American Civil War in the News is a edited review of American Civil War related news and articles, providing collection of hand-picked 1861-1865 era history.

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Slavery: American History - American Civil War

Latest hand-picked Civil War news and articles.

Abraham Lincoln tried to deport slaves to British colonies
Evidence from the British legation in Washington - that has turned up at the National Archives in Kew, UK - reveals that Abraham Lincoln planned black colonization right up until his assassination in 1865. Phillip Magness and Sebastian Page claim that after Lincoln announced the freedom of three quarters of America's four million slaves with his 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, he authorised plans to set up freedmen's settlements in Belize and Guyana. As black soldiers were dying for the Union cause and a mission to send 453 freed slaves to colonize an island off Haiti met with a disastrous small pox outbreak, Lincoln secretly authorized British officials to recruit blacks for a new life on the plantations of Central America.

The US Coast Survey`s map of the slave-holding states show concentrations of slaves
The detailed United States Coast Survey's map of the slave-holding states - based on the 1860 Census and illustrating the different concentrations of slaves across the South - provides a captivating insight into the country's massive slave population.

Five myths about slavery and why the South seceded comprehensively explored
(Myth #1) The South seceded over states' rights: South Carolina's secession convention adopted a "Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union." It noted "an increasing hostility on the part of the non-slaveholding States to the institution of slavery". (Myth #3) Most white Southerners didn't own slaves, so they wouldn't secede for slavery: Most non-slave-owning whites defended slavery because they dreamed to become slave-owners in the future.

Confederate states wrote down their reasons for secession: Number one was slavery
The declaration of secession causes by South Carolina and 4 of the 10 states that followed it out of the Union crushes the myth that American Civil War was not about slavery. South Carolina: "The non-slaveholding states ... have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery ... have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes." Mississippi: "Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery."

Valuable Abraham Lincoln document found in the Hawaii State Archives   (Article no longer available from the original source)
A document that was hidden away in the Hawaii State Archives for decades has finally been explained. Abraham Lincoln signed it as part of his plan to free slaves during the Civil War. Someone found the file in a vault in 1935. They noticed Lincoln's signature, but did not know what the document was. It remained a mystery until Daniel Stowell visited the archives, realizing the date, Sept. 22, 1862, was the date Lincoln signed the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. "This document is intimately related to the end of slavery in the US. It's the beginning of the process. The order to the Secretary of State to affix the seal of the US to make official the preliminary emancipation proclamation."

The Slaves' War by Andrew Ward
Andrew Ward has succeeded at a difficult task: authoring a book about the American Civil War that seems fresh. With thousands of Civil War books available, each attacking some aspect of the grim conflict, it's hard to add something compelling to the mixture. Ward has carved a new path by collecting the words of the slaves into a chronicling of the war on the eastern and western fronts, year by year until the cease-fire. Part of the phenomenon unknown to Yankees was the fear Southern whites had brainwashed in the slaves. The plantation owners described Union soldiers "demons" with "only one eye, set in the middle of his forehead, and a horn on the top of his head."

Slavery by another name: The re-enslavement of black americans
In "Slavery By Another Name The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans From the Civil War to World War II" Douglas A. Blackmon eviscerates the basic assumption that slavery in America ended with the Civil War. He brings out shocking evidence that the practice remained well into the 20th century. And he is not referring to the virtual bondage of black sharecroppers not able to extricate themselves economically from farming. He describes free men forced into industrial servitude, bound by chains, faced with subhuman living conditions and subject to torture. The book reveals what has been a mostly unexplored aspect of American history.

Not all slaves freed by Lincoln - Anybody have an answer?   (Article no longer available from the original source)
I was taught that when Abraham Lincoln issued Emancipation Proclamation, he freed all slaves in the South. That's not exactly right. For example, it did not include the ones in St. Martin and St. Mary parishes. Eric Martin is trying to find someone who can explain why that was. "In all the years we have done research for the Acadian Memorial and the African-American museums, no one could clearly answer this question. In the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln declared the slaves free throughout the U.S. except in 6 parishes, the city of New Orleans and a city in Virginia."

New York had the most slaves in the North, and Long Island had half   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Long Island had the biggest slave population of any rural or urban area in the north for most of the colonial era. Beginning with the introduction of 11 black slaves into New Netherlands in 1626, the number of slaves in New York grew to nearly 20,000 on the eve of the Revolutionary War. "New Yorkers held more enslaved Africans than the residents in the combined New England colonies," writes Richard S. Moss in 1993 book "Slavery on Long Island". The daily family life of a Long Island slave was different from his counterpart in the South, where large groups of blacks in slave quarters could at least share their culture and social life, often with own family members.

