Monday, December 31, 2012

PROSE: During the Night Watch: A Tirade on the Emancipation Proclamation (HuffPost Comment)

One hundred and fifty years ago today, enslaved and free Afro-Americans participated in the first Night Watch, where they gathered together and waited for President Abraham Lincoln to sign the Emancipation Proclamation. The Emancipation Proclamation did not free a single solitary slave who was not already entitled to freedom by: 1) various and sundry additional articles of war; 2) by appeals to the Unionist slave states; 3) by the First Confiscation Act; 4) by the Second Confiscation Act; 5) the abolition of slavery in both the District of Columbia and the Federal Territories; 6) by the Militia Act; and 7) and by their FEET, I dare say.

Night Watch Service 

But they waited anyway for a document to come into effect that would affirm the legal enslavement of over 900,000 slaves in the loyal border slaves states of Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky, and Missouri, as well as those in areas under occupied of the Union army, if you can believe the latter. At best, the Emancipation Proclamation was nothing less than an instrument of foreign policy that had no legal consequence for the more than three million slaves living in the Confederacy, and at worst, it was a pro-slavery document that affirmed slavery within its own sovereign borders, while calling for the overthrow of slavery in a foreign country.

Reading of Emancipation Proclamation

At the time, the Confederate States of America was a nation with its own Constitution, though through the forces of civil war, it did fail to become a modern nation-state. The Emancipation Proclamation is quite simply another ragged and sully piece of evidence of this nation's gradualism; it's sorry, protracted, thorny, and knotty history of emancipation that did not begin in 1861 but began with the shotgun marriage of slavery and freedom during the era of the American Revolution.

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