Reading this book is not depressing, it is not making me feel defeatist, it is reminding me that there is work to be done which has been passed on to me and which I will pass on to those who remain after me. It is making me acutely aware that in order to survive, we as a nation/as the people must consistently do SWOT analysis on our communities and society, just as a corporation does to ensure their survival. SWOT analysis: the lead management team analyzes the company in order to assess which direction the company should head and what their strategy should be for getting there. They assess the company for S
eaknesses and observe the market and the environment for O
pportunities and T
hreats to their endurance.
So, why shouldn’t we as a people consistently do that? The only question is: in what are these SWOT analyses - of, for and by the people - based? Are they based purely in the profit margin? Or are they based in quality of life, in humanity and relationships, in a fundamental respect for the land, species and ecosystems which are key to our enduring survival? What is our modern day compass? What have we allowed the American Dream to morph into and was it ever a worthwhile dream to begin with? I’m asking you.
What are we dealing with today that began even before the 1800’s? Well, perhaps as an example, the under-supported veterans of war who are coming back from Iraq and all of those who are still suffering from the Vietnam and Korean Wars...This article
, published in the reputable newspaper, Street Roots, which was created to build awareness to homelessness and offer work and a revenue flow to those who live in our society without a home, offers a good example of how we still have much work to do.
The following excerpt from A People’s History reveals how that work is nothing new:
“In premodern times, the maldistribution of wealth was accomplished by simple force. In modern times, exploitation is disguised-it is accomplished by law, which has the look of neutrality and fairness. By the time of the Civil War, modernization was well under way in the United States.
With the war over, the urgency of national unity slackened, and ordinary people could turn more to their daily lives, their problems of survival. The disbanded armies now were in the streets, looking for work. In June 1865, Fincher's Trades' Review reported: "As was to be expected, the returned soldiers are flooding the streets already, unable to find employment."
“The cities to which the soldiers returned were death traps of typhus, tuberculosis, hunger, and fire. In New York, 100,000 people lived in the cellars of the slums; 12,000 women worked in houses of prostitution to keep from starving; the garbage, lying 2 feet deep in the streets, was alive with rats. In Philadelphia, while the rich got fresh water from the Schuylkill River, everyone else drank from the Delaware, into which 13 million gallons of sewage were dumped every day. In the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, the tenements fell so fast, one after another, that people said it sounded like an earthquake.”
And we could remember that the 40 hour work week and the 8 hour day were not always in place, the people had to fight for that. Yes, against the millionaires, the “capitalists” and those financial elitist powers that were guiding the government. Zinn says, “In the thirty years leading up to the Civil War, the law was increasingly interpreted in the courts to suit the capitalist development of the country." The people, those doing the work that creates the fortunes for the upper class, have always had to fight in order to gain a hold in government decision making.
"A movement for the eight-hour day began among working people after the war, helped by the formation of the first national federation of unions, the National Labor Union. A three-month strike of 100,000 workers in New York won the eight-hour day, and at a victory celebration in June 1872, 150,000 workers paraded through the city."
"In Fall River, Massachusetts, women weavers formed a union independent of the men weavers. They refused to take a 10 percent wage cut that the men had accepted, struck against three nulls, won the men's support, and brought to a halt 3,500 looms and 156,000 spindles, with 3,200 workers on strike. But their children needed food; they had to return to work, signing an "iron-clad oath" (later called a "yellow-dog contract") not to join a union."
Even in the losses there was success - if the story is remembered, that is, and told and re-told, and if we remember that these are the true heroes and historical figures of our country...
I took a week or so off from reading. I’m back. It is challenging to fit in just seven pages of reading and then on top of that to compose my reflections on it - post a blog. I know that many people who joined this with me at the beginning have stopped reading or at least had to slow way down...I wonder what it would be like if the entire nation were reading this book at the same time...It is not to say that reading this is the only way to awaken us to the significance of our present day situation; the only way to understand how deeply this pattern is engrained in us; to remember the intense efforts that had to be made to get us where we are and the dangers of making light and belittling the current day efforts which must be made to prevent us from regressing; the critical nature of taking us further into ‘progress’, progress that expands beyond the confines of the structures within which we’ve been existing, fighting and renegotiating, for centuries. But, these seven pages about which I am posting today are re-awakening me to many truths that lie dormant in our daily perceptions of life. They are drastically guiding our lives whether we choose to see them or not. They are old truths, the are not new. And I wish more of us were awakened to them. I wish more of us were reading Howard Zinn and the likes.
