Archive for the ‘Slavery’ Category
Frederick Douglass (born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, c. February 1818 – February 20, 1895) was an American social reformer, orator, writer and statesman. After escaping from slavery, he became a leader of the abolitionist movement, gaining note for his dazzling oratory and incisive antislavery writing. He stood as a living counter-example to slaveholders’ arguments that slaves did not have the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens. Many Northerners also found it hard to believe that such a great orator had been a slave.
Douglass wrote several autobiographies, eloquently describing his experiences in slavery in his 1845 autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, which became influential in its support for abolition. He wrote two more autobiographies, with his last, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, published in 1881 and covering events through and after the Civil War. After the Civil War, Douglass remained active in the United States’ struggle to reach its potential as a “land of the free”. Douglass actively supported women’s suffrage. Without his approval he became the first African American nominated for Vice President of the United States as the running mate of Victoria Woodhull on the impracticable and small Equal Rights Party ticket. Douglass held multiple public offices.
Douglass was a firm believer in the equality of all people, whether black, female, Native American, or recent immigrant, famously quoted as saying, “I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong.”
Life as a slave
Frederick Douglass as he appears at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, who later became known as Frederick Douglass, was born a slave in Talbot County, Maryland, between Hillsboro and Cordova, probably in his grandmother’s shack east of Tappers Corner (38°53′04″N 75°57′29″W / 38.8845°N 75.958°W / 38.8845; -75.958) and west of Tuckahoe Creek. The exact date of Douglass’ birth is unknown. He chose to celebrate it on Feb. 14. The exact year is also unknown (on the first page of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, he stated: “I have no accurate knowledge of my age, never having seen any authentic record containing it.”)
The opinion was … whispered that my master was my father; but of the correctness of this opinion I know nothing…. My mother and I were separated when I was but an infant…. It [was] common custom, in the part of Maryland from which I ran away, to part children from their mothers at a very early age.
I do not recollect ever seeing my mother by the light of day. … She would lie down with me, and get me to sleep, but long before I waked she was gone.
After this separation, he lived with his maternal grandmother, Betty Bailey. His mother died when Douglass was about 10. At age seven, Douglass was separated from his grandmother and moved to the Wye House plantation, where Aaron Anthony worked as overseer. When Anthony died, Douglass was given to Lucretia Auld, wife of Thomas Auld. She sent Douglass to serve Thomas’ brother Hugh Auld in Baltimore.
When Douglass was about twelve years old, Hugh Auld’s wife Sophia started teaching him the alphabet despite the fact that it was against the law to teach slaves to read. Douglass described her as a kind and tender-hearted woman, who treated Douglass like one human being ought to treat another. When Hugh Auld discovered her activity, he strongly disapproved, saying that if a slave learned to read, he would become dissatisfied with his condition and desire freedom. Douglass later referred to this statement as the “first decidedly antislavery lecture” he had ever heard. As told in his autobiography, Douglass succeeded in learning to read from white children in the neighborhood and by observing the writings of men with whom he worked. Mrs. Auld one day saw Douglass reading a newspaper; she ran over to him and snatched it from him, with a face that said education and slavery were incompatible with each other.
He continued, secretly, to teach himself how to read and write. Douglass is noted as saying that “knowledge is the pathway from slavery to freedom.” As Douglass began to read newspapers, political materials, and books of every description, he was exposed to a new realm of thought that led him to question and condemn the institution of slavery. In later years, Douglass credited The Columbian Orator, which he discovered at about age twelve, with clarifying and defining his views on freedom and human rights.
When Douglass was hired out to William Freeland, he taught other slaves on the plantation to read the New Testament at a weekly Sunday school. As word spread, the interest among slaves in learning to read was so great that in any week, more than 40 slaves would attend lessons. For about six months, their study went relatively unnoticed. While Freeland was complacent about their activities, other plantation owners became incensed that their slaves were being educated. One Sunday they burst in on the gathering, armed with clubs and stones, to disperse the congregation permanently.
In 1833, Thomas Auld took Douglass back from Hugh after a dispute (“[A]s a means of punishing Hugh,” Douglass wrote). Dissatisfied with Douglass, Thomas Auld sent him to work for Edward Covey, a poor farmer who had a reputation as a “slave-breaker.” He whipped Douglass regularly. The sixteen-year-old Douglass was nearly broken psychologically by his ordeal under Covey, but he finally rebelled against the beatings and fought back. After losing a physical confrontation with Douglass, Covey never tried to beat him again.
From slavery to freedomDouglass first tried to escape from Freeland, who had hired him out from his owner Colonel Lloyd, but was unsuccessful. In 1836, he tried to escape from his new owner Covey, but failed again. In 1837, Douglass met and fell in love with Anna Murray, a free black in Baltimore about five years older than him. Her freedom strengthened his belief in the possibility of his own.
On September 3, 1838, Douglass successfully escaped by boarding a train to Havre de Grace, Maryland. He was dressed in a sailor’s uniform, provided to him by Murray, who also gave him part of her savings to cover his travel costs, and carried identification papers which he had obtained from a free black seaman. He crossed the Susquehanna River by ferry at Havre de Grace, then continued by train to Wilmington, Delaware. From there he went by steamboat to “Quaker City” (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) and continued to the safe house of abolitionist David Ruggles in New York; the whole journey took less than 24 hours.
Frederick Douglass later wrote of his arrival in New York:
I have often been asked, how I felt when first I found myself on free soil. And my readers may share the same curiosity. There is scarcely anything in my experience about which I could not give a more satisfactory answer. A new world had opened upon me. If life is more than breath, and the ‘quick round of blood,’ I lived more in one day than in a year of my slave life. It was a time of joyous excitement which words can but tamely describe. In a letter written to a friend soon after reaching New York, I said: ‘I felt as one might feel upon escape from a den of hungry lions.’ Anguish and grief, like darkness and rain, may be depicted; but gladness and joy, like the rainbow, defy the skill of pen or pencil.
Anna Murray-Douglass, Douglass’ wife for 44 yearsOnce he had arrived, he sent for Murray to follow him to New York; she arrived with the necessary basics for them to set up home. They were married on September 15, 1838, by a black Presbyterian minister eleven days after his arrival in New York. At first, they adopted Johnson as their married name.
The home and meetinghouse of the Johnsons, where Douglass lived in New BedfordThe couple settled in New Bedford, Massachusetts. After meeting and staying with Nathan and Mary Johnson, they adopted Douglass as their married name. Douglass joined several organizations, including a black church, and regularly attended abolitionist meetings. He subscribed to William Lloyd Garrison’s weekly journal The Liberator. In 1841 he first heard Garrison speak at a meeting of the Bristol Anti-Slavery Society. At one of these meetings, Douglass was unexpectedly invited to speak.
After he told his story, he was encouraged to become an anti-slavery lecturer. Douglass was inspired by Garrison and later stated that “no face and form ever impressed me with such sentiments [of the hatred of slavery] as did those of William Lloyd Garrison.” Garrison was likewise impressed with Douglass and wrote of him in The Liberator. Several days later, Douglass delivered his first speech at the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society’s annual convention in Nantucket. Then 23 years old, Douglass conquered his nervousness and gave an eloquent speech about his rough life as a slave.
In 1843, Douglass participated in the American Anti-Slavery Society’s Hundred Conventions project, a six-month tour of meeting halls throughout the Eastern and Midwestern United States. During this tour, he was frequently accosted, and at a lecture in Pendleton, Indiana, was chased and beaten by an angry mob before being rescued by a local Quaker family, the Hardys. His hand was broken in the attack; it healed improperly and bothered him for the rest of his life. A stone marker in Falls Park in the Pendleton Historic District commemorates this event.
Frederick Douglass as a young man.Douglass’ best-known work is his first autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, published in 1845. At the time, some skeptics questioned whether a black man could have produced such an eloquent piece of literature. The book received generally positive reviews and became an immediate bestseller. Within three years of its publication, it had been reprinted nine times with 11,000 copies circulating in the United States; it was also translated into French and Dutch and published in Europe.
Douglass published three versions of his autobiography during his lifetime (and revised the third of these), each time expanding on the previous one. The 1845 Narrative, which was his biggest seller, was followed by My Bondage and My Freedom in 1855. In 1881, after the Civil War, Douglass published Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, which he revised in 1892.
Travels to Ireland and Britain
Mural featuring Frederick Douglass in Belfast, Northern Ireland.Douglass’ friends and mentors feared that the publicity would draw the attention of his ex-owner, Hugh Auld, who might try to get his “property” back. They encouraged Douglass to tour Ireland, as many former slaves had done. Douglass set sail on the Cambria for Liverpool on August 16, 1845, and arrived in Ireland as the Irish Potato Famine was beginning.
“Eleven days and a half gone and I have crossed three thousand miles of the perilous deep. Instead of a democratic government, I am under a monarchical government. Instead of the bright, blue sky of America, I am covered with the soft, grey fog of the Emerald Isle [Ireland]. I breathe, and lo! the chattel [slave] becomes a man. I gaze around in vain for one who will question my equal humanity, claim me as his slave, or offer me an insult. I employ a cab—I am seated beside white people—I reach the hotel—I enter the same door—I am shown into the same parlour—I dine at the same table—and no one is offended… I find myself regarded and treated at every turn with the kindness and deference paid to white people. When I go to church, I am met by no upturned nose and scornful lip to tell me, ‘We don’t allow niggers in here!'” – from My Bondage and My Freedom.
He also met and befriended the Irish nationalist Daniel O’Connell who was to prove to be a great inspiration.
Douglass spent two years in Ireland and Britain, where he gave many lectures in churches and chapels. His draw was such that some facilities were “crowded to suffocation”; an example was his hugely popular London Reception Speech, which Douglass delivered at Alexander Fletcher’s Finsbury Chapel in May 1846. Douglass remarked that in England he was treated not “as a color, but as a man.”
During this trip Douglass became legally free, as British supporters raised funds to purchase his freedom from his American owner Thomas Auld. British sympathizers led by Ellen Richardson of Newcastle upon Tyne collected the money needed. In 1846 Douglass met with Thomas Clarkson, one of the last living British abolitionists, who had persuaded Parliament to abolish slavery in Great Britain and its colonies. Many tried to encourage Douglass to remain in England to be truly free of the fear of chains, but with three million of his black brethren in bondage in the US, he left England in spring of 1847.
Return to the United StatesAfter returning to the US, Douglass produced some abolitionist newspapers: The North Star, Frederick Douglass Weekly, Frederick Douglass’ Paper, Douglass’ Monthly and New National Era. The motto of The North Star was “Right is of no Sex – Truth is of no Color – God is the Father of us all, and we are all brethren.” The abolitionist newspapers were mainly funded by supporters in England, who had sent him five hundred pounds to use as he so chose.
In September 1848, Douglass published a letter addressed to his former master, Thomas Auld, berating him for his conduct, and enquiring after members of his family still held by Auld. In a graphic passage, Douglass asked Auld how he would feel if Douglass had come to take away his daughter Amanda as a slave, treating her the way he and members of his family had been treated by Auld.
Frederick Douglass stood up to speak in favor of women’s right to vote.In 1848, Douglass was the only African American to attend the first women’s rights convention, the Seneca Falls Convention. Elizabeth Cady Stanton asked the assembly to pass a resolution asking for women’s suffrage. Many of those present opposed the idea, including influential Quakers James and Lucretia Mott. Douglass stood and spoke eloquently in favor; he said that he could not accept the right to vote as a black man if women could not also claim that right. He suggested that the world would be a better place if women were involved in the political sphere.
“In this denial of the right to participate in government, not merely the degradation of woman and the perpetuation of a great injustice happens, but the maiming and repudiation of one-half of the moral and intellectual power of the government of the world.”
Douglass’ powerful words rang true with enough attendees that the resolution passed.
Douglass refines his ideologyIn 1851, Douglass merged the North Star with Gerrit Smith’s Liberty Party Paper to form Frederick Douglass’ Paper, which was published until 1860. Douglass came to agree with Smith and Lysander Spooner that the United States Constitution was an anti-slavery document.
This reversed his earlier agreement with William Lloyd Garrison that it was pro-slavery. Garrison had publicly expressed his opinion by burning copies of the document. Further contributing to their growing separation, Garrison was worried that the North Star competed with his own National Anti-Slavery Standard and Marius Robinson’s Anti-Slavery Bugle. Douglass’ change of position on the Constitution was one of the most notable incidents of the division in the abolitionist movement after the publication of Spooner’s book The Unconstitutionality of Slavery in 1846. This shift in opinion, and other political differences, created a rift between Douglass and Garrison. Douglass further angered Garrison by saying that the Constitution could and should be used as an instrument in the fight against slavery.
