The Civil War Confiscation Acts: Failing to Reconstruct the South

Paperback (Print)


"This book is the first full account in more than 20 years of two significant - but relatively understuded - laws passed during the Civil War." "The First and Second Confiscation Acts (1861-62) were laws designed to sanction slave-holding states by authorizing the federal government to seize rebel properties, including land and other assets held in Northern and border states, and to grant freedom to slaves who fought with or worked for the Confederate military." "President Abraham Lincoln and his Attorney General, Edward Bates, had serious doubts about and finally objected to the acts. The acts were rendered moot by the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment." "Drawing more deeply than any previous scholar on archival and other sources, John Syrett examines the political, military, and social contexts of the acts, the debates in Congress, and the politics surrounding their enforcement. He argues that confiscation as a policy was valuable in the war effort not for the extent of slave-holding property actually taken, but as a practical embodiment of Northern views on defeating the South and winning the war." Syrett also demonstrates how the failure of the Confiscation Acts to restructure property and class relations in the South during the war presaged the political and structural shortcomings of Reconstruction after the war.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823224906
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2011
  • Series: Reconstructing America Series
  • Edition description: 2
  • Pages: 300
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

John Syrett is Professor of History Emeritus at Trent University.

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Table of Contents

1 The First Confiscation Act 1
2 The Second Confiscation Act : the Act and its opponents 20
3 The Second Act : divided Republican support and flawed result 35
4 Enforcement of the Second Act : Lincoln and Bates 55
5 Early military confiscation 73
6 Rules of war and later military confiscation 88
7 The Treasury's part in confiscation 103
8 The politics of confiscation 120
9 Andrew Johnson and the end of confiscation 137
10 Confiscation and the courts : jurisdiction and procedures 155
11 Confiscation and the courts : constitutionality and duration 169
12 Conclusion 185
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