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Tag Archives: abolition

How The Second Amendment is Tied to Slavery

The second Amendment had very little to do with protecting the new country from foreign invasion…

And everything to do with maintaining slavery.

WHile hunters and sportsmen tend to defy categorization, uncover a gun defense nut, and more likely than not you have uncovered a bigot.

The U.S. ‘Right’ to Own Guns Came With the ‘Right’ to Own Slaves

For most of the last two centuries, Europeans have been puzzling over their American cousins’ totemic obsession with guns and their passion for concealed weapons. And back in the decades before the American Civil War, several British visitors to American shores thought they’d discerned an important connection: people who owned slaves or lived among them wanted to carry guns to keep the blacks intimidated and docile, but often shot each other, too.

In 1842, the novelist Charles Dickens, on a book tour of the United States, saw a link between the sheer savagery of slave ownership and what he called the cowardly practice of carrying pistols or daggers or both. The author of Oliver Twist listened with a mixture of horror and contempt as Americans defended their utterly indefensible “rights” to tote guns and carry Bowie knives, right along with their “right” to own other human beings who could be shackled, whipped, raped, and mutilated at will.

As damning evidence of the way slaves were treated, in his American Notes Dickens published texts from scores of advertisement for the capture of runaways. Often these public notices described the wanted men and women by their scars. One especially memorable example:

“Ran away, a negro woman and two children. A few days before she went off, I burnt her with a hot iron, on the left side of her face. I tried to make the letter M.”

Dickens also compiled a list of several shooting incidents, not all of them in the South: a county councilman blown away in the council chamber of Brown County, Wisconsin; a fatal shootout in the street in St. Louis; the murder of Missouri’s governor; two 13-year-old boys defending their “honor” by dueling with long rifles, and other examples.

What could one expect, he asked, of those who “learn to write with pens of red-hot iron on the human face” but that they carry guns and daggers to use on each other.  “These are the weapons of Freedom,” Dickens wrote with brutal irony.  “With sharp points and edges such as these, Liberty in America hews and hacks her slaves; or, failing that pursuit, her sons devote themselves to a better use, and turn them on each other.”

When Dickens was writing in the 1840s, remember, keeping Negro slaves was defended as a Constitutional right with the same vehemence that we hear today when it comes to keeping and bearing arms, and perhaps with more foundation. The original U.S. Constitution was built on an explicit compromise (Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3) that allowed slave-holding states to count human chattel, described as “other persons,” as three-fifths of a human being for purposes of taxation and state representation in the House, but allowed them no rights as human persons whatsoever.

The Second Amendment, adopted a couple of years later as part of the Bill of Rights (of free white people), was essentially written to protect the interests of Southerners in the states that formed militias—often known as “slave patrols”—to crush any attempt at what was called, in those days, a “servile insurrection.” That’s why the full text of the Second Amendment reads:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

To keep slaves in slavery, you needed militias and they needed to be armed. Such is the fundamental “right” assured by the Second Amendment.

Dickens, who saw a lot that he disliked about America, but disliked slavery and the irrational and immoral thinking behind it the most, wrote quite correctly that there was a substantial, stubborn class of people “who doggedly deny the horrors of the system, in the teeth of such a mass of evidence as never was brought to bear on any other subject.”

A few years later, after the messianic abolitionist John Brown tried and failed to start a slave uprising by attacking the Federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry in 1859, Southern paranoia reached new heights, and so did gun sales.

“I do not exaggerate in designating the present state of affairs in the Southern country as a reign of terror,” wrote British Consul Robert Bunch in Charleston, South Carolina, the epicenter of secession and slavery. “Persons are torn away from their residences and pursuits, sometimes ‘tarred and feathered,’ ‘ridden upon rails,’ or cruelly whipped; letters are opened at the post offices, discussion upon slavery is entirely prohibited under penalty of expulsion, with or without violence, from the country.”…Read the rest here

 
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Posted by on December 7, 2015 in Domestic terrorism, The Definition of Racism

 

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Cambridge University’s “first” Black Student

This is the story of an American, a black American who attended Cambridge University before the end of slavery in the United States.

