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"Anorak" Moment of the week

The Origins of a well known phrase

After the American Civil War the Yankee government established a redress/pension scheme for ex slaves but is soon became clear that the cost of the civil war would make it unaffordable. So every ex slave had to apply in person at an office in Washington which was staffed by only one man who had a warehouse full of the old estate records.

 

Thousands of ex slaves descended on Washington to apply at the designated office and the government official would only deal with one applicant at a time at the public counter. When the applicant gave his/her name the official would go to the warehouse and bring back the register of county in which the estate was located and went down the list of the resident slaves. And if you were not on the list you were rejected and if you were on it you would be given a further list of requirements in accordance with the regulations – and this given to people who couldn’t read.

 

The register books were huge, each one with hundreds of pages with thick leather covers and bound in red tape.

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