TENNESSEE HISTORY 1
Tennessee was a Southern state infamous for the proliferation of theslave trade. President Abraham Lincoln had passed legislation thatoutlawed the practice in the U.S. In protest, Tennessee chose tosecede from the Union. Although many residents preferred to remainpart of the Union, the preference for slave trade caused changes inattitude (Hale & Merritt, 2013). In this essay, I will prove thatblacks in Tennessee played a fundamental role in the end of slaverysince they were committed to protecting their human dignity.
Slavery in Tennessee was abolished to allow blacks the right to enjoybasic civil liberties. The military governor, Andrew Johnson, wasforced to free his personal slaves in 1863 after the Confederatesoldiers failed to vanquish the Union forces. Nevertheless, Johnsonfreed all slaves in the state in 1864 (Hale & Merritt, 2013).Tennessee was the first of the Southern states to return to the Unionand ratify the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution(Hale & Merritt, 2013). Notably, secular religion motivatedAfrican Americans to fight for their rights. In particular, manyblacks were empowered to learn that humans were created equal andthat slavery was unjustifiable (Hale & Merritt, 2013).Admittedly, there were differing mentalities among African Americansin the three Grand Divisions. Some blacks viewed slavery as unjustwhile others considered it as a common phenomenon that could not bealtered. Eventually, sustained pressure from the disillusioned slavesled to the end of slavery.
The Civil War subjected the blacks in Tennessee to tumultuousexperiences. Many African Americans had to persevere through inhumaneliving conditions. In fact, slaves were subjected to harsh labor ininclement weather (Hale & Merritt, 2013). The masters in workingfarms used physical torture to gain complete control over theirslaves. Black families were torn apart and sent to differentplantations to undermine their willpower. Furthermore, food resourceswere scarce and prevented black workers from deriving sufficientnourishment (Hale & Merritt, 2013). Such experiences dehumanizedAfrican Americans in the state. In addition, blacks in Tennessee wereprohibited from occupying public office (Hale & Merritt, 2013)s.African Americans neither had voting nor ownership rights.Consequently, the blacks in Tennessee were unable to enjoy privilegessimilar to those of whites.
During the Reconstruction, the blacks in Tennessee made major stridestowards emancipation from slave trade. In this regard, they createdseveral institutions designed to fight for their freedom. Thetransition to emancipation of slaves began during the Civil War asblack communities were established. Most of the institutions thatwere formed comprised of churches and schools. For example, theJubilee Hall of Fisk University in Nashville was constructed toenable blacks to receive higher education (Hale & Merritt, 2013).The First Beale Street Baptist Church was also constructed in Memphisto provide spiritual strength to African American residents (Hale &Merritt, 2013). Blacks in Tennessee continued to hold annualEmancipation Day festivals designed to celebrate the end of slaveryin the state. In 1872, Sampson Keeble was recognized as the firstAfrican American citizen to be elected to the state’s House ofRepresentatives (Hale & Merritt, 2013). Consequently, blacks inTennessee made tremendous progress that led to prosperity andemancipation from slave trade.
Indeed, African Americans in Tennessee contributed to the end ofslavery as they wanted to safeguard their human dignity. In thisregard, blacks established various institutions designed to servetheir interests. Churches and schools were formed to cater for theAfrican Americans in the state. Emancipation Day festivals were alsoheld annually to commemorate their emancipation from slave trade.Religion contributed to the end of slavery through its teachings ofequality and the sanctity of human life. Andrew Johnson emancipatedall slaves in Tennessee after sustained pressure from blacks and theUnion soldiers.
Hale, W. T., & Merritt, D. L. (2013). History of Tennessee andTennesseans. New York, NY: Book On Demand Limited.