soldier with rifle american civil war THE



The sunken fact that explains the cause of the American Civil War is not the institution of slavery, as the popular historians preach to students, but the presence of Africans in the antebellum Union: the whole white people of the Union were infected with the human disease of racism—a racism reflected by the Federal Government's National policy of racism that existed from 1789 to 1966. The conclusive proof of this is found in the fact that the Republican President-Elect, Abraham Lincoln, in February 1861, sanctioned the language of the original Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution which the Republican-controlled 36th Congress—at his behest—proposed to the States for ratification.

13 amendment

To understand how it is that the objective cause of the war was the presence, per se, of the Africans in the antebellum Union, the student needs to think through the political, social and economic circumstances the whole white people of the Union were entangled in, in 1861, which induced, first, the white people of South Carolina, and then the white people of the Gulf States, to exercise the sovereign political right they inherited from their fathers and declare their States independent from the Union.


The Africans Are Here

face of WashingtonIn 1776, when the citizens of Great Britain residing in the British King's American colonies, declared the political bonds dissolved between themselves and the British Government, there were eight hundred thousand Africans living as slaves among them. The Africans were here, because the British monarchs—beginning with Queen Elizabeth and ending with King George III—had used their royal prerogatives to forcibly import Africans to multiply the laboring population for profit.

The classic example of the white people's exploitation of the Africans in Colonial America, is reflected in the nature of the property the Union's first president, George Washington, accumulated in his life time. Beginning in 1750, at the age of nineteen, with ten acres of land an uncle had given him, when Washington died in 1799, at the age of sixty-seven, he held sixty-six thousand acres of land and over three hundred Africans in his hands. Washington's attitude toward the Africans he held as slaves was both brutal and paternal the expression of which turned on circumstance. With the restless young men, for example—those that challenged his authority as master—he wrote a ship captain in 1766:

"Sir: With this letter comes a Negro (Tom) which I beg the favor of you to sell, in any of the Islands you may go to, for whatever he will fetch, and bring me in return for him: one hogshead of best molasses, one of best Rum, one barrel of Lymes if good and cheap, … and the residue, much or little in good ole spirits…That this Fellow is both a rogue and a runaway…I shall not pretend to deny. But . . . he is exceedingly healthy, strong and good at the Hoe… which gives me reason to hope he may, with your good management sell well (if kept clean and trim'd up a little when offered for sale… [I] must beg the favor of you (lest he should attempt his escape) to keep him hand-cuffed till you get to Sea."

Washington, too, ordered Africans, female Africans included, to be whipped. In his words, "if the Negroes will not do their duty by fair means, they must be compelled to do it." When confronted by a slave who refused to work, Washington is on record as directing his overseer to give the slave "a good whippin." To an overseer, Washington wrote: "Your treatment of Charlotte was very proper, and if she, or any other of the servants will not do their duty by fair means, or are mpertinent, correction (as the only alternative) must be administered."

Notwithstanding the objective brutality of his sway over his African slaves in the maturity of his lifetime, when he came to die he gave freedom to all of them he could; taking special care to provide security to those too young or too old, or too infirm to take care of themselves. In his last Will & Testament, Washington wrote:

"IN THE NAME OF GOD AMEN! I, George Washington of Mount Vernon, a citizen of the United States, and lately President of same, do make, ordain, and declare this instrument to be my last Will & Testament, revoking all others.

 Upon the decease of my wife, it is my Will and desire that all the Slaves which I hold in my own right, shall receive their freedom─and whereas among those who will receive freedom according to this devise, there may be some, who from old age or bodily infirmities, and others who on account of their infancy, that will be unable to support themselves¸ it is my will that all who come under the first and second description shall be comfortably clothed and fed by my heirs while they live; and that such of the latter description as have no parents living, or if living are unable or unwilling to provide for them, shall be bound by the Court until they shall arrive at the age of twenty-five years; and in cases where no record can be produced, whereby their ages can be ascertained, the judgment of the Court, upon its own view of the subject shall be final. The Negroes thus bound are (by their masters and mistresses) to be taught to read and write, and to be brought up to some useful occupation; and I hereby do expressly forbid the sale, or transportation out of Virginia of any slave I may die possessed of, under any pretense whatsoever, and I do solemnly enjoin it upon my Executors to see that this clause respecting Slaves, and every part hereof be religiously fulfilled at the Epoch at which it is directed to take place, after the crops which may be then on the ground are harvested.

In this regard, I enjoin the Executors to see that a regular and permanent fund be established for their support so long as there are subjects requiring it; not trusting to the uncertain provision to be made by individuals.

The black politicians may easily say that there is nothing noble in the man, "that he freed his slaves only when he could no longer use them for his benefit, when they could no longer serve his purpose of gain, when he was dead and gone." His apologists might counter with the claim that all his life the slaves were a burden and a care, a charge upon his efforts and his estate, exceeding their value as servants.

The objective truth of history, though, lies in the plain facts of the matter. When George Washington was born King George II was monarch of England and through his ministers controlled the political and economic policies of his colonies. Through the royal acts of his predecessors, Africans had been introduced into them by the thousands. By 1759, when Washington left his wide ranging surveying and the Indian wars behind him, married Martha Custis and began building his empire through the labor of slaves, there was no other labor force available to him, to use in the endeavor. There were thousands of acres of land to cultivate and the Africans were there and he used them.

As time passed, and he found himself drawn into a long and onerous struggle with the King over the right of the colonies to set their own domestic policies, be governed by their own legislatures independently of interference by the Crown, he aged into a maturity that brought home to his mind the reality looming ahead─though slavery might last forever in Africa from whence it sprung, it could not possibly last within the Union he, in large measure, is responsible for creating.

That this foresight was in everyone's mind, as Washington's generation was replaced with the next, is plain from the vast record of events that culminated in the Civil War. In the seventy years between 1789, when the Constitution became operative, and 1860, when the Republican Party took control of the Federal Government, the African population in the United States increased from 800,000 to over four million.

Population of the United States 1790

1790 census

Population of the United States 1860

graph 1860 population

The important statistics in these census calculations is the increase in total population of Africans in the United States, free and slave combined, and the region where they were concentrated between 1790 and 1860. The statistics show that, from the day the Constitution became operative to the day the war began between the white people of the Union, the black people were concentrated in the Southern states, and that their presence in the Western states and territories of the United States was practically zero.

During this time, the question of the status of the Africans in the country was confronted by the white politicians time and time again—in 1820 with Missouri's admission to the Union; in 1845 with the admission of Texas; in 1850 with the organization of the territories taken by war from Mexico; in 1854 with the organization of Nebraska Territory and the decision in In Re Dred Scott; in 1859 with John Brown's occupation of the Federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry; and in 1860 with Abraham Lincoln's election. Ostensibly the political conflicts marked by the progression of events were about keeping slavery out of the new states being admitted into the Union, when the objective reality was that the political conflicts were about keeping Africans as persons out of the new states. When the question at issue in these circumstances is viewed with cold reason, it is easy to see that whole white people of the antibellum Union were unable to accept the Africans into their communities (States) as citizens.

