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Two of the First Black Officers in the Union Army

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by east tennessee roots, Aug 20, 2013.

  1. Honor Bound

    Honor Bound Private

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    I agree, and don't necessarily argue against that point. For the purposes of the realities of the time period, my point is that I don't think that we should assume based on looks (not that you're saying this) that mixed race black-white soldiers considered themselves to be white, particularly given the history of the country at the time. If we find evidence that an individual listed as "black" on a civil war schedule actually self-identified as white, then I don't think we should call that person black. However, absent such declarations, I don't think we have enough to call soldiers who are otherwise listed as black and among "colored" civil war troops as anything but. Also, in the event that it is clear that particular mixed race black-white soldiers identified as white over black, I think that we should also be clear about, for historical purposes, why they were listed as being black in the first place.

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  3. cash

    cash Colonel

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    I'll end this particular diversion from the main topic of the thread with this. Confederate law until near the end of the war prohibited enlisting anyone who was not white as a soldier. Therefore, anyone enlisted as a soldier before the law was changed would be identifying as white. I didn't mean to hijack the thread, but I thought that one comment should have been explored for its impact in this area.
  4. godofredus

    godofredus First Sergeant

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    I keep coming back to John Wayles Jefferson to show just how stupid these racial categories are:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wayles_Jefferson

    John Wayles Jefferson, born John Wayles Hemings (May 8, 1835 – July 12, 1892), was a successful businessman before and after the American Civil War, in which he served in the Union Army and was promoted to the rank of colonel. The son of a former slave and his wife, he was of predominately white ancestry, and his family had been accepted in the white community of Madison, Wisconsin after moving there in 1852. A businessman who owned a hotel in Madison, Wisconsin in the 1850s, after the war Jefferson achieved wealth as a cotton broker in Memphis, Tennessee. Jefferson is believed to have been the grandson of Sarah (Sally) Hemings, a slave, and her master Thomas Jefferson, third President of the United States.

    He was the eldest son of Eston Hemings (1808–56), a freedman who was seven-eighths European in ancestry and "white" under Virginia law, and Julia Ann Isaacs Hemings (1814–1889), a free woman of color. His family moved from Charlottesville, Virginia toChillicothe, Ohio in 1836. They moved to Madison, Wisconsin in 1852, where they took the surname Jefferson

    Even if you are so stupid as to say the Hemings children were fathered by another Jefferson, and not Thomas Jefferson, it still shows a man with one drop of Negro blood was passing for white.....

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