Friday, May 26, 2017

Reconstruction by B. L.

  1. This lecture was about the time after Lincoln won a second term, as the president of the United States, and what was to come after the Civil War.
The lecture starts when Lincoln sent Secretary of War Stanton and General Sherman to Savannah, GA to meet with the newly freed slaves or the freedmen, to ask them what they wanted to do, now that they were freed.  The freedmen elected Reverend Garrison Frazier as their spokesman.  Frazier told Stanton and Sherman that to best take care of ourselves, give us our owe land, we would like to be placed on land until can buy the land.
After the meeting in Savannah, General Sherman issued Temporary General Field Order #15, which gave the freemen a portion of the 400,000 acres of abandoned land.  General Sherman also told them that since the union also had surplus mule they could have a mule also.  This event was where the phrase “40 ACRES and MULE” came from.  Although General Sherman did not have authority to “give” abandoned land away, he started giving land away to the freedmen.  This Temporary General Field Order #15 was the most controversial proclamation, at that time. 4,000,000 freed slaves now have a chance to be landowners.
After Lincoln’s assignation, by John Wilkes Booth, the question of how to put the country back together took on an even greater urgency.  Whites from the north and the south questioned what the freed slaves’ rights and who would rule in the South and the Southern Government and what will the black’s role in the society.  White southerners also didn’t know what was in store for them.
He newly inaugurated president, Andrew Johnson, a Tennessean, was the only southern congressman to not give his seat in government when the rebellion started.  Johnson was against the rebellion and he was against slavery.  Johnson embodied what Lincoln wanted. But Johnson also thought that blacks needs to subordinate to the whites.
Frederick Douglass is said to have met President Johnson once at the 2nd inauguration of President Lincoln.  Frederick Douglass was heard saying “Johnson is no friend of our race”, about Johnson.
The lecturer then talked about Tunis G. Campbell, a man from New Jersey, and with the help of Secretary Stanton, Campbell went to Saint Catherine Island.  Campbell established a government within a government, complete with a Supreme Court and legislature.  Campbell also built a militia to enforce one of the law at Saint Catherine Island, no white men allowed.  Campbell and his people panted crops and became successful in running their own “country” that Campbell even spend his own money to bring teachers to their island to teach freedmen, women and children to read and write.
Then the lecturer talked about Marshall Twitsel, who was former soldier and who became an agent with the Freedmen Bureau.  Marshall acted as a mediator between the white people and the freed black slaves.
During the reconstruction, under President Johnson, Johnson required the rebel states to draft a new state constitution and admit that they lost the Civil War.  President Johnson’s approach to reconstruction was somewhat lenient and there were no harsh punishments to the rebels, all he wanted was an oath of loyalty.  Johnson were, at first, a little harsher to the land owners and the confederate leaders.  Johnson wanted the land owners and confederate leaders to when write a letter begging for clemency, written personally to him.  Johnson did not have sympathy for the rich land owners.  But Johnson wanted all blacks to go back to their place and work and accept subordination to white people.
Scores of planters went to the White House to ask the president to protect their rights as landowners.  One of these land owners was Jacob Walburg, who owned Saint Catharine Island before the Civil War.  Walburg contended that the land had been with his family for generations and that the government cannot just give it away.  Johnson then rescinded General Field Order #15. Johnson abandoned his strict policy on pardoning land owners.  Johnson believed that the land owners were the only people that can control the blacks in the south.
Johnson sent a large contingent of black troops to Saint Catherine Island, to take the land back from Campbell and his people.  When Campbell’s militia saw black troops, since they would not shoot at black people, Campbell and his people abandoned Saint Catherine Island.  Saint Catherine Island was given to the rightful owner.
  1. The lecturer purpose was to lay out what and how reconstruction was supposed to be and at first, he mentioned hos President Johnson wanted reconstruction to happen, but in the end, President Johnson did what his heart told him to do. Deep down, I believe that Johnson had to please the northerners but in the end, because of his thinking, especially towards the black people, he pleased the southerners.  There were many historians that we heard from and the basic message was that President Johnson had good intentions but fell short of doing things for the freedmen, due to his own beliefs.  The voice I would have liked to hear more was those of the freedmen after President Johnson rescinded General Field Order #15 and why didn’t the freedmen “riot” and make a stink about their predicament.
  2. In class we viewed several pictures and each of the pictures we analyzed them. The picture that stood out for me was that of Marshall Twistel standing in-between the group of white and black people mediating between the two groups.  In the picture the flag was draped behind him, as if to say that the whole US was behind him in the work he does as a freedmen bureau agent.  And in class we also received a sheet of paper that a freedman’s contract was written on.  It is interesting reading the contract and learning that the freedmen were really not free at all, but the bondage of debt is now the way the landowners kept the freemen their “slaves”.   We also learned in class that some will eventually learn how to be independent of land owners by buying parcels of land from land owners who were down in their luck.
  3. We discussed several questions in class and the one that stands out is how Campbell and his people flourished while in Saint Catherine Island, building their own little country, within a country. They were self-reliant and self-governed.  Campbell even brought in teachers to teach the freedmen, women and children how to read.  Although they were ready to defend what they have, they could not fight against the black soldiers that was sent to Saint Catherine Island to evict them.  The iron of sending black troops, by the government, but I suppose that that was the whole plan by the government, knowing that Campbell’s militia would not shoot at black soldiers when they see them.
  4. How differently would the reconstruction of the south be if Lincoln would not have been assassinated? Or would it be any different?

