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So Conceived and So DedicatedIntellectual Life in the Civil War Era North$
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Lorien Foote and Kanisorn Wongsrichanalai

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823264476

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823264476.001.0001

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“The Rebels’ Last Device”

“The Rebels’ Last Device”

Theodore R. Davis and Faithful Representations of Black Soldiers during the Civil War

(p.153) “The Rebels’ Last Device”
So Conceived and So Dedicated

Niki Lefebvre

Fordham University Press

In the months following the enactment of the Emancipation Proclamation, a commercially and politically advantageous ethos of authenticity induced the emergence of respectful representations of black soldiers in northern illustrated newspapers. Theodore R. Davis’s September 1863 Harper’s Weekly sketch “The Rebels’ Last Device” discounted most acknowledged conventions of such representations and defied two deeply engrained stereotypes of African Americans rooted in antebellum abolitionist and racialized imagery: the scourged, nude slave, and the racist-scientific “Negro Type.” In his depiction of a dead and manipulated black corporal from the Third United States Colored Regiment, Davis elevated the ethos of authenticity to offer a vision of African American humanity that imagined black soldiers as possible social and political equals.

Keywords:   Niki Lefebvre, African Americans, (Black) Soldiers, Emancipation Proclamation, Abolitionists/ism, Racialized Imagery/Stereotypes, Theodore R. Davis, Harper’s Weekly

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