The Emancipation Proclamation, which many historians have described as Abraham Lincoln’s turning point, is arguably one of the most controversial instruments in the entire history of the United States. While it failed to achieve its supposedly main agenda, the paper accomplished a lot. According to the Fradin (2008), Lincoln’s main objective was to abolish slavery in those states that had remained defiant all through the American civil war. This was the main issue that the paper raised. However, many scholars have argued that the paper was both a strategy of winning the war and a way of President Lincoln soliciting southern support (Fradin, 2008). This paper seeks to explain why the Emancipation Proclamation failed to close that which it initiated, in light of its deficiencies.
One of the principal deficiencies of the paper is that it did not illegalize slavery, which was by then a definite legal fact in Virginia. Additionally, the provisions of the document were not evenly enforced as Lincoln’s administration ignored the four states that had not yet left the union formally (Lewis, 2006). The states were Kentucky, Missouri, Delaware and Maryland. The exemption of these states gave the paper a political outlook, and made it look as if it was calculated as a way of motivating the union soldiers to invade the rebellious, confederacy states.
Reese (1963) argues that one of the reasons that made the paper fail to close its anticipated objective is the fact that it was characterized by conflicting interests. The scholar argues that, in his speeches, Lincoln had always expressed his desire to preserve the union through the emancipation program. On the contrary, the paper clearly stated that its sole purpose was to put an end to slavery. According to Reese (1963), historians have since described the proclamation as an absolute failure following its inability to achieve its main purpose. Even so, the paper made such accomplishments as motivating the union army and having African Americans join the armed forces.
Legally speaking, the provisions of the proclamation were a product of military inevitability and not at all a product of legal-ethical idealism. In the paper, Lincoln says expressly that he is issuing the emancipation in the capacity of the Commander in-chief. Additionally, the paper violates the principles of constitutional liberty and justice by objectifying the slaves. The deal in the September 22nd 1862 was an offer rather than a legal instrument. The offer was such that if the confederacy states decided to join the union, then they could keep their slaves, but if they continued rebelling, they could face military action forcing them to forego the slaves (Fradin, 2008). Such objectification of a human being is constitutionally illegitimate and violates all the provisions of the Bill Of Rights. In a legal sense, the paper did not abolish slavery, not until the 13th amendment of December 1965.
Fradin, D. B. (2008). The Emancipation Proclamation: Turning Point in U.S History. New York: Marshal Cavendish Corporation
Lewis, R. (2006). The Emancipation Proclamation: Communicate To Motivate. Black History Bulletin, 69 (2), P15-20
Reese, S. (1963). The Emancipation Proclamation. Vital Speeches of the Day, 29 (9), P283