Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867
Series 3, Volume 2: Land and Labor, 1866-1867
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: The University of North Carolina Press
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Publication of Land and Labor, 1866–1867, the second volume of series 3 of Freedom,provides an occasion to thank the men and women whose labors have left their mark on this volume and on the work of the Freedmen and Southern Society Project Our largest debt, as always, is to the National Archives and Records Administra-tion and to the dedicated archivists, past and present, who have maintained it over ...
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No event in American history matches the drama of emancipation. More than a cen-tury later, it continues to stir the deepest emotions. And properly so. In the United States emancipation accompanied the military defeat of the world’s most powerful slaveholding class. It freed a larger number of slaves than did the end of slavery in all other New World societies combined. Clothed in the rhetoric of biblical prophecy ...
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The rendition of nineteenth-century manuscripts into print proceeds at best along a tortuous path. Transcribing handwritten documents into a standardized, more accessible form inevitably sacrifices some of their evocative power. The scrawl pen-ciled by a hard-pressed army commander, the letters painstakingly formed by an ex-slave new to the alphabet, and the practiced script of a professional clerk all reduce ...
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...[roman] Words or letters in roman type within brackets represent editorial inference or conjecture of parts of manuscripts that are illegible, [ . . . ] A three-dot ellipsis within brackets represents illegible or obscured words that the editors cannot decipher. If there is more than one . . .5 A three-dot ellipsis and a note represent words or passages entirely ...
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A new year promises new beginnings, and the winter of 1865–1866 presented a broad field of possibilities in the erstwhile slave states. On the South’s plantations and farms, crops had been harvested, and former slaves and former slaveholders were making arrangements for the next year’s work. The Thirteenth Amendment, which became part of the U.S. Constitution on December 18, 1865, abolished slavery ...
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Throughout 1866 and early 1867, the ground rules that governed the South’s na-scent free-labor system were in flux. Emancipation had destroyed the personal sov-ereignty of slaveowners over slaves, and a struggle ensued to define the authority that the state and its agents would wield over newly liberated freedpeople. Officials of state and local governments restored under President Andrew Johnson’s recon-...
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In the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, both former slaves and a good many Northerners had expected a redistribution of at least some of the defeated rebels’ property. Large quantities of land had come under federal control during the con-flict, either abandoned by disloyal owners, confiscated from them, or seized for non-payment of a federal direct tax. Federal authorities had used the estates of Confed-...
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Possessed of few economic resources other than their ability to work, the great mass of former slaves in the rural South could gain a livelihood only by working for a planter or farmer. Compelled of necessity to sell their labor, they did, however, enjoy the right to choose an employer, to negotiate the terms of work, and to move about in search of the best bargain—rights that the army and the Freedmen’s Bureau were charged ...
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While the vast majority of freedpeople earned a subsistence tilling the soil, a mi-nority worked in nonagricultural employments. Their experiences, both on and off the job, differed significantly from those of laborers on plantations and farms, whose lives followed the rhythm of the seasons and the demands of particular crops. At the same time, the nonagricultural sector itself encompassed a broad array of ...
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For former slaves, one of the most tangible and welcome fruits of emancipation was the chance to unite with spouses, children, and other kin from whom they had been separated and to shape their family relations free of the constant oversight and in-trusions that had characterized slavery. Some took their first steps toward those goals during the Civil War, but many found that wartime dislocation, men’s military ...
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Credit was fundamental to the emergent free-labor economy of the postwar South. Relations of borrowing and lending shaped the lives of all the region’s inhabitants, whatever their color or social standing. While dependence on credit was not new, the prewar system was in tatters. Confederate bonds and currency were worthless, banks had collapsed, and the forms of property that had previously served as secu-...
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Of the many challenges that followed emancipation, providing for the indigent, the disabled, the orphaned, the aged, and the ill was among the most intractable. The upheaval of war and emancipation left unprecedented numbers of black and white Southerners destitute, while straining or eliminating altogether the forms of social provision that had prevailed during slavery. Before the war, slaveowners were re-...
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Emancipation conferred on former slaves one of the most cherished prerogatives of free laborers: the right to move where they chose. Forced migration had been a hall-mark of life in bondage, from the Middle Passage that brought Africans to mainland North America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, through the Second Middle Passage that relocated slaves from the seaboard deep into the Southern ...
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Across the South, former slaves aspired to determine for themselves how they worked and lived. The best way to “be their own masters,” they almost universally believed, was to gain access to land.1 Possessing land, even as renters or squatters, could enable freedpeople to separate themselves from former owners, avoid depen-dence on wages, and make their own decisions about divisions of labor, the hours ...
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Page Count: 1104
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2013