Chapter

Union Navy Policy toward Contrabands

Barbara Brooks Tomblin

in Bluejackets and Contrabands

Published by University Press of Kentucky

Published in print August 2009 | ISBN: 9780813125541
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813135311 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5810/kentucky/9780813125541.003.0002
Union Navy Policy toward Contrabands

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The Navy Department initially pursued a tentative policy toward fugitives, one based on humanitarian grounds and on the department's suspicions that the Confederacy had been employing blacks in its war effort against the Union. Prior to Navy Secretary Gideon Welles's authorization to enlist African American contrabands, free blacks or foreign nationals of color had been allowed to enlist in the navy and had served with the same pay, privileges, and opportunities for promotion as white sailors. However, Welles had changed this policy, issuing a circular amending and expanding the navy's policy toward contraband sailors. By the end of the first year of the Civil War, the Navy Department had established a policy of welcoming fugitive blacks, both slave and free, on board Union blockading ships.

Keywords: Navy Department; Confederacy; blacks; Union; Gideon Welles; contrabands; fugitives; blockading ships; African Americans

Chapter.  10155 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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