Tag Archives: slavery

Southern Baptists Reject confederate Flag

I wouldn’t have thought this possible as little as 20 years ago…

U.S. Sout Baptists Formally Repudiate Confederate Flag

The resolution calls for Southern Baptist churches to discontinue displaying the Confederate flag as a “sign of solidarity of the whole Body of Christ.”

The U.S. Southern Baptist Convention adopted a resolution on Tuesday repudiating the Confederate battle flag as an emblem of slavery, marking the latest bid for racial reconciliation by America’s largest Protestant denomination.

The resolution, passed at the predominantly white convention’s annual meeting in St. Louis, calls for Southern Baptist churches to discontinue displaying the Confederate flag as a “sign of solidarity of the whole Body of Christ.”

The action came four years after the denomination elected its first black president, Fred Luter, a pastor and civic leader from New Orleans.

Rev. Fred Luter was named the denomination’s first black president four years ago.

In 1995, a Southern Baptist committee issued a resolution apologizing to African-Americans for condoning slavery and racism during the early years of the denomination’s 171-year history.

The convention, currently made up of more than 46,000 churches nationwide, was established in 1845 after Southern Baptists split from the First Baptist Church in America in the pre-Civil War era over the issue of slavery.

The denomination now counts a growing number of minorities among its more than 15.8 million members and has sought in recent years to better reflect the diversity of its congregants and America as a whole.

“This denomination was founded by people who wrongly defended the sin of human slavery,” said Russell Moore, head of the convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. “Today the nation’s largest Protestant denomination voted to repudiate the Confederate battle flag, and it’s time and well past time.”

The flag carried by the South’s pro-slavery Confederate forces during the 1861-65 U.S. Civil War re-emerged as a flashpoint in America’s troubled race relations after the massacre of nine blacks by a white gunman at an historic church in Charleston, South Carolina, in June 2015. The assailant was seen afterward in photographs posing with the flag.

The episode stirred a movement to eliminate the Stars and Bars flag – seen by many whites as a sign of Southern heritage, not hate – from South Carolina’s statehouse and many other public displays in the South during the months that followed.

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Posted by on June 15, 2016 in The Post-Racial Life


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On This Memorial Day – Remembering Those Who Fought to End Slavery

There are a lot of Southern Myths about the Civil War and Antebellum South, and what life was like in the period leading up to the War. The root of the war was economic. By 1860, over 60% of the GDP, and near 80% of the trade was generated by the South. And just about every penny of that money was built and fully enabled by slavery. It is no mystery why the Articles of Secession by every Southern State lists the cause of their actions as to maintain slavery.

The South was by no means monolithic as the Southern Myth would have you believe. And it was a dangerous place, with rebellion seething just under the surface. One of the few things which kept the slave master’s cruelty in check was the distinct possibility that ol’ Massa might “fall off his horse and break his neck”. There were hundreds, if not thousands of slave rebellions, and the risk was so great that during the Revolutionary War the Southern States supplied few troops to fight the British…Because they were needed at home to keep the slave rebellions in check. The sight of Haitian Troops marching to Savannah to attack British forces holding the city must have sent chills down the spines of Southern slave owners.

Further the South wasn’t monolithic. Large regions, especially the Appalachians, had no real economic ties to slavery, making the western Southern States a battleground between pro and anti-slavery forces. If you examine the maps of the Shenandoah campaign between Union General Phil Sheridan and confederate General Stonewall Jackson, you will find that there are areas conspicuously avoided by the rebs, You will find the same in certain areas of North Carolina. Those areas weren’t “confederate friendly”.

This Memorial Day we should celebrate those who fought to put down the rebellion, and ultimately end slavery. Over 100,000 of whom were white Southerners, and 260,000 of whom were black, often escaped slaves.

100,000 From Dixie Fought for the North in the Civil War

In all the recent debate about erasing Confederate history, no one talks about the history the South itself has erased, such as the many Southerners who fought for the Union.

Earlier this past week a judge ruled that the city of Louisville, Kentucky can proceed with the removal of a Confederate monument near the campus of the University of Louisville. Arguments against removing Confederate monuments over the past year have often claimed that in doing so communities run the risk of erasing history. What has been universally overlooked, however, is that the push to establish monuments to the Confederacy during the postwar years helped to erase the history of those white and black southerners who remained loyal and were willing to give their lives to save the Union.

