cguy.gif Dr. Edward Smith uguy.gif
Speaker's Article
Jump to Part: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9, #10,
Frederick Douglass's Influence

on the War Strategy of
Arbraham Lincoln
by Dr. Edward C. Smith #1 Professor Smith teaches at The American University and is a Civil War and Afro-American Heritage Lecturer for The Smithsonian Institution and the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. He is also an Associate Editor of The Lincoln Review. This lecture was delivered at St. John's College, Annapolis, in February, 1992.(used with permission) #2 The publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin in 1852 ignited a firestorm of abolitionist fervor that quickly spread throughout the North. The novel achieved its objective (of exposing the dark side of tile South) by pulling at the heart strings (of the many Americans who knew virtually nothing about plantation life and could not began to imagine the reality of the daily sufferings of millions of slaves. Two years later in 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed. Its principle architect was U.S. Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois. The act had the immediate effect of replacing the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which though admitting Missouri into the Union as a slave state and Maine as a free state, excluded slavery from the vast northern regions of the Louisiana Purchase Territory. Now, with the passing of this act, a new formula for dealing with slavery came into being. Through the principle of "popular sovereignty" the people of each territory could choose to be either a free or a slave society. Until citizens of the regions voted on the issue, masters were free to take their slaves into most western territories. As a consequence of this new policy, a northern zone, presumed to be forever free, had become vulnerable to pro-slavery expansion. From the beginning, most northern politicians saw the Kansas-Nebraska Act as a southern conspiracy to expect the South's powerful presence in the nation's capitol. After all Washington, D.C., was a proud and distinctly southern city. Lest we forget the Mason-Dixon Line separates Maryland from Pennsylvania. During the 1850s Southerners were the most influential leaders in both houses of Congress. Also, the South dominated the White House; before the Civil War, nine of the nation's presidents were southerners, seven of them from the state of Virginia. Additionally, the South's special interests were well represented and protected in the judicial rulings of the southern dominated Supreme Court. The issues surrounding the Kansas-Nebraska Act gave birth to the all-northern Republican party, which was committed to preventing the spread of slavery into the western territories. One of its earliest members was Abraham Lincoln, who eventually became the head of the new parry in Illinois. Through his extensive readings of the writings of the founding fathers, Lincoln had convinced himself that although many of our nation's earliest leaders greatly benefited from the culture of "enlightened leisure" that slavery provided, they nonetheless disliked the institution and were working toward its gradual extinction. He saw evidence of this in the presence of the many free blacks living throughout the South who had achieved their freedom though the benign will of their magnanimous masters. In addition, he was deeply impressed by the fact that the nation's capitol, founded in 1791, was co-designed by a brilliant free black inventor and surveyor from Maryland named Benjamin Banneker. Even though his law practice was thriving and he had earned the reputation of being a "lawyer's Lawyer," the crises of the 1850s greatly disturbed Lincoln and he felt compelled to stake his political position so that there would be no doubt about where he stood on certain significant matters. Regarding the question of slavery, he became an uncompromising anti-extensionist. #3 During the 1960s it became fashionable among many civil rights and "black power" activists (and their white allies) to besmirch Lincoln's reputation as "The Great Emancipator." They argued that Lincoln freed the slaves only as a consequence of military necessity and that their liberation was not rooted in his respect for their inherent humanity. Nothing could be further from the truth. I recently discovered a speech he gave in Peoria Illinois, shortly after joining the Republican party. In it he engaged the southern sympathizers in his audience through a rhetorical dialogue without faulting them for the origin or the continuation of slavery as an intrinsic institution protected by both state and federal law. But he did appeal to their sense of decency, believing that, like him, they too felt that there was humanity in the Negro. He asked those gathered. Do you deny this? Then why thirty-four years ago did you join the North in branding the African slave trade as an act of piracy punishable by death? You have amongst you a sneaking individual, of the class of native tyrants, known as the 'SLAVEDEALER' He watches your necessities, and crawls up to buy your slave, at a speculating price. If you cannot help it, you sell to him: but if you can help