A Black Perspective of American History


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Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson
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A Black Perspective of American History

  1. 1. A Black Perspective of American History Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines NelsonDesign, editing, PDF conversion and image embillishment by RBG Street Scholar for educational enhancement and download. RBG Black History Month 24/7/365 Wikizine
  2. 2. RBG Communiversity INTRODUCTION Source of text: W.E.B. DuBois Learning Center(Links will open the companion html / web pages) This endeavor is an attempt to show how the events and flow of American history affected and were effected by Black people. It is 1. Prior to the American Revolution written from a Black perspective. It is hoped that the reader will 2. American History Through 1800 discern trends and patterns, such as, how Black folks were co- 3. Slave Revolts, Insurrection, and opted to deal with certain events and issues and were ruthlessly discarded when they were no longer beneficial (e.g. reconstruction, Conspiracies populist movement, and all of the major wars). It should also be 4. The Ante-Bellum South noted how the Black population enlarged in certain areas of the 5. The Causes of the Civil War country as laborers were needed (e.g. the ante-bellum south, the northern ghettos during the world wars). 6. The Civil War Moreover, as population patterns changed, so too did life styles. 7. The Involvement of Blacks in the Notice how the ghettos gave rise to new Black art and culture (e.g. big city blues, rhythm & blues, jazz, poetry, essays, etc.). Also, it Civil War should be ascertained how the growth of the northern Black 8. Post Civil War/Reconstruction population affected the politics, sociology, and economics of the 9. Black Participation in country. In addition to this, special attention should be paid to the cause and Reconstruction effects that the economy and economics of the times had on Black 10. A Few Words About Black folks. Cowboys It is hoped that this undertaking can provide for teachers and parents basic reference material for helping to include the causes, 11. Post Reconstruction up to World effects, and contributions of Black folk throughout American history. War I We have not tried to profile any persons, but rather dealt with 12. The Causes Leading up to World trends and social phenomena. Realizing full well that this work is not all encompassing, it is hoped War I that a desire to further investigate the African Americans history 13. The Effects of World War I will be induced into the reader. A Black Perspective of American History 2 Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson
  3. 3. RBG Communiversity Hypertext Table of Contents: Part One: Prior to the American Revolution .................................................................................. 4 Part Two: American Revolution Through 1800 ............................................................................. 7 Part Three: Slave Revolts, Insurrections, and Conspiracies ....................................................... 11 General Overview ....................................................................................................................... 11 The Haitian Revolt ...................................................................................................................... 14 The Gabriel Prosser Planned Revolt .......................................................................................... 15 The Denmark Vesey Conspiracy ................................................................................................ 15 David Walkers Appeal ................................................................................................................ 16 The Nat Turner Revolt ................................................................................................................ 17 The Underground Railroad ......................................................................................................... 18 Part Four: The Ante-Bellum South (1800–1860) ........................................................................ 19 Part Five: On the Causes of the Civil War .................................................................................. 22 Part Six: The Civil War ................................................................................................................ 24 Part Seven: The Involvement of Blacks in the Civil War ............................................................. 27 Part Eight: Post Civil War/Reconstruction ................................................................................... 30 Part Nine: Black Participation in Reconstruction ......................................................................... 36 Part Ten: A Word About The Black Cowboys ............................................................................. 38 Part Eleven: Post Reconstruction up to World War I .................................................................. 39 Part Twelve: The Causes Leading up to World War I ................................................................. 44 Part Thirteen: The Effects of World War I ................................................................................... 48 Part Fourteen: The Roaring Twenties ......................................................................................... 51 Part Fifteen: The Depression to World War II ............................................................................. 52 Part Sixteen: World War II .......................................................................................................... 55 Part Seventeen: Post World War II to the Seventies .................................................................. 59 THE END .................................................................................................................................... 64 A Black Perspective of American History 3 Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson
  4. 4. RBG Communiversity 1. Prior to the American Revolution Part One: Prior to the American Revolution Historical analysis of Pre-Columbian America reveals that the Western Hemisphere was not populated with "savages." Instead, thriving civilizations existed; the Incas and Aztecs of the southern half, and the mound cities which took generations, stretching over hundreds of years to build, in the northern half. The inhabitants had highly developed cultures. There was art, sculpture, astronomy, commerce, and trade all present. In addition to this, according to historian J. A. Rogers: "Negroes lived in America thousands of years before Columbus. When Columbus came to the New World, Negroes had been crossing from Africa to South America, a distance of 1066 miles." As a matter of fact, the inhabitants told Columbus of Negro peoples who had come from the south and southeast. In 1415, Portuguese acquired their first African territory by capturing Ceuta (now an enclave of Morocco) in a battle in which Prince Henry, the Navigator, won distinction. Prince Henry learned much of Africa from the Moors and was motivated towards exploration. He thought it expedient to have an African Christian power to balance the Moorish power, but his captains were more interested in trade than Christian allies. To trade, Prince Henry had no objection; he also believed in cheap slave labor. Pope Martin V, upon receiving the first slave gifts from Africa, in 1441, by Henrys captains, assured Henry of Papal support for the slave trade. Herein lies the genesis of the "African slave trade." It should be noted that the holy men of those times saw the slaves in the highest sense free, reasoning (however perverted) that removed from paganism and heathenism that they now enjoyed the LIBERTY of Christianity. In 1492, Christopher Columbus crossed the Atlantic and reached a continent unknown to him and his part of the world. Columbus was highly impressed with what he saw there, and harbored visions of the possibilities of wealth obtained from the gold and spices he had heard of. The record also shows, according to author/editor Bradford Chambers, "that on his second voyage Columbus sought to colonize Hispaniola with the aid of slave labor"; and also set quotas for each Indian to mine a certain amount of gold dust. Revolts were frequently attempted, but were ruthlessly crushed. Also, on Columbus second voyage, in 1494, seventeen ships were brought to carry back the riches he expected to find. Disappointed in this respect, he sent back some 500 Indians to be sold as slaves on the European market. But Queen Isabella, espousing the new morality dawning in Europe, stifled his plans. Debates ensued as to the pros and cons of the slave trade of the New World Indians to Europe. "Ultimately, the humanitarian view won out, and the famous Laws of the Indies of 1542 established that the Indians were free persons and not to be taken as slaves," writes Chambers. A Black Perspective of American History 4 Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson
  5. 5. RBG Communiversity Columbus misread the situation of the times. For the settlers in the New World needed laborers to work the fields, plantations, mines, etc. Hence, the market for slave labor was the New World and not Europe. Attempts to enslave the Indian were abandoned as they knew the countryside and could escape to the hills with their brethren. Attempts were made to enslave poor whites (as indentured servants) but governmental protection and appeals to the king made things difficult; also, because they were white they could escape and lose themselves among other white people. Since 1502 Black slaves from Spain were shipped to Hispaniola (descendants of the Africans sold into Spanish slavery by the Portuguese). At one point Governor Nicolas de Ovando requested the Queen to restrict the importation of the Negroes, as they often escaped and encouraged the Indians towards rebellion against the Spaniards. However, a few years later he decided that the need for labor was greater than the fear of the threat of rebellion. Also, Bishop Bartolome de Las Casas, in a zealous move to protect the Indians from the Spaniards treatment, proposed to the king in 1517 to allow the planters to have a dozen Black slaves each. Though he regretted this action later on, it opened the floodgate for the African slave trade to the Americas. There was a yearly average of less than 2000 African slaves imported to the Americas in the sixteenth century. In 1619, we find the first record of slavery in the English colonies, as "twenty niggers" were exchanged for "Victuelle" in Jamestown, Virginia. With 200 Blacks out of a population of around 75,000, in the Virginia Colony, we find the first stature referring to the Negro in 1630. (A white man was publicly whipped for "defiling his body in lying with a Negro.") The African slave trade grew to about 55,000 annually during the eighteenth century. About one third of all slaves imported to the Americas went to Brazil, one half to the Caribbean Islands and mainland, no more than a twentieth to the United States, and some 200,000 to Mexico. This is explained in part by the natural growth increase of North American slaves as opposed to the excessive death rates of the South American slaves that gave rise to a demand to import more slaves. For nearly 400 years, European and American slave traders imported over forty million Africans. Millions more died during their capture; aboard ships, on the plantations, or in the African countrysides or shores. Most of the captives were from the coastal regions of West Africa, who were highly cultured and from all stations of life; but Professor Torday asserts that they were largely from the peasantry, which was in many respects superior to the serfs in large areas of Europe. The "tribal wars" often referred to, from which the Euro-American pirates acquired their merchandise, were mere sham fights (the Africans proclaimed a great battle when around six men were killed) and often instigated by the whites themselves. This evidently gave rise to the apparent "gun-slave cycle." Wherein one African state would acquire guns to capture another tribe and sell the captives for more guns. Sooner or later the neighboring tribes would acquire guns. Hence, guns became a necessity for survival. (It should be noted, however, that many chiefs abhorred slaving.) Again, the Portuguese were the first Europeans to enslave Africans. Due to the large demands for Blacks as domestics, stevedores and agricultural laborers, they were importing about one thousand Africans annually, within ten years. As the Black intermingled freely among the A Black Perspective of American History 5 Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson
  6. 6. RBG Communiversity Portuguese, a resulting Negroid characteristic evolved, which is prevalent to this day. (Many descendents of African and Portuguese ancestry made explorations to the New World. They were with Pizarro in Peru, Cortez in Mexico, Menedez in Florida, Balboa throughout the Pacific Islands, and also with Columbus to the Americas.) European countries fought for the principle of managing the trade. First Portugal, then Holland, and finally France and England. (Although slavery has been practiced throughout the history of man, only the Euro-American whites did so solely on the basis of color.) Intricate arrangements were set up for the processing of Africans to be enslaved. Forts and factories were built along the African coast; each had a dungeon or "Negro House" where slaves were confined until shipment. Surgeons examined the Africans carefully. Those who were diseased, old or crippled were set aside. Healthy slaves were branded (care was taken not to burn the women too hard). They were chained and rowed to the ships; packed like rows of boxes on shelves (more individual room could be found in a coffin, it was impossible for slaves to turn or shift with ease). In some ships, slaves were put in areas that were only eighteen inches high. Slaves could not turn and could barely breathe. Many slaves would kill their chain-mate in hope to get more air to breathe. It was not unusual to find both dead and living men chained together. The dead were thrown overboard. It was not uncommon for sharks to pick up a ship off the coast of Africa and follow it all the way to the Americas. The slaves who survived the grueling trip were put ashore in slave markets in American ports. Slaves were sold in taverns, stores and whorehouses. According to C. R. James (Black Jacobins, p. 3), "Having become the property of his owner, he was branded on both sides of the breast with a hot iron. His duties were explained by an interpreter and a priest instructed him in the first principles of Christianity." Recall that as the colonies prospered the supply of white indentured bondsmen became insufficient. Their desire for freedom coupled with the ease of losing themselves among other townsfolk created quite a problem among the colonies. The high visibility of the Black bondsmen created a preference for the darker skinned servants. In addition to this, their lack of knowledge of the terrain and contacts in the countryside stifled their attempts to escape (as compared to the Indians). Thus, the African became more and more the most desirable candidate for "bondsmanship" (slavery). Laws began to appear which embraced this growing desire. In 1660, Virginia and Maryland started things off by prohibiting marriage between Black men and white women. Eventually, Black bondsmen were made lifetime servants. Children of Black women obtained the status, free or slave, of the mother. Between 1667 and 1689 laws were passed which stripped the African of all his rights as a person. Thusly, race became the basis for slavery in America. During the first half of the seventeenth century the Dutch West India Company, located in the Dutch colony of Nieuw Amsterdam, held a monopoly of the African slave trade. When the Portuguese challenged the Dutch for control of Brazil, the Indians and slaves revolted also. The brilliance and bravery of the military leader of the Blacks, Henrique Dias, helped the Portuguese hand the Dutch such a devastating defeat, that they became too weak to fend off the British in A Black Perspective of American History 6 Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson
  7. 7. RBG Communiversity the Americas. (Unfortunately, for the Blacks and Indians, Brazil reintroduced slavery.) The English then captured Nieuw Amsterdam and changed its name to New York. In 1672, when the English Royal African Company was chartered, the slave trade really began to prosper. The British government encouraged the importation of slaves. American built, manned, and financed vessels were licensed by the Royal African Company to carry out the slave trade. Consequently, the slave trade was a major factor in the development of the great shopping industry in New England and the fully established plantation systems in Virginia, Maryland, and Carolina, by 1770. As the number of slaves increased, the slave owners began to develop nervous fears of insurrection. For they had heard of such instances in the West Indies where whole white families were "wiped out." While they upheld the institution of slavery, they felt that they could control the slaves on hand as they had raised them from infancy for servility, but they were growing apprehensive of introducing "wild ones." Hence, they became critical of the slave trade. References:  Bennnett, Lerone — Before the Mayflower  Bohannan, Paul & Curtin, Phillip — Africa and Africans  Chambers, Bradford — Chronicles of Black Protest  DeGraf Johnson, J. C. — African Glory  Goldstein, Robert — The Negro Revolution  Rogers, J. A. — 100 Amazing Facts o Worlds Great Men of Color, Volume II  New York Times Encyclopedic Almanac  The Negro Almanac Authors Note: All quotations are from Bennett, Goldstein, and Rogers Back to Top 2. American History Through 1800 Part Two: American Revolution Through 1800 Between 1771 and 1776, the New England Colonies passed several anti-slave trade measures. Though the Royal African Company had been dissolved in 1750, the slave trade was an important part of the English economy; "the wealth and growth of such great ports as Bristol and A Black Perspective of American History 7 Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson
  8. 8. RBG Communiversity Liverpool depended on it; its profits were financing the mills and factories and inventions which were producing the Industrial Revolution in England." The British government was determined to see the slave trade continue. Hence, the English Parliament struck down the anti-slave trade measures passed by the colonies. In addition to this, the French who in the territory west of the English colonies (the Louisiana Territory) began expansionists designs eastward. This caused conflicts between the French and the English colonies. The colonies expected the English crown to defend its frontiers. The Crown said that to do so would require extra troops, which the colonies should pay for, or else defend the frontiers on their own. In 1754, the "French erected Fort Duquesne, on the site of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania" which caused quite a stir among the English colonials. Later this same year, George Washington fought against the French in the Ohio Territory. This skirmish was to be the first of the French and Indian Wars, "which spread (in 1756) to Europe and became known as the Seven Year War." In the meantime the Crown had been obliged to send in English troops to the aid of the colonials. And in order to pay for additional expense of this they began to levy taxes against the colonies (i.e. Sugar Act, 1767; Tea Tax in 1770). The colonies felt that they should not have to pay this added expense (i.e. taxes). Moreover, since they had no representation in parliament to advocate in their behalf, they began to cry out against "taxation without representation." (The colonials reaction to the Stamp Act was the organizing of the Sons of Liberty; to the Tea Tax, it was the Boston Tea Party.) These considerations, and others, coagulated to produce discontentment among the colonials. Retaliatory skirmishes began to break out. In 1770, several colonists, led by ex-slave Crispus Attucks, baited some English soldiers in Boston, Massachusetts. The soldiers fired into the crowd killing first Attucks then others. Making Attucks the first to die for the budding American Revolution in what came to be known as the "Boston Massacre." The Boston Tea Party was held in 1773. The following chronicled events are taken from the New York Times Encyclopedia Almanac: 1774—First continental Congress met in Philadelphia with representatives from all colonies except Georgia. 1775—Patrick Henry made his "Liberty or Death" speech before Virginia Assembly. —Parliament passed New England Restraining Act, forbidding colonies to trade with any nation except Britain and British West Indies. —Minutemen fought British at Lexington and Concord, signaling start of American Revolutions military phase. —Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia and appointed Washington chief of Continental forces. —British defeated Americans at Bunker Hill and attacked Boston; city under siege until March, 1776. A Black Perspective of American History 8 Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson
  9. 9. RBG Communiversity 1776—Thomas Paines "Common Sense" published, calling for American independence. —Declaration of Independence adopted by Congress. —Washington, leading troops across Delaware River, made surprise attack on British at Trenton, New Jersey. The American Revolution was well on the way. But what of the Blacks during all of this:  The Blacks played an important part in the Stamp Act riots;  They served at Lexington and Concord among the Minute Men;  They were at Bunker Hill at Boston, and Breed Hill, and other famous battle grounds. Blacks proved themselves as brave fighters, but this was not enough for some white people. General Washington and others were opposed to Black soldiers. Thus, on November 12, 1775, an order was sent forbidding all Blacks, slaves or free, from participating in the war. ("Many people in the New England states and an overwhelming majority in the southern states who feared that arming the slaves might lead to insurrection or, at the very least, that the dignity of serving in the Continental Army might give Negroes the idea that the bold words of the Declaration of Independence applied to them too.") Though Thomas Jefferson owned slaves, when he penned the Declaration of Independence, he was forced to delete the following indictment (referred to as "The Deleted Clause") against King George III: "He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people (Africans) who never offended him; captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither." George Washington, who also owned slaves (and had all his children by his slave women), wrote in 1786 "…I can only say that there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do to see some plan adopted for the abolition of it." Both Ben Franklin and John Adams came out against it. In 1775, a year before he wrote his famous pamphlet "Common Sense," Thomas Paine wrote an article entitled "An Height of Outrage Against Humanity" in which he denounced slavery. "But these men and others who stirred the fires of revolution… in order to win their struggle for independence…had to have the support of more conservative elements of the colonies. Thus, from the very beginning of the history of the United States as an independent nation, the rights, hopes, and dreams of Negroes were sacrificed on the alter of unity and expediency." Lord Dunmore, British Governor of Virginia, sized up the situation and issued a proclamation, in November 1775, that all Negroes enlisting in the British forces would be freed. Though he was forced to flee Virginia by advancing American troops and failed to realize any results from his proclamation, other British commanders adopted the policy and did. A Black Perspective of American History 9 Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson
  10. 10. RBG Communiversity Tens of thousands of slaves deserted to the British lines. They were used as cooks, laborers, and spies; about one thousand served under arms. North and South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia were forced to set out fugitive slave patrols to check the flow of deserting slaves. Meanwhile, enlistment were running lower and lower in the Continental Army. Bounties of land, money, and in some states slaves were offered to entice volunteers. But recruitment was just not sufficiently forthcoming. After having braved the ordeal of the 1777–1778 winter in Valley Forge, Washington welcomed every able-bodied man, Black, white, free, or slave into the Continental Army. "By the end of the war, some five thousand Negroes, slaves and freemen, had shouldered arms in defense of American liberty. There were Negro soldiers from every one of the original thirteen colonies…" "Negro soldiers fought and they fought brilliantly. …Negro seamen, sailors and pilots distinguished themselves in the infant Navy. …There were also spies and undercover agents… Perhaps the greatest of all Negro spies was James Armistead, a Virginian who helped trap (Gen.) Cornwallis." The Negroes were used generally, however, as cooks, laborers, orderlies and guides. In 1783, the Treaty of Paris (negotiated by Ben Franklin, John Adams and John Jay) acknowledged American Independence. Thus, formally ending the war. (The British, in 1786, established the colony of Sierra Leone for the Blacks that they had promised freedom.) Also, many slave owners, feeling the pangs of conscience, manumitted their slaves. Mens ears were ringing with the glorious words of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson, a proponent of this attitude, tried in vain to get the Continental Congress to add freedom of Blacks in the document. (Recall "The Deleted Clause.") For a short period, men were speaking out for the "rights of man." Blacks flooded the courts with petitions to gain freedom. Even some southerners were making steps to free slaves. Slavery died in the North as a direct result of the "rights of man" movement (together with its non- plantation and non-agrarian environment). In addition to this, many Blacks were given a chance to develop their potentials. Among them were the likes of Benjamin Banneker: astronomer, author of an almanac; mathematician, and inventor; maker a wooden clock; drafter of the layout the city of Washington, D.C. Also, there was Phillis Wheatly, Poetess; Prince Hall, organizer of the Masonic Lodge; Richard Allen, founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. By this time, there were enough free Blacks to advocate for their brethren still in bondage. Among the most notable ones was Banneker. The fear of slave uprisings haunted the southerners. The Toussaint LOveture upheaval in the Haiti beginning in 1791, sent a save of horror and fear over the South which responded with more repression on the slaves as well as free Blacks. Moreover, their fear of introducing the rebellious Blacks from the West Indies caused them to accelerate their anti-slave trade feelings. The news of Gabrial Prossers conspiracy in 1800 agitated the southerners apprehensions. A Black Perspective of American History 10 Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson
  11. 11. RBG Communiversity Eventually, congress enacted a law abolishing the slave trade in 1807 . But this still did not quiet the uneasiness among southerners. For insurrection of many forms persisted up until the Civil War. Denmark Vesey was to make his presence felt in 1822. Nat Turners rebellion in 1831, following David Walkers Appeal in 1828, calling for bold action, wreaked havoc in the South. The problems wrought by this "peculiar institution" were eating into the very soul of the country. References:  Bennnett, Lerone — Before the Mayflower  Bohannan, Paul & Curtin, Phillip — Africa and Africans  Chambers, Bradford — Chronicles of Black Protest  DeGraf Johnson, J. C. — African Glory  Goldstein, Robert — The Negro Revolution  Rogers, J. A. — 100 Amazing Facts o Worlds Great Men of Color, Volume II  New York Times Encyclopedic Almanac  The Negro Almanac Authors Note: All quotations are from Bennett, Goldstein, and Rogers Back to Top 3. Slave Revolts, Insurrection, and Conspiracies Part Three: Slave Revolts, Insurrections, and Conspiracies General Overview Africans rejected slavery from the day they set foot on American shores, even before for that matter. Reports show that many Africans committed suicide before they would be taken from their homeland. Many more committed suicide while crossing the Atlantic, a journey known as the "Middle Passage." Some others revolted and/or plotted revolt during the voyage. Once subjected to American slavery, many Africans ran away, some found refuge with the Indians. Others lived in maroon camps, while many were recaptured and some went back to their masters. The presence of Black and exceptionally dark-skinned Indians reported in such A Black Perspective of American History 11 Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson
  12. 12. RBG Communiversity encounters with whites as raids, etc., attests to this. The marooned ex-slaves raided farms, plantations, etc., looted and even conducted guerilla warfare. There is documented evidence of conspiracies throughout the entire duration of chattel slavery. Few actually realized fruition, though most were discovered or betrayed by scared and/or "loyal" servants. Moreover, there were plenty of individual acts of rebellion, including laziness, poisoning, arson, killing, the breading of tools, faking sickness, and escape (e.g. the "Underground Railroad"). The causes of rebellion were various: 1. Hard times in general; this caused restlessness and slaves were not getting sufficient provisions, etc. 2. Talk of freedom and democracy (as during the American Revolution); slaves identified with this type of rhetoric and felt it was (or should be) applicable to them. 3. The news of an insurrection and/or conspiracy elsewhere; this encouraged slaves to fight for their own freedom. 4. Large Black over white ratios; in areas where this occurred slaves found strength in numbers. As previously stated, the slaves were often aided by Indians, but also, for various reasons, including avarice and conviction, some whites too (e.g. John Brown). However, there were those Indians who worked along with the whites in suppressing the slaves. The fear of slave insurrections created great consternation among the white populace. Some had heart attacks and died, almost all began to sleep with arms at bedside. Many built shelters in the event they should have to escape. Various manners of controlling the slaves were implemented, such as the slave patrols, using poor whites and sometimes Indians, to catch runaways. Militias were organized to handle revolts. White preachers were used to instill docility and the acceptance of the lot of slavery, exclaiming, "if slaves are obedient, they will be rewarded in the hereafter." The South also resorted to censorship of the news in order to keep down fear amongst the white population and unrest amongst the slaves. They exaggerated and distorted accounts to attest to the docility of slaves and if white outsiders and foreigners would stop instigating their Negroes, everything would be under control. The slave insurrections and conspiracies played an integral part in the suppression of the slave trade as the slave owners felt that additional wild and/or hotheaded Blacks added to the unrest. The final revolt came during the Civil War when 500,000 Blacks rushed to the northern lines, in so doing swung the tide of the war. Some slave insurrections and conspiracies are discussed below.  In August of 1839, Joseph Cinque led an African revolt on the slave ship Armistad with 53 Africans aboard, killing the captain; "the vessel was then captured by a United States A Black Perspective of American History 12 Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson
  13. 13. RBG Communiversity vessel and brought to the Connecticut." "Defended before the Supreme Court by former President John Quincy Adams, and were awarded their freedom."  On November7, 1841 the slave ship Creole of Richmond, Virginia was transporting slaves to New Orleans; the crew mutinied and took her to Nassau, British West Indies. "The slaves were freed and Great Britain refused indemnity."  In 1730, in New Orleans, when a French soldier delivered a violent blow to a slave woman, he became suspicious of her angry shout, "that the French should not have long to insult Negroes." An investigation turned up a slave named Samba who in his own country had "been at the head of the revolt by which the French lost Fort Arguin; and when it was recovered again … one of the articles of peace was that this Negro should be condemned to slavery in America: that Samba, on his passage, had laid a scheme to murder the crew, in order to become master of the ship; but that being discovered, he was put in irons, in which he continued toll he landed in Louisiana." Also, that Samba had been involved in a "widespread conspiracy to destroy the slaveholders." When these facts were read to Samba, upon the threat to torture him again he "confessed his complicity in a plot as charged…"  "Ex-Virginia slave, Beverly Jones tells (in a letter) of … an aged Negro, Uncle Silas, and the Reverend Mr. Johnson." "A preachin an de slaves was sittin dere sleepin an fannin theyselves … an Uncle Silas got up in de front row of de slaves pew an halted Reverend Johnson. "is us slaves gonna be free in Heaven? Uncle Silas asked. De preacher stopped an looked at Uncle Silas like he wanta kill him cause no one aint spose to say nothin cept amen whilst he was preachin. Waited a minute he did, lookin hard at Uncle Silas standing there but didnt give no answer. "Is God gonna free us slaves when we git to Heaven? Uncle Silas yelled. Old white preacher pult out his handkerchief an wiped de sweat frum his face. Jesus say come unto Me ye who are free from sin an I will give you salvation. "Gonna give us freedom long wid slavation?" asked Uncle Silas. "De Lawd gives and de lawd takes away, an dat is widdout sin is gonna have life everlastin, preached de preacher. Den he wen ahead preachin, fas-like, widdout payin no tention to Uncle Silas. "But uncle Silas wouldnt sit down; stood dere de res of de service, he did, an dat was de las time he come to church Uncle Silas died fo nother preachin time come roun."  In 1816, a legislative account was given in South Carolina that: "A few runaway Negroes, concealing themselves in the swamps and marshes … not having been interrupted in their petty plunderings for a long time, formed the nucleus, round which all the all the ill-disposed and audacious near them gathered, until at length their robberies became too serious to be suffered with impunity. Attempts were then made to disperse them, which either from insufficiency of numbers of bad arrangement, served by their failure only to encourage a wanton destruction of property. Their forces now became alarming, not less from its numbers that from its arms and ammunition with which it was supplied. The peculiar situation of the whole of that portion of our coast, rendered A Black Perspective of American History 13 Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson
  14. 14. RBG Communiversity access to them difficult, while the numerous creeks and water courses through the marshes around the islands, furnished them easy opportunities to plunder, not only planters in open day, but the inland coasting trade also without leaving trace of their movements by which to be pursued. … Major-General Youngblood (was ordered) to take the necessary measures for suppressing them … By a judicous employment of the militia under his command, he either captured or destroyed the whole body."  "On a Sunday evening, September 9, 1739, about a score of slaves at Stono, South Carolina led by one named Jemmy, rebelled, killed the two guards of a warehouse or magazine and appropriated a pretty many small arms and powder, and headed at a slow pace, south, apparently aiming to reach St. Augustine. On the way they killed all in their path, with the exception of an inn keeper … who, they felt, was a good man and kind to his slaves, and burned several buildings." "Other Negroes Joined them until something like seventh-five or eighty slaves were gathered, they called out liberty, marched on with colours displayed, and two drums beating." They were chanced upon by the Lt. Governor riding near their line of march; he immediately spread the alarm." "Guards were posted at all ferries and roads, and the militia was assembled and set out in pursuit." When they met the Negroes they encountered resistance by the Negroes, who waged battle led by one named Cato. About thirty whites were killed, and many more Negroes. "The Negroes, though they behaved boldly were defeated." However, some did manage to escape. The Haitian Revolt During the beginning of the last decade of the eighteenth century occurred a slave rebellion that was to induce more impact in the Americas than any other in the "New World." It was the renowned "Haitian Revolt" from which Toussaint "Overture emerged from an obscure slave to become proclaimed "one of the great men of an age that abounds in greatness." The demands of the rebelling slaves were for better working conditions. But, when these demands were met by intransigence, the rebels pressed for full emancipation and control of the territory. With Toussaint at the helm, and ably assisted by his generals Jean-Jacque Dessalines and Henri Christophe, the Haitians successfully warded off the Spanish, English, and French. This liberty achieved by the slaves is the only one acquired as a result of revolution in the Americas. Meanwhile, "Napoleons ambition was to build a great colonial empire" the keystone of which was the "incomparable colony" on Haiti, from which France is said to have derived more profit than all other nations derived from their combined colonies in Asia, Africa, and America. But Haiti had to depend on the United States for supplies; and the United States was "a dangerous neighbor both by its political example and its commercial and maritime rivalry with the mother country." By substituting the Louisiana Territory in its place this could be corrected. A Black Perspective of American History 14 Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson
  15. 15. RBG Communiversity The first step was to eliminate Toussaint. So Napoleon sent his bother-in-law, General Emanuel LeClerc, "and some 25,000 soldiers to do the job" ("the most powerful army that had ever crossed the Atlantic"). "LeClerc did not succeed. … Having lost… Napoleon lost interest in the Louisiana Territory and sold it to Jefferson" "…for four cents and acre—the biggest real estate bargain in history." Furthermore, this purchase, around $15 million, enabled the United States to double its size. Another ramification wrought by the Haitian revolt was the repression that the North American slaves were subjected to because of the fears of rebellion induced into the slave owners. It also had its attributions toward the Act of 1807, prohibiting the slave trade. For one reason, the thought of introducing new wild slaves from South America was disheartening. The Gabriel Prosser Planned Revolt Gabriel, slave of Thomas H. Prosser, a 24 year old man who stood six feet two inches tall, began laying plans for a slave revolt in the spring and summer of 1800. The plan was simple: "Three columns would attack Richmond (Virginia); the right wing would grab the arsenal and seize the guns, the left wing would take the powder house; the key, central wing, would enter the town at both ends simultaneously and would cut down every white person, except Frenchmen, Methodists, and Quakers. After Richmond was secured, Gabriel planned lightning like attacks on other cities in the state. If the plan succeeded, he would proclaim Virginia a Negro state." "Several thousand (estimates ranged from 2,000 to 50,000) slaves had been enlisted." The date August 30, was selected to begin the revolt. "on that very day, they were betrayed" by two slaves who informed their master, who, in turn, communicated the intelligence to the authorities." "Gabriel unaware of the betrayal, pushed forward with his plans." That night a heavy rain fell, "making the road to Richmond impassable." The delay gave the stunned authorities an opportunity to mobilize themselves. Some forty slaves were arrested and put on trial. They revealed the names of no other participants. One of the participants of the insurrection remarked: "I have no more to offer than what General Washington would have had to offer, had he been taken by the British and put on trial by them. … I beg, as a favor, that I may be immediately led to execution. I know that you have pre-determined to shed my blood, why then all this mockery of a trial?" Gabriel tried to escape but was betrayed by two Negroes. He was convicted and, after a postponement in hopes of seeking further information, hanged. The Denmark Vesey Conspiracy One of the most elaborate conspiracies was led by the brilliant, hot-tempered ex-slave for twenty years to a slave trader, who bought his freedom with the winnings from a lottery he entered. Denmark Vesey, "traveled widely and learned several languages; he learned also that slavery was evil…" and developed "a deep and unquenchable hatred of slavery and slaveholders." A Black Perspective of American History 15 Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson
  16. 16. RBG Communiversity "For four or five years, he patiently and persistently played the role of an agitator. Men, he saw, must not only be dissatisfied, they must be so dissatisfied they will ACT." Tirelessly, seeming never to rest he was always, everywhere teaching, ridiculing (he would rebuke slaves he saw bowing down to white men, when they replied, "but were slaves," Vesey would respond with biting sarcasm, "you deserve to be slaves"), taunting, and threatening until he "gain a vise hold on the minds of the Negroes in Charleston and surrounding areas." "Having reached this point, Vesey switched from the role of agitator to the role of an organizer." "Around Christmas … 1821, he chose lieutenants and perfected his organization." Vesey in his fifties, vigorous, big-bodied and with a keen insight into human nature, he selected among others:  Gullah Jack; an African born sorcerer, considered invulnerable,  Peter Poyas; possessed organizing ability bordering on genius, with "ice water" in his veins, and "was a blend of caution and recklessness." Peter advised his recruiting agents "take care and dont mention it to those waiting men (house servants) who receive presents of old coats etc. from their masters, or theyll betray us: I WILL SPEAK TO THEM." Vesey and Peter perfected a sell-like organization. … Only the leaders knew the details of the plot; … If a single recruit was arrested, he was not in a position to endanger the whole plot. … It has been estimated that some 9,000 slaves were recruited. On Sunday, july 16, 1822, the slave army was to strike at six points, taking possession of arsenals, guardhouses, powder magazines, naval stores. All whites were to be killed. The very thing that Peter tried to prevent happened when an unauthorized slave tried to recruit a house servant. Five days later, the authorities were aware of bare outlines of the plot, (around the end of May). A guessing game ensued; Vesey and company versus the town authorities. Peter and another leader Mingo Garth—drew suspicion. Instead of trying to escape, they went to the mayors office. They were indignant; their honor, their fidelity had been questioned. Justice demanded that they be questioned and cleared. The authorities were confounded; guilty slaves didnt act that way. Peter and Mingo were released and the cops-and-robbers game continued. … Then, on the Friday before D-Day, another slave (who actually knew valuable information) went over to the enemy. With inside information and the names of some leaders, the alarm spread, the guard beefed up and the militia alerted. Vesey and most of the leaders were arrested, tried and hanged. … They behaved noble, eyewitness say. Only one leader confessed; the rest remained silent in the face of abuse, threats, promises, and torture. … So cool, so carefree was Peter that he spurned last minutes pleas for additional information. "Do not open your lips, he said to the other leaders. "Die as silent as you shall see me do." David Walkers Appeal One of the great abolitionist pamphlets was Walkers Appeal, published in 1828. … The "Appeal" ran through three additions in 1829, the year following publication, each containing language A Black Perspective of American History 16 Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson
  17. 17. RBG Communiversity more militant than the preceding one. … It implores, threatens, and curses. It called for bold action; for the Blacks to assert themselves and not to passively submit to slavery. A Georgian received fifty copies of the Appeal through the mail, became afraid and informed the police who in turn informed the governor. The legislature passed a bill making a capital offense the circulation of literature that might incite slaves to revolt … and also offered a reward for Walkers capture: $10,000 alive; $1,000 dead. Walker, born to a slave father and free mother, therefore, legally free, died in relative obscurity (despite the Appeals fame) in 1831, and some say "under mysterious circumstances." But within months, David Walkers name was to become a by-word throughout the nation. For on August 21, 1832, Nat Turner revolted, and the fearful predictions of white southerners who had found such a threat in the Appeal seemed borne out." The Nat Turner Revolt "…Nat Turner organized a small band of slaves in Virginias Southampton County, where he lived." On August 21, 1831, Nat was to meet with his men and proceed to execute his plans. It was late in the afternoon when Nat joined them he sized up the group assembled. "Having assured himself of the steadfastness of his men, Nat outlined his plans. They would strike that night, beginning at the home of his master and proceeding from house to house, killing every an, woman, and child. In this way, he explained, they would terrorize the whites and stampede them. Then, he said, women and children would be spared and; men too how ceased to resist." About 10 p.m., the conspirators left … and moved to the home of Joseph Travis. Proceeding according to plans, moving quietly and swiftly through the night, the little band cut a swath of red, chopping down old, young, male, female. At almost every stop, additional slaves joined them. All through that night, men, women, and children died. No one with a white skin was spared except a family of poor whites who owned no slaves. Monday morning dawned and Nat rode on. When the first bodies were discovered, a nameless dread seized the white citizenry. Women, children, and men fled to the swamps and hid under the leaves. Other citizens flocked to public buildings and barricaded the doors. Some whites left the country. Others left the state. Nat rode on, picking up recruits at each stop, moving closer and closer to Jerusalem (the county seat). On Monday afternoon, he reached the Parker farm, only three miles from Jerusalem. Nat wanted to bypass the farm and push on to the city. His men, some of whom were groggy from periodic raids on cider stills, wanted to stop. Nat gave in—a fatal mistake. While waiting, he met his first opposition. A group of eighteen or twenty whites held their ground for a moment and then turned and fled. Nat gave chase, crossed a hill and discovered that the whites had been reinforced by a larger group from Jerusalem. It was now his turn to retreat. He decided to retrace his steps and recruit more men. The next day he was defeated and his men dispersed. Nat retired to Cabin Pond and waited for his disciples to regroup. After waiting for a day or so, he dug a cave and went into hiding. By this time, soldiers were flocking to the country from all points. … A massacre followed. The enraged whites shot down innocent Negroes who smiled and innocent Negroes who did not smile. … Nat eluded capture for almost two months. While he was at large, a panic seized large A Black Perspective of American History 17 Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson
  18. 18. RBG Communiversity parts of Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland. … The panic rolled over a large part of the South. It was the barking of a dog that betrayed Nat. When he was finally captured guns fired all over Southampton County… At his trial he pleaded not guilty, saying that he did not FEEL guilty. Nat Turner was found guilty and sentenced to hang until he was "dead! dead! dead!" The Underground Railroad The Underground Railroad (UR) was a network of secret routes by land and by sea, over which Black people escaped to free states and to Canada. It took its name from the then new industrial invention, the locomotive. The escaping slaves were called passengers; the people who sheltered them, station agents; and those who guided them, conductors. The UR was most active from the 1840s to the 1869s and during that period several thousand slaves each year made successful flights to freedom. There were two main routes. One was the Middle Western Line, leading from the South through Ohio and Indiana and terminating in Canada. The other was the Eastern Line or Seaboard Route, running through Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. The most famous conductor was Harriet Tubman, herself a fugitive slave from Maryland. She made regular trips back and forth, bringing slaves out of the South and escorting them to Canada. Harriet Tubman made at least nineteen forays into the South, with a price on her head, and she single-handedly effected the escape of more than three hundred slaves. References:  Apthetaker, Herbert — American Negro Slave Revolts  Bennnett, Lerone — Before the Mayflower  Bohannan, Paul & Curtin, Phillip — Africa and Africans  Chambers, Bradford — Chronicles of Black Protest  King, Woodie and Anthony, Earl — Black Poets and Prophets  Korngold, Ralph — Citizen Toussaint  Goldstein, Robert — The Negro Revolution  New York Times Encyclopedic Almanac  The Negro Almanac A Black Perspective of American History 18 Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson
  19. 19. RBG Communiversity Authors Note: All quotations are from the above references. Back to Top 4. The Ante-Bellum South Part Four: The Ante-Bellum South (1800–1860) The ante-bellum south was primarily an agrarian way of life. Slavery had long since taken root and anti-slavery sentiments were being heard in the North from the abolitionists. The southern people were constantly being harassed by the Indians, and fear of slave insurrections combined to make them uneasy. With sparsely populated territories and the plantation being primarily the population centers, the task of protection fell upon the people or plantations themselves. The consequent arming of themselves led to a self-defense, take-the- law-into-your-own-hands type of atmosphere, reminiscent of sparsely settled frontier towns and ranches, where each plantation was as a town within itself. The South was caught unprepared militarily for the war of independence. The North viewed slavery and Indian harassment as southern liabilities during the war and asserted that it was the assistance of the North that was responsible for the successes in the South. Whereas, the South considered and cited the heroic sacrifices of its people as the reasons. All in all, the inadequacy of the Souths defenses at the wars outbreak, and the lack of sufficient support from the North caused the South to strive to be ever ready for military confrontation. In this environment, political institutions matured slowly and personal danger was frequently imminent. The government proved ineffective for protection, hence, the southerner grew to be self-sufficient in this respect. With only his personal resources to rely on for protection he became edgy and quick to react to potential dangers, often acting too hastily. He acquired a reputation for being hot-headed and trigger-happy, even in his personal relationships. Fights often broke out (often over trivial matters), many of a most gory nature (gouging out eyes, biting off noses, ears, fingers, and pieces of flesh, etc.). People became obsessed with defending their honor (in fact, one had to be careful not to offend anyones honor, if he wanted to avoid a A Black Perspective of American History 19 Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson
  20. 20. RBG Communiversity confrontation. Hence, the genesis of southern manners and chivalry. In the upper classes, dueling became commonplace. All of these activities enjoyed popular support: A wife told her husband as he left for the dueling grounds that she would rather be "the widow of a brave man than the wife of a coward." Aaron Burr challenged Alexander Hamilton (who was born in the West Indies and had African ancestry) to a duel. Hamilton shot in the air, not wanting to harm Burr, but was mortally wounded in return. It was unfortunate incidences by dueling such as these, involving important figures, that ultimately brought about the downfall of this dastardly activity. The lack of densely populated areas, the southern inclination not to sponsor the local governments tax program, and the arrogant and often rebellious nature of the "southern genteel" led to serious educational deficiencies. In order for any formal institution to survive and/or thrive it would become necessary for that institution to conform to the moral and ethical dictates of the people. Now, since the people had developed great skills of the nature of out- doorsmen (hunting, horsemanship, shooting, etc.) a logical evolvement of this undisciplined, martial attitude would be a school with these attributes. Hence—military schools. For these type schools could both discipline the students as well as prepare them for military endeavors (often including, Indian fighting and squelching slave insurrections). The news of Gabrial Prossers plot for a slave revolt in 1800 and the success of the Toussaint LOverture led Haitian slave revolt, caused great concern for militarization of the southern countryside which resulted in more repression on the slaves. All in all, the South grew more arrogant and confident of its military capacities and felt itself quite capable of rising to any type of military occasion. Military academies sprung up throughout the South; the former students were often called upon to set up schools, teach, and head up state militias. On the local levels, patrols were set up to watch for run-away slaves, often employing poor whites. At any rate the proximity of the Indians caused much concern among the southerners. The Indians constant harassment and their receiving of slaves, together with the land greed of the southerners produced a desire for the removal of the Indians. (The transportation of the Indians from the southeast to the Midwest, due to the wretched conditions and suffering wrought among the Indians, including starvation and death, became known as "The Trail of Tears.") Numerous volunteer militia groups from all over the South rallied to the cause of removing the Indians. (The Seminoles of Florida were one of the tribes the southerners contested, who registered stout resistance, beating the southerners on many occasions. In fact, some of them are still there.) The southerners continued to raise their volunteer militia groups right up to the Civil War. As a matter of fact, the military grew to hold the key to respect and success. The prestige of military leadership became an obsession. As a result, high sounding titles began to appear almost everywhere. The South had for more officers than were needed. (North Carolina, for example, had one officer for every sixteen men!) Frankly, it wasnt even necessary to be in the military to have a title. As a rule, most "better class" men were at least colonels and judges; tavern keepers, majors; captains were among the stage drivers. A Black Perspective of American History 20 Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson
  21. 21. RBG Communiversity When Frances legions were finally defeated in Haiti, Napoleon decided to abandon his plans for America and concentrate on Europe. Consequently, he sold the Louisiana Territory for fifteen million dollars (i.e. a song and a dance) in 1803 to the United States giving the United States a common border with Mexico, which contained Texas, and doubled its size. The southerners soon began making expansionist designs on Texas. In 1810 the Mexican Revolution against Spain began, and shortly afterward the southern interest in Texas accelerated. The economic and political interest of the slave states created a desire for expansion. Southerners confidently expected to make important territorial acquisitions as a result from the War of 1812 (with England) and southerners engaged in expansionist activities which had little or nothing to do with war. Mexico won her independence in 1821, but the southern interest in Texas never waned, even though the acquisition of Florida in 1819 diverted it for a while. Any and every attempt at a slave insurrection would serve to give impetus to the militarization of the South as well as its martial spirit, especially Denmark Veseys conspiracy in 1822 and Nat Turners revolt in 1831. Attempts to conquer land were made during the War of 1812 as well as the Mexican Revolution, but in neither case were they wholly successful. Again, the political, economic and social considerations for new lands strengthened the planters determination to expand, even against strong opposition. The anti-slavery forces, astonished at the Souths extension of slavery at the close of the War of 1812, sought to evolve a policy of containment that the slave owners feared might lead to the extinction of slavery. When the Tallmadge Amendment to Missouris application to the Union was proposed (which would prohibit further extension of slavery into the Louisiana Territory and free at the age of 25 all slave children born in Missouri after the admission), the South considered it an attempt to eradicate slavery. Peace was not restored even with the Missouri Compromise in 1820 (which prohibited slavery in the Louisiana Territory north of Missouris southern border and admitted Missouri to the Union as a slave state and Maine as a free state). When Mexico abolished slavery, in 1829, the South made it known that slavery was an important factor in their desire for Texas. The United States support of the Texas Revolution came largely from the slave states (moved partly by desire to support the independence movement of Texas and a strong desire by the planters for more slave territory). In 1836, Santa Anna led the Mexican victory at the battle of the Alamo at San Antonio. (Among the Texas casualties were Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett, and Jim Travis.) Later that same year Sam Houston led the decisive Texan victory at the battle of San Jacinto. After which Texas set up an independent republic and Houston became its president. Texas joined the Union in 1845 and Mexico broke off diplomatic relationship with the United States. The following year they were at war and the Wilmot Proviso was submitted which prohibited slavery in the territory acquired from Mexico. The South considered this a drastic move by the anti-slavery movement to contain and destroy slavery. (The proviso failed to pass.) Consequently, the southerners became more aggressive in their expansionist activities. Slogans of "manifest destiny" became the order of the day. They had their sights on Mexico, Cuba, Central America, the northern portion of South America, and the Caribbean area. A Black Perspective of American History 21 Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson
  22. 22. RBG Communiversity Simultaneously, the gap between the North and the South began widening. Southerners began to think in terms of secession. It was ultimately these forces which led to the Civil War; thus ending the southern expansionist schemes as they began to concentrate their attention on the North. Principle Reference: The Militant South by John Hope Franklin Other References:  Korngold, Ralph — Citizen Toussaint  Rogers, J. A. — 100 Amazing Facts  World Almanac, 1968 Back to Top 5. The Causes of the Civil War Part Five: On the Causes of the Civil War Slavery, from its very inception, created a paradox to the concept of government by the consent of the governed, the basic principle of this countrys democracy. The founding fathers tried to deep the recognition of slavery from the constitution and hoped that the prohibition of the slave trade would eventually end slavery; reasoning that the continued existence of tropical people in this land was due to continued additions from abroad. They misjudged, or could not foresee, the changing economic world. Whereas, in the West Indies it was more profitable to kill slaves by overwork and replace them with cheaply bought new ones, in America, without the slave-trade, slaves were multiplied by breeding. The Southern Americans raised sugar, rice, and tobacco. But when they began to grow cotton the demand for slaves was accelerated, especially with the advent of Eli Whitneys cotton gin (a machine that separates the cotton fibers from the seeds, making the processing of cotton much faster, hence, the need for more cotton, hence, more slaves), as cotton was used to clothe the masses of the world. As cotton and Blacks proliferated, an alteration in the seams of American conscience was forthcoming. American slaves were at the bottom of a "growing pyramid of commerce and industry" and COULD NOT BE SPARED! All of this created a desire for expansion, the cause of new political demands, and visions of power and empire. A Black Perspective of American History 22 Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson
  23. 23. RBG Communiversity "First of all, their work called for widening stretches of new, rich black soil—in Florida, in Louisiana, in Mexico, and even Kansas. This land, along with cheap labor, and labor easily regulated and distributed, made for profits so high that a whole system of culture arose in the South, with a new leisure and social philosophy. Black labor became the foundation stone not only of southern social structure, but also of northern manufacture and commerce, and of buying and selling on a worldwide scale. New cities were built on the results of Black labor, and a new labor problem, involving all white labor, arose both in Europe and America." "…the growing exploitation of white labor in Europe, the rise of the factory system, the increased monopoly of land, and the problem of distribution of political power, began to send wave after wave of immigrants to America, looking for new freedom, new opportunity and new democracy. Patterns in American life style began to develop. There were the native-born Americans, largely of English descent, property holders, and employers; the free northern Blacks and fugitive slaves from the South; the free Blacks of the South living off the goodwill of white patrons; the great mass of poor whites, and, of course, the slaves. This system of slavery required a special police force, manned mostly by the poor whites. The effectiveness of this special kind of force in stifling insurrections and patrolling for runaways is the reason why revolts in America were not as successful as those in the West Indies. (It should be noted that coercion, patrolling, and murdering did not curtail the efforts of Blacks in their escape attempts, but rather, caused them to develop the wisdom and boldness necessary to make successful their intent. Case in point—The Underground Railroad.) In the North, Black labor was cheap, due in part to both custom and competition. The northern employer preferred the immigrants as long as they worked just as cheaply. As a result the immigrants blamed the Blacks for driving the price of labor down. The consequence of this stirred up race tension and led to race riots in many instances. In the South, Black laborers (slaves) kept the immigrants out of work. It should be pointed out that the first waves of immigrants opposed slavery more so from the economic fear of its competition, than from the moralistic point of view. But as the competition with Black labor persisted, gradually with succeeding immigrants, attitudes changed. "Thus northern workers were organizing and fighting industrial integration in order to gain higher wage and shorter hours, and more and more they saw economic salvation in the rich land of the West. A western movement of white workers and pioneers began and was paralleled by a western movement of planters and Black workers in the South. Land and more land became the cry of the southern political leaders, with a growing demand for reopening of the African slave trade. Land, more land, became the cry of the peasant farmer in the North. The two forces met in Kansas…" For the passing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854) repealed the Missouri Compromise, and placed in the hands of the territories themselves the ultimate decision as to whether or not they would be slave of free. "For the next few years Kansas bled; Abolitionists swept into the state to oppose the in-rush of the Missourians; northern workingmen and farmers who had been desirous of winning land grants in the West, rushed in alongside the Abolitionist, prepared to deep the western territories free. Naturally, a guerilla warfare opened up with the anti-slavery forces on the defensive." A Black Perspective of American History 23 Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson
  24. 24. RBG Communiversity John Brown was in Kansas at the time and led numerous abolitionist oriented guerilla warfare operations. The confrontation between anti- and pro-slavery groups was soon dubbed "The Winning of the West" (it was actually war, some say the first stages of the Civil War). Although the North and South considered their own military structure superior to the other and often spoke of the ways each could annihilate the other if provoked, neither region thought and/or prepared for Civil War before 1861. However, the Harpers Ferry Raid did create quite a furor. Though John Brown was executed, "John Browns spirit" lived on among the Blacks (free and slave) and the abolitionists. And as a result, abolitionist activities began to accelerate. While in the pro-slavery camps, Brown and "the raid" were bitterly denounced. This, coupled with the facts that "the South was determined to make free white labor compete with Black slaves, monopolize land and raw material in the hands of a political aristocracy, and extended the scope of that power; … the industrial North refused to surrender its raw material and one of its chief markets to Europe; … White American labor, while it refused to recognize Black labor as equal and human, had to fight to maintain its own humanity and ideal of equality," made the fulfillment of Harriet Tubmans prophecy, "I know there is going to be a war," inevitable. For northern industry wanted to monopolize the raw material raised in the South for its manufacturers; and northern and western labor could not maintain their wage scale against slave competition and "the South had sent its cotton abroad to buy cheap manufacturers, and had resisted the protective tariff demands by the North." Tensions mounted until "Edwin Ruffin, white-haired and mad, fired the first gun at Fort Sumter, …, and so the war came." Principle Reference: Black Reconstruction in America 1860–1880 by W.E.B. DuBois Other References:  Conrad, Earl — Harriet Tubman  Negro Almanac  The New York Times Encyclopedia Almanac All quotes are from Black Reconstruction and Harriet Tubman Back to Top 6. The Civil War Part Six: The Civil War A Black Perspective of American History 24 Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson
  25. 25. RBG Communiversity The North had visions of an industrial/manufacturing complex to build up a national economy. But the South, realizing that raw material like cotton, tobacco, sugar, rice, and other food stuffs constituted the wealth of the nation, wanted no part of it. It preferred trade with Europe, whereby manufactured goods could be bought at the lowest prices, and did not wish to see northern exaltation of industry at the expense of agriculture. Moreover, the northerners were hard workers and simple livers, devoting their energies and intelligence to building industrial systems. Hence, they quickly monopolized transport, mines, and factories. Whereas, the southerners were lazy and self-indulgent, wanting results without effort. As a result, Northern and European industries began to control their prices, hence, their profits became lower. In an attempt to counteract this, they put more repressive demands on their slaves in order to lower the cost of slave labor. This heinous act met with stiff resistance among the slaves. For, although there were ways and means to make the enslaved work, there was no way to make them work well. Thus, instead of negating the economic advantage held by the North, paradoxically, slavery created an economic lag in the South. As the southern planters economic power declined, his political power, obtained from slavery and the disenfranchisement of the poor whites, became indispensable to him for the maintenance of his income and profits. To circumvent this he turned to the acquisition of more lands upon which slave labor could bring in adequate profits. The South looked toward the Southeast; then toward Louisiana and Texas, then Mexico; finally the Northwest and toward the West Indies and South America. The South had grown self-confident as it had conquered Mexico (i.e. Texas) without help and dominated the Army and Navy. They knew that a much larger proportion of their population could go to war, because of slavery, than in the North. Though aware of possible slave insurrections during a long war with invasions an all, the South discounted that possibility and really didnt expect any war at all, and began contemplations of independence, internal or external. In 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected President on a platform that would prohibit further expansion of slavery. This action inflamed the already outraged South. The planters felt that this mandate would stifle their economic growth (e.g. in 1850 a cotton crop of three billion bales, in 1859, five billion bales) and also curtailing their intentions of securing more in the years to come. Couple this with the paranoid feelings of political disenfranchisement and the ubiquitous fears of radical abolitionists taking over and you have a South primed for secession. The segments of the North which opposed secession, in order to unite the most of the people in the North, West and perhaps border states, came up with the slogan of "Save the Union." This slogan fitted just fine as the North and West wanted the southern market and agriculture for the manufacturers and potential trade and profits. While the Border States wanted to continue to sell surplus slaves to the South as well as to remain united with the West and north for the trade possibilities. Little or no thought was given to "freedom for slaves" as a slogan, as few people would rally for such a cause. As the South began to secede, beginning with South Carolina in 1859, then Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas in 1861 (forming the Confederate States of America with Jefferson Davis president on a states rights doctrine), the northern opposition stepped up A Black Perspective of American History 25 Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson
  26. 26. RBG Communiversity its activities. Consequently the South Carolina troops fired on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, starting the war. Subsequently, in 1861, Lincoln proclaimed the blockade of Confederate states: Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina joined the Confederacy; Robert E. Lee resigned from the United States Army; and West Virginia broke away from Virginia and was admitted into the Union. In the meantime, the Black masses, mostly on plantations, moved slowly and painstakingly. They waited to find out just where their interest lay, for they knew the North was not fighting for their freedom, and the South was fighting for continued and expanded enslavement—and winning! Thus, the southern planter, with seven percent of a section within a nation, ruling "five million white people and four million Black people" seeking "to make agriculture equal to industry through the rule of property without yielding political power or education to labor" led the South into war. The South was using slave labor to build roads, forts, raise food, taking care of homes, etc. The North at first returned runaway slaves, but upon realizing the southern advantage of slave labor, came up with a doctrine of "contraband of war" relative to confiscated, captured and runaway slaves. Seeing that the North would not return runaways, the enslaved in mass would flee to the northern camps whenever and wherever the Union Army approached. This created what amounted to a workers "general strike." At the same time the North would employ the Black runaways to labor for them. Hence, releasing more hands for combat action. The North was utilizing the Underground Railroad for the gathering of war intelligence and espionage, as well as