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The Struggle for Freedom and
Citizenship
Reckoning with Slavery
• Haphazard Union policies
• Union generals independently took actions
in response to black refugee...
Fort Monroe, occupied May 1861
Benjamin Butler
Initially in charge of Fort
Monroe
As slaves fled toward the fort,
he declares them
“contraband of war.”
D...
Harper’s Weekly May 1861, “Stampede among the
Negroes…their arrival at Fortress Monroe”
“The (Fort) Monroe Doctrine”
Contraband “policy”
• Tremendously contentious
– Lincoln was trying to hold allegiance of border states
– Many Union gener...
John C. Fremont
• Commander in charge of the Western
Department
– Famed explorer
– First Republican presidential candidate...
John C. Fremont
Major Gen. David Hunter
Another case of a general
pushing policy toward
emancipation
In charge of the sea islands off
the ...
“The three States of Georgia, Florida and South Carolina,
comprising the military department of the south, having
delibera...
Black Refugees
Black Laborers
Fugitive Slaves
• Put to work doing the most difficult and dirty jobs
• Often treated very poorly
• No national policy reg...
Moving toward Black enlistment
• African Americans had wanted to enlist from the
beginning, but were turned away
– 1792 la...
Formation of Colored Regiments
• May 1863: Government establishes the
Bureau of Colored Troops
• Key black leaders urged e...
Black troops
• In the end, roughly 180,000 black men serve
(10% of the Union Army); another 19,000 in the
Navy
– 93,000 fr...
Discrimination in the military
• Largely prevented from serving as officers
• Often commanded by racist whites; brutal tre...
High morbidity rates from disease
• Around 18% (twice as high as white)
• Poor camp conditions; inadequate food
• Ex-slave...
Impact of black troops
• Did change many white Northerners’ attitudes
• Union troops often the first to express altered
vi...
Harper’s Weekly illustration, Battle of Milliken’s
Bend June 1863
Soon after favorable coverage of black soldiers’ partici...
Civil War Lithograph: 54th Massachusetts
Colored Infantry at Fort Wagner, SC
Meaning of military service for blacks
• Fighting two wars
– Against the South; against discrimination in their
own milita...
Harper’s Weekly, 30 April 1864, “The
Massacre at Fort Pillow”
New York Tribune, May 3 1864
Recruitment Poster for Black Union Troops
Meaning of military service for blacks
• Opportunities to travel; meet new people
• Education
– Encamped much of the time
...
Unidentified Black Soldiers
The song was used in a minstrel piece presented
by Dan Bryant’s troupe in New York in 1862
Jim Downs, Sick From Freedom
• Questions purely celebratory accounts of
Emancipation
– Focuses on medical consequences: fa...
Downs, cont.
• Had called attention to a smallpox epidemic of
previously unrecognized proportions
– First became intereste...
Lecture 10: African Americans' Struggles for Freedom and Citizenship
Lecture 10: African Americans' Struggles for Freedom and Citizenship
Lecture 10: African Americans' Struggles for Freedom and Citizenship
Lecture 10: African Americans' Struggles for Freedom and Citizenship
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Lecture 10: African Americans' Struggles for Freedom and Citizenship

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Lecture 10

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Lecture 10: African Americans' Struggles for Freedom and Citizenship

