Abraham Lincoln, Race, and the Fragile Republic
Abraham Lincoln, Race, and the Fragile Republic

This discussion will explore how Lincoln dealt with the role that race and slavery played in the development of self-government in antebellum America. Curiously, he believed that shaping public opinion among white northerners was more urgent than trying to change the minds of slaveholding southerners. In particular, Lincoln thought that Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas posed the greatest threat to the ultimate demise of slavery because of his "insidious" doctrine of popular sovereignty." For slavery to become legal in all the states would not require northern acceptance of the "positive good" of slavery; instead, simply persuade white northerners not to care what happened to black people in the federal territories, as the doctrine of popular sovereignty taught. Let local white settlers decide if they would permit the enslavement of black people, without interference from Congress, and it would soon become legal throughout the nation. Unlike Stephen Douglas, an outspoken white supremacist, Lincoln showed noble leadership by arguing that the principles of the Declaration of Independence should inform the constitutional practice of the nation, principles he believed applied to all people regardless of race.  

In response to Arizona State University President Michael Crow's call to address recent events across America and the civic crisis of conscience they provoked, the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership proposes to lead a program of discussion, learning, and action for a renewal of our common pledge to respect and protect the equal rights of all Americans to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
To this end, the theme of this year's "The Civic Discourse Project" will address Race, Justice, and Leadership in America in a virtual series. Each webinar will be dedicated to leaders of thought and action, and will include discussion of the subject of slavery and the founding, the thought of Frederick Douglass, and Lincoln and Slavery, throughout the Fall 2020 semester.
Lucas Morel is Professor of Politics and Head of the Politics Department at Washington and Lee University. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from Claremont Graduate University, and previously taught at John Brown University and the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville. Dr. Morel also teaches in the Master’s Program in American History and Government at Ashland University in Ohio. He is the author of Lincoln’s Sacred Effort: Defining Religion’s Role in American Self-Government and editor of Lincoln and Liberty: Wisdom for the Ages. He is also editor of Ralph Ellison and the Raft of Hope: A Political Companion to “Invisible Man” and co-editor of The New Territory: Ralph Ellison and the Twenty-First Century. He is currently completing a book on Lincoln and the American Founding.
Date: Monday, November 16, 2020
Time: 5 to 6 p.m. (Arizona MST)
Location: Zoom (connectivity details provided upon registration)

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