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Historic Photos of Young White Slaves from New Orleans, 1860s

Children’s photos were sold to raise money for freed slaves’ education in New Orleans during the mid-19th century. In the photographs, children demonstrated that slavery was not solely a matter of color. An enslaved person’s mother is also an enslaved person’s child.

Colonel Hanks and Phillip Bacon brought the portraits of these emancipated slaves back from New Orleans, where General Butler set them free. Mr. Bacon went to New Orleans with the army and worked for eighteen months as Assistant-Superintendent of Freedmen, under the care of Colonel Hanks. He established the first school in Louisiana for emancipated slaves, and these children were among his pupils. H

Harper’s Weekly published the following article on January 30, 1864. The article also provided a rare (and possibly unique) record of enslaved children.

#1 Charley.

Charley.

Charles Taylor was eight years old. He was twice sold as a slave. First by his father and "owner," Alexander Wethers, of Lewis County, Virginia, to a slave-trader named Harrison, who sold them to Mr. Thornhill of New Orleans. The boy was decidedly intelligent, and though he has been at school less than a year he reads and writes very well. His mother is a mulatto; she had one daughter sold into Texas before she herself left Virginia, and one son who, she supposes, is with his father in Virginia.

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#2 Isaac and Rosa.

Isaac and Rosa.

Isaac White was a black boy of eight years; but none the less intelligent than his whiter companions. He was in school for seven months.

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#3 Rebecca, Augusta and Rosa

Rebecca, Augusta and Rosa

Augusta Boujey was nine years old. Her mother, who was almost white, was owned by her half-brother, named Solamon, who still retains two of her children.

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#4 Rebecca.

Rebecca.

The eleven-year-old Rebecca Huger worked as a slave in her father's house as the special attendant to a girl a little older than her. She appears to be white. There is no trace of negro blood in her complexion, hair, or features. During the few months she has been in school, she has learned to read well, and she writes as neatly as most children her age. Her mother and grandmother live in New Orleans, where they support themselves comfortably through their own labor. The grandmother, an intelligent mulatto, told Mr. Bacon that she had "raised" many children, but these are all that are left to her.

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#5 Rebecca, and emancipated slave.

Rebecca, and emancipated slave.

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#6 Rebecca.

Rebecca.

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#7 Rebecca.

Rebecca.

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#8 Rebecca.

Rebecca.

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#9 Rebecca.

Rebecca.

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#10 Rosa, Charley and Rebecca.

Rosa, Charley and Rebecca.

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#11 Rebecca, Charley and Rosa.

Rebecca, Charley and Rosa.

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#12 Rosa.

Rosa.

Rosa Downs was not quite seven years old. She was a fair child, with blonde complexion and silky hair. Her father was a rebel. She had one sister who was as white as her and three brothers who were darker. Her mother, a mulatto, lived in a poor hut in New Orleans, and worked hard to support her family.

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#13 Rosa.

Rosa.

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#14 Wilson, Charley, Rebecca and Rosa.

Wilson, Charley, Rebecca and Rosa.

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#15 Young Slaves

Young Slaves

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Written by Aung Budhh

Husband + Father + librarian + Poet + Traveler + Proud Buddhist. I love you with the breath, the smiles and the tears of all my life.

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