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Presenter Information

Kellie Hedgers

Location

SURC Room 271

Start Date

15-5-2014

End Date

15-5-2014

Keywords

Rape, Race, Civil War

Abstract

In nineteenth-century America, the rape of slave women by white men was one of the realities of life in a slave-holding society. Slavery was a system that regarded human beings as property to be used in whatever way their owners desired. It would stand to reason that the death of slavery and the coming of the Union Army would put an end to that practice. In theory, at least, the Union Army’s promised to bring African-Americans liberation. However, a perusal of Union court martial records reveals that sometimes, for black women, the coming of the Union Army did not signal liberation so much as it did terror and sexual violence. Rape could be a weapon to be deployed to reassert racial hierarchies disturbed by the war, one that was employed by the soldiers who committed the rapes and condoned by the military courts charged with dispensing justice. It was also evidence of white men’s cavalier attitudes regarding the sexual availability of black women. (Editor’s Note: This presentation may contain adult themes, content, or imagery.)

Faculty Mentor(s)

Herman, Daniel

Additional Mentoring Department

History

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May 15th, 8:50 AM May 15th, 9:10 AM

Army of Liberation, Army of Terror: Rape as a Weapon of War

SURC Room 271

In nineteenth-century America, the rape of slave women by white men was one of the realities of life in a slave-holding society. Slavery was a system that regarded human beings as property to be used in whatever way their owners desired. It would stand to reason that the death of slavery and the coming of the Union Army would put an end to that practice. In theory, at least, the Union Army’s promised to bring African-Americans liberation. However, a perusal of Union court martial records reveals that sometimes, for black women, the coming of the Union Army did not signal liberation so much as it did terror and sexual violence. Rape could be a weapon to be deployed to reassert racial hierarchies disturbed by the war, one that was employed by the soldiers who committed the rapes and condoned by the military courts charged with dispensing justice. It was also evidence of white men’s cavalier attitudes regarding the sexual availability of black women. (Editor’s Note: This presentation may contain adult themes, content, or imagery.)