Chronology of Emancipation.

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FYI, there is an excellent Civil War resource on the Internet called the Chronology of Emancipation. It shows the evolution of policies and actions that led to the destruction of slavery.

One point that scholars make is that emancipation was not an event, but rather, a process. The process began the month after the attack on Ft Sumter, when Union general Benjamin F. Butler gave asylum to runaway slaves who fled to Ft Monroe outside Hampton, VA. That asylum policy, soon called the contraband policy, evolved into full fledged policies for emancipation and negro enlistment.

These are some highlights from the Chronology:

1861
May
24
Fugitive slaves at Fortress Monroe, Virginia, are received and put to work by Union general Benjamin F. Butler, who declares them “contraband of war”

August
6
First Confiscation Act nullifies owners' claims to fugitive slaves who had been employed in the Confederate war effort

1862

March
13
Congress adopts an additional article of war forbidding members of the army and navy to return fugitive slaves to their owners

April
10
At Lincoln's request, Congress pledges financial aid to any state that undertakes gradual emancipation with compensation to owners
16 Congress abolishes slavery in the District of Columbia, with compensation to loyal owners, and appropriates money for the voluntary removal (“colonization”) of former slaves to Haiti, Liberia, or other countries

June
19
Congress prohibits slavery in the territories

July
12
President Lincoln appeals to congressmen from the border states to support gradual, compensated emancipation, with colonization of freed slaves outside the United States, warning that if they do not act soon, slavery in their states “will be extinguished by mere friction and abrasion – by the mere incidents of the war”; two days later, a majority of the congressmen reject Lincoln's appeal
17 Second Confiscation Act frees the slaves of persons engaged in or assisting the rebellion and provides for the seizure and sale of other property owned by disloyal citizens; it also forbids army and navy personnel to decide on the validity of any fugitive slave's claim to freedom or to surrender any fugitive to any claimant, and authorizes the president to employ “persons of African descent” in any capacity to suppress the rebellion
17 Militia Act provides for the employment of “persons of African descent” in “any military or naval service for which they may be found competent,” granting freedom to slaves so employed (and to their families if they belong to disloyal owners)
22 President Lincoln announces to his cabinet his intention to issue a proclamation freeing slaves in the rebel states, but agrees to postpone it until after a suitable military victory

August
22
In New Orleans, General Benjamin F. Butler incorporates into Union forces several “Native Guard” units composed of free-black soldiers; soon thereafter he begins recruiting both free-black and ex-slave men for additional regiments
25 After having withheld its permission for months, the War Department authorizes recruitment of black soldiers in the South Carolina Sea Islands

September
22
Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Lincoln; it announces that all slaves in those states or portions of states still in rebellion as of January 1, 1863, will be declared free, pledges monetary aid for slave states not in rebellion that adopt either immediate or gradual emancipation, and reiterates support for the colonization of freed slaves outside the United States.

1863
January
1
Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Lincoln; it declares free all slaves in the Confederate states (except Tennessee, southern Louisiana, and parts of Virginia) and announces the Union's intention to enlist black soldiers and sailors. By late spring, recruitment is under way throughout the North and in all the Union-occupied Confederate states except Tennessee

March
16
American Freedmen's Inquiry Commission appointed by Secretary of War Stanton to investigate the condition of former slaves and recommend measures for their employment and welfare

October
3
War Department orders full-scale recruitment of black soldiers in Maryland, Missouri, and Tennessee, with compensation to loyal owners, irrespective of their owners' consent; enlisted soldiers are emancipated, but this does not apply to the enlistee's family members.

1864
March
16
New Arkansas state constitution, which abolishes slavery, is ratified by pro-Union voters

April
8
Senate approves constitutional amendment abolishing slavery

June
7
Enlistment in Kentucky opened to slave men irrespective of their owners' consent, with compensation to loyal owners; enlisted soldiers are emancipated, but this does not apply to the enlistee's family members.
15 Congress makes pay of black soldiers (which had been $10 per month for all ranks) equal to that of white soldiers ($13 per month for privates, larger amounts for higher ranks); the change is retroactive to January 1, 1864, or, for men who were free before the war, to the time of enlistment
20 Congress increases the pay of all privates, black and white, to $16 per month, with corresponding increases for higher ranks

September
5
New Louisiana state constitution, which abolishes slavery, is ratified by pro-Union voters

November
1
New Maryland state constitution, which abolishes slavery, takes effect, having been ratified in October

1865
January
11
Missouri state constitutional convention abolishes slavery
31 House of Representatives approves constitutional amendment abolishing slavery, sending it to the states for ratification

February
22
Amendment to Tennessee state constitution abolishes slavery

March
3
Congress approves a joint resolution liberating the wives and children of black soldiers
13 Confederate Congress authorizes President Jefferson Davis to recruit slave men as soldiers, with the permission of their owners; Confederate War Department issues order governing the enlistment on March 23.

April
9
Surrender of the army of Confederate General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House, Virginia

December
18
Ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution announced by the Secretary of State; the amendment abolishes slavery throughout the United States

- Alan
 
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