Reconstruction by T. A.

The Documentary called Reconstructions – The Second Civil War, describes the process of reconstruction of the south from a freedman’s perspective. After the war, President Lincoln sent his secretary of war, Edward Stanton, to speak with some black ministers to discuss their future in the south. The spokesmen for the freedmen, Garrison Frazier, told Stanton that the freedmen wanted to be placed on land until they could purchase the land for themselves. Soon after, General Sherman of the Union army issued special field order 15, giving 400,000 acres of abandon farm land to the freedmen. Under the leadership of Tunis Campbell, their new land, called St. Catharine’s, thrived until they were forcibly removed from the land. President Andrew Johnson, fearing that the freedmen population had become too powerful, pardoned thousands of southern plantation owners in hopes that they could get the black population under control. The planters demanded their land back and the federal government helped them retrieve it. The video summarizes the wants of the freedmen, what the freedmen did to ensure they were treated fairly in the new union, and the government’s response to their actions.
            The purpose of the documentary is to summarize the process of reconstruction under the presidency of Andrew Johnson. The production documents the actions former slaves were willing to do to secure their rights and liberty. In a totally black ruled community with little influence from the federal government, the community thrived and even began to teach freedmen how to read. Had the federal government not interfered with St. Catharine’s, the community could have become a powerful entity and a symbol of what black people could do. The document presents views from both the worried federal government and the freedmen. The audience can understand the rise and fall of the St. Catharine’s community. The determination of the freedmen to obtain their own liberty and the fear that Andrew Johnson expressed about the growing power of those freedmen.
            The documentary mentioned that the only way Andrew Johnson thought he could get the black population under control is by enforcing the same conditions the freedmen felt while they were slaves and the freedmen’s contract read in class supports this idea. Under the contract, the freedmen would be given the same unfair treatment they received while enslaved such as long work days and little to no payment. Johnson enforced his policy with no disregard to the reason the civil war was fought. Reconstruction under Andrew Johnson was heavily in favor of white people. His blanket pardons of confederate soldiers and lack of involvement in southern government angered many radical republicans who pushed for black rights. This anger caused a separation in the republican party. However, the radical republicans were given little attention by the rest of the party and so they eventually fizzled away.
            As the federal government began to restrict black liberties more and more, the outrage of the freedmen grew equally so. The freedmen were eventually forced to relinquish their claims to their new land to the people who had owned it previously. Did the freedmen remain on the land and endure the harsh labor contracts? If not, where did they go?

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Lincoln Ch 7 & 8 by D. A.

