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After SlaveryRace, Labor, and Citizenship in the Reconstruction South$
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Bruce E. Baker and Brian Kelly

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780813044774

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813044774.001.0001

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“The Negroes Are No Longer Slaves”

“The Negroes Are No Longer Slaves”

Free Black Families, Free Labor, and Racial Violence in Post-Emancipation Kentucky

(p.122) 6 “The Negroes Are No Longer Slaves”
After Slavery

J. Michael Rhyne

University Press of Florida

Former slaves in Kentucky had little ability to assert their hard-won liberty in the first months and years after emancipation, as self-proclaimed “Negro Regulators” imposed a reign of terror. In particular, families—sometimes with male heads of household, sometimes not—faced significant hurdles as they sought to establish autonomous lives. Many masters in the “unionist” state proved reluctant to release their slaves, openly and violently defying federal policy regarding emancipation. Freedpeople expressed massive frustration with the Commonwealth's disruptive, racially biased, and abuse-ridden apprenticeship system. Free black women working in white households and urban settings complained of the often-vicious treatment they received at the hands of employers and other white Kentuckians. Taken altogether, these attempts to limit emancipation, powerfully reinforced by organized violence, constitute a concerted effort to maintain black subordination, thereby denying former slaves the free and potentially equal status they desired, expected, and demanded.

Keywords:   Kentucky, freedwomen, gender, domestic labor, violence, families, apprenticeship

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