Practice English Speaking&Listening with: 15. Lincoln, Leadership, and Race: Emancipation as Policy

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Professor David Blight:

Good morning. I'm going to talk today about

turning points, and on Thursday about turning

points, and beyond that, probably, about turning points.

But let me lay out right now my own sort of selective list,

short list, of the most important turning points in the

Civil War; make the list and then we will

come back to them.

Now this is any military historian's, or any Civil War

historian's guess, of course.

But there's no question that the Antietam campaign of 1862 is

a major turning point in the Civil War, and I'll select that

as my first. There are things happening

before that that are terribly important, like the saving of

Richmond, against McClelland's Peninsula

Campaign in June and July of '62.

But it is this first invasion of the North by Robert E.

Lee, culminating in the bloodiest single day of the

Civil War; over 5000 dead,

23,000 casualties in eight hours, on fields along a little

creek in southwestern Maryland that not only stopped this first

major invasion of the North and this threat of a southern army

to northern soil, northern resources,

and northern cities, but it of course resulted in

Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation,

which transformed the purpose of the war on both sides;

back to that in a second. The second major turning point

in the war, militarily, I'd argue, as most people do,

was the Battle of Gettysburg in July of 1863 and the day after

the three days' battle at Gettysburg.

The bloodiest encounter of the entire war, if you add up the

three days' casualties of almost 56,000 dead and wounded,

in three days--that battle, of course, stopped Lee's second

invasion of the North, and we'll come to that in a

moment, at least in brief terms. On the day after Pickett's

Charge at Gettysburg on the 4^(th) of July 1863,

the kind of citadel river town or city of Vicksburg,

Mississippi fell to Union forces,

after a siege of nearly six months.

When Grant took Vicksburg on the 4^(th) of July in 1863,

it virtually opened up the entire Mississippi River to

Union control; it cut geographically the

Confederacy in half; it isolated Arkansas,

Louisiana and Texas from the rest of the Confederacy.

It was without a question, at least in the long-term,

a decisive turning point in the war in the West.

A third major turning point, I'd argue, is the Fall of

Atlanta in September 1864; and we'll come that later on,

after the break. A fourth major turning point in

the war, politically, without any question I think,

is the Election of 1864, the only time in modern history

that a republic attempted to hold a general election in the

midst of civil war and succeeded in doing it.

The re-election of Lincoln in 1864 was absolutely crucial to

the prosecution of the war to the ends,

the Lincoln administration at least, by then,

had determined to fight it. But without the fall of

Atlanta, the first week of September 1864,

it's not at all clear Lincoln would've been re-elected,

and more on that later. And then fifth,

you could argue, I would argue,

the greatest single turning point in the Civil War,

deeply related to these military battlefront affairs,

is emancipation. The emancipation of 4.2 million

American slaves in the midst of eventually all-out,

near total war by the North on the South, to destroy southern

society and its institutions, transformed American history,

more than just transforming a war.

That's the theme of this lecture and Thursday's lecture,

and even to some extent beyond. It is those results beyond the

battlefield that ultimately it is our obligation to understand.

It's important, it's an obligation to

understand why the Battle of Antietam turned the way it did,

and it's an obligation to understand why Lee is invading

the North a second time in 1863, and why that encounter at

Gettysburg turned out the way it did.

But by then it is a war being fought for something very

different, and much, much larger than it had been at

the outset. One way into this story is a

very simple quotation in one of those interviews held with

former slaves in the WPA Oral History Narratives in the 1930s.

These were the interviews, over 3000 of them done with

ex-slaves, many of them in their eighties, some even in their

nineties. A guy named Cornelius Garner

was interviewed in 1937, at age 91.

He was asked if he had fought in the Civil War,

and Cornelius replied to his interviewer,

who was a black interviewer in this case, "Did I fight in the

War? Well if I hadn't you wouldn't

be sittin' there writin' at me today."

He then went on to describe a corner of his native Norfolk,

Virginia where slave auctions used to be conducted on New

Year's Day. "That day, New Year's Day,"

said Garner, should be kept by all the colored people.

That is the day of freedom. And they ought to remember

Frederick Douglass too. Frederick Douglass told Abe

Lincoln, 'Give the black man guns and let him fight.'

