Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation - First and Foremost a Military Measure
2013-01-08 0:00

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 These historical documents portray a man who had gone from tempering anti-slavery sentiment with a defense of white superiority, to suggesting weeks before his assassination that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






Related Articles
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

Swedish parliament removes Baroque artist's bare breasted painting for offending feminists and Muslims
2015-03-06 3:28
A nude painting named Juno, which was painted by baroque artist G E Schröder and has hung in the dining room of the Swedish Parliament for 30 years has been taken down for fear of offending the sensitivities of feminists and Muslim visitors, Swedish newspaper, The Local reported on Thursday. Explaining the ban on the baroque breasts, a source from the ...
White US children will be minorities by 2020 after immigrant 'baby boom', Census reveals
2015-03-05 19:50
This is the result of an ongoing trend of declining birth among white Americans and a baby boom among immigrant groups, as well as a surge in immigration. By the year 2020, 50.2percent of all children in the US are expected to be non-white, according to the Census. By 2044, whites will be outnumbered by minorities. The Census study, released ...
New Jersey Shopkeeper Hangs 'White History Month' Sign In Window
2015-03-05 18:08
A deli owner in Flemington, New Jersey, has angered many of his neighbors by posting a sign on his window that reads, "Celebrate Your White Heritage in March White History Month." Jim Boggess, who is the owner of Jimbo's Deli, says he put up the sign to remind everyone that they should be proud of their race and culture. "No matter what ...
The Viking ”Maine Penny” Mystery
2015-03-05 3:41
In 1957, during his second year of digging at the Goddard site; a large prehistoric Indian trade village in Penobscot Bay on the central Maine coast, local resident and amateur archaeologist Guy Mellgren found a small silver coin. The coin is later identified by experts as a Norse silver penny dating to the reign of Olaf Kyrre, king of Norway ...
The Sagas of the (Viking) Icelanders Shed Light on Golden Age
2015-03-05 3:40
The Sagas of the Icelanders have long been preserved as the most comprehensive specimen of the literary culture of the 13th and 14th centuries of Iceland. In writing these sagas, many attributes of the 10th and 11th centuries were conserved, particularly individual biographies, the history of family feuds, and the overall evolution of the one of the greatest settlements ...
More News »