Names of 66 formerly enslaved persons, aged six months to sixty years, emancipated on June 21, 1865. Over two years after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation and five months before South Carolina ratified the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery, people like Dido, John Bruce, Anorer Maria, James, Amander, and Joe embarked on a journey to forge citizenship, transform the terms by which their labors were compensated, and negotiate solidarity and identity in the post-emancipation era.

Bowman family papers, South Carolina Historical Society

 

Those who gained their freedom in this period believed that to be free was not only not to be enslaved but also to be a citizen, an equal member of a political community represented by a state that bestowed the same rights and obligations upon all its members.*

*Hannah Rosen, Terror in the Heart of Freedom: Citizenship, Sexual Violence, and the Meaning of Race in the Post-Emancipation South (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2009), 2.