it, you drive him from your door. You despise him utterly. You do not recognize him as a friend, or even as an honest man. Your children must not play with his; they may rollick freely with the little Negroes, but not with the "slavedealer's" children. If you are obliged to deal with him, you try to get through the job without so much as touching him. It is common with you to join hands with the men you meet; but with the "slavedealer" you avoid the ceremony-instinctively shrinking from the snaky contact. He continues: Now why is this? Is it not because your human sympathy tells you that the poor Negro has some natural right to himself, that those who deny it, and make mere merchandise of him, deserve kickings, contempt and death? He concludes his remarks in a very dramatic manner. Fellow countrymen, Americans south, as well as north let us turn slavery from its claim of "moral right" back upon its existing legal right... and there let it rest in peace. Let us re-adopt the Declaration of Independence, and with it, the practices, and policy, which harmonize with it. Let north and south--let all Americans--let all lovers of liberty everywhere--join the great and good work. If we do this, we shall not only have saved the Union but we shall have so saved it, as to make, and to keep it, forever worthy of the saving. Lincoln discovered quickly that his appeals fell upon deaf ears. Most southerners who chose to speak out on the issue believed Negro bondage was sanctioned by the Bible and an expression of God's divine will. They contended, even though they saw free, hard-working, articulate, and law-abiding Negroes around them all the time, that somehow blacks were basically subhuman and belonged in chains as naturally as horses in stables and cows in pens. In 1857 the pro-southern Supreme Court (presided over by Chief Jutice Roger B. Taney, a slave-owning aristocrat from Maryland) handed down the infamous Dred Scott decision. The Court decreed that Negroes were inferior people who were not and never had been United States citizens and that the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were exclusively "white-only" charters that were never intended to apply to them. More importantly as far as Lincoln was concerned, the Courts ruling clearly meant that neither Congress nor a territorial government could outlaw slavery in the national lands, because to do so would violate southern property rights as guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment. Republicans understood that the net effect of the ruling was to legalize slavery in all federal territories from Canada to Mexico. #4 In 1858, Lincoln and many of his fellow Republicans began to see a treacherous conspiracy at work in America--a plot on the part of southern leaders and their northern Democratic allies to reverse the whole course of modern history, to halt the progress of human liberty as other reactionary forces in the world were attempting to do, namely in Russia and certain areas of western Europe. For Lincoln, the Union had reached a crucible. If the future of a free American was to be saved so as to serve as a noble symbol to the world, it was imperative that he and his party marshal the necessary resources to stay the hand of the conspirators; at all costs slavery must not be allowed to expand onto the frontier. Only four years after becoming a Republican, Abraham Lincoln challenges Stephen A. Douglas for his senate seat. He now has a forum whereby he can fiercely articulate his anti-slavery sentiments. He tells his audiences how much he hates the peculiar institution: "It is a vast moral evil because it violates America's 'central idea' . . . the idea of equality and the right to rise." Yet Lincoln, ever the pragmatic realist, clearly understood that no matter how evil slavery was, it could not be abolished in those states where it already existed. There were seven Lincoln-Douglas debates and they all focused on One subject, slavery. Douglas countered Lincoln's posture by labeling him a 'black Republican and a member of a mob of radical abolitionists who were determined to impose their will upon the South. Additionally, Douglas, more so than Lincoln, understood the depth of anti-black feeling in Illinois and he masterfully played to these white racial fears. He warned his audiences, "Do you want Negroes to flood into our state and spread the prairies with black settlements, and eat, sleep, and marry white people? If you do, then vote for Mr. Lincoln and the black Republicans.'" Then he would frequently add, "But I am against Negro citizenship, I want citizenship for whites only. I believe that this government was made by the white man, for the benefit of the white man, to be administered by the white man. I do not question Mr. Lincoln's conscientious belief that the Negro was made his equal and hence his brother, but for my own part, I do not regard the Negro as my equal, and positively deny that he is my brother or any kin to me whatever." Lincoln lost decisively to Douglas. His views on slavery were well beyond what the great majority of his fellow Illinoisans could tolerate. He even lost his "home base" constituencies of Springfield and Sangamon County. In the year following the