Where Did Slaves Go After Abolition?

I'm not an idiot. I know some states allowed the grandfathering in of slavery and some slaves decided to stay where they were because they had nowhere else to go. But this question is concerning the slaves who left their previous owners.

They couldn't read and do math because they had no rights to education.

Most had no money and the ones who did had very little. Most lost all contact with relative due to the selling of them.

So where did they go? How did they eat? How did they have enough money to stay alive?

8 Answers

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  • 1 month ago

    Many went west to become cowboys.  In fact, 1/4 of the cowboys were black, and this is where the "boy" in cowboy comes from.  Many found other jobs, mostly pretty menial.  Many were hardly more than the slaves they had been.

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  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    Most stayed where they were or in the immediate vicinity.  In many cases, slaves felt entitled to the land of the plantation.  After all, they were the ones who had made this plantations profitable.  They had done all the labor and so they thought they deserved the land.  In some cases they were able to get it, setting themselves up as small farmers.  In other cases they became workers for their old masters.  In the immediate aftermath of the war, the former slaveowners tried to essentially replicate the slave system in all but name.  Congress put a stop to this when they took over control of Reconstruction from President Andrew Johnson, but masters usually still owned the land and so were often able to negotiate advantageous terms of employment.  Sharecropping would become common in the decades after the war. 

    Some slaves went on the move.  Sometimes they were trying to find loved ones who had been sold away, or to return to homes from which they had been sold away.  Other times they were moving around to find work, sometimes in the cities of the South. 

    You're right that most of them couldn't read, but slaves took steps to correct that. Literacy classes, often run by Northern missionaries and abolitionists, were enormously popular among freedmen in the South.  But the fact is that while literacy rates were extremely high among white men, literacy wasn't necessary for most jobs.  Most people back then worked what we'd now call blue collar jobs and you didn't need to be able to read to do most of those.  Slaves didn't have a lot of property it's true, but they did have some, including money.  Masters, as a form of incentive, sometimes allowed their slaves to do side jobs and earn money for themselves.  But America in the 18th and 19th century was usually short on labor.  While the economy was bad in the immediate aftermath of the war, and times were tough for everyone, former slaves could still find work

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  • larry1
    Lv 6
    1 month ago

    'Abolition' itself happened Jan. 1863 by Emancipation Proclamation but the War still had 2 1/2 years to run. Is this the one you mean?

    If so, it only freed slaves in Southern areas taken by Union troops, otherwise the Confederates paid no attention to it and freed no one.

    Those so freed during ongoing war had no other place to go but to stay with the Union troops as they moved through the South. They were camp followers. By early 1865 General Sherman complained he had 100,000 + freed 'Negroes' (men/ women, children even with their farm animals and pets) following his army of 150,000 troops as they fought and marched through Georgia. That they were tangling up the roads, and eating all his army's supplies. This growing problem of the freed black refugees was the same for all US armies as they moved through the South (1864/65).

    The War over, in Dec. 1865 the winning North outlawed all slavery etc. (13th Amendment). 

    In this final and general abolition the freed slaves were given over to the 'Reconstruction Scheme' in Washington that occupied the South (1865-1878). During those 12 years freed slaves were assigned ownership of farm land seized from the white planters, many went to school for the 1st time, others did as they wanted taking menial jobs, or a life of crime. Other's moved West or North. About 1/3 stayed with what they were used to, now 'sharecroppers' instead of slaves.

    In 1877 in the 'corrupt bargain' the republicans sold out the black South, and those freed blacks still in the South who were not secure in property, support, money, education were returned to bondage by the vengeful Southern whites (1878-1960).  

       

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  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    Yes you are.                 

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  • Anonymous
    1 month ago

    Many moved north. Even though the proclamation only applied to the former Confederate states, not the north ones. (Skipped over in history books). It was more years before the necessary amendment passed.

    Some plantations were divided up and granted to the former slaves. (Reconstruction, opposed by the Democrat's KKK). Thus the beginning of the "Jim Crow" laws to them in their society place.

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  • 1 month ago

    Many slaves in the South actually willingly stayed working in the plantations you might say this is an absurd thing to do.. but one must understand after the Civil War the country was devastated with little to no opportunity for jobs (of any level). Many former slave owners offered them pay (although very little pay) and a lot of slaves chose to remain in their respective jobs, minus there was no more unlawful killings and beatings like before the abolishment. A lot of southern slaves also chose to immigrate to the north side (again due to the devastation of the south) Saint Louis, Chicago and Detroit were the hottest places for new southern blacks.

    • QuakerMaid
      Lv 6
      1 month agoReport

      I wouldn't think the first sentence was absurd (though many do) because they were reduce to circumstances where they had no options.  I see it as no better option than the Holocaust victims . . . .OK, going to stop there.

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  • 1 month ago

    Many of them stayed in the South because they were promised 40 acres and a mule which they never got and many ended up sharecroppers scraping out a meager existence. Some fled to the North looking for jobs. There were some who did pretty well for a while under Reconstruction and some of them became successful businessmen and even politicians. But that all ended when the KKK and other white Supremacists took up Arms to kill them or drive them out of town then the South became segregated.

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  • 1 month ago

    Many of them got menial jobs that paid little and conditions were not much different than they had endured as slaves. Others traveled to other areas and slowly adjusted to the surroundings around them.

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