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The Great Emancipators: How The Civil War Openly Became about Slavery

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
July 19, 2022 3:00 am

The Great Emancipators: How The Civil War Openly Became about Slavery

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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July 19, 2022 3:00 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, Emma McCormick tells us how she was told she'd be working remotely in 2020, so she decided to live on a sailboat in Florida. Regular contributor Jon Elfner and Dr. Kate Masur, author of "Until Justice Be Done," tell the story behind Abraham Lincoln that begins with three runaway enslaved people. P.J. Hill, rancher and co-author of “The Not So Wild, Wild West: Property Rights on the Frontier,” explains the misunderstanding behind the American West.

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Time Codes:

00:00 - When Her Work Went Remote... So She Moved Onto a Sailboat

10:00 - The Great Emancipators: How The Civil War Openly Became about Slavery

35:00 - Why "The Wild, Wild West" Wasn't Actually So Wild

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This is Lee Habib Mrs. our American stories original stories about everything your own that you regards to sports and from business to history and everything in between including your story.

Seven hour American stories.up next. The story from Kevin McCormick is a Hillsdale graduate decided to live somewhere interesting. After graduating college because, in her words, is a person who loves adventure and doing something new is our own Monty Montgomery himself. Hillsdale graduate with the story. The allure of the sea. It's hard not to deny it comes back. If you've ever so much as looked at about.

It's hard not to imagine what it be like to own one person who decide to make those dreams into reality is Emma McCormick who did it on with an IMAP financial downloader.

Right now I'm sailor I never even noticed. After college I moved to Detroit I was new to the city know anybody and I out for a run one day and I saw a poster really know if necessary, learn to sail like so much fun as I showed up and yacht club that had a series and they would take new people and just put you on about training and learning them over the winter and then sailed every regatta. I cut but in 20/20 memo was told she be working remotely decided to make the most of it. She can work remotely. She could live remotely to live in was the question she had the answer for myself I like myself and selling about the possibilities of doing that, but that was also pretty far-fetched while you do this by myself more fun and saline and a lot of fun and driving. And it all came together last I canceled my lease before I had even officially about about the second hardest part about going about finding one by first hardest part is maintaining about all of them have something wrong with that. I sent almost 2 full months searching is looking into different types of votes by writing as though it was listed on Craigslist and the man who is selling was 92 and yes it only bought about 88 box.

She did so many other people from the Midwest do when spring rolls around, she went to Florida house like 25 feet long. Why the headroom is actually about 4'9" which means I can't stand up technically for people to sleep on this boat actually slept five for a few nights around.

I had actually never slept on about five office have a little galley kitchen with a two burner alcohol stove dining room there stories behind so generally pretty tiny person to begin with because living on a boat is a small space where living room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom is all leave something out place looks like a mess.

So be prepared to put a lot into it about zero working but you want to listen when I think you got it maintained care for the prepared cake auditing expect and cost back down here definitely simplified things a lot like one pot one pan and handful shirts living in a marina like in the kinds of people who spend time there. Unsurprisingly, very eclectic group of people certainly like to talk, sailing community boating community. Everyone is so kind and so excited your younger around the arena go to the bathroom because there's bathrooms and showers and laundry everything in the entrance lounge area. I can hardly walk. There without talking to somebody because there's always people out about it. There's always interesting people and if I depends on where you are marina here so maybe a little bit different clientele than people who just anchored in some random by you, but I do love hearing people stories. What brings them here by one of my friends broke up with his girlfriend and say decide want to move to a new state do something different and say, fun life. There's several family they have day jobs in one family and thinking of the wife's doctor. The husband runs a sale bringing company and their families on the cat ran but have any of her friends from up north come to visit course title all my friends in Florida so one sunny come visit and I wasn't sure how many people would actually jump on that by thinking to come down but everyone I told about it. I have guests basically every week.

Also, have never been on sailboats and so they love might go until I show them the friends but there is no there press the wonderful peace and special friend to Monty Montgomery first management and special thanks to McCormick for telling her story. Some time to do remote work and she did. With so many Americans due to procedural version of the American dream decided to live on a sailboat in the beautiful Marina beautiful part of the country was nice and warm story of McCormick sailing away while doing homework on our American stores. If you love the stories we tell about this great country and especially stories of America's rich past all of our stories about American history politics in a vision, culture and faith brought to us by the grateful place for students study all the beautiful one and all the things you can do Hillsdale will come to you with your freedom. Terrific online courses. Hillsdale.learn more. Geico asks how would you love a chance to save some money on insurance.

