thumbnail of The negro American; The Negro and the Civil War
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
There has been a long theme that has gone through Negro history it has been this theme where you don't have a quality of America standing up and living up to the bright promises of the Declaration of Independence. This too is the essential American theme. There was no theme in Negro life that is not a theme of American life because the Negro is a market too. He is completely Sir Benjamin of Arles distinguished historian of Negro His everybody but students of the schools in a series of talks on the Negro in America undermining the Civil War on government the the whole matter of slavery the extension of slavery in the territories the nature of the abolitionist attack on slavery. The question of the role of the American Negro in national life all of these were vital question. Which had their share in creating a mindset leading to the Civil War.
Now any war has a great number of reasons some of them complex most of them to go. But there's no question that when we consider the matter of slavery and the incidence of the 1850s that we mention that by 1860 the country was ready to divide on this issue and to launch the major war the whole 19th century and the bloodiest war up to which the American Civil War. Now when the American Civil War breaks out it did not start out at all as an abolitionist war a war always takes configurations and patterns that we never dream of when a war starts. We only have to look at our current experience in Vietnam to realize that some of that civil war was not an abolitionist war it didn't start at all to change the status of the negro. In fact. Both Lincoln and Congress when the war broke out specifically disavowed. Any intention of the institution of slavery where it existed
as an actual matter a matter of fact. On March the 2nd. Two days before Labor took our US. Congress passed. By a two thirds majority House a proposed amendment proposed thirteenth amendment which would have said that Congress had no right or ever. To interfere with the institution of slavery. Congress act passed such a measure to reassure the southern states that they were safe under the new Republican administration. Now of course that proposed 13th Amendment never went to the states because a war was going to break out. In fact it's rather unusual twist is it not that the 13th amendment that is going to be ratified in 1865 was diametrically opposed opposite. The 13th Amendment which Congress had proposed in 1861. But I'm simply trying to indicate that is the way.
As the civil war breaks out Congress has disavowed any attention for an hour or two to strike at slavery where it existed. Now when Lincoln was unarguably did on March 4 1861 he too made a very clear where he said specifically I have no intention of interfering with slavery anyplace it exists. In fact Lincoln himself said I went along for 18 months without touching the institution. Meaning that he hoped to get by without making it an abolitionist walk without touching slavery. So that when the RA breaks out the federal government the president and Congress have a hands off policy they are not going to wait this war for slavery they want to reassure other southern states they hope the southern states would not. The four remaining states that were still in the union will make it to the hope that they would not be. They also hope that they win waging war when they had two against the South that people would not say this was a war to free the slaves and change
the status of the need there for Congress and they can move very slow. Not despite their disavowal of any intention of striking a slavery war has a logic of its own. War we indicated was a revolution and therefore within three or four months Congress had to rebalance itself. Now the store opens an apple happens in our history when we deal with minorities. There is a policy reversal because the realities of the situation require a policy reversal. Hence by August 6 1861 Congress reverses out and passes an act which says that any slate used insurrectionary purposes any such slaves that were captured would be henceforth for ever free. Now Bernard could realize that the war wasn't going to be over in 80 days 90 days. The war was going to be bloody war was going to last. They
saw the role that the slaves played in the Confederacy and hence by August the 6th 1861 the war breaks out in mid April 1861 Congress moved versus the south and now begins to strike at the institution of slavery because that institution of course opposed to the south and the South Laurette. Now Congress passes a great series of measures before Abraham Lincoln even unwinds himself. And I'll just mention very quickly two other of these measures. One was that on March 13 1862 Congress passed a law that no general could return any fugitive surveys and soon as the war broke out the slaves began to run away in great numbers to join the Union Army. The Union armies the army had no policy they could have no power on each general dead easy please. Some generals permitted the slaves to stay within their lines. Some were sent back to their masters. Now Congress by March 13 realizing oh yeah set these negroes Where is military labors. Realizing how
they helped the Confederacy Congress purchase process that puts it puts its foot down on the generals and sends to them on march. And March of 1862. You no longer can return any Negroes who beat your line. They cannot be returned to their former masters. Now this is a step concretely Congress takes on April 16 1862 Congress passes a bill with the slaves in the District of Columbia. Slavery existed in the District of Columbia although the slave trade did not. But this was a tremendous step forward because it was a straw in the wind it points out in Abbottabad it's going to take place and of course negroes abolitionists and liberals were overjoyed when Congress passed this measure abolishing slavery in the 60s. Finally in the last measure I mention about Congress is that on July the 17th 1862 Congress passes two measures on that day. One of the measures says that any person owning a slave even if that person
is an insurrection that Slater captured is ever free. Now that meant just they didn't have to be used for insurrectionary purposes like he did on August in August 1861. But the mere fact that you were in revenge if you asked label caption That's the evilest for free. The other back passed on July 17th 1862 was an act welcoming negroes into military service of the United States government. When the war broke out negroes in the north of course tried to unless they were turned down. Now this act of July 17 1862 by Congress are the rise of Negro soldiers yet they weren't quite ready to advise that but it did say that Negroes would be used in any military capacity and they would be paid $10 a month the wage of a military invasion hence by July 17 1862. Congress was ready to move toward using the negro and Negro