Southern Unionism took many forms during the Civil War. Some disagreed with the right of a state to secede from the Union at the war’s outset while others grew weary of the Confederacy in response to a number of factors, including a Conscription Act in 1862 that exempted large slaveowners, the impressment of horses or mules for the army, and a “tax-in-kind” law that allowed the government to confiscate a certain percentage of farm produce for military purposes. Others in places like Appalachia and other highland regions that included few slaves saw little value in supporting a government whose purpose was the creation of an independent slaveholding republic.

Resistance to the Confederacy also took many forms throughout the war. The release of the movie, The Free State of Jones, starring Matthew McConaughey next month, will introduce audiences to Newton Knight, who led an armed rebellion against the Confederacy in Jones County, Mississippi. Some joined clandestine political organizations such as the Heroes of America, which may have contained upwards of 10,000 members. Networks of communication kept resistors in touch with one another and their activities throughout the region. Unionists risked arrest by Confederate officials, ostracism from within the family, and violent reprisals from the community.

It is impossible to know just how many white southerners remained loyal to the Union during the war given disagreements over its very definition, but we do know that somewhere around 100,000 southern white men from Confederate states, except for South Carolina, served in the U.S. military. East Tennessee supplied somewhere around 42,000 men, but other Confederate states yielded significant numbers, including 22,000 from Virginia (and West Virginia) and 25,000 from North Carolina. The First Alabama Cavalry, which was considered one of the toughest units in General William Tecumseh Sherman’s army, took part in his “march” through Georgia and the Carolinas in 1864-65.

The decision to express one’s loyalty to the Union by joining the army was often a painful one to make from the lowliest private to some of the highest-ranking officers. While the story of Robert E. Lee’s decision to resign his commission in the U.S. army, rather than betray his home of Virginia, is often told and re-told in tragic prose, others grappled with the same decisions and yet chose to remain loyal. The man who offered Lee command of the U.S. army in 1861 was another Virginian by the name of Winfield Scott. Scott, whose military career stretched back to the War of 1812—including a failed presidential bid in 1852—was the highest-ranking general at the beginning of the war. Scott’s decision was no less difficult than Lee’s and yet he remained loyal and although too old to take command in the field, he helped formulate military policy that ultimately proved successful in subduing the rebellion.

General George Henry Thomas, also from Virginia, became one of the most successful generals in the war and saved the Union army from being completely routed on September 19, 1863, earning him the nickname the “Rock of Chickamauga.” His loyalty to the nation cost him his family, who refused to speak with him ever again and even turned his picture against the wall. Very few monuments to the service of these men and others like them, who defied family, friends, and community for the sake of the nation, can be found in the former Confederate states. And yet the removal of some Confederate monuments has caused some to worry about erasing history.

The other significant Southern bloc that voiced their loyalty to the Union and commitment to crushing the rebellion was the region’s slave population. From the beginning of the war, and in the shadow of a Supreme Court that as recently as 1857 ruled that free and enslaved blacks could not be citizens of the United States, African Americans offered their services to the military. Beginning in 1862 along the Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia, former slaves rushed into the first all black regiments. By the end of the war roughly 150,000 former slaves fought and died to save this nation. They did so under the most harrowing conditions. Black soldiers were massacred on battlefields and even sent back into slavery at places like Fort Pillow in Tennessee and at the Crater in Petersburg, Virginia by Confederates, who refused to treat them as legitimate soldiers. As if that wasn’t enough, their own government refused to pay them what white soldiers earned. Only sustained protests that lasted more than a year and continued demonstrations of bravery on the battlefield led Congress to correct this injustice in the summer of 1864.

Southern Unionists, both black and white, may have celebrated Confederate defeat, but they continued to be persecuted owing to their wartime beliefs and actions by terrorist groups such as the Ku Klux Klan. Life was especially difficult for former slaves, who fought for the Union and now hoped to exercise the right to vote, own land, or run for public office. Their sacrifice for the Union ended in the rise of Jim Crow state governments by the turn of the 20th century.

After the war, as white Southerners erected monuments to their Confederate dead they also erected monuments to their former slaves, only they recalled not brave men who fought to preserve the Union, but their loving former “servants” who remained loyal to master and their Lost Cause. The very act of monument erection helped to erase this history for much of the 20th century.

