During the Civil War, Moore, a photographer from New Hampshire, traveled to the Union-occupied coast of South Carolina. This image shows a group of farmers on Edisto Island who remained on the plantations where they had been enslaved, working the land for themselves. Here they pose with the tools of their labor, each directly addressing the gaze of the viewer.
Taken when the legal status of these farmers was uncertain, the image circulated later as an illustration of the time before the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1865 it was purchased from the photographer and published in the Philadelphia Photographer, which noted, "when they were taken, they were slaves; now they are free men and women."