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Who Freed the Slaves? The Civil War and Reconstruction Patrick Rael Associate Professor Bowdoin College.

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Presentation on theme: "Who Freed the Slaves? The Civil War and Reconstruction Patrick Rael Associate Professor Bowdoin College."— Presentation transcript:

1 Who Freed the Slaves? The Civil War and Reconstruction Patrick Rael Associate Professor Bowdoin College

2 Introduction  From a war for union  To a war to end slavery  The key: the agency of African Americans themselves

3 Emancipation from the bottom up  day-to-day resistance during the war  the significance of flight  proximity of Union lines

4 Eastman Johnson, “Ride for Liberty: The Fugitive Slaves” ( )

5 Emancipation from the bottom up  General Benjamin F. Butler, Fortress Monroe, Va., 1861  Slaves are “contraband of war”  Every slave removed from the Confederacy = one Union worker

6 Slaves behind Union lines lived in “contraband” camps. Life was difficult, but many former slaves received their first formal schooling in such camps.

7 Slave contrabands often worked the most odious details

8 Emancipation from the top down: in the field  What to do with enslaved African Americans behind Union lines?  General John C. Frémont, Missouri, 1861  General David Hunter, South Carolina and Georgia, 1862

9 General John C. Fremont General David Hunter

10 Emancipation from the top down: in Congress  The war stalemates  First Confiscation Act (1861): masters cannot reclaim slaves  Second Confiscation Act (1862): slaves of disloyal citizens “forever free”  Abolition of slavery in District of Columbia and U.S. territories

11 Rejoicing over abolition of slavery in District of Columbia, 1862

12 Emancipation from the top down: Lincoln  Transformation of war aims Risks losing border states Military necessity of emancipation  Emancipation Proclamation Preliminary draft, September 1862

13 “President Lincoln, writing the Proclamation of Freedom,” Currier and Ives

14 Emancipation from the top down: Lincoln  Transformation of war aims Risks losing border states Military necessity of emancipation  Emancipation Proclamation Preliminary draft, September 1862 Goes into effect January 1, 1863 Declares slaves in Confederate lands free

15 Lincoln, presenting the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet

16 “Emancipation,” idealized vision of life before and after

17 Emancipation Proclamation: effects  Transforms war from war for union to war against slavery Keeps Great Britain from allying with Confederacy Sets precedent for freedom Enlists the enslaved in the Union war effort

18 Recruitment of black soldiers  54 th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (the “Glory” regiment)

19 54 th Massachusetts, assaulting Fort Wagner, South Carolina

20 Recruitment of black soldiers  54 th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (the “Glory” regiment)  1 st South Carolina Volunteers  189,000 African Americans serve in Union army and navy

21 Recruiting posters for African- American troops

22 Many former slaves served as Union soldiers

23 The reconstruction of black labor  War aims transformed by necessity, not a change in attitudes  First priority after the war: sectional reconciliation

24 Lincoln’s plan for reconstruction  Under what conditions can former Confederate states re-enter the Union?  “10% plan” (December 1863) “Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction” 10% of population must swear oath of loyalty to Union Must ratify 13 th Amendment abolishing slavery Freedpeople: ??

25 The “Port Royal Experiment”  South Carolina Sea Islands, 1861  Experiment in “free labor”  Abolitionists, missionaries and philanthropists  “Gideon’s Band”: James Miller McKim, Edward S. Phillsbrick

26 What they wanted  The freedpeople:  Subsistence crops  Production for local exchange networks  Work in families on own land  The planters:  Cotton  Production for international capitalist economy  Work in gangs for share of crop

27 The labor negotiation  Freedpeople vs. planters  Bureau of Freedmen, Refugees, and Abandoned Lands (“Freedmen’s Bureau”)

28 Idealized image of a Freedman’s Bureau officer at work

29 The labor negotiation  Freedpeople vs. planters  Bureau of Freedmen, Refugees, and Abandoned Lands (“Freedmen’s Bureau”)  The result = sharecropping local credit monopolies collusion with local white officials

30 Sharecropping in the post-Civil War South

31 Presidential Reconstruction ( )  Andrew Johnson succeeds Lincoln (April 1865)

32 Andrew Johnson, 17 th President of the United States

33 Presidential Reconstruction ( )  Andrew Johnson succeeds Lincoln (April 1865)  Lenient terms for Confederate re- entry into Union  Many former Confederates admitted to office  Black Codes

34 Black Codes  Strict controls over terms of labor  Vagrancy laws kept freedpeople a docile, immobile labor force  Denial of basic civil rights  Violation of free market principles  Race riots during Presidential Reconstruction: Memphis, TN (1866) New Orleans, LA (1866)

