Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Ex-slave Amy Chapman, about 94, Remembers 19C America


Amy recounted, "One day Marse Reuben come home an' when he foun' out dat de overseer was mean to de slaves he commence to give him a lecture, but when Miss Ferlicia tuk a han' in de business, she didn't stop at no lecture, She tol' dat overseer dis: 'I hear you take my women an' turn dere cloth'n over dere haids an' whup 'em. Any man dats got a family would do sich a thing oughter be sham' of hisself, an' iffen Gov. Chapman can't make you leave, I kin, so you see dat road dere? Well, make tracks den.' An' Mistis, he lef' right den. He didn't wait for no coaxin'. He was de meanes' overseer us ever had."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. Photo from 20th century.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Ex-slave Tempie Cummins Remembers 19C America



Tempie remembered, "Mother was workin' in the house, and she cooked too. She say she used to hide in the chimney corner and listen to what the white folks say. When freedom was 'clared, marster wouldn' tell 'em, but mother she hear him tellin' mistus that the slaves was free but they didn' know it and he's not gwineter tell 'em till he makes another crop or two. When mother hear that she say she slip out the chimney corner and crack her heels together four times and shouts. 'I's free, I's free.' Then she runs to the field, 'gainst marster's will and tol' all the other slaves and they quit work. Then she run away and in the night she slip into a big ravine near the house and have them bring me to her. Marster, he come out with his gun and shot at mother but she run down the ravine and gits away with me."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves.
Photo from 20th century.


Photos and quotes of former slaves used in these blog posts come from the Slave Narratives. This collection contains over 20,000 pages of typewritten interviews with more than 3,500 former slaves, collected over a ten-year period. In 1929, both Fisk University in Tennessee and Southern University in Louisiana began to document the life stories of former American slaves. Kentucky State College continued the work in 1934. In the midst of the Depression between 1936 and 1939, these narratives continued to be collected as part of the Federal Writers' Project of the WPA, the Works Progress Administration. They were assembled and microfilmed in 1941, as the 17-volume Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. The collection includes photos of the interviewees taken in the 1930s as well as their full interviews. Those whose voices are included in the collection ranged in age from 1 to 50 at the time of emancipation in 1865; more than 2/3 were over 80 when they were interviewed.

The problem that I have with these interviews is the language as reported by the interviewers. The Library of Congress explains on their website, "The narratives usually involve some attempt by the interviewers to reproduce in writing the spoken language of those interviewed...The interviewers were writers, not professionals trained in the phonetic transcription of speech...by the 1930s, when the interviews took place, white representations of black speech already had an ugly history of entrenched stereotype dating back at least to the early 19C." What most white interviewers assumed to be "the usual" patterns of their informants' speech was unavoidably influenced by the 1930s preconceptions and stereotypes of the interviewers themselves. "The result, as the historian Lawrence W. Levine wrote, "is a mélange of accuracy and fantasy, of sensitivity and stereotype, of empathy and racism" that may sometimes be offensive to today's readers. Yet whatever else they may be, the representations of speech in the narratives are a pervasive and forceful reminder that these documents are not only a record of a time that was already history when they were created: they are themselves irreducibly historical, the products of a particular time and particular places."

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Women on the North American Canadian Frontier in 19C - by Dutch-born Cornelius Krieghoff 1815-1872

Cornelius Krieghoff was born in Amsterdam, spent his formative years in Bavaria, and studied in Rotterdam & Dusseldorf. He traveled to the United States in the 1830s, where he served in the Army for a few years. He married a young woman from Quebec and moved to the Montreal area, where he created genre paintings of the people & countryside of Canada. According to Charles C. Hill, "Krieghoff was the first Canadian artist to interpret in oils... the splendour of our waterfalls, and the hardships and daily life of people living on the edge of new frontiers" Krieghoff lived in Quebec from 1854-1863, before he came to Chicago to live with his daughter.


Cornelius Krieghoff (Dutch-born Canadian painter, 1815-1872) J B Jolifou, Aubergiste

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Ex-slave Louise Mathews, about 83, Remembers 19C America


Louise remembered, "Marster Turner am very reasonable 'bout de wo'k. He wants a good days wo'k, an' all de cullud fo'ks gives it to him. Weuns had Saturday afternoons off, an' co'se, Sundays too. Weuns does de washin' an' sich wo'k as weuns wants to do fo' ourselves on Saturdays, den weuns could go to parties at night. De Marster gives weuns a pass ever' Saturday night if weuns wanted it. Weuns had to have de pass 'cause de Patterollers am watchin' fo' de cullud fo'ks as don't have de pass. Weuns have singin' an' dancin' at de parties. De dancin' am quadrilles an' de music am fiddles an' banjoes."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. Photo from 20th century.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Women on the North American Canadian Frontier in 19C - by Dutch-born Cornelius Krieghoff 1815-1872

Cornelius Krieghoff was born in Amsterdam, spent his formative years in Bavaria, and studied in Rotterdam & Dusseldorf. He traveled to the United States in the 1830s, where he served in the Army for a few years. He married a young woman from Quebec and moved to the Montreal area, where he created genre paintings of the people & countryside of Canada. According to Charles C. Hill, "Krieghoff was the first Canadian artist to interpret in oils... the splendour of our waterfalls, and the hardships and daily life of people living on the edge of new frontiers" Krieghoff lived in Quebec from 1854-1863, before he came to Chicago to live with his daughter.

