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'Envisioning Emancipation'
January 1st, 2013
05:30 PM ET

150 years later, myths persist about the Emancipation Proclamation

by Alicia W. Stewart, CNN

(CNN) - When Hannah Johnson wrote President Lincoln in the summer of 1863, she expressed the concerns of any mother with a son fighting a war.

But she had a special request: “I am a colored woman and my son was strong and able as any to fight for his country and the colored people have as much to fight for as any…. Will you see that the colored men fighting now, are fairly treated. You ought to do this, and do it at once.”

On January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation became the first authorization by an American president to enroll Johnson's son, and other black men, as legal soldiers for the United States military.

Emancipation and the enlistment of black soldiers were not President Lincoln’s initial impulse. He wanted to make a gradual change, as he wrote in this letter explaining his shift to an advisor:

When, in March, and May, and July 1862 I made earnest, and successive appeals to the border states to favor compensated emancipation, I believed the indispensable necessity for military emancipation, and arming the blacks would come, unless averted by that measure. They declined the proposition; and I was, in my best judgment, driven to the alternative of either surrendering the Union, and with it, the Constitution, or of laying strong hand upon the colored element. I chose the latter.

By the end of the Civil War, black soldiers made up 10% of Union troops, and 19,000 served in the Navy.

“Republicans understood that they needed blacks to be agents of change for the process,” said James Oakes, author of "Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery". “The North couldn’t win the war without black soldiers.”

Those soldiers, and the proclamation, became an enduring symbol of freedom.

But on the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, a historical document that symbolizes the beginnings of freedom for individuals once deemed property, historians say myths persist about what the policy did, and did not, do.

“Slavery didn’t die on January 1, 1863, but it was the death knell that slavery would die if the Union won the Civil War,” said Eric Foner, author of "The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery".

Here are three myths that persist about the Emancipation Proclamation.

Myth 1: President Lincoln freed all slaves with the stroke of a pen.

It is an easy narrative, historians argue, that a single document granted freedom. But that’s not how it happened.

Look to the proclamation’s language: “That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, 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; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.”

Freedom only applied to those slaves in states that had seceded. It did not apply to border states, or specific regions in Union control: about 750,000 slaves.

The 13th Amendment later abolished slavery.

Myth 2: President Lincoln was the sole visionary who eliminated slavery via the proclamation.

Lincoln’s leadership proved key to signing the document, as seen in the recent blockbuster “Lincoln,” which examines the legislation and political process to pass the 13th Amendment.

Review: 'Lincoln' brilliantly dramatizes delicacy of politics

President Obama hailed Lincoln in a proclamation of his own for the document’s 150th anniversary:

“With that document, President Lincoln lent new moral force to the war by making it a fight not just to preserve, but also to empower,” Obama wrote. “He sought to reunite our people not only in government, but also in freedom that knew no bounds of color or creed. Every battle became a battle for liberty itself. Every struggle became a struggle for equality.”

But popular culture, historians argue, often overlooks that questions around slavery had been debated 30 years before the war began, and some say, since the country’s inception.

“There is a long pre-history that involves black and white abolitionists. They visualized an end to slavery long before the Civil War, and they struggled to put it on the national agenda,” said Manisha Sinha, author of the forthcoming book, "The Slave’s Cause". “If you look at the long roots of the abolitionist movement, [they] really made it a central issue of the country even before the war.”

Myth 3: Due to limited freedoms, blacks and women were constrained in affecting the change and freedoms outlined in the Emancipation Proclamation.

In fact, despite limited freedoms, many became the agitators to address slavery.

“Despite a prevailing sense among so many white Northerners and politicians that the war’s principal aim was to save the Union and not destroy slavery, free and enslaved black people insisted otherwise,” said photographer and historian Deborah Willis, a co-author of "Envisioning Emancipation".

Abolitionist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, famed rescuer and spy Harriet Tubman  and noted author and lecturer Fredrick Douglass, along with countless other women and blacks, were key in making the country address slavery.

“In many ways, fugitive slaves were architects of their own freedom,” Sinha said. “It doesn’t take away from Lincoln’s role. Emancipation was a huge event; it involved many actors, not the least of which were slaves.”

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    August 21, 2013 at 5:19 am | Report abuse |
  2. Sergio Villavicencio

    Alexander Hamilton, not only did not have slaves of his own (unlike Jefferson and company), but was the founding father that started the Manumision Society In New York, being thus, the Founding father who actively worked against slavery.