The objective record of American History makes this conclusion plain. Two examples suffice. First, is an essay published in 1796 by St. George Tucker, who immigrated to Virginia in 1771 and became a law professor at the College of William & Mary and, later, a justice of the Virginia Supreme Court.

tucker"While America hath been the vale of promise to Europeans, and their descendants, it hath been the vale of death to millions of the wretched sons of Africa. The genial light of liberty, which has shone on the former, has yielded no comfort to the latter, but to them has proved a pillar of darkness, while it has conducted the former to the most enviable state of human existence. While we were offering up vows at the shrine of liberty, we were imposing upon our fellow men, who differ from us in complexion, a slavery ten times more cruel than those oppressions of which we complain. Such are the inconsistencies of human nature, such that partial system of morality which confines rights and injuries, to particular complexions.

To restore the blessings of liberty to near a million of oppressed individuals, who have groaned under the yoke of bondage, and to their progeny, is an object which would be aided by the divine Author of our being, should we invoke his blessing upon our endeavor. Yet human prudence forbids that we should precipitately engage in a work of such hazard as a general and simultaneous emancipation. The mind of man must in some measure be formed for his future condition. The early impression of submission, which slaves have received among us, and the arrogance among the whites, contribute, equally, to unfit the former for freedom and the latter for equality.

To expel them all at once would be to commit them to a lingering death by famine, by disease, and other accumulated miseries. To retain them among us, would be nothing more than to throw so many of the human race upon the earth without the means of subsistence. Unfit for their new condition, and unwilling to return to the old, they would become the caterpillars of the earth, and the tigers of the human race. In Massachusetts the abolition of slavery was effected by a single stroke—a clause in their constitution—but the whites were as sixty-five to one, in proportion to the blacks. The whole number of free persons in the South are 1.2 million, and there are 648,439 slaves, being less than two to one. Deep-rooted prejudices entertained by the whites, ten thousand recollections by the blacks, of the injuries they have sustained, new provocations, the supposed distinctions which nature has made: these circumstances will divide us into parties and produce convulsions which will probably never end but in the exterminaton of one or the other race." (See, St. George Tucker, View of the Constitition of the United States With Selected Writings (Edited for brevity.),)

Forty years later, Kentucky Senator Henry Clay, speaking in the Senate in 1839 against a motion to receive and consider petitions for the abolution of slavery, echoed Tucker's words, making clear, if one reads the lines, that the "insurmountable obstacle" preventing the white people of the Union from accepting the Africans into their communities as free persons, was that freedom means social and political equality between the races.

Henry Clay". . . And now allow me, Sir, to glance at the insurmountable obstacles which lie in the way of the accomplishment of liberating three millions of slaves held in bondage in these States, and at some of the consequences which would ensue if it were possible to attain it.

 The first impediment is the utter and absolute want of all power on the part of the general government to effect the purpose. The Constitution never could have been formed upon the principle of investing the general government with authority to abolish the institution at its pleasure. It could never be continued a single day if the existence of such a power could be assumed or usurped.

 The next obstacle in the way of abolition arises out of the fact of the presence in the slave States of three millions of slaves. They are there, dispersed throughout the land, part and parcel of our population. They were brought into the country originally under the authority of the King of England whilst we were colonies, and their importation was continued in spite of all the remonstrances of our ancestors. The slaves are here, and here must remain in some condition.

 In the slave States the alternative is, that the white man must govern the black, or the black must govern the white. In some of these States the blacks outnumber the whites. An immediate abolition of slavery in them would be followed by a desperate struggle for immediate ascendency of the black race over the white, which would break out into a civil war that would end in the subjugation or extermination of one or the other. This is our true ground for the continued existence of slavery in the country. (In a measure, this is what happened in 1865-1870.)

 A third impediment to immediate abolition is to be found in the immense amount of capital which is invested in slave property. This property is diffused throughout all classes and conditions of society. It is the subject of mortgages, deeds of trust, and family settlements. It is the basis of debts contracted upon its faith and is the sole reliance, in many instances, of creditors within and without the slave States. And now it is proposed, by a single fiat of legislation, to annihilate this immense amount of property! To annihilate it without indemnity and without compensation to the owners! Does any considerate man believe it to be possible to effect such an object without convulsion, revolution, and bloodshed? (Had this happened by amendment, without war, the issue would have ultimately been decided by the Supreme Court.)

 I know there is a visionary dogma, which holds that African slaves cannot be the subject of property. I shall not dwell long on this speculative abstraction. That is property which the law declares to be property. Under all the forms of government which have existed upon this continent during that long space of time they have been deliberately and solemnly recognized as the legitimate subject of property.

 If it were possible to overcome these obstacles, in the dreadful struggle that would follow abolition, vast numbers of the black race would migrate into the free States; and what effect would such a migration have upon the laboring classes in those States? The blacks would enter into competition with the whites, diminishing the wages of their labor, and augmenting the hardships of their condition. (The Germans and the Irish, flooding the Northern states since the 1840s, were solidly against Africans entering their states.)

 This is not all. The abolitionists oppose any separation of the races. They would keep them forever pent up together in the same limits, perpetuating their animosities, and constantly endangering the peace of the community. They proclaim, indeed, that color is nothing; that the organic and characteristic differences between the two races ought to be entirely overlooked and disregarded. They would teach us to eradicate all the repugnancies of our nature, and to take to our bosoms and our board the black man as we do the white, on the same footing of equal social condition. This I say, that since God has made the races different, and has declared that by their physical structure and color they ought to be kept separate, they should not now be brought together by any process whatever of unnatural amalgamation. (Between the 1830s and 1860, there were race riots in every major Northern city where freed Africans began to congregate.)

 I am, Mr. President, no friend of slavery. Wherever it is safe and practicable, I desire all to enjoy liberty. But I prefer the liberty of my own race to that of any other race. The liberty of the descendants of Africa in the United States is incompatible with the safety and liberty of the European descendants. Their liberty, if it were possible, could only be established by violating the incontestable powers of the States, and subverting the Union. And beneath the ruins of the Union would be buried, sooner or later, the liberty of both races." Life and Speeches of Henry Clay, Vol II, Greeley & McElrath, Tribune Office 1843.)