Cornelius Krieghoff (Dutch-born Canadian painter, 1815-1872) The Blizzard 1857

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Ex-slave Frances Black, about 87, Remembers 19C America


Francis remembered, "I was born in Grand Bluff, in Mississippi, on Old Man Carlton's plantation, and I was stole from my folks when I was a li'l gal and never seed them no more. Us kids played in the big road there in Mississippi, and one day me and 'nother gal is playin' up and down the road and three white men come 'long in a wagon. They grabs as up and puts us in the wagon and covers us with quilts. I hollers and yells and one the men say, 'Shet up, you nigger, or I'll kill you.' I told him, 'Kill me if you wants to - you stole me from my folks."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. Photo from 20th century.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Ex-slave Charlotte Beverly, about 90, Remembers 19C America


Charlotte explained, "The white folks had interes' in they cullud people where I live. Sometimes they's as many as fifty cradle with little nigger babies in 'em and the mistus, she look after them and take care of them, too. She turn them and dry them herself. She had a little gal git water and help. She never had no chillen of her own. I'd blow the horn for the mudders of the little babies to come in from the fields and nurse 'em, in mornin' and afternoon. Mistus feed them what was old enough to eat victuals. Sometimes, they mammies take them to the field and fix pallet on ground for then to lay on."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves.
Photo from 20th century.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Ex Slave Lou Williams Remembers 19C America


Ex Slave Lou Williams, nearly 100 years old

Lou explained, "We had big gardens and lots of vegetables to eat, 'cause massa had 'bout 800 slaves and 'bout a 1,000 acres in he plantation. In summer time we wore jes' straight cotton slips and no shoes till Sunday, den we puts on shoes and white dresses and ties a ribbon 'round our waists, and we didn't look like de same chillen."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. Photo from 20th century.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Women on the North American Canadian Frontier in 19C - by Dutch-born Cornelius Krieghoff 1815-1872

Cornelius Krieghoff (Dutch-born Canadian painter, 1815-1872) Indian Woman Moccasin Seller

Cornelius Krieghoff 1815-1872 was born in Amsterdam, spent his formative years in Bavaria, & studied in Rotterdam & Dusseldorf. He traveled to the United States in the 1830s, where he served in the Army for a few years. He married a young woman from Quebec & moved to the Montreal area, where he painted genre paintings of the people & countryside of Canada. According to Charles C. Hill, Curator of Canadian Art at the National Gallery, "Krieghoff was the first Canadian artist to interpret in oils... the splendour of our waterfalls, & the hardships & daily life of people living on the edge of new frontiers" Krieghoff moved to Quebec from 1854-1863, before he came to Chicago to live with his daughter.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Ex-slave Betty Powers, about 80, Remembers 19C America


Betty said, "Did we'uns have weddin's? White man, you knows better'n dat. Dem times, cullud folks em jus' put together. De massa say, 'Jim and Nancy, you go live together.' and when dat order give, it better be done. Dey thinks nothin' on de plantation 'bout de feelin's of de women and dere ain't no 'spect for dem. De overseer and white mens took 'vantage of de women like dey wants to. De woman better not make no fuss 'bout sich. If she do, it am de whippin' for her."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. Photo from 20th century.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Ex-Slave Mary Crane Remembers 19C America


Mary explained, "In those days, slave owners, whenever one of their daughters would get married, would give her and her husband a slave as a wedding present, usually allowing the girl to pick the one she wished to accompany her to her new home."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves.
Photo from 20th century.

Friday, February 17, 2017

US Women Fighting for Equality - Abby Hadassah Smith (1797-1878) & Julia Evelina Smith, (1792-1886)

Born today in 1797, Abby Hadassah Smith (1797-1878) & her sister Julia Evelina Smith, (1792-1886).  The sisters were American suffragists who relentlessly protested for their property & voting rights, drawing considerable national & international attention to their situation & their cause.
Julia Evelina Smith, left, and Abby Hadassah Smith.

The Smith sisters lived almost their entire lives at the Connecticut farm homestead where they were born. Abby & Julia were the youngest of 5 daughters born to noted intellectual scholars Zephaniah Hollister Smith & Hannah Hadassah Hickock. The couple emphasized the importance of learning, nonconformity, & imaginative thought to their children. Educated at Emma Willard’s Seminary in Troy, New York, Julia Smith was known to have kept a diary in both French & Latin. She also translated her own version of the Bible from original Greek, Hebrew, & Latin sources, which she published in 1876. The sisters were active in temperance work & local charities, and reflecting the influences of their parents, they were notably independent in judgment & action.
A painting of Kimberly Mansion, the home of the Smith Sisters, located at 1625 Main St. in Glastonbury. The painting by Laurilla Smith, the sister of Julia & Abby Smith.

