How did he convince the south to legitimize the emancipation proclamation?

  • 2
    By conquering it. – Semaphore Nov 12 '14 at 11:53
  • Are we talking about after the Civil War? – LateralFractal Nov 12 '14 at 11:55
  • 1
    Better questions demonstrate preliminary research and examine their assumptions - such as the fact that the South didn't consider the emancipation proclamation legal, since they felt they were a separate country, and the North didn't question it because it didn't apply to the North. – MCW Nov 12 '14 at 11:56
  • Also check wikipedia which specifies that the proclamation was issued under his authority as the Commander in Chief of US forces. – MCW Nov 12 '14 at 12:53
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    LOL. Mr. Executive Action himself never bothered with such niceties. – Tyler Durden Nov 12 '14 at 17:48

Fairly early in the war Lincoln (actually one of his generals, but he endorsed the measure) took the position that human "property" in a rebellious state could be confiscated by Federal forces upon command, essentially as spoils of war. If the Federal government chose to employ these slaves as labor to help the army, or free them, that was the Federal Government's business.

The Emancipation Proclamation legally was viewed as an extension of this principle. It only applied to slaves in the states that were revolting (thus it didn't apply to Union slave states like West Virginia, Maryland, and Kentucky).

Of course the states in question didn't recognize Federal authority at the time, so in practice this just meant that if the South were to lose the war eventually, all their slaves would be freed. Effectively, it officially made the war a war to end slavery in the South. But it has often been remarked that the proclamation itself didn't free a single slave. At least not initially.

  • I'd also add that after his re-election in 1864 Lincoln strongly urged the passage of the 13th Amendment to end slavery and make any later challenge to this "war measure" irrelevant. – Oldcat Nov 12 '14 at 18:23
  • I was under the impression that 20,000 - 50,000 slaves already in Union custody were freed immediately. – LateralFractal Nov 12 '14 at 21:13
  • @LateralFractal - That's why I said "it has often been remarked". This is one of those situations where you have to pick your level of detail. Most folks think the EP freed all the (4 millionish) slaves. A more accurate view is that is was a positional announcement that didn't free any of them. An even more accurate view is that it probably freed somewhere in the 10's of thousands that happened to be somewhere both covered and under Union control. I dislike answers longer than 4 paragraphs or so, which is why I went at the level I did. – T.E.D. Nov 12 '14 at 22:05

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