On July 5, 1852, Douglass delivered an address to the Ladies of the Rochester Anti-Slavery Sewing Society, which eventually became known as “What to the slave is the 4th of July?” It was a blistering attack on the hypocrisy of the United States in general and the Christian church in particular.
Frederick Douglass in 1856Douglass believed that education was the key for African Americans to improve their lives. For this reason, he was an early advocate for desegregation of schools. In the 1850s, he was especially outspoken in New York. The facilities and instruction for African-American children were vastly inferior. Douglass criticized the situation and called for court action to open all schools to all children. He stated that inclusion within the educational system was a more pressing need for African Americans than political issues such as suffrage.
Douglass was acquainted with the radical abolitionist John Brown but disapproved of Brown’s plan to start an armed slave rebellion in the South. Brown visited Douglass’ home two months before he led the raid on the federal armory in Harpers Ferry. After the raid, Douglass fled for a time to Canada, fearing guilt by association and arrest as a co-conspirator. Douglass believed that the attack on federal property would enrage the American public. Douglass later shared a stage at a speaking engagement in Harpers Ferry with Andrew Hunter, the prosecutor who successfully convicted Brown.
In March 1860, Douglass’ youngest daughter Annie died in Rochester, New York, while he was still in England. Douglass returned from England the following month. He took a route through Canada to avoid detection.
Civil War yearsBefore the Civil WarBy the time of the Civil War, Douglass was one of the most famous black men in the country, known for his orations on the condition of the black race and on other issues such as women’s rights. His eloquence gathered crowds at every location. His reception by leaders in England and Ireland added to his stature.
Fight for emancipation and suffrage
Douglass, circa 1860sDouglass and the abolitionists argued that because the aim of the Civil War was to end slavery, African Americans should be allowed to engage in the fight for their freedom. Douglass publicized this view in his newspapers and several speeches. Douglass conferred with President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 on the treatment of black soldiers, and with President Andrew Johnson on the subject of black suffrage.
President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, which took effect on January 1, 1863, declared the freedom of all slaves in Confederate-held territory. (Slaves in Union-held areas and Northern states would become freed with the adoption of the 13th Amendment on December 6, 1865.) Douglass described the spirit of those awaiting the proclamation: “We were waiting and listening as for a bolt from the sky … we were watching … by the dim light of the stars for the dawn of a new day … we were longing for the answer to the agonizing prayers of centuries.”
During the U.S. Presidential Election of 1864, Douglass supported John C. Frémont. Douglass was disappointed that President Lincoln did not publicly endorse suffrage for black freedmen. Douglass believed that since African American men were fighting in the American Civil War, they deserved the right to vote.
With the North no longer obliged to return slaves to their owners in the South, Douglass fought for equality for his people. He made plans with Lincoln to move the liberated slaves out of the South. During the war, Douglass helped the Union by serving as a recruiter for the 54th Massachusetts Regiment. His son Frederick Douglass Jr. also served as a recruiter and his other son, Lewis Douglass, fought for the 54th Massachusetts Regiment at the Battle of Fort Wagner.
Slavery everywhere in the United States was outlawed by the post-war (1865) ratification of the 13th Amendment. The 14th Amendment provided for citizenship and equal protection under the law. The 15th Amendment protected all citizens from being discriminated against in voting because of race. Douglass’ support for the 15th Amendment, which failed to give women the vote, led to a temporary estrangement between him and the women’s rights movement.
Frederick DouglassAt the unveiling of the Emancipation Memorial in Washington’s Lincoln Park, Douglass was the keynote speaker. In his speech, Douglass spoke frankly about Lincoln, noting what he perceived as both the positive and negative attributes of the late President. He called Lincoln “the white man’s president” and cited his tardiness in joining the cause of emancipation. He noted that Lincoln initially opposed the expansion of slavery but did not support its elimination. But Douglass also asked, “Can any colored man, or any white man friendly to the freedom of all men, ever forget the night which followed the first day of January 1863, when the world was to see if Abraham Lincoln would prove to be as good as his word?” At this speech he also said: “Though Mr. Lincoln shared the prejudices of his white fellow-countrymen against the Negro, it is hardly necessary to say that in his heart of hearts he loathed and hated slavery….”
The crowd, roused by his speech, gave him a standing ovation. A long-told anecdote claims that the widow Mary Lincoln gave Lincoln’s favorite walking stick to Douglass in appreciation. Lincoln’s walking stick still rests in Douglass’ house known as Cedar Hill.
In his last biography The Life & Times of Frederick Douglass, Douglass referred to Lincoln as America’s “greatest President.”
Douglass’ former residence in the U Street Corridor of Washington, D.C. He built 2000–2004 17th Street, N.W., in 1875.After the Civil War, Douglass was appointed to several political positions. He served as president of the Reconstruction-era Freedman’s Savings Bank; and as chargé d’affaires for the Dominican Republic. After two years, he resigned from his ambassadorship because of disagreements with U.S. government policy. In 1872, he moved to Washington, D.C., after his house on South Avenue in Rochester, New York burned down; arson was suspected. Also lost was a complete issue of The North Star.
In 1868, Douglass supported the presidential campaign of Ulysses S. Grant. President Grant signed into law the Klan Act and the second and third Enforcement Acts. Grant used their provisions vigorously, suspending habeas corpus in South Carolina and sending troops there and into other states; under his leadership over 5,000 arrests were made and the Ku Klux Klan received a serious blow. Grant’s vigor in disrupting the Klan made him unpopular among many whites, but Frederick Douglass praised him. An associate of Douglass wrote of Grant that African Americans “will ever cherish a grateful remembrance of his name, fame and great services.”
In 1872, Douglass became the first African American nominated for Vice President of the United States, as Victoria Woodhull’s running mate on the Equal Rights Party ticket. He was nominated without his knowledge. During the campaign, he neither campaigned for the ticket nor acknowledged that he had been nominated.
Cedar Hill, Douglass’ house in the Anacostia neighborhood of Washington, D.C., is preserved as a National Historic Site.Douglass continued his speaking engagements. On the lecture circuit, he spoke at many colleges around the country during the Reconstruction era, including Bates College in Lewiston, Maine in 1873. He continued to emphasize the importance of voting rights and exercise of suffrage. In a speech delivered on November 15, 1867, Douglass said “A man’s rights rest in three boxes. The ballot box, jury box and the cartridge box. Let no man be kept from the ballot box because of his color. Let no woman be kept from the ballot box because of her sex”.
In 1877, Douglass visited Thomas Auld, who was by then on his deathbed, and the two men reconciled. Douglass had met with Auld’s daughter, Amanda Auld Sears, some years prior; she had requested the meeting and had subsequently attended and cheered one of Douglass’ speeches. Her father told her she had done well in reaching out to Douglass. The visit appears to have brought closure to Douglass, although he received some criticism for making it.
White insurgents had quickly arisen in the South after the war, organizing first as secret vigilante groups like the Ku Klux Klan. Through the years, armed insurgency took different forms, the last as powerful paramilitary groups such as the White League and the Red Shirts during the 1870s in the Deep South. They operated as “the military arm of the Democratic Party”, turning out Republican officeholders and disrupting elections. Their power continued to grow in the South; more than 10 years after the end of the war, white Democrats regained political power in every state of the former Confederacy and began to reassert white supremacy. They enforced this by a combination of violence, late 19th century laws imposing segregation and a concerted effort to disfranchise African Americans. From 1890–1908, white Democrats passed new constitutions and statutes in the South that created requirements for voter registration and voting that effectively disfranchised most blacks and tens of thousands of poor whites. This disfranchisement and segregation were enforced for more than six decades into the 20th century.
Douglass’ stump speech for 25 years after the end of the Civil War was to emphasize work to counter the racism that was then prevalent in unions.
Family lifeDouglass and Anna had five children: Rosetta Douglass, Lewis Henry Douglass, Frederick Douglass, Jr., Charles Remond Douglass, and Annie Douglass (died at the age of ten). Charles and Rossetta helped produce his newspapers. Anna Douglass remained a loyal supporter of her husband’s public work, even though Douglass’ relationships with Julia Griffiths and Ottilie Assing, two women he was professionally involved with, caused recurring speculation and scandals.
In 1877, Douglass bought the family’s final home in Washington D.C., on a hill above the Anacostia River. He and Anna named it Cedar Hill (also spelled CedarHill). They expanded the house from 14 to 21 rooms, and included a china closet. One year later, Douglass purchased adjoining lots and expanded the property to 15 acres (61,000 m²). The home has been designated the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site.
Anna Murray-Douglass died in 1882, leaving him with a sense of great loss and depression for a time. He found new meaning from working with activist Ida B. Wells.
Frederick Douglass with his second wife Helen Pitts Douglass (sitting). The woman standing is her sister Eva Pitts.In 1884, Douglass married again, to Helen Pitts, a white feminist from Honeoye, New York. Pitts was the daughter of Gideon Pitts, Jr., an abolitionist colleague and friend of Douglass. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College (then called Mount Holyoke Female Seminary), she worked on a radical feminist publication named Alpha while living in Washington, D.C. The couple faced a storm of controversy with their marriage, since Pitts was both white and nearly 20 years younger than Douglass. Her family stopped speaking to her; his was bruised, as his children felt his marriage was a repudiation of their mother. But feminist Elizabeth Cady Stanton congratulated the couple. Douglass responded to the criticisms by saying that his first marriage had been to someone the color of his mother, and his second to someone the color of his father. The new couple traveled to England, France, Italy, Egypt and Greece from 1886 to 1887.
After ReconstructionAs white Democrats regained power in the state legislatures of the South after Reconstruction, they began to impose new laws that disfranchised blacks and to create labor and criminal laws limiting their freedom. Many African Americans, called Exodusters, moved to large northern cities and to places like Kansas. In the latter case it was to form all-black towns where it was felt they could have a greater level of freedom and autonomy. Douglass spoke out against the movement, urging blacks to stick it out. He had become out of step with his audiences, who condemned and booed him for this position.
In 1877, Douglass was appointed a United States Marshal. In 1881, he was appointed Recorder of Deeds for the District of Columbia.
In 1888, Douglass spoke at Claflin College, a black college in Orangeburg, South Carolina and the oldest such institution in the state. He urged his audiences to struggle and protest against slavery.
At the 1888 Republican National Convention, Douglass became the first African American to receive a vote for President of the United States in a major party’s roll call vote.
He was appointed minister-resident and consul-general to the Republic of Haiti (1889–1891). In 1892 the Haitian government appointed Douglass as its commissioner to the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition. He spoke for Irish Home Rule and the efforts of leader Charles Stewart Parnell in Ireland. He briefly revisited Ireland in 1886.
Also in 1892, Douglass constructed rental housing for blacks, now known as Douglass Place, in the Fells Point area of Baltimore. The complex was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.
Gravestone of Frederick Douglass located in Mount Hope Cemetery, Rochester, New YorkOn February 20, 1895, Douglass attended a meeting of the National Council of Women in Washington, D.C. During that meeting, he was brought to the platform and given a standing ovation by the audience. Shortly after he returned home, Frederick Douglass died of a massive heart attack or stroke in Washington, D.C. His funeral was held at the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church where thousands passed by his coffin paying tribute. He was buried in Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, New York.
Legacy and honors
Poster from Office of War Information. Domestic Operations Branch. News Bureau, 1943In 1921, members of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity (the first African-American intercollegiate fraternity) designated Frederick Douglass as an honorary member. Douglass is the only man to receive an honorary membership posthumously.
The Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge, sometimes referred to as the South Capitol Street Bridge, just south of the US Capitol in Washington DC, was built in 1950 and named in his honor.
In 1962, his home in Anacostia (Washington, DC) became part of the National Park System, and in 1988 was designated the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site.
In 1965, the U.S. Postal Service honored Douglass with a stamp in the Prominent Americans series.
In 1999, Yale University established the Frederick Douglass Book Prize for works in the history of slavery and abolition, in his honor. The annual $25,000 prize is administered by the Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History and the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale.
In 2002, scholar Molefi Kete Asante named Frederick Douglass to his list of 100 Greatest African Americans.
In 2003, Douglass Place, the rental housing units that Douglass built in Baltimore in 1892 for blacks, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Douglass is honored with a feast day on the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal Church (USA) on February 20.
