On November 1, 1864, new provisions of the Maryland State Constitution brought freedom to the enslaved people of Maryland after 200 years of bondage. Article 24 stated,Illustration captions:
"That hereafter, in this State, there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except in punishment of crime ? and all persons held to service or labor as slaves, are hereby free."
Though enslaved people in the states that seceded from the Union had been freed in 1863, the Lincoln Emancipation Proclamation allowed loyal states like Maryland to continue slavery. While many opposed emancipation in Maryland, when put to a public vote it passed. Most slaveholders would not be compensated, as they had demanded, for the resulting loss of their slaves. The first actions of the newly freed as they began to build lives in freedom were to find and reunite with lost family members who had been sold or who had escaped from slavery.
lower left: "Twenty-eight Fugitives Escaping from the Eastern Shore of Maryland" - Courtesy of the Library of Congress
lower middle: "Reproduction of an ad in the Washington, DC, newspaper, National Intelligencer - Courtesy of the Archives of Someplacesic
Slavery Forever Abolished ? Proclamation of Gov. Bradford ? The New Constitution Adopted ? The Soldiers? Votes ? Opinion of the Governor."
right: "Emancipation" by Thomas Nast, ca. 1865. Wood engraving printed in black and rose. Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division