Although the attitudes of many white Union soldiers toward slavery and emancipation ranged from indifference to outright racial hostility, others viewed the issue as central to their participation in the war. The following quotations, taken from [...]
Many Americans, including those in the North, were not opposed to slavery and saw no reason for the federal government to interfere with the expansion of slavery into western territories. After John Brown's attack on Harpers Ferry, people expressed [...]
Depending on where they stood on the slavery question, Americans viewed John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry as either a brilliant, if aborted, act of martyrdom for a noble cause, or a horrifying reminder of the potential for a slave uprising and an [...]
In 1862, American painter Eastman Johnson (1824-1906) made trips to Union encampments to witness and sketch the war's events. Throughout the war, African-American men, women, and children escaped slavery by fleeing to Union encampments. Union [...]
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 [...]
This scene of white patrollers examining “Negro passes” in Mississippi illustrates the constraints placed on all African Americans in the slave South. This news illustration captured a scene during the Civil War, when slave owners 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.