Browsing "Emancipation"

French Experiment with Equality

The French Revolution’s promise of equality ended with anarchy and Bonaparte in France; the lofty experiment of equality in St. Domingo terminated not in freedom, but military despotism after a fearful destruction of human life. After all the horrors of their bloody revolution, the blacks in Haiti only effected a change of masters. “The white man had disappeared, and the black man , one of their own race and color, had assumed his pace and his authority.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

French Experiment with Equality

“[We shall quote] from the language of Dr. [W.E.] Channing, the scholar-like and the eloquent, though visionary, advocate of British [slave] emancipation. Even as early as 1842, in an address delivered on the anniversary of that event, he burst into the following strain of impassioned eulogy: “Emancipation works well, far better than could have been anticipated . . . Freedom, simple freedom, is in my estimation just, far prized above all price.”

In these high-sounding praises, which hold up personal freedom as “our proper good,” as “our end,” it is assumed that man was made for liberty, and not liberty for man. It is, indeed, one of the fundamental errors of the abolitionist to regard personal freedom as a great substantive good, or as in itself a blessing, and not merely as a relative good.

It may be, and indeed often it is, an unspeakable benefit, but then it is so only as a means to an end. The end of our existence, the proper good, is the improvement of our intellectual and moral powers, the perfection of our rational and immortal natures.

When freedom subserves this end, it is a good; when it defeats this end, it is an evil. Hence there may be a world of evil as well as a world of good in “this one word.”

The wise man adapts the means to the end. It were the very height of folly to sacrifice the end to the means. No man gives personal freedom to his child because he deems it always and in all cases a good. His heart teaches him a better doctrine when the highest good of his child is concerned. Should we not be permitted then, to have something of the same feeling in regard to those who Providence has placed under our care, especially since . . . they stand in utmost need of guidance and direction?

Few of the abolitionists are disposed to offer any substitute for our method. They are satisfied merely to pull down and destroy, without the least thought or care in regard to consequences.

But what is meant by the freedom of the emancipated slaves, on which so many exalted eulogies have been pronounced? Its first element, it is plain, is a freedom from labor – freedom from the very first law of nature. In one word, its sum and substance is a power on the part of the freed black to act pretty much as he pleases. Now . . . would it not be well to see how he would be pleased to act?

This kind of freedom, it should be remembered, was born in France and cradled in the revolution. May it never be forgotten that the “Friends of the Blacks” at Boston had their exact prototypes in “les Amis des Noirs” of Paris. Of this last society Robespierre was the ruling spirit, and Brissot the orator. By the dark machinations of the one, and the fiery eloquence of the other, the French people . . . were induced, in 1791, to proclaim the principle of equality to and for the free blacks of St. Domingo. This beautiful island . . . thus became the first of the West Indies in which the dreadful experiment of a forced equality was tried.

The authors of that experiment were solemnly warned of the horrors into which it would inevitably plunge both the whites and the blacks of the island. Yet firm and unmovable as death, Robespierre sternly replied, then “Perish the colonies rather than sacrifice one iota of our principles.”

The atrocities of this awful massacre have had . . . no parallel in the annals of human crime. “The Negroes,” says Alison, “marched with spiked infants on their spears instead of colors; they sawed asunder the male prisoners, and violated the females on the dead bodies of their husbands.” The work of death, thus completed with such outbursts of unutterable brutality, constituted and closed the first act in the grand drama of Haytian freedom.

But equality was not yet established. Equality had been proclaimed, and anarchy produced. In this frightful chaos, the ambitious mulattoes, whose insatiable desire for equality had first disturbed the peace of the island, perished miserably beneath the vengeance of the very slaves whom they had roused from subjection and elevated into irresistible power. Thus ended the second act of the horrible drama.”

