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Wartime Reconstruction (1863-64). “Every colored man will be a slave, & feel himself a slave until he can raise his own bale of cotton and put his own mark upon it and say this is mine!” -Prince Rivers speech (1864). struggle for equality: on the plantation.

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Wartime reconstruction 1863 64

“Every colored man will be a slave, & feel himself a slave until he can raise his own bale of cotton and put his own mark upon it and say this is mine!”

-Prince Rivers speech (1864)


Struggle for equality on the plantation
struggle for equality: on the plantation until he can raise his own bale of cotton and put

  • March 1863: first land sales on Sea Islands

    businessmen vs. abolitionists


Struggle for equality on the plantation1
struggle for equality: on the plantation until he can raise his own bale of cotton and put

  • March 1863: first land sales on Sea Islands

    businessmen vs. abolitionists

  • February 1864: second land sales

    pre-emption?


Wartime reconstruction 1863 64

Will you please be so kind Sir, as to tell me about my little bit of land. I am afraid to put on it a stable, or cornhouse, and such like, for fear it will be taken away from me again. Will you please to be so kind as to tell me whether the land will be sold from under us or no, or whether it will be sold to us at all. I should like to buy the very spot where I live. It aint but six acres, and I have got cotton planted on it, and very fine cotton too; and potatoes and corn coming on very pretty. If we colored people have land I know we shall do very well—there is no fear of that. Some of us have as much as three acres. . .


Wartime reconstruction 1863 64

of corn, besides ground-nuts, potatoes, peas, and I don’t know what else myself. If the land can only be sold, we can buy it all, for every house has its cotton planted, and doing well, and planted only for ourselves—We should like to know how much we shall have to pay for it—if it is sold. . . . PS. I did a heap of work on it [his house], and now it would hurt my heart too much to see another man have it. I should not like it at all.

-Don Carlos Ritter to Abraham Lincoln (May 1864)


Struggle for equality on the plantation2
struggle for equality: on the plantation know what else myself. If the land can only be sold, we can buy it all, for every house has its cotton planted, and doing well, and planted only for ourselves—We should like to know how much we shall have to pay for it—if it is sold. . . . PS. I did a heap of work on it [his house], and now it would hurt my heart too much to see another man have it. I should not like it at all.

  • March 1863: first land sales on Sea Islands

    businessmen vs. abolitionists

  • February 1864: second land sales

    pre-emption?

  • January 1865: Special Field Order No. 15


Struggle for equality on the plantation3
struggle for equality: on the plantation know what else myself. If the land can only be sold, we can buy it all, for every house has its cotton planted, and doing well, and planted only for ourselves—We should like to know how much we shall have to pay for it—if it is sold. . . . PS. I did a heap of work on it [his house], and now it would hurt my heart too much to see another man have it. I should not like it at all.

  • March 1863: first land sales on Sea Islands

    businessmen vs. abolitionists

  • February 1864: second land sales

    pre-emption?

  • January 1865: Special Field Order No. 15

  • March 1865: Freedmen’s Bureau founded


War s end 1865

War’s End: 1865 know what else myself. If the land can only be sold, we can buy it all, for every house has its cotton planted, and doing well, and planted only for ourselves—We should like to know how much we shall have to pay for it—if it is sold. . . . PS. I did a heap of work on it [his house], and now it would hurt my heart too much to see another man have it. I should not like it at all.


Confederate surrender at appomattox april 1865
Confederate surrender at Appomattox, April 1865 know what else myself. If the land can only be sold, we can buy it all, for every house has its cotton planted, and doing well, and planted only for ourselves—We should like to know how much we shall have to pay for it—if it is sold. . . . PS. I did a heap of work on it [his house], and now it would hurt my heart too much to see another man have it. I should not like it at all.


Wartime reconstruction 1863 64

The people have refused to believe he was dead. . . [They] said if they knew the President were dead they would mourn for him, but they could not think that was the truth, and they would wait and see. . . “Oh,” [one freedman] said, “I have lost a friend. I don’t care much now about anything. “What friend?” I asked, not really thinking for a moment. “They call him Sam,” he said; “Uncle Sam, the best friend ever I had” . . . One man said to me, “Lincoln died for we, Christ died for we, and me believe him the same mans,” that is, they are the same person.

-excerpt from Laura Towne diary (1865)


Reconstruction plans and policies
reconstruction plans and policies said if they knew the President were dead they would mourn for him, but they could not think that was the truth, and they would wait and see. . . “Oh,” [one freedman] said, “I have lost a friend. I don’t care much now about anything. “What friend?” I asked, not really thinking for a moment. “They call him Sam,” he said; “Uncle Sam, the best friend ever I had” . . .


Further reading
further reading said if they knew the President were dead they would mourn for him, but they could not think that was the truth, and they would wait and see. . . “Oh,” [one freedman] said, “I have lost a friend. I don’t care much now about anything. “What friend?” I asked, not really thinking for a moment. “They call him Sam,” he said; “Uncle Sam, the best friend ever I had” . . .

  • Mark Grimsley, The Hard Hand of War: Union Military Policy Toward Southern Civilians, 1861-1865 (1995)

  • Willie Lee Rose, Rehearsal for Reconstruction: The Port Royal Experiment (1964)

  • Eric Foner, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery (2010)


Presidential reconstruction 1865 66

Presidential Reconstruction said if they knew the President were dead they would mourn for him, but they could not think that was the truth, and they would wait and see. . . “Oh,” [one freedman] said, “I have lost a friend. I don’t care much now about anything. “What friend?” I asked, not really thinking for a moment. “They call him Sam,” he said; “Uncle Sam, the best friend ever I had” . . . (1865-66)


Reconstruction plans and policies1
reconstruction plans and policies said if they knew the President were dead they would mourn for him, but they could not think that was the truth, and they would wait and see. . . “Oh,” [one freedman] said, “I have lost a friend. I don’t care much now about anything. “What friend?” I asked, not really thinking for a moment. “They call him Sam,” he said; “Uncle Sam, the best friend ever I had” . . .


Some travel writings of 1865 66
some travel writings of 1865-66 said if they knew the President were dead they would mourn for him, but they could not think that was the truth, and they would wait and see. . . “Oh,” [one freedman] said, “I have lost a friend. I don’t care much now about anything. “What friend?” I asked, not really thinking for a moment. “They call him Sam,” he said; “Uncle Sam, the best friend ever I had” . . .

  • Sidney Andrews, The South Since the War (1866)

  • John Richard Dennett, The South As it Is (1866)

  • Whitelaw Reid, After the War (1866)

  • John T. Trowbridge, The Desolate South (1866)