And Abe Lincoln say, 'If I give him a gun,

when it come to battle he might run.'

And Frederick Douglass say, 'Try him, and you'll win the

war.' And Abe said,

'All right, I'll try him.'"

Now that's a simplistic, homespun explanation for how

emancipation came about. Over 180,000 African-Americans

will end up in the Union armies. But old Cornelius wasn't

entirely wrong. All right, back to Virginia,

in 1862.

I'll put the outline back up if we need it.

I don't know if you can see all of that but I hope you can see

some of it. I left you with McClellan's

army on the peninsula having been defeated.

I thought I'd show you a couple of magnificent Mathew Brady

photographs. Photography,

of course, had finally come into its own.

The Civil War would be the first major event in world

history to be photographed on a large scale,

and it's in part what made Ken Burns's film possible,

especially the use of that camera they now that have that

can go into an old daguerreotype type,

which isn't any bigger than this, and make it seem like a

giant panorama.

This is a photograph taken behind Union troops overlooking

the Cumberland River in May 1862;

that's before the Battle of the Seven Days, that's during the

march by McClellan's army up the peninsula.

I don't how well you can see that but that's an absolutely

stunning photograph of a Union wagon train on one of these

makeshift bridges. They would build these things

in a few hours, over all these rivers,

which in May of 1862 were flooding constantly.

It's Union troops crossing the Chickahominy River,

just east of Richmond, May 1862.

Now, what happened next of course was--and this is where I

left you--was Lee's fateful decision to not stay and just

defend Richmond; so not just leave the war in

Central Virginia. Having defeated or held back

McClellan's army, and with a certain degree of

confidence that McClellan probably would be McClellan and

not move, he decided to invade the North.

Now there were all these high-level councils of war in

Richmond between Jefferson Davis, Lee and his generals.

There were arguments for and against it.

But Lee won the day, and the argument,

and he went west behind the Blue Ridge mountains and invaded

the North through the upper part of the Shenandoah Valley,

the goal of which was to not attack Washington,

D.C., by any means--I think I have a better map possibly;

yes, maybe that helps a little better--not to attack Washington

or necessarily to even threaten Philadelphia directly.

Lee had no intention of taking over any northern cities.

He couldn't do that. He didn't have the resources.

He didn't have an army big enough.

How would he have occupied them? But what he most wanted to do,

the aim of this invasion, was wanting to take the war out

of ravaged Virginia; to threaten northern cities,

especially the U.S. capital;

to try to bring about--and Great Britain was on the brink

of this, and I'll come back to that foreign policy diplomatic

story a bit later--but Great Britain was truly on the brink

of near recognition, at least a kind of

quasi-recognition of the Confederacy, and the theory here

was that if the Confederate forces could win a major

victory, somewhere on northern soil,

get into Pennsylvania, do it twice over,

live off the land, possibly even force the

evacuation of the U.S. capital, that news of that in

Great Britain might bring about British recognition of the

Confederacy as the legitimate government,

and especially give the Confederacy access to its navy,

if not even the possibility of ground forces.

And by the way, a British force had already

been sent to Canada in early 1862 for the possibility of

intervention in the American Civil War.

Now, there was also a theory here at work that is going to be

dead wrong. Lee believed,

as did other Confederate leaders, that in Maryland,

in particular, there was a great deal of

Confederate sympathy and sentiment, and a lot of young

Maryland men, the theory was,

eager to join the Confederate forces if they could just get

out of Maryland. And that marching Confederate

Army was going to attract them; at least that was the theory.

The problem was when young men actually saw that Confederate

Army, they were appalled, because that Confederate Army

that invaded across the Potomac River--they crossed the Potomac

on September 4 and September 5, 1862--was an army that had

apparently remarkable, almost miraculous morale;

they were winners. They had just defeated a Union

Army with McClellan's whole force still back on the

peninsula. The 40 to 50,000 Union troops

still guarding Washington, DC were decisively,

horribly defeated in the Battle of Second Manassas,

the last two days of August, the 29^(th) and 30^(th) of 1862.

That Union Army retreated once again--fought on the same fields

as First Bull Run, thirteen months

earlier--retreated into Washington, DC.

Washington, DC, on September 1^(st) 1862,

was like a giant field hospital.

