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Forgotten Fragments of our American Heritage

by Si Jenkins
(Copyright 2001)

You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free
In 1965, during his last tour of Africa, Malcolm X spoke with a white American ambassador. This man was described to Malcolm by an African leader as the most respected American ambassador in Africa. In his autobiography, he related to Alex Haley that I had to believe him when he told me that as long as he was on the African continent, he never thought in terms of race, that he dealt with human beings, never noticing their color. He said he was more aware of language differences that of color differences. He said that only when he returned to America would he become aware of color differences. Malcolms reply was What you are telling me is that it isnt the American white man who is a racist, but its the American political, economic and social atmosphere that automatically nourishes a racist psychology in the white man. This synopsis of American history is dedicated to dispelling that political, economic and social atmosphere. If you have been thinking of yourself as white, forget it. Youre not. If you have been thinking of yourself as black, forget it. Youre not. If you have been worrying about who owes what to who, take another look. Take American history all the way back to the beginning, and you can throw those silly labels away. We all have ancestors who will turn over in their graves, but so what. We also all have ancestors who will say its about time. Malcolm did not live long enough to see the generation of African leaders who received him so warmly, the generation that led their nations to independence from European colonial rule, overthrown by their own military. He did not live to see Joseph Mobutu, who murdered Congos first elected president, Patrice Lumumba, offer himself as the champion of authentic African culture and change his name to Mobutu Sese Seko. Malcolm did not live to see Africans of approximately the same color slaughter each other over differences in their height. He did not see independent African nations in the grip of dictation from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which imposed a more thorough exploitation on their people than any colonial power had ever dreamed of. Lastly, Malcolm did not live long enough to see the bloodthirsty tribes of Europe rape and slaughter each other over differences in religion, language and alphabet, imposed by long-vanished empires, empires which were universally hated by all those engaged in the conflict. South African observers sometimes referred to this as the white-on-white violence. The fact is, connections between slavery and skin color are almost incidental. All of our ancestors once lived in the bondage that, at the end, was imposed specifically on those Americans who came from Africa. I urge anyone who reads this brief account to look up and read each and every one of the books listed in the bibliography at the end. It is from these books that the facts presented here were taken. The conclusions of this synopsis are my own, not those of any of the authors in the bibliography. Each author had their own specific focus, which they developed in much more detail with much more original research than I have done here. This is not a terribly original work. All that you read in this little summary has been available for years in college libraries. But it has not become common knowledge. If what you read here inspires you, go learn it in all the depth and detail that history offers. Start with the bibliography from which this presentation was assembled.

I want to thank the Greenbriar County (West Virginia) Public Library, the Library of Congress, The Northwestern University Library, The New York City downtown research library and Schomburg Library, and the Milwaukee Public Library, for keeping on their shelves the many resources that made this writing possible. My particular appreciation to the staff at the research libraries and Library of Congress who pull requested books off the shelves, and deliver them to the front desk or the reading desks; without them I would not have gleaned half what I assembled here. Likewise, special thanks to the aides who schedule and oversee use of computers at the Milwaukee central library. Without them, I might never have finished putting this volume together.

Slavery and Surplus

Ever since the dawn of human civilization, slavery has been a part of the history of every people on earth. All people now living have some slaves in their family tree. Some people are descended from slaves only three or five generations back. Others are descended from slaves ten generations back, and others one hundred generations back. Millions of people now living, whose ancestors have not been slaves in several centuries, have grandparents or great-grandparents who were serfs. Serfs cannot be bought or sold, but their work obligations, social status and life expectancy are similar. In very primitive times, there were no slaves. All the work one person could do, in one day, was just enough to give themselves food and shelter and clothing to live. One person cannot be a slave to another, when a person has to work all day just to support themselves. When a person is a slave, their master expects enough work out of them to take care of the slave's food and clothing and have something left over. Slave owners do not grow the food for their slaves, or make their slaves' clothes. They expect the slaves to do that, and to make the master rich, or do some of the master's own work, so the master has time to relax. This is only possible if a person can produce their own food, clothing and shelter, and have time left over. If a person is a slave, this surplus time is used to do more work, and the master gets the results. A master doesn't have to give a slave much, but it has to be enough so the slave can get up and go to work again the next day. A slave's time and labor produce whatever it is that their master "gives" to them. Then, all the rest of the time a slave can be made to work, without killing them too soon, is for the benefit of their owner. A free person might use the extra time to get more sleep, or play, or do more work for themselves, to eat better, to improve their own farm or shop, or have a nicer house. From ancient to modern times, most slaves were captured in war. War on a large scale was also impossible, when it took each person's labor all day long just to keep themselves alive. There has to be time left over to fight after taking care of the basics of survival, like food, shelter and clothing. Or, four fifths of a community have to be able to raise enough food for all the people in that community. Then, one fifth can spend all their time fighting, or practicing to fight. Prisoners of war became slaves of the warriors who captured them. Others were sold, by the warriors who captured them, to wealthy people who had not fought in the war. When there were a lot of wars and a lot of slaves, merchants took over buying and selling slaves, like any other merchandise. People also became slaves to pay debts, or sold their children to pay the debts of the parents. Over time, some families became slaves permanently. If a child's parents were slaves, the children were slaves too. But slaves also became free by one means or another. There were even people born slaves who became emperors. Bibirs, the founder of the Mameluke dynasty in the middle east, is one example. Another is Samori Toure, "Bonaparte of the Sudan," who led the Mandinka Empire in its final resistance to French conquest. He was born a slave. That did not stop him from trading heavily in slaves to finance his empire. Ghezo VIII of Dahomey, Osei Tutu of the Asante Union, and Sakura, who 1

restored stability to Mali in 1283, had all been slaves earlier in their lives. Some of the Caliphs who ruled in Spain during the period of Muslim conquest turned over all government offices to their slaves. The Caliphs and the nobles were fighting each other for control. The slaves were loyal, well-educated, experienced administrators. The Caliphs trusted them, and did not trust the nobles. All the major cities of the world before the time of Jesus, and many for another thousand years after, were built by the work of slaves. The empires of Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, Persia, the empire of Alexander the Great, the Roman Empire, and several dynasties of the Chinese Empire, depended on the labor of slaves. In later times, the Byzantine Empire, the Caliphates of Damascus, Baghdad, and north Africa, and the Maya and Aztec empires, all depended heavily on slaves. A majority of people in each of these empires were slaves, who usually looked very much like their owners. Different ways were used to tell a slave from a free person. Sometimes it was enough that a free person had good quality clothes, took baths every day, had their hair washed, styled and perfumed. Slaves had clothes of coarse cloth, bathed in the river when they could, and didn't have time to do much with their hair. In some African cities, slaves were naked and only free people were allowed to wear clothes. In some parts of Europe, slaves had an iron collar fastened around their neck. In ancient Israel and Canaan, masters identified slaves by piercing the slaves' ears. In many cultures, slaves were highly valued and treated with great respect. Some of the most important poets and scientists of ancient Europe, and in the kingdoms of central Africa, were slaves. They were well dressed, well-fed, consulted for advice, treated with respect, entrusted with teaching the children of their masters, or with important government offices. But they were not free to go anywhere else. They were property. They could be sold, or given away as gifts. They could be beaten or killed if they happened to displease their owners. The princes and nobles of ancient Israel made slaves of many of their own people, and bought slaves from other kingdoms nearby. Many prophets, including Samuel, Amos, Isaiah and Jeremiah, warned against this. It violated the covenant made by God with Abraham and Moses. The Hebrews were also supposed to know better, because they had been slaves in Egypt. Leviticus contains the warning, at 25:42, "For they are my servants, which I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: they shall not be sold as bondmen." Deuteronomy 23:15-16 even more broadly admonishes "Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee. He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him." The first is a warning not to enslave fellow Hebrews, but the second extends protection to escaped slaves of any nationality. When Israel became rich however, the wealthier classes easily forgot their heritage and owned slaves themselves. When the Hebrews were conquered and taken into captivity in Babylon, the survivors became slaves. When the Persian emperor Cyrus conquered Babylon, he allowed the Hebrews to return home. Almost immediately, the wealthier Hebrews, began to make slaves of those who were not so wealthy. Nehemiah warned them, on his own authority and God's, to let their servants go free. 2

In ancient Greece, nine tenths of the people were born into slavery. In Athens, known as one of the first democracies in history, only one tenth of the people, who were free, could vote. They owned the rest of the people, who were slaves. Sparta, another Greek city, had one of the most brutal forms of slavery. The free citizens and rulers of Sparta conquered the land where the city was built, and made slaves of the people who lived there before. The people who became slaves were called helots. There were more helots than free citizens. To make sure the helots did not revolt and kill their masters, laws prohibited helots getting any education, imposed harsh punishments, and allowed any helot who seemed to be a threat to be killed. The social distinctions became so strong that Spartans would literally rather die than accept helots as equals. When Sparta was hard-pressed in a war, hundreds of helots were offered their freedom if they would serve in the army. Those who did so were ambushed and killed after the war, on their way to the official ceremony that would have made them free citizens. Spartans were so conditioned to regard Helots as sub-human, that they were emotionally incapable of accepting them into citizenship, even Helots who had rendered such essential services to the survival of Sparta. Today, it is likely that most Greeks have both Helots and Spartans in their family trees. Nobody in Greece has thought about this distinction for thousands of years. Sparta disintegrated after Greece was absorbed into the Roman Empire. In ancient Egypt, there were codes which provided specific amounts of cloth, grain, etc. to be issued from the palace storerooms to each slave or slave family. Everything that every slave made during the work day was turned in to the overseers and stored. Much of it was sold. Some of it was used to supply the master's family, to pay taxes to more powerful masters, to support the army. A little of it was issued to the slaves so they could stay alive. The pyramids were built by slaves. These slaves did nothing useful. They worked all their lives building pyramids to put the bodies of dead Pharaohs into. But the slaves who built the pyramids were issued food and cloth from the storerooms. Other slaves working in the fields could grow much more food than was needed to feed themselves alone. This made projects like the pyramids possible, as well as palaces, temples, household servants, and large armies to fight wars with neighboring kingdoms. Children of slaves in Egypt were also slaves, mostly because there was nothing else to be. In ancient Egypt, there was no such thing as a free person. Everyone's place in life was defined by some caste or status. That was it. If you didn't belong to some caste, you didn't exist. Or your were an outlaw. Empires and great cities that arose in west Africa and in southern Africa also used slave labor. Some slaves worked in salt mines in the desert until they died. Their masters became rich selling the salt. Other slaves lived with families in the cities, and were at times well treated. Most slaves did agricultural work. Many empires became wealthy capturing people from neighboring tribes, and selling them into slavery in far off lands. Over many years, or one or two generations, slaves who did not die at hard labor would become full members of the community that they were sold into. 3

For the first 200 years of European settlement in America, nearly all the work was done by people who really didn't want to be there. The Spanish started first, in the Caribbean, then down the Pacific coast of South America. The Portuguese were next, mostly in Brazil. Some of the those sent from Europe had been prisoners. Others were running away from debts, or working them off. People already living in these lands were conquered, and some of them enslaved, or required to work for the new conquerors, even though technically still free. Others were brought in from Africa. In Brazil, and in Spanish colonies, many of them were called esclavos. Others were called peons. In North America, at first, they were mostly called servants. Even field hands were called servants. The people in charge of starting new colonies did not care where those slaves, peons or servants came from, or what they looked like. Spanish officials tried to enslave the native peoples in the Caribbean, Mexico and South America. In some areas, this was successful. On many islands, the natives either died out from the work, or fought to the death rather than become slaves. In some parts of South America, native tribes successfully fought the th Spanish and were still fighting into the 20 century. Most European countries shipped prisoners to the Americas, exiled at hard labor for life. The Spanish purchased some African slaves from Portuguese merchants, particularly in Cuba and Puerto Rico. The population of Mexico, Central America, Columbia and Venezuela today is a mixture of African, European and native American peoples. No-one knows the exact percentages. There are areas on the east coast of Nicaragua where the entire population is of African descent, and speaks only Spanish.

Servitude in North America: The 1600's

Virginia Colony: Servants of Every Complexion
Some people believe you can tell who in America is descended from slaves by how they look. This is not so. And that is not news. It has been in print in many books for 20, 50, even 100 years. Some of those books are listed in a bibliography at the end of this book. But only a few people have read those books. This history is not widely taught. It conflicts with so many widely held beliefs that it has never been included in standard textbooks. Virginia was the first British colony successfully settled on the North American continent. Like any frontier area, colonial Virginia had abundant land. That means, once the native American peoples who lived there were cleared out, the land was available. The land seemed open and available from either a European or west African point of view. The native peoples already living there did not develop the land as much as the new settlers did. Native peoples had gardens, but not plantations stretching for miles. They left most of the forest alone, and did more hunting than the new colonists. British economic methods used the land more intensively. That meant it produced more food, more clothes, supported more people, with more skills and crafts. That is why the early colonists were able to take over the land and keep it. But to develop the land required destroying what grew there before. Forests had to be cut down. Land that had never been plowed had to be broken up to plant crops. It was hard, back-breaking work. The land was of no economic value A healthy young without endless physical labor to clear and plant it. The colony needed people who could be put to work adult could immediately, no questions asked. From 1600 to 1700, as many as 99% of the people who came from England to Virginia colony entered as "servants." The word "servant" applied not only to those brought from England, but the first servants brought from Africa. Servants were auctioned on arrival by the merchant ships that transported them. A healthy young adult could generally be obtained in England and transported across the Atlantic for six to eight pounds, and sold in Virginia for 30 to 40 pounds.

generally be obtained in England and transported across the Atlantic for six to eight pounds, and sold in Virginia

Some were prisoners who were brought from overcrowded prisons to the docks of London. Others were sentenced by courts as an alternative to being executed. At that time, stealing anything worth more than 12 pennies was enough to sentence a person to death in England. The British government even purchased prisoners from other European countries to be shipped to Virginia for terms of labor. There were also agencies in England, in the business of kidnapping homeless teenagers and unemployed adults off the streets of every city, to be sold in the colonies. Millions of Americans today are descended from those rounded up this way, and shipped off to the new colonies. At first, the sale price simply entitled the buyer to a servant's labor, not ownership of the 5

person as chattel. But this gave a master practical control of a servant's entire life. Europeans generally sold for a term of years. Africans sometimes also sold for a term of years, but sometimes sold for the remainder of their working life. There are records of Africans with English first and last names who came to Virginia as free men, signed contracts, and were free again within a few years. Some who were held beyond the original term were freed by court order. Their masters had to pay compensation in tobacco for the additional time. The original language of the United States Constitution refers to persons "bound to service for a term of years." In Massachusetts, servants purchased from Africa were nearly always assigned for a term of years like any indentured servant, and became free at the end of that time. For the first 50-80 years, European settlers in Virginia did not know that they were "white". They did not refer to Africans brought into the colony as "black". People were identified first by their status. The majority were servants. Some former servants came to own small amounts of land. This was true regardless of their color. Large landowners ruled. They were nearly all English. Nobody from Africa who had money and status voluntarily chose to go invest it in America. Most wealthy people from Europe did not either. In fact, the wealthiest men of England had no desire to go to Virginia. England did have the beginnings of a "middle class." Africa did not, nor did a good part of Europe. England's middle class wanted to become part of the nobility as soon as possible. Those who had a little money, some good connections, and wanted to become lords of large estates were the ones who dominated the colony in Virginia. Secondly, people were identified by nationality: English, Dutch, Scottish, Irish, French, Spanish. The Spanish-Portuguese word Negro was used for those from Africa, because nobody in Virginia understood the difference between Angola, Ghana, Guinea, and Mauritania. A Virginia statute passed in 1670 refers to Negro colonists as "having their own nation." Servants came in every nationality. In 1665, a Scots minister complained of "differences betwixt us and the English" causing "many disappointments in justice." He refers to his countrymen, including some who later did well for themselves, "being sold as slaves here." Well into the 1700's, any man in Virginia would come to blows with anyone who called him a "Scotchman." These Well into the fights were carried out within a ring of bystanders who 1700's, any man enforced customary rules. The rules permitted kicking, in Virginia would scratching, biting, throttling, gouging the eyes and grabbing the genitals of an opponent. This was a come to blows standard definition of a "fair fight" among European with anyone who peasants. To be called a "Scotchman" in the 1600's and 1700's was a far worse insult than being called a called him a "nigger" in the late 1800's. (People who really were "Scotchman." Scots were very proud, and, like African-Americans of a later era, resented the superior attitudes of the "Anglo-Saxons"). Land grants were assigned in the early years of settlement on the basis of "head rights." Each time a man paid the cost of a man, woman or child's transportation across the ocean, the buyer could claim 50 acres of free land. That meant 50 more acres every time a landowner bought a new servant fresh off the boat. He paid their transportation, their labor 6

belonged to him, and he got 50 acres of free land. This immediately resulted in large estates, with a wealthy man surrounded by people who depended on him for their livelihood. Since it took the product of several years labor to purchase one servant, those who already had some capital to invest were likely to concentrate more capital into their own hands. Whether slaves or not, very few people worked for wages, they lived under their master's roof, or in outlying buildings on his estate, and ate the food he provided. There were laws against "petit treason," which meant raising a hand against the master, including a servant killing his master, a wife killing her husband, a son killing his father. There was very little cash in Virginia, so everything depended on credit. Exports of tobacco paid for imports of everything that could not be produced on the plantation. That included food. For a good part of the 1600s, Virginia landowners were so eager to get rich selling tobacco that they did not grow much food. The colony bought its food from native American peoples in the area, and from Dutch merchants. Certificates for tobacco leaves, ready for export, changed hands like money. Smaller planters depended on larger planters to extend them credit for supplies until their own crop was harvested. More important, large landowners made shipping arrangements, and smaller landowners relied on the large ones to include the smaller harvests in their own shipments, providing a share of the credit. People got credit on paper for their crop, and applied the credit to purchase goods in exchange. The word "slave" was not widely used in the 1600's. It appeared mostly in laws setting punishments for failure to attend church services on Sunday, or other infractions. The penalty was "slavery" to the colony for a period of time. Slavery as punishment for a criminal violation remains legal in the United States to this very day. Servants could testify in court, and could seek protection of a court from a cruel master. Contracts between masters and servants were enforced by law. As late as 1776, Colonel Landon Carter made notes in his diary that he would get a slave of his named Bart hanged "if his mate in roguery can be tempted to turn evidence against him." There were legal limits to the reprisals a master could inflict on a slave, unless there was competent evidence to convict him in court. By the early 1800's that remained true nowhere in the United States. But what mostly defined their status was, their labor belonged to their masters, who could sell them, and had the legal authority to physically enforce their right to a servant's labor. Servants were forbidden to leave their master's land without a "lycence." They could be whipped at will, from the age of 10 or even 7. All were treated with contempt by their masters. Those who ran away were branded with a red hot iron, or put in chains. Run away they did, sometimes successfully. The first settlers in the Appalachian mountain areas of Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee and North Carolina were runaway servants from Virginia. For a time, the coast of North Carolina was a haven for runaways from Virginia. Although many of their descendants came to consider themselves "white," there were certainly runaways of African descent among the original settlers of the area, who also intermarried with native American tribes. 7

The American southern "white" population are in large part descended from both European and African immigrants, and native Americans who were already here. This is similar to the "white" Afrikaners of South Africa, who are at least 7% to 10% of native African descent. When it became important to be "white," those who were light enough to do so adopted that designation for themselves. Servants for "a term of years" often had their term extended for various reasons. Many died still in servitude. Additional labor time was imposed as a fine for many infractions, since they had no money of their own to pay fines with. If one servant died before their time was up, an available relative would often be informed that 'you will of course be pleased to work off your brother's time in addition to your own, so your master will not suffer a loss.' Any servant sentenced to be whipped by the sheriff had their term extended. Whipping had to be done by the sheriff, not by any overseer. He charged a fee, in so many pounds of tobacco. The master had to pay it, since the servant had no money of their own, and no wages. The servant then had their time extended to compensate their master for the fee to the sheriff. A common cause of whipping was pregnancy. Marriage, and sexual relations outside of marriage, were both discouraged among servants. Pregnancy and child-rearing took time away from the labor a woman servant owed to her master. If a woman did become pregnant, she could be whipped. Then her term was extended for two years, to compensate her master for the loss of her labor during and after pregnancy. It was also extended another six months, to pay the fee for the whipping. Sometimes the man responsible would also be whipped. But, if the father of the child were free, and provided the court with assurances that he could and would support the child, all charges were dropped against both parents. The basic concern was economic. Nobody cared at this time whether the father or the mother were of European or African origin, or mixed, or part native American. Children born to unmarried servants were turned over to the local Anglican church parish to raise. At age 15, the church sold the child for term of 30 years labor to recover the cost of raising, feeding and clothing the child.

Children born to unmarried servants were turned over to the local Anglican church parish to raise. At age 15, the church sold the child for a term of 30 years labor to recover the cost of raising, feeding and clothing the

From the earliest history of Virginia, there are reports of masters getting their female servants pregnant. The first women this happened to were all European, because none had arrived from Africa yet. Later, men who owned servants showed no preference in color. If they wanted to play around, they played around with any woman who was under their control. At first, colonial courts dealt with this as a serious offense. Fornication was, in general, a crime. Consideration was given to freeing from further service any woman whose master made her pregnant. But the judges, who were all large landowners, decided against that. They expected that every pregnant woman servant would then blame her master, as an easy road to freedom. Generally, a master's denial was accepted most of the time, so there was little fear of any real punishment. 8

Servants of every color married each other, mostly without permission, ran away from servitude together, worked their way out of bondage to acquire their own land. The first Africans to enter Virginia colony were brought by accident. A Dutch ship had raided a Portuguese ship and seized its cargo. At that time, most European governments licensed pirate ships, called "privateers," to raid the ships of enemy nations. It was a kind of state-sponsored terrorism. Everyone did it. Every nation hailed their own privateers as heroes. Every nation hung enemy privateers as pirates. This Dutch ship sailed to Virginia for supplies, and sold some of the cargo captured from the Portuguese, including 20 slaves from Africa. Virginia always needed more laborers, and put them to work like all the others. Many servants from Africa, even those who were sold for life, were able to buy their freedom, obtain land, and buy servants of their own, for the first fifty years or more. Nobody at the time considered this odd. That is how things worked. Individuals of any color could rise from their class, but most people were servants at any point in time. Anyone who owned property could buy servants to work it. The color of the master or of the servant was of no concern to anyone. Some African servants contracted to work their own plot of land in addition to the work due their master, then used the money to purchase indentured servants from England in exchange for their own freedom. This was possible because contracts between master and servant were legally binding. They were enforced by the courts, both ways. This was no th th longer true in the first half of the 19 century, nor in much of the 18 century. Some contracts were very complicated. A master would rent land to a servant on which the servant could work for themselves. They did that work during their evenings and days off, after the work on their master's land was finished. Profits from working this land, over and above the rent owed, went toward a second contract to purchase their freedom. Up to 29% of the African population in Northampton County, Virginia appear on the tax rolls as free householders in 1668. They were about 14% of all the free householders in the county. They are listed with both first and family names and owned farms of 100 to 450 acres. Some of these African-descended eastern shore families later moved to new farmland in Maryland. One named their farm "Angola."

Bacon's rebellion: North Americas first slave revolt

In 1676, colonists in Virginia revolted against the governor of the colony, under the leadership of a newly-arrived English immigrant named Nathaniel Bacon. Nobody planned to revolt, but once a fight began, several hundred armed men marched on the capital city, Jamestown. A wealthy supporter of the governor described part of this army as "at least 400 foot, they ye Scum of the County, and 120 horse." Two thirds of the field army were described as escaped servants and slaves. Bacon's Rebellion was the first slave revolt in the history of North America. It is not often remembered that way. More than half the participants had a skin condition, that in later years came to be known as "white." This was only natural, since a majority of the servants 9

and slaves in the colony at the time were from Europe. When it was over, British and colonial authorities tried to suppress all remembrance of what happened. Records of the revolt were rediscovered, around the time of the American Revolution. By then, political leaders were very much in the habit of thinking of slavery in terms of race. They were blind to the large number of Africans in Bacon's army, and the real status in life of most lighterskinned participants. Many demands were made on the royal governor of the colony, William Berkeley. One of the first was a repeal of the 1670 law that allowed only property owners to vote. Then came a series of acts which broke up the entire system of corruption on which the governor and his friends had become rich. At that time most public officials, including the sheriff, surveyor, clerk of court, tax collectors, charged a fee for their services. Bacon's laws set a cap on these fees. Justices of the peace assessed taxes at that time. Now, voters were to elect representatives to sit with the justices in assessing taxes. Sheriffs could only serve for one year, and then someone else had to be put in. An unfriendly observer said the goal of the rebellion was "ye subversion of the Laws and to Levell all." The word "levell" did not mean to level buildings to the ground. It meant to level the distribution of wealth and property, to share it equally. The same account said "the Rabble giving out they will have their owne Laws demanding ye Militia to be settled ym with such like rebellious practices." It was also said that they "talk openly of sharing men's estates among themselves." Captain Anthony Arnold, a leader of the rebellion, announced that Kings "had Noe Right but what they gott by Conquest and the Sword." The origin of the revolt was racist, not toward colonists of African descent, but toward the native American peoples living in the area. Some fighting had broken out between one or two native tribes and some of the outlying settlements. People demanded protection from the governor, which he was slow to provide. They organized their own army under Nathaniel Bacon, and went to attack any native tribes in the area. The governor declared them outlaws. This is when they marched on Jamestown and seized the government. Many of Bacon's troops demanded the extermination of every Indian regardless of their tribe, or history of friendliness to the English. After British troops sent from England suppressed the rebellion, a merchant captain named Thomas Grantham volunteered to obtain the surrender of the remaining rebel forces. He described finding about 400 "English and Negroes in Armes" at the plantation of Colonel John West. He promised "the Negroes and servants that they were all pardoned and freed from their Slavery." Even with this promise he wrote, "eighty Negroes and Twenty English would not deliver their arms."

New York: Slave Emporium of the North

New Amsterdam was a Dutch colony at the mouth of the Hudson River. It was was renamed New York when the British captured it in 1664. The early history of New Amsterdam followed some of the same patterns as Virginia, but the status of Africans was more distinct at an earlier date. Partly, this is because the Dutch were more directly involved in the slave trade at an earlier date. Dutch colonization made less use of indentured servants. Instead, they established large agricultural estates worked by tenant 10

farmers. The status of Africans as slaves was in more contrast to the rest of the population. The British took over the colony from the Dutch at the very time that large-scale importation of African slaves was becoming big business for British merchants. New Amsterdam was a "company town", located at the mouth of the Hudson River to serve the commerce of the Dutch West India Company, and to produce profit for the company. From 1626 to 1638, the colony consisted of only 400 people. About half were Dutch. The rest included Walloons, English, French, Irish, Swedish, Danish and Germans, an Italian, a Muslim of mixed Dutch and Moorish ancestry, and fourteen or more Africans, speaking altogether 18 different languages. All were indentured servants, slaves or employees of the company. In 1635 one Jacob Stoffelson was hired as "overseer of the Negroes belonging to the company." But Dutch opinion was divided on the morality of slavery, until 1637, when the Dutch West India Company captured the Portuguese slave station at El Mina in West Africa. After 1640, the company took over a great deal of the trade, and stopped consulting theologians as to its morality. In New Amsterdam, slaves were subject to the same laws and procedures as other colonists. They could own property, testify in court, and bear arms in emergencies. They could marry and register their marriages in the official Dutch Reformed Church. Twenty six marriages of Africans were recorded in the Dutch Reformed Church between 1641 and 1664. But their labor, or more precisely their entire ability to do labor, belonged to the company. Later the Dutch clergy, known as dominies, became more hesitant to baptize slaves or their children. As slave traffic became more profitable, anything that might limit the right to property in another human being was set aside. Dominie Henricus Selyns told authorities in Holland that clergy in the colony had stopped baptizing Africans "due to their lack of knowledge and faith, and because of their worldly aims. The parents want nothing else than to deliver their children from bodily slavery, without striving for Christian virtues." In 1644, 18 slaves of the company, all from Africa, petitioned for and were granted freedom, with several restrictions. One was being available for wage labor when company projects required it. They also had to make annual payment of certain quantities of the produce from their farms. They were granted land to farm on. At first, the company reserved that the children of those freed would remain in bondage. But in 1649, European colonists criticized the company for enslaving "the offspring of free Christian mothers." The company backed off, requiring only occasional labor. Company officials noted that only three children were actually in service at the time. Christians had for centuries justified enslaving non-Christians, and Muslims had justified enslaving non-Muslims. Both generally improved the status of any slave who converted. As the period of massive commercial traffic in slaves was opening up, baptism became an obstacle to commerce. Later, the whole idea that a Christian should not be a slave to another Christian was abandoned, in favor of exclusively racial definitions. The names on a roster of African landowners in Manhattan from 1643 to 1664 reflect both the Portuguese domination of the initial slave trade and the areas of Africa from which 11

slaves had been taken. Names such as Catalina Anthony, Domingo Anthony, Manuel Gerrit de Reus, Gracia D'Angola, Simon Congo, Pieter San Tome, Paulo D'Angola, Anthony Portuguese, Domingo Angola, Francisco Cartagena are common. Into the 1660's, most slaves continued to be owned by the company. They were trained in skilled trades such as carpentry, caulking, blacksmithing and bricklaying, "as it was formerly done in Brazil." It was cheaper than importing free trades people. As a wealthy merchant class developed, they began buying slaves as domestic servants. Peter Stuyvesant, the last Dutch governor of the colony, owned 40 slaves, many more than any other colonist. A number of them labored in the fields and orchards of his private estate, th th between what are now 5 Street, Fourth Ave. and 20 St., up to the East River. Most slaves working on farms were owned by families in outlying agricultural villages like Flatbush. (Flatbush is now a densely populated neighborhood in the middle of Brooklyn, but at the time it was a farming community that provided much of the city's food). Slaves on these farms and their masters slept in the same houses, ate the same meals, and worked side by side in the same fields. This does not mean that the slaves were equal. Dutch farmers bitterly resisted any attempt to take away their "property" by abolishing slavery. These farms simply did not produce enough wealth for the slave owner to live a life of luxury. It was a family farm, plus a slave or two, about thirteen men slaves for every 10 women slaves.1 The Dutch West India Company continued the policy of freeing slaves after 18 to 30 years of service, and had farmland set aside to grant freed slaves. Some of these lots were instead appropriated by Stuyvesant, his son-in-law, and others with good political connections. It was the beginning of a long tradition of graft. One reason for freeing slaves was to avoid the responsibility of caring for them when they became old and less able to work. The British takeover of New Netherlands was planned and organized by James, Duke of York, brother of English King Charles II. James was soon to become a founding investor in the Royal Africa Company, which seized control of the trans-Atlantic slave trade from the Dutch. In 1664, James was named by his brother, the King, as proprietor of all the territory between the Delaware and Connecticut rivers. James sent a naval force to seize New Amsterdam. At that time, the residents of New Amsterdam included 1500 Europeans of various nationalities, 300 slaves from Africa, and 75 free Africans. Forty years later, there were 600-700 Africans among a total population of 5200. By 1676, the renamed colony of New York had 313 taxpayers; 10% of them owned 51% of the assessed wealth in the colony. Five individuals owned 40%. The majority of the city's inhabitants, casual laborers, apprentices, craftsmen, were too poor to even be counted. There were 1600 slaves, all from Africa. They were counted because, unlike the other laborers, they were valuable property. A visitor in 1679 remarked passing "many habitations of negroes, mulattoes and whites" engaged in subsistence agriculture on the

Hired hands and apprentices were treated harshly in Europe, and in America. Slaves received the same treatment, for life. A humorous example of the relationship of hired hands and servants to the greedy peasant proprietors of small farms can be found in the English fairy tale Jack and the Grey Churl.


east side. (During the 1680's, many free Africans in the colony sold their land and moved to New Jersey or Pennsylvania).


