Thursday, January 3, 2013
Sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation Part 3
Part 3 of 4 of an analysis of Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation:
Surely the Emancipation Proclamation created a nirvana of racial harmony in the Northern states. But, the proclamation interestingly did not free any slaves in any northern states. It specified those states in the Confederacy as well as certain territories in which it provided the directive to free all slaves but excluded all the states of the Union. Famously, General Ulysses Grant retained ownership of his family’s slaves until 1865 when Missouri abolished slavery. General Lee’s family freed the last of their slaves in 1862, prior to the issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation. As the Confederate States of America was a sovereign nation possessing its own constitution and governing institutions, Lincoln of course had no authority over the states of the Confederacy to issue any proclamation providing an executive order pertaining to people or property of these Southern states. So, as the proclamation did not address any slaves in the United States over which Lincoln presided and his proclamations carried no weight within the country which was the Confederacy, the Emancipation Proclamation therefore freed not a single slave. It was of course the 13th Amendment to the Constitution which was ratified after the conclusion of the War and the reunification of the Southern states to the Union that the institution of slavery was abolished and the slaves freed. Many people including some in the South opposed slavery expansion westward into the new territories to preserve that land for white farmers in a segregated populace but from a political perspective, the admission of these western states as free or slave states was deemed critical to preserve the balance of power in Congress.