From 1790, when Benjamin Franklin introduced in the House of Representatives a petititon for the abolition of slavery, to 1861, when similar petitions were introduced in the Senate, the Congress refused to consider them on the ground the Constitution gave it no power to emancipate the Africans held as slaves by the domestic laws of the States. In fact, the Constitution did not expressly give power to Congress to interfere with the internal laws of a State in the Union. But one wonders what the members of Congress, and their constituents back home, thought when the Northern politicians kept laying on the table petitions for abolition. Did any of the Southern members, at any time through the seventy years the Federal Government existed, stand up on the floor of their chambers and ask their friends across the aisle how was the Federal Government to help alleviate the disruptions to the societies of the States that abolition would cause? Would they vote, for example, that the Federal Government provide compensation to the owners of the slaves, for the ecomonic loss abolition entailed, as the British Government had done in 1833, when it abolished slavery in the King's Carribean colonies? Would they vote that the Federal Government provide the freed Africans with the opportunity to own land in the Territories and provide financial assistance to get to the land? Would the legislatures of the Northern members' States repeal their laws which blocked freed Africans from residing as citizens in their States? The senators and representatives from the "Free States" pushing of petitions for abolition again and again into the faces of the members of Congress representing "Slave States," without accepting equal responsibility for the existence of slavery in America, and without cooperating as legislators in incorporating the Africans as citizens into the communities of all of the States, each State sharing pro rata in the dispersal of the Africans throughout the Union, constitutes the essence of political hypocriscy—a political hypocriscy based squarely on the indisputable fact that most all white men living in the time were racists, Abraham Lincoln included. None of them wanted to live with the Africans as citizens in their communities.

The reality of this fact is in evidence everywhere in the thousands of pages of transcript recording the proceedings of Congress through these years. Here is the text of a letter Abraham Lincoln wrote to Illinois Republican Senator Lyman Trumbull on March 16, 1860, congradulating him on his verbal dueling with Illinois Democrat Senator Stephen Douglas, on the ocassion of New York Senator William Seward introducing the bill to make Kansas a State.

lincoln letter to Trumbull

In the Senate, February 28, 1860


Mr. Seward: Mr. President I ask leave to submit a memorial from the Legislature of the territory of Kansas praying for admission into the Union.

SewardIt will be an overflowing source of shame, if we─thirty millions─Europeans by extraction, Americans by birth, and Christians in faith cannot combine prudence with humanity, in our conduct concerning the one disturbing element of slavery, as not only to preserve our unequaled institutions of freedom, but also to enjoy their benefits with contentment and harmony.

It generally happens, though, that in considering the subject of slavery, society seems to overlook the natural right, or personal interest of the slave himself, and to act exclusively for the interest of the citizen. . . in 1844, a Democratic congress brought Texas into the Union as a slave state, stipulating that it be reorganized into for four states in the future. Mexico was incensed and war ensued. The Labor States asked that the Mexican law of liberty, which covered the territories brought in by the treaty of peace, might remain and be confirmed. The Democratic Party refused. The Missouri debate of 1820 recurred now and another compromise was made. California came in as a Labor state and we remanded New Mexico to remain a territory with the right to choose freedom or slavery when ripened into states. Then, in 1854, upon the organization of the Nebraska Territory, the Democratic congress revised the Compromise of 1850 by repealing the Missouri Compromise and providing instead that the people in the territory may decide for themselves whether it will emerge into a State with or without slavery as they may please.

The true state of the case ought not be a mystery to ourselves. Let parties or the Government choose as they may, the people of the United States do not prefer African slaves to white freemen in the national territories and the new states. The choice of the nation is now between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. The Republican Party has adopted one policy, the policy of saving the territories from being homes for slavery.

You accuse the Republican Party of secret designs; that we plan to introduce negro equality among you. We will show you, if you only give us heed, that what our system of labor works out, is the equality of white men. The laborer in the Free States, no matter how humble his origin, is a white man and he is politically the equal of his employer.

Let the European immigrant, who avoids the African as if his skin exhaled contagion, answer. You find him ever in the state that is free. Did Washington implore you to relinquish your system and accept the one we have adopted, propose to sink you down to the level of the African, or was it his desire to exalt all white men to a common political elevation?
But we do not seek to force, or even intrude, our system on you. We are excluded, wisely, from all political power and responsibility in your Slave States. It is well and wisely so arranged. You have your fifteen parts, we have our eighteen parts. Each must be maintained in order that the whole be preserved. But we must discuss them since we have to decide as a nation which of the two we ought to ingraft on the new and future states growing up in the public domain. (Given Seward's language, it is silly to call the "Union" of 1860 a consolidated nation.)

DouglasMr. Douglas: Mr. President, it has become fashionable now-a-days for each gentleman making a speech against the Democratic Party to refer to the Kansas-Nebraska Act as the cause of all the disturbances that have ensued. They talk about the repeal of a sacred compact. Why was the Missouri Compact repealed? Because the people of the Northern states refused to carry it out in good faith. I stood willing to carry the line to the west coast. It was the defeat of my bill to do this, in the House of Representatives, that opened the controversy of 1850.

We carried our compromises over the head of the New York Senator. We established a great policy rebuking his doctrine of intervention of Congress to prohibit slavery in the Territories. Both parties, in 1852, stood pledged to that compromise not to interfere with slavery in the Territories. In 1854 we only carried out the same principle that had been established in 1850. Whatever agitation exists now has been caused by the Senator from New York and his party.

But, Sir, the whole argument of that senator goes far beyond the question of slavery, even in the Territories. His entire argument rests upon the assumption that the black man and the white man are equal. That is the basis upon which his speech rests. He quotes the Declaration of Independence. I have a extract from a speech before me which he gave in Ohio, in 1848. Then, he said, "Slavery is the sin of not some of the States only, but of them all. We, in New York, are guilty of slavery still by withholding the right of suffrage from the race we have emancipated. You, in Ohio, are guilty in the same way by the black laws still more odious." There you find his doctrine clearly laid down. I have met in my own state this same doctrine that the Declaration of Independence recognized the black man and the white man as equal. The Senator from New York says that his State is yet a slave state: Why? Because the Constitution of New York does not allow the black man to vote on an equality with the white man; for that reason every other state that discriminates against the black man is a slave state, the Senator says.

Sir, I desire to see the gentleman carry out his principle to the logical conclusion. If he will persist in his declaration that the black man is equal to the white man, then let him carry it out in his legislation by conferring on the black men all the rights of citizenship the same as white men. For one, I never held to the Senator's doctrine. I hold that the Declaration of Independence was only referring to the white man─to the governing race of this country, who were in conflict with Great Britain, and had no reference to the African race at all, when it declared that all men were created equal. (Douglas is right: Jefferson used the term in the context of bringing the "King" to an equal political level with his "subjects.")

Sir, if the signers of the Declaration of Independence had understood the instrument then as the Senator from New York now construes it, were they not bound on that day, at that very hour, to emancipate all their slaves? If Mr. Jefferson meant this, was he not bound to free all his slaves the day he signed the Declaration? Yet no one did. No signer of the document freed a slave, no state of the United States freed a slave until long after the revolution was over, and then only those states in which no appreciable number of Africans resided.

Mr. President, I am free to say here─what I have said over and over again at home─that, in my opinion, the Federal Government was made by white men, on the white basis, for the benefit of  white men, and by none other whatsoever. (The Supreme Court, in In Re Dred Scott, so ruled, as did, earlier the Supreme Court of Pennyslvania.)

