Steven Spielberg’s Academy Award-winning movie “Lincoln” was discussed by Dr. Gary Gallager tonight at the Wichita Falls, Texas Civil War Roundable, according to Jack Hill, civil war historian who hosted the meeting.
Dr. Gallagher, who is a nationally-recognized history professor at the University of Virginia on loan to the University of Texas, said that the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment as depicted by Spielberg’s movie was not the only gain made by African-Americans during the Civil War.
He said that while the Thirteenth Amendment outlawed slavery, the passage of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments were also major victories for African Americans during this era. These three amendments are know as the Civil War Amendments.
He further said the Fourteenth Amendment was passed in 1868 to protect the rights of the slaves after they were freed. The Fifteenth Amendment was passed in 1870 to guarantee the voting rights of freed slaves.
Gallagher said that while Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves in the South during the war, the Thirteenth Amendment’s passage was critical because it guaranteed that freedom would continued beyond the end of the war.
Dr. Gallagher said the Senate passed the 13th Amendment on April 18, 1864, but the House voted it down. Lincoln decided to try again and the House reversed its position and passed it on Jan. 31, 1865. A two-thirds majority was needed which was met by the dramatic vote of 119-56 on that date.
The professor also said African Americans were allowed in the gallery for the first time to witness the historic vote.
Gallagher further said that 180,000 African Americans fought for the Union during America’s only Civil War.
He also mentioned that Confederate General Robert E. Lee met with Confederate President Jefferson Davis and recommended the slaves should all be allowed to serve in the Southern army and freed as early as 1862. However Davis would not agree to it.
Gallagher further said the Union took some land away from slaveowners and gave it to former slaves in the South. However, debates occurred at the time over whether or not the descendants of the plantation owners or of the former slaves should inherit the land.
Hill said the next meeting of the Civil War Roundtable will occur in March.
Anyone interested in receiving free notice of Places and Faces updates should click on the subscribe link above this article. My readers may also follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Google.