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Eric Foner: The Emancipation of Abe Lincoln, The Wilmington 10 are pardoned

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  • Ed Pearl
    A Happier New Year to all. I am still bound by Earthlink to 100 addresses per day until my bulk permit is granted; that great day presumably soon, as granters
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1, 2013
      A Happier New Year to all. I am still bound by Earthlink to 100 addresses
      per day until my bulk permit is granted;
      that great day presumably soon, as granters return after the holidays. I
      urge you to read this important essay by
      America's most acknowledged historian/writer on the subject, and pass it on
      to as many as possible.

      (I've just read and added The Wilmington 10 pardon; another racist injustice
      amended; so long overdue.)

      tml?nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20130101> &emc=edit_th_20130101

      The Emancipation of Abe Lincoln

      Eric Foner
      NY Times: 12/31/2012

      Like all great historical transformations, emancipation was a process, not a
      single event. It arose from many causes and was the work of many
      individuals. It began at the outset of the Civil War, when slaves sought
      refuge behind Union lines. It did not end until December 1865, with the
      ratification of the 13th Amendment, which irrevocably abolished slavery
      throughout the nation.

      But the Emancipation Proclamation was the crucial turning point in this
      story. In a sense, it embodied a double emancipation: for the slaves, since
      it ensured that if the Union emerged victorious, slavery would perish, and
      for Lincoln himself, for whom it marked the abandonment of his previous
      assumptions about how to abolish slavery and the role blacks would play in
      post-emancipation American life.

      There is no reason to doubt the sincerity of Lincoln
      <http://www.nps.gov/resources/story.htm?id=234> 's statement in 1864 that he
      had always believed slavery to be wrong. During the first two years of the
      Civil War, despite insisting that the conflict's aim was preservation of the
      Union, he devoted considerable energy to a plan for ending slavery inherited
      from prewar years. Emancipation would be undertaken by state governments,
      with national financing. It would be gradual, owners would receive monetary
      compensation and emancipated slaves would be encouraged to find a homeland
      outside the United States - this last idea known as "colonization."

      Lincoln's plan sought to win the cooperation of slave holders in ending
      slavery. As early as November 1861, he proposed it to political leaders in
      Delaware, one of the four border states (along with Kentucky, Maryland and
      Missouri) that remained in the Union. Delaware had only 1,800 slaves; the
      institution was peripheral to the state's economy. But Lincoln found that
      even there, slave holders did not wish to surrender their human property.
      Nonetheless, for most of 1862, he avidly promoted his plan to the border
      states and any Confederates who might be interested.

      Lincoln also took his proposal to black Americans. In August 1862, he met
      with a group of black leaders from Washington. He seemed to blame the
      presence of blacks in America for the conflict: "but for your race among us
      there could not be war." He issued a powerful indictment of slavery - "the
      greatest wrong inflicted on any people" - but added that, because of racism,
      blacks would never achieve equality in America. "It is better for us both,
      therefore, to be separated," he said. But most blacks refused to contemplate
      emigration from the land of their birth.

      In the summer of 1862, a combination of events propelled Lincoln in a new
      direction. Slavery was disintegrating in parts of the South as thousands of
      slaves ran away to Union lines. With the war a stalemate, more Northerners
      found themselves agreeing with the abolitionists, who had insisted from the
      outset that slavery must become a target. Enthusiasm for enlistment was
      waning in the North. The Army had long refused to accept black volunteers,
      but the reservoir of black manpower could no longer be ignored. In response,
      Congress moved ahead of Lincoln, abolishing slavery in the District of
      Columbia, authorizing the president to enroll blacks in the Army and freeing
      the slaves of pro-Confederate owners in areas under military control.
      Lincoln signed all these measures that summer.

      The hallmark of Lincoln's greatness was his combination of bedrock principle
      with open-mindedness and capacity for growth. That summer, with his
      preferred approach going nowhere, he moved in the direction of immediate
      emancipation. He first proposed this to his cabinet on July 22, but
      Secretary of State William H. Seward persuaded him to wait for a military
      victory, lest it seem an act of desperation.

      Soon after the Union victory at Antietam in September, Lincoln issued the
      Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, a warning to the Confederacy that if
      it did not lay down its arms by Jan. 1, he would declare the slaves "forever

      Lincoln did not immediately abandon his earlier plan. His annual message to
      Congress, released on Dec. 1, 1862, devoted a long passage to gradual,
      compensated abolition and colonization. But in the same document, without
      mentioning the impending proclamation, he indicated that a new approach was
      imperative: "The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy
      present," he wrote. "We must disenthrall our selves, and then we shall save
      our country." Lincoln included himself in that "we." On Jan. 1, he
      proclaimed the freedom of the vast majority of the nation's slaves.

