No event in American history matches the drama of emancipation. More than a century later, it continues to stir the deepest emotions, and properly so. In the United States, emancipation accompanied the defeat of the world's most powerful slaveholding class and freed a larger number of slaves than did the end of slavery in all other New World societies combined. Clothed in the rhetoric of biblical prophecy and national destiny and born of a bloody civil war, it accomplished a profound social revolution.
The Freedmen and Southern Society Project was established in 1976 to capture the essence of that revolution by depicting the drama of emancipation in the words of the participants: liberated slaves and defeated slaveholders, soldiers and civilians, common folk and the elite, Northerners and Southerners.