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Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867

Series 3, Volume 2: Land and Labor, 1866-1867

Edited by René Hayden, Anthony E. Kaye, Kate Masur, Steven F. Miller, Susan E. O'Donovan, Leslie S. Rowland, and Stephen A. West

Publication Year: 2013

Land and Labor, 1866-1867 examines the remaking of the South's labor system in the tumultuous aftermath of emancipation. Using documents selected from the National Archives, this volume of Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation depicts the struggle of unenfranchised and impoverished ex-slaves to control their own labor, establish their families as viable economic units, and secure independent possession of land. Among the topics addressed are the dispossession of settlers in the Sherman reserve, the reordering of labor on plantation and farm, nonagricultural labor, new relations of credit and debt, long-distance labor migration, and the efforts of former slaves to rent, purchase, and homestead land. The documents--many of them in the freedpeople's own words--speak eloquently for themselves, while the editors' interpretive essays provide context and illuminate major themes.

Published by: The University of North Carolina Press

Title Page, Copyright, About the Series

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

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 more generally. ...

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Introduction

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pp. xi-xviii

No event in American history matches the drama of emancipation. More than a century 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. ...

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Editorial Method

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pp. xix-xxvi

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. ...

Symbols and Abbreviations

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pp. xxvii-xxxiv

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Land and Labor, 1866–1867

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pp. 1-60

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. ...

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Chapter 1. Enforcing Free Labor

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pp. 61-210

Throughout 1866 and early 1867, the ground rules that governed the South’s nascent free-labor system were in flux. Emancipation had destroyed the personal sovereignty of slaveowners over slaves, and a struggle ensued to define the authority that the state and its agents would wield over newly liberated freedpeople. ...

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Chapter 2. Possession and Dispossession

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pp. 211-360

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 conflict, either abandoned by disloyal owners, confiscated from them, or seized for nonpayment of a federal direct tax. ...

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Chapter 3. Labor on Plantation and Farm

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pp. 361-491

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— ...

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Chapter 4. Nonagricultural Labor

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pp. 492-552

While the vast majority of freedpeople earned a subsistence tilling the soil, a minority 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. ...

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Chapter 5. Labor and Family Life

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pp. 553-641

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 intrusions that had characterized slavery. Some took their first steps toward those goals during the Civil War, ...

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Chapter 6. Commerce, Credit, and Debt

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pp. 642-707

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, ...

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Chapter 7. Dependency and Relief

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pp. 708-787

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 hallmark 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 ...

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Chapter 8. Workers on the Move

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pp. 788-873

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 hallmark 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 ...

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Chapter 9. In Search of Landed Independence

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pp. 874-982

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, ...

Index

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pp. 983-1070


E-ISBN-13: 9781469611099
E-ISBN-10: 1469611090
Print-ISBN-13: 9781469607429
Print-ISBN-10: 1469607425

Page Count: 1104
Illustrations: 2 line drawings, 1 map
Publication Year: 2013

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • Freedmen -- Southern States -- History -- Sources.
  • Freedmen -- Southern States -- Economic conditions -- Sources.
  • African Americans -- History -- 1863-1877 -- Sources.
  • African Americans -- Land tenure -- Southern States -- History -- 19th century -- Sources.
  • African Americans -- Employment -- Southern States -- History -- 19th century -- Sources.
  • Southern States -- History -- 1865-1877 -- Sources.
  • Southern States -- Race relations -- History -- 19th century -- Sources.
  • United States -- Race relations -- History -- 19th century -- Sources.
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