Great Debates, fire-eating abolitionist John Brown, with a small contingent of loyal supporters, attacked the federal arsenal Harper Ferry, Virginia in an attempt to launch a full-scale slave rebellion that would quickly spread throughout the state and into the lower south. The raid was quickly repulsed and Union soldier, under the command of Colonel Robert E. Lee, captured Brown, who was later tried and hanged for treason. For most southerners, John Brown's behavior was all they needed to convince themselves that the northern abolitionists, supported by the all-northern Republican party, wanted only to drown the South in a river of blood. Of course, Lincoln and his colleagues rushed to deny these hysterical accusations and argued that executing Brown was just conduct by the state because his actions were a clear violation of the law. It is clear that Abraham Lincoln never covered the presidency. He correctly saw the job for what it was then, purely administrative in nature. The president had clerks and subordinates to supervise, but he bad no "peers" with whom to discuss and debate the great issues facing the nation. Lincoln wanted to be a United States senator, to be a part of a forum where the country's greatest orators wrestled against each other as in the days of republican Rome. But his loss to Douglas made him available to pursue the path to the White House and so he was nominated by his party to be its standard-bearer in the 1860 presidential election, with the mandate to campaign on a "free-soil, free-labor" platform. The time had come to see if those advanced social views of his that were soundly rejected in Illinois by those who knew him well, would be accepted by those in other states who knew him not at all. Lincoln was an energetic and imaginative campaigner. Whatever he spoke he took firm stands that slavery was an evil and must be contained in the South and yet he constantly reminded audiences that neither he nor his party would interfere with southern slavery; after all, they were restrained by law. The federal government had no constitutional authority (at least in peacetime) to tamper with a state-sanctioned institution, particularly one as volatile as slavery. #5 Most source in 1860 did not trust Lincoln to his word. In him they saw John Brown reincarnate and began to brace themselves for the inevitable invasion that many thought would be forthcoming if "the black-hearted abolitionist fanatic," as he was known throughout the South, were chosen to become the nation's sixteenth president. Lincoln's election on November 6, 1860, sent southern leaders spiraling; their worst fears had come to fruition. Secessionist fire-eaters, who were a militant minority, rapidly raw to positions of prominence. Men like Robert Toombs, Howell Cobb, Robert Barnwell Rhett, and William Lowndes Yancey were eagerly sought after for guidance. "What should the South do?" the people asked. The fire-eaters' answer came in one word: secede, secede, secede!" On December 20,1860,South Carolina took the initiative and soon other southern states would follow her lead into secession. While still living in Springfield, Illinois, as president-elect, Lincoln was outraged by this behavior. He could not understand why southerners were so incensed by his election. He had promised them in speech after speech that they had absolutely no reason for fearing him and his administration, that he would not disturb slavery; in fact he promised them that he would protect the institution, as long as It remained where it was and did not expand elsewhere. In his inaugural address of March 4,1861, Lincoln presented himself to his southern adversaries as a man, of moderation, not a radical revolutionary. He reminded them that he approved the original Thirteenth Amendment, recently passed by Congress (but left unratified by the states because of the dismemberment of the Union), which explicitly granted slavery in the southern states. He endorsed the amendment, not because he liked it (which he did not), but because he felt it to be wholly consistent with Republican party ideology with regard to the containment of slavery in the South. He concluded his speech with the following words: I am loth to close. 'We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, Stretching from every battlefield, and patriotic grave, to every living heart and heartstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be by the better angels of our nature. The president was counting on southern unionists to rise to the ramparts and rebuff southern secessionists and return the rebellious states to their rightful places in the Union. His faith was sorely misplaced, moderation was a distinct minority point of view in the South. On the eve of war radicalism reigned supreme. South Carolina, the first state to secede, seized the opportunity to draw first fire as well. Its attack on the Union garrison at Fort Sumter on April 12 brought upon the nation the contest of arms that, in spite of the petulant bravado of both sides, no reasonable man or woman in either the North or the South had wanted. Now the president felt duty-bound to raise an army of 75,000 soldiers for ninety days of service to repress this reckless rebellion. To