Blog Post #3

Source 1:

The first item I chose was an image of a recruitment poster from the Civil War era.  It showed a regiment comprised of black men and the caption: “Rally round the flag boys! Rally once again, shouting the Battle Cry of FREEDOM!” The photo was taken at Camp William Penn in Philadelphia, and it is estimated to be dated sometime in early 1864. There was no publication information given, but the description on states “although no publication date is given on the lithograph it was probably done not long after the original photograph was taken.” This was clearly a type of targeting attempt to get black men to join the Union forces to help win the Civil War. All of the soldiers of the regiment are black, and the use of the word “freedom” is an attempt to draw black soldiers into the army ranks because they would fight to end slavery. I find it intriguing that in the portrait, the commanding officer is still white and all of the soldiers are black. In retrospect it almost looks like a different form of slavery, since they are still taking orders from a white man; this is almost paradoxical because their forces are fighting for slavery, yet in a way it is still being practiced within their own ranks. This raises the question of whether all of the regiments were segregated into all-white and all-black soldiers, and whether all of the black regiments were commanded by white officers, during this time period.

Source 2:

The second item I chose was a list of laws passed in Manhattan from the Dutch colonial period to the pre-American Civil War period. It details the restrictions that the law placed on black people, detailed for whether they were enslaved or free, throughout the time span between these periods (in PDF format). It was compiled by Slavery in New York, a website run by the New York Historical Society that attempts to educate New Yorkers on the history of slavery and oppression of black people in the state. Since this is simply a compilation of laws written in Manhattan over the time period, there were no rights, relations, or identifiers listed with the page. This compilation of laws reiterates that even though the northern states fought to end slavery during the Civil War, they still practiced it themselves and they still had very harsh laws that oppressed the human rights of black people.  I was surprised to see how some laws even limited white people and freed black people from giving aid or comfort to enslaved people, and how some very normal behaviors were seen as punishable by whipping if enslaved people partook in them at certain times of the day. This would seem to make the northern states appear hypocritical for fighting against slavery, however since no more laws were passed after 1821, it is possible that they had a change of heart and decided to stop writing more laws of this manner and started granting black people the freedom they always deserved. I would be interested to look into some more laws that were passed and when northern states began to repeal these sorts of laws.


One thought on “Blog Post #3

  1. These are great historical finds with thoughtful analysis supporting them! One additional thought that came to my mind regarding the first source was the role of highlighting the agency and will power of these Black men choosing to fight on behalf of the Union. I agree with your point though that having white leadership in charge of black ranks reinforces other racialized hierarchies that are problematic. At this point in time, however, the objective was freedom. Next, it was the battle over equal civil rights.

    Your second, textual source directly relates to our class conversations and importantly reveal the uneven pattern of abolition. Especially in Northern states, the hypocrisy in some of their laws that protected slavery are surprising at first, but give a more realistic view in the challenging course towards freedom.

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