Facing heat from both parties for his far reaching deficit-reduction plan, today President Obama urged legislators to take a page out of history and follow Abraham Lincoln’s example of compromise in the Emancipation Proclamation.“This notion that somehow if you're responsible and you compromise, that somehow you're giving up your convictions — that's absolutely not true,” the president said at a University of Maryland town hall.
“This notion that somehow if you're responsible and you compromise, that somehow you're giving up your convictions — that's absolutely not true,” the president said at a University of Maryland town hall.
While the proclamation declared slaves who were in areas that had rebelled against the Union to be free, Lincoln exempted five slave states from the terms of the agreement.
The basis for the proclamation was its utility as a war measure and Lincoln excluded several areas on the basis that they were not at war against the U.S. because they remained loyal to the Union.
“Now think about that,” Obama said. “The Great Emancipator was making a compromise in the Emancipation Proclamation because he thought it was necessary in terms of advancing the goals of preserving the Union and winning the war.”
With the August 2nd deadline to default rapidly approaching, Obama asked if Lincoln can do it, why can’t Congress?
“So, you know what? If Abraham Lincoln could make some compromises as part of governance, then surely we can make some compromises when it comes handling our budget,” Obama said.
Preeminent Civil War historian James McPherson agrees with the president’s comparison. “It fits,” McPherson told ABC. “The Emancipation Proclamation was indeed a partial measure, but a crucial step toward an ultimate complete success of ending slavery… Lincoln made a lot of compromises on other issues too. In fact, he was famous for knowing the art of the possible.”
Moreover, McPherson said that referencing Lincoln is a smart political move by the president.
“That’s the best way to get things done I think,” he said. “Invoke Lincoln on your side, and you’re a long ways toward success.”