    January 18, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • African American

      Alexander Hamilton did have slaves and fathered his slaves Ruth children.......

      February 1, 2013 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  3. European Guy

    Wow. American ignorance never ceases to amaze me. Reading through the comments on this post, it becomes clear that America is not a melting pot, it is a pot boiling over with hatred and fear. Now I know why gun owners in America are so reluctant to give up their guns...they're preparing themselves for the NEXT Civil War. You people scare me.

    January 16, 2013 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Robert Rogers

    From an historical perspective, the Emancipation Proclamation was an extremely effective psychological weapon against the South, indicating the coming end to slavery, the greatest poison and stain on American history. From a realistic viewpoint, the effect was virtually non-existent. The proclamation freed slaves in areas controlled by the Confederacy, in other words, in those areas specifically where the Union could not enforce the proclamation (as of that moment, at least). And yes, Lincoln was simply being pragmatic. Although personally opposed to slavery, he made it clear that if he could preserve the union by maintaining slavery, he would do so; if preserving the union required the abolition of slavery, he would do that. He was an effective politician as a war president.

    January 16, 2013 at 2:36 am | Report abuse |
  5. mk

    people have considerable trouble agreeing about what is presently occurring. i'm not sure how we can expect them to flawlessly sort out history.

    January 14, 2013 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Patrick

    I suspect that if America continues as a country, long into the foreseeable future, our descendants will take over the mantle of this discussion, and continue the war of words over the Civil War and its causes and slavery. And that is sad. Not boohoo sad; it's pathetic. Of course, the Internet will be holographic-based by then, or they'll just transmit more of this b.s. straight into each other's brains. Enough.

    January 12, 2013 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jake

    Frankly, I believe the author is attempting to minimize Lincoln's, and the Republicans, role in driving to end slavery while being fought from every angle by the Democrats. It is an inconvenient truth that does not fit with the narrative they been selling for decades. Liberals require people to feel as if they are victims. Liberals need this mentality so they can control the masses with government solutions and keep as many of their supporters dependent. The Liberal Elite's want to control everything because in their view, you are incapable of making your own decisions or forming your own legitimate opinions. Let the debate continue. Truth always wins in the end.

    January 12, 2013 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
    • makimaki

      Conspiracy much? As a liberal, I have to say, no duh, on Lincoln (a republican) fighting to end slavery. Only a person who has never taken a history class wouldn't know. A big no brainer. Slaves weren't all free just because he signed a piece of paper. It took a long while and a huge commitment to free them all. It didn't happen over night.

      I don't see how this article attempts minimize him or his efforts in any way. It's about myths that people believe about the Emancipation Proclamation. Not who trying to take over the world and the masses like the Illuminati.

      January 14, 2013 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • what1ever

      The only thing that Lincoln and the modern Republicans have in common is that the modern Republicans ripped off the name. The party of Lincoln hasn't existed since Teddy Roosevelt split the party.

      January 30, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
  8. The Truth

    The only Black history that we as Americans is that over 100 million Black slaves died in the middle passage during slavery. If only 10 million Jews died in the holocaust, why haven't Black Americans seen a dime of reparations in this country? The killings of our people are not the only reason for reparations. Our men and women were raped, bred for work, and castrated; among may other things. I kind of wish that all my people had to deal with was a German gas chamber. Our history, religion, and names were also stolen from us. When was the last time you seen the words "Black people" in a history book? This country and this story are a joke and nothing will change until we accept THE TRUTH about the effects slavery had on Black Americans.

    January 11, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • MC

      I don't think any genocide could be seen as killing "only {six} million" people. That's a horrific number of deaths. And it occurred in the supposedly "modern" era (so much for that, eh?), representing 75% of the Jewish population of Europe at the time ...
      One tragedy (the enslavement and killing of millions) should never diminish another – to do so I fear would dilute our humanism.

      January 11, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • AmericanZombie

      UR KIDDING RIGHT!!? Blacks have profited more than anyone else! They're getting BILLIONS of dollars every year,and the WHITES are paying for it! PPL like you need to get off the self pity wagon,and REALIZE whites today had NOTHING to do with it,just like BLACKS today shouldn't expect a free ride,cause of the BLACKS that suffered long ago!! JEEZ!

