Connecting With Family

Connecting With Family

After you have all the information on yourself and your parents, it’s time to go visit your grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.  For years I took my research to family reunions to show to other family members. A family reunion is a good place for people to talk about their memories from childhood.  You can learn a lot from older family members. Family reunions are also a good place to exchange post office addresses and email addresses.

My cousins became very interested and wanted to research their branch of the family.  We all got ancestry memberships so that we could share our research. This was a good way for us to share photos and documents.  When I started researching my family, the only way to share information was to find a xerox machine, copy all the documents and pictures, and take a large envelope to the post office.  Email was a godsend because copying and mailing was costly.

Cousins are a wealth of information. When I went to visit my mother’s nephew, he had an entire book that he shared with me on the history of his branch of the family.  He had traveled to Missouri and Illinois to talk to family members and search for documents.  In exchange for his help, I provided information about me, my children, and my siblings. 

Now, a word about all those pieces of information that we discussed in the last post:  the ones that you do not understand. In the paper bag of information that my mother left with my brother there was the name and address of one of Mama’s cousins.  I had never heard the name and didn’t know why she would have their address. When I contacted them, they were just getting ready to retire and travel the U.S.A.  One of their stops was the Stuttgart Agricultural Museum in Stuttgart, Arkansas.  My mother had donated her father’s prayer book to that museum. My grandmother’s family was one of the early settlers of Stuttgart and the museum had some mementos from her family. They also had an old phone book where I was able to look up the address of their residence, the name of both husband and wife, their occupation and their employer.  This same information can be found at the library–just ask for a city directory.    

I drove to Stuttgart and met my cousins at the museum. There we exchanged photos and they gave me pages of their research on my grandmother’s family, as far back as 1625. I also bought a book from the museum that has a lot of information on my grandmother’s family. My cousins went through the museum’s unknown photo drawer and were able to identify several of those photos.

While I was in Stuttgart, I decided to go by the Lone Tree Cemetery where my grandmother was buried.  The cemetery was a wealth of information since family members are usually buried together. From the headstones I was able to get birth dates, death dates, and the names of spouses.  So, a trip to the cemetery is well worth the time and travel that it will take. Be sure to take pictures of the headstones to use as your source for names, birth dates, and death dates.  Also keep up with the name of the cemetery and the city, county, and state where the cemetery is.

Every year on the Saturday before Mother’s Day my father’s side of the family has a memorial service.  They put flowers on the graves and reminisce about the family members that have passed on. Then they gather for lunch.  I wouldn’t give anything for the time I spent there with my relatives. I was able to get a lot of information from my cousin at the cemetery.  She gave me a book written about the church my family attended when they first came into the county. One of my relatives had been a pastor and another relative was the church clerk.  I discovered that I am related to almost everyone in the cemetery in one way or another.  

After the cemetery visit, another cousin invited me to her house for lunch.  The food was exceptional and after we ate we talked more about family history.

Then on Mother’s Day, my grandmother’s side of the family spends time in the cemetery where her ancestors are buried.  The cemetery is across from the church (they used to be side by side until Highway 82 was redirected.)  Then we gather at the church for the service and dinner on the grounds. For those of you not old enough to remember dinner on the grounds it means we all bring a dish to share and eat in the fellowship hall of the church.  (It’s called dinner on the grounds because before air conditioning, we used to eat on a picnic table under a big shade tree.)  My cousin’s watermelon rind pickles are so good I got the recipe from her so that I could make my own. On the wall of the fellowship hall hangs a document stating that my great-grandfather and his brother donated the lumber to build the church.  They owned a sawmill.

My grandmother’s family meets again later in the year for a family reunion at the country club and as usual the food and fellowship cannot be beat.

Never underestimate the power of a cousin.  They are a wealth of information.

Come back next week when we will discuss census records.

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How Do I Start Researching My Family

How Do I Start Researching My Family

When I worked at the Memphis library as a volunteer in the genealogy department people would often ask me, “How do I get started.”  This is my answer.

Start with what you know.  Start with your full name, your birthday, city, county, and state where you were born, when and where you were baptised, date and place of your marriage, name of your spouse, and any other information you would like to include.

Below is a link to the form I like to use for this purpose.  This form is provided by ancestry.

Family Group Record

Next, record the same information for your spouse and children.  Keep up with the source of all your information. For this family group sheet your source would be “personal knowledge”.  This doesn’t seem so important now, but later you’ll be glad you kept up with this information. Below is a link to a form provided by ancestry for keeping this information.

Source Summary

Just because I like a particular form doesn’t mean you have to use it too. 

Below is a link to an ancestral chart provided by ancestry. I prefer the family group sheet because it gives me more room to write.

Ancestry Chart

Below is a link to an individual worksheet provided by Midwest Genealogy Center.  Again, I like this one because it gives plenty of space for writing.

Individual Worksheet

After you have recorded all your information, go back one generation and record all that you know about your parents.  

When I started to research my family, I sat down with Daddy and asked him about his family.  Both his great-grandfathers served in the Civil War. Daddy had many fascinating stories to tell about their service as well as his own service in WWII.  He also had many cool stories about his great-grandmothers. Record every story that you find because the stories will make your history come to life rather than just being a list of names, dates, and places.  