accomplish this task he needed a leader of unassailable reputation, a commander universally respected for his courage, honor, loyalty, and commitment. Lincoln needed Lee. Had Lee not shown his courage and honor during the Mexican War, had he not shown his loyalty and commitment to the Union in capturing John Brown, preventing his rebellion from spreading? Clearly, Lee was the best man for the job and he lived just across the Potomac River on his 1100-acre estate at Arlington. In reaction to Lincoln's call to arms, an ordinance of session was introduced into the Virginia Convention on April 16. The following day Lee received a letter to report to the office of General Winfred Scott. However, Colonel Lee was the first to appear at the home of Francis P. Blair (now the Blair House), whose son, Montgomery Blair, was the attorney for Dred Scott during the litigation of his famous case and was a key presidents confidant. Lee, a decorated hero of the Mexican War and former superintendent of the U. S. Military Academy at West Point, was, in addition, an imposing knight-like scion of the celebrated Lee dynasty. His father, Henry "Lighthorse Harry" Lee, was one of General George Washington's principal subordinates during the Revolutionary War. Lee's wife, the former Mary Custis, was President Washington's Step-great-granddaughter, and two of Lee's ancestors were signers of the Declaration of Independence. Thus everything in Robert E. Lee's long and illustrious military career-amounting to nearly thirty-five years of honorable serve-had prepared him for the assumption of such authority. #6 On April 18, Francis Blair-authorized by President Lincoln to do so-offered Colonel Lee the command of the new army that was being raised to crush the rebellion. Without hesitation, he responded to Blair: "Though opposed to session and deprecating war, I could take no part in an invasion of the southern states." Upon leaving Blair, Lee went to see his mentor, General Winfred Scott, a fellow Virginian. Lee shared with the general the essence of his discussion with Blair, and Scott replied: "Lee, you have made the greatest mistake of your life, but I feared it would be so." It is interesting that throughout the former Confederate states, both during the war's immediate aftermath and through today, Lee continues to be lionized as "the South's favorite son," when in fact his loyalty was to Virginia, first and foremost. Indeed for the duration of the war, he commanded only two battles outside of Virginia, one at Antietam, the other at Gettysburg, and both were pivotal defeats for the Confederacy. On April 19, Lee learned that Virginia had voted to secede from the union, but it had not yet decided to join the Confederacy. The following day, Colonel Lee went through the wrenching experience of writing and submitting his letter of resignation on to General Scott on April 24, Virginia Consummated the act of secession by entering into a military alliance with the Confederacy which ultimately led to the state's formal incorporation into the Confederate States of America. This occurred exactly one month later, on May 24, when Virginia voters ratified the Ordinance of Session. Like the American Revolutionary War, the Civil War was a war of ,session. The eleven Confederate states declared their independence from the federal union in a manner similar to the revolt of the thirteen colonies against the authority of England. Thus our victorious and beloved "Stars and Stripes" is as much a rebel flag as that of the defeated "Stan and Bars" of the lost cause of the Confederacy. Interestingly, there are many other connections that link the colonial rebellion to the confederate rebellion. President Jefferson Davis was named in honor of President Thomas Jefferson. The Confederacy's Vice President was Alexander Hamilton Stevens, named in honor of Alexander Hamilton, principal co-author of the Federalist Papers. One of the South's leading generals, Joseph E. Johnston, was the grand-nephew of Patrick Henry. The Confederate Ambassador to England was James Mason, the grandson of Virginia statesman George Mason, and for a while the Confederacy's secretary of war was George Randolph, the grandson of Thomas Jefferson. Accompanying Lee at Appomattox Courthouse was Lt. Colonel Charles Marshall, the grandson of U. S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, who served in that office from 1801 to 1835, and who was also a colonel in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. There are many other Intimate familial and philosophical associations that bind the two wars together. In securing the services of Lee and the secession of Virginia the Confederate rebellion attained a much needed "legitimacy," heretofore denied it. After all, four of the nation's first five presidents were Slave owning Virginians: Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe. Soon the Confederate capital was moved from Montgomery, Alabama, to Richmond, Virginia and, because of its strategic location, during the four years of war sixty percent of all the battles were fought on the blood-soaked soil of Virginia. But Lincoln hardly had the time to bemoan the losses of Lee and Virginia. He now had to concentrate his attention