Rebellion 1862-1863     
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Contrabands with Union soldiers, Camp Brightwood
Young contrabands with Union soldiers at Camp Brightwood, D.C., in the camp of the 2nd Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry. Photographic print on carte de visite mount, taken between 1861-1864, creator unknown. Library of Congress.
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The strategic value of an alliance with the contrabands become more and more apparent to Lincoln throughout 1862. By the close of the year, Lincoln finally bowed to the requests of his generals and allowed the contrabands to fight. Their military prowess quickly sparked an emotional and political revolution. As the black rebels succeeded in war, Northerners found it increasingly hard to deny them their freedom. By January 1, 1863, President Lincoln reversed his earlier position against emancipation and embraced freedom for all slaves “within any State … [then] in rebellion against the United States.” He had decided that the “War for Union” would now be a war to end slavery. “In the end it was not free blacks or white abolitionists, but slaves in the South whose actions most hastened emancipation [in 1863],” writes James Brewer Stewart in Holy Warriors:

The destruction of slavery was thus begun on the battlefield and then ratified in the Emancipation Proclamation. In this quite restricted but important sense, abolition was first achieved neither by Republican politicians nor by white abolitionists, but by those blacks, free and slave, who intruded into a white nation’s civil war.

Stewart’s analysis is equally apt for the smaller—but earlier—emancipation of rebellious American blacks, which took place when the Black Seminoles "intruded" on a white nation's plans for territorial expansion in Florida.

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Sources: Stewart Holy Warriors 186, 188. ©
Part 4, Freedom: Outline  l Images
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 Trail Narrative
 + Prologue
 + Background: 1693-1812
 + Early Years: 1812-1832
 + War: 1832-1838
 + Exile: 1838-1850
 - Freedom: 1850-1882
+ Cost of Freedom
+ Liberty Foretold
spacer spacer Renown in Exile
The War Power
Lincoln's Choice
Black Militants
+ Liberty Found
 + Legacy & Conclusion