Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation did not free any slaves

I write this in support of Walter Williams, who has come under attack for making the same statement today. Read the document and study up on who controlled what at the time he wrote it.

From Wikipedia:
The Emancipation Proclamation consists of two executive orders issued by United States President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War. The first one, issued September 22, 1862, declared the freedom of all slaves in any state of the Confederate States of America that did not return to Union control by January 1, 1863. The second order, issued January 1, 1863, named the specific states where it applied.

The Emancipation Proclamation was widely attacked at the time as freeing only the slaves over which the Union had no power. In practice, it committed the Union to ending slavery, which was a controversial decision even in the North. Lincoln issued the Executive Order by his authority as "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy" under Article II, section 2 of the United States Constitution.

The proclamation did not free any slaves of the border states (Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, Delaware, and West Virginia), or any southern state (or part of a state) already under Union control.[1] It first directly affected only those slaves who had already escaped to the Union side. Hearing of the Proclamation, more slaves quickly escaped to Union lines as the Army units moved South. As the Union armies conquered the Confederacy, thousands of slaves were freed each day until nearly all (approximately 4 million, according to the 1860 census[2]) were freed by July 1865.
Abolitionists had long been urging Lincoln to free all slaves. A mass rally in Chicago on September 7, 1862, demanded an immediate and universal emancipation of slaves. A delegation headed by William W. Patton met the President at the White House on September 13. Lincoln had declared in peacetime that he had no constitutional authority to free the slaves. Even used as a war power, emancipation was a risky political act. Public opinion as a whole was against it. There would be strong opposition among Copperhead Democrats and an uncertain reaction from loyal border states. Delaware and Maryland already had a high percentage of free Negroes: 91.2% and 49.7%, respectively, in 1860.

My emphasis; Lincoln and most Northerners didn't want free blacks "in their own backyards," at best most whites wanted the blacks returned to Africa. The act did have some unforeseen, unintended consequences:
In the military, reaction to the proclamation varied widely, with some units nearly ready to mutiny in protest. Some desertions were attributed to it. Other units were inspired by the adoption of a cause that ennobled their efforts, such that at least one unit took up the motto "For Union and Liberty".

This, however, was the hoped-for consequence:
Slaves had been part of the "engine of war" for the Confederacy. They produced and prepared food; sewed uniforms; repaired railways; worked on farms and in factories, shipping yards, and mines; built fortifications; and served as hospital workers and common laborers. News of the Proclamation spread rapidly by word of mouth, arousing hopes of freedom, creating general confusion, and encouraging thousands to escape to Union lines.

And I doubt that anybody expected the scale of this:
The Emancipation Proclamation also allowed for the enrollment of freed slaves into the United States military. During the war nearly 200,000 blacks joined the Union Army and most of them ex-slaves. Their contributions gave the North additional manpower that was significant in winning the war. The Confederacy did not allow slaves in their army as soldiers until the final months before its defeat.

The histories of Lincoln have been written in the spirit of "Yeah... I meant to do that." Hagiography is not history.

I'll read some more of those comments now. Btw, if the war came to be about slavery (for the fighters and public) after the Emancipation Proclamation, what the hell was it about before that? Why was quashing secession so important when we weren't under attack by anyone?

I say it was about taxes, and Lincoln was George III.

Update: commenter Koolmuse is an interesting character: he attacks American corporatism (which he calls global capitalism), but he defends Lincoln, who killed 600,000 Americans to enthrone his beloved American System of economics.

1 comment:

Anonymous said... comments. I have faith in humanity after all.