I couldn’t ask my mother about her family because she had already passed away.  My brother told me that she had left some of her family history in a paper grocery bag.  He gave the bag to me and as I went through it I found the birthdates and death dates for her mother and father, as well as her father’s full name and her mother’s maiden name.  I also found some things that I did not understand. Hold on to the pieces you don’t understand. They may be just the puzzle piece you are looking for later on.

Come back next week for the next installment of “How Do I Get Started?”

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All Rights Reserved with Full Rights Reserved for Original Contributor

Modern Day Slavery–Part V

So, all the slaves in the United States have been freed.  Not quite.  By some estimates, there are more slaves in the world today than ever before.

The 1996 case of Williathe Narcisse or “Little Hope” is one example of modern day slavery.  Nine year old Little Hope was brought from Port-au-Prince to Florida to work as a domestic slave.  She slept in the garage and was beaten.  She received no pay for the work she did.  In addition to her cleaning chores, Little Hope also worked for the family as a sex slave.

Until 1993, Firozabad, the glass capital of India, sold children outdoors in a “children’s bazaar.”  The children who work in the glass industry endure intense heat and little ventilation.  They wear no protective equipment and their burns go untreated.  In 1992, India sold two million dollars worth of glassware to the United States.

In April and May of 1995 it was reported that the “slave train” from Babanusa to Wau was carrying civilians captured by the Sudanese Army.  Many young boys were forced into being soldiers for the government.  John Eibner was a pioneer in the redemption of slaves.  Christian Solidarity International, a human rights group based in Switzerland, has done much to help the Sudanese people.

In the Amazon of Brazil, slaves work to make charcoal which is the basic ingredient in pig iron.  Recruiters promise a job and steady pay.  The slaves in this camp live in unsanitary conditions and receive little medical care.  Their wages are low, when they are paid.  And the pay becomes even lower when they have deductions for work expenses such as tools, boots and gloves.  Pig iron is used in many products here in the United States:  autos, appliances, plumbing fixtures, etc.

In 1999, the Department of Justice prosecuted 25 slavery cases.  The Mann Act or “The White Slave Traffic Act of 1910” passed in June 1910 made it a felony to participate in interstate or foreign transportation in the sex slave industry.  In 1978 the law was updated to define “transportation” and in 1986 an amendment was added.  Which begs the question, “Why are we still fighting this problem?”

On October 28, 2000 President Bill Clinton signed the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000.  This law was followed up by others in 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2013.  An Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (TIP) was set up in 2000.  Jean-Robert Cadet, age 4, was sold as a restavec after his mother died.  He wrote a book about his harrowing experience and on September 28, 2000 testified before Jesse Helms and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Slaves were photographed working in the brick kilns in China in 2010. Children work beside their parents. The heat is unbearable and working conditions are deplorable.

The Khmer Rouge promised liberation, justice and equality in Cambodia. What the Cambodian’s got was genocide. Their family structure was destroyed. Children were turned against their parents. Women were forced to marry against their will. Buddhist temples were turned into prisons. Schools were turned into headquarters for the military. Schools yards were killing fields.

There are even sites on the internet where you can find a slave.  Financial problems and recruiters that are less than honest about the type of work the girls are being hired to do are how most of these girls end up being sex slaves.  They do not choose this work–they are forced into it.  They do not have access to cell phones or free time that would aid in their escape.

During President Bush’s administration the Innocents Lost Initiative was started to address the problems around sex trafficking of children. The story of modern day slavery is the story of men, women and children of all races from every country in the world.

To read more about modern day slavery I recommend Hidden Slaves Forced Labor in the United States or A Crime So Monstrous: Face-to-Face with Modern Day Slavery.

To stay up to date on the latest news about modern day slavery, to donate or to take action, visit, the International Justice Mission, Christian Solidarity International, Dalit Freedom Network, or Anti-Slavery International.



The Africans who came to America and were sold as slaves weren’t the only slaves in the United States.  Slavery has gone by many names over the years.

At least half and maybe as many as two-thirds of all the colonist were enslaved.  There were 20 servants on The Mayflower.

In a perfect world, a poverty-stricken individual or family in England, Scotland, or Ireland would sign an agreement with the ship’s captain or a future master before embarking on the journey to America.  The passage to America would be paid by the master and the indentured servant could expect to receive clothes, food and shelter in return.

But the world isn’t perfect and sometimes the master did not keep his bargain and sometimes the servant would run away.

The only difference between indentured servants and slaves was that the indentured servant was recognized as a individual under the law and after their term of service was up they were given full rights as freemen.

There were several similarities between slaves and indentured servants: indentured servants and slaves could be hired out, sold or auctioned even if they were separated from family. They were examined like horses before being purchased.

The work day was from dawn to sunset.  In the evening servants and slaves worked side by side in the mill until midnight or 1 a.m.  Servants and slaves did the same work, grew their food together, ate and lived together.  Indentured servants were often betrayed and taken advantage of.  With such a long work day and very little sleep and no pay, they were physically and financially broke.  Some were even worked to death.

