The Lincoln Administration on Slavery

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There's been a great deal of misunderstanding about the Lincoln Administration and its role in ending slavery. It's instructive to revisit the information in this post:

http://civilwartalk.com/threads/jul...ers-aims-changing.111820/page-12#post-1120219

To wit:

Regarding Frémont's proclamation: Lincoln didn’t tell the general he couldn’t free slaves.Frémont’s proclamation didn’t conform to the First Confiscation Act. Lincoln told Frémont to rewrite the order to conform to the First Confiscation Act because his original order was illegal. He could free only rebel-owned slaves coming within his lines in accordance with the law. Had Frémont confined his order to stay within the First Confiscation Act, he could have freed slaves of rebels with no problem. Frémont refused to rewrite his order. He didn't have the authority to go beyond what Congress had enacted.

David Hunter also issued orders emancipating slaves. Hunter had actually issued two orders. The first was in conformance with the First Confiscation Act and only emancipated slaves that came within his lines. His second proclamation, though, abolished slavery in three states, Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida, and was thus an illegal order. Lincoln revoked this second order. Not because he didn't want to free slaves, but because it was an illegal order that Hunter did not have the authority to issue. [Donald Stoker apparently hasn't looked into this because he doesn't seem to know about Hunter's first proclamation, nor does he seem to understand what Lincoln actually said to Hunter in expressing his disapproval. Some may prefer Stoker to Oakes on this, but Oakes has actually researched it, while Stoker demonstrably hasn't.]

Emancipation actually began in the spring of 1861, six weeks after the war began. In May, three fugitive slaves made their way to Fort Monroe. Benjamin Butler, in command, refused to return them, calling them contraband of war. He sent two messages to Washington, dated May 25 and May 27, asking if he had done the right thing. On May 30, Lincoln met with the Cabinet to consider Butler’s request to withhold the fugitive slaves from their owner. In a message from Simon Cameron that day, the War Department not only approved his actions, but also instructed him to refuse to return any runaway slaves who came within his lines.

This was the first move against slavery. Six weeks after Fort Sumter the Lincoln administration stopped enforcing the Fugitive Slave Clause of the Constitution for any slaves coming into Union lines from a seceded state. But this was not emancipation. Butler was authorized to retain the slaves, but he was not authorized to free them. Only Congress could determine the status of fugitives, and Congress moved to do so with rapid speed.

On July 20, 1861, Sen. Trumbull reported a Confiscation Bill to the floor and attached an amendment that would emancipate any slaves used in support of the rebellion. This became Section 4 of the First Confiscation Act. It was endorsed by nearly every Republican in Congress, and Lincoln signed it into law on August 6, 1861.

Emancipation became a two-step process under this act. Congress decreed that masters forfeited the services of any slaves used in the rebellion and then the President would emancipate those forfeited slaves by virtue of his authority as commander-in-chief of the military.

On August 8, 1861, Lincoln’s War Department issued instructions for implementing the First Confiscation Act. The slaves would be discharged from service permanently. In other words, they were freed. The House also endorsed a resolution prohibiting Union soldiers from participating in any way in the capture and return of fugitive slaves. [The following year this would become an Article of War]

The War Department authorized Butler to emancipate all the slaves who came into Union lines from any area in rebellion. As a result, 900 contrabands were immediately freed.

In September a copy of the instructions were sent to Gen. John Dix in Maryland, ordering him to emancipate any slaves coming into his lines from Virginia.

In October they were sent to the commander of the joint Navy-Army operation at Port Royal in South Carolina, and 9,000 slaves were emancipated as a result.

In December they were sent to General Halleck, who was told to emancipate any slaves in Kentucky who had fled from Tennessee.

In December of 1861, in his First Annual Message to Congress, Lincoln noted that numerous slaves had escaped to Union lines and were “thus liberated.

Grant and Sherman were more hesitant, but Lincoln’s Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation set them straight. In his Preliminary EP, Lincoln quoted extensively from the Confiscation Acts. The War Department printed 50,000 copies of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation and distributed them as General Orders #109.

Sherman, in the Fall of 1862, said, “They are free. The President declares the negroes free.” Grant agreed. In November, Grant assigned Chaplain John Eaton to oversee the transition to freedom. Stanton instructed his generals in Arkansas to begin emancipating slaves who came within their lines.

Let’s review what the Union leaders were saying.

Lincoln to Congress: Slaves were “thus liberated.”

Chase to a Sea Island Planter: “They are free.”

William T. Sherman: “They are free. The President declares the negroes free.”

Benjamin Butler: “By the Act of Congress they are clearly free.”

All BEFORE the Final Emancipation Proclamation was signed.

