On September 22, 1862, Lincoln drafted a paper the Emancipation Proclamation and issued it on January 1, 1863. This document was a pure political and strategic tool as it freed, absolutely, no slaves. It did not apply to slaves in border states fighting on the Union side; nor did it affect slaves in southern areas already under Union control. Naturally, the states no longer in the union who formed the Confederate States of America did not act on Lincoln's order, because his government had no authority, other than bayonet rule on the Southern people. But the proclamation did show Americans and the world that Mr. Lincolns War to save the Union was now being fought to end slavery.
The proclamation stated that "all persons held as slaves within any state, or designated part of a state, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free..."
The document then listed the following as "states and parts of states wherein the people thereof, respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States...Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana (except the parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James, Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the city of New Orleans), Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth), and which excepted parts are, for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued."
What Lincoln was saying was that in territories that he had absolutely no governing power he was declaring slavery to be abolished immediately. In territories in which he had governing power, the areas of the United States and areas of the Confederacy which were presently under U.S. military occupation, were "left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued" or simply put slavery would remain untouched. The proclamation intent was politics, not principles. Issued at a time when the Confederacy seemed to be winning the war, Lincoln hoped to transform a disagreement over secession into a crusade against slavery, thus preventing Great Britain and France from intervening on the side of the South and also bolstering his political impact for the upcoming election in 1864. The constitution would be subverted in order to “declare” slavery ended. If the emancipation proclamation was such a law to set the slaves free, why did it not follow the flow of governmental checks and balances and why did it not cover the slaves of the North?
Lincoln’s past historical comments regarding slavery speak for themselves. This proclamation was political, an effort to accelerate support for the war and had no humanitarian inspiration. Lincoln has gone down through history with these quotes on slavery:
“If all earthy power was given to me, I would not know what to do as to the existing institution of slavery”, 1854 speech in Peoria, IL.
"I am not in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office...", campaign speech September 15 1858.
"I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery....", First Inaugural Address March 4, 1861
"I am a little uneasy about the abolishment of slavery in this District of Columbia....", letter to Horace Greeley March 24 1862
"If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it...." letter to Horace Greeley August 22, 1862.
Another aspect that is often forgotten is that supporters of this proclamation predicted that the Southern slaves would rise up in violent revolt murdering their former owners, neighbors and anyone in their path. This stress and fear would not only impact the wives and children at home, but the men in arms fighting for the Confederacy. It was intended to be a cruel psychological and terrorizing tactic on the Southern Army and their families. According to Rhodes, in his "History of the United States," Vol. IV., page 344, he says; "Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation was not issued from a humane standpoint. Lincoln hoped it would incite the Negroes to rise against the women and children." and "His Emancipation Proclamation was intended only as a punishment for the seceding states. It was with no thought of freeing the slaves of more than 300,000 slaveholders then in the Northern army." and "His Emancipation Proclamation was issued for a fourfold purpose and it was issued with fear and trepidation lest he should offend his Northern constituents." He did it: "First: Because of an oath - that if Lee should be driven from Maryland he would free the slaves." "Second: The time of enlistment had expired for many men in the army and he hoped this would encourage their re-enlistment." "Third: Trusting that Southern men would be forced to return home to protect their wives and children from Negro insurrection." "Fourth: Above all he issued it to prevent foreign nations from recognizing the Confederacy."
This document was such a hypocrisy that many foreign nations would publicly rebuke it. Earl Russell, Britain's Foreign Secretary, said "The Proclamation... professes to emancipate all slaves in places where the United States authorities cannot exercise any jurisdiction... but it does not decree emancipation... in any states occupied by federal troops."
The New York World editorialized that the President has "proclaimed emancipation only where he has notoriously no power to execute it. The exemption of the accessible parts of Louisiana, Tennessee and Virginia renders the Proclamation not merely futile, but ridiculous.
The London (England) Spectator said "the Union government liberates the enemy's slaves as it would the enemy's cattle, simply to weaken them in the conflict. The principle is not that a human being cannot justly own another, but that he cannot own him unless he is loyal to the United States."
Lincoln admitted that he thought that the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation might "result in the massacre of women and children in the South." No mass insurrection ever took place. The violence that did occur as result of Lincoln's document took place in the North. In New York, the most violent riot ever in the United States took place as citizens protested against Lincoln's political maneuver coupled with his initiation of the draft. On July 13, 1863, in New York City, a riot broke out and raged for three days in what historian Burke Davis called "the nearest approach to revolution" during the entire war ( at left The Illustrated London News, August 15, 1863 Collection of The New-York Historical Society)
Mobs surged through the streets, burned buildings, and destroyed the drum from which the names of 1,200 New Yorkers had been drawn for military service. There were no soldiers to check the violence, due to the concentration of all available troops at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, so policemen and militia units had to face the rioters alone. (at right From The New York Illustrated News August 8, 1863 Collection of The New-York Historical Society)
The angry mob burned fine homes, business buildings, the draft office, a Methodist church, a Negro orphanage, and many other buildings. In July 1863, the introduction of military conscription touched off a four-day riot in New York City.