"The psychology of patriotism, the lure of adventure, the aura of moral crusade created by political leaders, worked effectively to dim class resentments against the rich and powerful, and turn much of the anger against "the enemy." "
And it has happened time and again, even in spite of all of the following:
"Class-consciousness was overwhelmed during the Civil War, both North and South, by military and political unity in the crisis of war. That unity was weaned by rhetoric and enforced by arms. It was a war proclaimed as a war for liberty, but working people would be attacked by soldiers if they dared to strike, Indians would be massacred in Colorado by the U.S. army, and those daring to criticize Lincoln's policies would be put in jail without trial-perhaps thirty thousand political prisoners."
"When recruiting for the army began in July 1863, a mob in New York wrecked the main recruiting station. Then, for three days, crowds of white workers marched through the city, destroying buildings, factories, streetcar lines, homes. The draft riots were complex-antiblack, anti-rich, anti- Republican. From an assault on draft headquarters, the rioters went on to attacks on wealthy homes, then to the murder of blacks. They marched through the streets, forcing factories to close, recruiting more members of the mob. They set the city's colored orphan asylum on fire. They shot, burned, and hanged blacks they found in the streets. Many people were thrown into the rivers to drown."
"On the fourth day, Union troops returning from the Battle of Gettysburg came into the city and stopped the rioting. Perhaps four hundred people were killed. No exact figures have ever been given, but the number of lives lost was greater than in any other incident of domestic violence in American history."
"In the South, beneath the apparent unity of the white Confederacy, there was also conflict. Most whites-two-thirds of them-did not own slaves. A few thousand families made up the plantation elite. The Federal Census of 1850 showed that a thousand southern families at the top of the economy received about $50 million a year income, while all the other families, about 660,000, received about $60 million a year."
"Millions of southern whites were poor farmers, living in shacks or abandoned outhouses, cultivating land so bad the plantation owners had abandoned it. Just before the Civil War, in Jackson, Mississippi, slaves working in a cotton factory received twenty cents a day for board, and white workers at the same factory received thirty cents. A newspaper in North Carolina in August 1855 spoke of "hundreds of thousands of working class families existing upon half-starvation from year to year.""
"Behind the rebel battle yells and the legendary spirit of the Confederate army, there was much reluctance to fight."
"The conscription law of the Confederacy too provided that the rich could avoid service. Did Confederate soldiers begin to suspect they were fighting for the privileges of an elite they could never belong to? In April 1863, there was a bread riot in Richmond. That summer, draft riots occurred in various southern cities. In September, a bread riot in Mobile, Alabama. Georgia Lee Tatum, in her study Disloyalty in the Confederacy, writes: "Before the end of the war, there was much disaffection in every state, and many of the disloyal had formed into bands-in some states into well-organized, active societies.""
"Under the deafening noise of the war, Congress was passing and Lincoln was signing into law a whole series of acts to give business interests what they wanted... The Republican platform of 1860 had been a clear appeal to businessmen. Now Congress in 1861 passed the Morrill Tariff. This made foreign goods more expensive, allowed American manufacturers to raise their prices, and forced American consumers to pay more."
"The following year a Homestead Act was passed. It gave 160 acres of western land, unoccupied and publicly owned, to anyone who would cultivate it for five years. Anyone willing to pay $1.25 an acre could buy a homestead. Few ordinary people had the $200 necessary to do this; speculators moved in and bought up much of the land. Homestead land added up to 50 million acres. But during the Civil War, over 100 million acres were given by Congress and the President to various railroads, free of charge. Congress also set up a national bank, putting the government into partnership with the banking interests, guaranteeing their profits."
"More important, perhaps, than the federal laws passed by Congress for the benefit of the rich were the day-to-day operations of local and state laws for the benefit of landlords and merchants. Gustavus Myers, in his History of the Great American Fortunes, comments on this in discussing the growth of the Astor family's fortune, much of it out of the rents of New York tenements:
Is it not murder when, compelled by want, people are forced to fester in squalid, germ-filled tenements, where the sunlight never enters and where disease finds a prolific breeding-place? Untold thousands went to their deaths in these unspeakable places. Yet, so far as the' Law was concerned, the rents collected by the Astors, as well as by other landlords, were honestly made. The whole institution of Law saw nothing out of the way in these conditions, and very significantly so, because, to repeat over and over again, Law did not represent the ethics or ideals of advanced humanity; it exactly reflected, as a pool reflects the sky, the demands and self-interest of the growing propertied classes..."