Summary- Chapters 7 and 8 of the book Abraham Lincoln were about Lincoln's reelection towards the end of the war and what happened as the outcome. Lincoln had to make changes politically after the war including a new cabinet to support him in his term as well as set new Acts and Amendments that would change the government from there on out. Chapter 8 focuses more on the aftermath of the war and how the war itself not only affected soldiers in battle, but their families and citizens back home as well. The author talk about how in those 4 years of war between the Union and the South, the Union came out victorious, but the devastation of what it took for the Union to come out on top was saddening, although it was something that had to be done to preserve the country. The author's main argument in these chapters was making sure people were aware of the political changes that came after the war and the description of how the war affected everyone who witnessed it at the time. The evidence the author gives are all the new Acts he mentions Lincoln now creates after the war as well as the detailed description of the tragedy of the war.
Purpose/Point of View- The author's purpose of writing chapters 7 & 8 were to inform people that there was a lot of change after the war. The war left a big imprint on the people of both the Union and the South in ways that can be similar or completely different. Both sides lost loved ones, but as one side was happy that slavery was gone because of the 13th Amendment, and the other side did not support the Amendment at all and believed that it went against their rights. The author included both of these chapters to show the complexity and severity of the war and how it was so much more complex than we might have learned when we were smaller. In the book, we heard the voice of Abraham Lincoln and his life before, during, and after the war helped us get a better insight as to why Lincoln might have made the decisions that he did and what exactly his goals were during his presidency and I believe his character had a lot to do with the decisions that he made.
Connecting Sources- The videos and the articles that we watch and read in class are really helpful to help us further understand what really happened during the time of the civil war and how Lincoln dealt with everything during his presidency. We witnessed how battles during the civil war broke out and how the Union became victorious in winning battles over time in the U.S. In the articles, we read certain pieces of the book and interpreted it on a deeper level so that we could connect to what Lincoln was saying during his speech. Our work in class further enhanced our understanding of the topic by allowing us to work with our groups and discuss what we got out of the chapters assigned for that day. Getting to interact with your peers in a classroom setting is a beneficial thing when it comes to learning because you get to listen to everyone's thoughts on the topic and someone may not always have the same opinion as you which is always interesting.
Exploring Historical Questions- One of the historical questions that we discussed in class was how was Lincoln's character? A lot of people's answers were that Lincoln was a very humble person who wanted to maintain peace in the country. He was a person who was very considerate of others like for example he was very mindful of his troops and their safety when it came to the war. Another historical question was why was it so important for Lincoln to make sure that the South was not able to secede?  lot of people answered that Lincoln's main goal in his presidency was to preserve the Union and keep everyone unified as a country. If he had let the South rebel and secede, then this would just go against everything he wanted for the country. While in office, Lincoln accomplished many things such as bringing the Union to victory and creating the 13th amendment that allowed the slaved to finally be free after hundreds of years of oppression.
Remaining Questions- Questions that may still remain are why was it so important for the South to make sure that they seceded away from the Union that they were willing to lose many of their soldiers for it? Maybe it was because their love for slavery was that worth it to them? Another question that may still remain is why didn't Lincoln and the leader of the South at the time discuss prior to the war? Maybe things didn't have to resort to war? On the other hand slavery and secession was such a big thing during this time that it was probably necessary to resort to extreme measures and go to war.  

Lincoln Ch 7 & 8 by K. F.

