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tv   Lincoln and African- Americans  CSPAN  June 20, 2022 12:33pm-1:42pm EDT

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historical knowledge as well as historical misinformation. here is what he had to say. >> this book is set up in a way so that it introduces an idea and that idea is e-history. we will talk about how that is like e-commerce and eat trade. i suggest there is something called e history. it talks about the value structures that are in opposition. the values that underpin the traditional practices of history and those that underpin the web and how the two sets of values clash and why it necessitates-y history. the book then takes you through a series of case studies, wikipedia, twitter, facebook, instagram, which shows how these classes of values play out and why certain e-history that conforms to a set of values and conditions, becomes a visible in your feeds and weather -- and why other forms of
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e-history that do not conform to these values, you will never see. at the end, the last chapter is called, does history have a future? the question is, will this e-history eventually lead to the end of history as we know it? >> you could see the full program at search jason steinhauer or the title of his book, history, disrupted. >> we hope that this afternoon panel with a four distinguished panelist we'll give you a lot to chat about in your lines your mind. so we will be able to learn from michel crowley who is a civil war and reconstruction specialist in the manuscript division at the library of congress (laughter), where she oversees the papers of presidents from james gaye poke to theodore roosevelt all. she's ers their offense several book chapters and articles on the candidates have warned she serves on the part of the abraham lincoln association. she's president of the abram
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lincoln president and the secretary of the lincoln forum executive (inaudible). edna greene medford is well known, remember i did her totals of lincoln forums, and edna is certainly the female winner of coming to the lincoln forum. she's a professor of history and associate provost at howard university, the author of lincoln and demands of a unmanned suppression, and coauthor with harold holzer and frank williams are the she serves on numerous boards relate to lincoln and the civil war. she's a longtime member and participant in the lincoln forum. lucas moral is the keyboard junior at politics at the washington university. he serves at chairs at the politics department. department. he's the author and editor of five books, including lincoln's sacred effort to finding religions role in american self government, and lincoln and liberty -- wisdom for the ages. his most recent
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book is that lincoln ended the american founding. last but not least jonathan white is vice chair of the lincoln forum and author or editor of 13 books about abraham lincoln and the (applause) civil war, including to address you as my friend, african americans, that is to abraham lincoln, which was published last month by u.n.c. press, and a house built by slaves -- african american visitors to the lincoln white house, which will be published on lincoln's birthday in february of 2022. let's welcome our panel. (applause) >> thank you so much, catherine. we're going to have a discussion about lincoln and african americans, and i want to talk very quickly just about these two books that i -- won was published just about two weeks and then one will come
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out in the spring, on the conspiracy. this is a collection of 125 letters from african americans to lincoln, and they wrote to lincoln, seeing him as their president. and even as they are friend, seeing a personal collection to lincoln. we'll talk about some of those letters as we go through the program. and then in february, i'm publishing it. it's sort of grew out of the first one. this is a history of visitors to the lincoln white house, and many of those men and women were the same people. and so this is a little collage of some of the men who visited lincoln. i couldn't find any images of any of the women who met with (inaudible) who wrote to lincoln, but some of these csis will look familiar, and we'll talk about that. you see frederick douglass at the top right or top center, you see william fuller bill next to him, who will also talk about. some of these men went on to become politicians and members of congress. richard harvey cain would be elected to go on to congress i from south carolina after the civil war. and some
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of these might know this well known. the bottom left second one up a guy named paschal randolph, who was a spiritualist and sex magician who both worked to lincoln and met with him. but i haven't yet figured out what a sex magician's. (laughter) >> (inaudible) research. >> (inaudible) research. it'll be a new york times bestseller, i'm sure! (laughter) yes, some google search that at work. (laughter) when these african american men and women -- and to get the book includes 125 letters, slightly over 100 of them are from an, and 21 of them come from women -- when they wrote to lincoln,, they felt of a personal connection to him. they really believed that he was their presidential, that he would listen to what they had to say. and i want to show you one letter from the library of congress selection of lincoln's papers. this was a
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former slave name high-level cox. he said look at a poem that he had copied out of the newspapers, out of harper's weekly. and he wanted to show look at how he was learning how to read and write. so this is how he does it. but you know that this man believed lincoln would see and hold this letter. if you look at the bottom left hand corner, there's a small postscript, wearable cox said, i've been this for you to look at. you must not laugh at it. and the feeling of this man wanting his commander in chief to see how he is learning and growing and serving his country but don't laugh when you look at this, because i'm still in the process. i find these visitors like these to be remarkably touching. i want to tell very quickly one story that will connect these two books together, and then we are going to have a conversation together. and this is a story (inaudible) from new orleans, who brought a petition to look at the white house on march 30, 1864. and they handed it to him
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in his white house office, and they called for the free light skinned, wealthy black skin community of new orleans to be given the right to vote. and they appealed to the declaration of independence, and they point out that they are serving in the union army, for the union cause, and that their ancestors had fought with andrew jackson during the war of 1812 at the battle of new orleans. and they say that they should have the right to vote based on the fact that they are serving the country and that they pay taxes. and in one line of this petition they see, we are men, treat us as such. the petition has 1000 signatures on it, and 28 of those are veterans of the war of 1812. they can welcome to these two men into his white house office, and this is one of them. and i couldn't find an image of the other, and this is arnold. he welcomes them into the office and he says to them that his first job is to crush out the