Indentured servants could be beaten, whipped or branded.  In some colonies, runaways were hung.  Punishment consisted of extension of their term of servitude.  Indentured servants that ran away had to serve an extra week for every day that they were missing.  If missing for a week, they had to serve an extra month.  If missing for a month, they had to serve an extra 6 months.  They were often charged with the cost of their capture.

John Howland was an indentured servant who sailed on the Mayflower.  The Mayflower was cramped with 102 passengers and 30-40 crew members.  There was not enough food and the conditions on the Mayflower were unsanitary.  The voyage took just over two months.

Illnesses on board these ships included seasickness, dysentery, scurvy, mouth rot, measles, smallpox and fever.  Pregnant women and small children seldom survived the journey.  Convicted felons were transported below deck and chained to the wall with a padlocked collar on their necks.  The master kept the freedom dues of convicted felons.

Mary Morrill, later Mrs. Peter Foulger, was the grandmother of Benjamin Franklin.  She came to Massachusetts as an indentured servant of Rev. Hugh Peters.  Benjamin Franklin was indentured to his brother, James, from age 12-21.  His freedom dues consisted of the clothes he was wearing plus one new suit of clothes.

Peter Williamson was taken to America by force.  He was kidnapped at the age of 8, taken to Philadelphia and sold as an indentured servant for 7 years.  His master was Hugh Wilson, who had also been kidnapped as a child and sold into white slavery.  Wilson had since earned his freedom.

The Scottish term for the practice of stealing children, kidnap, came into the English language after the practice became so notorious that kidnapped boys were herded thru the town of Aberdeen in flocks.  They were confined in barns and warehouses and kept by the town marshal.  They were sold to “soul drivers” or dealers who sold the boys in lots of 50.  They were beaten until they learned hard labor.  Officials did nothing to discourage the practice because the Crown was devoted to colonizing America.

Poor Germans migrated to England in 1709.  The British government sent some of them to the colonies to provide the British with naval stores:  timber, pitch and oakum.  They owed the British government for the expense of sending them overseas.  After their period of servitude was over each one would receive £5 and every family would receive 40 acres.

In January 1710, more than 3,000 German settlers left in 10 ships.  On arrival, they learned that by order of the governor all children were to be apprenticed.  By 1750, certain Germans, called Neulanders, who had settled in Pennsylvania were hired to return to Germany and persuade their countrymen to come to America.  The Dutch shipping merchants paid these Neulanders a commission.  Those being taken to American had to pay by the day for their trip, so the shippers dragged out the journey as much as possible.

The Germans who came to America were kept on board the ship until someone purchased them.  Since the ship was no longer responsible for feeding them, servants who could not find a buyer would starve to death.  Buyers would negotiate with the emigrants for the length of their service.  Children were indentured until the age of 21.  Children and their parents could be sold to different buyers in different parts of the country and may not see each other for years or maybe not for the rest of their lives.  Children under 5 could not be sold.  A person with a sick spouse or a spouse that had died on the voyage would have to serve two indentures–one for himself and one for the spouse.  Children of parents who had died at sea were responsible for their own fare and also the fare of their parents.

The story of the Neulanders who came to America with a false sense of hope for wealth is also the story of Jurgis Rudkus, a fictional Lithuanian immigrant, whose story is found in Upton Sinclair’s book, The Jungle.  When President Theodore Roosevelt read The Jungle he was so moved by the story that he started an investigation on the meat-packing industry of Chicago.  This investigation led to the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act, both of which were signed by Roosevelt on June 30, 1906.

The Ludlow Massacre was a real-life situation very similar to the story of Jurgis Rudkus.  The miners worked long hours for low pay.  They lived in company owned housing and were paid in script that could only be spent at the company store where the prices were high.  Fatality rates were twice the national average.  The miners were evicted and left to deal with the harsh Colorado winter without shelter.  The National Guard fired into the tent camp on April 20, 1914.  The miners fired back.  When the fighting ended, sixty-six people lay dead.

In 1718, four year old Matthew Thornton emigrated from Ireland with his parents, James and Elizabeth, and an older brother, James.  They were redemptioners who were sold into service in what is now Maine.  Matthew was apprenticed to Dr. Grout of Leicester, Massachusetts for the study of medicine.  Matthew Thornton was chosen as a delegate to represent New Hampshire in the Continental Congress.  On November 4, 1776, he signed his name of the Declaration of Independence.

In July 1747, eighty-eight men in chains arrived in Virginia bound for Maryland.  These men were Scottish soldiers taken prisoner at the Battle of Culloden.  They were transported to America to serve as indentured servants.

Generally, four to seven years of service would pay the debt of a person’s passage.  When a person had worked his period of servitude, he would be given his “freedom dues”.  At first when land was plentiful, a servant would get 50 acres of uncleared land.  (The deed to the land would be put in the name of the Master to hold for the servant until he finished his years of service.)  Later, when most of the land had been settled, they were only given the right to purchase land.  Sometimes the freedom dues would be a new suit of clothes or seed and farming tools.

