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tv   Lectures in History  CSPAN  January 31, 2016 12:00am-1:21am EST

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them, around six of them today, and what we will be looking for is those offense that really give you a sense of what it is like to campaign for the caucuses. keep in mind, what is key, organization. you need to make sure that those people who support you get to the caucuses. it will be interesting to see how the candidates are trying to close the deal, sell their message, and convince those people who might still be on the fence to go for candidate a or candidate b. what you'll see is essentially wall-to-wall coverage on c-span as these candidates make their final pitches. >> c-span this weekend. live coverage of the presidential candidates in iowa. catholic university professor stephen west talks about how and when former slaves experienced freedom in the civil war. and reconstruction in the south. he describes the role of the freedmen's bureau and the creation of black codes that attended to curtail the freedom of former slaves. this class is about one hour and 15 minutes.
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stephen: it's get started for today then. this is our first class about reconstruction. i want to first go back and talk about the war. what the war had been fought for. the war from the union's point of view abraham lincoln's point of view was a war of reunion. over time the war becomes a war to stamp out slavery. the victories of union armies on the battlefield doesn't in itself resolve either one of those issues. that is what we are going to talk about we talk about reconstruction. giving practical meaning to reunion. the humpty dumpty question, how do you put the union back together after civil war that
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has lasted for years? the cost may be 750,000 lives in total. how do you put the union back together? what i want to talk about today is the second of those two issues, the second aim of union policy. the goal of destroying slavery. what is that going to mean practically? what is freedom going to mean for 4 million former slaves in the united states? we talk in prior weeks about what slavery was and we talked about in various aspects. it affected every aspect of american life, politics, culture, society. we've also talked about is that slavery doesn't exist in the
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first place as a system to oppress african americans. it becomes that. it doesn't exist in the first place because slaveowners have certain distorted notions of the bible although they do. it exists as a system of labor. awaiting it some people to work for other people. the destruction of slavery is going to practically mean an effort to reconstitute the southern economy. on what basis. are you going to restore the plantation system on some basis of free labor? or are you going to break up the plantations and redistribute the land to the 4 million former slaves? the lecture is the meanings of freedom. to emphasize the plural.
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they don't bring the same ideas in the same goals to the table. in thinking about how these conflicts unfold over the first months or years after the war, we want to think about how to do different visions and goals of the war drive the course of reconstruction. to do that we will look at not only the months after 1865 we will go back into the civil war years. emancipation is best understood as a moment of something that happens at one time. it is a process that happens over time. i want to go back and think about the first experiences of african americans with some system of free labor under union
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rule. remember some of the first encounters between union officials and runaway slaves take place in may of 1861. after fort sumter before the first battle of bull run in the tidewater region of virginia. at fortress monroe. what did butler do with those slaves that runaway? he declares them contraband of war. [indiscernible] stephen: but what is they do for butler and his army?
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>> they do the cooking, they do the housework. stephen west: they become laborers under the employ of the u.s. army. they do the kind of work around camps at fortress monroe throughout the theaters of combat for tens of thousands of former slaves running away the union lines their first experiences with free labor after running away are as laborers for the u.s. army. they do all kinds of work that soldiers themselves don't want to do. this is an image from alexandria , virginia. former slaves digging ditches, building stockade fences. this is an image from coastal
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south carolina in 1862. you get a sense of the variety of laborers that these contrabands are doing for the u.s. army. they can cook they can clean they can provide necessities of camp life. more gruesomely, former slaves do other kinds of cleanup. the clean up the battlefields after battles. this is an image from the reinterment of bodies that were buried hastily after battle. they were later dug up to be reburied. you see the image of african-american men doing that work. some of the first work that former slaves do after the moment of their emancipation is to work for union armies.