In 2007, the former Troup–Howell bridge which carried Interstate 490 over the Genesee River was redesigned and renamed the Frederick Douglass – Susan B. Anthony Memorial Bridge.
In 2010, a statue (by Gabriel Koren) and memorial (designed by Algernon Miller) of Douglass were unveiled at Frederick Douglass Circle at the northwest corner of Central Park in New York City.
On June 12, 2011, Talbot County, Maryland, honored Douglass by installing a seven-foot bronze statue of Douglass on the lawn of the county courthouse in Easton, Maryland.
Many public schools have been named in his honor.
The Civil War, in the words of President Abraham Lincoln, brought to America “a new birth of freedom”. And, during the war began the nation’s efforts to come to terms with the destruction of slavery, war and to define the meaning of freedom.
At the end of the war, it was clear that Reconstruction would bring far reaching changes in Southern society, and a redefinition of the place of blacks in american life.
The Civil War did not begin as a total war, but it soon became one, a struggle that pitted society against society. Never before had mass armies confronted each other on the battlefield with the deadly weaons created by the industrial revolution.
The resulting casualties dwarfed anything in the American experience. Some 650,000 men died in the war, including 260,000 Confederates, over one-fifth of the South’s adult white male population.
At the war’s outset, the Lincoln administration insisted that restoring the Union was its only purpose. But as slaves by the thousands abandoned the plantations and headed for the Union lines, and military victory eluded the North, the President made the destruction of slavery a war aim. A decision announced in the Emancipation Proclamation of January 1863.
The Proclamation also authorized the enlistment of black soldiers. By the end of the Civil War, some 200,000 black soldiers had served in the Union army and navy, staking a claim to citizenship in the postwar nation.
During the war, “rehearsals for Reconstruction” took place in the union-occupied south.
The American Civil War (1861–1865), often referred to simply as The Civil War in the United States, was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America (“the Confederacy”); the other 25 states supported the federal government (“the Union”). After four years of warfare, mostly within the Southern states, the Confederacy surrendered and slavery was outlawed everywhere in the nation. Issues that led to war were partially resolved in the Reconstruction Era that followed, though others remained unresolved.
In the presidential election of 1860, the Republican Party, led by Abraham Lincoln, had campaigned against expanding slavery beyond the states in which it already existed. The Republicans strongly advocated nationalism, and in their 1860 platform they denounced threats of disunion as avowals of treason. After a Republican victory, but before the new administration took office on March 4, 1861, seven cotton states declared their secession and joined to form the Confederate States of America. Both the outgoing administration of President James Buchanan and the incoming administration rejected the legality of secession, considering it rebellion. The other eight slave states rejected calls for secession at this point. No country in the world recognized the Confederacy.
Hostilities began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate forces attacked a U.S. military installation at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. Lincoln responded by calling for a volunteer army from each state to recapture federal property, which led to declarations of secession by four more slave states. Both sides raised armies as the Union seized control of the border states early in the war and established a naval blockade. Land warfare in the East was inconclusive in 1861–62, as the Confederacy beat back Union efforts to capture its capital, Richmond, Virginia, notably during the Peninsular Campaign. In September 1862, the Confederate campaign in Maryland ended in defeat at the Battle of Antietam, which dissuaded the British from intervening. Days after that battle, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which made ending slavery a war goal.
In 1863, Confederate general Robert E. Lee’s northward advance ended in defeat at the Battle of Gettysburg. To the west, the Union gained control of the Mississippi River after the Battle of Shiloh and Siege of Vicksburg, splitting the Confederacy in two and destroying much of their western army. Due to his western successes, Ulysses S. Grant was given command of the eastern army in 1864, and organized the armies of William Tecumseh Sherman, Philip Sheridan and others to attack the Confederacy from all directions, increasing the North’s advantage in manpower. Grant restructured the union army, and put other generals in command of divisions of the army that were to support his push into Virginia. He fought several battles of attrition against Lee through the Overland Campaign to seize Richmond, though in the face of fierce resistance he altered his plans and led the Siege of Petersburg which nearly finished off the rest of Lee’s army. Meanwhile, Sherman captured Atlanta and marched to the sea, destroying Confederate infrastructure along the way. When the Confederate attempt to defend Petersburg failed, the Confederate army retreated but was pursued and defeated, which resulted in Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.
The American Civil War was one of the earliest true industrial wars. Railroads, the telegraph, steamships, and mass-produced weapons were employed extensively. The practices of total war, developed by Sherman in Georgia, and of trench warfare around Petersburg foreshadowed World War I in Europe. It remains the deadliest war in American history, resulting in the deaths of 620,000 soldiers and an undetermined number of civilian casualties. Historian John Huddleston estimates the death toll at ten percent of all Northern males 20–45 years old, and 30 percent of all Southern white males aged 18–40. Victory for the North meant the end of the Confederacy and of slavery in the United States, and strengthened the role of the federal government. The social, political, economic and racial issues of the war decisively shaped the reconstruction era that lasted to 1877.
Causes of secession
Main articles: Origins of the American Civil War and Timeline of events leading to the American Civil War
History of the United States
The causes of the Civil War were complex, and have been controversial since the war began. The issue has been further complicated by historical revisionists, who have tried to improve the image of the South by lessening the role of slavery. Slavery was the central source of escalating political tension in the 1850s. The Republican Party was determined to prevent any spread of slavery, and many Southern leaders had threatened secession if the Republican candidate, Lincoln, won the 1860 election. Following Lincoln’s victory, many Southern whites felt that disunion had become their only option.
While not all Southerners saw themselves as fighting to preserve slavery, most of the officers and over a third of the rank and file in Lee’s army had close family ties to slavery. To Northerners, in contrast, the motivation was primarily to preserve the Union, not to abolish slavery. Abraham Lincoln consistently made preserving the Union the central goal of the war, though he increasingly saw slavery as a crucial issue and made ending it an additional goal. Lincoln’s decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation angered both Peace Democrats (“Copperheads”) and War Democrats, but energized most Republicans. By warning that free blacks would flood the North, Democrats made gains in the 1862 elections, but they did not gain control of Congress. The Republicans’ counterargument that slavery was the mainstay of the enemy steadily gained support, with the Democrats crushed at the 1863 elections in Ohio when they tried to resurrect anti-black sentiment.
SlaveryMain article: Slavery in the United States
The slavery issue addressed not only the well-being of the slaves (although abolitionists raised the issue) but also the question of whether slavery was an anachronistic evil that was incompatible with American values or a profitable economic system protected by the Constitution. All sides agreed slavery exhausted the land and had to find new lands to survive. The strategy of the anti-slavery forces was to stop the expansion and thus put slavery on a path to gradual extinction.
To the South this strategy made Southerners second-class citizens and trampled their Constitutional rights. The anti-slavery movement in the United States had roots in the Declaration of Independence. Slavery was banned in the Northwest Territory with the Northwest Ordinance of 1787.
By 1804 all the Northern states (states north of the Mason-Dixon line) had passed laws to abolish slavery gradually. Congress in 1807 banned the international slave trade. Slavery faded in the border states and urban areas but expanded in highly profitable cotton states of the Deep South.
Despite compromises in 1820 and 1850, the slavery issues exploded in the 1850s. The new Republican Party angered slavery interests by demanding the end to its expansion. The Republican idea was that without expansion slavery would eventually die out (as it did in other nations). Abraham Lincoln, for example, in his 1858 House Divided Speech, called for America to “arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction.” Much of the political battle in the 1850s focused on the expansion of slavery into the newly created territories. Eric Foner notes that both North and South assumed that if slavery could not expand, it would wither and die. Lincoln in 1845 explained how slavery could die a natural death: “we should never knowingly lend ourselves directly or indirectly, to prevent that slavery from dying a natural death — to find new places for it to live in, when it can no longer exist in the old.” With tobacco and cotton wearing out the soil so fast, the South needed to expand to new lands, and many wanted to reopen the international slave trade.
Southern fears of losing control of the federal government to antislavery forces, and Northern resentment of the influence that the Slave Power already wielded in government, brought the crisis to a head in the late 1850s. Disagreements between Abolitionists and others over the morality of slavery, the scope of democracy and the economic merits of free labor versus slave plantations caused the Whig and “Know-Nothing” parties to collapse, and new ones to arise (the Free Soil Party in 1848, the Republicans in 1854, the Constitutional Union in 1860). In 1860, the last national political party, the Democratic Party, split along sectional lines.
Northerners ranging from the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison to the moderate Republican leader Lincoln stressed Jefferson’s declaration that all men are created equal. Lincoln mentioned this proposition many times, including his 1863 Gettysburg Address.
Almost all the inter-regional crises involved slavery, starting with debates on the three-fifths clause and a twenty-year extension of the African slave trade in the Constitutional Convention of 1787. The 1793 invention of the cotton gin by Eli Whitney increased by fiftyfold the quantity of cotton that could be processed in a day and greatly increased the demand for slave labor in the South. There was controversy over adding the slave state of Missouri to the Union that led to the Missouri Compromise of 1820. A gag rule prevented discussion in Congress of petitions for ending slavery from 1835–1844, while Manifest Destiny became an argument for gaining new territories, where slavery could expand. The acquisition of Texas as a slave state in 1845 along with territories won as a result of the Mexican–American War (1846–1848) resulted in the Compromise of 1850. The Wilmot Proviso was an attempt by Northern politicians to exclude slavery from the territories conquered from Mexico. The extremely popular anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852) by Harriet Beecher Stowe greatly increased Northern opposition to the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.
John Brown being adored by an enslaved mother and child as he walks to his execution on December 2, 1859.The 1854 Ostend Manifesto was an unsuccessful Southern attempt to annex Cuba as a slave state. The Second Party System broke down after passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, which replaced the Missouri Compromise ban on slavery with popular sovereignty, allowing the people of a territory to vote for or against slavery. The Bleeding Kansas controversy over the status of slavery in the Kansas Territory included massive vote fraud perpetrated by Missouri pro-slavery Border Ruffians. Vote fraud led pro-South Presidents Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan to attempt to admit Kansas as a slave state. Buchanan supported the pro-slavery Lecompton Constitution.
Violence over the status of slavery in Kansas erupted with the Wakarusa War, the Sacking of Lawrence, the caning of Republican Charles Sumner by the Southerner Preston Brooks, the Pottawatomie Massacre, the Battle of Black Jack, the Battle of Osawatomie and the Marais des Cygnes massacre. The 1857 Supreme Court Dred Scott decision allowed slavery in the territories even where the majority opposed slavery, including Kansas.
The Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 included Northern Democratic leader Stephen A. Douglas’ Freeport Doctrine. This doctrine was an argument for thwarting the Dred Scott decision that, along with Douglas’ defeat of the Lecompton Constitution, divided the Democratic Party between North and South. Northern abolitionist John Brown’s raid at Harpers Ferry Armory was an attempt to incite slave insurrections in 1859. The North-South split in the Democratic Party in 1860 due to the Southern demand for a slave code for the territories completed polarization of the nation between North and South.
James Hopkinson’s Plantation. Planting sweet potatoes. ca. 1862/63.
Scars of whipped slave. This famous 1863 photo was distributed by abolitionists to illustrate what they saw as the barbarism of Southern society. The victim likely suffered from keloid, according to Kathleen Collins, making the scars more prominent and extensive.Support for secession was strongly correlated to the number of plantations in the region. States of the Deep South, which had the greatest concentration of plantations, were the first to secede. The upper South slave states of Virginia, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Tennessee had fewer plantations and rejected secession until the Fort Sumter crisis forced them to choose sides. Border states had fewer plantations still and never seceded.
As of 1860 the percentage of Southern families that owned slaves has been estimated to be 43 percent in the lower South, 36 percent in the upper South and 22 percent in the border states that fought mostly for the Union. Half the owners had one to four slaves. A total of 8000 planters owned 50 or more slaves in 1850 and only 1800 planters owned 100 or more; of the latter, 85% lived in the lower South, as opposed to one percent in the border states. According to the 1860 U.S. census, 393,975 individuals, representing 8 percent of all US families, owned 3,950,528 slaves.
Ninety-five percent of African-Americans lived in the South, comprising one third of the population there as opposed to one percent of the population of the North, chiefly in larger cities like New York and Philadelphia. Consequently, fears of eventual emancipation were much greater in the South than in the North.
The Supreme Court decision of 1857 in Dred Scott v. Sandford escalated the controversy. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney’s decision said that slaves were “so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect”. Taney then overturned the Missouri Compromise, which banned slavery in territory north of the 36°30′ parallel. He stated, “[T]he Act of Congress which prohibited a citizen from holding and owning [enslaved persons] in the territory of the United States north of the line therein is not warranted by the Constitution and is therefore void.”
