The Emancipation Proclamation

By John Hope Franklin | Go to book overview

CHAPTER ONE
The Precedents and the Pressures

FOR three-quarters of a century before the outbreak of the American Civil War, emancipation was in the air on both sides of the Atlantic. In England, France, Spain, Russia, and elsewhere there was talk of emancipation. Some urged it for purely humanitarian reasons. Other supporters were motivated by political and economic considerations. The new revolutionary philosophies were making demands not only for the political independence of the colonies of Europe, but also for the complete freedom of the human body and spirit.

As the European colonies in the New World opened their drive to cast off the yoke that held them to the mother country, they sought to bring consistency to their crusade by speaking out against slavery. Everywhere the climate was conducive to a consideration of the problem of human freedom. And the United States, a participant inthe discussion, could hardly have escaped the impact and influence of developments elsewhere, even if she had tried.

"Slaves cannot breathe in England," the poet William Cowper said in 1783. A recent authority hassuggested that Cowper was employing the license to which apoet is entitled.1 In 1772 Lord Mansfield, in the celebrated Somersett case, declared that slavery was too odious to existin

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The Emancipation Proclamation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Prologue - Time of Decision ix
  • Chapter One - The Precedents and the Pressures 1
  • Chapter Two - The Decision and the Writing 31
  • Chapter Three - The Hundred Days 58
  • Chapter Four - Day of Days 94
  • Charter Five - Victory More Certain 136
  • Epilogue - End of Unrequited Toil 155
  • Sources 157
  • Notes 163
  • Index 175
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