There were some 3 to 4,000 wounded Union soldiers all over

the streets of Washington, a broken army,

with McClellan's army now retreating back up the

Chesapeake and the Potomac and this huge flotilla trying to get

to Washington in case Lee actually attacked Washington.

But the army Lee had was starving, they weren't very well

fed, and they weren't very well clad.

Here's one description of a young Marylander who saw the

Confederate Army. He said it was nothing but,

quote, "a set of ragamuffins. It seemed as if every cornfield

in Maryland had been robbed of its scarecrows.

None had any underclothing. My costume consisted of a

ragged pair of trousers,"--this guy apparently joined--"a

stained dirty jacket, an old slouch hat,

the brim pinned up with a thorn, a begrimed blanket over

my shoulder, a grease-smeared cotton

haversack full of apples and corn, a cartridge box full and a

musket. I was barefooted.

I had a stone bruise on each foot.

There was no one there who would not have been run in by

the police had he appeared on the streets of a normal city."

And there's plenty of testimony in the record,

though a lot of young Maryland men came out to see this now

famous army of Robert E. Lee, took one look or one

smell, as one put it, and went back to their farms.

Lee will get almost no real recruits, out of Maryland.

What they will do in Maryland, however, is capture several

hundred slaves and return them, or take them,

to Virginia.

They're going to do the same thing in 1863 in the Gettysburg

campaign on an even larger scale.

Kidnapping was also part of the Confederate army's job.

Now, the battle would not have occurred at Antietam except for

the famous--and it's true--lost order.

Here's what happened. Lee went into Maryland.

The Union Army is all around Washington, D.C.;

there's really no army up in Maryland to stop him,

yet. He divided his army in three

parts, three corps, about 20,000,

roughly, men each. And they were spread out around

Maryland about twenty miles apart, over a sixty-mile

stretch. Stonewall Jackson's corps was

sent to Harpers Ferry. The other two corps,

they were separated, at least by twenty miles in

between them, these three parts of his army.

One of the cardinal rules of the old manuals they were taught

in at West Point was, quote, in the old,

in Henri Jomini's Military Manual of Conduct,

it said, "never divide your forces in

the presence of the enemy." It's exactly what Lee had done.

The problem was that the Union command was about to find out

quickly. Lee wrapped orders around three

cigars, sent his courier out to the three corps commanders,

over the course of more than a day, to deliver the orders.

But the orders were lost, and they were found by a

private in an Indiana regiment whose name was B.W.

Mitchell-- the 27^(th) Indiana Volunteers to be exact--who

picked up this bundle of three cigars,

with paper wrapped around it, and he read the orders,

and at the bottom it said, "R.

E. Lee." And he apparently said

something like, "I've heard of him."

And Lee was already a kind of budding legend because of the

Seven Days and because of Second Manassas.

And he gave it to his colonel who gave it to his

brigadier-general who quickly gave it to other generals.

Lincoln had little choice but to put McClellan back in charge.

His commander at Second Manassas had been a general

named John Pope, who had been thoroughly

defeated and had had a nervous breakdown;

seriously, he had a mental breakdown during the Second

Manassas battle, and Pope was out of action,

to say the least, and he would've been put out of

action anyway. So Lincoln puts McClellan back

in command, in Washington D.C., and within hours McClellan was

delivered Lee's orders, just as though there had been a

fourth cigar for McClellan. McClellan looked at these

orders; but they were discovered,

by the way, on the 13^(th) of September of 1862.

McClellan read them by that night.

The orders were basically to have all parts of Lee's Army

concentrate, rather slowly, but concentrate toward the area

of Sharpsburg, Maryland, which is right here

along Antietam Creek. Sharpsburg is a little town,

Antietam's a little river. But they were to congregate

there within the next, oh, three to four days.

McClellan now has at his command about 90,000 troops.

If he marched them quickly he had the opportunity to defeat

Lee's Army in parts. But McClellan was McClellan.

He sat on the lost order for about two days before he decided

(1) whether to believe it, (2) what to do about it.

Lee quickly discovered that his orders never reached his

commanders and he worried, he sent out new orders to

concentrate as fast as possible near Sharpsburg.