on doing what, for him, was the most unpleasant thing imaginable, to wage war against one's fellow citizens. At the time of his loss of Lee, Lincoln could not forsee that he would soon be gaining the loyal service of a different kind of "soldier," a warrior who graduated from the "academy" of adversity and who, like the president had taught himself how to read and write with such eloquence that all who knew him stood in awe of his talents and tenacity. This man was none other than Frederick Douglass, the slave who had become the leading black author and orator of his time. His personal demeanor and towering accomplishments were living proof of the absolute absurdity of the idea of racial inferiority. The first major battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Bull Run, occurred on July 21, 1861, and was fought in Manassas, Virginia. The battle was a decisive Confederate victory. It served notice to the North that a long and costly war was ahead. It also raised from obscurity a little-known Virginia Military Institute instructor who would become a legend in his own lifetime, General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. The general acquired his nickname because of his performance in the battle and although Jackson would die during the midpoint of the war, in May, 1863, from wounds accidentally inflected by his own men, he would become the South's second most celebrated soldier, Lee being unquestionably the first. #7 The following month, Frederick Douglass wrote an editorial entitled "Fighting Rebels With Only One Hand," which appeared in his own periodical, Douglass' Monthly. In the article he chided the Union government for its absurd "white man's war only" posture: What upon earth is the matter with the American government and people? Do they really covert the world's ridicule as well as their own social and political ruin? What are they thinking about, or don't they condescend to think at all. So, indeed, it would seem from their blindness in dealing with the tremendous issue now upon them. He continued: Our President, governors, generals are calling, with almost frantic Vehemence, for men; "men! men! men! send us men!" they scream, or the cause of the Union is gone; . . . and yet these very officers, representing the people and government, steadily and persistently refuse to receive the very class of men which have a deeper interest in the defeat and humiliation of the rebels, than all others ... Why does the government reject the Negro? Is he not a man? Can he not wield a sword, fire a gun, march and countermarch, and obey orders like any other? He concluded his comments with the following remark: If persons so humble as we can be allowed to speak to the President of the United States, we should ask him if this dark and terrible hour of the nation's extremity is a time for consulting a mere vulgar and unnatural prejudice. We would tell him that this is no time to fight with one hand, when both are needed; that this is no time to fight only with your white hand, and allow your black hand to remain tied. When the government continues to refuse the aid of colored men, thus alienating them from the national cause, and giving the rebels the advantage of them it will not deserve better fortunes than it has thus far experienced. On April 16, 1862, Congress abolished slavery in Washington, D. C. It was a great source of embarrassment, particularly for strident abolitionists, that for the first full year of the war, the nation's capitol was a slave-holding community. Frederick Douglass seized the moment and constantly pressed the president to throw the full weight of his authority behind the idea that the war must be expanded beyond Lincoln's limitations. Douglass frequently grew frustrated by the presidents cautiousness and in his annual Fourth of July Speech of 1862 he railed against Mr. Lincoln for refusing to take the bold step of saying the principal war aim was not to reunite the Union but to destroy slavery. In that address he said: Jefferson Davis is a powerful man, but Jefferson Davis has no such power to blast the hope and break down the strong heart of the nation, as that Possessed in exercised by Abraham Lincoln. We have a right to hold Abraham Lincoln sternly responsible for any disaster or failure attending to the suppression of this rebellion. Lincoln was quick to react to Douglass's vituperation because he Personally felt exactly the same passion but, unlike Douglass, he was an elected politician who was restrained by rules of law and the fear of losing his moderate constituency of supporters if he appeared to be the captive of the fire-eater abolitionist element of his party. Nonetheless, on July 22, 1862, he presented to his cabinet a "secret" draft of a Proclamation of Emancipation. Secretary of State Seward advised the president to wait for a major battlefield victory before announcing his intention to end slavery. This was very wise advice indeed, because of in late August 1862, the Confederates decisively defeated the Union Army at the Second Battle of Bull Run, paving the way for the South's first counter-invasion of the North, which would culminate at Sharpsburg, Maryland, at the Battle of Antietam. The Davis