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black men can also work as soldiers for the u.s. army. the congress authorizes the enlistment of black men in the militia over the course of the civil war. about 200,000 black men will serve the union army and navy. 150,000 of those men are former slaves either from the border states but also from the southern states. south carolina, mississippi, louisiana. some of the first experiences of these black man, these black soldiers, with their employment by the union army is an experience of discrimination under the militia act of 1862 to get paid less than white soldiers. the pay for union privates is $13 a month. for black soldiers it is $10 a
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month, three dollars of which can be get as a clothing allowance. they really only get seven dollars cash per month. barely half of what white counterparts are getting. congress corrects that later. it takes than two years. we're talking here in many cases about runaway slaves, people that ran away from their owners and in some cases in border states or southern states to the union armies. one of the problems as general benjamin butler understood it. they don't necessarily conform to the categories that he wants them to. he wants to think of those runaway slaves as contrabands of war. on the theory that they've been
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doing labor for the confederate army so he can take them and use them for the union army. this is an image from the peninsula campaign in virginia in 1862. what strikes you about who is in that photo? the kind of people. >> mostly women and children. stephen west: one of the problems that butler has is that people who run away to his lines are people who hadn't been used by the confederate army but some of the folks who run away are not people that he can employ as laborers in the service of his own army. very young children. a couple of babies.
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nursing mothers who can be employed but not in that way. old people, sick people, disabled people. people that the union army can't employ in those kind of occupations. what does the government do with them? it tries to concentrate many of them in contraband camps. what we would think of as refugee camps. one of the more famous although not one of the larger camps here in this image. this was robert e. lee's house. more precisely robert e. lee's wife's house. right across the river in virginia what is today arlington national cemetery.
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lee's wife leaves early in the course of the war and the federal government moves on to the property and uses it as a headquarters building. they begin burying troops there. 1864 federal government officially takes title to the property. why? robert e. lee's wife had not paid her taxes. they had to pay them in person. she failed to comply with that. so the government takes over her property in 1864. then we get the beginnings of arlington national cemetery. even 1863 the federal government had erected a number of buildings as a so-called
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contraband camp. one of the larger buildings, can you see what those folks have in their hands? stephen west: they are reading. they have hospitals, schools, churches. this is one of the more high-profile ones the cousin is right outside washington. according to a government estimate in september 1863 there , are about 900 former slaves on the property living at this camp. only about a hundred and 50 those people are people who can work for the room support. what that means is that 750 people unable to work for their support, the government is going
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to try to impose means by which there can be support the non-workers. the government will provide some form of relief and rations to those of can't support themselves. government policy makers are not really comfortable with this. they don't like it practically because they don't like the expense of operating these camps. they don't like it ideologically because they have preconceptions about people of african descent and what they understand as the idleness, the laziness, the disinclination to work. racist preconceptions. they have class preconceptions. that middle-class people would have in the northern united states about working people. people have to be in some way encouraged to work.
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idleness has to be discouraged. that is why union policymakers worried about these caps. they are expensive and they set a bad precedent. the concerns that might resonate in the current day. have you make free people self-supporting? it is hard to do and in some of these situations because you are working with people who are in the immediate theater of combat. northern virginia is going to be for over repeatedly. you have people in areas that are not the most agriculturally productive. for the army and for federal policymakers their efforts to develop rehearsals for reconstruction are going to unfold in other parts of the south and i will talk about a couple of those now. the blue areas of the areas in the union occupation.
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vicksburg had not been taken. this has to be prior to mid-summer 1863. even by then some of the most plantation heavy parts of the south had fallen to union forces. one of those is here in beaufort south carolina. the sea islands of south carolina. in the fall of 1861 union naval forces seized the area. this is an area that in many ways one of the hotbeds of secession. when the union navy in the union troops move into the area the islands around port royal sound white plantation owners flee.
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slaves remain behind. probably about 10,000 slaves. they move into the houses of some of the leading supporters of secession the editor of the charleston mercury and a leading secessionist. they occupy the home of the confederate general. these are plantation heavy areas. some of the richest people in the south lived there. some of the largest slave plantations are in these regions. more than 80% of the population of these islands consists of enslaved people who stay behind. the question is going to be on what basis are they going to work. after the departure of their
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former owners and after the arrival of u.s. troops. the terminology is a little tricky. are they slaves, when do they become free people? they begin taking control of the plantations and operating them for themselves. in the spring of 1862 a group of northern reformers arrive. abolitionists in particular. some of them coming to evangelize and educate former slaves. trying to organize the plantations as businesses. get the cotton economy back up and running. put the former slaves back to work on a free labor basis. over the course of the next couple of years those efforts are going to meet limited success. partially because these northerners as well-intentioned as they were don't actually know that much about growing cotton.
