In January of 1863 Abraham Lincoln made public his intentions to abolish slavery in the United States, in the form of the Emancipation Proclamation. Civil war erupted. Lincoln was soon assassinated. And it wasn’t until December of 1865, nearly three years later, that Lincoln’s dream was realized as the 13th Amendment of the Constitution was passed, abolishing slavery.
Word soon spread throughout the country. From Capital Hill into every state of the south the headlines of every newspaper read, “Slavery Abolished!”
Yet something happened that no one had expected. Something that no one (especially in the north) could have imagined. A war had been fought. A president assassinated. A law had been signed. However many slaves in the south, who had been set free, willfully chose to remain with their masters. To, in essence, continue to live as slaves. Many for the rest of their lives.
And the question that began to be asked was, “Why?” Why would once enslaved men, women, and children who had been freed, emancipated, why would they continue to live in bondage and in fear. As brutal and as cruel as their old master was, why would they willingly choose to work in his fields, live under his oppression, and remain under his thumb? Why after being liberated, would so many choose the security of slavery, over the risks of liberty?
Because they knew no other way of life.
“I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a child belongs to it forever. So if the Son has set you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:34-36).
I wonder if that might hit home for some of us?
Glory to God!