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Conclusion Let us return to the gallows portrait depicting “two sweeps, one of whom was represented as a negro, and the other as a mullato speaking the German language,” at prayer before their hanging for the murders of Pennsylvania Dutch matrons Anna Garber and Elizabeth Ream1 (see Figure 8). The illustration from Das Manheimer Trauerspiel (1858) is a fascinating visual artifact. The delicate steel engraving of Henry Richards and Alexander Anderson on the Lancaster County scaffold offers a more nuanced version of the crude woodcuts that, since the colonial period, had portrayed the execution ritual in print. As the English-language edition of the pamphlet reveals, however, the image also subtly marks a break from this tradition. For pasted into The Manheim Tragedy (1858) is the salt-print photograph on which the engraving is based. Caught in their final minutes, the condemned men seem frozen in time, memorialized by a photographic technology that belies its all but obsolete iconography (see Figure 15). With its penal-technological asynchronism, the image captures a fleeting transitional moment in the history of race, representation, and public death in America. After the Civil War, depictions of the state-administered executions became almost exclusively verbal.2 At the same time, photography became the medium of choice for documenting the nation’s newly racialized ritual of lynching.3 Like its predecessors, the Manheim portrait is dominated by the gallows that materializes the execution of a capital sentence—literally, its legal apparatus. Accordingly, from the woodcut on the Dying Confession of Pomp broadside and the pamphlet illustrations of the Gibbs-Wansley hangings to the mattress-ticking painting of William Freeman’s fictive execution, crowds of solemn onlookers affirm the civic function of the juridically mandated ritual (see Figures 3, 6 and 13). By contrast, lynching photographs, with their improvised nooses, natural settings, and jeering crowds, convey that extralegal ritual’s anti-civic purposes. What distinguishes the Manheim photograph from both sets of images is its carceral enclosure. Instead of an open field, a town common, or a forest, the backdrop for the Anderson-Richards Figure 15. Salt-print photograph by M. H. Locher, from H. A. Rockafield, The Manheim Tragedy. A Complete History of the Double Murder of Mrs. Garber & Mrs. Ream: with the Only Authentic Life and Confession of Alexander Anderson. Together with a Correct Account of the Arrest, Trial, Conviction, Sentence, Death-Warrant, and Execution of Anderson and Henry Richards, His Accomplice; To Which is Appended some brief Reflections on the Causes and Consequences of Crime (Lancaster, Pennsylvania, 1858). The Library Company of Philadelphia. 297 Conclusion hanging is the high prison wall whose top aligns, not coincidentally, with that of the scaffold itself. In the Library Company of Philadelphia copy of the pamphlet, hand-inked letters designate each of the scene’s actors, a reminder that the image depicted an intimate performance conducted by identifiable individuals. Absent are the anonymous, massed crowds that, in earlier images , mediate between the condemned and governmental authorities—or, in lynching photographs, replace the latter altogether.4 In this way, the Manheim photograph graphically documents the penal reform trend that, by bringing the public execution ritual “indoors,” also contributed to its privatization, textualization, and eventual bureaucratization .5 But, read alongside the pamphlet’s verbal portrayal of Alexander Anderson and within a black scaffold tradition reaching from Joseph Hanno to Nat Turner, the photograph also portends the carceral confinement of the African American subject after Emancipation. The Manheim Tragedy marks the end of the path that this study has mapped out as an alternative to the more familiar route from plantation to prison. Inadvertently widening the gap between the contradictory fictions of the slave’s mixed character and the social compact, Execution Day’s printed gallows texts created an opening for a first-person subject that, having exceeded the narrow confines of culpable personhood with its civic self-assertion (however fictive), might eventually lay claim to a civil standing. Rather than confining the black subject in a succession of total institutions, this historical conjunction of penality, due process, and print publicity made conceivable the African American protocitizen conjured by the antebellum slave narrative. The challenge, as the contrasting examples of James Williams and William Freeman have shown, was to decriminalize the black print persona without ceding the legal responsibility that for over a century had elicited acknowledgment (however formal, punitive, and retroactive) of political membership. This challenge was intensified as the nineteenth-century asylum movement issued an increasingly authoritative call for the custodial...


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