Baptists and the American Civil War: February 8, 1864

African SlaverySlavery, all along recognized by both North and South as the cause of the war, continues to steer the direction of the great conflict, a trajectory that day by day is favoring the enslaved over against slaveholders and their allies within the Southern Confederacy.

Today Massachusetts U.S. Senator Charles Sumner (Republican) submits a constitutional amendment to outlaw slavery in the United States. The amendment reads as follows:

“All persons are equal before the law, so that no person can hold another as a slave; and the Congress shall have power to make all laws necessary and proper to carry this declaration into effect everywhere in the United States.”

In the months ahead, several alternatively-worded amendments for abolishing slavery are offered by other senators. None, however, garner the necessary two-thirds vote of support in the U.S. House of Representatives. While the Senate is overwhelmingly ready to outlaw slavery, some House Republicans yet have reservations about such a radical step, while Democrats largely oppose the measure.

In the larger political reality of the times, election-year politics place in limbo all attempts to pass any abolition amendment. Not until after Abraham Lincoln successfully wins a second term as president does enough momentum swing toward abolishing slavery to allow passage of an amendment in the U.S. House on January 31, 1865. Many lame-duck Democrats cast votes in favor of the amendment, thus assuring victory. Free blacks seated in the congressional galleries cheer as the vote tally is announced. Lawful freedom has come at last for all blacks throughout the United States.

Meanwhile, a short piece in this weekend’s North Carolina Biblical Recorder , referencing an English newspaper favorable to the Confederacy, charges that the North is tricking former slaves into serving against their will in the United States military.

The New England Yankees have long since won for themselves an unenviable reputation. Their canting hypocrisy is known throughout the world. A correspondent of the London Times shows up their last trick as follows: “New England proposes to supply her quota under the new conscription by decoying or forcing able-bodied slaves from the peace and comfort of their Southern homes; and thus, while gratifying her benevolence, and, still more agreeable result, saving her pocket, obtain ‘soldiers of the Union’ without incurring any very heavy bill for “bounties.”

That slaves have a peaceful and comfortable home life would be news to slaves. Such ongoing delusions driven by the ideology of white supremacy remain impervious to obvious facts to the contrary.

Sources: “Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution” (link) and (link); “New England and the Negro,” Biblical Recorder, February 6, 1864 (link)