After Abraham Lincoln became president of the United States on November 6, 1860, many southern states felt outraged and felt that they were no longer part of the union. Indeed, by February 1, 1861, South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama, Texas, and Louisiana seceded and formed the Confederate States of America with Jefferson Davis as the president. They were all for slavery whereas the Republican party through which Abraham Lincoln became president was anti-slavery. Lincoln wanted to maintain the union and stated that his government was not interested in ending slavery where it existed during the inaugural address on March 4, 1861. This, however, did not appease the confederates and on April 12, they attacked Fort Sumter. The Federal army returned fire which marked the beginning of the Civil War (Henderson, 2010). This paper aims at identifying how the Civil War became a war for black freedom.
The confederates grew with more states such as Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas who wanted to be loyal to their neighbors. Lincoln insisted that the war was about safeguarding the union rather than slavery. He was interested in appeasing the loyal southern states as well as the whites from the northern states who were not interested in fighting to end slavery or give black people rights. He showed this by barring blacks who wanted to enlist voluntarily to the army. The U.S Navy was still enlisting blacks since they were based abroad and did not affect the war (Klein, 2005). However, more blacks were interested in joining the war because to them; this was a war against slavery although there were those who were not interested since the union was not willing to give them rights to be citizens in the first place (Neely, 1991).
At this point, the war was more for freedom, especially to the blacks. Due to the fact that there was no federal policy about fugitives, the federal government did not know what to do with escaping slaves. However, they were declared to be contraband of war on August 6th, 1861 which meant that escaping meant freedom. As the war continued and the federal army kept pushing the Confederates further south, many slaves were crossing the border from the south into the Union lines. The federal government gave them land and offered education to the refugees. Even then, Lincoln insisted that the war was about saving the Union (Dillon, 1971).
The southerners were using the slaves in all areas of the war for building fortifications, as nurses, boatmen, blacksmiths, in factories, laundry, and in the armories. This made it difficult for the government to win the war. By 1862, it became clear that emancipation would win the war for the North. This is because the war was getting tougher and many European nations were considering recognizing the Confederacy as a sovereign state. Emancipation would mean that the freed slaves would willingly join the army as they most wanted to defeat their former masters plus making it a war to free slaves would mean support from Europe thus shunning the South (Klein, 2005).
On September 22, 1862, the Emancipation Proclamation was promulgated which freed all the slaves within the states except for the Confederacy which was against it. The implementation would however, start on 1st January 1863 as Lincoln felt that he could reunite the nation amicably without causing more bloodshed. It meant that during this time, there were slaves even in the Union territories still in bondage (Henderson, 2010). The proclamation also allowed the blacks into the army which tilted the course of the war. On April 18, 1865, the Confederate army surrendered thus ending the war. The end of the war saw the abolition of slavery through the passing of the Thirteenth Amendment. On June later that year, the Fourteenth Amendment granted all people born or naturalized in the US citizenship (Neely 1991).
In conclusion, it is clear that the war might have started with the aim of safeguarding the union. However, considering that slavery was the main reason for the war, freedom would play a huge factor. Finally, the end of the war marked victories for black slaves as it gave them freedom and citizenship. This shows that in as much as the war was for safeguarding the union, it was more war for freedom and liberation for the black community.
Dillon, M. L. (1971). Black Freedom: The Nonviolent Abolitionists from 1830 Through the Civil War (review). Civil War History, 17(3), 275-277.
Henderson, G. F. (2010). Stonewall Jackson and the American Civil War. Memphis, TN: General Books.
Klein, S. J. (2005). Writings on Slavery and the American Civil War (review). Civil War History, 51(3), 337-338.
Neely, M. E. (1991). Was the Civil War a Total War? Civil War History, 37(1), 5-28.
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