The issues of freedom for the slaves and military service were intertwined from the beginning of the Civil War. News from Fort Sumter had set off a rush by free black men to enlist in military units. They were turned away, however, because a Federal law dating from 1792 barred them from bearing arms for the U.S. Army (although they had served in the American Revolution and in the War of 1812).
The Lincoln administration thought about authorizing the recruitment of black troops before the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, but they were worried that doing so would prompt the border states to secede.
Nevertheless, the Emancipation Proclamation, issued on January 1, 1863, did include mention of military service, although Lincoln did not call slaves and free blacks to serve as combatant troops in the war. Lincoln wrote, ”And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable conditions, 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.”
This statement directly applied to slaves in the slave states, and many black men moved to free themselves. Despite the restrictions of the Emancipation Proclamation in loyal border states, Tennessee, and portions of Union-occupied Louisiana and Virginia, slaves found their way to the Union armies … [ Read all ]
Today’s blog post comes from National Archives social media intern Anna Fitzpatrick.
Only 100 days after promising in the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation that slaves in the Confederacy would soon be freed, Lincoln fulfilled that promise by signing the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. This proclamation changed the character of the war, adding moral force to the Union cause and strengthening the Union both militarily and politically while the rebellion was still in full force.
Despite the expansive wording of the proclamation, which stated ”that all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious areas ”are, and henceforward shall be free,” the Emancipation Proclamation was limited in many ways. It applied only to states that had seceded from the Union and it excused parts of the Confederacy that had already come under Northern control. Most importantly of all, the freedom it promised depended upon a Union military victory.
The Emancipation Proclamation also failed to apply to the slave-holding border states that had remained loyal to the Union, such as Maryland. On April 25, 1864, Annie Davis, an enslaved woman living in Maryland, wrote a brief but touching letter to President Abraham Lincoln, asking if she was free.
Mr. President It is my Desire to be free. to go to see my people on the eastern shore. my mistress wont let me you will please let me
Posted by Hilary on December 29, 2012, under - Civil War, - Presidents, Letters in the National Archives, Pennsylvania Avenue.
Tags: Annie Davis, Confederacy, Emancipation Proclamation, guest post, lincoln, Maryland, Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, slavery, Union
As a new year begins, the 112th Congress reconvenes for a second session of legislative activity. Representatives and senators from across the country are again descending upon the Capitol, ready to commence debates, proceedings, and hearings. This is how the legislative branch of the Federal Government always functions, right? Well, not always.
On the eve of the Civil War in 1860, the 36th Congress consisted of 66 senators and 234 representatives. There was a Democratic majority in the Senate and a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, and every state in the Union was effectively represented.
But once South Carolina issued its ordinance of secession on December 20, 1860, a surge of southern legislators began withdrawing and retiring from Congress.
By the time the 37th Congress convened in March of 1861, six states—Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas—had already joined South Carolina and left the Union. This prompted Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina to follow.
When the torrent of secession finally concluded, vacancies existed in both chambers of Congress. The mass exodus of southern Democrats, coupled with the commencement of Union-Confederate hostilities, shrank the Federal legislature to 50 senators and 180 representatives by the beginning of 1863.
Southern secession transformed Congress in many ways. The dozens of unfilled vacancies in the Senate and the … [ Read all ]
Posted by Gregory Marose on January 6, 2012, under - Civil War, News and Events, Rare Photos, Unusual documents.
Tags: 112th Congress, 1860, 36th Congress, Adam Goodheart, Alabama, Arkansas, civil war, Confederate, federal government, Florida, Georgia, kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, missouri, North Carolina, secession, South Carolina, Tennessee, texas, Union
The USS Monitor was the Navy’s first ironclad vessel, but it was not the only one in Civil War waters.
The Virginia had started life in 1855 as the Merrimack, a Union ship that had been burned to the waterline, sunk, and abandoned in the Gosport Navy Yard in Norfolk, VA. The Confederates raised what remained of the ship and used the hull to build the ironclad Viriginia.
On March 8, 1862, Virginia made its first combat sortie, as the ship headed through Hampton Roads and fired on the Union frigates Cumberland and Congress in an attempt to break the Union blockade at Hampton Roads. According to this New York Times article, the Virginia looked like “a submerged house” with “nothing protruding above the water but a flagstaff flying the rebel flag, and a short smokestack”
But when the Cumberland fired on the Virginia, the Confederate ship proved to be far tougher than an underwater home: “the latter opened on her with heavy guns, but the balls struck and glanced off, having no more effect than peas from a pop-gun.” The Virginia rammed the wooden frigate, which was no match for the ironclad boat, and also took out the Congress. Another Union ship was run aground.
The next morning, March 9, the Monitor arrived. The two ironclads fired on each other … [ Read all ]
Posted by Hilary on March 9, 2011, under - Civil War.
Tags: blockade, Confederate, Congress, Cumberland, frigate, Gosport Navy Yard, Hampton Roads, Merrimac, Monitor, New York Times, Norfolk, Union