From: Lunelle Siegel <email@example.com>
Date: Wed, Jan 2, 2013
I expected it to be bad today, the continual drumbeat around the country celebrating the great emancipator, and how the great Union fought to free the slaves held hostage in the evil south.
Several news accounts have come across my desk so far, ranging from Richmond, VA to Colorado Springs, Colorado. The USPS has even issued a new stamp commemorating Lincoln’s Proclamation.
I was relieved that several news accounts actually got it right: “The Gazette” in Colorado Springs reports “Rosemary Harris Lytle, president of the local NAACP for nearly eight years, noted that the proclamation didn’t free anyone.”
NewsOne.com “for Black America” reports “With slavery perceived as the central issue, the Emancipation Proclamation has been lauded as a giant step for man-kind, when in fact; it was a strategic political and military move at best. At the time, William Seward, Lincoln’s Secretary of State, was quoted as sarcastically stating: “We show our sympathy with slavery by emancipating slaves where we cannot reach them and holding them in bondage where we can set them free.””
I was also pleased to read on the Savannah Morning News that “Elder J.E. Taylor, coordinator of the association’s Youth Division [at a prominent church], told the group President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation was “really an act of war, a military necessity which set the freedom train in motion” toward abolishing slavery.”
Sadly though, many get it wrong or partly wrong. Fox news opinion columnist John Yoo opines “He [Lincoln] rooted the constitutional justification for the Emancipation Proclamation as “a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion.” While he remained clear that the war was “for the object of practically restoring the constitutional relation between” the United States and the rebel states, he freed 2.9 million slaves, 75 percent of all slaves in the United States and 82 percent of the slaves in the Confederacy.”
What are the facts?
If you read the 5th paragraph (see below) of the Proclamation, you will see that:
1. EXEMPTED from emancipation enslaved persons in the areas where he had authority to do so (the occupied territory of Confederate States);
2. Lincoln proclaimed to abolish enslavement in the territory of the Confederate States unoccupied by Federal forces (where he did not have any authority, i.e. Georgia, Texas, etc.);
3. there was no change of the states of enslaved persons in the States remaining in the United States (i.e. New Jersey or New York).
In essence, Lincoln’s powerful pen containing magical emancipation ink was…disappearing ink!
Interestingly, in fact, the 48 counties in what would become West Virginia were exempted, and in fact, West Virginia was admitted as a “slave State” into the United State union on 5 months later, on 20 June 1863!
Then why did he do bother? Dr. Thomas J. DiLorenzo in his book “The Real Lincoln” says “Lincoln himself maintained that the Proclamation was merely a war measure, not an attempt at genuine emancipation. In a letter to his Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase, he admitted that the original proclamation had no legal justification, except as a military measure”.
It even says so, right in paragraph 4 (see below).
Could it be he was trying to appease many constituents without really accomplishing anything? Specifically: 1. how could federal forces continue to enforce the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850? This was a drain on military resources (funded by States in the Union) needed to prosecute the War; 2. how could he pacify the vocal abolitionists hoping to use the war as a way to project their objectives? ; 3. how could he solidify the neutrality by England, who, herself had peacefully ended slavery after spreading it throughout her realm? If she were to back away from this policy, would provide material aide to enemy (the “States…. in rebellion”).
This did raise another problem for Lincoln. Now the abolitionists would begin to claim that the War was “to abolish slavery”. This didn’t sit very well with many white northerners who, themselves, viewed the African as an inferior being based on “scientific” research of Dr. Samuel Morton, of Philadelphia (see “Complicity” – 2006: Farrow, Lang, Frank). Draft laws (conscription), upon being enforced in the summer of 1863, would result in massive draft riots, resulting in backlash on free New York City blacks including the deaths of at least 19 (remember the movie “Gangs of New York”?)
Is enslavement of a people wrong? I hope no one disputes this. But the War was not started or prosecuted because of viewed equity of races of human beings. Consider this: if equality for all was the purpose of the most costly in (terms of lives) War in American history, did it accomplish its goals? If so, why was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s work necessary? Why was the Civil Rights act of 1964 (99 years after the end of the War) necessary?
What would be the plight of these ‘freed’ blacks? Countless horrors of conscriptions, usage as cannon fodder as shown in the movie “Glory” and at Olustee (covering the retreat of the white forces), and the ghastly tactics employed by Sherman to “ditch” the civilian camp followers as he plundered Georgia?
It really angers me when I consider the pawns made of black Southern Americans by Lincoln’s terrible War. But I remember the tens of thousands of free and slave Southern blacks that were Southern first, and stood as patriots through the vast ordeal.
The Emancipation Proclamation
January 1, 1863
By the President of the United States of America:
1. Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:
2. "That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.
3. "That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States."
4. Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days, from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:
5. Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth[)], and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.
6. And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.
7. And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.
8. And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.
9. And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh.
By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.