1. The final two chapters of George McGovern's Abraham Lincoln were about Lincolns second term as president, the end of the civil war, passing of the 13th amendment and Lincolns assassination. In the beginning of chapter 7 Lincoln is described by his wife as exhausted and broken hearted from the war, court Marshalls, the pardons, and securing his second term as president. Lincoln had picked a cabinet that worked well together and had no political ambitions to become president, they were loyal to Lincoln. There were many legislative acts that produced revenue to fund the war and stabilize the economy; these included the legal tender act which distributed paper money (green backs), Internal revenue act of 1861 which was the first federal income tax, and the national banking acts of 1863 and '64 which created national banks and currency. The Homestead act and Morrill land grant college act encouraged citizens to move westward. It was in Lincolns second term that he lobbied to get votes for the thirteenth amendment. He gave federal jobs to congressmen and their families in exchange for their vote. On Jan. 31, 1865 the Thirteenth Amendment was passed and Lincoln offered $400 million in exchange for states to ratify but there was no need as within the year 3/4ths of states ratified and ended slavery forever. Lincoln then visited his generals in the field, walked the battlefield, and visited soldiers in the hospitals. After the Union victory in Richmond, General Lee retreated and eventually surrendered at Appomattox which was essentially the end of the war. Days after, Lincoln gave a public address at the white house where Lincoln endorsed limited black suffrage. Lincolns would-be assassin was at the address, where he formed a plan to kill the president at the local theatre. April 14, 1865 President Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, he was shot in the head and died the next morning.
2. The purpose of this was to explain Lincolns life at the end of the civil war and up to his death.  He made great achievements in such little time. We mainly hear the authors opinion on Lincolns life but he supports them with quotes from Lincolns wife Mary and General Grant. The quotes about Lincoln were usually describing his exhaustion and sadness that supposedly visible. The voices we haven't heard from were of the Confederates or southerners.
3. In class, we had a group activity where we finished quotes based off our knowledge of Lincoln. This was a fun activity where we mostly came up with the same general conclusions from the six quotes. We also read a short article called War by the Numbers by Harold Holzer which analyzed a historians challenge to the widely accepted civil war death toll of 620,000. We discussed why this was important and the efforts that were made back then to dig up these bodies and identify them and return them home. Lastly we had the general discussion about what we read, this helped me by answering some of the questions I had with some of the legislation that was passed.
4. Some of the historical questions discussed were why did Lincoln treat confederate soldiers as well as the union soldiers when he visited them in the hospital? and was it considered wrong to be politicking the way Lincoln did when he was getting the 13th amendment passed? Some conclusions were that Lincoln was leading by example and treating the soldiers like they were still Americans, and no it wasn't illegal to give jobs in exchange for votes at that time.
5. What I am left wondering is what happened with John Wilkes Booth? And if Lincoln wasn't assassinated, how would have history been changed?

Lincoln Ch 5 & 6 by S. B.

In 1861, when the war began, Lincoln  advocated a policy of limited war. His intention was to keep the conflict within clearly defined bounds, bring the states that had succeeded back to the union, and prevent southern society from being reshaped. Within a year it became apparent that Lincoln’s strategy would not succeed. Lincoln’s generals fought reluctantly and at times incompetently in order to uphold this strategy. Out of necessity Lincoln took a more active role in managing the war by formulating strategy, influencing movements, and supervising fields of operations. He then searched for generals who would lead aggressively. He would go through many generals before finally settling on Ulysses S. Grant. With his drive, Ulysses S. Grant’s mission was to completely destroy the South. The war, which had been assumed to be short lived, took longer than expected and claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. As the war continued Lincoln eventually called for a conscription, which was widely unpopular in many parts of the country, but because of this the Union kept a steady lead over the confederacy in numbers.
In November 1863 Lincoln traveled to Gettysburg and delivered his famous Gettysburg address in which he addressed the many lives lost during the Civil War. In 1864, in process of the war, another election was to take place. One of Lincoln’s former commanders, George McClellan, ran against him. Even Lincoln at one point believed he was going to lose. McClellan’s hope was that the North would be tired of the war and vowed to end it by any means necessary. Lincoln then arranged for soldiers fighting in the Civil War to be allowed to leave to vote causing a huge victory for him in the end. McGovern’s main argument was how much Lincoln changed during the beginning of his election to the war. He, at first, being apprehensive and quiet about issues finally took hold and came to his own as the President and Commander in Chief leading the Civil War. McGovern shows Lincoln’s dedication to being a strong leader by telling us that although Lincoln had never been in actual combat he read many books to learn and prepare himself for the war which proved to be a benefit to the Union.

The purpose of these chapters is to show Lincoln’s change as president and the many factors that led up to his re-election. The author conveyed Lincoln to be very cautious with his decisions during the war but ultimately how they were successful. In these chapters we did not get to hear the slave’s perspective on the war as they began getting involved in the war after the Emancipation Proclamation. The women during the Civil War also do not have a part in this chapter. Did they get involved in the war at home as they did in previous wars?