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rebellion. but he said, if giving blackmon the right to vote became necessary to win the war, he said that he would support it. he said, for a senior reason why intelligent black men should not vote. but he said that voting was not a military question, and the civil authorities in louisiana should be dealing with it. but he assured them that if they could show how their request would help restore the union, it would have his support. well, burrow and written or go back out of the white house, and they sit down, and they write out a new petition one week later, on march 10th. and i can't prove this, but i think they brought it back to the white house on march 12th, and gave it to lincoln. and this new petition was very different. rather than only calling for the right to vote for the easy, light skinned, was a black community off new orleans, they called for the right to vote for all black men of their city, regardless of whether or not they were born into slavery. and they said that doing this -- and this is their words -- would give full
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effect to all union feeling in the rebel states in order to cut secure the prominence of the free institutions and loyal government that were being organized in the self. in other words, the best way to subdue disloyal sentiment in the south was to create a new class of loyal black voters who could out ex confederate when the war was over. they had crafted irrational for black voting rights that met what lincoln was looking for, that giving blackmon the right to vote would help win the war and sustain the peace. and lincoln listened to them and found this compelling, and was persuaded by it. and on march 13th, he sent the letter that's very famous for the governor elect of louisiana, named michael khan, suggesting that black men who were educated or serving in the army, he said, should be granted the elective franchise, because giving them the right to vote -- and these were lincoln's words -- would probably help in some trying
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time to come to keep the jewel of liberty within the family of freedom. i love this exchange between look at that two black visitors. and these two positions that they had to him, because it shows how lincoln was thinking about the new birth of freedom, and that african americans would have to be included as part of the people. now, this was 1864. and that's a very different lincoln in many ways from the lincoln who comes before the civil war. and so i want to take us back to the 1850s, and start with lucas. critics of lincoln often point to some very unfortunate lines that lincoln said in the lincoln douglass debates, and one of them in particular from the first debate in 1858, lincoln said, he said, i have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and black races. there is a physical difference between the two which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the
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footing of profit equality. how would we make sense of quote like this when we think about abraham lincoln? >> yeah, those are troubling, especially to the modern era. and these were comments that he repeated in charleston, and i think in jonesboro, two other debates of the (inaudible). and i think fundamentally one thing we need to think about which is rarely mentioned today -- and you guys are going to love when i say why -- we don't use the word statesmanship much today in the south. the last line, of course not! have you seen what we've got in our major parties? but one thing i'm trying to do with my (inaudible) is to get them to green a greater appreciation for the out of politics, which is not simply, for a lack of a better phrase, more grandstanding. you have to gain consent in this country to get justice done. and my great teacher, harry java, once wrote,
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in his great book, douglass debates, is that the crisis in the house divided, which is about the lincoln michael stick with a chip which is, you know, dividers political protests, at the back of statesmanship is getting as much justice as you can gain consent for. it's not enough to be right and to announce that righteousness. william lloyd garrison was also passed in doing that. he wasn't worried about persuading people. he let god bring his conviction to people. he wasn't running for political office. but to get things done, you have to get into office and pass laws accordingly. so you have to pay attention, in short, to public opinion. and the state of public opinion in illinois in the 1850s was pretty bad in terms of racial animus towards blacks. it's as if they were competing with indiana to see who could be more racist. 1853, i think this was mentioned in a previous session, illinois passed a law banning the immigration of black people into their state. i mean, potentially unconstitutional, according to
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the federal constitution. they went ahead and do it. indiana had a law like that, oregon territory had a law like that. missouri tried to get the constitution passed in 1820, 1821, with a clause like that. so, that the state of public opinion. blacks can't serve on juries for whites who are defendants. they can so vote. they conserve the militia. okay? so very few civil rights, no political rights. that's the population lincoln, in 1850, is seeking, their support to send him to the senate, appointed by the state legislature. so, you can't neglect that political reality on the ground. and the fact of the matter was, his career, and any hope for progress for civil rights, and like, rights or civil rights for black people in illinois, any hope for that was a political nonstarter if you shop for the top. in other words, what lincoln tried to do is at least sure up the conviction among a pervasively bigoted white population, shore
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up the conviction that their rights as white people did not owe to their color or race, but to their humanity. and it's their humanity that in their heart of hearts they knew they shared with the black people. and so, to the chagrin, to the great dismay of his own political consultants and team, he kept bringing up -- he would say what you just quoted, but also say, but that doesn't matter in terms of their rights as people. they have the same rights as enumerated in the declaration of independence, which is to say that is the right, i nature, the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. if he couldn't get majority white opinion to back that, pursuing the vote for black people would be, you know, a fools errand. and after all, the vote was principally a state matter, not a federal matter. so if you said to douglas, look, you keep
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freaking out, taking on pushing the black vote, why don't you stay here in illinois, and one for the state legislature, where you can make sure that will never happen while you're alive? and you know, you guys can send me to the senate. so, and just one more thing. so, there's the political reality of the, you know, the overwhelming white population of illinois. what is it? like five, 6000 black people in illinois in 1850, 1860? there aren't a lot of black people there. and look at, of course, can't curry the black vote. there is no black vote, by law. so that's whites with the white president lincoln was concerned about, was stephen douglas. and stephen douglas, lincoln said, over and over again, what was he doing to racial prejudice in illinois into the country? he was reinforcing it. he was a categorical racist. people called lincoln, the plate the race card in the debate, if you did, and i don't think he did, if he did, douglas played the whole decade. (laughter)