Of course you would when it comes to great rates on insurance.

GEICO can help like with insurance for your car, truck, motorcycle, boat and RV even help with homeowners or renters coverage plus at an easy to use mobile app available 24 hour roadside assistance and more. And GEICO is an easy choice switch today and see all the ways you can save it's easy. Simply go to or contact your local agent today and were back in our American stories Abraham Lincoln's nickname is the great emancipator but a regular contributor John is about to tell a story and how that's not quite the whole story. John was a beautiful spring evening, Virginia May 23, 1861 Abraham Lincoln it recently been inaugurated by this night in southern states including Virginia seceded from the union scope of the Civil War was still not well understood by most civil war had begun working along the banks of the James River were three men Frank Baker Sheppard Valerie James Townsend were finishing their assigned task of building a Confederate artillery battery just south of the James River in a location called Soules point position was designed to assault a union Fort just across the James River four was called Fort Monroe as evening approached Baker Mallory and Townsend decided to abandon the Confederate post across the James River to Fort Munroe, traveled the short distance from schools .4 became fugitives. According to the laws of Virginia Frank Baker Sheppard Valerie James Townsend were slaves did run away with the hopes of finding freedom within union lines and casual student of American history would likely expect union soldiers would take them in. After all, the soldiers commander-in-chief was Abraham Lincoln would eventually earn the nickname the great emancipator when the three arrived at Fort Munroe Forge commander, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler space with the dilemma should be returning the escapees based on Lincoln's public statements about the war general ethos at the beginning of the war was were not here to get involved with slavery. We are here to try to persuade the Confederates to drop their arms and come back union that stuck her kidneys Prof. of US history with Western University. She writes about the complexities of the evolution fantastic new book until justice be done. Research revealed something surprising.

US military officers sometimes decided to cooperate with slaveowners and return slaves. Everyone knew that the war was about slavery, so it's not that anyone was disguising that the conflict was about slavery that's true when it was pretty clear about the role of slavery in the war. In his first inaugural address, just two months earlier that address. He said this long section of our country. Blue slavery is right not to be extended to the other believes it is wrong and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute then why would the escapees not be welcomed into union Fort during the Civil War because moments later looking at this I have no purpose directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states where it currently exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so and I have no inclination to do so, first we have to remember that it was the Confederacy that declared itself out of the conflict begins with a series of southern states saying that they're no longer part of the United States and then creating the stink of the Confederate states of America, which they say is a separate nation but this was something we can steadfastly denied throughout the war. The United States government's position was you cannot secede from the union and if force is necessary to show that you southern states are still in the union. We will use force to prove that the United States is still intact. Lincoln did not want to say that the government was going to attack slavery. This was because Lincoln had a military problem.

There were four sleep states should not let the so-called border states to join the Confederacy would be devastating for the Sony talk revolution because Lincoln grade problems in the war. He was especially worried about the state of Kentucky. Lincoln expressed this concern the private letter to his close friends OH Brown think Toulouse Kentucky is the same as to lose the whole day. Kentucky gone we cannot hold Missouri nor was I think Maryland these old against us job on all hands is too large for us. That's because the Confederate state of Virginia already borders Washington DC Marilyn succeeds capital would be surrounded Confederate states we would as well.

Consent to separation it once the surrender of this capital. This explains why we can make public statements attacking slavery early in the war there is a possibility that when white Kentucky and see that a critical mass of them say hey I want to join the Confederacy and continue to fight so he does a lot of different things in the first year or so of the wards try to satisfy folks in those states. He says that he's not going to attack slavery. He says this is not a war about slavery, but the Civil War and slavery. So how could Lincoln be saying at the start of the war that he had no intention and no power to abolish slavery is important to understand that when we can publicly stated that he had no right to get rid of slavery. She was correct. After all, how can you get rid of slavery when just moments earlier. It sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution. Like it or not the Constitution.

Slavery in the states where currently existing. There is absolutely no doubt that Lincoln closed slavery. The question was under the United States Constitution. What power does the president or the federal government have to abolish slavery.

He believed that the federal government did not have the power to abolish slavery in the states where it already existed at the time of his inauguration hadn't been any violence between the union and the seceded states.