Mr. Doolittle: I will ask the honorable gentleman. Then why not give the Territories to white men?

Mr. Douglas: Mr. President, I am in favor of throwing the Territories open to all the white men and to all the Africans, too, that choose to go, and then allow the white men to institute the government and govern the Territory. I would not let one of the Africans, free or slave, either vote or hold political office. I am in favor of each State in this Union taking care of its own Africans, free or slave. If they want slavery, or don't want slavery, it is their business, not mine. (A confederated Union, or a consolidated Nation?)

What else did the Senator say in Ohio? He said that his party meant to limit slavery to its present bounds and that it must be abolished. (In other words, bottle the Africans up in the South and leave the South to deal with the consequences, alone.) I know he tells us all this is to be done according to the Constitution. Thus we see the difference between the parties. Ours stands on the Constitution as the framers wrote it, his substitutes their will for that of the constituted authorities.

Mr. Trumbull: I ask my collegue what he meant by saying that he had been battling for four years against African equality at home in the state of Illinois. I desire to know whether he claims this view of African equality is the view of the Republican party in Illinois. (Remember Lincoln's letter: freedom, Yes, political and social equality, No.)

Mr. Douglas: So far as I know the Republican Party do hold that the African and the white man, by the Declaration of Independence, were secured in perfect equality.

TrumbullMr. Trumbull: Sir, I am glad to have you face to face, to tell you the Republican Party in Illinois never declared such was its principle. I tell him now to his face and his teeth that his charge is untrue that the Republican Party advocates the equality of the black man with the white man.

We know that the very idea of government creates an inequality among men. To have government you must have rules and regulations; you must have those who command and those who obey; and of course, there is inequality. But, Sir, does that militate against the God-given right that all were created equal? Was there any human government from God? Take man as he came from his maker, and tell me, if you please, what superior authority one man has over another. (King or subject)

The object of inserting the words in the Declaration of Independence has been proclaimed a thousand times. It was this: our ancestors were a people fleeing from the tyranny of the old world; escaping from the countries where the idea was that one man had a Divine right to rule over another; and they meant, as the first thing they did, to write it down in that immortal declaration─the great natural right of men to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Now, keeping that in view, they said, go and frame your government. That you might infringe somewhat on the rights of another, but we repudiate for ourselves and our progeny the idea that one man is born with a right over another.

That is what the Declaration of Independence meant, and no such thing as that in organized society we must have perfect equality. But my colleague says that the clause in the Declaration meant the governing race that was contending against Great Britain and no one else. I suppose according to that theory the Germans are excluded, though their skin is white.

But it is repeated here a thousand times that the states should be left to deal with their own affairs. This is another windmill. The Republican Party has not disputed the right of a State to manage its own domestic affairs. So far from it. The Party has proclaimed in its platform that the rights of each state shall be maintained in the Union. The contest between parties is about the territorial government while the territory exists.

Mr. Douglas: My colleague was a Democrat a few years ago. He endorsed and approved the compromise measures of 1850. In 1856 he declared he could not vote for me, that he did not like the Buchannan platform and he went over to the Republicans. The Senator from New York says that it is slavery not to allow an African to vote. If you disenfranchise a man you make him a political slave. Deprive a white man of a voice in his government and you make him a slave. My colleague will not allow an African to vote. He lives too far south in Illinois for that, decidedly. He has to expound down in Egypt. They have other expositions up north. The creed is pretty black in the north end of the state; about the center it is a pretty good mulatto, and it is almost white when you get down to Egypt. (Laughter in the galleries.)

The Senator, my colleague, complains that I represent his party to be in favor of African equality. No such thing, says he; I tell my colleague to his teeth, he says. There is something very fearful in the manner he said it! Senators know he is a dangerous man who says things to a man's teeth, and I shall be very cautious how I reply. But he says that he does hold that by the law of God the African and the white man are created equal; that is, he says, in a state of nature. He thinks that clause in the Declaration of Independence includes the African as well as the white man. If the African and the white man are created equal, and that equality is an inalienable right, by what authority is my colleague going to deprive the African of an inalienable right he received directly from his maker? Oh, no, he tells me to my teeth, they are not in favor of that. They will not obey the laws of God. Their creed is to take away inalienable rights. That is why I complain of them, they are for taking away inalienable rights.

If they will cling to the doctrine that the Declaration of Independence conferred certain inalienable rights, among which is equality between the African and the white man, they are bound to make the human laws they establish conform to those God-given rights which are inalienable.

If they believe in the first proposition, as honest men, they are bound to carry the principle to its logical conclusion and give the African his equality and his voice in government, let him vote in elections, hold office, serve on juries, make him a judge, a Senator. No, they cannot make him a senator, because the Supreme Court has decided that he is not a citizen. The Dred Scott decision is in the way. Perhaps, that is the reason of the objection to the Dred Scott decision, that an African cannot be a senator.

I say that, if you hold that the Almighty created the African an equal with the white man, and that equality be an inalienable right, you are bound to confer the elective franchise and every other privilege of political equality on the African. The Senator of New York stands up to it like a man. His logic drove him there, and he had the honesty to avow the consequence of his own doctrine. That is, he did it before the Harper's Ferry raid. He did not say it quite so plainly today. I will do the senator from New York the justice to say, that in his speech today, I think he made the most successful effort, that I ever knew him to make in his life, to conceal what he meant.

He dealt in vague generalities. He dealt in disclaimers and general denials, and he covered it all up with a verbiage that would allow anyone to infer just what he pleased but not to commit the senator to anything; and to let the country know there was no danger from the success of the Republican party; that they did not mean any harm. That if men did go and commit invasions, and murders, and robberies, and treason, all they had to do was disavow the men who were stupid enough to believe them, and they are not responsible for the consequences of their own action!

Now, Mr. President, I wish my colleague to be as frank as the Senator from New York . That senator is in favor of the equality of the African with the white man, or else he would not say that the Almighty guaranteed to them an inalienable right of equality. My colleague is riding double on this question. I have no desire to conceal my opinions, and I repeat that I do not believe the African race is any part of the governing element in this country. This is a white man's government, made by white men for white men, to be administered by white men and nobody else; and I regret the day we ever allowed anybody else to have a hand in the administration.

Not that the African is not entitled to any privileges at all. On the contrary I hold that humanity requires us to allow the unfortunate African to enjoy all the rights and privileges that he may safely exercise consistent with the good of society. We may in safety give him some privileges in Illinois that would not be safe in Mississippi, because we have but few while that state has many. We will take care of our negroes if Mississippi takes care of hers. Each has a right to decide for itself what shall be the relation of the African to the white man in its own limits, and no other state has a right to interfere with its determination.

