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Diary of James Rumley, January 1, 1863


Diary of James Rumley, January 1, 1863


This is an excerpt from Rumley’s diary entry of Jan 1st, 1863. Overall, this entry was very large and could be considered as one of the most important entries in Rumley diary. On this day, Rumley wrote about several things but most importantly, the Emancipation Proclamation (See another post of this entry here). Specifically, in the text referenced here, Rumled described how the Proclamation did not cause as much as an uproar as he predicted. There were no uprising, revolts, or acts of violence against any of the White citizens and was nothing like the slave revolts of the Haitian Revolution. The day that Rumley and other southerners feared, came and past without commotion.


Rumley, James


Judkin Browning, The Southern Mind under Union Rule: The Diary of James Rumley, Beaufort, North Carolina, 1862-1865 (Gainesville, FL: University of Florida, 2009).




Ballentine, Jay




Beaufort, North Carolina
Carteret County, North Carolina

Original Format



Many reflecting minds have for several months past looked forward to this day with deep concern, on account of the slave population in our midst. They could hardly believe that so remarkable an epoch could arrive without producing some commotion among the negroes, some tumult, some shock to society. That the shackles should suddenly fall from the hands of thousands of slaves, as silently as snowflakes fall upon the earth, and the slaves move on in their new atmosphere of freedom, with no signs of uproar, no fandangoes, no shouts, no jubilant songs to express their joy or insult their former owners, and with no more stir among them than might be produced on any New Year’s Day, be a transfer from one set of masters to another, was not to be believed by any who knew that sudden emancipation once caused among this race in the Island of St. Domingo.

Yet this is precisely the state of things we behold around us this day. The Emancipation Proclamation has taken effect today and has sundered, so far as military law can do it, the bonds that united the slave to the master, without producing a ripple on the face of the waters. This peaceful and quiet transition from slavery to freedom must find its explanation, to a great extent, in the fact that the Federal Army in this section of the state had long since, by their conduct towards the slaves, anticipated the Proclamation and virtually set them free. Beside this, the slaves may not be entirely certain that either freedom is permanent, and may have some secret dread of the approach of Confederate power.


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Rumley, James, Diary of James Rumley, January 1, 1863, Civil War Era NC, accessed May 21, 2024,