      January 14, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
      • T. R. Moore

        Blacks have profited more than anyone else??? YOU have to be kidding!!! I am a black woman that has worked since the age of 13. What millions do you speak of? I have yet to receive a dime free. I am in the military and proudly serve my country because I so choose! I grew up with both of my parents in the household and guess what my parents both worked and even after retirement continued to own their own business. Again what millions do you speak of? Never have I received a dime of assistance from the government and not work for it. Ignorance is what I read from you and many of the other comments here. The whites today you speak of...well some of them did have something to do with what was going on in the past because of the ignorance they passed on to future generations (US). I really hate to see when people tend to group people together. You may need to do some fact checking because believe it or not most Americans receiving the millions you speak (our tax dollars) are not African Americans!

        February 1, 2013 at 4:51 am | Report abuse |
    • what1ever

      They don't get reparations because all those people are dead.

      January 30, 2013 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Red

      I owe black folks absolutely nothing. My people never owned slaves, never traded slaves, never bought slaves from the West Africans and my taxes are already supporting enough descendants of slaves

      February 2, 2013 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  9. kash

    I say we suceed from the U.S. and escape the racism and poverty in America. There is no superior race so everybody should end their quest on finding it. All races are equally ignorant and blind to their own mistakes. Focus on things that actually matter.

    January 10, 2013 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • B-Boh

      secede not succeed

      January 12, 2013 at 2:22 am | Report abuse |
  10. The Truth

    Why do White people, such as the ones commenting about this article, always think they know what it's like to be Black. What makes them experts? Why do they continue to try to educate Black people on something that they don't have a clue about? Do me a favor and talk about something that you know about such as discrimination and injustices against people that look different than you.

    January 10, 2013 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • wahoo69

      They are the white liberals who view themselves as the sword and shield of everyone they view as unable to speak for themselves as they apparently "know it all and know best" for the rest of us...

      January 10, 2013 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mictian

      perhaps because most inner city blacks have no clue about history? How about the Asians who also endured hardships of being treated like property? Remember, slavery began in the "mother land" when dominant tribes would kill the men of a rival tribe and take the women and children as slaves....

      January 10, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
      • Lincoln as a hero

        How is your point relevant to American slave trader's part in slavery? or plantation owner's part? or its benefits to the American economy? Does this part of the story somehow negate the rest?

        January 10, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
      • gw

        This is about America. There were and are bad things all over the world. I thought we were the best nation i the world?

        January 10, 2013 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cdm

      I agree with your point. I am white, and I think many other whites have some form of a guilt complex and feel compelled to pick up the banner of the anti-discrimination cause while being blind to the fact that the individuals they feel obligated to represent resent them and are indifferent and without need of their services.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
      • figment

        Does anyone ever hear of the white slaves?? blacks were not the only slaves in america, but you will never hear of it or see it in history books either.

        January 12, 2013 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
      • Red

        I'm a white woman and have absolutely NO guilt about anything related to Black folks. As a matter of fact, I get increasingly irritated that, no matter what the venue, if I speak up for myself, I get tagged a "racist".

        February 2, 2013 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  11. Lincoln as a hero

    A middle ground position is missing from much of this discussion. By pointing out the obvious– that the Emancipation Proclamation did not free all the slaves–the John Blake article and the historians highlighted are not saying that the history most of us were taught is wrong.

    As with any telling of a story, it is about how you frame it. According to the article, the Speilberg movie and Kearns-Goodwin's book on which it is based exaggerate the importance of Lincoln at the expense of Black Abolitionists and the slaves themselves. Kearns-Goodwin is a presidential historian and is known to be enamored with her subjects, so it is not surprising that she would frame Lincoln in the best possible light.

    The article points out the movie's traditional historical perspective with respect to freeing the slaves, and it fills-in some important facts and context, which are unfamiliar to the general population.

    In pointing out a more complicated, full picture of history, traditional heroes will be diminished–but this happens all the time when are necessarily taught simpler versions of history at an early age, and more complicated ones as we are able to understand them–in high school or college.

    I suspect that some of the angst on this board (not unlike 150 years ago) is the fear that acknowledging the more complicated story may lead to disunity. A shared history is part of what bonds any nation–but especially ours, and the simple Lincoln story is a large part of that.

    January 10, 2013 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
    • MC

      I always sense these types of issues are more about our country's lack of intellectual curiosity. The information is out there, it is certainly taught in college (where I read the writings of Frederick Douglas) and even in my mediocre high school we learned the picture was complex, learned the role of white and black abolitionists, the economic interests driving the Union and Confederate efforts, the issue of the border states, etc. (but who's paying attention, right?) Then again, I was in the "honors" classes.
      Despite the information being out there, it seems many Americans still want simplicity, want heroes and villains, etc.

