Alexander Gardner image of freedmen in Richmond, 1865

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#1
1553025787552.png


Was looking for some photos and saw this on a Civil War Photo Website today. They captioned this photo as Alexander Gardner Richmond 1865 "Group of Negroes "Freedmen" By Canal. Obviously there are blacks in this photo but it clearly looks to me that the two men in the center are white with two young white girls clutching the legs of the man in the middle with the pipe. The man behind them with the cap may be white as well. What is this photo about and what is happening in it? I tried searching on here to see if anybody has discussed this before as it is a strange photo. It has intrigued me.
 

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#5
After actually zooming into this high resolution copy you provided and looking at this further, I think I was wrong about the individuals in the center being white. The man with the pipe and the little girls still are suspect to me and yes they could be biracial but most likely in haste I did not study this close enough before posting. My apologies.
 
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#7
At the time and place, "biracial" meant "black." Probably would today, too.
During this period, the US Census used the terms COLORED, BLACK, and MULATTO. BLACKS and MULATTOS were subsets of the COLORED population. People were often classified as BLACK or MULATTO based on how light their skin was. A person who was sufficiently brown in color might be termed BLACK even if he or she had a white mother or white grand-parents.

All of the people in the above photo would be seen as Colored.The man in the middle would be be called mulatto, probably.

- Alan
 

John Hartwell

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#8
During this period, the US Census used the terms COLORED, BLACK, and MULATTO. BLACKS and MULATTOS were subsets of the COLORED population. People were often classified as BLACK or MULATTO based on how light their skin was. A person who was sufficiently brown in color might be termed BLACK even if he or she had a white mother or white grand-parents.

All of the people in the above photo would be seen as Colored.The man in the middle would be be called mulatto, probably.

- Alan
What's in a name? Whatever their skin shade, socially, they were all equally "not white," and could be expected to be treated the same by white society.

I should have used the word "colored" rather than "black" in my previous post.
 
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What's in a name? Whatever their skin shade, socially, they were all equally "not white," and could be expected to be treated the same by white society.

I should have used the word "colored" rather than "black" in my previous post.
Without taking this thread too far off, I believe there has been some research indicating that lighter skinned people did have better social consequences than darker skinned people, a phenomenon that has persisted. It is called colorism; see here and here and here. It's too much to get into, but Big Bill Broonzy broke it down here.

- Alan
 

John Hartwell

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Without taking this thread too far off, I believe there has been some research indicating that lighter skinned people did have better social consequences than darker skinned people, a phenomenon that has persisted. It is called colorism; see here and here and here. It's too much to get into, but Big Bill Broonzy broke it down here.

- Alan
I'm well aware of that. But, was it the case in the 1860s among white people? Perhaps to some extent, but my only purpose was to say that light skinned "colored" people were unlikely to have more rights or privileges than darker skinned. (The old "one drop" thing, you know.)

But, perhaps I'm all wrong. I haven't studied the subject, and only have accrued impressions from wider reading.
 
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I'm well aware of that. But, was it the case in the 1860s among white people? Perhaps to some extent, but my only purpose was to say that light skinned "colored" people were unlikely to have more rights or privileges than darker skinned. (The old "one drop" thing, you know.)

But, perhaps I'm all wrong. I haven't studied the subject, and only have accrued impressions from wider reading.
I'm trying to find the book I had on this subject, which I haven't looked at in a while, and I only browsed it. If I recall the point of the book, lighter skinned people had better economic outcomes than darker skinned people, even acknowledging that all people of color faced discrimination. This is not hard to see in the case of the tri-racial societies in New Orleans and Charleston, SC.

The improved outcomes of the light skinned middle caste were not all derived from lighter skin color. Many free blacks were of mixed race. In SC, some still benefitted from their ties with white family members, usually white fathers or grand-fathers. Free blacks in New Orleans had a history of freedom before the city was brought into the US. In Mobile, AL, and probably in NO, free blacks with pre-American origins had a distinct legal status that privileged them over other free blacks. Light skinned people in those places often segregated themselves from darker colored people, they believed themselves superior.

If I can get more information perhaps I'll open a new thread on this, although I don't think this is something that would garner a lot of interest. We'll see.

- Alan
 

JPK Huson 1863

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#12
For what it's worth, enjoyed the jaunty pipe, a few smiles and half smiles and the efforts to get kids to sit still- one was obviously awfully squirmy. Some things never, ever change- must have a dozen photos where one of my children is blurred for the same reason. Smallest child in this photo is firmly held between Dad's knees and his hand is held, too. Made me laugh.

How exhausted was everyone when the photo was finally accomplished?
 

19thGeorgia

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#13
The fellow in the foreground (sitting, facing away from the camera) has a kepi. The one sitting on the fence appears to be wearing a Confederate jacket.
 
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#14
I had the same impression about the Confederate shell jacket, but not sure. Would be nice to be able to zoom in. It does certainly appear to be in Richmond very shortly after the war, as the ruins are visible in the background and seem to surround what may be a newly constructed building across the canal. I am also impressed with the quality of clothing almost everyone seems to be wearing. No doubt it was a good time to find a job in the construction business...
 



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