Totally against slavery in America, the Smith sisters invited William Lloyd Garrison to give abolitionist speeches from a tree stump in their front yard, when he was denied access to Hartford pulpits. The sisters also widely distributed the anti-slavery Charter Oak newspaper throughout Glastonbury. Their mother, who had authored one of the earliest anti-slavery petitions presented to Congress by John Quincy Adams, fully supported her daughters' abolitionist actions. 

Once slavery had been abolished in the United States, the Smith sisters focused their attentions on women’s suffrage. Before they could concentrate much energy on that movement; however, Julia & Abby, at the ages of 81 & 76, found themselves waging a personal battle against sexual inequality after inheriting the single most valuable piece of property in Glastonbury—their home, known as Kimberly Mansion.  

By 1869, Abby  & Julia were the only surviving members of the family. In November 1873, the Glastonbury tax collector informed the sisters that their recently reassessed property had raised $100 in value. Two widows in the town also had their property reassessed, but none of their male neighbors’ property values had risen.  The sisters immediately became indignant at what they perceived to be a grave injustice. Being women, they were politically powerless, since they lacked the right to vote. Despite this, Abby quickly composed a speech to present before the Glastonbury town meeting. In this speech, Abby declared:

"The motto of our government is ‘proclaim liberty to all the inhabitants of the land,’ and here, where liberty is so highly extolled and glorified by every man in it, one-half of the inhabitants are not put under her laws, but are ruled over by the other half, who can take all they possess. How is liberty pleased with such worship?. . . All we ask of the town is not to rule over them as they rule over us, but to be on an equality with them."

The male voters of Glastonbury ignored Abby’s speech, so the sisters decided they would not pay taxes to the city, until they gained equal representation in government. The Glastonbury tax collector responded by seizing 7 of the sister’s cows for auction, 4 of which Abby & Julia bought back.  The sister thereafter refused to pay taxes, unless they were granted the right to vote in town meetings.

First to recognize the national importance of the sisters’ plight, the editor of The Republican, a newspaper published in Springfield, Massachusetts, wrote, “Abby Smith and her sister as truly stand for the American principle as did the citizens who ripped open the tea chests in Boston Harbor, or the farmers who leveled their muskets at Concord.” Without the sisters’ knowledge or permission, he reprinted Abby’s entire speech & set up a defense fund in her name. Soon, newspapers across the country began to reprint their story. A Harper’s Weekly author referred to Abby as “Samuel Adams redivivus.” Their cows became so famous that flowers made from their tail hair with ribbons reading “Taxation without Representation” were sold at a Chicago bazaar.
 Photo of the home of the Smith sisters at 1625 Main St. in Glastonbury

At a 2nd town meeting in April, Abby was refused permission to speak, whereupon she mounted a wagon outside & delivered her protest to the crowd. In June, authorities seized 15 acres of the Smiths’ pastureland, valued at $2,000, for delinquent taxes amounting to about $50. The sale of the land was conducted irregularly, however, & after a protracted suit, during the course of which the sisters had almost to study law themselves, they succeeded in having it set aside. Their cows, 4 of which they had been able to buy back, were twice more taken for taxes & soon became a cause célèbre throughout the country & even abroad as newspapers spread the story. 

Published versions of Abby’s speeches, along with witty  & effective letters by both sisters to various newspapers, brought them considerable prominence. In 1877, Julia edited & published an account of the events, Abby Smith & Her Cows, with a Report of the Law Case Decided Contrary to Law. Both sisters spoke at numerous suffrage meetings & also testified before state & federal legislative committees concerning woman suffrage. In 1879, a year after her sister’s death, Julia married & moved to Hartford.

Information in this posting comes from:
The Encyclopedia Britannica online
The Smith Sisters, Their Cows, and Women’s Rights in  Glastonbury written by Molly May

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Ex-slave Anne Maddox, about 100, Remembers 19C America


Ann remembered, "Bout four o'clock in de evenin' all de little niggers was called in de big yard where de cook had put milk in a long an den trough an' crumbled ash-cake in it. Us had pot licker in a trough, too. Us et de bread an' milk wid shells an' would use our minds, out it was good."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves.
Photo from 20th century.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Ex-slave Ellen Butler, about 78, Remembers Remembers 19C America


Ellen related, "Massa never 'lowed us slaves go to church but they have big holes in the fields they gits down in and prays. They done that way 'cause the white folks didn't want them to pray. They used to pray for freedom."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. Photo from 20th century.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Women on the North American Canadian Frontier in 19C - by Dutch-born Cornelius Krieghoff 1815-1872

