Week 14 – 4/17 Emancipations

16 thoughts on “Week 14 – 4/17 Emancipations

  1. Daniel April 16, 2013 at 2:55 pm Reply

    One thing I found interesting in the Davis reading was that supporters of abolition did not necessarily support black equality – according to Davis, President Lincoln’s free hometown of Springfield, “a proposal to deny free blacks the vote won by a margin of 2500 to 20!” (Davis 312). Also of note was the difference in abolition between the U.S. and South and Central America. Immediate emancipation was unique to the United States, and took place in what I understand was a much more racially divided society than in Latin America. After the American civil war deeply rooted racial divisions were retained if not strengthened. In contrast, though whites attempted to maintain superiority in Latin America and for some time retained political control, the large free populations of blacks and mulattoes created more integrated societies in which equality and abolition seemed more natural (though perhaps not inevitable and still forced, just to a lesser extent). Emancipation was gradual, as slavery was generally abolished when slave populations were proportionately small. In America, with much stronger racial divisions, abolition seemed to come unnaturally and at a much higher cost.

    • taymn April 17, 2013 at 3:29 am Reply

      I thought that Davis did a good job of portraying the “cost” that Lincoln’s methods for emancipation had on his presidency. I appreciated how shows us Lincoln’s several attempts at gradual emancipation, starting with Delaware, “…to start the consecutive fall of slavery in the other border states” (Davis 310). When that attempt failed, he tried another, and then another until he was led to draft his “Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation” (314).

    • Christine Shaw April 17, 2013 at 11:53 am Reply

      While slavery was sometimes abolished earlier in countries with fewer slaves or a smaller proportion of slaves, as Daniel mentioned, after emancipation the freed slaves in these regions might have ended up being more oppressed than those in other areas. For example, Helg mentions that in Buenos Aires the smaller population of people of African descent made it easier for the government to repress them (254).

  2. ewm1 April 16, 2013 at 6:29 pm Reply

    In this week’s readings, Davis lays out just how valuable slaves, as a whole, were in America; the four million slaves in all slave-holding states were worth “an estimated $3.5 billion in 1860 dollars,” which comes to “$68.4 billion in 2003 dollars” (Davis 298). This cost was greater than the total value of all the farms in the South. Although Abraham Lincoln supported gradual emancipation, one of the methods the Union had of winning the Civil war was destroying the Confederacy’s economy by emancipating these millions of slaves. Any slave that made it across Union lines was freed and held from the South as seized property. However, the economic drop that occurred after freeing the slaves and taking back the south was “reversed and followed by rapid economic growth as white farmers began growing more cotton,” (Davis 328) as the South escaped the economic stagnation abolitionists had long argued it had been suffering from as a result of it’s use of slave labor.

    • Daniel April 16, 2013 at 11:39 pm Reply

      I also thought it was interesting how Davis shows immediate emancipation, as opposed to gradual emancipation, as having ultimately come about through strategic considerations rather than moral ones.

  3. Caroline April 16, 2013 at 8:00 pm Reply

    In many of the countries talked about in this week’s readings, although each country abolished slavery in a different way, what happened after emancipation was very similar. In most cases, whites generally believed that slavery should be abolished, but had no plan to integrate slaves in to society after they were freed. Davis talks about a senator from Illinois, Lyman Trumbull, who actively worked to free slaves, but also stated “’our people want nothing to do with the negro,’” (312). Because there was no effort to help slaves after they gained their freedom, many became incredibly poor. In the United States and Latin America alike, this strengthened views that blacks were inferior to whites. Helig talks about how Latin Americans claimed to be less segregated than the United States because they had “’equality based on merits,” (260). However, “its function was to place the blame for blacks’ continuing lower social position entirely on themselves,” (260). I thought it was interesting that although the process of emancipation was different in the United States and Latin America, the results were the same.

    • taymn April 17, 2013 at 3:20 am Reply

      Racism and prejudice probably survived for so long because it had been in place for even longer and that was how people were raised. It is puzzling though how, if people (like the abolitionists that were prejudice as well) were able to overcome this way of thinking to free the slaves, how come they were not able to be more accepting of them afterward.

    • Gahbrielle Armrdi April 17, 2013 at 11:10 am Reply

      I agree. Immediately after the emancipation Davis mentions the south setting “Black codes” in place in order to keep “slavelike controls and supervision” over newly freed slaves(Davis 303). Although slaves were free by law, this did not mean that they would be accepted graciously into society. Liberty did not equate to societal inclusion.