(An Essay on Liberty and Slavery, Albert Taylor Bledsoe, J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1856, pp. 269-278; available from www.confederatereprint.com)

Lincoln's Political Millenium

Southern conservative M.E. Bradford saw Lincoln as the politician he was – one who used the abolitionist movement as a partisan tactic to destroy the Democratic Party in the North and pursued Alexander Hamilton’s dream of a commercial empire. The Northern military victory enabled Lincoln’s to break with the original Constitution and implement a new interpretation with the support of fellow revolutionaries.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln’s Political Millenium

“Lincoln’s personal opinions about and his actual public policies toward African Americans are evidence, according to Bradford, that partisan politics were behind Lincoln’s high-sounding rhetoric . . . His claim that a nation half free and half slave cannot endure in spite of a historical record to the contrary, the Black Codes of his home State of Illinois, the racist attitudes of his Northern electoral base, his support for recolonization of African Americans to Liberia, selective emancipation, and the plight of freedmen overall (at the Hampton Roads Conference of 1865 Lincoln is quoted as saying they can “root, hog, or die”) give an empty ring to his rhetoric of universal human rights.

As Bradford poignantly remarked, “For the sake of such vapid distinctions he urged his countrymen to wade through seas of blood.”  . . . [Can] one reasonably assume that Lincoln was zealously obsessed with the pursuit of power for a just cause and that the “seas of blood” that flowed during his tenure were justifiable consequences of his “new birth of freedom” he alluded to in his Gettysburg Address? Or, was there a more mundane motive behind Lincoln’s policies, with the ensuing war unexpectedly getting out of hand?

There can be little question that Lincoln and his Republican supporters had a mundane public policy agenda that overshadowed the rhetoric and legacy of their tenure in power. That agenda was Hamiltonian, insofar as it required a substantial transfusion of power from the States to the national government, in order for the latter to more effectively promote the style and pace of development toward a commercial empire and the corresponding opportunities for personal and national profits that such rapid commercial development entailed.

The politically contentious issues of internal improvements, the national bank, and [tariff] protectionism made giant strides on behalf of national supremacy during the Lincoln Administration. In fact the Gilded Age can be traced to the political economy of those Republicans who controlled the national government in the early 1860s:

“It is customary to deplore the Gilded Age, the era of the Great Barbeque. It is true that many of the corruptions of the Republican Era came to a head after Lincoln lay to rest in Springfield. But it is a matter of fact that they began either under his direction or with his sponsorship. Military necessity, the “War for the Union,” provided an excuse, and umbrella of sanction, under which the essential nature of the changes made in the relation of government to commerce could be concealed [Bradford, Remembering Who We Are, 146].”

Lincoln’s rhetoric in the Gettysburg Address reveals the importance of a Republican Party committed to the fulfillment of Hamilton’s dream of a commercial empire. The emergence of a commercial empire within the conceptual framework of Lincoln’s incorporation of the Declaration [of Independence] into the Constitution (or vice versa) would result in the political millennium he alludes to in the Gettysburg Address.

And Lincoln had good reason to be optimistic. During the Republican Party’s Civil War and postbellum dominance, the use of government as a means toward commercial expansion and personal aggrandizement was shifted into overdrive.

[And] Lincoln’s expansive interpretation of presidential powers made him the most imperial president in American history, thereby setting a dangerous precedent for predisposed successors. The incarceration of approximately twenty-thousand political prisoners, the closing of over three hundred newspapers, the interruptions of State legislatures, the blockade of the South, the unilateral suspension of habeas corpus, explicit and implicit defiance of the Supreme Court, the sanctioning of the creation of West Virginia, private property seizures, and electioneering/voting irregularities have all been rationalized as necessary war measures.

[Bradford suggests] the evidence indicates that “in this role the image of Lincoln grows to be very dark – indeed, almost sinister . . . Thousands of Northern boys lost their lives in order that the Republican Party might experience rejuvenation, to serve its partisan goals.”

(A Southern Reactionary’s Affirmation of the Rule of Law, Marshall L. DeRosa; A Defender of Southern Conservatism, M.E. Bradford and His Achievements, Clyde N. Wilson, editor, University of Missouri Press, 1999, pp. 111-113)

Deep Seated Hostility Toward the South

William Lowndes Yancey of Alabama pointed to the relentless pressure from Northern States for trade advantages at the expense of the rest of the country while resisting any increase of new States friendly toward Southern interests. It should be noted also that Southern States were “free States” like the North though with an African labor system – and Northern States were former slaveholding States with many employing wage-slaves.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Deep-Seated Hostility Toward the South

“Yancey now saw the dangers . . . divined in the combination of tariff increases, repeal of the Gag Rule, and especially the exclusion of Texas. “I can see in this a deeply seated hostility to the South – a disposition to circumscribe it – to surround it with people and institutions hostile to it,” he began. The Missouri Compromise, he reminded New Yorkers, gave the free States the bulk of western territories enough to make twenty-six new States, according to his calculations.