McClellan finally moved slowly from the camps around

Washington, up toward Sharpsburg.

They encountered each other at a place called South Mountain at

the end of the day of the 15^(th) of September 1862,

and a battle of a sort was fought there.

It was only a rearguard sort of thing.

Lee retreated out of the South Mountain pass,

down into this little valley around Sharpsburg,

Maryland, which is just above the Potomac River.

Now Lee was taking a tremendous risk here, because one of those

other rules they'd been taught was never engage an enemy,

at least in full force, with a major river behind you.

But that's exactly what happened.

They fought the Battle of Antietam on September 17,1862,

as I already said, the bloodiest single day of the

Civil War. They fought in cornfields,

they fought across open fields, they fought along a sunken

road, they fought along a famous

bridge now known as the Burnside Bridge.

I have a couple of photographs to show you.

They fought along what's known as the Hagerstown Road,

along which 48 hours after the battle one of Mathew Brady's

photographers took this awful photograph.

These are Confederate dead along that road.

There are many, many photographs taken at

Antietam. This is another one of Union

dead lined up for burial, a line of dead probably 75

yards long.

Antietam was in no way necessarily a decisive or

strategic victory for either side.

I want you to see this photograph because of its irony.

You've probably seen this one before.

At the end of the day at Antietam there were about 23,000

casualties on both sides, over 5,000 dead.

And you may remember back on 9/11, in the immediate aftermath

of 9/11, the estimates were over 5,000 dead at the World Trade

Center and people were comparing this to Antietam as the

bloodiest day of sacrifice in American history.

It turned out not to be the case;

nevertheless. What happened in the wake of

Antietam was that Lee's invasion of the North had been stopped.

Now McClellan missed a tremendous opportunity to press

the day. This has always been a debate

among military historians, and you can read,

oh God, hundreds of pages on this, if you care to.

It's always been a debate as to whether if McClellan had

followed this up could he have literally crushed Lee's army

with the Potomac at his back and in effect ended the war?

There surely was that possibility but the day at

Antietam had been so devastating to both forces that McClellan

did not move; in fact, he did not move for

days. It's also true though that

McClellan kept in reserve at Antietam, and it was this act,

I think, more than anything else, that got Lincoln finally

to go out there by October 3 and fire McClellan.

McClellan kept about 20,000 of his troops in reserve at

Antietam, always fearing that he was outnumbered;

he didn't use them. And in a military sense had

someone like Grant been in charge at Antietam,

it is entirely possible Lee would've been defeated and at

least the war in the East ended. But that was not the case.

Lee retreated back into Virginia to fight again.

This is a Mathew Brady photograph, taken of Lincoln

meeting with McClellan. This is McClellan right here.

There's also a famous photo of them sitting in that same tent

you may have seen; Burns uses it in the series.

It was in this meeting that Lincoln went out to meet with

McClellan to urge him to move, to push into northern Virginia,

to push after Lee's Army in early autumn,

while the weather was so good. And McClellan did not move,

and a couple of days after that he was fired;

and fired for good.

Although McClellan will not leave history of course,

he will come back to be the Democratic Party's candidate for

president in 1864 against Abraham Lincoln.

Now it is, of course, in the wake of Antietam that

Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation.

Let me turn to that now and explain why and how emancipation

became the new cause of the war. Now, let's discuss Lincoln for

a moment, first. The biggest problem with

Abraham Lincoln has always been not--that is in how we interpret

him and treat him, understand him,

use him, which we do constantly.

Every president, every American politician,

as David Donald once said famously in the 1950s,

"has to get right with Lincoln."

Everybody uses him. We twist him all inside out and

make him say whatever we want him to say.

And there's no other American in our history who has been

given credit for more apocryphal quotations, than Abraham

Lincoln. A little later in the course

I'll use a few of them, at the end of--when we get to

the end of the war. But the problem with Lincoln is

indeed his ambiguity, the reality of his historical

ambiguity. There is a puzzling dualism

about him. There are two,

at least two, seeming incompatible legends,

if you want, about Abraham Lincoln.

