Friday, July 8, 2016

Ignorance and Slavery

African-American Sharecroppers
I was doing some research for my new book on Ebenezer Allen when I discovered several interesting articles in The Texas Almanac of 1858. A compilation of "Statistics for all the Counties" lists Negroes, Horses, and Cattle with the number and value. The total value of these three categories is $77,079,593 of which the value of Negroes of $58,123,340 accounts for 75%.  The number of Negroes is given as 113,217 which translates to value of $513 per slave.[1] This is one of the most compelling reasons why wealthy slave owners fought to preserve slavery - the loss of wealth would destroy their fortunes.

The second factor is outlined by an article in The Texas Almanac entitled "African Slavery." The bigotry is evident as is ignorance of the writer. I present the information to illustrate the cruel, idiotic, and self-serving ideas that might have been typical of a large slave-owning Texas plantation owner.

Every citizen of the United States should be the warm friend, the unceasing advocate and the bold defender of the institution of African Slavery, as it exists in the Southern States of the Union. Why?
First: Because the African is an inferior being, differently organized from the white man, with wool instead of hair on his head - with lungs, feet joints, lips, nose and cranium so distinct as to indicate a different and inferior grade of being. Whether this comes from the curse upon Ham and his descendants forever, or from an original law of God, we will not here discuss. But the great fact is as true so that man exists. The negro [sic] is incapable of self-government, or self-improvement, as proven by his universal ignorance and barbarism, though ever in contact with civilized nations, for five thousand years. He has never advanced one step, excepting as a slave to white men. And when civilized and Christianized in slavery, and then freed, he invariably relapses, more or less rapidly, into ignorance and barbarism. Three generations as a freeman find him, in his offspring, a confirmed barbarian. The exception is only where he remains surrounded by white civilization, as in the United States, and then he becomes a petty thief and idle loafer. For proof, look to Jamaica, to San Domingo, Hayti [sic], to his now acknowledged degeneracy in Liberia and to the freed blacks of the United States and Canada. He cannot amalgamate with the white race without producing disease and death to the offspring. The mulatto of the fourth degree, unless bred back into the pure white or black cannot re-produce himself. Hence, the law of God stamps disease and death as the penalty for amalgamation.
Second: As a slave in a mild climate, the negro [sic] is contented, cheerful, obedient and a long-lived laborer. He attains his highest civilization in slavery, receives religious instruction - becomes faithful, trustworthy and affectionate to his white master and superior - yields him willing obedience and enjoys his own highest attainable happiness on earth. For proof, look at the negro in his wild native haunts - in his freed condition, after having been a slave - and after having been a slave - and  at his past and present happy, contented and healthy condition, as a slave in the Southern States.
Third: As a slave, he produces the great staples of cotton, sugar, rice, hemp, tobacco, coffee, &c., which cannot be grown either by white or free labor to meet the demands of the world. Abolish slavery, and we abolish the production of these great staples. Abolish their production, and we break up the commerce of the civilized world - we destroy the manufactories of Europe and America - we destroy their combined shipping interests - we throw the white man of both continents out of employment., and cause anarchy, revolution and internecine wars to usurp the paths of peaceful commerce, progress and Christian advancement. The Northern States, without manufactures, without commerce, would present one universal scene of waste and desolation. “Ruin" would become the watch-word of every civilized State and nation. Relief would only be found, after the total extinction of the negro [sic] and the suppression of anarchy through a military despotism in this now great and prosperous confederacy of free and sovereign States. My space is limited by the publishers of the “Texas Almanac,” and I can but glance at this great question of questions. But to every citizen of Texas let me say - “These are sober, solemn, portentous truths! Look at them! Meet them like men who know their rights!” How meet them, do you say? By placing in the hands of every man and woman possible, one or more of the excellent books written in elucidation and defense of slavery - by convincing every one of the truths herein so briefly stated - and thus, not only rendering the institution a moral Gibralter [sic] as it is, but convincing every white man of the land that slavery is not only a wise, humane, necessary and glorious institution, in which every one [sic], rich or poor, is vitally interested, and thereby sweeping away, once and forever, the low and the unsound misinformed popular feeling of the American people against what is commonly called the “Slave Trade," or the transfer of the beastly, savage negroes [sic] of Africa from their ghastly, paganistic slavery there, to the Heaven-ordained and Heaven- approved system of Christian slavery in this country. Do this: repeal the law of congress: import them in good, well-ventilated ships: look to their health and well-being as a dependent but useful race: break up the present inhuman system of clandestine importation: obey the behests or Heaven to make slaves, like humane Christians, of the heathen: and, in due time, the glorious results will be manifest - for the smiles of Deity will be upon the work. J. H. B. [2]

The article is full of so many bold-faced lies that mock the writer's statement "These are sober, solemn, portentous truths." He ignores the strong manufacturing economy of the North and success of free black men and women. The writer maintains the notion of the benevolent slave owner whose prisoners are "contented, cheerful, obedient." The article would be laughable except for its bigotry disguised as charitable work in helping blacks attain "his own highest attainable happiness on earth." Regrettably, some of these ideas exist today in the minds of racists and taint the ideal of America.

