By MURPHY BROWNE
On December 18, 1865, then Secretary of State of the United States of America, William H. Seward, proclaimed: Know Ye That whereas the Congress of the United States, on the first of February last, passed a resolution which is in the words following, namely:
“A resolution submitting to the Legislatures of the several States a proposition to amend the Constitution of the United States.
“Resolved by the Senate and the House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, two-thirds of both Houses concurring. That the following article be proposed to the Legislatures of the several States as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which when ratified by three-fourths of said Legislatures, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as a part of the said Constitution, namely:
“Article XIII. Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
“Section. 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
With that declaration, the 13th amendment to the United States Constitution officially abolished and continues to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime.
It has been 145 years since Africans in America were freed from chattel slavery (31 years after Africans in Canada were freed on August 1, 1834.) Imagine that 165 years ago (20 years before Africans in America were freed from chattel slavery) the man who is now President of the United States of America would most likely have been in fear of being sold away from his family. Someone like President Barack Hussein Obama, even with a White parent, because he has an African parent would have been an enslaved person at risk of being sold.
During the centuries of enslavement of Africans in America, even those Africans who had managed to gain their freedom were at risk of being re-enslaved because any White man or woman could claim to be their owner. Africans in America were not entirely safe even in states where slavery had been abolished. In Vermont where slavery was abolished in 1777 (enslaved Africans in Canada fled south to freedom in Vermont) Africans lived in fear of being re-enslaved after the second Fugitive Slave Act was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1850, declaring it a federal offense to “harbour” an escaped slave.
The painful history of Africans in America has been documented in several books including Before the Mayflower: A History of Black America, 1619-1962 published in 1969 and Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream in 1999, both written by Lerone Bennett Jr., and published by Johnson Publishing Company.
Bennett first debunked the century old myth about Abraham Lincoln, the man who for many years was considered the great American emancipator, in a February 1968 editorial published in Ebony Magazine entitled “Was Lincoln a White Supremacist?”
Bennett wrote that “Lincoln was an opportunist, not an idealist. There was not, in his view, enough room in America for Black and White people.
“On August 14, 1862 he called a hand picked group of Black men to the White House and proposed a Black exodus. He told the Black men that it was their duty to leave.”
His rationalization for suggesting the exodus was: “you and we are different races.”
In 2007 Bennett wrote: Lincoln was as active as any racist of his time in perpetuating Negro stereotypes. The words n___r, darky and coloured boy came easily to his lips. It appears from the admittedly incomplete record that Lincoln used the N-word at least as often as the Mark Fuhrmans of today. He might have used it even more for, unlike Fuhrman, who tried to hide his hand on official occasions, Lincoln used the word openly on public platforms and in the Illinois State House and the White House.
In Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln’s White Dream, Bennett writes that “academics and media had been hiding the truth for 135 years and that Lincoln was not the great emancipator or the small emancipator or the economy-sized emancipator”.
Lincoln was considered the great emancipator by enslaved Africans in America after he signed the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 which purported to free Africans enslaved in the Confederacy (Southern states), however he had no power in the Confederacy, but his proclamation provided moral inspiration for the North and discouraged European countries (that had abolished chattel slavery) from supporting the South.
In September 1862 Lincoln called on the seceded Southern states to return to the Union or have their slaves declared free. When no state returned, he issued the proclamation on January 1, 1863 which permitted recruitment of African Americans for the Union (Northern) army. By 1865 nearly 180,000 African American soldiers had enlisted.
Bennett also writes that Secretary of State William Henry Seward, the second in command in the Lincoln administration, declared the Proclamation was an illusion in which “we show our sympathy with the slaves by emancipating the slaves where we cannot reach them and holding them in bondage where we can set them free.”
The 1863 Emancipation Proclamation “did not free a single slave” since it only applied to “rebel territory” and specifically exempted all the slave-owning/Union-controlled border states and other areas that were occupied by the U.S. army at the time.
The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, ratified on December 18, 1865, officially abolished slavery in the USA.