      January 11, 2013 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  12. aurelius

    Whatever the truth may reveal, it is necessary to revisit the past and determine what really happened.

    January 8, 2013 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Humberto

    The civil war was about the federal government taxing the property of the citizens of the various states.
    Slaves being property the south bantered about state rights to deceive its ignorant followers.

    January 7, 2013 at 6:55 am | Report abuse |
    • When bigots repent

      I've always wanted to address one of these blogs. CNN articles on race garner the best and worst comments from our communities. During my time overseas, I've seen several examles of bigots repenting. I'm certain many of you witness the same during your travels abroad. They're the ones who wouldn't even acknowledge your existence in the continental US, but they'd step all over a newborn to entertain a conversation with another English speaking pat in hostile territory.
      You know the ones who all of a sudden have black friends back in (wherever they're from)? So if you don't like Mex, keep yourself and yours outta Cabo. Matter of fact, why even do Taco Bell? My point is we all may have (and keep) our prejudice. I'm afraid of pitbulls just because. Don't wanna go near 'em. But it's downright wrong to hate 'em all until I get to know 'em all. Do you feel me?

      January 7, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
      • When bigots repent

        For those of you who can't take time to read I recommend the movie Crash. Then watch Lincoln. Get your household in order first. Then address issues within your community. Strong communities build great nations. Greed and politics tear 'em down everytime. Afrikans did sell their own into slavery. I'm a byproduct. Fact is they aren't anymore. Can't say the same about what we commonly know as "human trafficking". There aren't too many Afrikans pulling the strings in that enterprise.

        January 7, 2013 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
      • Humberto

        Humberto is not Mex.

        January 8, 2013 at 1:16 am | Report abuse |
      • Bubba

        Can I still hate the ones I already know?

        January 9, 2013 at 8:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • 21st century man

      Who gives a hoot. Move on. Bunch of wanna-be scholars . I learned all this by 5th grade. It 2013 already.

      January 7, 2013 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
      • Humberto

        The US Supreme Court having a case before it and shrrking its responsibility of due process concerning corrupt science creating human embryos for destruction by unqualified, non doctors who cause harm for a living funded by the government, says it all.

        January 8, 2013 at 1:08 am | Report abuse |
  14. Humberto

    Actually murdered.

    January 7, 2013 at 6:24 am | Report abuse |
  15. Humberto

    How does such a ignorant article by Alicia w Steward get picked up By CNN?

    January 7, 2013 at 6:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Humberto

      The proclamation clearly says any state or ... how does she infer otherwise for such a inept and delusional article .

      January 7, 2013 at 6:35 am | Report abuse |
      • Ken

        Well said I was taught about an underground railroad Just Jetson fiction

        January 7, 2013 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
      • MC

        Humberto, it is basic history that there were several slave states within the Union – the border states of Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware – that were not in rebellion and therefore did not come under the emancipation proclamation and whose slaves were not freed until the 13th amendment. (I believe salves in DC were freed by a separate action) ...

        January 11, 2013 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Master

    Lincoln started a war to avoid the south fron seceding from the northern states

    January 6, 2013 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • mrlewish

      I'm pretty sure that the confederates firing on Fort Sumter has something to do with it.

      January 7, 2013 at 9:43 am | Report abuse |
    • situationalawareness

      There's a couple of years to learn about before the war that will show part of what it was about. The key is the reason the states first started their secession: the proclamation that the new states in the western territories would be slave free. Those states were brought about shortly after the mexican american war, and the economy of the south was almost entirely based on slave labor. John Brown's uprise and various other activities are tell-taie of what was happening. The voting in of Lincoln in 1860 was when south Carolina seceded.

      January 10, 2013 at 2:12 am | Report abuse |
  17. Princess Celestia

    They can at least include Colonel Shaw and the 54th regiment here in this article.

    January 6, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  18. woodieman

    has everyone forgotten that Lincoln sought to deprive the confederacy of it's labor force?

    January 6, 2013 at 2:03 am | Report abuse |
    • Red

      Does noone realize that Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd brought slaves to her marriage as part of her property and Abraham Lincoln, by the law of that day, became the owner of said slaves? Do you not realize that he did NOT free his slaves?