to prepare the Blacks for their arrival. More and more the Blacks were becoming involved in the war; some were beginning to even fight! Across the ocean the aristocracy and upper classes of England and France were favoring the South, as they wanted the trade and low prices on cotton, and viewed the North as fighting for high tariffs and not for freedom of the slaves. For Lincoln had declared time and again that he was neither for nor against slavery, that his desire was to "save the Union" and that if he could do that without freeing the slaves, he would. The laborers in both countries favored the North and the abolition of slaves. If England and France would have recognized the Confederate government, the South might have won out over the North. But they hesitated because of their labor upheavals, which favored the North. While they did, the Blacks became more and more involved in the war. Many were beginning to now serve as fighting soldiers. The abolitionist rumblings were becoming louder. The northern white laborers began to view the war as the "Niggers Fight." Lincoln had to resort to the draft for soldiers. In the midst of all of this, Frederick Douglass urged Lincoln to use Black troops and to form Black fighting units. The "Emancipation Proclamation" was drafted and presented in September of 1862 (a military tactic; a strategy to threaten the abolition of slavery in the Confederate States if they did not surrender). The document was hotly discussed and debated. The South did not budge. And on January 1, 1863 the proclamation was issued. A Black Perspective of American History 26 Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson
  27. 27. RBG Communiversity The European laborers (among them Karl Marx) hailed the proclamation, as the enthusiasm for abolition of slavery permeated the countryside. As a result, Europes sympathies swung toward the North who now was, on the surface, fighting under the "freedom banner." Five days after the Emancipation Proclamation the Secretary of War authorized the Governor of Massachusetts to raise two Black Regiments for three years service (the celebrated 54 th and 55th Black regiments). And so it went, in Pennsylvania, three; G. L. Stearns raised Negro regiments in Nashville; Gen. Banks proposed an army to be known as the Corps dAfrique encompassing an infantry, artillery, cavalry, three divisions of three brigades, with engineers, hospitals, etc. Thus, the Blacks entered the war as official Union troops. Although there was discrimination in pay, and while many regiments refused to receive the reduced rates, they continued to fight. For they knew that their freedom was at stake! The logistics of the Black labor moving from south to north coupled with the zeal of the Black soldier fighting for freedom spelled doom for the South. The South considered using slaves as soldiers (in fact, a few slaves did fight, though mostly by force), but the consequence of such an endeavor would result in their freedom. And by just walking into northern camps volunteering their services they crippled the South by depriving them of that same service. The realization of losing the Blacks to the North weighed heavily on the South. On January 31, 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery was ratified. The Blacks were jubilant and this was reflected in their fighting spirit. The defeat of the South was inevitable. On April 9, 1865 at Appomattox, Virginia, Lee surrendered, officially ending the Civil War. Principle Reference: Black Reconstruction in America 1860–1880 by W.E.B. DuBois Other References:  Conrad, Earl — Harriet Tubman  Negro Almanac  The New York Times Encyclopedia Almanac All quotes are from Black Reconstruction and Harriet Tubman Back to Top 7. The Involvement of Blacks in the Civil War Part Seven: The Involvement of Blacks in the Civil War A Black Perspective of American History 27 Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson
  28. 28. RBG Communiversity The "…slow, stubborn mutiny of the Negro slave was not merely a matter of 200,000 Black soldiers and perhaps 300,00 other Black laborers, servants, spies, and helpers. Back of this half million stood 31 million more. Without their labor the South would starve. With arms in their hands, Negroes would form a fighting force which could replace every single northern white soldier fighting listlessly and against his will with a Black man fighting for freedom." Moreover, the southern poor whites supported the planters, for the most part, as long as they seemed to be winning; as the planters had warned them of labor competition with free ex-slaves (bearing in mind that some had acquired skills working on the plantations). But, more and more the poor whites began to view the war as a "slave-owners war"; thus, the amount of volunteers decreased; and the planters had to resort to the draft (selecting many poor whites and few planters/slave-owners). Consequently, the ensuing opposition, desertion and disunion contributed vastly to the fall of the South. As we have seen, several factors constituted the Souths downfall. However, some of the events experiences and involvement of the Blacks themselves should be explored for our references. The North thought that the Blacks would not fight. Consequently, the Blacks war efforts began as laborers and spies. The most famous of spy was Harriet Tubman. Harriet Tubman served as a scout, spy, nurse, and of course, a soldier. As a nurse she also doubled as a liaison between the "contraband of war" and the military. She also organized and conducted a completely successful guerilla campaign on the Combahee River in South Carolina. Although her commanding officer Col. James Montgomery got most of the credit for it, she asked that the Black soldiers contribution be recognized. Other Black involvement:  One group of slaves upon hearing that they might be forced to fight for the South, devised the following strategy. Knowing that they would be segregated; if they were placed in front, when the Union troops approached they would turn and fire on the south; if they were placed in back, they would trap the South in crossfire.  William F. Tillman, a Black steward on the Brig. S. J. Waring carrying a cargo valued at $100,000, led a revolt and regained control of the vessel which the Confederates had seized. With the help of a German and Canadian, he brought the ship to New York. This action raised the question as to whether or not Blacks could master vessels, and was later affirmed.  Robert Smalls, a Black pilot of the steamship Planter, led the ships Black crew, along with some of their family members, at three oclock in the morning of May 14, 1862 at Ft. Sumpter, South Carolina, in commandeering the vessel. They signaled the guards for permission to pass, and proceeded slowly out of range of the forts guns. Then they raised the white flag and sailed until they reached a Union blockade.  "Black men were repeatedly and deliberately used as shock troops." Colonel T. W. Higginson on the Black troops he led into Florida in February 1863: "It would have been madness to attempt with the bravest white troops what (was) successfully accomplished with the Black ones." A Black Perspective of American History 28 Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson
  29. 29. RBG Communiversity  April 1863—Ship Island, the key to New Orleans: Seven Black companies with Black officers, out numbered five to one, were attacked by Confederate troops. The Black troops retreated in order to allow the federal gunboat to shell the pursuers. But the white crew disliked the Negroes and they opened fire directly upon them while they were fighting the Confederates. Fortunately, the Black officer in charge, Maj. Dumas, was able to rescue the troops, repel the Confederate, bring the men out safely; commending the colored officers, thusly. "They were constantly in the thickest of the fight, and by their unflinching bravery, and admirable handling of the commands, contributed to the success of the attack, and reflected great honor upon the flag."  In June 1963, at Millikens Bend, the Confederate troops launched a surprise attack on the fort. Gen. Grant left the fort to be guarded by three Black regiments, and a small white cavalry. The rebels drove the white cavalry to the breast works of the fort; at three oclock they made a bayonet charge. The Black troops held until the gunboats came. During the fight the rebels had captured some Black troops and murdered them. This enraged the others so much that they rallied and charged more heroically and desperately than ever has been recorded in the War.  There are numerous battles in which the Blacks engaged; they fought with and for the likes of General Banks, Butler, Sherman (both T. W. and Wm. Tecumseh) and Sheridan. However, there is one engagement that deserves special recognition. In order to seize Charleston, S.C., Fort Wagner, which guarded it, had to be taken. Colonel Robert Gould Shaw (white), and the Black 54th regiment from Massachusetts under his command, was selected for the task. [This was the battle that inspired the movie "Glory."] The Blacks as well as Col. Shaw realizing that this was one of the first battles with a large amont of Black troops, knew there was a lot at stake here. Not only did most white persons think that the Blacks did not have enough courage to fight but resented them from being used as soldiers. The troops advanced toward the fort under coverage of mortar shelling, right into a trap laid by two thousand Confederate troops. Following the 54 th were five regiments from New England. The advancing troops were moving quickly and silently through the night; then the trap was sprung. Heavily losses were sustained. In the heat of the fight, Shaw gained the parapet of the fortress, stood there steadfastly with musket in hand urging the troops on as bullets riddled his body. The Confederates were re-enforced by thousands who had slipped in unseen; the Confederates rallied. The Blacks could have retreated and saved their lives, but may have lost face in lieu of the cry: "The Negroes are afraid to fight." There was no choice but to stay, to fight, and to die. Though this battle was lost, it contributed greatly to the fighting reputation and spirit of the Blacks. From then on they were used on all fronts, all over the nation, and "Their contribution was the balance of power in the ultimately northern victory." Principle Reference: Black Reconstruction in America 1860–1880 by W.E.B. DuBois A Black Perspective of American History 29 Written by Leon Dixon, Gerald Hynes, and Carolyn Gaines Nelson