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otohara Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 05:02 PM
Original message
Did slaves build the White House?
Slaves Not Only Built The South, But Also Created The Wealth Of The North
Editorial

HISTORY IS full of surprises. Just when you think the past is safely behind you, some inquisitive soul discovers yet a few more pieces of paper that recasts how you look at our nation's history.

Consider our country's Capitol. Next time you visit Washington, D.C., gaze up at the bronze statue perched on top of the dome. It is called ``Freedom.'' Yet few admiring visitors know that 12 slaves not only cast the statue, but also devised a method for hoisting it up to its present pinnacle. Nor do most visitors know that some 400 slaves also built the Capitol Building and the White House as well.

The legacy of slavery, which has so profoundly affected our society and culture, is still being revealed.

Historians have long known that the slave trade flourished in the nation's capital until 1865. But they knew few details about the slaves who worked in Washington, D.C.

While researching the 200th anniversary of the White House and the Capitol, Edward Hotaling, a local Washington-based television reporter, unearthed pay slips dating from 1792 to 1800 in the archives of the Treasury Department. Each pay slip bears the name of the plantation owner, as well as the $5-monthly wage paid for the work of his slave.

Now, two centuries after George Washington established the nation's capital, lawmakers and historians are trying to decide how to publicly acknowledge the fact that slaves, whose names are still not known, and who were never paid, constructed the nation's most distinguished architectural symbols of freedom.

The revelation of this new evidence has inspired two African America members of Congress, Reps. J.C Watts, R-Okla., and John Lewis, D-Ga., to launch a campaign to create some kind of memorial to the slaves who built the nation's Capitol. Said Lewis, ``We need to find a fitting and lasting memorial for these men in the building they built. It is strange and very sad that the men who laid the foundation of the best-known symbol of our democracy were denied the right to participate in our democracy.''

Together, Watts and Lewis, erstwhile ideological adversaries, have called upon Congress to form a task force to examine the contributions of these unpaid slaves and recommend what type of permanent exhibition of memorial should mark their accomplishments.

Too few Americans realize that slaves not only built the South, but also created the wealth of the North, too. The crime of slavery, moreover, has created a national wound that has never healed. The more we acknowledge the heinous reality of the past, the more we will understand why the legacy of slavery still haunts us today. http://www.commondreams.org/views/072000-107.htm

Construction on the President's House began in 1792 in Washington, D.C., a new capital situated in sparsely settled region far from a major population center. The decision to place the capital on land ceded by two slave states-Virginia and Maryland-ultimately influenced the acquisition of laborers to construct its public buildings. The D.C. commissioners, charged by Congress with building the new city under the direction of the president, initially planned to import workers from Europe to meet their labor needs. However, response to recruitment was dismal and soon they turned to African Americans - slave and free - to provide the bulk of labor that built the White House, the United States Capitol, and other early government buildings.

http://www.whitehousehistory.org/06/subs/06_a04.html
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sandnsea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 05:05 PM
Response to Original message
1. All those lovely southern plantations
All those fields of rice and cotton and peanuts. That southern heritage that requires the waving of the confederate flag.

Slaves built it.

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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 05:06 PM
Response to Original message
2. Yes. There's an interesting scene in the miniseries JOHN ADAMS where Abigail comments on it
in rather appalled fashion.
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otohara Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 05:16 PM
Response to Reply #2
9. Abigail
Two thumbs up! :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
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OmmmSweetOmmm Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 05:18 PM
Response to Reply #2
10. Until I saw that episode of John Adams, I never knew that slaves built the White House.
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otohara Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 05:22 PM
Response to Reply #10
13. Apparantly Slaves Built Much of The World
Edited on Wed Apr-23-08 05:24 PM by otohara
because it worked so well over there we brought them here.

Today it's reversed slavery.
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SammyWinstonJack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-24-08 11:58 AM
Response to Reply #2
43. "Half starved slaves building our nation's capitol. Nothing good can come from it."
I think that's the quote. Very good miniseries,wasn't it?
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MADem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Apr-25-08 02:12 AM
Response to Reply #43
45. It wasn't just very good, it was OUTSTANDING. I wish it had gone on longer!
Damn John for dying like that and ruining my fun!!

I read, a few years back, with great delight, the book upon which the effort was based, which made the whole adventure doubly-enjoyable.

Tom Hanks deserves kudos for that work--he really was true to the life of John and Abigail, and true to the McCullough book as well. It was the best tee vee I've seen this year.
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butterfly77 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 05:09 PM
Response to Original message
3. Too bad that...
most blacks can't enjoy or even go to some places in America when their ancestors built most of it and created the wealth...
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malaise Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 05:10 PM
Response to Original message
4. Those who read history know that the US was
built by slaves.
Thanks for this.
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Lex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 05:12 PM
Response to Original message
5. And slaves built Rome, London, etc. etc.
Please, it is a world history thing, not just an American phenomena.


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otohara Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 05:19 PM
Response to Reply #5
11. Original Sin
and American phenomena!
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Canuckistanian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 07:33 PM
Response to Reply #5
22. Canadian cities weren't built by slaves
But rather by poor Irish and Scots immigrants.