      February 2, 2013 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  19. Rev. Brown

    Slaves free themselves, president Lincoln was force to sign the E. P M. Racism did not stop there. We are still fighting the confederacy, blacks are still fighting racism. Rev. Brown

    January 4, 2013 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bharat

      Rev Brown,
      I am a non white and don't agree with your blabber. Slaves wouldn't have been freed, if lincoln had not stood his ground surrounded by strong opposition from different quarters. If Lincoln was a racist, he wouldn't have started a fight between his own race which resulted in the death of 650,000 people. People from democratic party and some black so called scholars are trying to tarnish Mr Lincoln's legacy by quoting some out of context comments by Lincoln. People want to always blame someone and it is funny to see people from this so called 21st century trying to judge a legend's actions 150 yr ago.

      January 6, 2013 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • catheryn

      You are very right Rev Brown only God above gave us freedom.

      January 6, 2013 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
      • mel

        "Only God gave us freedom." I can't believe it. Only an evangelical or born again Christian can spew out this kind of reasoning...

        January 8, 2013 at 7:56 am | Report abuse |
  20. The Truth

    Ms. Stewart, I know it's your job to write stories such as these. I just can't understand what you are trying to accomplish. Talking about race with White people is pointless. Even "good" White people leave these conversations confused or they just don't want to hear the full truth. We don't have to discuss what the evil ones think. I just think your time can be better utilized on stories that people actually care about the topic.

    January 4, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Someone that does care

      The Truth- Do you realize how ironic your response to this article was? Your bias is very apparent. I have to say that your completely wrong in what you think other people feel because I happen to be someone that does care about this article. I care about history and about equality and this article can lend understanding to how huge changes in society were made. The take away from this –in case it was you that was confused– is that it took time and effort from different directions to finally help win this battle of equality. Rome wasn't built in a day and no one signature on a piece of paper got rid of slavery. Let it bring hope to those still fighting battles of equality (same sex marriage/LGBT rights) that every action supporting positive change counts.

      January 4, 2013 at 2:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Karen

      Do you realize that your statement is racist? And yes blacks can be racist too.

      January 5, 2013 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • brown pride

      It because whites know nothing of Africa. They are brainwashed to think that they are at fault for the black mans suffering. Africa sold its undesireables into slavery because that is the African way. Black Americans have some glorified vision of Africa when they have never been there. Africans kill Africans as a way of life and more Africans are killed by other Africans than the white man has ever killed. Whites and other races are used as scapegoats by African leadership in order to blame them for deaths and poverty caused by incompetant African leadership. Evil whites? Yeah right. The whites are the greatest friend of modern blacks because they provide blacks with a scapegoat to deflect attention away from the fact Africans are their own worst enemy. Look at south Africa. 20 years after apartheid ended blacks are murdering each other in record numbers. But hey, the A.N.C. government just blames the whites

      January 6, 2013 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
      • The Truth

        All of your responses are so sad because you still don't have a clue about what it means to be Black.

        January 9, 2013 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
      • Red

        My husband was in the US navy. They were told they were going to make a port call in Africa. One of the guys that worked for my husband was black and he was so excited to be returning to the "motherland". He practically ran off the ship, dashed up to some Africans working on the pier and said "Hello, my brother. I have come home!" The Africans pulled away looked at him with undisguised disgust and said "I am NOT your brother". the American was crushed–he had discovered that Africa didn't want him just like they didn't want the ancestors of him they sold away.

        February 2, 2013 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Cdm

      Or maybe we know the truth and just don't care.

      January 10, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • MC

      To the extent that race exists (certainly does as a social construct), its hard for me to follow that "talking about race to whites" is not worth it. After all, whites (caucasians) are a race ... and if it was not worth talking about, why would you be posting here? As we embrace common humanity, as we see more mixed marriages, etc. it is time that those of us who choose to come together, do so. Prejudice exists, yes, but it is not the only defining feature of our society. If it were so, would we be seeing record numbers of minorities graduating from college, would we be seeing Barack Obama win states like Iowa and Oregon, would we see Blacks earning more than whites in places like Queens, etc? By seeking to separate people are you not doing the same thing that white racists do? I can understand the exasperation we feel that some politicians still oppose an official apology for slavery, for Jim Crow, but we need to move forward, not continue to divide into neat categories. And in this white-black world view, where do the Asians, the Latino Mestizos, the Native Americans, immigrants from India, fit in?

