Back to top

Orlando Brown, An Official Fourth of July Address to the Freedmen of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia, July 4, 1865

"Peace - Fourth of July 1865," Harper's Weekly Magazine, July 8, 1865, artist's impression, zoomable image
Orlando Brown, a former Army colonel, had recently been appointed as Assistant Commissioner for the Freedman's Bureau in Virginia. In a Fourth of July address to his new charges, he lays out his view of his duties and the duties of all those newly emancipated. Describing starkly the differences between being cared for as a slave and the making one's way in the world of free labor, he states that idleness and dependence are not acceptable to the Bureau but effort, education, and hard work will be afforded all assistance. Brown also hints at the difficulties to be faced, especially the lack of work in a distressed Southern economy, but assures the newly emancipated that if they are "quiet, peaceable, law-abiding citizens" and industrious and frugal, they will certainly have the rewards of freedom. (By John Osborne)

Tabs