1861 to 1865 - Civil War (Good Ole Abe and The Emancipation Proclamation) (watch)
There’s great debate about whether or not the civil war was about slavery. Some believe that the war was not about slavery and instead it was was about the right for each individual state to govern itself as it pleased. I believe this is a true statement, but not in the way it was intended. The southern states wanted to leave the union so that it could form it’s own country - a country where slavery could make them big bucks.
I’ve spoken about this in great detail in the previous episodes. Slavery is big business in the south. Most southerns don’t own slaves, but of the ones who do, they’re producing wealth for the entire country and for the world. And many of the white southerners who don’t own slaves, aspire to own them.
In the North however, slavery had ended. But blacks were not free. Fugitive slave laws made it open season for white bounty hunters to go into the North, capture blacks and bring them home to their slave masters. The fugitive slave laws also made it illegal for anyone in the North to harbour a slave. Each captured slave had a right to a trial, but black people were forbidden from testifying against whites, which meant if you were captured, you were dead meat, whether you were truly an escaped slave or not.
In spite of the fact that life in the North was not a utopia for free blacks by any stretch of the imagination, it was better than the brutality of chattel slavery in the south. Blacks were fleeing to the North in droves.
While that’s going on, the south wanted to expand its slavery operations further into the west of the country. The north however had a different plan. They wanted to expand their factories (where white people worked) into the west as well.
This caused a huge problem. Two different systems fighting for domination lead to the bloodiest war on American soil. The civil war.
I was taught that the civil war was about slavery, and that the emancipation proclamation sealed the deal. But here’s the thing, slavery is an institution. This may be shocking to some, but black people are not an institution. Black people are people and the civil war has nothing to do with them. And the emancipation proclamation didn’t emancipate all the slaves, it just proclaimed to do so (kind of). It stated, “all persons held as slaves in any state or designated part of the state, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion of the United State , shall be then, and thenceforward and forever free”. Except the president, Abraham Lincoln, couldn’t force the south to abide by this rule - after all, those guys didn’t even vote for him. Not only that, but there’s another line in the Emancipation proclamation that states slaves could only be freed within rebel territory. This means that slaves are not free in the place that they’re being enslaved AND if there were slave owners in the south who pledged loyalty to the union, those slaves weren’t free either.
There is a conception that blacks sat around and waited for whites to set them free, which is abhorrently untrue! They risked their lives escaping the confederate south and fought for their own freedom. And by the way, spoiler alert, the North won and they wouldn’t have done it without the slaves.
There were no doubt, soldiers in the north who fought in the war to end slavery because it was a moral issue. Some would have gone because it’s war and they felt it was their duty, but let me be clear, the bloodiest, deadliest war on American soil is not fought over a moral issue, it’s fought over the maintenance of capitalism. It had nothing to do with the slaves themselves.
As a matter of fact, Abraham lincoln had a brilliant plan to ship all the Africans back to Liberia, Africa so they could start a new slave colony there instead. That was his solution. Why? Because the system that has been in place since the 1600s requires that someone be on the bottom working for free. It was getting hard to do in the US, so he thought of doing it in Liberia instead.
Watch this video about Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation to get a good idea of how it all went down. It's only 11 minutes