      January 11, 2013 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  21. patNY

    Our country was not founded on some noble concept of freedom and liberty for all, but instead, the ties with England were being cut by rich land owners and businessmen who no longer wanted to be limited economically by their Colonial master, and be free to engage in commerce with other nations without paying taxes to England. In other words, Washington and Jefferson etc. simply were acting out of their own self monied interests to avoid taxes.

    January 4, 2013 at 1:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob

      That is exactly what they addressed in the Federalist Papers and why they chose a republic form of government. People are more likely to stay involved based on their self interest, thereby making government more responsive to their needs. Yes, the wealthier citizens lead the revolution, even the middle class, but that was what helped it be successful.

      January 6, 2013 at 9:50 am | Report abuse |
  22. Nnamdi

    As an African and a History lover, it both annoys and amazes me how white Americans can run from the truth about Slavery and even try to hide it from school Children by teaching them trash like the civil war having been fought because of slavery. I had a long argument about this with my interviewer during my Citizenship interview as he insisted that the reason for the war was slave emancipation and I kept telling him that Emancipation was just a Lincoln war ploy. As hypocritical as some of these Caucasians are, they would even deny the existence of slavery in its entirety if the were no hard evidence around. Lady liberty proclaimed liberty and comfort but forgot to say that it did not include blacks.......What hypocrisy !

    January 4, 2013 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
    • L

      Unfortunately you learned that but I did not. Hypocrisy is the tone of racism in your writing.

      January 4, 2013 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
      • Nnamdi

        I dont know what is unfortunate.. that I learnt it or that you did not, be that as it may, hypocrisy is not a racial thing but a character flaw which is ingrained in the nation that is America....not any race in particular as America is a racial melting pot for all races.

        January 4, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Crystal

      To Nnamdi – I am white and, like you, I believe much information is hidden from the history books...if not downright falsified. Which makes it an an insult to everyone's ancestors. History is in danger of repeating itself if the history taught lacks credence. I would be very interested to know what you are reading that would help me and others get to the real truth about the past. Thank you.

      January 4, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Upyours

      Feel free to move. You know where the door is..

      January 4, 2013 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
      • Nnamdi

        I would except that your kind is everywhere, the world is getting full of fools like you, so whats the point runnung from from one fool just to meet another ?

        January 4, 2013 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Someone that does care

      Nnamdi-it's sad to hear you speak with such bias towards another race. How can you speak with such conviction about "white Americans"? How can you judge an entire race based on the small majority of that race that you have met? Thats called .. um .. what's that word? Oh yeah .. RACISM. With all do respect– your a hypocrite.

      January 4, 2013 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
      • Nnamdi

        If you knew your grammer, you would know the difference between a hypocrite and a bigot, obvioulsy you dont and i have no time to argue with your stupidity, you just proved your point that you are small minded !

        January 4, 2013 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
      • rosethornne

        It's so nice that you recognize you are a bigot.

        January 5, 2013 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Paleotech

      One cannot minimize the significance of trans Atlantic slavery. But you speak of the truth. The truth is that slavery was has been part of every civilization for thousands of years. It has never been unique to Africans. In fact, slavery was an age old business among sub Saharan (black) Africans – enslaving and selling black captives – eons before Arabs and Europeans started buying them too. Slavery was not even illegal in a number of African countries until the late 1930s. Sadly, slavery is still practiced in Africa to this day.

      Stop pretending that “white people” are to blame for slavery.

      January 5, 2013 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      Technically, the civil war was about slavery. The North fought to save the Union rather than end slavery but the South rebelled specifically because of slavery. Virginia's Article of Sesession specifically mentions slavery. Slavery shows up in many of the disputes that led to that war. More than I'm willing to mention right now since I'm typing this on my phone.

      January 6, 2013 at 9:45 am | Report abuse |
      • Red

        The Civil War was about states's rights. Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation to get France on the side of the Union because they were losing the war and England, who really wanted the South's cotton, was getting ready to come to the side of the south. Since the French had just finished thier Revolution and were hopped up on freedom, he aimed for something that would appeal to France.

        February 2, 2013 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Evangelicide

      As a former US History teacher I'm equally dismayed by that misconception. The war was fought to preserve the Union– that is all. Emancipation was a punitive measure aimed at recalcitrant states.

      Lincoln opposed slavery, but he also opposed total equality. In fact, he wanted emancipated blacks resettled back in Africa.

