The days of slavery are counted among the darkest times in the history of the US. After the first African slaves stepped foot on the US soil in 1619, the practice of slavery and slave trade thrived for more than two centuries. It wasn’t until a brutal civil war which took the lives of more than 600,000 soldiers took place that black people were considered equal to the whites.
But, when did slavery end exactly? When did the millions of African slaves become free in the US?
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The movement to free slaves first gained strength around 1830 owing to free blacks like Frederick Douglass and white abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison.
Anti-slavery Northerners were helping slaves who had escaped live a life of freedom. It has been estimated that anywhere from 40000 to 100000 slaves fled to freedom from the south. However, with the fugitive slave act of 1850, which required the escaped slaves to be returned to their masters upon capture, the southern states continued to hold hundreds of thousands of Africans in their servitude.
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Before the American Civil War started in 1961, Abraham Lincoln along with other anti-slavery Republican leaders, despite detecting the practice, merely sought to control the extension of slavery into new territories, rather than abolishing it entirely. However, as the war progressed, the federal government realized that the emancipation of slaves could be strategically advantageous to weaken the southern army which fought under the Confederate flag.
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After Union’s victory at Antietam in September 1962, Lincoln issued a preliminary proclamation, emancipating slaves in the rebellion states of the US, which was formally published on 1 January 1863. However, there was a catch. The proclamation was only effective in states that ware rebelled against the Union and it remained to be untouched in loyal border states. Also, the victory was promised only when the Union would win the war, and the slaves continued to work for their masters.
In April 1864, the Republican Party introduced the 13th Amendment aimed at abolishing slavery and involuntary servitude except in the case when it is punishment for a crime and passed it with the necessary two-third of the Republican Senate. But, since the House of Representatives had a majority of Democrats, the amendment could not be passed until January 1865.
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Though they had been freed, the ones in some regions of Texas had no knowledge of their freedom until General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston on 19th June and declared the end of war and emancipation of slaves. Therefore, that day is celebrated by many as Juneteenth, the day when slavery ended in America.
Now you know slavery ended in what year and how Abraham Lincoln led the battle of the emancipation of the slaves. Let us know what you think about the topic through your comments in the section below.
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