One has him as the kind of awkward, amiable,

storytelling, rail splitting,

frontier folk hero, everybody's favorite homespun,

granddaddy with a corncob pipe, who might just tell you a

little raunchy story, and have you chuckling;

he's kind of fun. The other though is the

towering political genius, the moral leader,

the shaper of a nation's destiny, savior of the Union and

the Great Emancipator. He never quite asked for any of

those. Everybody needs to claim him

though. There's a brilliant essay on

this by an historian named Scott Sandage.

It came out about ten years ago, it's called "A Marble House

Divided." It's all about the Lincoln

Memorial. A lot of you you've probably

been to the Lincoln Memorial. It is America's secular temple.

Everybody uses it. The Ku Klux Klan has held

rallies at Lincoln's temple. Martin Luther King gave the

Dream speech at Lincoln's temple.

It's been used by every extreme of American political culture.

If you want to claim the nation's attention,

go to the nation's temple and claim old Abe,

up behind you. He was never very open about

himself, never wrote an autobiography,

didn't write many autobiographical sentences as a

matter of fact; didn't live long enough to do

that. He was never an abolitionist.

He actually had a lot of personal contempt for radical

abolitionists. He didn't like a lot of their

arguments and he didn't like their tactics and strategies.

He was a genius with language; no, no, there's no question

about that. We've never had a president who

could use words, who could find the music of

words, like Lincoln. He wrote every word and every

sentence of every one of his speeches and every one of his

great public letters. Jim McPherson even went so far

as to write an article saying how Lincoln won the war with

metaphors. I don't know whether a metaphor

can win you a war. Strongest battalions might be a

little more important in the end.

Who knows? Is he the symbol,

though, of the man who held back emancipation as a white

supremacist, or is he the symbol of the man

who outgrew his prejudices, and those of his time,

to become the emancipator? Or was he just a shrewd

politician, kind of finding the middle ground and seeing how the

wind was going to blow if he tried this or if he threw up

that balloon, or if he tried that?

Now there are many ways to reflect on Lincoln.

My own favorite expression about him--and there are

thousands of these--but my own favorite comes from W.E.B.

DuBois, the great black scholar of the twentieth century,

who I think really captured all sides of Lincoln in one

quotation. This was DuBois,

in an editorial he wrote in 1922 in The Crisis

magazine. He wrote it at the time of the

unveiling of the Lincoln Memorial.

He also wrote it at a time when he was fed up with all of the

national honoring and celebration of Robert E.

Lee. So it may have--that

celebration of Lee, which disgusted DuBois,

maybe had had something to do with how he wrote this

expression about Lincoln. But this is DuBois on Lincoln,

quote: "I love him, not because he was perfect,

but because he was not perfect, and yet triumphed.

There was something left so that at the crisis he was big

enough to be inconsistent, cruel, merciful,

peace loving, a fighter, despising negroes

and letting them fight, and vote, protecting slavery

and freeing slaves. He was a man,

a big, inconsistent, brave man."

I'd argue, my friends, that the most important thing

you can grasp about Abraham Lincoln is that he had the

capacity for growth. He was big enough to be

inconsistent, or as Emerson once put it,

consistency's a hobgoblin of simple minds.

Remember all that language about flip-flopping in the 2004

election? One of the candidates was

alleged to have been a flip-flopper all the time.

Well, if Abraham Lincoln hadn't been a flip-flopper we wouldn't

have had the Emancipation Proclamation.

So here's to flip-flopping. [laughter]

Lincoln's early record on slavery is interesting.

As early as 1837 he was one of only two representatives in the

Illinois Legislature to vote against a resolution declaring

the right of slave ownership; he was twenty-eight years-old

at that time. He has one two-year term in the

House of Representatives. During that term,

which was the Mexican War, he found himself appalled at

the slave trade in the District of Columbia.

You could go visit slave auctions, as I've said before,

I think, two or three blocks down the street from the

capitol. He called that slave market,

quote, "a sort of Negro livery stable where droves of Negroes

are collected, temporarily kept and finally

taken to Southern markets, precisely like droves of

horses." He also said during that same

term, "If the Negro is a man, why then my ancient faith

teaches me that all men are created equal and that there can

be no moral right in connection with one man's making a slave of

another." At the same time Lincoln though

was a Henry Clay Whig. He was a supporter of the

Compromise of 1850. He believed in compensation to

slave owners as a way, a hope, of setting up some kind

of gradual emancipation plan. And he believed,

as Henry Clay had founded it, in this idea--at least he did

for awhile--this idea of colonization,

of sending blacks either to Africa or to the Caribbean or to

Central America. I don't have time to stop on

those fabulous Lincoln-Douglas debates where you can find every

extreme of Abraham Lincoln. I was once given an assignment

in a junior seminar as an undergraduate.