New Jersey becoming first northern U.S. state to apologize for slavery?   (Article no longer available from the original source)
New Jersey lawmakers begin dealing a measure that would make theirs the first northern U.S. state to offer an expression of regret for slavery. The resolution expresses "profound regret" for the state's role in slavery and apologizes for the wrongfulnesses of slavery. If approved, it would make New Jersey the 5th U.S. state to offer a similar apology for the institution that served as a catalyst for the American Civil War. Many Republicans are against the bid. "Who living today is guilty of slave holding and thus capable of apologizing for the offense?" inquired Republican Richard Merkt.

A Slave No More - Memoirs open a closed chapter of a slave's life
"A Slave No More" by historian David W. Blight tells the tale of two slaves: John Washington and Wallace Turnage - who wrote about their ordeals after the civil war. The newly discovered memoirs "Memorys of the Past" are included in Blight's book, he also found Washington's living relatives while doing research. Because he lived downtown, John Washington knew almost everyone who lived here. That knowledge came in handy when Washington, as a cook with the Union Army, pointed out Confederate sympathizers picked up by the Yankees.

Dominion of Memories: Jefferson, Madison, and the Decline of Virginia
In the first years of the republic, Virginia was America`s most powerful state. 20% of the nation`s citizens lived there, as did 4 of the first 5 Presidents. A little more than half a century later, barren fields lay fallow across the state. Illiteracy was skyrocketing, and a steady stream of Virginians were fleeing to other states. Why? In "Dominion of Memories: Jefferson, Madison, and the Decline of Virginia", professor Susan Dunn, author of Jefferson`s Second Revolution: The Election Crisis of 1800, shows how the state was brought low by the institution it valued most: Slavery.

Most Workers at Confederate Civil War Ironworks Were Slaves   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Alabama: Archaeologists sifting the ruins of slave cabins have unearthed an oft-forgotten facet of Southern slavery. In the South slavery has been most closely linked with plantation life. But here, on a hillside near the blast furnaces of the Tannehill Ironworks, the remains of cabins attest that slaves were also pressed into service in the South's first industrial labor force. The slaves who lived in these cabins - and others like them who labored in Alabama's ironworks before and during the Civil War - were the backbone of an industry that made the iron for Confederate gunboats, cannons, shot and shell.

How Civil War soldiers saw slavery - What This Cruel War Was Over
It wasn't until later in the Civil War, in the Gettysburg Address and his second inaugural speech, that Abraham Lincoln began describing the sacrifices of the war as nation's necessary atonement for the sins of slavery. But in doing so Lincoln was simply reflecting views that Union soldiers had already developed, according to historian Chandra Manning. "Ordinary Union and Confederate soldiers recognized slavery as the reason for the war" right from the beginning. She spent years sifting through letters, diaries, and regimental newspapers in order to develop a "bottom up" historical understanding of how Civil War soldiers regarded slavery.

Infamous Dred Scott slavery case decision
The framers of the U.S. Constitution believed that people of African descent "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect," and that "the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit... to be bought and sold and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise..." With reference to the words "all men are created equal" in the Declaration of Independence: "It is too clear for dispute that the enslaved African race was not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration." So wrote Roger Taney, Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court 150 years ago, in Dred Scott v. Sandford case.

Cherokees cast out sons of black slaves they once owned
Cherokees voted to expel descendants of black slaves they once owned, a move that has exposed the unsavoury role played by some Native Americans during the American Civil War and renewed accusations of racism against the tribe. Members of the Cherokee Nation voted by 77% to limit citizenship to those listed as "Cherokee by blood". The move stripped tribal membership from freedmen, those descended from slaves, and blacks who were married to Cherokees. They have enjoyed full citizenship rights for 141 years. Freedmen were granted full tribal membership under an 1866 treaty that the tribe was forced to sign with the US Government after the Civil War ended.

Virginia apologizes for role in slavery
Meeting on the grounds of the former Confederate Capitol, the Virginia General Assembly voted unanimously to express "profound regret" for the state's role in slavery. Sponsors of the resolution say they know of no other state that has apologized for slavery, although Missouri is considering such a measure. The resolution does not carry the weight of law but sends an important symbolic message. The measure also expressed regret for "the exploitation of Native Americans." Richmond, home to a boulevard lined with statues of Confederate heroes, later became point of arrival for Africans and a slave-trade hub.

