Politics of Emancipation: The Second Confiscation Act 17 July 1862

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Map Code: Ax01986

The Second Confiscation Act of 17 July 1862 was a law passed by the United States Congress during the US Civil War. It legalized the right of the Union to seize the land and property of disloyal citizens (the Confederates). It also made treachery a capital offence, punishable by death or a minimum prison term of five years and a minimum fine of $10,000. Anyone found guilty of colluding with a disloyal citizen could face a prison term of up to ten years and a maximum fine of $200,000. The most contentious part of the Act was that any seized slaves were to be immediately emancipated. Although the Act was passed, there were many abstentions and ‘No’ votes. President Abraham Lincoln was worried that the emancipation clause could push the border states of Kentucky and Missouri into secession. He suggested that slave emancipation in these states be gradual and compensated, but both states still failed to support the Act.

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