Racist Envelope Collection
Scope and Contents
This collection contains two envelopes with racist descriptions. One is a gold envelope printed with the racist text "Alabama WILL NOT SUBMIT TO NEGRO RULE" dating to the 1868 presidential election. The second is a printed image of enslaved people escaping from a slaveowner related to the "Fort Monroe Doctrine". The second envelope is unused and contains a full width image of enslaved people running from an enslaver. the enslaver says, "Come back here you black rascal"; the response, "Can't come back nohow massa, dis chiles CONTRABAN".
- circa 1861-1868
Conditions Governing Access
This collection may be viewed only in the reading room of Special Collections in the Jean and Alexander Heard Library. Collections should be requested 2-3 days prior to visiting in order to facilitate easier access. For questions or to request a collection, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Historical Note - 1868 Election
The 1868 presidential election was an election in which white Southern leaders called for the repeal of the thirteenth amendment and a return to the old Constitution. The Southern Democrats criticized the Republican Reconstruction policies, and explicitly campaigned on pro-white, anti-black policies. This cover illustrates the commitment of Southerners of the era to an explicitly white supremacist model of reconstruction.
Historical Note - Fort Monroe Doctrine
On May 27, 1861, Major General Benjamin Butler made his famous "contraband" decision, or "Fort Monroe Doctrine", determining that escaping male enslaved people who reached Union lines would be considered contraband and not be returned to bondage. The order resulted in thousands of enslaved people fleeing to Union lines around Fort Monroe, which was Butler's headquarters in Virginia. Fort Monroe became called "Freedom's Fortress", as any enslaved person reaching it would be free. In the Summer of 1861, one escaped enslaved person named Harry Jarvis made his way to Fort Monroe and insisted General Butler let him enlist. Butler refused because he believed "it wasn't a black man's war." Jarvis replied, "It would be a black man's war," due to the presence of the incoming of thousands of runaway enslaved people. This marked a sudden shift in the war. By the fall, the Army had built the Great Contraband Camp to try to house the families. It was the first of more than 100 that would be established by war's end.
Text from the vendor.
.2 Linear Feet (2 folders)
Language of Materials
This collection contains two envelopes with racist descriptions. One is a gold envelope printed with the racist text "Alabama WILL NOT SUBMIT TO NEGRO RULE" dating to the 1868 presidential election. The second is a printed image of enslaved people escaping from a slaveowner related to the "Fort Monroe Doctrine".
Special Collections & Archives
- Finding Aid for the Racist Envelope Collection
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
Part of the Vanderbilt University Special Collections Repository
Special Collections Library
1101 19th Ave. S.
Nashville TN 37212 United States