Southern Democrats praised the Dred Scott decision, but Republicans branded it a “willful perversion” of the Constitution. They argued that if Scott could not legally file suit, the Supreme Court had no right to consider the Missouri Compromise’s constitutionality. Lincoln warned that “the next Dred Scott decision” could threaten Northern states with slavery.
Lincoln said, “This question of Slavery was more important than any other; indeed, so much more important has it become that no other national question can even get a hearing just at present.” The slavery issue was related to sectional competition for control of the territories, and the Southern demand for a slave code for the territories was the issue used by Southern politicians to split the Democratic Party in two, which all but guaranteed the election of Lincoln and secession. When secession was an issue, South Carolina planter and state Senator John Townsend said that, “our enemies are about to take possession of the Government, that they intend to rule us according to the caprices of their fanatical theories, and according to the declared purposes of abolishing slavery.” Similar opinions were expressed throughout the South in editorials, political speeches and declarations of reasons for secession. Even though Lincoln had no plans to outlaw slavery where it existed, whites throughout the South expressed fears for the future of slavery.
Southern concerns included not only economic loss but also fears of racial equality. The Texas Declaration of Causes for Secession said that the non-slave-holding states were “proclaiming the debasing doctrine of equality of all men, irrespective of race or color”, and that the African race “were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race”. Alabama secessionist E. S. Dargan warned that whites and free blacks could not live together; if slaves were emancipated and remained in the South, “we ourselves would become the executioners of our own slaves. To this extent would the policy of our Northern enemies drive us; and thus would we not only be reduced to poverty, but what is still worse, we should be driven to crime, to the commission of sin.”
Beginning in the 1830s, the US Postmaster General refused to allow mail which carried abolition pamphlets to the South. Northern teachers suspected of any tinge of abolitionism were expelled from the South, and abolitionist literature was banned. Southerners rejected the denials of Republicans that they were abolitionists. The North felt threatened as well, for as Eric Foner concludes, “Northerners came to view slavery as the very antithesis of the good society, as well as a threat to their own fundamental values and interests.”
During the 1850s, slaves left the border states through sale, manumission and escape, and border states also had more free African-Americans and European immigrants than the lower South, which increased Southern fears that slavery was threatened with rapid extinction in this area. Such fears greatly increased Southern efforts to make Kansas a slave state. By 1860, the number of white border state families owning slaves plunged to only 16 percent of the total. Slaves sold to lower South states were owned by a smaller number of wealthy slave owners as the price of slaves increased.
Even though Lincoln agreed to the Corwin Amendment, which would have protected slavery in existing states, secessionists claimed that such guarantees were meaningless. Besides the loss of Kansas to free soil Northerners, secessionists feared that the loss of slaves in the border states would lead to emancipation, and that upper South slave states might be the next dominoes to fall. They feared that Republicans would use patronage to incite slaves and antislavery Southern whites such as Hinton Rowan Helper. Then slavery in the lower South, like a “scorpion encircled by fire, would sting itself to death.”
According to historian Chandra Manning, both Union and Confederate soldiers who did the actual fighting believed slavery to be the cause of the Civil War. He argues that a majority of Confederate soldiers fought to protect slavery, which they viewed as an integral part of southern economy, culture, and manhood. Further, he argues that Union soldiers believed the primary reason for the war was to bring emancipation to the slaves. However, many Union soldiers did not fully endorse the idea of shedding their own blood for African American slaves, whom they viewed as inferior. Manning’s research involved reading military camp newspapers and personal correspondence between soldiers and families during the Civil War. Manning stated that the primary debate in Confederate states over secession was not over state rights, but rather “the power of the federal government to affect the institution of slavery, specifically limiting it in newly added territories.” Other historians, such as Eric Foner, argue that no two people held the same motivations. He argues that while some were motivated mainly by slavery, most were motivated by some mixture of politics, culture, nationalism, honor, or any other number of motivations.
Status of the states, 1861.
States that seceded before April 15, 1861
States that seceded after April 15, 1861
Union states that permitted slavery
Union states that banned slavery
TerritoriesSectionalism refers to the different economies, social structure, customs and political values of the North and South. It increased steadily between 1800 and 1860 as the North, which phased slavery out of existence, industrialized, urbanized and built prosperous farms, while the deep South concentrated on plantation agriculture based on slave labor, together with subsistence farming for the poor whites. The South expanded into rich new lands in the Southwest (from Alabama to Texas).
However, slavery declined in the border states and could barely survive in cities and industrial areas (it was fading out in cities such as Baltimore, Louisville and St. Louis), so a South based on slavery was rural and non-industrial. On the other hand, as the demand for cotton grew the price of slaves soared. Historians have debated whether economic differences between the industrial Northeast and the agricultural South helped cause the war. Most historians now disagree with the economic determinism of historian Charles Beard in the 1920s and emphasize that Northern and Southern economies were largely complementary.
Fears of slave revolts and abolitionist propaganda made the South militantly hostile to abolitionism. Southerners complained that it was the North that was changing, and was prone to new “isms”, while the South remained true to historic republican values of the Founding Fathers (many of whom owned slaves, including Washington, Jefferson and Madison). Lincoln said that Republicans were following the tradition of the framers of the Constitution (including the Northwest Ordinance and the Missouri Compromise) by preventing expansion of slavery.
The issue of accepting slavery (in the guise of rejecting slave-owning bishops and missionaries) split the largest religious denominations (the Methodist, Baptist and Presbyterian churches) into separate Northern and Southern denominations. Industrialization meant that seven European immigrants out of eight settled in the North. The movement of twice as many whites leaving the South for the North as vice versa contributed to the South’s defensive-aggressive political behavior.
The Territorial Crisis and the United States ConstitutionBetween 1803 and 1854, a vast expansion of US territory was achieved through purchase, negotiation and conquest. These acquisitions included over a million and a quarter square miles acquired in just the last decade of this period alone. Of the states carved out of these territories by 1845, all had entered the union as slave states: Louisiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Florida and Texas, as well as the southern portions of Alabama and Mississippi. And with the conquest of northern Mexico, including California, in 1848, slaveholding interests looked forward to the institution flourishing in these lands as well. Southerners also anticipated garnering slaves and slave states in Cuba and Central America. Northern free soil interests vigorously sought to curtail any further expansion of slave soil. It was over these territorial disputes that the proslavery and antislavery forces collided over the future of slavery in America.
The existence of slavery in the southern states was far less politically polarizing than the explosive question of the territorial expansion of the institution in the west. Moreover, Americans were informed by two well-established readings of the Constitution regarding human bondage. First, that the slave states had complete autonomy over the institution within their boundaries; and second, that the domestic slave trade – trade among the states – was immune to federal interference.
With the outlawing and criminalization of the Atlantic slave trade in 1808 and 1820, the only constitutionally feasible strategy available to freesoilers to attack slavery was to restrict its introduction into the territories. A policy of “containment” – limiting slavery to where it already existed – would set the institution on a trajectory towards “ultimate extinction”. Slaveholding interests fully grasped the danger that this strategy posed to the security and perpetuation of human bondage. Both the South and the North drew an identical conclusion: “The power to decide the question of slavery for the territories was the power to determine the future of slavery itself.”
Four doctrines, each mutually irreconcilable, emerged to provide the answer to the question of federal control in the territories. All these theories claimed to be sanctioned by, or derived from, the Constitution – either explicitly or implicitly. The traditional or “conservative” position was based on Article 4, Section 3, Clause 2 of the Constitution: “The Congress shall have power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.”
From these enumerated powers, two of the four doctrines emerged, each arguing that Congress had full authority to decide the fate of slavery in the territories. The precedents of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 and the Missouri Compromise of 1820 were cited by proponents of federal control. In each of these historic compromises, the territories under consideration were divided into an explicitly designated free-soil region, as well as an undesignated region lacking a slavery exclusion clause. In other words, the legislation provided for, but did not require, a balance between free-soil and slave-soil. In all areas not placed off-limits to slavery, the institution was quickly established there.
Here, the two traditional or “conservative” doctrines parted ways. The Constitutional Union Party regarded Congressional allocation of free-soil and, implicitly, slave-soil territory as an established method of compromise. Any dispute over slavery expansion was to end in similar apportionments. The Crittenden Compromise of 1860 was an expression of this political outlook.
The Republican Party, which also championed federal control over territories, rejected this narrow interpretation of the precedents. They insisted that the clause conveying authority to Congress in the territories did not bind legislators to any particular policy; slavery could be constitutionally excluded altogether in a territory at their discretion.
The only caveat the Republicans issued was that the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment be applied in the territories to slavery: Congress might positively prohibit slavery, but they could never establish it; to do so, according to the Republicans, would amount to a federal mandate for slavery and violate the principles of the Declaration of Independence.
Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas and his southern Democratic Party allies devised the third of these political theories: territorial sovereignty. By this doctrine Congress would relinquish direct federal control over the internal affairs of territories regarding slavery. In this respect, territorial sovereignty (also known as “popular” or “squatter” sovereignty) diverged sharply from the two aforementioned conservative theories.
Douglas declared that “the people of every separate political community” – be it a state, a territory, or otherwise – “have an inalienable right to govern themselves” with respect to local concerns. Among these local concerns, Douglas included slavery. When challenged to explain how territorial sovereignty trumped the role of Congress as enumerated in Article Four, he replied this way: that Congress was empowered only to confer authority into the hands of the territorial government, but never to exercise any direct control, including the establishment of social institutions.
The fourth in this quartet of constitutional doctrines was that of state sovereignty (also known as states’ rights). Among the principles of state sovereignty was that all authority regarding the institution of slavery in the territories resided in the slave states themselves. The role of the federal government was merely to enable the implementation of slave state laws when residents of the states entered the territories.
As early as 1847, shortly after the introduction of the Wilmot Proviso, the ideology of state sovereignty emerged as a rebuttal and antidote to free soil claims to the Mexican Cession. South Carolinian statesman John C. Calhoun asserted that the federal government in the territories was only the trustee or agent of the several sovereign states, obliged not to discriminate among the states and hence incapable of forbidding the bringing into any territory of anything that was legal property in any state. He concluded that citizens from every state had the right to take their property to any territory.
State sovereignty gave the laws of the slaveholding states extra-jurisdictional effect. The slave-owner and his property would settle in a territory much as a colonist settled in early colonial America; all rights and privileges recognized in the mother country (or sovereign slave state) would be retained by the colonists in their new home (US territory). The United States federal government would be bound by law to protect the settlers sovereign “rights” and intercede on their behalf if state statutes were threatened.
Essentially, “states’ rights” was an ideology formulated and applied as a means of advancing slave state interests through federal authority and thwarting free state interests, by application of the same federal authority. As historian Thomas L Krannawitter points out, “[T]he Southern demand for federal slave protection represented a demand for an unprecedented expansion of federal power.”
By 1860, these four doctrines comprised the major ideologies presented to the American public on the matters of slavery, the territories and the US Constitution.
Nationalism and honorNationalism was a powerful force in the early 19th century, with famous spokesmen like Andrew Jackson and Daniel Webster. While practically all Northerners supported the Union, Southerners were split between those loyal to the entire United States (called “unionists”) and those loyal primarily to the southern region and then the Confederacy. C. Vann Woodward said of the latter group, “A great slave society…had grown up and miraculously flourished in the heart of a thoroughly bourgeois and partly puritanical republic. It had renounced its bourgeois origins and elaborated and painfully rationalized its institutional, legal, metaphysical, and religious defenses….When the crisis came it chose to fight. It proved to be the death struggle of a society, which went down in ruins.” Perceived insults to Southern collective honor included the publication of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1854) and the actions of John Brown in 1859.
While the South moved toward a Southern nationalism, leaders in the North were also becoming more nationally minded, and rejected any notion of splitting the Union. The Republican national electoral platform of 1860 warned that Republicans regarded disunion as treason and would not tolerate it:
we denounce those threats of disunion…as denying the vital principles of a free government, and as an avowal of contemplated treason, which it is the imperative duty of an indignant people sternly to rebuke and forever silence. The South ignored the warnings: Southerners did not realize how ardently the North would fight to hold the Union together.
