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The Scourged Back
Date: before July 1863
Artist and Related People:
Dimensions: Mount: 3 15/16 x 2 3/8 in. (10 x 6 cm)
Medium: Albumen print carte-de-viste
Credit Line: Purchase, with funds provided by the ICP Acquisitions Committee, 2003 Entered into the Daniel Cowin Collection
Description: Your Mirror: Portraits from the ICP Collection Section: War The American Civil War was the first conflict in which photography played a major role. Widely circulated by Northern abolitionists to demonstrate the brutality of slavery, this image shows the severe scars left by whipping on the back of Gordon, a former slave who escaped from a Mississippi plantation and joined the Union Army in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. A woodcut derived from this image was reproduced in the July 4, 1863, edition of Harper’s Weekly, the most widely read American periodical of the day, along with an account of Gordon’s escape. Gordon’s portrait is the most famous image of an enslaved person made during the Civil War era. The photograph is ascribed to McPherson & Oliver in Baton Rouge, but McAllister & Brother of Philadelphia, Chandler Seaver Jr. of Boston, and an unknown British publisher also distributed pirated versions of the image. Its wide circulation rallied support for both abolitionism and the Union.
Accession Number: 183.2003