Sources of Freedom Exercises

This chapter concentrates on the history of the American Civil War, chronicling its major battles, the coming of emancipation, and the early experiments at reconstruction. The chapter begins with a compelling story of a German immigrant who volunteered in the Union army and whose story illustrates the transformation that the war went through, from preserving the Union to ending slavery.

The chapter examines how the war was both a modern war and a total war and the relative advantages that the North had over the South. After a series of Union defeats, Lincoln began a fundamental shift in his thinking and issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Afterwards, blacks fought valiantly for the Union.

The chapter then looks at the Civil War as a second American Revolution, exploring the vision Lincoln had for universal political democracy and human liberty. Lincoln’s views are explored in detail within Voices of Freedom. The Northern economy benefited greatly from the war, while the South suffered economic crisis. Victories at Gettysburg and Vicksburg turned the tide for a Union victory, which occurred when Lee surrendered at Appomattox in April 1865. Meanwhile, experiments on the Sea Islands and Grant’s "negro paradise" served as illustrations for what reconstruction might look like. Lincoln had a much more lenient plan, but was assassinated days after Lee’s surrender.

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