Reconstruction Primary Sources
Historical documents. What clues can you gather about the time, place, players, and culture?
Mississippi's Black Code (1865)
Louisiana's Black Code (1865)
Ohio's Black Code (1804)
The Emancipation Proclamation (1863), original and transcript.
Laws in Relation to Freedmen, U.S. Sen. 39th Congress, 2nd Sess. Senate Executive Doc. No. 6.
The Wilberforce Alumnal: A Comprehensive Review of the Origin, Development and Present Status of Wilberforce University, 1885. The school was established near Xenia, Ohio, in 1856, by a group of Ohioans that included four black men. The school was named after the famous British abolitionist, William Wilberforce. When the school failed to meet its financial obligations, leaders of the African Methodist Episcopal Church purchased it in 1863.
Captain Charles B. Wilder explains how fugitive slaves, once escaped to Union lines, liberated fellow slaves and spread the word of freedom deep in Confederate territory.
Shortly after a new state constitution abolished slavery in Maryland in 1864, a unionist observer described the efforts of local citizens to nullify the former slaves' freedom
In 1863, black men who had been forcibly impressed to perform military labor for the Union army addressed an indignant petition to General Benjamin F. Butler.
General William Tecumseh Sherman's Special Field Order 15, 1865.
1868 arguments raised for the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson.
At the end of the war, black soldiers stationed near Petersburg, Virginia, wrote to the commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau to protest the suffering of their wives, children, and parents at a settlement on Roanoke Island, North Carolina.