Hanna-“Cartographic Memories of Slavery and Freedom”

Hanna-“Cartographic Memories of Slavery and Freedom”

In this article, Hanna is discussing a map drawn by John Washington. Hanna states that this “a map of memory and a subaltern and subversive cartographic practice” (51). This may is not just to tell people where places are, but it depicts the events of Washington’s life such as where he joined the Union soldiers. His map is a very well done representation of Fredericksburg and is done in the cartographic style of his time. He also states that Washington’s map contradicts some of the believed ideas of that time on slavery. In Fredericksburg, the war was not believed to be because of slavery. However, with Washington’s map demonstrating his escape to the Union to get away from slavery, that idea of the war is not supported.

Hanna begins by discussing the works by other historians about Washington’s memoir Memorys of the Past. In these books, the authors focused on the bulk of the memoir, giving little mention to the map itself. He states that Shifflet mentions the map “coordinates of freedom (53) while the other author, Blight, mentions the map as a representation of one important day in Washington’s life. They did not see the map as it own depicting of Washington’s life, but rather a simple “crude” piece that is used in support of Washington’s writings. Hanna notes that this map can be used to analyze marginalized people in western societies, something that is not often done with maps.

Hanna notes that it is important to remember that Washington’s map is a map of memory. His map was drawn a decade after he left Fredericksburg to join the Union. The map is what he remember’s Fredericksburg as, not what everyone remembers at that time and certainly not how people saw it when he actually drew the map. Hanna states that he can only create a partial interpretation of Washington’s memory for Fredericksburg from the map. To examine the map, Hanna states that he while look at it through the lens of Washington’s life as a slave and his life ten years later when he created the map to ensure the map is interpreted correctly.

Hanna describes the living situation that Washington grew up in. Salves were very controlled within cities because it was difficult to separate slaves from freemen. Washington grew up in the home of Catherine Talioferro. His only schooling came from the Sunday school lessons he had after church because slaves were not allowed he taught to read and write. He took small moments of freedom, during the Sunday school lessons he would escape to play before he had to return home. He also describes the segregated churches and how the African Baptist church became a place of freedom and resistance. Washington’s “education” continued as he took stolen moments to read and received help from an uncle and reverend to further learn to read and write. These moments of freedom can be seen on Washington’s make in the river and woods he used to play in. Small aspects of his life, added to his map of Fredericksburg.

Hanna then goes on to discuss how Washington goes on to create his map. He was one of a small group of freed slaves who knew how to read and write before the end of the war. There is also a very good chance that e was exposed to maps that the Talioferro household. He became well traveled after joining to Union and enlisting in the army. After moving to Washington D.C. it seems that Washington studied map as well because his map included symbols and styles that were prominent at that time. While it was his life events that shaped what Washington included in his map, it was his upbringing that enabled him to create the map. His education brought him a step ahead and enabled him to produce not only his memoir, but his map that demonstrates the social aspects of the society that he grew up in.


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