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the free people on those plantations don't have the same ideas about how those plantations are to be operated as the white plantation managers. they want not to grow cotton not because they hate cotton but because they want to focus on economic strategies that are going to benefit their own families. what does that mean? it means growing food. you can't eat cotton. this is a photograph of former slaves planting sweet potatoes and rice and corn and you can raise livestock to feed yourself. that is a more practical imperative. getting a free labor economy up and running, how to feed yourself. they also want to focus on control of their own time. they want to work and family units.
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they don't want to work under supervision of white plantation owners whether they are sympathetically minded or not. these efforts stumble along. the other area is southern louisiana. in april 1862 new orleans falls to u.s. naval forces and the entirety of southern louisiana comes under the control of union forces. so the louisiana is different. louisiana is sugar country. the politics are different. some of the fathers of secession live on the sea islands in south carolina.
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in southern louisiana you got a group that in many cases former whigs who had been acquiescent in the formation of the confederacy. when the union forces come in these people are now reasserting their unionist credentials and they say great, we are back in the united states. slavery has ended. there is no law, no way you can take our slaves away. this is before the emancipation proclamation. when abraham lincoln issues the emancipation proclamation, richard hofstadter would say that it has all the moral grandeur of the bill of lading,
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the receipt you get in the box for amazon. why does he say that? he says that because the emancipation proclamation is at least in part a list of the places to which applies and to which it doesn't apply. it doesn't apply to southern louisiana. for a number of years there is this twilight status for slavery. slavery is ending but not yet ended. under the direction of union military commanders planters are directed to pay their workers and the use of corporal punishment. planters aren't so happy about that but they are more satisfied in other ways.
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federal military commanders will issue orders that former slaves have to contract with employers, that they can't leave the places on which they are contracted to work. their former masters aren't allowed to use corporal punishment any longer the federal military says we will take a role and in some ways kind of replace as some critics would say it the old slave patrols. this is an image from a northern newspaper showing federal troops effectively rounding up the former slaves and sending him back to the countryside, to the plantations where they originated. the former slaves in southern louisiana are not particularly happy about this. their owners like some of the more coercive aspects of the
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military rule and supervision in southern louisiana but they are not entirely satisfied either. this system is well kind of stumbles along during the years of the war. 1863, 1864, into 1865. what does that mean? there are other experiments but these two examples highlight some of the essential aspects. they proceed in the first place on kind of an ad hoc local basis, there is no central direction from washington saying this is how everybody must do this. local military commanders are doing what they think is appropriate and in many cases shaping their policies by their own military and political imperatives.
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you have variety, patchwork of arrangements. you don't have much success in getting the plantation system to be back up and running on a free labor basis. it didn't work very well on the sea islands of south carolina. it doesn't work very well in southern louisiana. as a precedent for what is going to happen after 1865, these are not really encouraging models. for union policymakers. we get one more model during the war years. i have given you a document about that. this comes in the course of sherman's march to the sea in the immediate aftermath of the march. his special field order 15 which i want to talk about.
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first just to set up what is going on. sherman embraces the union policy of destroying the confederate material that could be used in the war effort. both as a means to deny that material to the confederate army but also it is a way to strike a psychological blow at the confederate population and to convince them that the war is unwinnable. sherman in many ways is an enthusiastic advocate of hard war. sherman is not a particular fan of emancipation. he understands its military benefits to the new army. he understands practically white is useful under butler's contraband fairy.
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sherman is no abolitionists. he doesn't have this moral urgency about the issue. ending slavery is not on his agenda. sherman as well is no particular advocate of the enlistment of black soldiers. he is skeptical about the abilities of black men to serve effectively in the union army. he is no friend of african-americans. but under the circumstances of war sherman in some ways becomes a friend. what makes people do things they didn't think they would do. abraham lincoln said in 1861 the civil war was not a war for emancipation but by 1863 it has become that. sometimes revolutionary consequences flow from an expected sources. sherman is going to be one of
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those unexpected sources. during the course of his march to the sea, they disperse across a wide swath of georgia and march through the countryside and they destroy anything of military value. they begin in atlanta and they arrived in savanna on december just before christmas. we talked about sherman's goals and that he hopes to have an effect on the minds of white southerners. these slaves know there is a war going on and they know it has become a war for emancipation. they have their own networks of information. some of them can read and share that information. they hear their masters talking about it.
