Today’s blog post comes from National Archives social media intern Anna Fitzpatrick.
Before President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, the Federal Government took steps to begin the process of freeing the slaves. In July 1862—acting on Lincoln’s warning that freeing slaves in parts of the South occupied by Union troops might ”become a necessity” and in hopes of crippling the Confederacy—the Congress passed the Second Confiscation and Militia Act.
This act gave the military the power to seize and confiscate the property of the Confederate people—to seize their slave ”property” in occupied areas. As a result, the progress of Union troops meant the promise of freedom for many. Troops successfully freed slaves belonging to members of the Confederate military or Confederate sympathizers in those areas.
The Army issued this pass to Wally Caruz and his family. The pass amounted to a certificate of freedom and declared them ”forever emancipated.” The order says that:
Wally Caruz family a colored . . . formerly Slaves having by direction of their owner been engaged in the rebel service, are hereby confiscated as being contraband of war, and not being needed in the Public Service are permitted to pass the pickets of the command northward, and are forever emancipated from a master who permitted them to assist in an attempt to break up the Government