The Wartime Genesis of Free Labor: The Lower South

book jacket

Union occupation of parts of the Confederacy during the Civil War forced federal officials to confront questions about the social order that would replace slavery. This volume of Freedom: A Documentary History of Emancipation describes the emergence of free labor in the large plantation areas of the Union-occupied Lower South: lowcountry South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida; the Mississippi Valley; and southern Louisiana. It examines the experiences of former slaves as military laborers, as residents of federally sponsored “contraband camps,” as wage laborers on plantations and in towns, and in some instances, as independent farmers and self-employed workers. It portrays the different – and often conflicting – understandings of freedom advanced by the many participants in the wartime evolution of free labor: former slaves and free blacks; former slaveholders; Union military officers and officials in Washington; and Northern planters, ministers and teachers. The war sealed the fate of slavery only to open a contest over the meaning of freedom. This volume documents an important chapter of that contest.

975 pp.  Table of contents (pdf)  |  Index (pdf)

The Wartime Genesis of Free Labor: The Lower South received the Thomas Jefferson Prize of the Society for History in the Federal Government.

Copies of The Wartime Genesis of Free Labor: The Lower South may be purchased from Cambridge University Press online, by telephone (800-872-7423), or by fax (914-937-4712).

Selected Documents from the Volume