After Slavery: Educator Resources

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2. "The War is Not Over"

The following educational document corresponds with Unit Five: Conservatives Respond to Emancipation in the After Slavery exhibition. Note the "Questions to Consider" section included at the end of each document.

Agents of the Freedmen's Bureau found themselves in a difficult position, especially the ones posted out in the countryside. They were often caught between freedpeople, who expected much of their new freedom, and planters, who insisted that little, if anything, would change. This report encapsulates three of the Freedmen's Bureau's responsibilities that planters found particularly galling. Agents were responsible for supervising contracts between employers and freedpeople, and we can see here the optimistic hope that if the representative of the United States government simply told freedpeople to "go to work faithfully," that the freedpeople would curb their expectations and that planters would become content with emancipation. The Freedmen's Bureau also provided freedpeople (and white refugees) with transportation in order to reunite families and help them to take advantages of work opportunities. This enabled freedpeople to be more discriminating in what employment they accepted, which most planters found intolerable. Finally, the Freedmen's Bureau handled legal disputes involving freedpeople, though as we see here, their attitudes were sometimes no more lenient than those of the planters themselves.

"The War is Not Over"

[I] found upon my arrival at the Pine Land Village Pinevillea a strong desire among the planters that I should go upon each plantation and give the people a general talking to... [found] the planters very much dissatisfied throughout charging the US Government with having destroyed the country and that to use their expression "everything had gone to the Devil."

On my visit to a plantation named 'Mount Hope' JC Warley owner in speaking to the people I used these words, "Now the war is over you must go to work faithfully etc" when I was interrupted by Mr Warley who remarked in a loud tone "The war is not over." I stopped and asked for an explanation. He said "everyone had a right to an opinion and his was that this thing would never die out, and has taken the Oath by compulsion and not by 'choice'." I also saw on my way to the city yesterday the bags and bundles of the col'd peoples thrown from the cars by the conductor, and he told them, 'God damn your hearts. Take these things off and if you put them on again I'll break your d_d heads.' I saw sick colored people lying at Moncks Corner, who were not allowed to go away on the cars, and the conductor was very rough in all his intercourse with them.

The whole proceedings of the white people at Pineville towards the black race and the general spirit of hatred towards the negro, are of such a nature that I think that portion of the country will become deserted by the c'd people after this season, unless the white people act differently towards them...

[whites say negro should be treated as at Barnwell] In Barnwell a Mr Somebody [sic] had whipped two of his former negroes then took them to the military officer who told the white man to 'whip them again as they had not had half enough.'

aPineville lies roughly forty miles due north of Charleston near Lake Moultrie

Source: F. M. Montell, "Report of the Condition of Freedmen at Pineville," to Major A. D. Kinsman, September 1865, Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands


Questions to Consider

  1. What might Warley have meant by saying "The war is not over"? Why would he have said that in the presence of a Union officer?

  2. How does the possibility of mobility for freedpeople after emancipation change the power dynamic between blacks and whites? How did whites respond to this new mobility?

  3. Why might the officer at Barnwell have encouraged the former slaveholder to whip the freedpeople?

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