Saturday, June 30, 2018

Abraham Lincoln's Program of Black Resettlement Part 5

This is a series of posts from the cited paper, I will try to divide it into many parts, put titles, and some illustration to fit in blogger and this Blog.

                                              From The Journal of Historical Review, Sept.-Oct. 1993 (Vol. 13, No. 5), pages 4-25.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          By Robert Morgan
Abraham Lincoln took the oath as President on March 4, 1861. Among the first words of his Inaugural Address was a pledge (repeating words from an August 1858 speech) intended to placate Southern apprehensions: 
"I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so." 

Referring to the proposed Crittenden amendment, which would make explicit constitutional protection of slavery where it already existed, he said, "I have no objection to its being made express, and irrevocable." He also promised to support legislation for the capture and return of runaway slaves.

At the same time, though, Lincoln emphasized that "no state, upon its own mere motion, can lawfully get out of the Union." With regard to those states that already proclaimed their secession from the Union, he said:
I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the states. Doing this I deem to be only a simple duty on my part; and I shall perform it, so far as practicable, unless my rightful masters, the American people, shall withhold the requisite means, or, in some authoritative manner, direct the contrary.

Slavery and race: defining each other.
In his masterful multi-volume study of the background and course of the Civil War, American historian Allan Nevins attempted to identify the conflict's principle underlying cause.
The main root of the conflict (and there were minor roots) was the problem of slavery with its complementary problem of race-adjustment; the main source of the tragedy was the refusal of either section to face these conjoined problems squarely and pay the heavy costs of a peaceful settlement. Had it not been for the difference in race, the slavery issue would have presented no great difficulties. But as the racial gulf existed, the South inarticulately but clearly perceived that elimination of this issue would still leave it the terrible problem of the Negro ...

A heavy responsibility for the failure of America in this period rests with this Southern leadership, which lacked imagination, ability, and courage. But the North was by no means without its full share, for the North equally refused to give a constructive examination to the central question of slavery as linked with race adjustment. This was because of two principal reasons. Most abolitionists and many other sentimental-minded Northerners simply denied that the problem existed. Regarding all Negroes as white men with dark skins, whom a few years of schooling would bring abreast of the dominant race, they thought that no difficult adjustment was required. A much more numerous body of Northerners would have granted that a great and terrible task of race adjustment existed -- but they were reluctant to help shoulder any part of it ... Indiana, Illinois and even Kansas were unwilling to take a single additional person of color.

Outbreak of War
Dramatic events were swiftly creating enormous problems for the new President, who had greatly underestimated the depth of secessionist feeling in the South. In January and early February, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas followed South Carolina's example and left the Union. Florida troops fired on the federal stronghold of Fort Pickens. When South Carolina seceded, she claimed as rightfully hers all US government property within her borders, including federal forts and arsenals. While announcing a willingness to pay the federal government for at least a share of the cost of improvements it had made, South Carolina insisted that these properties belonged to the state, and would no longer tolerate the presence of a "foreign" power upon her soil. The other newly-seceding states took the same position.
On the day Lincoln took the presidential oath, the federal government still controlled four forts inside the new Confederacy. In Florida there were Forts Taylor, Jefferson, and Pickens, the first two of which seemed secure, while in South Carolina there was Fort Sumter, which was almost entirely encircled by hostile forces.

 Lincoln: Struggle to save the Union
While historians do not agree whether Lincoln deliberately sought to provoke an attack by his decision to re-supply the Fort, it is known that on April 9, while the bombardment of the stronghold was underway, the new President received a delegation of Virginia Unionists at the White House. Lincoln reminded them of his inaugural pledge that there would be "no invasion -- not using force," beyond what was necessary to hold federal government sites and to collect customs duties. "But if, as now appeared to be true, an unprovoked assault has been made upon Fort Sumter, I shall hold myself at liberty to repossess, if I can, like places which have been seized before the Government was devolved upon me."

In the aftermath of the Confederate seizure of Fort Sumter in mid-April, Lincoln called upon the states to provide 75,000 soldiers to put down the rebellion. Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas and North Carolina responded by leaving the Union and joining the newly-formed "Confederate States of America." This increased the size of the Confederacy by a third, and almost doubled its population and economic resources. Remaining with the Union, though, were four slave-holding border states -- Delaware, Missouri, Maryland and Kentucky -- and, predictably, the slave-holding District of Columbia.
The American Civil War of 1861-1865 -- or the "War Between the States," as many Southerners call it -- eventually claimed the lives of 360,000 in the Union forces, and an estimated 258,000 among the Confederates, in addition to hundreds of thousands of maimed and wounded. It was by far the most destructive war in American history.

North against South: a War for slavery...and Statehood.
Even after fighting began in earnest, Lincoln stuck to his long-held position on the slavery issue by countermanding orders by Union generals to free slaves. In July 1861, General John C. Fr�mont -- the Republican party's unsuccessful 1856 Presidential candidate -- declared martial law in Missouri, and announced that all slaves of owners in the state who opposed the Union were free. President Lincoln immediately canceled the order. Because the Southern states no longer sent representatives to Washington, abolitionists and radical Republicans wielded exceptional power in Congress, which responded to Lincoln's cancellation of Främont's order by passing, on August 6, 1861, the (first) Confiscation Act. It provided that any property, including slaves, used with the owner's consent in aiding and abetting insurrection against the United States, was the lawful subject of prize and capture wherever found.
In May 1862, Union General David Hunter issued an order declaring all slaves in Georgia, Florida and South Carolina to be free. Lincoln promptly revoked the order. An irate Congress responded by passing, in July, a second Confiscation Act that declared "forever free" all slaves whose owners were in rebellion, whether or not the slaves were used for military purposes. Lincoln refused to sign the Act until it was amended, stating he thought it an unconditional bill of attainder. Although he did not veto the amended law, Lincoln expressed his dissatisfaction with it. Furthermore, he did not faithfully enforce either of the Confiscation Acts.

Deaths in Union 'Contraband Camps'
Slaves seized under the Confiscation Acts, as well as runaway slaves who turned themselves into Union forces, were held in so-called "contraband" camps. In his message to the Confederate Congress in the fall of 1863, President Jefferson Davis sharply criticized Union treatment of these blacks. After describing the starvation and suffering in these camps, he said: "There is little hazard in predicting that in all localities where the enemy have a temporary foothold, the Negroes, who under our care increased sixfold ... will have been reduced by mortality during the war to no more than one-half their previous number." However exaggerated Davis' words may have been, it remains a grim fact that many blacks lost their lives in these internment camps, and considerably more suffered terribly as victims of hunger, exposure and neglect. In 1864, one Union officer called the death rate in these camps "frightful," and said that "most competent judges place it as no less than twenty-five percent in the last two years."

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