Summary: Was Lincoln The Great Emancipator

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Final Paper Emancipation!? The question commonly arises of who was responsible for the emancipation of the slaves following the Civil War. While some historians argue in favor of Lincoln the “Great Emancipator”, recent historians seem to take the position that blacks were the makers of their own freedom. While both sides make convincing arguments, neither can make their case without at least to some degree crediting the importance of events which the other side was responsible for. Taking an unbiased stance on the issue leads one to see that emancipation could only be achieved by a careful collaboration between those whose aims were not initially aligned, but nonetheless were fighting the same foe. Fugitive slaves could not have ended slavery…show more content…
Under the magnifying glass of war, slaves had undermined many white stereotypes. They had proved themselves to be neither docile nor servile nor insurrectionist nor barbarian. They had struggled like men against their army's racial discriminations while still fighting like patriots against Confederates. 350,000 southern blacks added their labor to the Union army and navy (and subtracted that labor from Confederate enterprise). Of these men, some 200,000 worked for the military as unenlisted laborers. Another 150,000 enlisted as soldiers or sailors (with northern free blacks adding another 50,000). When protesting against their discriminatory wages, black soldiers had almost never declared that they would not fight until their paychecks equaled whites. Instead, protestors had usually refused to accept any payment for their soldiering, until their wages matched whites'. Through that nonprovoking, and ultimately successful style of nonviolent resistance, they had added useful services in ugly military duties, whether cleaning toilets or erecting dangerous fortifications or guarding disease-ridden labor camps or garrisoning exposed forts. When allowed to serve as front line warriors, whether at Fort Wagner or Port Hudson or Milliken's Bend or with Grant at Petersburg late in the war , they had courageously charged toward annihilation, undertrained and underarmed yet as committed as the average white. By the end of the war, many white soldiers, seeing fugitives' heroics, had cringed at imposing General Orders #3 on such freedom seekers. Other Unionists, reading of blacks' military exploits, believed that saviors of the Union hardly deserved postwar
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