So as far as Lincoln was concerned Constitution was still in effect throughout the United States that included the states that had claimed to secede. They began with the objective of simply persuading the Confederates to stop what US government was a ridiculous and also treasonous enterprise preserving the union that was Lincoln stated objective at the beginning of the war and help keep the focus on preserving the union's military generals developed a surprising practice. Military officers frequently return escaped slaves to their owners. US military officers sometimes decided to cooperate with slaveowners and return slaves. This really happened and when enslavers came to US officials and said hey this person escaped into your camp. I need them back. The officers would say okay let me go find and that's what happened happened regularly. The United States has not recognized the Confederacy as a separate nation. There is this 1850 fugitive slave act. Under federal law when escaping slaves across jurisdictions. The slaveowner supposedly has a right to come and get them back and said that's one of the types of claims that the slave owners would've made this mean for Baker Mallory and Townsend three escapees who fled to Fort Monroe, the commander of the Ford Gen. Butler certainly knew Lincoln's position. Butler also knew that if he didn't return the slaves should be sending a message that the US forces were attacking slavery. That was a message. Lincoln was working hard to avoid someone, Baker, Mallory and Townsend arrived at the four. They were taken and consistent with the common practice of returning escapees, Butler may have considered returning when he spoke to the three he learned that he couldn't do that.

The reason they been installing Canon and Fort Monroe.

There was a report written about the conversation and acceptance. These able-bodied men held as slaves with adult breastworks to transport or store provisions to service cooks and waiters and even to bear arms. Butler knew he could return the three men who would immediately be put back to work installing Canon and Fort Monroe find a way around Lincoln's constitutional understanding of the property rights of slaveowners decision needed to be made to be made quickly because Confederate major John B. Kerry was approaching before seeking the return of the escapees then you been listening to John Elfman tell the story of the Civil War, a different kind of story.

A messy story in a difficult story and one having a lot to do with what could Lincoln actually do at the time, as opposed to what it Lincoln actually want to accomplish what you did know was going to happen more of this remarkable story of the Civil War by John over here on our American story back with our American stories and the story of how three slaves escaping to the unions.

Monroe provided the spark that led Abraham Lincoln earning the nickname the great emancipator plays were traditionally return seven slaveowners because the union held at the South was still part of the union until this moment changed everything back to John Elfman with the rest of the story. Union Gen. Benjamin Butler, Confederate officer John Bay top Kerry met outside Fort Monroe, according to a report.

The conversation went something like this.

I am informed that three slaves belonging to Col. Mallory have escaped within your lines. What do you mean to do with those escaped slaves. I intend to hold them.

Do you mean then to set aside your constitutional obligation to return them. I mean to take Virginia at her work. I'm under no constitutional obligations to a foreign country which Virginia now claims to be what you say we cannot succeed so you cannot consistently detain the escapee but you say you have seceded so you cannot consistently claim.

I shall hold these escapees as contraband of sincere engaged in the construction of your battery under claim.

Does your property and with that Carrie was sent away without the escape come to collect and how is Butler able to justify keeping the escapees he was relying on something called the international laws of war. Dr. Kate Mazer explains there is a tradition in what are called the international laws of war and one of the mainstream ideas was belligerence her enemies in war can confiscate the property of their enemies. Normally we were generally respect of property rights. But in war time, especially property that's going be used in the war effort. The enemy is allowed to confiscate that property.

One of the enslaved legally considered in Virginia property Benjamin Butler at Fort Monroe was thinking about the laws of war and thinking, yeah, if these enslaved people who their owners say their property that I can confiscate them as contraband of war under new national law property was more typically describing things like guns, horses, and military supplies. But what Butler had recognized was that the Confederate military categorized slaves as property and therefore the Southerners themselves had opened up the enslaved confiscation of what Butler had called contraband, not peace time it's wartime and commanders have choices about what they're doing. The situation Butler with his word. Contraband created a constitutional loophole that permitted him to hold the escapees and upon dismissing Kerry. She may have assumed that was the end of it.

This encounter fundamentally change the role of slavery, civil day after Butler refused to return the escapees more escaped slaves approached the entrance of the Fort.

The following day 47 escapees arrived at Fort within two weeks. Over 500 escaped slaves had sought asylum in word the Union army was receiving fugitives in the longer returning begin to spread for long Union soldiers stationed outside the fort were countering escapees who are asking where could we find freedom. Fort Butler by giving asylum to Baker Mallory and Townsend have moved slavery into the political conversation in a way that required the address by Congress and the president was just Fort Monroe with the escapees began.

Then, everywhere they go enslaved people start to escape and come to union lines of the story about Fort Rao's one really critical very early version of that story but it's really happening everywhere. Members of Lincoln's inner circle the White House recognize just how important Fort Monroe was Lincoln's personal secretaries John Henry and John Nicollet wrote about the events important role in their biography of like his with a sense out of this incident.