The removal of Confederate monuments need not result in the erasure of history. In fact, it may for the first time create the intellectual and physical space to commemorate and remember a new narrative of the past, one that corresponds more closely to the long and rich history of service and sacrifice to this nation that is recalled each year on Memorial Day.

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Posted by on May 30, 2016 in Black History, The Post-Racial Life


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If you haven’t watched WGN’s “Underground”, I suggest watching it on the Internet or Cable Services from the beginning. It is part historical and part adventure story as a group of slaves try and escape to freedom from Georgia. The show contains great acting by both the “Good” and “Bad” guys and focuses on the spiritual and moral conflicts of the principal characters. It’s depiction of slavery is Historically accurate, and in the last part of the series , and in season two, several Historical people from the period are included, Harriet Tubman is portrayed in her role in the “Underground Railroad”, and “Bloody Patty”, Patty Cannon who terrorized Delaware and Maryland along the Eastern Shore leading the Cannon-Johnson Gang. Parts of the story are adopted from real life, like the escape of William and Ellen Craft , and a nod to Henry “Box” Brown who actually shipped himself in a crate to freedom.The show’s creators are Misha Green and Joe Pokaski.

The only downside? The music is awful. The decision to incorporate Hip-Hop music distracts, and cheapens the show. There is no shortage of period music from the era, written by the slaves themselves . While the lyrics were often written in allegory, to protect the slaves themselves from retribution, the music directors apparently felt the audience was too stupid to figure it out. The best known song was “Follow the Drinking Gourd”. One I remember finding once was something like “Black Pirate Mary”, which told the story of a black woman who raided the Plantations in Louisiana, killed the slavers, and added the former slaves to her pirate band.

Underground: A Thrilling Quest Story About Slavery

A harrowing new period drama takes its cues from both history and the apocalyptic narratives that populate today’s TV and film.

…But the idea of escape, specifically a harrowing flight through hostile territory while under constant threat of death, is built into the foundation of America’s history. The flights of hundreds of thousands of enslaved people via the Underground Railroad and other efforts in the 18th and 19th centuries are themselves a story of escape from apocalyptic horrors, with many souls risking mutilation, death, disease, and unimaginable psychological trauma in their quest for freedom and a promised land.

Finally, television is exploring America’s most autobiographical apocalyptic quest story. WGN America’s Underground, which airs the final episode of its first season Wednesday night, is an epic series about slavery and escape created by the Heroeswriters Misha Green and Joe Pokaski, and executive produced and scored by John Legend and his Get Lifted team. The entertainment industry has tackled the subject before—on television with Alex Haley’s landmark 1977 miniseries Rootsand its 2016 remake, and in film with 2013’s 12 Years a Slave, Django Unchained,and the upcoming Birth of a Nation, among others. But those treatments largely focused on the terrors of plantation life or on revenge fantasies. Underground, by contrast, provides historical fiction about the great flights that shaped American history, taking its cues as much from other weekly primetime thrillers as it does from the famous canon of slavery period pieces.

Underground’s main plot follows a group of escaping slaves known as the “Macon Seven,” whose members include Rosalee (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and Noah (Aldis Hodge), who inevitably become the show’s power couple as they lead their group north. Scenes cut between their journey, the Georgia plantation they escaped from, and the abolitionists at their destination in the Ohio River valley. Some episodes play out uncannily like The Walking Dead, only with single-minded slave catchers taking the place of zombies. Questing characters follow the video-game-inspired level-up process that’s become The Walking Dead’s key structure, with Rosalee and Noah evolving from naive co-conspirators to nearly unkillable wraiths over the course of the first season.

That isn’t to say that Underground is a total departure from its heavier slavery-film counterparts. Scenes back on the Macon plantation, anchored by Amirah Vann’s Ernestine, who’s the mother of Rosalee and the enslaved object of owner Tom Macon’s (Reed Diamond) desires, are as emotionally resonant and torturous as any scene in Roots. Enslaved people are beaten, mutilated, humiliated, stripped naked, and killed, all of which is generally shown in visceral detail. The show doesn’t shy away from the rampant sexual assault that defined plantation life, and it also does a good job of portraying how enslaved people carved out whatever spaces for survival they could. One of the advantages of it being a television series is that Underground has the space to explore the full depth of its enslaved characters: They are brilliant, petty, caring, peaceful, and violent at once, as are all people, and their daily interactions and individual stories have room to breathe and not be swallowed up by the need to sum up for audiences in a few hours just how awful American slavery was.

But the core of Underground is still the quest, which sets it apart as both a TV series and a work about slavery. It isn’t perfect. Some of the episodes require quite a good amount of suspended disbelief, and the Get Lifted team’s decision to incorporate modern music into the show—while a brilliant way to connect the dots in black history and culture across time—sometimes comes across as forced.Underground toes the line between fantasy and reality in a way that can be uncomfortable for historically minded viewers such as myself. But it’s off to a good start, and holds the mark as perhaps the most watchable and rewatchable media about slavery yet. For once, a show finally connects the real epic quests of blackness at the center of American identity with its penchant for fantasy apocalypses.


Posted by on May 12, 2016 in Black History, The Post-Racial Life


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The Racist conservative Myth of White Slavery in America

It has become popular in the past few years among the white racist conservative wing to try and build a case that somehow Irish were enslaved in the US. That case is built upon a purposeful ignorance of both British and Colonial Laws with a big dollop of racism.

First off, the difference between Chattel Slavery (defined by race) as first defined in Virginia in 1662, and Indentured Servitude was the fact that prior to that time both black and whites had the right to sue their “masters” under contract and common law in the courts. Indentured Servants never lost the ability to sue based on mistreatment, or violation of their contract terms. Second, Indentured Servants could not be whipped, or put to death by law and were protected by the very same criminal and tort laws as protected free citizens – whereas Laws after 1662 removed all protections from black slaves, and any penalty for the punishment, torture, or even killing of black slaves.

Whereas the barbarous usage of some servants by cruell masters bring soe much scandall and infamy to the country in generall, that people who would willingly adventure themselves hither, are through feare thereof diverted, and by that meanes the suppli es of particuler men and the well seating of his majesties country very much obstructed, Be it therefore enacted that every master shall provide for his servants compotent dyett, clothing and lodging, and that he shall not exceed the bounds of moderation in correcting them beyond the meritt of their offences; and that it shalbe lawfull for any servant giving notice to their masters (haveing just cause of complaint against them) for harsh and bad usage, or else of want of dyett or convenient necessaries to repaire to the next commissioner to make his or their complaint, and if the said commisioner shall find by just proofes that the said servants cause of complaint is just the said commissioner is hereby required to give order for the warning of such maste r to the next county court where the matter in difference shalbe determined, and the servant have remedy for his grievances. Hening, II, 117-118. Virginia Law

Lastly – the status, or in the case of Indentured Servants, did not accrue to their children. Any children had by Indentured Servants, whether white or black were free – which is why, starting in 1840, the Colonies began passing laws attempting to stem miscegenation, and ultimately connecting the status of the child to that of the mother. Ergo, if the Mother was free so was the child. A child born of a slave mother, was a slave – meaning that any children of the Master by using his slave women sexually was a slave.

‘Irish slaves’: Historian destroys racist myth conservatives love to share on Facebook

White supremacists have been promoting the myth that the first slaves brought to the Americas were Irish, not African — but a historian says there’s simply no evidence to back their racist claims.

Liam Hogan, a research librarian at the Limerick City Library, set about debunking the myth after spotting a widely shared Global Research article in 2013 and realized its potential for misinformation, reported Hatewatch.

“It was quite clear to me then that many would never engage with the history of the transatlantic slave trade when they had this false equivalence to fall back on,” Hogan told the website. “I think that’s what convinced me that I needed to put the record straight.”

The myth essentially equates indentured or penal servitude with racialized perpetual hereditary chattel slavery, Hogan said.

Racists claim the Irish slave trade began in 1612 and was not abolished until 1839, and they insist “white slavery” has been covered up by “politically correct” historians.

“The various memes make many claims including (but not limited to) the following: that ‘Irish slaves’ were treated far worse than black slaves, that there were more ‘Irish slaves’ than black slaves, that ‘Irish slaves’ were worth less than black slaves, that enslaved Irish women were forced to breed with enslaved African men and that the Irish were slaves for much longer than black slaves,” Hogan said.

“This is then invariably followed up by overtly racist statements,” he added. “For example, ‘Yet, when is the last time you heard an Irishman bitching and moaning about how the world owes them a living?’”

