The Civil War Confiscation Acts: Failing to Reconstruct the South


This book is the first full account in more than 20 years oftwo significant, but relatively understudied, laws passedduring the Civil War. The Confiscation Acts (1861-62) weredesigned to sanction slave holding states by authorizing the Federal Government to seize rebel properties (including land and other assets held in Northern and border states)and grant freedom to slaves who fought with or worked forthe Confederate military.Abraham Lincoln objected to the Acts for fear they mightpush border states, particularly Missouri and Kentucky, intosecession. The Acts were eventually rendered moot by the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment.John Syrett examines the political contexts of the Acts,especially the debates in Congress, and demonstrates howthe failure of the confiscation acts during the war presagedthe political and structural shortcomings of Reconstructionafter the war.

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • New York
Publication year:
  • 2005


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