Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867

Series 3, Volume 1: Land and Labor, 1865

Edited by Steven Hahn, Steven F. Miller, Susan E. O'Donovan, John C. Rodrigue, Leslie S. Rowland

Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation, 1861-1867

1108 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 25 illus., notes, index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-4129-4
    Published: July 2017

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Land and Labor, 1865 examines the transition from slavery to free labor during the tumultuous first months after the Civil War. Letters and testimony by the participants--former slaves, former slaveholders, Freedmen's Bureau agents, and others--reveal the connection between developments in workplaces across the South and an intensifying political contest over the meaning of freedom and the terms of national reunification. Essays by the editors place the documents in interpretive context and illuminate the major themes.

In the tense and often violent aftermath of emancipation, former slaves seeking to ground their liberty in economic independence came into conflict with former owners determined to keep them dependent and subordinate. Overseeing that conflict were northern officials with their own notions of freedom, labor, and social order. This volume of Freedom depicts the dramatic events that ensued--the eradication of bondage and the contest over restoring land to ex-Confederates; the introduction of labor contracts and the day-to-day struggles that engulfed the region's plantations, farms, and other workplaces; the achievements of those freedpeople who attained a measure of independence; and rumors of a year-end insurrection in which ex-slaves would seize the land they had been denied and exact revenge for past oppression.

About the Authors

Steven Hahn is Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania.
For more information about Steven Hahn, visit the Author Page.

Steven F. Miller is coeditor of the Freedmen and Southern Society Project at the University of Maryland.
For more information about Steven F. Miller, visit the Author Page.

Susan E. O'Donovan is associate professor of history and African & African American studies at Harvard University.
For more information about Susan E. O'Donovan, visit the Author Page.

John C. Rodrigue is Lawrence and Theresa Salameno Professor of History at Stonehill College.
For more information about John C. Rodrigue, visit the Author Page.

Leslie S. Rowland is associate professor of history at the University of Maryland and director of the Freedmen and Southern Society Project.
For more information about Leslie S. Rowland, visit the Author Page.


"One of the great editorial achievements of modern scholarship."--Journal of Peasant Studies

"One cannot imagine scholars dealing with Reconstruction nationally, or the post-bellum history of any Southern state, without close attention to this work."--H-Net Reviews

"[A] magnificent collection."--Journal of Southern History

"Provide[s] the reader with a panoramic view of the complexities of emancipation. . . . Key documents provide new insights into the mind and mood of the formerly enslaved regarding their new status. . . . A major new contribution to serious scholarship in the several related fields of Civil War, Reconstruction, and emancipation."--Louisiana History

"This volume definitely lives up to the very high standards set by its predecessors. The editors tackle a significant, complex set of issues, explicating them in a lucid, well-argued fashion and displaying a thorough command of the existing and voluminous relevant secondary literature. The quality of both the history and the writing here is impressive."--Eric Foner, Columbia University