JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools

pictures and stories from the water’s edge

JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools header image 2

Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men

November 18th, 2004 · No Comments

Here are my notes from reading Emancipating Slaves, Enslaving Free Men: A History of the American Civil War by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel. I had to return the book to the library, so I apologize for the skeleton sketches. What I’ve posted here is a combination of my own summary (written in first person) combined with paraphrases and words and quotes copied from the book.

The book was published in 1996 so it does not imply or detail any direct comparison to current events. But somehow reading about the Civil War in this time and place where we are now as a nation educated me in many ways. I was fascinated to learn how much of our legacy in government and culture dates back to the time when we Americans were at war with each other.

  • Towering genius….thirsts and burns for distinction; and, if possible, it will have it, whether at the expense of emancipating slaves or enslaving free men. – Abraham Lincoln 1838
  • The alternate bibliographical chapters in the book are rich with references and descriptions.
  • I learned about the economics of slavery, for example prime field hands by the mid-1850s cost upwards of $1,200 ($21K today’s prices).
  • Lincoln micromanaging and making mistakes with the military
  • The cost of waging Civil War was 1.75 million a day. National debt rose and so did taxes.
  • “at the war’s close the United States could boast higher taxation per capita than any other nation.”
  • During the Civil War Greenbacks were “unbacked”.
  • Rise in counterfeiting lead to the creation of the Secret Service
  • The Union’s wartime deficit for only the first three months after Fort Sumter would exceed $17 million.
  • Emancipation Proclamation only freed slaves “beyond the reach of Union authority”.
  • The toll of disease and medical care intrigued me: 140,000 Union soldiers perished as a result of battle, more than 220,000 died from disease….
  • U.S. army had 113 surgeons and 6.5 million recorded injuries – assembly line at field hospitals for amputations…
  • The Minie ball – the Civil War was the last to be fought without aseptic and antiseptic care…
  • Food riots in the South – wives and mothers at the forefront
  • National Academy of Sciences founded in 1863 by Confress “to seek out technological innovations useful for the war effort”
  • Confederate Conscription – how to recruit and maintain a militia?
    All males between 17 and 50

  • Union – tried troop quota (professional bounty brokers) then conscription but there were riots:
    NYC July 1863 four days of uncontrolled rioting over the draft.
    During house-to-house canvass, sometimes enrollment officers were killed.

  • Douglas – “there can be no neutrals in this war – only patriots – or traitors
  • Loss of civil liberties:
    Lincoln Administration imprisoned 14,000 civilians
    No one eligible for the draft could depart.
    The administration monitored and censored mail and telegraphs
    also suppressed 300 newspapers
    increased presidential power: “King Lincoln”

  • suspension of habeas corpus also practiced by Confederacy
  • 3000 women nurses Dorothea Dix, Clara Barton, Louisa May Alcott
  • “…war is war and not popularity seeking…” General Sherman
  • Reconstruction: One Nation under bigger government
  • Changes that occurred during the war included
    -concept of the country as a nation whole and singular – the United States is instead of the United States are.
    – surge in nationalism and government power
    – censoring obsecenity, medical licensing, fire departments

  • “the cause of the Civil War …was the refusal to honor the revolutionary right of self-determination…” – William Appleman Williams
    Was it democracy or empire?

  • Effect on the Women’s movement
    In the Fourteenth Amendment dealing with representation, for the first time the word “male” appeared in the Constitution… disillusioned women began mobilizing, abandoning natural right argument for moral superiority, leaving aside issues of sexuality and reproductive rights.

  • “welfare-warfare” State of today began during the Civil War
  • Tags: books

    0 responses so far ↓

    • There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

    Leave a Comment