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frederick douglass -- no, not frederick douglass -- (inaudible) freudian slip, big time! that's another pitch of one. by the name steven douglas's birth name, two s is. he dropped that around the late 18 (inaudible), late 50s, i wonder why? >> frederick douglass. >> anyway, stephen douglas was reinforcing white supremacy and lincoln was doing what he could to shape his population shake his constituents loose of that but just reminding something they knew in the heart of hearts, that black people had the same rights as white people. and guess what? there people. >> if an african american moved into the free state of illinois, i think it was $50. if they couldn't pay the $50, they would be auctioned off. and someone could purchase their labor until the date was paid. and we think about the free state of illinois, not really free in the way we normally
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think. i want to come over to you. we see changes in lincoln's policies and possessions over the course of the political career. can you talk about that evolution? and how do we account for it? and it's great that you started with the lincoln douglass debate. >> when we talk about that evolution, we usually start with the debates and what lucas has started talking about. and what has been said about the inferiority in that particular -- in more than one place. we normally dismiss those comments -- and he understood where he was. he understood local people were very much in accord with
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stephen douglas. and so he wanted to convince them that his views were not that inconsistent with theirs. and so he can be forgiven for some of the things that he said. against a shrewd politician. and there is some truth to that and we need to remember that lincoln was a son of the south. he was someone who shared some of the racial views ad did the southern white man and southern women and northern white men and women during that era. lincoln believed that the inferiority he was seeing was a consequence of slavery. that that institution degraded black people. it did not give them the opportunity of a fair chance in the race of whites, as she put it. and so he was different in that way. and so
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slavery, he could not abide slavery, because it did not give people the opportunity. that doesn't mean that he felt that black people could be equal to him. he was not at that time. and we look at him over the period, from 1858 to the end of the war and we see that he relates very well to individual african americans. yet he relates well to others. they are friends, apparently. he relates walter frederick douglass. probably because they have a similar background, not in terms of slavery, but in terms of poverty and in terms of them having this lifelong love of learning and the ability to really express themselves and so he had great appreciation for some individual black people. but if you look at where he was at the end of the war, and when he
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talked about that address -- and he talked about extending voting rights, who is he looking at? he's looking that those black man who served the union in the war and he is looking at those who are better educated. no one is talking about what white man's credentials are. it does not matter how they were born or how poor they were or whether or not they were literate. and lincoln was certainly not saying, these people should not serve. but these black man had a litmus test so he is not quite there and so i think that he may have evolved over time. but when he died he was not all the way there. >> you mentioned billie, and i will come over to michelle.
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michelle, you have the wonderful job of being the keeper of the lincoln papers at the library of congress. can you tell us a bit about that collection? how did it get there and why are certain letters there rather than at the national archives? and i put up one there from william floor ville can you tell us a bit about that. >> well, sure. their totality of the abraham lincoln papers at the library of congress willie comes down to one word, generosity. because the lincoln papers is in different series, for that reflect the providence of those papers. series two where lincoln materials that were pulled from the john nicolette papers donated by nickolay's daughter and i should say that we don't usually call them papers anymore. this is a long history
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of manuscripts and series three and four, there from a variety of different sources and from different avenues. but series one is really the bulk of the abraham lincoln paper. and to the best of our knowledge, they are wet lincoln had in his own personal paper. and they were handled by nicolay in 1865 and that's where they resided until 1874, when they were loaned to the secretary nicolay while they were working on articles. and just as an aside, to make you understand, how amazing it is that these things survive, nicolay had until 1901. that
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went across town to washington. and he was secretary of state and he had them until he died and then i went back to robert lincoln. and then he went back to washington d.c. in vermont. they went from d.c. to vermont to d.c. to vermont. and then finally in 1919, it is herbert putnam, who finally prevails on robert lincoln to put them somewhere safe, the library of congress. and a 1923, robert gifted them to the library of congress, where some of you may know that at his request, there was an inscription on the paper that they were not to be opened to the public until 21 years after his own death. i hate to say that people were wishing him ill. (laughs) so, they weren't open to the public until 1947. that was after his
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death in 1926. so, that's how they get there and we want to keep them separated. so, if you are in series one of the abraham lincoln papers, that's part of the robert todd lincoln collection of the abraham lincoln papers. and that has the bulk of the papers. and some of the richest material, including very speeches, his farewell address, to springfield. also, the two gettysburg addresses. and the second inaugural address, they are actually technically in series three. because they came from the surviving children. that came from helen nicolay, because they donated him to the library of congress. that's why want to start out with generosity. the richness and the financial value of the papers and these were given to the american people by those family members. and included in
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that series is that letter from william de fleurville who wrote to lincoln in 1863, december 27th. and we know he knew about gettysburg. and we know he knew about lincoln's illness because he found them from a letter that had been back in springfield, lincoln's barber and friend. these things tend to go. and he wrote to this mutual friend that he spoke to, being sorry to hear about lincoln's illness. and you can also tell that they have not been in communication for a while but i was so sorry to hear about willie's death. and that was in a 262. this gives news of home. and you -- a friend who also happens to be president of the united states. kicking and was married and so. there are two things that are very affecting about these
