I need to write an essay comparing and contrasting the writing and contexts of John William De Forest's "What is to Become of the African in Our Country?" and George Washington Cable's "The...

I need to write an essay comparing and contrasting the writing and contexts of John William De Forest's "What is to Become of the African in Our Country?" and George Washington Cable's "The Freedman's Case"?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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You should probably begin your essay with an analysis of how Louisiana, where George Washington Cable lived and wrote, had a very different cultural heritage from South Carolina, where De Forest (himself a native of Connecticut) was stationed. 

Both Cable and De Forest, although they might not pass muster today as completely unprejudiced, were, for their period, decent and just, concerned about the position of freed slaves, and generally fair and compassionate (within the limits of their social norms). There are several differences between them. Cable was a plantation owner who had possessed slaves before the Civil War and was writing as a novelist and private individual. De Forest was a well-traveled and cosmopolitan northerner who had not owned slaves, and fought in the Union Army in the Civil War, and was then employed by Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands to help with the southern Reconstruction, and was thus speaking in part from the point of view of a government official.

Unlike South Carolina where De Forest was stationed, which had a primarily British heritage, New Orleans always had a unique blend of French, Spanish, African, and Native American cultures mixing into a rich and unique Creole. The practice of "quadroon balls" in New Orleans with their quasi-marital relationships between white men and black women, meant that there was already in place a process of blending of disparate cultures and races in New Orleans, and thus Cable's vision of the future is a synthetic one grounded in this process of both diversity and blending. De Forest's interests are more clearly practical and economic. He assumes a greater degree of continued segregation, and is concerned with creating educational and cultural conditions for the economic success of black people.

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