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Bluejackets and ContrabandsAfrican Americans and the Union Navy$
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Barbara Brooks Tomblin

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780813125541

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813125541.001.0001

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Union Navy Policy toward Contrabands

Union Navy Policy toward Contrabands

(p.7) Chapter 1 Union Navy Policy toward Contrabands
Bluejackets and Contrabands

Barbara Brooks Tomblin

University Press of Kentucky

The Navy Department initially pursued a tentative policy toward fugitives, one based on humanitarian grounds and on the department's suspicions that the Confederacy had been employing blacks in its war effort against the Union. Prior to Navy Secretary Gideon Welles's authorization to enlist African American contrabands, free blacks or foreign nationals of color had been allowed to enlist in the navy and had served with the same pay, privileges, and opportunities for promotion as white sailors. However, Welles had changed this policy, issuing a circular amending and expanding the navy's policy toward contraband sailors. By the end of the first year of the Civil War, the Navy Department had established a policy of welcoming fugitive blacks, both slave and free, on board Union blockading ships.

Keywords:   Navy Department, Confederacy, blacks, Union, Gideon Welles, contrabands, fugitives, blockading ships, African Americans

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