[1] The Texas Almanac of 1858,<>,  p. 48
[2] The Texas Almanac of 1858<>,  pp. 132-133 

See also
[1] Slavery,
[2] Slavery in Early Texas,
[3] Texas Slavery Project, 
[4] African Americans,

George Washington Williams

George W. Williams
Recently, I read a review of the new movie, The Legend of Tarzan. Among the list of characters is George Washington Williams (played in the movie by Samuel L. Jackson).  The movie uses some of the events associated with the Belgian administration of the Congo adulterated by Hollywood and London scriptwriters.  When the film begins, Tarzan is now living in England as  "Lord Greystoke." Through the British Prime Minister, Greystoke is invited by King Leopold to visit the Congo and report on its development by Belgium. An American envoy, George Washington Williams, urges Greystoke to go. Tarzan/Greystoke initially declines the invitation. However, Williams suspects that the Belgians are enslaving the Congolese population, and persuades him to accept it in order to prove his suspicions. Williams' character is based on the real George Washington Williams (October 16, 1849 – August 2, 1891) who was an Civil War soldier, Christian minister, politician, lawyer, journalist, and writer on African-American history.
Williams enlisted in the Union Army under an assumed name when he was only fourteen and fought in the Civil War from October 1863 to April 1865. He wrote A History of Negro Troops in the War of Rebellion based on his experiences.
After the war, he went to Mexico and joined the Republican army, which was fighting to overthrow Emperor Maximilian. He received a commission as lieutenant, learned some Spanish, got a reputation as a good gunner,
Williams returned to the US in the spring of 1867 and enlisted in the army for five years. In 1868, he was wounded in the Indian Territory. He remained hospitalized until his discharge.
After leaving the military, he briefly attended Howard University in Washington, DC. He entered the Newton Theological Institution near Boston, Massachusetts in 1870. In 1874, Williams became the first African American to graduate from Newton. After graduation from Newton Seminary, Williams was ordained as a Baptist minister. He served as pastor at several Boston churches, including the historic Twelfth Baptist Church of Boston.
Williams moved to Cincinnati, Ohio where he studied law and became the first African American elected to the Ohio State Legislature, serving one term 1880 to 1881.
In 1885, President Chester A. Arthur appointed Williams as "Minister Resident and Consul General" to Haiti, but he never served in the post.
In addition to his religious and political achievements, George W. Williams wrote groundbreaking histories about African Americans in the United States: A History of Negro Troops in the War of Rebellion and The History of the Negro Race in America 1619–1880. The latter was the first overall history of African Americans, showing their participation and contributions from the earliest days of the colonies.
King Leopold II
In 1889, King Léopold II of Belgium granted an informal audience with Williams. At that time, the Congo Free State was the personal possession of the King. He employed a private militia to enforce rubber production by the Congolese and there were widespread rumors of abuses. In spite of the monarch’s objections, Williams went to Central Africa to examine personally the conditions.

