Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - First and Foremost a Military Measure
2013 01 08
By Conan Milner | TheEpochTimes.com
The Emancipation Proclamation—enacted exactly 150 years ago on Jan. 1, 2013—marked the beginning of the end for slavery in the United States, but historians say that the document was first and foremost a military measure.
“As you read the Emancipation Proclamation, you can see that there’s nothing eloquent about it,” said Margaret Washington, professor of history and American studies at Cornell University. “The term itself sounds eloquent, but if you read the document, it is specifically for purposes of war—and winning the war, either by military power or by forcing the south back into the union by virtue of emancipating their slaves.
Glancing back over the course of American history, it is impossible to separate the Civil War from the end of slavery. Nonetheless, in President Abraham Lincoln’s time, many considered the two developments mutually exclusive, even Lincoln himself.
A Progressive President
In his 1860 inaugural address, Lincoln promised to leave slavery alone in states where it already existed. In an 1862 New York Tribune letter, the president stated that his primary objective was saving the Union, and “not either to save or destroy slavery.”
In the midst of America’s bloodiest conflict—a war that pitted brother against brother—the Emancipation Proclamation offered a time-tested military strategy that would quickly bring the fighting to an end.
“That’s what was done with the American Revolution,” Washington said. “The British promised slaves freedom if they defected from the southern plantations in Virginia and came over to the British side and fought with them. Americans in the North used that same tactic with their slaves to fight against the British, and that’s how Northerners became free.”
While Lincoln stated for years that he was ethically opposed to slavery, he was no abolitionist. But the influence of the American anti-slavery movement had become a powerful cultural force, especially among radicals in Lincoln’s own Republican Party.
Washington’s freshman class traced the trajectory of this change in mindset by examining Lincoln’s writings and debate transcripts. These historical documents portray a man who had gone from tempering anti-slavery sentiment with a defense of white superiority, to suggesting weeks before his assassination that educated black men should be allowed to vote.
The celebrations that went around the world when the Emancipation Proclamation came across the telegraph lines were huge. And yet it didn’t really free anybody.
—Margaret Washington, professor of History and American Studies, Cornell University
“It was merely a suggestion, but you can see the way he’s moving at the time of his death,” Washington said. “He was becoming more and more progressive.”
Burning the Constitution
Even before Lincoln became president, much had already been done to end slavery in America. While abolitionists were driven by a moral imperative, slaveholders had the law on their side, and their interests remained legally protected by a formidable Democratic Party, which was solidly pro-slavery in both North and South.
However, the biggest legal hurdle to the anti-slavery effort was also a document fundamental to the nation—the U.S. Constitution.
“Abolitionists adored the Declaration of Independence, but they despised the Constitution. As a matter of fact, William Lloyd Garrison burned it in public,” Washington said.
The political might of early 19th-century slave owners can be seen in the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act, which obligated all U.S. citizens to send runaways back to their masters. Months after the law was passed, a fugitive that had escaped to Boston compelled the expense of thousands of troops to ensure his return.
At an anti-slave rally ignited by the absurdly expensive capture of this single fugitive, Garrison demonstrated abolitionist fury by burning copies of both the Slave Act and the Constitution—a document he described as a “covenant with death” and an “agreement with Hell.”
Although the Constitution did not contain the term “slave” until the practice was finally outlawed under the 13th Amendment, scholars say that the context is clear.
According to Washington, former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall confirmed the abolitionist attitude toward the Constitution.
“It was a pro-slavery document, except that the flexibility of the Constitution allowed it to have the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments that changed it,” Washington said.
Read the full article at: theepochtimes.com
Abraham Lincoln Created The Secret Service The Day He Was Shot
Report of first doctor to reach shot Lincoln found
Inside The Conspiracy To Murder Lincoln - ATS
Latest News from our Front Page
Pre-historic tokens used in conjunction with cuneiform
2014 07 22
An archaeological dig in southeast Turkey has uncovered a large number of clay tokens that were used as records of trade until the advent of writing, or so it had been believed. But a new find of tokens, dates from a time when writing was commonplace – thousands of years after it was previously assumed this technology had become obsolete.
Are immigration opponents Nazis?
2014 07 22
It seems the usual suspects are calling anyone who opposes unlimited immigration to be a "Nazi". The Left seems to be in constant fear of "Nazis" that lurk in public policy discussions and I assume under their beds. If you oppose any Leftist position, you are a.... take a wild guess...wait for it.... a NAZI! Tim Wise recently went ...
What Did US Spy Satellites See in Ukraine?
2014 07 22
Exclusive: The U.S. media’s Ukraine bias has been obvious, siding with the Kiev regime and bashing ethnic Russian rebels and Russia’s President Putin. But now – with the scramble to blame Putin for the Malaysia Airlines shoot-down – the shoddy journalism has grown truly dangerous, says Robert Parry.
In the heat of the U.S. media’s latest war hysteria – rushing to ...
Oh, Great: Robots Are Set to Conduct National Security Clearance Interviews
2014 07 22
Advancing a career in the US government might soon require an interview with a computer-generated head who wants to know about that time you took ketamine.
Psychologists at the National Center for Credibility Assessment (NCCA) are developing an interview system that uses a responsive on-screen avatar for the first stage of the national security clearance process.
Initial screening for a variety ...
Is Anything on the Internet Real Anymore?
2014 07 22
Is there anybody…out there?
I promise I’m a real person asking this question and typing this article…but beyond that, I can’t promise much else about anything you or I see on the Internet.
This article on ZDNet, “GCHQ’s dark arts: Leaked documents reveal online manipulation, Facebook, YouTube snooping,” confirms — beyond a shadow of any possible doubt — that a barrage of ...
|More News » |