President Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary order for the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. Although by January 1st the document was signed, it was a few years before black freedom was recognized in the South.
One of the first tools for change was education. Now that former slaves could be taught to read and write, funding was needed for the schools. In New Orleans, abolitionists sold pictures that showed very light-skinned mixed-race slave children longing to read. To the naked eye, the children appeared to be Caucasian.
The 25-cent photos were taken and distributed in the mid to late 1860’s in order to draw more money and sympathy from rich whites in the North for the black slaves of New Orleans. The children were posed in ways that would be ‘appealing’ to sympathetic whites. The National Freedman’s Association, the American Missionary Association and officers from the Union Army fostered the propaganda.
Four mixed-race children were used in the pictures, like 11 year-old Rebecca Huger, who had worked in her father’s home during slavery. She was carefully seated next to patriotic symbols of freedom while the caption read “Oh, how I loved the old flag.” The other children were Charles Taylor, Rosina Downs and Augusta Broujey. In a few of the photos, the children were paired with darker-skinned slaves, or former slaves, then sent on publicity tours raise monies.
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