Last Updated 02 Aug 2020

African Americans in Civil War

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When the Civil War began in 1861 it began for many political reasons all of the reasons were affected by slavery, but the war was not entirely about slavery. It is a belief that President Lincoln and the north started the war because they were fighting for slavery, but this common belief in not completely true. They fought to protect the Union. Because of the willingness of the African Americans to fight in the war they changed the idea of slavery and new reasons for the fighting of one of the bloodiest wars in the history of the world.

African Americans changed the Civil War, consequently changing the world as we know it. At the beginning of the war the question was asked “…what shall be done with them [slaves]? ” (Document A). Because the North/Union had only heard of blacks and slaves, they did not know what they should do with them in the war. This also shows that runway slaves were fleeing to the Union, but the Union did not have a policy for them. Because of the lack of a policy the U. S. Congress passed the Confiscation Act of 1861.

The Act stripped the slaves owners of any claim to the slaves, but it did not explain whether the slaves were free or not. As a result, these slaves became property of the U. S. government. In a domino affect of the Confiscation Act, General David Hunter, of the Union Army, freed all slaves within his command, which consisted of Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida. Only about a week later did Lincoln rebuttal the order and slaves became property of the government again.

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During this same time there was a mass meeting of African Americans to discuss President Lincoln’s call for colonization of Blacks in Central America. (Document B). Also mentioned in this article is that there are millions of freed blacks, but most of them have moved to the Union side, which brings about the question “…what shall be done with them? ” Although the war did not start as a war about slavery rather than to keep the Union, but that changed due to the Emancipation Proclamation which was passed by President Abraham Lincoln.

This only freed slaves where the rebellion had already begun, but it also showed the moral side of the war. The blacks that were already freed were willing to fight in the war, and risk their lives for the Union. This dedication to the Union is shown in the picture of Lady Liberty and a wounded black solider (Document G). The freed slaves fought in the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment for the Union, which was an infantry group that was for all black men. They fought hard which caused Abraham Lincoln to continue with his plans to free all slaves. (Document C).

At the beginning of the war the slavery was an issue, but it wasn’t the reason the men were fighting for. However, due to the courage of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment and other brave soldiers it became a moral war rather than political. African Americans involvement in the Civil War helped shift it to a war for freedom of millions of slaves. Without the brave acts of many men and war hero’s this may not have been a strongly pushed issue by the leaders. The war went through an evolution due to the freed blacks. The country was changed forever because of the strong beliefs of many people in that era.

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