The Emancipation Policy

The Enclosure Acts of the seventeenth century were responsible for the formation of the emancipation policy. The enclosures were laws that were implemented after the enclosure of the British West India Company’s Indian plantations. The Enclosure Acts prohibited the Native Americans from residing on their own lands. The aim was to drive the Native Americans into the American territory. In order to make life difficult for them, they had to be removed from their lands and sent to “four corners” across the United States Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi and Louisiana. During this process, there was a spike in the number of slaves being sold to the British. The Enclosure Acts defined that any “free person of color” who had been brought to the US before the Enforcement Act of 17soType could no longer be sold as a slave. The British were not allowed to buy any “Africans whatsoever”. The wording in this policy was extremely vague, but it made clear that anyone who had been brought to America before July 15th, inclusive of Native Americans, could no longer be slave. Thus, for the first time in history, the US introduced an official policy of slavery. Although it started off as a policy intended to be temporary, the Enclosure Acts has been instrumental in the shaping of the very concept of slavery itself. The Enclosure Acts of the US are crucial in understanding the role of the Emancipation Proclamation. The Proclamation was issued by the President towards the end of the year 1800, just before the end of the year 1819. It is important to understand the difference between the freeing of the slaves and the adoption of an Enclosure Policy. For the former, the freeing of the slaves was tantamount to the Emancipation Policy. The main thrust of the policy was to make all slaves in America permanently free by either leaving their own plantations or putting them into waiting zones, where they would be protected from further attacks. Slaves could remain in their own plantations, but were not allowed to pass through the lines of the entrapped slaves. However, if they decided to move to a waiting zone outside of their plantations, they would have to be compensated monetarily. This compensation was to be given in kind so that they would not desert their positions and leave the place. Failure to comply with this requirement led to the punishment of the slaves in terms of punishment, fines and imprisonment. In addition to this, the policy also set forth the principle of the ‘undue enrichment’ of blacks. In other words, it mandated that the number of slaves in America should increase in proportion to the number of white men who were already present in America. These measures were to remedy the situation of an already overpopulated and impoverished slave population. Although these measures of the Emancipation Proclamation were later revoked by the US government, they remain in effect to this day. Though there were major successes in reducing the slave population, it did not help the American economy in any way. One of the worst effects of Emancipation was the practice of slavery itself. Many former slaves had become highly profitable commodity farmers in areas where they had formerly worked in the southern states. During the time of the Emancipation Proclamation, they established themselves as the masters of the whole plantation and became even richer than before. During the time of the Civil War, those who remained in bondage were subjected to horrible conditions. They were made to work for long hours, without being permitted to go to the bathroom. The worst aspect of the Emancipation Policy was the clause of the Fugitive Act, which made all free men slaves immediately available to the Union forces. Slaves on the Union side fought for their freedom and were greatly appreciated by the troops. During the war, hundreds of thousands of black Americans lost their lives fighting for the Union troops. Although the Union was eventually successful in getting the slaves liberated, it was a painful experience for all African-Americans and caused much trauma in the hearts of many white Americans. After the Emancipation Proclamation, the Emancipation Order, gave legal rights to freed slaves. But this was just a temporary respite from slavery. It had no consequences on the ownership of African slaves. There were no restrictions on the number of slaves, a slave owner could keep. Slaves that ran away from their owners were often rounded up and sold into slavery again.

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