Synopses & Reviews
In the popular imagination, slavery in the United States ended with Abraham Lincolnand#8217;s Emancipation Proclamation. The Proclamation may have been limitedand#151;freeing only slaves within Confederate states who were able to make their way to Union linesand#151;but it is nonetheless generally seen as the key moment, with Lincolnand#8217;s leadership setting into motion a train of inevitable events that culminated in the passage of an outright ban: the Thirteenth Amendment.
The real story, however, is much more complicatedand#151;and dramaticand#151;than that. With Who Freed the Slaves?, distinguished historian Leonard L. Richards tells the little-known story of the battle over the Thirteenth Amendment, and of James Ashley, the unsung Ohio congressman who proposed the amendment and steered it to passage. Taking readers to the floor of Congress and the back rooms where deals were made, Richards brings to life the messy process of legislationand#151;a process made all the more complicated by the bloody war and the deep-rooted fear of black emancipation. We watch as Ashley proposes, fine-tunes, and pushes the amendment even as Lincoln drags his feet, only coming aboard and providing crucial support at the last minute. Even as emancipation became the law of the land, Richards shows, its opponents were already regrouping, beginning what would become a decades-longand#151;and largely successfuland#151;fight to limit the amendmentand#8217;s impact.
Who Freed the Slaves? is a masterwork of American history, presenting a surprising, nuanced portrayal of a crucial moment for the nation, one whose effects are still being felt today.
"A well-researched, gracefully written account of the final emancipation of slaves in the United States, Final Freedom is a must-read for scholars interested in the history of slavery and abolition, African American history, legal and constitutional history, and general U.S. history." The Journal of Southern History"This study is a remarkable piece of historical research and writing...A short review can barely do justice to the virtues of this outstanding work. Subtly argued and elegantly written, almost every page brims with fresh insights. Besides breathing new life into the constitutional scholarship of the Civil War era, Final Freedom also provides a valuable starting point for future work on the politics of emancipation." The Historian"Important, long-awaited, and complex..." North Carolina Historical Review"This is a fine study of the troubled steps to end slavery." American Historical Review"Professional historians will long appreciate Michael Vorenberg's close description of that era's coming to grips with the necessary constitutional outcome of the nation's most traumatic upheaval." Journal of American Ethnic History"The strength of Vorenberg's study lies in its detailed analysis of the limitations of wartime emancipation and the debate that ensued over an emancipation amendment." Journal of American History"Vorenberg's observations about the larger importance of the Thirteenth Amendment serve to enhance appreciation for what should no longer be the overlooked member of the trio of Civil War constitutional amendments." H-Net Reviews"This innovative, well-written work focuses on the emancipation of American slaves subsequent to the Emancipation Proclamation and leading up to the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, which constitutionalized the issue of slavery. Although Vorenberg (Brown Univ.) acknowledges the depth and breadth of scholarship addressing the progress of African Americans after the Civil War, he asserts that comparatively scant attention has been paid to the process by which emancipation was legalized. Personalities, famous and not so well known, on both sides of the emancipation issue are heard. The author's impressive research, which includes an extensive exploration of little-mined archival documents as well as quotations from the press and Congressional Record, gives a rich political, legal, and societal context to the crafting, progress, and implementation of the Thirteenth Amendment. Highly recommended..." Library Journal"Final Freedom demonstrates that the Thirteenth Amendment was not an automatic sequel to the Emancipation Proclamation or an inevitable means of abolishing slavery. Instead, the Amendment's language, function, and meaning were contested. The story of its enactment and ratification, so well told here, is important and fascinating." James M. McPherson, Princeton University, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era"Vorenberg's compelling research...shows that the motivations of many participants [in the process of ratification] were diverse and complex." Journal of Illinois History
andquot;This study of the political drive toward the complete abolition of slavery is most welcome. Leonard Richards has rescued from obscurity James Ashley, who managed the course of the Thirteenth Amendment through the House of Representatives.and#160;The reader will come away with greater appreciation for the courage and skill of those antislavery leaders who never gave up and eventually triumphed.andquot;
Final Freedom looks at the struggle among legal thinkers, politicians, and ordinary Americans in the North and the border states to find a way to abolish slavery that would overcome the inadequacies of the Emancipation Proclamation. Michael Vorenberg tells the dramatic story of the creation of a constitutional amendment and argues that the crucial consideration of emancipation happened after, not before the Emancipation Proclamation; that the debate over final freedom was shaped by a level of volatility in party politics underestimated by previous historians, and that the abolition of slavery by constitutional amendment represented a novel method of reform that transformed attitudes toward the Constitution. Michael Vorenberg is an assistant professor of history at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. He was a research assistant to David Herbert Donald for his prize-winning biography, Lincoln, and he is a contributor to the Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association and the Reader's Companion to the American Presidency. This is his first book.
Focusing on the making and meaning of the Thirteenth Amendment, Final Freedom looks at the struggle among legal thinkers, politicians, and ordinary Americans to find a way to abolish slavery that would overcome the inadequacies of the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863.
Focusing on the Thirteenth Amendment, this book examines emancipation after the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863.
Final Freedom is a must-read for anyone interested in the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, the Constitution, or slavery. In 1863, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which did not actually free any slaves. This book details the fate of emancipation after the Proclamation, focusing on the making and meaning of the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery just after the Civil War ended in 1865. Final Freedom tells the dramatic story of the creation of a constitutional amendment and reveals an unprecedented transformation in American race relations, politics, and constitutional thought.
Who freed Americaand#8217;s slaves? The real story of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitutionand#151;which codified the rhetoric of the Emancipation Proclamationand#151;remains surprisingly obscure in the public imagination. Too often, this story has been told as a mere coda to that of the Proclamation, or as a tale of the Great Mr. Lincoln. Neither is historically accurate or complete. In Leonard Richardsand#8217;s hands, the full story makes for the best kind of political narrative, gripping and suspenseful.
and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160;and#160; The prime mover of the amendment was James Ashley, firebrand congressman from Toledo, Ohio. An angry and articulate idealist, Ashley pushed Congress, the president, and the country again and again until the arc of justice bent his way. Both a tale of righteous rage and legislative legerdemain, Outlawing Slavery details Ashleyand#8217;s campaign, replete with horse trading, arm twisting, and (maybe) vote buying. With many Congressmenand#151;and, for a long time, Abraham Lincolnand#151;resisting Ashleyand#8217;s demand for a constitutional amendment, Ashley had to engage in procedural shenanigans during a lame-duck session in 1864and#150;1865 to maneuver Congress into finally doing the right thing.
About the Author
Leonard L. Richards is the author of seven books, including Shaysandrsquo; Rebellion: The American Revolutionandrsquo;s Final Battle and, most recently, The California Gold Rush and the Coming of the Civil War. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Table of Contents
Prologue: Wednesday, June 15, 1864
Chapter One: The Old Order and Its Defenders
Chapter Two: Lincoln and Emancipation
Chapter Three: To a White and Black Manand#8217;s War
Chapter Four: The Odd Couple
Chapter Five: Hostility of the Northern Democracy
Chapter Six: The Lame Ducks of 1864
Chapter Seven: The Enforcement Clause and Its Enemies
Epilogue: Emancipation Day, 1893
Appendix A: A Historiographical Note
Appendix B: Significant Dates in the History of the Civil War and Thirteenth Amendment