When Freedom Cried Out:
The Freedmen's Bureau in Texas


Jumping the Broom

How to Jump the Broom

Congress approves a joint resolution liberating the wives and children of black soldiers March 3, 1865

Marriage Law August 15, 1870 and Texas Constitution of1869 Provision

Sealing the Sacred Bonds of Holy Matrimony: Freedmen's Bureau Marriage Records

Marriage Registers of Freedmen

There were no valid marriages amongst the slaves, in the slave states of America before their general emancipation near the close of the civil war, nor did any of the States take cognizance of marriages amongst slaves, until provisions were made by statute." A slave, like any other piece of property, had no right to enter into any sort of legal contract. Frequently, however, slaves went through some sort of marriage ceremony before living together. Many slaveowners encouraged, or even insisted upon, some sort of ceremony, and after that expected a certain degree of faithfulness of the slaves to each other. They wanted to see slaves united under the laws of God, even if their marriages were not recognized by the laws of man The traditional slave marriage ceremony called "jumping the broomstick." was informal. The bride and groom jump over a broom lying on the ground. It was a symbol for sweeping out the old and welcoming the new as their married life starts..Other ceremonies were equally informal. Some slave marriage ceremonies, however, were practically as formal as those of white people.

In 1854 the texas legislature passed a law prohibiting interracial marriage.

Edgar M Gregory the bureau's assistant commissioner for Texas issued a circular in March 1866 containing marriage rules. A provision of the Texas constitution of 1869 addressed the question concerning marriages of "persons of color", and an act of the state legislature on August 15, 1870, legalized the marriages of persons "formerly held in bondage" and declared their children legitimate.

The Texas bureau field offices did not registered or issued marriage licenses and certificates.