President Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary order for the Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862. Although by January 1st the document was signed, it was a few years before black freedom was recognized in the South.

One of the first tools for change was education. Now that former slaves could be taught to read and write, funding was needed for the schools. In New Orleans, abolitionists sold pictures that showed very light-skinned mixed-race slave children longing to read. To the naked eye, the children appeared to be Caucasian.

The 25-cent photos were taken and distributed in the mid to late 1860’s in order to draw more money and sympathy from rich whites in the North for the black slaves of New Orleans.  The children were posed in ways that would be ‘appealing’ to sympathetic whites. The National Freedman’s Association, the American Missionary Association and officers from the Union Army fostered the propaganda.

Four mixed-race children were used in the pictures, like 11 year-old Rebecca Huger, who had worked in her father’s home during slavery. She was carefully seated next to patriotic symbols of freedom while the caption read “Oh, how I loved the old flag.”  The other children were Charles Taylor, Rosina Downs and Augusta Broujey. In a few of the photos, the children were paired with darker-skinned slaves, or former slaves, then sent on publicity tours raise monies.

The signs even sometimes read “White and Black Slaves” to build a sense of urgency among whites. The photos sometimes went into detail about the slave’s life and ownership. For instance, Wilson Chinn, an older dark-skinned slave was described as 'about 60 years old' with the initials of his former 'owner' branded on his head with a hot iron. There were stories of cuts and lashes on the bodies of the slaves in the picture to build sympathy. There were also stories of progression and education for some of the children, highlighting their ability to learn like that of white children.

The U.S. Library of Congress currently holds many of the photos.

Click here to view photos of the white slave children.

Also On Black America Web:

6 thoughts on “Little Known Black History Fact: White Slave Children

  1. In truth this is a fantastic detailed post nevertheless like all wonderful writers there are several points that may be worked well upon. Nevertheless never the actual much less it turned out stimulating.

  2. Robert B. Terrell on said:

    I don’t understand what all this is about. If any two groups of people are any where near each other there will be some sex between the two. As far as slaves being subjected to Mastah. I suppose you might consider me a product of such a union. Five generations back on the limb of my maternal grandmothers part of the family tree. It seems her grandmother. five generations back was a slave. She was purchased along with two children by a landowner who later fell in love with and illeaglly married his slave. They had three children that passed for white and were able to go to school. I can see them now running home to teach there dark sisters the lessons they learned that day. It’s a beautiful story and I’m sure there were thousands more. However we don’t write these stories into history. We would rather read of rape and torture. Why can’t we see through the pain and anguish of these people and realize we are all humans we all have strengths and frailties. We should reach out and embrace one another and not spit venom towards each other. I’m old Andy’s not be around a lot longer but if anyone reads this. Black. White. Brown. or Yellow. Had I known you I would have loved you unless you could have stopped me

  3. First off, white slavery was here in America way before black slavery! Dont believe me? Do your research! Irish people were kidnapped and brought to America back in the 1500 thru the early 1900s. Black people purchased the Irish people and so did the British. Over time, they realize black people were worth more money and were treated better than the white slaves. Back in the Civil war, free blacks owned black slaves. In fact, they owned more than the white people! It pisses me off when black people dont know about this and blame the white people! Also, Lincoln was a Republican. I bet u hate Republicans, dont you? The President of the Confederate States was a Democrat! Did you know that? The Dems were for slavery! Obama is a Democrat! Educate urself on History before spouting off like an ignorant black person! White people dont owe the blacks any damn thing. Yall blacks owe us. Hell, you got ur black history month, your BET, food stamps, welfare and ur 26 Inch rims!! You even got ur back 40! So please do the American public a service, stfu, get a job, and pave a way for ur kids education! Im tired of working my ass off for you to sit on your ass and sponge off the people who works!!! Btw, you can have Obamo! Hes a failure and disgrace to this country!!!!

  4. jimmyg – I doubt if “rednecks” owned your ancestors considering “redneck” is the condition a poor white had if they had to labor in the fields in the hot sun for too long. More than likely, the owners were Jewish (Chinn is a Jewish surname, BTW). And these kids don’t even look part black – unless they had hair straightener and bleach back in the day, I’d say they were 100% white.

  5. The little boy in photos #1 and #6 of this album (found under “related photos”) is my great-great grandfather Isaac White. We are so very proud of him and the sacrifices all of our ancestors made for us. We are also thankful to the TJMS for including him in today’s Little Known Black History Fact.

  6. Okay folks,here is the proof in pictures that white plantation owners had their way with their property.The lives of our folks cannot be imagined during that period of time in our history.But it took place ,and it makes me want to vomit thinking about a life being the property of red necks from birth,till death,and for generations after that.But it actually happened in this United States of America and Mitt tells us we are playing the part of victims..This is another reason Americans are despised around the world,selling freedom and democracy.When in fact it is the height of hypocrisy..

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