South Carolina: The Barbados Connection

South Carolina, alone among the North American colonies of England, began with a welldeveloped system of gang labor by slaves who were all of African descent. The first English settlement on the site of what became Charleston was established by settlers from the island of Barbados in the Caribbean. The particularly brutal form of slavery, that gripped portions of the United States until 1865 or later, first came to the North American continent from Barbados through the Charles Town settlement . Barbados is an island 21 miles long and 14 miles wide. From the 1640's Dutch traders, who took over most of the slave trade from Portugal, introduced sugar cultivation to the British colony of Barbados, and the French colonies of Martinique and Guadeloupe in the Caribbean. Later, the British colony of Jamaica and the French colony of Saint Domingue passed the smaller islands in sugar production. French and British ships took over the slave trade from the Dutch. From 1341 to 1670 it was the growth of sugar plantations that brought the slave trade from Africa across the Atlantic. By 1660, sixty-two "white" families controlled the wealth and politics of Barbados, while slaves transported by Dutch merchants from Africa made up the overwhelming majority of 40,000 inhabitants. Between 1645 and 1667, the African slave population of Barbados increased from under 6000 to over 82,000. Between 1678 and 1745, the number of Europeans living in all of the Leeward Islands declined slightly, from 10,00 to 9500. Between 1700 and 1775, the West Indies absorbed 1.2 million slaves from Africa. More slaves died each year in the islands, of disease, malnutrition or torture, than were imported to work in the sugar plantations. Barbados had one of the highest mortality rates for Africans in the entire western hemisphere. Barbadians were known throughout the Caribbean for flogging, branding and mutilating their slaves, and for their extravagant display of wealth. They gave themselves honorary military titles like "Captain" or "Major" which reflected no military service whatsoever. They became very rich, controlling half the sugar trade to Europe by the middle of the 1600's. A tiny ruling minority, surrounded by a work force with no incentive whatsoever to work, except brute force, the Barbadians lived in constant and justifiable fear of insurrection. Caribbean sugar planters were quite prepared to slaughter every one of their slaves, to put down a revolt, and then promptly import replacements. Younger sons of Barbados plantation owners got permission to settle a colony on the coast south of Virginia. They called themselves the Corporation of Barbados Adventurers, and promised a land grant of 150 acres to each adventurer, plus another 150 acres for each slave he brought with him. Eventually, one fourth of all the Africans brought to North America came through Charleston. South Carolina also enslaved more native Americans than any other colony. Thousands were brought in shackles to Charleston for export to the Caribbean islands, while Africans were imported from the same islands. At least until the 1820's, the enslaved peoples of South Carolina included those who identified themselves as Angolans, Muslims, "French Negroes" from Haiti, Ibos from what is now Nigeria, and people from what is now Togo and Benin. Second and third generation Africans developed the Gullah language on the nearby Sea Islands. It was only in the last few decades of open legal slavery that an African American identity developed which had been stripped of clear and well-defined roots in African culture and origins. From the early 14

1700's, South Carolina had an African majority. On the coastal plain around Charleston, the African majority was overwhelming.


Origins of the African Slave Trade

Arabian Slave Caravans Come to Africa
Commercial trading in large numbers of slaves over long distances was introduced to Africa by Arab merchants in the middle ages. Until then, slaves for north Africa and the middle east had come from Europe, especially England, Ireland, and Slavic territories. Most of these were sold by European merchants. Others, from southern Europe, were captured in war. Pope Gregory the Great, according to tradition, got the idea to send missionaries to the pagan tribes of England when he saw some pretty young blond-haired blue-eyed Anglo boys in the slave market of Rome, on their way to be sold in North Africa. Up to the 1700's and early 1800's, kingdoms on the north African coast were still enslaving Europeans and Americans captured on ships in the Mediterranean Sea. Those who converted to the Islamic religion received more privileges. But when it became difficult to get enough slaves from Europe, after 1100 or so, the Arab princes sent caravans across the Sahara Desert, and ships down the east African coast, to obtain more slaves. Empires such as Ghana, Mali and Songhay, were located in the central inland area of west Africa, south of the Sahara Desert. They traded slaves, ivory, gold, salt and kola nuts north across the Sahara for centuries. The wealth from this trade supported standing armies of up to 200,000 soldiers. All of these empires were built on the labor of slaves. They built cities which were major centers of learning, particularly of Islamic scholars. The Sultan of Zanzibar sponsored both military expeditions and merchant caravans deep into the interior of east Africa, taking or buying slaves for sale on the coast and up to the Arabian peninsula. Other cities on the east African coast participated in the trade as well. This commerce produced a new language, Swahili, so that merchants from one city or nation could communicate with neighboring people to buy and sell. When the first European ships came to the west and south-west African coasts looking for slaves in 1450, established Arab merchants were among the ready and willing sellers. They were still selling slaves when the last legal slave ships from America crowded the coasts in 1807 to make one final buy. (After that, importing slaves to the United States became illegal. Owning slaves who were already in the U.S. was more protected by law than ever). In the Sudan, Arabic-speaking merchants are still kidnapping darker-skinned non-Muslims from the southern part of the country, to sell into slavery in the northern cities and farms.

Portugal: The European Connection

Portugal was the first European country to run a large scale slave trade from Africa. Over half the slaves transported from Africa across the Atlantic were taken to the Portuguese colony of Brazil. Portugal engaged in both piracy and trade on the African coast, starting before Columbus' voyages across the Atlantic. As early as 1341, Portugal had sent slave-raiding expeditions to the Canary Islands, in the Atlantic. Europe was desperately short of labor at that time, because the Black Death 16

(bubonic plague) had killed about 1/3 of the total population. Bubonic Plague is spread from rats to people by the bites of fleas. Europeans had very bad sanitation and hygiene. People threw their garbage out the window into the streets. Horse, pig and cow droppings were all over the streets too. Sewers all ran on top of the ground. Most Europeans were very superstitious about taking baths they only took baths once or twice a year. So there were plenty of rats, plenty of fleas, and people dropped dead every day. Southern Europe was growing sugar for the first time. Europeans didn't really know much about sugar before then. They learned about it from Islamic nations during the Crusades. Then, sugar plantations were started along the Mediterranean sea coast, moving from east to west. Sugar was planted from Lebanon to Cyprus to Sicily, and in 1404 a sugar plantation was started in Portugal, in a place called the Algarve. From the beginning, these plantations were worked by slaves. At first the slaves were either Muslim people, captured in war, or Slavic people from eastern Europe. The word "slave" comes from the word "Slav," because so many Slavs were enslaved by other Europeans. That went back to the time of Emperor Charlemagne of France, in the 800's AD. But by 1404, the primary source of slaves was the Canary Islands. The original inhabitants, the Guanche, had settled the islands from Africa about 1000 years earlier. The islands had no metal ores in the ground, just rock, so technology was not well developed. The King of Portugal simply declared the islands part of his kingdom. By the early 1500's, the Guanche people had been all but annihilated. They were not all brought back to Europe. Portugal established sugar plantations in the Madeira Islands, which are also south of Portugal in the Atlantic. One of the early settlers had a daughter who later married Christopher Columbus. They brought Guanche captives to do the work. In 1455 Madeira produced 70 tons of sugar per year. In the early 1500's it was more than 1600 tons. Portuguese settlers grew cotton for export in the Cape Verde islands, with slave labor. As slave cargoes increased, a few were kept to serve as navigators and translators on future voyages. By 1446, Portugal had taken 927 slaves from west Africa, losing three captains and thirty sailors killed during slave-raiding expeditions. Sometimes a captive who had a high rank in their own country would offer a ransom. If you take me home, one offered, my people will give you five or six other slaves in exchange. And they did. Portuguese trade voyages to Africa made a profit five to seven times the capital invested. This is like buying stock for $10 a share and getting a dividend of $50 to $70 a share, not even counting what the price of the stock rises to. But raids produced a low volume of slaves. Casualties were high. Kingdoms on the African mainland were not so vulnerable as the isolated Guanche. It was more efficient to buy slaves. Portuguese merchants started making contact with Arab and Tuareg merchants on the African continent. In medieval Europe, it was considered perfectly all right to enslave anyone who was not a Christian. Their suffering was justified by the spiritual salvation which Christianity offered. Pope Nicholas V granted Portugal the exclusive right to trade with the inhabitants of the newly "discovered" regions,2 but prohibited the sale of war materials and weapons. Africa

From the Portuguese viewpoint, they had discovered a land Portugal knew nothing about. From the viewpoint of the people who lived in west Africa, it was home. They had known right where they were all the time. They learned something new too. They learned that there were such people as the Portuguese in the world.


was not really so unknown to Europe as the Portuguese claimed, and later historians came to believe. The Mali empire appeared on European maps as early as 1339. Portuguese merchants could trade one horse for ten to fifteen slaves to the Jolof people, south of the Senegal River. They could trade cloth and other goods for slaves to the rulers of the Niger delta and the Bight of Benin. Then they traded the slaves to the Akan people, who controlled the gold coast, in exchange for gold. The Akan were expanding at the time, and needed labor for forest clearance and agriculture. They had already been trading gold (which the Akan at the time did not use or value) for slaves, to Arab merchants crossing the Sahara. People then inhabiting west Africa most commonly purchased slaves to expand the size of the family or the community, assigning slaves to do the hardest work, but addressing them as family members or as part of the same community. Slaves remained at the low end on a scale of rights and ownership. They were seldom resold, because the whole point was to add to the total numbers in the community. Their children could often rise to almost any status. Slaves taken to the salt mines in the Sahara Desert were simply worked to death, unless they mined enough salt to pay off their debt, a rare occurrence. Shipment and sale across the Atlantic took a very different form from anything in previous African experience. As Portugal extended its reach down the African coast, it imported slaves from its own trading outpost in Angola, and from the Kingdom of Kongo. Portugal purchased some slaves from local kings and Arab merchants with trade goods, and kidnapped others in raids on African cities and towns. Portugal established sugar plantations in Brazil in the 1540's, worked by slaves brought from Africa. This was 79 years before the first African set foot in England's colony of Virginia. Over half the slaves transported from Africa across the Atlantic were taken to Brazil. Portugal had a lot of competition in the 1600's from Holland. By that time, British, French, Dutch and Danish ships were raiding Portuguese ships, and then in turn selling the slaves and other cargoes wherever they could.

Holland Introduces African Slaves to the Caribbean

After fighting a long war for Independence from the Spanish Empire, Holland was eager to build its own empire and become rich. Dutch merchants and sailors fought Portugal for control of Indonesia, Angola, and Brazil. Dutch invaders took control of north east Brazil in the early 1620's. Portuguese planters had been using slave labor to grow sugar cane, and the Dutch quickly learned how to profit from the trade. By the 1640's, Holland had established a trading post at Goree Island, off the coast of what is now Dakar, and taken over a Portuguese fort at El Mina, in what is now Ghana. In 1641 Dutch forces also seized Luanda, Portugal's main outpost in Angola. It was recaptured by Portugal in 1648. Portugal had been shipping slaves to Brazil on credit. Most planters were heavily in debt. For a time, Dutch merchants continued the practice of supplying slaves on credit, but the amount of debt grew. In 1644, the Dutch East India Company decided slaves would be sold only for cash, no credit. This led to a revolt by Brazilian planters against Dutch rule in 1645, and Portugal 18

retook control of the colony. Dutch refugees fleeing from the loss of Brazil settled in New Amsterdam. For another 33 years, the Dutch dominated the North Atlantic slave trade, and freely enslaved whatever laborers they needed from their colonies in Indonesia as well. Some slaves from Indonesia were brought to work in the Dutch settlement at the Cape of Good Hope, in Africa. Around 1640, Dutch merchants made an offer to British and French planters in the Caribbean. They had been using indentured servants from Europe to produce tobacco. The Dutch convinced the planters to switch over to growing sugar cane, with slave labor from Africa. Dutch traders provided slaves for the sugar plantations established by the British, in Barbados, and by the French in Martinique and Guadaloupe. Between 1655 and 1660, a British naval expedition captured the island of Jamaica from Spanish forces. Spain had already introduced African slaves to the island. Many of these had already run away, and formed communities in the inland mountain areas. These were known as Maroons. The British opened up sugar plantations on Jamaica, with Dutch merchants supplying the slave imports. African slaves soon outnumbered Europeans by five to one. Large numbers continued running away to the Maroon settlements. France took the west end of the divided island of Hispaniola from Spain. Today this island holds the Republic of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. The French named their colony St. Domingue, and turned it into another sugar island. A few slaves were brought from the West Indies to the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, later renamed New York.

Britannia Rules The Slaves

In 1672, 200 English investors formed the Royal Africa Company to trade in slaves and sugar. They raised 111,600 in what would now be called an "initial public offering." An English privateer, John Hawkins, had made slave trading voyages as early as 1562, but he mostly raided Portuguese slave ships, and his voyages, although very profitable, did not develop into large scale commerce. After 1700, the number of slaves shipped across the Atlantic each year tripled, to more than 61,330. England and France by then took the profit from about half of that, the majority going to the sugar islands in the Caribbean. In 1673, a fleet of ships, borrowed from the British royal navy, were sent out by the Royal Africa Company. It was easy to arrange, because James, Duke of York, brother of King Charles II, was a major investor in the company. This fleet captured every Dutch West India Company factory3 on the African coast. These included the now-infamous Goree Island and El Mina. The British took control of the trade that, 150 years later, they took great pride in suppressing. The Royal Africa Company lost its government-approved monopoly on English trade to Africa in 1698. After that, it had to compete with independent merchants. Competing ships from the Port of Bristol alone rose from 71 in the period from 1698-1710, to 345 between 1731 and 1740. Between one tenth and one ninth of these went to Virginia. Most of the rest went to either Jamaica or Barbados. In the later period, from 1731 to 1740, 81 ships

The name does not come from manufacture as with modern factories for industrial production. Trading companies had representatives in seaports called factors. A factory, in any African trade, including the slave trade, was a trading center run by a factor.


went to South Carolina alone, about one fourth of the total. Most of the ships to Virginia picked up their slave cargoes in Calabar, with smaller numbers from Angola, Guinea, Gambia and Bonny. Humphrey Morice, "the prince of London slave merchants," owned eight ships, all named after his wife and daughters. He traded to Africa for "Negroes, gold, elephants teeth, bees wax and other commodities as you find for my most advantage." He was also a member of Parliament and a governor of the Bank of England. His captains were all addressed and rewarded as "trusted servants." He did not sail on the ships himself. Written instructions to ship captains warn them to beware of places where "the African company have settlements, factors or agents, whose interfering or obstructing your trade at all places you must endeavor to avoid and prevent." He was equally afraid of his ships being "surprised by the natives or companies emissaries." Morice instructed his captains to purchase slaves between the ages of twelve and twentyfive years old, two males for every female. When possible, he preferred to avoid the risk of losing valuable cargo on a trans-Atlantic voyage. He referred to Africa slaves as a "perishable commodity." He ordered his captains to take any opportunity to re-sell the slaves on the African coast to Portuguese ships from Brazil. Portuguese brought gold from Brazilian mines to make purchases with. After selling to them, Morice's ships could sail straight back to London with the gold. During this era, slaves were purchased in dozens of separate transactions, of from one to thirteen at a time. Payment was made in a variety of trade goods. One woman was purchased for four trade guns, 10 pewter basins, barrel of gun powder and two other items. Five men were purchased for 30 iron bars, 50 spread-eagle dollars, 50 brass pans, 20 strings of crystal, 2 pounds amber, 18 feet cloth, 6 heads Oliveta beads, 20 lbs cowrie shells, 20 gallons brandy, 12 horse bells, 400 flints, 2 pewter basins, 1 reem paper.



Africa and Europe: Partners in Trade

The slave trade from African began as a simple matter of trade between more or less equal partners. Africa had slaves for sale. Slavery was part of the culture in Africa, and slave trading was part of the economy. European colonies needed lots of cheap labor. By 1600, Europe itself had no real use for slaves. Europe had a lot of illiterate unemployed peasants making a living from highway robbery. European authorities couldn't find work for them all, nor hunt them all down and lock them up. Europe was trying to export them to America as slave labor. But the colonies needed more slave labor than Europe could provide. The ruling classes of Europe derived their wealth from the labor of serfs and tenant farmers on landed estates. In Africa, such estates could be worked either by slaves or by free peasants. Serfs in Europe could not be sold away from their families or the land they worked. They also were not allowed to leave the land if they wanted to. In various ways, they performed labor on manor lands, for the benefit of their master, and labor on their own land, for themselves. Tenants paid rent in cash, which often took the majority of what they sold their crops for. When the lords of the land found it convenient, they changed the law and kicked the serfs and tenants off the land. At the time America was being settled, land used for crops was shifted to raising sheep instead. The serfs were evicted, to become vagabonds, to be shipped to America, or to find work in the early factories in the cities. The colonies needed more labor and cheaper labor than Europe had for sale. In America, land was being cleared for new agricultural domains. Native Americans were on their home ground. Most had too many options to remain in slavery. Many fought to the death if necessary. Africans for sale as slaves had already been made captive by the culture and the rulers that sustained them. They were disarmed, and shipped to new and unfamiliar territory. Any resistance had to be organized from A to Z, starting with nothing. Of course no-one in Africa could foresee what a voyage across the Atlantic Ocean would be like, compared to trudging on foot, bound or chained, a long or short distance across the continent. Slave caravans were commonplace in Africa. Two to four month sea voyages were not. Nor could anyone in Africa, where slavery was a common status, one that people moved in and out of, foresee what kind of life and work the slaves shipped across the ocean would end up in. In Africa, slaves were a part of society. In America, this was also true during the 1600's. Servitude was universal. But during the 1700's, slaves in America became by definition something outside of the rest of society. 22

In Africa, slaves were a part of society. In America, this was also true during the 1600's. Servitude was universal. But during the 1700's, slaves in America became by definition something outside of the rest of society.

Slavery in Africa existed primarily by right of conquest, secondarily by purchase. The more advanced, complex and civilized cultures in Africa were those that depended the most on slavery. These cultures could understand merchants coming by sea to purchase slaves. They traded their surplus slaves freely for what the merchants had to offer in trade. In no way were these cultures inferior to the European cultures from which the merchants came. Europe had more developed building skills, due to the colder climate. Africa had better hygiene, but more varieties of lethal disease, and a less concentrated population. Neither one had significant industry. While Europe was generally plagued by crime, travelers to Mali in Africa remarked that "there is complete security in their country. Neither traveler nor inhabitant in it has anything to fear from robbers or men of violence." Songhai had a navy patrolling the Niger River -- until Songhai was conquered by Morocco in a war from 1578-1595. In the 1500's and 1600's, Europe and Africa were both agricultural societies, with a peasant economy, and a small elite class of rulers. The populations of Europe and Africa were both mostly illiterate and very superstitious. Both had small cities that were centers of learning and trade. In both Europe and Africa, a major response to epidemics of disease was to hunt down witches and subject them to painful deaths. Only a small minority in Europe, Africa or America understood scientific thinking. In June 1633, the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church condemned Galileo Galilei for teaching that the Earth is round, and revolves around the sun. The church called this "a doctrine which is false and contrary to Holy Scripture." That was fourteen years after the first Africans were sold into servitude in Virginia. It was also after Ferdinand Magellans expedition had sailed a ship all the way around the world. Martin Luther and John Calvin likewise condemned the theory that the earth revolved around the sun. Galileo remained under house arrest for the remaining ten years of his life, and his writings were not removed from the church's Index of banned books until 1835. Nor was such superstition absent from America. Most colonies had laws against witchcraft. Although in Connecticut, many puritans denied that such powers were real, in Massachusetts people were actually hanged, burned and drowned for it. In Virginia, heresy was punishable by burning to death until after the American revolution. Well into the 1800s in America, school teachers applying for jobs were sometimes asked Is the earth round or flat? If they wanted to be sure of getting hired, a common answer was Im not sure, but I can teach it either way. Europe had cannon, but by the 1600's, powerful African kingdoms had bought modern arms and fielded armies that matched what any European outposts could field. Once the Portuguese monopoly on west African trade was broken in 1642, European nations competed to sell muskets, and gunpowder, among other trade goods, to the African nations, in exchange for gold, ivory and slaves. European armies were in no position to take control. Unlike the people of the Americas, Africa had been smelting iron for centuries. Many African soldiers were armed with spears, swords, bows and daggers, as well as muskets. European armies through the 1600's and part of the 1700's fought with pikes and swords as much as with muskets. 23

The Kingdom of Kongo was located in what is now northern Angola and the western part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It was militarily equal during the 1600's to the nearby Portuguese outposts, and had diplomatic missions in both Europe and the Portuguese territory of Brazil. Kongo's capital, Mbanza Kongo, was renamed Sao Salvador when the entire kingdom adopted Christianity in the 1400's. (That was before Columbus ever sailed). It played off Portuguese, Dutch and British traders to get the best deals. Catholic Church officials, negotiating with Kongo diplomats the creation of a new diocese in 1594, complimented the Kongo representatives' knowledge of "Christian doctrine and ecclesiastical history." King Alvaro II was invited to send a formal embassy direct to Rome. When a Kongo ambassador died in Rome in 1608, he was given a magnificent funeral in the Santa Maria Maggiore cathedral. In 1648, Kongo was able to secure the support of the Pope in Rome for appointment of new bishops, in the face of Portuguese opposition. Kongo could win diplomatic victories against a European country in Europe. Kongo diplomats were received on an equal basis in European capitals. The neighboring state of Mbanza Nsoyo, once tributary to Kongo, also had embassies in Luanda, Brazil and Holland. In 1670, Nsoyo fought two battles against a Portuguese army, losing the first, despite having their own cannons and muskets. Nsoyo came back to annihilate the Portuguese in a second battle. The victors offered to sell captive Portuguese to the Dutch as slaves. That was the last Portuguese attack against Kongo for 100 years, i.e. until the time of the American Revolution. Kongo and Nsoyo were nations built on slavery, as were the Asante Union, Dahomey, and neighboring kingdoms of west Africa. The concentration of wealth that made any of these kingdoms possible was based on the labor of slaves. Part of the foreign trade of both states was also in slaves. Slaves were obtained by wars of conquest, or imported and then re-sold. Trade routes ran deep into the interior of the continent, where no European had ever been. Slaves were sometimes taken in raids on villages within a kingdom to supply the nobility in the capital. Slavery could also be imposed to pay fines and restitution. Slaves in the last two groups were generally not re-sold, either within Africa or for the trans-Atlantic trade. Many of those in Kongo who were slaves also owned slaves at the same time. Masters did not totally control their slaves' lives or labor. This was different from slavery in either the Roman Empire or in the later years of American plantations. Slaves worked as required on their owner's land, but also planted their own allotted land to feed themselves and their families. It was also possible for slaves to move from a relatively degraded status to a freer one. Slaves in Kongo could be mbika (the lowest status), mwai (prisoner) or nleke (freed the word means something like a child or a junior relative). This flexibility did not exist in the conditions of slavery that ultimately developed across the Atlantic. Customs and demands were different even in early Virginia and New York. Slavery for Africans brought to America hardened into a very different institution. Slaves in Kongo were reasonably well treated, and had the right to escape from a cruel master by swearing to serve another, or by claiming sanctuary at a temple. In west Africa, slaves could also become accepted and even wealthy members of the community. Among 24

the Asante, it was specifically forbidden to refer to a person's social origins, which made it easier to change status. Slaves in the Asante territory, the Kingdom of Dahomey, and smaller nations in west Africa, could be, and were, offered as human sacrifice for a variety of reasons. This was different from the law and custom in Kongo, and neighboring south west African kingdoms. The annual yam festival was both a harvest celebration and a major patriotic event for the Asante state. Each district chief and military leader throughout the Asante Union, arriving for the festival, sacrificed one of his slaves in each quarter of Kumase, the capital. A member of the nobility in the area that is now Cameroon kept a diary for many years, which details many times a year when he sold three or four slaves to a European merchant, other occasions when a female slave was beheaded to honor a recently deceased member of his family. Slaves in west Africa made up a large part of the army, and were often put to work in the gold mines or clearing land for agriculture. The Asante could not have maintained any of these enterprises without large numbers of slaves. Those who were slaves at the time they died were generally thrown into a river, to be eaten by large fish. They were not considered worthy of burial. Many families that acquired slaves and sold them to trans-Atlantic traders still hold wealth and power in Africa today. They prefer to remember that their ancestors were the strong who ruled, not the weak who were enslaved. Even today, in some parts of west Africa, one person arguing with another may shout "Just remember, my fathers sold your people!" According to United Nations estimates, more than 200,000 children a year are being kidnapped from their parents in west Africa, in the 21st century, and sold into slavery elsewhere on the continent. Most slaves sold for the trans-Atlantic trade were recently captured in wars of conquest. The Asante did not trade all of these. Roemer, a Danish trader on the west African coast, commented "All other African nations sold their prisoners, but these Akims are wiser; they kept the slaves in their country and married their indigenous slaves to these foreigners; treated them with kindness with the result that the Akwanu quickly forgot their fatherland and king, and became in the course of five years, as good as the native Akims." Throughout the 18 century, European trading outposts paid ground rent to the nation in control of the areas where they were located. As the Asante Union consolidated control of the area which is now Ghana, they were known to send 10,000 or 20,000 highly disciplined troops to the gates of trading forts. These troops announced that Asante now ruled the th area and would collect the rent from that time on. Until well into the 19 century, European traders promptly paid the rent as directed. The "governor" of a Danish outpost described Asante power as "unbelievably great." The Dutch appealed to the Asantehene, the ruler who embodied the power of the entire Asante state, to make trade routes to the coast safe. No other power was capable of guaranteeing safe passage. In 1708, the Dutch valued their friendship with the Asante Union so much that they would do nothing to offend the Asantehene. 25

In 1801, at the height of Asante power, nearly 1 million people lived in the core of the Asante Union, at a time when 77,000 people lived in Glasgow, England and less than 45,000 in New York. Forty neighboring kingdoms conquered by Asante armies paid tribute, primarily in slaves and gold. African sovereignty during this period was demonstrated by many orders given by reigning kings regarding trade. There were periods when the journals of the trading companies showed that African states on the coast were refusing to sell any more slaves until the price went up. It was a little like OPEC cutting oil production to raise the price per barrel today. On the other hand, when the King of Dahomey went to war in 1731, he promised whatever slaves he took in the war to British merchant ships at the port of Whydah. During the 1700's, most African kings demanded license fees and import duties from European merchants for permission to trade. These often were measured as the value of 50 slaves, to be paid to the king. Around 1720 the trade in gold decreased sharply, because the African kingdoms decided to keep their gold and not trade it to the Europeans. Gold had become highly valued for ceremonial and political reasons. The King of Dahomey put an embargo on trading any gold at all. Many kingdoms demanded payment for slaves in gold. Records of British merchants refer to "the very heavy payment which the Negroes receive for their slaves." At one point the British Royal Africa Company sent direction to their merchants on the Gold Coast (now Ghana) that rather than pay in gold, "if the native traders would not accept English manufactures, they should keep their slaves." But the British had only the power to refuse to buy, they lacked the power to force African kingdoms to sell. Customs records from the Port of Bristol, in England, which controlled the largest part of the English slave trade in the early 1700's, show indirectly that African kingdoms could set their own prices. Goods sent out to trade for slaves included copper, linen and woolen textiles, brass and copper metalwares, firearms, gunpowder, liquor, beads and bar iron. A good deal of this was not manufactured locally but purchased from other nations. The Bristol Recording Society notes that "the evidence of the customs figures indicates that Bristol merchants found it difficult to convince the discerning African consumer that Britishproduced trade goods were better than those made elsewhere." The log books of Humphrey Morice's captains record frequent accommodations that had to be made to local rulers. At one point the Royal Africa Company resolved to send no more ships to Africa "because they found they were obliged to pay such high prices on the coast." In 1727 a ship captain reported that a local king "obliged me to pay my four lookout boys [locally hired] a slave each, the Dutch chiefs assuring me it was the custom" and that "his majesty cheated me of 4 ounces of gold." In 1731 another ship was stopped from carrying on any trade at all because of a dispute with local authorities, until a factor with long local experience arranged a settlement. By the law and decrees of local African rulers, slave cargoes had been legally sold to European merchants. That did not discourage uprisings on slave ships, even while they were still on the African coast. Logs of British ships engaged in trade refer to other ships taken by insurrection and driven ashore. Many slaves being shipped out had been captured in war, and were more than capable of fighting again when they saw an opportunity. Europe did not start dividing up the land of Africa and establishing administrative control 26

until the late 19 century. Before that, Europe lacked the strength to do so. It also lacked the ideology. The myth of white supremacy was incubating in the colonies, but had not yet come to dominate the thinking of Europeans in Africa. Most Europeans considered Africans to be spiritually inferior, because they were not Christian. The virulent form of racism which took root in North America was cultivated later, to provide justification for an institution that had no justification in the evolution of English Common Law. English law accepted and enforced many kinds of servitude, but actual property in human beings had vanished centuries earlier. Wealthy land-owners found themselves dependent on slaves imported from Africa. To sustain slavery in the Americas, Europeans and European-descended colonists developed the theory and attitude that Africans were an inferior people. They reassured themselves that this was true by denying their African slaves instruction in reading, writing, arithmetic, religion, keeping them at hard labor all day, and housing them in unheated shacks with no bathing facilities. Until this myth had been created, Africans had the same legal rights as any other person of similar status. As this contrived evidence of inferiority became accepted, it reflected back on European relations with Africa itself. Britain did not win a battle against the Asante until 1826, and that was after suffering a major defeat in 1824. It took until 1874 for a British army, by then thoroughly racist in its outlook, to actually seize the Asante capital, Kumase, and establish control. That was nine years after the end of the American Civil War and the formal abolition of slavery in the United States. Only the advantages of the breech-loading rapid-fire repeating rifle, and the machine gun, made this possible. Even these advantages, over the flint-lock muskets of the Asante army, were barely enough. By many accounts of British officers, the 1874 campaign was close to being a humiliating defeat for Britain. Asante troops were more disciplined, more motivated, and fighting on their home ground. Only conflicts within the Asante nobility allowed British forces to triumph. Britain did not extinguish the last Asante resistance until 1900, only 60 years before Ghana regained its independence, led by Kwame Nkrumah. Britain only established a protectorate in the Yoruba territory, now part of Nigeria, in 1893. In 1807, Britain passed the Abolition of Slave Trading Act. West African nobility could not understand why Britain suddenly decided to abolish the trade. They had been making a good profit, so had the British merchants. The Asantehene, Osei Bonsu, complained that this left him nowhere to send slaves recently captured in wars of conquest. In 1817, when he agreed to a British request not to renew war against the Fante people on the coast, he asked the King of England in return to renew the slave trade "which will be good for me." Ironically, when Britain took military control of the Asante Union, one of the pretexts was that the Asante kept slaves. In the long run, feeding the trans-Atlantic slave trade backfired on the ruling classes of th Africa. In the 19 century, European officers, who knew little about Africa, arrived for duty firmly convinced from experience in the American colonies that Africans were an inferior race. To complete this line of thinking, they rewrote history to explain that the Africans who had been enslaved were "savages." Actually, most were prisoners of war, (including the women and children) who were on the losing side in battles between some of the most 27


advanced nations in existence at that time. In 1828, a 66 year old slave in Mississippi named Prince was freed by his owner, Thomas Foster. It turned out that Prince was in fact Prince Abd al-Rahman of Fouta Djallon, in the part of Africa where the nation of Guinea is located today. He had been captured in battle in 1788, and sold by his captors to a transAtlantic ship. Foster freed him at the specific request of President John Quincy Adams.