soldier as you could see would be right around the corner. Now. All this time that Lincoln the Congress was acting Lincoln was really twiddling his thumbs. Lincoln really led from behind in many respects. Lincoln had is near to the ground he was a consummate politician. Lincoln was not moving at all. Sometimes we give Lincoln County great emancipator and of course he deserves that. In many respects but Congress actually was moving. Lincoln was a slow cultured Washington as Wendell Phillips so well car but when Lincoln moved PVD begins to move now the realities of the war. Was thinking to rethink this whole matter of the role of the negro and the role of emancipation. Hence by September 1862 after Congress had passed a whole series of measures of which I've only mentioned four Lincoln finally gets around to action and he decides upon an Emancipation
Proclamation one of the things in the final of the definitive Emancipation Proclamation January 1st 1863 was a walk in for the first time by late and he welcomed me into the armed forces. Now therefore from January 1st on the Negro is going to get into the forces in large numbers. Now Lincoln and Grant observe what the Negro did in these early months of 1863 and Grant wrote to Macon in the famous letter which he indicated all of our victories lately writes this moment August 1860. We have come because of the use of Negroes. Now Lincoln himself was a man who always was a growing man. When we meet Lincoln we have to judge what time did Lincoln say that every poet of great historians always quotes as the first president and most historians say that because a great president recognizes something significant that's happening in his lifetime and he aligns
himself with it. In late 1863 November 263 Lincoln goes to Gettysburg and then I think that delivered his great Gettysburg Address. Now this great Gettysburg Address is highly significant because it marks a new dimension to the Civil War. Lincoln opens up by saying that about four score and seven our fathers brought forth on this continent and now we are engaging in a war testing whether a nation created on such principles can long indoors. Now he says What can we do here we cannot get to keep this we cannot have the brave men have done all this. But there's one thing we can do. We can dedicate ourselves to the proposition that America will have a new birth of freedom a new birth of freedom. This is another link. But as we look back on making a see Start slow but he grasps the historic process and he saw the new dimensions of the war and he saw this in large measure because of what the Negro himself was
doing. I cannot understand when so much has been written about the civil war we've turned out 40000 books about the Civil War and 10 or 12 of them only in recent years about the negro. And people don't see at all that the whole thing that the puzzle of Lincoln's fame and everything it posits on the issue of religion and the role of the negro and this is sometimes those of us who see the little impassioned if we speak on this field because it doesn't seem as though this has been an area of special agreement. Now one of the things we indicated to change thinking tremendously was the role of the negro subject and we can simply only and hasting through mention that one hundred seventy five thousand negroes get into the army on the union side although they come in the war only after in great numbers only after January 1st 1863. They take part in over 400 battles of which nine are major engagements.
Their morale was of course very good because the war had a great deal to offer for them. They suffered all sorts of discrimination there want what Talib the rate was quite high are what the war offered a step up to them. Now most of the soldiers of pot were former slain. Because then there's where the bulk of the negroes were so that of the hundred and eighty thousand if we used a round figure that got into the war over 100000 of those were former slaves who were wearing the union blue and spar in the army and Bart of course and there were two or three accounts of the role of the negro as a soldier in the war but generally his performance was good because the war was something for him it was a chance to get an education many of them had never had any schooling at our the war was a step up and therefore the war to him and the desertions and negro troops were very few because of what you might say Did he have to desert too.
But the army represented the school of the citizen soldier the soldier said. So the negro had added incentive to fight. On the home front we got we simply can't say that he would be doing what we would expect other people on the home front he was always a supporter of the war from the very beginning. Negro saw in the was the abolitionists and liberals did a chance to strike at slavery. It was an abolitionist water then and gradually of course they had to gratification of seeing Congress and the president come around to that point of view so that on the home front you'd find the negro women sewing like others did you'd find some Negro Women like white women and missionary women going down to teach the slaves from the areas that had been liberated by the Union Army. And there's another story that's not been told. The number of teachers who went into the south of the Seattle and other places that helped teach. Now the main thing that the negroes who were reformers did was to press for the battle in the
closing year a year and a half of the Civil War. The chief thing that negro on the home front once the war became a lot about the slavery was naturally the palette for the Negro. This was the next great step. So the home front me go in support of the wall 100 percent in support of the war because they saw the war as a chance to change the status of a depressed group and therefore they welcomed the war from that point of view both on the battle front and on the home front. We have been listening to Professor Benjamin Kraus speaking on the Niko America. The series of broadcast was produced for a station w DTI by the Department of Education or broadcasting for the Detroit Public Schools executive producer Frederick E. shell technical direction Clifford where. This program was distributed by the national educational radio network.
The negro American
The Negro and the Civil War
Producing Organization
Detroit Public Schools
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-fj29dt96).
Series Description
For series info, see Item 3536. This prog.: "New Birth of Freedom" - The Negro and the Civil War
Race and Ethnicity
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producing Organization: WDTR
Producing Organization: Detroit Public Schools
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-30-10 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:15:39
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “The negro American; The Negro and the Civil War,” 1968-11-04, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 24, 2024,
MLA: “The negro American; The Negro and the Civil War.” 1968-11-04. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 24, 2024. <>.
APA: The negro American; The Negro and the Civil War. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from