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AfriGeneas Military Research Forum Archive

Re: Col. Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Hello and thank you, Sharon:

No I didn't get you wrong. I appreciate your comments and certainly understand that Higginson was a man of his time.

His "benevolent" description of black soldiers was absolutely from the viewpoint of a man of privilege. His praise and observations, smacks of "noblesse oblige" "I'm here to save and enlighten you"; "you folks are so quaint", "he/she is sooo intelligent!" All are very familiar…even today… in left, right and liberal circles.

Could black soldiers, contrabands and free people of color sense the patronizing tones from Union soldiers? You bet. They heard it all the time from slave masters to "puritanical abolitionists". Over the centuries our ancestors passed on the DNA of a well-developed ear that can easily pick up the disingenuous timbre in voices that claim to "understand our experience".

You are absolutely on target when you wrote, "He was an excellent historian, and took care to document his facts well." That was indeed my point. To share the history of African Americans in the Civil War from the Southeast with the Afrigeneas family.

I'm delighted that you are incorporating the history of the Black military experience in Southeast. Because of my dedication to Afrigeneas and my shameless promotion of the history of Florida, I've made friends with several historians who share my views…. Jane Landers, Canter Brown, Madeleine Burnside to name a few. Maybe you will post information about Florida military history? (smile)

Thanks again for your post.

K Wyer Lane

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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