Once the Union admitted Florida as a slave State, Yancey pointed out that slaveholders had nowhere else to turn. And yet, the Texas annexation – with the possibility of dividing that region into five slave States – “frighten[s] Northern men out of their wits about the enormous preponderance which annexation will bring to the South!”

So, he concluded, while Maine pressed her lumber interests in Congress, western States called for federal internal improvements, Pennsylvania and New England sought advantage for their industry and New York for commerce, “the South but urges annexation as a protection against assailants! Do you not see the difference?”

[Yancey] asserted that Northerners would cut their own throats by harming the peculiar institution. It was the produce of slave labor, not free labor, Yancey claimed, that resulted in the commercial prosperity of New York. [And] Yancey correctly noted that the Constitution’s three-fifths provision that many Northerners blamed for increasing Southern political power actually limited representation. If Northerners forced the end of slavery, African Americans in the South would suddenly count as five-fifths . . . for determining representation in Congress.

(William Lowndes Yancey, The Coming of the Civil War, Eric H. Walther, UNC Press, 2006, pp. 81-82)

Broken Family Units and Legislating from the Bench

By ignoring the Constitution and allowing psychobabble to guide their decision, nine robed men on the Supreme Court in May of 1954 arbitrarily swept aside the legal precedents of generations of Americans from the Founders forward. This Court unconstitutionally legislated from the bench and all congressmen who allowed this to occur should have been impeached for treason. The 1960 source cited below was dedicated to David Lawrence, editor of the US News and World Report, “who befriended the South by telling the truth to the nation.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Broken Family Units and Legislating from the Bench

“In his sympathetic study of the [American] Negro, Dr. [Eli] Ginsberg [of Columbia University] includes this observation:

“The family structure of Negroes has long been subjected to serious stresses and strains. Moreover, a disproportionately large number of young Negroes are brought up in homes which the father has deserted or in other situations has where major responsibility for the continuance of the family unit centers around the mother and her relatives. According to the 1950 Census, over one-third of the Negro women who had ever been married were no longer married and no longer living with their husbands . . .”

Further proof of this chronic family disruption among Negroes is found in the 1957 study of The Negro Population of Chicago, by Otis Dudley Duncan and Beverly Duncan. With reference to family heads reporting “spouse absent,” they found:

“In both 1940 and 1950 this form of family disruption was reported about four times as often as non-white married males as by white married males, and about five or six times as often by non-white married females as by white married females . . .”

The shortcomings of Negroes in this realm of community life can be attributed to a combination of causes . . . [but] the result is that the average, or typical, Negro family lacks many of the characteristics which are counted desirable by the community – family cohesion and stability; family disciplines of manners, of cleanliness, of obedience; personal standards of reliability, dependability; personal goals based on ambition and the desire for self-improvement.

Is it any wonder that white parents are reluctant to undermine their own attempts to foster such habits among their own children, by exposing them to youngsters whose standards are demonstrably lower in almost every respect?

The professional integrationist, whether Negro or white, does not want either equality or opportunity; he wants merger. [The Negro] prefers to seek advancement by agitation.

Contrast the social worker concepts of contemporary federal judges with the hard-headed logic of a 1896 Supreme Court which was concerned more with establishing the equality of Negroes before the law than with providing solutions for tender feelings. Said the Supreme Court in the Plessy v. Ferguson case:

“The object of the 14th Amendment was undoubtedly to enforce the absolute equality of the two races before the laws, but in the nature of things it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based on color, or to enforce social, as distinguished from political equality, or a commingling of the two races upon terms satisfactory to either . . . We consider the underlying fallacy of the plaintiff’s argument to consist in the assumption that the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority. If this be so, it is not by reason of anything found in the act, but solely because the colored race [chooses] to put that construction upon it.”