European armies came in the 19 century to an Africa that had been greatly weakened by th the slave trade itself. In the 16 century, about 9000 slaves a year were transported across th the Atlantic. By the 18 century it was 8 times as many 7,000,000 people over 100 years. In 1704, 30,000 were being shipped every year by the combined efforts of the English, French, Danish, Portuguese and Brandenburgers, and another 60,000 by the Dutch alone. The powerful rulers who sold their slaves to European merchants became strong. But by the time European nations attempted actual conquest, the resources and culture of the continent were weaker from the disruption and loss of people. African nations emerging from European colonial control in the late 20 century identified with the civil rights struggles of African-Americans, who took new hope from the emergence of independent African states. But slaves in the Americas and colonies in Africa had been subjugated through very different processes, at very different times. Chattel slavery in the United States had been abolished before Europeans were able to establish control of anything more than a trading or re-supply station, in any part of sub-Saharan Africa. During the late 1700's Europe entered the industrial revolution. Africa did not. Industrial development was concentrated at first in northern and western Europe, in England most of all, in Holland and Belgium, then in France, somewhat later in Italy and Germany. Northern Europe had until then been a collection of second-rate kingdoms on the fringes of European civilization. That is how the "cultured" nations, the French, Spanish and Italians, looked at Europe. Large scale industrial manufacturing did not get under way until after 1800. During the 1800's and 1810's, English peasants were still gathering at night to smash up factories. They had been born in agricultural villages. They hated being forced to work with machines, when they were evicted from their land. They hated working by time clocks. They lived in villages where Celtic legends 3000 years old were still remembered. They named their resistance after a mystical "Captain Lludd." Lludd was an ancient Celtic god. England hunted down, massacred, and hung its own rebellious peasants, forcing the survivors to work in the factories, even as British ships began to suppress the slave trade. Fourteen Lluddite leaders were hanged in York on January 15, 1813. A pamphlet circulated in England at this time offered a comparison of the lives of "The Black Negroes of the West Indies and the White Negroes of Europe." The author humbly submitted that this "may tend in some small degree at least, to elucidate the real merits of European Liberty." The author meant, quite simply, that there was no liberty for the laboring classes of Europe. Financed by the intensive labor and impoverishment of its own people, as well as the reinvested profits of the slave trade, England took the lead at industrial development. 28

Northern Europe, especially England, began feeling superior to southern Europe, while Europe as a whole began taking an attitude of superiority toward Africa and Asia. As industrial development grew, the slave trade made less sense, and became less profitable. It was no coincidence that European claims of colonial territory in Africa arose after this industrialization process, after laws were passed to prohibit the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It was also no coincidence that Portugal, which was slow to develop industry, continued transporting slaves longer than any other European nation.



Identification of Slavery with Race

Between 1680 and 1740, patterns and customs of servitude changed in the North American colonies of England. For the first time, some people began to think of themselves as "white." Attitudes also changed toward Negroes. Originally, this word described one of several nationalities of people among the settlers of Virginia and other colonies. Negroes, like any nationality, could sign contracts, had rights to appear in court, and could work their way out of servitude. They could own land, and acquire servants of their own, of any nationality that was for sale. But by 1740, these same people were transformed by law and custom into "niggers" who had no nationality, no rights, and no status at all. It took another 60 years or more before that was widely accepted outside of wealthy and educated circles. Among the Ibo of what is now Nigeria, "white man" was a polite term for a leper. There were also occasional albinos among the populations of Africa, as there are among the peoples of Europe and Asia. Europeans are medically and scientifically just a light shade of brown. There is only one pigment that colors human skin. Doctors and chemists have given it the name melanin. People who live in cold northern climates tend to have smaller concentrations of melanin in their skin. People exposed to more sunlight, more of the year, have higher concentrations of melanin. The more melanin in the skin, the darker the shade of brown. Some people have inherited genes for a high melanin concentration. Their ancestors lived in warm climates for many generations. Others have inherited genes for low melanin concentrations. But their melanin concentrations go up if they stay out in the sun for a long time. They call it a "sun tan." Modern technology allows people whose ancestors lived in cold northern climates to make their skin look more like those from warm southern climates. That process is called a tanning salon. There are no "black", "white", "red", or "yellow", races. Some people have so little melanin that blood vessels give their skin a pink appearance. Many southern Europeans are actually quite a dark shade of brown, Greeks and Italians for example. Many southern Italians have a good deal of African heritage. That goes back many centuries before Columbus. Ancient Greeks and Romans were much darker than southern Europeans today, before Germanic and Slavic tribes invaded their territory. So were the ancient Hebrews. Chinese have a different concentration of melanin in their skin than native Americans, who have different concentrations than either Europeans or Africans. But its all melanin. Suddenly, in North America at the beginning of the 18 century, "white man" became a desirable status. By the beginning of the next century, any known ancestry from Africa made a person black. But tens of thousands of light-skinned people who had European and African and native American ancestors managed to establish themselves as "white." Their descendants include millions of today's "white" Americans. Others who were not quite so light were classified as black. Those who were descended entirely from Africans were not uniformly dark, because the peoples of Africa are not all the same complexion. Colonial society based on subordination of lower classes to aristocracy began to yield to demands for "liberty." As the "superior" classes were forced most unwillingly to relax their control of the servant class of the 1600's, they created a special servitude, reserved 31

for Africans. They had to create some rationale to retain some work force that was not entitled to "liberty." This was ultimately done by excluding Americans of African descent from the society in which they lived. As the status of servant changed, wealthy landowners found themselves dependent on slaves imported from Africa. They simply could not maintain the lifestyle they had become accustomed to without dominating and exploiting some group of people. The Greek philosopher Aristotle had written that some men are by nature fit to be slaves, and others are by nature fit to be masters. Both the slaves and masters he wrote about were Greek. The English philosopher, John Locke, who risked his life to write many of the principles that appeared later in the Declaration of Independence, denied that slavery was natural for anyone. He wrote that slavery is nothing else but the state of war continued between a lawful conqueror and a captive. That was exactly the practice of slavery among native American nations. Slave owners eventually convinced themselves, and others around them, that those they enslaved were intended by God and nature to be servants. Until this myth had been created, Africans had the same legal rights as any other person of similar status. Once this myth was accepted, it also began to infect attitudes toward colonists of African descent who were free, well-educated, landowners, accepted members of church congregations, and worked in respected trades. This process moved faster in New York than in Virginia. New York was the property of James, Duke of York, a major investor in the slave trade. It had been established by the Dutch, who handled most of the slave trade during the middle 1600's. Virginia, on the other hand, had African landowners who bought the contracts of European indentured servants. The sheer numbers of servants imported from Africa after around 1700, who more and more were simply called "slaves", made dark skin and servitude synonymous. Thousands of Europeans continued to arrive as indentured servants throughout the 1700's. They could still be whipped and branded, they still ran away whenever they could. But their servitude was temporary, and it was not inherited. This status came to be reserved for "whites" only. As slave codes were passed into law starting around 1700, servants from Africa were locked into a perpetual slavery that would be passed on to their children forever, without legal rights or recourse of any kind. The transition to hereditary slavery was a key step that inflicted unforeseen destruction on life in North America for the next 300 years. Throughout history, it has been painful and degrading for any man or woman to know that their labor, or their person, is the property of another. But in many slave economies, children and grandchildren became accepted as full members of the community in which they were born. As far as servants purchased from Africa were concerned, that hope was removed from the law of the North American colonies, in the decades leading up to the American Revolution. Around 1690 the owners of large plantations in Virginia were seeking to consolidate their social positions as "gentry." They were establishing hereditary lineages, like those of European noble houses. They generally did not have a very long lineage, and their immigrant forbears did not come from very high-ranking nobility in England, if they had 32

been noble at all. A family that could trace its presence back three generations in America, and which owned a large amount of land and slaves, could establish itself as gentry. Too many questions about the status of the founding ancestor, three generations back, had best not be asked. Colorful myths were made up of gallant cavaliers fleeing to Virginia to escape death in England at the hands of Oliver Cromwell. The cavaliers fought for King Charles I in the English Civil War. They were cold, ruthless, self-centered aristocrats. Some did get their heads chopped off, as King Charles I did. The rest fled to France and Germany, with Charles' sons, not to Virginia. The myths of the cavaliers survived long enough to be added to the mythology of the slave-owning class. This "lineage" was widely touted by democratic slave owners, resisting the final abolition of the last form of open servitude in America. The great families seeking to establish their status and lineage needed large numbers of slaves. They needed a class of permanent dependents, not servants who would hope to leave after several years, should they live so long. The British and colonial governments sought a way to accommodate the demands for greater freedom on the one hand. But they made sure to still have slaves who could be worked in labor gangs to bring in the cash crops of tobacco. This required isolating some group of people from others, some group to which the new freedoms would not apply. This could only have been avoided if the large land owners were willing to share a great deal of the wealth produced by the plantations with those who did the hardest work. Instead, they chose a divide and conquer strategy. In 1723, the Virginia House of Burgesses passed a law barring free Negroes, mulattoes or Indians from voting in elections. This is the first time that race alone was sufficient to restrict the right to vote. (Laws to prohibit Catholics from voting were passed in 1699 and 1705). Of course the majority of the residents of Virginia were always denied the right to vote. Servants of any color were not allowed to vote. In 1670, freemen who did not own land were disenfranchised. That means they were no longer allowed to vote. After 1723, the vote was limited to "white" male protestant freeholders over twenty-one years of age. (Freeholders meant they owned land, not only that they were free of servitude). Americans of African origin voted in North Carolina until 1715. In Georgia, African-Americans who met property qualifications voted until 1754.

In 1723, the Virginia House of Burgesses passed a law barring free Negroes, mulattoes or Indians from voting in elections. This was the first time that race alone was sufficient to restrict the right to vote in

In 1680 a law made it illegal for "any negroe or other slave" to carry weapons. Nothing was said about freemen of any race. In July 1675, a free farmer of African descent, William Harman, was summoned to Northampton County Court because a neighboring planter of English descent named Grey said a gun in Harman's possession belonged to Grey. Harman produced evidence he had bought the gun from Grey's wife. The court found for Harman, and Grey had to pay costs. Nothing was said about either party's race. It was almost 60 years later, in 1738, that Virginia legislators decided "all such free mulattos, negros or Indians" who served in the militia "shall appear without arms." 33

That measure was specifically motivated by the fact that one of the main duties of the militia by then was patrolling slave quarters and apprehending runaways. In the first century or so, the militia primarily served in wars with the native American nations in the area. By 1738, there were none left posing a threat to the Tidewater area, where all of Virginia's wealth was concentrated. But the character of the servant population had changed. There were now thousands of slaves recently imported from Africa, who were grouped in separate communities and had few of the legal rights that all servants had in the 1600's. Patrolling this subject population became the primary duty of the militia. The same act instituted patrols by the reorganized militia of "all negroe quarters, and other places suspected of entertaining unlawful assemblies of slaves, servants, or other disorderly persons or any other strolling about without a pass." Slave quarters were to be visited once a month by a patrol of not more than five men. Like most race-related decisions in American history, limiting the institution of slavery to those of darker skin and African origin did not just happen. It was a deliberate decision by the most powerful and wealthy men in the colonies. It was a cynical decision to preserve the advantages to large land owners and merchants of holding and working slaves. It took a "I cannot see why one while to impose all the attitudes required to make freeman should be used this work. In London a Board of Trade attorney, Richard West, criticized the 1723 racial restrictions worse than another, on voting. He wrote "I cannot see why one freeman merely on account of his should be used worse than another, merely on complexion." account of his complexion." West was not in the loop on the new way of thinking , and his advice Richard West, Board of Trade Attorney, was ignored. Too much money was at stake to allow such a question to stand. England no longer had the same surplus population to get rid of. The growing number of factories in England were using up the unemployed population. Other colonies like Australia were available to transport prisoners to. Virginia was now large enough that it was a good business proposition for a slave ship to make the trip directly from Africa to Virginia. Transporting indentured servants from Europe was not formally ended, but the numbers became smaller and smaller, while larger numbers of servants, now increasingly referred to as slaves, were imported from Africa. Ultimately, between five and fifteen percent of the Africans transported across the Atlantic for sale as slaves were delivered to the North American colonies. Lacking legal protection, landowners of African descent more often than not lost their property, and survived on whatever work they could get. Small landowners, of any nationality, had always depended on the patronage of wealthier landowners to survive. If this was withheld, a small landowner would be without protection in the courts. They would lose money trading their crops. They would find it necessary to sell land or other property at a cheap price. Where before it was normal that servants from Africa worked their way out of servitude and acquired land, now that was considered an odd exception. Right up until the Civil War, there were a few people of dark complexion and African descent who not only retained ownership of estates, but owned slaves of their own as well. 34

This was true in every southern state, although more common in Louisiana, where French traditions were different from those of Virginia and South Carolina. There is even a record of an African-American land owner in Alabama who sold several of his own children into slavery. No slavery anywhere in the world has survived without collaboration of part of the enslaved class. For example, Charleston, South Carolina, had 1475 free people of color, almost 6% of the city's population, from 1810 to 1820. They were nearly all loyal defenders of the status quo. Some of them owned slaves themselves. It took several decades for the impoverished majority of European colonists, and mixedrace colonists who managed to choose to be "white," to acquire the peculiar racial attitudes that plagued the United States from its inception. The wealthy classes who profited from this innovation had to work very hard to secure its acceptance outside of their own social circles. It took most of the 1700's, and was an unfinished work in progress at the time of the American Revolution. General acceptance of the "natural" division of mankind into servile and genteel classes was dying fast. Those who wished to remain "genteel" leaned more and more on the notion of servile and genteel races of mankind. Of course only a handful of those who now came to think of themselves as "white" got to really be part of the "genteel" class. But the presumed inferiority of the race that remained in servitude served to secure another 150 years of free labor to get rich on. It was easier to keep track of slaves if they could be distinguished by color from the rest of the population. It made another uprising like Bacon's Rebellion impossible. The owners of large estates would no longer hold an enslaved class of every color in contempt. Instead, they would hold two subservient classes, kept mostly at each others throats, in separate but equal contempt. One class would be presumed slaves unless they had documents to prove otherwise. They were generally of a dark brown color of skin. But some who were extremely light were still enslaved based on their mother's status. Light skin was not by itself enough to obtain freedom. Likewise, a deep tan was not enough to make one a slave. The other class would be presumed free, but kept in the most grinding poverty, and expected to show almost as much deference to the large landowners. Their only pleasure in life would be that there was now one class of people who had to show deference to them. Before, almost any servant, tenant, or small landholder would help every runaway who came their way, regardless of color. Afterward, those who were "white" could make a little extra money tracking down runaways, who were now generally of a different and identifiable color. People whose grandparents had known how to read and write grew up with no education, forced into the most grinding poverty. Men whose ancestors had marched with Nathaniel Bacon, and held the royal governor of Virginia at gunpoint, took jobs as overseers on plantations. Many of their children died of malnutrition. They were offered only one consolation, which over the years they clung to tighter and tighter: "at least we white."



Servitude in North America: 1700's

Triumph of the Gentry in Virginia
By 1700, Virginia colony had a population of 60,000, almost all of whom lived around the Chesapeake Bay. Ten to fifteen percent of these were African. Organized Native American nations were nearly gone from the area. This population grew to 230,000 in 1750, of which 40% were from Africa, about 90% of them slaves. During that time, an average of 1000 slaves were imported to Virginia each year. Through most of the 18 century, nearly everyone continued to be either a servant or a master, of some kind. Employment for wages was only a side effect of a master-servant relationship. The largest number of people recognized as "free" were those who had enough land to support themselves, but not enough to take on servants or slaves. The rank of "gentleman" in England depended upon owning a large stretch of land. In Virginia, with so much land open for the taking, the same status required ownership of large numbers of slaves as well. Nobody, who became wealthy as a merchant, was accepted into the elite of the colony, until they obtained both land and slaves. Patrick Henry, who made the famous remark "give ME liberty or give me death," described Virginia society as divided into four classes: * The most wealthy and powerful, and the fewest, were the "well-born" planters. That meant someone with a large estate, who by the late 1700's could trace four or five generations in America, descended from an English immigrant whose grandfather may have been hanged as a thief. * Next were the "yeomen" who owned and worked their own farms. Some of these may have owned a few slaves and a small brick house. These were ambitious, eager to rise higher, and often were hard taskmasters. They could be counted on as loyal members of the militia. Many of their grandfathers had been indentured servants on the plantations of the "well-born." They could and did vote. Generally, they voted for whichever of the "well-born" they needed favors from. * Henry described the next class as the "lower orders." This would have been a majority of those considered "white," who for the most part owned little or no land. They could not vote either. They often sought "employment" from the higher classes, which would have been mostly for room, board and clothing, and maybe a little spending money. * Last were the slaves, by this time a class tied to African descent and dark complexion. Not all descended from Africans were slaves, but all slaves were descended at least in part from Africans. To vote in Virginia required ownership of 50 acres of land, or 25 acres and a house. As in New York and South Carolina, a man could vote in each district where he owned at least 50 acres. About half the adult "white" males met the requirements for at least one vote. Wealthier men cast many votes. The rest had no vote at all, nor did slaves or free Africans. These conditions were established by a colonial act of 1736, and retained in the constitution of the new state in 1776. 37

In one county where old records have been closely studied, about half of 300 adult males th around the middle of the 18 century owned land. Only one quarter owned enough to support a family, 100 to 200 acres. Two thirds of the landowners (about one third of the adult "white" males) owned slaves. But it took ten or more slaves to give a master even the possibility of being known as "gentleman." Only one tenth had risen that high. Only three men in the county owned more than 20 slaves, and these ruled every part of the local government. Large scale importation of slaves concentrated wealth into even fewer hands, as slave importing firms began to sell slaves on credit. More slaves could be purchased and put to work faster this way, and large planters who had more property to offer as security were better risks for credit. Then, having more slaves working larger areas of land, they secured more wealth, and could obtain more credit to purchase more slaves. In 1708, the Royal Africa Company had 300-400 thousand pounds of bonded debt, because the slave trade was run on credit at every stage. African sellers accepted credit for future payment, and the company sold slaves on credit in the Caribbean and North America. The gentry families of the colony dominated those who were not outright slaves through control of land grants, credit and the courts. There was plenty of open land, as fast as the native American nations were removed from it. But those at the top purchased a great deal of it early. They had better connections to the King's Council and the colonial office in London. Those with fewer connections had to buy or rent the land from those who controlled it, or move deep into the mountainous western areas, far from trade and supplies. Gentry in every county were the judges when courts were in session, appointed all the other officers of government, provided credit to smaller planters, licensed mills and taverns, and chose the parsons for the officially recognized Anglican (Episcopalian) churches. In Virginia, county courts were the local government in the colony, doing everything from hearing criminal cases to maintaining roads. Seats on the courts were filled by gentry, who appointed other gentry when there was a vacancy. They considered it their right, as men of property, good family, and education, to rule over the common folk. James Reid, a satirist of Scottish descent, commented that "They diligently search the Scriptures, but the Scriptures which they search are the Laws of Virginia: for though you may find innumerable families in which there is no Bible, yet you will not find one without a Law-book." This was a point of criticism when the religious revival known as the Great Awakening came to Virginia. Control of credit was the most powerful lever of domination. The wealthiest families in each county had a web of debtors they could call upon to swing an election or obtain any other favor they desired. It insured that in daily life, those who owed money would be deferential to those they owed, right down to taking off their hats and bowing when one of the gentry drove by in their coach. Control of credit and trade was expanded in the 1730's by acts providing for inspection of tobacco before it could be exported. Wealthy planters producing a large volume of tobacco could afford the extra care to keep their crop in good condition for inspection. Smaller planters didn't have the money to keep up the new standards. During the middle of the 1700's, control of credit declined, as Scottish merchants sent 38

employees to Virginia to establish stores. For the first 100 years, gentlemen growers had arranged the freight for their own crops to be shipped to a dealer in England. Their poorer neighbors depended upon these gentry to also ship their smaller tobacco crops; and arrange purchases of supplies in England with the credit from the shipment. The new merchant representatives were called factors. They sold imported goods on credit in Virginia at a high mark-up, accepted tobacco as payment, and shipped it out to warehouses in Glasgow for sale throughout Europe. This reduced the dependence of the small growers on the gentry. They could go straight to a factor right in their local area. It meant that when the Great Awakening arrived in Virginia, families with little or no land felt free to abandon the established churches, with less fear of reprisal. It also left the status of slaves standing out in more contrast to the life of others around them. As the life of all other colonists became less subservient, the servitude of African slaves became a more distinct and different status. After 1725, social and economic organization in Virginia had formed around households which were as large as great plantations and as small as one-room shacks. At every level, the proprietor, with a larger or smaller number of dependents, slave, bond, or free, exercised command. Large proprietors kept rations small for their slaves and servants, to extract the surplus needed for their own lavish display of wealth. Their social status depended upon it. This display became a point of condemnation as the Baptist, Presbyterian and Methodist faiths began to grow among the common people. As thousands of new slaves were imported into Virginia from Africa during the early 1700's, those purchased for labor on large estates were housed in quarters that were culturally and physically distinct from both the big house and from the housing of other servants. This distinction had not existed in the 1600's. Demands for labor were harsh and enforcement severe. Slave owners had no illusions that their slaves were submissive, th happy, docile and contented, as 19 century slave owners tried to convince themselves. But slaves were left to themselves on Sundays, holidays and in the evenings. In contrast to th the constant physical presence of slave owners in the life of 19 century slaves, in the th early 18 century they could develop their family and community life without much interference. This somewhat resembled the pattern of slave labor in Kongo and other African states, which newly imported slaves would have been familiar with. For a time, that provided some familiarity and continuity. It also provided for the survival of some African customs in the quarters. In 1727, Virginia's leading gentry were alarmed to hear that African runaways had established a settlement in the west. At that time "the west" would have been in the Appalachian foothills. In fact, runaways of all colors headed west whenever they could. But at this late date, a permanent settlement of escaped African slaves would have been the basis of continuous guerilla warfare, similar to the maroons in Jamaica and Surinam. It never came to be. Virginia was swept by rumors of a slave uprising in August and September of 1730. This was the first hint of revolt in Virginia since Nathaniel Bacon. Lieutenant Governor William Gooch called out the militia to "patrolle" and "deter from any unlawful meetings." For the 39

next ten years Gooch advocated providing funds to buy guns for "the poorer sort of people" so that they could fulfill their militia responsibilities. In 1736 the General Assembly refused to provide funds for this purpose. But in 1740, two thousand pounds was spent to equip militia forces in the counties. Gooch also expressed hope that this would help to discipline the poorer planters. He said "The ordinary people want a good deal of polishing and on that account these regular Exercises will be of great benefit to the country."

New York: Everyone with money is buying a slave

New York had the largest African population in the 1700's of any British colony north of Virginia. Nearly all were initially purchased as slaves. One third were already free before slavery was legally abolished in New York, more than twenty years after the American Revolution. By 1730, city merchants in New York were heavily involved in the slave trade to the West Indies. Direct imports of slaves to the colony rose too. From 1700 to 1725, 2400 slaves were imported into New York. This was up to 7400 by 1775. In 1746, 21% of the city's 11,720 residents were from Africa, and at least half the households in the city held one or more slaves. Slaves were put to work in ship's crews, docks, shipbuilding yards, craft shops, and as domestic servants. In 1738, one fourth of the 2300 people in Kings County were slaves, used for all kinds of farm work. In Westchester and the Hudson Valley, large estates were worked by tenant farmers, slaves and indentured servants, who generally worked side by side. Slaves were a minority of the workforce on these estates. A typical estate had 100 tenants and 24 slaves. But these were the highest concentrations of slaves. Most households in New York City owned only one or two. New York's first comprehensive slave code was passed in 1704. It was more severe than the laws Virginia had at that time. New Yorks laws were more severe, because, for all practical purposes, control of slaves in New York was much weaker. Laws reserved indentured servitude as a condition for "whites" only. (The need to pass such a law at all shows that some Africans had been indentured servants, not slaves, up to the time it was passed). The new code gave masters unrestricted rights to sell off slaves specifically meaning those from Africa regardless of family ties. Masters of slaves from Africa were granted nearly unlimited powers of punishment. Laws passed in the next few years made slavery inheritable through the mother. That was a new idea at the time. It spread to other colonies. It was one of the reasons slavery lasted so long in America. Laws also banned more than three slaves gathering at nightfall. Slave were prohibited from selling food or goods in the street, which many slaves did to make a little money of their own. A law was passed in New York in 1706 affirming that baptism did not relieve a slave of their status. Many Dutch farmers still objected to baptism of slaves or slave children, for fear it would harm their property rights. In this period, three fifths of slaves in New York came from the West Indies and often spoke Spanish. Another two-fifths were Akan-Asante people, from the area that today has 40

reclaimed the name of Ghana. Powerful kingdoms in this part of west Africa had many slaves for sale, mostly conquered in wars of expansion. Several European nations had trading posts on the west African coast. The price of purchasing slaves there was high, but so was the demand. Many common slave names from that period were in fact the names of days of the week in Asante language: Quashee (Sunday), Cudjo (Monday), Quaco (Wednesday), Cufee (Friday) because it was common tradition in that part of Africa to name children for the day they were born. Refugees from Europe were put into other forms of servitude starting around 1710. The largest number were Palatine Germans, mostly Lutheran or Calvinist. Their home areas were over-run by the armies of Catholic kings. The protestants fled, suffering from epidemics and famines. During this time, nations in western and central Europe were either Catholic or Protestant, and went to war over the difference. Minorities of either religion, in nations ruled by the other, were also slaughtered or enslaved. The British government offered to help the Protestant refugees. But when they got to New York, they were interned on Governor's Island. Many were killed by disease, then sent off to the agricultural estates of the Hudson Valley. They were to work there as indentured servants, at the pleasure of the governor. Many were herded into labor gangs to extract turpentine from pitch pines. When they mutinied, troops were called in to restore order. "The Ship Happy Return, is lately arrived at the City of New York, from Dublin, with Men and Women Servants; many of the Men are Trades men, as Black-Smiths, Carpenters, Weavers, Taylors, Cordwainers, and other Trades, which servants are to be seen on board the said Vessel lying over against Mr. Reads Wharff and to be disposed of by John & Joseph Read, on reasonable terms." A little later in the 18 century, 15,000 Scotch-Irish and 60,000-80,000 Roman Catholic Irish arrived as indentured servants. A few were contracted to specific masters in advance. The rest were advertised for sale upon their arrival, in language strikingly similar to advertisements of slaves from Africa: "The Ship Happy Return, is lately arrived at the City of New York, from Dublin, with Men and Women Servants; many of the Men are Trades men, as Black-Smiths, Carpenters, Weavers, Taylors, Cordwainers, and other Trades, which servants are to be seen on board the said Vessel lying over against Mr. Reads Wharff and to be disposed of by John & Joseph Read, on reasonable terms."4

John Woolman, a Quaker born in 1720, recorded such a purchase by a shop owner in New Jersey. Woolman kept a journal for much of his life. He got his first job from this shop owner. He had to commit to a whole year of service. He wrote down that "In a few months after I came here, my master bought several Scotchmen servants, from on board a vessel, and brought them to Mount Holly to sell." Another advertisement read "To Be Sold: A German Servant Man, with his Wife and Son, of

The ship Happy Return, sailing out of Bristol, also carried slaves from Africa on trips in 1706, 1707, and 1709. The human cargo was sold in Jamaica. In 1709, it was captured by a French vessel and diverted to Martinique to unload the slaves.


about Six Years old, who are to serve five Years" Notably, indentured servants from Europe were sold for a specific term of years, while Africans were now generally sold for life. Families from Europe were sold as a single unit. Nonetheless, runaways were as common, and their return as relentlessly advertised for, as with African slaves. Historians have traced the styles of dress of the lower classes during the 1750's and 1760's, from advertisements for the return of runaway servants, who failed to draw sufficient comfort from their "white" skin to remain obediently with their masters. The styles of the wealthy became more and more extravagant, providing to the English language the contemptuous terms "big-wig" and "silk-stocking." In 1731, the colony was granted a new charter for local To be sold, a likely young government. It reflected the class tensions of the times. Negro Wench, fit for either At the top were "freeholders," who owned real property Town or Country, with a worth at least 40 pounds in the ward where they voted. Male Child of about three They didn't have to live in the ward. In fact, they could Months old. vote in EACH ward where they owned property worth at least 40 pounds. Next came "freemen," who were enrolled as voting members of the city "corporation" (one vote). For this, a trader or shopkeeper had to pay a fee as high as 3 pounds 12 shillings. Native-born residents who had completed an apprenticeship could get one vote for a few pennies. About one third of the residents of the city qualified as freemen. That left two of every three adults excluded from voting or other "membership" in the officially defined community, by their gender, race, servitude or poverty. In the 1739 census, New York had a population of An English Servant 8622. There were 1577 of African origin or descent. Mans Time, of about One hundred forty merchants and landowners held Five Years, to be half the taxable wealth of the city. They were ten disposed of. percent of those who owned enough property to be worth taxing. Forty-nine percent of the taxable population owned property worth ten pounds or less. Three fifths of the people in the city lived at or near subsistence level. That included destitute European colonists, as well as Africans, free or enslaved, Apprentices who broke the law could be fined, whipped by the public whipper, or sentenced to longer terms of service, as could indentured servants. Masters complained constantly about "disobedient, larcenous and idle servants." Ann Sewal savagely beat her servant Ann Parsons, and kept her "in Chains and Irons Just imported, and to be for several Weeks upon bread and water only" later Sold on board the Snow telling a court that "she didn't know itt was the breach New York, Capt. Gifford of any Law, her said Servant having highly offended from Bristol, a parcel of her." likely Welch Servants, of both Sexes; the Men In 1743, maidservants in New York formed an mostly Tradesmen, Millers, association which recommended "we think it reasonable Masons, Taylors, and we should not be beat by our Mistresses Husband, they Coopers, &c. being too strong , and perhaps may do tender women mischief." It is a measure of the times that the maids New York Gazette, August 19, accepted the notion that their mistresses had the right 42

to beat them, only asking that the husband not do so. Over 100 years later, one of the more common causes of violent death among upper class women in Manhattan was to be beaten to death by their own (hired) maids after giving one too many sharp reprimands on a hot sweltering summer's day. This fact was cited in a study of the Lizzie Borden murder trial, which took place in the early 1900's. (The author of the study believed that Ms. Borden's father and step-mother, in Massachusetts, had in fact been murdered by the family's Irish live-in maid). Some things don't change, regardless of color or form of servitude.

