Jonathan Walker’s Branded Hand

From the early days of photography, here’s a story of a torture that became a badge of honor. Born in 1799, Captain Jonathan W. Walker was an avid abolitionist. He worked with the Underground Railroad, and helped those who escaped slavery settle in Mexico. But in 1844, he was on a boat taking seven escapees to the West Indies when they got into trouble and were rescued by a ship with a pro-slavery crew. Walker was arrested, and a US Marshall branded his right hand with “SS,” which stood for “slave stealer.” He was jailed in Florida for eleven months.

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The incident didn’t slow Walker down at all, and he continued his abolitionist work lecturing and arranging for escapes after his bail was paid by an abolitionist group. Not long after, he commissioned a photograph to be made of his branded right hand. The image, however, is reversed and appears to be his left hand- notice that the Ss are backward. Read Walker’s story that left us a lasting image of the fight over slavery at Vintage Everyday.  -via Nag on the Lake

Source: neatorama

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