(The Case for the South, William D. Workman, Jr., Devin-Adair Company, 1960, pp. 185-188)

Case for an Educated Postwar Black Debated

Radical Republican political hegemony in the postwar South depended upon the freedmen casting votes, despite their illiteracy and lack of education and experience in a republican form of government. These Republicans formed Union and Loyal Leagues in the South that would teach the freedmen to hate their white neighbors, vote against their interests, and cause irreparable racial wounds which remain today.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Case for an Educated Postwar Black Electorate Debated:

“Chaplain Noble, who conducted literacy classes for the enlisted men of the 128th United States Colored Troops in Beaufort (an infantry of ex-slaves), related the outcome of a debate he arranged to “enliven” the class. The question was whether Negroes should be given immediate suffrage or whether they should learn to read first, with “the more intelligent” of the class clearly favoring the latter position “on the ground that you ought never to undertake a job unless you know how to do it.”

But those who learned less easily were in favor of immediate suffrage. One of the speakers — a black thick-lipped orator — commenced his speech as follows:

“de chaplain say we can learn to read in short time. Now dat may de with dem who are mo’ ready. God hasn’t made all of us alike. P’rhaps some will get an eddication in a little while. I knows de next generation will. We hasn’t had no chance at all. De most of us are slow and dull. Dere fo’ Mr. Chaplain, I tink we better not wait for eddication.”

Whether because of the potential logic of universal suffrage for the illiterate black majority, or because the difficulties of the chaplain’s lessons made suffrage based on literacy seem rather remote for some of the slow learners, the speaker’s sagacity brought decisive nods of approval from the majority of the audience.”

(Black Over White, Negro Political Leadership in South Carolina During Reconstruction, Thomas Holt, University of Illinois Press, 1977, pg. 34)

 

 

Canny Theorist in the White House

Author Simkins observed that the South’s leaders “had committed a crime against the dominant patriotism of the nineteenth century” by “preaching national disintegration” – Lincoln the nationalist responded with “You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to “preserve, protect and defend it.” He would not recognize the right of Americans in the South to create a more perfect union.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Canny Theorist in the White House

“Southerners were convinced that what they lacked in military and naval equipment would be outweighed by their superior intelligence, bravery and hardihood. Had not the American colonies, who were weaker than the South, defeated England, a nation stronger than the North? The Confederacy need only stand on the defensive, win a few victories, and the unheroic Yankees would quickly withdraw from the hornets’ nest. Jefferson Davis and other thoughtful leaders, however, did not share such popular fallacies; they believed there would be a long war against a merciless foe.

It was true that in Abraham Lincoln the Confederacy had an implacable enemy. Behind the white face and black beard of a St. John the Baptist was the statesmen willing to use the methods by which great leaders of modern times have built or maintained empires. This meant nothing less than imposing forcibly the will of the strong upon the weak. With Lincoln the word was “charity to all men,” the reality “blood and iron.”

The President’s objective was clear: the complete destruction of the Confederate government, and the restoration of its constituent States to the Union. In his opinion the contest was not a war, but an attempt to put down domestic insurrection which had become too formidable for ordinary officers of the law.

The withdrawal of the Southern States and their subsequent organization into a new nation was declared illegal. To come to terms with the new Confederacy necessitated a great war, but the canny theorist in the White House called it an endeavor to re-establish constitutional authority. Accordingly the President mobilized armies and inaugurated a military struggle without asking Congress for a declaration of war.

He launched an invasion against powerful armies without extending to them the formal belligerent rights customary among civilized warmakers. The Confederacy was blockaded to deprive it of basic necessities. The Federal armies moved forward not to come to terms with a legal enemy, but to possess militarily and politically the territory of outlawed rebels. When the policies of blockade and invasion were not immediately successful, novel methods of warfare were employed.

The Emancipation Proclamation, issued after Lee’s advance into the North had been stopped at [Sharpsburg], at least by implication, was designed to demoralize Southern Society and to give the war the character of a crusade in which righteousness was buttressed by vengeance. Provinces were devastated to break their will to resist.

When victory and the cessation of hostilities came, there was no armistice or peace treaty with [a] humbled foe, but surrender by an adversary who had been cut to pieces. The Confederacy was dissolved and its constituent parts re-incorporated into the United States.”

