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This article examines the abolitionist ballads reprinted in the Black Republican, a newspaper that circulated in New Orleans immediately after Emancipation. Through these reprintings of performative verse genres, the Black Republican offered its readers opportunities to collectively revise white cultural productions of sentimentalized versions of themselves to foster membership in a counterpublic. Characterized in the white literary imagination as a preliterate oral folk, the black press responded by using print to destabilize verse that reinforced this fantasy. One consequence of this counterpublic revision is a changing notion of the ballad genre, as antebellum ballad gave way to Reconstruction minstrelsy.