Monday, October 15, 2007

Slavery Without Submission, Emancipation Without Freedom

I found thesis in Zinn’s “Slavery Without Submission, Emancipation Without Freedom” to be, “It would take either a full-scale slave rebellion or a full-scale war to end such a deeply entrenched system.” What Zinn is saying here is that in order for slavery to come to an end, something which may have a big impact on the United States would have to occur in order for a change to come about.

Zinn speaks of many different aspects of slavery in this chapter. He begins of telling how many slaves and free blacks attempted to abolish slavery. Many of the incidents which occurred were of slaves uniting and rebelling against slave owners and masters a like. Many died to hands of whites for their participation in these rebellions. Whites of the Southern states tried hard to keep slavery the way it was but with the steady growing number of free educated blacks in the Northern states grew the desire for slaves to obtain the same. In the North, blacks were able to obtain an education, work as well as own their own stores. Eventually, Abraham Lincoln got into office and many Southern Whites believed he sided on the abolishment of slavery so they made their states separate from that of the Northern portion of the United States. Lincoln supported the Union, which were the Northern States which held free blacks, and gave the Confederate States an ultimatum to join back with the Union or war will begin. Thus, the Civil War begun and it was during this time which Lincoln issued the Emancipation of Proclamation and freed the slaves in the United States. “In July of 1862 Congress passed a Confiscation Act, which enabled the freeing of slaves of those fighting in the Union.” (142) This is stating that any black that fought with the Union became a free man. The Union used this as a way of recruiting more blacks to fight in order to better their chances of winning the war. Yet, after the Emancipation of Proclamation was issued “400,000 signatures asking legislation to end slavery had been gathered and sent to Congress, something unprecedented in the history of the country. That April, the Senate had adopted the Thirteenth Amendment, declaring an end to slavery, and in January 1865 the House of Representatives followed.” (143) This means based on the togetherness of the citizens of the United States, slavery came to end. Although, the battle was over recovering was just beginning. Blacks still were not treated equal to their white counterparts. Many laws were created then taken away offering equality to everyone despite color. This would be another long battle for Blacks.

Upon reading the information regarding Abraham Lincoln, I begun to question, why we have a memorial in his honor for ending slavery and issuing the Emancipation Proclamation? To honor such a man is almost wrong because technically he didn’t do anything. Lincoln’s choice to abolish slavery was not one made with slaves or rather African Americans in mind instead it was to benefit himself and his position. Lincoln’s reply to Horace Greenley, whom at the time was editor of the New York Tribune, was one which showed his disinterest in slavery. Lincoln stated, “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy Slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it….” (142) It was later said that if slaves were not freed then the Union could’ve and more than likely would’ve lost the war. It just seems as though we shouldn’t celebrate or honor the life of a man who cared less about the outcome of slaves. Instead of having his memorial there in Washington, D.C. it should be one of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. These two were people who were assassinated for more of a just reason and cause than Lincoln.

I found this reading to be repetitive from previous readings. A lot of what was here in this article by Zinn was mentioned in the novel “Kindred” as well as previous article written by Zinn. This is not to say I didn’t find it informative because I did. I was really fascinated to learn of all the people who assisted to abolish slavery. It was good to learn of different names than those popular individuals we learn about in grade school. Also, I enjoyed learning that it was more than just blacks helping slaves; that white people assisted in the struggle as well.

No comments: