After the Civil War, Memphis Vagrancy Laws Kept African Americans in ‘Slavery by Another Name’

Federal Authorities Authorized Patrols That Arrested Blacks and Gave Them to White Employers for Bounties

After the Civil War, the four million black Americans who had been enslaved encountered numerous new forms of authority, most of which seemed to promise protection and support rather than exploitation and abuse: teachers in schools, doctors in hospitals, employers who paid wages, the U.S. Army, municipal police, and a federal agency known as the Freedmen’s Bureau.

Becoming free involved figuring out the inconsistent rules and behaviors of these new authorities. The government, even as it sponsored freedom, was not always a just actor—nowhere more egregiously than in the case of …

More In: emancipation

Let’s Not Play ‘Gotcha’ With the Great Emancipator

If Lincoln Seems Like a Lukewarm Abolitionist, It’s Because He Was a Nuanced Radical

“I am naturally anti slavery,” Abraham Lincoln said in 1864. “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I can not remember when I did not so think, and feel.” …

Abolition and Emancipation Were Not the Same Thing

After the Civil War, Rose Herera Wanted More Than Freedom—She Wanted Justice

Early in 1865, in the city of New Orleans, a newly freed woman named Rose Herera made a startling allegation. She told a local judge that her former owner’s wife, …

The Confederate Flag’s Gone, But Slavery’s Still Here

150 Years After Emancipation, the U.S. is Still Struggling to End Human Trafficking

What is slavery, and what does it have to do with America today?

Most people in the U.S. understand that slavery was the condition black people were forced into before …