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Tag: slavery

Lincoln to slaves: go somewhere else

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DC Emancipation Act, April 1862 showing money to be set aside for deportation (ARC 299814)

The issue of slavery divided the country under Abraham  Lincoln’s Presidency. The national argument was simple: either keep slavery or abolish it. But Abraham Lincoln, known as the Great Emancipator, may have also been known as the Great Colonizer when he supported a third direction to the slavery debate: move African Americans somewhere else.

Long before the Civil War, in 1854, Lincoln addressed his own solution to slavery at a speech delivered in Peoria, Illinois: “I should not know what to do as to the existing institution [of slavery]. My first impulse would be to free all the slaves, and send them to Liberia, to their own native land.” While Lincoln acknowledged this was logistically impossible, by the time he assumed the Presidency and a Civil War was underfoot, the nation was in such duress that he tried it anyway.

By early 1861, Lincoln ordered a secret trip to modern-day Panama to investigate the land of a Philadelphian named Ambrose Thompson. Thompson had volunteered his Chiriqui land as a refuge for freed slaves. The slaves would work in the abundant coal mines on his property, the coal would be sold to the Navy, and the profits would go to the freed slaves to further build up their new land.

Lincoln sought to … [ Read all ]

Happy belated Juneteenth, everybody!

Rebel Defenses of Galveston and Vicinity, Surveyed and Drawn by order of G. L. Gillespie, Brevet Major & Chief Engineer, Miliary Division of the Gulf, Under the Direction of Lt. S. E. McGregory, Comdg. Topl. Party, Oct. 1865. (Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers, 77-CWMF-Q111)

Rebel Defenses of Galveston and Vicinity, Surveyed and Drawn by order of G. L. Gillespie, Brevet Major & Chief Engineer, Miliary Division of the Gulf, Under the Direction of Lt. S. E. McGregory, Comdg. Topl. Party, Oct. 1865. (Records of the Office of the Chief of Engineers, 77-CWMF-Q111)

Juneteenth is actually June 19, the day on which word finally made it to Galveston, Texas, that the Civil War was over and that Abraham Lincoln had freed the slaves. As the story goes, these 250,000 slaves were the last to hear the good news.

It was Union Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger who read General Order No. 3 to the people of Galveston:

“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”

The day is now celebrated as the day of African American emancipation in many communities throughout the country, … [ Read all ]