Negotiating Freedom: Reactions to Emancipation in West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana Open Access
Downloadable ContentDownload PDF
The thesis explores the ways in which residents of West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana experienced and altered race and class boundaries during the process of emancipation. Planters, laborers, and yeoman farmers all viewed emancipation as a jarring series of events and wondered how they would impact prevailing definitions of labor and property that were heavily influenced by slavery. These changes, eagerly anticipated and otherwise, shaped the experience of freedom and established its parameters, both for former slaves and their masters. Using the records of the Freedmen's Bureau and local planters, this paper focuses on three common responses to emancipation in West Feliciana: flight, alliance, and violence, suggesting ways in which those responses complicate traditional views of Reconstruction.