At the end of his indentured servitude, a freed servant had to pay surveyor’s and clerk’s fee for a patent on the land he received as freedom dues.  The family would need to find somewhere to live while the land was being cleared and a house was being built.  They needed some way to make money until the crop was planted and harvested.  The former indentured servants had to buy tools, seed and livestock.  Freedom did not come cheap.  Many of these people were forced to hire themselves out as wage laborers, to lease land, or to work as sharecroppers.  Sharecropper is just another name for slavery.  Just like the minimum wage workers of today, they ran the risk of falling into debt and sinking back into servitude.  Parents often indentured their children because they could not afford to feed, clothe, and educate them.

Indentured women worked as household servants.  They were often owned by financially pinched people who could not afford hired servants or slaves.  The best way to get reliable help whose service would not be interrupted by marriage or pregnancy was to indenture a young girl.  Household help was required to sleep either in the kitchen or at the foot of the master’s bed.  If a strange noise was heard or if a cry of “fire” was heard, the servant was sent to investigate.  Domestic servants had little privacy.  They were responsible for nursing the sick .  Church attendance was at the church of the master’s choice.

Women who did become pregnant had to serve extra, usually an extra year, for the time that they missed work due to pregnancy and labor.  The baby was also indentured.

In 1633, the Massachusetts Bay Colony made servitude the legal penalty for crime.  In Virginia, boys were apprenticed for 7 years.  If the boy did not commit a crime, then he would be a tenant for the next 7 years.  If he had committed a crime, he would begin his 7 year term as a bond servant over again.  In court, the master’s word would always be taken as the truth.

In the poorer parts of London, men were inveigled away while drunk.  As soon as they would sleep it off, they would find themselves chained below deck in a ship where they were kept for a month or more before being shipped to America as indentured servants.

The Mandarin word, shanghai, came into use in the English language to describe the practice of kidnapping children and men to work as slaves on ships.  The port of San Francisco was the place where many Chinese who were shanghaied came when brought to America.

Apprenticeship was a way for the poor to get their children educated and to assure that they would be able to learn a trade that would increase their social standing and help them get out of poverty.  Even today we find that education and skills are useful tools for getting out of poverty.  Skilled crafts were passed down to the next generation by the master-slave relationship of the apprentice.  Just like Colonel Sanders secret fried chicken recipe or the Bush’s family bean recipe, secrets of the trade would be passed down orally and the family gained a reputation and exclusivity that was better than obtaining a patent.  The master would reveal the secret of his craft to his apprentice.  The apprentice would pledge not to reveal the secret.

The apprentice would usually work for the first few years just doing household chores without learning anything about his master’s craft.  Henry Harmon Spalding, an illegitimate child, was 14 months old when he was bound to a wife-beating farmer in New York.  At age 17 he was  kicked out of the house.

Frederick Douglass, abolitionist,  was the son of a white father and a slave mother.  At age 8 he was sent to Baltimore to become a house servant.  At age 15 his owner died and he became the property of another Maryland planter who hired him out to a small-scale farmer with a reputation for being able to break obstinate slaves.  The following year he was hired out to another planter and sent to Baltimore as an apprentice to a Fell’s Point shipbuilder.  For 8 months he learned the trade of caulking.  Then his owner found him work in another Baltimore shipyard where he brought home wages of $6 to $9 per week.  The money was turned over to his master and he was given an allowance.

Our 13th President, Millard Fillmore was apprenticed to Benjamin Hungerford, a cloth maker.  Our 17th President was also an apprentice.  Andrew Johnson was born into poverty.  His father died when Andrew was only 3 years old.  His mother remarried but his step-father was just as poor as she was.  Andrew and his brother, William, were apprenticed to James Shelby, a tailor, when Andrew was 10 years old.  When Andrew was 15 years old, he and William ran away from the tailor shop.  An ad was place in the newspaper for their return.   “Ten Dollars Reward. Ran away from the subscriber, two apprentice boys, legally bound, named William and Andrew Johnson … [payment] to any person who will deliver said apprentices to me in Raleigh, or I will give the above reward for Andrew Johnson alone.”  Since Andrew was under a legally bound contract to work for James Shelby until the age of 21, he could not find work elsewhere and was in danger of being arrested and returned to Shelby to serve out the rest of his contract.  Andrew was forbidden to even set up a shop of his own while still under contract to Shelby.

Mark Twain was pulled out of school at the age of 12 when his father died.  He was apprenticed to a printer.  James Harper of Harper Brothers was an apprentice.  Horace Greely was apprenticed from age 15 to 19.  William Lloyd Garrison was apprenticed at age 13 to Ephraim W. Allen.  He and his mother wrote to each other only sparingly because they could not afford the price of a postage stamp.  Fannie Garrison wanted her son to come for a visit before she died.  After much pleading on the part of mother and son, Lloyd was finally allowed to go and see his mother but the visit was short and he was back with Allen when his mother died.

Kit Carson was also an apprentice.  He found the work as a saddler not to his liking so he ran away.

Apprenticeships were also used as a means of controlling juvenile delinquents.  An apprentice might serve his master’s term of duty in the military or could do work as a strikebreaker.  Indenture was a way to hold the young people in unskilled factory jobs.  They obtained employment but did not receive any education and received no training in any kind of craft.