On that principle there is no "irrepressible conflict," there is no conflict at all. If we will just take care of our own negroes, and mind our own business, we shall get along very well. But our Republican friends over there, they keep interfering in other people's business. They keep holding up the negro for us to worship, and when they get the power, they will not give him the rights they claim for him, they will not give him his inalienable rights. The senator from New York represents a slave state, according to his own speech, because New York does not allow an African to vote on the equality with the white man. If the African has worth of $250 he can vote but not without. They suppose $250 is the difference between a rich negro and a poor white man. They allow the rich negro to vote but not the poor white one. And the senator thinks this is slavery. It may be, let New York decide that. It is her business. But do not come here and give offices to them. If you want them as magistrates, that's your business. But you must not send them here, because we do not allow anybody but citizens to hold seats on this floor, and Thank God, the Dred Scott case has decided that an African is not a citizen.

Mr. Trumbull: He says that the Territorial Legislature of Illinois adopted a slave code. That is true, and the State a slave code if you please. But the very first time the question came before the courts it was decided that the Ordinance of 1787 kept slavery out. (In his law career, Trumbull litigated the case on behalf of an African; later he became a justice of the Illinois Supreme Court, and then, in 1856, beating out Lincoln, Republican candidate for senator.)

[Douglas leaves the Chamber.]

I will tell you why I used the expression of saying the thing to his teeth. He is always gone. He hardly ever remains to hear, the example he gives tonight, leaving the floor as soon as he finished speaking. He has gone on today, asking why the Republican party, when they get power, will not give the African the equality they claim for him; thereby assuming that the Republicans claim equality for the African. We have done no such thing. He has asked here today whether we claim that Africans are created by the Almighty with the same natural rights as the white man. I answer him, that I do claim it. Well, then, he says, does not the Declaration of Independence declare that they are endowed with certain inalienable rights among which are life, liberty and happiness; and if you deny any of these rights, do you not violate the law of God?

Now, let me answer him. I will apply his own mode of reasoning to white men and see if his construction does not violate the laws of God equally with mine. He claims the Declaration applies only to white men. If it applies to white men then white men are endowed with certain inalienable rights. What right has he then to take the life of a white man? Is he opposed to the criminal law of Illinois that hold a horse thief is subject to hanging? Ah, Sir, he does it because the exigencies of society require it. We deny to the African political and civil rights because the exigencies of society require it. This shows the utter fallacy of his attempt to make Republicans the advocates of African equality, because they say all men are created equal, and endowed with certain inalienable rights.

Mr. Wigfall: To whom does the Declaration apply?

Mr. Trumbull: It applies to everybody, to Africans just as much as to white men.

Mr. Wigfall: And therefore you have no right to hang a man for murder?

Mr. Trumbull: Unquestionably liberty in a state of nature is an inalienable right, but society may deprive a man of a right which would be inalienable, considering man as an individual. (Huh?)

Mr. Wigfall: I do not think there are any inalienable rights. I think man was intended to live in society, and society has a right to regulate its own affairs in its own way, and hang those who commit crimes.

Mr. Trumbull: I think so too. That is a regulation of society. The fact that, under certain circumstances, we put a man to death, or deprive him of his liberty, whether white or black, shows that the exigencies of society may require this be done. (Italics added.)

On motion of Mr. Davis, the Senate adjourned. (Congressional Globe, First Sess. 36th Congress, March 9, 1860.)

LincolnFor you young Americans of African descent reading this, recognize the reality of American History: Lincoln, Seward, Trumbull—all of those politicians identifying themselves as Republicans in 1860 with few exceptions—were using words to mask the hard fact that they were speaking with forked tongues on the question of the Africans' posterity in America. The question in their minds was not whether the Africans should be "free," but rather whether they would live free with the white people as equal citizens in their communities. And all of these politicians, Lincoln certainly most of all, must have understood that the reason they were attracting the votes of white men in their communities was strictly because the white men did not want to live with Africans in their communities. Seward might talk of "irrepressible conflicts," about "higher law;" Lincoln might talk of "a house divided against itself cannot stand, it must become one thing or the other," but he meant it when he said that, "as God made us separate, we can leave one another alone. . . Judge Douglas regales us with the terrible enormities that take place by the mixture of races; Why Judge, if we do not let them get together in the Territories, they won't mix there." And again, he said, "I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. I am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position." (The Speeches of Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln Centenary Association, New York, 1908.)

StephensThis language is no different in meaning than the language Confederate Vice-President Alexander Stephens used in his so-called Cornerstone speech, in 1861; speaking about the Confederate Constitution, which mirrors the Union Constitution almost word for word, Stephens said: "The new Constitution has put to rest [the question] of the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. The prevailing idea of [the founders] was that the enslavement of the African race was in violation of the laws of nature. . . Our new government is founded on exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the African is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination is his natural and normal condition." (Cleveland, Alexander Stephens in public and private: with Letters and Speeches Before and After the War, Philadelphia 1886, pp. 717-729 [text edited for brevity].)

The Homestead Act of 1861 Passes Congress

homestead act

Cobb amends

yes ordered

President Buchannan vetoed the bill and the Congress failed to override. In May 1862, Lincoln signed the bill into law, with the word "citizen" substituted in place of "free white person." Either way, freed Africans, much less African slaves, were excluded as beneficiaries of the Act; the Act effectively reserving the Territories of the United States for the exclusive use and enjoyment of the whole white people of the Union.



GwinIn December 1861, when the second session of the 36th Congress commenced in the aftermath of Lincoln's election, the members of both chambers established select committees to consider the disturbed state of the country, with a view to crafting proposals to amend the Constitution in order to quiet the rising clamor in the South for secession. In the Senate, it appears that California Senator William Gwin, who was originally from Mississippi, seems to have suggested to New York Senator William Seward—in the context of both men being members of the Committe of Thirteen—language that might be sufficient to calm the fire brands in the South screaming for disunion. The language reads:

"No amendment shall be made to the Constitution which will authorize or give to Congress any power to abolish or interfere wihin any State, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said State."

On December 20, 1861, the day South Carolina seceded from the Union, Seward's close political confidant, Thurlow Weed, the editor of the Albany Evening Journal, appeared in Springfield, Illinois, and met with Lincoln. There exists in the Papers of William Seward a sheet of paper with text written in Lincoln's hand. Lincoln gave the paper to Weed who delivered it to Seward about December 24, 1861.


That the fugitive slave clause of the Constitution ought to be enforced by a law of Congress. . .

That all state laws, in conflict with such law of Congress, ought to be repealed. . .

That the Federal Union must be preserved."

According to Seward's most credible biographer, Frederic Bancroft, Seward met with his three Republican counterparts on the Committee of Thirteen about December 24, 1861 and "offered three propositions: First, that the Constitution should never be altered so as to authorize Congress to abolish or interfere with slavery in the States; second, that the Fugitive Slave Law should be amended so to grant a jury trial to the fugitive; and, third, that Congress should request the States to repeal personal liberty laws." (Bancroft, The Life of William Seward, Vol II, Harper & Brothers, 1899, at pp. 9-10.) The sequence of events tells us, then, that what probably happened, was that the original idea of adopting a proposed amendment to the Constitution, which made slavery perpetual in the Union, came from Seward through his interaction with Gwin and not from Lincoln. For, Seward offered Gwin's language, as a proposed constitutional amendment, to his fellow Republican committee members before he received Lincoln's paper from Weed. According to the Committee's journal, Seward's introduction of the proposed amendment was approved by its members 11 to 2; but notwithstanding this, the Committee eventually reported to the Senate as a whole that its members could not agree "upon any general plan of adjustment."