Cornelius Krieghoff (Dutch-born Canadian painter, 1815-1872) The Toll Gate 1861

Cornelius Krieghoff 1815-1872 was born in Amsterdam, spent his formative years in Bavaria, & studied in Rotterdam & Dusseldorf. He traveled to the United States in the 1830s, where he served in the Army for a few years. He married a young woman from Quebec & moved to the Montreal area, where he painted genre paintings of the people & countryside of Canada. According to Charles C. Hill, Curator of Canadian Art at the National Gallery, "Krieghoff was the first Canadian artist to interpret in oils... the splendour of our waterfalls, & the hardships & daily life of people living on the edge of new frontiers" Krieghoff moved to Quebec from 1854-1863, before he came to Chicago to live with his daughter.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Ex-slave Millie Williams, about 86, Remembers 19C America


Millie laughed, "I's 'member well de time we'ns steal one of de marster's big chicken's. I's had it in a pot in de fireplace an' it waz sho' smelling good an' seen de mistress cumin'. I's grab dat chicken, pot an' all an' put it under de bed, I's grab de bed clothes an' put 'em on de pot. De mistress, she cums 'round an' says, "I's sho do smell somethin' good. I's say, "Whur Miss's? I's don' smell anythin'. She looks 'round an' don' find anythin' an' go's back to de house. Whin she gits gone I's tak dat chicken out from under dat bed an' we'ns eats it in a hurry."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. Photo from 20th century.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Ex-slave Lucy Thomas, about 86, Remembers 19C America


Lucy remembered, "All the hands was up and in the field by day light. Nobody laid in bed up in the morning like folks do today. Dr. Baldwin allus had a fifty gallon barrel of whiskey on the place. He kept a demijohn of whiskey on the front porch all the time for the darkies to get a drink on the way to the field in the morning. You never heard of nobody getting drunk then."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. Photo from 20th century.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

US Women Fighting for Equality & Bloomers - Amelia Jenks Bloomer 1818-1894

Amelia Bloomer edited the first American newspaper for women, The Lily. It was issued from 1849 until 1853. The newspaper began as a temperance journal. Bloomer felt that as women lecturers were considered unseemly, writing was the best way for women to work for reform. Originally, The Lily was to be for “home distribution” among members of the Seneca Falls Ladies Temperance Society, which had formed in 1848. 

Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s cousin Elizabeth Smith Miller introduced the outfit and editor Amelia Bloomer publicized it in The Lily.

Like most local endeavors, the paper encountered several obstacles early on, and the Society’s enthusiasm died out. Bloomer felt a commitment to publish and assumed full responsibility for editing and publishing the paper. Originally, the title page had the legend “Published by a committee of ladies.” But after 1850 – only Bloomer’s name appeared on the masthead.
1851 Currier and Ives

Although women’s exclusion from membership in temperance societies and other reform activities was the main force that moved the Ladies Temperance Society to publish The Lily, it was not at first a radical paper. Its editorial stance conformed to the emerging stereotype of women as “defenders of the home.” 


Photo c 1855

In the first issue, Bloomer wrote:  It is woman that speaks through The Lily…Intemperance is the great foe to her peace and happiness. It is that above all that has made her Home desolate and beggared her offspring…. Surely, she has the right to wield her pen for its Suppression. Surely, she may without throwing aside the modest refinements which so much become her sex, use her influence to lead her fellow mortals from the destroyer’s path. The Lily always maintained its focus on temperance. Fillers often told horror stories about the effects of alcohol. For example, the May 1849 issue noted, “A man when drunk fell into a kettle of boiling brine at Liverpool, Onondaga Co. and was scaled to death.” But gradually, the newspaper began to include articles about other subjects of interest to women. Many were from the pen of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, writing under the pseudonym “sunflower.” The earliest Stanton’s articles dealt with the temperance, child-bearing, and education, but she soon turned to the issue of women’s rights. She wrote about laws unfair to women and demanded change.
Bloomer was greatly influenced by Stanton and gradually became a convert to the cause of women’s rights. Recalling the case of an elderly friend who was turned out of her home when her husband died without a will she wrote:  Later, other similar cases coming to my knowledge made me familiar with cruelty of the laws towards women; and when the women rights convention put forth its Declaration of Sentiments. I was ready to join with that party in demanding for women such change in laws as would give her a right to her earnings, and her children a right to wider fields of employment and a better education, and also a right to protect her interest at the ballot box.  



Bloomer became interested in dress reform, advocating that women wear the outfit that came to be known as the “Bloomer costume.”  Actually the reform of clothing for women began in the 1850s, as a result of the need for a more practical way of dressing . The reform started in New England where the social activist Elizabeth Smith Miller (1822-1911), called Libby Miller. Mrs Miller  was the daughter of abolitionists Gerrit Smith and his second wife, Ann Carroll Fitzhugh. She was a lifelong of the women's rights movement. She  became famous when she  adopted what she considered a more rational costume: Turk trousers - loose trousers gathered at the ankles like the trousers worn by Middle Eastern and Central Asian women – worn under a short dress or knee length skirt. The outfits were similar to the clothing worn by the women in the Oneida Community, a religious commune founded  by John Humphrey Noyes in Oneida, New York in 1848.