Slaves were also apprenticed.  Some planters preferred to have craftsmen on the property instead of hiring outside labor.  A slave with craftsmen skills was more valuable than a field hand.  Slaves could serve as an apprentice under the guidance of another slave.  Craftsmen who were slaves could be hired out to another plantation.  Slaves from Africa brought with them skills in metal working, carpentry, leather work, pottery, weaving, blacksmithing and harness making, just to name a few.

While the African slaves were freed in 1863, children would not be so lucky.  The first call for the abolishment of child labor was in 1904.  The first child labor law was signed by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916.  Two years later the Supreme Court struck down this law.  In 1924, Congress recommended an amendment to the constitution dealing with child labor but this legislation was blocked and the bill was dropped.  In 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act which placed limits on child labor.

And how did the great depression end child slavery?  It’s a story we’ve heard so often, both past and present–the adults were desperate for paying jobs, so desperate that they were willing to work at the same rate of pay as children.  We all remember the recent downturn in the economy when people ran out of unemployment benefits and had to take any job they could just to put food on the table.  Many people were under-employed as a result.

Sharecropping continued as late as the 1930’s and 1940’s.  Indentured servitude was outlawed in the United States in 1917.

Believe it or not–there is a part 5 to this story.  See you soon.





“…all men are created equal…”–Part III

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

These words were penned by Thomas Jefferson in June 1776. They are part of our Declaration of Independence. They carry the signatures of our founding fathers.

Before these words were written, there were already millions of slaves in what would become the United States of America. Our founding fathers were quick to notice the dichotomy between the institution of slavery and the words, “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

President Abraham Lincoln, in his eulogy on Henry Clay, a politician who was Secretary of State from 1825 to 1829, stated, “We were proclaiming ourselves political hypocrites before the world, by thus fostering Human Slavery and proclaiming ourselves, at the same time, the sole friends of Human Freedom.”

The original draft of the Declaration of Independence included a paragraph on slavery. Jefferson blamed King George, III for transporting slaves from Africa to the British colonies. He blamed King George for the deaths that occurred during the transport of these slaves. He also blamed King George for inciting those slaves to rise up and murder the citizens of their new country.

So, from the beginning, our founding fathers had two concerns: slave uprisings and how to end slavery.

In a 1786 letter written by George Washington, he stated, “There is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do, to see a plan adopted for the abolition of slavery.” President Washington found that there were several problems in freeing the slaves at his plantation, Mount Vernon. Some of the slaves living on his plantation were dower slaves that were left to Martha Dandridge Custis Washington for her use during her lifetime by her first husband, Daniel Parke Custis. These slaves belonged to the Custis estate and would return to the Custis estate upon the death of Martha. The dower slaves had married some of Washington’s own slaves, so to free his own slaves would mean that families would be broken and he didn’t want to do that. Some of the slaves at Mount Vernon were rented from a neighbor.

Washington thought that slavery was an inefficient labor system and was ill-suited for diversified farming. Mount Vernon was not showing a profit and slavery was part of the problem. He accepted that Mount Vernon would never show a profit because some of his slaves were too old to work and others were too young to work, but still he had a moral obligation to provide for their care. Much of what he grew never reached the marketplace, but was consumed by the slave labor. He made the maintenance of the slaves and their families a higher priority than profit.

Upon Washington’s death he freed all the slaves he owned, set up an old age fund for the elderly slaves, and taught the young slaves a useful skill. However, during his presidency, he opposed federal manumission of slaves because he thought the issue was so emotionally charged that it would split the country.

Another impediment to the end of slavery was the Fugitive Slave Laws which started with the Fugitive Slave Clause in the Constitution. Slaves traveling by themselves were required to show proof that they were free. Often, even those who could show proof had their papers torn up and were sold into slavery.

Solomon Northup was born a free man in 1808. His father was a former slave that was freed when his master died. His mother was of mixed descent. In 1841, Northup was drugged, kidnapped, transported south and sold into slavery in New Orleans. He was a slave for 12 years. After he obtained his freedom, he wrote his memoirs, 12 Years a Slave, with the help of a local journalist David Wilson. The book became a best seller. A movie was made from the book in 2013.

In 1780 Thomas Jefferson proposed a program of gradual abolition that would end the slave trade, prohibit slavery in the western territories and establish a date (his suggestion was 1800) when all newly born children of slaves would be emancipated.

The Constitutional Convention of 1787 formed a committee to discuss the slave trade.  The committee compromised by giving Congress the power to ban the slave trade as of 1808. Participation in the slave trade was forbidden to the citizens of the United States by the Slave Trade Act of 1794The Slave Trade Act of 1807, which went into effect on January 1, 1808, offered stiff penalities for anyone participating in the slave trade. Other Slave Trade Acts came in 1818, 1819, and 1820.

Several plans were put forth as a means of ending slavery. In 1789 Thomas Jefferson thought that the emancipated slaves should be intermingled with imported German peasants on 50 acre farms where they could learn proper work habits. He did not believe that whites and blacks could live together in America in harmony.

In February 1790 two Quaker petitions caused a bitter debate in the House of Representatives. The first petition called for the immediate end of the slave trade. The other advocated the gradual abolition of slavery. Benjamin Franklin had signed the second petition.

