Rebellion 1861 - 1862     
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Group of Contrabands, 1864
Contrabands during the U.S. Civil War. The photograph is "from the main eastern theater of the war, the Army of the James, June 1864-April 1865," according to the Library of Congress, and shows seven contrabands dressed in old Union uniforms. Photograph taken in 1864, compiled by Hirst D. Milhollen and Donald H. Mugridge, creator unknown. Library of Congress.
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Though Lincoln needed legal justifications for emancipation, the real force moving his thoughts was the military potential of the southern slaves. By 1862, thousands of southern slaves had escaped to the North. Captured property of the enemy, they became known as “contrabands of war.” Their presence forced lawmakers to reckon with difficult questions. Were the contrabands legally free? If peace should come, would the contrabands have to return to the South? In the interim, could they fight for the Union? And if so, could war veterans later be re-enslaved?

Over 1837-1838, General Jesup had confronted some of the same issues with regards to the Black Seminoles. Like the contrabands, the Black Seminoles initially "belonged" to the side fighting the federal U.S. army. And like the contrabands, the Black Seminoles ultimately forged a pragmatic alliance with the federal army, based on mutual strategic interests.

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Sources: ©
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