Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Power Above vs. Passion Below

In class we discussed who 'gave' freedom to slaves. If it was from above, it means the people with more power of higher classes in society who caused their freedom. If it was from below, it means the slaves themselves took action and were able to overpower those above them and gain freedom. First, we split into groups to analyze various documents. Among them were an open letter to Horace Greeley, the Gettysburg Address, the Emancipation Proclomation, the second inaugural address. Each group had to figure out if it was freedom from above or below. After all of the groups shared, we each made diagrams to show how each document answered if freedom was from above or below.
The documents written by Abraham Lincoln showed freedom coming from above. His main goal during the war was to save the Union, which involved freeing slaves. This is evident in the letter he wrote to Horace Greeley. Lincoln of course still believed the emancipation of the slaves had to be done because all men are created equal. In the Emancipation Proclomation, he freed the slaves in the rebellion states and saw it as an act of justice. There were two more documents that showed freedom coming from below. Document X was a letter from a Union general who had taken over an abandoned town. The town had been taken over by fugitive slaves. This shows that the slaves took action for their own freedom and gained control over higher classes. Document Y was a picture showing slaves of a man named Jefferson Davis that left and went to a bayou where Union soldiers were. Just like the other document, this shows the slaves fighting against the higher powers to gain freedom for themselves. 

I think that freedom from the slaves mainly came from above. The majority of the documents showed this. Even though action taken by slaves did contribute, people of higher classes would be able to make more change since they had more power and authority. There are still situations going on today that are causing more people with less power to speak up. For example, the protesting in Baltimore and many other places in America shows people from 'below' fighting to get the attention of the authority to show them we need a change. They are done waiting for the people from 'above' to recognize that there are still numerous issues with how people are treated and how they are using their power. It just goes to show that society hasn't really advanced as much as people thought it had.