The Impact of Emancipation on Formerly Enslaved People in Broward County, FL

When news of the Union's victory in the Civil War and the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment spread in the spring of 1865, slavery officially ended. However, the former slaves were left with little to no financial resources, property, residence or education, which were essential for their economic independence. How did the lives of formerly enslaved people change after emancipation? How did it stay the same?In October 1687, eleven enslaved Africans made their way from Carolina to Florida in a stolen canoe and were emancipated by Spanish authorities. During the period of Spanish colonial rule, few enslaved Africans were imported to Florida from Cuba, as there were no mines or plantations.

After the Civil War, the federal government (mainly the Republicans) tried to help liberated people achieve economic independence by attempting to allocate land. American colonists began to establish cotton plantations in North Florida, requiring numerous workers, which they provided by buying slaves on the domestic market. A year later, Commander William Dunlop arrived in Florida to seek compensation for Spanish attacks against Carolina and the return of Africans to their enslaver, Governor Joseph Morton. The 1860 census also indicated that in Leon County (which was the center of both the Florida slave trade and its plantation industry), slaves made up 73% of the population. Because of discrimination faced by rural areas in the South, many African Americans moved to cities in the North and Midwest in search of better employment opportunities.

Beginning in 1862, Union military activity in East and West Florida encouraged slaves in plantation areas to flee from their owners in search of freedom. In January 1865, Sherman pledged 40 acres of abandoned and confiscated land in South Carolina, Georgia, and North Florida (primarily the Sea Islands and coastal lands that had formerly belonged to the Confederates) to liberated people. So what happened to those who stayed behind? Did any former enslaved people stay and work on plantations after emancipation in Broward County, FL? The answer is yes. After emancipation, some former slaves chose to stay on plantations as paid workers. This was a difficult decision for many as they had been accustomed to living under oppressive conditions for so long. However, some chose to stay because they had nowhere else to go or because they had developed relationships with their enslavers that made them feel comfortable staying. The Freedmen's Bureau was established by Congress in 1865 to help former slaves transition into freedom.

The Bureau provided food rations and medical care for freedmen and women as well as educational opportunities. It also helped them find employment opportunities on plantations or other businesses. The Bureau also provided legal assistance for those who wanted to purchase land or start businesses. The Freedmen's Bureau also helped former slaves find housing and provided them with tools and supplies needed for farming. This allowed them to become self-sufficient and eventually own their own land.

In addition, some former slaves were able to purchase land from their former enslavers or from other landowners. In conclusion, while most former slaves chose to leave plantations after emancipation in Broward County, FL, some chose to stay and work as paid workers. The Freedmen's Bureau provided assistance for those who chose to stay by providing food rations, medical care, educational opportunities, legal assistance and tools needed for farming.

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