Friday, February 1, 2013

National #Freedom Day and Abraham Lincoln

African Slaves Taken From A Dhow Captured by H.M.S. "Undine"
Print  From The Graphic. London, June 7, 1884, p. 548
US Public Domain
February 1

National Freedom 

"Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." 
                                       Abraham Lincoln

Freedom. It's one of the founding principles our forefathers laid as a foundation for the United States. The United States was built on the back of white and black slaves.  White slaves? You don't often hear about them but they did exist in the United States. White slaves were less expensive than African slaves so some slave traders would sell both. In my next book, Bailey's Revenge, Lord Isaac Turner has a thriving slave business selling both Irish rebels and Africans to the American colonies. Keep in mind my story takes place in 1738. Lord Turner's Irish slave trade is based on fact. Irish law states any person who was declared a rebel was to be captured and sold into slavery. Most of the Irish who came to the American colonies from 17th to 18th centuries were white slaves. You can read more about white slaves in America here I had never heard of white slaves until I was doing research for my books. I find it shocking that we learn alot about the African slave trade but we never hear about the white slave trade market.

 Below is a table I found on the website showing slavery statistics throughout the years in the original 13 colonies.

As you can see from the chart above the United States has a thriving slave market. Slavery was so common place that by the time of the Civil War it wasn't uncommon to see a white or black slave somewhere.

 President Abraham Lincoln began to change the American slave trade business on January 1, 1863 he signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Abraham Lincoln declared in the proclamation:

all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.” 

Contrary to popular belief, this important document did not free all the slaves. There were still nearly 500,000 slaves in the slave states of Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland and Delaware that did nor qualify under the Emancipation Proclamation because their states were still part of the Union. Because these states had remained in the union, President Lincoln did not have the authority to declare marital law upon them. But he did have the power under Article II, section 2 of the United States Constitution as the "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy" to declare martial authority over any state that were in rebellion against the United States government. The Emancipation Proclamation had an immediate impact. You can read more about it at The Emancipation Proclamation was the first step towards the absolution of slavery in the United States.

The 13th amendment was drafted while the Civil War was occurring. The Senate passed the amendment on April 8, 1864 then handed it over to the House of Representatives. The thirteenth amendment almost didn't make it our of congress. The House of Representatives didn't want to pass it but Abraham Lincoln was determined to see the proposed amendment added to the constitution.  Our sixteenth president had been wanting to abolish slavery since his first inauguration on March 4, 1961. The road was tough for Abraham Lincoln's ideal amendment. He faced the harshest of oppositions. Slavery had been ingrained in our American culture for years and this was the second time he had approached Congress with the idea.

Abraham Lincoln and his fellow Republicans had been able to convince the House of Representatives to pass the amendment nine months after they had received it from the senate.  It passed the House on January 31, 1865 with a vote of 119–56. President Lincoln didn't waste any time when it proposed new amendment hit his desk. He signed it on February 1, 1865. The addition of the 13th amendment to the American constitution happened at the perfect time. The amendment had been added before the rebel states had rejoined the union making it impossible for any former confederate state to oppose the absolution of slavery. They had no choice but to free all of their slaves, white and black.

National Freedom Day is a national holiday that was signed into existence by President Harry Truman on June 30, 1948. It was created to honor President Lincoln's signing of the 13th amendment. The first celebration of this holiday was on February 1, 1942 at Independence Hall in Phildelphia. Celebrations and memorials have occurred throughout the United States for years to commemorate and honor National Freedom Day. How will you honor the day ALL Americans gained their freedom?

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