May 07, 2020 - Sale 2534

Sale 2534 - Lot 383

Price Realized: $ 594
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 600 - $ 900
(RECONSTRUCTION.) [Anderson, David H.; photographer?] The mixed-race grand jury which indicted Jefferson Davis. Albumen photograph of a photomechanical newspaper image, 4 x 5 1/2 inches, on plain card mount, captioned in the image "The Grand Jury--This is the Grand Jury that indicted Mr. Davis, and was the first mixed jury ever impanelled in this country"; faded with light staining and minimal wear. [Richmond, VA], circa May 1867 (printed circa 1889?)

Additional Details

In 1867, the United States Circuit Court in Virginia empanelled mixed-race grand and petit juries to work the entire May-November session. David Anderson's photograph of the 24-man petit jury is more commonly seen. This shot of the 19-man grand jury was probably done at the same time. The biggest case on their docket that year was the trial of Jefferson Davis; Davis was released before trial in May 1867 and charges were later dropped.
3 of the 19 jurors shown here would appear to be obviously African-American. One of them, Cornelius Liggan Harris (seated, third from right), later recounted the Davis trial in a 15 January 1896 letter to the editor of the Newport News Planet. He recalled that 5 of his fellow jurors were "colored men": Dr. Fields Cook (standing, 2nd from left); John Oliver (seated, far left); George Seaton (standing, 5th from right); George W. Simms (standing, far right); and Rosina Beckley (standing, 4th from left). Harris recalled making eye contact with the president of the late Confederacy: "He looked on me and smiled, then the whole body burst out almost in a general laugh. I could but smile, as I was the object of attraction to the lookers on as well as Mr. Davis, being the first black man ever seen on a jury in this country."
The American Civil War Museum holds a glass-plate negative of the original photograph, with a caption naming all jurors. Their version does not show the bearded white man standing third from the right. He appears to have been added in by collage after the photograph was taken. The present version of the photograph was reproduced in the 1889 book The Davis Memorial Volume, page 600, with the same caption as seen here.