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Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:21 PM

Why Do So Few Blacks Study the Civil War?

In my seventh-grade year, my school took a bus trip from our native Baltimore to Gettys­burg, Pennsylvania, the sanctified epicenter of American tragedy. It was the mid-’80s, when educators in our inner cities, confronted by the onslaught of crack, Saturday Night Specials, and teen pregnancy, were calling on all hands for help—even the hands of the departed.

Preposterous notions abounded. Black people talked openly of covert plots evidenced by skyrocketing murder rates and the plague of HIV. Conscious people were quick to glean, from the cascade of children murdered over Air Jordans, something still darker—the work of warlocks who would extinguish all hope for our race. The stratagem of these shadow forces was said to be amnesia: they would have us see no past greatness in ourselves, and thus no future glory. And so it was thought that a true history, populated by a sable nobility and punctuated by an ensemble of Negro “firsts,” might be the curative for black youth who had no aspirations beyond the corner.

The attempt was gallant. It enlisted every field, from the arts (Phillis Wheatley) to the sciences (Charles Drew). Each February—known since 1976 as Black History Month­—trivia contests rewarded those who could recall the inventions of Garrett A. Morgan, the words of Sojourner Truth, or the wizard hands of Daniel Hale Williams. At my middle school, classes were grouped into teams, each of them named for a hero (or a “shero,” in the jargon of the time) of our long-suffering, yet magnificent, race. I was on the (Thurgood) Marshall team. Even our field trips felt invested with meaning—the favored destination was Baltimore’s National Great Blacks in Wax Museum, where our pantheon was rendered lifelike by the disciples of Marie Tussaud.

Given this near-totemic reverence for black history, my trip to Gettys­burg—the site of the ultimate battle in a failed war to protect and extend slavery—should cut like a lighthouse beam across the sea of memory. But when I look back on those years when black history was seen as tangible, as an antidote for the ills of the street, and when I think on my first visit to America’s original hallowed ground, all is fog.



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Reply Why Do So Few Blacks Study the Civil War? (Original post)
DemocratSinceBirth Dec 2012 OP
snot Dec 2012 #1
DemocratSinceBirth Dec 2012 #2
OldDem2012 Dec 2012 #3
DemocratSinceBirth Dec 2012 #4
Igel Dec 2012 #5
niyad Dec 2012 #6

Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:35 PM

1. K&R'd – excellent article; thanks!

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Response to snot (Reply #1)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 12:39 PM

2. I Love How He Demolishes The Myth That The Main Cause Of The War

I love how he demolishes the myth that the main cause of the war wasn't because some folks wanted to own other folks.

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 01:54 PM

3. Excellent article! I offer a few thoughts....

....to consider because it was not just the South who imported slaves and legalized the practice. This totally reprehensible practice was widespread throughout the early American Colonies.

Coates wrote the following:

For African Americans, war commenced not in 1861, but in 1661, when the Virginia Colony began passing America’s first black codes, the charter documents of a slave society that rendered blacks a permanent servile class and whites a mass aristocracy.

Actually, slavery in the American Colonies began much earlier than 1661. This timeline is from the PBS program entitled Slavery and the Making of America:

At Jamestown, Virginia, approximately 20 captive Africans are sold into slavery in the British North American colonies.

The first commercial tobacco crop is raised in Jamestown, Virginia.

The Dutch West India Company imports 11 black male slaves into the New Netherlands.

Colonial North America's slave trade begins when the first American slave carrier, Desire, is built and launched in Massachusetts.

John Punch, a runaway black servant, is sentenced to servitude for life. His two white companions are given extended terms of servitude. Punch is the first documented slave for life.

New Netherlands law forbids residents from harboring or feeding runaway slaves.

The D'Angola marriage is the first recorded marriage between blacks in New Amsterdam.

Massachusetts is the first colony to legalize slavery.

The New England Confederation of Plymouth, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Haven adopts a fugitive slave law.

Connecticut legalizes slavery.

Rhode Island passes laws restricting slavery and forbidding enslavement for more than 10 years.

Massachusetts requires all black and Indian servants to receive military training.

A Virginia court grants blacks the right to hold slaves.

Virginia passes a fugitive slave law.

Charles II, King of England, orders the Council of Foreign Plantations to devise strategies for converting slaves and servants to Christianity.

Virginia enacts a law of hereditary slavery meaning that a child born to an enslaved mother inherits her slave status.

Massachusetts reverses a ruling dating back to 1652 that allowed blacks to train in arms. New York, Connecticut, and New Hampshire pass similar laws restricting the bearing of arms.

In Gloucester County, Virginia, the first documented slave rebellion in the colonies takes place.

Maryland legalizes slavery.

Charles II, King of England, gives the Carolinas to proprietors. Until the 1680s, most settlers in the region are small landowners from Barbados.

New York and New Jersey legalize slavery.

Maryland is the first colony to take legal action against marriages between white women and black men.

The State of Maryland mandates lifelong servitude for all black slaves. New York, New Jersey, the Carolinas, and Virginia all pass similar laws.

Maryland passes a fugitive slave law.

Virginia declares that Christian baptism will not alter a person's status as a slave.

New Jersey passes a fugitive slave law.

The State of Virginia prohibits free blacks and Indians from keeping Christian (i.e. white) servants.

New York declares that blacks who convert to Christianity after their enslavement will not be freed.

In Virginia, black slaves and black and white indentured servants band together to participate in Bacon's Rebellion.

The State of Virginia forbids blacks and slaves from bearing arms, prohibits blacks from congregating in large numbers, and mandates harsh punishment for slaves who assault Christians or attempt escape.

Virginia declares that all imported black servants are slaves for life.

New York makes it illegal for slaves to sell goods.

The Pennsylvania Quakers pass the first formal antislavery resolution.

Virginia passes the first anti-miscegenation law, forbidding marriages between whites and blacks or whites and Native Americans.

Virginia prohibits the manumission of slaves within its borders. Manumitted slaves are forced to leave the colony.

South Carolina passes the first comprehensive slave codes.

Rice cultivation is introduced into Carolina. Slave importation increases dramatically.

The Royal African Trade Company loses its monopoly and New England colonists enter the slave trade.

Pennsylvania legalizes slavery.

New York passes An Act for Regulating Slaves. Among the prohibitions of this act are meetings of more than three slaves, trading by slaves, and testimony by slaves in court.

Massachusetts requires every master who liberates a slave to pay a bond of 50 pounds or more in case the freedman becomes a public charge.

Connecticut assigns the punishment of whipping to any slaves who disturb the peace or assault whites.

Rhode Island makes it illegal for blacks and Indians to walk at night without passes.

The Virginia Slave Code codifies slave status, declaring all non-Christian servants entering the colony to be slaves. It defines all slaves as real estate, acquits masters who kill slaves during punishment, forbids slaves and free colored peoples from physically assaulting white persons, and denies slaves the right to bear arms or move abroad without written permission.

New York declares that punishment by execution will be applied to certain runaway slaves.

Massachusetts makes marriage and sexual relations between blacks and whites illegal.

New York declares blacks, Indians, and slaves who kill white people to be subject to the death penalty.

Connecticut requires that Indians, mulattos, and black servants gain permission from their masters to engage in trade.

The Southern colonies require militia captains to enlist and train one slave for every white soldier.

Rhode Island requires that slaves be accompanied by their masters when visiting the homes of free persons.

Blacks outnumber whites in South Carolina.

New York forbids blacks, Indians, and mulattos from walking at night without lighted lanterns.

Pennsylvania prohibits the importation of blacks and Indians.

Rhode Island prohibits the clandestine importation of black and Indian slaves.

Pennsylvania prohibits the importation of slaves.

Additionally, the assassination of Lincoln at the close of the Civil War in 1865 did a great deal to halt the progress of civil rights for all Americans. Had Lincoln lived who knows what may have happened in that regard. Instead, the Tennessee slave-owner, Andrew Johnson succeeded Lincoln and all progress toward racial equality was halted.

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Response to OldDem2012 (Reply #3)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 02:29 PM

4. After Reading The Article I Know Where The Phrase "Whitewashing" Comes From./nt

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Response to OldDem2012 (Reply #3)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 03:40 PM

5. And worse than that.

North America was the destination of something like 10% of the trans-Atlantic African slave trade.

And the trans-Atlantic slave trade, although more intense and covering fewer years, totaled less than the cis-Atlantic slave trade carried out by Muslims, with destinations in N. Africa and the ME (with Benghazi as a major trans-shipment port).

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Response to DemocratSinceBirth (Original post)

Sun Dec 2, 2012, 09:06 PM

6. k and r

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