Many Thousand Gone

Many Thousand Gone

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Introduction

As the Civil War progressed and Union forces gained control of territory in states that had seceded, the question arose as to how that territory and its people – slave and free – should be dealt with. This issue became more pressing as the war ended. President Lincoln encouraged reconciliation, and a respect for the constitutional limits of the authority of the President, the Congress and the states. Other Republicans believed that the South had to be reconstructed in a fundamental way. They, too, considered constitutional limits (especially Thaddeus Stevens), and concluded that, for the ultimate good of the Union and all its people, the seceding states had to be treated as conquered territories. Meanwhile, the freed men and women sought to construct new lives in extraordinarily difficult circumstances (see “Many Thousand Gone“). The long-term effects of Reconstruction – or its failure – are evident in Senator Tillman’s speech from 1900. He defended the system of segregation developed in the South after Reconstruction (including lynching); segregation was not challenged until the 1950s and 1960s.

Jubilee Songs, as Sung by the Jubilee Singers, of Fisk University (New York: Biglow & Main, 1872) 27. Fisk University was incorporated in 1867 to provide a liberal arts education to all races, but its initial students were recently freed slaves. To raise money for the school, beginning in 1871, a musical group of its students, the Jubilee Singers, traveled in the Northern states and eventually in Europe to give concerts. Among the songs they sang were spirituals, including “Many Thousand Gone.”


No more auction block for me
No more, no more
No more auction block for me
Many thousand gone

No more peck o’ for me
No more, no more
No more peck o’ corn for me
Many thousand gone

No more driver’s lash for me
No more, no more
No more driver’s lash for me
Many thousand gone

No more pint o’ salt for me
No more, no more
No more pint o’ salt for me
Many thousand gone

No more hundred lash for me
No more, no more
No more hundred lash for me
Many thousand gone

No more mistress call for me
No more, no more
No more mistress call for me
Many thousand gone