Wy, it's just ez clear ez Aggers, Clear ez one an' one make two, Chaps thet make black slaves o' niggers, Want to make wite slaves o' you

НазваниеWy, it's just ez clear ez Aggers, Clear ez one an' one make two, Chaps thet make black slaves o' niggers, Want to make wite slaves o' you
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Confiscation Acts

Other politicians had much greater plans for a struggle against slavery. A group of Republicans in Congress, known as the Radicals and led by men such as George Julian, Charles Sumner, and Thaddeus Stevens, dedicated themselves to a war for emancipa­tion. They were instrumental in creating a special House-Senate committee on the conduct of the war, which investigated Union reverses, sought to make the war effort more efficient, and prodded the president to take stronger measures. Early in the war these Radi­cals, with widening support, turned their attention to slavery.

In August 1861, at the Radicals' instigation, Con­gress passed its first confiscation act. Designed to punish the Confederates, the law confiscated all property used for "in­surrectionary purposes." Thus if the South used slaves in a hostile action, those slaves were declared seized and liberated as contraband of war. A second confiscation act (July 1862) went much further: it confiscated the property of anyone who supported the rebellion, even those who merely resided in the South and paid Con­federate taxes. Their slaves were declared "forever free of their servitude." The logic behind these acts was that the insurrection—as Lincoln termed it— required strong measures to stop it. Let the government use its full powers, free the slaves, and crush the insurrection, urged the Radicals.

Lincoln refused to adopt that view in the summer of 1862. He stood by his proposal of voluntary gradual emancipation by the states and made no effort to en­force the second confiscation act. His stance provoked a public protest from Horace Greeley, editor of the powerful New York Tribune. In an open letter to the president entided "The Prayer of Twenty Millions," Greeley pleaded with Lincoln to "execute the laws" and declared, "On the face of this wide earth, Mr. President, there is not one disinterested, determined, intelligent champion of the Union cause who does not feel that all attempts to put down the Rebellion and at the same time uphold its inciting cause are preposter­ous and futile." Lincoln's reply was an explicit state­ment of his calculated approach to the question. He disagreed, he said, with all those who would make the maintenance or destruction of slavery the paramount issue of the war. "I would save the Union," announced Lincoln. "If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by free­ing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.

What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do be­cause I believe it helps to save the Union." Lincoln closed with a personal disclaimer: "I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free."

When he wrote those words, Lincoln had already decided to boldly issue a presidential Emancipation Proclamation. He was waiting, however, for a Union victory so that it would not appear to be an act of des­peration. Yet the letter to Greeley was not simply an effort to stall; it was an integral part of Lincoln's approach to the future of slavery, as the text of the Emancipation Proclamation would show. Lincoln was concerned to condition public opinion as best he could for the coming social revolution.

On September 22, 1862, shortly after Union suc­cess at the Battle of Antietam, Lincoln issued the first part of his two-part proclamation. Invoking his powers as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, he an-

Emancipation Proclamations

nounced that on January 1, 1863, he would emancipate the slaves in the states "in rebellion against the United States." Lincoln made plain that he would judge a state to be in rebel­lion in January if it lacked bona fide representatives in the U.S. Congress. Thus his September proclamation was less a declaration of the right of slaves to be free than a threat to southerners: unless they put down their arms and returned to Congress, they would lose their slaves. "Knowing the value that was set on the slaves by the rebels," said Garrison Frazier, a black Georgia minister, "the President thought that his proclamation would stimulate them to lay down their arms ... and their not doing so has now made the freedom of the slaves a part of the war." Lincoln had little expectation that southerners would give up their effort, but he was careful to offer them the option, thus trying to put the onus of emancipation on them.