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letters. or more than two things. it's that he starts off the way he begins the letter. he says, i have for you an irresistible feeling on the kind of guard shown and the feeling towards me. and also his respect and understanding and gratitude for what he feels lincoln has done for african americans during the course of the war. he complements him and he is very thankful for lincoln being in this position. and he is obviously seeing 1864 coming. because he says i hope that you win a second term and you will be able to carry this all forward. so, this is very much letters from a friend. and this ends up in the personal papers, this had been more than official documents. and that is
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much later. or, if it needs to be acted upon by a cabinet member or another saying that this probably needs to be off the bat and sent on to the appropriate department. that's usually between the national archives and congress. the national archives contains the official record of the government operation, whereas they tend to be in the personal papers. so, the letter is going to be a personal paper to lincoln that he obviously decided. did not know he was going to die in 1865. this is a friendly letter from home. and i am giving you news of springfield. so, you can almost imagine lincoln sitting in the office, thinking, oh, that guy. and oh, so and so. and i'd like to hear about the dog and there is something kind of a reminder about the place that he was familiar with and loved. that
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was also striking. what's also striking about the letter compared to others, and particularly in presidential papers, is he is not asking for anything. and to be honest, that is a very big deal. you can imagine that was another relief for lincoln. that billy is not asking for the postmaster ship of springfield. because presidential papers are now all online. and if you dare to go peruse them, you will see that presidents, the bulk of their papers, particularly when they're president, are people asking them for jobs. it is a lot of patronage. and in the garfield papers, in the first week, you can already see him -- going, will these people never leave me alone? but he is not asking for anything. he complements him and it's basically giving him a boost in terms of, i feel that you are doing something good for african americans and for the nation. and you are the man for
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the job. and so that has to be have been a nice break for lincoln that day. >> you mentioned garfield. he ignored charles ghetto and that did not work out too well for him. >> oh charles ghetto. that is a whole other story. >> the library of congress has been digitizing dozens of civil war collections. they are available. it is democratizing research. any of us can go on. i found 21 letters from african americans to lincoln in this collection. it is because i could look through it online. lucas had a funny faux pas earlier where he inadvertently mixed up with stephen and frederick douglass. >> keeping it up! (laughs) >> the reason that is so funny is because if you follow lucas on twitter, his handle is lincoln douglass. >> a freudian slip. (laughs) but lucas, i was wondering, roberts is very critical of
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lincoln for the first two years of the war. and even into 1864. can you talk about douglas's criticism with lincoln as president in the first four years? sure. >> lincoln had been following him since the douglass days. he was very aware of a growing movement in the united states towards at least anti-slavery if not abolitionism. there is a distinction between the two. it is certainly in -- the constitution and in what congress can do vis-à-vis slavery in the states. with that said, douglas, we cannot say it often enough. for, him the lens through which he is judging and assessing lincoln the statement the ship during the war, going into the 1860 election in particular is all through this lens. we need to arm the black man as soon as possible, turn it into
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an abolition war. as soon as lincoln resist doing that and wants the union as it was at the constitution as it is, which was a favorite saying at the time, to that extent, he fell short of would douglas's highest hopes were for what he saw is a growing movement towards eventual emancipation. whether it is the first inaugural address where he quotes the platform or his own opening debate a speech in ottawa in 1858, where he says, i neither have the power or inclination to touch slavery word exists, and the fact that he was only willing to just quote half of it, he said we could really do better than that. it was massively disappointed when he meets with a group of black leaders from the d.c. marilyn area. through august 16 62 when he
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already has the emancipation proclamation drafted, he make sure a reporter is present where he essentially says, if it wasn't for the presence of blacks in the united states, we would not have that war. douglas thought, what? how could you possibly blame us for you shooting at each other? and in that speech [laughs] lincoln utters support for colonization and black immigration voluntary from the united states. deportation is used but for liken it is always voluntary. lincoln is trying to get a local black leaders to get the ball rolling on seeing if we can get a black immigration from the united states to become more popular. there were black leaders who were in favor of this. there was nothing on this in the early 1950s. when douglas was not one of those local black leaders in 62
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he was with us like it until 62 and 64 and in 65. douglas is a furious. they blame black people for the war and they say because we are the cause of the, were we should leave the country and all will be well. douglas has no patience for that. for me, and i teach douglas every year, i lecture on douglas. we have to add some important speeches that come later, especially after the war entering his 1876 speech. we get a more mature assessment from an abolitionist. this is from my opinion where he grows to appreciate the task we can have on his hand and grew to appreciate even more the consent, the support that he needed from white northerners out west to win the war. for that, there would be no emancipation. early in the war and throughout the war, douglas is one of the
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fiercest critics, no doubt. lincoln and douglass met three times. and they met in august of 1863, where douglas challenges lincoln on black pay and the protection of pows, which we talk about in a second. they meet again in august of 1864 and after that douglas and lincoln this letter. michelle, can you talk about this is second meeting with the frederick douglass and the letter that douglas sent? >> right, and the letter that douglas sends is 1864. if you want to check it online, it is there. they meet in the white house. the thing you have to understand about the context, because many of you will also be familiar with the blind memorandum of august 23rd, 1864. this is a period where lincoln has been renominated by the republicans, but things looked dire in terms of his reelection chances. he writes, it does not look like this administration will be reelected.
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on one level, he is offering to cooperate with the next president to try to save the union because whoever the democrat would have been would not have been able to save it, either emancipation is off the table or there will be two nations. at the same time, he is concerned that if he does not win a reelection that those millions of enslaved people within the conspire confederacy who have not been able to escape to union lines or else well will remain enslaved as a result. he meets with frederick douglass and basically proposes a plan or asks, there are enslaved people who may know about the emancipation proclamation or do not realize the situation that we are in and how dire this may be. can we talk to some people and find out how we get the word out? how do we encourage as many slaves as we can to escape while they can just in case the worst happens.
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the letter you see on the screen, which is already in a series one of the lincoln papers, is fredricka douglas saying that i have gone to talk to people and we came up with general ideas. when you read the letter, they are general ideas about sending agents down and making sure that they keep good records. as i was re-reading, it i was thinking, how are the agents actually getting there? who is going to walk in and say you are free, let's go? you and what's army is what it amounts to. i think what is important about this letter, and obviously, douglas, he has thanked him for the interview that he agrees with lincoln. this is one of the times where, if you are doing up and down charts of where douglas is with lincoln, this is, this guy suggesting that we organize an effort to take slaves out of the confederacy. for a u.s. president to do that,
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that is showing what position he thought he was in. also, this is fredricka douglas and abraham lincoln working together to try to get as many slaves out of the confederacy as possible. i think this is the most important thing about this document. what's it represents in terms of their relationship of where lincoln was, and what he had to do, not so much what a frederick douglass's council thought was a good way of sending agents into the confederacy. >> we think of the emancipation proclamation as a military necessity. the remarkable thing about this plan, which douglas likened to don brown, which is ironic -- >> hopefully with a better result. >> with a better result, yes. this douglas came away from this meeting with a new appreciation. this had nothing to do with military necessity. for lincoln, this was about making freedom as abroad and as
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permanent as possible before he was out of power. douglas later wrote, what he said on this day showed a deeper moral conviction about slavery than i had ever seen before on anything spoken or written by him. douglas said, he treated me as a man. he did not let me feel for a moment that there was any difference in the color of our skin. the president is a most remarkable man. i love this moment, as lucas said, i think lucas said it. no, michelle, you said it. this is a high point and their relationship. one issue that was contentious at the first meeting for douglas was the issue of soldier pay and also this confederate policy that the confederate said that they would as enslaved or murder any black prisoners caught in arms against the confederacy. can you talk about lincoln's attitude towards the use of black soldiers? how does this change overtime.
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there are also hurdles and inequalities they had to face. >> sure, at the very beginning of the war, african americans to volunteer their services. they really wanted to get into the fight. they fought for the union, the nation, as they saw it. no one could deny them the rights of full citizenship. it also proved that they were men, they were not property, not inferior, but that they were equal to all americans. lincoln and congress were not ready to have a black men serve. the reason why they did not is because they did not want to make this a war about a black people. lincoln wanted the union preserved. he did not, at that point at least, want emancipation to occur occur. he understood that by arming black men he would lose certain states. he was very much concerned about that. of course, the war war on for much longer than they had
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anticipated. as northern white men got fed up with this long war, and understandably so, they did not understand why black men were not serving as well. lincoln and congress decided that if they would win the war, black men would have to be enlisted. it is at that point that lincoln issues the emancipation proclamation. i think it is for two reasons. it is to make certain that the union has enough men to fight for this cause. it also was an opportunity for lincoln to really get rid of the one thing that was causing the war. that was slavery. by the time the proclamation was issued, he understood that that was what was causing the war. unless something was done about slavery, the nation would find itself right back where it was within a few years. and so, the emancipation
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proclamation does have a clause that authorizes the enlistment of black men in the army. they had already been in the navy. since the 17 90s, they were restricted from being in the army. the problem with them after their enlistment was that they were not treated equally. they had been promised $10 a month, which was less than what white men of the same rank were getting. all black men, whatever the rank, got the same thing. it is $10 a month with $3 deducted for clothing allowance while white men were getting $13 a month with an additional $3 for clothing allowance. black men were getting broken down equipment. they were assigned to fatigue duty. they were digging ditches in the trains. they were not initially allowed in the fight.
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black men were in the war to fight, to show that they were men. so, douglas was at the white house in a 63, august of 63, asking that lincoln intervene in terms of making certain that black women got equal pay. lincoln's response was, i understand, i agree, but you have to remember that it was hard enough just to get approval for black men to serve. you have to be patient. this will come eventually. it did come, just before the war ended. in the meantime, there were a black man who simply refused to take any pay at all. that is a very serious met -- a thing for black men. there were families that were not supported. there were states that were supporting white families. black families were not supported in this. when a black man refused his pay, whatever that pay was, it means that his family was
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suffering. there was also the issue of the confederacy, treating captured black of soldiers as if they were slaves in insurrection. they believe that they had the right to shut them down if they wanted to or to re-enslave them or, in the instances where the people had never been a slaves, just to sell them into slavery. lincoln responded very positively to that. he declared that if that policy continued, he would retaliate against these confederate prisoners of war. that slowed down the process a little bit. it did not end it. keep in mind, shortly thereafter, we had the port fill of -- the port pillow incident. men under the command of bedford forrest actually murdered black men and white
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men who were attempting to surrender. it did not -- lincoln understood the value of a black man to the service of the nation by august of 1863, when his friend calk lynn wrote to him and asked him to come to springfield to speak to a republican group. lincoln wrote back that he could not attend because the war was keeping him occupied. he did send a letter. this is part of what the letter said. could you hold this for me for just a second? >> this new technology, i'm not sure but i am hoping that i will be able to pull this up. i will put my spectacles on. thank you, lucas. just one second. i am always so impressed with
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the way he says this. he says, peace does not appear so distant as it did. i hope that it will come soon and come to stay. so come as to be worth keeping in all future time. it will then have been proved that among the freemen there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet. they who take such appeal hush are short to lose their case and pay the cost. and then, there will be some black man who can remember that with silent tong and clenched teeth and a steady eye and well poised bayonet, they have helped mankind on to this great consummation. i fear there will be some white men unable to forget that with malignant heart and deceitful speech, they will have strong
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to hither it. these are very powerful words. they convey what lincoln thinks about what black men are doing it during this period. of course, a black man and go on to win, to help to win many major battles. by the time that lincoln is a writing this, black men have already proven themselves. port hudson has occurred, milken's been has occurred. which is that island thing? fort wagner. yes, fort wagner has occurred with the 54th as well. these are black men who have proven themselves not only to be loyal to the union, but to be brave and courageous. lincoln was not a certain that they could do that initially. he said, if we blend bring black men into the army, they will not be able to stand on the battlefield against their former owners. they will run. they will throw down their weapons along the way. this is a major transformation
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for -- from where he was early in the war to the summer of 1863, once black men had served successfully in the union army. >> one of the earliest letters from an african american to lincoln that is at the library of congress was a black new yorker who offers his services to help recruit soldiers. that is ignored in april of 1861. it is another letter where he is not asking for something but he is offering. this issue of pay was ubiquitous in the correspondence from african american correspondents. i have a chapter in the book of this pay issue. it runs throughout many other letters. for these shoulders they say that the bullets and the cannon balls have no respect of persons when it comes to who they hit. they are quoting. there is a letter where they quote the greg scott decision where tony said, the black man has no rights which the white
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man is bounded to respect. they are putting it back to lincoln's face and saying, these bullets have no respect. we deserve equality. and i the letters from the mothers and the wives back home are just heart-wrenching to read. you mentioned fort pillow. this will be the last question to ask the panel and then i will open it to q&a. i want to ask michelle about this one letter that is written in the wake of a fort pillow. it is at the library of congress. can you tell us about this? >> sure, you will have to follow me on this one. it is a little bit convoluted. the white commander of black troops at fort pillow was a major lionel f prove. this was another point of contention. they were under white commanders. there were commissioners who were african american. major lionel booze was killed by a sharpshooter at ford
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pillow along with some of his soldiers. major booth's widow, who is a white as well, went to abraham lincoln in may, may 19th, 1864, to advocate on behalf of the widows and children of her husband's fallen soldiers. again, a little convoluted is what was happening here. these folks should be treated equally to any other of dependent wives and depended children of soldiers. i will read this quickly. abraham lincoln agrees with her. i will explain a little bit when i get to the end of it. he writes a letter of introduction for mrs. booze to take to charles who is going to be very sympathetic to anything involving african american rights. his letter, and the other thing i want you to notice is why it is important to have the
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original material as well as transcriptions. if you know lincoln's handwriting, you will see this is rushed handwriting. this is not carefully sitting down and thinking it. this is another thing that he is doing this day. it is a rushed. you get a motion in it. the bearer of this is major boost widow who fell at port fort widow. she makes a point of consideration which i think, widows and children in fact of colored soldiers who have fallen during service should be placed in law the same as if their marriages were legal, so that they can have the benefit of the provisions that -- will please see and hear mrs. booth. truly, lincoln. for the teachers in the group, this is a great little document to be able to unpack a lot of material in a -- in something your students may not know. the reason that he has to say widows and children in fact, is that for african american
