What Brought About Emancipation – A Plea for Multi-Causality from Donald Shaffer

For a long time, the general wisdom was that Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves. In recent years the preferred thesis was “self emancipation.” Donald Shaffer on his blog “Civil War Emancipation,” makes a plea for “Multi-causality.” Rather than privileging one cause, though I think that Lincoln did more than any one person to further the cause of emancipation, and would refer readers to Manisha Sinha’s essay, “Allies for Emancipation?: Lincoln and Black Abolitionists,” in the collection _Our Lincoln_ Edited by Eric Foner. I would suggest that the advance of Union armies provides the context for understanding all of the other factors that led to emancipation during the war.




About marcferguson

I teach history, including the American Civil War Era, as an Adjunct at American International College in Springfield, Ma. I also teach survey courses in U.S. history, Western Civilization, and World History, and have taught at other area colleges, including the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, and Holyoke Community College. While my academic background is in European History, my interest in the American Civil War began about a decade ago. Other areas of interest include Modernism, 20th century World Thought and Culture, The Rise of the West after 1400, 19th c. American Society and Culture, Central and Eastern European History and Culture, and Local History. I have in recent years cut back my teaching drastically in order to devote more time raising my kids (15 year old twins now), including working part-time at their elementary/middle school for the past 6 years, they are now launched and off to High School, and I plan to crank up my involvement in teaching history and local history projects, particularly in light of the American Civil War Sesquicentennial.
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