This new fashion was soon supported by Bloomer, by then a women's rights and temperance advocate. Bloomer popularized Mr Miller’s idea in her bi-weekly publication The Lily. And this women's clothing reform soon was named bloomers. The rebellion against the voluminous and constraining fashion of the Victorian period was both a practical necessity and a focal point of social reform. Stanton and others copied a knee-length dress with pants worn by Elizabeth Smith Miller of Geneva, New York. 



For some time the "Bloomer" outfit was worn by many of the leaders in the women's rights movement, then it was abandoned because of the heavy criticism in the popular press. In 1859, Amelia Bloomer herself said that a new invention, the crinoline, was a sufficient reform.  The bloomer costume returned later, adapted and modified, as a women's athletic costume in the 1890s and early 1900s.
 1864 Godey's Lady's Book

Although Bloomer refused to take any credit for inventing the pants-and-tunic outfit, her name became associated with it because she wrote articles about the unusual dress, printed illustrations in The Lily, and wore the costume herself. In reference to her advocacy of the costume, she once wrote, “I stood amazed at the furor I had unwittingly caused.” But people certainly were interested in the new fashion. She remembered: “As soon as it became known that I was wearing the new dress, letters came pouring in upon me by the hundreds from women all over the country making inquiries about the dress and asking for patterns – showing how ready and anxious women were to throw off the burden of long, heavy skirts.”  In May of 1851 Amelia Bloomer introduced Susan B. Anthony to Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Stanton said, "I liked her immediately and why I did not invite her home to dinner with me I do not know."

The circulation of The Lily rose from 500 per month to 4000 per month because of the dress reform controversy. At the end of 1853, the Bloomers moved to Mount Vernon, Ohio, where Amelia Bloomer continued to edit The Lily, which by then had a national circulation of over 6000. Bloomer sold The Lily in 1854 to Mary Birdsall, because she and her husband Dexter were moving again this time to Council Bluffs, Iowa, where no facilities for publishing the paper were available. She remained a contributing editor for the two years The Lily survived after she sold it.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Ex-slave Mary Armstrong, about 91, Remembers 19C America


Mary remembered, "...when the war was over, I started out an' looked for mamma again, an' found her like they said in Wharton County near where Wharton is. Law me, talk 'bout cryin' an' singin' an' cryin' some more, we sure done it. I stayed with mamma an' we worked right there 'til I gets married in 1871 to John Armstrong an' then we all comes to Houston."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves. Photo from 20th century.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Ex-slave Leithean Spinks, about 82, Remembers 19C America


Leithean remembered her first marriage, "Ise gits mai'ied in 1872 to Sol Pleasant. Weuns have 2 chilluns befo' weuns sep'rated in 1876. De trouble am he wants to be de boss of de job an' let me do de wo'k. 'Twarnt long 'til Ise 'cides Ise don't need a boss, so Ise transpo'ted him. Ise told him, 'Nigger, git outer heah, an' don't never come back. If yous come back, Ise smack yous down.' Ise never see him after dat."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves.
Photo from 20th century.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Women on the North American Canadian Frontier in 19C - by Dutch-born Cornelius Krieghoff 1815-1872

Cornelius Krieghoff (Dutch-born Canadian painter, 1815-1872) Ice Bridge at Longue Point 1847

Cornelius Krieghoff 1815-1872 was born in Amsterdam, spent his formative years in Bavaria, & studied in Rotterdam & Dusseldorf. He traveled to the United States in the 1830s, where he served in the Army for a few years. He married a young woman from Quebec & moved to the Montreal area, where he painted genre paintings of the people & countryside of Canada. According to Charles C. Hill, Curator of Canadian Art at the National Gallery, "Krieghoff was the first Canadian artist to interpret in oils... the splendour of our waterfalls, & the hardships & daily life of people living on the edge of new frontiers" Krieghoff moved to Quebec from 1854-1863, before he came to Chicago to live with his daughter.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Ex-slave Fannie Brown Remembers 19C America


Fannie recounted, "My how dem niggers could play a fiddle back in de good ole days. On de moon-light nights, us uset to dance by de light ob de moon under a big oak tree 'till mos' time to go to work de nex' mornin'. One time de bes' fiddler in de country was playin' fer us to dance, an' he broke a string. It was too fur to go to Austin to git anodder, so he jus' played on widout de string what broke an' de tune sounded more like a squeech owl dan eny thing, but us danced jus de same."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves.
Photo from 20th century.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Ex-slave Cindy Washington, about 80, Remembers 19C America


Cindy remembered, "...we was taught to read an' write, but mos' of de slaves didn't want to learn. Us little niggers would hide our books under de steps to keep f'um havin' to study. Us'd go to church wid de white folks on Sunday and sit in de back, an' den we go home an' eat a big Sunday meal."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves.
Photo from 20th century.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Fugitive Slaves in Maryland

Fugitive Slaves in Maryland

African Americans used the act of running away as part of a broader system of resisting the physical and psychological manipulation of slavery. In most instances, slaves left plantations or work sites without permission but with the intention of returning in order to visit relatives or friends on nearby plantations, or to protest a harsh punishment. At other times, though, runaways attempted to escape slavery permanently. Those who ran hoping never to return understood that they risked their lives. Fugitive slaves plagued slaveholders from the first years of slavery in Maryland until its last days.

