.. to organize a territorial government, which could then open the way to lay down railroad tracks. Southern senators, however, balked at any bill that would allow the ban on slavery in the territories to continue. Douglas reworked his bill. His new proposal divided the area into two territories: that of Kansas and that of Nebraska. It was implied, but not started, that Kansas would become a slave state, and Nebraska would be free of slavery.
He also proposed an idea called Popular Sovereignty, or the right of the voters in each territory to decide whether to become a free or slave state. The bill rendered the Missouri Compromise meaningless. Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska act in 1854. Antislavery people, Democrats, and Wigs included, held rallies, demonstrations, and meetings throughout the North to condemn the Kansas-Nebraska Act. These gatherings helped form a new political party.
The Underground Railroad Antislavery forces did more than protect and rescue runaway slaves. In fact, they helped many slaves escape. A secret network called the Underground Railroad helped 100,000 fugitive slaves to freedom between 1780 and 1865. The Underground Railroad was not a railroad and it didn’t run underground. The Underground Railroad was a secret complex system of about 3,000 people both blacks and whites, who helped transport escaped slaves. At night conductors led runaways to freedom, providing food and safe hiding places. The conductors risked great danger in aiding slaves.
The slaves transportation in the Underground Railroad varied. Slaves traveled on foot, in covered wagons, or in boxes. At the stations the slaves would hide in attics, barns, cellars, and even secret rooms behind walls or in the floor. Finally at the end the slaves would settle in one of the fourteen free states or Canada. The most famous railroad conductor had to be Harriet Tubman who escaped herself from slavery.
Harriet guided more than three hundred slaves to freedom. The Emancipation Proclamation Following the bloodshed at Antietam, Lincoln needed to broaden the reasons for remaining at war. He was still very serious about saving the Union, but he took a firm stand on slavery as well. Linking the Union with the abolition of slavery in the South would strengthen his support in the North by pointing out the need to protect the country and to make it a country where freedom held great value. On September 22, 1862, he issued his first Emancipation Proclamation.
The Emancipation Proclamation would free all slaves in areas still in rebellion. It was a statement of intent instead of a law, and slaveholders refused to accept it. The Proclamation also allowed former slaves to enlist in the army. During the war one hundred and eighty-six thousand blacks served in the Union Army and twenty-nine thousand served in the Union Navy. Reconstruction Before the Civil war was over and General Lee and his troops surrendered, Lincoln already had a plan of amnesty and reconstruction to be approved by congress.
In this plan, 10% of those who voted in the election of 1860 had to take an oath proclaiming their loyalty to the United States. Confederate states could then form a new government and use a new constitution. In this proclamation, slavery was also banned, but it did not say that blacks had the right to vote or to any other rights. Another plan the Radicals passed in July 1864, was the Wade-Davis Bill. This bill was a stricter version of Lincoln’s Proclamation of Amnesty.
In this bill a majority (51%) had to take an oath to the United States and take part in drafting a new Constitution. Only then could that state be remitted to the Union. The bill demanded that Confederates swear past and present loyalty. The Wade-Davis bill also required the new state constitutions to outlaw slavery and declare the Confederate debt unpayable. Confederate bonds and money became worthless.
With the support of the moderates, Congress passed the Wade-Davis bill. Congress then adjourned, however, and Lincoln refused to sign the bill. This defeated the Wade-Davis bill. In January 1865, Lincoln compromised by proposing the Thirteenth Amendment to outlaw slavery. Former Confederate states were required to ratify, or formally approve, the amendment before rejoining the Union. Black Codes In Johnson’s plan for reconstruction he gave black voting rights to most whites, but he only encouraged new states to allow freedmen to vote. The southern states followed Johnson’s policies, but not happily.
None gave blacks the right to vote. Instead, the new state governments tried to bring back slavery in all but name. They used laws known as Black Codes. The Black Codes varied from state to state, but everywhere the laws were meant to keep blacks from being free. Freedman were made to sign labor contracts that bound them to work and orphans whose parents could not raise them were to work as apprentices.
Freedman’s Bureau and Education For Blacks Just before the war’s end, Congress established the Freedman’s Bureau. For emergency relief the bureau distributed food to the needy of both races. Finding jobs was one of its first tasks. It also performed marriages for blacks. Education was also very important for blacks.
They thought of education as their key to equal rights. The Freedman’s Bureau also helped them in seeking a better education. More than four thousand schools were established. In the South, the government set up schools after 1868. They were unfortunately segregated (separated by race). During this time in 1868, the fifteenth amendment was passed.
This amendment gave everyone the right to vote no matter their race or if they were previously slaves. Blacks were slowly gaining their rights. Conclusion Blacks as you can see suffered through many hardships and losses over time. Eventually many victories come to them. What we must realize is that all humans should be treated the same no matter what their race or color is.
But this was all in the past and we need to put it behind us. Instead we should look to the future and remember all men are created equal. Bibliography Martin Luther The King History Reports.