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Declarations of DependenceThe Long Reconstruction of Popular Politics in the South, 1861-1908$
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Gregory Downs

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780807834442

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807877760_downs

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Slaves and the Great Deliverer

Slaves and the Great Deliverer

Freedom and Friendship behind Union Lines

(p.43) 2 Slaves and the Great Deliverer
Declarations of Dependence

Gregory P. Downs

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter discusses the events after the Confederate surrender at Appomattox. A “dispatch boat, with drooping flag shrouded in mourning” carried the news of Abraham Lincoln's assassination to the massive Union colony of ex-slaves on Roanoke Island in North Carolina's Albemarle Sound. The message “brings us down to the valley of humiliation,” a missionary on the island wrote. “Old and young were alike bowed down . . . moaning and weeping near my school house.” When the teacher reminded the ex-slaves that God would not “desert you in the wilderness,” one of them answered gloomily, “I knows it honey, but 'pears like I cant see de light anywhere. I cries might hard to de Good Lord, to have pity on us, now wese no friend on earth.” Across the South, Yankees described ex-slaves' reaction to Lincoln's death as a widespread panic that their rights had died with their president.

Keywords:   Confederate surrender, Appomattox, Abraham Lincoln, Union colony, ex-slaves

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