      January 6, 2013 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
      • run and tell that

        To make a statement that the war was fought to preserve the Union is being simplistic. First we must look at why the Union was in jeapordy of being destroyed. What was the reason that the Confederate states seceded? Most people will say it was an issue of states rights. What right or rights did the Confederate states want that they disagreed with the Northern states about? If you answer that question you will find the cause of the war.

        January 9, 2013 at 10:01 am | Report abuse |
    • brown pride

      Oh please. Your corrupt incompetant African leadership is the reason for your problems. Your leaders invite whites and Indians to your continent and then your loser masses demonize them. Then they are kicked out, their lands possessed,and then mismanaged by the Africans. Take your complaints back to your own continent. Quit your whining. Your continent owes reparations to the Indians expelled from Uganda and to the whites being brutally murdered in south Africa and to those displaced from Rhodesia before it became the toilet Zimbabwe. See others can play the whining blame game against you too. Also you owe new iPhones to all of the people who get robbed of them by baggy pant thugs on the NYC subways

      January 6, 2013 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • josh

      Even before the war, in the lincoln-douglas debates, for the Illinois senate seat, that Lincoln lost, Lincoln spoke of equality for black men, not because they were black but because if liberty can be taken from one, then it can be taken from any. This was before he was ever elected that his thoughts were against slavery, not as a black issue however. He didn't want to go to war until the south gave him no choice but to fight., the war I believe had more to do with keeping the union together but slavery was injected into almost every phase.

      January 6, 2013 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  23. The Truth

    So does the government still see Black men as 3/5 of a man?

    January 4, 2013 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
    • The Truth

      If so, I should only pay 3/5 in taxes.

      January 4, 2013 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  24. hard times

    Fact: the first statue of liberty was indeed a slave in ball and chains. Fact: the constitution was around way before the emancipation and stated that all men are created equal. I guess the constitution was initial ly a list of suggestions just like today.

    January 3, 2013 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Cyn

    The question of slavery bothered the founding fathers of the US but they were living in a different world than Lincoln. They were recovering from a huge war that also turned neighbor against neighbor and tested the frail unity of the 13 colonies, which were not yet a Union. When it came time for the Constitution to be ratified it was decided that the abolition of slavery would not be included because the southern states wouldn't ratify it and a civil war might erupt. Instead the 3/5's Compromise, which was aimed to limit the South's power in the House[which was determined by population], and a clause stating slaves couldn't be imported after January 1st 1808 were put into the Constitution and the founding fathers hoped that by 1808 perhaps the country would be stable enough to abolish slavery. Obviously they weren't but the groundwork for earlier emancipation

    January 3, 2013 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  26. Chipsball

    Not sure why the movie "Lincoln" picked up at that point during the passage of the 13th amendment to the Consitution so I am waiting on the DVD to come out and the outtakes discussing the movie in further detail. Speilberg was aware of Lincoln's history with slavery, his segregationist views, and his reluctance to dismantle the institution of slavery, thus threatening the Union. Lincoln persistant rejection of anti-slavery efforts made for many self-inflicted wounds that prevented him for taking stronger measures to insure passage of the document. The movie illistrated the difficulties he was having getting the legislation passed coming under intense pressure that was brought on by his contradictory statements,opinions and positions. Lincoln wanted "gradual emancipation" of the Negroes and their deportation to Liberia and Haiti as a remedy for slavery...the signing of the Emanacipation Proclamation was a beginning of that process as well. This should not be overlooked or swept under the rug when celebrating this document as well, The Emancipation Proclamation was a "war message" that Lincoln believed was limited and he himself questioned its legallty.

    January 3, 2013 at 5:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      Chipsball,you're right Lincoln and others set up a deportation process to send the black man to Liberia.Lincoln and others felt threatened by them saying they were afraid they'd eventually take over the country and create job problems for the whites who originally ran the nation..They'd be repatriated to islands also along the African coast if he wasn't assasinated before signing the bill to start processing but it feel through after his demise never being brought up again..So there again is the original republicans,can't get far from their original extremist ways can they just as now,old,white and racist!!

