Wednesday, October 09, 2019

The Emancipation Proclamation did free slaves in 1863

A post by Rebecca R. Bibbs titled
Living historian sheds new light on Civil War general
in the Anderson, Indiana Herald Bulletin on October 5, 2019 contains the text from a talk in MIDDLETOWN:

Those in attendance learned Grant and his wife, Julia, owned slaves, that Lee never was asked to surrender his bejeweled saber and that the Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single slave.


The historical lecture, “The Surrender of Lee at Appomattox Court House,” was presented Saturday [October 5] by the Middletown Historical Society.

Going to William R. Boone High School in Orlando, I was taught "that the Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single slave." However, because portions of the states in rebellion were under control of Union forces, the Proclamation did free slaves. From Wikipedia:

Around 25,000 to 75,000 slaves were immediately emancipated in those regions of the Confederacy where the US Army was already in control. It could not be enforced in the areas still in rebellion, but as the Union army took control of Confederate regions, the Proclamation provided the legal framework for freeing more than three and a half million slaves in those regions.


The Emancipation Proclamation has been ridiculed, notably in an influential passage by Richard Hofstadter for "freeing" only the slaves over which the Union had no power.[27] These slaves were freed due to Lincoln's "war powers". This act cleared up the issue of contraband slaves.[28] It automatically clarified the status of over 100,000 now-former slaves. Some 20,000 to 50,000 slaves were freed the day it went into effect[29] in parts of nine of the ten states to which it applied (Texas being the exception).[30] In every Confederate state (except Tennessee and Texas), the Proclamation went into immediate effect in Union-occupied areas and at least 20,000 slaves[29][30] were freed at once on January 1, 1863.

It has been inaccurately claimed that the Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single slave;[79] historian Lerone Bennett, Jr. alleged that the proclamation was a hoax deliberately designed not to free any slaves.[80] However, as a result of the Proclamation, many slaves were freed during the course of the war, beginning with the day it took effect; eyewitness accounts at places such as Hilton Head Island, South Carolina,[81] and Port Royal, South Carolina[78] record celebrations on January 1 as thousands of blacks were informed of their new legal status of freedom. Estimates of how many thousands of slaves were freed immediately by the Emancipation Proclamation are varied. One contemporary estimate put the 'contraband' population of Union-occupied North Carolina at 10,000, and the Sea Islands of South Carolina also had a substantial population. Those 20,000 slaves were freed immediately by the Emancipation Proclamation."[29] This Union-occupied zone where freedom began at once included parts of eastern North Carolina, the Mississippi Valley, northern Alabama, the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, a large part of Arkansas, and the Sea Islands of Georgia and South Carolina.[82] Although some counties of Union-occupied Virginia were exempted from the Proclamation, the lower Shenandoah Valley, and the area around Alexandria were covered.[29] Emancipation was immediately enforced as Union soldiers advanced into the Confederacy. Slaves fled their masters and were often assisted by Union soldiers.[83]


If the facts enumerated in Wikipedia (and elsewhere) are true, then the talk of October 5, 2019, purporting to expose a myth, is itself a myth.

As to Grant and slavery, see

key words:
Rebecca R. Bibbs
E. Curt Fields Jr


Post a Comment

<< Home