Francis AdamsDuring the same time, in the House, the members set up the Committee of Thirty-Three, with Ohio Congressman Thomas Corwin as chairman, to consider resolutions or constitutional amendments which might satisfy the Southern states. On December 28, Massachusetts Congressman Charles Francis Adams, grandson of John Adams, offered the committee, language for a proposed constitutional amendment which reads:

"No amendment to this constitution having for its object any interference within the States with the relation between their citizens and those described in section two of the first article of the Constitution as `all other persons,' shall originate with any State that does not recognize the relation within its own limits, or shall be valid without the assent of every one of the States composing the Union."

The full committee endorsed Adams' proposed amendment by a vote of 21 to 3. Eleven of the sixteen Republicans on the committee voted for it. On January 14, Chairman Corwin presented the committee reports to the House and they were laid upon the table and debate proceeded on them from day to day, until near the end of the session, on February 26, Corwin moved to substiute Seward's language for Adams' and the motion passed.

Though the popular historians are loath to inform students of the fact, the change in language was done on the order of Lincoln. Lincoln arrived at Washington on February 23 and met with Seward who informed him of the status of the several different tracks of motions on the matter of the Constitution's amendment, and Lincoln chose the language California Senator Gwin had given Seward in December. Lincoln then met with Corwin on February 24 and instructed him to move to amend the language of the proposed amendment. On February 26, after a parlimentary struggle, Corwin's motion to amend the commmittee's proposed resolution passed by the required majority vote and Corwin followed this with a motion to adopt the Committee's resolution as amended. This motion required a two-thirds vote and did not pass. The House then adjourned and the next day, February 27, a motion to reconsider was made and passed, and the main question was again voted on; this time it passed. What had happened?

At the same time the committees were reporting the results of their work to their respective chambers in December, Kentucky Senator John J. Crittenden had moved in the Senate for consideration of a laundry list of resolutions, chief among them being what is called the Crittenden proposition. The proposition was that the Senate resurrect the Missouri Compromise Line as the dividing line between that territory of the Union—including any new territory that might in time be acquired—reserved for slavery vs that territory reserved for white men only. Crittenden's proposition, to his chargrin, went nowhere as it's subject was in direct conflict with the primary political policy of the Republican party as set forth in its platform at the Chicago Convention that nominated Lincoln for President. As Lincoln put it, in a letter he wrote to Senator Trumbull on December 10, 1861, "[There] will be no compromise on the question of extending slavery. . . The dangerous ground—that into which some of our friends have a hankering to run—is Popular Sovereignty. Have none of it. Stand firm. The tug has to come and better now."

In February, at Virginia's behest, representatives of twenty-two States met in Washington at a "Peace Conference," agreed upon seven resolutions and submitted them to Congress for ratification. Of these Article 3 dealt with the question of the power of Congress to intefere with slavery: "Neither the Constitution or any amendment thereof," it read, shall be construed to give Congress power to regulate, abolish or control within any state or territory the relation touching persons bound to labor." As with Crittenden's proposals these, too, went nowhere. (See, L.E. Chittenden, A Report of the Debates and Proceedings in the Secret Sessions of the Conference Convention, D. Appelton & Co. 1864.)

LincolnThe essence of the political struggle that played out throughout the second session of the 36th Congress, between the representatives of the Southern and Northern states, was two-pronged: The Southern Democrats, with help from the northern wing of the party, were angling, through the Crittenden Proposition, to reinstate the Missouri Compromise Line with the twist that any territory acquired in the future below the line was to be open to the immigration of African slaves; the politicians arguing for the proposition in the context of New Mexico Territory, but with their eyes set on Mexico, Central America and Cuba. The Republican Party, with help from some Democrats, was using the proposed constitutional amendment to make the statement that the Southern states could hold Africans as slaves to the end of time, if that is what the white people wanted, but not one foot of the Union's territory, whether now owned or afterward acquired, will be open to the immigration of their African slaves. Thus, the constitutional amendment that Lincoln signed off on, in February 1861, was an objective political expression of the whole white people of the Union, of their racism, of their mutually shared feeling of white supermacy over the African race in America.

Why did Lincoln do it? Why did he take the chance, however slight in his mind the chance was, that the white people of the States would ratify the amendment? Why take the chance that untold generations of Africans yet unborn would be doomed to perpetual servitude to the white people of the Union? The plain answer must be that he loved the Union more than he loved freedom.


The answer probably lies in the objective fact that, in his mind, Lincoln did not believe the whole white people of the Northern states, standing alone, could conquer the whole white people of the Southern states by force of their arms. If all fifteen Slave States seceded from the Union the likelihood that the eighteen Free States adhering to it could crush the defenses of the Confederacy was practically zero, in his mind.

Among the Slave States Kentucky, in Lincoln's mind, was the most important to the Union. In 1860, the population of white people in Kentucky was 1.1 million; out of this population fifty-five infantry regiments were inducted into the Union Army as the war progressed, comprising 125,000 men. Given Kentucky's geographical location, standing as it does on the line of the Ohio River, with its left flank protected by the Mississippi River and its right flank protected by the Allegheny Mountains with Virginia on the other side, with it's rear supported by the one million white people of Tennessee and the people of Tennessee supported by the people of Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, the task of the Union forces in the West to break through the Ohio River Line would be a military pipe dream. Lincoln acknowledged the objective truth of this, when writing to a friend in September 1861 he said: "I think to lose Kentucky is to nearly lose the whole game. Kentucky gone, we cannot hold Missouri nor Maryland. These all against us, and the job on our hands is too great for us." (Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol IV at p. 531.)

Lincoln's Amendment Passes Congress

January 14, 1861, in the House of Representatives

Corwin lays on table

February 26, 1861

Corwin amendment

corwin again

In the House of Representatives, February 27, 1861

By majority of the House present, Corwin's motion to amendment

the Committee's resolution to amend the Constitution passed.

vote on amendment

nay vote

In the House of Representatives, February 28, 1861


Kilgore again

Mr. Hickman argues the House has no quorum.


speaker explains

After the House passes the motion to reconsider, it votes again on the main question.

second vote

nay vote

The first vote of the House on the motion to adopt the joint resolution as amended, was 123 to 71, a majority vote but not a two-thirds majority vote as required by the Constitution. The second vote was 133 to 65. What happened between the evening of February 27 and the morning of February 28? Ten votes were added to the Yea column. Six of the ten votes were Republican votes. Three of the six switched their vote from nay to yea.