Old Fred Williams at Michigan State sent us to the Lincoln

Collected Papers and he said, "Your assignment is to come

back with one passage demonstrating that Lincoln was

anti-slavery and believed in emancipation and come back with

one passage showing that he was a white supremacist."

Now, growing up a Lincoln lover, and I thought "oh,

dear." That's like you've been raised

in a certain religion and somebody says go read the

Bhagavad-Gita or read the Koran or study Buddhism for awhile.

I did that too for awhile; I didn't learn much but--.

[Laughter] And sure enough you can find

all those extremes in the Lincoln-Douglas debates.

We also know, of course, that he was a free

soiler and he's most famous in the South,

of course, for that language of "putting slavery on a course of

ultimate extinction" in the House Divided speech,

and elsewhere. But once the war came,

the imperative about what to do about slavery was a huge and

delicate and terrible political question.

And this is the Lincoln that will be forever debated and

it'll be debated next year like it's never been debated because

it's the bicentennial of his birth next year,

and as I've warned you, it will be raining Lincoln

books and you will have to dodge them next year.

[Laughter] Now, after the war broke out

immediately some slaves began to come into Union lines.

The first were at a fort in Florida, and then as early as

May 1861, some slaves began to come into Union lines,

handfuls, near Fortress Monroe in Virginia.

And there was a Union commander there, a political general,

a former Democrat, before the war,

and anything but an abolitionist,

Benjamin F. Butler, who nevertheless when

these slaves came into his lines, he realized,

no, wait a second, the Confederates are over there

using these people to build their fortifications,

maybe we could use them to build our fortifications.

So why don't we confiscate them and call them contraband of war?

They're property under the law, call them contraband.

And the name stuck, of course, and that name will

end up in poetry and in song, and even in a law or two;

contraband property. But, at the outset of the war,

in the summer of '61, fall, winter of '61/'62,

into the spring of '62, the first year of the war,

the official policy of the Lincoln administration and of

the Union forces, across the land,

the official policy, was called denial of asylum.

It meant that any slave who escaped into Union lines,

the officer in charge and command of that unit had the

responsibility to return that slave to his owner,

if the owner--this was the impossible kicker--if the owner

was loyal to the Union. If that owner was not loyal to

the Union and was in the Confederate army or something,

then yes, you could admit that slave to your lines as

contraband of war. Now, of course if this had only

been a trickle of people here and there, coming into Union

lines, possibly this could be enforced.

But it wasn't enforceable. How's that Union commander

going to go out and figure out, hey, mister enslaved person,

is your owner loyal or disloyal to the Union?

That slave is probably going to say, "He's a Confederate,

what do you think?" And, of course, most were.

Now, Congress took the lead before Lincoln ever wrote an

Emancipation Proclamation, although Lincoln was thinking

about this and working on this all through that summer of 1862.

Congress took the lead. Now this was a Congress,

remember, that is now dominated by the Republican Party.

You got eleven southern states out of the Union.

They don't have any senators, they don't even have members in

the House of Representatives. This is a northern Republican

majority, significant majority. Now, they're going to run into

trouble in the fall congressional elections of 1862,

and they're going to lose some of those seats because of what

they're doing now. Congress took the lead;

it passed an Article of War in March of 1862 which said that

fugitive slaves must be admitted to Union camps.

It didn't say what their status would be, it didn't define

anybody. It left their legal status

vague. It just said any escaped slave

must now be admitted. Now, the reason they did that

is because this denial of asylum policy had caused chaos in a lot

of Union units. A brief example.

Remember this guy Charles Brewster whose letters I read

from the other day; this guy from Massachusetts

whose letters I edited and so on?

Well Charlie Brewster, this racist from Northampton,

Massachusetts, 28-years-old by now,

nevertheless in the late fall of 1861, he took a runaway slave

who was 17-years-old and named David,

into his personal care--he made him his personal servant.

