Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Emancipation Proclamation
This document concerns the sale of four slaves, two men named Thomas Thompson and Lewis Hillen, valued at $1750 each, and two women named Maria and Robena, valued at $1550. The slaves are noted as being “free of the vices and maladies prescribed by the laws of Louisiana and to be slaves for life.” This sale took place between Walter L. Campbell, likely from New Orleans, and John H. Randolph of Bayou Goula in Iberville Parish, Louisiana.
William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879) combined his vocation as a journalist and publisher to become one of the most vocal abolitionists of his time. His newspaper, The Liberator, which Garrison published from 1831 to 1866, became his main vehicle of opinion. While Garrison was a firm believer in the abolition of slavery, his views on pacifism and on the separation of free and slave states made him a divisive figure within abolitionist circles.
In June 1840, English abolitionist Thomas Clarkson was the key speaker at the first World Anti-Slavery Convention held in London. The convention was sponsored by the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. This letter, written by Clarkson in July 1840, expresses thanks for the kindness shown to him in London. He comments that “you may count upon my services hereafter if I can be made useful to you in any way” in “promoting the good cause.”
This page from the minute book of the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society reflects the organization's activities. Highlights of reported discussions include the political aspects of the extension of slavery, a lawsuit in Maryland that resulted in the liberation of 15 slaves, the society's relationship to pro-slavery or slaveholding ecclesiastical bodies, and support for famed abolitionist John Brown.
Rachel G.C. Patten, a teacher with the American Missionary Association, wrote about the reactions of former slaves to the Emancipation Proclamation. She stated, "The first day of January was indeed a happy day to thousands; many thousands; of our colored people. In the camp there was much joy manifested by our freedmen. They cried we are no more slaves!"
James A. McCrea’s letter reveals the feelings of newly freed slaves in South Carolina when the Emancipation Proclamation was issued. He stated, "The proclamation of the President was read and the people inspired by the spirit of the occasion sent forth their glad shouts of joy, and their cheers for Gen. [Rufus] Saxton and the joyful sounds, “We are free. We are free.”
During the Civil War, African Americans began to leave their masters in the Confederate states, seeking protection behind Union lines. Major General Benjamin Butler of the Union Army classified escaped slaves as "contrabands of war." This term meant that once a fleeing slave crossed Union army lines, they were classified as property. All enemy property that fell into Union hands during the Civil War was constituted as "contrabands" and not returned.
This is a copy of the act establishing the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, which was ratified on March 3, 1865. The second page of this document describes a provision for the Freedmen’s Bureau Commissioner to dedicate abandoned or otherwise confiscated tracts of land in “insurrectionary States” to be parceled out to freedmen in quantities up to forty acres. However, such parceling of land never materialized.
The history of the Ku Klux Klan in America is often divided into two, sometimes three, eras. The original Klan was founded in 1865 in Pulaski, Tennessee, by veterans of the Confederate Army. Similar groups spread throughout the South as an insurgent movement during Reconstruction targeting freedmen and supporters of African American rights.
The Kloran was a ritual book published by the Ku Klux Klan office in Atlanta, which detailed the order of business for Klan meetings.
Edmonia Highgate, the daughter of freed slaves, grew up and was educated in New York. During the Civil War, in 1864, she traveled South to establish schools for the American Missionary Association. This letter, written after the Civil War while she was in Donaldsonville, Louisiana, describes her experience with eager students and hostile surroundings.
Sharecropping is an agricultural practice in which a landowner allows a tenant to work a piece of land in exchange for a portion of the profits or harvest realized from that land. It was a system that emerged in the U.S. following the Civil War and was one of few options available to poor freedmen. Sharecropping allowed wealthy landowners to maintain their concentrated ownership of land, while keeping African Americans in debt with little hope of moving beyond the land they tended.
This 1866 work agreement between S. Haas and the Freedman Josephus establishes wages in the amount of $50 for twelve months of employment. According to the contract drawn up in St. Landry Parish in Louisiana, Josephus agreed "to work and act in all things according to the regulations of the Freedman's Bureau...."
Exhibition curated by Andrew Salinas and Christopher Harter. Digital exhibition created by Chianta Dorsey. This digital exhibition is an expansion of the physical exhibition, “Am I Not a Brother, Am I Not a Sister?: An Exhibition to Commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation,” held at the Amistad Research Center in 2013.
The Amistad Research Center is committed to collecting, preserving, and providing open access to original materials that reference the social and cultural importance of America's ethnic and racial history, the African Diaspora, and global social justice movements. As the nation's oldest, largest and most comprehensive independent archive, the Amistad's holds 800 manuscript collections which include over ten million documents from the 1780s to present, 250,000 original photographs dating from 1859, 1200 audiovisual recordings, 40,000 book titles, 2000 periodicals titles, and over 400 pieces of fine art dating from the 19th century.