James Earle McClees, These children were turned out of the St. Lawrence Hotel, Chestnut St., Philadelphia, on account of Color, 1863
During the Civil War, schools for freedmen, ex-slaves, and their children were set up in many areas of the South that fell under Union control. In 1863, General Nathaniel P. Banks, the Union commander of the Gulf states, established a privately funded system of public education for African Americans in the region. To raise funds for this ambitious project, Banks organized a promotional tour of the North featuring a handful of emancipated slaves from Louisiana. Their images, reproduced in cartes-de-visite such as this, were sold to support the new schools. This carte, one of about twenty different ones that were published, shows three very young, light-skinned ex-slaves, Rebecca Huger, Charles Taylor, and Rosina Downs. Made in the Philadelphia studio of James E. McClees, who later worked with Washington Lafayette Germon, it is unusual in that it protests against not only conditions in the South but also the everyday racism prevalent in the North.