Change from below was common but not as highly valued in the time of the Civil War. Slaves had some influence but not as much as they would have liked. They revolted and joined with the Union as much as they could. As in the case of the Letter from General Ambrose E. Burnside to the Secretary of War, describing a confederate town that was abandoned by it's inhabitants. Then, the slaves from the town and surrounding forest came and began loot and cause trouble in the town. The General describes it at, "They seemed to be wild with excitement and delight— they are now a source of very great anxiety to us; the city is being overrun with fugitives from surrounding towns and plantations— Two have reported themselves who have been in the swamps for five years— it would be utterly impossible if we were so disposed to keep them outside of our lines as they find their way to us through woods & swamps from every side—" In this instance, the slaves were not helpful but were also harmless. they had come to help give more of an effect on the change the Union soldiers were trying to instill. But this was not the only instance that slaves tried to change from below. In the Chickasaw Bayou, slaves met with a purpose to escape their masters. In the picture below, the slaves can be seen meeting and discussing their next move.
Just as the freedom came from below in some ways, the help also came from above in the form of speeches and words said by Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was the president at that time and gave several speeches that not only outline his feeling on the war but also his personal feeling on slavery and how they differ from his political feelings. In his speech, the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln points out that the Goal of the war is, "by virtue of the power vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion." This is saying how the rebellion in the states needs to be repressed by the Commander in Chief, namely himself. This Goal alters little in the other speeches. Although Lincoln does go on to say how he wishes to neither create nor abolish slavery. This view directly contrasts to the view point he has in the 2nd Inaugural Address, where he says, "These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war." Lincoln is explaining that he thinks slaves were the cause of the war, where as before he kept a diplomatic and neutral stand point on the subject. Abraham Lincoln's feeling changed rather drastically as the speeches progressed and the fact that he would blatantly say this shows just how much. The help from above is stronger as the 2nd Inaugural Address comes around.
The feelings Lincoln has both politically and personally on slavery also changed, by him saying that he felt it was only his duty in the beginning but now is the right choice. In the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln gives his political feelings as, "all persons held as slaves within any state or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free;" And his personal feelings as, "And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God. In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed." Lincoln says, in both of these, that he gives slaves their freedom but that is all he really does. He doesn't seem to have any real convictions or fore bearings about doing this and setting the slaves free. But those feelings seem to change as Lincoln gives the 2nd Inaugural Address, in which his political feelings are, "Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God will that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so it still must be said, 'The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'" And his personal feelings as, "If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war." In each part of the speech. Abraham Lincoln shows how much he is ashamed of his country for treating the slaves in such a way. He feels some semblance of remorse and disgrace for his country. And in this way, the help from above to free the slaves is at the strongest point it has ever been.
Although the Slaves put up a valiant fight, the real help and change in that time came from above. As in the instance of the 13th Amendment. It was passed on April 8, 1864 form the Senate and on January 31, 1865 by the House. On February 1, 1865, President Lincoln approved the Joint Resolution of Congress submitting the proposed amendment to the state legislatures. And it was finally rratified on by December 6, 1865. The people in the Senate and the House had enough power and influence to make real change, unlike, however unpleasant, the people below.
Unlike then, however, change today comes from below. This is due to the fact that the people in such high position have very little to do with the social aspect of the world. As in the case with Bruce Jenner's famous interview. Now, he is not exactly below but he has little enough that he can be seen that way. Bruce Jenner basically abolished all of the rumors of his gender by blatantly stating he was agendered and also supported all people of such gender. He gave the subjects of sexuality and gender his full opinion and many people applauded him for his views and bravery. This is not the first time such change has come through this particular channel and from below. Many people have done things like this through the media to proclaim a particular change and it will not be the first nor the last time it happens. like that poor transgender girl, who killed herself and left that suicide note asking people to change the world. Today, almost all social change, the kind that people really care about anyway comes from below these days.