In his article, “The Emancipation Proclamation: Bill of Lading or Ticket to Freedom,” Allen Guelzo introduces the three most controversial questions regarding the Emancipation Proclamation and then provides his support against the questions. There were some controversial questions that Guelzo addresses such as: Why did Lincoln take so long? Why is it so incomplete? And why is it so bland? Guelzo initiates his response to the questions by stating that the questioners do not know all of the information involved in the situation.
Guelzo indicates that the questioners do not then understand why it took him so long to initiate the Emancipation Proclamation if Lincoln was against slavery. Guelzo explains that Lincoln was working on emancipation plans to free the slaves through alternative solutions beginning in November of 1861; however, the information is not well-known because the plans were not proclamations, they were buy-out plans where people were able to vote to remove slavery and then the riddance of slavery would be a gradual with the government compensating slave owners.
These plans did not result in the manner Lincoln hoped; as a result, Lincoln convinced congress to pass multiple acts in hopes of reducing what the Confederates could do. In July 1862, Lincoln visits General McClellan to discuss fighting the war for emancipation, but McClellan opposed the idea. Against McClellan’s threats, Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Unfortunately, Guelzo explains that Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation did not work out how he had hoped; Lincoln tried to free slaves in the Confederacy were we could not, but did not free the slaves in the border states where he could.
Finally, Guelzo states that the Emancipation Proclamation is so bland because it is a legal document that determined the fate of four million slaves (Guelzo, p. 1-4). Guelzo mentioned multiple interesting and surprising facts in his article. Prior to reading this article, I had always wondered why Lincoln had waited until 1863 to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. After reading the article, I found it interesting that Lincoln had been working on plans for the emancipation of the slaves since the beginning of the war in 1861.
I found Lincoln’s buy-out plans to be interesting and was surprised when I read that his plans did not work. His buy-out plans were trying to end slavery in a peaceful manner, and I was extremely surprised that the border states refused to listen to the plan; the surprise is mostly because the slave owners would be compensated for the slaves they had to emancipate instead of what resulted in the future where the slave owners had to emancipate the slaves with no compensation.
After reading Guelzo article regarding the Emancipation Proclamation, my views on the topic remain the same. In the article, Guelzo argued that the Emancipation Proclamation was a ticket to freedom; however, even with the new information Guelzo introduced, I still believe that the Emancipation Proclamation is more of a bill of lading than a ticket to freedom. The Emancipation Proclamation is more of a bill of lading than a ticket to freedom because the proclamation was sectionalized, did not free the slaves, and did not give blacks rights as citizens of the United States.
Overall, even though the Emancipation Proclamation was written with good intentions to be a ticket to freedom, the end results proved that the proclamation lacked the power needed to free the slaves; for this, the Emancipation Proclamation is more of a bill of lading than a ticket to freedom. In issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln encountered many handicaps. With the issuing of the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln tried to keep his actions within the realms of his power as president of the United States; however, Lincoln could only emancipate the slaves in the states who were rebelling which caused the mancipation of the slaves to become extremely sectionalized (Guelzo p. 3).
The border states refused to accept any form of emancipation of the slaves, even compensated emancipation (Dueholm). This handicap caused Lincoln to think that he could only constitutionally free the slaves in the rebellious states. Lincoln’s train of thought caused the United States to become sectionalized to where the northern states had revoked slavery, the border states still had slavery and the government would not force them to emancipate the slaves, and the southern states had seceded from the United States to keep slavery (Kennedy).
The Emancipation Proclamation was incapable of enforcing the emancipation of the slaves in any parts of America; for this reason, the division of the Emancipation Proclamation and it only being intended to be used in the areas that people would ignore it has caused it to become a bill of lading. The lack of the Emancipation Proclamation being intended to be used in all sections of America makes it a bill of lading, or just a “receipt” that says that slaves in the Confederate states of America are free.
