A Freedman and a General Discuss the Meanings of Freedom
What exactly should be done for freedmen, if anything, was hotly debated in the years following the Civil War. As this exchange between a Union military officer and a former slave in Arkansas shows, even the meaning of freedom was up for grabs.
FREEDMAN: Sir, I want you to help me in a personal matter.
GENERAL: Where is your family?
FREEDMAN: On the Red River.
GENERAL: Have you not everything you want?
FREEDMAN: No sir.
GENERAL: You are free!
FREEDMAN: Yes sir, you set me free, but you left me there.
GENERAL: What do you want?
FREEDMAN: I want some land; I am helpless; you do nothing for me but give me freedom.
GENERAL: Is not that enough?
FREEDMAN: It is enough for the present; but I cannot help myself unless I get some land; then I can take care of myself and my family; otherwise I cannot do it.
Creator | Various
Item Type | Government Document
Cite This document | Various, “A Freedman and a General Discuss the Meanings of Freedom,” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed June 12, 2021, https://shec.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/1526.