Lincoln replied,"If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that."
As it turned out, Lincoln first freed some and others alone. He later freed them all.
This clarity of purpose and policy showed what a great leader he was. His overarching purpose was to save the Union. All else became ancillary to that central goal. Perhaps the war gave him that clarity.
Who knows if could have maintained that focus if he had lived? Would full citizenship for the former slaves been his central purpose after the war?
That is one of history what-ifs, so tantalizing yet elusive.
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