Although laws requiring slavery for black women and their descendents did not appear until the Assembly's 1664 session enacted "An act concerning Negroes and other slaves," Maryland's first lawmakers did recognize that some people were made to work against their will and that such people frequently ran away. Along with the earliest legal references to slavery in Maryland, therefore, were attempts to control runaway servants and slaves through legislation.

If the American Revolution (1776-83) had an immediate impact on slave escapes it could only be found in the greater opportunities to escape created by the chaos of war. Revolutionary-era newspapers contained many notices for runaways. Although they spoke of "liberty," few slaveholding Maryland patriots saw any contradiction in denying it to their slaves. Indeed, John Hanson, the Marylander who served as president of the Continental Congress, spent much of the last years of the war pursuing Ned Barnes, an enslaved man who had fled Hanson's plantation.

A variety of factors moved fugitive slaves to attempt a permanent break: persistent brutality by an owner or overseer, relocation away from immediate family or relatives, a reduction in privileges such the ability of hired slaves to keep small portions of fees, a worsening of work conditions, and numerous other individual concerns. After 1800 the most common motivation was probably the threat of sale to the Deep South. Many blacks risked flight rather undergo the perils of the domestic slave trade.

Most runaways were young men fleeing alone. Young women without children ran more often than those with children. The months of April through October saw the most escape attempts, but no single week of the year emboldened more runaways than the days between Christmas Eve and New Year's Day because owners were distracted and supervision was relaxed. Though some made clandestine use of railway and water vessels, most runaways fled on foot. While at large and on the move, runaways stayed close to roads, rivers, and other normal routes, and traveled mainly at night. Many made use of family and friends on nearby plantations, or in towns and cities. Fugitives also generally helped themselves to provisions (food, clothing, sometimes money) before leaving, but when these ran out, they foraged in the woods, relied on the kindness of people encountered along the way, and even pilfered barns and storehouses to survive. Many fugitives even found short-term employment from whomever might be willing to hire a person of undetermined status with no questions asked.

Maryland fugitives generally tried to reach urban environments (Washington, DC, Frederick, Baltimore, Philadelphia) where they might disappear into free black populations. As northern states abolished slavery during the early 1800s, however, Maryland runaways and others sought to reach free territory, including, by the 1830s, Canada, where they believed the threat of recapture was much less.

Although creativity, perseverance, and good fortune were traits of successful runaways, those pursuing fugitives were not without advantages. For example, because of indifference and unreliable support in recapturing runaways early on, by the late seventeenth century Maryland laws mandated that sheriffs, constables, and even citizens cooperate in recapturing fugitives. Federal support came first in the late eighteenth century and was greatly strengthened in 1850 by the Fugitive Slave Law. Any black person found without direct white supervision was treated as a runaway unless she or he could provide a legitimate reason. Advertisements alerted the public to fugitives' names and physical characteristics, when and from where they had run, whom they knew in the area, and most importantly, what the owner would pay for their return. Even in the northern free states, local marshals taking fugitives before a magistrate received a greater reward ($10) if an apprehended black turned out to be an escaped slave than if he or she was free and could prove it ($5). Marshals who failed to arrest a fugitive slave, or permitted one to escape, were fined $1,000.

Most runaway attempts were unsuccessful, and the price of failure could be terrible for runaways and for those who attempted to help them. Punishments for free blacks and whites convicted of aiding runaways could be severe. Even unwitting ship captains and train conductors faced fines or jail for not knowing who traveled with them. Every town and hamlet in the state had a jail, and many had slave pens designated specifically to house runaways. Once captured, most slaves were returned to their legal owners, who might administer a variety of punishments. Many runaways, especially repeat offenders, were sold at auction to South-bound slave dealers, never to see their families again.

The Abolitionist Movement of the mid-nineteenth century, with its "underground railroad," focused the nation's attention on slavery to a much greater degree than earlier attempts to end the institution had done. Before the national debate gave way to sectional conflict and civil war, fugitives from slavery found both more allies and more obstacles in their path. Wartime measures such as the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia (April 1862) and the Emancipation Proclamation (January 1863), did not directly affect Maryland blacks, but they did encourage slaves to flee, creating what scholar W. E. B. DuBois called a "general strike" of the enslaved workers. By May 1863, the federal government had also begun to recruit black soldiers, the United States Colored Troops (USCT), for the Union army. Recruiters promised freedom to slaves who enlisted, further encouraging flight.

In the two centuries of slavery in Maryland, many runaways managed to remain at large and might be said to have succeeded in becoming free. Yet freedom for runaways seldom brought peace, as fugitives always lived in fear of recapture and return to slavery.

