The Final Struggles: September 1864 to April 1865

The Final Struggles: September 1864 to April 1865

Was Sherman an ardent abolitionist?

No. Sherman, who was vehemently articulate on most subjects, said little about the blacks during the war, but the few parts of letters that mention the subject indicate that he was a lukewarm abolitionist, at best. That the blacks should be freed from the rule of their Southern masters was apparent to him; what the North, or the nation as a whole, would do with the black population afterward was another matter. To be fair, however, Sherman was not atypical of his army or even the Union leadership as a whole.

Lincoln, right up until the summer of 1862, continued to think there should be a recolonization movement, with most blacks going back to Africa. Ulysses Grant was kind to blacks on a personal level, but he said little or nothing about what their status should be when the war ended. Perhaps the sad truth is that rather few white leaders of the 1860s were really ready for what might come: a South that was transformed racially as well as economically.


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