Hogan hasn’t isolated the myth’s first appearance on social media, but it’s been a common trope on the white supremacist website Stormfront since at least 2003 and has been trotted out as an argument against reparations for slavery and to attack the Black Lives Matter movement.

He pointed to a 2014 post on Alex Jones’ Infowars website that attacked both Black Lives Matter and reparations by promoting several falsehoods about “Irish slavery.”

“It appropriates the massacre of around 132 African victims of the genocidal transatlantic slave trade in order to diminish it,” Hogan said, referring to the Zong massacre in 1781. “If you look at the Infowars version of the meme you’ll see it has even appended an extra zero, making the number of victims amount to 1,302, while adding that ‘these slaves weren’t from Africa, these forgotten souls were from Ireland.’ This shameless appropriation is then used by Infowars to mock calls for reparatory justice for slavery.”

A Contract for Indenture

The myth has become nearly ubiquitous in social media discussions on slavery and race — and it was even promoted by a blogger on the liberal Daily Kos website.

“There was almost no situation where the meme was not used to derail discussions about the legacy of slavery or ongoing anti-black racism,” Hogan said. “Starting with Ferguson and with almost every subsequent police killing of an unarmed black person from late 2014 through 2015, the meme was used to mock and denigrate the Black Lives Matter movement. It is in a sense the ‘historical’ version of the disingenuous All Lives Matter response to demands for justice and truth telling.”

Hogan has collected hundreds of examples of the fallacious argument, which he has shared on Twitter and Tumblr, and he said some of those memes have been sharedhundreds of thousands of times on Facebook.

The myth is especially popular among Confederate apologists, and Hogan cites several examples of its deployment during the debate over Confederate flag displays in the wake of the fatal shootings of nine black churchgoers by a white supremacist.

“This year I’ve tracked the meme being shared by the Texas League of the South, History of the True South, Love My Confederate Ancestors and the Sons of Confederate Veterans,” Hogan said. “They seem to believe that this meme somehow negates the fact that the Confederacy fought a war to perpetually enslave millions of African-Americans and their descendants.”

The myth is often supported with citations to the books “To Hell or Barbados,” by Sean O’Callaghan, and “White Cargo,” by Don Jordan and Michael A. Walsh — both of which are historically questionable, according to Hogan, but he said most articles about “Irish slaves” don’t even quote from those sources.

Instead, Hogan said most of those articles rely heavily on an unreferenced blog postand the self-published work of Holocaust denier Michael A. Hoffman II.

Hogan said his concerns are shared by at least 81 academics and historians, and he hopes to set the record straight in his own book.

“I would like to reclaim the history of Irish servitude in the 17th century Anglo-Caribbean and present it in context for a general audience,” he said. “The Cromwellian policy of forced transportation to the colonies in the 1650s (which included an estimated 10,000 Irish people) understandably scars our collective memory and it deserves both respect and close attention from anyone interested in the history of the unfree labor systems in the Atlantic world.”

He said the myth’s appeal reveals an essential element of racist thought — and the way those beliefs are exploited to justify discriminatory laws.

“The racism then flows as these various groups of Neo-Nazis posit why whites can overcome a ‘worse’ situation than blacks and ‘do not whine about it,’” Hogan said. “So the ‘get over it’ racism that so often accompanies the meme is not about history at all. It goes much deeper than that.”

“Their belief is that non-whites can’t move on due to racial inferiority or social pathology,” he continued. “So through false equivalence and erasure, they attempt to remove history as a determinant so that they can claim the current socioeconomic position and mass incarceration of black people in the U.S. is due to racial inferiority.”


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Trump’s Slave Labor in Dubai

The “Golden City” of the Middle East has largely been built by slave labor. The labor force at the Trump branded hotel is no different…

They take these people’s passports so that they can’t quit and leave.

They are brought in from other countries, typically war torn, and provided scant wages to work on construction jobs.

After being exposed, apparently the project has decided to drop the “Trump” name.

Hidden Cameras Show Trump Workers Living in Squalor

Hidden camera footage obtained by HBO’s VICE show migrant workers building the Trump International Golf Club in Dubai living in squalor. In a clip from the episode set to air this Friday, correspondent Ben Anderson follows a bus full of workers as they depart the golf site and drive two hours into the desert to retreat to their grimy, overstuffed living quarters including a bathroom “that doesn’t look fit for human beings.” One worker complains that Pakistan was better than being in Dubai but he cannot go home because his employers took his passport. The project has Trump’s licensed brand name attached to it but is not being built directly by Trump’s company.