Our class discussion included a video showing the many lives that were lost during the Civil War. The map showed how the Union progressed in battle. It enhanced our understanding by showing a visual representation of the advancement. I don’t think we ever really realize the true impact the Civil War had during this time. We also talked about how it seemed like the North always had a higher casualty count over the North and how it was because the North obviously had more soldiers. We talked also about how you can tell on the map when Grant moved from the west to the east as the North started taking more states back.  

For our class discussion we had opposing views about Lincoln’s part in the war. One student said she thought he matured during the course of the war by being able to change things when they weren’t going his way, which was the reason he changed generals so many times. We agreed that Lincoln wasn’t afraid to micro manage. Another student had a contrasting point of view in which she said she thought that Lincoln changing generals so much made him seem indecisive. I think this gave me a better understanding of how America probably felt this way about Lincoln as well. Some thought he was doing all the right things while others seemed to question him or feel that he didn’t know what he was doing.

A few questions I still have is still about how the women participated in the Civil War or if they even did at all? Did this war affect Mexico at all since some of the battles were at their border?
Did McClellan run against Lincoln because he was mad about being let go? It didn’t seem like he would’ve known anything about being a president to me.

Lincoln Ch 5 & 6 by E. P.

Summary:
    Last class, we read two chapters from the Abraham Lincoln book. The first chapter was about the move to “total war.” This total war was a huge change for Lincoln, as in the years leading up, he was acting more light-handed. Before total war was executed though, Lincoln had to go through many different General changes. He finally chose Ulysses S. Grant as the General for the East Coast near Washington D.C. After this decision was made, Lincoln moved to the total war strategy. Once total war began, Lincoln’s strategy became more domineering. By this time, Lincoln wanted the war to be over, but made sure that it would only be over when the Union would win. This win would eventually come with the emancipation of slavery, which was originally not Lincoln’s plan. However, because the South was part of the Confederacy, and saw themselves as a new country, they thought that when Lincoln emancipated the slaves, it did not apply to them. The second chapter was about the politics around the presidency during the Civil War.  Lincoln wanted the country to continue running, even though the war was still going on. This thought made him want to keep the election for 1864. He did not want too many things to change just because the Union was at war, so the election was kept. During the time when the Democrats were trying to find their candidate to go against Lincoln, and many wanted to be picked. The man who ended up being chosen was George McClellan. At the election period, Lincoln began visiting the soldiers in the field more often and was trying to earn their votes. Lincoln ended up winning the re election of 1864 with 121 electoral votes verses 21 to McClellan.

Purpose:
    The purpose of these chapters was to give a different personality to Lincoln. While in the past chapters, he seemed more easy going, these two chapters show how hard of a worker Lincoln was and how he was not going to let the South win the war. We heard Lincoln's voice through multiple quotes  from his speeches as well as letters to friends and family. These chapters seemed to leave out the voices of the South. Through this book, the South is seen as the “Bad Guys” or “Enemies” so it makes sense that their voices would be left out.
Connect:
    In class, we looked at a video of a map of the United States during the Civil War. It showed how the lines moved between the North and South as well as showing where the major battles were. There was also a causalities counter in the bottom right corner, which was constantly on the move up. This was very helpful to look at, because one could see that the war was  constantly moving, and constantly killing people. It also showed how quickly the lines of either side of the country could move when battles were won or lost.

Class Discussion:
    In class, we talked about a few interesting things. One interesting question that was asked was about the reasons that Lincoln won the election. One reason was that his political ratings were getting better as the war raged on. At first, the Union was not winning as many battles as the citizens would have liked. But, as Lincoln continued to move around his generals, he moved Grant to the Upper East Coast near Washington D.C. This made the war move more smoothly for the Union, which started to give Lincoln better ratings than before. Lincoln also made sure to visit the soldiers in the field, which led to almost all of the soldiers voting for Lincoln. They trusted Lincoln very deeply, and often referred to him as “Uncle Abraham.” Both of these ideas helped Lincoln to win the election of 1864.

Remaining Questions:
    I wonder what the South was thinking when the election occurred? Did they think Lincoln was going to lose? Did they think that they would win the war and be a separate country if Lincoln lost? Did they even care about the politics of the Union?