This is after Brewster got his commission as an officer.

He even wrote home to his sister, several times,

asking his sister to send stocking caps,

socks, an old pair of pants. He even named the shirts that

he wanted to put on his David; it was as though he was

dressing him. And Brewster was determined

never to send that kid back to slavery.

But down came the orders, by January, early February

1862, that all fugitive slaves within their camps must be

returned to their owners, if those owners came to the

Union lines to retrieve them. And the fugitive named David

had his owner waiting at the camp.

There was a near mutiny in the 10^(th) Massachusetts,

which was Brewster's regiment, between those soldiers who

wanted to protect these fugitive slaves and free them,

in effect, and those who did not.

And this went on in hundreds of regiments.

Brewster was threatened with court martial and being run out

of the Army if he didn't give back this fugitive slave.

His compromise was that he took this young David out into the

woods and he said, "Get out of here,

run. I'll just tell them you ran

away." And that's what he did.

By that spring, Congress decided any fugitive

slave who escapes to Union lines must be accepted.

In April of 1862, Congress, on the 16^(th) of

April--and this was a very significant law--they passed

abolition, the end of slavery in the

District of Columbia. They gave $300 per slave in

compensation to those owners of slaves in the district.

The District of Columbia in 1862 had 3,100 slaves.

They also put up, I think the figure was about

$300,000.00 in that bill, where they provided for the

possible colonization of blacks voluntarily to foreign countries

as a result of emancipation, a policy the Lincoln

administration now was supporting.

Then third, in June of '62, Congress, by majority vote,

sort of threw a great deal of American history on the dust

heap and they abolished slavery forever in the Western

Territories; arguably the single most

important cause of the Civil War.

A stroke of the pen, in June of '62,

they ended slavery, in spite of the Dred Scott

decision. Now, remember what the Dred

Scott decision had said. Here was Congress passing a law

in direct opposition to a Supreme Court decision.

It's an argument for not having too many civil wars,

you see, because Congress might end up doing anything in the

midst of a civil war, and they surely did here.

And then finally, on July 17,1862,

Congress passed what was called the Second Confiscation Act.

There'd been a First Confiscation Act passed back in

August of '61. Even in the First Confiscation

Act--and by the way, these were acts authorizing

Union forces to confiscate Confederate property.

Even in the First Confiscation Act, back in August of 1861,

slaves were mentioned as property;

their status was still very vague.

But in the Second Confiscation Act, July '62,

the law explicitly freed slaves of all persons,

quote, "in rebellion," anywhere;

any slave of anyone supporting the Confederacy.

It did everything the Emancipation Proclamation will

later do and then some. It was in some ways more

extensive because it included all parts of the South,

including those Border States that had not seceded from the

Union. Now, with Congress already

having done these things, by July of '62--and by the way,

this is all during the Peninsula Campaign,

down in Virginia. The Second Confiscation Act was

passed in the immediate wake of the Seven Days battle.

Lee is deciding to invade the North.

Lincoln, as you may know the story--if you've read Team of

Rivals by Doris Goodwin you know it-- would hang out at the

War Department. He'd go there for some solitude.

He had a private little office there.

He began to draft an Emancipation Proclamation as a

legal brief, a legal document, and he kept it in a locked door

of a desk at the War Department. Supposedly there was one or two

guards that knew about it; I'm not sure about that.

But he was beginning to draft an Emancipation Proclamation

probably as early as June, certainly by July of '62.

The pressure now mounted from every direction.

He secretly held meetings with a delegation of Delaware,

and a delegation from Kentucky, trying to convince them to

institute gradual emancipation plans over time with

compensation to slave owners that would free slaves over a

35-year period. This was Lincoln the

gradualist, this was Lincoln trying to condition public

opinion. Delaware at that point only had

1,800 slaves. There were far more slaves in

the District of Columbia than there were in all of Delaware.

But the Delaware delegation that came to the White House to

meet with Lincoln told him unequivocally no,

they weren't going to touch slavery for fear of what it

might ignite. Lincoln waited and waited.

He was attacked by Horace Greeley in the New York

Herald Tribune, as you know.

Read the famous Greeley letter in the Johnson Collection.