Revolts and Resistance

New York was no easier to control then than it is now. Authorities received complaints every year of slaves illegally congregating, brawling, breaking curfew, playing in the streets on Sundays. Many were also drinking and socializing at taverns run by "white" families suspected of keeping prostitutes and fencing stolen goods. In 1696 Mayor William Merritt ordered a group of noisy slaves to disperse and got punched in the face. Everyone knew that runaways could find refuge with the Seneca, Onondaga, Montauks, Shinnecocks, Massapequas Areas that turned early to gang labor by slaves, purchased from Africa, had already suffered repeated revolts. Half a dozen took place in Barbados and Antigua alone from 1670 to 1730. Many of New York's slaves came from those islands, not direct from Africa. Jamaica had a permanent population of escaped slaves known as maroons who fought off attempts to recapture them for decades. New York's growing slave population, in what for the times was already a crowded urban environment, produced small signs of the same response. In 1690 a group of runaway slaves Run away Yesterday, from terrorized Dutch farmers in Harlem. In Nicholas Bayard, of this City, a 1708 an Indian slave named Sam and his Bristol Servant Man, named African wife murdered a plantation owner and his family in the area of what is now James Caselick; he came here in Astoria (Queens). The owner tried to stop May last, in the Griffin, Capt. his slaves from "going abroad on the Goad, from Liverpool: He is a well Sabbath day." The two slaves were set Fellow, fresh colourd, age quickly captured, convicted and executed about 25 years. Whoever takes on the plains east of Jamaica. Sam was up said Servant, and brings him impaled on a stake and hung in chains. to his Master, or secures him so His wife was burned alive. In 1712 two that his said Master may have dozen slaves launched an uprising on him again, shall have Three Manhattan. Seventy were ultimately Pounds Reward. arrested by the time it was put down. Several committed suicide rather than be recaptured, and 23 were killed, three by burning. Slaves in New Jersey revolted in 1734, in alliance with native Americans still living in the area, and French people, who still controlled Canada and much of the Ohio River valley. 43

Perth Amboy was a major port for slave cargoes newly brought from Africa, and had long barracks where they were temporarily held. In 1800 there were still 12,422 slaves in New Jersey. Laws that were passed over and over show that the excluded, impoverished, majority congregated together in causing trouble for the wealthier classes. In the 1680's, the colonial government passed a series of laws for strict disciplining of unruly laborers, apprentices, servants, and slaves. In 1719 the Court of General Session complained of "Disorders and Other Mischiefs that Commonly happen within this City on Shrove Tuesday by Great Numbers of Youths Apprentices and Slaves that Assemble together." Many class conflicts came to a head in New York in 1741. It is not clear whether there was in fact an organized revolt or not. Slavery having by then been fully defined as a condition for Africans only, the call "God damn all the white people" was naturally heard on the streets during this time. But there was a good deal of revolt of all the lower classes against the wealthy, and individuals of all colors were executed when it was over. There were a number of suspicious fires, possibly set to draw attention of the watch while burglaries were committed elsewhere. An Irish soldier, Private Edward Murphy, remarked "Damn me if I won't lend a hand to the fires as soon as anybody." There was plenty of hysterical rumor that slaves were setting the fires. When no evidence was found, a special grand jury was convened, and turned its attention to European tavern owners who were known to have Africans (free and slave) as customers. Investigation focused on John Hughson, whose customers included free Africans, slaves, many of the city's poor un-free European majority, and even occasional young gentlemen trying out an early version of "slumming." Run away, from Cornelia Rutgers, of the City of New York, a Negro Man, called Hector, well set, thick, and of middle Stature, thick Lips, speaks thick and fast; he formerly belonged to Mr. Newcomb, at Poughkeepsie, in Dutchess County. Whoever takes up and brings or sends the said Negro to his Mistress, shall have Thirty Shillings Reward, if taken within the City and County of New York; but if without the said County, Three Pounds Reward, and all reasonable charges. city down. Other witnesses testified that slaves had remarked in Hughson's tavern that "a great many people had too much, and others too little." One man remarked that his own master "had a great deal of money, but that, in a short time, he should have less." A recently arrived Roman Catholic priest and several Catholic soldiers from the local garrison were tried next. 44 He was also a fence. Slaves in the city referred to his tavern as "Oswego" (named after a trading post with native American tribes on Lake Ontario) because of all the buying and selling that took place. The trials turned into a vast witch-hunt. The Hughson's 16-year old indentured servant, Mary Burton was the star witness. All she knew about was receipt of stolen property from two slaves, named Caesar and Prince. Offered freedom from servitude, and threatened with all kinds of painful punishments, Burton named everyone she knew the name of, describing a vast conspiracy of poor European colonists and slaves to burn the

Mary Burton promptly remembered seeing them at Hughson's tavern also. She remembered anything she was told to remember, for as long as the trials continued. By any standards of evidence, the trials proved no credible conspiracy, but did show that there was a lot of contact between slaves and poor un-free Europeans. Both shared a lot of contempt for the well-born, who dressed in "ruffles", had most of the wealth, and ran the town. Authorities responded by closing down taverns which followed the "most wicked and pernicious practice of entertaining negroes and the scum and dregs of white people in conjunction" They accused "Suspicious Vagrants, Strolling Preachers" of stirring up the lower classes, especially "Youths and Negroes." A Methodist missionary, Rev. George Whitfield, was blamed for laying the ground of the revolt of 1741. Respectable clergy attacked Whitfield's "impudence and indiscretion" in advocating the conversion of slaves to Christianity. But most of all, the authorities tried to drive a wedge into their rebellious underclass by loudly whipping up racial hatred, denouncing blacks as inferior, dangerous, and subhuman. As the impoverished urban majority continued to revolt, the wealthy elite of the city did their best to divide and conquer by louder and louder appeals to racism. This, ultimately, was the measure that kept the lid on the next several generations of New York's laboring classes. Skilled trades people were quickly turned against both free and enslaved Africans because of the long practice of teaching skilled trades to slaves. Since this cut labor costs in half, it was widely practiced. Tradesmen of European origin predictably demanded that all of African descent be expelled from the city. Political leaders like Lieutenant Governor Clarke paid lip service to the idea. But New York had become economically dependent on slave labor, and continued to import slaves. The depression of the 1730's drove many Europeans away. By 1741, one fifth of the population of New York was from Africa. Just imported from Liverpool, and to be sold on board the Snow Nancy, William Beekman, Master, Several White Servants; also sundry sorts of Earthen Ware in Casks and Crates, Cheshire Cheese, Loaf Sugar, Cutlery Ware, Pewter, Grindstones, Coals, and Sundry other goods too tedious to mention; by Abraham Van Horne, Daniel and Isaac Gomez, or said Master.

There were exceptions to the later notion that anyone with any African descent could be conveniently and universally classified as "black." Samuel Fraunces, originally from the West Indies, was of mixed French and African descent. He opened a series of taverns which drew some of the highest society of New York. It was at Fraunces Tavern where George Washington said farewell to his officers at the end of the American Revolution. In 1766, while the Sons of Liberty were organizing resistance to the Stamp Tax, tenant farmers in the Hudson Valley rose up against their landlords. They shut down courts, threw open jails, and fought pitched Likely Negroes Men and Women, imported from45 the coast of Africa, also the Brigantine Warren, with her Apparel, &c. to be sold.

battles with posses. They marching in disciplined bands. Some simply wanted secure leases and lower rents. Others were "levellers" who wanted to share property equally. As many as 2000 massed at King's Bridge to march into Manhattan, join forces with "the poor people there" and pull down the houses of big landowners. The Sons of Liberty held back from joining them, and the governor called out the militia to drive them away. Although no record says so, it is nearly certain that whatever slaves were working the fields with these tenant farmers would have been a part of this rebellion.


European Servants in South Carolina

South Carolina found reasons to buy some servants from Europe, especially in the 1700s. The primary labor force on the coast around Charleston, from the very beginning, were slaves imported from the West Indies or from Africa. Belatedly, the owners of vast plantations realized that they had surrounded themselves with a huge majority of slaves. They began to notice that this made them very vulnerable. They were completely outnumbered. Their own numbers, even organized into a militia, would not be sufficient to control a well-organized uprising by the enslaved majority. Wealthy land owners saw themselves as commanding officers of the militia, but they needed foot soldiers. They also needed overseers. In addition, they needed a certain number of trade and crafts people: carpenters, blacksmiths, bricklayers, joiners, sailmakers, shoemakers, tailors, watchmakers, gardeners, gunsmiths, goldsmiths, silversmiths. Most of these were trades a gentleman did not dirty his hands with. On the other hand, unlike New York, they had never trained their slaves in these crafts. When British troops removed all the French inhabitants of Acadia, in Canada, some of those evicted were shipped to Charleston. They were given as servants to French Huguenot plantation owners. Since the Huguenots had been Protestant refugees from Roman Catholic France, and the Acadians were Catholic, this was adding insult to injury. The most famous Acadian refugees are the Cajuns of Louisiana. That is partly because they retained a distinct culture well into the 20th century. It is also partly because the poet Longfellow wrote a long romantic poem, Evangeline about their removal from Acadia. In addition to buying whatever was for sale on the latest ship in from Europe, the South Carolina planters accepted shipments of European protestant refugees. These were expected to do several years of indentured servitude to pay for the cost of saving them, from whatever Catholic army was trying to exterminate them in Germany. After each rebellion against the King of England in Britain, soldiers from the losing side were shipped to the Carolinas for sale. In 1745, the British army loyal to King George II defeated the last Scottish army loyal to the Stuart family. Thousands of Scottish clansmen who fought for the Stuart princes were transported to South Carolina and sold. Laws were passed requiring each slave owner to have one white person for every six African slaves, as a matter of public safety. Most of the required white men were indentured servants, bought fresh off the boat. Those who completed their term of service were given 50-200 acres of land. This land was generally in outlying areas. It wasnt worth much without several more years of intensive labor. The good fertile land along the coast was already taken. Some crafts people, bought on arrival from Europe, finished their years of service and opened their own shops. This built up a class of free citizens in Charleston, and elsewhere, who were neither plantation owners nor slaves. A lot of other servants took the chance to run away if they could. Generally, they ran for the hills to the west. Advertisements appeared in Charleston papers for the return of runaway Dutch, German, Welsh and Irish servants. One was advertised as having enticed an Angola Negro to go along with him.


But, in keeping with its Barbados heritage, South Carolina had a unique barbarity in advertising for the return of runaway African slaves. One advertisement in 1745 offered that a slaves owner was willing to allow any man that will bring him Toneys head the sum of 10 pounds. In 1759, one Patrick Laird advertised that if his negro wench named Nell shall enter my service before Thursday the 5th of next month, she shall be well used, but after that he would pay 5 pounds to anyone who delivered her alive, or 20 pounds for her head.* The South Carolina colonial legislature eventually offered 20 pounds for the scalp and ears of such men or women Negro slaves who deserted their owners and were found beyond the Savanna River. Starting about 60 miles from the coast, the interior of the South Carolina colony began to fill up with servants who had completed their time, and servants who had run away. Most of them were German, Scottish or Scotch-Irish. Most belonged to the Reformed Church, or to Presbyterian or Baptist churches. They generally despised the plantation owners on the coast, but they couldnt do much about it. Those who had opened up craft shops in Charleston also despised the wealthier class around them. But the craft people in Charleston depended on the slave-owning aristocrats for business. So they generally had to keep quiet about it most of the time. People in this part of the colony did not keep slaves until well after 1800, but neither did African slaves who were running away find refuge there. Runaways were more likely to head south, into the unclaimed lands toward Spanish Florida. The coast of this area eventually became Georgia, but there was still plenty of wilderness to run to. Many Germans and Scotch-Irish remained loyal to the King of England during the American Revolution. They were not in communication with Committees of Corres-pondence in Boston

Scalping: A European Contribution to the History of North America

The practice of scalping was a custom introduced to North America by Europeans. Originally it was applied to native Americans, or people from enemy European nations. But South Carolina also applied it to runaway slaves. Some native American cultures practiced torture as a refined art. The Iroquois and Huron were especially skilled at it. The Aztecs, who ruled what is now Mexico, sometimes sacrificed over a thousand captives to their gods on a single day, by cutting the beating heart out of the living body. But taking scalps was a European innovation. In Europe, it was customary to require the head of a wanted person before paying a reward offered to whoever captured or killed them. That is what the words a price on his head meant. Bring in the mans head, and the authorities will pay the advertised price. British colonial authorities offered friendly native nations a reward for each head of a French soldier, trader or settler. French authorities made the same offers for British heads. Both did the same for Spanish, and the Spanish returned the favor. Then, offers were made for bringing in the heads of anyone from a native American nation that was allied with an enemy European nation. So a native allied with the French could get a reward for the head of a native allied with the Spanish, and vice versa. Sometimes, these heads had to

To anyone cold enough to look for nothing but the highest reward, it would have made sense to find Nell, keep her out of sight until after the 5th, and then cut off her head. There is no record of whether the owner ever got Nell back, alive or dead.


or Virginia. American independence was something the planters on the coast were taking sides for and against. In fact, South Carolina remained very isolated from all the other colonies until the 1830s.


Princess Susanna Carolina Matilda

One of the funniest stories of indentured servitude in America is that of Sarah Wilson. Wilson was a servant to a noble-woman in England. This woman in turn was one of the Queen of Englands ladies-in-waiting. A Queen did not have just any servant waiting on her. She had women who were noble themselves waiting on her. They generally had servants of their own. Sarah Wilson was one of those servants. She stole a good deal of jewelry, was caught, and sentenced to death. In those days, most thefts above a very small value were punished by death. However her sentence was commuted to transportation. She was transported on a ship to Maryland. There she was "exposed to sale and purchased. She soon escaped from the estate of the man who bought her. She had managed to keep some jewels, and some fine dresses. Soon, Sarah Wilson, a convicted thief in England, sold into slavery in Maryland, was on a tour of Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. She introduced herself as Princess Susanna Carolina Matilda, and said she was the Queen of Englands sister. She traveled from one gentlemans estate to another. Everyone was inviting her to stay at their house. Everyone was throwing big parties for her. Gentleman competed for the privilege of kissing her hand. This went on for months. After a while, her owner in Maryland advertised her as a runaway. A messenger from her master found his way to an estate in South Carolina where she was a guest. But at the time the messenger arrived, Princess Susanna Carolina Matilda was on an excursion to another plantation in the area. Records and accounts of the time do not include what happened after that.


The Great Awakening: Religion and Slavery

The "Great Awakening," was an evangelical movement in the middle of the 1700's which produced the Methodist and Baptist denominations. It laid the foundations for many others that followed, and renewed several that already existed. Evangelists found immediate acceptance among servants, slaves, bondsmen and small farmers. This movement was violently rejected by the wealthy minority that dominated government in most colonies. At this time, many of the churches that are now common in America did not exist. Church of God, Church of Christ, Church of God in Christ, Church of the Nazarene, Seventh Day Adventist, Disciples of Christ, Assemblies of God, Apostolic, Holiness and Pentecostal churches had not yet been dreamed of. Neither had the Mormon faith. Most churches in America were either Congregational or Episcopalian. Everyone paid taxes to support the Episcopalian church in South Carolina, Virginia and New York, no matter what their own family beliefs were. Everyone paid taxes to support the Congregational Church in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Rhode Island was the only colony with complete freedom of religion. New Hampshire was settled by people who had no intention of paying taxes to anyone for any purpose, ever. During the first years of the new republic, the Episcopalian and Congregational churches each hoped to be named the official, state-supported, Church of the United States. In Europe, most Christians were Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Lutheran, Calvinist or Anglican. In eastern Europe, a few small persecuted sects like Anabaptists and Unitarians led a hunted existence. In Africa, Christians were either Coptic (in Egypt and Ethiopia) or Roman Catholic (primarily in the Kingdom of Kongo). In most countries, nearly everyone belonged to one of these churches. They fought wars with neighboring countries over the difference, and persecuted religious minorities within their own country. Sometimes religious minorities were even enslaved. In Ethiopia, Coptic Christian kings were engaged in a war of extermination against the equally dark-skinned Ethiopian Jewish kingdoms. Slave owners in North America were overwhelmingly Episcopalian. In the New York area, a number of slave owners belonged to the Dutch Reformed Church. Because there had been little immigration from Germany, Lutheran churches were limited to a few areas of Pennsylvania and New York. Most colonies banned Catholics from voting. In many colonies, there were a scattering of Quakers and Presbyterians. They were considered low church and heretical. Most of their members were lower class, and taxed to support more established churches. Only in Pennsylvania, originally the personal estate of a wealthy Quaker, William Penn, were Quakers dominant. (In Pennsylvania, there were far more Africans indentured for a term of years, as most servants from Europe were, than those considered slaves for life. But, in other colonies, Quakers were often slave owners.) The Great Awakening burst into the west-European Christian world, and particularly into North American colonial society, like a blinding burst of light. Some of the adherents of the new Christian doctrines were in fact called "New Lights." It was the first introduction of what became known as "born-again" Christianity. Baptist churches were just beginning to appear in the 1740's. In New York, Baptists met secretly in members' homes. In Virginia, Baptist missionaries from New England began to 51

establish churches in the Piedmont areas, away from most of the "gentry" families. A movement of the poor and unlearned, the In areas that became dependent on the faith spread rapidly among small farmers, unpaid labor of African slaves, Biblical servants and slaves. In contrast to the arguments singling out Africans for ranks and privileges within the established enslavement were invented. It is a historical churches, Baptists greeted each other as fact that this type of creative theology came after the mass importation of slaves. That "Brother" and "Sister" regardless of status. Early Baptists freely disrupted traditional society, sowing discord among neighbors, turning slaves from their masters, children who were saved against parents who were not. They cited scriptural authority from Matthew 10:34-36: "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household." Among themselves Baptists formed close-knit supportive communities. The slave-owning planters reacted violently. They had always controlled the established Episcopalian clergy, who had to travel to England to be licensed to preach. Baptist practice threatened that control. Baptists allowed the humblest people, including slaves, to preach by authority of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Baptist meetings were sometimes interrupted by "gentlemen" mounted on horses, on some occasions accompanied by the sheriff and the officially established local Episcopalian parson. A diary written in 1771 (only five years before the Declaration of Independence), records that a Brother Waller was violently removed from the platform where he was leading prayer. His head was beaten against the ground, and he was dragged through a gate and given 20 lashes with a whip. (His brethren, who included people of every complexion then living in Virginia, kept up spirited singing of hymns to sustain him, and he resumed preaching 52

was especially common in nations dominated by Protestant churches. Nobody had thought of these arguments before the trans-Atlantic trade began. The Dutch Reformed Church was an early contributor to the myth that Genesis 19:27 condemned all of African descent to servitude as "sons of Ham." This interpretation was no part of Judaic or previous Christian tradition. Many converts to Christianity in the first four centuries after Christ were African, including St. Augustine. It crept into some churches after the Dutch East India Company established a permanent settlement in 1652 at Table Bay, in what is now the Cape province of South Africa. The primary purpose of the Cape settlement was to reprovision merchant and naval ships on their way from Holland to Indonesia and back. It quickly came to depend upon slave labor. At first these were obtained from captured Portuguese ships, including slaves purchased in Dahomey, in west Africa, and Angola. A few were also taken at sword-point from Dutch-ruled trading centers in Indonesia. Wars with the Khoisan people settled in the Cape area led to enslavement, and the Dutch Reformed dominies began to preach that this was not a mere fruit of military conquest, but ordained by God from the time of Noah. That line of thinking spread to other parts of the world. (Actually, all Noah said was "Canaan shall be his servant." There is no record that the Canaanites, believed to be descended from Ham's son Canaan, were any darker than the Hebrews. Both were of course much darker than modern Europeans.) There were other attempted uses of Scripture, beginning in the 1700's, to claim that Africans were especially suited to be slaves. John Woolman recounts that a Quaker in Virginia "said the negroes were understood to be the offspring of Cain, their blackness being the mark which God set upon him after he murdered Abel, his brother; that it was the design of Providence they should be slaves, as a condition proper to the race of so wicked a man as Cain

immediately afterward). More often, a crowd of local landowners and their parson would invade a gathering and denounce the Baptist preachers as "schismatiks, broachers of false doctrines" and "damnable errors." Despite this suppression, by 1772, as much as 10% of the population of Virginia colony had become Baptist. William Fristoe, an early Baptist minister, charged that plantation owners "freed from hard labor, by having slaves to labor for them" obtained the leisure to acquire sinful habits. Another preacher, David Barrow, exhorted that Jesus "had no slaves, but wrought for his livelihood at the business of a carpenter." Even though slave owners were hostile to the spread of Baptist beliefs, a good deal of evangelization was accomplished by the way slaves were moved or sold. Many slaves on the estate of Colonel William Byrd, near the North Carolina border, were among the first converts in Virginia. When "the breaking up of Byrd's quarters scattered these blacks into various parts," said one observer "through their labors in the different neighborhoods in which they fell, many persons were brought to the knowledge of the truth." That meant people throughout the neighborhood, not only in the slave quarters. Slaves were generally allowed to move around freely on Sundays during that time. Many "white" Baptists and Methodists got their first instruction in the faith from slaves. Evangelist George Whitfield drew large numbers on seven speaking tours in America starting in 1738. He was a preacher associated with the new Methodist movement begun by Charles and John Wesley in England. Whitfield's preaching provided one of the earliest introductions to America of the idea that a "New Birth" was necessary to obtain salvation. It was a fundamental principle of Methodism that all men are equal in the sight of God. Arriving in New York, in 1739 and again in 1740, he was refused use of Episcopal and Dutch Reformed church buildings, but was allowed use of New York Presbyterian. He also preached open-air sermons that drew thousands, many of them apprentices, indentured servants, laborers and slaves. Whitfield's open demands for humane treatment of slaves and instructing them in the Christian religion were quite unpopular with the slave-owning classes. So were his attacks on the sincerity of the orthodox clergy. New religions gained ground rapidly among the working population of New York City, challenging dominance by the Episcopal and Dutch Reformed churches. In Charles Town (later Charleston) South Carolina, Whitfield arrived in 1740, preaching with "Flame and Power." He called upon the wealthy citizens to stop spending money on "jewelers and dancing masters." (The colony depended so much upon slaves that there was little place for any but the wealthier classes of whites in the city.) Later that year, he published a letter criticizing "abuse and cruelty" to the slaves in the colonies. He referred to specific examples of slave owners who were "monsters of barbarity." Taking the position of a "crying Voice, to bid the world repent" he warned that should slaves rise and take the lives of their owners "all good men must acknowledge the judgment would be just." Whitfield also spoke in Virginia. About 1743, a number of the poorer people in Hanover County, Virginia, began meeting to study readings from Rev. Whitfield's sermons. Their services were led by a bricklayer named Samuel Morris. As the number of people grew, a meetinghouse was built, independent of the established church, and Morris was invited to preach in many other places. 53

A "New Side" Presbyterian minister, Rev. William Robertson came to preach in Hanover, attracting even larger crowds. Rev. Mr. Patrick Henry was the Anglican rector of the local established church parish, St. Paul's. He called on colonial authorities to suppress the movement, denouncing their doctrine "that a true Christian may know whether a Minister be converted or not by hearing him preach or pray." On hearing that a new contingent of preachers was arriving, he said "I wish they could be prevented, or at least obliged to show their credentials." Samuel Davies, a "New Light" Presbyterian minister sent by the New York synod, succeeded in getting four meetinghouses licensed in Hanover and neighboring counties. His preaching produced such alarm that some licenses were revoked. Davies' perseverance under persecution, and his missionary efforts among the slaves, made him famous among religious dissenters throughout America and England. It also made him notorious in Virginia. Attempts to restrict Presbyterians were gradually abandoned after 1759. Efforts to suppress Baptist teaching continued into the 1760's. The Society of Friends, or Quakers, had begun 100 years earlier, in England. Thomas Fox, who founded the Society, denounced the Anglican Church as hardly different in practice than the Roman Catholic Church. Quakers were accordingly beaten, whipped, put in stocks, and imprisoned. The Yearly-Meeting of Quakers held in London, England in 1758 adopted a resolution that "We fervently warn all in profession with us, that they be careful to avoid being any Way concerned in reaping the unrighteous Profit arising from that iniquitous Practice of Dealing in Negroes and other Slaves." But many Quakers in North America, being well established by that time, and some having wealth, did own and trade in slaves. John Woolman records many earnest conversations on the subject. "My employer, having a negro woman, sold her, and desired me to write a bill of sale, the man being waiting who bought her. The thing was sudden; and though I felt uneasy at the thoughts of writing an instrument of slavery for one of my fellow-creatures, yet I remembered that I was hired by the year, that it was my master who directed me to do it, and that it was an elderly man, a member of our society, who bought her; so through weakness I gave way and wrote it; but at the executing of it I was so afflicted in m mind, that I said before my master and the Friend that I believed slave-keeping to be a practice inconsistent with the Christian religion." On other occasions Woolman was asked to write wills for fellow Quakers who owned slaves, and intended to leave the slaves to their children. His response reflects the same reliance on Scripture that was found in the newer religious awakenings. Although writing was a good source of income for him "as I looked to the Lord, he inclined my heart to His testimony. I told the man that I believed the practice of continuing slavery to this people was not right, and that I had a scruple in my mind against doing writing of that kind; that though many in our Society kept them as slaves, still I was not easy to be concerned in it, and desired to be excused from going to write the will. I spoke to him in fear 54

In the 1760's and early 1770's, many Baptists were imprisoned for unauthorized religious assemblies. Separate Baptists defiantly refused to subordinate the law of God to mere human legislation by seeking licenses

of the Lord, and he made no reply to what I said, but went away; he also had some concerns in the practice." On at least two occasions, men who asked Woolman to write their will agreed, after lengthy discussion, to free their slaves, rather than leave the slaves to their children. In the 1760's and early 1770's, many Baptists were imprisoned for unauthorized religious assemblies. Separate Baptists defiantly refused to subordinate the law of God to mere human legislation by seeking licenses to preach. The first Baptist church in Richmond, Virginia, was open to all who would enter. However, when some Baptists petitioned the House of Burgesses for relief from this oppression, a bill was passed which provided for licensing Baptist worship. This bill had restrictions, to establish government control. One example was a provision banning inclusion of slaves in Baptist services, without their masters' permission. In 1774 in King William County, Virginia, "paterrolers" enforcing the night curfew for slaves broke into a Methodist meeting house, only to be "thrown out of the window and obliged to leave" by the "gathering of blacks and whites" assembled for worship. That same year, John Wesley, a founder of the Methodist tradition, wrote Thoughts Upon Slavery, a pamphlet which generally criticized the practice, although Wesley accepted some of the growing attitudes that Africa was a "savage" place. Six days before his death in 1791, Wesley wrote to William Wilberforce, a leader in the the British movement to abolish the slave trade if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing! Go on, in the name of God in the power of His might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it. Wordly influence changed the inclusive practices of the Baptist and Methodist churches after 1800. It started even earlier in the northern states. One influence was simply the fact that over two or four generations, some Methodists and Baptists became wealthy. There was a tremendous amount of land speculation after the American revolution. Both states and the federal government owed money to those who had fought in the continental army. Having no money to pay them, they negotiated or simply took large tracts of land from native American nations, and gave the veterans free land in place of money. Other men made fortunes buying tracts of land cheaply, or buying warrants for land from veterans of the Revolution, and reselling the land at higher prices. Those who acquired a good estate, and then acquired slaves to work it, no longer addressed fellow Baptists or Methodists who were slaves as "brother" and "sister," in the manner their fathers and grandfathers had. Instead, they addressed them in the language of their new station in life "Hey you," "Boy," "Gal," or "nigger." As the largest contributors to their churches, they prevailed upon increasingly respectable preachers, and less prosperous "white" fellow parishioners, to do likewise, and to send those of African descent to the balconies of the church building on Sundays. The flame and power of the early evangelization faded into a comfortable respectability. A minority of wealthy plantation owners also began to join the new faiths. They accepted the new revelations of Scripture in place of the Anglican order of worship and doctrine. But these new converts brought many of their old prejudices with them. They were not so thoroughly born again as to free their slaves. They did not begin a new life supporting themselves by the work of their own hands. They did not call their own human property 55

together and announce that we are now all brothers and sisters. Nor did their lighter skinned brothers and sisters in the faith demand that they do any of these things. Slaves began to assemble, clandestinely, for their own services as much as possible. That practice was often suppressed by local authorities. They suspected that worship services were an opportunity for anti-slavery agitation. They were right about that, of course. Slave masters did encourage the work of African preachers who taught "slaves be obedient to your masters." There were many who did preach that, never mentioning that "there is neither bond nor free, rich nor poor, Jew nor Gentile." As early as the 1790's, Baptists of African descent in Virginia began to separate into their own church assemblies. In 1790, the Baptist General Committee had resolved "that slavery is a violent deprivation of the rights of nature, and inconsistent with Republican government; and therefore recommend it to our Brethren to make use of every legal measure to extirpate the horrid evil from the land." Within 70 years, history proved that slavery was indeed inconsistent with Republican government. But in the meantime, reliance upon "legal measure" was not acceptable to free or enslaved African-Americans. To so much as walk away from servitude, or to aid another to do so, was against the law, and therefore outside the terms of the resolution. By 1793, the Baptist General Committee retreated further, calling slavery a "legislative question." As late as 1804, huge camp meetings south of the lower James River at Suffolk drew thousands without distinction, beginning "on Friday and continued day and night till Monday evening. Upwards of four hundred souls, including the blacks" were "powerfully converted to God." Many churches, such as Colosse Baptist Church, in King William County, Virginia, had a mixed congregation until after the Civil War. It included members of African and European descent, native American descent, and every possible combination of the three. Virginia did not pass a law against non-white people preaching at a meeting until 1832. Methodist churches also were torn apart as racial distinctions became more commonly accepted. Methodists who thought of themselves as white, began paying more attention to the large number of black pari-shioners sitting in church with them. They presented this to their bishops as a question. It was not a question to Wesley, who in his last letter to Wilberforce had remarked I was particularly struck by the circumstance, that a man who has black skin, being wronged or outraged by a white man, can have no redress; it being a LAW in our Colonies that the OATH of a black man against a white goes for nothing. What villainy is this! In Philadelphia, a new order of worship, introduced in 1787, required church members of African descent to assemble for worship in the balconies and not on the main floor. Instead, those directed to the balconies removed themselves and formed the African Methodist Episcopal Church. In New York City, parishioners who thought of themselves as "white" insisted that those of known African descent take communion only after all "whites" had been served. This contributed to the formation of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in 1796. There is no record that any Methodists of lighter complexion thought to uphold the Scriptural injunction that "all are one in Christ Jesus," by abandoning the Methodist churches which had compromised themselves and joining with those who walked out. There are even records that the John Street Methodist Church in New York City purchased a slave to serve as sexton of the church, and paid for him on the installment 56

plan. In England, the leaders of the movement to outlaw international trading in slaves, including Wesleys friend William Wilberforce, were Methodist. Their success, in 1807, was due in part to changes in the British economy. Other commodities simply became a higher priority for British industry. The slave economy of the Caribbean colonies was less important financially. But the determination to begin such a movement, and their persistence, were inspired by the still new, and not entirely accepted faith. In 1833, slavery itself was abolished in all British territories. More efficient ways to exploit subject populations were just beginning to come into their own. Wealthy English and American Methodists did play their parts in these new methods.

