Our Protection. Slave Children from New Orleans.
Charles Paxson (American, active 1860s - died 1880)
DimensionsSheet : 4 x 2 3/8 in. (10.16 x 6.03 cm)
Credit LineHope College Collection
LabelPrior to the Civil War, male slave owners in America were legally permitted to rape enslaved women and to keep any children born of those rapes as slaves, too. Over multiple generations, this abhorrent practice produced a class of enslaved people who ancestry was more European than African. Abolitionists sometimes used images of these fair-skinned enslaved people to upset popular perceptions of slavery and to encourage support for its complete eradication. This photograph depicts three fair-skinned enslaved children--Rosina Downs, Charles Taylor and Rebecca Huger--who were freed after Union troops captured the city of New Orleans in 1862. Northern audiences were especially horrified to learn that at only eight years old Charley Taylor had already been sold as a slave twice along with his mother, and that Rebecca Huger was forced by her father to be the servant of her own half-sister.