Friday, April 02, 2010

Confederate "Heritage" Month 2010, April 2: Anti-Reconstruction propaganda images

The illustrations to the article from which I quoted yesterday, Reconstruction and Post-Civil War Reconciliation by Maj. John McDermott Military Review Jan-Feb 2009, may be more informative than the article itself.

One of them is this white racist cartoon attacking the Freedman's Bureau, the federal agency set up to provide assistance to freed slaves in the South.

The caption to the cartoon in Military Review describes it as follows:

An 1866 racist poster attacks Radical Republicans on the issue of black suffrage. A black man lounges idly in the foreground as one white man plows his field and another chops wood. Accompanying labels are: "The white man must work to keep his children and pay his taxes." The black man wonders, "Whar is de use for me to work as long as dey make dese appropriations." The Freedman’s Bureau is pictured as a large domed building resembling the U.S. Capitol and is inscribed "Freedom and No Work." Its columns and walls are labeled, "Candy," "Rum, Gin, Whiskey," "Sugar Plums," "Indolence," "White Women," "Apathy," "White Sugar," "Idleness," "Fish Balls," "Clams," "Stews," and "Pies."
That poster includes themes from the white racist picture of blacks developed before the Civil War and employed in the new context to oppose Reconstruction, rights for African-Americans and democratic government in the South. And many of the same kinds of crude stereotypes can be found among white racists like the most obnoxious of the Tea Partiers even today.

This cartoon by Thomas Nash, whose earlier depictions of Santa Claus established the image which is still prevalent today, attacks "carpet baggers", Northerners who immigrated to the South after the Civil War.

The Military Review caption reads:

Caricature in an 1872 Harper’s Weekly of Carl Schurz, who investigated conditions in the South for President Andrew Johnson during the Reconstruction era and was later U.S. Senator from Missouri, carrying bags labeled, "carpet bag" and "carpet bagger South."
Immigrants to the South had a wide range of goals, from patriotic and/or humanitarian minded teachers who came to teach in Freedmen's Schools to serious businesspeople to scamsters. The Carpet Bagger label was clearly a negative one, referring to the common type of suitcase at the time. Of course, some really were scoundrels and con-men, of the kind that show up after any disaster.

But the South desperately needed Northern investment and the experience and know-how of Northern businesspeople, workers, professionals and teachers. The cultural hostility of white Southerners to carpet-baggers, largely based on their fears that Northern ideas about race would prevent the re-establishment of the kind of white supremacy that the Southern oligarchs wanted, made acquiring such resources and capital from the North a difficult proposition.

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