RALLIES, MEETINGS and RIOTS in response to the crisis of 1837, when banks refused to pay hard money for the bank notes they had issued...
"In New York, members of the Equal Rights party (often called the Locofocos) announced a meeting: "Bread, Meat, Rent, and Fuel! Their prices must come down! The people will meet in the Park, rain or shine, at 4 o'clock, P.M. on Monday afternoon.... All friends of humanity determined to resist monopolists and extortioners are invited to attend." The Commercial Register, a New York newspaper, reported on the meeting and what followed:
At 4 o'clock, a concourse of several thousands had convened in front of the City Hall.. .. One of these orators ... is reported to have expressly directed the popular vengeance against Mr. EH Hart, who is one of our most extensive flour dealers on commission. "Fellow citizens!" he exclaimed, "Mr. Hart has now 53,000 barrels of flour in his store; let us go and offer him eight dollars a barrel, and if he does not take it..." A large body of the meeting moved off in the direction of Mr. Hart's store . . . the middle door had been forced, and some twenty or thirty barrels of flour or more, rolled into the streets, and the heads staved in. At this point of time, Mr. Hart himself arrived on the ground, with a posse of officers from the police. The officers were assailed by a portion of the mob in Dey Street, their staves wrested from them, and shivered to pieces...
"Barrels of flour, by dozens, fifties and hundreds were tumbled into the street from the doors, and thrown in rapid succession from the windows... . About one thousand bushels of wheat, and four or five hundred barrels of flour, were thus wantonly and foolishly as well as wickedly destroyed. The most active of the destructionists were foreigners-indeed the greater part of the assemblage was of exotic origin, but there were probably five hundred or a thousand others, standing by and abetting their incendiary labors."
"Amidst the falling and bursting of the barrels and sacks of wheat, numbers of women were engaged, like the crones who strip the dead in battle, filling the boxes and baskets with which they were provided, and their aprons, with flour, and making off with it.... "
"Night had now closed upon the scene, but the work of destruction did not cease until strong bodies of police arrived, followed, soon afterward, by detachments of troops..."
This was the Flour Riot of 1837. During the crisis of that year, 50,000 persons (one-third of the working class) were without work in New York City alone, and 200,000 (of a population of 500,000) were living, as one observer put it, "in utter and hopeless distress."
There is no complete record of the meetings, riots, actions, organized and disorganized, violent and nonviolent, which took place in the mid-nineteenth century, as the country grew, as the cities became crowded, with working conditions bad, living conditions intolerable, with the economy in the hands of bankers, speculators, landlords, merchants.
NEW IMMIGRATION, THE WORKING CLASS and RACISM
"The immigrants from Ireland, fleeing starvation there when the potato crop failed, were coming to America now, packed into old sailing ships. The stories of these ships differ only in detail from the accounts of the ships that earlier brought black slaves and later German, Italian, Russian immigrants."
"How could these new Irish immigrants, themselves poor and despised, become sympathizers with the black slave, who was becoming more and more the center of attention, the subject of agitation in the country? Indeed, most working-class activists at this time ignored the plight of blacks. Ely Moore, a New York trade union leader elected to Congress, argued in the House of Representatives against receiving abolitionist petitions. Racist hostility became an easy substitute for class frustration."
"On the other hand, a white shoemaker wrote in 1848 in the Awl, the newspaper of Lynn shoe factory workers:
... we are nothing but a standing army that keeps three million of our brethren in bondage.. .Living under the shade of Bunker Hill monument, demanding in the name of humanity, our right, and withholding those rights from others because their skin is black! Is it any wonder that God in his righteous anger has punished us by forcing us to drink the bitter cup of degradation.