Victim of Congolese Attrocities

From Stanley Falls, he addressed "An Open Letter to His Serene Majesty Léopold II, King of the Belgians and Sovereign of the Independent State of Congo" on July 18, 1890. In this letter, he condemned the brutal and inhuman treatment the Congolese were suffering at the hands of Europeans and Africans supervising them for the Congo Free State. He mentioned the role played by Henry M. Stanley, who was sent to the Congo by the King, in deceiving and mistreating local Congolese. Williams reminded the King that the crimes committed were all committed in his name, making him as guilty as the perpetrators. He appealed to the international community of the day to "call and create an International Commission to investigate the charges herein preferred in the name of Humanity ..."
Williams included the following charges against the Belgian Government:
1.     The government "is deficient in the moral military and financial strength, necessary to govern a territory of 1,508,000 square miles, 7,251 miles of navigation, and 31,694 square miles of lake surface." "Cruelties of the most astounding character are practised by the natives, such as burying slaves alive in the grave of a dead chief, cutting off the heads of captured warriors in native combats, and no effort is put forth by your Majesty’s Government to prevent them. Between 800 and 1,000 slaves are sold to be eaten by the natives of the Congo State annually; and slave raids, accomplished by the most cruel and murderous agencies, are carried on within the territorial limits of your Majesty’s Government which is impotent."
2.   The government "has established nearly fifty posts, consisting of from two to eight mercenary slave-soldiers from the East Coast. These piratical, buccaneering posts compel the natives to furnish them with fish, goats, fowls, and vegetables at the mouths of their muskets; and whenever the natives refuse to feed these vampires, they report to the main station and white officers come with an expeditionary force and burn away the homes of the natives."
3.     The government "is guilty of violating its contracts made with its soldiers, mechanics and workmen, many of whom are subjects of other Governments."
4.     The government courts "are abortive, unjust, partial and delinquent. The laws printed and circulated in Europe 'for the Protection of the blacks' in the Congo, are a dead letter and a fraud. I know of prisoners remaining in custody for six and ten months because they were not judged."
5.     The government "is excessively cruel to its prisoners, condemning them, for the slightest offences, to the chain gang, the like of which can not be seen in any other Government in the civilized or uncivilized world."
6.     "Women are imported into your Majesty’s Government for immoral purposes. They are introduced by two methods, viz., black men are dispatched to the Portuguese coast where they engage these women as mistresses of white men, who pay to the procurer a monthly sum. The other method is by capturing native women and condemning them to seven years’ servitude for some imaginary crime against the State with which the villages of these women are charged. The State then hires these women out to the highest bidder, the officers having the first choice and then the men. Whenever children are born of such relations, the State maintains that the women being its property the child belongs to it also.
7.     The government "is engaged in trade and commerce, competing with the organised trade companies of Belgium, England, France, Portugal and Holland. It taxes all trading companies and exempts its own goods from export-duty, and makes many of its officers ivory-traders, with the promise of a liberal commission upon all they can buy or get for the State."
8.     The government violated the General Act of the Conference of Berlin by firing upon native canoes; by confiscating the property of natives; by intimidating native traders, and preventing them from trading with white trading companies; by quartering troops in native villages when there is no war; ... by permitting the natives to carry on the slave- trade, and by engaging in the wholesale and retail slave-trade itself."
9.     The government "has been, and is now, guilty of waging unjust and cruel wars against natives, with the hope of securing slaves and women, to minister to the behests of the officers of your Government."
10.  The government "is engaged in the slave-trade, wholesale and retail. It buys and sells and steals slaves."
11.  The government has a contract with the Arab Governor at this place for the establishment of a line of military posts in territory to which the government has no legal claim.
12.  The agents of the government "have misrepresented the Congo country and the Congo railway. Mr. H. M. Stanley, the man who was your chief agent in setting up your authority in this country, has grossly misrepresented the character of the country. Instead of it being fertile and productive it is sterile and unproductive. The natives can scarcely subsist upon the vegetable life produced in some parts of the country. Nor will this condition of affairs change until the native shall have been taught by the European the dignity, utility and blessing of labour."
While traveling back from Africa, George Washington Williams died in Blackpool, England, on August 2, 1891, from tuberculosis and pleurisy.
I think that Williams' life would make a great story by itself.  The Ohio Statehouse has a film on his life.

A Sad Day in Dallas

Our thoughts and prayers are with the the families and friends of the Dallas Police Department and Dart Police officers who were killed or wounded in last night's tragic events. We wish the wounded officers and civilians speedy recovery. This is yet another instance of gun violence that has become an epidemic in America.

The ambush occurred at the conclusion of a peaceful demonstration in response to deaths of Blacks by law enforcement officials. THE AMBUSH HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THE PEACEFUL PROTEST. The sniper(s) took advantage of a situation where they knew police officers would be present and planned the attack.

This event closes a difficult week for our country. Blacks were killed in two separate situations. This behavior by officers should not be viewed as representative of American law enforcement. These actions should be investigated by independent Federal agencies. At the same time, members of the communities affected by questionable law enforcement behavior should continue to keep the event in the public view through peaceful actions.

Black lives matter. Gay lives matter. White lives matter. All lives matter. Please pray for our community.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

July 3, 1863 - Gettysburg - Pickett's Charge

North Carolina Monument
On the 155th Anniversary of Pickett's Charge in the Battle of Gettysburg, I stepped off from Seminary Ridge with General J. Johnston Pettigrew's North Carolinians.  We walked briskly in the hot and humid mid afternoon weather of that July 3 day. There was no artillery barrage to soften the center of the Union position. Instead of Winfield S. Hancock's Second Corps, the "troops" that awaited us that afternoon were a mixture of spectators, reenactors, and living historians.

Generals discuss coming attack
Others join the march

Forces on Cemetery Ridge
Other Confederate Forces
under General Pickett

Marching with the
North Carolinians
Police stop traffic as we
cross Emmitsville Road
As in the actual battle we "marched" briskly across the open field until we reached the Emmitsburg Road.  We paused at the fence and prepared to make our "final rush" to Cemetery Ridge.

Copse of trees on Cemetery Ridge

Led by our officers we
advanced on the Union position

Unlike the actual battle, we were well received by both Union and Confederate officers (living historians) as we reached the Union line between Ziegler's Grove and the Copse of Trees.

Union officers waited for our arrival
Confederate forces reach
Cemetery Ridge

Confederate officers

We were well received
by Union Commnaders