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How To> 19th c. Race Relations

Race Relations in 19th Century America:

Emmanuel Dabney
and Vince Petty
Ambrotype by Bob Szabo

Historically accurate portrayals of the many facets of 19th century race relations pose a considerable challenge to living history interpreters, as these issues are still a source of sensitivity among much of the spectating public. AGSAS probably has the largest percentage of African American and Asian reenactors of any authentic civilian reenacting group, and we are committed to tackling this interpretative challenge with honesty and historical accuracy.

We are more interested in being historically correct than politically correct and often interpret little-appreciated aspects of 19th century history such as Free Persons of Color and Black Confederate sympathizers, as well as the more traditionally understood roles. We also deal with the societal role of Asian and other immigrant populations in the era. African Americans are underrepresented in the reenacting hobby, and we have an active outreach program.

Articles on this Website:

Articles / Resources On Other Sites:

  • Cultural Life of the Plantation (George Washington University Website)
  • UGRR info: National Underground Railroad Center - also Menare Foundation (reenactor Tony Cohen)
  • Uncle Tom's Cabin & American Culture: http://www.iath.virginia.edu/utc/sitemap.html
    This site offers the viewer a chance to understand how Harriet Beecher Stowe's text, Uncle Tom's Cabin affected nineteenth and twentieth century America. The University of Virginia has added information from 1830-1930 including anti-slavery, pro-slavery, and the response of free blacks during the period from 1852-1930. Included in the texts analyzed are Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin, Debow's Review articles, New Orleans Daily Picayune, Frederick Douglass' Paper, and The Liberator.
  • Furman University: 19th Century Documents: http://facweb.furman.edu/~benson/docs/  
    This excellent website put together by Furman University has transcribed items and made them available from as early as 1775 though the bulk of the material ranges from 1830-1870. The information relates to sectionalism and slavery as it was discussed by those who lived with the issue being a national discussion.  
  • Secession Era Editorials Project: http://history.furman.edu/~benson/docs/index.htm  
    Another part of Furman University's desire to make available the opinions of Northerners and Southerners, in this case through their press of the 1850's. The transcribed newspapers have been arranged by topics of the Nebraska Bill (1854), Caning of Senator Charles Sumner (1856), Dred Scott Supreme Court Case (1857), John Brown's Raid on Harpers Ferry (1859). The project is accompanied by a search engine.  

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Race Relations in the Antebellum South