I spent the day at an annual celebration in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. I decided, rather than the 7 pages of the reading, to dedicate today's post to him and to all the people that stood with him insisting upon the evolution of our society to one that reflects, in our actions, the humanity that we, in our speeches and our documents, declare as our guiding force. Thankfully, the host of the celebration, D.L. Richardson, reminded us of the importance of remembering that it is never just one person that creates change...that there were many invaluable participants and leaders in the Civil Rights movement. He introduced us to a great civil rights leader, rarely heard of, who was, he said, "barely 5 foot tall," but whose presence felt far above 10 feet. This man was Alabama civil rights leader Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth
. Richardson told us the story of Shuttlesworth being in the hospital from a water hose wound inflicted when the police said out loud "let's get the Reverend"
and proceeded to aim at him, throwing him face first against a stone wall. While he was in the hospital, he heard that President John Kennedy had made a call to put an end to the 1963 Birmingham marches where he had been injured. He got up from his hospital bed and took himself to the "headquarters" to speak with the officials and said, "This is a fire that cannot be put out."
To honor Martin Luther King Jr. and Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and all that is done in the name of what they stood for, I have included a video about MLK's rarely heard of efforts to educate around and eliminate poverty. And I leave you with the words of Tecumseh which were chosen and read by Delanna Studi
this afternoon at the MLK day celebration at the Armory in Ashland, Oregon:
Words from Chief Tecumseh, leader of the Shawnee (March 1768 – October 5, 1813):
"So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and
Demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life,
Beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and
Its purpose in the service of your people.Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend,
Even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and
Bow to none. When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the food and
For the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks,
The fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and nothing,
For abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts
Are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes
They weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again
In a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home
This is a video clip of Martin Luther King Jr. in the final months of his life during which he began his Poor People’s Campaign, “We believe the highest patriotism demands the ending of the war and the opening of a bloodless war to final victory over racism and poverty”
Is it true? Can it be said? That we as Americans, historically and to this day, focus too much/for our inspiration depend on knowing of and attaching ourselves to heroic leaders rather than people’s struggles and the "small" victories, the progress, that comes from their unity?
This post is mostly all excerpts from the reading. This chapter is easily relatable and invaluable information to the current revolution
taking place in our country and all over the world...you can read the entire chapter, here
. I respectfully implore that you do so..
“The stories of the Anti-Renter movement and Dorr's Rebellion are not usually found in textbooks on United States history. In these books, given to millions of young Americans, there is little on class struggle in the nineteenth century. The period before and after the Civil War is filled with politics, elections, slavery, and the race question. Even where specialized books on the Jacksonian period deal with labor and economic issues they center on the presidency, and thus perpetuate the traditional dependency on heroic leaders rather than people's struggles.”
“Andrew Jackson said he spoke for "the humble members of society- the farmer, mechanics and laborers... ." He certainly did not speak for the Indians being pushed off their lands, or slaves. But the tensions aroused by the developing factory system, the growing immigration, required that the government develop a mass base of support among whites. "Jacksonian Democracy" did just that.”
“Jackson was the first President to master the liberal rhetoric-to speak for the common man. This was a necessity for political victory when the vote was being demanded-as in Rhode Island-by more and more people, and state legislatures were loosening voting restrictions...
It was the new politics of ambiguity-speaking for the lower and middle classes to get their support in times of rapid growth and potential turmoil. The two-party system came into its own in this time. To give people a choice between two different parties and allow them, in a period of rebellion, to choose the slightly more democratic one was an ingenious mode of control.”
“Such new forms of political control were needed in the turbulence of growth, the possibility of rebellion. Now there were canals, railroads, the telegraph. In 1790, fewer than a million Americans lived in cities; in 1840 the figure was 11 million. New York had 130,000 people in 1820, a million by 1860.”
“In Philadelphia, working-class families lived fifty-five to a tenement, usually one room per family, with no garbage removal, no toilets, no fresh air or water. There was fresh water newly pumped from the Schuylkill River, but it was going to the homes of the rich.”
“In New York you could see the poor lying in the streets with the garbage. There were no sewers in the slums, and filthy water drained into yards and alleys, into the cellars where the poorest of the poor lived, bringing with it a typhoid epidemic in 1837, typhus in 1842. In the cholera epidemic of 1832, the rich fled the city; the poor stayed and died.”