States’ rightsMain article: States’ rights
Everyone agreed that states had certain rights—but did those rights carry over when a citizen left that state? The Southern position was that citizens of every state had the right to take their property anywhere in the U.S. and not have it taken away—specifically they could bring their slaves anywhere and they would remain slaves. Northerners rejected this “right” because it would violate the right of a free state to outlaw slavery within its borders. Republicans committed to ending the expansion of slavery were among those opposed to any such right to bring slaves and slavery into the free states and territories. The Dred Scott Supreme Court decision of 1857 bolstered the Southern case within territories, and angered the North.
Secondly the South argued that each state had the right to secede—leave the Union—at any time, that the Constitution was a “compact” or agreement among the states. Northerners (including President Buchanan) rejected that notion as opposed to the will of the Founding Fathers who said they were setting up a “perpetual union”. Historian James McPherson writes concerning states’ rights and other non-slavery explanations:
While one or more of these interpretations remain popular among the Sons of Confederate Veterans and other Southern heritage groups, few professional historians now subscribe to them. Of all these interpretations, the state’s-rights argument is perhaps the weakest. It fails to ask the question, state’s rights for what purpose? State’s rights, or sovereignty, was always more a means than an end, an instrument to achieve a certain goal more than a principle.
Marais des Cygnes massacre of anti-slavery Kansans. May 19, 1858.Slave power and free soil issuesMain article: Slave Power
Antislavery forces in the North identified the “Slave Power” as a direct threat to republican values. They argued that rich slave owners were using political power to take control of the Presidency, Congress and the Supreme Court, thus threatening the rights of the citizens of the North.
“Free soil” was a Northern demand that the new lands opening up in the west be available to independent yeoman farmers and not be bought out by rich slave owners who would buy up the best land and work it with slaves, forcing the white farmers onto marginal lands. This was the basis of the Free Soil Party of 1848, and a main theme of the Republican Party. Free Soilers and Republicans demanded a homestead law that would give government land to settlers; it was defeated by Southerners who feared it would attract to the west European immigrants and poor Southern whites.
TariffsMain article: Tariffs in United States history
The Democrats in Congress, controlled by Southerners, wrote the tariff laws in the 1830s, 1840s, and 1850s, and kept reducing rates, so that the 1857 rates were the lowest since 1816. The South had no complaints but the low rates angered Northern industrialists and factory workers, especially in Pennsylvania, who demanded protection for their growing iron industry. The Whigs and Republicans complained because they favored high tariffs to stimulate industrial growth, and Republicans called for an increase in tariffs in the 1860 election. The increases were finally enacted in 1861 after Southerners resigned their seats in Congress.
Historians in recent decades have minimized the tariff issue, noting that few Southerners in 1860–61 said it was of central importance to them. Some secessionist documents do mention the tariff issue, though not nearly as often as the preservation of slavery.
Election of LincolnMain article: United States presidential election, 1860
Abraham Lincoln, 16th President (1861–1865)The election of Lincoln in November 1860 was the final trigger for secession. Efforts at compromise, including the “Corwin Amendment” and the “Crittenden Compromise”, failed. Southern leaders feared that Lincoln would stop the expansion of slavery and put it on a course toward extinction. The slave states, which had already become a minority in the House of Representatives, were now facing a future as a perpetual minority in the Senate and Electoral College against an increasingly powerful North. Before Lincoln took office in March 1861, seven slave states had declared their secession and joined to form the Confederacy.
Battle of Fort SumterMain article: Battle of Fort Sumter
The Lincoln Administration, just as the outgoing Buchanan administration before it, refused to turn over Ft. Sumter—located in the middle of the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. Jefferson Davis ordered the surrender of the fort. Union Maj. Anderson gave a conditional reply which the Confederate government rejected, and Davis ordered Beauregard to attack the fort before a relief expedition could arrive. After a heavy bombardment on April 12–13, 1861 (with no intentional casualties), the fort surrendered. On April 15, Lincoln then called for 75,000 troops from the states to recapture the fort and other federal property.
Rather than furnish troops and access for an attack on their fellow southern states, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas elected to join them in secession. North and South the response to Ft. Sumter was an overwhelming demand for war to uphold national honor. Only Kentucky tried to remain neutral. Hundreds of thousands of young men across the land rushed to enlist.
Jefferson Davis, the only President of the Confederate States of America (1861–1865)
The Union: blue, yellow (slave);
The Confederacy: brown
*territories in light shades; control of Confederate territories disputedSecession of South CarolinaSee also: Antebellum South Carolina
South Carolina did more to advance nullification and secession than any other Southern state. South Carolina adopted the “Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union” on December 24, 1860. It argued for states’ rights for slave owners in the South, but contained a complaint about states’ rights in the North in the form of opposition to the Fugitive Slave Act, claiming that Northern states were not fulfilling their federal obligations under the Constitution. All the alleged violations of the rights of Southern states were related to slavery.
Secession winterBefore Lincoln took office, seven states had declared their secession from the Union. They established a Southern government, the Confederate States of America on February 4, 1861. They took control of federal forts and other properties within their boundaries with little resistance from outgoing President James Buchanan, whose term ended on March 4, 1861. Buchanan said that the Dred Scott decision was proof that the South had no reason for secession, and that the Union “was intended to be perpetual”, but that “the power by force of arms to compel a State to remain in the Union” was not among the “enumerated powers granted to Congress”. One quarter of the U.S. Army—the entire garrison in Texas—was surrendered in February 1861 to state forces by its commanding general, David E. Twiggs, who then joined the Confederacy.
As Southerners resigned their seats in the Senate and the House, Republicans were able to pass bills for projects that had been blocked by Southern Senators before the war, including the Morrill Tariff, land grant colleges (the Morill Act), a Homestead Act, a transcontinental railroad (the Pacific Railway Acts), the National Banking Act and the authorization of United States Notes by the Legal Tender Act of 1862. The Revenue Act of 1861 introduced the income tax to help finance the war.
American Civil War
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Main article: Confederate States of America
Seven Deep South cotton states seceded by February 1861, starting with South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas. These seven states formed the Confederate States of America (February 4, 1861), with Jefferson Davis as president, and a governmental structure closely modeled on the U.S. Constitution.
Following the attack on Fort Sumter, President Lincoln called for a volunteer army from each state. Within two months, an additional four Southern slave states declared their secession and joined the Confederacy: Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina and Tennessee. The northwestern portion of Virginia subsequently seceded from Virginia, joining the Union as the new state of West Virginia on June 20, 1863. By the end of 1861, Missouri and Kentucky were effectively under Union control, with Confederate state governments in exile.
The Union statesMain article: Union (American Civil War)
Twenty-three states remained loyal to the Union: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. During the war, Nevada and West Virginia joined as new states of the Union. Tennessee and Louisiana were returned to Union military control early in the war.
The territories of Colorado, Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Washington fought on the Union side. Several slave-holding Native American tribes supported the Confederacy, giving the Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) a small, bloody civil war.
Border statesMain article: Border states (American Civil War)
The border states in the Union were West Virginia (which separated from Virginia and became a new state), and four of the five northernmost slave states (Maryland, Delaware, Missouri, and Kentucky).
Maryland had numerous pro-Confederate officials who tolerated anti-Union rioting in Baltimore and the burning of bridges. Lincoln responded with martial law and sent in militia units from the North. Before the Confederate government realized what was happening, Lincoln had seized firm control of Maryland and the District of Columbia, by arresting all the prominent secessionists and holding them without trial (they were later released).
In Missouri, an elected convention on secession voted decisively to remain within the Union. When pro-Confederate Governor Claiborne F. Jackson called out the state militia, it was attacked by federal forces under General Nathaniel Lyon, who chased the governor and the rest of the State Guard to the southwestern corner of the state. (See also: Missouri secession). In the resulting vacuum, the convention on secession reconvened and took power as the Unionist provisional government of Missouri.
A Roman Catholic Union army chaplain celebrating a MassKentucky did not secede; for a time, it declared itself neutral. When Confederate forces entered the state in September 1861, neutrality ended and the state reaffirmed its Union status, while trying to maintain slavery. During a brief invasion by Confederate forces, Confederate sympathizers organized a secession convention, inaugurated a governor, and gained recognition from the Confederacy. The rebel government soon went into exile and never controlled Kentucky.
After Virginia’s secession, a Unionist government in Wheeling asked 48 counties to vote on an ordinance to create a new state on October 24, 1861. A voter turnout of 34% approved the statehood bill (96% approving). The inclusion of 24 secessionist counties in the state and the ensuing guerrilla war engaged about 40,000 Federal troops for much of the war. Congress admitted West Virginia to the Union on June 20, 1863. West Virginia provided about 20,000-22,000 soldiers to both the Confederacy and the Union.
A Unionist secession attempt occurred in East Tennessee, but was suppressed by the Confederacy, which arrested over 3000 men suspected of being loyal to the Union. They were held without trial.
OverviewOver 10,000 military engagements took place during the war, 40% of them in Virginia and Tennessee. Since separate articles deal with every major battle and many minor ones, this article only gives the broadest outline. For more information see List of American Civil War battles and Military leadership in the American Civil War.
The beginning of the war, 1861For more details on this topic, see Battle of Fort Sumter.
Lincoln’s victory in the presidential election of 1860 triggered South Carolina’s declaration of secession from the Union. By February 1861, an additional six Southern states made similar declarations. On February 7, the seven states adopted a provisional constitution for the Confederate States of America and established their temporary capital at Montgomery, Alabama. A pre-war February Peace Conference of 1861 met in Washington in a failed attempt at resolving the crisis. The remaining eight slave states rejected pleas to join the Confederacy. Confederate forces seized most of the federal forts within their boundaries. President Buchanan protested but made no military response apart from a failed attempt to resupply Fort Sumter using the ship Star of the West, which was fired upon by South Carolina forces and turned back before it reached the fort. However, governors in Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania quietly began buying weapons and training militia units.
The great meeting in Union Square, New York, to support the government, April 20, 1861On March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as President. In his inaugural address, he argued that the Constitution was a more perfect union than the earlier Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, that it was a binding contract, and called any secession “legally void”. He stated he had no intent to invade Southern states, nor did he intend to end slavery where it existed, but that he would use force to maintain possession of federal property. His speech closed with a plea for restoration of the bonds of union.
The South sent delegations to Washington and offered to pay for the federal properties and enter into a peace treaty with the United States. Lincoln rejected any negotiations with Confederate agents because he claimed the Confederacy was not a legitimate government, and that making any treaty with it would be tantamount to recognition of it as a sovereign government. However, Secretary of State William Seward engaged in unauthorized and indirect negotiations that failed.
Fort Monroe in Virginia, Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, and Fort Pickens, Fort Jefferson, and Fort Taylor, all in Florida, were the remaining Union-held forts in the Confederacy, and Lincoln was determined to hold them all. Under orders from Confederate President Jefferson Davis, troops controlled by the Confederate government under P. G. T. Beauregard bombarded Fort Sumter on April 12, forcing its capitulation. Northerners rallied behind Lincoln’s call for all the states to send troops to recapture the forts and to preserve the Union, citing presidential powers given by the Militia Acts of 1792. With the scale of the rebellion apparently small so far, Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers for 90 days. For months before that, several Northern governors had discreetly readied their state militias; they began to move forces the next day. Confederate sympathizers seized Liberty Arsenal in Liberty, Missouri on April 20, eight days after Fort Sumter. On May 3, 1861, Lincoln called for an additional 42,034 volunteers for a period of three years.
Four states in the upper South (Tennessee, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Virginia), which had repeatedly rejected Confederate overtures, now refused to send forces against their neighbors, declared their secession, and joined the Confederacy. To reward Virginia, the Confederate capital was moved to Richmond.
The city was the symbol of the Confederacy. Richmond was in a highly vulnerable location at the end of a tortuous Confederate supply line. Although Richmond was heavily fortified, supplies for the city would be reduced by Sherman’s capture of Atlanta and cut off almost entirely when Grant besieged Petersburg and its railroads that supplied the Southern capital.
Anaconda Plan and blockade, 1861Main article: Union blockade
1861 cartoon of Scott’s “Anaconda Plan”Winfield Scott, the commanding general of the U.S. Army, devised the Anaconda Plan to win the war with as little bloodshed as possible. His idea was that a Union blockade of the main ports would weaken the Confederate economy; then the capture of the Mississippi River would split the South. Lincoln adopted the plan in terms of a blockade to squeeze to death the Confederate economy, but overruled Scott’s warnings that his new army was not ready for an offensive operation because public opinion demanded an immediate attack.
