Independence or slavery: The Confederate debate over arming the slaves
Dillard, Philip D.
Boles, John B.
Doctor of Philosophy
From November 1864 to April 1865, the Confederacy conducted an open, often-heated debate concerning the introduction of slaves into the Confederate Army. Southerners in all sections of the Confederacy-Upper South, Deep South, and Trans-Mississippi West-seriously considered the introduction of black men into the gray ranks. This debate forced southerners to ask again why they were fighting. Focusing upon the news items, editorials, and letters to editors appearing in local newspapers, this work examines the evolving views of common men and women in Virginia, Georgia and Texas. Despite the desperate situation, these southerners explored the proposal to arm the slaves and its long-term implications fully. As the debate unfolded, individual men and women struggled with each other and within themselves to decide what it meant to be a southerner. In this final crisis, many discovered that slavery could be sacrificed much more easily than southern independence. By comparing the depth, sincerity, and significance of the debate concerning arming the slaves in Virginia, Georgia, and Texas, a clearer picture of the importance of slavery in white southern society and of the strength of Confederate nationalism emerges.
Black history; American history