If one wishes to understand the causes of the Civil War and the development that led to the Emancipation Proclamation, it is imperative to understand the role of slavery in the nineteenth-century United States. One possible way of preparing students for this episode in American history is by viewing a movie that deals with the topic of slavery both from an emotional and a legal point of view. The movie Amistad includes both aspects.
The life of Abraham Lincoln coincided with dramatic societal transformations that shaped the future of the United States. In the center of these developments stood the question whether that nation could continue to grow with the system of slavery or not. Inherently linked to an issue that almost dissolved the nation was the problem of racism and the future of race relations after emancipation. To examine Lincoln’s attitudes on slavery and race opens a window for us to look at his own struggles concerning these issues, but at the same time at the political and cultural contentions at large of a nation that he helped to save as President during the American Civil War. His legacy as the Great Emancipator, liberating over four million slaves, has generated a controversial debate on Lincoln’s position towards race and racism.