Results 1 to 5 of 5

Thread: "Underground Raiload" conductor/ station master / contraband annex camp impression

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Posts
    57

    Default "Underground Raiload" conductor/ station master / contraband annex camp impression

    I feel I've now aged out of a soldier impression but still want to participate in reenactments. I am not interested in an older officer impression -- the officer-to-ranks ratio is ridiculous already.

    I can pull together a pretty good civilian kit as an "underground raiload" conductor/station master/contraband annex camp impression. I can still use my musket, pistol, tent, camp parphenalia, shirts, boots etc. etc. etc.

    I intend to avoid the "abolitionist" aspect, based on my extensive research that many, if not most, UG/anti-slavers were not abolitionists themselves. (it seems the South rightly despised abolitionists as terrorists and distorters of Southern culture, while many Northerners also despised abolitionists for undermining what they saw as the more effective process already underway that was co-opting slavery even before the war). So...

    - Has anyone seen this at an event civilian camp?

    - Any recommendations on how to pull this off without issues? (I realize black UG participants were more common, if that is the expectation, but I'm caucasian so it is what it is)

    - Should I associate with Christian or Sanitary Commission camps, or stay out of their hair?


    byron ed

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    On The Road Again
    Posts
    4,721

    Default

    Yes, I've seen it.

    What issues do you expect?
    Yes, the people moving were black. Who is driving the wagon full of corn hiding the people? Who owns the house with the concealed room? (I nearly bought one of those. Still wish I had.)

    How do you interpret this if not from an abolitionist viewpoint? Now, if you view all abolitionists as John Brown firebrands, you are missing the traditional peace religions that were also abolitionists such as Quakers, Moravians and Mennonites.

    I'd not co-opt another group's impression in trying to interpret my own.
    Terre Hood Biederman
    Yassir, I used to go by Mrs. Lawson
    Weaver, Spinster, Strong Fast Dyes
    Knitted Goods and yarns available thlawson@bellsouth.net




    Moderator, When I remember. We got Rules here!

    Did your sales post disappear? Try again. But read the rules first.
    Here they are: http://www.cwreenactors.com/forum/sh...Classified-Ads



  3. #3

    Default

    Much will depend on the various events you attend.
    In some, such a specific portrayal will be so subtle as to be lost on the Public. Conductors would lead a double life in many respects, during the day gathering the supplies and making arrangements for transfer while maintaining their positions within their communities and during the night implementing the transfer of their charges. You'd run the risk of looking like every other civilian man in "camp"... cooling his heels, reading the paper, unable to do his daily life stuff because we're having a battle here, ya know...

    I could see such working very well in a "Living History" type of event where we can make explanations directly to the Public and share directly the many aspects of white folks helping black folks escape slavery.
    I could see such working well in a truly immersive event where fellow participants are aware of the portrayal and can act and react off a known storyline.
    At an "average" re-enactment, it would be too subtle and nuanced or too melodramatic and stereotyped.

    If this is truly the story you are compelled to tell, then develop your portrayal fully and carefully and limit your participation to events where your story can be featured well within the goals of the event.
    -Elaine Kessinger

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Posts
    57

    Default

    Thanks for the advice, and reassurance. I can see that framing my impression in context of the events I choose to register for is a good idea.

    In regards to "How do you interpret this if not from an abolitionist viewpoint? Now, if you view all abolitionists as John Brown firebrands, you are missing the traditional peace religions that were also abolitionists such as Quakers, Moravians and Mennonites."

    That's a common confusion, among other myths about the UGRR, that I hope my impression can counter. In real history many if not most folks who assisted freedom seekers would not identify themselves as abolitionist. Abolitionists were considered rabble rousing terrorists who wanted war as a goal, just as certain "fire eaters" in the South were rejected by most southern folks before the war. For instance, many observed that John Brown was only Christian when it suited his agenda, as he had never committed to any congregation in particular. Many also knew that Brown was as much a horse thief as he was a man committed to a cause (among his several lifelong failed professions was livestock trader).

    To read the many UGRR accounts available, it was in fact the traditional peace religions that were involved in the UGRR assistance, the Quakers, Moravians, Mennonites but also and significantly mainstream nothern protestants, especially the Congregationalists. But they cannot correctly be called abolitionist, to read the charters that many northern churches drew up in antebellum times. It was a small minority, individuals really, of northern protestants who went so far as to become "card-carrying" abolitionists. But the term was much misused in post-war writings to include anyone opposed to slavery. Being an abolitionist in first-person would be a different thing, easier to pull off in many ways but I feel spectators need the correct, unfortunately complicated, view of it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Posts
    57

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Byron Ed View Post
    ...I feel spectators need the correct, unfortunately complicated, view of it.
    ...but in rereading, I may be overthinking this. I probably can't fully avoid the abolitionist label as a general thing. And this is not the place to be lecturing on the complications unless someone asks me to elaborate. And yes, I sure don't want to be co-opting some other group's or person's impression. If I'm curious about another impression I can discuss it privately over a cigar by the campfire. OK maybe with a swig of hooch too.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •