The Irony of Emancipation in the Civil War South.

Nesbit, Clark, History - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Ayers, Edward, Department of History, University of Richmond
Gallagher, Gary, Department of History, University of Virginia

Nearly everyone in the Civil War South had opportunity to feel the irony of emancipation. This irony arose from the wartime difference between ending slavery as a regime and freeing slaves, as individuals. This dissertation explores the ways in which white southerners sacrificed, or refused to sacrifice, their interest in the enslavement of particular southern blacks for the sake of a regime that would safeguard slavery. It argues that African Americans at times sought their own freedom even if it meant aiding the Confederate regime, and at other times sought to avoid warzones even if it meant remaining legally enslaved. It argues that the Union’s war to defeat the Confederacy was also a war waged against the Confederates’ main source of labor. Such a war meant, for most who became free in the Civil War, emancipation through displacement and integration into a new system for managing former slaves, the refugee camp/plantation/recruitment complex. For those who remained in the wake of Sherman’s marches and other U.S. raids, it meant living in a land with little food.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
American Civil War, Southern History, United States History, Slavery, Emancipation, Geography
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