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KC‑5.3.I.B (KC)
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Unit 5: Learning Objective J

Video transcript

so can we've been talking a lot about the early stages of the civil war which were about slavery and the spread of slavery and I think in popular culture when we think about things like Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War and slavery the the term Emancipation Proclamation or the idea of the Emancipation Proclamation comes to mind and I think a lot of folks imagine it to be this really amazing speech that at some point you know Lincoln makes his Proclamation and after that point slavery is just gone from the United States is is is that what it was no it's actually a lot more complicated than that so the Emancipation Proclamation itself was not a speech it was actually closer to a decree even though Lincoln didn't originally come into his presidency intending to end slavery it became pretty clear in the first year of the war that he was anti-slavery he didn't want to spread he didn't think that he could end it right so he specifically says in his inaugural address that he has no intention of ending slavery and that if the slave states returned to the Union everything will just go back to the status quo but it very quickly becomes apparent in the Civil War that ending slavery is going to have to be a goal of the north for one thing the slaves provide so much of the production for the south that interfering with that production is really important for the north to secure victory but it also is important on a moral ground as almost as soon as the war begins in slave men and women in the south start going to Union lines hoping for the army to protect them they want to be part of the war effort they interpret it as a war to end slavery long before Abraham Lincoln interprets it as a war to end slavery so it becomes clear by the summer of 1862 that the Union is going to have to deal with slavery one way or another now once again the reason why it's strategically important is that this war is not going as well as the north would have hoped or as Lincoln would have hoped it's it's it's it's lasting longer the first years we mentioned this video this the the South was winning and it was going on the offensive and then also on the moral argument I guess it gave the north something more to fight for yes and even in some pockets of the South individual Union generals were even making their own small Emancipation Proclamation so it became clear that the North was going to need an overall stance on whether this was a war to end slavery and Lincoln decides yes this is going to be a war to end slavery and so does he announce it you know just all of a sudden or is he kind of waiting for the right time he's definitely waiting for the right time in the summer of 1862 he makes the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation and even in the summer he shows it to the members of his cabinets and they're shocked most of them are themselves very strongly abolitionist but they are terrified that this document is going to be so revolutionary at a time when the north is already struggling that it's going to force the border states out that many of the whites in the north who don't care about the fate of slaves are going to leave the war effort so they advise Lincoln not to just proclaim the emancipation proclamation but rather to wait for a big Union victory to kind of put a stamp on the document and just to make sure we understand I mean the fear of his advisors was not all the Union states were free states you had states like Missouri and and Kentucky and and Maryland that were that were slave states but still part of the Union and so the fears if you emancipate if you say that if you make this Proclamation all of a sudden those states would leave right and those are very important states they have a very large white population relative to their enslaved population which means that if they go to the south all of those fighters will go for the south and it's also where a lot of the South this industry is so it would mean that a tremendous amount of manpower and also industrial power would join the south so Lincoln and his cabinet are very concerned about alienating these states they want to make sure that their power doesn't go with the south there's the Emancipation Proclamation and slavery in those states or the entire nations are just in the salad or just in the Confederate States so this is a strategy of military necessity as Lincoln says he specifically excepts the border states from the Emancipation Proclamation steps them he says they they this does not apply to them so it's not a pure moral ground that slavery is evil and needs to be gone from the earth he's saying in these states that are trying to secede he is banning slavery right and he almost makes it like a form of enticement for the south to come back he says here is my plan for emancipation I am going to put it into effect on the first day of January 1863 he puts it out in September of 1862 just after the Union victory at Antietam so this is this big Union victory gives him the the backdrop the context the context and in which he can put the Emancipation Proclamation out there but he says if the states that are in rebellion come back into the Union before January 1st then it will be Nolan void I see so he's still trying to get him back in the fold and he's willing to accept slavery at least for the time being if he could end this war that's turning out far bloodier and far longer-lasting than frankly anyone especially folks in the North had expect it to be so he didn't immediately say hey no more slavery we're trying to make the South fight even harder it's like hey well you know I'm gonna make this effective in January January 1863 which would be over here so you have a couple of months to come back come back to the mothership so just be right and the South does not take him up on this offer so when January 1st 1863 rolls around he signs the Emancipation Proclamation and we have some of the text of the proclamation here and what I think is interesting and we have this right on the Kahn Academy site on and one of the articles is that it you know it doesn't have the beauty of the Declaration of Independence or even the Constitution it actually reads kind of like a legal document I mean if I read this that on the first day of January in the year of our Lord 1863 all persons held as slaves within any state or designated part of a state so it's kind of this legalese the people aware of 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 efforts in any efforts they make for their actual freedom which is a really nice thing to say but it reads like a like a legal document I could I could keep keep going I encourage the folks listening to to read and it literally lists the various states and as you mentioned it's much more of a decree it's not this beautiful speech right and we know Lincoln for his beautiful speeches the Gettysburg Address is perhaps the most famous speech in American history and so it's a little bit strange that arguably the most important thing that Lincoln ever does is arguably the ugliest piece of writing that Lincoln ever put out there it's because he's a lawyer and we forget sometimes about Lincoln's background as a lawyer but he practiced for decades and so what he's trying to do here is really create an ironclad legal document that no one can turn around later and say well here's a loophole yeah although that has its moments I mean right here and upon this act and upon this act sincerely believed to be an act of Justice warranted by the Constitution upon military necessity I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind and the gracious favor of Almighty God I mean it's kind of it's still kind of a legal yeah it's it's yeah it's not moving to the passions or to the moral as much as kind of and he off even also talks about well it is what it is well that will let other people judge it for it on their own but you know what's really important about the Emancipation Proclamation is from that point forward even though he's particularly putting this on the southern states where any jurisdiction he has is really just what can be enforced by the army it turns the Union Army into an army of liberation that as they go throughout the South enslaved people will flock to them and want to contribute to the war effort and shortly after this Lincoln will make it possible will put one part of the Emancipation Proclamation is saying that African Americans can join the Union Army as soldiers and so they really from this point forward can play an active role direct and recognized role in ending slavery and this is really the moment when slavery truly starts to crumble
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