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soldiers who had been enslaved before the war, and had wives and children before the war, slave marriages are not legally valid. if you are a widow of a union soldier who wants to apply for a pension, for you and your children, you have to prove that you were the legitimate or legal wife and children of that soldier. you cannot do that if your marriage was never saw alumni's, never made legal. you were widows and wives and children in fact but not in law. that is what's mrs. booth is pointing out. essentially, i can go get a pension because i have a marriage certificate or i have it somewhere that i married lionel boost. the widows of my husband soldiers are denied that equal treatment in terms of pensions
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because they had nothing to be able to prove it other than the community acknowledgments that they were the wives and children. that is the point then lincoln is making. he says that it is a worthy point. they deserve to have the same benefit as every other widow and child of a fallen soldier. because of the legacy of slavery, they are being denied this. when you start looking at the legal congressional debate about some of this, or what happens in congress, that same in 1864, equal pay is starting to come up and there is a provision that is essentially, if a soldier had been enslaved or was in an area where legal marriages could not take place, then, as long as you can prove community understanding and recognition that you were the wife of that soldier, that will stand in as the proof that you
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were the wife and then you can apply for pensions. there is so much that is going on in there with the legacy of slavery, and as a professional surgeon he was talking about, there are unanticipated things that come out of this war. i will also mention, if you have a chance to do work in seven civil pensions, do it! there are fascinating records. what you will also find is, because a slave marriages were not legal, if a man was understood to be the husband of a woman on one plantation or one place, and one of the two was sold away, and he or she took another wife after the war, sometimes you have competing widows. they were both recognized as the wives and dependent children. not to be flippant but sometimes i remember sitting in the national archives and
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mentioning these white pensioners heads exploding trying to untangle all of this. they are incredibly rich records. if you are interested in african american history and genealogy it is interesting because they have people come in and give depositions. i remember this, and so it is a wealth of information if you can do it. it is also one of those legacies of slavery that hinders the quality of treatment and something that abraham lincoln was recognizing as unfair and needed to be rectified. all of this from this tiny letter is one of the wonderful things to be able to look at. >> i like to think that when he gave his second inaugural, he talks about who was born into battle and him and his -- misses as well as white widows and white orphans. it begins in this letter. we have ten minutes for questions. there are mics in either i'll
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if anyone has questions for the panel. should i start sure go right? hi eileen bradner, arlington, virginia. ah more of a should i start? >> go ahead. >> i am from arlington virginia. more of a comment, i work closely with jim clyde burn of south carolina. he was telling me last week that he introduced a bill with congressman seth moulton which provides some gi benefits to african american world war ii veteran families who were denied those benefits after world war ii. this is still going on. any comments? they were denied educational
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and housing benefits after world war ii. with clyburn and congressman moulton and senator warren nick in the senate are trying to make amends to these families. >> does anyone want to comment? >> no? >> your mic. >> i know that some were denied benefits. some were very fortunate and they were able to use those benefits. i remember my physics professor in high school, who was a world war ii veteran, was educated because of the benefits that he received through gi. >> over here. >> two creole letters that you have, that lincoln would have expanded as the creole letter writers had expanded in who could vote. in the 13th amendment, this
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gave this out more votes than would otherwise apply. it would be needed all black votes that he can get out of them. >> so, i think that lady comes to see that black voters are going to be essential to the reconstruction process. lincoln, all along and says that he is fighting this war to prove that government that he can sense it works. this is where he sent in the joint message in congress. this is what he says throughout the war. now, african americans are going to be part of the people. he only says that he is working behind the scenes in march of 1964. it is not until april 1865 that he comes out publicly. it is impossible to know how lincoln's views have changed after his death. we cannot note. members of congress are certainly thinking about this. in central section three of the 14th amendment they essentially tried to diminish representation of southern states in congress if a black
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men were not given the right to vote. essentially if the voting population is not what it should be then southern states lose representation in congress. this has to do the 15th amendment in 1870 to guarantee that the right of vote would not be denied on account of race, or previous certitude. i did not know if this answers your point. but go ahead. >> hi, i'm and mosely, and with the center for lincoln studies at the university of illinois at springfield. since he mentioned, illinois i'm glad you brought up the black was because in our state i feel like we don't talk about them enough. many students who go through our school system are not educated on illinois black laws and that they even existed. , so that's something that we're trying to bring back to actually discuss more, so that people realize. but my question is, and i spoke to doctor moral about this
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before i came to listen to your panel. that is, trying to create civil conversations with groups of individuals with diversity on campuses. asking them what they think about abraham lincoln. i actually asked the director of our diversity center on campus, i asked him and he said, you don't want to know my answer. i said, well, i want you to feel comfortable talking to me about it. so, please, let me know. he goes, well, we don't believe that abraham lincoln was a great emancipator and we feel that the emancipation proclamation didn't really do anything. but i would like to ask our panelists is, and working on college campuses and dealing with the diversity issue and the comments that are coming up in regard to lincoln and his views, how do you suggest that
