Why Lincoln Decided to End Slavery

It could be argued that the fall of 1862 was the major turning point in the Civil War.  These events 150 years ago all influenced Lincoln’s decision to move forward with the Emancipation Proclamation, which changed the reason for the War from one partially about slavery and a state’s right to secede, to a war entirely about slavery.

The war was going poorly for the Union in the east. The Union forces were up against the formidable Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, while the Union generals seemed more interested in fighting political battles attacking or defending Lincoln.

After being put on the defense earlier in the year, the confederates pushed out of northern Virginia up into Maryland and eventually surrounded Washington DC.  Meanwhile, the political infighting between Union Generals George B. McClellan and John Pope seemed to distract them from putting up a good defense.  Lincoln needed to quash both of his bickering generals and was able to sideline them by signing the Emancipation Proclomation. At the same time he reorganized the Army under the command of generals Ambrose Burnside and Joseph Hooker.

Author Richard Slotkin discusses all of these events in his new book “The Long Road to Antietam”.  Slotkin was also recently interviewed on the NPR program Fresh Air, listen to the interview here. Check the book out from your public library.

Find out more about any of these people:

  • Abraham Lincoln
  • George B. McClellan
  • John Pope
  • Ambrose Burnside
  • Joseph Hooker
  • Robert E. Lee
  • Stonewall Jackson

And don’t forget to use our History Databases, too.

This post is part of a series related to the One Book, One College selection Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz. Please attend our first event: an open book discussion, TODAY at noon, in the library.


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