“These poor could not be counted on as political allies of the government. But they were there-like slaves, or Indians-invisible ordinarily, a menace if they rose. Also, there was the new urban white-collar worker, born in the rising commerce of the time, described by Thomas Cochran and William Miller (The Age of Enterprise):“Dressed in drab alpaca, hunched over a high desk, this new worker credited and debited, indexed and filed, wrote and stamped invoices, acceptances, bills of lading, receipts. Adequately paid, he had some extra money and leisure time. He patronized sporting events and theaters, savings banks and insurance companies. he read Day's New York Sun or Bennett's Herald-the "penny press" supported by advertising, filled with police reports, crime stories, etiquette advice for the rising bourgeoisie...”
“This was the advance guard of a growing class of white-collar workers and professionals in America who would be wooed enough and paid enough to consider themselves members of the bourgeois class, and to give support to that class in times of crisis.
Here, the Boston rich are described by Thomas Cochran and William Miller (The Age of Enterprise):Living sumptuously on Beacon Hill, admired by their neighbors for their philanthropy and their patronage of art and culture, these men traded in State Street while overseers ran their factories, managers directed their railroads, agents sold their water power and real estate. They were absentee landlords in the most complete sense. Uncontaminated by the diseases of the factory town, they were also protected from hearing the complaints of their workers or suffering mental depression from dismal and squalid surroundings. In the metropolis, art, literature, education, science, flowered in the Golden Day; in the industrial towns children went to work with their fathers and mothers, schools and doctors were only promises, a bed of one's own was a rare luxury.”
Chapter 10: The Other Civil War
...and so, I am being reminded, you see, that our progress as a nation in moving towards a truly United Peoples of the Land, has always been guided by powerful uprisings. By 'the people' taking note of the seemingly invisible forces that are determining their basic well being (in Economics they have the term “the invisible hand” that shifts the direction of markets and affects demand...) Those forces which are deciding how, when and whether the basic needs of the people are met and which/who are generally valuing 'the people' as, not equal, but of lesser value. The people have had to unite and resist and declare in order to flush out the hidden hierarchies and demand that the value of their labors be reflected in the economic governing...that the people have the majority of place in the governing...that the lust for property, power and expansion by those who already control the land, the power and the expansion be extinguished, and in its place: respect, harmony, equality, justness, liberty and happiness for all...progress is not, as in the concept of heaven and hell, the flip side of a coin, a total reversal in one clearly discernible instant. It is not marked by an arrival into Utopia...It is an important step along the way of many steps. These steps are not only our own in this particular life, but the steps of many who came before us and the many who will come after. There is a path that connects from the end of one person's life, to the beginning of yours, and then connects from the end of yours to the beginning of another. What a great tragedy if we forget that each our paths is critical to the continuation of progress; if we do not take the time to consider and feel what true progress is and therefore, what our true and critical role in it is, what our path is...
“A sheriff in the Hudson River Valley near Albany, New York, about to go into the hills in the fall of 1839 to collect back rents from tenants on the enormous Rensselaer estate, was handed a letter:
... the tenants have organized themselves into a body, and resolved not to pay any more rent until they can be redressed of their grievances. . . . The tenants now assume the right of doing to their landlord as he has for a long time done with them, viz: as they please.
You need not think this to be children's play... . if you come out in your official capacity ... I would not pledge for your safe return. ... A Tenant.
When a deputy arrived in the farming area with writs demanding the rent, farmers suddenly appeared, assembled by the blowing of tin horns. They seized his writs and burned them.”
“That December, a sheriff and a mounted posse of five hundred rode into the farm country, but found themselves in the midst of shrieking tin horns, eighteen hundred farmers blocking their path, six hundred more blocking their rear, all mounted, armed with pitchforks and clubs. The sheriff and his posse turned back, the rear guard parting to let them through.”
“This was the start of the Anti-Renter movement in the Hudson Valley, described by Henry Christman in Tin Horns and Calico. It was a protest against the patroonship system, which went back to the 1600s when the Dutch ruled New York, a system where (as Christman describes it) "a few families, intricately intermarried, controlled the destinies of three hundred thousand people and ruled in almost kingly splendor near two million acres of land.””
“The tenants paid taxes and rents. The largest manor was owned by the Rensselaer family, which ruled over about eighty thousand tenants and had accumulated a fortune of $41 million. The landowner, as one sympathizer of the tenants put it, could "swill his wine, loll on his cushions, fill his life with society, food, and culture, and ride his barouche and five saddle horses along the beautiful river valley and up to the backdrop of the mountain.””