There seems to have grown most sudden and important revolutions in popular thought, which took place during the whole war, Baker, Mallory and Townsend along with Gen. Butler since created the power that Lincoln needed by characterizing the escapees as contraband of war and the growing number of fugitive slaves swelling the union for its force Congress to act, Congress in spring of 1862 passed legislation that says from now on there's going to be no returning after that point it was policy of the government not to return people. Lincoln supported this legislation for signing the bill Congress sent to him prohibiting the return of slaves and setting the stage for his later Emancipation Proclamation of the president who said this on his first day of office.

I have no purpose directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the states currently exist and up fishing and Emancipation Proclamation. Two years later it set this all persons held as slaves within any state, or designated part of the state. The people shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be within this forward and forever free is because upon his inauguration, the Civil War had not really begun sure seven states had claimed to see Lincoln's inauguration proceeded any violence towards the federal government states that had seceded when the Confederacy fired on Fort Sumter. A month after Lincoln's inauguration. That action fundamentally change the relationship between the rebels and the federal government going to proceed cautiously with his public statements about slavery in the early days of the war. As the years passed he acted more and more aggressively to get rid of slavery. Use a version of Butler's art military necessity justify the Emancipation Proclamation. It just puts down a marker that things are going to be different and that this is not simply a contest between white Northerners and white Southerners over it prove to everyone that black people were not going to sit around and wait emancipated. So, how much credit does Lincoln deserve for the abolition of slavery. There is no doubt. Lincoln did a lot to end slavery and the Emancipation Proclamation was a key example of that pushing for the 13th amendment, which constitutionally abolished slavery was a great example of that on how slavery really ended. During the Civil War. It's actually a lot more complicated than just the president suddenly deciding in his wisdom of his mind and issuing Emancipation Proclamation and so we need to take into consideration if we want to really understand history.

What enslaved people themselves were doing, how they made themselves a factor in the war. What Congress was doing and what the US Armed Forces were doing and how all of these different parties came together to destroy slavery during the course of this week. It is without a masterful politician. So when considering his nickname the great emancipator.

There's no denying that we can solve the riddle of the federal government could order that slaves be permanently free and in so doing nearly 4 million slaves were freed over the course of the Civil War took lesser-known people like Frank Baker Sheppard Mallory and James Townsend with the courage to escape the cleverness of Gen. Benjamin Butler find a way to refuse the return took the hundreds later thousands of enslaved to escape to you. Pressure Congress to union commanders from returning escapees and took the lives of over 300,000 soldiers to carry out yet. Lincoln did a lot a lot of help along the way and a special thanks to John Elfman for the storytelling on that piece and he's a history teacher in Illinois under so many great history teachers in this country.

They may not have PhD's and they may not be writing fancy books, but we just got to sit in John Elfman's classroom and what a privilege that is special thanks also to Kate Mazer. Her book until justice be done.

America's first civil rights movement in the revolution to reconstruction your local bookstore or the usual suspects and buy a copy in my goodness, what a story about three courageous slaves in a courageous general found a way to do what was right to do what was in the end the beginning of the end of slavery great emancipator's how the Civil War openly became about slavery. That story here on our American stores and were back with our American stories and up next another story from our rule of law series re-examine what happens when there is rule of law and also when there's not remember but have the people of this world don't have no property rights. There isn't an independent judiciary in contract law enforcement of contracts with good luck with that. BJ held a senior fellow at the property and environment research Center in Bozeman, Montana, was a long serving professor in college today is going to share a bit about his background in the American West and some of its misconceptions firefights skewed out bank robberies and outlaws.

These are things we might envision only think of the wild West. Not to mention the many films that portray exactly that. But what if the West wasn't as wild as we thought, co-author of the not so wild wild West. PJ Hill is here to share that maybe the West had a rule of law, not one where you stated that rule of law.

Nonetheless, my grandfather came up from Denver in 1892 horse ranch for a couple of years.

This is in southeastern Montana part of the big openhearted anybody around and started his own ranch. The ranch that actually became the PJ rancher was named after him. Johnson of course when I was born seem natural to call me PJ Hill. I had gone on to graduate work at University Chicago with the thought that I would probably go back to our cattle.

I got married in 1970 my wife back to our cattle ranch operated for another 40 years.

I became fascinated by West human soul coordination, cooperation, problem is, that was my back once he given to this question. That's when PJ realized the misunderstanding behind the American West West was not nearly as wild, woolly is oftentimes think is not a place of disorder is not a place of rampant bank robberies. All sorts of things they did figure out ways to cooperate property rights worked fairly well then why do we so often refer to the West as a place of anarchy and chaos.

