History of slaves in America

The Civil War

Abraham Lincoln and slavery

The election of Abraham Lincoln, a member of the anti-slavery Republican Party, to the presidency in 1860 convinced many Southerners that slavery would never be permitted to expand into new territories acquired by the US and might ultimately be abolished. Eleven Southern states attempted to secede from the Union, precipitating the Civil War.

During the war, Abraham Lincoln issued his famous Emancipation Proclamation, freeing slaves in all areas of the country that were at that time in rebellion. This measure helped prevent European intervention on the side of the South and freed Union army and navy officers from returning escaped slaves to their owners, but not until after the Union had won the war and the subsequent passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution were the American slaves officially freed.

Slaves during the war and after

slaves who came into Union "possession" were considered "contraband of war" . General Butler ruled that they were not subject to return to Confederate owners as they had been before the war. Soon word spread, and many slaves sought refuge in Union territory, desiring to be declared "contraband." Many of the "contraband" joined the Union Army as workers or troops, forming entire regiments of the U.S. Colored Troops. Others went to refugee camps such as the Grand contraband camp near Fort Monroe or fled to northern cities. General Butler's interpretation was reinforced when Congress passed the Confiscation Act of 1861 , which declared that any property used by the Confederate military, including slaves, could be confiscated by Union forces.

The war ended in June 22, 1865, the Emancipation Proclamation was enforced throughout remaining regions of the South that had not yet freed the slaves. Slavery continued for a couple of months in some locations.Federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas on June 19, to enforce the emancipation.

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Slaves during the Civil War

Martin Luther King, Jr. I Have A Dream Speech