Marriage Certificate of John and Emily Pointer, Kentucky, October 20, 1866
Congress recognized African Americans as citizens by overriding President Andrew Johnson’s veto to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1866. The Freedmen’s Bureau subsequently issued hundreds of marriage certificates to couples denied the right to marry while enslaved. John and Emily Pointer had lived together since 1844 and had eight children before their legal marriage in 1866.
This is to Certify that John Pointer and Emily Pointer…acknowledged that they have been living together as man and wife since the 28th day of May One thousand eight hundred and Forty Four, and…are therefore declared to be legally married.
Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, National Archives and Records Administration
The Freedmen's Bureau - 1
In 1865 Congress created the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands, known as the Freedmen’s Bureau, to address the needs of displaced and formerly enslaved persons. The bureau administered humanitarian, economic, and legal services; supervised labor contracts; and redistributed abandoned lands. Congress re-chartered the Freedmen’s Bureau over President Andrew Johnson’s veto in 1866, but terminated its activities in 1872. African Americans elected to the House who had worked for the Freedmen’s Bureau included John Mercer Langston, Jeremiah Haralson, Josiah Walls, and Robert C. De Large.