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Practical LiberatorsUnion Officers in the Western Theater during the Civil War$
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Kristopher A. Teters

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469638867

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469638867.001.0001

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An Emancipationist Turn of Policy

An Emancipationist Turn of Policy

Chapter:
(p.36) Chapter Two An Emancipationist Turn of Policy
Source:
Practical Liberators
Author(s):

Kristopher A. Teters

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/northcarolina/9781469638867.003.0003

During the second half of 1862, most Union officers in the West adopted more emancipationist policies. They routinely confiscated the slaves of rebels and employed many of them as scouts, spies, laborers, cooks, etc. This became the predominant policy across the several armies operating in the West. Official policy not only authorized confiscation but also made the practice more uniform. In July of 1862, Congress passed the Second Confiscation Act, which allowed for the seizure of any slaves belonging to rebels. At the same time, army commanders such as Samuel Curtis and Benjamin Butler began to realize how slaves could serve the Union army and the military necessity of taking them away from rebels, and developed pro-emancipationist policies and attitudes as a result. Though some radical officers, like John Phelps, were on a mission to eliminate slavery, Butler and many others were simply hard-nosed realists who shifted towards emancipationist policies out of military necessity. There remained conflict over the status of fugitive and confiscated states, mainly in border states like Kentucky and Missouri. Yet on the whole, by the end of 1862, Union armies were much more consistent and emancipationist in their policies.

Keywords:   Second Confiscation Act, confiscated slaves, Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, Emancipation, free papers, Samuel Curtis, Benjamin Butler, John Phelps

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