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they know what this war is by the fall of 1864. when sherman's army comes marching through this area former slaves, still slaves they see liberators. they don't react with terror and trepidation. they react with elation. freedom is on the way. sherman's troops, and they keep going. he is not looking to occupy georgia. the elation of what the slaves when they see those troops, then they see it marching away. so they do it slaves have done elsewhere. they run away. in other cases they ran to union forts and union posts, to safe locations behind union lines.
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in this case though slaves are running after sherman's army and trying to keep up with him. sherman doesn't like this. it is impractical and it is a nuisance for sherman. he wants his men to move fast. the slaves were following the army are slowing them down. at a place for ebenezer creek in georgia about 20 miles above savanna these difficulties are going to come together with fatal consequences. one wing of sherman's army crosses the creek. on pontoon bridges. the slaves who been following the army are on the wrong side of the creek.
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they point the pontoon bridges. what you do? freedom is leaving, it is on the wrong side of the creek. many of the slaves go in and try to cross the creek and they drown. the exact numbers, some have said hundreds. people died in pursuit of their freedom, trying to keep up with sherman's army. the march to the sea overall is great for lincoln and the union army. this is not. hundreds of slaves dying. it gets back to washington and gets into the press. sherman's boss comes to visit him in savanna. edwin stanton, the secretary of war, to talk to sherman about the campaign when he moves into the carolinas. he talks to sherman about his treatment of slaves in the area.
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also allegations that black men are being forced to enlist in the union army. a meeting takes place between stanton and sherman and a group of black ministers. many of them former slaves. they talk quite poignantly about what they think freedom does and should mean. for black people after emancipation. then comes a moment where they send sherman out of the room. stanton talks to these ministers outside sherman's presence. about what happened and what they think of sherman and his conduct of the war. his attitude toward african-americans. it is in the way of this, four days later sherman issues his special field order 15. which is one of the documents i asked you to read. what does sherman do here? what does he declare?
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julia: here's over a list of freedoms that the blacks have. he goes over that they are able to have land and choose their vocations. it is all military base because, it goes over the rights that he thinks they should have. john: it intended to go more to the military side, he cannot be subjected to conscription and forced military service is set by written orders of the highest
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authority in the department. they are organized into their own companies and italians. even though they have certain freedoms where they don't have to be listed, when they are they are in the separate battalions. stephen west: that is with prior custom. he is responding to complaints that he and his boss, edwin stanton, had gotten. it deals with the question of black enlistment in the union army. what about section three? >> families should be given the 40 acres. should be more sympathetic toward the freed slaves.
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tillable ground, land that can sustain a family. allowing him to have any 800 feet of water front and the military law for their protection. stephen: what else? john: some kind of inspector has to be there as well. he decides whether or not they have a license to settle on such islander districts and render assistance. agricultural settlement.
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he's not just giving them ground, also helping them to start it up. stephen west: providing military regulation and support for system of allocating land to former slaves in the sea islands of south carolina. in a region that extends generally you can think of as charleston as far down as jacksonville, florida. julia: i didn't expect that at all. it was one of lincoln's push for it. i didn't think it'd even been
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discussed that they would give homesteads to freed slaves. that is kind of generous of the union military to give land away. stephen: other thoughts? bill: as reconstruction went on if freed slaves serving the army they will be made full-service and of the united states which means voting rights from that point. it is pretty forward thinking. stephen west: it doesn't necessarily mean voting rights you are right that there is a breadth to it.
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how does this differ from the other union military commanders had done in other places? tom: it is making the slaves more self-sufficient. it seemed like any other places the military was directly involved in the cultivation of crops and overseeing the slaves. here they are more able to settle down and be independent of the military as citizens of the united states. not be subject to the harsher impositions that we saw earlier.
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julia: sherman just want to get them out of his way. just give them this land, doing you want. now i have nothing else to do with you guys. go about your day. pushing them off so he doesn't have to be responsible for them. stephen west: i think that is a great way to put it. kind of a revolutionary consequence flowing from a guy who is not a revolutionary. he is even see himself as any particular friend of african americans. he's trying solve what he sees as a practical problem. he had a practical problem of marching through georgia with thousands of slaves following his army. he's going to create this sherman reserve as a way of getting people to stop following him. to take some historical pressure off him. it is a potentially revolutionary act.