What is interesting here is the phrase “first recorded black student”. It appears there were other black students at the University before Crummell, who were conveniently “forgotten” in the books. Considering that there is recent evidence of black folks being in England as early as the 13th Century, that is an interesting point to explore.

Cambridge University’s ‘first’ black student pioneer

Alexander CrummellThe story of Cambridge University’s first officially recorded black student is being told as part of the university’s Festival of Ideas.

Alexander Crummell was an American minister and the son of a freed slave who studied at Queens’ College, Cambridge, in the late 1840s.

While it appears he was not the first black student at Cambridge, he is the first for whom official records exist.

Cambridge lecturer Sarah Meek said he was seen as an “object of curiosity”.

She continued: “One of his servants, when she was dismissed by his wife Sarah, called the Crummells ‘black devils’, so they were obviously not immune to the kind of prejudice we might imagine.”

But at the same time he was a mature student who “was a respected, grown-up figure”.

During his university vacations he toured the country delivering anti-slavery lectures, and as a minister gave sermons in local churches.

Slavery had been abolished on British soil in the early 1800s, and in British colonies in the 1830s.

The anti-slavery campaigners Thomas Clarkson and William Wilberforce were both Cambridge graduates and the university was seen as an important centre for the abolitionist movement.

Writing in 1847 Crummell said: “Perhaps no seat of learning in the world… has done more for human liberty and human well-being than this institution.”

Crummell grew up in New York. His father was a freed slave and his mother a free-born woman from Long Island.

He attended one of the African Free Schools set up by New York abolitionists to educate the children of freed slaves.

But while slavery had been abolished in the northern United States, prejudice continued.

When Crummell and two of his New York classmates were awarded places at a secondary school in New Hampshire, they were driven away by an outraged local community.

Alexander CrummellHe continued his studies in New York, and was eventually ordained in the Episcopal church, which is connected with the Church of England.

It was this membership of the Episcopal church which would later allow him to study at Cambridge. If he had been a Methodist or Presbyterian, Jewish or Roman Catholic, he would not have been able to take up a place at Cambridge until 1871.

After graduating Crummell spent 20 years in the freed slave colony of Liberia before returning to New York.

Dr Meek said: “Back in the United States he was a leader and writer who influenced many subsequent writers.”

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2011 in Black History

 

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National Parks Proposed to Honor Harriet Tubman

Children ride their bikes down the drive passing the Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn, N.Y., July, 29, 2004. (David Duprey, AP)

Efforts are underway in Congress to recognize Harriet Tubman with the designation of her home in Auburn, New York, and an area on the Eastern Shore of Maryland where she was born a slave, and helped numerous slaves escape bondage on the Underground Railroad.

Don’t think there is much chance of this getting through a Republican majority Congress, not only because of the usual hostility – but because of the extreme focus this term on cost cutting.

Two National Parks Eyed to Honor Legacy of Harriet Tubman

Steal Away

Harriet Tubman, an escaped slave who led others to freedom on the Underground Railroad, could be honored with two national parks promoting her life.

Senators from Maryland and New York introduced legislation on Tuesday — the start of Black History Month — to create parks in both states that would protect sites connected to her life as an abolitionist and later as an advocate for women’s suffrage.

Tubman — known as “the black Moses” for leading hundreds of slaves out of bondage in the South to freedom in the North — lived much of her adult life in Auburn, N.Y. in the state’s Finger Lakes region. If the bill becomes law, her home, the cemetery where she was buried in 1913 and the Home for the Aged, an early nursing home for African-Americans she created, would become part of the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park.

In the Eastern Shore of Maryland where Tubman was born in 1822, the bill would make a sweeping Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Historical Park, covering her presumed birthplace and the site of former plantations where she was enslaved until she ran away in 1849. Tubman returned to the area for 10 years as a famed conductor on the Underground Railroad, and the park would include the location of a former safe house along the route to the North.

“Harriet Tubman [was] a true American patriot for whom liberty and freedom were principles in which she believed and risked her life to achieve,” said U.S. Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md., in a statement. “Her life was defined by determination, perseverance and hardship as she helped others on the road to freedom. These two parks will make it possible for Marylanders, New Yorkers and all Americans to trace her life’s work and remember her tremendous contribution to our nation’s history.” Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2011 in Black History

 

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