Lincoln, like many abolitionists leading up to the Civil War, abhorred slavery, but as far as empathy for African-Americans, that's about where it ended. The war began as a means of preserving the Union while blocking slavery in newly admitted states and territories. Lincoln had no initial plans to free the slaves and in fact would have accepted slavery in the existing southern states if that's what it took to keep the Union together. In other words, he was willing to punt the problem down the road if necessary.
Obviously, as president his views changed and emancipation moved slowly to the forefront. But his stance on equality in all aspects of life did not change. He firmly did not believe whites and blacks were equal, or that they could ever be equal. He believed as did the majority of whites that their race was superior over the African race.
Ronald White Jr., in his substantial biography titled A. Lincoln (Random House 2009), told of Lincoln's views on colonization rather than the two races learning to live and work together. This was a similar view to that of Thomas Jefferson, a slave owner who expressed his concern that slavery would eventually destroy our nation and the best solution was to relocate anyone with African blood to an island in the Caribbean or to Central America. Rather than simply try to explain what White wrote about Lincoln and what the president said, here's an excerpt from the book (with my highlights):
|A. Lincoln: A Biography by Ronald C. White, Jr. (2009)|
|The Soul of America: The Battle for our Better Angels, Jon Meacham (2018)|
|Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow, |
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (2019)
|White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide, Carol Anderson (2016)|
But in Douglass’s view, Lincoln backslid after issuing the proclamation. Just as the President had seemed too slow in 1862 to embrace emancipation, he seemed similarly tardy in 1864 to embrace equal rights for freed slaves. For a time Douglass even supported efforts to replace Lincoln with a more radical Republican candidate for president in the election of 1864.