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Children and Youth during the Civil War Era$
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James Marten

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814796078

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814796078.001.0001

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“Train Up a Child in the Way He Should Go”

“Train Up a Child in the Way He Should Go”

The Image of Idealized Childhood in the Slavery Debate, 1850–1870

(p.29) 2 “Train Up a Child in the Way He Should Go”
Children and Youth during the Civil War Era

Elizabeth Kuebler-Wolf

NYU Press

This chapter treats images as a type of historical “text” that can be dissected for rhetorical and ideological content, and argues that childhood was an important battleground for interpreting and understanding the effects of slavery and race on society in America in the years just before and well after the Civil War. Visual representations and photographic portraits of children were created for grown-up audiences. The negative or positive effect of the racially stratified system begun under slavery is the point of these images; they are not didactic tools meant to create a change in children's behavior or beliefs but to persuade adults about the nature of the slave (and later racial) system of ordering society. At the same time as these images were created for adult audiences, however, children themselves also became targets of reform and education efforts by both proslavery and antislavery forces. In these efforts affection and discipline, love and cruelty were constant refrains.

Keywords:   images, historical text, childhood, slavery, race, American Civil War, children

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