Racist Envelope Collection

 Collection
Identifier: MSS.0973

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".

Dates

  • 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 specialcollections@vanderbilt.edu.

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.

Extent

.2 Linear Feet (2 folders)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

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".

Physical Location

Special Collections & Archives

Title
Finding Aid for the Racist Envelope Collection
Status
Completed
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the Vanderbilt University Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Jean and Alexander Heard Library
419 21st Avenue South
Nashville TN 37203 United States


 

About this Site

This site contains collection guides, or finding aids, to the archival collections held by Vanderbilt University Special Collections and University Archives, the History of Medicine Collection, and the Scarritt Bennett Center. Finding aids describe the context, arrangement, and structure of archival materials, allowing users to identify and request materials relevant to their research.

Requesting Materials

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