Cabinet, and most members of his military high command, Knew that the South's spirited resistance to north assault could last only for so long, absent of foreign assistance. Both England and France, less dependent on southern cotton than the South thought, were being aggressively courted by the Confederacy to come to its aid. And in London and Paris the Union's Ambassador was trying to dissuade such intervention. Interestingly, the Union Ambassador to Great Britain was Charles Francis Adams, son of President John Quincy Adams. And, as stated earlier, his counterpart representing the interests of the Confederacy was Ambassador James Mason, grandson of the pre-eminent Virginia statesman, George Mason. The South was convinced that a decisive Confederate victory in Maryland, so near Washington, D. C., would not only bring the state (with its many southern sympathizes) into Confederacy, but would also cam the much-desired European recognition as well. Thus, on the morning of September 17, 1862, the Battle of Antietam began. At dusk the day end with the final firing of shot and then and is recorded as the single bloodiest day in all of American history. Nearly 30,000 soldiers fell. Many of the survivors were so badly wounded that they died only a few days later. #8 Technically speaking, the Battle of Antietam ended in a draw. Lee was able to retreat successfully across the Potomac with his army intact, and his adversary, George B. McClellan, chose not to follow in pursuit. Had he done so, most students of the battle believe that Lee's army would have been caught and crushed and perhaps the war ended right then and there. As it was, Lee and his men would live on to fight for nearly three more long and bitter years. As we have seen President Lincoln was an astute politician, perhaps the finest this nation has ever produced. He saw the Battle of Antietam not as a 'draw' but as a Union victory. And now he had the battlefield victory that Seward said he needed in order to free the slaves. Five days after Antietam, Lincoln refined his Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation and on September 22 he announced that it was designed to enter into effect on January 1, 1863. It soon became obvious that the Preliminary Proclamation contributed to a Republican party disaster at the polls in the fall elections of 1862. Democrats in the North were deeply disturbed by Lincoln's harsh war measures, especially his use of "unwarranted" martial law and military arrests and trials. However, black emancipation meant much more to them as an issue; it was simply too much for them to absorb and thus they campaigned tirelessly against the president and his party. They employed "Negro-phobia" without limit and frightened war-weary northerners with the notion that their region of the country would become saturated with black refugees once the war was over. As a consequence of this racially inflamed campaigning, the North's five most populous states--all of which had voted for Lincoln in 1860--now returned Democratic majorities to Capitol Hill. Although the Republican party retained control of Congress, the future looked bad for the upcoming presidential election in 1864. Most Republicans, including the president himself, acknowledged That the Proclamation was a significant factor in the massive Republican defeats. But Lincoln told a delegation from his home state Of Kentucky that he would rather die than retract a single word in his Proclamation. Mr. Lincoln had greatly pleased his principal black ally. In a speech, Frederick Douglass said: "From a genuine abolition view, Mr. Lincoln seemed tardy, cold, dull, and indifferent, but measuring him by the sentiment of his country--a sentiment he was bound as a statesman to consult--he was swift, zealous, radical, and determined." Now the two men were as one and would proceed to fight the war together to its brutal and bitter end. On New Year's Day, 1863, the president officially signed the final Emancipation Proclamation in the White House. He informed everyone in attendance that he was completely confident in what he was doing. "If my name ever goes into history," he said, "let it be for this act." Clearly, Frederick Douglass had won his private "war" (which he had been waging from the beginning) against Lincoln's vacillations and trepidations and now he would employ all the resources at his command to help the president win the war against the south. The CivilWar can be divided into distinct halves. The first half, from April 12, 1861, until December 31, 1862, was the "reunification of the Union"; from January 1, 1863, through April 9, 1865, was the "crusade against slavery." Frederick Douglass. more so than any other American white or black, made the second half happen and it was during that period that the war was finally won. Douglass now set about traveling the country raising units of black soldiers to be trained to fight in the Union Amy. Sumner and other abolitionists had joined in urging Lincoln to see the military reasons (to overcome the staggering Union manpower losses) and the morale reasons (to permit blacks to fight for their own freedom) for using black troops. Douglass helped to raise the 54th Massachusetts Regiment, the