      The Emancipation Proclamation is perhaps the most misunderstood of the
      documents that have shaped American history. Contrary to legend, Lincoln did
      not free the nearly four million slaves with a stroke of his pen. It had no
      bearing on slaves in the four border states, since they were not in
      rebellion. It also exempted certain parts of the Confederacy occupied by the
      Union. All told, it left perhaps 750,000 slaves in bondage. But the
      remaining 3.1 million, it declared, "are, and henceforward shall be free."

      The proclamation did not end slavery in the United States on the day it was
      issued. Indeed, it could not even be enforced in most of the areas where it
      applied, which were under Confederate control. But it ensured the eventual
      death of slavery - assuming the Union won the war. Were the Confederacy to
      emerge victorious, slavery, in one form or another, would undoubtedly have
      lasted a long time.

      A military order, whose constitutional legitimacy rested on the president's
      war powers, the proclamation often disappoints those who read it. It is dull
      and legalistic; it contains no soaring language enunciating the rights of
      man. Only at the last minute, at the urging of Treasury Secretary Salmon P.
      Chase, an abolitionist, did Lincoln add a conclusion declaring the
      proclamation an "act of justice."

      Nonetheless, the proclamation marked a dramatic transformation in the nature
      of the Civil War and in Lincoln's own approach to the problem of slavery. No
      longer did he seek the consent of slave holders. The proclamation was
      immediate, not gradual, contained no mention of compensation for owners, and
      made no reference to colonization.

      In it, Lincoln addressed blacks directly, not as property subject to the
      will of others but as men and women whose loyalty the Union must earn. For
      the first time, he welcomed black soldiers into the Union Army; over the
      next two years some 200,000 black men would serve in the Army and Navy,
      playing a critical role in achieving Union victory. And Lincoln urged freed
      slaves to go to work for "reasonable wages" - in the United States. He never
      again mentioned colonization in public.

      Having made the decision, Lincoln did not look back. In 1864, with
      casualties mounting, there was talk of a compromise peace. Some urged
      Lincoln to rescind the proclamation, in which case, they believed, the South
      could be persuaded to return to the Union. Lincoln refused. Were he to do
      so, he told one visitor, "I should be damned in time and eternity."

      Wartime emancipation may have settled the fate of slavery, but it opened
      another vexing question: the role of former slaves in American life.
      Colonization had allowed its proponents to talk about abolition without
      having to confront this issue; after all, the black population would be
      gone. After Jan. 1, 1863, Lincoln for the first time began to think
      seriously of the United States as a biracial society.

      While not burdened with the visceral racism of many of his white
      contemporaries, Lincoln shared some of their prejudices. He had long seen
      blacks as an alien people who been unjustly uprooted from their homeland and
      were entitled to freedom, but were not an intrinsic part of American
      society. During his Senate campaign in Illinois, in 1858, he had insisted
      that blacks should enjoy the same natural rights as whites (life, liberty
      and the pursuit of happiness), but he opposed granting them legal equality
      or the right to vote.

      By the end of his life, Lincoln's outlook had changed dramatically. In his
      last <http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/speeches/last.htm>
      public address, delivered in April 1865, he said that in reconstructing
      Louisiana, and by implication other Southern states, he would "prefer" that
      limited black suffrage be implemented. He singled out the "very intelligent"
      (educated free blacks) and "those who serve our cause as soldiers" as most
      worthy. Though hardly an unambiguous embrace of equality, this was the first
      time an American president had endorsed any political rights for blacks.

      And then there was his magnificent second
      <http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=38> inaugural address of
      March 4, 1865, in which Lincoln ruminated on the deep meaning of the war. He
      now identified the institution of slavery - not the presence of blacks, as
      in 1862 - as its fundamental cause. The war, he said, might well be a divine
      punishment for the evil of slavery. And God might will it to continue until
      all the wealth the slaves had created had been destroyed, and "until every
      drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn by the
      sword." Lincoln was reminding Americans that violence did not begin with the
      firing on Fort Sumter, S.C., in April 1861. What he called "this terrible
      war" had been preceded by 250 years of the terrible violence of slavery.

      In essence, Lincoln asked the nation to confront unblinkingly the legacy of
      slavery. What were the requirements of justice in the face of this reality?
      What would be necessary to enable former slaves and their descendants to
      enjoy fully the pursuit of happiness? Lincoln did not live to provide an
      answer. A century and a half later, we have yet to do so.

      Eric Foner <http://www.ericfoner.com/> is a professor of history at
      Columbia and the author, most recently, of "The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln
      and American Slavery."

