The not destroy the federal government’s ability to act

The
relationship between Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass has strongly
impacted issues on race and slavery. Both men used their oratorical and written
skills to spread their ideas on these issues presented in America. Douglass,
being a freed slave, dedicated his time to the abolition of slavery in America.

He spoke at various events and even published antislavery newspapers. Douglass
was passionate about the ideas he spread and drew his emotions to connect with
the audience. Abraham Lincoln, on the other hand, used logic to persuade his audience.

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Lincoln’s
election had a great influence to the Civil War, the thirteenth amendment and
emancipation. However, before the emancipation proclamation, Douglass opposed
the policies of Lincoln to get him to establish a concrete emancipation law.

Before Douglass and Lincoln personally met, their relationship was defined by their
parallel in public addresses, papers, and letters. During the Civil War, their
relationship shifted according to Lincoln’s various policies. Douglass’ feelings towards
Lincoln changed from attentive support in 1860, to complete opposition of
ideals in 1861, and finally appreciation in 1863. Ultimately, the war and the
end of American slavery influenced the relationship between these two to become
more profound and hold genuine respect for each other.

Douglass
incorporated moral suasion and political influence on his cause; he was
insistent on working within the political system to abolish slavery. He believed
that “the
Constitution was an antislavery document that virtually commanded action
against slavery wherever it existed” (Oakes, 109). Douglass stood by the
belief that the constitution opposed slavery, and it promoted the idea of
equality and freedom, while Lincoln argued that “the founding compromises limited but did
not destroy the federal government’s ability to act against slavery … how much he
hated slavery, the Constitution recognized it in the states where it already
existed”
(Oakes, 109). Their ideas on the constitution strongly disagreed with one
another. Lincoln believed that the constitution was not enough to oppose
slavery because the founding fathers took slavery into consideration while
writing the constitution by creating the Union. Douglass “considered his
argument both constitutionally implausible and morally repugnant” (Oakes, 109). Douglass
refused to believe that the constitution did not hold any power in acting
against slavery. However, both men admired the founding fathers. They believed
that they laid the foundations of equality.

Furthermore,
Lincoln’s method of ending slavery frustrated Douglass. Douglass insisted that “there were many ‘right’ ways to oppose
slavery”
(Oakes, 104). He opposed Lincoln’s “way” to oppose slavery. Oakes claimed that “All that political
pressures operating on Abraham Lincoln compelled him to separate racial
equality from slavery. Everything in Frederick Douglass’s experience
convinced him that this was impossible” (Oakes, 111). Lincoln believed that he
would gain more followers by separating racial equality from slavery, but
Douglass argued that it was impossible and racial discrimination was the “grand cause” (Oakes, 112) of
slavery. Oakes even questions if Lincoln was truly racist because Lincoln
publicly stated that he opposed the equality of African Americans. Lincoln even
stated, “I
will say then that I am not, nor have ever been in favor of bringing about in
any way the social and political equality of the white and black races” (Oakes, 122).

Lincoln
was tactful when it came to gain the attention of democrats. According to
Oakes, “He
accepted racial discrimination because that was what most whites wanted, and in
a democratic society such deeply held prejudices cannot be easily disregarded” (Oakes, 127). This
is where Douglass and Lincoln strongly differed. He cared more about tactics, rather
than emotions; he believed that “passionate men lost control of themselves” (Oakes, 92). He
found ways that would benefit his popularity. Oakes claimed that “maybe strategic
racism was necessary to get slavery, and only slavery, onto the table” (Oakes, 130). Oakes
put a lot of emphasis on only slavery because that was what Lincoln solely
wanted to focus on. Nonetheless, Douglass simply did not like his method. He
stood by the belief that “someone who opposed slavery must also be an opponent of
racial inequality” (Oakes, 130). Douglass urged that racial inequality went
hand in hand with slavery. This led to Douglass’ belief that Lincoln was not “a serious
opponent of slavery” (Oakes, 130), and that he could not support him at all.