Witness for Freedom: African American Voices on Race, Slavery, and Emancipation

By C. Peter Ripley; Roy E. Finkenbine et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
Civil War

DEBATING THE WAR

After the fall of Fort Sumter in April 1861, thousands of northern blacks rushed to enlist in the Union cause, only to be turned away by the Lincoln administration. The stinging rejection of African American patriotism incited an intense controversy within the black community. For several months, blacks debated their proper role in the conflict, searching for a policy that would end slavery and gain equality and citizenship for all African Americans. A full and influential discussion took place in the pages of New York's Weekly Anglo-African in the fall of 1861. The following letters illustrate the controversial issue among African Americans: Should northern blacks fight for a government that guaranteed slavery?


72 FORMATION OF COLORED REGIMENTS

" R. H. V."--most likely Robert H. Vandyne, a frequent New York City contributor to the Weekly Anglo-African--argued that African Americans should avoid military service until emancipation became a northern war aim.

Mr. Editor:

The duty of the black man at this critical epoch is a question of much importance, deeply interesting the friends of liberty, both white and black. The most imposing feature of this duty, I am told, is in relation to military

-211-

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Witness for Freedom: African American Voices on Race, Slavery, and Emancipation
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations xiii
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Editorial Statement xvii
  • Chronology xxi
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - The Rise of Black Abolitionism 29
  • Chapter 2 - African Americans And the Antislavery Movement 69
  • Chapter 3 - Black Independence 121
  • Chapter 4 - Black Abolitionists and the National Crisis 170
  • Chapter 5 - Civil War 211
  • Glossary 263
  • Bibliographical Essay 279
  • Index 291
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