Posted by on April 18, 2016 in The Clown Bus


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272 Slaves Were Sold To Keep Georgetown University Afloat in 1838

The Catholic Church held slaves in America (and perhaps elsewhere), and when the premiere Catholic College in the Americas got into financial trouble, the Jesuits organized the sale of 272 slaves to raise money to keep the School afloat. The Church also operated several plantations in southern Maryland to fund the School which used slave labor.

272 Slaves Were Sold to Save Georgetown. What Does It Owe Their Descendants?

The human cargo was loaded on ships at a bustling wharf in the nation’s capital, destined for the plantations of the Deep South. Some slaves pleaded for rosaries as they were rounded up, praying for deliverance.

But on this day, in the fall of 1838, no one was spared: not the 2-month-old baby and her mother, not the field hands, not the shoemaker and not Cornelius Hawkins, who was about 13 years old when he was forced onboard.

Their panic and desperation would be mostly forgotten for more than a century. But this was no ordinary slave sale. The enslaved African-Americans had belonged to the nation’s most prominent Jesuit priests. And they were sold, along with scores of others, to help secure the future of the premier Catholic institution of higher learning at the time, known today asGeorgetown University.

Now, with racial protests roiling college campuses, an unusual collection of Georgetown professors, students, alumni and genealogists is trying to find out what happened to those 272 men, women and children. And they are confronting a particularly wrenching question: What, if anything, is owed to the descendants of slaves who were sold to help ensure the college’s survival?

More than a dozen universities — including Brown, Columbia, Harvard and the University of Virginia — have publicly recognized their ties to slavery and the slave trade. But the 1838 slave sale organized by the Jesuits, who founded and ran Georgetown, stands out for its sheer size, historians say.

At Georgetown, slavery and scholarship were inextricably linked. The college relied on Jesuit plantations in Maryland to help finance its operations, university officials say. (Slaves were often donated by prosperous parishioners.) And the 1838 sale — worth about $3.3 million in today’s dollars — was organized by two of Georgetown’s early presidents, both Jesuit priests.

Some of that money helped to pay off the debts of the struggling college.

“The university itself owes its existence to this history,” said Adam Rothman, a historian at Georgetown and a member of a university working group that is studying ways for the institution to acknowledge and try to make amends for its tangled roots in slavery.

Although the working group was established in August, it was student demonstrations at Georgetown in the fall that helped to galvanize alumni and gave new urgency to the administration’s efforts.

The students organized a protest and a sit-in, using the hashtag #GU272 for the slaves who were sold. In November, the university agreed to remove the names of the Rev. Thomas F. Mulledy and the Rev. William McSherry, the college presidents involved in the sale, from two campus buildings.

An alumnus, following the protest from afar, wondered if more needed to be done.

That alumnus, Richard J. Cellini, the chief executive of a technology company and a practicing Catholic, was troubled that neither the Jesuits nor university officials had tried to trace the lives of the enslaved African-Americans or compensate their progeny.

Mr. Cellini is an unlikely racial crusader. A white man, he admitted that he had never spent much time thinking about slavery or African-American history.

But he said he could not stop thinking about the slaves, whose names had been in Georgetown’s archives for decades…

Broken Promises

There are no surviving images of Cornelius, no letters or journals that offer a look into his last hours on a Jesuit plantation in Maryland.

He was not yet five feet tall when he sailed onboard the Katharine Jackson, one of several vessels that carried the slaves to the port of New Orleans.


The ship manifest of the Katharine Jackson, available in full at the Georgetown Slavery archive, listed the name, sex, age and height of each slave transported to New Orleans in the fall of 1838. It showed that the cargo included dozens of children, among them infants as young as 2 months old…

.Read The Rest Here

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Posted by on April 16, 2016 in American Genocide, Black History


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Native American Enslavement – “2-4 million” Shipped to the West Indes

One of the ways that the English Colonists enforced slavery was to ship the slaves to a different country or island where there was no possibility of escape. The Southern Myth that Native Americans were not enslaved because it was too easy for them to escape…Turns out not to be true. The Genocide of Native American has an even uglier turn, as Historians find evidence that millions were shipped overseas in bondage.

