The Differences between Lincoln and Douglas

2021-05-13 02:29:36
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Douglass espoused the principle of popular sovereignty in the states, arguing that the principle was essential for political freedom not only in the US but also in other parts of the world (Jaffa 29; Foner 487). In the view of Douglass, the frequent interference of the Federal government in the internal affairs of the Southern States was tantamount to an imposition of limitations on the liberty of the Men of the South to do as they pleased while pursuing economic prosperity and happiness (Jaffa 28-33). On the other hand, Lincoln espoused the principle of national unity as advanced by the Federal government. According to Lincoln, the states were territorial constituents of the United States and thus all governance issues must be handled in the best interest of the Union and not those of the territories. Unlike Douglass, Lincoln did not view the states as loose appendages of the Union. Rather, he considered the territories to be part of the Union, and therefore any attempt to propagate actions that were against the general rules of the Constitution was a recipe for the disintegration of the Union (Foner 496-502)

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Lincoln espoused a free society where individuals are allowed to pursue their happiness without the interference of fellow men. Foner (496) observes that Lincoln opposed the institution of slavery because it was against the principles of Republicanism. In Lincolns interpretation, the principles of the Republic did not allow any man to enslave another as such actions contravened the natural freedoms that God granted humankind. Conversely, Douglass believed that the principles of republicanism allowed the states to pursue the self-governing objectives, including the enslavement of the Negro because slavery was not wrong as black people were creatures inferior to the Whiteman. In the view of Douglass, the Negro was not entitled to the treatment of whites because God created him inferior and subjecting the blacks to slavery was part of their destiny, and did not constitute the violation of the universal rights of man (Foner 467-68)

The leaders also held differences about freedom of consent. Lincoln held that subjecting human beings to bondage violated the fundamental freedom of giving consent as all men were born free from the manipulation of others for self-gain. That no man was good enough to hold another without free consent. In this regard, he acknowledges the differences between the blacks and whites but asserts that the color and the supposed intellectual superiority of the whites could not provide enough reason for the holding of the black people against their consent. In contrast, Douglas held that no group of free men was good enough to dictate other communities in regards to the efforts to exercise liberty (Foner 496)

Furthermore, Douglass held that declaration of the rights of man at independence did not include the Negros. This position alludes to the perpetual enslavement of black people because the abolition of such practice would be a gross violation of the unalienable rights of the whites. In this respect, he supported the Supreme Courts decision on Dred Scotts case which ruled that blacks were not US citizens. Contrary to Douglas, Lincoln held that the Declaration of Independence included all peoples, and the issue of slavery would end some day as evidenced in his opposition to the Dred Scott decision (Foner 492-95)

Differences between the South and the North

The majority of the South embraced enslavement of Negros for economic purposes. The slaves worked in the plantations of white farmers and formed an integral part of the livelihoods of white Southerners. This made the South support the Westward expansion of the institution of slavery. The southerners viewed saw the barring slavery in the territory acquired from Mexico seemed a violation of their rights as members of the Union(Foner 483).The North, on the other hand, did not espouse slavery because the economic activities of the North were founded on hired labor and the institution violated the liberties of blacks. The opposition to the expansion of slavery in territories was based on the idea that restriction of the expansion of slavery would weaken the institution and lead to its eventual abolition (481-83)

The North advocated for the freedom of black people of the South because the proponents believed that enslavement of blacks entailed the violation of the fundamental rights such as liberty. On the other hand, the South farmers did not consider the confinement of slaves in the plantation farms as a violation of the rights and freedoms of the black people. In this respect, the Negros in the South suffered restricted movements and limited interactions with family members as a lot of time was spent in white plantations (Foner 481-88)

The black people of the North received compensation for labor offered in manufacturing firms whereas the South practiced a form of economic system where the plantation owners offered meager compensation to slaves that were not adequate to feed the families of slaves. In this regard, the North advocated for the economic and social empowerment of black people through education and participation in the political processes. This position of the Northerners contrasted that of the South who felt that empowering slaves to read and write, vote, and aspire for equality was a violation of the liberty of the whites (Foner 481-88)

The northerners were strong proponents of the free labor ideology while the Southerners advocated for forced labor as provided by the slaves. Due to the differing economic activities between the regions, the northerners saw slavery posing more threats to the economic independence of all Americans because it degraded blacks, limited the economic progress of the poor whites as well as encouraged aristocracy; a practice that caused economic inequalities. They saw slavery as unfair benefits the idle aristocrats obtained from forced labor (Foner 490).The southerners saw forced labor as an unalienable right that was essential in achieving economic freedom. The efforts by the North to promote free labor went against the values and interests of the plantation owners as such efforts eroded the liberties of the whites that were granted by God (Foner 490-91)

Differences between the Factory Owner and the Planter

The factory owner offered the black people of the North compensation for labor provided by manufacturing firms in the form of wages. Although the wages were exploitative, they gave the black people an opportunity to access economic opportunities compared to their counterparts in the South. Unlike the factory-owner, the planter in the South practiced a form of economic system where the plantation owners offered meager compensation to slaves that were not adequate to feed the families of slaves (490-93)

The wages that were offered by the factory owner enabled the African-Americans to rent houses and live a life that was not under the control of the factory owners. These conditions enabled black people to explore other avenues of generating incomes that improved their lives. Some of these compensation packages were often used by the slaveholders of the South to justify the institution of slavery with the argument that they compensated the Negro better than the heartless factory owners in the North. In contrast, black people in the South lived in communal enclaves that were found in the plantations of the white farmers (465-77). These areas were strictly observed by the masters whose compensation was offered regarding food and clothes and shelters within the plantation farms (467-76)

Due to the increased government presence in the economic affairs of the North, the factory owner experienced compensation issues due to worker strikes that demanded better working conditions and better pay from the plant owners. The observance of labor practices made factory owners to turn to the South for cheap labor. The work scenarios in the North contrasted with the practices of the planters who obtained forced labor from slaves. Revolts and strikes of slaves were crushed with extreme viciousness. The little government presence in the activities of the plantations owners meant that the masters had full liberty with the use of slaves (473-77)

The planter considered liberty as the freedom to do as they pleased with the slaves. The pursuit of liberty entailed using slave labor to exploit resources for economic gains. These practices conflicted with those of the factory-owner in the North where labor was hired on a free will, and the employers recognized the rights of the workers. The factory owners considered the pursuit of practices that promoted the sustainability of their business part of the liberties of the employees (467-76)

Works Cited

Foner, Eric. Give Me Liberty: An American History. New York: W.W. Norton & Co, 2014. Print.

Jaffa, Harry V. Crisis of the House Divided: An Interpretation of the Issues in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates. Garden City: Doubleday, 1959. Print.

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