If all of these emancipations were going on all along, what did the Emancipation Proclamation actually do? What changed when Lincoln issued it?

The Emancipation Proclamation made emancipation universal in the seceded states. Before, emancipation occurred only in occupied areas. Now the Union was freeing slaves in unoccupied areas.

How could it do this? There were two ways, one well-known and the other almost unknown to us today.

The first was enlisting black soldiers. The Emancipation Proclamation authorized the systematic enlistment of black soldiers in the Union Army. According to Lincoln, black soldiers did “double duty.” Every slave recruited deprived the confederacy of his labor and added his efforts to the Union. They were indispensable to victory. Moreover, service in the army ensured a soldier who had been a slave could never be reenslaved. There was widespread disagreement about whether or not slaves emancipated by the EP could be reenslaved after the war; however, there was general agreement that no man who had been a soldier could be reenslaved after his service to his country. Enlistment guaranteed emancipation, and that was one reason why enlistments were the highest in states that had been exempted from the EP, such as Tennessee and Kentucky. Enlistment was their surest path to freedom.

The second method was through enticement. Previously, Union soldiers had been forbidden to entice slaves from their masters. The Emancipation Proclamation lifted the ban on enticement. On January 2, 1863, John Nicolay, one of Lincoln’s secretaries, explained that henceforth the slave population would be used to suppress the rebellion as rapidly as it can be drawn within the Union lines. Halleck said it was the Union policy to draw as much labor as possible away from the confederates. He said the character of the war had changed. Lorenzo Thomas, Adjutant General and the highest ranking agent of emancipation, said the slaves are to be encouraged to come into the Union lines.

The Union assigned 237 Emancipation Agents to encourage slaves to leave their masters. One example is the case of James Ayers. His diary shows how enticement worked on a small scale. On May 7, 1864 he rode to a plantation about ten miles outside Huntsville, Alabama. The plantation was owned by a man named Eldridge and had 27 slaves. Ayers details his conversations with the slaves and with the Eldridges and how he came away with six of the slaves to enlist in the army.

In the spring and summer of 1863, the enticement policy was also implemented on a large scale. Four to five thousand “contrabands” trailed Sherman’s troops during the Meridian Campaign. Another ten thousand followed on the March to the Sea through Georgia. Another seven thousand followed on the march through the Carolinas.

The Democrats, by defeating the 13th Amendment in the House in June of 1864, had turned the 1864 campaign into a referendum not only on the war but also on abolition. When Lincoln won reelection he struck quickly for the 13th Amendment to get it passed before the war ended. He was highly instrumental in passing the 13th Amendment and sending it to the states for ratification.
 

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President Lincoln is called the Great Emancipator. Is this enough evidence to support the Great Emancipator name?
 

JPK Huson 1863

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President Lincoln is called the Great Emancipator. Is this enough evidence to support the Great Emancipator name?


Why not? Why is there continual quibbling on whether or not Lincoln deserved this name? I'd have to say the folks who deny it to him have had the waters muddied by the anti-Lincoln camp- unbelievably and sleezily at work 150 years after his death. If that many people are all riled up that many years after one is still dead, you just know he did something really, really honorable. Scumbuckets never garner that kind of reaction- they fizzle after a few years because another scumbucket comes along. There will never be another Lincoln.
 

John Hartwell

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Abraham Lincoln wrote, and/or signed into law all the documents that freed forever all the slaves in the country. Nothing can be said by all the pathological Lincoln-haters in the world to alter that fact.

How should he not be called "The Great Emancipator?"

jno
 
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jgoodguy

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Abraham Lincoln wrote, and/or signed into law all the documents that freed forever all the slaves in the country. Nothing can be said all the pathological Lincoln-haters in the world to alter that fact.

How should he not be called "The Great Emancipator?"

jno

That is my view.
 

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In one sense, those who say it's overblown to call Lincoln "The Great Emancipator" have a point. That term obscures the roles others played in the process of bringing about emancipation. Those others include the US Congress, the US Army and Navy, numerous free civilians, both black and white, along the way, and the slaves themselves. Many contributed to the process, but Lincoln was the one essential component. Because he was so essential, in my view he deserves the title.
 

jgoodguy

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In one sense, those who say it's overblown to call Lincoln "The Great Emancipator" have a point. That term obscures the roles others played in the process of bringing about emancipation. Those others include the US Congress, the US Army and Navy, numerous free civilians, both black and white, along the way, and the slaves themselves. Many contributed to the process, but Lincoln was the one essential component. Because he was so essential, in my view he deserves the title.

He was the political leader that insured the process would succeed. Politics being less than pretty and subject to highly viable rates of progress and false starts makes this seem less than ideal when viewed from the heroic angle.
 
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