Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln and the Dawn of Liberty

by Tonya Bolden

"As we waited for all of America to repent-to repudiate slavery-we wept, we raged,... read more

"As we waited for all of America to repent-to repudiate slavery-we wept, we raged, we prayed. Over beatings and brandings and bullwhippings. Over the rapes. Over families fractured on auction blocks. And then there was all that stolen labor." In a narrative that demands readers connect the politics of the time to the human costs of slavery, Tonya Bolden explores the rocky path Abraham Lincoln walked on the way to issuing the Emancipation Proclamation. Looking at the Constitution's tenets on slavery (although, she notes, the document never uses the word "slave"), at Supreme Court decisions, and at the messy politics surrounding the Civil War, she documents Lincoln's statements and thinking, which changed over time. Bolden reveals he was a man who, when first elected, indicated he had no intent to oppose the 13th Amendment as originally proposed-it would have banned Congress from ever abolishing slavery in states where it already existed. His moral compass shifted with time, but he was always too radical for the pro-slavery states, far too hesitant and lacking in conviction for abolitionists. He was a proponent of freed Blacks emigrating to other countries-an idea that didn't gain much traction. Ultimately, he was a man who, regardless of personal belief, was burdened by trying to keep the nation whole. This arresting, important read is appended by a timeline, glossary, and extensive notes and source documentation. (Age 13 and older)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2014

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