35 Memphis riot, 1866

36 New Orleans riot, 1866

37 Radical Republicans respond  “Radical” Republicans: pre-war abolitionists and antislavers now in Congress  Rep. Thaddeus Stevens; Sen. Charles Sumner

38 Thaddeus Stevens, Pennsylvania Congressman and Radical Republican

39 Radical Republicans respond  “Radical” Republicans: pre-war abolitionists and antislavers now in Congress  Rep. Thaddeus Stevens; Sen. Charles Sumner  Impeachment of Andrew Johnson, 1868

40 Congressional Reconstruction ( )  a.k.a. “Radical” or “Military” Reconstruction  Reconstruction Act of 1867  All former Confederate states removed from Union (except Tennessee)  Former Confederacy placed under military rule

41 The former Confederacy was divided into military districts during Congressional Reconstruction

42 Congressional Reconstruction ( )  a.k.a. “Radical” or “Military” Reconstruction  Reconstruction Act of 1867  All former Confederate states removed from Union (except Tennessee)  Former Confederacy placed under military rule  New conditions for re-entry of states into Union: New state constitutions Enfranchisement of African-American men Ratification of 14 th Amendment (guarantees blacks citizenship)

43 Why black enfranchisement?  Conservative constitutional foundations  States’ rights federalism: highly proscribed role for federal government in local matters  Protection of black rights required federal intervention  Enfranchisement = blacks can use the vote to protect themselves  Distasteful federal intervention minimized

44 Blacks played an important role in the state constitutional conventions mandated by Congress

45 Harper’s Weekly’s stereotyped view of black campaigning in the Reconstruction South

46 The Radical state governments  Blacks hold office in most states

47 African-Americans in Congress during Reconstruction

48 Robert Smalls, former slave, war hero, Congressman from South Carolina J.R. Rainey of South Carolina, an antebellum free African American Hiram Revels occupied the Mississippi Senate seat once held by Jefferson Jonathan Jasper Wright, 1 st black state supreme court justice (South Carolina)

49 The Radical state governments  Blacks hold office in most states  Free schools, social institutions, internal improvements  All southern states fall out of Republican hands by 1877

50 The re-establishment of conservative state governments

51 The failure of Radical Reconstruction  Internal divisions within local Republican machines “Carpetbaggers” vs. “scalawags” Among African Americans themselves  Loss of crucial “swing” vote of southern whites New social costs borne by all  The key: racial violence

52 The failure of Radical Reconstruction  White supremacist paramilitary organizations Knights of the White Camilla White League Invisible Knights of the Ku Klux Klan

53 The White League served as the paramilitary wing of the Democratic Party

54 The Ku Klux Klan enforced labor control and racial hierarchy

55 The failure of Radical Reconstruction  White supremacist paramilitary organizations Knights of the White Camilla White League Invisible Knights of the Ku Klux Klan  Function as Military wing of Democratic Party Agents of labor and racial control

56 The tactics of white supremacy

57 The failure of Radical Reconstruction  White supremacist paramilitary organizations Knights of the White Camilla White League Invisible Knights of the Ku Klux Klan  Function as Military wing of Democratic Party Agents of labor and racial control  Consequences: Force necessity of distasteful federal intervention in local affairs Northern support for Reconstruction wanes Crucial southern white “swing” vote turns against Republicans

58 Alternatives to federal intervention  Give freedmen role in local self- government  14 th Amendment (1868): guarantees black citizenship  15 th Amendment (1870): secures suffrage for black men  Civil Rights Act of 1875: prohibits discrimination in public places (later declared unconstitutional)

59 The Fifteenth Amendment: an idealized view

60 The end of Reconstruction  Republican state governments fall to the Democrats  1876 Presidential Election: Contested electoral vote in Louisiana and Florida Rutherford B. Hayes (Republican) vs. Samuel J. Tilden (Democrat)

61 Rutherford B. Hayes (Republican) Samuel J. Tilden (Democrat) The contenders in the 1876 Presidential Election

62 The 1876 Presidential election electoral dispute

63 The end of Reconstruction  Republican state governments fall to the Democrats  1876 Presidential Election: Contested electoral vote in Louisiana and Florida Rutherford B. Hayes (Republican) vs. Samuel J. Tilden (Democrat) – “Compromise of 1877" In exchange for White House, Republicans leave South to its own devices Republican Party ceases to advocate for black rights

64 “Shall we call home our troops?” (liberal political cartoon, 1876)

65 Conclusion: Who freed the slaves?  What was the sine qua non of black freedom?  African Americans struggled to create their own lives in freedom  The letter of the law insufficient to guarantee black freedom  Emancipation and enfranchisement the products of expedience, not enlightenment  An important precedent for biracial democracy

66 The End


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