America’s Other Original Sin

Europeans didn’t just displace Native Americans—they enslaved them, and encouraged tribes to participate in the slave trade, on a scale historians are only beginning to fathom.

Here are three scenes from the history of slavery in North America. In 1637, a group of Pequot Indians, men and boys, having risen up against English colonists in Connecticut and been defeated, were sold to plantations in the West Indies in exchange for African slaves, allowing the colonists to remove a resistant element from their midst. (The tribe’s women were pressed into service in white homes in New England, where domestic workers were sorely lacking.) In 1741, an 800-foot-long coffle of recently enslaved Sioux Indians, procured by a group of Cree, Assiniboine, and Monsoni warriors, arrived in Montreal, ready for sale to French colonists hungry for domestic and agricultural labor. And in 1837, Cherokee Joseph Vann, expelled from his land in Georgia during the era of Indian removal, took at least 48 enslaved black people along with him to Indian Territory. By the 1840s, Vann was said to have owned hundreds of enslaved black laborers, as well as racehorses and a side-wheeler steamboat.

A reductive view of the American past might note two major, centuries-long historical sins: the enslavement of stolen Africans and the displacement of Native Americans. In recent years, a new wave of historians of American slavery has been directing attention to the ways these sins overlapped. The stories they have uncovered throw African slavery—still the narrative that dominates our national memory—into a different light, revealing that the seeds of that system were sown in earlier attempts to exploit Native labor. The record of Native enslavement also shows how the white desire to put workers in bondage intensified the chaos of contact, disrupting intertribal politics and creating uncertainty and instability among people already struggling to adapt to a radically new balance of power.

Before looking at the way Native enslavement happened on the local level (really the only way to approach a history this fragmented and various), it helps to appreciate the sweep of the phenomenon. How common was it for Indians to be enslaved by Euro-Americans? Counting can be difficult, because many instances of Native enslavement in the Colonial period were illegal or ad hoc and left no paper trail. But historians have tried. A few of their estimates: Thousands of Indians were enslaved in Colonial New England, according to Margaret Ellen Newell. Alan Gallay writes that between 1670 and 1715, more Indians were exported into slavery through Charles Town (now Charleston, South Carolina) than Africans were imported. Brett Rushforth recently attempted a tally of the total numbers of enslaved, and he told me that he thinks 2 million to 4 million indigenous people in the Americas, North and South, may have been enslaved over the centuries that the practice prevailed—a much larger number than had previously been thought. “It’s not on the level of the African slave trade,” which brought 10 million people to the Americas, but the earliest history of the European colonies in the Americas is marked by Native bondage. “If you go up to about 1680 or 1690 there still, by that period, had been more enslaved Indians than enslaved Africans in the Americas.”

The practice dates back to the earliest history of the European colonies in the future United States. Take the example of the Pequot who were enslaved in 1637 after clashing with the English. As Newell writes in a new book, Brethren by Nature: New England Indians, Colonists, and the Origins of American Slavery, by the time the ship Desiretransported the defeated Pequot men and boys to the Caribbean, colonists in New England, desperate for bodies and hands to supplement their own meager workforce, had spent years trying out various strategies of binding Native labor.

During the Pequot War, which was initially instigated by struggles over trade and land among the Europeans, the Pequot, and rival tribes, colonists explicitly named the procurement of captives as one of their goals. Soldiers sent groups of captured Pequot to Boston and other cities for distribution, while claiming particular captured people as their own. Soldier Israel Stoughton wrote to John Winthrop, having sent “48 or 50 women and Children” to the governor to distribute as he pleased:

Ther is one … that is the fairest and largest that I saw amongst them to whome I have given a coate to cloath her: It is my desire to have her for a servant … There is a little Squa that Stewart Calaot desireth … Lifetennant Davenport allso desireth one, to witt a tall one that hath 3 stroakes upon her stummach …

A few years after the conclusion of the war, in 1641, the colonists of Massachusetts Bay passed the first formal law regulating slavery in English America, in a section of the longer document known as the Body of Liberties. The section’s language allowed enslavement of “those lawfull Captives taken in just warres, and such strangers as willingly selle themselves or are sold to us,” and left room for legal bondage of others the authorities might deem enslaved in the future. The Body of Liberties codified the colonists’ possession of Native workers and opened the door for the expansion of African enslavement. …Read The Rest Here

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Posted by on January 20, 2016 in American Genocide


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