"The North, it must be recalled, did not have to undergo a revolution in its thinking to accept the subordination of the Negro. When the Civil War ended, nineteen of the twenty-four northern states did not allow blacks to vote. By 1900, all the southern states, in new constitutions and new statutes, had written into law the disfranchisement and segregation of Negroes, and a New York Times editorial said: "Northern men ... no longer denounce the suppression of the Negro vote.. . . The necessity of it under the supreme law of self-preservation is candidly recognized." "
While not written into law in the North, the counterpart in racist thought and practice was there. An item in the Boston Transcript, September 25, 1895:
"A colored man who gives his name as Henry W. Turner was arrested last night on suspicion of being A highway robber. He was taken this morning to Black's studio, where he had his picture taken for the ''Rogue's Gallery". That angered him, and he made himself as disagreeable as he possibly could. Several times along the way to the photographer's he resisted the police with all his might, and had to be clubbed. "
"In this atmosphere it was no wonder that those Negro leaders most accepted in white society, like the educator Booker T. Washington, a one-time White House guest of Theodore Roosevelt, urged Negro political passivity. Invited by the white organizers of the Cotton States and International Exposition in Atlanta in 1895 to speak, Washington urged the southern Negro to "cast down your bucket where you are"-that is, to stay in the South, to be farmers, mechanics, domestics, perhaps even to attain to the professions. He urged white employers to hire Negroes rather than immigrants of "strange tongue and habits." Negroes, "without strikes and labor wars," were the "most patient, faithful, law-abiding and unresentful people that the world has seen." He said: "The wisest among my race understand that the agitation of questions of social equality is the extremest folly." "
"Perhaps Washington saw this as a necessary tactic of survival in a time of hangings and burnings of Negroes throughout the South, It was a low point for black people in America. Thomas Fortune, a young black editor of the New York Globe, testified before a Senate committee in 1883 about the situation of the Negro in the United States. He spoke of "widespread poverty," of government betrayal, of desperate Negro attempts to educate themselves."
"...Many Negroes fled. About six thousand black people left Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi and migrated to Kansas to escape violence and poverty. Frederick Douglass and some other leaders thought this was a wrong tactic, but migrants rejected such advice. "We have found no leader to trust but God overhead of us," one said. Henry Adams, another black migrant, illiterate, a veteran of the Union army, told a Senate committee in 1880 why he left Shreveport, Louisiana: "We seed that the whole South - every state in the South - had got into the hands of the very men that held us slaves."
"Even in the worst periods, southern Negroes continued to meet, to organize in self-defense. Herbert Aptheker reprints thirteen documents of meetings, petitions, and appeals of Negroes in the 1880s - in Baltimore, Louisiana, the Carolinas, Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Kansas - showing the spirit of defiance and resistance of blacks all over the South. This, in the face of over a hundred lynchings a year by this time."
"Despite the apparent hopelessness of this situation, there were black leaders who thought Booker T. Washington wrong in advocating caution and moderation. John Hope, a young black man in Georgia, who heard Washington's Cotton Exposition speech, told students at a Negro college in Nashville, Tennessee:
"If we are not striving for equality, in heaven's name for what are we living? I regard it as cowardly and dishonest for any of our colored men to tell white people or colored people that we are not struggling for equality. . . . Yes, my friends, I want equality. Nothing less. . . . Now catch your breath, for I am going to use an adjective: I am going to say we demand social equality.... I am no wild beast, nor am I an unclean thing. Rise, Brothers! Come let us possess this land. ... Be discontented. Be dissatisfied. ... Be as restless as the tempestuous billows on the boundless sea. Let your discontent break mountain-high against the wall of prejudice, and swamp it to the very foundation...""
"Another black man, who came to teach at Atlanta University, W. E. B. Du Bois, saw the late- nineteenth-century betrayal of the Negro as part of a larger happening in the United States, something happening not only to poor blacks but to poor whites. In his book Black Reconstruction, written in 1935, he said:
"God wept; but that mattered little to an unbelieving age; what mattered most was that the world wept and still is weeping and blind with tears and blood. For there began to rise in America in 1876 a new capitalism and a new enslavement of labor.""
