African Americans and Emancipation

by Manisha Sinha

Historians increasingly understand emancipation was not a singular event that simply involved the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln on January 1, 1863. Instead, emancipation is better understood as a complex process that involved many actors, not the least of whom were the slaves themselves. Even before the start of the Civil War, the antebellum abolition movement had agitated for an end to slavery for thirty years and southern slaves had runaway and, occasionally, rebelled against slavery. During the war, black and white abolitionists, Radical Republicans in Congress, and the thousands of slaves who defected to the Union pressured the Lincoln administration to act on emancipation.More »

Featured Primary Sources

Charge of the Massachusetts 54th, Currier & Ives, 1863. (GLC)

African American soldiers at the Battle of Fort Wagner, 1863

Creator: Currier & Ives Curriculum Subjects: Grade Levels:
Frederick Douglass’s tribute to Abraham Lincoln, 1880 (GLC09091)

Frederick Douglass’s tribute to Abraham Lincoln, 1880

Creator: Frederick Douglass Curriculum Subjects: Literature Grade Levels:
Iowa joint resolution ratifying the 13th Amendment, March 30, 1866. (GLC02631)

Ratifying the Thirteenth Amendment, 1866

Creator: the Iowa General Assembly Curriculum Subjects: Government and Civics Grade Levels:
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Multimedia

1866: The Birth of Civil Rights

Speaker(s): Eric Foner Duration: 4 minutes 4 seconds

Africans’ Appropriations of the Symbolism of Abraham Lincoln

Speaker(s): Kevin Gaines Duration: 22 minutes 23 seconds

American Antislavery Writings: Colonial Beginnings to Emancipation

Speaker(s): James G. Basker Duration: 5 minutes 34 seconds
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