Angry mobs attacked draft offices, industrial establishments, and the city's free black population. Their actions included the lynching of many African Americans and burning down the Colored Orphan Asylum. A Negro was hung, then burned as people danced around the burning body. More than thirty Negroes were killed - shot, hung, or trampled to death. It had been reported that Negroes were hung from the lamp posts along the streets.
The mobs grew to an estimated strength of between 50,000 and 70,000. For three days they swarmed through the streets, setting up barricades on First, Second, and Eighth Avenues, where sometimes a force of only 300 policemen would have to face 10,000 attackers at a time.
Some troops filtered into town, and the crowds took to alleys and rooftops where they killed soldiers with bricks and guns. The gangs caught the colonel of a militia unit, stomping and beating him to death. After dragging him to his home, men, women, and children danced around his body. Eventually, enough troops arrived to put an end to the rioting. Casualties were heavy -nearly 2,000 people were dead from the melee. (at left From The New York Illustrated News August 8, 1863, Below August 1, 1863
Collection of The New-York Historical Society)
Chaotic conditions in the North were in sharp contrast to those in the beleaguered Southland where one might have expected that the exigencies of war would necessitate curtailment of basic privileges, yet never was the writ of habeas corpus suspended during the lifetime of the Confederate States of America. Many soldiers in the U.S. Army, especially in the Western theater, laid down their arms due to Lincoln's issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation. They refused to fight after finding that the federal government had implied that the war was, from that point, to be fought over the issue of slavery.
U.S. General Ulysses S. Grant said "Should I become convinced that the object of the government is to execute the wishes of the abolitionists, I pledge you my honor as a man and a soldier I would resign my commission and carry my sword to the other side."
Governor William Sprague, of Rhode Island, said "We had to take a lot of abuse in return for an endorsement of Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. We were hissed in the streets and denounced as traitors."
In "Short History of the United States" Channing says "The Union Army showed the greatest sympathy with McClellan for the bold protest against emancipation. Five states, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York went against Lincoln on this account."
At the Hampton Roads peace conference with the Confederate delegation led by Alexander Stephens and Judge Campbell Lincoln admitted the emancipation was only a "war measure".
Unit References and Resources:
"The South Was Right" by James R. Kennedy and Walter D. Kennedy, Chapter 1 & 2
"The Lost Cause: The Standard Southern History of the War of the Confederates", by Edward A. Pollard, Chapter 21
"Truths of History" by Mildred L. Rutherford, Chapter 4, 14, 16
"History of the Civil War", by John Ford Rhodes
"War for What?" by Francis Springer, Chapter 20
"America's Caesar: Abraham Lincoln and the Birth of a Modern Empire" by Greg Loren Durand
"The Real Lincoln" by Charles L.C. Minor
"A Short History of the United States", by Edward Channing
A True Estimate of Abraham Lincoln and Vindication of the South", by Mildred L. Rutherford
"The Story of the Confederate States" by Joseph T. Derry, Part 3, Section 3, Chapter 1
The New York Draft Riots (1990) Iver Bernstein.
"African Slavery" Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XVII. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1889.
"Career Of The Shenandoah. the only Confederate Cruiser Afloat" Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XXV. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1897
"President Lincoln" Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XXVII. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1899
"President Lincoln Further Arraigned", Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol. XXVII. Richmond, Va, January-December. 1899
"Official Report Of The History Committee Of The Grand Camp C. V., Department Of Virginia. Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XXVIII. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1900
"The Peace Conference In Hampton Roads" and "Not Posted on History" Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XXIX. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1901
"Treatment And Exchange Of Prisoners" Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XXX. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1902
"The Imboden Raid And Its Effects" Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XXXIV Richmond, Va., January-December. 1906
"Address Of Hon. John Lamb" Southern Historical Society Papers. Vol. XXXVIII. Richmond, Va., January-December. 1910.
"Lectures Of Charles Francis Adams On Our American Civil War" Southern Historical Society Papers. Richmond, Va., April, 1914. New Series, Vol. 1, Old Series, Vol. XXXIX.
"Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation" Southern Historical Society Papers December, 1930. New Series, Vol. 9, Old Series, Vol. XLVI. 1st Confederate Congress--(Third Session)--Thursday, January 15, 1863
"The Confederate States' Policies" Confederate Military History, Vol. 1 The Civil History Of The Confederate States Chapter XVII
"United States Measures, Civil And Military" Confederate Military History, Vol. 1 The Civil History Of The Confederate States Chapter XVIII "The Politics Of 1864 As A Factor In The War", Confederate Military History, Vol. 1 The Civil History Of The Confederate States Chapter XXI "The Last Great Peace Efforts" Confederate Military History, Vol. 1 The Civil History Of The Confederate States Chapter XXV
"History of the United States," by Rhodes, Volume 4, page 344