By Dr. Frank Smith (Special from Trice-Edney News Wire)
Editor’s note: The Association for the Study of African American Life and History, which promotes, preserves and researches the history and culture of African Americans, set the annual 2011 Black History Month theme as “African Americans and the Civil War.” This is the fourth in a four-part series on the theme.
Did you know that when President Lincoln issued the 13th Amendment which abolished slavery, it included a proposal to pay loyal slave owners for their slaves and a proposal to provide federal help for newly freed Blacks wishing to leave the U.S.?
The Lincoln proposal to Congress stated as follows: “Every state, wherein slavery now exists, which shall abolish the same therein, at any time, or times, before the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand and nine hundred (1900) shall receive compensation from the United States — for each slave shown to exist as stated in Article I.”
In Article II of the 13th Amendment, he stated that slave owners “who shall not have been disloyal, shall be compensated for their slaves. And, Article III stated, “Congress may appropriate money, and otherwise provide for the colonizing of free colored persons, with their consent, at any place or places, without the United States.”
So there you have it — President Lincoln trying for two years to put down the rebellion, win the Civil War and keep America united under one flag without touching the issue of slavery at all. At the end of two years, he now realizes that he needs the help of the freed enslaved persons to set in shambles the economy of the South and provide additional soldiers in order to complete his noble objective of saving the Union. Lincoln first issues the Emancipation Proclamation as a fit and just military necessity to accomplish both objectives of ending slavery and saving the nation.
Lincoln knows, however, that slavery is all wrapped up in the Constitution and validated in a court decision called the Dred Scott case which stated that the founding fathers never intended that Blacks — neither slave nor free — be citizens of the U.S. So Lincoln started to work the Congress to get the 13th Amendment passed and — with his message to Congress — lay the groundwork for compensating loyal slave holders. He offered no compensation for the enslaved who had been forced to work for free for more than 200 hundred years building the economic groundwork for the rich and prosperous economy that we know today.
Congress rejected the compensation idea saying it would bankrupt the country and that gradual emancipation would prolong slavery for another 37 years till the year 1900. A few Blacks took a look-see at the proposed colonization idea, rejected it and claimed their stake in the United States of America. In 1870, Congress would then go on to pass the 14th Amendment making Blacks born in