Monday, September 24, 2012

Debating Emancipation

Last summer, at the Civil War Institute in Gettysburg, I participated on a number of panels concerning emancipation, blogging, Lincoln, and the war in 1862. C-Span was there, cameras at the ready - just in case anyone said anything interesting. This is a shot from the panel, Debating Emancipation, which included myself, Kevin Levin, Anne Marshall, Craig Symonds, and Glenn David Brasher. I really hope they air the blogging panel as well. I had a great time on that one.

You can watch the video HERE. It is a shade over one hour - so get comfortable.



  1. Very interesting panel discussion! Thanks for sharing.

    I'm definitely going to have to finally tackle *Team of Rivals*.

    History is a torrential river and its participants are swept along by currents triggered in the near and distant past, but individuals can also influence and to a degree guide their own destinies as well as the ship of state through its chaos-informed course. Lincoln and everyone simultaneously reacts to and seeks to influence the ship of state on those choppy waters, with some desire and calculated hope of arriving at longer-term destinations.

    It seems very likely to me that it was during his trip to see McClellan on the Peninsula that Lincoln made up his mind to do the emancipation without further delay. McClellan rather clearly was deeply opposed to emancipation and never could divorce himself from the troubling reality that he was charged with making war on a people with whom he shared a fundamental philosophical viewpoint in this regard, which ran counter to a basic tenant of the Republican administration. This, I think, is why Lincoln became convinced during that trip that the time for emancipation had come: the question of emancipation simmering in the Northern collective consciousness had to be elevated to concrete reality so McClellan, and more importantly all Union soldiers, could accept it and go beyond this conflicting and confounding philosophical turmoil which continued to hobble Union success. I think this insight on the Peninsula by Lincoln, confronting McClellan, was the breakthrough that pushed Lincoln in making that determination at that particular time.

    Appreciate anyone else's thoughts on the matter.