Slavery and the American Revolution

At the beginning of the American Revolution, apprentices, servants, slaves and tenants were among the first to join in the uprisings. However, few of them had any influence in the Continental Congress or the state legislatures. Substantial merchants and property owners also had reasons to fight for independence from the British government. John Hancock, for instance, owed a fine of 100,000 pounds, for smuggling. Independence would make that fine uncollectable. Many plantation owners had reasons to seek independence also. As the fight for independence developed, people of African descent in the colonies fought for their freedom in three different ways. Some remained active in agitation for revolution and fought in the Continental Army. Others believed in a British government promise of freedom for any slave who would join and fight for the British army. Still others formed armed groups who fought against either side to remain free of both. Eyewitness accounts of the mobs who began agitation against the Stamp Acts in 1765 and fought British troops in 1768 describe "boys and Negroes" building bonfires and blowing whistles to bring the mob out of the taverns. Groups of black and white patriots, sometimes mostly black, repulsed British troops on Boston common. Wealthy gentlemen who joined the revolution later did not generally put themselves on the line in these early battles. There were large numbers of free African-Americans in Massachusetts, and many sailors were partly or wholly of African descent. Reports from New York similarly described parades of sailors, youths, artisans, blacks and country people hanging the governor in effigy and threatening to break the doors to the fort if any soldiers dared to fire on them. One of the few well-known black patriots of this period, a sailor named Crispus Attucks, unquestionably led the attack on Monday March 5, 1770, which led to the famous "Boston Massacre." The crowd he led was described by hostile witnesses as "saucy boys, Negroes and mulattoes, Irish Teagues and outlandish Jack Tars." There are extensive records of black Minutemen who fought at the battles of Lexington and Concord, and at Bunker Hill. This was natural, since Africans sold into Massachusetts had always and only been sold for a term of years. Many therefore were free, although far from wealthy.

An early draft of the Declaration of Independence included, in the list of grievances against the King of England, "the enslaving of the inhabitants of Africa."

During the decades before the Revolution, the Virginia House of Delegates passed laws 57

several times prohibiting importation of any more African slaves into the colony. Each time, these measures were vetoed by the English King, George III. The slave trade was too important to English commerce. From a British viewpoint, the colonies were there to provide a market for British merchants and pay taxes to the British crown. An early draft of the Declaration of Independence included in the list of grievances against the King of England "the enslaving of the inhabitants of Africa." Thomas Jefferson submitted language to the Continental Congress blaming the King for "cruel war against human nature captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere or to insure miserable death in their transportation hither."

Thomas Jefferson removed that language "in complaisance to South Carolina and Georgia.

All language complaining of this "execrable commerce" and "assemblage of horrors" was cut out of the final document. Jefferson removed them "in complaisance to South Carolina and Georgia, who had never attempted to restrain an importation of slaves, and who on the contrary still wished to continue it." South Carolina had depended totally on slaves from the first settlement. Use of African slaves was new to Georgia. Slavery was banned by the original charter when the colony was first settled. Now that they were getting a taste of living on the labor of slaves, Georgia's raw new aristocrats wanted to keep importing more. Jefferson's draft also complained that by inciting slaves to rebel against or desert their owners, the British government was guilty of "paying off the former crimes committed against the Liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another." This went out with all other language concerning slavery. When George Washington, a Virginia slave owner, took command of the Continental Army, he issued an order forbidding enlistment of "black" patriots. He soon had to change his mind, because the British governor of Virginia, Lord Dunmore, issued a proclamation in November 1775 offering freedom to all slaves willing to fight for England. The previous summer, Dunmore had taken a naval fleet to plunder plantations up and down the rivers, taking away large numbers of slaves. Thousands of slaves abandoned plantations owned by American rebels, including slaves of General Washington's. By December 1775, Washington authorized recruiting officers to accept "Free Negroes desirous of enlisting." He reported to Congress that "free Negroes who have served in this Army are very much dissatisfied at being discarded." He expressed fears that such soldiers "may seek employment in the Ministerial [British] Army." Congress' response was to authorize enlistment of "free Negroes who have served faithfully in the army at Cambridge" but no others. After the first year, the Continental Army accepted anyone who would fight, no questions asked. That is because most Americans were not willing to fight in the army at all. They stayed home. Few people in the colonies had any desire to risk their lives and fortunes for independence. After independence was secured, a myth was created that all in the colonies had been patriotically united in the cause. The loudest mouths in creating this myth were those who sat the war out doing nothing. They made up in loud cheers after the fighting was over for taking no risks or action when it really counted. 58

A friend of Washington's named George Gordon "Had we arms for 3000 wrote to him in 1784 that during and after the war, such black Men, as I "numbers have pretended great patriotism, while could select in Carolina, I they have been destitute of common honesty, and were aiming only at private interest under the should have no doubt of New York City was a British mask of public virtue." During the war, success in driving the stronghold for most of the Washington complained about the "lack of British War. In a series and Revolutionary out of Georgiaof public spirit." After Valley Forge, where one subduing East Florida battles from August to November third of his army deserted, every able-bodied 1776, before the endchased General the British army of July." man was welcome in the Continental Army. Washington from Brooklyn, up the Henry Laurens length of Manhattan, and through the South Carolina and most other states did in Bronx, finally driving Washington out fact pass resolutions stating that they would of White Plains. import no more slaves. But this was a commercial measure. Slaves were one of New York became a haven for many items of commerce the colonies refused wealthy loyal merchants and runaway to import from British merchants, as a protest slaves. It was an odd combination. against British policy, and then as an act of The cream of New York society were independence. slave-owners. As an expedient of war, Britain made a modest experiment of Henry and John Laurens of South Carolina offering freedom to slaves who would tried to recruit soldiers of African descent in fight for the crown. The same offer 1779. Henry Laurens wrote to Washington in was made to indentured servants. March of that year "had we arms for 3000 Hundreds of slaves ran away to such black Men, as I could select in Carolina, I New York. Slaves of wealthy rebels should have no doubt of success in driving the cheerfully pointed out to British forces British out of Georgia and subduing East where their departed masters' most Florida before the end of July." valuable goods had been hidden. New York was still firmly in British Washington replied absent-mindedly "This is a hands when a peace treaty ended the subject that has never employed much of my war and recognized American thoughts. " But he had no desire to arm slaves independence. It took a good part of unless the British set the first example. The 1782 and 1783 for the British forces general worried that to accept some slaves to evacuate, taking with them 40,000 into the army might "render slavery more loyalist Americans, including 4000 irksome to those who remain in it" and "be runaway slaves of African descent. productive of much discontent in those who George Washington, a slave owner are held in servitude." He was certainly right his entire life, told British General about that. Carleton he wanted all slaves returned to "their rightful owners." Carleton Congress authorized Lt. Col. John Laurens to refused. Most of the 4000 settled in raise 3000 black troops in South Carolina and Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Georgia, paying their owners up to $1000 for Canada. Trouble with melanineach slave. The patriotism of slave owners in deficient British veterans erupted into those states did not extend to seeing 3000 race riots in 1784, and many of the blacks receive military training and African veterans relocated to the experience. Nor did they want to see their British colony of Sierra Leone. slaves return, free men, from fighting a war for liberty. So the mission was a failure. Their The settlement in Sierra Leone was financed by a company of British 59 stockholders. They thought very well of themselves for undertaking to aid

refusal crippled the fight for independence in the southern colonies for the next two years. The Americans did not drive the British out of Georgia and seize Florida. Instead, British General Cornwallis moved freely across the southern states, burning the property of anyone considered to be in rebellion against the British Crown. British forces used slavery as a weapon of war, and they used this weapon from every angle at different times and places. Lord Dunmore put Africans into uniforms that said "Freedom for Slaves." In June 1779, British General Henry Clinton announced that any black serving in the continental army would, if captured, be sold "for the benefit of their captors." Many British officers bought slaves as personal servants during the course of the war. From 1672 until the Revolutionary War, British merchants had grown rich on the slave trade. British laws had enforced slavery. During the Revolutionary War, the states around the Chesapeake Bay depended on rivermen, who were mostly of African descent, to pilot their navies. They knew the rivers and the coastline. Few others did. General Washington's papers include a note from 1779 that "I have granted a warrant for the $1000 promised the Negro pilots." The British had even more working for them, because they offered freedom as a reward. The day General Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington, there were 5000 seamen in service under his command, only 800 of them "white." Benedict Arnold, one of the best generals the Continental Army had, switched to the British side in the middle of the war. When he led 1600 troops on a raid from Hampton Roads up the river to Richmond, slaves flocked to join his army from all parts of the state. But General Cornwallis, during his march through the southern colonies that ended at Yorktown, allowed slave owners who were loyal to British rule, or who had remained neutral in the war, to reclaim their property in any slaves who had fled to his army. In fact, most of the "black" soldiers enlisted in the British army were confined to labor details. A total of 20,000 embarked with British troops which left the 13 colonies in 1782 and 1783. By some estimates, 27 out of 30 of the slaves taken out of Virginia during the war died of smallpox or yellow fever. Some were traded to the West Indies for rum, sugar, coffee and fruits, while a small number were allowed to settle in Canada. Britain outlawed slavery in 1833, after most of the profit had been wrung out of the transAtlantic trade, and the sugar plantations in the Caribbean. The tremendous fortunes financed by this trade were invested in other industries, making Britain the dominant power in the world for the next 100 years. The Continental Congress came within one vote of banning slavery in any state subsequently admitted to the union. Legislation introduced by Thomas Jefferson in 1784, for government of the western territories, ori-ginally included a provision that after 1800 there should be "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude" in any newly created state. To Jefferson, that would have meant not only no slaves, but no-one of African descent allowed in. Jefferson firmly believed Africans to be an inferior race to Europeans. His lukewarm opposition to slavery was in part because of the cruel way slaves were treated. But he also feared the growing number of African-Americans. He did not want to see more brought from Africa, or allowed to settle in new territory. 60

The law proposed in 1784 would have limited the institution to Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Maryland and Delaware. There would have been no slavery allowed in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, or Kentucky. There would have been no civil war. Slavery would have been, as Abraham Lincoln later said, "in the course of ultimate extinction." Every state from Pennsylvania north voted for it. Every state from Maryland south voted against. At that time each state had one vote, and it took seven votes to carry. New Jersey's only delegate was ill, so New Jersey did not vote at all. On a six to six tie vote, with two delegates from Virginia the only southerners in favor, the provision failed. Virginia passed a law providing for voluntary emancipation by deed in 1782. But a bill for gradual complete emancipation was tabled in 1796. By 1800, nearly 10% of the African population in Virginia was free. But the position of free people of darker complexion was rapidly reversed in the first decades of the new century.

Teetering on the Edge: Slavery from the American Revolution to 1800

In the period following the American Revolution, slavery was considered as a moral problem for the first time. In the first 150 years of American settlement, it was understood without even thinking about it that society consisted of a hierarchy of statuses. The state of total subjection was believed to be ordained by God. The head of the household, the owner of the plantation, the leading gentry of the county, up to the governor, the King, and the God who appointed them to rule, were all to be obeyed without question. In one way or another, this applied to almost everybody. Even hired workers addressed their employer as "master." Rebellion against the King of England naturally called other forms of subordination into question. But many of those who demanded liberty had no intention of extending it to their own subordinates. Property owners did not originally intend to allow tenants the right to vote. Slave owners did not intend liberty for their slaves. Wealthy merchants in New England did not intend for their hired servants and apprentices to choose the state legislature. The Virginia Declaration of Rights temporarily solved this question by proclaiming the rights of "men when they enter into a state of society." Slaves were not among those who entered into the state of society. They were captives of those who did. Women were not part of the society either. Men who had no property were still excluded. White skin was not an automatic ticket to full citizenship. While the Revolutionary War still raged, General Charles Lee wrote to James Monroe in 1780 "We have neither Monarchy, Aristocracy nor Democracy; if it is anything, it is rather a Mac-O'-cracy, by which I mean that a Banditti of low Scotch-Irish, who are either themselves Imported Servants or the immediate descendants of Imported Servants, are the Lords Paramount... God knows what is to become of us." At the height of the revolution, a minority of slaveholders freed their slaves. One planter said holding slaves was repugnant to "every principle of the late glorious Revolution which has taken place in America." Vermont outlawed slavery in 1777. At that time Vermont was not recognized as a 61

legitimate state, by the thirteen colonies that began the revolution. It was a territory fought over by New York and New Hampshire. Governors of New York gave their friends, or those they owed favors to, grants to land in Vermont. New Yorkers moved in to establish estates worked by tenant farmers. Meantime, courts in New Hampshire allowed individual farmers to register title to the same land. Armed bands of farmers holding New Hampshire title picked up their guns, organized militias, and drove New York landlords out at gun point. Tenants brought from New York were allowed to stay and take out title to their own land. The Green Mountain Boys, led by Ethan Allen, grew out of these battles.* At the beginning of the American Revolution, Allen led his militia to the British-held Fort Ticonderoga, on Lake Champlain in northern Vermont, and took the fort. The British commander asked what authority he had to do that. Allen replied "In the name of the great Jehovah and the Continental Congress." The artillery Allen seized in the fort was used by George Washington to drive the British out of Boston. But when Vermont outlawed slavery, it was not even recognized as a state. Ethan Allen with his brothers, Ira and Levi, led the "Republic of Vermont" until it was admitted as a state February 18, 1791. Until then it was called "the pretended state of Vermont" by many political leaders in other states.. Most slave owners at the time considered it a system they would like to get out of, without of course giving up the tremendous wealth they had acquired. The wealth was more important than any moral principle. Most did not get around to doing anything to free their own slaves or any others. Patrick Henry described slavery as "repugnant to humanity" but could not see any way to accept "the inconveniency of living without them." Several comments in the papers of George Washington from 1786 show the uncertainty even the wealthiest landowners had toward slavery at the time. When a Society of Friends (Quakers) in Philadelphia offered assistance to any slave brought into the city to sue in local courts for their freedom, Washington wrote "The conduct of this society is not sanctioned by Law: had the case been otherwise, whatever my opinion of the Law might have been, my respect for the policy of the State would on this occasion have appeared in my silence. If the practice of this Society is not discountenanced, none of those whose misfortune it is to have slaves as attendants will visit the City if they can possibly avoid it." Washington, Henry, and others of their class were not committed to slavery or to enslavement of Africans. They were committed to having servants, or "attendants" to wait on them in the style they had become accustomed to, and work their land. Henry Emanuel Lutterloh, a German officer who served in the Continental Army, wrote to Washington in 1787 of "the late Act passed by Your Assembly, to Stop all future Importations of Negroes." Importation of African slaves was not ended until 1808, but Lutterloh knew that cheap labor would be needed from somewhere. He offered Washington a "Proposition for a Delivery of Several Hundred German Families to settle those large tracts of Your Own."

A servants duties in the 18th century

The story of how a

wealthy Federalist from


Alexandria, Mr. Collins,

Verte Mont is French for "Green Mountain."

treated a young lawyer, Mr. Roper, who wanted to marry his niece, provides a good example of how attitudes toward race in 1800, and before, were different from the late 19th century. The young man was greedy. He wanted to take control of the girls money. But her uncle had control of it. So, Roper planned to have Collins declared insane. The old man knew what was up. When the young man came to visit, the young

ladys uncle told Roper "I have heard that you are insane, but fortunately there is a cure for that." Two of Mr. Collins larger and more muscular African slaves stepped forward, seized the young man, pulled down his pants, and whipped him soundly. In the late 19th century, it would have been unheard of for one "white gentleman" to set two "black" or "colored" men to tie up and whip another "white" man. But

in the 18th century, a servant's duty was to carry out their master's orders and serve his interests. The old man was restrained by no sense of loyalty to race, that prevented him using his servants to punish the upstart. The servants had nothing to fear except failure to obey their orders.
This incident is mentioned in Gore Vidals biographical novel, Burr, where it is derived from contemporary accounts.

Washington also wrote "I hope it will not be conceived from these observations, that it is my wish to hold the unhappy people who are the subject of this letter in slavery. I can only say that there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a plan adopted for the abolition of it -- but there is only one proper and effectual mode by which it can be accomplished, & that is by the Legislative authority: and this, as far as my suffrage will go, shall never be wanting." To Marquis de Lafayette, he wrote "your late purchase of an Estate in the Colony of Cayenne with a view of emancipating the slaves on it, is a generous and noble proof of your humanity. Would to God a like spirit would diffuse itself generally into the minds of the people of this country, but I despair of seeing it -- some petitions were presented to the Assembly at its last session, for the abolition of slavery, but they could scarcely obtain a reading. To set them afloat at once would, I really believe, be productive of much inconvenience and mischief, but by degrees, it certainly might & assuredly ought to be effected, and that too by Legislative authority." One of Washingtons correspondents wrote that if slaves were given a property interest in the crop they worked on, their productivity would increase, and they would acquire a financial base for eventual emancipation. This too was never acted upon. Insistence that slavery be ended by legislative authority was not matched by determination to secure legislation that in fact freed those still in slavery. As a result, those determined to end slavery continued to explore action outside of the legislature. When the British pulled out of the 13 colonies, slavery was very much a part of the British mercantile economy. Throughout the 1790's, British military forces defended the slave economies of Jamaica and other Caribbean colonies. British forces intervened against the example of slave revolt, and abolition of slavery, in the French colony of St. 63

Domingue (now Haiti). The British did not begin to abolish the trans-Atlantic trade until 1807. That was the year that the profitable North American market was closed to importation of new slaves. Meantime, their American former colonists tried to find a way to deal with the property relationships the British had established. The new nation failed to even define a resolution until after 1865. New York was the largest slave-holding state north of Maryland. In 1784 a group of citizens purchased the freedom of a parcel of indentured servants, reasoning that "the traffick of White People" was contrary to "the idea of Liberty." This shows two things. The definition of servitude by race had taken a tight grip on people's minds by that time. But servitude of non-African people had obviously not come to a complete end yet. If it had, there would have been no need to purchase the freedom of white indentured servants. In 1785, a bill to gradually abolish slavery was passed by the state legislature. It was vetoed by a body called the Council of Revision5, because it denied free citizens of African descent the right to vote or hold public office. A law allowing voluntary emancipation resulted in very few slaves being freed over the next fifteen years. During that time, many New York slave owners sold slaves to southern plantation owners, to recover their investment before new laws might be passed. In 1790, one in five melanindeficient households in the city still owned at least one slave. Two-thirds of the merchants kept slaves as domestic servants. Ten percent of Manhattan's population, 3096 people, were of African descent, and one-third of those were free. By 1800, well over half the African population of New York were free, and craftsmen had stopped using slaves. It was now cheaper to hire recent immigrants from Europe, pay them low wages, and be relieved of the obligation to provide food, shelter, clothing, and supervision. Runaway slaves easily vanished into the streets and by-ways of the growing city. A law passed in 1799 provided for extremely gradual emancipation: children born to slave mothers after July 4, 1799 would be technically free, after serving their mother's master until the age of 15 (female) or 28 (male). Slavery then disintegrated. Masters made a furious attempt to sell their slaves out of state to British colonies in the West Indies. If they could not find a buyer, they signed contracts promising early emancipation in exchange for a few more years of trouble-free service. By 1810, 84% of New Yorks 9000 residents of African descent were free. The entire notion of "freedom" was still taking form for those of pale complexion, who now routinely called themselves "white." It took 20 years to drop the requirement that only freemen were allowed to engage in a trade or occupation. A freeman was still, literally, defined as a person, or more specifically a man, who had paid a fee to "take out their freedom." No fee, no registration with the city, and no substantial property, meant that a person was in law not "free." It did not mean they were a slave, but citizenship was something a man had to purchase. It also was not yet universal that Africa servants were slaves for life. George Washington received a letter in 1786 from Thomas Freeman, an agent managing some of his

The New York State Constitution of 1777 created the Council of Revision to limit the power of the popularly elected legislative assembly. It also required that all voters be male residents of the state owning freeholds of at least 100 pounds.


property that "In the Sale of the Negroes there is one Named Dorcas that you received of Mr. Simpson as a Slave [who] proves to be free at the age of Twenty Eight Years." This, Freeman said, was the opinion of one Judge McKean based on records in Westmoreland county.

Turning Back from the Revolution

Wealthy property owners in America turned away from the principles of the revolution at th the close of the 18 century. A lot of people had made fortunes during the revolution. Some took the property of people loyal to the British government who were forced to leave. Others sold supplies to both armies at high prices. The convention which wrote the United States Constitution was the opening chapter to a conservative reaction after the revolution. The Bill of Rights was the price all the rest of the people demanded, to allow the Constitution to be ratified at all. In Massachusetts, farmers had revolted against paying oppressive new taxes. Wealthy merchants in Boston who controlled the state legislature had decided a property tax would be the best way to pay off war debts. Merchants had most of their wealth in money, trade inventory and ships, which were not taxed. Farmers who had everything invested in land, which was taxed. Many farmers couldn't pay the taxes, and lost their land. Armed bands of farmers invaded court rooms to stop land titles being seized. At the same time, they presented petitions to the state government to suspend all Courts of Common Pleas from hearing any case until after the next election. Observers said they "behaved with decorum" but that the sheriff was "hindered in execution of writs." In other words, evictions were prevented by any means necessary, in a disciplined manner, but by any means necessary. These were not a disorganized mob. They were "embodied." That word was used at the time to mean organized into a powerful, disciplined force. The same word was used 45 years later to measure the danger from Nat Turner's slave revolt. At one point, this force was drawn up in orderly lines four deep in Worcester Massachusetts, along one entire side of the Common. Most of them brought their own rifles from home. They acted under a Convention that recommended them to desist from using force, but "meant for the courts to be stopped." Reports of the number of farmers in revolt varied from a few hundred to 13,000. One of the more reliable estimates, from early December 1786, was 2500. At first they were opposed by no more than 110 citizens assembled as the official militia, to defend the courts from interference. One colonel of the official militia estimated that half of his men would turn out to defend the government. That means half would not. General Knox reported in November 1786 that citizens in arms in Massachusetts had proclaimed "the property of the United States has been protected from confiscation of Britain by the joint exertions of all, and therefore ought to be the common property of all. And he that attempts opposition to this creed is an enemy to equity and justice, and ought to be swept from off the face of the Earth." It was an echo of the demands that Nathaniel Bacon's army of servants and slaves forced upon the royal governor of Virginia in 1676. George Washington, in a letter to James Madison, was shocked. He, and most of those associated with him, sought a renewed federal government, able to establish order 65

and defend property against these sentiments of the common people. Washington was equally horrified that "They are determined to annihilate all debts, public and private." The revolt, led by a Revolutionary War veteran, Captain Daniel Shays, was suppressed before it spread outside of western Massachusetts. By January 1787, a militia of 1200 was assembled from citizens willing to defend the government. Shays troops were running out of food, and many sent home on furlough. But Washington worried that "to them may be collected people of similar sentiments from the States of Rhode Island, Connecticut and New Hampshire." The Lords of South Carolina, living in luxury along the Atlantic coastal plain, had similar fears about the people on the up-country farms in their own state. South Carolina was the real cradle of chattel slavery in North America. A Constitution was imposed in 1790 which put all power in the hands of a minority slave-holding class, inhabiting a 60-mile wide strip along the coast. This Constitution was never put up for a vote. Slave-owners lived in genuine terror, and not only of a revolt by slaves, who were a majority of the coastal population. At that time, there was little slave ownership in the Most states allowed slavery up-country parts of the state, where four fifths at the time the Constitution of "white" residents lived. Most of these were was written. According to from the Scotch-Irish "Mac-O'-cracy" that the first census, taken in General Lee wrote to James Monroe about. With even distribution of political power and 1790, the number of slaves universal suffrage, they would have abolished in each state was: the institution of slavery in the state. STATES 1 Massachusetts 2 New Hampshire 3 Rhode Island 4 Connecticut 5 New York 6 New Jersey 7 Pennsylvania 8 Delaware 9 Maryland 10 Virginia 11 North Carolina 12 South Carolina 13 Georgia Territory of Ohio Total NO. OF SLAVES 158 948 2,764 21,340 11,423 3,737 8,887 103,036 305,057 100,571 107,094 29,264 3,417 697,696 That was not necessarily because they sympathized with the burdens of those who were slaves. It was because they worked with their own hands. They were offended by the fact that slave owners acquired great wealth and lived in luxury, off the labor of others. Most of the people inland were Baptists, who considered that immoral. To the slave owners, it was the highest mark of a gentleman to do no useful labor whatever. The state constitution required a legislative representative to own in their district 500 acres of land and ten Negroes, or real estate of 150 pounds sterling in value, free of debt. This virtually required a member of the legislature to be not only wealthy, but a slaveowner. As in colonial and post-colonial New York, a man could vote in any district in which he owned fifty acres of land or a town lot. A man could vote in the district where he lived if he paid a tax of 3 shillings. The plantation 66

Vermont, which had abolished slavery, was not counted, since it did not enter the United States until 1791. Even in 1830, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania had slaves. New Jersey counted 2,254. Connecticut did not get around to passing a law actually abolishing slavery until 1848. At that time there were still eight or ten

owners controlled more than half the seats in the legislature by this system. Less than one-fifth of the population, owning four-fifths of the property, according to tax records, dominated state government. In 1790, the coastal area had 28,644 inhabitants who were considered white, represented by 20 state senators and 70 state representatives. The inland areas had 111,534 residents considered white, represented by 17 state senators and 54 representatives. The white population on the coast was surrounded by 79,216 classified as colored, a small number of them free. There were 29,679 considered colored in the rest of the state. Another influence on all classes in America during the 1790's was the French Revolution. Beginning in 1789, a series of revolutionary governments took power out of the hands of King Louis XVI. This unleashed popular demand to eliminate an entire class of property owners, who had kept the majority of French people as serfs in the country and in stinking slums in the cities. Wealthy Americans trying to settle down and enjoy their gains did not appreciate the French example. They feared it. The old French government had assisted the American revolution. The new government shared many principles with the American Revolution. Some people who fought for the American Revolution also joined in the French Revolution, including Thomas Paine and Lafayette. But wealthy Americans wanted to put the revolution behind them, not continue it. King Louis XVIs head was cut off in January 1793. A little over a year later, the French National Convention abolished slavery and declared all men in the colonies citizens regardless of color. Wealthy merchants and landowners in America , north and south, became more interested in strong government to protect their property than in The Rights of Man. They generally voted for the Federalist Party of Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Pinkney, John Adams and George Washington. The Republican Party, led by Aaron Burr, George Clinton, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson, identified with the French Revolution, and spoke well of it. The Federalists came to identify with Great Britain, which was financing opposition to France all over the European continent. But when it came to slavery, neither Federalists nor Republicans had a consistent party platform. Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Georgia, depended on slavery economically. These southern states insisted on many concessions when the current federal government was established. Two were written directly into the Constitution. The number of representatives each state got in Congress was based on it's population. For this purpose, slaves counted as 3/5 of a person. So if a state got one representative for every 20,000 people, and had 100,000 free residents and 100,000 slaves, that state got 8 representatives in Congress, five for the free citizens and three for the slaves. The slaves did not have 3/5 of a vote of course.


