As the fighting [in the Civil War] turned bloody, without either side gaining the complete upper hand, Lincoln threatened to issue an order of emancipation of slaves. He hesitated to issue this order because he feared that critical Border States might align with the rebels. Finally, on Jan. 1, 1863 Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation. This proclamation did not include slaves in the Border States nor those portions of the Confederacy under Union control. It promises any slave in areas under Confederate control immediate freedom.
Southerners expected that black slaves would naturally side with them. Confederates used slave labor to build fortresses and military facilities, but many slaves began to flee slavery. In the North, abolitionists began calling for the arming of slaves and enlistment into the northern army. Both North and South needed more troops. In Apr. 1862, the South adopted a large military draft, called conscription, to raise larger armies. In 1862, the North decided to recruit black soldiers in place of a draft. By the war’s end, about 180,000 Union soldiers were black. Half were recruited from the Confederacy, but the other half came from the North. One of the most famous black regiments was the Massachusetts 5th Regiment.
- Why do you think Lincoln only freed slaves in territories not under Union control? What practical effect did the Proclamation have on slaves?
- Conscription is considered by many to be a major violation of freedom. Others believe that United States should reimpose a military service requirement to encourage better citizenship among young people. What do you think?
This reading is an excerpt from Certell’s Common Sense American History eBook. Certell offers curriculum materials and eBooks free of charge for students and teachers. Click here to download the Common Sense American History materials.
3, Nov. 2018, Abraham Lincoln [Digital image]. Retrieved from <google.com>.