The American Civil War

FIRST: Please read or skim chapter 14 in our textbook, Foner’s Give Me Liberty! An American History, volume I. In addition, consider watching the Crash Course US History videos below:


THEN: Read the primary sources below.

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Skim the Crittenden-Johnson Resolution passed by Congress in July, 1861 (two to three months into the war) to urge compromise (https://teachingamericanhistory.org/library/document/crittenden-resolution/). In this resolution, the Republicans in Congress tried to reassure southern secessionists that their aim was not to eliminate slavery where it already existed.

Skim Abraham Lincoln’s letter to Horace Greeley, 1862 (http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/speeches/greeley.htm). In this letter, Lincoln reiterates his moderate stance. What can you tell about his personal view of the institution of slavery? What is his political/public view on the institution?

Take a look at this address, in which Frederick Douglass urges black men to join the war in 1863 (http://www.blackpast.org/1863-frederick-douglass-men-color-arms). Douglass was one of the people urging Lincoln to allow black men to don the US uniform and fight for their own freedom. Other of Douglass’ demands, like equal pay, would not be achieved.

Check out this eye-witness account of the Richmond bread riots in 1863 (http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/breadriot.htm). Led by the women of Richmond, a mob formed in the CSA’s capital city and looted local stores for flour, food, and supplies.

Read this article by newspaper editor and pro-slavery propagandist James DeBow urging non-slaveholders to fight for the Confederacy (http://www.civilwarcauses.org/debow.htm). For what reasons does he say that non-slaveholders should and would enlist to fight?

Scroll through these illustrations of the New York City draft riots in 1863. (https://dp.la/primary-source-sets/sets/northern-draft-riots-during-the-civil-war/) Following the announcement of the Union Army draft, many people in New York City revolted. They aimed their violence at wealthier men able to buy their ways out of the draft and black people, who many viewed as the cause of war itself (in an ironic twist). What do these images say about northern attitudes about the draft and the war?

Scroll through some of these letters and diaries from Civil War soldiers at Antietam battlefield (https://www.nps.gov/anti/learn/education/classrooms/antietam-letters-and-diaries-of-soldiers-and-civilians.htm). What do these letters tell you about the experiences of soldiers? What can you tell about the war aims and conditions from these letters?

FINALLY: Complete the written assignment below.

Choose two of the primary sources included this week (including the videos and excerpts in the documents packet). For each of the primary sources you chose, write a short analysis per the specifications below. Each paragraph should be between 200 and 300 words.

No citations required. Be sure to informally list the source being analyzed.

Here is what should be included in your primary source analysis paragraphs. You don’t have to answer all the questions listed under the bolded-red requirements, those questions are to get you thinking:

Who is the author, creator, or speaker of this source?

(What do you know about the author that may be relevant-sex, race, region, religion, occupation, class?)

Who is the intended audience of this source? What is the purpose?

(Why has the author written this? Whose eyes was this source meant for? What is the author trying to get across? Are there implicit messages that can be read into the document as well?)

When and where was this source written? What is the context of this source?

(What do you know about where or when the document was written? Is where it was written important? What is the historical background/era?)

What is the significance of this source?

(Is the document prescriptive—explaining what SHOULD happen—or descriptive—explaining what someone thought did happen? Does it express an ideology? Whose perspective in society does it represent? What historical questions can you answer using this source? Are there specific quotes that you would use to answer? What benefit does this source present to historians? What are the limitations of this source?)

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