(The South Old and New, A History, 1820–1947, Francis Butler Simkins, Albert A. Knopf, 1947, pp. 140-141)

The North's Damnable Bounty System

The Northern enlistment bounty system was notorious for corruption and graft as State agents from the North swarmed into the occupied South regions to obtain Negroes captured from plantations to fill State troop quotas. Seizing slaves in the South accomplished two goals: one, depriving the South of agricultural laborers, and two, obtaining new recruits to fill State quotas and avoid Lincoln’s conscription threat which would draft white Northern men. Predictably, much of the enlistment bonus for the new recruit remained in the agent’s hands.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The North’s Damnable Bounty System

“Ulysses S. Grant, general in chief of the Union armies, “was down on the Massachusetts idea of buying out of the draft by filling their quota . . . from among the [Negro] contrabands in Sherman’s army.” When Forbes defended the law, Grant answered that “Sherman’s head is level on that question. He knows he can get all these Negroes that are worth having anyhow and he prefers to get them that way rather than fill up the quota of a distant State and thus diminish the fruits of the draft.

General Lorenzo Thomas, charged by the federal government with raising Negro troops in the Mississippi Valley, complained that [State] agents were inducing soldiers of several Negro regiments stationed at Vicksburg to desert and enlist with them. General Napoleon J.T. Dana, commander of the military district of Vicksburg, charged that the agents were taking “diseased men, entirely unfit for the service.”

John C. Gray, a young officer from the Bay State, expressed horror at the way in which agents from Massachusetts implemented the [quota] law and asserted that such a system of recruitment brought the State “contempt and sneers.” According to Gray, “this traffic of New England towns in the bodies of wretched Negroes, bidding against each other for these miserable beings, who are deluded, and if some of my affidavits that I have in my office are true, tortured into military service, forms too good a justification against the Yankees.”

Albert Gallatin Browne, a former aid of Governor Andrew who was a Treasury agent at Hilton Head, South Carolina, also questioned the benefit that his home State received from the [troop quota] law. According to Browne, “The whole system is damnable. I can conceive of nothing worse on the coast of Africa. These men have been hunted like wild beasts and ruthlessly dragged from their families.” He informed Andrew that the men enlisted by Massachusetts agents got only a fraction of the [bounty] money promised them, the agents pocketing the remainder.”

(Cotton and Capital, Richard H. Abbott, UMass Press, 1991, page 135)

 

Revisionist Canadian History and Slavery

Few recall that African slavery existed in Canada until 1833 and that between 1787 and 1800 fugitive slaves fled south to New England and the Northwest (Michigan) Territory. Throughout the 1800s Canadians segregated schools and communities, as well as military units.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Revisionist Canadian History and Slavery

“Canadian comments about American racial problems are further colored by the fact that few Canadians are well informed on Canada’s own Negro record. Cowper, in celebrating Justice Mansfield’s decision, thought that “Slaves cannot breathe in England: if their lungs receive our air, that moment they are free.” This was adequate poetry but inaccurate current events, for “Mansfield” decision freed no substantial body of slaves, even in England, and in Imperial Britain they remained enslaved until 1834.

Yet today most Canadians assume that slavery in British North America was struck down unilaterally by colonial assemblies which, in fact, lacked power to move against such Imperial laws. A standard account of Ontario’s history, published in 1898, concluded that because of the passage of Simcoe’s Bill (which prohibited the import of slaves) in 1793, “Canadians can therefore claim the proud distinction for their flag . . . that it has never floated over legalized slavery.”

An extensive guidebook to Canada credits the entire Negro population of Nova Scotia to men “who came north as slaves from the British West Indian colonies . . . ,” ignoring totally the Maroon and Refugee elements. An attempt to plumb the character of Canadians found that the Negroes of the Maritime Provinces – 15,000 in all – were descendants of runaway slaves, when in truth not even half are such.

And one of Canada’s leading students of race relations, in writing specifically of discrimination against the Negro, asserts that slavery did not exist in British North America in the Nineteenth Century, although slavery was in fact legal until 1833. In short, there is no accurate historical memory in Canada of British North America’s own experiences with the Negro, and even a clouded awareness of an earlier Negro presence is slight.

In truth, only Canada West [Ontario] served to any considerable extent as a haven for fugitive slaves, but the whole of the Canadian nation later accepted a mythology arising from but one of its units.”