In 1819, Virginia congressman, Charles F. Mercer, sponsored a bill that appropriated $100,000 to found an agency to provide for the return of Africans removed from captured slave traders. The American Colonization Society had been formed in 1816 with the plan of colonizing free Africans. Free Africans were taken to Liberia. The capital city of Monrovia is named after President James Monroe who supported the American Colonization Society.

Free blacks were suspicious of the American Colonization Society. Three thousand blacks met at Philadelphia’s Bethel Church in 1817 to denounce the colonization plan. They claimed that their military service in the Revolution and the War of 1812 gave them rights as Americans.

In 1824, Thomas Jefferson compiled a full analysis of the demographic and economic facts and calculated that it would take nine hundred million dollars to free and deport the 1.5 million slaves in the USA over a 25 year period. The 1.5 million slaves would have doubled in number during the time the plans were being implemented, and many of the freed slaves, when offered passage to Africa or the West Indies, would say, “We will not go.” Africans born in the United States considered themselves to be American.

President James Madison saw three ways out of slavery. First, slavery could be weakened by spreading it more widely. Diffusion would “better the condition of the slaves by lessening the number belonging to individual masters, and intermixing both with greater masses of free people.” The second way out of slavery would be colonization. He estimated that it would take $600 million to colonize 1.5 million slaves. To him, it was important to separate whites and blacks because he believed they would never overcome their prejudices towards one another. The third method of getting out of slavery would be to just set the slaves free.

Talk of seceding from the Union began as early as 1804. Members of the Federalist party talked about seceding if the national government became too large and powerful.

Talk of a secession was brought up again in 1814 when the embargo act devastated the economies of New York and New England to the point that the people of Nantucket Island almost starved to death causing state leaders to threaten secession. Massachusetts Senator, Timothy Pickering, tried to unite New England states with New York and perhaps Nova Scotia in a Northern Confederacy that would secede from the union.

The first peacetime depression in the United States started in 1819 and lasted until 1821. Government revenue, especially custom duties, were dramatically decreased. Income from the sale of public lands was decreased due to many purchasers defaulting on their loans.

In April 1820, Representative Henry Baldwin (R-Pennsylvania) introduced a bill increasing duties on cotton and a few other items. The Southern states objected on the grounds that agriculture was being taxed for the benefit of manufacturers.

In the mid 1820’s, cotton prices plummeted, banks were making harsh demands on borrowers, and banks refused to redeem paper notes with gold and silver.

Prior to the ratification of the 16th amendment in 1913 which gave Congress the power to tax income, tariffs were the main source of income for the Federal government. Factories and their workers in the United States wanted higher tariffs on goods coming into the country from Great Britian so that the cheaper British goods would be sold at a more competitive price. High tariffs were good for the manufacturers in the Northern states but were bad for the agricultural economy of the south. The south sold the cotton it produced to Great Britain’s manufacturers. The finished goods were then imported back to the United States. If the British had to pay higher tariffs, then they didn’t buy as much cotton from the Southern states. This put a real economic burden on the South since they did little manufacturing and had to buy the goods they didn’t produce on the farm from manufacturers in the northern states or Great Britain. Simultaneously, they got paid less for the goods they produced and had to pay more for those they did not produce.

The Tariff of 1828 was called the tariff of abominations in the South and this tariff was the genesis of the Nullification Crisis of 1832. The Tariff of 1832 was meant to settle the conflict caused by The Tarriff of 1828 but still Southerners were not satisfied. President Andrew Jackson told South Carolina “on your unhappy heads will inevitably fall all raw evils of the conflict you force upon the government of your country.”

On November 24, 1832 a South Carolina convention nullified the Federal Tariffs of 1828 and 1832. December 28, 1832, Vice-President John Calhoun resigned in support of South Carolina.

January 16, 1833 President Andrew Jackson asked Congress for authority to use military force if necessary to “crush nullifiers and enforce revenue and tariff collection laws.” On March 2, 1833 President Jackson signed the Force Bill into law. March 15, 1832 South Carolina rescinded it’s Nullification Act. Three days later, South Carolina nullified the Force Bill.

In the winter of 1832-33, radicals in South Carolina were raising an army to defend their right to nullify federal laws. President Jackson proclaimed that nullification was tantamount to treason. In the South nullification fervour continued to spread. The North stepped up demands for abolition. Abolitionist and slavery proponents were prepared to dissolve the Union to further their cause. Their was open talk of secession when the 31st congress met on December 3, 1849.

The Panic of 1837, which lasted until the early 1840’s, saw unemployment rise while profits, prices and wages dropped. The Panic of 1857 was a world wide financial crisis. Due to the discovery of gold in California business was booming. The railroad business was doing quite well because people were moving west. In 1857, the railroads suffered a financial decline and workers were laid off. Those who kept their railroad jobs took a 10% cut in pay. By 1858, commercial credit had dried up. Everybody saw a decrease in profits. The South faired better in this panic than did the North.

