Emancipation Proclamation

Tim Macko Feb 9, 2000
Hist 253
Paper 1
In Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men, by Eric Foner, a new political party of the
period of the mid-1800’s is examined. This was a party that had the partnership of the
President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. It was not only his beliefs but the
beliefs of this political party, the republican party, that helped build tension into what
would become the Civil War. It was founded as a pro-active party, a party of doers, not
sayers. They wanted people to act on behalf of their beliefs and make a change in the
world.
Northern society was based on the idea of free labor. That a man could make
himself in society by working hard. He could than climb the social ladder. The idea of
a “self-made” man was what our country was founded on. The idea that any man can
climb from nothing to be a prominent member of society. It was this working, middle
class that republicans believed was the backbone, the “defense” of American society.
“Under every form of government there is middle class, neither rich nor poor, in which
is concentrated the chief enterprise of the country.”1
Democracy is the foundation of republicanism. To uphold the ideas and of basic
democracy; freedom, social mobility, and free labor; these are the ideas that
republicanism held as their own. It was these protestant ideas that controlled northern
society. It was this northern society, controlled by rich industrialists, that did not
believe in slavery. The concept of free labor had swept clear across the New England
states, they believed that the south’s economy struggled because of their use of slavery.
It supported laziness, a man did not have to work as hard if he had slaves working for
him. The north believed that men held their futures in their own “right arm.” It was the
hard work ethic that created a man, and increased his wealth. This wealth he creates
would stimulate economic growth and therefore aid societal well-being. Hard work,
social mobility, that is what created a strong economy, not slave labor.2
Northern society was the prime example of the social system the south wanted to
create, but the south was the antithesis of this ideology. The two regions had
considerably different economic and political ideas, and they were both heading in
different directions economically. While the northern economy dealt with poverty
through its idea of westward expansion, the south did nothing about this. Its poverty
seemed to grow, and it was becoming evident to the republican leaders that slavery just
did not work.3
“Desolate”, “polluted”, that is how the northern republicans described the south.
They blamed it all on slavery. There was no middle class, no working class. It is this
class that creates society. The workers who push industry along. They spend money,
create money, and energize the economy. Without this middle class a society can not
function.
The middle class of the north desired change. They desired a better status in
society. It was a motivated social class. The southern laborers had grown lazy. They
were complacent in their lives. They did not crave social mobility. Happy with a
lifestyle thrust upon them by birth, they lived impoverished. They had not a care in the
world. They had grown up with slaves doing the brunt of the work and now were
paying the price of years of laziness.
The republican leaders of society began to recognize greatly the troubles that the
south was experiencing. These leaders began to push abolitionist ideas upon the south.
Not only that, but they began to push a “northern” society into the south. Northern
leaders than began to push their sights west. This was a major instigator in the Civil
War. The south did not like that the north seemingly ran the country. It was believed
that the west was the new heart, the future, of American society.4 By turning the west
republican and anti-slavery, the northern ideology would reign supreme and the
southern ideology would fall by the wayside. Ethnocentrically than became a major
factor in the argument of the south, but with republicans with northern ideas, there
battle was futile.
The south could not find a way to concretely voice their opinions. The argue for
slavery was a knock on the northern ideas of free trade, “every man for himself.”5 The
argument was that it lauded greed and fights between the classes. It created competition
in society. It was what was believed to be the beginnings of a materialistic society in
America. This was not welcomed by the southerners. By the beginning of the 1860’s a
north south division had been created. A division created on ideologies of free trade,
slavery and social classes. A civil war was on the horizon.
Word Count: 804

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