first black Union unit. Two of his sons served in the regiment, which was commanded by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the son of a wealthy and politically well-connected abolitionist from Boston. The 54th Massachusetts distinguished itself in the Battle of Fort Wagner on July 18, 1863, which saw the deaths of half the regiment including its courageous young commander. The movie Glory does an excellent job in memorializing this event in the year, on May 1, 1863, the Confederate Congress declared that black men bearing Union arms and wearing Union uniforms, if captured, would be subject to the law of the state where they were caught and treated as insurrectionary slaves and would be punished by death. The same punishment would also apply to white officers of black units since they would be found guilty for inciting "insurrectionary rebellion." Frederick Douglass was loud in his denunciation of this latest expression on of slaveholding barbarism and President Lincoln wanted to counter the Confederate move because he knew how difficult it would be for Douglass to recruit more black soldiers if it appeared that they would not be protected by the Union government. So, on July 30, 1863, Lincoln signed an order requiring that "for every soldier of the United States killed in violation of the law of war, a rebel soldier shall be executed." #9 The year 1863 represented a turing point in the war on all fronts. The twin Union victories at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and Vicksburg, Mississippi were devastating losses from which southern forces never Fully recovered. The following year on March 12, 1864, saw the ascendancy of General Ulysses S. Grant to the position of commander in chief of the Union Army in the field. Grant was no military romantic-to him war was hell. Grant's rise to leadership meant that whatever remained of chivalry would soon be replaced by a policy of "victory by any means necessary." Grant inaugurated a war of attrition. He frequently said, "Our side has more bodies than their side has bullets; my arithmetic says we will." With this type of mentality, the list of casualties continued to grow at even higher rates. Most northerners were losing their morale and their will to win at any Cost. "Was it worth it?" many asked. Some responded, "No, not at all." As a consequence, a northern "Peace Party" was formed to challenge Lincoln in the 1864 presidential election. The Peace Party's leader and presidential candidate was Lincoln's disgruntled former field commander, General McClellan. The president, always a moody man, was easily prone to slip into deep depression and paralytic melancholy. He considered it a very good possibility that he would lose his bid for re-election. If so, what then would happen to his one single personal and professional triumph, the Emancipation Proclamation? Would his successor remove it? Would the war terminate with the Union permanently torn asunder? These grave matters prolonged the president's agony and despair. Fortunately for Lincoln, Grant was a "fighting" general. Military pomp and pageantry was wasteful to him, war was an ugly business that had to be done quickly and completely, leaving the enemy no opportunity to recover. In May, 1864, Grant began his assault upon Richmond with the Battle of the Virginia Wilderness and the Battle of Cold Harbor fought in early June. By mid-June he was attacking the formidably fortified city of Petersburg, Virginia, the "shield" of the Confederate capitol. Lee was a brilliant defensive commander, but he was desperate. He knew Grant would not retreat but would continue, regardless of his manpower losses, to press on and on until final victory was secured. Lee communicated his concerns to President Davis, Attempting to prepare his commander in chief for the inevitable. During the Spring of 1865, no major battles were fought. The whole South was reeling from military defeats, desertion, disease, and the impending since of doom. The hundreds of thousands of homeless and dispossessed choked the roadways trying to find food, safety, and shelter amidst the scorched ruins of their own communities. Militarily, the Union's final focus was on the capture of Richmond; politically, the Lincoln administration was beginning to develop policies for dealing the ravaged and defeated South during the post-war period of Union military occupation and political and social reconstruction. Grant's siege upon Petersburg, lasting for nearly a year, came to an end on April 2 when the South's last citadel finally fell. The following day, Richmond capitulated. Partly as a testament to Frederick Douglass's influence with the Lincoln administration (and because of their own stalwart sacrifices and service) black soldiers secured from their white officers the special privilege of being the first Union troops to enter the captured Confederate capital. The specific unit that led the entrance was the Fifth Massachusetts Calvary commanded by Colonel Charles Francis Adams, who was a boyhood friend of Robert Gould Shaw and a member of the famous Adams family that had produced two presidents of the United States. In all, nearly 200,000 blacks served in the Union Army and approximately 