In April 1861, Lincoln announced the Union blockade of all Southern ports; commercial ships could not get insurance and regular traffic ended. The South blundered in embargoing cotton exports in 1861 before the blockade was effective; by the time they realized the mistake it was too late. “King Cotton” was dead, as the South could export less than 10% of its cotton. British investors built small, fast blockade runners that traded arms and luxuries brought in from Bermuda, Cuba and the Bahamas in return for high-priced cotton and tobacco. When the Union Navy seized a blockade runner, the ship and cargo were sold and the proceeds given to the Navy sailors; the captured crewmen were mostly British and they were simply released. The Southern economy nearly collapsed during the war. Shortages of food and supplies were caused by the blockade, the failure of Southern railroads, the loss of control of the main rivers, foraging by Northern armies, and the impressment of crops by Confederate armies. The standard of living fell even as large-scale printing of paper money caused inflation and distrust of the currency. By 1864 the internal food distribution had broken down, leaving cities without enough food and causing bread riots across the Confederacy.
On March 8, 1862, the Confederate Navy waged a fight against the Union Navy when the ironclad CSS Virginia attacked the blockade. Against wooden ships, she seemed unstoppable. The next day, however, she had to fight the new Union warship USS Monitor in the Battle of the Ironclads. Their battle ended in a draw. The Confederacy lost the Virginia when the ship was scuttled to prevent capture, and the Union built many copies of Monitor. Lacking the technology to build effective warships, the Confederacy attempted to obtain warships from Britain.
Northern technology achieved another breakthrough on April 10–11, 1862, when a joint Army-Navy expedition reduced a major masonry fortification at Fort Pulaski guarding Savannah, Georgia. Employing the Parrott rifle cannon made masonry coastal defenses obsolete overnight. The Federals left a small garrison, releasing troops and ships for other blockading operations. The Union victory at the Second Battle of Fort Fisher in January 1865 closed the last useful Southern port and virtually ended blockade running.
Conscription and desertion
A Union Regimental Fife and Drum CorpsIn the first year of the war, both sides had far more volunteers than they could effectively train and equip. After the initial enthusiasm faded, reliance on the cohort of young men who came of age every year and wanted to join was not enough. Both sides used a draft law—conscription—as a device to encourage or force volunteering; relatively few were actually drafted and served. The Confederacy passed a draft law in April 1862 for young men aged 18 to 35; overseers of slaves, government officials, and clergymen were exempt. The U.S. Congress followed in July, authorizing a militia draft within a state when it could not meet its quota with volunteers.
When the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect in January 1863, ex-slaves were energetically recruited by the states, and used to meet the state quotas. States and local communities offered higher and higher cash bonuses for white volunteers. Congress tightened the law in March 1863. Men selected in the draft could provide substitutes or, until mid-1864, pay commutation money. Many eligibles pooled their money to cover the cost of anyone drafted. Families used the substitute provision to select which man should go into the army and which should stay home. There was much evasion and overt resistance to the draft, especially in Catholic areas. The great draft riot in New York City in July 1863 involved Irish immigrants who had been signed up as citizens to swell the machine vote, not realizing it made them liable for the draft. Of the 168,649 men procured for the Union through the draft, 117,986 were substitutes, leaving only 50,663 who had their personal services conscripted.
North and South, the draft laws were highly unpopular. An estimated 120,000 men evaded conscription in the North, many of them fleeing to Canada, and another 280,000 Northern soldiers deserted during the war, along with at least 100,000 Southerners, or about 10% all together. However, desertion was a very common event in the 19th century; in the peacetime Army about 15% of the soldiers deserted every year. In the South, many men deserted temporarily to take care of their families, then returned to their units. In the North, “bounty jumpers” enlisted to get the generous bonus, deserted, then went back to a second recruiting station under a different name to sign up again for a second bonus; 141 were caught and executed.
Union soldiers in trenches before storming Marye’s Heights at the Second Battle of Fredericksburg, Virginia, May 1863.Eastern theater 1861–1863For more details on this topic, see Eastern Theater of the American Civil War.
Because of the fierce resistance of a few initial Confederate forces at Manassas, Virginia, in July 1861, a march by Union troops under the command of Maj. Gen. Irvin McDowell on the Confederate forces there was halted in the First Battle of Bull Run, or First Manassas, McDowell’s troops were forced back to Washington, D.C., by the Confederates under the command of Generals Joseph E. Johnston and P. G. T. Beauregard. It was in this battle that Confederate General Thomas Jackson received the nickname of “Stonewall” because he stood like a stone wall against Union troops.
Alarmed at the loss, and in an attempt to prevent more slave states from leaving the Union, the U.S. Congress passed the Crittenden-Johnson Resolution on July 25 of that year, which stated that the war was being fought to preserve the Union and not to end slavery.
Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan took command of the Union Army of the Potomac on July 26 (he was briefly general-in-chief of all the Union armies, but was subsequently relieved of that post in favor of Maj. Gen. Henry W. Halleck), and the war began in earnest in 1862. Upon the strong urging of President Lincoln to begin offensive operations, McClellan attacked Virginia in the spring of 1862 by way of the peninsula between the York River and James River, southeast of Richmond. Although McClellan’s army reached the gates of Richmond in the Peninsula Campaign, Johnston halted his advance at the Battle of Seven Pines, then General Robert E. Lee and top subordinates James Longstreet and Stonewall Jackson defeated McClellan in the Seven Days Battles and forced his retreat. The Northern Virginia Campaign, which included the Second Battle of Bull Run, ended in yet another victory for the South. McClellan resisted General-in-Chief Halleck’s orders to send reinforcements to John Pope’s Union Army of Virginia, which made it easier for Lee’s Confederates to defeat twice the number of combined enemy troops.
Rioters attacking a building on Lexington Avenue during the New York City draft riots of 1863Emboldened by Second Bull Run, the Confederacy made its first invasion of the North. General Lee led 45,000 men of the Army of Northern Virginia across the Potomac River into Maryland on September 5. Lincoln then restored Pope’s troops to McClellan. McClellan and Lee fought at the Battle of Antietam near Sharpsburg, Maryland, on September 17, 1862, the bloodiest single day in United States military history. Lee’s army, checked at last, returned to Virginia before McClellan could destroy it. Antietam is considered a Union victory because it halted Lee’s invasion of the North and provided an opportunity for Lincoln to announce his Emancipation Proclamation.
When the cautious McClellan failed to follow up on Antietam, he was replaced by Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside. Burnside was soon defeated at the Battle of Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862, when over 12,000 Union soldiers were killed or wounded during repeated futile frontal assaults against Marye’s Heights. After the battle, Burnside was replaced by Maj. Gen. Joseph Hooker.
Confederate dead behind the stone wall of Marye’s Heights, Fredericksburg, Virginia, killed during the Battle of Chancellorsville, May 1863Hooker, too, proved unable to defeat Lee’s army; despite outnumbering the Confederates by more than two to one, he was humiliated in the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1863. Gen. Stonewall Jackson was mortally wounded by his own men during the battle and subsequently died of complications. Gen. Hooker was replaced by Maj. Gen. George Meade during Lee’s second invasion of the North, in June. Meade defeated Lee at the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1 to July 3, 1863). This was the bloodiest battle of the war, and has been called the war’s turning point. Pickett’s Charge on July 3 is often considered the high-water mark of the Confederacy because it signaled the collapse of serious Confederate threats of victory. Lee’s army suffered 28,000 casualties (versus Meade’s 23,000). However, Lincoln was angry that Meade failed to intercept Lee’s retreat, and after Meade’s inconclusive fall campaign, Lincoln turned to the Western Theater for new leadership. At the same time the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg surrendered, giving the Union control of the Mississippi River, permanently isolating the western Confederacy, and producing the new leader Lincoln needed, Ulysses S. Grant.
Western theater 1861–1863For more details on this topic, see Western Theater of the American Civil War.
While the Confederate forces had numerous successes in the Eastern Theater, they were defeated many times in the West. They were driven from Missouri early in the war as a result of the Battle of Pea Ridge. Leonidas Polk’s invasion of Columbus, Kentucky ended Kentucky’s policy of neutrality and turned that state against the Confederacy. Nashville and central Tennessee fell to the Union early in 1862, leading to attrition of local food supplies and livestock and a breakdown in social organization.
The Mississippi was opened to Union traffic to the southern border of Tennessee with the taking of Island No. 10 and New Madrid, Missouri, and then Memphis, Tennessee. In April 1862, the Union Navy captured New Orleans without a major fight, which allowed Union forces to begin moving up the Mississippi. Only the fortress city of Vicksburg, Mississippi, prevented Union control of the entire river.
General Braxton Bragg’s second Confederate invasion of Kentucky ended with a meaningless victory over Maj. Gen. Don Carlos Buell at the Battle of Perryville, although Bragg was forced to end his attempt at invading Kentucky and retreat due to lack of support for the Confederacy in that state. Bragg was narrowly defeated by Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans at the Battle of Stones River in Tennessee.
The Battle of Chickamauga was one of the deadliest battles in the Western Theater.The one clear Confederate victory in the West was the Battle of Chickamauga. Bragg, reinforced by Lt. Gen. James Longstreet’s corps (from Lee’s army in the east), defeated Rosecrans, despite the heroic defensive stand of Maj. Gen. George Henry Thomas. Rosecrans retreated to Chattanooga, which Bragg then besieged.
The Union’s key strategist and tactician in the West was Ulysses S. Grant, who won victories at Forts Henry and Donelson (by which the Union seized control of the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers); the Battle of Shiloh; and the Battle of Vicksburg, which cemented Union control of the Mississippi River and is considered one of the turning points of the war. Grant marched to the relief of Rosecrans and defeated Bragg at the Third Battle of Chattanooga, driving Confederate forces out of Tennessee and opening a route to Atlanta and the heart of the Confederacy.
Trans-Mississippi theater 1861–1865For more details on this topic, see Trans-Mississippi Theater of the American Civil War.
Guerrilla activity turned much of Missouri into a battleground. Missouri had, in total, the third-most battles of any state during the war. The other states of the west, though geographically isolated from the battles to the east, saw numerous small-scale military actions. Battles in the region served to secure Missouri, Indian Territory, and New Mexico Territory for the Union. Confederate incursions into New Mexico territory were repulsed in 1862 and a Union campaign to secure Indian Territory succeeded in 1863. Late in the war, the Union’s Red River Campaign was a failure. Texas remained in Confederate hands throughout the war, but was cut off from the rest of the Confederacy after the capture of Vicksburg in 1863 gave the Union control of the Mississippi River.
Conquest of Virginia and end of war: 1864–1865
The Peacemakers (1868) by George P.A. Healy. Aboard the River Queen, March 28, 1865, General William T. Sherman, General Ulysses S. Grant, Lincoln, and Admiral David Dixon Porter discuss military plans for final months of the Civil War.At the beginning of 1864, Lincoln made Grant commander of all Union armies. Grant made his headquarters with the Army of the Potomac, and put Maj. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman in command of most of the western armies. Grant understood the concept of total war and believed, along with Lincoln and Sherman, that only the utter defeat of Confederate forces and their economic base would end the war. This was total war not in terms of killing civilians but rather in terms of destroying homes, farms, and railroads. Grant devised a coordinated strategy that would strike at the entire Confederacy from multiple directions. Generals George Meade and Benjamin Butler were ordered to move against Lee near Richmond, General Franz Sigel (and later Philip Sheridan) were to attack the Shenandoah Valley, General Sherman was to capture Atlanta and march to the sea (the Atlantic Ocean), Generals George Crook and William W. Averell were to operate against railroad supply lines in West Virginia, and Maj. Gen. Nathaniel P. Banks was to capture Mobile, Alabama.
Union forces in the East attempted to maneuver past Lee and fought several battles during that phase (“Grant’s Overland Campaign”) of the Eastern campaign. Grant’s battles of attrition at the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor resulted in heavy Union losses, but forced Lee’s Confederates to fall back repeatedly. An attempt to outflank Lee from the south failed under Butler, who was trapped inside the Bermuda Hundred river bend. Grant was tenacious and, despite astonishing losses (over 65,000 casualties in seven weeks), kept pressing Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia back to Richmond. He pinned down the Confederate army in the Siege of Petersburg, where the two armies engaged in trench warfare for over nine months.
Generals Sherman, Grant & Sheridan
Army Issue of 1937Grant finally found a commander, General Philip Sheridan, aggressive enough to prevail in the Valley Campaigns of 1864. Sheridan was initially repelled at the Battle of New Market by former U.S. Vice President and Confederate Gen. John C. Breckinridge. The Battle of New Market would prove to be the Confederacy’s last major victory of the war. After redoubling his efforts, Sheridan defeated Maj. Gen. Jubal A. Early in a series of battles, including a final decisive defeat at the Battle of Cedar Creek. Sheridan then proceeded to destroy the agricultural base of the Shenandoah Valley, a strategy similar to the tactics Sherman later employed in Georgia.
