Summary Of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation

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Allen Guelzo and Vincent Harding approached Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the eventual abolition of slavery from two very different viewpoints. The major disagreement between them is whether the slaves freed themselves, or Abraham Lincoln and his Emancipation Proclamation freed them. Harding argued the former view, Guelzo took the later. When these essays are compared side by side Guelzo’s is stronger because, unlike Harding, he was able to keep his own views of American race relations out of the essay and presented an argument that was based on more than emotion.
Allen Guelzo’s Thesis was centered around the idea that Lincoln viewed emancipation as “a goal to be achieved through prudential means, so that worthwhile consequences might result.” He argued that every gradual step Lincoln took towards the abolition of slavery was done to “balance the integrity of ends with the integrity of means,” to accomplish this while still placing the constitution above all of his personal opinions. Guelzo then presented and answered four questions that he believed arose as a result of his prudence argument; why is the language of the Proclamation bland, did the Proclamation actually do anything, did the slaves free themselves, and finally did Lincoln issue the Proclamation to only to prevent European intervention or inflate Union morale? In response to the first, Guelzo makes the point that the Proclamation was a legal document, and that “every syllable was liable to… legal
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