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The Mark of SlaveryDisability, Race, and Gender in Antebellum America$
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Jenifer L. Barclay

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043727

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043727.001.0001

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(p.149) Conclusion
The Mark of Slavery

Jenifer L. Barclay

University of Illinois Press

The complexities of life for slaves with disabilities continued into the Civil War as some became “contraband.” With emancipation, the experiences of freedpeople with disabilities, including veterans, grew more obscure. The use of disability as a marker of inferiority, however, expanded in potent new ways by drawing on the ideology of ableism during Reconstruction to legitimize white dominance. Using the lens of intersectionality, it is clear how the antebellum era’s multitude of disabling narratives of race substantiated the racial order of society and established an enduring set of foundational myths, beliefs, and practices about race. Over time, overt analogies between blackness and disability gave way to more subtle suggestions of black inferiority and “damage imagery” that echoed well into the twentieth century.

Keywords:   Civil War, Contraband, damage imagery, emancipation, ideology of ableism, intersectionality, Reconstruction, veterans

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