akashiver: (Default)
[personal profile] akashiver
An interesting Civil War article: How Slavery Really Ended in America.

Butler was no abolitionist, but the three slaves presented a problem. True, the laws of the United States were clear: all fugitives must be returned to their masters. The founding fathers enshrined this in the Constitution; Congress reinforced it in 1850 with the Fugitive Slave Act; and it was still the law of the land — including, as far as the federal government was concerned, within the so-called Confederate states. The war had done nothing to change it....

Yet to Fort Monroe’s new commander, the fugitives who turned up at his own front gate seemed like a novel case. The enemy had been deploying them to construct a battery aimed directly at his fort — and no doubt would put them straight back to work if recaptured, with time off only for a sound beating. They had just offered him some highly useful military intelligence. And Virginia, as of 12 or so hours ago, was officially in rebellion against the federal government, having just ratified the secession ordinance passed a month before. Butler had not invited the fugitives in or engineered their escape, but here they were, literally at his doorstep: a conundrum with political and military implications, at the very least. He could not have known — not yet — that his response that day might change the course of the national drama that was then just beginning. Yet it was not the first time, nor would it be the last, that an unanticipated bureaucratic dilemma would force the hand of history.

Date: 2011-04-03 12:59 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] d-c-m.livejournal.com
Wow. Thanks for sharing. I've only glanced through it, but it s remarkable reading.

Date: 2011-04-04 04:06 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] petrovnik.livejournal.com
I actually had my students read an article on the cultural history of the contraband policy/concept by Kate Masur that worked pretty well. Interesting stuff, largely based around the Butler story.


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