American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

Freedom and the U.S. Civil War

Published May 14, 2009

Jeanie Attie, Long Island University
“The Problem of Freedom in the U.S. Civil War”
The Graduate Center, CUNY
October 13, 2006

Historian Jeanie Attie examines the significance of slavery to the people who fought in and lived during the American Civil War. The enslaved, as constant observers of the lives of free men, clearly understood the value of freedom. Free whites in the antebellum South had a stake in preserving a state of “un-freedom” within their society because “un-freedom” ultimately defined their own state of freedom. White northern Republicans viewed the future of the nation, and their own freedom, as bound by whether new territories entered the Union as free or slave states. In this podcast Attie discusses the issues central to the sectional conflict that led to civil war and provides a close reading of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address for New York City social studies teachers.

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