Status Of The Black Man: How The Civil War Changed It

1180 words - 5 pages

Although the Civil War is celebrated as the time of emancipation, emancipation was not the primary issue at stake. This leads to wondering how the Emancipation Proclamation and the 14th amendment actually affected the life of the average black. If emancipation was a side effect or an afterthought, what did it really mean? Truly, although blacks were legally freed after the war, they were in many ways still enslaved to the white man. But although the majority of whites in the South did desire and often succeed in keeping the “freedmen” under their control, some few truly did desire to see blacks succeed in the world. Also, the status of blacks during the war was intriguing; for the North, blacks from the South and Northern blacks were treated the same. And that same was inferior to the whites of the North.
Before the Civil War, the black man was thought to be inferior to the white man. He was susceptible to diseases that did not affect the white man. Diseases like drapetomania “that induces the negro to run away from service” reduced the black man to a biped animal, incapable of thinking for himself. His decisions were based solely on animalistic instincts and influences such as disease and misleading temptations. In the Dred Scott case of 1857, blacks were decided to not be citizens of the United States of America. Consequently, they were not entitled to any more protection than a cow and could not sue for their freedom. They were not able to dispute the issue. They had no identity outside of their master, they were entirely tied in every legal way to that person’s decisions. Even when a man might admit that blacks are indeed human, blacks would still be looked upon as inferior. Abraham Lincoln, acclaimed liberator, declared that blacks cannot be the equals of whites, saying “there is a physical difference…which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality.
Once the war started, Northern soldiers would invite the blacks to rebel and run away from slavery. By a Southerner’s account, “negroes are bringing fine prices, a great many have gone to the Yankees,” . After the Emancipation Proclamation, blacks in the Southern states were still as oppressed as ever. The U.S. government did not have the power to free the slaves, except as an afterthought as they progressed through Southern territory. Also, the Emancipation Proclamation served as a method to replenish the ranks of the Union army as they progressed through the Confederacy. “such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States…” Now, instead of being unpaid slaves of white men and working on plantations blacks were paid slaves of white men fighting on the battlefield. Although it was a point of contention for some, black men were allowed to fight in the Union army. Northerners in support of the blacks fighting would claim “that the United States knows no distinction in her soldiers,” ...

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