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A freedman or freedwoman is a formerly enslaved person who has been released from
slavery Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as their property Property is a system of rights that give ...
, usually by legal means. Historically, enslaved people were freed by
manumission Manumission, or enfranchisement, is the act of freeing slaves Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslav ...
(granted freedom by their captor-owners),
emancipation Emancipation is any effort to procure Economic, social and cultural rights, economic and social rights, civil and political rights, political rights or Egalitarianism, equality, often for a specifically disenfranchised group, or more generally, i ...
(granted freedom as part of a larger group), or self-purchase. A
fugitive slave The phenomenon of slaves running away, seeking to gain freedom, is as old as the institution of slavery itself. In the United States, "fugitive slaves" (also known as runaway slaves) were slaves who left their master and traveled without auth ...
is a person who escaped enslavement by fleeing.


Ancient Rome

Rome differed from
Greek city-states ''Polis'' (, ; grc-gre, πόλις, ), plural ''poleis'' (, , ), literally means "city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (199 ...
in allowing freed slaves to become plebeian citizens. The act of freeing a slave was called ''manumissio'', from ''manus'', "hand" (in the sense of holding or possessing something), and ''missio'', the act of releasing. After
manumission Manumission, or enfranchisement, is the act of freeing slaves Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslav ...
, a slave who had belonged to a
Roman citizen Citizenship in ancient Rome () was a privileged political and legal status afforded to free individuals with respect to laws, property, and governance. *Women in Ancient Rome, Roman women had a limited form of citizenship. They were not allowed t ...
enjoyed not only passive freedom from ownership, but active political freedom ''(libertas)'', including the right to vote. A slave who had acquired ''libertas'' was known as a ''libertus'' ("freed person",
feminine Femininity (also called womanliness or girlishness) is a set of attributes, behaviors, and roles generally associated with women A woman is an adult female Female (symbol: ♀) is the sex of an organism that produces the large non-mob ...
''liberta'') in relation to his former master, who was called his or her patron ''( patronus)''. As a social class, freed slaves were ''liberti'', though later Latin texts used the terms ''libertus'' and ''libertini'' interchangeably. ''Libertini'' were not entitled to hold public office or state priesthoods, nor could they achieve legitimate . During the early Empire, however, freedmen held key positions in the government bureaucracy, so much so that
Hadrian Hadrian (; la, Caesar Traianus Hadrianus ; 24 January 76 – 10 July 138) was Roman emperor from 117 to 138. He was born into a Roman Italo-Hispanic family, which settled in Spain from the Italian city of Atri, Abruzzo, Atri in Picenum. Hi ...

Hadrian
limited their participation by law. Any future children of a freedman would be born free, with full rights of citizenship. The
Claudian Claudius Claudianus, known in English as Claudian (; c. 370 – c. 404 AD), was a Latin poet associated with the court of the Roman emperor Honorius at Mediolanum Mediolanum, the ancient city where Milan Milan (, , Milanese: ; it, Milan ...

Claudian
Civil Service The civil service is a collective term for a sector of government composed mainly of career civil servants hired on professional merit rather than appointed or elected, whose institutional tenure typically survives transitions of political leader ...
set a precedent whereby freedmen could be used as
civil servant The civil service is a collective term for a sector of government composed mainly of career civil servants hired on professional merit rather than appointed or elected, whose institutional tenure typically survives transitions of political leader ...
s in the Roman
bureaucracy The term bureaucracy () may refer both to a body of non-elected governing officials (bureaucrats A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucracy and can compose the administration of any organization of any size, although the term usually connotes ...

bureaucracy
. In addition, Claudius passed legislation concerning slaves, including a law stating that sick slaves abandoned by their owners became freedmen if they recovered. The emperor was criticized for using freedmen in the Imperial Courts. Some freedmen enjoyed enormous success and became quite wealthy. The brothers who owned
House of the Vettii The House of the Vettii is a domus In ancient Rome, the ''domus'' (plural ''domūs'', genitive ''domūs'' or ''domī'') was the type of town house occupied by the upper classes and some wealthy freedmen during the Republican Rome, Republican a ...
, one of the biggest and most magnificent houses in
Pompeii Pompeii (, ) was an ancient city located in what is now the ''comune The (; plural: ) is a of , roughly equivalent to a or . Importance and function The provides essential public services: of births and deaths, , and maintenan ...

Pompeii
, are thought to have been freedmen. A freedman who became rich and influential might still be looked down on by the traditional aristocracy as a vulgar ''
nouveau riche Nouveau riche refers to a social class. Nouveau Riche may also refer to: * Nouveau Riche (Philadelphia band) * Nouveau Riche (Swedish band) * Nouveau Riche (college), a defunct, unaccredited real estate investment college {{Disambig ...
''.
Trimalchio Trimalchio is a character in the 1st-century AD Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a let ...
, a character in the ''
Satyricon The ''Satyricon'', ''Satyricon'' ''liber'' (''The Book of Satyrlike Adventures''), or ''Satyrica'', is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was ...

