How African-Americans Impacted Union Victory In The Civil War Despite The Fact That They Were Enslaved
In the year 1860, in the month of November, the United States had a new president known as Abraham Lincoln. Many Southern states were outraged after he became elected. Lincoln had come up with a platform that advocated against slavery despite being a Republican party. In fact, most southerners believed that he would no longer have their interests represented in the Union. Later on, in the same year, in the month of December, the South Carolina state seceded. Other states such as Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and Mississippi were divided as a result of the Union. In turn, the Confederate States of America was formed by the seceded states. The provisional president was a Mississippi Senator known as Jefferson Davis Lincoln’s (House Divided Speech, 2012.1).
When Lincoln was being inaugurated, he claimed that he would ensure that the union was maintained. Also, he claimed that he would not do anything concerning the Fugitive Slave Law. This means that he would not pursue any matters than concerned freeing of slaves. Many African American’s, as well as their allies, were shocked by Lincoln’s sentiments. African-American slaves were quite instrumental in ensuring that slavery was abolished. Lincoln constantly claimed that the Union would be saved by the war and thus slaves took advantage of this opportunity. The speech by Lincoln gave information regarding the slave’s issue as it needed to be addressed. Lincoln claimed that “A house divided against it cannot stand.” I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free.” (House Divided Speech, 2012.1). According to the mentioned statement, America could no longer continue being segregated if it wanted to be a great nation. Lincoln used the American constitution to support some of his arguments concerning the emancipation of African Americans. According to Lincoln, the constitution of the United States declared that everyone living in America would be entitled to rights. Moreover, it did not matter which state they resided in as the constitution would protect them.
From the year 1861, thousands of African Americans escaped to the Union lines from Confederate territory. Union Generals and Lincoln were forced to react due to the massive movement. On the farms owned by the southerners, White control was resisted by the slaves. There were two versions of the Emancipation Proclamation which were issued by President Lincoln. The preliminary version was issued in the year 1862, while the final one issued in the year 1863. According to the preliminary version, slaves would be freed in the year 1863 based on the Confederate Territory (House Divided Speech, 2012.1). This meant that some southern states would still have control of their slaves so long as they joined the Confederate before the Emancipation Proclamation. For example, some states that were in the union such as Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri would not be freed. Lincoln did not want to make unionist slaveholders be alienated as he wanted to obtain favor from them. In turn, most states did not attempt to rejoin the union until the emancipation (House Divided Speech, 2012.1).
There were many people who were extremely critical of the emancipation proclamation as they believed that slaves were not to be free in any way. On the other hand, Frederick Douglass was jubilated by the news concerning the jubilation. He believed that Americans were on their way towards ending slavery and this beginning should have come earlier. Douglas was quite fond of the African-Americans and fought to ensure that they would win by helping many of them join the union. In fact, Douglas is known for his proclamation of ‘Men of Color, To Arms’ that empowered African –Americans (Douglass, 2012.1). Furthermore, he believed that the Confederacy would react due to the ‘moral bombshell’ that was about to explode. Together with others, Douglas feared that the northern conservatives would be successful and pressure Lincoln to get rid of the Emancipation Proclamation. If the latter were to take place, Lincoln would not keep the promise he made to the African-Americans. Fortunately, Lincoln maintained his position and did not change his position on the matter. During the speech given by Douglas, he said that “I urge you to fly to arms, and smite with death the power that would bury the government and your liberty in the same hopeless grave. I wish I could tell you that the State of New York calls you to this high honor” (Douglass, 2012.1). By this, he claimed that African –Americans had the support of various stakeholders, and this had the opportunity of winning the Union war. Also, during this speech, Douglass gave examples of notable men who were instrumental in the fight to end slavery. They include; Nathaniel Turner, John Brown and Denmark Vesey, among others. In his speech, he motivated the African -Americans by letting them know that God was on their side. They had an opportunity which could not be wasted. As he finished his speech, he encouraged African Americans to enlist with him in order to join the American Union regiment (Douglass, 2012.1).
It should be known that the civil war was transformed by the Emancipation Proclamation. Therefore, the result is that efforts were put into ending slavery and saving the union. Furthermore, as many as four million slaves became free due to the Emancipation Proclamation. If slaves could find a way of escaping from the Union territory, they would indeed achieve their freedom. Many slaves were lucky to escape from Confederacy, and their numbers grew tremendously. Slaves who were used for labor purposes by the southerners were motivated by the emancipation to fight for the Union Forces (Emancipation Proclamation, 2012.1). As the war came to an end, the strategy of the Union started being realized. The efforts of the southerners to wage war were stopped as well as having their Confederate resources destroyed. The Union became aware that it needed to obtain help from African Americans to fight as soldiers. By fighting for the union, the slaves could obtain the freedom that they wanted. It is estimated that around 20000 African -American sailors and soldiers were involved in the war on behalf of the union. This shows that people were aware of their rights as human beings and would do anything to attain freedom (Emancipation Proclamation, 2012.1).
African-Americans had begun the journey towards attaining freedom even before the Emancipation Proclamation was issued by Lincoln. In North Carolina, blacks from New Bern had formed militias even before the war began. Most of the slaves who escaped from the Confederacy escaped to New Bern. Galloway Abraham was extremely influential in making sure that African- American fought under their terms. After the final emancipation proclamation was issued, African- Americans would serve in the federal army. A notable African American known as Robert Shaw was recognized for his heroic deeds. He was in charge of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Colored Regiment. When the civil war ended, southern, northern, white and black Americans became busy trying to rebuild their nation. Southerners had been immensely affected by the emancipation as they no longer had rights over slaves. Slave owners were terrified that African-American s were now free. In turn, some of the slave owners reacted in various ways such as expressing concern, compassion and even rage (Emancipation Proclamation, 2012.1).
The Emancipation Proclamation was quite important, but unfortunately, it did not bring an end to slavery in America. It is the Constitution’s Thirteenth Amendment that yielded the results that had for a long time been sort after. By the year 1865, salves in the United States were free as slavery had been abolished. The Emancipation Proclamation could not be valid after the war ended, as it was only a wartime document (Emancipation Proclamation, 2012.1). Also, it only allowed for slaves living in Confederate states to be freed. It is through the efforts of the African-Americans that Union victory was achieved. The slaves were willing to lose their lives and form unions with the government and the Union army. Indeed, the many slaves who escaped from slavery fought as soldiers in the Union Army. It is thus true to claim that the Union won the war due to the efforts of the African-Americans. Therefore, the United States would no longer have institutions of slavery (Emancipation Proclamation, 2012.1).
Lincoln’s “House Divided” Speech, 1858. Retrieved from, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4h2934t.html (Accessed February 28, 2012)
Douglass. Frederick, “Men of Color, To Arms!”1863. Retrieved from, http://www.blackpast.org/?q=1863-frederick-douglass-men-color-arms (Accessed February 28, 2012)
Emancipation Proclamation, 1863. Retrieved from, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4h1549t.html (Accessed February 28, 2012)
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