The Arming and Disarming of Black America

This article supplements Reconstruction, a Slate Academy. To learn more and to enroll, visit

Adapted from Negroes and the Gun: The Black Tradition of Arms by Nicholas Johnson. Published by Prometheus Books.

Rise Now and Fly to Arms!” That was Henry Highland Garnet’s exhortation to young black men when Abraham Lincoln finally opened the Union Army to black soldiers. A militant Presbyterian minister, Garnet had implored black Americans to fight slavery to the...

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