Poor whites had their own slavery issues. In the 1830’s a new term came into use, “wage slavery.” Today we refer to these people as “the working poor.” It was said that the New Hampshire mill workers worked longer hours each day than did the slaves in the South. Poor whites feared emancipation because the sudden flood of workers into the work force would mean too much competition for the jobs available and would result in high unemployment.

A coffin handbill distributed after the 1836 strike of New York journeymen read: “Mechanics and workingmen! A deadly blow has been struck at your liberty! The prize for which your fathers fought has been robbed from you! The freemen of the North are now on level with the slaves of the South!”

James P. Doyle had moved his family from Tennessee to Kansas in order to “get to a free state where there would be no slave labor to hinder white men from making a fair day’s wage.” James and two of his sons were killed on May 24, 1856 by some of John Brown’s men.

The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, passed by Congress January 31, 1865 and ratified December 6, 1865 ended slavery for African Americans in the United States.

Check back later for Part IV.



Slavery in the Colonies–Part II

Native Americans enslaved prisoners of war.  They also sometimes adopted these prisoners into their own tribe.

In what would later become the United States, the Spanish set up colonies in modern day Florida, California and parts of the west.  The colony of St. Augustine in Florida was established in 1565, Santa Fe in 1609 and Taos in 1615.

When Christopher Columbus landed 12 October 1492, he immediately captured 6 of the natives and transported them back to Spain and King Ferdinand.  In 1495, he transported 500 natives to Spain.

Slave labor was especially useful in the mid-1700’s on the sugar plantations of the Caribbean islands.  In today’s world we still find cheap labor to be profitable–remember all those McDonald’s workers that protested for $15 per hour.

In 1624, the Dutch brought slaves to the New World and established colonies in New York and Pennsylvania.  Citizens from several European countries came to this colony as well as African slaves.  The Dutch were involved in transporting slaves from Africa across the Atlantic ocean.

The French owned that part of America known as The Louisiana Purchase which France sold to the United States in 1803.  The French introduced slavery into what is now known as the state of Louisiana in 1706 when they enslaved Native Americans.  African slaves were introduced by the French in 1710.  Louisiana had quite a few sugar plantations.

After Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1793, the need for slaves increased.

The first slaves came to the British colony of Jamestown, now in the Commonwealth of Virginia, in 1619.  In 1698 the British Parliament made slavery legal for all British citizens.  The British bought African slaves, who were prisoners of war, from their chiefs.  Slavery was practiced by Africans in Africa.

Franklin and Armfield Slave Office, which was organized in 1828, was the largest slave traders in the United States.

Slavery was not just a Southern institution.  Slaves were also used in the Northern States.  It is interesting to note that President Abraham Lincoln did not free any of the slaves in the states that did not secede the union.  The Emancipation Proclamation only freed slaves in the states that seceded from the Union.

"That on the 1st day of January, A.D. 1863, all persons held as
slaves within any State or designated part of a State the people
whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall
be then, thenceforward, and forever free..."

Did Lincoln really have the authority to free slaves in the Confederate States of America, a separate county with its own constitution?  Article 1 of the Confederate States constitution prohibits the importation of African slaves from foreign countries and also from any state not part of the CSA.

Long before the Boston Tea Party in 1773 or The Declaration of Independence in 1776, slavery was already an established institution in North American.  Slavery wasn’t just an American institution.  It was a world problem and an ancient problem.  The book of Exodus tells us the story of how the Jewish slaves were freed from the Egyptians by Moses.  Exodus is estimated to have been written between c.1450-1410 B.C.

Whites were not the only ones to own slaves.  Blacks were also slave owners.  Anthony Johnson arrived in Virginia in 1621 on an Arab slave ship.  He was sold as an indentured servant.  After 1635, Anthony obtained his freedom and with his wife, Mary, he moved to his own 250 acre farm.  In 1640, Johnson bought the contract of John Casor, a black man, who later became a servant for life.  Johnson also had 4 white indentured servants.

Zephaniah Kingsley, Jr. was a sea captain.  He bought 13 year old Anna Madigigne at a Cuban slave market.  In 1811 she became a free woman.  In 1812, she established her own farm with 12 slaves.

Sharon Fortner Wright

Check back for part 3 coming soon.

Our State Flag–Part I

The latest lawsuit against Mississippi’s state flag has been filed by Civil Rights Attorney Carlos Moore.  Other lawsuits were filed in 1988, 1990, 1992, and 1993.  The current lawsuit as well as previous lawsuits opine that the state flag violates the constitutional rights of African-Americans and encourages violence.

A new state flag was proposed by a committee appointed by Former Governor Ronnie Musgrove and headed by Former Governor William Winter in 2000.  In a state referendum held April 2001, the new flag lost by 64% for the old flag to 36% for the new flag.

Usually a vote of the people settles the issue.  In the case of our state flag this doesn’t seem to hold true.

Anthony Hervey, author and passionate supporter of the Confederate Battle Flag, traveled all over the southeastern United States speaking at rallies in defense of the Battle Flag.  Chances are great that you have never heard of him.  You have probably never heard of Andrew Duncomb,  “The Black Rebel” from Oklahoma or H. K. Edgerton, former president of the North Carolina NAACP and a member of
the Sons of Confederate Veterans.  All these men worked to share the truth of our southern heritage.

