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Within months of Lincoln's 1860 election, the Confederate states seceded and the Civil War began. In his inaugural address Lincoln vowed not to interfere with slavery and even endorsed a constitutional amendment to protect it. Yet two years later Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves in the rebellious states, transforming the goals of the war, and setting the stage for national emancipation. In this volume Michael Vorenberg reveals the complexity of the process by which African-Americans gained freedom and explores the struggle over its meaning. The introduction summarizes the history and national debate over slavery from the country's founding through the Civil War and beyond, and more than 40 documents and images give voice to the range of actors who participated in this vital drama Lincoln and Douglass, slaves and slaveholders, black and white men and women working for abolition, and northern and southern editorialists. In addition, essays by contemporary historians Ira Berlin and James McPherson argue the question of who freed the slaves. Document headnotes, a chronology, questions for consideration, and a selected bibliography encourage student learning.
Michael Vorenberg (Ph.D., Harvard University) is associate professor of history at Brown University where he teaches courses on antebellum America, the Civil War and reconstruction, race and law, and American legal and constitution history. Vorenberg’s research interests lie at the intersection of three fields in American history: the Civil War era, legal and constitution history, and race and emancipation. He is author of Final Freedom: The Civil War, the Abolition of Slavery, and the Thirteenth Amendment (2001), a finalist for the Lincoln Prize in 2002, as well as numerous essays and articles on topics ranging from Lincoln’s plans for the colonization of African Americans to the meaning of rights and privileges under the Fourteenth Amendment.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
PART ONE: The Making and Meaning of Emancipation
Slavery, Freedom, and the Coming of the Civil War
Making a War for Emancipation
The Promise of Emancipation
The Contested Memory of Emancipation
PART TWO: The Documents
The Problem of Slavery at the Start of the Civil War
1. Abraham Lincoln, Cooper Union Address, February 27, 1860
2. Abraham Lincoln, Letter to Lyman Trumbull, December 10, 1861
3. Abraham Lincoln, Letter to Alexander H. Stephens,
December 22, 1861
4. Alexander H. Stephens, Cornerstone Speech, March 21, 1861
5. Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural, March 4, 1861
The Impact of the Civil War on Slavery
6. John J. Cheatham, Letter to L. P. Walker, May 4, 1861
7. Benjamin Butler, Letter to Winfield Scott, May 24, 1861
8. Abraham Lincoln, Letter to Orville Browning, September 22, 1861
9. The Pacific Appeal, Editorial on Emancipation, June 14, 1862
10. George B. McClellan, Harrison’s Landing Letter, July 7, 1862
11. Samuel J. Kirkwood, Letter to Henry W. Halleck, August 5, 1862
Making the Emancipation Proclamation
12. Lydia Maria Child, Letter to John G. Whittier, January 21, 1862
13. Frederick Douglass, "The Slaveholders Rebellion," July 4, 1862
14. Abraham Lincoln, Letter to Horace Greeley, August 22, 1862
15. Abraham Lincoln, Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation,
September 22, 1862
16. Benjamin R. Curtis, Executive Power, 1862
17. Grosvenor Lowrey, Commander-In-Chief, 1862
18. Edward D. Marchant, Abraham Lincoln, 1863
19. Adalbert Johann Volck, Writing the Emancipation
20. Abraham Lincoln, Annual Message to Congress, December 1, 1862
21. Abraham Lincoln, Final Emancipation Proclamation, January 1, 1863
22. The Pacific Appeal, "The Year of Jubilee Has Come!" January 3, 1863
23. "The Emancipation Proclamation," the Cincinnati Daily Enquirer,
January 3, 1863
24. James H. Hudson, Letter to the Pacific Appeal, February 25, 1863
25. Harper’s Weekly, Sensation among "Our Colored Brethren,"
December 20, 1863
26. Thomas Nast, The Emancipation of the Negroes, January 24, 1863
African Americans and Military Service
27. H. Ford Douglas, Letter to Frederick Douglass, January 8, 1863
28. Frederick Douglass, "Men of Color, to Arms!," March 1863
29. Sattie A. Douglas, Letter to the Anglo-African, June 20, 1863
30. Hannah Johnson, Letter to Abraham Lincoln, July 31, 1863
31. Martha Glover, Letter to Richard Glover, December 30, 1863
32. Charlotte Forten, "Life on the Sea Islands," June 1864
33. George E. Stephens, "The Pay of Colored Troops," August 1, 1864
34. Spotswood Rice, Letter to Kitty Diggs, September 3, 1864
The Confederacy Considers Emancipation
35. Patrick R. Cleburne, Letter to the Commanders of the Army of the
Tennessee, January 2, 1864
36. Congress of the Confederate States of America, "Address to the
People of the Confederate States," January 22, 1864
37. Robert E. Lee, Letter to Andrew Hunter, January 11, 1864
38. Charleston Mercury, "Lunacy," January 13, 1865
39. Richmond Examiner, "Negro Troops," February 25, 1865
40. Harriet Jacobs, Letter to Lydia Maria Child, March 18, 1863
41. C. B. Wilder, Testimony before the American Freedmen’s Inquiry
Commission, May 9, 1863
42. Noyes Wheeler, "The Riotous Outbreak in New York," July 20, 1863
43. Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863
44. Annie Davis, Letter to Abraham Lincoln, August 25, 1864
45. Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural, March 4, 1864
46. Abraham Lincoln, Last Public Address, April 11, 1865
47. Edward D. Townsend, Report on Meeting of African Americans with
Union Officials, January 12, 1865
48. Frederick Douglass, Speech in Memory of Abraham Lincoln,
April 14, 1876
49. Thomas Ball, Freedmen’s Memorial to Abraham Lincoln, 1876
50. Henry W. Herrick, Reading the Emancipation Proclamation in
the Slaves’ Cabin, 1864
Historians Assess Emancipation
51. James M. McPherson, "Who Freed the Slaves?," 1996
52. Ira Berlin, "Who Freed the Slaves?: Emancipation and Its Meaning"
A Chronology of Emancipation
Questions for Consideration