There were some sarcastic remarks before this was agreed to. Some representatives from states that had only a few slaves said if the African population were men, they should be allowed to vote. Then they could be counted in full for how many representatives each state got in Congress. Another said that if slaves were not considered human, and not allowed to vote, but were counted toward Congressional representation of slave states, then every mule, horse and cow in every free state should also be counted. The southern representatives couldn't say much to that, except 'we're going to take our marbles and go home,' so the "threefifths" compromise was worked out.

According to one writer in 1861, who was favorable to the Confederacy, "when emancipation laws forbade the prolongation of slavery at the North, there are living witnesses who saw the crowds of negroes assembled along the shores of the New England and the Middle States to be shipped to latitudes where their bondage would be perpetual. Their posterity toil today in the fields of the Southern planter." Confederate President Jefferson Davis later said that these slaves were purchased, from their northern masters, by southern plantation owners, "without harboring a suspicion that their quiet possession was to be disturbed by those who were inhibited, not only by want of constitutional authority, but by good faith as vendors, from disquieting a title emanating from themselves."

Importation of new slaves was guaranteed until 1808. In the last year before 1808, there was a rush to buy and import as many slaves as possible before the deadline. Arab merchants and coastal kingdoms in Africa cashed in on this, demanding any price they wanted. After 1808, for the first time, it was profitable for slave owners to breed slaves and sell the children. Until then, children were discouraged. They took valuable time of their parents away from doing work for the slave owner. It was cheaper to import new slaves in their teens and early twenties In plain English, that meant than to allow slaves to have children. But northern businessmen sold their when overseas imports were cut off, children became a valuable commodity. This lasted for 47 years, enough time to do tremendous damage.

It would have been a relatively simple matter to attach to the 1808 deadline a provision that after 1808 all children born on American soil would be free. It would not have been a morally clear-cut solution. But it would have been possible without a lot of resistance. Breeding slaves for profit was not yet a part of the institution. The labor of the individual slave was what any buyer expected. It would have saved at least four generations from enslavement. It would have strangled in the cradle many of the attitudes and prejudices that continued to plague America after legal servitude was formally abolished. By 1839, when Massachusetts Congressman John Quincy Adams proposed an end to hereditary slavery, it was too late to accomplish peacefully. There was too much money in breeding and interstate sale of slaves. By 1800, slavery had become a condition limited to individuals of African descent. But it 68

was less than 100 years since free people of African descent had lost voting rights in Virginia, less than 70 years in Georgia. American history at that time included as many years with masters and servants of all colors and nationalities, as years of "black" slavery. The free "black" population was still significant, and its role in the Revolutionary War still recent. Most important, slave owners were not ruthlessly committed to maintaining slavery, they were very doubtful about it. In 1801, with the blood of suppressing a revolt fresh on his hands, Virginia Governor James Monroe wrote to Thomas Jefferson of the condition of African slaves in America "the embarrassment they have already occasioned us, and are still likely to subject us to. We perceive an existing evil which commenced under our colonial system, with which we are not chargeable, or if at all not in the present degree, and we acknowledge the extreme difficulty of remedying it." For a time, slavery was an economically doubtful institution also. The market for tobacco was depressed in the 1780's and 1790's. Cotton was not yet the dominant crop, because Eli Whitney had just invented the cotton gin, and it was not yet in common use. Many landowners put their land into crops such as corn and wheat, which required less labor to tend to. There was no ready market to sell surplus slaves, so some were emancipated, and others allowed to "hire out" their time, as long as their master received most of the wages. The legislature in Virginia debated a bill in 1796 providing for gradual emancipation of slaves. It was tabled, meaning they set it aside without reaching a decision. Slavery continued as it was for a time. Racial distinctions had become sufficiently accepted that simply extending full citizenship to emancipated slaves was no longer considered. Edward Coles, a wealthy neighbor of Thomas Jefferson, decided in 1814 to practice what Jefferson occasionally but inconsistently preached. Although advised by the former President to be patient, Coles sold his estate in Virginia, taking all his slaves on rafts down the Ohio River to Illinois territory. By the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, slavery was prohibited north of the Ohio River. He therefore announced to his former slaves that they were all free, and secured 160-acre homesteads for each family. Cole was later elected Governor of Illinois. He had to fight off a determined effort to amend the state constitution to legalize slavery in the new state. As late as June 1819, former President John Adams wrote to Robert J. Evans that "I have, through my whole life, held the practice of slavery in such abhorrence that I have never owned a Negro or any other slave." There were hardly any slaves who were not from Africa by that time. But that was still a recent innovation, and Adams felt it necessary to specify "or any other slave." As late as 1852, the Baltimore Sun ran an advertisement offering a $100 reward for "A Negro boy named George Stewart, a slave for life." Slavery was by then generally assumed to be for life, and inherited by a slave's children. Nevertheless, the words "for life" were specified, a recognition that slavery had not always been uniformly a lifetime status.

Pointe Coupee Rebellion 1795


In 1795, one of the last multi-racial revolts against slavery in North America was organized, in Louisiana. This territory was not yet part of the United States. The United States bought it from France in 1803. Louisiana had been a French crown colony since 1731. At that time its population was about 8,000, including "black" slaves. In the 1760s, French-speaking Acadians (Cajuns) who had been expelled from Nova Scotia by the British, arrived in Louisiana. The Cajuns generally worked their own farms and did not own slaves. Spain controlled the territory from 1762 until 1800, when Napoleon insisted that Spain hand it back over to France. So at the time of the 1795 revolt, Louisiana was a French settled colony under control of Spanish colonial authorities. It was not very wealthy, and neither France nor Spain had paid much attention to it. The French settlers in the area were not very happy with Spanish rule, but shared Spanish fears of a slave uprising. Spanish authorities were fearful of French revolutionary ideas being introduced into their colonies. They had good reason for this fear. France was at war with Spain. Throughout the Caribbean, merchant seamen, dock workers, voyageurs, indentured servants and soldiers were allying themselves with slaves to fight for the principles of the French Revolution. Commissioner Victor Hughes spent 1795 retaking islands in the region, in the name of the Republic, from French royalists and slave owners. Then he began taking Dutch and British colonies. The information that France had abolished slavery brought instant cooperation from the majority of the people of all these islands. In South America, in the area north of the Rio de la Plata that is now the nation of Uruguay, sixty African slaves proclaimed an independent republic based on "Liberte, Egalite Fraternite" the slogans of the French revolution. In 1799, a little while after some ships from the French island of St. Domingue arrived, there was a similar uprising in the port of Maracaibo in Venezuela. Sailors were very active political agitators at that time. In July 1793, Spanish authorities in Louisiana deported 68 French Jacobins who were suspected of agitating for republican government and freedom for the slaves, in order to undermine Spanish authority and win the colony back for the French Republic. Two more French agents were arrested, one of whom had fought in the colony of St. Domingue, which is now Haiti. In 1795, a revolt began at Pointe Coupee on the estate of Julien Poydras. It also involved slaves throughout Pointe Coupee and False River, and several port workers, seafarers and mechanics. The first targets were local slave owners, who were all to be killed. Those who rose up were well informed of the war between France and Spain. They had a real expectation of freedom if France took control back from Spain. For several months, French and Belgian teachers had been teaching the Declaration of the Rights of Man and other documents of the revolution in France. A tailor from Philadelphia, born in Germany, also helped spread the word. French day laborers and vouyageurs were doing the same, announcing that all slaves had been freed, but the Spanish governor was holding back the news. The revolt failed. After a short trial, 23 slaves were hung, their heads cut off and nailed on posts along the Mississippi River. Thirty one slaves and several French laborers were deported, some with sentences of forced labor, some also flogged. Louisiana remained under Spanish rule until Napoleon required Spain to give it back to 70

France in 1800. After incorporation into the United States, French settlers and more recent American arrivals fought for control of the state, as did independent farmers and slave-owning planters. Many inhabitants of Louisiana objected to the state seceding from the Union in 1861. Based on French plantation customs, Louisiana had a prominent free mulatto class that considered itself superior to the enslaved "blacks", but deferred to the minority of "whites." It was common for a "white" planter who had children by slave women to leave them a small estate of their own. Many Louisiana families still have "black" and "white" branches of the same family. The American "white" planter class did not establish full control until the Constitution of 1898, which denied nearly all citizens of African descent the right to vote. After bitter political fighting in the legislature, they lost control to the popular Governor Huey P. Long in 1928, but rigid racial separation did not fall until the 1960's.


Haiti and the United States

Responding to the promises of the French Revolution, slaves in what became the Republic of Haiti seized the country in a series of military and political maneuvers between 1791 and 1799. The island of Hispaniola was divided between the Spanish colony of Santo Domingo and the French colony of St. Domingue. The French colony was devoted almost entirely to producing sugar for export, with a tiny minority of French plantation owners brutally enforcing the labor of slaves imported from Africa. Like most of the Caribbean sugar islands, a majority of slaves in Haiti had lived the first part of their life in Africa. Most of the rest had parents who came from Africa. Sugar planters were perfectly willing to work their slaves to death and import more, or to slaughter a whole group who showed signs of rebellion. Buying new slaves was cheap, and they had no need for a new generation to be raised locally. This French colony, like Virginia, had begun with very different customs in the 1600's. The first several censuses of people in St. Domingue had counted free men, women, children and servants. They had made no distinctions of "whites," "blacks," and "mulattoes," as was done after slave-based sugar production came to dominate the economy. Before the massive importation of slaves to work in the sugar cane, children of mixed descent had been considered free from birth. As late as 1685, the colony's first "Code Noir" (Black Code) provided that if a slave woman had children by her owner, property rights in both mother and children would be confiscated. This did not necessarily free them, but was intended to impose a financial penalty on the master for sinful behavior, and remove the woman from his control. On the other hand, the code provided that if he married her, the woman and children were all free. Ex-slaves during this period enjoyed full rights regardless of color. Before 1791, St. Domingue was a major trading partner of the United States. The only country which had a larger volume of trade with the United States was Britain. St. Domingue imported more supplies from the United States than from any other nation in the world, including its colonial mother country, France. Even during the 1760's, when England and its American colonies were at war with France, trade between America and St. Domingue continued. Both empires seized each others ships wherever they could find them during the war. Many British sailors were imprisoned on Hispaniola, while many French sailors were imprisoned in the British colonies. Offers were made for American ships to sail under flags of truce to Hispaniola, to exchange imprisoned French sailors for imprisoned British sailors. To make it profitable, French planters sold their sugar cheap to the American ships. They could not ship it to France, the insurance costs during the war made it too expensive to bother. American ships were making 3, 200,000 pounds profit off of this trade. This commerce continued at a high level throughout the upheavals of the 1790's. American ships brought food and manufactured goods to Haiti, bringing back sugar and rum. Both British and French-controlled islands depended on the north American colonies later states for flour, beef, pork, white oak, red oak, cedar, cypress, yellow pine, pitch pine, shingles, wooden hoops for making barrels, nails, hardware, herring, and the coarse foods entered on ledgers as "Negro provisions." None of these were produced on 72

the islands themselves. After 1783, the King of England banned imports to British colonies from the newly independent United States, over the protests of growers in those islands. Trade with the French islands became even more important to American merchants. The various slave revolts and fighting between several different armies did not interrupt commerce. Unlike North America, mulattoes (half African and half European) came to be a very distinct class in Haiti. French fathers openly recognized paternity of children by slave mistresses, sent them to Europe for education, and provided them with their own estates, worked by African slaves. In any British north American colony, or in the United States after 1783, such children would simply have been slaves, like their mother. In St. Domingue, the mothers of mulatto children also lived a fairly luxurious life in the mansion. They had nice clothes and good food, they gave orders to lesser slaves, but never obtained the status of wife. (Usually the owner's wife remained in France, and he sent her money, visiting her on frequent trips back to France). While mulatto children on French plantations might live a very wealthy lifestyle, French planters required a submissive attitude from their half-African children. They denied mulattoes the vote, entry into any profession, or use of the father's family name. The first response in St. Domingue to the revolution in France was celebration by the planters that they would now have "liberty" from taxation and other regulations on the part of the King's ministers. The second response was a demand by the mulattoes for equal rights under the law. They did not mean for everyone, only for themselves. French and mulatto alike despised the slaves and intended to continue treating them in the same manner they had always done. French planters responded violently to the mulatto demands. There were even cases of fathers killing their own sons. Some mulattoes began appealing to the slaves (who were 100% African) to join them. A good number of French sailors had already been passing word to slaves in the cities. The sailors proclaimed that by "the sacred Rights of Man" the slaves were all free, but the planters had been hiding the news. At that time, there were about 40,000 French, 25,000 mulattoes, and 480,000 Africans living in St. Domingue. A slave uprising began at the instigation of Boukman, a priest practicing traditional African religion. It was disorganized, angry and bloody. A wall of fire spread across the island as plantations were sacked and burned. The result was mutual killing of French, mulattoes and Africans, disruption of the economy, political chaos, with no-one able to establish control. Over 100,000 slaves were in revolt. At least 180 sugar plantations and 900 of the smaller coffee and indigo plantations were destroyed. Boukman himself was killed early in the fighting. The revolution in St. Domingue struck fear into the slave-owning class in North America. Fleeing plantation owners arrived in Charleston, South Carolina, and other ports, with large numbers of slaves and resettled in the area. In 1793, churches in Charleston with mostly "white" congregations called for donations to aid the "distressed inhabitants" of the French colony. These refugees were not welcome in France. They were condemned as emigres, traitors to the Republic. They lived extravagantly, and were treated with the same contempt as the French nobility, who had themselves fled from France to other nations of Europe. 73

When James Monroe was sent on a diplomatic mission to France in 1794, his instructions from the Secretary of State referred to $15,000 advanced by Congress to aid refugees from St. Domingue. Congress expected France to repay the money. "This subject has been broached to Mr. Fauch here" the instructions noted, "and he appears to have been roused at the idea of supporting by French money, French aristocrats and democrats indiscriminately." French planters who remained in St. Domingue fled to the cities for protection. Spanish and British armies began looking for opportunities to take over. Mulattoes organized their own armies, and armed bands of Africans assembled in the mountains, making small raids when they could. In one of these bands, a quiet, deeply religious (Roman Catholic) balding 50-year old slave named Toussaint Breda began to take command. Self-appointed leaders known as Biassou, Jeannot, and Jean-Francois dressed in fancy uniforms, gave themselves high titles, but provided little leadership. At least some of them had ambition to become slave owners themselves and rule their own plantations. Their soldiers began to follow Toussaint. Starting with a subordinate command of 600 troops, Toussaint drove 1500 French soldiers out of several towns. Toussaint had learned to read and write, and had read a good deal of the library on the Breda plantation where he was a slave. He had been highly valued and trusted by the owner. When the rebellion broke out, Toussaint escorted his former master's family to safety on the coast, so they could take a ship out of the island. He then joined the uprising. He was widely respected among the slaves, and the estate where he lived had been untouched during the fighting. Toussaint knew a good deal of medicine. He could treat sick and wounded soldiers. That gave him a loyal following in itself. As he took command, he began teaching military drill to the slaves who came to join the uprising. He trained troops who were later described, by a British officer they had taken prisoner, as equal in coordination and maneuvers to any troops in the British army. French General Pamphile de Lacroix wrote in 1820 that "No European army was ever better disciplined than Toussaint's troops." Lacroix said Napoleon could have handled his Russian campaign better if he had studied Toussaint's tactics. During this period he became known as Toussaint Louverture. Louverture in French means "opening." Some accounts say this name meant he had opened the door to freedom. By another account, he got this name for his skill at leading troops on the battlefield. French and British officers who fought against him thought, over and over again, that they had his army surrounded. He always found an opening and led his troops to safety. So long as the French Republic allowed slavery to continue in French colonies, Toussaint allied himself with the Spanish army in Santo Domingo, the other part of the same island. In 1794, the French National Assembly abolished slavery in all French territory. Toussaint promptly formed an alliance with General Laveaux, commanding the few French troops remaining on the island, and turned on the Spanish. He then began driving out the British who had taken control of the coastal cities. Toussaint Louverture became the undisputed ruler of St. Domingue. A mulatto army, 74

under an officer named Pinchinat, tried briefly to seize control in the city of Cap Francois. They held several French officers prisoner and beat them up. Troops loyal to Toussaint under Colonel Pierre Michel established barricades and retook the city. The grateful French officers were rescued by Michel's African troops. When Toussaint arrived at the head of his army, he announced, according to one English translation: "Don't ever again pay any attention to what savage rebels will try to tell you. In this colony there are more negroes than whites and mulattos combined. And if any problems should arise, the French Republic will stand behind us as the strongest party. I am your commander in chief; I maintain law and order here."6 General Laveaux replied: "We now have in our midst a savior, our only authority, the black Spartacus, who, as Abbot Raynal predicted, has come to revenge all the evil done to his race. From this day forward, I shall undertake nothing without him and everything with him."7 Laveaux promoted Cols. Pierre Michel and Jean-Pierre Lveill, both officers under Toussaint, to gnral de brigade (brigadier general) in recognition of merit. All French troops remaining on the island were now placed under Toussaint's command, and several competed to be allowed into his honor guard. When some of his troops complained about serving alongside of "whites," Toussaint replied "We owe our color to the latitude in which we live. Climatic differences have one and the same effect on members of different races. The color of a man is an accident of birth, a caprice of nature, and it follows that all war between men of the same country on account of the complexion of the skin is fratricide." Toussaint entered the city of Port au Prince on April 14, 1798, after the final defeat of the British. The fearful French ("white") residents had invited the protection of British arms. Now, they had no choice but to welcome Toussaint with a parade and a Te Deum mass in the cathedral. Toussaint spoke to the assembled population of the miserable condition of estates cultivated by slave labor. Only now that all men are free, he said, is the possibility of prosperity returning. He briefly tried to distribute land to all the freed slaves. He quickly found that after a life of intense labor under the whip, most former slaves were happy to raise a few chickens and fruit trees, and relax. That would have destroyed the economy of the island. So Toussaint restored the estates to their owners, and decreed that everyone would go back to work, with 25% of the revenues going to the government for public works, and 25% going to the people doing the hard work in the fields. Toussaint had inspectors regularly checking the books to enforce that system. He employed many French residents of the island in government service, because virtually none of the Africans had ever been able to learn to read, and the mulattoes could not be trusted. Mulatto armies

One record of Toussaints speech in the original French-Creole is: Japprends avec indignation que des tres pervers, dsorganisateurs, perturbateurs du repos public, des enemis de las libert gnrale et de la saint galit, cherchent par des intrigues infmes faire perdre mes frres de la commune do Saint-Louis-du-Nord le glorieux titre de citoyens franais. Faites bien attention, mes frres, quil y a plus de noirs dans la colonie quil ny a dhommes de couleur et dhommes blancs ensembles, et que la Rpublique sen prendra, parce que nous sommes les plus forts at que cest nous maintenir lordre et la tranquillit par le bon exemple. Je suis responsible de tous les vnements comme chef, et quel compte pourrai-je rendre a la France, qui nous a combls de ses bienfaits, si vous cessez dcouter la voix de la raison 7 General Laveauxs speech is recorded in French as le sauveur des autorits constitues, un Spartacus noir, le ngre prdit par Raynal pour venger les outrages faits sa race. Dsormais je ne ferait rien que de concert avec lui.


still hoped to restore slavery, with themselves in charge, instead of the "white" French planters. From 1796-1800, it was the policy of U.S. President John Adams to encourage trade with St. Domingue. Adams was in conflict with France for most of his term as President. His Consul General of the U.S. to Saint-Domingue, Edward Stevens, tried to win Toussaint away from loyalty to France. Stevens urged him to declare independence and ally himself with the United States. Toussaint never renounced his allegiance to France. He was fully in charge of the island, in the name of the French Republic. But he also wanted to develop trade, and the island had always been a major trade partner of the United States. Stevens was informally a trusted adviser to Louverture. Thomas Jefferson, who became president after the election of 1800, took the opposite approach. While serving as vice-president under Adams, but leading the opposition Republican party, he wrote in horror to James Madison that "We may expect black crews and supercargoes and missionaries thence into the southern states if this combustion can be introduced among us under any veil whatever, we have to fear it." Jefferson opposed Adams' suspension of trade with France, and also opposed Adams' exception for trade with St. Domingue. What most Americans thought about Toussaint Louverture was, trade is good business. Jefferson noted that "even the South Carolinians in the House of Representatives voted for it." Jefferson commented repeatedly that the United States could have no relations with "slaves who have killed their masters." In another letter to Madison, Jefferson referred to "Toussaint and his black subjects now in open rebellion with France." These remarks show that Jefferson was totally ignorant of what was really going on. He probably got most of his reports from refugee slave owners who fled the island in 1791. With even less accuracy, he wrote that "Rigaud at the head of the people of color [meaning mulattoes] maintains his allegiance, but they are only twenty-five thousand souls, against five hundred thousand, the number of the blacks." Mulatto armies had no loyalty to France at all. Most mulattoes had owned slaves, and opposed the law ending slavery. After Napoleon Bonaparte ended the revolution in France, he accepted advice from merchants and displaced planters to restore slavery in the French colonies. With some islands, that was as simple as signing a new law. With St. Domingue, it could not be done without dealing with Toussaint Louverture. An officer with experience on the island strongly urged Napoleon to leave it alone: "It is the happiest spot in your dominions. God meant this man to govern. Races melt beneath his hand. He has saved you this island, for I know of my own knowledge that when the Republic could not have lifted a finger to prevent it, George III offered him any title and any revenue if he would hold the island under the British Crown. He refused and saved it for France." Many historians believe that Napoleon was jealous of Louverture's military reputation. He has often been called "the black Napoleon." His military genius was easily equal to that of Bonaparte. Bonaparte sent an army of 30,000 troops to retake the island, led by his son-on-law, General Leclerc. President Jefferson pledged his full support to Bonaparte's campaign. He told Andre Pichon, the French charge-d'affaires in Washington, that "nothing would be more simple than to furnish your army and your fleet with everything and to starve out Toussaint." 76

Jefferson was fearful of the example that Toussaint Louverture's success might set for north American slaves. But Jefferson also thought that once Napoleon got St. Domingue back, he would sell the French territory of Louisiana to the United States. In fact, Napoleon intended the reconquest of St. Domingue as the first step toward greater empire in the western hemisphere. Among other things, French Louisiana was to serve as the granary to feed both masters and slaves in St. Domingue, which would continue growing sugar and have no land or labor to spare growing food. The United States would have been confined to the east side of the Mississippi River. All commerce down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers to the Gulf of Mexico would have been subject to French control. Jefferson was saved from his own ignorance by the resistance that ultimately destroyed the French army once it landed on the island. In February 1801, Leclerc arrived off Le Cap and demanded surrender of all armed forces on the island. Within a few days the French occupied the main ports and the Plain of the North. Over a period of two years, Toussaint's army resisted the French invaders. Two of Toussaint's most trusted generals, Jean-Jacque Dessalines and Henri Christophe, at times went over to the French, then turned again. Toussaint decided that he could not defeat the French militarily, and agreed to end hostilities. After several months of peace, Toussaint was tricked into a meeting at which he was taken prisoner, and removed to France, where he died. The French army was continuously ravaged by yellow fever, as Toussaint probably expected when he ceased military action. Dessalines took up arms again, and secured the departure of the French. By this time, General Leclerc was among those killed by yellow fever. General Rochambeau signed a humiliating document of surrender to Dessalines. Dessalines broke all ties with France and declared the Republic of Haiti an independent nation in 1804. Haiti was the only remaining word that anyone knew from the language of the original natives of the island, who had been wiped out by French and Spanish authorities because they would not accept enslavement. Haiti means mountains, or mountainous. After that, Napoleon gave up on colonial adventures in North America, and sold the Louisiana territory to the United States. A few years later he crowned himself Emperor of the French. After General Rochambeau departed with what was left of the French army, Dessalines ordered a general massacre of all French remaining in the country. He made exceptions only for doctors, pharmacists, certain artisans, and priests. Most general officers did not execute these orders to the letter. General Christophe, who was in command in the northern part of the nation, gave several refugees from the decree shelter in his own home. Jefferson established a trade embargo against the new Republic of Haiti. The island had depended entirely upon growing crops for export from the first European settlement. Cut off from trade with both the United States and France, Haiti could neither sell enough of its sugar crop, nor import enough food and other supplies. In ten years its economy collapsed. The United States government then pointed out that former slaves just did not know how to run a country. Haiti continued to have an influence on the liberation of the Americas. Simon Bolivar, 77

who led a large part of South America to independence from Spain, took refuge in Haiti in 1815-1816. Haitian President Alexandre Petion welcomed Bolivar, while he put his revolutionary movement back together to go and try again. Bolivar promised Petion that he would abolish slavery when he had liberated the mainland. In 1830, when Charles Boyer was President of Haiti, Mexico planned to secure its newly won independence by launching an invasion of Cuba from Haiti. Cuba was still under Spanish rule. The plan included a slave revolt which would further reduce Spanish control in the Caribbean. This operation was never completed.


Gabriel's Rebellion
In 1800, many in the United States believed that civil war was about to break out, between the Republican Party and the Federalist Party. A Virginia slave named Gabriel had great hopes for this conflict. He saw an opportunity to secure freedom for all slaves in the United States through it. Those he knew, who belonged to the Republican Party, wanted all slaves to be free. What he did not know, is that many of the leading Republicans owned slaves. Gabriel was, by Virginia law, the property of Thomas Prosser. Records at the time he lived do not show that he was ever called by the name "Prosser." He was simply known by the name of Gabriel, which his parents gave him. Gabriel was one of many slaves during that period who were allowed to "hire out" their time for wages. Their masters collected most of the money each week. Larger plantations had for many years trained a few slaves in crafts. During the 1790's, the price of tobacco had fallen so low, that many plantations shifted to growing corn and wheat. These crops required less labor. There was no market to sell surplus slaves to, so allowing them to hire out their own time to get a little money coming in was a common practice. Gabriel was a skilled blacksmith, literate, and very aware of the political conflicts swirling around Richmond Virginia, where he worked. Gabriel could see the difference between freedom and slavery in exact amounts of money every week. He was paid wages for the work that he did. He had to turn over most or all of the money to his owner. If he were free, he could keep it all for himself. Field hands saw it differently. They could see the difference between the food they were issued and the food they prepared for their masters, the work they did in the fields and the beautiful furnishings and fine wine it bought for their owners. They could see the difference between their own uninsulated shacks and "the big house." But they saw it from a position of dependence on the plantation for their livelihood. Field hands and house servants never saw cold hard cash, lying in their own hand. They did not have that measure of the value of their labor. But many slaves did, who hired out their time, at the th turn of the 19 century. In 1800, half of the 5700 residents of Richmond were of African descent. About 90% of these were slaves. Factories were unknown. Industrial type work was done in small shops. Some of the more prosperous artisans ,who owned the larger shops, owned slaves as apprentices or assistants. In 1782, three carpenters in Richmond owned a total of 28 slaves, five tailors owned 14, and two smiths owned 7. These owners were ambitious men. They most likely worked their slaves harder than the laid-back country squires would have at that time. But the smaller shops were owned by men who were also "New Light" preachers. Some were veterans of the abolition movement following the revolutionary war. Nearly all were admirers of the French Revolution and committed to the Republican Party. These were 79

the shops that a slave who could hire out their time tried to get work in. The owners of the shops, the free workers, and the hired-out slaves worked side by side. They formed close personal and working relationships. They went to the same places to eat and drink after work.

Today people would go to a bar. In those days, people went after work to "grog shops," which were well known for "the equality which reigned" between "blacks and whites, all hail fellow well met, no matter what the complexion." They were places where apprentices, serving girls, hired slaves, free Africans, and sailors all came together. These laborers, of all colors, considered themselves superior to the merchants who ran the city. The laborers, who worked with their hands, viewed the merchants as men squeezing profit from their labor. The police constantly raided the grog shops, mostly on complaints that "white, yellow and black congregated to eat, drink and be merry." But, as fast as one was closed, another was always opening up. John Simmons, a wheelwright in Richmond, who was presumed to be of European descent, looked forward to an uprising by farmers, trades people and urban artisans against the merchants and the landowners. He remarked more than once that "if I had a few more white people to join me I could get all the negroes in the county to back us, and they would do more good in the night than the white people could do in the day." People like Simmons commonly belonged to abolition societies, which at the time were open and not subject to much reprisal. The political divide Gabriel could see, working in Richmond, was between craft workers and merchants. He knew that the men in the shops favored Jefferson, while the merchants were Federalists. What he did not see was that both the Republican and Federalist parties depended heavily on slave owners for their southern electoral base. Jefferson's notion of "liberty," which many believed could extend to a civil war against the Federalists, did not extend at all to an uprising of the slaves. Nevertheless, Gabriel came very close to seizing Richmond. As he assembled those prepared to rise up for their freedom, he told Ben, another of Thomas Prosser's slaves, that he expected "the poor white people" and "most redoubtable democrats" to join the revolt. The plan was simple and feasible. One thousand slaves would assemble at a bridge four miles outside of Richmond. They would march into the city, seize the guns stored in Capitol Square, take Governor James Monroe hostage, hold the bridges, take the state treasury. "If the white people agreed to their freedom they would then hoist a white flag, and would dine and drink with the merchants of the city on the day when it should be agreed to." As a Republican, and a friend of the French Revolution, Governor Monroe was expected to come around once the capital was under Gabriel's control. Gabriel gave specific orders that Quakers, Methodists and Frenchmen were not to be killed, nor were "poor white women who had no slaves." 80

Very few field hands were part of this revolt. Gabriel recruited from the craft workers like himself, from workers in the tobacco storehouses and warehouses in Richmond, a few free Africans, and unskilled white laborers. All evidence of participation by anyone who was not of African descent was carefully suppressed after the revolt failed, by Governor James Monroe. Everyone who learned of the plan after it was discovered said that it "could hardly have failed of success." The uprising was scheduled for Saturday August 30. That evening, slaves would be off work until Monday morning and free to move about. A heavy thunderstorm made it impossible for most of those who had committed themselves to get to the assembly point. It also flooded the rivers so that a march on Richmond on the roads of that day was impossible. The following day, several people who knew of the plan became afraid and turned informer. Arrests began, and the court of Oyer and Terminer was called into session.

