1863 — Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation

Although a legendary milestone in the long fight for racial equality in the United States of America, the Emancipation Proclamation was in fact a cynical political gambit. By freeing slaves in all those areas still in open rebellion against the government in Washington D.C. – more than three quarters of the four million black slaves in America at that time – Lincoln hoped to encourage rebellions and desertions among the slave population, splitting the Confederate forces and hamstringing their economy. He made no such gesture for any of the slave holding states on his side of the Civil War – but he doubt realised that come the end of the war, he had created conditions whereby they too would expect to be freed.

The overall effects of the Emancipation were more or less as Lincoln had hoped, although less drastic in their effects than he might have wished. There were plentiful desertions by slaves; conversely, there were also desertions by Union troopers who felt that this was not what they had signed up for.

Referenced in:

Black Man — Stevie Wonder

1866 – Laura Foster is murdered

Tom Dula was a North Carolina boy who had a great disregard for two things: the seventh commandment (you know, the one about adultery) and consequences. He had a long term affair with a woman named Ann Foster, and later, with her cousins, Laura and Pauline.

However, after Laura got pregnant by Dula, and – as he believed – infected him with syphilis (it appears that it may have actually been Pauline he caught that from), Tom decided to end his relationship with Laura. It remains unclear who actually killed Laura – it may have been Tom, Ann or Pauline – but it was Tom who was convicted and sent to the gallows for the crime.

Referenced in:

Tom Dooley — The Kingston Trio