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The so-called "Twenty Negro Law," enacted by the Confederate Congress in 1862, allowed an exemption from military service for slaveholders who owned twenty or more slaves. In effect, this allowed large plantation owners and overseers to avoid [...]
Despite his personal opposition to slavery, when President Abraham Lincoln took office in 1861 he insisted that his constitutional duty was to keep the nation together, not to abolish slavery. He conducted the first year of the war with the goal of [...]
In this essay excerpt, British political philosopher and member of Parliament Edmund Burke explains that the existence of slavery in the southern colonies helps to intensify the "fierce spirit of liberty" among white residents who recognize [...]
Historian Eric Foner explains why the Fugitive Slave Act was such a divisive political act and a turning point in the sectional conflicts that had plagued American society during the antebellum era. Foner also describes the role of former slaves in [...]
This essay introduces you to the main forces behind the abolition of slavery in the United States, as well as the debate among historians as to who played the key role.
This short essay explains how historians came to focus not just on what slavery did to enslaved people, but what enslaved people did for themselves within the limits set by this brutal institution.