Blacks fought for both the Union and the Confederacy during the War Between The States.  In fact, they have fought in every conflict the United States has been involved in.

African-Americans were among the rioters 22 March 1765 of the Stamp Act.

The first casualty of the Boston Massacre, 5 March 1770, was Crispus Attucks, the son of an African slave father and a Native American mother.

In 1775, free blacks were accepted into the Continental Army.  Peter Salem, an African-American from Massachusetts, shot Major Pitcairn of the British Marines, at the Battle of Bunker Hill on 17 June 1775.  In fact, there were more than 100 blacks at Bunker Hill including Titus Coburn, Salem Poor, and Grant Cooper. 

Massachussettes in 1775 had African-American militia minutemen: Peter Salem in Framingham, Prince Estabrook in Lexington, Samuel Croft in Newton, and Cato Wood and Cuff Whittemore of Arlington, just to name a few.

December 25, 1776, Prince Whipple and Oliver Cromwell were among those who rowed the boat that carried George Washington across the Delaware river.  Black soldiers were also with Washington at Valley Forge in the winter of 1778.

At the Seige of Yorktown in the fall of 1781, Prince Bent and other black soldiers from Rhode Island served with Washington.  The Bucks of America was a unit of African-American soldiers that served during the American Revolution.

Judge Lawrence W. Pierce has traced his lineage back to Adam Pierce who served in the New Jersey militia during the Revolution.  Blacks fought on the side of the British red coats in the revolutionary war and the War of 1812.  The British had promised them their freedom in exchange for their military service.  The British re-settled some black loyalist in Sierra Leone, Africa.

On 6 September 2005, Mark Matthews died.  Mark Matthews, who is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, was a Buffalo Soldier.  The Buffalo Soldiers were instrumental in the western expansion of the United States.

In 1813, an escaped slave named Charles Ball enlisted in the American Navy to defend his country.  In 1836, his book, The Life of Charles Ball, A Black Man, was published.

In August 1814, just before the White House went up in flames, Paul Jennings, the servant of President James Madison, helped rescue certain treasures from the White House, including a portrait of George Washington.

African-Americans also served with the British in the American Revolution and the War of 1812.

Joe, a slave belonging to Lt. Col. William B. Travis, was at the Alamo and participated in the battle.  Joe lived to tell the story of the Alamo to the Texas government.  Ben, a free black man, was near the battle working as a cook serving coffee and refreshments for Gen. Santa Ana and his troops.  Hendrick Arnold, son of a white father and a black mother, was a scout and spy during the Texas Revolution.

Blacks who fought for the Union during the War for Southern Independence numbered 186,097 soldiers and sailors in 163 units.

The First Louisiana Native Guard was formed in May 1861 and was mostly made up of free blacks.  John Nolan was a scout for Quantrill’s raiders.

Frederick Douglass was quoted in September, 1861 as saying, “there are at the present moment many colored men in the Confederate army as real soldiers, having muskets on their shoulders and bullets in their pockets, ready to shoot down loyal troops, and do all that soldiers may do to destroy the Federal government…”

Frederick Douglass was the first Negro nominated as candidate for President at the Republican convention in Chicago in 1888.

A letter from a Union soldier to the Indianapolis Star which was printed on December 23, 1861 told of a Negro Infantry of 700 that opened fire on his unit.  The soldier said that he had heard of Negro units fighting for the Confederate States but did not believe it until he saw it with his own eyes.

General Forrest took 45 slaves with him into battle.  He is reported to have said about these men, “Better confederates did not live.”

Tom and Overton served with the 12th Virginia Cavalry, Louis Napeleon Nelson with the 7th Tennessee Cavalry, Levin Graham was with the 2nd Tennessee and Levi Miller was a confederate veteran from Virginia.  George Washington Yancy was loyal to the confederate states.

The border states of Missouri and Kentucky were slave states that did not secede from the Union.  Maryland was also a slave state.  The eastern part of Maryland was pro-Confederate and the western part was pro-Union.  Maryland sent troops to fight with the Union and with the Confederates.

The state of Virginia broke into West Virginia, pro-Union, and Virginia, pro-Confederate. The state of West Virginia was formed from this disunion in 1863.

Tennessee was pro-Confederate in the West and pro-Union in the East where Andrew Johnson was the military governor of the state.

In Illinois, the Sons of Confederate Veterans have identified at least 14,000 graves of confederate soldiers.  Copperheads were prevalent in the North.  New Jersey had many stops for the Underground Railroad.

By 1830, most of the slaves in that state had been manumitted but others were “apprentices for life.”

Native Americans who fought in the Civil War numbered 10,000 to 15,000.

John Jones was a fugitive slave from Virginia and cemetery caretaker. In 1864 and 1865, while working at the Union prison camp at Elmira, New York, Jones noted the name, regiment, date of death, and grave number of every soldier. He put wooden markers on the graves so that relatives would know where their kin was buried.

So why did this war so divide the county, the states and even families?

Tune in soon for part 2.  In the meantime,  take some time to read more about the valiant African Americans who fought for our freedom.  I have only just touched the surface.  There are many more that have not been mentioned.

Sharon Fortner Wright