Rebecca Huger

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18thVirginia

Major
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Sep 8, 2012
In 1863, the Union military (specifically the Department of the Gulf under Maj. Gen. N.P. Banks) the American Missionary Association, and the National Freedmen’s Relief Association cooperated in a joint effort to provide funds for schools for freed slave children in Louisiana. To this end, they arranged for a series of photographs of slave children from New Orleans with 'white' features and tours with these children. A new photographic medium, cartes de visites, allowed images of the children to be sold both as a fundraising device and to buoy up support for the ongoing war.

To appeal to the white middle class in the North, the children were photographed as in typical middle class family portraits. Although several of the children were age 6 or 7, the one of whom most cdvs have survived is Rebecca Huger, a young New Orleanian of about age 11. Rebecca was photographed in numerous poses and clothes and most of the photographs with several children include Rebecca.

Harper's Weekly wrote about Rebecca “to all appearance, she is perfectly white. Her complexion, hair, and features show not the slightest trace of negro blood.

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18thVirginia

Major
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Publicity about the slave children in the photographs stated that:

Rebecca Huger (figure 1) is eleven years old, and was a slave in her father's house, the special attendant of a girl a little older than herself. To all appearance she is perfectly white. Her complexion, hair, and features show not the slightest trace of negro blood. In the few months during which she has been at school she has learned to read well, and writes as neatly as most children of her age. Her mother and grandmother live in New Orleans, where they support themselves comfortably by their own labor. The grandmother, an intelligent mulatto, told Mr. Bacon that she ad "raised" a large family of children, but these are all that are left to her.
 
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18thVirginia

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Oh! How I Love the Old Flag.

The back of some of these photos reads “Nett proceeds from the sale of these photographs will be devoted to the education of colored people in the Department of the Gulf.” This refers to the National Freedmen’s Relief Association who sold these photos for 25 cents to pay for teachers and supplies in Louisiana.
 
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18thVirginia

Major
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Sep 8, 2012
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"Rebecca Huger was the daughter of John M. Huger, a Commercial Merchant in New Orleans before the Civil War. Rebecca was one of 17 house slaves owned by Mr. Huger and was his daughter with a light-skinned slave in his household. After emancipation, Rebecca was chosen along with several other former slaves, to participate in a press tour of the North to raise money for the education of newly freed slaves. This photo is one of many of Rebecca and the others on the tour and was one of thousands of photos of Rebecca sold in the fund raising effort." From the Library of Congress Collection of American Photos.
 
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18thVirginia

Major
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Sep 8, 2012
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Some authors have suggested that the organizers of the fundraising campaign thought that Northerners would give more generously at the sight of young 'white' slaves.

Others, however, feel that Rebecca's age and demeanor evoked for Northern viewers the "fancy girls" that would be sold in the New Orleans slave market and become concubines. The photographs seemed to say that slavery could threaten even the white population.
 
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18thVirginia

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Mary Niall Mitchell, author of Raising Freedom's Child: Black Children and Visions of the Future after Slavery, gives examples of various stories which were published about white children and women who'd been sold into slavery into the South to indicate to the white population of the North the dangers of slavery which could impact even their children.
 

18thVirginia

Major
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Sep 8, 2012
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And of course, we have Mary Chesnut's pronouncement on the children of the slave owning masters:
Every lady tells you who is the father of all the mulatto children in everybody’s household, but those in her own she seems to think drop from the clouds, or pretends so to think.”

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18thVirginia

Major
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Sep 8, 2012
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These three children, to all appearance of unmixed white race, came to Philadelphia last December, and were taken by their protector, Mr. Bacon, to the St. Lawrence Hotel on Chestnut Street. Within a few hours, Mr. Bacon informed me, he was notified by the landlord that they must leave. The children, he said, had been slaves, and must therefore be colored persons, and he kept a hotel for white people. From this hospitable establishment the children were taken to the “Continental,” where they were received without hesitation.
 
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Dave Wilma

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The fate of the children as adults would be interesting to learn. Under the "one drop rule" they were considered Negro and treated by law and custom accordingly. Not a few fair skinned African Americans arranged to "pass" into white society and managed to conceal their heritage. One wonders how many whites today, under the one drop rule, would be considered African American. Despite Brown v. Board of Education, the one drop rule was never rescinded.
 

18thVirginia

Major
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Sep 8, 2012
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Charles Taylor is eight years old. His complexion is very fair, his hair light and silky. Three out of five boys in any school in New York are darker than he. Yet this white boy, with his mother, as he declares, has been 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. This man fled at the approach of our army, and his slaves were liberated by General Butler. The boy is 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.
 

18thVirginia

Major
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The fate of the children as adults would be interesting to learn. Under the "one drop rule" they were considered Negro and treated by law and custom accordingly. Not a few fair skinned African Americans arranged to "pass" into white society and managed to conceal their heritage. One wonders how many whites today, under the one drop rule, would be considered African American. Despite Brown v. Board of Education, the one drop rule was never rescinded.
I searched for information about Rebecca Huger, but found none. My guess would be that she managed to "pass."
 
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JPK Huson 1863

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
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Very well done thread, 18th, thank you! Yes, I'm guessing an awful lot of families taking the Ancestry DNA test are more than fascinated! How amazing would that be, first-time ever information on your family's genesis? We had some surprises- ours was this still-elusive Greek, of all things. Greek? We're so Scottish my mother still inspects nickels to make sure we can't peel off the back half, hand over the front. It'd be a blast to find Rebecca, see a zillions copies of your relative and such an incredible story etched into American History- especially such a hopeful one. Yes, certainly rooted, deeply rooted in ' awful'. Rebecca and her generation pitched ' awful', began the climb away, hence hopeful.