Satyricon
'' of
Petronius Gaius Petronius Arbiter"Gaius Petronius Arbiter"
Britannica.com.
(; ; c. A ...
, is a caricature of such a freedman.


Arabian and North African slavery

For centuries, Arab slave traders took and transported an estimated 10 to 15 million sub-Saharan Africans to slavery in North Africa and the Middle East. They also enslaved Europeans (known as ''Saqaliba'') from coastal areas and the Balkans. The slaves were predominately women. Many Arabs took women slaves as
concubines Concubinage is an interpersonal relationship, interpersonal and Intimate relationship, sexual relationship between a man and a woman in which the couple does not want, or cannot enter into a full marriage. Concubinage and marriage are often r ...
in their
harems Harem ( ar, حريم ''ḥarīm'', "a sacred inviolable place; harem; female members of the family")Harem
a ...
. In the
patrilineal Patrilineality, also known as the male line, the spear side or agnatic kinship, is a common kinship In , kinship is the web of social relationships that form an important part of the lives of all humans in all societies, although its exact ...
Arab societies, the
mixed-race Multiracial people are people of more than one race (human categorization), race or ethnicity. A variety of terms have been used for multi-racial people, including ''mixed-race'', ''biracial'', ''multiethnic'', ''polyethnic'', ''Métis'', ''Creo ...
children of concubines and Arab men were considered free. They were given inheritance rights related to their fathers' property. No studies have been done of the influence of African-Arab descendants in the societies.


United States

In the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...

United States
, the terms "freedmen" and "freedwomen" refer chiefly to former
slaves Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslaver as their property. Slavery typically involves the enslaved per ...
emancipated during and after the
American Civil War The American Civil War (also known by other names Other most often refers to: * Other (philosophy), a concept in psychology and philosophy Other or The Other may also refer to: Books * The Other (Tryon novel), ''The Other'' (Tryon nove ...
by the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment. Slaves freed before the war (usually by individual
manumission Manumission, or enfranchisement, is the act of freeing slaves Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an enslaver, and who is treated by the enslav ...
s, often in
will Will may refer to: Common meanings * Will and testament A will or testament is a legal document that expresses a person's (testator A testator () is a person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or at ...
s) were generally referred to as "Free Negroes" or free blacks. In addition, there was a population of black Americans born free. The great majority of families of free people of color recorded in the US census in the Upper South in the first two decades after the Revolutionary War have been found to have descended from unions between white women (indentured servants or free) and black men (whether indentured servants, slave or free) in colonial Virginia. According to the legal principle of
partus sequitur ventrem Partus may refer to: * childbirth Childbirth, also known as labour or delivery, is the ending of pregnancy Pregnancy, also known as gestation, is the time during which one or more offspring In biology, offspring are the young born o ...
, in the slave colonies (later states) children were born into the social status of their mothers; thus,
mixed-race Multiracial people are people of more than one race (human categorization), race or ethnicity. A variety of terms have been used for multi-racial people, including ''mixed-race'', ''biracial'', ''multiethnic'', ''polyethnic'', ''Métis'', ''Creo ...
children of white women were born free. Such free families of color tended to migrate to the frontier of Virginia and other
Upper South The Upland South or Upper South is a cultural and geographic subregion A subregion is a part of a larger region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the ...
colonies, and then west into Kentucky, the future West Virginia, and Tennessee. In addition, during the first two decades after the Revolution, slaveholders freed thousands of slaves in the Upper South, inspired by revolutionary ideals. Most Northern states abolished slavery, some on a gradual basis. In
Louisiana Louisiana (Standard French Standard French (in French: ''le français standard'', ''le français normé'', ''le français neutre'' eutral Frenchor ''le français international'' nternational French is an unofficial term for a standard ...

Louisiana
and other areas of the former
New France New France (french: Nouvelle-France) was the area colonized by France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a spanning and in the and the , and s. Its extends from the to the a ...

