Civil War Context

Discussing his interest in the Civil War, and his recent listening to a Civil War audiobook, Derb puts into context Lincoln’s mythically-charged ‘Emancipation Proclamation’. It was less the holy moment we’re taught in history class, and more a pragmatic, military-oriented document:

It culminated in the Emancipation Proclamation, which Prof. Gallagher tells me was not a manifesto of the Higher Morality, but a military document issued under Lincoln’s authority as Commander in Chief. It did not, I now know, free slaves in the four slave states that had stayed in the Union. There would have been no military point.

Lincoln’s actual preference was for gradual emancipation, with compensation to slave-owners, followed by “colonization”—sending the freed slaves to new colonies in Africa, the Caribbean, and Central America. Outside the ranks of extreme abolitionists, practically no white American seems to have believed that free blacks and free whites could live in harmony together.

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