Free at Last: The Civil War Ends

  • On April 9, 1865, the Civil War ended with the surrender of the Confederate army at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia and almost immediately, celebrations all over Hilton Head erupted. By this point, Mitchelville’s prominence as the first black freedman’s town afforded visitors from dignitaries far and wide, including Harriet Tubman (who freed hundreds of slaves in South Carolina, many of whom became Mitchelville residents); the celebrations brought an influx of more visitors to the area, including abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, who gave a rousing speech at First African Baptist Church about the work of the northern anti-slavery movement and his joy of seeing proof that formerly enslaved people could be self-sustaining and productive. 
  • On April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was shot and killed by a Confederate sympathizer while watching a play at a local theatre. Alongside crippling grief, the newly freedmen feared for their futures and contemplated whether they would be slaves again