John Randolph

He Enslaved Hundreds of People, but Freed Them in His Will. Maybe.

A contested deathbed declaration; multiple, contradictory wills; allegations of insanity.
Engraving of freed slaves arriving at Union lines, New Bern, North Carolina, 1863.

The Emancipators’ Vision

Was abolition intended as a perpetuation of slavery by other means?
A group of the newly emancipated working with the US army, 1862.

The Promise of Freedom

A new history of the Civil War and Reconstruction examines the ways in which Black Americans formed networks of self-reliance in their pursuit of emancipation.
Kris Manjapra standing outside by a wall. He examines the history of when slavery ended, emancipation laws kept the enslaved in bondage—and rewarded the enslavers.

How Slavery Ended Slowly, and Emancipation Laws Often Kept the Enslaved in Bondage

Tufts Professor Kris Manjapra examines the history of the injustice of abolition in the U.S. and abroad and the need for reparations in his new book.
6 African American's at an Emancipation Day celebration on June 19, 1900

The History of How Emancipated People Were Kept Unfree Needs To Be Remembered Too

Emancipation Days symbolized America’s attempt to free the enslaved across the nation. But those days were unable to prevent new forms of economic slavery.
A drawing of President Abraham Lincoln with African Americans outside of the White House.

Guests of the Great Emancipator

Lin­coln’s interactions with black Americans provides a valuable resource for understanding a more farseeing Lincoln than the voices of despair have described.
Ramón Castilla

Emancipation in War: The United States and Peru

A comparative look at the U.S. and Peru's emancipation proclamations' nuances in declaring the freedom of enslaved peoples.
Painting of a sinking ship on fire, in which the fire looks like the American flag.

The Confederate Project

What the Confederacy actually was: a proslavery anti-democratic state, dedicated to the proposition that all men were not created equal.

Pushing the Dual Emancipation Thesis Beyond its Troublesome Origins

"Masterless Men" shows how poor whites benefited from slavery's end, but does not diminish the experiences of the enslaved.

Abraham Lincoln's Secret Visits to Slaves

Former slaves claimed the president came to plantations disguised as a beggar or a peddler, telling them they’d soon be free. 

The Thrilling Tale of How Robert Smalls Seized a Confederate Ship and Sailed it to Freedom

He risked his life to liberate his family and became a legend in the process.

A Dual Emancipation

How black freedom benefited poor whites.

The Hidden History Of Juneteenth

The internecine conflict and the institution of slavery could not and did not end neatly at Appomattox or on Galveston Island.

The Men Who Started the War

John Brown and the Secret Six—the abolitionists who funded the raid on Harpers Ferry—confronted a question as old as America: When is violence justified?
Picture of Frederick Douglass overlaid on a poster advertising a speech of his.

The Annotated Frederick Douglass

In 1866, the famous abolitionist laid out his vision for radically reshaping America in the pages of "The Atlantic."
Joshua Houston leads a Juneteenth Parade in Huntsville, Texas, circa 1900.

Juneteenth, Jim Crow

How the fight of one Black Texas family to make freedom real offers lessons for Texas lawmakers trying to erase history from the classroom.

As Juneteenth Goes National, We Must Preserve the Local

The holiday has long flourished in local spaces of Black life in America.
Silhouette of a Black man's head, against a background of Lord Dunmore's proclamation.

Enslaved by George Washington, This Man Escaped to Freedom—and Joined the British Army

Harry Washington fought for his enslaver's enemy during the American Revolution. Later, he migrated to Nova Scotia and Sierra Leone.
1903 postcard depicts two Black actors, one of whom is dressed in drag, performing a cakewalk in Paris.

The First Self-Proclaimed Drag Queen Was a Formerly Enslaved Man

In the late 19th century, William Dorsey Swann's private balls attracted unwelcome attention from authorities and the press.
Portrait of William Costin.

Did Martha Washington Have a Black Grandson?

Likely the child of Martha's son from her first marriage, William Costin used his position to advocate for D.C.'s free Black community.