This is the famous passage in August of '62 where Lincoln

said, "I will save the Union by freeing all the slaves;

or I will save the Union by freeing none of the slaves.

My aim in the end is to save the Union."

But read that entire letter, not just that quote,

I'm going to leave that to you; read the entire letter,

because he's actually honest on both sides of the semicolon.

Look for his semicolon, and judge both sides.

He's a crafty cat, you got to read him closely.

Lincoln needed a battlefield victory, he needed some kind of

battlefield success, and he gets that of course with

Antietam. In the wake of Antietam,

five days afterwards, 22^(nd) September '62,

Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

That preliminary Emancipation Proclamation said that slaves in

the United States, in the states in rebellion,

would be freed on January 1^(st).

There was a carrot and a stick. The stick was emancipation and

conquest, if the Union forces could ever do it;

and the carrot was in effect he invited the Confederate states

to throw down their arms, give up the war,

come back to the Union, by January 1^(st).

They're not going to do it, of course, but he was hoping;

or was he hoping? I'm going to leave you with

this. Back in Virginia there was a

young slave, twenty-two years-old.

His name was John Washington. He'd grown up Fredericksburg,

Virginia. Had a white father whom he

never knew, a slave mother named Sarah.

She taught him to read and write.

He grows up an urban slave with lots of skills,

highly valued, probably a brilliant young man.

He got hired out five times in the late 1850s and the first

year of the war. He married his sweetheart in

January 1862 in the African Baptist Church in

Fredericksburg. And he chose his moment of

escape at the first appearance of Union forces along the

Rappahannock River in Fredericksburg on the 18^(th) of

April, 1862. He left a narrative that he

wrote after the war that I had the great good fortune to have

lopped in my lap and have recently published a book about

it. And in that narrative he tells

this remarkable story of the day of his escape.

He even drew a map of Fredericksburg of the day of his

escape, including a glossary of sixteen sites and buildings and

crossroads on that map, as though he wanted the world

to see as well as hear his story.

And John tells this story--he's twenty-two years-old--he tells

the story of all the white people evacuating Fredericksburg

and his mistress, Mrs.

Tolliver, is literally packing her china and her silver,

and she says one day, "Now John, you'll be with us

tomorrow, you'll be with us tomorrow."

She's assuming his loyalty. And he says,

"Yes Misses, yes Misses, I'll be with you

tomorrow." And then his next scene is he's

got a hotel where he's been hired out as a steward,

almost like an assistant manager, and he describes all

the white people fleeing the hotel and fleeing the streets of

Fredericksburg, and he says he took the twelve

workers up on the roof of the hotel--and the hotel was called

The Shakespeare, I kid you not.

He takes all the black workers up on the roof of the hotel

where they could see across the river and see what he called

"the gleam of the Yankees' bayonets."

And then he brought them all back down into the kitchen and

he poured a round of drinks, and he held a toast,

and the toast was "To the Yankees."

And then he instructed his fellow workers,

he said, to get out of there. "But," he said,

"don't get too far from the Yankees."

And then John Washington walked two blocks down to the river,

he witnessed the formal surrender of Fredericksburg,

he saw the bridges being burned by the Confederate forces,

and he walked one mile up river,

and he said he crossed the river at Fickland's Mill;

and the old stone ruins of that mill are still there.

So I know exactly where he crossed the river.

He got into a rowboat, he crossed, and that night he

slept in the camp of the 30^(th) New York Volunteers.

A captain in that regiment named Ladd, l-a-d-d,

formally freed him, he said,

based on the law that had just been passed by Congress

forty-eight hours earlier in Washington,

freeing the slaves in the District of Columbia.

John Washington spent the rest of that summer as a camp hand

and a guide for the Union Army, all the way through Second

Manassas. He dated his arrival in

Washington, D.C. as part of the first great wave

of freedmen into the capital, as September 1.

And by the following year I found him in a City Directory

record, living at his first address on 19^(th) Street in

Washington. He had his wife,

his newborn child, his mother and his 68-year-old

grandmother living there with him.

Apart from, beneath, next to, underneath this great

military and political story, thousands and thousands of John

Washingtons are freeing themselves.

The Description of 15. Lincoln, Leadership, and Race: Emancipation as Policy