Freedmen


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Freedmen

 

(Latin, libertini and liberti), in ancient Greece and Rome, as well as in Western European states during the period of early feudalism, slaves who were set free or who bought their own freedom.

The degree of freedom of such a slave who had been set free was varied. In ancient Greece the liberated slaves did not receive the rights of citizenship; they became metics under the patronage of their former master. In ancient Rome, where the institution of freedmen became the most wide-spread, the slaves who had been set free with the observance of the legal formalities acquired the family name of their former master, and they also became Roman citizens. How-ever, they were deprived of the right to be magistrates and the duty to serve in the army. A slave who purchased his own freedom was obliged to show obsequium (deference) to his patron and to will him part (from one-third to one-half) of his property. A slave who was freed “by the graciousness of his master” was obliged, furthermore, to work for his patron part of the time or to pay him a portion of his wages. Exploiting freedmen was frequently more profitable than exploiting slaves, and the number of freedmen constantly in-creased. Sometimes freedmen were given a parcel of land, a workshop, or a little store; and they contributed a portion of their income to their patrons. Often freedmen were the trusted agents of their patrons. They made up a special class, which, however, was not homogeneous. Some freedmen were very rich. From their number were recruited members of the collegium of augurs (diviners), the so-called sevir Augustalis, who served the imperial cult. A unique role was played by the imperial freedmen, who constituted the lowest and to some extent the middle ranks of the empire’s bureaucratic apparatus, and who sometimes had great influence. But the majority of freedmen merged with the free poor, the petty craftsmen, and the coloni (tenant farmers). Among the Ger-manic tribes and in the “barbaric” states the customary type of liberation was to set the slaves free but preserve their dependence on their former master.

REFERENCES

Shtaerman, E. M. Rastsvet rabovladel’cheskikh otnoshenii v Rimskoi respublike. Moscow, 1964.
Neusykhin, A. I. Vozniknovenie zavismogo krest’ianstva kak klassa rannefeodal’nogo obshchestva v Zapadnoi Evrope VI-VIII vv. Moscow, 1956.
Duff, A. M., and B. Zitt. Freedmen in the Early Roman Empire. Oxford, 1928.
Westermann, W. The Slave Systems of Greek and Roman Antiquity. Philadelphia, 1955.

E. M. SHTAERMAN

References in periodicals archive ?
In this activity, students will analyze documents from the War Department's Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, better known as the Freedmen's Bureau, and draw conclusions as to how effective they believe the Bureau was in assisting formerly enslaved but newly freed African-Americans.
These documents are from Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands (Record Group [RG] 105), National Archives Building, Washington, DC (NAB).
It is unclear whether the new chief will alter the Cherokee Nation's opposition to the Freedmen in the federal court case or process an administrative backlog of 4,000 citizenship applications from them.
The tribe's legal complaint against five "non-Indian Freedmen descendants" argues that the 1866 treaty granting them "all the rights of native Cherokee" was nullified by a 1906 federal law.
Fenno, to issue Circular Number 10, informing the state's freedmen and refugees that those "who desire to procure land for their own use, may send their applications to these headquarters at any time between this date and January 1, 1866.
Most of the freedmen whose names appear in the registry book probably learned of the land opportunity via The New Orleans Tribune, a local African American newspaper printed in both English and French that advertised the details of Circular Number 10.
9) Under these circumstances, with freedmen boldly exercising their new freedoms to vote, to move about at will and to sell their labor at competitive rates, the racist attitudes of many whites (who had failed in their efforts to court the black vote in the 1867 state elections) hardened and emerged in new forms of subjugation.
13) Nonetheless Lincoln County was a typically hostile environment for the freedmen and women of Middle Tennessee.
Similarly, she provides an unsparing account of the betrayal of the freedmen by their Republican benefactors and offers plausible analyses of the economic circumstances and ideology that shaped their course.
Then too, she traces in depth the extraordinary initiative shown by the freedmen in fighting for their own interests, most notably their effort to reconstitute themselves as a peasantry - as Sidney Mintz has styled it in his studies of the Caribbean - and simultaneously to become producers for the market on their own terms.
While the status of freedmen in Memphis remained ambiguous, by late 1862 they were no longer subject to the full repression of legal bondage.
One Freedmen's Bureau official wrote from Memphis in April 1866 that "numerous outrages have been committed upon the Freedmen in this Sub-District and that Freedmen have, by reason of such outrages, been compelled to flee from the country and seek protection within the limits of the city.