Minnesota Republican Aldrich, Indiana Republican Kilgore, and New York Republican Butterfield switched their votes from nay to yea.

Maine Republican French, Ohio Republican Sherman, and New York Republican Palmer did not vote on the original motion.

Virginia Democrat, Clemens, New York Democrat Haskin, and Ohio Democrat Pendleton did not vote on the original motion.

Corwin imageOhio Congressman, Thomas Corwin, past governer and senator of Ohio, Secretary of the Treasury in the Filmore Administration, and with Salmond Chase, a founder of the Republican Party in Ohio, resigned his seat in the House, or simply left it, on March 1, 1861 and became the Lincoln Administration's Ambassador to Mexico where he remained throughout the Civil War. Corwin was one of twenty-two pallbearers at Lincoln's funeral.

The popular historians label the proposed constitutional amendment for perpetual slavery of the African race in America as the "Corwin" amendment, when the objective reality is that it was President-Elect Abraham Lincoln's call. Lincoln covered his call up, by saying in his Inaugural Address on March 4, 1861 this—"I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution—which amendment, however, I have not yet seen—has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service. . . , holding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable." (Basler, The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol. IV, at p. 270.)

Lincoln sitting

In the Senate, February 28, 1861

senate vote

Illinois Republican Senator, Lyman Trumbull Claims Senate has no quorum

Trumbull argues

Senate rule 44

Senate sustains chiar

joint resolution

On March 16, 1861, President Lincoln Submits the Amendment to the States

Lincoln sends resolution

On April 4, 1861, Kentucky Ratifies the Amendment

Kentucky ratifies

On May 19, 1861 Ohio Ratified the Amendment

The Journals of the Ohio Legislature of 1861 demonstrate the white people's hostility toward the African race generally.

Competition between Free Africans and white laborers

Negro labor in ohio

Hiding a Black Figure From View in the Legislature

Rejection of the African's Right to Vote

Africans in the State

Rhode Island ratified the amendment on May 31, 1861; Maryland on January 10, 1862, and "West Virginia" on February 4, 1862.

Ilinois Ratified Lincoln's Amendment on June 2, 1863

Illinois's history of oppression of the African race predates its admission as a State into the Union. Although the Northwest Ordinace of 1787 expressly prohibited slavery in the territory of Illinois, there were at that time about 300 Africans held as slaves by French persons. In 1812, the territorial legislature passed an act allowing for slavery under the guise of indentured servitude and this system continued after the the territory became a state, in 1818. In 1847, a constitutional convention was held in which the delegates included a provision that banned the immigration of free Africans into the state and prohibited masters from bringing their slaves into the state for purposes of manumission. This provision was presented to the citizens of the state and was adopted by a vote of almost three-fourths of the total vote cast. At that time the white population of the state was a half million and the African population, four thousand.

This attitude continued into 1862, when the members of the Legislature in attendance at a constitutional convention they had convened, purported to adopt Lincoln's amendment for inclusion in a new state constitution. But, in June 1862, the proposed constitution was defeated at the polls by a majority of over 16,000 votes. Notwithstanding the defeat of the proposed new constitution, the Democrats, on a platform of no African immigration, swept the state elections in November 1862 and gained control of the selection of the person to fill Stephen Douglas's senate seat, Douglas having died in July 1861. Then, the Twenty-Third General Assembly convened on January 5, 1863 and were handed a message from Republican Governor Yates which made clear he did not intend to enforce the laws against African immigration.

Governor Yates' Message to the Illinois Legislature, January 1863

Yates message

That the Illinois legislators did not exactly embrace Governor's Yates view about the African, is evident from the program of legislation they pursued to the point of ratifying Lincoln's amendment on June 2, 1863.

On February 11,1863, the Illinois House Passed a Bill to Keep the Africans Out.

Ill house bill keep Africans out

The Illinois Legislature Resolves Not to Provide Funds For Lincoln's Emancipation Plan.

The Illinois Legislature Ratifies Lincoln's Amendment

Ill law

African readingOf course, all the while Lincoln's amendment was being ratified by the States still in the Union—those most affected by the prospect of the Africans being freed from their servitude and released to immigrate into the Northern States and western Territories of the Union—war was raging between the Union and the Confederacy; and the war between the white people of the States had the natural effect of compelling the Union President to proclaim the African slaves of the Confederacy to be "free."

When the war began, there were three million Africans held as slaves in the Confederate states. A half million more were held in the Union states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland and Missouri. The Africans in the Confederacy were a crucial military resource that was providing substantial support to the Confederacy's effort to stave off the Union armies pressing ever deeper into her territory by the end of 1864. So to disrupt this support and shift as much of it as could be done to the Union cause, in January 1863, at the same time the Illinois Legislature was ratifying his amendment, President Lincoln invoked a supposed "war power" granted him by the Constitution and "proclaimed" the Confederate's Africans to be, ipso facto, free—but not the Union's slaves. The ratification of the Perpetual Slavery Amendment, by the key States along the borderline between the warring parties, made doing this politically impossible.

Sgt FleetwoodBy the war's end there were one hundred and eighty regiments, composed of two hundred thousand African soldiers, in the armies of the Union. Of these soldiers, about ninety thousand were former slaves. Forty thousand died in uniform: ten thousand in combat, thirty thousand from wound infection or disease. Fourteen African soldiers were awarded the Metal of Honor for their conduct during the Battle of Chaffin's Farm, in 1864. Among these was Sgt. Major Christian Fleetwood, who seized his regiment's colors when the color-bearer was killed, and led the regiment through the forest and up to the Confederate barricades, where black men and white men grappled furiously in hand-to-hand combat for ten minutes before the Confederates, reinforced, forced the Africans back with great loss to both sides.

The objective fact is that the efficient cause of the American Civil War was the failure of the whole white people of the Union, to come to terms with the reality that the Africans were in; and that nothing could be done about it but bring them all the way in. This fact has been intentionally masked by the white generations of popular historians down the age from the war, because with the Federal Government maintaining its National policy of segregation for a hundred years following the war, it was impossible to teach the truth to white students much less to black students. Now that the Federal Government has reversed this policy—a reversal that can be traced directly to the political and social effect on Americans, of World War II and Viet Nam, the time has certainly come when the objective truth of American History ought to be told.

The theory of American political science is that the people of the several States—The people of the United States—created a government to manage the external and interstate affairs of the Union. They did this by assembling in conventions in their respective "States" and ratifying the Constitution Madison wrote for them. In doing this, they transferred certain attributes of their "sovereignty," which had been exercised by their state governments through their war of revolution against Great Britain, to the new government framed by the Constitution. They did this, in the context of Madison intentionally keeping ambiguous the exact nature of the political relation between the Federal Government and their state governments, including the question whether the Constitution gave power to the Federal Government to coerce the people of a State to remain in the Union.

