The Lightning Express: Or, the Team of a Florida Cracker [Stereoview]. Florida Club.
The Lightning Express: Or, the Team of a Florida Cracker [Stereoview]

1880s African American Scene from St. Augustine

The Lightning Express: Or, the Team of a Florida Cracker [Stereoview]

Notes: A stereoview card that can be read at many levels: as a glimpse of post-Reconstruction African American life in Florida, as a White supremacist image, as a statement of class superiority, and as an early image of the Lost Cause.

These photographs offer a portrait of a young Black boy at work, probably for a poor white farmer. The boy sits in an oxcart in the St. Augustine Plaza de la Constitucion. Presumably the driver of the cart has stepped away, leaving the child in charge. That the child is working is suggested by the caption pasted on the verso (back), which refers to the boy and the ox as "the team of a Florida cracker," which is "a nickname applied to the poor white people of [The South]" (Bartlett's Dictionary of Americanisms, 1877).

The intent of this stereoview is clearly to denigrate the boy for being black and the oxcart's owner for being poor, but it also shows significant responsibility entrusted to a child as well as suggesting the prevalence of child labor in Florida at the end of the 19th century.

The publisher of this image was a Florida photographers' cooperative, founded by Charles Seaver Jr. and George Pierron, which sold views from the St. Augustine area in the 1870s and 1880s. From the location of the scene, the photograph can be dated more precisely to 1879 or after. The Confederate Memorial Obelisk is clearly visible in the background. The 1872 obelisk was the first monument to the Lost Cause of the Confederacy erected in Florida. It was moved to the Plaza de la Constitución in 1879.

Southern Gems series. Flat mount stereoview (stereograph). Albumen silver print, 6-1/8 by 3-5/32 inches. Letterpress caption affixed to the back (verso).

Edition + Condition: A near fine example, with very minor nicks to the edge of the mount. The image is a copy image of the two original stereoview photographs printed as a single photograph. The image has good contrast and detail.

Publication: (St. Augustine, Florida?): The Florida Club, [ca. 1880].

Item No: #307572

Price: $200