Like divorces, there are usually three sides to every argument: his side, her side, and what really happened. Politics are much the same. Take President Abraham Lincoln, for example. He’s gone down in history as one of our greatest Presidents. But was he? And did he really care about the slaves?

Like divorces, there are usually three sides to every argument: his side, her side, and what really happened. Politics are much the same. Take President Abraham Lincoln, for example. He’s gone down in history as one of our greatest Presidents. But was he? And did he really care about the slaves?

His actions toward Missouri leave room for doubt.

To begin with, historians still argue about the cause of the war. Many say it was about slavery, but, there again, Lincoln’s words say otherwise.

John C. Fremont was born in Savannah, Georgia, on January 21, 1813. He attended Charleston College, taught mathematics, and earned the nickname “Pathfinder” because of his skills as a trailblazer. He joined the Army Corps of Engineers in 1838 as a 2nd lieutenant.

With the outbreak of the War Between the States, Lincoln promoted Fremont to Major General and assigned him as commander of the Department of the West which was based in St. Louis.

Following the battle of Wilson’s Creek, Fremont began overstepping his authority in an attempt to gain a political advantage. On August 30, 1861, Fremont proclaimed martial law in Missouri: active secessionists were arrested, their property confiscated, slaves were emancipated, and newspapers suspected of disloyalty were shut down. This was all done without the knowledge or consent of President Lincoln.

When word of Fremont’s actions reached Lincoln, the President was not pleased. He had not wanted to link slavery to the war yet because he didn’t want slave owners to have a reason to join the Confederacy. When the President requested Fremont withdraw or modify the proclamation, Fremont flatly refused.

Lincoln’s reaction to this blatant refusal to follow orders showed his true colors. On September 11, 1861, Lincoln revoked the proclamation as unauthorized and premature. Less than a month later, on November 2, Lincoln relieved Fremont of command.

Elizabeth Davis was born and raised in Cooper County, Missouri, and has written HISTORICALLY YOURS for the Boonville Daily News for over ten years. She has covered the Civil War, US history, and Cooper County history.