The answer to this political question depends upon the nature of political allegiance the people's ratification of the Constitution created between themselves and the Federal Government. It is plain that the allegiance of the people of a State in the Union, to the Federal Government of 1861, squarely depended upon the fact that their State was, in fact, in the Union—for it was the fact that they were citizens of a State in the Union that made them, as Madison wrote the Constitution, citizens of the United States. Thus, it cannot be seriously disputed intelligently today that the consensus of view point of the people of the several States at the time they ratified the Constitution, was that the allegience they owed their respective states was primary, and that they had not given the Federal Government the constitutional power to coerce them to keep their States in the Union.

It was recognized, as a fact of politial life, by all of them that, in 1789, Virginia was the most powerful State in the Union, and, with her natural allies standing with her at that time, it was not expected by anybody that the Federal Government would muster, someday, the military power to force her to remain in the Union; if her people desired she secede from it. This is the essential principle of American political science.

This was the political reality as the first generation of truly American white men understood it, and it was only when this generation had passed from the scene that the second generation of white men began to shift the shades of meaning of the words Madison had written into the Constitution, to develop the theory that the Federal Government operated directly upon the people of the States as individuals and, as such, the people owed it primary allegiance.

This transition in the political theory is illustrated in the great speeches of Clay, Webster, and Calhoun and many others through the Union's antebellum years. This change in the meaning of words occurred, because the Union was changing: in the acculmulation of vast new territory, in the inclusion of millions of Irish and German immigrants, in the inclusion of new "states" created not by the people of the Revolution but by the Federal Government; and with these changes gradually came the recognition that Virginia was no longer so powerful, that her sister states might now bring to bear against her sufficient physical power to overwhelm her resistance to their will; and they manifested that will when Lincoln called for the militia of the States to come forth and invade Virginia.

Considered in this light, it is easy to see that the generational change in perspective, between the original political idea that the Union was a compact between sovereign states, and the idea that the Union was a consolidated nation—that is, a unitary political entity controlled in all respects by a general government for the whole—was the driving emotional force that gave rise to the Republican Party and led directly to the happening of the war. Lincoln's amendment, designed as a matter of political expediency to keep Kentucky connected to the Union, is nothing more or less than the statement by the Republican Party to the Southern States that, as far as its members were concerned, the States that held Africans as slaves could hold them to the end of time. But not one more foot of territory either owned now or acquired after by the United States, will be open to the Africans' migration. The balance of political power between success and failure of the Republican agenda depended entirely in the end, upon the people of the existing Northern states at the borderland—Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri and Kentucky—and they wanted to bar the door against the Africans. They, along with the waves of European immigrants streaming in, wanted the Territories of the Union for themselves alone.

In contrast, the Southern politicians were angling, through the Crittenden Proposition, to reinstate the Missouri Compromise Line with the twist that any territory acquired south of the line would be open to the migration of Africans and be subject, if the white people wanted it, to the establishment of slavery. Who knows whether the underlying impulse was the greed of big shot slaveholders, or the common laboring white people's irritation at matching their labor against the Africans; or was it just that all of them wanted the Africans gone, dispersed out of their states, the majorities in their communities gotten rid of?

The evidence is plain, then, that both sides, mirroring Lincoln's willingness to amend the Constitution with perpetual slavery as the supreme law of he land, were infected with the disease of human racism, in virulent form, in 1861. And this indisputable fact gives the lie to the claim that the Union of 1861 was, in fact, a consolidated nation—for, had it been, the social and political problem of assimilating the Africans into the nation as citizens of the United States would have been resolved by the Federal Government without warring against its provinces.



The Battle of Gettysburg and the fall of Vicksburg happened in July 1863 and the long slog of the Union armies began toward the ultimate destination. As the summer of 63 fell into the fall and then the winter, the white people of the Union finally faced the music and came to terms with the Africans. On December 14, 1863, with General Lee holding the line of the Rapidan, James Wilson, a representative from Iowa offered the House a resolution to amend the Constitution by abolishing slavery. A month later, Missouri Senator John Henderson offered the same resolution in the Senate. Henderson's resolution was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee where it was received by the committee's chairman, Illinois Senator Lyman Trumbull, who caused it to be introduced in the House as a proposed joint resolution.

"Resolved, that the Constitution shall be amended as to abolish slavery in the United States wherever it now exists, and to prohibit its existence in every part thereof, forever."

The resolution was defeated. Trumbull then rewrote it by adopting the language of the Sixth Article of the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 to read:

"Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude except as punishment for crime whereby the party shall have been duly convicted shall exist within the United States or any place subject to its jurisdiction. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

Despite the state of the law, by December 1863, the African race residing in the South were, in fact, "free." Most of them had either removed themselves beyond the Confederate lines, or the Union armies had overrun the countryside where they lived. The consequence was that the African population came into the hands of the Federal Government which organized "Freedom Villages" to house the women, children and old people, while it put the young men into uniform and organized them into regiments and sent them into the field. The Africans held as slaves in the Border States remained in slavery until December 1865, when the conquered Confederate States were coerced into ratifying the substituted 13th Amendment. Delaware ratified the amendment in 1901; Kentucky in 1976; and Mississippi in 2013.

In the Senate

Missouri Senator Henderson, April 8, 1864

Henderson speech

Henderson speech 2

Kentucky Senator Davis, April 8, 1864

Davis speech


Note: Lincoln had proposed, and Trumbull had supported him, that the Border States institute gradual emancipation, with the Federal Government paying compensation. The white people of the Northern States rejected the idea out of hand.

Illinois Senator Trumbull, April 8, 1864



April 8, 1864

(By this time Grant is about to cross the Rapidan)

res senate passes

In the House of Representatives

June 15, 1864

(Grant's army is now approaching Cold Harbor)

Kentucky Representative Mallory



Pennsylvania Representative Kelly



yes june 15

nays june 15

January 31, 1865

(Grant's army is now in front of Petersburg)

house banner

res jan 31

President Lincoln Sends the Proposed Amendment to the States in the Union

13 amendment signed by llincoln

It is not surprising that the fact the white people of the Union changed the Constitution framed by the founders, did not instantly transform the Africans into assimilated members of their communities. That human process of amalgamation has taken the Nation one hundred years to accomplish.

The Federal Government Warehoused the Africans at Arlington, 1863-67

Freedmen village

freeman village

Jesse Jackson and his pals have been talking up "reparations" for twenty years, and now the current crop of Democrat politicians—are they "neo-liberals" now? "Progressives?"—are throwing the subject into their campaign speeches, as if the six hundred thousand young white Americans who lost thier lives in the fire of the war count for nothing in the tabulation of the Nation's moral balance sheet. Certainly, the Africans' climb out from the bottomless gorge of human racism was as heroic an acheivement as any strand of the human race has achieved so far in its history. But it was achieved, and now Americans of African descent are living everywhere in society, in the richest communities as well as the poorest, with their fair share of the economic pie and many of their children graduates now of Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Michigan, and Berkeley. Do these achievers really want reparations?

Joe Ryan