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Primary Sources - Workshop in American History Workshop 4 - Concerning Emancipation: Who Freed the Slaves?homesitemap
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Workshop 4
Before You Watch


Before viewing "Concerning Emancipation," read and view the following materials. They represent a selection made by the professor based on the readings available to the onscreen teachers. For additional primary source readings, go to Resources.
Documents | Images | A Biography of America Videos

  Primary Sources: Documents

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Lincoln-Douglas Debates:
image of a generic historic document First Debate, August 21, 1858

image of a generic historic documentFourth Debate, September 18, 1858

Seven 1858 campaign debates between Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas and challenger Abraham Lincoln focus on the question of whether slavery should be extended to the territories.


image of a generic historic documentAppeal to Border State Representatives for Compensated Emancipation, Washington, D.C., July 12, 1862

President Lincoln proposes a plan for gradual, compensated emancipation in the slave states that have remained loyal to the Union.


image of a generic historic documentAddress on Colonization to a Committee of Colored Men, Washington, D.C., August, 14, 1862

President Lincoln discusses plans to colonize freedmen and -women to lands outside the United States.


image of a generic historic documentAn Appeal from the Colored Men of Philadelphia to the President of the United States, August 1862

Prominent African American citizens reply to Lincoln's "Address on Colonization."


image of a generic historic documentLincoln's Letter to Horace Greeley, August 22, 1862

President Lincoln responds to the editor of the New York Tribune, who publicly criticized him for failing to free all slaves who escaped to the Union Army.


image of a generic historic documentPreliminary Emancipation Proclamation, September 22, 1862

In this proclamation, Lincoln declares that unless rebellious states return to the Union by January 1, slaves in those states will be emancipated.


image of a generic historic documentEmancipation Proclamation, January 1, 1863

Lincoln fulfills the promise of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation and declares all slaves in rebel states free.


image of a generic historic documentLetter to James C. Conkling, August 26, 1863

In a letter to be read to a mass meeting of loyal Union men, Lincoln addresses the anger and frustration that many Unionists feel over the Emancipation Proclamation and the length of the war.


image of a generic historic documentFrederick Douglass' "How to End the War," May 1861

Abolitionist Frederick Douglass echoes the sentiments of most of his fellow African Americans who, from the beginning of the war, have advocated general emancipation and their right to join the armed forces.


image of a generic historic documentLetter from John J. Cheatham, May 4, 1861

An educated, white male from Georgia writes to the Confederate Secretary of War, portraying some of the concerns Southern whites have about slaves during the Civil War.


image of a generic historic documentLetter from Major George E. Waring, Jr., December 19, 1861

A Union regimental commander writes about enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act with regard to runaway slaves behind Army lines in the border states.


image of a generic historic documentLetter from General Benjamin F. Butler, May 27, 1861

The Union commander of Fortress Monroe in Virginia writes to his superiors, inquiring as to what should be done about slaves who have escaped to the Union Army camp.


image of a generic historic documentLetter from John Boston, January 12, 1862

A runaway slave who takes shelter with a New York regiment of the Union army writes to his wife, Elizabeth, who had remained in Maryland.


image of a generic historic documentLetter from Hannah Johnson, July 31, 1863

The mother of an African American soldier in the 54th Massachusetts Infantry writes to President Lincoln to appeal for equal treatment of African American soldiers taken as prisoners of war.


image of a generic historic documentLetter from Corporal James Henry Gooding, September 28, 1863

A freeborn corporal of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry writes to President Lincoln, protesting the unequal pay of African American soldiers in the Union Army.


  Primary Sources: Images

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Thumbnail image of Gordon CottonGordon Cotton photo

Taken during the Civil War, this photograph is of a slave named Gordon who took advantage of the dislocations of war to run away from a Mississippi plantation and into Union lines. An assistant surgeon general took his photograph and circulated it as evidence of the barbarity and cruelty of the slaveholding class. The image also appeared in Harper's Weekly magazine, where it was used as a recruitment poster to enlist African American soldiers.
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Thumbnail image of a Lincoln Lincoln Freedmen Memorial

This statue was commissioned by emancipated African Americans as a memorial to Abraham Lincoln. It was sculpted by Thomas Ball and dedicated in 1876 in Washington, D.C., by Frederick Douglass. A replica of the statue requested by Massachusetts legislator Moses Kimball was dedicated in 1879 in Boston. The statue was based on a picture of Archer Alexander, the last slave captured in Missouri under the fugitive slave law, and was supposed to be a depiction of the slave breaking his own chains, an agent of his own deliverance. Many people, however, including Frederick Douglass, saw it differently: The African American man was kneeling, a supplicant for his freedom, and his face showed no apparent appreciation of his new dignified position in society. Speaking at the unveiling of the statue, Douglass gave Lincoln credit for his achievements, but remarked that the statue was a white man's monument to a white man's president.
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  A Biography of America: Video Series (optional)

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image of a starProgram 10: The Coming of the Civil War (26:26)

Simmering regional differences ignite an all-out crisis in the 1850s. Professor Waldo Martin teams with Professor Donald Miller and historian Stephen Ambrose to chart the succession of incidents, from "Bloody Kansas" to the shots on Fort Sumter, that inflame the conflict between North and South to the point of civil war.
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