Former Slaves, Washington, D.C. 1916


First Sergeant
Jul 21, 2012
North of Fort Stevens, DC
I wasn't sure what category to put this post under and even this one doesn't seem quite right. Maybe this post doesn't really belong on a Civil War message board forum... but I found these pictures on last night and wanted to post them.

I know there are a lot of die-hard, well-entrenched positions on this board about whether the war was/was not fought over slavery. Believe whatever you wish. But so often, I think the debate, even on both sides, loses sight that they were real people and not a political issue or pawns on a chess board. I think because most slaves exist to us without names or personal stories, it's easy to disconnect from their lives as individuals.

I don't know a thing about these people except for the little bit of information in the photo captions. I have no idea what their experiences were. If anything, it's nice to know they got to live out a good portion of their lives (1865-1916 and beyond?) in legal freedom.

By the way- I have a hard time believing the woman in the second photograph lived to be 125 years old. I'd have a hard time believing that about anyone.

slaves reunion 1.jpg

Washington, D.C., circa 1916. "Slaves reunion. Lewis Martin, age 100; Martha Elizabeth Banks, age 104; Amy Ware, age 103; Rev. Simon P. Drew, born free." Cosmopolitan Baptist Church, 921 N Street N.W.

former  slaves 2.jpg

Washington, D.C., 1916. "Convention of former slaves. Annie Parram, age 104; Anna Angales, age 105; Elizabeth Berkeley, 125; Sadie Thompson, 110.

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Patrick H

Lt. Colonel
Mar 7, 2014
At the small, private, Methodist university in Fayette, Missouri there is a fabulous academic art collection of perhaps a thousand paintings. The collection grows every year. Among the works is a 1950s portrait of a former slave who lived and died in Boonville, Missouri. Under her name in one of the greatest sub-titles I have ever read: "Born a slave, died an empress, free!"

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