House Divided: Collapse of the Confederacy III

Lead: One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is "A House Divided."

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the end it was a matter of choice. Either it would be independence or freedom for the slaves. The rehearsed arguments across the South echoed the bitter national debates of the 1850s. Slavery was morally beneficial for both master and slave. Senator Hunter said, “what did we go to war for, if not to protect our property?” Howell Cobb of Georgia fumed, “if slaves will make good soldiers our whole theory of slavery is wrong. The day you make soldiers of them is the beginning of the end of the revolution.”

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House Divided: Collapse of the Confederacy II

Lead: One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is "A House Divided."

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: With the prospect of their dream of independence teetering on the brink of disaster, in the winter of 1865 Confederate leaders began to consider a solution to their military manpower problem that would have been unthinkable just four years before. They debated and then passed a bill offering freedom to African Americans who would fight in the rebel ranks.

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House Divided: Collapse of the Confederacy I

Lead: One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is "A House Divided."

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: As the terrible, cold, wet winter of 1865 slowly blended into spring, the dreams of Southern independence flickered and then died. What began with such great hopes just four years before, sustained by enormous white sacrifice, enduring in the face of almost irresistible opposition and odds, teetered on the precipice of historical reality. The South had sought to arrest or at least block the revolutionary changes, in population, industrialization, urban life and in shifting attitudes toward a more powerful Federal engagement in the lives of citizens that, in Southerners’ views, had infected other regions. The southland’s preference for aristocratic social structure, family, religion, rural life and, most of all, the institution of slavery, were under assault. To save its society and particularly its peculiar tradition of human bondage, the South would break the sacred bonds of Union and strike out on its own.

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House Divided (Civil War): That Peculiar Institution III

Lead: One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is "A House Divided."

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: By 1850, slavery so dominated the national conversation that few national matters of policy could be discussed without reference to this peculiar institution. To mollify Southern demands, The Compromise of 1850 included a much more severe fugitive slave regime. Rejecting Northern attempts to provide basic rights such as habeas corpus or a jury trial, the law put the onus of proof on the accused escapee and then gave the slave no mechanism for proving their status. The law established Federal commissioners before whom slavers could bring fugitives to circumvent uncooperative anti-slavery local courts. If a commissioner decided for the slave he received five dollars, if he decided for the owner, he received ten dollars, presumably to facilitate the paperwork needed to remand the slave back South.

House Divided (Civil War): That Peculiar Institution II

Lead: One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is "A House Divided."

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The Constitution was clear. Slavery was a permitted and permanent fixture in American life. According to Article IV, escaped slaves even had to be delivered up for their owners. As each decade passed the South demanded and Congress delivered ever increasingly effective fugitive slave laws. Those opposed to slavery suspected, with some justification, that those in pursuit were none too scrupulous about correct identification of slaves, often grabbing free blacks instead or even bothering always to bring them before northern local courts to press their claims. In a reversal of the normal regional preference for federal intervention, Northern states began to resist the work of slave catchers and their federal enablers, passing personal liberty laws. These laws gave escaped slaves legal rights and set up barriers to prevent easy capture and return.

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House Divided (Civil War): That Peculiar Institution I

Lead: One hundred and fifty years ago the Republic was facing its greatest crisis. This continuing series examines the American Civil War. It is "A House Divided."

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the history of the American Republic, there is nothing that compares to slavery. It divided the infant nation, at least in part provoked and sustained the greatest war in U.S. history, philosophically poisoned the national charter, retarded the economic development of one of great America’s regions and probably skewed that of all others, and dominated the national conversation for seven decades. It also complicated and excavated one of the important fault lines running through the American experience: the great debate over federal and state power.

Massachusetts Colored Regiment II

Lead: The opportunity for blacks to serve in the Federal armed forces during the Civil War was a novel idea and resisted by skeptical and prejudiced whites. Many minds were changed on the deadly slopes of Battery Wagner.

Intro. : A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: Getting official permission for blacks to fight for the Union was one thing, making it happen was much harder. Massachusetts formed the 54th Colored Regiment, in early 1863 but the Commonwealth did not have enough resident African Americans to fill it. The Governor, a committed abolitionist, issued a national call for volunteers and led by activist Frederick Douglass, who contributed time and energy as well as two sons to the regiment, the ranks of the 54th gradually filled. They were led by a white man, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, who turned down the Governor’s offer at first but later accepted and was glad he did.

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Massachusetts Colored Regiment I

Lead: During the Civil War, the south was not the only region of warring America where blacks faced a struggle to overcome racism. One way they fought for their place as citizen’s was to fight.

Intro. : A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the early days of the Civil War African Americans in the north and in areas liberated by Union armies were not allowed to fight for the Federal cause. When a group of blacks tried to form a local militia in Cincinnati they were told, “we want you damned niggers to keep out of this, this is a white man’s war.” The vast majority of Northerners were just as bigoted, just as prejudiced as Southerners. Yet, slowly this began to change. Abraham Lincoln grew in his understanding of the nature of conflict in which the nation was locked. White abolitionists worked tirelessly for full citizenship participation for Africans. In addition, many blacks were willing to sacrifice their lives on the battlefield. As a result, stereotypes were destroyed, prejudice was challenged, and free blacks and freedmen contributed much to the defeat of the Confederacy and the end to slavery.

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