New France
,
free people of color In the context of the history of slavery in the Americas, free people of color (French: ''gens de couleur libres''; Spanish: ''gente de color libre'') were people of mixed Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most popul ...
were classified in as ''gens de couleur libres''. They were generally born to black or mixed-race mothers and white fathers of ethnic French or other European ancestry. The fathers sometimes freed their children and sexual partners, leading to the growth of the community of
Creoles of color The Creoles of color are a historic ethnic group of Creole peoples, Creole people that developed in the former French and Spanish colonies of Louisiana (New France), Louisiana (especially in the city of New Orleans), Mississippi, Alabama, and Northw ...
, or free people of color. New Orleans had the largest community of free people of color, well-established before the US acquired Louisiana. The French and Spanish colonial rulers had given the free people of color more rights than most free blacks had in the American South. In addition, there were sizable communities of free people of color in French Caribbean colonies, such as
Saint-Domingue Saint-Domingue () was a French colony From the 16th to the 17th centuries, the First French colonial empire stretched from a total area at its peak in 1680 to over , the second largest empire in the world at the time behind only the Spanish ...
(now Haiti) and
Guadeloupe Guadeloupe (; ; gcf, label=Antillean Creole Antillean Creole (Antillean French Creole, Kreyol, Kwéyòl, Patois) is a French-based creole languages, French-based creole, which is primarily spoken in the Lesser Antilles. Its grammar and voca ...
. Due to the violence of the
Haitian Revolution The Haitian Revolution (french: révolution haïtienne ; ht, revolisyon ayisyen) was a successful insurrection Rebellion, uprising, or insurrection is a refusal of obedience or order. It refers to the open resistance against the orders o ...

Haitian Revolution
, many free people of color, who were originally part of the revolution, fled the island as refugees after being attacked by slave rebels, particularly in the north of the island. Some went first to Cuba, from where they immigrated to New Orleans in 1808 and 1809 after being expelled when Napoleon invaded Spanish territory in Europe. Many brought slaves with them. Their numbers strengthened the French-speaking community of enslaved black peoples, as well as the free people of color. Other refugees from Saint-Domingue settled in Charleston, Savannah, and New York.


Emancipation

The
Emancipation Proclamation The Emancipation Proclamation, or Proclamation 95, was a presidential proclamation The text of presidential proclamation 9552 of December 9, 2016 regarding the lowering of flags because of the death of John Glenn, as published in the Fede ...

Emancipation Proclamation
of 1863 declared all slaves in —states in rebellion and not under the control of the Union—to be permanently free. It did not end slavery in the five border states that had stayed in the Union. Slavery elsewhere was abolished by
state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina, Un ...
action, or with the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the
United States Constitution The Constitution of the United States is the supreme law A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles or established precedents that constitute the legal basis of a polity, organisation An organization, or orga ...

United States Constitution
in December of 1865. The
Civil Rights Act of 1866 The Civil Rights Act of 1866 (, enacted April 9, 1866, reenacted 1870) was the first United States federal law The law of the United States comprises many levels of codified and uncodified forms of law, of which the most important is the United ...
, passed over the veto of , gave ex-slaves full
citizenship Citizenship is a relationship between an individual and a state to which the individual owes allegiance and in turn is entitled to its protection. Each state determines the conditions under which it will recognize persons as its citizens, and t ...

citizenship
(except for voting) in the United States. The Fourteenth Amendment was passed to make clear that Congress had the legal authority to do so. The Fifteenth Amendment gave voting rights to all adult males; only adult males had the franchise among whites. The 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments are known as the "civil rights amendments", the "post-Civil War amendments", and the "
Reconstruction Amendments The , or the , are the Thirteenth In music or music theory, a thirteenth is the Musical note, note thirteen scale degrees from the root (chord), root of a chord (music), chord and also the interval (music), interval between the root a ...
". To help freedmen transition from slavery to freedom, including a free labor market, President
Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln (; February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American statesman and lawyer who served as the 16th president of the United States The president of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of governme ...

Abraham Lincoln
created the
Freedmen's Bureau The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, usually referred to as simply the Freedmen's Bureau, was an important agency of early Reconstruction, assisting freedmen in the South. It operated briefly as a U.S. government agency, from ...
, which assigned agents throughout the former Confederate states. The Bureau also founded schools to educate freedmen, both adults and children; helped freedmen negotiate labor contracts; and tried to minimize violence against freedmen. The era of
Reconstruction Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new company *''Perestroika'' (Russian for "reconstruction"), a late 20th century Soviet Union ...
was an attempt to establish new governments in the former Confederacy and to bring freedmen into society as voting citizens. Northern church bodies, such as the
American Missionary Association right Rights are law, legal, social, or ethics, ethical principles of Liberty, freedom or entitlement; that is, rights are the fundamental normative rules about what is allowed of people or owed to people according to some legal system, social c ...
and the
Freewill Baptists Free Will Baptist is a denomination and group of people that believe in free grace, salvation, free salvation and free will. The movement can be traced back to the 1600s with the development of General Baptists, General Baptism in England. Its fo ...
, sent teachers to the South to assist in educating freedmen and their children, and eventually established several colleges for higher education.
U.S. Army The United States Army (USA) is the land Land is the solid surface of Earth that is not permanently submerged in water. Most but not all land is situated at elevations above sea level (variable over geologic time frames) and consists ma ...
occupation soldiers were stationed throughout the South via military districts enacted by the
Reconstruction Acts The Reconstruction Acts, or the Military Reconstruction Acts, (March 2, 1867, 14 Stat. 428-430, c.153; March 23, 1867, 15 Stat. 2-5, c.6; July 19, 1867, 15 Stat. 14-16, c.30; and March 11, 1868, 15 Stat. 41, c.25) were four statutes passed durin ...
; they protected freedmen in voting polls and public facilities from violence and intimidation by white Southerners, which were common throughout the region.


