Nonfiction > James Ford Rhodes > History of the Civil War, 1861–1865 > Page 381
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James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927).  History of the Civil War, 1861–1865  1917.
 
Page 381
 
 
of the strange things in this eventful history is the peaceful labor of three and one-half million negro slaves whose presence in the South was the cause of the war and whose freedom was fought for after September, 1862, by the Northern soldiers. The evidence warrants the oft-repeated statement that the blacks made no move to rise. “A thousand torches,” Henry Grady declared, “would have disbanded the Southern army but there was not one.” Instead of rising they remained patiently submissive and faithful to their owners. It was their labor that produced food for the soldiers fighting to keep them in slavery, and without them the cotton could not have been grown, which brought supplies from Europe and the North. Our great strength, declared a Confederate Army staff officer, consists in our system of slave labor because it “makes our 8,000,000 productive of fighting material equal to the 20,000,000 of the North.” One owner or overseer to every twenty slaves was exempt from military service in order “to secure the proper police of the country,” but a study of the conditions indicates that these were needed not as a restraining influence but for the purposes of intelligent direction. As a matter of fact, the able-bodied negroes remained on the plantations of the sparsely settled country of the Confederacy while, with few exceptions, the white people in the neighborhood were old or diseased men, women and children. Here is a remarkable picture and one that discovers virtues in the Southern negroes and merit in the civilization under which they had been trained.  15
  The slaves came to know of Lincoln’s Proclamation of Emancipation and had a vague idea that the success of the Northern arms would set them free. As the Union armies penetrated into the country, negroes in great number, who had fanciful ideas of what freedom meant, followed
 

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