      January 6, 2013 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  27. jolly green

    General Lee`s last order was attack when you feel the time is appropriate. War is a terrible creature it consumes nations and destroys men. As far as Texas is concerned we were the last state of the Confederacy to bare arms against the union. Slavery was a scape goat for greed and that greed brought this great union to its knees we should never forget our past or we will be bound to repeat it

    January 3, 2013 at 12:41 am | Report abuse |
    • wahoo69

      The last general-officer to surrender... Gen Waite, a Cherokee.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  28. janeqcitizen

    It amazes me how this country celebrates July 4th when our esteemed founding fathers-like Washington & Jefferson could have freed the slaves then & CHOSE not to. Seems they didn't want to free THEIR slaves or offend their slaveholding buddies. While Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation didn't free ALL slaves-it was a better step in the right direction. As a footnote-Mary Todd Lincoln's family had slaves in Kentucy as did Julia Dent Grant's family in Missouri. These were 2 states Federally occupied-considered NOT in full rebellion-so those slaves were not freed. Same for I.T. (Indian Territory-Oklahoma) which wasn't even a state yet. All-Ky., MO., & I.T. had troops on both sides.

    January 3, 2013 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Aristotle

      I too, am struck in unsettling ways, when so many (past and present) speak of "our nation's quest for freedom" or how our "founding father's fought for freedom," when in fact freedom was hierarchical, with white men at the very top. Even now I struggle to understand how we can glorify these men as great leaders in the fight for freedom while ignoring their subjugation of others.

      January 3, 2013 at 12:58 am | Report abuse |
      • MC

        I think it comes down to many Americans crave simplistic, "great man" history. There was also a time (and I think its still true for many in the older generation) that to teach real history that looked at the social and economic conditions that drove events was somehow to criticize America.
        I certainly learned that the American Revolution was about seeking commercial freedom (for whites) and freedom (for whites) to expand and take lands beyond the Appalachians. This is just simple history. But unless one pays attention, it seems one needs to go to college and take American History to get this ... b/c certainly the media won't give it to you and the media is where most Americans gain their knowledge.

        January 11, 2013 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • baldiggle

      I don't know about George, but if you go to Monticello and listen carefully to the guides it becomes apparent why Tom did not free all his slaves in his will. Like most farmers he needed a line of credit in order to operate that Big business. SO HE USED HIS SLAVES AS COLATERAL. He would not endanger the ownership of the land for his decendants.. You can't be "landed gentry" without land. The only ones freed were Sally Hemming and her family. I suspect Sally to have been half sister to Tom's wife. For whatever reason THEY were not mortgaged.

      January 3, 2013 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • L

      If it wasn't for those people in our history we would not be here today! Think of it that way.

      January 4, 2013 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  29. veggiedude

    Many Americans during the time of Lincoln had to live with the inconvenient truth that Britain had outlawed slavery 60 years before their time. So for it to happen in the US, they knew was just a matter of time. The RADICAL REPUBLICANS were far left of Lincoln and pushed him to the position he had. You can look them up on wikipedia.

    January 2, 2013 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  30. John Q. Public

    Hey Bubba, I'm pretty sure that the Civil War is American history, as is the major reasons behind it. I can also see Abraham Lincoln was featured in a featured movie across the United States recently, so that makes this topic both relevant AND timely. Crawl back under your bridge and wave your confederate flag in secret...

    January 2, 2013 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Bubba

    Hey CNN, is it black history month? Stop with the black history, how about some American History until February?

    January 2, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • txlady

      Bubba - now that seems very appropriate.
      In case you missed it - Jan 1 was the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, which is the reason that this is news NOW.
      You're certainly free to study all the history you want, American and otherwise, at any time you choose.

      January 2, 2013 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jed Clampett

      American History contains a lot of Black History. Unless you buy your textbooks in Texas.

      January 2, 2013 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles Stevens

      Seriously? On the 150th anniversary of the document that heralded the end of one of the most industrialized, commercialized, widespread human rights violations in modern history – you are complaining about a few news stories? Dude, there is really something sick inside of you. If you have any decency, think about where your head and your heart are and change your position in life.

      January 3, 2013 at 4:22 am | Report abuse |
    • Jim

      Bubba, all history is White history until Feb. Thats when we get 28 days to celebrate history "other" than white........

      January 3, 2013 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Nnamdi

      Bubba, why are you scared of Black History ? are you worried that the truth will out about you ? you can run away from it all you want, it will still be there...staring you in the face.

      January 4, 2013 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
    • fat white& 50

      Hey bubba, duh?

      January 5, 2013 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
    • wahoo69

      Bubba... Being an American is not a race... It's a nationality.

      January 10, 2013 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
      • Dondi Cook

        "Bubba... Being an American is not a race... It's a nationality."

        Well Said, I believe That is the whole point of the Birther Movement...

        January 11, 2013 at 12:50 am | Report abuse |
    • what1ever

      This year is the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

      January 30, 2013 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |