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How Slavery Really Ended in America

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Blue_Tires Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 09:29 AM
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How Slavery Really Ended in America
On May 23, 1861, little more than a month into the Civil War, three young black men rowed across the James River in Virginia and claimed asylum in a Union-held citadel. Fort Monroe, Va., a fishhook-shaped spit of land near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, had been a military post since the time of the first Jamestown settlers. This spot where the slaves took refuge was also, by remarkable coincidence, the spot where slavery first took root, one summer day in 1619, when a Dutch ship landed with some 20 African captives for the fledgling Virginia Colony.

Two and half centuries later, in the first spring of the Civil War, Fort Monroe was a lonely Union redoubt in the heart of newly Confederate territory. Its defenders stood on constant guard. Frigates and armed steamers crowded the nearby waters known as Hampton Roads, one of the worlds great natural harbors. Perspiring squads of soldiers hauled giant columbiad cannons from the forts wharf up to its stone parapets. Yet history would come to Fort Monroe not amid the thunder of guns and the clash of fleets, but stealthily, under cover of darkness, in a stolen boat.
Frank Baker, Shepard Mallory and James Townsend were field hands who like hundreds of other local slaves had been pressed into service by the Confederates, compelled to build an artillery emplacement amid the dunes across the harbor. They labored beneath the banner of the 115th Virginia Militia, a blue flag bearing a motto in golden letters: Give me liberty or give me death.

After a week or so of this, they learned some deeply unsettling news. Their master, a rebel colonel named Charles Mallory, was planning to send them even farther from home, to help build fortifications in North Carolina. That was when the three slaves decided to leave the Confederacy and try their luck, just across the water, with the Union.

It cannot have been an easy decision for the men. What kind of treatment would they meet with at the fort? If the federal officers sent them back, would they be punished as runaways perhaps even as traitors? But they took their chances. Rowing toward the wharf that night in May, they hailed a guard and were admitted to the fort.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/03/magazine/mag-03CivilW...

excellent in-depth piece...
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kwassa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-14-11 11:38 PM
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1. A big recommend on this article.
I read it in the NY Times. It is how a local Union military commander created policy on the emancipation of slaves that went national.
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