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The Importance Of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation

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Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation is one of the most revered documents in United States history. In its time, the document effectively freed the slaves but also marked the first step in creating an America with racial equality. Therefore, because of its significance in shaping the ideals of the United States, many people assume that future leaders of the nation would view the Emancipation Proclamation in the same way. However, in looking at speeches made by Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, and Barack Obama during some of the most notable time periods in United States history, it becomes evident that presidents did not approach Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in the same way. Instead, circumstances surrounding each particular administration …show more content…
He states “The proclamation became necessary to hold his remaining supporters and to forestall English Recognition of the Confederacy” (Hofstadter 168-169). Despite the Proclamation’s glory that exists today, Hofstadter argued that the political component played an integral role in Lincoln’s decision to pass the Emancipation Proclamation. While today we see Lincoln’s Emancipation as a heroic act of morality, we must not let that cloud our vision of the impact that war measures had on Lincoln’s decision to pass the Emancipation Proclamation. I wholeheartedly support Hofstadter’s argument and believe that the complicated nature of the Emancipation Proclamation lends well to my argument that the future interpretations are also more complicated than they might seem upon first glance. In the same way that the circumstances surrounding Lincoln’s presidency such as battle victories and English recognition of the Confederacy impacted his decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, the context of future presidencies also affected the way certain president's viewed the …show more content…
While I agree that future presidents all possess a positive attitude towards the Emancipation Proclamation, I argue that the way they view its significance varies. First, it is unrealistic to assume that a uniform opinion exists about anything, especially when it comes to politics. Politicians form their own views based on a number of factors such as upbringing, age, religion, and present condition of the nation. Therefore, as times change for America, perspectives also change. No president has lived the same life as another, thus while there may be similarities in opinions, complete uniformity does not exist. How can Barack Obama be expected to have the same social values as Thomas Jefferson when they lived in completely different Americas? The same principle applies to presidential perspectives on Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. Therefore, in my paper I will examine the periods of the Great Depression, the Civil Rights Era, and the Great Recession and how these different America’s shaped the presidents’ attitudes regarding the Emancipation Proclamation. A number of factors affect one president’s perspective that may not have been applicable to another’s due solely to the era during which they lived. I do not intend to argue that any president disputes the document’s significance.

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