In the fateful January 1 proclamation, Lincoln ex­cepted (as areas in rebellion) every Confederate county or city that had fallen under Union control. Those areas, he declared, "are, for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued." Nor did Lincoln liberate slaves in the border slave states that remained in the Union. "The President has pur­posely made the proclamation inoperative in all places where . .. the slaves [are] accessible," charged the anti-administration New York World. "He has proclaimed emancipation only where he has notoriously no power to execute it." Partisanship aside, even Secretary of

The Advent of Emancipation

State Seward, a moderate Republican, said sarcasti­cally, "We show our sympathy with slavery by emanci­pating slaves where we cannot reach them and holding them in bondage where we can set them free." A British official, Lord Russell, commented on the "very strange nature" of the document, noting that it did not declare "a principle adverse to slavery." Russell may have missed the point.

Lincoln was worried about the constitutionality of his acts. Making the liberation of the slaves "a fit and necessary war measure" raised a variety of legal ques­tions. How long did a war measure remain in force? Did it expire with the suppression of a rebellion? The proclamation did little to clarify the status or citizen­ship of the freed slaves, although it did open the possi­bility of military service for blacks. How indeed would this change the character and purpose of the war?

Thus the Emancipation Proclamation was an am­biguous document that said less than it seemed to say. But if as a legal document it was wanting, as a moral and political document it had great meaning. Because the proclamation defined the war as a war against slav­ery, radicals could applaud it, even if the president had not gone as far as Congress. Yet at the same time it protected Lincoln's position with conservatives, leav­ing him room to retreat if he chose and forcing no im­mediate changes on the border slave states. It was a delicate balancing act, but one from which there was no real turning back.

Most important, though, thousands of slaves had already reached Union lines in various sections of the South. They had "voted with their feet" for emancipa­tion, as many said, well before the proclamation. And now, every advance of federal forces into slave society was a liberating step. This Lincoln knew in taking his own initially tentative, and then forthright, steps toward emancipation.

Across the North and in Union-occupied sections of the South, blacks and their white allies celebrated the Emancipation Proclamation with unprecedented fervor. Full of praise songs, these celebrations demon­strated that whatever the fine print of the proclama­tion, black folks knew that they had lived to see a new day. At a large "contraband camp" in Washington,

A group of "contrabands" (liberated slaves), photographed at Cumberland Landing, Vir­ginia, May 14,1862, at a sensitive point in the war when their legal status was still not fully determined. The faces and generations of the women, men, and children represent the human drama of emancipation. (Library of Congress)

Chapter 15 Transforming Fire: The Civil War, 1861-1865

D.C, some six hundred black men, women, and chil­dren gathered at the superintendent's headquarters on New Year's Eve and sang through the night. In chorus after chorus of "Go Down, Moses," they announced the magnitude of their painful but beautiful exodus. One newly supplied verse concluded with "Go down, Abraham, away down in Dixie's land, tell Jeff Davis to let my people go!"

The need for men soon convinced the administra­tion to recruit northern and southern blacks for the Union Army. By the spring of 1863, African American troops were answering the call of a dozen or more black recruiters barnstorming the cities and towns of the North. Lincoln came to see black soldiers as "the great available and yet unavailed of force for restoring the Union." African American leaders hoped that mil­itary service would secure equal rights for their people. Once the black soldier had fought for the Union, wrote Frederick Douglass, "there is no power on earth which can deny that he has earned the right of citizen­ship in the United States." If black soldiers turned the tide, asked another man, "would the nation refuse us our rights?"

In June 1864 Lincoln gave his support to a consti­tutional ban on slavery. Reformers such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were pressing for an amendment that would write emancipation into the Constitution. On the eve of the Republican national convention, Lincoln called the party's chairman to the White House and instructed him to have the party "put into the platform as the keystone, the amendment of the Constitution abolishing and prohibiting slavery forever." The party promptly called for the Thirteenth Amendment. Republican delegates probably would have adopted such a plank without his urging, but Lin­coln demonstrated his commitment by lobbying Con­gress for quick approval of the measure. The proposed amendment passed in early 1865 and was sent to the states for ratification. The war to save the Union had also become the war to free the slaves.

It has long been debated whether Abraham Lin­coln deserved the label (one he never claimed for him­self) of "Great Emancipator." Was Who ™^jJJ'UM,'"°" Lincoln ultimately a reluctant eman-the Slaves? cipator, following rather than leading Congress and public opinion? Or did Lincoln give essential presidential leadership to the most transformative and sensitive as­pect of the war by going slow on emancipation, but once moving, never backpedaling on the main issue— black freedom. Once he had realized the total charac­ter of the war and decided to prosecute it to the

unconditional surrender of the Confederates, Lincoln made the destruction of slavery central to the war's purpose.

Others have argued, however, that the slaves themselves are the central story in the achievement of their own freedom. When they were in proximity to the war zones, or had opportunities as traveling labor­ers, slaves fled for their freedom by the thousands. Some worked as camp laborers for the Union armies, and eventually more than 180,000 black men served in the Union Army and Navy. Sometimes freedom came as a combination of confusion, fear, and joy in the rural hinterlands of the South. Some found freedom as indi­viduals in 1861, and some not until 1865 as members of trains of refugees. Some slaves remained supportive of their masters' welfare until the war was over. Some freedmen traversed great distances to reach contra­band camps.

However freedom came to individuals, emancipa­tion was a historical confluence of two essential forces: one, a policy directed by and dependent on the mili­tary authority of the president in his effort to win the war; and two, the will and courage necessary for acts of self-emancipation. In his annual message in December 1862, Lincoln asserted that "in giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free." Likewise, most blacks understood the long-term meaning in those words—in the midst of total war they comprehended their freedom as both given and taken.

Before the war was over, the Confederacy, too, ad­dressed the issue of emancipation. Jefferson Davis himself offered a proposal for black freedom of a kind. He was dedicated to independence, but late in the war he was willing to sacrifice slavery to achieve that goal. Davis concluded late in 1864 that the military situa­tion of the Confederacy was so desperate that inde­pendence with emancipation was preferable to defeat with emancipation. He proposed that the Confederate government purchase forty thousand slaves to work for the army as laborers, with a promise of freedom at the end of their service. Soon Davis upgraded the idea, calling for the recruitment and arming of slaves as sol­diers, who likewise would gain their freedom at war's end. The wives and children of these soldiers, he made plain, must also receive freedom from the states. Davis and his advisers envisioned an "intermediate" status for ex-slaves of "serfage or peonage." Thus at the bit­ter end, a few southerners were willing to sacrifice some of the racial, if not class, destiny for which they had launched their revolution.

A Confederate Plan of Emancipation

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rhttCArfcJnu tulh embraced their new lreedom; Join don \ndeison was a burner slave from Tennessee. Residing m IXuton, Ohio, with his familv in August 1865. lour months a her the war ended, Anderson received a letter from his for-mei owner, Colonel P. J I Vndefson, asking him to re-tum to the old place "1 ha\e often felt tineas) about) on," \nderson told his old master. \s for the "good chance \ou propose," Anderson said to die former slaveholder, ,fcwc h.i\ejconci tided to test \out smcent) In asking >ou to send us our wages foi the rime we served \ou " AVith leiiurkahlc wit and irom; Anderson de-scribed the dignitv with which he and his iamil\ hve«J in ftee-dom {his children were m school and his wile was e died "Mrs. \nderson"). Pubhshetl in the Lunmnati Comment al and the \iir }mk Tubutn, this astonishing letter, dictated In Anderson, demonstrates that freedom meant e\et\thmg to the freedptople ,\ hee public identin, choice, education, and, not least, the "justice" represented bj wages. {Photo- \eir }atk IXtJy Tribune, August 22,1865)

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The following is a genuine document. It wa* iictaui by the old servant, and contain* his ideas vtA forms of express ion. fCuicinnati Cdouaercud. _ DATros, Ohio, August 7,1885.

To my Old Matter, Col P. H. AVDK080S, *tg Spring, Tennessee.

Sia: I got your letter and was glad to find that roa bed eot forgoiteu Jordan, and that you wanted me to come back and live with jw» again, promkinr to do jbetter for ue than anybody else cafl. I have often felt ' - j nneaaj? abort yoa. I thought the Yankee* would itavo feang roa long before this for harboring Bebs. tuoy , {found at your bow * ' * * "

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found at your hohrse. I suppose they sever beard obant

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