After the Emancipation Proclamation, some slave owners hid the news from their slaves of their freedom. It was not until Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived with 2000 troops traveling into Galveston, Texas, that many slaves learned of their freedom. One woman, a former slave named Tempie Cummins, told the Federal Writers’ Project in 1939 that her mother overheard the master say that the slaves didn’t know they were free, and he wasn’t going to tell them until after “another crop or two.” Cummins and her mother ran away that night.
Government agents went across the country to see if the slaves had been freed. To accomplish this, they would ask black people, “How are you working? What are you getting?” Some slaves would reply that they were not getting anything. If that was the case, the agent would have the owner present himself in front of the government. Some blacks might have been working as long as a year before they found out they were due payment for their labor.