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[Detail] Lincoln Centennial Association

Historical Issue Analysis and Decision Making: Analyzing Values and Points of View

Until the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, African Americans were not officially allowed to serve in the Union Army. By the end of the war, approximately 186,000 African American soldiers had served. Think about some of the reasons an African American might choose to fight for the Union.

Army recruiters tried to appeal to the concerns and interests of African Americans. Examine the image below. Also read the document, “Men of color to arms! Now or never!” and examine the sheet music for “We’ll Fight for Uncle Abe.” (Remember that minstrel songs were written by whites, using pseudo-black dialect.)

How did the creators of these documents try to convince African Americans to join the Union forces? What values and concerns did they appeal to? If you had been an African American man in 1864, would you have enlisted in the Army? Why or why not?