Abraham Lincoln is often referred to as “The Great Emancipator” and yet, he did not publicly call for emancipation throughout his entire life. Lincoln began his public career by claiming that he was “antislavery” — against slavery's expansion, but not calling for immediate emancipation. However, the man who began as “antislavery” eventually issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves in those states that were in rebellion. He vigorously supported the 13th Amendment which abolished slavery throughout the United States, and, in the last speech of his life, he recommended extending the vote to African Americans. This brief study of Lincoln's writings on slavery contains examples of Lincoln's views on slavery. It also shows one of his greatest strengths: his ability to change as it relates to his public stance on slavery.
At the age of 28, while serving in the Illinois General Assembly, Lincoln made one of his first public declarations against slavery.
The following protest was presented to the House, which was read and ordered to be spread on the journals, to wit:
“Resolutions upon the subject of domestic slavery having passed both branches of the General Assembly at its present session, the undersigned hereby protest against the passage of the same.
They believe that the institution of slavery is founded on both injustice and bad policy; but that the promulgation of abolition doctrines tends rather to increase than to abate its evils.
They believe that the Congress of the United States has no power, under the constitution, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the different States.
They believe that the Congress of the United States has the power, under the constitution, to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia; but that that power ought not to be exercised unless at the request of the people of said District.
The difference between these opinions and those contained in the said resolutions, is their reason for entering this protest.”
Representatives from the county of Sangamon
More here. (Note: At least one daily post throughout the month of February will be devoted to African American History Month)