Chapter 2 of George McGovern’s Abraham Lincoln explained how Abraham Lincoln was not exactly the same person before he became president as we view him today. He was a Whig Party member who joined the House of Representatives, and though he was antislavery, he wouldn’t consider himself an abolitionist. At times he would fail, like when his compensated emancipation proposal was opposed, and Lincoln would accept his losses. However these failures only made him work harder through his political career. After numerous speeches he gained more national support. As a member of the Republican Party, Lincoln managed to be become elected into the Senate. When he ran for president, the Southern states would surely succeed if he won
Through third person point of view we learn about Lincoln’s early political while McGovern provides some quotes from Lincoln himself as well a speech. McGovern wanted to show that Abraham Lincoln wasn’t necessarily the savior of slaves like he is seen as. Before the war he only was interested in stopping the spread of slavery, not ending it. A voice that was missing was the voice of anyone who had helped Lincoln in his early political career.
In class we were put into groups of 3 and given 8 adjectives and were told to order them according to how well we thought they described Abraham Lincoln. Amongst these adjectives were partisan, pragmatic, humble, failure, compromiser, abolitionist, religious accepting. Our groups then shared why they had certain adjectives at the top and bottom, and this really helped to understand how Lincoln really was before his presidency.
One of the questions that was discussed in class was who were the Know-Nothings? We came to the conclusion that they were a political party that disliked foreigners and Catholics. Another question that was asked in class was why was Abraham Lincoln racist if he was antislavery? We came to the conclusion that he wasn’t necessarily a racist according definition, and he wasn’t for equality, he just thought that the western territories shouldn’t adopt the institution of slavery.
One question that still remains is what made him change is stance on being just wanting to stop the spread of slavery to wanting to end it? Even though he fails so often, what pushes him to further his own political career?