GDG- NPs & Slavery

Margaret D. Blough mdblough1 at
Tue Jan 3 14:58:28 CST 2012


Until the end of 1862, preservation of the Union was the sole official US government war objective. By 1863, with the final Emancipation Proclamation in place and Black men not only being allowed to enlist but actually having been in combat as US soldiers, ending slavery was very much a Union war objective. Lincoln continually made it clear that, once these lines were crossed, that he would never be part of going back on them. 

The problem with trying to limit or exclude slavery from discussing preservation of the Union is that (1) it misses why the Union was in danger in the first place and (2) it disregards what always was the biggest barrier to any resolution short of total defeat of the rebels and unconditional surrender-what future, if any, would slavery have in a reunited nation. One of the reasons that support of the EP and, later, the 13th Amendment increased even among Unionists who previously couldn't have cared less about the slaves was the growing realization that, so long as the house remained divided between slave and free, the Union would never be secure. 



----- Original Message -----
From: "Tom Ryan" <pennmardel at> 
To: "GDG" <gettysburg at> 
Sent: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 3:44:42 PM 
Subject: Re: GDG- NPs & Slavery 

Esteemed GDG Member Contributes: 
Hi Margaret, 

I am not arguing against placing Gettysburg in its proper context regarding 
the CW's causes and implications. I was one of the first people to write 
about the ANV capturing blacks during the campaign in an article for the 
Washington Times in 2002. My sense is that the VC film over-dramatized the 
slavery issue to the detriment of what went on at Gettysburg from a military 
point of view. 

As I mentioned earlier,from my perspective it is a matter of degree to which 
the slavery issue seems to take precedence in the film. 

I am totally in tune with the evils of slavery, and have read extensively 
about its horrors in this country that, among other things, caused uprisings 
against the slaveowners. I have researched, written about, and given talks 
about slavery and its impact on society here in Delaware -- especially the 
black codes that were imposed on the African-American population. 

However, the argument that some have been making here that it is the job of 
the NPS to provide a tutorial on slavery to the visitors at Gettysburg seems 
out of place. As bad as slavery was as an institution, the fact is that the 
Union army was not fighting do away with slavery. Its primary and perhaps 
sole objective was to prevent the Southern states from separating from the 
United States permanently. 

Next time I see the film, I will check to see how much of a balance is 
presented on the slavery vs. Union issues. However, my sense is the 
emphasis is on the former and not the latter. 

Regards, Tom 

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