Gen. David Hunter issued emancipation edicts long before Lincoln   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Civil War General David Hunter has faded into obscurity, but his efforts at Fort Pulaski to enlist just-freed African Americans into the Union Army sent shock waves across the nation. Historian Charles J. Elmore recounts these events in book General Hunter's Proclamation. The Federal army that forced Fort Pulaski to surrender on April 11, 1862. Two days later, Hunter, the commander of the Department of the South, issued General Order No. 7, freeing "all persons of color lately held to involuntary service by enemies of the US in Fort Pulaski and on Cockspur Island ..." The next month, he went further: General Order No. 11 freed the slaves in 3 states.

Sighs of despair: Slave life in the colonial South   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Much of what is known about slavery comes from white accounts because many black slaves could not write - or were not allowed to write. Still, some black accounts of slavery did appear after the Civil War. The horrors of the slavery still shine through, even when told from the eyes of the `privileged` white. Angelina Grimké described scenes from her life as a privileged white child in Charleston: a black slave in her class had face was so severely beaten it made her faint. A depiction of slave life comes from an interview conducted in 1863 of former slave Harry McMillan, who paints a terrifying picture of slave life.

Historians: Slave code's a myth -- Underground Railroad   (Article no longer available from the original source)
A book "Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad," says quilts revealed Underground Railroad codes. Slaves would look at fences to see if someone hung up quilts with coded patterns. Falling boxes meant time to go; a monkey wrench, pack up your tools; a bear's paw, follow tracks. The Plymouth museum doesn't claim that the quilts on display were used by slaves. Some are pretty old, but their purpose is to help make the argument that quilts were used in the Underground Railroad. So what's the debate? Well, two articles in the NY Times quoted historians as saying the quilt code is a myth.

Rare copy of proclamation ending slavery shown
A museum unveiled a rare copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, a document signed in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln declaring the end of slavery in the US. The document is one of about 24 known copies to survive out of 48 that were originally printed. It was acquired on behalf of The National Constitution Center museum from a private collector. "This is one of the rarest, most valuable, most significant documents in history. With the possible exception of the Declaration of Independence, no document has had a more profound impact on the American vision of liberty."

Slave Exhibits Stir Old Passions at Civil War Museum
Richmond, Virginia, whose Monument Avenue has glorified Confederate heroes for a century, is making room for new voices to tell the story of the Civil War. The American Civil War Center, which opened in the capital of the Confederacy in October, is the first museum in the U.S. to discuss the history of the war from the views of 3 sides: the North, the South and the slaves. A century and a half after the fighting ended, the museum isn't settling old arguments about the war. "The hope has been to try to educate everybody away from whatever prejudices or ill-informed biases they had," said James McPherson, author of "Battle Cry of Freedom: the Civil War Era."

Images of slavery discovered on old Southern currency
Pictures of slaves often showed up on Southern banknotes issued by the Confederacy during the Civil War. That historical detail led John W. Jones to a project: He began collecting old banknotes, and pictures of them, showing images of slavery, then magnified the tiny engravings and painted enlarged copies onto large canvases. The result is his exhibit "The Color of Money," a study of art and history, which opened at the Museum in Myrtle Beach. One $10 bill showed George Washington out with his slaves, underlining that slavery was an integral part of the nation from the start and that many of the founders were slaveowners.

Abraham Lincoln seeking support for slavery - Rare letter   (Article no longer available from the original source)
Letter written by President Lincoln seeks governors' support on legalizing slavery. The president remembered for abolishing slavery was willing to preserve that institution if doing so would preserve the union. It didn't work, as the half-million dead of the Civil War prove. Most of the 1861 letters didn't survive. Until now only three were known to exist. Then a Lincoln researcher stopped by the Lehigh County Historical Society to review its Lincoln-related holdings and found a fourth letter. The document, dated March 16, 1861 — less than a month before civil war broke out — was hiding in plain sight among the society's 3 million documents.

Slave revolt he plotted would've been the largest in US history
There's no likeness of him, no record of a word he wrote or said, no marked grave. The slave rebellion he allegedly plotted - which would've been the largest in US history - was scotched before it happened. Some historians believe there was no plot — that the revolt said to have called for the murder of every white in Charleston was cooked up by white leaders. Denmark Vesey, a freed slave, was hanged in 1822 with 34 co-conspirators. It's believed to be the largest set of executions ordered. He is among the most divisive figures most Southerners have never heard of. Here, many blacks exalt him as a freedom fighter, while some whites condemn him as a terrorist.