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Battle of Port Royal and the Port Royal Experiment

On November 7, 1861, the Union attacked the strategically important South Carolina Sea Islands, and captured Port Royal Sound. Once the conflict ended, residents fled the islands for Charleston, leaving their property—and the enslaved—behind. In order to make use of the human “contrabands of war,” and to prepare the enslaved for postwar citizenship, Lincoln’s Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase instituted the Port Royal Experiment, in which black men and women would be paid for their labor, educated, and given a chance to acquire land of their own for agricultural production.

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This program was funded by the U.S. Department of Education Underground Railroad Educational and Cultural Program.