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different college campuses speak with students about lincoln and their upbringing and how they developed their views on abraham lincoln? >> i'll go for it. one thing that i think that you can do is, because the great emancipator makes it sound like it's only abraham lincoln, and i think it's so important that teachers or educators or people working in your field highlight how many other people were part of this. that it isn't just that lincoln woke up one day and said, oh, all free to slaves today. it was hundreds of people agitating to end slavery and people whose names we know and people whose names that we don't now and whites and african americans. there were a lot of people who are part of this. and it also didn't end in 1865
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either, that it continued on. freedom continues to evolve to. i think that's one thing you can do in terms of, you probably wouldn't have had emancipation during the civil war if it hadn't been for abraham lincoln, that he had to be pushed there. and other people had to be brought along. i think that's one thing that lucas pointed to his frederick douglass, frederick douglass was running for president so he could say what he felt and what he thought. and that pushes things forward, and lincoln can follow when he feels that it's politically ready to do it. or for him, it's that he can justify it on military necessity. unfortunately, that is a really long conversation to have with someone, it's not going to be a 32nd elevator ride. but i think if people understand that there are many people, as part of a long continuum of emancipation and
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freedom, that maybe people can see lincoln's part in emancipation, not that he was responsible for it. if that helps. >> if i may add, there also needs to be a broader conversation. not just about lincoln but about the civil war in general. and what it was about, why it occurred and what role various groups of people are playing in that war. until we are willing to sit down and talk about that, we're not going to get beyond this whole thing of whether or not lincoln was a great emancipator. we need to learn to talk to each other. >> my widows might to this is, you do know i teach at washington and that lee university. goodness, is a top, that is my 23rd year and i have been hung in effigy yet. so this is, good i bring it to the land of lee. teach a seminar unlike in every
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winter and so i wish i got more haters of lincoln, so it would be a more interesting discussion. but i try to make it a fair fight. we really abolitionists, we read, lincoln we read pro, confederate pro slavery side, in fact. one thing i do when we get to emancipation and lincoln's point out, is the answer that look at for the saves or did the slaves free themselves? the answer is and, it's both, we have it from lincoln's own writing, his own hand. in the preliminary emancipation proclamation, issue number 20, second 1860, to wearing ounces that 100 days from now he's going to issue the emancipation proclamation, depending on which portions of the country are still rebellion. in that preliminary emancipation proclamation he says to the effect, i don't know the words exactly, but in any efforts they may make for their freedom or liberation, lincoln actually is inviting the enslaved to escape. but here's the thing, but for his army and navy and his
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authority as president of the united states. that escape would be fruitless. it would be fruitless. proof, frederick douglass publishes his autobiography, the, first the narrative, in 1845. do you know how long he's in the united states before he has to leave? a few months. why does he have to leave the united states? because he's a fugitive. he's an escaped slave and now he's announced that he's an escape slave. and his legal master, back in maryland, isn't happy. frederick douglass may have trans located himself, he may have physically fled his legal owner but, in the eyes of the law, he's an outlaw, he's outside of the law is protection. he goes to the united kingdom, and for two years, he's there giving speeches, selling copies of his autobiography. it's not until friends of his on both sides of the pond pay
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150 pound sterling, 700 some odd dollars un-american cash, it's not until in the eyes of the law he has been -- is he'll have to return to the united states in 1847 and live is a free man. now, it is still the fugitive slave, act of course. in 1850, it makes it incredibly difficult for a free black person to be secure in his freedom, for all the reasons that we know. but the point, is you need the law, you need the government to do its job. so, it's both lincoln as the great emancipator making it a part of the war effort and, as he puts it in the emancipation proclamation, an act of justice. you have to have the action in the initiative of the enslaved liberating themselves, physically, but you also had to have the union army or navy. after all, allen gal said does a great job of this in lincoln's emancipation proclamation, his book, where he talks about it. the first chapter begins with a
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story about a slave who steals a boat and rose his way to freedom because he has heard that lincoln's been elected. this is well before the emancipation proclamation, but he has some strange notion that this guy, not james buchanan, but this new guy, this new political party, is on the side of the slave. now, is a couple years ahead of the process but i'm showing you that it's got to be both very to happen. >> we are out of time. but please join me in thanking our panelists. [applause] emory university professor -- teaches a class about efforts in the early 1960s to register african american voters and mississippi. she describes some of the leaders of the movement, their tactics and the opposition they face from segregationists. here's a portion of that program.
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>> so, moses goes down to the courthouse, he's got a couple of guys with him. they're going up the steps to go register black folk to vote. billy jack casten shows up, pulls out a knife, turns the handle around and bam, it's moses. moses staggers, billy jacques not done, he starts whaling on, him whaling on him. remember, nonviolence is that you learn to take the blows. because what you know, remember, we talked about these ethnic notions, what you know is that, the moment you swing back, it becomes justifiable homicide when they kill you. multiple reasons for nonviolence that's a strategy. and so, whaling on, him whaling on him and moses just goes into his own. that kind of zen zone, at home.
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the two black guys who are with them, he is going to help register to vote, they saw billy jack and they took off running. yeah, yeah. you know when your boys just up and leave you? like, whoa? when billy jack is done, i mean, moses is a bloody, pulpy mess. belichick is really proud of what he's done. he and his boys walk away you. when they're gone, moses stands up you, pleading, just bleeding. the two guys who had runaway, they're looking. moses is, like you're ready to go register to vote? yeah. you see that kind of strength. that'sac


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