In what way the African Americans shaped the course and consequences of the Civil War? Confine your answer to the years from 1861 and 1870.
Immediately after the election and inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, the newly-established Republican Party’s presidential nominee, eleven states of the South seceded from the Union. These events marked the beginning of the Civil War and the war was a result of many political tensions that had emerged between the North and the South in the prior decades, all of which were associated with the institution of slavery installed in the Southern United States. President Lincoln began the Civil War with the South in response to states’ secession from the Union, and therefore, the war was not solely concentrated over the issue of slavery in American society. The North fought to preserve the Union while the Confederacy fought to protect states’ rights. The contributions of African Americans for the Union war effort in the Civil War pushed the federal government, controlled largely by the Republican Party, to fundamentally change the purpose of the war itself, changing the course of the conflict, and therefore, the social and political consequences that followed in the Reconstruction Era.
In the first few years of the Civil War, there was a consensus in the Union that the war was being fought over the Confederacy’s claims to protection of slave property and the power states’ rights over the federal government. Originally, the war was not fought for the emancipation of African-American slaves in the South. Major Benjamin Butler of the Union army was unsure of the status of fugitive slaves he encountered in the South and he asked the secretary of war if Union forces have the right to liberate these people [A]. Additionally, Major Butler realized that these African-American men, women, and children could potentially be helpful in the Union’s war effort [A]. Over time, President Lincoln and the Union recognized the aid that African...
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