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2009 - 94th Annual Convention Words: 236 words || 
1. Romeo, Sharon. "African American Women, Black Testimony and Military Justice in Civil War St. Louis" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the 94th Annual Convention, Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza, Cincinnati, Ohio, <Not Available>. 2019-08-17 <>
Publication Type: Invited Paper
Abstract: This paper explores how African American women used the Union military court system to pursue citizenship rights. The Missouri slave code forbade any African American, slave or free, from testifying against a white person. In fact, African Americans would be prohibited from testifying against whites in civil court until the spring of 1865, when Radical Republicans rewrote the Missouri State Constitution. But martial law provided new opportunities for African American women living in St. Louis to claim citizenship rights. Unable to testify against whites in the civil courts, African American women crowded into military courts to charge white residents with a variety of offenses. By 1864 and 1865, African American women routinely sought justice in the local military courts, accusing white citizens of assault, rape, kidnapping, and unfair labor practices.
African American women became civil individuals when they entered the military courts as complainants. These women, some of whom were still enslaved, swore complaints and gave testimony. Before a military-legal official, a man who represented the federal state, newly freed women argued for their due wages, charged white men with assault, and asked for state assistance in reclaiming custody of their children. To make their complaints, African American women occupied the physical space of military offices, and through their actions, challenged the city’s legal system and the ways in which that legal culture had constructed the privileges of whiteness.

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