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earlier efforts to reconstruct the southern economy of the sea islands of south carolina and southern louisiana were all aimed in some way of getting the plantation system back up and running on that basis. what sherman is doing here threatens to destroy the plantation system. take the land of some of the wealthiest slaveowners in the south and give it to former slaves. there is a provision that we didn't talk about in the ii section of the order. no white person whatever will be permitted to reside in this area that he just specified. no white person. permitted to reside.
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what is he doing there? why is he doing it? [no audio] to post a question a different way, where have we heard before in this class about plans for physically separating white people from black people in a post-slavery order? >> sending black people of liberia as lincoln and talked about. stephen west: we got the idea of separation of black and white persons coming in response to what sherman and stanton had heard in the meeting with the black ministers. similar to but different from colonization. colonization is a way of taking people of african descent and removing them from the united states to some other territory,
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to the caribbean, to africa. this is a plan for removing the white people and keeping them out. giving former slaves some of the best lands available. potentially revolutionary. during the civil war we saw lincoln strike down a number of his military commanders what he thought they went too far. he does that with hunter and his declaration of martial law, he does it with david hunter when he tries to declare slaves free in south carolina earlier in the war. nobody strikes down sherman's special field order 15. what is to happen as a consequence of this? sherman realizes that he's pushing right up against the limits of his military authority that these actions shall be left until congress shall regulate
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the matter. he is providing temporary possession of these lands, he is not providing permanent ownership. in its immediate aftermath, former slaves seize upon the opportunity. about 10,000 families sees the lands in the sherman reserve by june 1865. that is the 40 acres. nothing about mules in a special order. but the mules are around. sherman's march through georgia now moves toward the carolinas. it is hard on the animals. they are seizing draft animals, horses and mules, that they can use as they go. getting rid of the lame and the
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sick and the overworked, free people are able to lay claims to those government mules and nursed him back to health. so they can put them to work. sherman gives us the 40 acres and the mule is not in the order but they are there. sherman realizes this will have to be left to be figured out by congress when congress shall regulate those titles. these efforts at wartime experiments free labor during wartime and proceeded in a kind of ad hoc local listing crazy quilt fashion. in the spring of 1865 congress tries to provide some more
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central direction and regulation but they are going to do it in the way the federal government does. they create a bureaucracy. they create the freedmen's bureau in 1865. oliver otis howard is appointed to head. the bureau itself has a wide in vague charge. to regulate all subjects related to the freed slaves. he is a longtime officer and a west point graduate. he did an instructor at west point before the civil war. he is involved in the combat from the beginning of the war through the ending. he ended up in sherman's army by 1864. he'd taken part in the peninsula campaign in the spring and summer of each and 62. one of the things that is
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frustrating that these photos is that they don't have time stamps on them when you take a picture with your phone today there have timestamps. he is missing his arms so we know it is after the summer of 1852. he is present at chancellorsville, gettysburg. he is under sherman during the march to the sea. he is appointed to head the freedmen's bureau in may 1865. he issues rules to his subordinates the order that i gave you today. what does howard see? what does he imagine the bureau's role to be? shane: making them self-sufficient as possible. every effort will be made to make people self-supporting and
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government supplies will only be temporarily issued so that the people can support themselves. stephen west: they're carrying form government concerns about those contraband issues. he wants to wind up the relief as soon as possible. make them self-supporting as soon as possible. he doesn't want the expense for the government as howard sees it the bureau is going to have an educational role. it oversees some schools in the south but he sees more generally the freedmen bureau job is being to teach both former slaves and former masters about free labor and how that works. one way it works is that people
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are worked to support themselves. they should not be dependent on the government. what else does howard foresee? john: they must be free to choose their own employers and pay for their labor. they completely took out any kind of thing to make sure the jobs are getting done right. more based on trust and that it is on somebody punishing them if they don't do it. stephen west: what is free labor mean? it means you can choose. you can get paid for that work. you don't get whipped to make you work.