Photo is of Frances E.W. Harper
“Henry MacNeal Turner
, who had escaped from peonage on a South Carolina plantation at the age of fifteen, taught himself to read and write, read law books while a messenger in a lawyer's office in Baltimore, and medical books while a handyman in a Baltimore medical school, served as chaplain to a Negro regiment, and then was elected to the first postwar legislature of Georgia. In 1868, the Georgia legislature voted to expel all its Negro members-two senators, twenty-five representatives- and Turner spoke to the Georgia House of Representatives:“Mr. Speaker.. . . I wish the members of this House to understand the position that I take. I hold that I am a member of this body. Therefore, sir, I shall neither fawn or cringe before any party, nor stoop to beg them for my rights. .. . I am here to demand my rights, and to hurl thunderbolts at the men who would dare to cross the threshold of my manhood. . . .The scene presented in this House, today, is one unparalleled in the history of the world.... Never, in the history of the world, has a man been arraigned before a body clothed with legislative, judicial or executive functions, charged with the offense of being of a darker hue than his fellow-men. ... it has remained for the State of Georgia, in the very heart of the nineteenth century, to call a man before the bar, and there charge him with an act for which he is no more responsible than for the head which he carries upon his shoulders. The Anglo-Saxon race, sir, is a most surprising one.... I was not aware that there was in the character of that race so much cowardice, or so much pusillanimity. ... I tell you, sir, that this is a question which will not the today. This event shall be remembered by posterity for ages yet to come, and while the sun shall continue to climb the hills of heaven..... . . we are told mat if black men want to speak, they must speak through white trumpets; if black men want their sentiments expressed, they must be adulterated and sent through white messengers, who will quibble, and equivocate, and evade, as rapidly as me pendulum of a clock.. . .The great question, sir is this: Am I a man? If I am such, I claim the rights of a man.. . .Why, sir, though we are not white, we have accomplished much. We have pioneered civilization here; we have built up your country; we have worked in your fields, and garnered your harvests, for two hundred and fifty years! And what do we ask of you in return? Do we ask you for compensation for the sweat our fathers bore for you-for the rears you have caused, and the hearts you have broken, and the lives you have curtailed, and the blood you have spilled? Do we ask retaliation? We ask it not. We are willing to let the dead past bury its dead; but we ask you now for our RIGHTS. .. .””
“As black children went to school, they were encouraged by teachers, black and white, to express themselves freely, sometimes in catechism style. The records of a school in Louisville, Kentucky:TEACHER
Now children, you don't think white people are any better than you because they have straight hair and white faces?STUDENTS
No, they are no better, but they are different, they possess great power, they formed this great government, they control this vast country. . . . Now what makes them different from you?STUDENTS
Yes, but what enabled them to obtain it? How did they get money?STUDENTS
Got it off us, stole it off we all!”
Is this a sign of strong character; of an upstanding, selfless human being, to, as President Abraham Lincoln did: be able to “distinguish between his “personal wish” and his “official duty”?
"In July, Congress passed a Confiscation Act, which enabled the freeing of slaves of those fighting the Union. But this was not enforced by the Union generals, and Lincoln ignored the non-enforcement."
“An exchange of letters between Lincoln and Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, in August of 1862, gave Lincoln a chance to express his views. Greeley wrote:
“Dear Sir. I do not intrude to tell you-for you must know already-that a great proportion of those who triumphed in your election ... are sorely disappointed and deeply pained by the policy you seem to be pursuing with regard to the slaves of rebels,... We require of you, as the first servant of the Republic, charged especially and preeminently with this duty, that you EXECUTE THE LAWS. ... We think you are strangely and disastrously remiss . .. with regard to the emancipating provisions of the new Confiscation Act....
We think you are unduly influenced by the councils ... of certain politicians hailing from the Border Slave States.””
“Lincoln had already shown his attitude by his failure to countermand an order of one of his commanders, General Henry Halleck, who forbade fugitive Negroes to enter his army's lines. Now he replied to Greeley:
“Dear Sir: ... I have not meant to leave any one in doubt. .. . My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy Slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could do it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. What I do about Slavery and the colored race, I do because it helps to save this Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. . .. I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty, and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men, everywhere, could be free. Yours. A. Lincoln.””
And as such, “... Lincoln distinguished between his "personal wish" and his "official duty."
Abraham Lincoln, our 16th President, "refused to denounce the Fugitive Slave Law publicly. He wrote to a friend: "I confess I hate to see the poor creatures hunted down . .. but I bite my lips and keep quiet." "