Confederate dead of General Ewell’s Corps who attacked the Union lines at the Battle of Spotsylvania, May 19, 1864.Meanwhile, Sherman maneuvered from Chattanooga to Atlanta, defeating Confederate Generals Joseph E. Johnston and John Bell Hood along the way. The fall of Atlanta on September 2, 1864, guaranteed the reelection of Lincoln as president. Hood left the Atlanta area to swing around and menace Sherman’s supply lines and invade Tennessee in the Franklin-Nashville Campaign. Union Maj. Gen. John Schofield defeated Hood at the Battle of Franklin, and George H. Thomas dealt Hood a massive defeat at the Battle of Nashville, effectively destroying Hood’s army.
Leaving Atlanta, and his base of supplies, Sherman’s army marched with an unknown destination, laying waste to about 20% of the farms in Georgia in his “March to the Sea”. He reached the Atlantic Ocean at Savannah, Georgia in December 1864. Sherman’s army was followed by thousands of freed slaves; there were no major battles along the March. Sherman turned north through South Carolina and North Carolina to approach the Confederate Virginia lines from the south, increasing the pressure on Lee’s army.
Lee’s army, thinned by desertion and casualties, was now much smaller than Grant’s. Union forces won a decisive victory at the Battle of Five Forks on April 1, forcing Lee to evacuate Petersburg and Richmond. The Confederate capital fell to the Union XXV Corps, composed of black troops. The remaining Confederate units fled west and after a defeat at Sayler’s Creek, it became clear to Robert E. Lee that continued fighting against the United States was both tactically and logistically impossible.
Confederacy surrendersMain article: Conclusion of the American Civil War
Map of Confederate territory losses year by yearLee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia on April 9, 1865, at the McLean House in the village of Appomattox Court House. In an untraditional gesture and as a sign of Grant’s respect and anticipation of peacefully restoring Confederate states to the Union, Lee was permitted to keep his sword and his horse, Traveller. On April 14, 1865, President Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth, a Southern sympathizer. Lincoln died early the next morning, and Andrew Johnson became president. Meanwhile, Confederate forces across the South surrendered as news of Lee’s surrender reached them.
Emancipation during the war
Black and White soldiers in the Union Army. 1860sAt the beginning of the war, some Union commanders thought they were supposed to return escaped slaves to their masters. By 1862, when it became clear that this would be a long war, the question of what to do about slavery became more general. The Southern economy and military effort depended on slave labor. It began to seem unreasonable to protect slavery while blockading Southern commerce and destroying Southern production. As one Congressman put it, the slaves “…cannot be neutral. As laborers, if not as soldiers, they will be allies of the rebels, or of the Union.”
The same Congressman—and his fellow Radical Republicans—put pressure on Lincoln to rapidly emancipate the slaves, whereas moderate Republicans came to accept gradual, compensated emancipation and colonization. Copperheads and some War Democrats opposed emancipation, although the latter eventually accepted it as part of total war needed to save the Union.
Many of the recent immigrants in North viewed freed slaves as competition for scarce jobs, and as the reason why the Civil War was being fought. Due in large part to this fierce competition with free blacks for labor opportunities, the poor and working class Irish Catholics generally opposed emancipation. When the draft began in the summer of 1863 they launched a major riot in New York City that was suppressed by the military, as well as much smaller protests in other cities. Many Catholics in the North had volunteered to fight in 1861, sending thousands of soldiers to the front and taking high casualties, especially at Fredericksburg; their volunteering fell off after 1862. Sentiment among German Americans was largely anti-slavery, especially among Forty-Eighters. Hundreds of thousands of German Americans volunteered to fight for the Union.
In 1861, Lincoln worried that premature attempts at emancipation would mean the loss of the border states, and that “to lose Kentucky is nearly the same as to lose the whole game.” At first, Lincoln reversed attempts at emancipation by Secretary of War Simon Cameron and Generals John C. Frémont (in Missouri) and David Hunter (in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida) to keep the loyalty of the border states and the War Democrats.
Lincoln warned the border states that a more radical type of emancipation would happen if his gradual plan based on compensated emancipation and voluntary colonization was rejected. Only the District of Columbia accepted Lincoln’s gradual plan, which was enacted by Congress. When Lincoln told his cabinet about his proposed emancipation proclamation, Seward advised Lincoln to wait for a victory before issuing it, as to do otherwise would seem like “our last shriek on the retreat”.
In September 1862 the Battle of Antietam provided this opportunity, and the subsequent War Governors’ Conference added support for the proclamation. Lincoln had already published a letter encouraging the border states especially to accept emancipation as necessary to save the Union. Lincoln later said that slavery was “somehow the cause of the war”.
Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, and his final Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. In his letter to Hodges, Lincoln explained his belief that “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong … And yet I have never understood that the Presidency conferred upon me an unrestricted right to act officially upon this judgment and feeling … I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me.”
Since the Emancipation Proclamation was based on the President’s war powers, it only included territory held by Confederates at the time. However, the Proclamation became a symbol of the Union’s growing commitment to add emancipation to the Union’s definition of liberty. Lincoln also played a leading role in getting Congress to vote for the Thirteenth Amendment, which made emancipation universal and permanent.
Enslaved African Americans did not wait for Lincoln’s action before escaping and seeking freedom behind Union lines. From early years of the war, hundreds of thousands of African Americans escaped to Union lines, especially in occupied areas like Nashville, Norfolk and the Hampton Roads region in 1862, Tennessee from 1862 on, the line of Sherman’s march, etc. So many African Americans fled to Union lines that commanders created camps and schools for them, where both adults and children learned to read and write.
The American Missionary Association entered the war effort by sending teachers south to such contraband camps, for instance establishing schools in Norfolk and on nearby plantations. In addition, approximately 180,000 or more African-American men served as soldiers and sailors with Union troops. Most of those were escaped slaves. Probably the most prominent of these African-American soldiers is the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.
Union Army soldier on his release from Andersonville prison in May, 1865. After the war, Henry Wirz, the prison’s commandant, was tried for war crimes by a military commission and executed.Confederates enslaved captured black Union soldiers, and black soldiers especially were shot when trying to surrender at the Fort Pillow Massacre. This led to a breakdown of the prisoner and mail exchange program and the growth of prison camps such as Andersonville prison in Georgia, where almost 13,000 Union prisoners of war died of starvation and disease.
In spite of the South’s shortage of soldiers, most Southern leaders — until 1865 — opposed enlisting slaves. They used them as laborers to support the war effort. As Howell Cobb said, “If slaves will make good soldiers our whole theory of slavery is wrong.” Confederate generals Patrick Cleburne and Robert E. Lee argued in favor of arming blacks late in the war, and Jefferson Davis was eventually persuaded to support plans for arming slaves to avoid military defeat. The Confederacy surrendered at Appomattox before this plan could be implemented.
Historian John D. Winters, in The Civil War in Louisiana (1963), referred to the exhilaration of the slaves when the Union Army came through Louisiana: “As the troops moved up to Alexandria, the Negroes crowded the roadsides to watch the passing army. They were ‘all frantic with joy, some weeping, some blessing, and some dancing in the exuberance of their emotions.’ All of the Negroes were attracted by the pageantry and excitement of the army. Others cheered because they anticipated the freedom to plunder and to do as they pleased now that the Federal troops were there.”
The Emancipation Proclamation greatly reduced the Confederacy’s hope of getting aid from Britain or France. Lincoln’s moderate approach succeeded in getting border states, War Democrats and emancipated slaves fighting on the same side for the Union. The Union-controlled border states (Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, Delaware and West Virginia) were not covered by the Emancipation Proclamation. All abolished slavery on their own, except Kentucky and Delaware.
The great majority of the 4 million slaves were freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, as Union armies moved south. The 13th amendment, ratified December 6, 1865, finally made slavery illegal everywhere in the United States, thus freeing the remaining slaves—65,000 in Kentucky (as of 1865), 1,800 in Delaware, and 18 in New Jersey as of 1860.
Historian Stephen Oates said that many myths surround Lincoln: “man of the people”, “true Christian”, “arch villain” and racist. The belief that Lincoln was racist was caused by an incomplete picture of Lincoln, such as focusing on only selective quoting of statements Lincoln made to gain the support of the border states and Northern Democrats, and ignoring the many things he said against slavery, and the military and political context within which such statements were made. Oates said that Lincoln’s letter to Horace Greeley has been “persistently misunderstood and misrepresented” for such reasons.
Blocking international interventionMain articles: Britain in the American Civil War and France in the American Civil War
Europe in the 1860s was more fragmented than it had been since before the American Revolution. France was in a weakened state while Britain was still shocked by their poor performance in the Crimean War. France was unable or unwilling to support either side without Britain, where popular support remained with the Union though elite opinion was more varied. They were further distracted by Germany and Italy, who were experiencing unification troubles, and by Russia, who was almost unflinching in their support for the Union.
Though the Confederacy hoped that Britain and France would join them against the Union, this was never likely, and so they instead tried to bring Britain and France in as mediators. The Union, under Lincoln and Secretary of State William H. Seward worked to block this, and threatened war if any country officially recognized the existence of the Confederate States of America. In 1861, Southerners voluntarily embargoed cotton shipments, hoping to start an economic depression in Europe that would force Britain to enter the war in order to get cotton.
Cotton diplomacy proved a failure as Europe had a surplus of cotton, while the 1860–62 crop failures in Europe made the North’s grain exports of critical importance. It also helped to turn European opinion further way from the Confederacy. It was said that “King Corn was more powerful than King Cotton”, as U.S. grain went from a quarter of the British import trade to almost half. When Britain did face a cotton shortage, it was temporary, being replaced by increased cultivation in Egypt and India. Meanwhile, the war created employment for arms makers, ironworkers, and British ships to transport weapons.
Charles Francis Adams proved particularly adept as minister to Britain for the U.S. and Britain was reluctant to boldly challenge the blockade. The Confederacy purchased several warships from commercial ship builders in Britain. The most famous, the CSS Alabama, did considerable damage and led to serious postwar disputes. However, public opinion against slavery created a political liability for European politicians, especially in Britain (who had herself abolished slavery in her own colonies in 1834).
War loomed in late 1861 between the U.S. and Britain over the Trent Affair, involving the U.S. Navy’s boarding of a British mail steamer to seize two Confederate diplomats. However, London and Washington were able to smooth over the problem after Lincoln released the two. In 1862, the British considered mediation—though even such an offer would have risked war with the U.S. Lord Palmerston reportedly read Uncle Tom’s Cabin three times when deciding on this.
The Union victory in the Battle of Antietam caused them to delay this decision. The Emancipation Proclamation over time would reinforce the political liability of supporting the Confederacy. Despite sympathy for the Confederacy, France’s own seizure of Mexico ultimately deterred them from war with the Union. Confederate offers late in the war to end slavery in return for diplomatic recognition were not seriously considered by London or Paris. After 1863, the Polish revolt against Russia further distracted the European powers, and ensured that they would continue to remain neutral.
Victory and aftermathComparison of Union and CSA Union CSA
Total population 22,100,000 (71%) 9,100,000 (29%)
Free population 21,700,000 5,600,000
Slave population, 1860 400,000 3,500,000
Soldiers 2,100,000 (67%) 1,064,000 (33%)
Railroad length 21,788 miles (35,064 km) (71%) 8,838 miles (14,223 km) (29%)
Manufactured items 90% 10%
Firearm production 97% 3%
Bales of cotton in 1860 Negligible 4,500,000
Bales of cotton in 1864 Negligible 300,000
Pre-war U.S. exports 30% 70%
Andersonville National Cemetery is the final resting place for the Union prisoners who perished while being held at Camp Sumter.Historians have debated whether the Confederacy could have won the war. Most scholars, such as James McPherson, argue that Confederate victory was at least possible. McPherson argues that the North’s advantage in population and resources made Northern victory likely but not guaranteed. He also argues that if the Confederacy had fought using unconventional tactics, they would have more easily been able to hold out long enough to exhaust the Union.
Confederates did not need to invade and hold enemy territory to win, but only needed to fight a defensive war to convince the North that the cost of winning was too high. The North needed to conquer and hold vast stretches of enemy territory and defeat Confederate armies to win.
