…Lincoln himself knew that his most famous act would not of itself free a single Negro. The second and most damaging point is that “the great emancipator” did not intend for it to free a single Negro, for he carefully, deliberately, studiously excluded all Negroes within “our military reach.”
What Lincoln did – and it was so clever that we ought to stop calling him honest Abe – was to “free” slaves in Confederate-held territory where he couldn’t free them and to leave them in slavery in Union-held territory where he could have freed them.
Bennett points out that the wording and intent of the proclamation was crafted to keep as many slaves as possible in slavery until he could mobilize support for his plan to ship Blacks out of the country. The Proclamation wasn’t the end, but the means to an end – that of freeing the United States of the Negro.
In his first State of the Union Message, Lincoln didn’t mention emancipation, but he mentioned Negro removal and urged that steps be taken for colonizing Blacks freed by Congress or acts of war “at some place, or places, in a climate congenial to them.”
We all know of the Thirteenth Amendment, officially outlawing slavery and involuntary servitude. Bennett recounts two earlier Thirteenth amendments, both supported by Lincoln, neither of which (obviously) successfully amended the Constitution.
The first of these was passed by Congress and sent to the states – ratified by Ohio and Maryland before the process was short-circuited by the firing at Fort Sumter. This amendment would have permanently made America half slave and half free.
The second Thirteenth amendment, proposed by Lincoln but never approved by Congress, was the first of three amendments Lincoln proposed for buying and deporting native-born African-Americans.