Freedom: A History of US.
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Webisode 6: A War to End Slavery
Introduction Segment 1 Segment 2 Segment 3 Segment 4 Segment 5 Segment 6 Segment 7 Segment 8 Segment 9

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Robert E. Lee
Segment 2
Slaves picking cotton Strategy in the South

After Bull Run, Lincoln knew the North had a tough job ahead. Many Southerners were skilled fighters. They were mostly farmers, used to shooting guns, riding horses, and being out-of-doors See It Now - Confederate Soldiers. Many Northern soldiers were city boys who had never shot a gun or sat on a horse. And because of its soldiering tradition, the South had good generals—lots of good generals. Men like "Stonewall" Jackson See It Now - "Stonewall" Jackson, and Robert E. Lee See It Now - Robert E. Lee, who was admired even in the North. He once said: "I have fought against the people of the North because I believed they were seeking to wrest from the South its dearest rights. But I have never cherished toward them bitter or vindictive feelings, and I have never seen the day when I did not pray for them."

But though President Jefferson Davis had superb generals, what he didn't have enough of was food, clothing, weapons, or ships. Slavery had kept the South feudal and agricultural while much of the world was turning industrial. The transportation system was out-of-date. Some farmers hoarded crops and the Confederate system gave Davis little power to do anything about it. Soldiers often went hungry. Munitions were in short supply. The Confederates were sure their longtime friends in England would help them. South Carolina senator James H. Hammond was among the many who thought England depended on southern cotton and tobacco. He said: "What would happen if no cotton were furnished for three years? England would topple headlong and carry the whole civilized world with her, save the South. No, you dare not make war on cotton. Cotton is king!"

But the Confederates were wrong. When the Union navy blockaded Southern ports, the British navy didn't interfere. The world was changing and England with it. The British, along with others, had read Harriet Beecher Stowe's See It Now - Harriet Beecher Stowe anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin Check The Source - National Era Review of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Englanders wept over the story of Uncle Tom and Eliza, who were slaves. Even the queen is said to have wept. Abraham Lincoln may have had his tongue in his cheek when he met Harriet Beecher Stowe, but this is what he said: "So this is the little lady who wrote the book that made this great war Check The Source - Southern Press Review of Uncle Tom's Cabin."

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Did You Know?
Harriet Beecher Stowe was the daughter of a famous Congregational minister, and many of her siblings did great things. Seven brothers became ordained ministers, like their father. Two sisters became pioneers in the fight for women's rights, and one of them opened a school for girls that Harriet herself attended.

Did you know that Freedom is adapted from the award-winning Oxford University Press multi-volume book series, A History of US by Joy Hakim?

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