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he outlaws acts of cruelty and oppression. julia: the bureau says the assistant commissioners will declare and protect their freedom as set forth in the proclamations of the president and the laws of congress. stephen west: they are the guarantors of freedom. a proclamation is nice to what you want is practical meaning to begin its your freedom. the job is to give practical meaning to that freedom. anything else?
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neil: he is suggesting that the colonization attempts are no longer on the table. rather than put them in their own separate community he's going to have them returned to their homes. seemingly interact with others. stephen west: this notion of return. i would emphasize that you should think of the civil war immediately after the end of combat operations as a society in flux. soldiers are moving around. the union army, hundreds of thousands of soldiers are being demobilized. slaves are moving around. these numbers are kind of
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squishy. historians of estimated that up to 3.5 million slaves in the confederate states in 1861, between 2.5 million and 3 million of them were still slaves in the spring of 1865. they were in areas of the south beyond the military occupation and control. so those slaves are looking for the bureau to give practical meaning to their freedom. they are also moving around the is there trying to put things back together. the owners will force them to move away from their homes. they moved to slaves away from the union lines. they are moving around in large numbers. this is a society in flux. anything else? >> he says freed men are allowed
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to be legally married. the idea family will be protected by the bureau. it will be both registered with the government and also a religious ceremony as well. bill: he gave his associate commissioners traditional power because he says in section seven that if the local courts don't give free people their rights under the constitution that the assistant commissioners will
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take over from those local courts and anything that deals with the free person to give them the right to marry. he made them judges. stephen west: we think of the bureau perform at least on a temporary basis some of the notions of as local government. educating some cases. as we learned in kentucky recently, it is county clerks of that register marriages. we getting in and importance of family relations in a document that is talking about economic relations. how those two are intertwined. he is putting the bureau in
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charge of whether courts are incapable operating. in charge where the local officials disregard the negroes right to justice. what is he demanding there? equality before the law. not social equality, not political equality. but civil equality. this is an illustration from later depicting how some freedmen's bureau officials themselves saw their role in the south. they are mediating between
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whites and blacks, former masters and former slaves. their hostile to one another but they don't necessarily agree with the freedmen's own definition of freedom and equality and free labor. let's talk about the final two documents. think again about the chronology. the bureau is created in march 1865 before lee surrendered at appomattox. howard wasn't appointed until two months later. he issues these regulations. in the wake of the victory of union armies, union soldiers are going home. they are mustering out. many are leaving the army but others are spreading out to new parts of the south. by the fall of 1865 historians
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estimate there are about a hundred 50,000 u.s. troops throughout the south. there are about 800 counties the former confederacy. one military unit, usually not a full company, for one or two counties before they had the internal combustion engine. the bureau is under the war department. howard himself and many of his people are commissioned officers in the military. those men are being appointed and are spreading out throughout the south as well. in the summer of 1865. by the fall of 1865 there are about 300 bureau agents on the ground. they are going there try give practical meaning to freedom.
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they're going there in some cases to literally stand between hostile groups on the ground. things are moving forward in washington as well. in the summer of 1865 congress is out of session. they went home in march and they won't reconvene until december. president johnson is setting reconstruction policy. we can talk more about the politics of reconstruction next time. johnson does a couple of things that are important for understanding this issue. one of the things johnson does is he makes plans to set up procedures for establishing provisional governments in the southern states. he points governors of his own and set the process by which the former confederate states rewrite their state constitutions. the other thing he is doing is dealing with the question of the status of matter states but individuals.
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the loyalty and status of individuals. he issues a general proclamation for amnesty but it doesn't apply to everybody. it doesn't apply to high-ranking confederates and it doesn't apply to rich confederates. which means it doesn't apply to the wealthy secessionists who had owned those plantations on which thousands of slaves had been in the spring and summer of agency five. that summer johnson begins issuing individual plans. he writes back if you individually ask the president for them. some of those pardons go to the owners of those plantations in the shermans reserved.
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those people are returning and they want their plantations back. they've come into collision. johnson says the land must be restored and he sends to deliver the bad news. yes they leave washington and go down to the south and he has to meet with the freedmen. to tell them what the government's policy is going to be. in response to that meeting howard in october of 1865. they write these letters, one to howard himself and one to president johnson. it is a blurry image but it is kind of remarkable that we have the image at all. he had been born a slave on the islands. he is only 23 years old at the time. he becomes a minister.
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