  1. 1. The Struggle for Freedom and Citizenship
  2. 2. Reckoning with Slavery • Haphazard Union policies • Union generals independently took actions in response to black refugees who cross into Union lines • Congress and Lincoln responded to what was happening in the field • Once war began, it quickly becomes clear that Union generals and the government could avoid addressing the issue
  3. 3. Fort Monroe, occupied May 1861
  4. 4. Benjamin Butler Initially in charge of Fort Monroe As slaves fled toward the fort, he declares them “contraband of war.” Decision he made on his own.
  5. 5. Harper’s Weekly May 1861, “Stampede among the Negroes…their arrival at Fortress Monroe”
  6. 6. “The (Fort) Monroe Doctrine”
  7. 7. Contraband “policy” • Tremendously contentious – Lincoln was trying to hold allegiance of border states – Many Union generals opposed the policy • No consistent approach—some generals continue to return slaves • Aug. 1861 Congress passes 1st Confiscation Act – Effectively endorses what Butler did – In cases of pro-Confederate slaveowners, or those whose slaves were contributing to Confederate cause, runaway slaves no longer had to be returned
  8. 8. John C. Fremont • Commander in charge of the Western Department – Famed explorer – First Republican presidential candidate back in 1856 • August 1861, declared martial law in MO – Began confiscating secessionists’ property/slaves – Declared all slaves of disloyal masters emancipated • Lincoln incensed – Ordered him to rescind order; when he refused, fired him • But Fremont had put emancipation on the table
  9. 9. John C. Fremont
  10. 10. Major Gen. David Hunter Another case of a general pushing policy toward emancipation In charge of the sea islands off the coast of SC; masters had fled Requested to be allowed to create of black regiments Then issues General Order 11, freeing slaves in Georgia, Florida, SC Again Lincoln nullified the order; refused to equip or pay his black troops
  11. 11. “The three States of Georgia, Florida and South Carolina, comprising the military department of the south, having deliberately declared themselves no longer under the protection of the United States of America, and having taken up arms against the said United States, it becomes a military necessity to declare them under martial law. This was accordingly done on the 25th day of April, 1862. Slavery and martial law in a free country are altogether incompatible; the persons in these three States — Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina— heretofore held as slaves, are therefore declared forever free.” Maj. Gen. David Hunter, Department of the South, General Order No. 11, May 9, 1862
  12. 12. Black Refugees
  13. 13. Black Laborers
  14. 14. Fugitive Slaves • Put to work doing the most difficult and dirty jobs • Often treated very poorly • No national policy regarding pay or working conditions • Creation of shantytowns outside Union-occupied cites – Rampant disease; utter destitution; incredibly high death rates • Other ex-slaves became camp followers • As costs of war mounted and the Union moved toward a policy of “hard war,” white Northerners grew more open to the idea of black soldiers
  15. 15. Moving toward Black enlistment • African Americans had wanted to enlist from the beginning, but were turned away – 1792 law barring them from the militia • July 17, 1862: Congress passed the Second Confiscation and Militia Act • July 19, 1862: Congress banned slavery in the territories • July 22: Pres. Lincoln presented the preliminary draft of the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet
  16. 16. Formation of Colored Regiments • May 1863: Government establishes the Bureau of Colored Troops • Key black leaders urged enlistment on the grounds that it would lead to citizenship rights – F. Douglass: ”Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letter, U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, there is no power on earth that can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship.”
  17. 17. Black troops • In the end, roughly 180,000 black men serve (10% of the Union Army); another 19,000 in the Navy – 93,000 from Confederacy – 40,000 from border slave states – 53,000 from free states or Canada • Diverse lot – Illiterate freedmen – Well educated freedmen from cities like Boston, Philadelphia
  18. 18. Discrimination in the military • Largely prevented from serving as officers • Often commanded by racist whites; brutal treatment • Last to get needed supplies • Unequal pay – 54th Mass. refused pay for a year – July 1864, Congress finally passed an equal pay law, but did not grant full back to all; finally did so a year later • Disciplined more harshly – 21% of soldiers executed were black – 80% of those who were executed for mutiny • Often kept from combat; put in menial jobs
  19. 19. High morbidity rates from disease • Around 18% (twice as high as white) • Poor camp conditions; inadequate food • Ex-slaves often already in a weakened state • Medical care was worse than for whites – Not enough doctors • But conditions were even worse for blacks in contraband camps (Jim Downs)
  20. 20. Impact of black troops • Did change many white Northerners’ attitudes • Union troops often the first to express altered views • Numerous examples of black heroism – Port Hudson, LA – Captain Robert F. Wilkinson wrote, “One thing I am glad to say, that is that the black troops at P. Hudson fought & acted superbly. The theory of negro inefficiency is, I am very thankful at last thoroughly Exploded by facts. We shall shortly have a splendid army of thousands of them.”
  21. 21. Harper’s Weekly illustration, Battle of Milliken’s Bend June 1863 Soon after favorable coverage of black soldiers’ participation at Port Hudson, a largely untrained regiment of black troops held off a bayonet attack by a much larger Confederate force, remaining in the field even after the white soldiers retreated.
  22. 22. Civil War Lithograph: 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry at Fort Wagner, SC
  23. 23. Meaning of military service for blacks • Fighting two wars – Against the South; against discrimination in their own military • Stakes were higher – Confederates often refused to take blacks prisoner; simply killed them or enslaved them • Fort Pillow Massacre (April 1864) – Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest; later leader of the KKK – Out of 295 whites, 168 taken prisoner; out of 262 blacks, only 68 taken prisoner – “Remember Fort Pillow” as a rallying cry
  24. 24. Harper’s Weekly, 30 April 1864, “The Massacre at Fort Pillow”
  25. 25. New York Tribune, May 3 1864
  26. 26. Recruitment Poster for Black Union Troops
  27. 27. Meaning of military service for blacks • Opportunities to travel; meet new people • Education – Encamped much of the time • Create schools; form various societies • First time well-educated northern blacks and southern blacks spent time together – Northern blacks helped to educate and politicize southern blacks; contact with southern blacks expands Northern blacks’ sense of racial identification • Manhood – Military service as the quintessential means of demonstrating manhood and fitness for citizenship
  28. 28. Unidentified Black Soldiers
  29. 29. The song was used in a minstrel piece presented by Dan Bryant’s troupe in New York in 1862
  30. 30. Jim Downs, Sick From Freedom • Questions purely celebratory accounts of Emancipation – Focuses on medical consequences: fact that many did not survive to enjoy fruits of freedom • “Greatest biological catastrophe of the 19th century” • Massive dislocation results in widespread disease – Out of four millions slaves, a million became sick or died • Severe smallpox epidemic • Emphasizes how Emancipation was bound up with concerns about access labor – Separating the “able-bodied” from the rest
  31. 31. Downs, cont. • Had called attention to a smallpox epidemic of previously unrecognized proportions – First became interested in the project because he noted many references to sick and suffering slaves in the writings of middle-class Northerners who went to assist the freedmen

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