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The Civil War Confiscation ActsFailing to Reconstruct the South$
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John Syrett

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780823224890

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823224890.001.0001

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The Second Confiscation Act: The Act and Its Opponents

The Second Confiscation Act: The Act and Its Opponents

(p.20) 2 The Second Confiscation Act: The Act and Its Opponents
The Civil War Confiscation Acts

John Syrett

Fordham University Press

By December 1861 there were several indications in the North that some form of confiscation, mostly related to slavery, had gained public support. On December 9, Trumbull introduced the Second Confiscation Act. Several other Republicans followed suit with their own confiscation bills while other members of the party urged caution. Opponents of the second act offered a pessimistic vision of what the South would become if confiscation were implemented. Their bleak assessment derived in part from the promise made by a few Republicans that confiscated land would go to freedmen and Union soldiers and in part from the Southern fear about confiscation. The confiscation debates often focused on the constitutionality of secession. This issue was integral to any definition of the war, and therefore to Reconstruction. Many argued that the Union was a compact in which each state was free to dissolve the bond at its pleasure.

Keywords:   Second Confiscation Act, Republicans, North, South, slavery, confiscation, secession, Reconstruction, Union

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