In Virginia, this was a court designated specifically to hear criminal charges against slaves. In English law, Oyer and Terminer was originally the name of a court "authorized to hear and determine all treasons, felonies and misdemeanors." Such courts were only used on particular occasions "upon sudden outrage or insurrection" in some place. Oyer is a French word, which means "to hear." It refers to a practice of reading aloud the charges against a defendant, so he may hear what they are. It was a custom that began in Europe in the Middle Ages when most defendants were unable to read. Gabriel escaped on the coastal schooner Mary. The owner, Richardson Taylor, was a former overseer and a recently converted Methodist. One of the ship's crew, a former slave Taylor had freed, informed Taylor who Gabriel was. Even when a hired bondsman on the crew also identified Gabriel, Taylor did nothing. But on arrival in Norfolk, the hired slave informed the sheriff, expecting a reward that would have gone a long way toward purchasing his own freedom. He was disappointed. The reward was reduced to $50. Taylor was arrested for harboring Gabriel, but released on his own recognizance. He sailed out of town and was never pursued. The authorities did not want to publicly prosecute a free white man for aiding a black rebel. They preferred to ignore that such a thing had happened. There were rumors that letters had been seized in the possession of Gabriel and others from white people, including French residents of the state. But Governor Monroe had all such documents sent to him, personally, not to the court, and no-one has seen a trace of them since. It would have cost both Monroe and Thomas Jefferson the election and destroyed the Republican Party if it became public knowledge that friends of the party had aided a slave revolt. The party's southern plantation owning voters would have deserted instantly. Twenty-five slaves were executed for their part in the revolt. Since the law at that time required the state to reimburse the owner of any slave executed, it cost the state $8899.91. 81

One of the most important state witnesses was Ben Woolfork. He had been a key recruiter for the uprising. Upon turning informant, he testified against the very people he had himself recruited. He expected to be freed from slavery as a reward, but freedom was only granted to informants who had not been part of the uprising. He was paid $22.36, given a new suit of clothes, and returned to his master's plantation. It can be reasonably expected that he was not well received in the slave quarters, and it is likely that his body bore a few bruises, here and there, most of the time. After a few years, his name ceased to appear on any records of the plantation. A second attempt at revolt was made in 1802 by a slave named Sancho. He had been a recruit to Gabriel's attempt. Sancho was owned by John Booker, and was allowed to hire his time as a ferryman on the rivers of Virginia. At this time, Virginia still relied on the rivers as its primary means of transportation. Roads were few, poorly maintained, and turned into impassable mud in the rain. Slaves were employed as ship carpenters, pilots, sailmakers, riggers, caulkers, sailors and dockworkers. Many free African-Americans also worked on the ships and ferries around the state. Like the men in the blacksmith and carpentry shops, they mixed freely with sailors who were not of African descent. Sailors on trans-Atlantic ships often denounced slavery in language that was not appreciated by more polite society. A sailors life in those days resembled that of slaves in many respects. Sailors were often "impressed" (kidnapped) into service. They were paid very little, and constantly threatened with discipline by the "cat-'o-nine-tails," a whip with nine separate strips of leather. Many sailors refused to take jobs on slave ships. Some out of principle, others out of superstitious fear of the ghosts of those who died on the voyage. Some refused simply because poor sanitation, crowded decks and constant deaths combined to create a smell some sailors could identify miles away, across open ocean. Work on the riverboats and ferries provided many opportunities for a slave to run away. But slave owners could not obtain the transportation they needed without putting slaves into this work. When Sancho began to spread the word of a new attempt at an uprising, the crews of ships sailing up and down the rivers were his main lines of communication. Written notes were passed from boat to boat along the Roanoke River, starting in Halifax and Charlotte counties, then along the Appomattox to the James, into Richmond and on to Norfolk. As in 1800, Sancho expected "the poor sort that has no blacks" to at least remain neutral in the contest. Unlike 1800, he used no political slogans, and expected no help from the Republicans. They had been thoroughly exposed as hypocrites on the issue of slavery, following the suppression of the 1800 revolt. People who became part of the plan in Norfolk expected those "whites" who had to work for a living to join in. They told followers that white people in the area "had arms concealed for the purpose." Norfolk had previously been plagued by press gangs for the British navy. Sailors of African descent had a history of battling the press gangs shoulder to shoulder with sailors of more pale complexion. 82

Word of the planned revolt spread into North Carolina. People in Norfolk passed the word on through Elizabeth City up the rivers into the interior of North Carolina. Meantime, word spread from Halifax down the Roanoke River into Brunswick City. The rising was set for Easter 1802. As word traveled farther and farther, control of information slipped out of the hands of the original group that planned it. By December 1801, rumors were already reaching the ears of authorities in both states. Patrols were increased. On January 1, 1802, several men were caught at a midnight meeting for what was referred to simply as "the business." Again, arrests of everyone suspected of being part of the plan began. By January 16, Governor Monroe reported to the state General Assembly "An alarm of a threatened insurrection among the slaves took place lately in Nottaway County." Several slaves, he said, had been arrested, "two of whom are convicted of the crime of conspiring in an insurrection against the Commonwealth, for which they are sentenced to suffer death." Monroe added "It is our duty on this occasion to remark that the publick danger proceeding from this description of persons is daily increasing. A variety of causes contribute to produce this effect, among which may be enumerated the contrast in the condition of the free negroes and slaves, the growing sentiment of liberty existing in the minds of the latter, and the inadequacy of the existing patrol laws." There were only two ways to end the contrast between the condition of free negroes and the condition of slaves. One was to settle on a program to free the slaves. The other was to place restrictions on free negroes until their lives appeared hardly any better. The growing sentiment of liberty received little attention. The inadequacy of the patrol laws got a lot of attention. An explosion, sooner or later, became inevitable.


Descent into Hell: The Final, Classic Era of Slavery

Thomas Jefferson was not thinking about ending slavery when he said "The time for fixing every essential right on a legal basis is while our rulers are honest and ourselves united. From the conclusion of this war we shall be going downhill." He was thinking about some of his more impressive accomplishments, like freedom of religion. On the subject of slavery he was a miserable failure. But he did understand that newly-won freedoms were not only in danger from the King of England. They were also threatened by many would-be masters of America. He accurately predicted that "The shackles which shall not be knocked off at the conclusion of this war, will remain on us long, will be made heavier and heavier." For those who remained in servitude after the dust of the American Revolution had settled, that certainly came to pass. After 1802, Virginia's legislature debated whether to abolish slavery or continue it. Everyone saw after the barely averted rebellions that it was either time to end the state's dangerous reliance on slave labor, or the state would have to impose harsh restrictions in order to keep one part of the population in complete subjection. At that time, 40% of the African-American population lived in Virginia, so any change in that state's law would have carried tremendous weight with the entire national approach to slavery. All proposals for emancipation were based on transporting the slave population somewhere else. Later slave revolts also were led by men who intended to remove themselves and their followers from the United States. Gabriel had intended to remain where he was once the point of freedom was conceded. The Virginia government could find no place to send their slaves to if they freed them. They had no intention of letting them remain in Virginia as free citizens. Establishing a territory for freed slaves in the west was considered, but President Jefferson didn't want them there. He was dreaming of filling up the territory with independent farmers, and in his dream, all of them would be "white." British authorities in Sierra Leone would not accept more freed slaves from America. They were having a lot of conflicts with the ones they had freed themselves during the Revolutionary War. No arrangement could be made in South America either. The fact was, the slave population was too large to remove from the state anymore anyway. As it became obvious that the will to abolish slavery did not exist, Charles Pettigrew remarked "It is a pity, slavery and Tyranny must go together." In December 1800, still frightened by Gabriel's near-success, Governor Monroe wrote to the Mayor of Richmond that free travel of blacks from the countryside into the city should be stopped. He especially worried about those "perhaps from the coal pits, who acting in a body at their ordinary labor are more capable of forming and executing any plan, than such as are dispersed on estates." To expel them from the city, except for specific reasons at authorized times, Monroe added that "it would be necessary to enregister all the negroes of the town" and require each to have a certificate showing he belonged there. This was also the occasion for 84

hiring a force of full time constables. In most cities at the time, police work was a parttime duty rotated among various citizens. A small sign of the changes underway was a petition to the Virginia legislature for a law against "white" servant women marrying "black" artisans. State law had long since ceased to recognize such marriages, but they were common anyway. Some preachers would consecrate such a marriage, whether state law recognized it or not. But now, the petition demanded such marriages be punished as a crime. The penalty imposed was 39 lashes with a whip for each partner in the marriage. There was an obvious economic and political motive for specifying marriages between men of African descent and women who had no visible African descent. Slavery was inherited through the mother. If a free "white" man had children by an enslaved "black" woman, the result was light skinned slaves, who were valuable property and controlled by extensive slave codes. If a free or enslaved "black" man had children by a free "white" woman, the result was free mulattoes. They were not by any means equal at law, but they were not property. They were not subject to a master. Most of the slave code did not apply to them. A good deal of sexual mythology grew up around these laws. Years later, after slavery was formally abolished, laws prohibiting any inter-racial marriage became more common. Virginia's last criminal prosecution for inter-racial marriage, of a "white" man to a "black" woman, was in the early 1960's. The law became null and void after several years of appeals, when the United States Supreme Court declared it in violation of the United States Constitution. (The original Constitution did not, of course, protect inter-racial marriages. Only the addition of the 14th Amendment, guaranteeing equal protection of the laws, made this law null and void. It is likely that this amendment could only have been added to the Constitution at the conclusion of a civil war. At any other time, it would have been stalled again and again and never ratified.) Another sign of changing times is that 1803 was the first year when no delegate from the state of Virginia attended the annual meeting of the abolition society in Philadelphia. Abolition had never been popular in Virginia, but it had some support. It had been socially acceptable to advocate abolition of slavery. From this time on, anyone who dared to mention the subject would be shunned by all their neighbors. Anyone who was not wealthy and well connected could be subject to violent reprisals. In 1806, Virginia law was amended to require that all emancipated slaves must be banished from the state within 12 months, "or sold for the benefit of the literary fund." This terminated even the option for slave owners to emancipate their own slaves except by getting them out of the state. It changed the entire culture of the state. Instead of 10% of the African population in the south being free, most free people of African descent moved away. Only those still enslaved remained, and a few who had certificates of free birth. As all thought of ending slavery faded, the Richmond Virginian published an editorial advocating that "Slaves ought to be solely employed in agriculture or other occupations of plain labor." This became law in the next several years in most slave-holding states. These laws recognized that slaves who had well developed work skills, opportunity to 85

communicate, and literacy, had "the means, without much exertion, of forming plots and conspiracies." There were always exceptions to the law though. Skilled slaves were essential to the southern economy, and to the prosperity of individual slave-owners. It was not possible to do entirely without them. The militia was put into a state of constant military mobilization. In the city of Richmond, a Public Guard was created to protect public buildings and arsenals. These sites were the obvious targets of slaves seeking to arm themselves. Up to this time, there was seldom much of a guard put on them, because the primary fear was foreign invasion. Virginia, and the new slave states admitted to the union in later years, became an armed camp, keeping one part of the population in servitude by direct application of military measures. By 1820, a new generation of slave owners had become ruthlessly devoted to keeping and expanding the institution. Slavery had been allowed to move into the newly conquered territories west of the Appalachian Mountains. Eli Whitney had invented the cotton gin, which processed the seeds out of the cotton fifty times faster than anyone could do it by hand. Cotton was planted throughout Virginia, the Carolinas, and all the way to the Mississippi River. Slave owners were soon trapped between a large investment in slaves and falling prices for cotton. The newly settled territories of Alabama and Mississippi were producing cotton crops that competed with the older states. Slave owners were already deeply in debt for the slaves they had purchased just before 1808. Most responded by trying to extract more and more labor from their slaves, while also selling some to pay debts. They were desperate for more money, and afraid of losing all they had. They saw a growing abolitionist movement in the south, and were terrified that it would drive them into bankruptcy. In Jonesboro, Tennessee, Elihu Embree began publishing the first abolition newspaper, the Emancipator, in 1820. One of its principle sources of information was the Manumission Society of Tennessee. Plantation owners, who had always dominated southern state governments, brutally suppressed this abolitionist movement, not only in Tennessee, but also in the Carolinas and Virginia. Southern refugees who fled to Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston, taught a later generation of northern abolitionists, such as William Lloyd Garrison. Garrison got to work about ten years later. He found in the north, "contempt more bitter, opposition more active, detraction more relentless, prejudice more stubborn and apathy more frozen, than among the slaveowners themselves." There were more vicious riots against abolitionists in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New England in the 1830's than in the southern states. The only man ever executed by the United States for the crime of slave trading, in 1862, sailed from his home in Portland, Maine. It is obvious that southern abolitionists remained active, clandestinely, by the fact that laws continued to be passed to stop them. F.G. Fontaine wrote, shortly before the Civil War, that in 1835 "In the South, incendiary publications were circulated to such an alarming extent, that the press and people of that section rose en masse to put down the growing evil." John Tyler, at the time a general in the United States army, and later President, was among those who endorsed a resolution that such agitation was an act of 86

treason requiring no trial before inflicting punishment. Fontaine's definition of "the people" is suspect. As in many other states and times, it most likely meant those people who owned a certain minimum of property, and held real political power. If all of "the people" were opposed to "the growing evil," there would have been no evil to put down. Fontaine in fact writes that "in this state of alarm, the gallows and stake soon found victims, and within a period of a few months, no

The Execution of Nathaniel Gordon

The judge who sentenced Nathaniel Gordon to death for the crime of international trading in slaves told him "Think of the cruelty and wickedness of seizing nearly a thousand fellow beings who never did you harm, and thrusting them between the decks of a small ship, beneath a burning tropical sun, to die of disease or suffocation, or to be transported to distant lands, and be consigned , they and their posterity, to a fate far more cruel than death. As you are soon to pass into the presence of that God of the black man as well as the white man, who is no respecter of persons, do not indulge for a moment the thought that He hears with indifference the cry of the humblest of His children." Gordon had crammed 900 slaves into his boat at the mouth of the Congo River, intending to sell them in Havana, Cuba. It was his fourth voyage. The first three had been very profitable. But, sailing under an American flag, he was stopped by a U.S. warship and arrested. The surviving slaves were freed. The state of the law at that time was that international slave trading was illegal. The law had seldom been enforced since 1808. Since 1820, slave trading had been treated as piracy, which carried a death penalty. Slave trading between states within the United States was protected by law. President Abraham Lincoln refused to commute the sentence, writing that "I think I would personally prefer to let this man live in confinement and let him meditate on his deeds. Yet in the name of justice and the majesty of law, there ought to be one case, at least one specific instance, of a professional slave-trader, a Northern white man, given the exact penalty of death because of the incalculable number of deaths he and his kind inflicted upon black men amid the horror of the sea-voyage from Africa."

less than a dozen individuals, white and black, who were found amongst the slaves, inciting them to insurrection, received the just award of their crime." The gallows refers to death by hanging. The stake means some were burned to death. Fontaine makes no reference to any of them being from northern states. Most northern states eventually outlawed slavery, because they didn't really need it. Or, they just let it fade away, without passing laws against it. Next to Charleston, South Carolina, the ports of Rhode Island had been most heavily involved in the slave trade. After 1808, the trade was illegal, although quite profitable for those not caught. Rhode Island shipping companies turned to other commodities. Economies in the northern states were not based on importing slave labor from Africa. They soon came to rely on importing illiterate peasants from Europe. "Send me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free" and we'll put them in a sweatshop with no light, heat or ventilation for 14 hours a day, then send them home to unheated slum apartments with no running water. These workers could not be bought and sold. But they could be laid off. And their employers lost no investment if they died on the job. More could easily be hired. They 87

were not allowed into the better restaurants, hotels, or stores, even to work. Signs reading "No Irish Need Apply" took care of that. The chairman of a Senate committee touring canal and railroad construction sites in the midwest urgently asked a foreman "You don't consider an Italian a white man do you?" No sir, replied the foreman, whose crew were mostly Italian immigrants, "an Italian is a dago."


Denmark Vesey: America's Largest Slave Revolt

Denmark Vesey, led the largest and most well-organized attempt at a revolt of African slaves in North America. He was a Sunday School teacher at the African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, S.C., and also a member of Charleston's Second Presbyterian Church. In the southern states, for the first time, resistance took the form of slave revolts in which all "whites" were targeted as the enemy. Eighteen years after Haiti declared its complete independence, twenty years after the second Virginia uprising was crushed, twenty-seven years after the Pointe Coupee revolt in Louisiana, Denmark Vesey planned and nearly carried out the wholesale extermination of the "white" population of Charleston, South Carolina. In military terms, the plan was brilliant. It failed only because the plan was betrayed in the last stages of recruiting, by a house slave who was asked to join. The plan also made sense because slaves were a majority of the population in South Carolina, especially the area around Charleston. In the 1800 census there were 63,615 people of African descent in Charleston, and 18,768 who thought of themselves as "white." It was a feasible plan, and had plenty of moral argument behind it. Vesey had purchased his freedom in 1800, with the money from a winning lottery ticket. He was a skilled carpenter, who established his own shop. He was literate and relatively prosperous. But he decided to "see what I could do for my fellow creatures." He began meticulous preparations for an uprising by 1817. When the AME church was closed by the City Guard, he counseled restraint. For the next four years he traveled the rivers, recruiting from the Gullah communities on the nearby islands, from the French Negroes brought with their masters from Haiti, from a substantial Ibo community on several plantations, as well as from angry members of the AME church. Vesey could speak French, and had briefly been sold into slavery in St. Domingue in his youth. Vesey preached from the Bible to gather recruits, particularly Exodus and passages from Joshua and Zachariah. He worked with Gullah Jack, an Obeah man respected among followers of traditional African religions, and he recruited among the 10% of slaves who had been raised in and remained faithful to Islam. There were a large number of slaves who had been born in Africa. The final orgy of slave-buying in 1807, before importation was banned by law, had brought in large numbers not born in America. Vesey held meetings in his house, and spoke at night to large gatherings. After four years, Vesey had the names of more than 9000 slaves committed. Vesey was well informed of world events. He knew that the price of cotton had fallen, and that there was a surplus of slaves, purchased on credit. That meant the planters were deeply in debt. They were in no position to pay their bills. As with Gabriel's rebellion in Virginia, Vesey planned to seize the armory, distribute arms, and seize the federal reserve bank. Unlike Gabriel, he planned to set fire to the entire city, load weapons and the gold bullion from the bank aboard the ships in Charleston harbor, and lead a mass exodus to either Haiti or Africa. In the process, he planned to kill all or most of the "white" minority of the city. Under the circumstances of the time and place, that was a plausible matter of military necessity. A good portion of the upstate population would have said that the wealthy elite of Charleston deserved it. They might at the same time have slaughtered a good part of the darker complexioned minority living in their 89

own area, as a precaution. Two months before the date set to rise up, the entire plot was discovered. One new recruit spoke to one person too many. Peter Prioleau, a loyal house slave of Colonel and Mrs. John C. Prioleau, was horrified when William Paul told him "We are determined to shake off our bondage, and for this purpose we stand on a firm foundation. Many have joined, and if you go with me, I will show you the man who has the list of names, who will take yours down." On the advice of a free African resident of Charleston, William Pencil, Peter went to inform his master. The plan was successfully denied and covered up for another month, even with the authorities investigating closely. But as additional spies brought in more information, 400 state militia were called in to the city and the City Guard put on full alert. The rising had to be called off, and arrests began. Thirty-four men, plus Denmark Vesey himself, were hanged. A special ordinance threatened 39 lashes for any person of dark complexion wearing mourning clothes in public following the executions. Several were arrested for defying this law. The New York Daily Advertiser wrote that "White men, too, would engender plots and escape from their imprisonment were they situated as are these miserable children of Africa." It seems the writer, like most people of that period, was unaware that "white men" had been so situated in the American colonies, and had engendered more than one such plot, in cooperation with Africans similarly situated. The Boston Evening Gazette remarked "Strictly speaking, nobody can blame the servile part of the population for attempting to escape from bondage, however their delusions may be regretted." In slave states however, by this time, opinion literally blamed slaves for having the temerity to break the law by attempting to gain their freedom. There was an unquestioning attitude that property rights should be respected, even by those whose persons were classified as property. The city of Charleston petitioned the state for establishment of a "citadel" independent of the local city guard. This new force was to provide protection against the obvious danger: as long as slavery continued, there would be a hazard of further revolts. In 1841 this Citadel was adopted as South Carolina's state military academy. It continues to hold that status to this day.

Nat Turner: A Blow Actually Struck

Nat Turner led one of the few slave revolts after 1741 that actually went into action before it was discovered. He did not do a great deal of advance planning, he did not build up a large following over a period of time. The little advance recruitment he did was limited to one county, and once he began, he did not get very far. There was no specific event that drove slaves to rise up at a particular time. But on August 22, 1831, he struck fear into slave owners in Southampton County, Virginia. He and eight followers killed five members of the family that legally claimed to own Turner, the Travis's, and marched against neighboring plantations. Over the next two days, Turner's small force grew to 70, and killed a total of 58. A letter 90

from the postmaster of Jerusalem, Virginia, to the governor, reported "that those Negroes were embodied, requiring a considerable military force to subdue them." Turner's force were captured or dispersed after two days. Militia from neighboring counties, who were too late to get in on the action, massacred hundreds of slaves who had no part in the uprising. Turner himself was able to hide in the woods until October 30, when a local farmer captured him. News dispatches of his capture referred to him as "General Nat." Those who examined him after he was captured reported that "he evinced great intelligence and such shrewdness of intellect, answering every question clearly and distinctly and without confusion or prevarication." Turner was hanged on November 11. About 20 of his followers had been hanged earlier after capture by the militia. Turner was a preacher who believed that God had chosen him to lead his people to freedom from slavery. He was a forceful speaker, and knew how to read and write. Several slave-owners bought and sold him over the years. By some reports, the son of one of these taught him to read. There are also reports that Turner decided it was time to rise up after seeing a halo around the sun August 13, 1831, which he took as a sign from God. Nat Turner committed the strategic error of indiscriminately killing every "white" person in the path of his uprising in Virginia. It was, of course, a natural response to the myths upon which slavery was based by that time. Earlier generations that saw servants of every color and land owners of every color defined their enemies in other ways. Slaves, taught that they and their children were slaves for life because they were "black," naturally saw everyone "white" as their enemy. In Virginia, slaves were a minority, and the philosophy doomed the insurrection to early defeat. Wealthy planters normally despised the "white" subsistence farmers in their county almost as much as their own slaves. So, if a planter came down the road crying "The slaves are burning my house," many of his poorer neighbors might well laugh. "That's what you get for using slaves, instead of doing your own work like we do." If the planter came down the road crying "The blacks are killing every white family in the county," the small farmer would grab for his gun and join the militia chasing the revolutionaries. A great deal of fiction has been written about Nat Turner's rebellion. It is hard to know what is the real story. It is known that he arose during the most hopeless period of slavery in North America. Slaves had never been more isolated, more powerless. The labor enforced upon them had never been more excruciating. The treatment of slaves by slave masters and by the community around them generally had never been more contemptuous. The hope of eventual freedom was at an all time low. Slaves had never had less privacy or time off to develop what they could in the way of a community. Laws against giving slaves any kind of education were almost universal. Communication outside the immediate local area was almost nonexistent. Interstate traffic in slaves, which tore families apart by hundreds of miles, had become a major form of commerce. The abolitionist movement in the southern states had been brutally suppressed. There wasn't much of one yet in the northern states. The cleansing conflagration of the Civil War was still 30 years away. Nevertheless, well-organized revolts continued to appear. 91

For many reasons, people considered to be "white" continued to take an active role.



Mississippi Slave Revolt

Articles circulated at the beginning of the Civil War by confederate sympathizers reveal that on the 28th of June, 1835, local authorities discovered that the negroes of Livingston, in Madison county, Mississippi, together with a band of white residents of the state, contemplated a general rising. "A committee of safety was instantly organized, and two of the white ringleaders were arrested, tried, and, after a confession, forthwith hanged. By this confession, it appeared that the plan was conceived by the notorious John A. Murrel, a well known Mississippi pirate at that time, and that it embraced the destruction of the entire population and liberation of the slaves in the South generally." John A. Murrel, was born in Virginia in 1806. His family moved to eastern Tennessee when he was a child. Before coming to Mississippi, he had been in and out of jail several times, whipped once, branded another time. (These were common criminal sentences in all 13 colonies, and were still in use in some states well into the 1800's.) He never accomplished anything on a scale to justify the title "Mississippi Land Pirate." That name was given to him by one Virgil A. Stewart. Some historians believe Stewart was one of Murrel's few genuine friends, until Stewart testified against Murrel in court to save his own skin. Murrel was actually tried in court for a bungled attempt to steal a few slaves. Stewart may have been an accomplice.

The wild Mississippi frontier

Mississippi in 1835 was a wild frontier. Half the land in the state had only been purchased from the Choctaw nation in 1830. It was in a strange state of emptiness that happened over and over on the America frontier. The native peoples had been removed, settlers were just beginning to move in. The land was more truly EMPTY than it had been before, or ever would be again. A person could ride 20 miles down many roads without seeing a single house. The people who moved to this land were generally rough, tough and mean. The wealthier settlers, who brought tens or hundreds of slaves with them, were determined to create brand new plantations out of undeveloped land. They were not "gentle" men. Those who could afford a really comfortable life stayed home in the eastern states. These new settlers were in a hurry to get richer. They worked their slaves hard. The poorer people who went to the frontier did not have good prospects where they came from. They were not above relieving wealthier individuals of their money if an opportunity came along. Some would kill as well as rob. The slaves, removed from an area where slavery had a long history, were more inclined to throw off their masters. This was not Virginia. There was a little more hope, a small opening, for a time. They were in wide open territory, doing most of the work of clearing it, far from what passed for law enforcement.

There definitely was a revolt planned. The uprising had been planned and prepared for two years, and, "with few exceptions, adherents existed on every plantation in the county. Arms and ammunitions had The 1835 Mississippi uprising was been secreted for the purpose, and suppressed by vigilante committees. everything made ready for a general There are no court records, only a letter outbreak. The confession involved numerous white men and black, many of whom were arrested and suffered for their 94

diabolical designs."

different honor among different thieves

By accounts of the vigilantes who hung the leaders of the Mississippi uprising, in some areas slaves outnumbered their owners by a ratio of 50 to one. It is clear that one of the more common forms of "crime" on this frontier was that some of the poorer "white" people cut deals with slaves to run away. This was not the underground railroad. It was not a commitment on principle to freedom for all. Often it went something like "come with me, I'll sell you, you run again, we split the money, then we do it again a few more times." Sometimes the bargain was kept. Sometimes the "white" person killed the runaway after using them, or left them in slavery after two or three sales. As in every other time and place, there is honor among some thieves, and not among others. What all participants, slave and free, had in common, was contempt for the plantation owners' property. Beyond that, each man was looking out for number one. Stealing slaves is different in one respect from stealing cattle. No cattle rustler ever told a cow "come with me, I'll give you a better deal." But slaves, being human, could think, and decide, and act, like any other person. They could consent to their own theft, and cooperate in it, with an expectation of freedom, and maybe some money to start a new life also. Some of the "white" people involved resented the plantation owners. Some sympathized with the slaves. Some hoped to create enough confusion to plunder wealth for themselves. A lady residing at Beatie's Bluff reported to "a number of gentlemen" that she had overheard one slave saying to another "she wished to God it was all over and done with; that she95 was tired of waiting on the white folks, and

One Ruel Blake, of Connecticut, was the only participant mentioned from outside the state of Mississippi. But everyone in Mississippi then was a recent immigrant. Blake was himself a slave owner, who had joined the plans for the uprising and drawn his slaves into it. At the time, it was common for people to migrate from New England to Mississippi, or North Carolina to Indiana. It was no more strange than for people from Ohio to head for California during the gold rush. There was a great deal of opposition to slavery in Mississippi, except among the owners of large plantations who dominated the western part of the state. Along the Mississippi River, slavery had existed under French and Spanish rule before U.S. control had been established. Along the river, and the southern coast, Mississippi had more in common with the Caribbean islands and New Orleans than with the expanding United States. Manumission of slaves was common in Mississippi territory between 1795 and 1815. Purchase of freedom by slaves from their owners was also. This meant that slaves had time and opportunity to make their own money to buy freedom with. In 1818, the Supreme Court of Mississippi reluctantly upheld the existence of slavery in the newly admitted state. The courts hesitant ruling said that "Slavery is condemned by reason and the laws of nature. It exists, and can only exist, through municipal regulations." Mississippi's first Constitution was adopted in 1817. It had provisions similar to those of South Carolina. State representatives were required to own 150 acres of land, or real estate worth

at least $500. State senators had to own 300 acres or $1000 of real estate. Anyone elected as governor had to own 600 acres or $2000. That was all thrown out in 1832, when representatives of the small family farmers in the eastern part of the state passed a new state constitution. They were called "whole hogs" because they would not compromise on abolishing all property qualifications. The 1832 Constitution also prohibited the introduction of any more slaves into the state for sale, as merchandise. It authorized the legislature to forbid the introduction of slaves to the state after 1845 even by people who already owned them. But these provisions were never enforced. Between 1830 and 1840, the politics of Mississippi changed again, in the same way they had 30 years before in Virginia. During those ten years, most voting citizens stopped seeing slavery as a necessary evil, to be phased out, and came to view slavery instead as a positive right, to be defended at all costs. The 1835 revolt came in the middle of this decade, when attitudes toward slavery changed so drastically. Considering the mixture of people involved in preparing the revolt, it is unlikely that their goal was "destruction of the entire population." That was a statement made from the mindset that prevailed after 1840. In the mind of the slave owner describing the revolt, "the entire population" may have meant all those who owned more than 300 acres of land and more than ten slaves. Nobody else, of any color, would have counted. That number of people would scarcely have been missed by the rest of the population. But they would have left a lot of wealth up for grabs. A man like Murrel might have had powerful dreams of laying his hands on that wealth. As settlement continued, the wealthiest planters renewed their domination in the western slave states. Citizens who were not themselves enslaved became resigned to the existence of slavery. That became true in the 1820's in the east and the 1840's in the west. Thomas Bennett, who was governor of South Carolina at the time of Denmark Vesey's revolt, remarked that "Slavery abstractly considered would perhaps lead every mind to the same conclusion; but the period has long since passed when a correction might have been applied. The institution is established. The evil is entailed." Following the defeat of Nat Turner's rebellion, Virginia again debated what to do about slavery. By then, it was too late for voluntary emancipation. The states of Alabama, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, Arkansas, and increased settlement in Tennessee and Kentucky, had opened up a huge market for an interstate slave trade. In the 1790's, emancipation, or allowing slaves to hire out their time, could be a good cost-cutting measure. By 1830 it was more profitable to sell off the surplus to a traveling slave trader. When the Civil War broke upon the nation, slave owners were not merely concerned with preserving their interest in the labor of the slaves they had purchased. They had become more concerned with keeping up the market price of their slaves for resale. The evil was truly entailed. It had become impossible to abolish slavery unless the slave owners and the entire society that sustained them faced the points of guns and bayonets. In the end, they did.