    • Eric April 17, 2013 at 12:41 pm Reply

      It is surprising how little planning went in to what to do with the slaves once they were free. Most ideas, like shipping them back to Africa or recolonizing them somewhere outside the United States, got shot down as being too expensive. I imagine many people hoped they would just keep on farming after they gained their freedom, only this time around they would be paid.

  4. Gahbrielle Armrdi April 16, 2013 at 11:31 pm Reply

    Aline Helig sheds a light on the underlying caste system that encompasses every aspect of South American slavery. I found the distinct appearance and leadership or social mobility had strong correlations. There was this idea of blood purity that could hinder the position of an “Afro-descended” leader. Successful leaders of African descent mentions such as Juan Jose Nieto and Vincente Ramon had light complexions. In southern and Caribbean America the trend seems to follow the idea that those of Afro decent with physical characteristics closer to that of European origin such as lighter skin or loose hair texture were more likely to be accepted socially. Helig mentions that “in Cuba, the barrier separating black and mulattoes from whites was based on “visible” African phenotypes (skin color, hair structure, and or facial features). I also found it interesting that “No Afro Cuban served in the upper level of administration and the government publicly offended the few Afro-Cuban congressman by not inviting their dark-skinned wives to the presidential receptions.”

    • Caroline April 17, 2013 at 11:23 am Reply

      I thought it was interesting that in Latin America, some mixed race men did gain political power, while the United States went by the one drop rule, and people with even one African ancestor were excluded from leadership.

  5. taymn April 17, 2013 at 12:49 am Reply

    What interested me the most was that although our readings focused on emancipation, they both touched on the issue of the freed slaves’ social standings in their communities. Davis says that even Lincoln,”…confessed that he did not know how slavery could be abolished, given the almost universal white prejudice-including his own-against making black freedpeople, ‘politically and socially, our equals’”, (Davis 306). His statement proves that not every racist person is evil, they have just been exposed to their beliefs for such a long period of time that it is difficult to change. The beginning of the Helg reading mentions the Haitian Revolution and how slaves in Saint-Domingue, “…won two major victories…” from their revolution (Helg 246). Not only did they obtain their freedom, all free men also received equality. Yet, this case was an exception. In other areas, just like in America, freedom did not come with equality. The idea that the Civil War was necessary also interested me. Davis mentions that, “…it is difficult to imagine any other historical scenario that would have led to full and universal emancipation in the nineteenth or even early twentieth century” (Davis 299). It is unfortunate that violence was necessary to end “inhumane bondage”, but it is also honorable that the freed blacks did not retaliate after emancipation (299).

    • Christine Shaw April 17, 2013 at 11:22 am Reply

      Another interesting aspect of the social status of freedmen in Latin American countries that Helg mentions is how little the political and social institutions changed after abolition. In some cases, the government granted land to European immigrants instead of the freed slaves who had fought for independence because they wanted to “reinforce the white minority” (Helg 252).

    • Gahbrielle Armrdi April 17, 2013 at 11:33 am Reply

      I agree that the emancipation did not have much of an impact on the social structure. Davis also mentions that Lincolnes agent in Delaware ” was surprised to find, over and over again that even Unionists ‘who look upon slavery as a curse’ were so deeply dyed by racial hatred that ‘we also look upon freedom possesed by a negro, except in a very few cases, as a greater curse.'(Davis, 310). I feel as though slavery may have leagally ended, but racial hatred heightened. Instead of being physically chained as slaves, freed blacks were still bound by racism.

  6. Christine Shaw April 17, 2013 at 1:23 am Reply

    While the continued widespread racial divisions after the Civil War was expected given how ingrained racism was in America at the time, I thought the debate over the importance of slavery in the War that Davis mentions was interesting. Given that the War resulted in the first civil rights legislation and is often viewed as the “necessary” event for “universal slave emancipation” to occur, it seems like the significance of slavery as a cause and as a post-war issue would have been indisputable (Davis 299). Even though disagreement over emancipation had played a major role in the division of America, the emancipation was marginalized and “deprived… of any substantial meaning,” perhaps because dealing with the issue would have delayed the reconciliation of the North and South that most Americans wanted (305).

    • Caroline April 17, 2013 at 11:28 am Reply

      I also thought it was interesting how people saw the civil war as a “direct work of God,” (302) to teach people to be more humble and less economically motivated. Like Christine said, emancipation was not mentioned as a significant outcome of the war.

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