From: Anonymous Eight
Time: 6:52:44 PM
Remote Name: 18.104.22.168
Anonymous Eight Primary Source Assignment #2- Charles Stearns
Slaves responded differently when freed. Some of the slaves felt that they must leave the plantation that they had slaved on to truly feel emancipated. Some of the slaves that left would return to work on the same plantation, but only after seeing some of their newly acquired world. Some of the slaves thought that being free meant that they did not have to work at all anymore. These freedmen had no guidance, which caused them to run wild or do nothing at all. There was one incident when a group of slave refugee fired upon and killed all but one of a posse of white men. Although the book does not state what the white men were doing when killed, it was insinuated that the men killed were innocent. The Freedmenís Bureau did not lend a helping hand at giving these ex-slaves direction. The only advice that they received was from their ex-plantation masters. Their advice was that they would be better off staying on the plantation because if the Yankees caught them they would make them drag salt all day. The slaves did not listen to the advice and ran for the North anyway. The only men they wanted advice from was the abolitionists Phillips and Garrison. In the beginning, the whites responded to the slaves being free by not acknowledging their freedom. The slave owners did not obey the Federal Governmentís Emancipation Proclamation. They obeyed the laws of the State, and their states did not emancipate any slaves. The whites did finally accept the proclamation when General Lee surrendered. The slave owners offered their slaves employment on their plantations, and if the slaves refused the opportunity, then they were whipped. The whites also tried to manipulate the slaves into staying by saying that the Yankees had it out for them. To order to obtain a more valid picture of the freedmenís condition after the Civil War, primary sources from ex-slaves should be consulted. Not so much the writings of freedmen who became literate after the war, but the ones who were literate before the war. Journals and diaries of these former slaves that were documenting history as it unfolded. I say this because hindsight is twenty-twenty. Slaves who learned to write after the war will be askew in their recollection of events that happened during and immediately after the war. Those who were able to write and record before, during, and after the war will produce a more accurate picture of the life of a freedman.