Native American Freedmen

The
Cherokee The Cherokee (; chr, ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯᎢ, translit=Aniyvwiyaʔi or Anigiduwagi, or chr, ᏣᎳᎩ, links=no, translit=Tsalagi) are one of the indigenous peoples of the Southeastern Woodlands Indigenous peoples of the Southeastern Woodlands, ...
,
Choctaw The Choctaw (in the Choctaw language The Choctaw language (Choctaw: ), spoken by the Choctaw, an Indigenous people of the Southeastern Woodlands, is part of the Muskogean languages, Muskogean language family. Chickasaw language, Chickasaw (C ...
and
Creek A creek is a stream that is usually smaller than a river Creek may refer to: People * Muscogee, also known as Creek, Native Americans * Murder of Amber Creek, Amber Creek (1982–1997), American murder victim * Mitch Creek (born 1992), Austral ...
nations were among those Native American tribes that held enslaved blacks before and during the
American Civil War The American Civil War (also known by other names Other most often refers to: * Other (philosophy), a concept in psychology and philosophy Other or The Other may also refer to: Books * The Other (Tryon novel), ''The Other'' (Tryon nove ...
. They supported the Confederacy during the war, supplying some warriors in the West, as they were promised their own state if the Confederacy won. After the end of the war, the U.S. required these tribes to make new peace treaties, and to emancipate their slaves. They were required to offer full citizenship in their tribes to those freedmen who wanted to stay with the tribes. Numerous families had intermarried by that time or had other personal ties. If freedmen left the tribes, they would become US citizens.


Cherokee Freedmen

In the late 20th century, the Cherokee Nation voted for restrictions on membership to only those descendants of people listed as "Cherokee by blood" on the
Dawes Rolls The Dawes Rolls (or Final Rolls of Citizens and Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes, or Dawes Commission of Final Rolls) were created by the United States Dawes Commission. The commission was authorized by United States Congress in 1893 to exec ...
of the early 20th century, a decision that excluded most Cherokee Freedmen (by that time this term referred to descendants of the original group). In addition to arguing that the post-Civil War treaties gave them citizenship, the Freedmen have argued that the Dawes Rolls were often inaccurate, recording as freedmen even those individuals who had partial Cherokee ancestry and were considered Cherokee by blood. The Choctaw Freedmen and Creek Freedmen have similarly struggled with their respective tribes over the terms of citizenship in contemporary times. (The tribes have wanted to limit those who can benefit from tribal citizenship, in an era in which gaming casinos are yielding considerable revenues for members.) The majority of members of the tribes have voted to limit membership, and as sovereign nations, they have the right to determine their rules. Descendants of freedmen believe their long standing as citizens since the post-Civil War treaties should be continued. In 2017 the Cherokee Freedmen were granted citizenship again in the tribe.


See also

*
Black Seminoles The Black Seminoles or Afro-Seminoles are Black Indians in the United States, black Indians associated with the Seminole people in Florida and Oklahoma. They are mostly blood descendants of the Seminole people, free negro, free blacks and of escaped ...
* Choctaw freedmen * Creek Freedmen *
Freedman's Hospital Howard University Hospital, previously known as Freedmen's Hospital, is a major hospital located in Washington, D.C., built on the site of the previous Griffith Stadium Griffith Stadium stood in Washington, D.C., from 1911 to 1965, between Georg ...
*
Freedmen's Aid SocietyThe Freedmen's Aid Society was founded in 1859 during the American Civil War by the American Missionary Association (AMA), a group supported chiefly by the Congregational, Presbyterian and Methodist churches in the North. It organized a supply of te ...
*
Freedmen's Bureau The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, usually referred to as simply the Freedmen's Bureau, was an important agency of early Reconstruction, assisting freedmen in the South. It operated briefly as a U.S. government agency, from ...
*
Freedmen's Bureau billsThe Freedmen's Bureau bills provided legislative authorization for the Freedmen's Bureau (formally known as the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands), which was set up by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln (; Februar ...
*
Freedmen's Colony of Roanoke Island The Freedmen's Colony of Roanoke Island, also known as the Roanoke Island Freedmen's Colony, or "Freedman's Colony", was founded in 1863 during the Civil War (American), Civil War after Union Major General John G. Foster, Commander of the 18th Army ...
* *
Freedmen's town In the United States of America, United States, a freedmen's town was an African-American municipality or community built by freedmen, former slaves who were emancipated during and after the American Civil War. List of Freedmen's towns, These towns ...


References

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