Preserving American Freedom

The Evolution of American Liberties in Fifty Documents

Section 4

Crisis of Freedom: Slavery and the Civil War

This section contains documents from 1855-1864 that provide insight into the crisis the existence of slavery posed to the expanding nation and the extent to which Americans were motivated by differing conceptions of what "freedom" meant. Headed by a contextual essay by Richard Newman, this section includes an excerpt from the journal of Underground Railroad operative William Still, letters from witnesses to Civil War battles, and a signed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation.