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In Their Own Words

July 18, 1865

Emancipation Effects Recorded in Journal

From Columbus, Georgia, John Banks recorded in his journal the impact of emancipation on his former slaves:

“The effects of emancipation begin to be felt.

“Today many of my negroes left me. Celia, who has cooked for me more than forty years, left me. I made no opposition to it. Am now satisfied it will be carried out. George, my body servant, has left me. All the negroes about the yard are gone. I have an orphan boy, Wesley, which I had brought up from the plantation. Supposed I am entitled to, till they reach twenty-one years of age. All have left me but such as are of expense to me. Wesley is about ten years old and drove me in the buggy to town today. Windsor, who came in the buggy with me (a good boy) this morning, when I called for him found he was gone. The negroes at the plantation are still there but so demoralized that they work but little.”

Source: John Banks, Autobiography of John Banks, 1797 - 1870 (Austell, Ga.: privately printed by Elberta Leonard, 1936), p. 38.