California Democrats React to the Emancipation Proclamation
This may not be much of a shocker – we are all aware of how many Democrats in the North reacted to Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. War Democrats didn’t like the idea of turning a war for Union into a war to free slaves, and Copperheads, well they were opposed to the war (and Lincoln…and black people) altogether.
Things were not that much different in the Golden State – despite the distance from the main event. In July 1863, California Democrats officially condemned the proclamation by resolution:
Resolved, That we denounce and unqualifiedly condemn the emancipation proclamation of the President of the United States as tending to protract indefinitely civil war, incite servile insurrection, and inevitably close the door forever to a restoration of these states.
To California Democrats, even those who favored a war to restore the Union, the proclamation was nothing short of revolution. Further, it indicated an attempt by Black Republican rule to centralize power.
I’ve been reading a good book by historian Glenna Matthews on California during the war called, strangely enough, The Golden State in the Civil War. Have a look – I would say her arguments are worthy of an extended discussion.