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Blacks & the Civil War:. Lower high school. President Lincoln’s Aims (April 1861). Lincoln was most concerned with preserving the Union.

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Blacks the civil war

Blacks & the Civil War:

Lower high school

President lincoln s aims april 1861
President Lincoln’s Aims (April 1861)

  • Lincoln was most concerned with preserving the Union.

  • After Fort Sumter was attacked in April of 1861, four more states, (NC, VA, TN and AK) had seceded from the Union and joined the Confederacy. With this secession there were only four slave states that were still part of the Union (DE, MD, KY and MO). Lincoln, thus was very fearful of interfering with slavery as he desperately wanted to keep these four border states as part of the Union.

  • Lincoln issued a call for 75,000 men to enlist in the military for ninety days of service to the national government. All black men who volunteered were rejected.

Black men volunteer and are rejected
Black Men Volunteer and are Rejected

“We are concerned in this fight and our fate hangs upon its issues. The South must be subjugated, or we shall be enslaved. In aiding the Federal government in whatever way we can, we are aiding to secure our own liberty; for this war can only end in the subjugation of the North or the South.”

Anglo-African (a black NY newspaper)

“Our feelings urge us to say to our countrymen that we are ready to stand by and defend our government as equals of its white defenders, to do so with ‘our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor,’ for the sake of freedom, and as good citizens; and we ask you to modify your laws, that we may enlist,- that fill scope may be given to patriotic feelings burning in the colored man’s breast.”

-Resolution Drawn up by Black Bostonian soldiers

Black men volunteer and are rejected1
Black Men Volunteer and are Rejected

  • Black men in Philadelphia volunteered to infiltrate the South to incite slave revolts, but were turned down.

  • In Washington, Jacob Dodson, a black employee of the U.S. Senate wrote a letter to Secretary of War Simon Cameron shortly after the fall of Fort Sumter volunteering the services of local black men.

  • “I desire to inform you that I know of some 300 reliable colored free citizens of this city who desire to enter the service for the defense of the city.” Cameron curtly replied: “The Department of War has no intention at the present to call into service of the government any colored soldiers.”

Union policy towards confederate slaves
Union Policy Towards Confederate Slaves

  • When the war began many slaves began to free themselves. However, many Union military officers seemed to be more interested in Confederate slave owners.

  • “Not only will we abstain from interference with your slaves, but we will, with an iron hand, crush any attempt at insurrection on their part.”

    –General George B. McClellan

  • Later on at a Union fort, General Benjamin Butler, a union general declared runaway slaves, “contraband” meaning that they did not have to be returned but had to work on union fortifications.

We are free
“We are free?!”

  • Soon after Butler’s declaration, over 1,000 slaves fled to Fortress Monroe, a Union fort in Virginia. Even though they were considered to be “contraband,” many did not see themselves this way. To many runaway slaves, crossing Union lines meant freedom.

  • In response, Congress passed the First Confiscation Act which said that only slaves who were used by their masters to benefit the Confederacy were to be freed if captured.

  • Instantly, John C. Fremont exceeded the act by freeing all slaves belonging to Confederates in Missouri.

  • President Lincoln quickly countermanded the order and told Fremont that only slaves actively used to aid the Confederate war effort were to be freed. Lincoln worried that Fremont would drive Missouri or Kentucky into the Confederacy.

  • Frederick Douglass commented that “To fight against slaveholders, without fighting against slavery, is but a half-hearted business, and paralyzes the hands engaged in it…”

Blacks the civil war

These black Virginians are freeing themselves. Regarded by Northern white authorities as contraband, they are crossing the Rappahonnock River in August of 1862 shortly before the battle of Antietam and Abraham Lincoln’s decision

Lincoln s initial position
Lincoln’s Initial Position Northern white authorities as contraband, they are crossing the Rappahonnock River in August of 1862 shortly before the battle of Antietam and Abraham Lincoln’s decision

  • For more than a year Lincoln remained reluctant to strike against slavery. He believed that the solution was compensated emancipation of the slaves followed by their colonization outside of the US.

  • In 1862, at Lincoln’s urging, Congress voted to provide funds to “any state which may adopt gradual abolishment of slavery.” He imagined slaveowners being compensated for freeing their slaves.

  • Lincoln hoped to eliminate slavery from the border states as he thought it would make those states less likely to join the Confederacy. (KY, DE, MD, MO)

  • The proposal was ultimately rejected by border states. Lincoln then warned that they might have to accept uncompensated emancipation.

  • To Black Americans and abolitionists Lincoln’s refusal to immediately abolish slavery was tragic.

Works cited
Works cited Northern white authorities as contraband, they are crossing the Rappahonnock River in August of 1862 shortly before the battle of Antietam and Abraham Lincoln’s decision