Some scholars, such as those of the Lost Cause tradition, argue that the Union held an insurmountable long-term advantage over the Confederacy in terms of industrial strength and population. Confederate actions, they argue, only delayed defeat. Civil War historian Shelby Foote expressed this view succinctly: “I think that the North fought that war with one hand behind its back…If there had been more Southern victories, and a lot more, the North simply would have brought that other hand out from behind its back. I don’t think the South ever had a chance to win that War.”
The Confederacy sought to win independence by out-lasting Lincoln; however, after Atlanta fell and Lincoln defeated McClellan in the election of 1864, all hope for a political victory for the South ended. At that point, Lincoln had succeeded in getting the support of the border states, War Democrats, emancipated slaves, Britain, and France. By defeating the Democrats and McClellan, he also defeated the Copperheads and their peace platform.
Also important were Lincoln’s eloquence in rationalizing the national purpose and his skill in keeping the border states committed to the Union cause. Although Lincoln’s approach to emancipation was slow, the Emancipation Proclamation was an effective use of the President’s war powers. The Confederate government failed in its attempt to get Europe involved in the war militarily, particularly the United Kingdom and France. Southern leaders needed to get European powers to help break up the blockade the Union had created around the Southern ports and cities.
Lincoln’s naval blockade was 95% effective at stopping trade goods; as a result, imports and exports to the South declined significantly. The abundance of European cotton and the United Kingdom’s hostility to the institution of slavery, along with Lincoln’s Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico naval blockades, severely decreased any chance that either the United Kingdom or France would enter the war.
The more industrialized economy of the North aided in the production of arms, munitions and supplies, as well as finances and transportation. The table shows the relative advantage of the Union over the Confederate States of America (CSA) at the start of the war. The advantages widened rapidly during the war, as the Northern economy grew, and Confederate territory shrank and its economy weakened. The Union population was 22 million and the South 9 million in 1861. The Southern population included more than 3.5 million slaves and about 5.5 million whites, thus leaving the South’s white population outnumbered by a ratio of more than four to one.
The disparity grew as the Union controlled an increasing amount of southern territory with garrisons, and cut off the trans-Mississippi part of the Confederacy. The Union at the start controlled over 80% of the shipyards, steamships, riverboats, and the Navy. It augmented these by a massive shipbuilding program. This enabled the Union to control the river systems and to blockade the entire southern coastline.
Excellent railroad links between Union cities allowed for the quick and cheap movement of troops and supplies. Transportation was much slower and more difficult in the South, which was unable to augment its much smaller rail system, repair damage, or even perform routine maintenance. The failure of Davis to maintain positive and productive relationships with state governors (especially Governor Joseph E. Brown of Georgia and Governor Zebulon Baird Vance of North Carolina) damaged his ability to draw on regional resources. The Confederacy’s “King Cotton” misperception of the world economy led to bad diplomacy, such as the refusal to ship cotton before the blockade started.
The Emancipation Proclamation enabled African-Americans, both free blacks and escaped slaves, to join the Union Army. About 190,000 volunteered, further enhancing the numerical advantage the Union armies enjoyed over the Confederates, who did not dare emulate the equivalent manpower source for fear of fundamentally undermining the legitimacy of slavery. Emancipated slaves mostly handled garrison duties, and fought numerous battles in 1864–65. European immigrants joined the Union Army in large numbers, including 177,000 born in Germany and 144,000 born in Ireland. The railroad industry became the nation’s largest employer outside of agriculture. The American Civil War was followed by a boom in railroad construction, which contributed to the Panic of 1873.
Monument in honor of the Grand Army of the Republic, organized after the war.Slavery for the Confederacy’s 3.5 million blacks effectively ended when Union armies arrived; they were nearly all freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. Slaves in the border states and those located in some former Confederate territory occupied prior to the Emancipation Proclamation were freed by state action or (on December 18, 1865) by the Thirteenth Amendment. The full restoration of the Union was the work of a highly contentious postwar era known as Reconstruction.
The war produced about 1,030,000 casualties (3% of the population), including about 620,000 soldier deaths—two-thirds by disease. Binghamton University historian J. David Hacker believes the number of soldier deaths was approximately 750,000, 20% higher than traditionally estimated, and possibly as high as 850,000. The war accounted for roughly as many American deaths as all American deaths in other U.S. wars combined.
The causes of the war, the reasons for its outcome, and even the name of the war itself are subjects of lingering contention today. Based on 1860 census figures, 8% of all white males aged 13 to 43 died in the war, including 6% in the North and 18% in the South. About 56,000 soldiers died in prisons during the Civil War.
One reason for the high number of battle deaths during the war was the use of Napoleonic tactics, such as charging. With the advent of more accurate rifled barrels, Minié balls and (near the end of the war for the Union army) repeating firearms such as the Spencer repeating rifle, soldiers were mowed down when standing in lines in the open. This led to the adoption of trench warfare, a style of fighting that defined the better part of World War I.
The war destroyed much of the wealth that had existed in the South. Income per person in the South dropped to less than 40% than that of the North, a condition which lasted until well into the 20th century. Southern influence in the US federal government, previously considerable, was greatly diminished until the latter half of the 20th century.
ReconstructionMain article: Reconstruction Era of the United States
Reconstruction began during the war (and continued to 1877) in an effort to solve the issues caused by reunion, specifically the legal status of the 11 breakaway states, the Confederate leadership, and the freedmen. Northern leaders during the war agreed that victory would require more than the end of fighting. It had to encompass the two war goals: secession had to be repudiated and all forms of slavery had to be eliminated.
Lincoln and the Radical Republicans disagreed sharply on the criteria for these goals. They also disagreed on the degree of federal control that should be imposed on the South, and the process by which Southern states should be reintegrated into the Union. These disputes became central to the political debates after the Confederacy collapsed.
Memory and historiographyThe Civil War is one of the central events in America’s collective memory. There are innumerable statues, commemorations, books and archival collections. The memory includes the home front, military affairs, the treatment of soldiers, both living and dead, in the war’s aftermath, depictions of the war in literature and art, evaluations of heroes and villains, and considerations of the moral and political lessons of the war. The last theme includes moral evaluations of racism and slavery, heroism in combat and behind the lines, and the issues of democracy and minority rights, as well as the notion of an “Empire of Liberty” influencing the world. Memory of the war in the white South crystallized in the myth of the “Lost Cause”, which shaped regional identity and race relations for generations.
150th anniversaryThe year 2011 included the American Civil War’s 150th anniversary. Many in the South are attempting to incorporate both Black history and white perspectives. A Harris Poll given in March 2011 suggested that Americans were still uniquely divided over the results and appropriate memorials to acknowledge the occasion. While traditionally American films of the Civil War feature “brother versus brother” themes film treatments of the war are evolving to include African American characters. Benard Simelton, president of the Alabama NAACP, said celebrating the Civil War is like celebrating the “Holocaust”. In reference to slavery Simelton said that black “rights were taken away” and that blacks “were treated as less than human beings.” National Park historian Bob Sutton said that slavery was the “principal cause” of the war. Sutton also claimed that the issue of state rights was incorporated by the Confederacy as a justification for the war in order to get recognition from Britain. Sutton went on to mention that during the 100th anniversary of the Civil War white southerners focused on the genius of southern generals, rather than slavery. In Virginia during the fall of 2010, a conference took place that addressed the slavery issue. During November 2010, black Civil War reenactors from around the country participated in a parade at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Life as a slave – British North America, (Carolina’s, Virginia, Maryland, New York, Dutch, NY, New Jersey) Leave a comment
African slave labor was vital in British, North America, i.e., the Carolinas, Virginia and Maryland. To be more distinctive, although Slavery was legalized throughout the colonies, these were the states in which slavery was taken to an inhumane level. The reason for this was the labor intensive undertaking of exporting cotton, rice and tobacco, which was heavy export. Life for a slave in the South differed much from life as a slave in the North.
The Chesapeake Colonies of Maryland, and Virginia, which dealt with tobacco dealt mainly in tobacco and the Carolina’s dealt mainly with rice and cotton. These were the main colonies in which slavery took on a different meaning than the other colonies.
For instance, the Middle colonies such as Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey had slaves, yes, but they were geared more towards domestic and labor jobs and not on a plantation. New England had the fewest of slaves since the puritans tended to work the land themselves as a way of life.
Before African Americans slowly made the transition to slavery into Virginia, they relied heavily on enslaving Native Americans, but fear of indian attacks and raids gave them reason to re-think the transition to African Slaves. Eventually, they relied soley on African American slaves.
In 1640, there were only 1600 Africans in North America, a third of them were in Dutch, New York. Over the next forty years, one by one, slavery was legalized in all of the colonies. Before the colonies even recognized slavery, Maryland lawmakers mandated slavery as a life-long sentence to any one of African nationality and their heirs. In Virginia, slavery was an inherited status by 1670.
The more prominent slavery became, there became more of a need for law and order, i.e., rules and regulations. Blacks were forbidden to learn to read and write, they had to carry passes if they left the plantation, and they were never permitted to congregate or show any fellowship outside the church.
So since it was legalized in all the British Colonies, regulation became part of the dictation as a way of life for the slave. There was a very high rate of infantcide where Mother’s killed their own young rather than see them fill fulfill the destiny of the life of a slave.
Thankfully, not all blacks and slaves lived in the south and picked cotton. The Quakers had the largest free population in North America. Blacks in Philadelphia helped organize the city’s schools, churches and frat organizations.
By 1741, slaves made up 20% of New York’s population. Richmond, Virginia had the largest percentage of black residents in the 18th century.
Blacks eventually began to adjust to American life and developed their own work ethics, beliefs, identiy and sense of family as slavery became more stifling and stringent. They began to fight back in subtle ways – by sabatoge. They began to work slower, break tools, and in many cases acted ignorant in order to deter their assignments. Slaves communicated amongst each other, but in the end, they were too intimidated to fight back.
At some point during the 18th Century, two entirely different societies emerged in the American Colonies. There was white and free, and there was black, mostly non-free. As blacks began to acclomate to American life, a new generation of blacks emerged called the Creoles. Creoles were born in America and incorporated both the culture of their anscestors and also practiced the traditions of the only home they had ever known, America.
Creoles were the beginning of the culture that we know today.
Portugal Portugal was the first in noting the profitability in slave trading. They accomplished this by exploiting the more than 200 ethnic groups in West Africa, usually using religious beliefs as a means to barter for slaves. For instance, Christian Europeans would not have another Christian enslaved, however, it was fine to enslave a pagan or Muslim African.
In early 1502, Portugal was shipping slaves from Africa to the Caribbean and Brazil to work on sugar cane plantations. The more these plantations grew,more slaves were needed to do the hard work in the fields. It became more profitable to import newer, fresher slaves than to maintain and care for those already working in the fields of Barbados, Jamaica and Cuba. There was a constant influx of slaves arriving from Africa, where they were ‘broken-in’ and then re-exported to North America.
The slave trade soon became a multi-million dollar venture, it created job employment and by now it was fast moving. Europeans set up fortresses along the West Coast of Africa, castles, to withold up to 1500 slaves. There were dozons of European castles, and the local rulers were easily won over monetarily.
Slaves were virtually hunted and rounded up, kidnapped, chained in groups of 150 people and then branded with an insignia of their purchaser. Their worth was contingent on the condition of their teeth, genitals, limbs and stature, and defects reduced their worth. The slaves were holed up in dungeons until the ships arrived to cargo them to their next destination. Many slaves did not make it out of Africa due to the harsh conditions.
The Transatlantic Slave Trade consisted of three journeys:
1)The outward passage from Europe to Africa carrying manufactured goods.
2)The middle passage from Africa to the Americas or the Caribbean carrying African captives and other ‘commodities’.
3)The homeward passage carrying sugar, tobacco, rum, rice, cotton and other goods back to Europe.
The middle passage being the most brutal of them all, estimated that 20% died en route rising to 40% on a bad voyage. European sailors stood a good chance of of not returning due to the illnesses. The Africans were packed tightly into quarters and given hardly any food or water, they were chained together in twos by their hands and feet. The more slaves, the higher the profit, so sometimes, slaves were denied the slightest priviledge such as standing.
With the middle passages journey’s, there was a great deal to fear. Because of the cramped, and filthy conditions, diseases would quickly run throught the ship. Smallpox, fevers, dysentery and rough seas were a threat to all, including both slaves and sailors.
Once the slave ship reached the Caribbean port, they replaced many of the slaves for products like rum, molasses and sometimes ‘broken’ slaves before sailing back to North America. In ports like Charleston and Boston, slaves and the Caribbean supplies were traded for North American comodities like tobacco, furs and fish.