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Emancipation Stampede of Slaves to Fortress Monroe: Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War, May 1861 Courtesy of The Gilder Lehrman Collection,

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Presentation on theme: "Emancipation Stampede of Slaves to Fortress Monroe: Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War, May 1861 Courtesy of The Gilder Lehrman Collection,"— Presentation transcript:


2 Emancipation

3 Stampede of Slaves to Fortress Monroe: Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War, May 1861 Courtesy of The Gilder Lehrman Collection, New York “Largest Slave Revolt in History”

4 Guiding QuestionsGuiding Questions  How were slaves “political” before the Civil War?  How influential was the Emancipation Proclamation in advancing black recruitment?  What did military service mean to black soldiers in the Civil War?

5 I. Slave politics before the Civil War  Kinship  Independent Economies  Church  Kinship, economies & church developed circuits of communication which was base of political activity  Political Consciousness

6 Independent economy & petty production  “Master Hughes…took me to the shipyard of which he was a foreman…There I was immediately set to calking…After learning to calk, I sought my own employment, made my own contracts, and collected the money which I earned…I was now getting, as I have said, one dollar and fifty cents per day. I contracted for it; I earned it; it was paid to me; it was rightfully my own; yet, upon each returning Saturday night, I was compelled to deliver every cent of that money to Master Hugh. And why? Not because he earned it, – not because he had any hand in earning it,- not because I owed it to him,-nor because he possessed the slightest shadow of a right to it; but solely because he had the power to compel me to give it up. The right of the grim-visaged pirate upon the high seas is exactly the same." Task Work Overpay Hiring Out

7 The Black Church  “Go Down, Moses” “Thus spoke the Lord,” Bold Moses said, Let my people go, If not I’ll smite Your first born dead, Let my people go. Go down, Moses, Way down in Egypt land, Tell old Pharaoh, To let my people go. “almost every large plantation and in every neighborhood of small ones…there is one man who has come to be considered the head or pastor of the local church”— Frederick Law Olmstead

8 Communication  “The negroes have a wonderful art of communicating intelligence among themselves; it will run several hundred miles in a week or fortnight.” John Adams  A Northern teacher later wrote of “secret signs,” & “an underground telephone” …which provided slaves with “their own way of gathering news from the whole country.”

9 “intelligence”  “Master would tell me, ‘Loosana, if you keep you ears open and tell me what de darkies talk about, there’ll be something good in it for you…But all the time I must a-ad a right smart mind because I’d play around the white folks and hear what they’d say and then go tell the niggers.” Anna Baker

10 Geography  Frederick Douglass told by Irish dock workers that he should run away.  Charles Ball told by a free black of the “liberty enjoyed there by black people” in Philadelphia.  Tom slave in Montgomery County VA, found out about public affairs “from poor people”  James Curry who lived on border of North Carolina and Virginia before flight north “Knew there were free states” and “had heard of England and there were no slaves.”

11 Political ConsciousnessPolitical Consciousness  In September 1860 local editor complained that “every political speech …delivered in Macon [Georgia] had attracted a number of negroes, who, without entering the Hall, have managed to linger around and hear what the orators say.”  The slaves evinced such an “interest in politics” that fall in nearby Columbus that the “mayor ordered city police to chase them away.”

12 Lincoln electedLincoln elected  Slaves “making preparations to aid [Lincoln] when he makes his appearance”  Kentucky sixty slaves marched through town singing political songs and shouting for Lincoln.”  “In some way they have gotten a confused idea of Lincolns’ Congress meeting and of the war” “They think it is all to help them, and they expected for ‘something to turn up.”  Booker T. Washington remember being “wakened…early one morning, “by my mother kneeling over her children and fervently praying that Lincoln and his armies might be successful.”

13 II. African American Soldiers & Emancipation

14 Harper's Weekly, October 11, 1862

15 General Benjamin ButlerGeneral Benjamin Butler  “I went to him [Butler] and asked him to let me enlist…but he said it wasn’t a black man’s war…I told him it would be a black man’s war before they got through.”

16 “The Effects of The Proclamation – Freed Negroes coming into Our Lines at Newbern, North Carolina” Harper’s Weekly. A Journal of Civilization. February 21, 1863

17 Fugitive slaves crossing the Rappahannock River, 1862Fugitive slaves crossing the Rappahannock River, 1862

18 Slaves, Plantation of James Joyner Smith, Beaufort, South Carolina, 1862Slaves, Plantation of James Joyner Smith, Beaufort, South Carolina, 1862

19 Contraband Camps “They have obtained in the camps, and wherever they have been…a spirit of independence—a feeling that they are not longer slaves, but hired laborers and demand to be treated as such.”