The National Park Service's Underground Railroad Theme Study (1998) estimated the number of successful escapes for the nation for the years 1790-1860 at 100,000, or about 1,500 per year.

Written by David Taft Terry for the Maryland Online Encyclopedia..

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Free Black Men and Women in Maryland

Free Blacks in Maryland

From the seventeenth century on there was a growing free black population in Maryland. This population grew quickly in the antebellum years. African Americans were usually emancipated for diligent work, good conduct, familial connections, or commendable service. At other times white owners experienced a change of heart, an attack of conscience, or, in the case of Quaker meetings, freed their slaves in following their religion.

The methods for manumission in Maryland included court actions, instructions in owners' wills, self-purchase, purchase of one's own family member's freedom with money earned when hired out, governmental decrees, or rewards for military service. In Maryland, according to acts of 1697 and 1692, the law declared that children followed the condition of their mother. Thus, when children were born to a free mother, they were free also.

In 1752, the population of Baltimore County included 166 mulatto slaves, 96 free mulattoes, 4,027 black slaves and eight free blacks. The census of 1790 recorded that about eight thousand free blacks lived in the state at that time. The free black population was concentrated in northern and western Maryland.

In 1830, the free black population was just under 53,000, about 12 percent of Maryland's population, according to the U.S. Census. That meant that about one-third of the entire Maryland African American population in Maryland was free.

Free blacks generally were not accorded the same privileges as white citizens. Maryland changed its laws relating to free blacks depending on the political climate. For a brief period some free blacks had the right to vote, but the law was later rescinded. Blacks could not carry firearms or testify against whites in court.

Free blacks—especially children—lived under the threat of being beaten or kidnapped by whites who would sell them into slavery. One reason whites formed the Maryland Abolition Society was to try to protect free blacks from kidnappers. Maryland passed and repealed several laws prohibiting blacks from assembling or carrying firearms. Maryland county governments often vacillated about the right of free blacks to hold and bequeath property. Whites often sought to restrict the type of work blacks could do because they did not want to compete with them. At various times the Maryland Assembly tried to pass laws prohibiting blacks from reading abolitionist literature, operating boats, obtaining licenses for pedaling, participating in certain trades, or having or driving hacks, carts or drays. There was also an effort keep free blacks from owning dogs. Slaveholders' motive for many of the laws, particularly those prohibiting free blacks from owning conveyances, was to prevent them from aiding runaway slaves.

In spite of numerous restrictions, free blacks in Maryland formed their own churches, schools, benevolent societies, and businesses. By 1847 there were at least thirteen black churches in Baltimore alone. Many churches were a part of larger denominations which met periodically in various states to discuss both religious and political matters.

The 1850 Census indicates that over 50 percent of Maryland free blacks could read and/or write. Free persons of color worked as domestics, small farmers, innkeepers, street vendors, ship caulkers, stevedores, sailors and boatmen, draymen, barbers, teamsters, blacksmiths, and liverymen. Blacks who had purchased their freedom were usually able to do so because they had earned money with their skilled labor.

Some free blacks, like astronomer Benjamin Banneker and preacher Daniel Coker, were able to record their own experiences. Banneker published an almanac and aided in the survey of the Federal District, later to become the District of Columbia. Coker became one of the first emigrants to return to Africa with the American Colonization Society.

Written by Debra Newman Ham for the Maryland Online Encyclopedia..

Friday, February 3, 2017

Ex-slave Angeline Lester, about 90, Ohio, Remembers 19C America


About slavery during the 19th century, Angeline related that after the war a celebration was held in Benevolence. Georgia; and Angeline said it was here she first tested a roasted piece of meat...The following Sunday, the negroes were called to their master's house where they were told they were free, and those who wished, could go, and the others could stay and he would pay them a fair wage, but if they left they could take only the clothing on their back. Angeline said, "We couldn't tote away much clothes, because we were only given one pair of shoes and two dresses a year."

Slave Narratives: A Folk History of Slavery in the United States from Interviews with Former Slaves.
Photo from 20th century.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

President Thomas Jefferson & Slavery

Thomas Jefferson by Charles Peale Polk

Thomas Jefferson inherited many slaves. His wife brought a dowry of more than 100 slaves, & he purchased many more throughout his life. At some periods of time, he was one of the largest slaveowners in Virginia. In 1790, Thomas Jefferson gave his newly married daughter & her husband 1000 acres of land & 25 slaves. (Miller)  In 1798, Thomas Jefferson owned 141 slaves, many of them elderly. Two years later he owned 93. (Bigelow, p 537.)

One of Thomas Jefferson’s slaves was Sally Hemings, allegedly the half-sister of his deceased wife. During Thomas Jefferson’s presidency a rumor appeared in print that Sally Hemings was his mistress. Thomas Jefferson denied this story, which was also passed on as Hemings family tradition. The youngest of Heming’s 6 children (the only one whose paternity can be traced through DNA) definitely descended from the Jefferson line, presumably either through Thomas Jefferson, his brother Randolph, or one of Randolph’s sons. Thomas Jefferson was in the vicinity of Sally Hemings during each period of conception. (See Miller, p 148-176.)

