African American News and Genealogy

This site was developed to provide you with news that relates to African American Genealogy, History and News. Please feel free to forward this link to others. I hope you enjoy this site and good luck with your research! Cheers, Kenyatta D. Berry Managing Director DiscoverGenealogy.com

Friday, November 04, 2005

St. Louis Library posts Slave Compensation Claims

What was a Slave Compensation Claim? During the Civil War, two acts of Congress—one passed in 1864 (13 Stat. 11) and one in 1866 (14 Stat. 321)—allowed loyal slave owners whose slaves enlisted or were drafted into the U.S. military to file a claim against the Federal government for loss of the slave’s services. The law allowed for up to $300 compensation for slaves who enlisted, and up $100 for slaves who were drafted. Although a third act of Congress passed in 1867 (15 Stat. 29) suspended the claims process, paperwork created by this claims process has survived. Filing a Claim The slave owner filing a slave compensation claim had to prove his or her loyalty to the federal government legal ownership of the slave Importance of Enlistment for Border-State Slaves The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 freed the slaves in the states which were in rebellion, but in border-states which were loyal to the Union—slavery continued to be legal. The law authorizing the formation of the USCT stated that no man was to fight as a slave, so for slaves in the border-states, enlistment meant freedom. If owners would not give permission to enlist, then slaves had to run away in order to join the army. In some cases, flight from slavery led to enlistment in the state where the slave resided, but other times it led to enlistment in a neighboring state. If a slave’s former owner found out where and when he joined—and the owner was loyal to the Union—then he or she could file a slave compensation claim. Information IncludedA slave compensation claim provides information about the soldier/former slave as well as his former owner. The quantity and quality of information varies based on the amount of information submitted by the former slave owner.

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