Who Freed The Slaves?: The Fight Over The Thirteenth Amendment

Hardcover | April 6, 2015

byLeonard L. Richards

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In the popular imagination, slavery in the United States ended with Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. The Proclamation may have been limited—freeing only slaves within Confederate states who were able to make their way to Union lines—but it is nonetheless generally seen as the key moment, with Lincoln’s leadership setting into motion a train of inevitable events that culminated in the passage of an outright ban: the Thirteenth Amendment.
 
The real story, however, is much more complicated—and dramatic—than that. With Who Freed the Slaves?, distinguished historian Leonard L. Richards tells the little-known story of the battle over the Thirteenth Amendment, and of James Ashley, the unsung Ohio congressman who proposed the amendment and steered it to passage. Taking readers to the floor of Congress and the back rooms where deals were made, Richards brings to life the messy process of legislation—a process made all the more complicated by the bloody war and the deep-rooted fear of black emancipation. We watch as Ashley proposes, fine-tunes, and pushes the amendment even as Lincoln drags his feet, only coming aboard and providing crucial support at the last minute. Even as emancipation became the law of the land, Richards shows, its opponents were already regrouping, beginning what would become a decades-long—and largely successful—fight to limit the amendment’s impact.
 
Who Freed the Slaves? is a masterwork of American history, presenting a surprising, nuanced portrayal of a crucial moment for the nation, one whose effects are still being felt today.

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In the popular imagination, slavery in the United States ended with Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. The Proclamation may have been limited—freeing only slaves within Confederate states who were able to make their way to Union lines—but it is nonetheless generally seen as the key moment, with Lincoln’s leadership setting in...

Leonard L. Richards is the author of seven books, including Shays’ Rebellion: The American Revolution’s Final Battle and, most recently, The California Gold Rush and the Coming of the Civil War. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:April 6, 2015Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022617820X

ISBN - 13:9780226178202

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Table of Contents

Prologue: Wednesday, June 15, 1864

Chapter One: The Old Order and Its Defenders

Chapter Two: Lincoln and Emancipation

Chapter Three: To a White and Black Man’s War

Chapter Four: The Odd Couple

Chapter Five: Hostility of the Northern Democracy

Chapter Six: The Lame Ducks of 1864

Chapter Seven: The Enforcement Clause and Its Enemies

Epilogue: Emancipation Day, 1893

Appendix A: A Historiographical Note

Appendix B: Significant Dates in the History of the Civil War and Thirteenth Amendment

Notes

Index

Editorial Reviews

"Richards . . . has given us a compelling and multi-faceted account of how the antislavery movement achieved its definitive triumph in the form of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.. . . Richards has produced a very rich account--a veritable gold mine of information--that consists of many overlapping stories: stories of how the overall strategies of different kinds of slavery opponents developed; stories of how different individuals, groups, and key episodes played out as the violent struggle over slavery in America unfolded."