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Lincoln’s Evolving Thoughts On Slavery, And Freedom

“Lincoln said during the Civil War that he had always seen slavery as unjust. He said he couldn’t remember when he didn’t think that way — and there’s no reason to doubt the accuracy or sincerity of that statement,” explains historian Eric Foner. “The problem arises with the next question: What do you do with slavery, given that it’s unjust? Lincoln took a very long time to try to figure out exactly what steps ought to be taken.”

Foner traces the evolution of Lincoln’s thoughts on slavery in The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery. He explains how Lincoln’s changing thoughts about slavery — and the role of freed slaves — mirrored America’s own transformation.

Foner is always a splendid interview (38 minutes)

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