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Copyright (c) 2007 Howard University School of Law
Howard Law Journal

ARTICLE: The Emancipation Proclamation Unveiled: A Reply to Professor Guelzo

Winter, 2007

50 How. L.J. 417


Robert Fabrikant*


Contrary to Professor Guelzo's surmise, I believe that Abraham Lincoln is the greatest of our Presidents. His talent was surpassed only by his effectiveness. The Civil War would not have been won if Lincoln was not the President. This leader extraordinaire, however, was not the Great Emancipator.

Surely, Lincoln played an indispensable role in the emancipatory process, but his overall contribution to emancipation was overshadowed by the Contrabands and the Civil War Congress. Lincoln's patent disdain for Blacks precluded a humanitarian motivation in his decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. Standing alone, this disqualifies him from the lofty title of the "Great Emancipator," and nothing in Professor Guelzo's article disproves this conclusion, nor my many supporting arguments.

Professor Guelzo is a renowned Lincoln scholar. He wants us to believe that criticizing Lincoln is in vogue, but it is Lincoln's acolytes who own the field of play. Guelzo's Lincoln Prize for his 2004 book Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in the United States demonstrates my assertion. The book, which deifies Lincoln, is based almost as much on fiction as it is on fact. 1

Professor Guelzo makes many criticisms of my article, 2 but none is more offensive than to accuse me of having "almost the same conclusion as Lerone Bennett (of Ebony magazine fame)." 3 Scholarly debate should be confined to discussing the content of ideas, not the color of the magazine in which they are published.

Bennett is an African-American historian and journalist who rankled ...
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