Thomas Jefferson freed one of Heming’s children & allowed another to run away unpursued. Both of them were light enough to successfully pass for white. (See Miller, p 165.)

Thomas Jefferson freed 5 slaves in his will, all members of the Hemings family. Sally was not among them. 130 slaves were sold, when Thomas Jefferson”s estate was auctioned off. (See Stanton 94-96.) Thomas Jefferson’s daughter Martha freed Sally Hemings years later. (See Miller, p 168.)

When Jefferson's estate was auctioned off at his death, 130 slaves were sold

c 1770: "I made one effort in (the Virginia legislature about 1770) for the permission of the emancipation of slaves, which was rejected: and indeed, during the regal government, nothing liberal could expect success." (published in 1821. ) (Jefferson, 1984, p 5.)

1774: "The abolition of domestic slavery is the great object of desire in those colonies (America), where it was unhappily introduced in their infant state. But previous to the enfranchisement of the slaves we have, it is necessary to exclude all further importations from Africa…" (Jefferson, 1984, p 115.)

1776: "(King George III) has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms against us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of  another.” - from Thomas Jefferson's draft of the Declaration of Independence. This paragraph was voted down by the Congressional Congress. (Jefferson, 1984, p 22.)

1778: “I brought a bill to prevent (the slave’s) further importation (to Virginia). This passed without opposition, and stopped the increase of the evil by importation, leaving to future efforts its final eradication.”  (published in 1821.) (Jefferson, 1984, p 34.)

1787: “Under the mild treatment our slaves experience, and their wholesome, though coarse food, this blot in our country increases as fast, or faster, than the whites.” (Jefferson, 1984. p 214.)

1787: Thomas Jefferson discussed his 1777 bill which, if passed, would have eventually freed the slaves of Virginia & deported them: “It will probably be asked, Why not retain and incorporate the blacks into the state…?  Deep rooted prejudices entertained by the whites; ten thousands recollections, by the blacks, of the injuries they have sustained; new provocations; the real distinctions which nature has made; and many other circumstances, will divide us into parties, and produce convulsions which will probably never end but in the extermination of the one or the other race.” (Jefferson, 1984. p 264.)

1787: “I advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind.” (Jefferson, 1984. p 270.)

1787: "There must doubtless be an unhappy influence on the manners of our people produced by the existence of  slavery among us. The whole commerce between master and slave is a perpetual exercise of the most  boisterous passions, the most unremitting despotism on the one part, and degrading submissions on the other... Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that considering numbers, nature and natural means only, a revolution of the wheel of fortune, an exchange of situation, is among possible events: that it may become probable by supernatural interference The Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in such a contest." (Jefferson, 1984. p 288-9)

1787: “This unwillingness (to sell slaves) is for their sake, not my own; because my debts once cleared off, I shall try some plan of making their situation happier, determined to content myself with a small portion of their labor.” (Miller, p 57.)

1800: “We are truly to be pitied!” Thomas Jefferson’s reaction to Gabriel’s Conspiracy, an attempted slave’s uprising in Virginia. (Miller, p 127.)

1807: Thomas Jefferson told an English diplomat that the Blacks were “as far inferior to the rest of mankind as the mule is to the horse, and as made to carry burdens.” (Miller, p 57.)

1807: The Constitution said Congress could not ban the slave trade (that is, importing slaves into the country) until 1808. In March of 1807 Thomas Jefferson recommended, and Congress enacted, such a law to take effect January 1, 1808. (Miller, p145)

c 1814: “The amalgamation of whites with blacks produces a degradation to which no lover of his country, no lover of excellence in the human character, can innocently consent.” (Miller, p 207)

1815: “The slave is to be prepared by instruction and habit for self-government, and for the honest pursuits of industry and social duty. The former must precede the latter.” (Miller, p 253.)

1820: (Discussing slavery) “We have the wolf by the ears and we can neither hold him nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale and self-preservation in the other.” (Miller, p 241)

1821: “Nothing is more certainly written in the book of fate than that these people (slaves) are to be free. Nor is it less certain that the two races, equally free, cannot live in the same government. Nature, habit, opinion has drawn indelible lines of distinction between them.” To the modern mind the first sentence reads like a battle-cry for emancipation. In Jefferson’s context it meant almost the opposite: since emancipation was inevitable, attempting to speed it along it was unnecessary and probably counterproductive. The first sentence is inscribed on the walls of the Jefferson Memorial; the other sentences are not. (Jefferson, 1984. p 44)

1824: Thomas Jefferson discussed his continuing hope that the slaves can be sent to Africa: “To send off the whole of these at once, nobody conceives to be practicable for us, or expedient for them. Let us take twenty-five years for its accomplishment, within which time they will be doubled. Their estimated value as property…must be paid or lost by somebody.” (Jefferson, 1984. p 1485)

This research is done by librarian Rob Lopresti and may be found on his website here..