- ›› Eras and Sub-Eras : African Americans and Emancipation
In 1880, Osborn Oldroyd invited Frederick Douglass to write something for a collection of tributes to Abraham Lincoln, published two years later as The Lincoln Memorial: Album-Immortelles. Douglass was uncharacteristically brief, but in a mere sixty-eight words he captured many of the elements of character that he believed made Lincoln “a great man.” Lincoln was tender but strong, patient, a man of broad sympathies, and above all a patriot. At once unpretentious and impressive, Lincoln was, to Douglass, “one of the noblest wisest and best men I ever knew.”
From long before the United States claimed its independence through revolution or established its governmental structure based on its grand Constitution, the contradiction of a freedom-loving people tolerating and profiting from depriving their fellow human beings of freedom was central to any understanding of the nation’s formation.
Lincoln’s presidential “war powers” only gave him authority to reach slaves in rebel-held territory. Above all, Lincoln worried about the federal courts, which were reluctant to recognize any such presidential war powers. The only way to make emancipation stick, and to cleanse the nation entirely from slavery, was to amend the Constitution.
Glossary Term – Event
The Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, granting African American men the right to vote.