By “freeing” the slaves in the Confederate States, Lincoln encouraged Northern blacks to contribute to the war effort. As Thomas Buckner put it, the blacks were “marching off to the call of the government as if they were sharing all the blessings of the most favored citizens” (Document F).
Although the Emancipation Proclamation itself did not legally free any slaves in the Confederacy, it eventually encouraged 179,000 blacks to serve as soldiers in the U. Such was the dedication and level of commitment the black soldiers felt for the cause of the war.
Lincoln realized this in 1862 when he said that “slavery is the root of the rebellion” (Document B).
By issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln hoped that slaves living on Southern plantations would revolt against their masters, thereby “…weaken[ing] the rebels by drawing off their labor supply” (Document B).
As Lincoln hoped, the Proclamation turned the foreign popular opinion in the favor of the Union and its new anti-slavery cause.
This shift in war goals ended any hope that the Confederacy had of receiving political and financial support from anti-slavery countries like France or Britain.
As President of the United States, Lincoln upheld his office by keeping the preservation of the Union as his top goal throughout the Civil War. Although Lincoln faced some opposition from members of the Democratic Party, who refused to “fight to free negroes” (Document E), he knew the Union’s need for soldiers was becoming desperate.
Lincoln also freed the slaves to benefit the Union in another important way. This was the Union’s last desperate attempt at recruiting soldiers before it was finally forced to issue the Conscription Act in 1863.
In these Documents, Lincoln once again demonstrates the importance he places on preserving the Union above all else.
Lincoln was a political genius because of the way he was able to exploit the Emancipation Proclamation and the freeing of the slaves to work for the Union in so many differing and crucial ways.