In order for the Emancipation Proclamation to be a ticket to freedom, the Emancipation Proclamation could not be sectionalized and would have to implement emancipation in all territories under the possession of the United States, including the “succeeded” states in the Confederate States of America. Overall, the Emancipation Proclamation did not cause slavery to end in all territories of the United States, and therefore could not be considered a ticket to freedom; the Emancipation Proclamation could not be considered a ticket to freedom if it did not free all of the slaves and treat them impartially.
The Emancipation Proclamation was written with the intention to be a ticket to freedom; however, the proclamation fell short in many aspects, especially in the fact that it did not free the slaves. When he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, he tried to enforce it where he had no power and refused to enforce it where he did have power. According to the southern states, they had succeeded from the United States of America and had formed the Confederate States of America (Kennedy).
Since the southern states had succeeded from the United States, the confederate leader, Jefferson Davis, considered Abraham Lincoln to be a foreign president; therefore, Davis did not listen to the proclamation Lincoln had issued because a president does not have to listen to the orders of a foreign president (Kennedy). Even though the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in an attempt to end slavery in the south and bring them back into the Union, the south viewed themselves as a separate nation and the North would have to win the Civil War in-order-to end slavery and bring the South back into the nation (Kennedy).
Slaves in the southern states did try to leave upon hearing of the Emancipation Proclamation, but only one out of seven slaves were able to escape to the north and support northern war efforts; most of the slaves in the South were not freed until the Union military went through the South and forcefully freed the slaves after winning battles (Kennedy). Altogether, the Emancipation Proclamation was more of a proclamation without emancipation (Proclamation).
The fact that the Emancipation Proclamation did not actually free the slaves and that it was actually the Union military that freed the slaves proves that the Emancipation Proclamation is not a ticket to freedom. A ticket to freedom would give the slaves freedom by itself, but the Emancipation Proclamation failed in doing so. For this reason, the Emancipation Proclamation once again proves to fail in granting slaves freedom, leaving the Emancipation Proclamation to act like a bill of lading once again.
The Emancipation Proclamation by Lincoln states, “I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States… re, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States... will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons” (Lincoln). According to the Emancipation Proclamation issued by Lincoln, all slaves are to receive their freedom on 1 January 1863; however, the proclamation never gives the slaves anything including their freedom. Furthermore, even when the military came through a granted the slaves their freedom, the blacks never did have anything but their freedom (Kennedy).
Also, the Emancipation Proclamation was not even considered to be enough to end slavery in the United States, it was not until the passing of the thirteenth amendment in 1865 that slavery was actually deemed illegal and unconstitutional in the United States (13). And it was not until 1870 that African Americans gained the right to vote (15). As seen, the Emancipation Proclamation did little to help blacks, even with gaining their freedom. In fact, “By the time Hofstadter wrote off the Proclamation in 1948, American blacks had gained little from the Emancipation Proclamation beyond the bare fact of emancipation itself” (Guelzo).
Overall, once reconstruction failed, African Americans went back into work where they were treated similar to how they were treated when they were slaves and obtained very few rights (Kennedy). It was not until the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1968 that African Americans began to be treated equally and their equal rights stopped being ignored (Civil). Overall, it was not the Emancipation Proclamation that had any impact on African Americans being released from slavery and achieving equal rights.
Since the Emancipation Proclamation had little significant impact on the overall result of slavery and the placement of African Americans, the proclamation is a bill of lading. The Emancipation Proclamation is not the ticket to freedom; the thirteenth amendment and the Civil Rights Act were the tickets to freedom and equal right for African Americans. In all, it was not the Emancipation Proclamation that gave slaves freedom; therefore, the Emancipation Proclamation was more of a bill of lading as a proclamation without emancipation than a ticket to freedom as a proclamation with emancipation.
The Emancipation Proclamation was sectionalized, did not free the slaves, and did not give blacks rights as citizens of the United States. For these reasons, the Emancipation Proclamation should be seen in the realm of everything as a good idea and a stepping stone to the actual emancipation of the African Americans by the thirteenth amendment; however, by itself, it should be seen as a bill of lading. The Emancipation Proclamation did not do enough in the effort to free the slaves; therefore, it should only be seen as a bill of lading, a “receipt” from the north stating that the southern slaves have been “sold their freedom” illegally.