We found two of these in the family photos, Cassiopia Lawrence ' Redeemed Slave Child ', same kind of thing, sold to raise money. Love having them, kind of part of the abolitionist legacy.

Really must dig up the journal Butler's aid kept when he was with him in New Orleans, you'll like it. Somewhere in the Kindle- it's what made me look a lot more closely at Butler then begin to admire the man. These instances of children being the slaves of their fathers, in the same household and in one instance brought to Butler's personal attention, daughter and mistress, just enraged the general. He'd have to go shut himself in an office, struggle with his temper. Drove him crazy, being pretty accepted in some circles, may as well been the other side of the planet as him being from New England.

Note the prejudice extended to Philly- nice, a hotel owner booting out small children, seeing them as ex-enslaved, and that a reason for exclusion to his pristine hostelry. Makes you a little sick.
 

southern blue

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Virginia
We often see depictions of Sally Hemmings portrayed as darker skinned when she was only one quarter African American. She may have in reality have looked much like the children pictured here. We know two of her children passed for white. Not that it made much difference.

I am one forth Cherokee. If you put me in with a group of full blood natives I probably look white but with a group of white people I look slightly ethnic to the point that people ask what I am. I have dark hair and eyes but light skin...although I do not sunburn. Two of my children are as Nordic looking as their father to the point where my daughter was asked to join some wacko Arayan group. She looked them right in the face...burst out laughing and said 'Trust me....you don't want me.' By some quirk her brother does not sunburn despite his apparent fair complexion. He can stay in the sun for hours and his skin tans easily without burning. Sister hates that.
 
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Allie

Captain
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Dec 17, 2014
I searched for information about Rebecca Huger, but found none. My guess would be that she managed to "pass."
I did a little poking around on ancestry and found nothing for her or Charles Taylor. Looking for a child of that name and age born in Louisiana. Nothing for Rebecca and several Charles Taylors but none who subsequently lived in the North. I'm wondering if these children changed their names to avoid the massive publicity that must have followed these photos.

I've done some looking at the census records in district 1 of Lauderdale county to see if any of the plantation owners there had children by their slaves, and I haven't found much evidence - very few mulattos in the county, period. What I was looking for was mulattos who remained living close to the plantation owners in 1870 with the same names, and I didn't find many. I did find one case of a woman who was a mulatto with several mulatto children who took the plantation owner's name, although she did not, living on the same property, who would have been about the same age as the family patriarch. Not giving names without better evidence, but it would be interesting to find out what a DNA test of her descendants and the white descendants said.
 
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18thVirginia

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I did find one case of a woman who was a mulatto with several mulatto children who took the plantation owner's name, although she did not, living on the same property, who would have been about the same age as the family patriarch.

Allie, I'm not being at all contentious or snarky, but I don't quite understand what you're trying to say here. Could you explain? I appreciate your input and since I've always observed that you rely in evidence, I'd appreciate it if you could clarify.


I had also poked around on ancestry.com for Huger and Taylor and found nothing.
 

Allie

Captain
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Dec 17, 2014
I did find one case of a woman who was a mulatto with several mulatto children who took the plantation owner's name, although she did not, living on the same property, who would have been about the same age as the family patriarch.

Allie, I'm not being at all contentious or snarky, but I don't quite understand what you're trying to say here. Could you explain? I appreciate your input and since I've always observed that you rely in evidence, I'd appreciate it if you could clarify.


I had also poked around on ancestry.com for Huger and Taylor and found nothing.
Her name was Lady Whatsit, the plantation owner was Guy Whosit, and she had no husband plus four mulatto children named Children Whosit. Plus she was living in the next-door cabin to the big house on his property and was his age. You would usually expect her children to have her name. Also I found one of the death certificates for one of the children and it says "father unknown." Not proof enough to blacken someone's name, but enough circumstantial evidence to make you wonder.
 

Dave Wilma

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Location
Elliott Bay
I've done some looking at the census records in district 1 of Lauderdale county to see if any of the plantation owners there had children by their slaves, and I haven't found much evidence - very few mulattos in the county, period.
Don't forget that census takers were local political appointees and interested in only a head count and less in the precision of the other questions on the schedule. In those days, terms like mulatto were used until the one-drop rule was widely accepted after 1900.

One of the more heart rending aspects of family history research is county records where white men seek the manumission of their "yellow" children. Also, wills often specified manumission for selected slaves or bequests to free mulattos usually suggesting a biological connection with the decedent.
 
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Northern Light

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Jul 21, 2014
I understand that a lot of slaves used their master's surname after being freed, but wonder if many changed that surname to something else, in rejection of the continued connotation of being property. Does anyone know anything in regards to this?
 

Allie

Captain
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Dec 17, 2014
I understand that a lot of slaves used their master's surname after being freed, but wonder if many changed that surname to something else, in rejection of the continued connotation of being property. Does anyone know anything in regards to this?
I've seen it in Lauderdale county - one entire Walker family (master's name) became Smiths sometime between 1880 and 1900. Very confusing trying to find their records but fortunately they were living with in-laws whose name did not change, so the continuity was there. I've tried to find many other freed people who drop off the face of the earth after the 1870 census. It may be that they left the area, but another possibility is a name change.
 
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