40,000 were killed in battle. In only two years of fighting, twenty-eight black warriors won the nation's most covered military tribute, the Congressional Medal of Honor, and many other black soldiers were awarded other combat decorations. On April 9, 1865, certainly the most significant moment in all of American history, General Lee surrendered his troops to General Grant. Fortunately for the country, Lee and Grant-who had great respect for each other-were officers and gentlemen of the highest order. They intuitively knew that at Appomattox Courthouse they were truly functioning as the nation in small and thus they hoped that their fellow countrymen would follow their examples. The war of five Aprils had come to a costly end. Approximately 700,000 Americans had died in only four years. The North celebrated in wild jubilation while the South wept and reflected upon the the finality of its failure to become an independent nation. On April 14, while attending a performance of Our American Cousin at Washington's Ford's Theatre, the president was shot by an accomplished Shakespearean actor named John Wilkes Booth, who saw in the role of Cassius from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Hours before he murdered the president, he said to his fellow conspirators the famous line enunciated by Cassius after Caesar is slain: #10 How many ages hence Shall this our lofty scene be acted over, In states unborn and accents yet unknown. In his perverted line of logic, Booth saw himself as a loyal southern patriot who had saved the nation from a tyrant. How could the man be a tyrant who ended his second Inaugural Address (delivered only a few weeks before his assassination) with the soothing words, "Let three be malice none, charity for all"? Frederick Douglass would live for thirty years beyond Lincoln's Death. During that time he held several important positions in the federal government and in his retirement he was frequently invited to speak on his special relationship with Lincoln and his role in leading the Union to victory. Douglass took pride in saying that although he argued with and occasionally attacked the president, he never once considered abandoning him or his social agenda, even when Mr. Lincoln would articulate the idea, odious to most blacks, of returning them to Africa, feeling that their removal was the only real solution to resolving racial animosity. Of corse Douglass would have none of this. He reminded Lincoln in stern language that this was "our country too. We've worked it, we love it, and we fought and died in the tens of thousands to save it." On April 14, 1876, the eleventh anniversary of the president's Assassination, a stature of Abraham Lincoln was unveiled in Lincoln Park in the nation's capital. The memorial's founder was Charlotte Scott, a former slave from Virginia who had donated five dollars from her first earnings as a free citizen to erect a monument to The Great Emancipator. The fitting featured speaker at the ceremony, who lived only a few blocks from the Lincoln Park, was Frederick Douglass. In attendance were president Grant, members of both houses of Congress, Supreme Court justices, and representatives from the diplomatic corps. As usual Douglass gave a stirring speech, recounting his association with the former president. It was a magnificent and masterly tribute. Later that evening, he mentioned to his daughter, Rosetta, that that day was the most important in his life. To be chosen to unveil the statue honoring the man who brought freedom to black people and victory to the Union was an honor Douglass felt he would never equal. Frederick Douglass died in 1895 at the age of seventy-eight. The following year the U. S. Supreme Court, in its Plessy v. Ferguson ruling, upheld the "Jim Crow," separate but equal laws that had become commonplace throughout the de-militarized, post-reconstruction South. Had Douglass lived another year he would have been deeply pained by the decision but proud of Justice John Harlan's eloquent dissent: There is no caste here. Our Constitution is colorblind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens... the law regards man as man. and takes no account of his surroundings or his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved. This controversial ruling would not be reversed until 1954, the centennial year of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, when the Court deeded in Brown v. the Board of Education, Topeka, Kansas, that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. The Brown decision sired the "second" civil war, better known as the Civil Rights Movement, which would complete the task that the first Civil War had begun. The Frederick Douglass of the second civil war was Martin Luther King, a man of vision and valor, who often likened himself to his heroic forerunner. The golden moment of the Civil Rights Movement came when King gave his celebrated "I Have A Dream" speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, marking the hundredth anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Thus, the work of Frederick Douglass had begun a century before was slowly coming to fruition. END

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