149 Years Ago …

… Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

That measure transformed the American Civil War.  Yes, it remained a war to preserve the Union, but, as Lincoln was fond of saying, “broken eggs cannot be mended.”  I believe than Lincoln had come to the realization that any Union victory that did not lead to the destruction of slavery would not be a lasting triumph.  Nevertheless, it also complicated Reconstruction in particular ways (although who’s to say that reconstruction with slavery preserved would not have presented its own challenges?); it also eroded support from Democrats even as it reassured radical Republicans and abolitionists that, even if Lincoln did not fully measure up to their expectations, he was moving in the right direction.  For African Americans, free as well as enslaved, it helped make the Civil Warr their war, too, and they had played a role in moving things in that direction.

How do you assess the impact of the Emancipation Proclamation?

10 thoughts on “149 Years Ago …

  1. Matt McKeon January 1, 2012 / 7:50 pm

    I’m currently reading “The World On Fire” about England’s role in the Civil War. The British were firmly anti slavery on the most part, and embracing abolition as the goal of the war assured British support for the Union.

    How influential that was on the progress of the war is another question.

  2. Tony Gunter January 2, 2012 / 8:52 am

    This is something I have been meaning to read more about … the EP was the direct precursor of the formation of the USCT. It would seem to me that without the EP and the formation of the USCT, the bulk of the Army of the Tennessee does not join Sherman during the Atlanta Campaign and Johnston may have eked out a stalemate or even a reversal against Sherman on the road to Atlanta. Hard to imagine the full range of counterfactuals, but the EP/USCT combination certainly seems to have put the nail in the coffin of the Confederacy by removing 200,000 good laborers from the Confederacy and turning them into hard-fighting and loyal (as opposed to northern conscripts who had a pretty dodgy record) federal troops.

    I’m curious why Lincoln sent Lorenzo Thomas out to begin the process of recruiting USCT regiments before actually announcing the formation of the USCT. Seems like a procedural faux pas. However, since Thomas was rumored to have orders to relieve anyone standing in his way the procedural problems with what Thomas was proposing seemed to only raise eyebrows amongst the enlisted men (imagine that!).

  3. Fortpillow January 2, 2012 / 4:28 pm

    EP….a political ploy to keep France and England from recognizing the Confederate Government. Issued after the batlle of Sharspburg. Freed slaves in the South with no authority……..no compensation to slave owners and former slaves not made into freemen.

    • Matt McKeon January 2, 2012 / 9:04 pm

      Could you tell me again about when your seed came to America? Could you then speculate about when my seed came to America? Please?

    • John Foskett January 3, 2012 / 9:31 am

      England wasn’t coming on board as long as your boys indulged in owning humans, chief. Bank it. Where does the “compensation” issue come from, by the way? Because those folks were somebody’s “property”?

  4. TF Smith January 3, 2012 / 8:01 pm

    Dr. S –

    Couple of interesting discussions re Lincoln and Reocnstruction (and FDR) and Grant at EoTAW recently; don;’ know if you ever look in over there.

    FWIW, I just finished World on Fire; pretty well done, and an interesting light in the ACW – but I think Foreman tried to do too much, actually; any one of her threads (Anglo-American diplomatic history, for example) could have stood alone.

    Best, and happy new year

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