Several things that influenced part of it was almost no presence of the federal government in any way. Throughout the 19th century was pretty much whatever rules it can come up with power was there for everybody to people power structure would be something that would cause people to say so. The West became, if you will grab experiment was a place of law figuring out ways cooperation overcoming difficulties. There really was a culture of individual worth and in fact, that's one of the reasons why you with gunfights or fistfights bars was when people thought that they were being disrespected so the West was a place of mutual respect and neutral rights worked well so so interesting and complex problems when were the times when their self enforced by first they needed a way to transfer in traveling across the plains alone was a dangerous thing today so they formed groups called wagon train. Seem like this would be a real recipe for disaster.

Well armed people crossing a lot of space thinking a lot about how they want to get someplace to get wealthy and so these wagon trains usually were 40 to 50 wagons in size and the question is how you organize well. Interestingly enough, they thought about that beforehand. They wrote the Constitution for a contract, it was unique for each wagon train and they specified also to things they specified. The participants were how much each participant was contributing to the wagon train in terms of livestock auction roughnecks pulling wagons the wagons themselves. How much food they set out the rules for travel appointed one person is the wagon master person had to be made in terms of the rate of speed every day to move up one notch on the wagon train. So, sooner or later you got to the front and you have to have everybody else's dust rules for solving disputes all doubt. You murder along like a dream person captured for the murders of what it really is not a law we think we should wait we can get everybody back east to have a trial case with this written contract specifies how we will go about jury they heard the others only got guilty and hung wagon trains were very well organized, bottom-up people deciding to come together to settle disputes to make their way west.

I see wagon trains as one of the many examples talk of people going out ways to cool figuring out ways. Another reason they were traveling in the West was to my difficult this is another situation where it could be disastrous. Without rule of law will how much can you my you just move up and down the stream: pan anywhere you want to know what the conflict will be lots of overlap set up some clear rules about mining claims the person that found the gold first usually didn't get the claim 3 miles of street. He got a claim that was larger often lunch twice what the other people could get okay that person's claim was limited, so the rules about what was necessary to establish the claim about how large the claim could be no violence. This is so expensive violences difficult something that approaches the rule of law that procreates orders that are sort of a system so the mining camps did a pretty good job of no other scarce resources in the process. If you're not sure you want to use up so hiring a full-time enforcer enforcer Say I might go so there were no Sheriff's would simply happen was when somebody thought that a violation prior to the All the minors would form a jewelry person that was being charged was allowed to present their case. The person that they claim was being file in their case decision. Once again, maintaining challenges pretty expensive. What they did was to simply banish the person if you're found guilty, so this is one of the themes throughout my book with Terry Anderson on the American West is that violence is a pretty expensive way to order your life if you can figure out ways to avoid violence. They try to do that so that was all the sorts of rules that were enforcement seem in a reasonable sort of way. What about property rights how to establish rights to land in the West Homestead act of 1862 established rights 260 acres that oftentimes it was difficult to find water.

The one with the Homestead act on because of lack of access to water, but it also was unworkable just in terms of size and the West 160 acres would not suffice that they expanded it 640 acres in 1916, which still was entirely too small, workable cattle ranch to give you a sense of my family cattle ranch with 25,000 acres that could not make us cattle kings. We were not some of the largest operators around you can imagine, it took 25,000 acres to be a decent sized economic the Homestead act even when it got up to 640 acres just unworkable.

So we imposed a top-down system for there had been a bottom-up system of rights of directors of established sheep producers in established that was for workable sorts of branches we replace that with his top-down short so we developed pretty good institutions from the bottom up but I would also say what happened in the West is evidence of the problem of power and wind power can violate what we think of as standard rules of law on the basic features of rule of law called universal human dignity.

People are all worth as we think about lessons from the West.

One would be very careful about imposing too many top-down look at the community think about what certain things they want.

How do they go about solving conflict and I think many community-based sorts of solutions may evolve to become law can be very useful whenever we start collaborating power, then there is the effort to try to capture power can be used well there's real danger to be used badly. Keep in mind that we do want to recognize universal human dignity or moral standing before the great job on that piece by Madison and a special thanks to PJ Hill's book, the not so wild wild West property rights on the frontier is available at Amazon and the usual suspects that Western culture cultural individual worth mutual respect and mutual rights of Western culture I think are still there. The story of a not so wild wild West of law series here on our Americans

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