The beginning of the end

It was inevitable that open, legal slavery in North America would end sometime, somehow. It was archaic, economically inefficient, morally indefensible, and in the long run politically impossible to sustain. It takes a tremendous amount of time, effort and money to hold a captive population in such a status, and few societies can keep that up forever. Furthermore, the ownership of slaves by a small number of "white" people had a depressing effect, economically and socially, on all the rest, who began to resent it. For obvious reasons, slave labor has a chronically low rate of productivity. John Woolman recounts a conversation in the mid 1700's with a Virginian who described "the untoward, slothful disposition of the negroes" adding that "one of our labourers would do as much in a day as two of their slaves." Woolman replied that "free men, whose minds were properly on their business, found a satisfaction in improving, cultivating, and providing for their families; but negroes, laboring to support others who claim them as their property, and expecting nothing but slavery during life, had not the like inducement to be industrious." Slavery could have been ended during the American Revolution, but it wasn't. It could have been phased out during the 1790's, but it wasn't. Gabriel's Rebellion could have dealt the institution a body blow that would have insured its extinction, before it could spread to new territory. But by one thunderstorm and a series of turncoats, Gabriel failed. Denmark Vesey's revolt could have knocked the wind out of this form of servitude, and made most people afraid to continue it. But a handful of informants terminated that attempt before it could be set in motion. Any of those events would have carried the same message as the plagues suffered by Egypt in the book of Exodus. They could have provided America a clean break with slavery, and a rapid healing process, not the torturous lingering limbo of the century following the civil war. Nat Turner's revolt would probably have been isolated and defeated no matter what. Turner had an impact on a very small and remote area. By then a much larger territory was committed to a slave-based economy. John Brown, attempting to spark a revolt with a handful of followers in 1859, fared no better. In the end, slavery based on race was ended, or at least somewhat discouraged, not by revolt, nor because "white" society gave it up, but because it became entangled in a civil war with many causes. That war failed to produce a lasting solution, because there were so many conflicting motives on both sides. In 1839, John Quincy Adams offered an amendment to the United States Constitution which would simply have declared that "from and after the 4th July, 1842, there shall be throughout the United States no hereditary slavery, but on and after that day, every child born in the United States, their territory or jurisdiction, shall be born free." It would not have annihilated any property in slaves then existing. It would simply have ended inheritance of the status by a slave's children. That was rejected by the slave states and their representatives in the federal government. Slaveholders were no longer looking for an affordable way out. They were proudly and defiantly proclaiming their inherent right 97

to own other human beings as property. Breeding for sale and holding slaves as investment property, in hopes the price would rise, had become big business. If the amendment had been adopted, there would have been a lot of tension as it took effect. Adult slaves would have tried to refrain from sexual relations until after the deadline passed. Slave owners would have tried to force their slaves to have as many babies as possible before the deadline. There would have been court cases over whether a baby conceived before July 4 but delivered after July 4 was slave or free. There might even have been attempts to force cesarean sections on pregnant slave women the first few days in July. But when that was over, it would have been over. By 1860, instead of armies assembling for civil war, the first free generation born of slave parents would have been reaching adulthood. The changing financial basis of slavery as an institution made that impossible. There is no question that the primary motive for the leaders of the Confederacy was to preserve slavery. Jefferson Davis, reporting as president to the Provisional Congress of the Confederate States, gave first attention to other conflicts. He recalled the "early perceived tendency in the Northern States to render the common Government subservient to their own purposes by imposing burthens on commerce as a protection to their manufacturing and shipping interests." This conflict resulted from the almost exclusive occupation with agriculture in the south. It is hard to imagine that conflict now, when the southern states are all thoroughly industrialized and full of growing cities. But it was a very real division then. Agricultural states found factory produced goods were cheaper imported from England than bought from industrial states in the U.S. Industrial states wanted import taxes that would make American manufactured goods cheaper. Southern textile companies seek the same protection today from cheaper Asian made clothing. Davis spoke briefly to these attempts "to benefit one section of the country at the expense of the other." Then he spent much more time on "another subject of discord involving interests of such transcendent magnitude as at all times to create the apprehension in the minds of many devoted lovers of the Union that its permanence was impossible." That subject was the continued existence of property in human beings in some states. The Confederate Constitution is virtually identical to the United States Constitution except for one clause, providing Constitutional protection to "the institution of Negro slavery." It was not so much that people in the northern states were generally resolved to "free" the slaves. But southern slave owners were afraid that the financial interests dominating northern industry would "take away" the slaves from which the southern aristocracy drew its life blood. They were afraid of the spirit exemplified by Colorado Territory. Colorado at the time was fiercely loyal to the union, implacably hostile to slavery, and ruthlessly determined to slaughter any Native Americans within riding distance. When it applied for statehood, a proposed clause in the state constitution barred anyone but "whites" from living in the state. Davis lamented that at the time the United States was formed, "a large portion of the laboring population consisted of African slaves imported into the colonies by the mother country," meaning England. He was right about that. It was a common theme of confederate politicians that slavery was imposed upon the colonies by English 98

commerce. He was also right that there would have been an impoverished and powerless laboring population of some description, with or without the importation of slaves from Africa. Abolishing slavery, within those states that allowed it, was not even the issue that launched the Civil War. Aiding slaves to escape was, as Jefferson Davis acknowledged, the work of "voluntary organizations," with money raised by "voluntary subscription." Emancipation of slaves in the states where slavery was legal had no place Slaves as investment in the Republican Party platform of 1860.


Jefferson Davis determination to keep property in slaves secure, and maintain the value of the property, was similar to today's stock market. There are two ways to profit from owning stock. One is, the company's profits are divided up at the end of each year, so many cents for each share of stock a person owns. The other is, the price of the stock itself, what it buys and sells for, can go up (or down). When the stock price stays about the same, the profit is mainly in the dividends. When the price of shares on the stock market rise over a long period of time, those who own stock pay more attention to the increase in their share value than to the amount of dividends the stock pays them each year. Rising stock prices require growing demand for the stock. Stock prices only go up when more money is chasing the stock, from new investors eager to buy. The same thing had happened to property in slaves between 1808 and 1861. Several forms of servitude had come to America to insure a cheap supply of labor to develop new territory. Individuals were purchased by men who intended to use their labor, and did so. But in the last decades that this form of property persisted, the work a slave could do was not the primary concern of slave owners any more. Slaves became a form of investment property. Buying low and selling high became the primary concern of those who owned slaves. That required ever-increasing demand

The dominant politicians in the states that first formed the confederacy had a different objection. They hardly dared state it, even to their own supporters. But Davis's own words focus on the newly victorious Republican Party's intention to ban the expansion of slavery into new territory. Davis most bitterly objected to "the total exclusion of the slave States from all participation in the benefits of the public domain... surrounding them entirely by States in which slavery should be prohibited; of thus rendering the property in slaves so insecure as to be comparatively worthless, and thereby annihilating in effect property worth thousands of millions of dollars." The seceding states fought under the banner of a state's right to remove itself from the compact that formed the United States. But the confederacy was not merely a demand to be left alone. It was not merely an attempt to preserve property already existing in slaves. It was an attempt to allow for continued expansion of the institution. Those who owned large numbers of slaves were determined to secure an everexpanding market for their slaves, to keep the resale price high. That is why Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens announced in Savannah, Georgia, March 21, 1861, that "The new Southern Nation is founded upon the great truth that the Negro is not equal to the white man; subordination to the superior race is his natural and moral condition." That was the beginning of the end of one of the strangest myths in human history. But it was a statement that the entire reunified nation 99

came to adopt for a time after the Civil War. Stephens himself probably was ignorant of the fact that the very idea of some people calling themselves "white" and considering Africans to be inferior as a race was only about 150 years old. Stephens and the class of planters he represented simply couldn't keep their economic and social standing together without it. For the rank and file soldiers on both sides, who did the fighting and dying, there were other motivations to go to war. Most confederate soldiers did not own slaves. Some fought for their state, or to oppose the federal government assuming expanded powers. Some were ready to fight for fear of equality between races, even if slavery were ended. Attitudes toward race were very mixed, north and south, union and confederate. After an unsuccessful attack by the federal army against confederates at Port Hudson, Louisiana, in 1863, union general Nathaniel Banks ordered all white soldiers who were killed in action removed for burial. It was a disgusted confederate infantryman from Mississippi who wrote in his diary The enemy have left the Negroes to melt in the sun, after they are killed fighting their battles, having done all they can for the Federals. In many areas of the south, people called it "a rich man's war and a poor man's fight." They evaded military service with just as much determination as northern conscripts. In northern states, thousands refused to volunteer, and evaded the draft. Most said they would not "fight to free negroes." Some areas of Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana, made efforts to secede from the confederacy. West Virginia was the only permanent success, but some other areas were off limits to Confederate authority throughout the war. Jones County, Alabama, was one. Some counties in the Appalachian Mountains in Georgia kept the federal flag flying throughout the war. East Tennessee would have broken away like West Virginia, if federal troops were close enough to provide support. Many east Tennessee counties voted three to one against secession. Anti-confederate guerilla forces in the area were hunted down and hanged by the state government in Nashville for opposing secession. Many of the survivors fought in the union army, and returned home to Tennessee when the war ended. A civil war never divides people into neat geographical divisions. One side or the other ruled in each state, but large numbers of people in most states supported the other side. Davis proclaimed that his government and the states that formed it possessed "the entire and enthusiastic devotion of its people." Not one state that entered into the compact Davis led could make that claim. In some southern states, a majority, or a large minority, of those considered "white" still could not vote. Property requirements, literacy requirements, poll taxes, kept power in the hands of a wealthy elite. There were no public schools, so learning to read and write was generally only for those with money to pay for private schooling. For most of the 20th century, these same methods were used specifically to exclude African-Americans from voting. But they were not first invented for that purpose. Those who put up the final resistance to registering voters of African descent, in the 1960s, had forgotten this history. Many of them had great-grandfathers who were not allowed to vote either, back in the days when most dark-complexioned Americans 100

were still slaves. The myth of the "solid South" was created after the war and Reconstruction. It was a lot like the myth that all the colonists were united for independence during the Revolutionary War. Again, the loudest mouths were those who had done little or nothing for either side during the war. by Padraig Pearse They even dragged along those who had When England began the conquests that brought in fact rendered faithful service to the it command of the North Atlantic slave trade, it Confederacy, and knew better. It was first conquered the neighboring people of Ireland. not only the freed slaves who were Some were exported for sale to America. Most were exploited right where they already lived. In abandoned by the federal government a poem called "The Rebel," Pearse wrote of the after 1877. It also abandoned the Irish struggle for Independence. His words echo millions of southern Americans who had the experience of all the peoples who have been remained loyal to the union throughout in bondage, and under the lash of masters, from the Civil War. To northern owners of Ireland, from Scotland, from Africa. industrial monopolies, and a new generation of Republican politicians, it I am come of the seed of the people, was good business to cut deals with The people of sorrow That have no treasure but hope, southern politicians, abandoning faithful No riches laid up, southern allies.

The Rebel

A majority of Union soldiers would have deserted en masse if they thought they were going to war to free the slaves. Only units from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maine, Vermont and Massachusetts included large numbers motivated by the abolitionist cause. Soldiers from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and New York were particularly hostile to it. Most union soldiers were literally willing to lay down their lives to sustain the expanded powers the federal government was reaching for. They fought against the theory that a state could depart from the union. They did not fight to free slaves. Some Irish units from New York had their own motive: they were getting battlefield experience to go home and fight for Ireland's freedom from the British Empire. Fifty years later Padraig Pearse, an Irish poet carrying on that tradition of resistance wrote "The children with whom I played, the men and women with whom I have eaten, have had masters over them, have been

But a memory of an ancient glory. My mother bore me in bondage, In bondage my mother was born. I am of the blood of serfs. The children with whom I played, The men and women with whom I have eaten, Have had masters over them, Have been under the lash of masters, And, though gentle, have served churls.* And now I speak, being full of vision. I speak to my people, And I speak in my people's name to the masters of my people. I say to my people that they are holy, That they are august, despite their chains, That they are greater than those that hold them, and stronger and purer, That they have but need of courage, And to call upon the name of their God, God the unforgetting, The dear God that loves the people for whom he died naked, suffering shame. And I say to my people's masters, Beware, beware of the thing that is coming. Beware of the risen people Who shall take what ye would not give. Did you think to conquer the people? Or that law is stronger than life, and men's desire to be free? Tyrants! Hypocrites!

*Churls is a word that has meant many things. A churl 101 in medieval Europe was a kind of well-off peasant farmer. A churl was not noble. They had no inherited rank or title. They were not princes, thanes, earls or knights. They did own a good chunk of land, enough to

under the lash of masters." There were also Irish immigrants who had settled in New York City who openly opposed the federal war effort. They had been competing with free African Americans for menial jobs, It was something of an accident that the cause of abolition and the cause of federal supremacy became tied together. Alexander Stephens, who became the vice-president of the Confederacy, made an appeal against secession at a convention in Georgia in December 1860. He pointed out with great accuracy that the southern states had dominated the federal government throughout the history of the union. Why, he asked, give up such a good thing by breaking away? Stephens counted 60 years of southern presidents to 24 northern. Stephens referred to 18 supreme court judges from the south, to eleven from the north, which "we have required so as to guard against any interpretation of the Constitution unfavorable to us." He detailed southern success in holding most of the senate presidents pro tem, most of the speakers of the house, most of the attorneys general, and most of the more important diplomatic posts overseas. Throughout the 1830's into the 1850's, abolitionists demanded "no union with slaveholders." New England had often discussed seceding from a union dominated by southern politicians. John Quincy Adams, a former president who was later elected to congress from Massachusetts for many years, presented petitions from people in his district for dissolution of the union, because southern states still held slaves. To some extent, the election of Abraham Lincoln panicked southern leaders who might well have continued to dominate the federal government

The Rights of a State

"State's rights" is a misunderstood term. It did not mean the rights of the PEOPLE of a state to determine their own destiny. It meant, in theory and in practice, the right of a state GOVERNMENT to do as it pleased. That included, the right to do as it pleased to its own citizens. Until 1868, the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution provided individual citizens NO protection from their state government. A state government could establish a religion, prohibit freedom of speech, search every house of every citizen in the state without a warrant or probable cause, deny an accused citizen the right to a jury trial, inflict cruel and unusual punishments, any time it wanted. Only the federal government was prohibited from doing these things. A citizen of a state had no rights that the state did not choose to grant. Most state constitutions included many of the same protections as the federal bill of rights. But state constitutions are much easier to change than the federal constitution. And state courts can interpret the meaning of the state constitution independently of the federal courts. When South Carolina seceded from the union, the state government which exercised this right was still under the 1790 Constitution, which put one fifth of the population in control of a majority of the legislature. Arkansas was controlled by a handful of wealthy families, who had established the government to their personal satisfaction when the state was admitted to the union. The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution first established that "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any 102 State deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the

more often than not. Even after losing a civil war, southern officers dominated the military of the reunited United States, by the time of World War I. Southern committee chairmen dominated Congress for more than half of the 20th century. The beloved American story writer, O. Henry, referred to the Civil War as the rebellion of the abolitionists against the secessionists. That was partly true. It was one of the things going on during the Civil War. Jefferson Davis was correct that when the newly victorious British colonies entered into the Articles of Confederation, each state retained "its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled." He was also correct that several years later, many states refused to ratify the United States Constitution "until amendments were added to the Constitution placing beyond any pretense of doubt the reservation by the States of all their sovereign rights and powers not expressly delegated to the United States by the Constitution." But the majority of confederate states did not enter as sovereign states into that compact. They did not exist before the United States was formed. Virginia, North and South Carolina and Georgia existed before the United States, and agreed to enter into the new union. But Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Louisiana were formed from the territory of the United States as a whole, and became states by an act of the federal congress. Texas petitioned to be admitted to the United States, and the United States had to fight a war with Mexico when it accepted Texas petition. To this day, the United States Supreme Court upholds a general police power belonging to the states. Unlike federal authority, this state power is limited by only two things. One is the state's own constitution. The other is the 14th Amendment to the federal Constitution, passed after the Civil War. Many people argue today that that the United States Congress has exceeded the authority granted to it by the Constitution. That authority is legally limited to those powers the Constitution expressly provides, and no more. In the end, the supremacy of the federal government over the states was the real winner of the war. By that time, many "whites" who opposed slavery and hated plantation owners, also despised the slaves who worked on the plantations. President Andrew Johnson had this attitude. Ownership of slaves was the club that wealthy planters used to keep poor whites in poverty. Slave owners occupied the best land, controlled the markets, banks and governments. Those shoved to the margins of "free" society came to wish not only slavery ended, but the slaves themselves gone. This was used by more powerful individuals after the war. "Black" soldiers, who were eventually allowed to enlist in the Union army, were motivated by a desire to end slavery. But they were fighting for the victory of an army and a government that had no firm commitment to do so. Perhaps the most honest exposition of the relationship between abolition and the Civil War was contained in letters President Abraham Lincoln wrote between 1862 and 1864. To a soldier who had written that he would fight for the union, but not to free negroes, Lincoln replied: 103

"Some of the commanders of our armies in the field who have given us our most important successes, believe the emancipation policy, and the use of colored troops, constitute the heaviest blow yet dealt to the rebellion; and that, at least one of those important successes, could not have been achieved when it was, but for the aid of black soldiers whatever negroes can be got to do, as soldiers, leaves just so much less for white soldiers to do, to save the Union. But negroes, like other people, act upon motives. Why should they do anything for us, if we will do nothing for them? If they stake their lives for us, they must be prompted by the strongest motive even the promise of freedom. And the promise being made, must be kept." To a field officer in 1864, who inquired whether freed slaves, in southern states readmitted to the union, would be extended the right to vote (which was by no means assumed, even by those who favored an end to slavery), Lincoln conceded that they would, as "people, who have so heroically vindicated their manhood on the battlefield, where, in assisting to save the life of the Republic, they have demonstrated in blood their right to the ballot, which is but the human protection of the flag they have so fearlessly defended." The economy of the southern states was in many ways destroyed by dependence on slave-based agriculture. South Carolina provides a good example. Up until about 1820, South Carolina had a diversified agricultural economy, including the beginnings of several industries, as well as cattle-raising. At the time, it was illegal to import slaves from or sell slaves to another state. After the dominant slave-owning class pushed a measure through the legislature allowing interstate commerce in slaves, the economy shifted almost entirely to cotton and trading in slaves themselves. Industries were abandoned, the price of beef rose enormously without local production and the soil was in many areas depleted. The state became dependent on exporting raw cotton, and slave-ownership spread to the inland areas of the state. Abolition of slavery was an inevitable world-wide trend, which moved faster in some places, much slower in others. It is not yet finished. International trading in slaves was outlawed by Denmark in 1803, Britain in 1807, the United States in 1807, Holland in 1814, France in 1818. (None of this abolished the practice of slavery). Three million more slaves were shipped across the Atlantic illegally after the trade was banned. India passed st a law against slavery in 1843, but it still exists there in the 21 century. Egypt banned public slave markets in 1854. The United States formally abolished most involuntary servitude in 1865. Portugal got around to abolishing slavery in 1878, Sierra Leone in 1896, Zanzibar in 1897. Saudi Arabia abolished the legal status of slavery in 1962, about three years before Malcolm X made his Hajj to Mecca. The United States never abolished slavery entirely. The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution said "neither slavery nor involuntary servitude" shall exist in the United States, "except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted." That left open a new way to enslave American citizens. Slavery was preserved at the beginning of the 1700's by defining one part of the people as intended th by nature to be slaves. The division made then was by race. After the 13 Amendment, anyone convicted of a crime could be made a slave. 104

This served the same purpose. It led to the infamous chain gangs. People of all colors could be worked for nothing on the chain gangs. Laws were passed making all kinds of vices into criminal offenses. These vices had not been crimes before slavery was abolished. Making them into crimes insured there would be plenty of slave labor available. People convicted of more serious crimes could also be put to work. More free labor could be obtained by convicting innocent people of serious crimes on flimsy evidence. For many decades, prisoners were routinely contracted to plant and harvest on the farms of well-connected planters, to work in local factories, as well as to maintain roads and other public works. In the 1940's and 1950's, this practice became so th notorious that it was outlawed in most states. In the closing years of the 20 century, many states tried it again, in somewhat more sophisticated forms. Despite its original purpose, if the Confederate government had won the war, it might have had to give up slavery in the process. Near the end of the Civil War, the Confederate government offered freedom to any slave who would fight in its army. Some slaves did enlist in response to this offer. Kelly Miller, the first African-American admitted to Johns Hopkins University, and the first to do graduate work in mathematics, was the son of a free African-American confederate veteran, married to a woman who was a slave. General Robert E. Lee firmly supported enlisting slaves who would fight for the Confederacy. He had proposed it long before the government agreed to it. One of his generals said "But General Lee, if Negroes make good soldiers, then our whole theory of slavery is wrong." Lee didn't care. He was fighting for the honor of his native state, Virginia, and was perfectly willing to sacrifice the theory that Africans were an inferior race, in order to win the war against the federal government. By this time, no-one really remembered how slavery had come to America. No-one remembered how it had begun. No-one remembered that thousands of Europeans came to this continent as slaves. No-one remembered that Africans had owned land and slaves, including European indentured servants. Most people had forgotten that millions of Americans were descended from 200 years of inter-marriage. No-one remembered how or when slavery had come to be defined in racial terms. History was not rolled back to the beginning. During the 1830s, the culture that defined itself as white had begun to adopt the one-drop rule. This meant that anyone who had one drop of African blood was black. Only those of 100% European ancestry could call themselves white. Since a rather small minority of the white population was 100% European, this induced a tremendous paranoia among those who chose to think of themselves as white. Of course there is no physical difference in physicial blood. The real point was, any African ancestor, no matter how many generations back, classified a person as black. Therefore, white people lived in fear that someone would find a black person in their family tree. This was very likely, so they lived in a constant state of denial. Sometimes, this took the form of denouncing, or gossipping about, a neighbor having an African great-great-grandfather. Sometimes it took the form of brutality toward those whose African ancestry was obvious. After slavery was formally abolished, people got even more stuck in this attitude. It became especially ridiculous for the few surviving Virginians who traced their families back to the Powhattan Indians. The original Powhattan tribes had treaties promising 105

them legal equality with the European settlers. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, white Virginians, who wanted to grab the few remaining Indian lands, claimed that inter-marriage with Africans had made the Powhattans into mulattoes. Naturally, the Powhattans found protection in denying that. It got them into the first class railway cars during the Jim Crow years. The truth was, just about everyone was extensively intermarried in past generations. There were no pure bloodlines. This was emphasized by the tendency of many white governors of Virginia to make romantic claims of descent from Pocahontas. As "involuntary servitude" was abolished, myths that had been created to perpetuate slavery remained. Nearly everyone was in the habit of defining themselves in racial terms. Nearly everyone continued to do so. There were new ways to make money off of the difference. After 1877, the federal government retained the expanded powers it had established through the Civil War. But it ceased using those powers to protect freed slaves. It turned them to other purposes. One was suppressing the rising trade union movement. Another was encouraging new investment opportunities for national industries in the south and west. For this purpose, a suppressed, impoverished, AfricanAmerican population was very profitable. But it took until 1900 to establish the rigid legal separation of races that was brought down by the Civil Rights movement in the middle of th the 20 century. Modern racism does not trace back only to the history of slavery. Most Americans who have come to be designated as "white" are descended from immigrants who arrived after the Civil War was over. A portion of those who were already here are descended from indentured servants, although a portion of those came to own slaves somewhere along the way. Most European immigrants came from a Europe fractured by racial st hatreds, which are still popping up with a lot of violent results in the 21 century. Before certain English-speaking people came up with the mythology that Africans were inherently lazy and disposed to steal* at every opportunity, they had little rhymes about their Welsh neighbors: "Taffy was a Welshman, Taffy was a thief, Taffy came to my house, and stole a chunk of beef." Anglos have been enslaving Celts and Celts have been burying axes in the skulls of Anglos for most of the time that these tribal groupings have known of each others' existence. They continued to despise each other during the colonial period in America. Germans despised Italians, English hated French, Serbs hated Croats and vice versa, both despised Hungarians who resented Austrians. Croats, Serbs, Bosnians and Albanians could still be driven by ambitious political leaders to kill and rape th each other at the end of the 20 century. Northern Italians hate southern Italians, English hold Irish in contempt, and most people from nations neighboring Poland look down on Poles. Germans and Russians had been enslaving Poles since 1200 A.D. That is more or less why third generation GermanAmericans still tell Polish jokes. Irish learned to hate Italians, although Ireland is nowhere near Italy, since in America they often lived across main streets from each other, spoke different languages, and separated themselves into competing Roman Catholic parishes.

It is a historical fact that any population of slaves, whether ethnically the same as their masters or of a different people, will in fact steal whatever they can get away with. No slave considers that theft. It is more a matter of collecting unpaid wages. The only exception is that some slaves got the best food served at their masters table and the finest clothes, and had no motive to take more. This includes musicians, scholars, and other slaves with special skills.


More important, they competed for the jobs available to illiterate laborers. Arriving in America, eager to be accepted, they all added to their attitude whatever they were taught was "American." The Americans who had the real money and controlled the industry, schools, and entertainment, Republicans as well as Democrats, despised people of African descent, so the immigrants learned to do the same. After all, many of the immigrants were themselves despised as "non-white" on arrival. Irish immigrants faced signs reading "No Irish need apply." Italians were specifically deemed to not be "white". Racism toward people of darker complexion was an attempt to become accepted as "white," which appeared in this confusing new world to be a desirable thing. If white were taken to mean 100% European descent, the later European immigrants had a better claim to be white than the white Americans who were really descended from a mix of Europeans, Africans and native Americans. But the long-time American residents called themselves white and called many of the new European arrivals something other than white. Today, increasing numbers of white Americans are descended in part from European immigrants after the Civil War, in part from the mix of European, African and Native American that chose to call themselves white, in the late colonial period. Some also have parents or grandparents who are African, Asian, Hispanic, or Native American. In a few more generations, many of us will look back at history and say two of my greatgreat-great-grandfathers owned two of my other great-great-great-grandfathers, and five of my great-great-great-grandmothers, and paid twelve of my other great-greatgrandfathers next to nothing to work for them. I wonder what they would all think of me? In the beginning, nearly everyone brought to America was a slave. Those brought to America from Africa were not the first to be put into bondage, but were the last to fight their way out of it. Anyone in the history of the entire world who has ever kept any people in slavery has called upon the law of nature, the law of God, the law of a whole pantheon of lesser gods to justify their own dominance. All of us have ancestors who had to live under such laws. All of us have ancestors who refused to live under such laws. Most of us have ancestors who perpetrated such laws, on one continent or another.


This is not a very original piece of work. The facts in this book were assembled from many books which you can read for yourself. Each of these books has much more depth and detail on some specific part of this story. Each author brought their own perspective to their own work, and they don't all agree with each other, or with the conclusions found here. Some of these authors were overtly racist in their own interpretation, but they recorded facts that have been widely ignored since. Why have these facts been ignored? Probably because the conclusions they pointed to were so obvious, and unwelcome. But if you really want to know the full story, it is worth reading every one of these books:

Sociology of Colonial Virginia, Morris Talpalar White Servitude in the Colony of Virginia, J.C. Ballagh New American History, W.E. Woodward Social Life of Virginia, Phillip A. Bruce* Suffrage Franchise in the English Colonies, A.E. McKinley Denmark Vesey: The Buried History of Americas Largest Slave Rebellion, David Robertson Planters of Colonial Virginia, Thomas J. Wertenbaker Myne Owne Ground, T.H. Breen and Stephen Innes Africans in Colonial Louisiana, Gwendolyn Midlo Hall * People's Cultural Heritage in Appalachia, Don West Romantic Appalachia, or Poverty Pays If You Ain't Poor,* Don West 1676: The End of American Independence, Stephen Saunders Webb Torchbearer of the Revolution, the Story of Bacon's Rebellion, Thomas J. Wertenbaker Black Property Owners in the South 1790-1915, Loren Schweninger Africa: A Biography of the Continent, John Reader Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History, Fawn M. Brodie (Ch. IX, XIII) Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898, Edwin G. Burroughs and Mike Wallace The Kingdom of Kongo: Civil War and Transition 1641-1718, John K. Thornton Asante and It's Neighbors: 1700-1807, J.K. Fynn The Fall of the Asante Empire, Robert B. Edgerton The Transformation of Virginia 1740-1790, Rhys Isaac Before the Mayflower, Lerone Bennett, Jr. Gabriel's Rebellion: The Virginia Slave Conspiracies of 1800 & 1802, Douglas R. Edgerton Patrician and Plebian in Virginia, Thomas J. Wertenbaker White Servitude in Colonial South Carolina, by Warren B. Smith Toussaint Louverture: The Hero of Santo Domingo, Rev. C.W. Mossell, A.M., B.D. Night of Fire: The Battle for Haiti, Martin Ros Citizen Toussaint, Ralph Korngold The Story of a Year: 1798, Raymond Postgate The Strange Career of Jim Crow, C. Vann Woodward Haiti's Influence on Antebellum America, Alfred N. Hunt A Way Through the Wilderness, by William C. Davis Pocahontass People: The Powhattan Indians of Virginia Through Four Centuries, by Helen C. Rountree
Some parts of this summary relied on a single book for the facts on a particular place or event. I particularly want to thank Douglas R. Edgerton for his thorough study of Gabriel's Rebellion, David Robertson for his account of Denmark Vesey's revolt, and the unique history of Charleston, SC, which lay behind it, Edwin G. Burroughs and Mike Wallace for the extremely detailed history of New York City in Gotham, including, among many other topics, the history of servitude in that city, and John K. Thornton for his exhaustive research on the Kingdom of Kongo. T.H. Breen and Stephen Innes provide a unique body of facts on African-American land ownership in Virginia in the 1600's, in Myne Owne Ground. These books, like many others in the above bibliography, were based on examination of a huge volume of original records and painstakingly compiled data which have shed a great deal of light on the true history of North America, Africa and Europe.