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Lincoln library acquires picture of former slave, turned soldier, farmer

Wed, 04 Apr 2012 04:28:42 CDT
By: IPR

Lincoln library acquires picture of former slave, turned soldier, farmer A photograph of an African-American civil war veteran is the first of its kind to be included in the collection at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield. It's the first identifiable photograph of a black soldier to be added to the collection. Like Lincoln, Nathan Hughes was born in Kentucky but later moved to Illinois. Hughes became a well respected farmer before he died in 1910. His date of birth is unclear. Hughes appears with his second wife in the photo. The Library's Kathryn Harris says the clothes the two are wearing suggest Hughes was relatively successful as a farmer. Harris says that makes him unique in that he was better off financially than the majority of black Union soldiers:

   

"Even though he's not in uniform, it is still a rare find. Many of them were privates, many of them had been former slaves, this is well past the war."
Harris says it's likely the photo exists because Hughes had more money than the average soldier. She says the photo was purchased from a dealer. The Library has only one other photo of a black civil war soldier. The person shown in that photo is unidentified.

   

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