But at least they got paid.
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LisaM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 05:12 PM
Response to Original message
6. Just think of all the beautiful edifices (worldwide) that share the same history
The Pyraminds, buildings in Greece and Rome.......it's worth remembering, no matter where it happened. The history of the world is not always happy.
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Lex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 05:16 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. Exactly.
Sometimes people treat it like it is a uniquely American tragedy.

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flyingfysh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 05:19 PM
Response to Reply #6
12. that's not true for Egypt
The evidence is that the pyramids were built by farmers during the off season (in spite of what the Biblical narrative says), and in fact they were fed very well.
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LisaM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 05:39 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. I have seen those documentaries showing the "kitchens"
where the meals were prepared for those who built the Pyramids, but there must have been thousands of builders at any one time - how could they all have been farmers? Do you think they were? That's very interesting to me. I'm curious about it!
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Thothmes Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 06:38 PM
Response to Reply #14
18. During the annual Nile flood
the farmers have nothing to do, their fields are under water. This is a large pool of labor available every year for a couple of months anyway.
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madeline_con Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 11:43 PM
Response to Reply #14
33. It takes a lot of farm labor to feed an empire.
Who Built the Pyramids?

Contrary to some popular depictions, the pyramid builders were not slaves or foreigners. Excavated skeletons show that they were Egyptians who lived in villages developed and overseen by the pharaoh's supervisors.

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/pyramids/pyramids.htm...


................

Effectively, it seems, the pyramid served both as a gigantic training project and - deliberately or not - as a source of 'Egyptianisation'. The workers who left their communities of maybe 50 or 100 people, to live in a town of 15,000 or more strangers, returned to the provinces with new skills, a wider outlook and a renewed sense of national unity that balanced the loss of loyalty to local traditions. The use of shifts of workers spread the burden and brought about a thorough redistribution of pharaoh's wealth in the form of rations

http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/egyptians/pyramid_...

.........................................

The Discovery of the Tombs of the Pyramid Builders at Giza:
Dr. Zahi Hawass / Undersecretary of the State for the Giza Monuments


From hieroglyphic inscriptions and graffiti we infer that skilled builders and craftsmen probably worked year round at the pyramid construction site. Peasant farmers from the surrounding villages and provinces rotated in and out of a labor force organized into competing gangs with names such as "friends of Khufu" and" Drunkards of Menkaure". Each gang was divided into groups, Egyptologists call phyles (the Greek word for tribe). There were five phyles, whose names, always the same in each gang, bear same resemblance to ancient Egyptian neuitical terms such as "great "or starboard and green or prow. Each phyle was divided into groups of ten to 20 men, each named with single hieroglyphs some times representing ideas such as "life"," endurance" and "perfection".

http://www.guardians.net/hawass/buildtomb.htm


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Viva_La_Revolution Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-24-08 11:24 AM
Response to Reply #14
41. They were Public Works Projects...
Edited on Thu Apr-24-08 11:30 AM by Viva_La_Revolution
Researchers now regard Egypt's pyramids as huge public works projects, to which all households in the kingdom provided workers, food and supplies.

Various studies have analyzed logistical movements, labor organization and the use of wooden sledges, ramps, levers and other devices to help explain pyramid construction. Some studies suggest that the work force may have been a fifth or a tenth of Herodotus' estimate (100,000 slaves and 20 years).

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/pyramid.ht...

Social Classes in Upper and Lower Egypt

Unskilled labor (bread bakers, stone carriers, etc..)
Scribe (wrote the merchants, documented the progress)
Architect (Designed the pyramid)
Priests (advised the architect)
Merchants (brought the stone to the building site)
Farmers (provided the labor)
Slaves (provided the labor)
Skilled Craftsmen (stone masons, etc.)
Pharoah and the royal family
**** Note in the early dynasties there were only 2 classes. As the merchant class grew, labor became skilled, as middle class grew.
http://killeenroos.com/1/egysoc.htm

Pyramid Builders' Village Found in Egypt

New evidence uncovered at Giza is adding to our knowledge of who built the great pyramids, and how they accomplished this timeless feat.

The University of Chicago/Harvard University Giza Plateau Mapping Project, sponsored in part this season by National Geographic and led by archaeologist Mark Lehner, has made several new discoveries in an area lying south of the Sphinx near the workers' cemetery.

The area, often called the "workers' village," is the site of a vast community that thrived some 4,500 years ago on the Giza Plateau. It may have housed as many as 20,000 people.

lots more http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/08/0805_02...

I love this stuff too. :)



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Fox Mulder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 06:32 PM
Response to Reply #12
17. I thought aliens built the pyramids...?
:hide:
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Wizard777 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 06:50 PM
Response to Reply #17
21. No, It was the Masons. They also built the Washington Monument.
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Jamastiene Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 07:47 PM
Response to Reply #21
27. This just keeps getting better.
This is even better than the History Channel, Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, and a year's supply of National Geographic all rolled into one.

