U. S. I name: African Americans and the Civil War Text 367 371



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U.S. I Name: ________________________

African Americans and the Civil War Text 367 – 371


President Lincoln staunchly stated in his inaugural address that he had no intention of abolishing slavery. However, as the years pressed on and the Civil War was an all out war in America President Lincoln began to change his mind. He recognized the need to include freedom for enslaved Americans among the goals of the war. In this assignment you will examine African Americans and the Civil War.

1. What was the dilemma to enslaved African Americans who sought refuge? What was the reaction by Union Generals? How did President Lincoln respond to the Union Generals’ decisions regarding African American refugees?



  • Union officers faced a dilemma – what to do with enslaved African Americans who came under their control

  • Argued could not send them back to slavery

  • Union General Benjamin Butler – put black refugees to work at the camp – declared the refugees to be contraband – captured war supplies

  • General John Fremont – declaring enslaved people under his command to be free

  • Lincoln was afraid of retaliation – went against General Fremont

2. After realizing he could not avoid the issue of slavery/freedom for African Americans he began forming a plan for emancipation (freedom). What was the name of this plan? What were the terms of the plan? What was the reaction by northerners and southerners to the Emancipation Proclamation?



  • Emancipation Proclamation

  • Freed all enslaved people in states still in rebellion after January 1, 1863

  • Did not apply to loyal border states or places that were already under Union military control

  • Hoped this proclamation might convince southern states to surrender

  • Northerners – with great excitement and a call for total abolition

  • Southerners – call for freeing of slaves put an end to any sort of negotiation – must not fight to the end

  • African Americans in the North – made them eager and willing to fight w/ the Union Army

3. At the start of the Civil War African Americans were not allowed to fight. Many believed African Americans were incapable of being a soldier. After the Emancipation Proclamation many African Americans were permitted to join in the war effort through the Militia Act, which mandated that black soldiers be accepted into the military. As time would tell, African Americans played a vital role during the Civil War. The 54th Massachusetts Regiment was one such group that proved not only could African Americans be soldiers but also they would be one of the most important groups in American history. Use your textbook and the Internet to tell the story of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment. Be as detailed as possible.



  • Who was the leader? Give details

    • Robert Gould Shaw

    • Shaw’s parents were wealthy and prominent abolitionist activists

    • Shaw himself had dropped out of Harvard to join the Union Army and had been injured in battle at Antietam

    • He was just 25 years old.







  • Describe some of the soldiers.


  • What were some of the jobs of the 54th during the war?

    • Labor



  • Describe some of the battles the 54th fought in.

    • a skirmish with Confederate troops on James Island, South Carolina, on July 16.





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