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John Brown, September 1856 Daguerreotype (Stauffer, 2002)

Scholarship

John Stauffer, The Black Hearts of Men: Radical Abolitionists and the Transformation of Race (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002), 56-58.

In September 1856 John Brown sat for his portrait…Although he was not yet well known at the national level, he was quickly gaining fame as a freedom fighter in Kansas. As his reputation for militant abolitionism grew, he increasingly sat for his "likeness." He had numerous portraits taken of him while in Kansas, and preferred to have black artists or abolitionists represent him. This daguerreotype was created by John Bowles, a Kentucky slaveowner who had emancipated his slaves and became an abolitionist and comrade of Brown in Kansas. Bowles was quite familiar with Brown's willingness to befriend and identify himself with blacks, and one might argue that he portrays Brown as someone who blurs the line between black and white: the daguerreotype is slightly underexposed, rendering Brown's tanned skin even darker than it actually was. Brown's face appears tawny, as dark as Douglass' in the frontispiece of My Bondage.
How to Cite This Page: "John Brown, September 1856 Daguerreotype (Stauffer, 2002)," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/14397.