:popcorn:
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Wizard777 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 11:26 PM
Response to Reply #27
28. I know what you mean. I didn't know slaves were used to build the White House.
I know that if they wanted it built with stone. The Masons would have built it. But they wanted a house and not a castle. Lumber isn't the Masons forte'.
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Jamastiene Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 07:46 PM
Response to Reply #17
26. No, aliens built the face on Mars...
weather balloons for NASA, and crop circles. :P
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Wizard777 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 11:28 PM
Response to Reply #26
29. Now that I can believe. Unless it's made of stone. Then the Masons probably built that too.
:rofl:
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Jamastiene Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 07:45 PM
Response to Reply #12
25. Of course, they were fed, silly.
Edited on Wed Apr-23-08 07:47 PM by Jamastiene
They'd die and not be able to finish without food. :eyes:
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CatWoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 05:49 PM
Response to Reply #6
15. I don't recall the Egyptians, the Romans and the Greeks
going around espousing "freedom" and "all men are created equal" while kicking their slaves asses, and at the same time making the slaves wipe theirs.
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Lex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 11:51 PM
Response to Reply #15
35. You don't remember the Romans inventing Democracy and "free men"
and then at the same time owning slaves?!


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CatWoman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-24-08 11:53 AM
Response to Reply #35
42. during the time of the Roman Civilization, that was the norm, was it not?
I'd like to think that by the 18th century, civilization would have kicked in.
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malaise Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 06:45 PM
Response to Reply #6
20. I recommend that you read Eric Williams' classic
Capitalism and Slavery - he documents the wealth garnered by England from slavery in the Caribbean. The book was his doctoral thesis at Oxford.

It's been reprinted several times since 1944. Some of my ancestors financed the Industrial Revolution.

http://www.amazon.com/Capitalism-Slavery-Eric-Williams/...
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suston96 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 05:16 PM
Response to Original message
7. Yes, I watched John Adams on HBO. That scene was impressive...At the end....
...when Adams leaves the partially constructed White House for good, he mounts the horse drawn wagon and sits himself between two blacks who are awed and are looking at him...

Quit gawking at me - he says. I am just another citizen - just like you....

Don't miss the repeats of this series. You will see history as you never have before.
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JCMach1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-24-08 04:58 AM
Response to Reply #7
40. Yes, an excellent series
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unc70 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 06:28 PM
Response to Original message
16. But you used indentured labor for the dangerous and hard work
Slaves in the US were worth too much to put in the really high risk jobs. Those jobs were usually left to the latest wave of indentured servants or day laborers. In 1860 they would have been mainly Irish or German; in 1640, mostly English. Over half of the English settlers arrived as indentured, a few as slaves. Most of the English slaves were sent to the Carribean.

Relatively few of the African slaves were sent to the English colonies of North America, maybe 600,000 out of 12 million sent to Europe, Central, and South America.i


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catnhatnh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 06:39 PM
Response to Original message
19. Absolutely Agree a monument is needed....
how you memorialize irony escapes me but those smarter that I could find an appropriate theme.....K&R
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millionaire Donating Member (14 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 07:40 PM
Response to Original message
23. I wouldn't doubt it
They represented cheap labor.
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Jamastiene Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 07:44 PM
Response to Original message
24. Back then, slaves built EVERYTHING.
No, seriously. They did. The Pyramids, Great Wall of China, Rome, EVERYTHING.
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AlphaCentauri Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 11:31 PM
Response to Reply #24
30. today, immigrants build everything
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Zynx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 11:35 PM
Response to Reply #30
31. One form of cheap labor supplants another.
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AlphaCentauri Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 11:50 PM
Response to Reply #31
34. throughout American history
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Lex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 11:52 PM
Response to Reply #34
36. throughout all of history
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Zynx Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 11:52 PM
Response to Reply #36
37. Right you are. All countries have done this.
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AlphaCentauri Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-24-08 12:02 AM
Response to Reply #37
38. some countries still do it
Edited on Thu Apr-24-08 12:02 AM by AlphaCentauri
others have changed for the good of their people
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madeline_con Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-23-08 11:36 PM
Response to Original message
32. YES
From its beginning -- ever since the nation's capital had been moved from Philadelphia in 1800 -- slavery was legal in Washington, D.C. With its proximity to both the upper and lower South, it would become a major center for the domestic slave trade, passing thousands of slaves through to the plantations of the deep South. Although Congress had the power to outlaw slavery in the District of Columbia, it did not do so until 1862 -- the power of the proslavery forces was too strong. Slavery proponents knew that if they kept the institution visible in the nation's capital, it would act as a vivid symbol of their grasp on the nation. They were right: the presence of slavery was impossible to ignore. Visitors expressed disgust at the sight of slave coffles and holding pens in the capital of the "freest" nation in the world.

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4h3139.html

....................

DC History

Slavery & Emancipation in Washington, D.C. Bibliography
Timeline to abolition:
http://www.h-net.org/~dclist/slaveryrev.html
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JCMach1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-24-08 04:58 AM
Response to Original message
39. Kudos to the John Adams miniseries for showing this harsh
reality about the beginning of Washington D.C.
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struggle4progress Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-24-08 05:23 PM
Response to Original message
44. Of course, adjacent Maryland and Virginia were slave states
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