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The African American Civil War Museum: 150th Anniversary of Emancipation Proclamation
by Reginald Stuart
Friday Nov 23rd, 2012 12:19 PM
Freedom's Eve, more than 200,000 people of African ancestry fought with Union forces to enforce President Abraham Lincoln's executive order the Emancipation Proclamation. Frank Smith wants you to know their story.
With great expectations, African Americans looked to January 1, 1863, as the day of jubilee. They congregated in churches and around “praying trees” in secret locations across the country on the evening of December 31, 1862, to “watch” for the coming of the Emancipation Proclamation; thus, the tradition of “watch night” was born. “It is a day for poetry and song, a new song,” wrote Frederick Douglass. “These cloudless skies, this balmy air, this brilliant sunshine, (making December as pleasant as May), are in harmony with the glorious morning of liberty about to dawn up on us.”

President Lincoln had promised a proclamation emancipating slaves in the states in rebellion 99 days earlier; and on “watch night,” Americans of African descent faithfully “watched” for his proclamation to be issued on the 100th day. In Boston, Douglass reported that “a line of messengers was established between the telegraph office and the platform at Tremont Temple.” When what Douglass called the “trump of jubilee” was heard, “joy and gladness exhausted all forms of expression, from shouts of praise to sobs and tears.”

In Washington, Reverend Henry M. Turner, pastor of Israel Bethel AME Church located on Capitol Hill, wrote that it was in the churches of the District of Columbia where “expressions of sentiments” for the Emancipation Proclamation could be heard. “Watching” for the issuing of the final Emancipation Proclamation was not simply “watching” for emancipation. African Americans were “watching” for the opportunity to fight for freedom. The enslaved in the District had already been emancipated, but they prayed for the freedom of all. Indeed, they were willing to fight for the freedom of all. “Several colored men in this city,” wrote Reverend Turner, “say they are now ready for the battlefield.

Abraham Lincoln can get anything he wants from the colored people here from a company to a corps. I would not be surprised to see myself carrying a musket before long.” Later that year, Turner would recruit hundreds of men and become a chaplain in the Union Army.

It is important that we in the 21st century understand that the Emancipation Proclamation did not simply free the slaves. It declared free slaves in the states in rebellion. It was in Lincoln’s words “a fit and necessary war measure” for preserving the Union. Lincoln wrote in the Proclamation that it “was warranted by the Constitution upon military necessity.” The military necessity that led to the Emancipation Proclamation meant that the help of African Americans was needed to save the Union.

Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, declared in January 1863 that the “proclamation is also an authentic statement by the Government of the United States of its inability to subjugate the South by force of arms.” In the 19th century African Americans, the leadership of the Confederacy, and the leadership of the Federal government understood that the Emancipation Proclamation was a military necessity that explicitly called on the help of African Americans.

Unequivocally, Lincoln believed that African descent soldiers were critical to Union success. The President wrote to General Ulysses S. Grant in August 1863 stating that he believed African descent soldiers were “a resource which if vigourously [sic] applied now, will soon close the contest.” Grant replied stating that he shared the President’s belief declaring that “by arming the negro, we have added a powerful ally.” In response to a supporter who opposed emancipation and the use of African descent soldiers, Lincoln wrote, “I know, as fully as one can know the opinions of others that some of the commanders of our armies in the field, who have given us our most important successes, believe the emancipation policy, and the use of colored troops, constitute the heaviest blow yet dealt to the rebellion; and that at least one of those important successes could not have been achieved when it was, but for the aid of black soldiers. Among the commanders holding these views are some who have never had any affinity with what is called abolitionism, or with Republican party politics, but who hold them purely as military opinion.”

Therefore, when we celebrate and commemorate “watch night” and the 150th anniversary of the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation, we should appreciate the importance of African Americans in saving the Union and freeing themselves. Such an appreciation is to understand the practical significance of the Proclamation as the people who made the history understood it. We are commemorating the “watching for” the hour that the government’s policy aligned with prayers of liberation and celebrating African descent patriots being armed with the Emancipation Proclamation.

As we gather in churches, synagogues, and mosques in prayer across the country on “watch night;” we should appreciate that with faith and courage on December 31, 1862, Americans of African descent were “watching for” the opportunity to secure “the blessings of liberty for themselves and their posterity” under the banner of the U. S. Constitution. With the support of the Federal government, they were deployed as enforcers of the Emancipation Proclamation. Indeed, January 1, 1863 was a day of Jubilee not because the slaves were set free but because the enslaved were called upon to save the Union and armed accordingly with the legal authority to set themselves free.
by Unity Jack for Mother Earth
Friday Nov 23rd, 2012 7:05 PM
The Empires of the world conquored the matriarchy, which is 'Gender Parity' and denighed woman equal electing, and the act of being elected as nature teaches its necessities, which is 50-50 electing so that women can access half the political, economic, judicial, cultural, and religo-practical law making authoriity.

Male domination of so-called democracy is not natural, and is a product of the chauvinism created and founded with the beginning of Empires. The British Tribes before the conquest of the Roman Slaveholders Empire around 42AD, was a functioning matriarchy with natural 50-50 electing.

Seeing that now with a 'New Millenium' that the fact is, no one has fully organized the enlightened state craft of the twenty-first century, such as returning the Matriarchy to the society so that the natural material harmony and joy can return to the democracy, as the society elects women equally thusly doubling democracy throughout the country.

Ewomancipation is long overdue, and until it returns the woman and man will not be liberated to the full and genuine democracy that the world sees as the gift that our species needs to fullfill its every desire. Yes we should celebrate the Emancipation, but don't forget the need to elect woman equally throughout the parliaments, and courts, judiciary, economics, and religious organizations etc.

That would end racial, gender, and religious discriminization once and for all. Workers of the world unite!! End pollution wars, not endless wars for more and more pollution. You yet have a world to win!!

Re-tool to the renewables such as wind, tidal, and solar power which transform to electricity, and that would end fossil fuel burn-out of the oxygen, which is already gone by 38% changed atmosphere to carbon-dioxide, and we cannot live on the carbon-dioxide replacement.

Scrap the war machine and that path to freeing the working peoples, and guaranteeing a living income to all by the workers taking over the banks and main means of production. Agricultural organic communes not prisons (which originated as the Roman slaveholder pens, and now are called 'modern prisons'.

They still alienate the specie by seperating the genders from each other and alienate the children from their parents. The Roman Imperial Armies used them originally as an integral part of their war machine to break the solidarity of the matriarchy and patriarchy so they could more easily enslave the whole working class to the Male Emperors whims.

Time gentlemen and women please double the democracy by electing women equally throughout the society. Ewomancipation every day is needed in the U.S. Constitution so full liberation can attain to our specie. Communes not prisons please. Solidarity to the living and working world.