Abraham Lincoln and Huckleberry Finn – 1

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a novel that was written by Mark Twain. The novel was published in 1884 in England and a year later in the United States. The book chronicles the adventures of Huckleberry Finn, a boy running away from being “sivilized” and Jim, a runaway slave. The book follows them as they travel down the Mississippi River. As the novel progresses and Jim and Huck become closer friends, we begin to see Huck’s inner struggle. He is torn between two different moral commitments- to the slave society he has grown up in and his friendship with Jim.

Huck has been trained to tolerate and support slavery, and his friendship with Jim enables him to see the injustice of the institution. Completing my part of the PIOP, Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation, enabled me to see the similarities in the beliefs of Abraham Lincoln and Huck. Both grew up in a time and place where slavery was considered acceptable and racism was ever-present. As the two grew up, or in Huck’s case spent time with a slave, their views began to gradually change. It took Lincoln a while longer to believe that slavery was morally wrong, but for most of his life he advocated for the abolishment of slavery.

My part of the project gave me an opportunity to research one of the greatest reformers, orator, and president this country has ever seen. Abraham Lincoln’s humble beginnings in a one-room log cabin in Kentucky gave him the ability to empathize with the common man and those less fortunate than him. From the beginning of his political career until his assassination, Abraham Lincoln advocated for the abolishment of slavery, at first saying it would benefit the United States economically and then on the basis that it was morally wrong. Even though his point of view made him unpopular in the South, he was still elected president in 1860.

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Lincoln was the first president to combat the issue of slavery head-on. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t as work as well as he hoped, it paved the way for the passage of Amendment 13 which outlawed slavery in the United States. Mark Twain wrote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn twenty years after the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. Slavery had been abolished and the North and South were somewhat getting along. Why would Twain publish a novel about morals about an institution that was no longer in place? Legally, blacks and whites were equal, but there was still a problem with racism.

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