12 September 2012

We're Hosting an Emancipation Nation Watch Party Sept. 17th

We're trying something a little different than our usual programming fare next week.  

Visit the BDC to participate in live-feed, national Preliminary Emancipation Day event on Sept. 17th from 1:00 - 2:30 pm. 

As the Civil War began to unfold, the Union had a serious question to answer:  What to do about the enslaved people left behind - in Beaufort District and other places of the occupied South? 

President Abraham Lincoln had quite a problem. Gen. David D. Hunter, an ardent abolitionist and Commander of the Department of the South based on Hilton Head Island, took it upon himself to order that "the persons in these three States (viz., South Carolina, Georgia and Florida)...heretofore held as slaves, are therefore declared free" in an order dated 9 May 1862. Lincoln rescinded Hunter's order with a Presidential Proclamation issued ten days later on 19 May 1862.  

Courtesy of the Library of Congress
For transcript of both texts (Hunter's order and Lincoln's Proclamation) click here.

Lincoln spent much of 1862 preparing for the most important decision of his presidency: emancipation. The drama surrounding Lincoln's decision will be the focus when several of the nation's leading Civil War historians gather in Washington, D.C. for a program that will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. 

Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and with generous support from HISTORY, the event will take place before a live student audience at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, and will also be live-streamed for online viewers, on Sept. 17th - Constitution Day - from 1-2:30 p.m. EST. 

We'll project the live stream in the 2nd floor lobby at 311 Scott Street just outside the BDC Research Room door for you to join us at 1:00 pm, Mon., Sept. 17th.  No registration is necessary.  The event is free. 

PS:  Hunter also had his generals round up able-bodied male former slaves, aged 18 to 45,  for involuntary service in the Union Army when volunteers did not step up in sufficient numbers.  He had hoped sign up 2000 Black soldiers to help fill his need for new troops.  This too was rescinded shortly after its declaration as the topic of black men with guns proved quite unnerving to Union troops and Northern states at the time.  But when President Lincoln issues the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation after the Battle of Antietam, he encourages African-Americans to join the Union’s armed forces.  Black soldiers saw service in every branch of the military following the formal establishment of the Bureau of Colored Troops on May 22, 1863.  They made up nearly 10% of the Union army by the time the war was over.  Nearly 200,000 African-Americans would honorably serve in the forces of the United States during the Civil War.

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