Taking the Oath and Drawing Rations

Taking the Oath and Drawing Rations, view 1

John Rogers (b. 1829 - d. 1904)

Taking the Oath and Drawing Rations

1889

cast plaster

Knox College Art Collection

This piece is viewed as one of Rogers most acclaimed works. The sculptor enjoyed great popularity with middle class collectors in the 19th century. This was largely due to the narrative appeal and affordability of his genre statuettes that were cast from plaster. This scene depicts a Southern woman swearing loyalty to the Union during post-Civil War occupation in order to obtain food rations for her family. The interaction of the figures conveys the lingering tensions between North and South. In conducting this clerical, but highly symbolic act, the Union soldier avoids eye contact with the women and their faces and postures convey an awkward discomfort. The well-dressed woman most likely came from a wealthy, slave-owning class and is now reduced to a subservient role. The inclusion of the young boys in the group may be a hopeful symbol for the nation’s future unity. Yet, despite emancipation, the figure of the black child at the far edge reinforces a troubling sense of the disempowered, marginal status of African Americans.

Max Wiersum

Historical Documentation
Taking the Oath and Drawing Rations