to live in, clothes, food and plenty of resting time. They were more often then not treated with the highest respect from their owners as they were valuable property and only were beaten or whipped as a punishment. Because of the South’s method f “cash-crop farming”, slaves were needed to maintain large plantations growing crops. In a sense, the South needed slaves to help grow crops to trade with the North. Farming was the only thing the South could do to make money.
Instead of ending slavery altogether, he could have passed laws pertaining to the owning and treatment of slaves. Since most people opposing slavery argued that it was immoral and unconstitutional, he could have passed laws limiting the amount of work a slave could do, setting a minimum amount of food that a slave could receive and a minimum wage. Lincoln could have also made it llegal to punish a slave by physical abuse. Another point to look at is if all the slaves were freed, where would they go?
Most slave families were large, with 3-8 children. Most slaves never owned personal possessions, had hardly any money, and there only home was the place where the worked. Freeing the slaves would have left millions of people homeless with children to take care of. Most would have died of disease, hunger, being cold, or would have been arrested for stealing food to feed themselves. Lincoln should have passed laws guaranteeing the children of slaves to be free. This would have allowed the slaves to prevent their hildren from being homeless and poor.
The slaves could have saved money that they earned being a slave for their children or the government could have issued checks to help the children of slaves be free with a home and able to get a descent job. In conclusion, the South saw the ending of slavery as an economic disaster and in fact the freeing of slaves would leave the slaves with nothing but their freedom. Freedom to go without food and shelter. Lincoln should have compromised by passing laws to insure decent treatment of slaves currently owned in the South and insuring that the next generation of African-Americans should be born free.