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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

FREEDOM NATIONAL: THE DESTRUCTION of SLAVERY in the UNITED STATES, 1861-1865 (audiobook) by James Oakes

Published by Gildan Media, LLC in 2012
Read by Sean Pratt
Duration: 18 hours, 54 minutes

James Oakes takes a unique look at the Civil War in this history - through the lens of the anti-slavery movement. I have read more than 200 Civil War histories and almost all of them cover this part of the story - but, just in bits and pieces.

Oakes looks at the anti-slavery movement from its roots in the Revolutionary War era and moves forward with the different Abolitionist arguments until they finally stumbled upon the concept of "freedom national". The argument is over the standard, default setting of the slavery issue. Was slavery legal everywhere, except where it was specifically abolished, or was it illegal everywhere, except for where it was specifically made legal? Or, in shorthand - was it "freedom national" or "slavery national"?

This book puts the lie to the idea that the Civil War was over taxes, tariffs or anything else but slavery. This book demonstrates that so much time, energy and effort was expended over how to deal with the slavery issue by both sides that, if it weren't the biggest question of the war, why was there so much constant uproar over it? Slavery was both the carrot and the stick in the Emancipation Proclamation. Slavery would be preserved if the areas in rebellion returned to the fold (the carrot), or it would be the slaves in those areas would be forever free and those slaves could be turned into Union soldiers to use against the Confederacy.

Almost as soon as the war started, it became obvious that the Confederacy's slaves were both an asset and a liability. They were an asset because they were a built-in workforce that would keep the fields in production (and some factories) while the armies were in the field. But, they were a liability because their owners feared an uprising, they were mobile and if they fled to Union lines they could be an invaluable source of military intelligence.

But, Lincoln faced a unique challenge that the Confederacy never faced - how do you free slaves in the Confederacy but maintain slavery in the four loyal slave states? 

This audiobook can be found on Amazon.com here: Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States.

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