20 Quiet InsurrectionQuiet Insurrection  “John Houston Bills owner of three plantations in Tennessee in 1864 “My Negroes all at home, but working only as they see fit, doing little”; “some disposition amongst the servants to serve the federals rather than work on the farm”  “ My people preparing cotton land for themselves at Cornucopia;”  “Negros all going off with returning troops. Some come back to urge others to go and they are easily persuaded: the females have quit entirely or nearly so [at hickory Valley], four of the men come and go where and when they please”  “many of my servants have run away and most of those left had as well be gone, they being totally demoralized and ungovernable.”  Louisiana, slaves on plantation told overseer that “they would not work any more unless they got paid.”

21 First Confiscation Act Second Confiscation Act Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation Emancipation Proclamation

22 “Emancipation” Proclamation


24 Emancipation in the NorthEmancipation in the North


26 January 1863January 1863

27 Supporting EmancipationSupporting Emancipation



30 180,000-200,000 Black troops

31 “I am for liberty—but not for equality—not fraternity— except in the limited sense.”  About the Emancipation Proclamation: “I never in all my days saw such inthusiasm.” A “Large majority” of the men greet the proclamation and the speech with “shouts & hurrahs.”  Others “many of his fellow soldiers like the Negro no better now than we did then but we hate his master worse and I tell you when Old Abe carries out Proclamation he kills this Rebellion and not before. I am henceforth an abolitionists and I intend to practice what I preach.” “a Negro has rights as a dog has rights and [we] think his rights should be respected.”

32 EXPERIENCE in the Military 1) Lower pay than whites 2) Excluded from officers rank 3) Treatment if captured 4) Fatigue duty 5) Care for sick and wounded soldiers 6) Food, clothing, equipment To accept lower pay would “acknowledge ourselves the inferiors of our white comrades in arms, and thus by our own actions, destroy the very fabric we originally intended to erect.”


34 A former slave in Vicksburg remembered his father’s recruitment “they put a pick in his hand instead of a gun …made him dig a big ditch. He worked harder for his Uncle Sam than he’d ever done for the master.” A former slave in Vicksburg remembered his father’s recruitment “they put a pick in his hand instead of a gun …made him dig a big ditch. He worked harder for his Uncle Sam than he’d ever done for the master.”

35 African American Teamsters 1864African American Teamsters 1864

36 III. The Meanings of WarIII. The Meanings of War

37 Liberators

38 To African American soldiers, the Civil War promised…  1) salvation of the Union and realization of the legacy of the American Revolution  2) the destruction of slavery  3) the attainment of equal rights and justice  4) the establishment of what they called the “manhood of the race”

39  Resolution from 54 th about pay explained: “ even as the founders of our Republic resisted the British tax on tea, on the ground of principle, so did we claim equal pay with other volunteers because we believed our military and civil equality its issue”


41 "When I donned my Union blues, I felt freedom in my bones."

42 Manhood of raceManhood of race Black troops of the 55 th said volunteering “make us men when we enlisted” …Robert Fitzgerald was eager to “go to the front” to “prove our love of liberty,” which in turn would prove “that we be men.”

43 August 5, 1865 illustration entitled "Franchise" from Harper's Weekly. Meanings of Freedom

44 Equality  June Blacks in Congo Square “Only think of it…colored people marching through the streets of New Orleans on their own holiday with fire-arms.”  Another soldier in New Orleans noted how he “walked fearlessly and boldly through the streets of this southern city…without being required to take off his cap at every step”  Leander Parker saw slaves in Mississippi dressing themselves in their masters’ “Best apparels” and valuables” and parading about town presuming to the status usually associated with such finery.

45 Postwar Political Ascendance  National Convention of Colored Citizens  National Equal Rights League

46 Conclusions  Blacks in Military Service: Second Fronts  1948  Emancipation until Reconstruction?  Inclusion of slaves and soldiers in the narrative of Black Civil Rights

47 Sources  Chandra Manning, What This Cruel War Was Over: Soldiers, Slavery and the Civil War  Freedom’s Soldiers: The Black Military Experience in the Civil War, Edited by Ira Berlin, Joseph P. Reidy, and Leslie S. Rowland  Stephen Hahn, A Nation Beneath Our Feet: Black Political Struggle in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration

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