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William Blair


Within the records of the Freedmen’s Bureau lies a collection with the shocking title of “Murders and Outrages.” These reports trace 3,972 instances of atrocities—murders, assaults, knifings, sexual assaults, economic coercion, and assassinations of government agents—committed by southern whites against Republicans and black people in the post-Civil War South. Until now scholars have not understood the reason these data were collected and its impact on northern policy against former Confederates. This compilation proved instrumental in mobilizing Republicans to visit a hard peace that replaced civil governments in the South with military rule and led to black male suffrage and passage of the 14th Amendment.