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1864 NEGRO TEAMSTERS CONTRABAND CIVIL WAR PHOTO
1864 NEGRO TEAMSTERS CONTRABAND CIVIL WAR PHOTO
This photograph shows a group of seven "contrabands" dressed in old Union uniforms standing in front of a wagon and shack, Army of the James, June 1864-April 1865, Eastern theater of the war, 1864.

The use of term, "contraband," to refer to Southern African Americans is an interesting little twist in American political history. Certainly someone out there can explain it better than myself but, since I'm writing the listing, here it is: The Civil War was not about ending slavery as much as it was about keeping the South from breaking away from the Union. Because Lincoln, despite whatever personal beliefs he had about slavery, had to sell the war to the American public, he had to appear to respect the most sacred of American values: the right to private property. If Lincoln directed his generals to free slaves it could be further destabilizing to a country that was already in the midst of enormous turmoil. Instead, Lincoln's generals came up with a very ingenious way to free slaves and hurt the enemy simultaneously. If they called slaves "contraband" it put them in the same category as horses, guns, ships and all other utilitarian war items. After all, a slave could dig a trench for Confederate soldiers to hide in or do a multitude of other useful things that might hurt the Union army. In declaring these individuals as contraband the generals could free slaves, deny the enemy a potential resource and respect private property all at once.
 
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