      * * *


      NC governor signs pardons for Wilmington 10

      By Martha Waggoner
      Associated Press: 12/31/2012 5:20:01 PM

      RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Outgoing North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue issued
      pardons Monday to the Wilmington 10, a group wrongly convicted 40 years ago
      in a notorious Civil Rights-era prosecution that led to accusations that the
      state was holding political prisoners.

      Perdue issued pardons of innocence Monday for the nine black men and one
      white woman who received prison sentences totaling nearly 300 years for the
      1971 firebombing of a Wilmington grocery store during three days of violence
      that included the shooting of a black teenager by police.

      The pardon means the state no longer thinks the 10 - four of whom have since
      died - committed a crime.

      "I have decided to grant these pardons because the more facts I have learned
      about the Wilmington Ten, the more appalled I have become about the manner
      in which their convictions were obtained," Perdue said in a news release

      The three key witnesses in the case later recanted their testimony. Amnesty
      International and other groups took up the issue, portraying the Wilmington
      10 as political prisoners.

      In 1978, then-Gov. Jim Hunt commuted their sentences but withheld a pardon.
      Two years later, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.,
      threw out the convictions, saying perjury and prosecutorial misconduct were
      factors in the verdicts.

      "We are tremendously grateful to Gov. Perdue for her courage," said Benjamin
      Chavis, the former national NAACP executive director who was in jail and
      prison for about five years before his release. "This is a historic day for
      North Carolina and the United States. People should be innocent until proven
      guilty, not persecuted for standing up for equal rights and justice."

      In addition to Chavis, the surviving members of the Wilmington 10 are
      Reginald Epps, James McKoy, Wayne Moore, Marvin Patrick and Willie Earl
      Vereen. Those who have died are Jerry Jacobs, Ann Shepard, Connie Tindall
      and Joe Wright.

      The bombing of the white-owned Mike's Grocery occurred less than three years
      after the 1968 assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
      Schools in Wilmington and New Hanover County hadn't desegregated, and black
      students began a boycott.

      The United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice, for whom Chavis
      worked, sent him to Wilmington to advise the students. On Feb. 6, 1971, the
      white-owned Mike's Grocery was firebombed, and police killed a black
      teenager that night. A day later, a white man was shot and killed.

      The National Guard then moved in to end the violence.

      The Wilmington 10 were convicted in October 1972 on charges of conspiracy to
      firebomb Mike's Grocery and conspiracy to assault emergency personnel who
      responded to the fire.

      The trial was held in Burgaw in Pender County after a judge declared a
      mistrial the first time. A jury of 10 blacks and two whites had been seated
      in the first trial when prosecutor Jay Stroud said he was sick, and the
      judge declared the mistrial. At the second trial, a jury of 10 whites and
      two blacks was seated.

      The three key witnesses who took the stand for the prosecution recanted
      their testimony in 1976. And the prosecutor, Stroud, became a flashpoint for
      the Wilmington 10 supporters.

      In November, NAACP state leaders said they believe newly uncovered notes
      show Stroud tried to keep blacks off the first jury and seat whites he
      thought were sympathetic to the Ku Klux Klan.

      They showed the notes on a poster board, saying the handwriting on the legal
      paper appeared to match notes from other prosecution records in the case.

      At the top of the list of 100 jurors, the notes said, "stay away from black
      men." A capital "B'' was beside the names of black jurors. The notes
      identify one potential black juror as an "Uncle Tom type," and beside the
      names of several white people, notations include "KKK?" and "good!!"

      "This conduct is disgraceful," Perdue said. "It is utterly incompatible with
      basic notions of fairness and with every ideal that North Carolina holds
      dear. The legitimacy of our criminal justice system hinges on it operating
      in a fair and equitable manner with justice being dispensed based on
      innocence or guilt - not based on race or other forms of prejudice."

      Stroud told the StarNews of Wilmington that he wrote some of the notes but
      declined to confirm that to the AP in November. On Monday, he told the AP
      that he wouldn't have written "stay away from black men," and said someone
      could have forged the notes.

      The N.C. State Bar lists Stroud as a former defense attorney whose status is
      inactive at his request. Stroud has been arrested more than a dozen times in
      the past six years, and his son told The Gaston Gazette in 2011 that his
      father suffers with bipolar disease and that he was diagnosed about the same
      time he graduated from law school.

      "I think she has made a mistake," Stroud said of Perdue on Monday. "The case
      was prosecuted fairly, and the jury reached a unanimous verdict fairly
      quickly after a six-week trial. And they found all 10 defendants unanimously
      guilty of all charges. And I think her decision is flying in the face of the
      jury's verdict."

      Associated Press writer Michael Biesecker in Raleigh contributed to this

      Martha Waggoner can be reached at http://twitter.com/mjwaggonernc

      Copyright 2012 The Associated Press


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