(The Canadian Negro: A Historical Assessment, Robin Winks, Journal of Negro History, Volume LIII, No. 4., October, 1968, pp. 290-292)

Controlling Elections in a Businesslike Manner

The political campaign of 1872 saw Grant win the presidency again though the corruption and scandals of his administration like Credit Mobilier would not surface until after his reelection. His opponent, Northern newspaperman Horace Greeley, was outspoken against the black vote being manipulated by Grant’s party, stating that “they are an easy, worthless race, taking no thought of the morrow.” He thought the freedmen no longer deserved government support, his harsh injunction being “root, hog, or die.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Controlling Elections in a Businesslike Manner

“In the summer of 1872 . . . my immediate recreation was the heated political campaign which was then in full swing . . . the Republicans had put forward their contention along the most radical lines. A black Negro man had practically dictated the platform, claiming complete civil and social rights; endorsing [scalawag Governor W.W.] Holden, who had been removed by impeachment from his governorship; and injecting various “isms” which had been imported by the carpet-bag elements.

The most distinguished of the deserters from Democracy, Samuel L. Phillips, had begun the campaign with the opening sentence, “Hitherto, I have not been a Republican.”

The Democrats . . . had named for governor Judge Merrimon, from the mountain country and a life-long rival of Governor [Zebulon] Vance, a representative of the Union and war sentiment. In those days there was no place for a Democrat on the Democratic ticket.

Judge Merrimon was a ponderous person, addicted to the Websterian style of garment and the Websterian habit of four-hour speeches. Vance had declined the nomination.

The national features of this election were historically and dramatically set. As North Carolina voted in August, it led the procession . . . The Negroes voted for the first time for a president and were drilled [by Republicans] to vote early and often. The presidential contest was between the regular Republican party, supporting Grant, and the Liberal Republicans, whose candidate, Horace Greeley, had been endorsed by the Democrats.

Fred Douglas, the Negro orator, was sent into the denser populations of colored people in the eastern counties. He spoke before a multitude in Warrenton. His racial instinct to magnify himself and display his superiority made him speak along lines that were so much metaphysics to the audience. They had come to hear paeans of praise for [Republican] officeholders and denunciation of the old masters, with jests broad enough to get over the platform.

John Hyman, a colored barkeeper and later successful candidate for Congress, had placed on the speaker’s table a glass of sherry for Fred Douglas’s refreshment. Douglas sipped it between perorations, explaining it to his audience that it was not liquor, but sherry wine; and that while it might have been worse, it puzzled him to see how.

This gave great offense. His hearers did not believe him; and John Hyman, who had donated the wine, remarked that “Mr. Douglas’s manners – what he has – may be good enough for his northern friends but they don’t set well with folks who know what manners is.”

The regular Republicans followed the military tactics of Grant, their leader, and they sat down to the task of carrying the State in a thoroughly businesslike manner. The Federal courts were prostituted to their purpose and issues thousands of orders for arrest for Democrats who were accused of belonging to the Ku Klux.

A quarter of a million dollars was spent on tipstaffs and underlings connected with the courts. Every branch of the Government was called upon to furnish its quota of force. The Congress had passed bills promising social equality to the black; every State had a garrison of [Northern] troops placed conveniently to suppress any outbreak which should be kindled by political provocation.

The idea of allowing the possession of the Government to pass out of the [Grant Republican] party’s hands was not tolerated [and] . . . The result of the election was foregone.”

(Southern Exposure, Peter Mitchel Wilson, UNC Press, 1927, pp. 83-87)

 

Canadian Jim Crow

The popular legend of an underground creates the impression that escaped slaves found freedom and social equality in Canada, and standard historical accounts lead Canadians to believe that passage of Simcoe’s Bill in 1793 ended slavery in their country when in reality slavery remained legal in British North America until 1833. Author Robin Winks of Yale University wrote: “Canadians did give refuge to thousands of fugitives, and the mythology of the underground railway, the North Star, and the lion’s paw naturally fed the later Canadian assumption that Negroes fared better in Canada than elsewhere.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Canadian Jim Crow

“Canadian law drew no distinction between black and white in matters of citizenship, of which education was one. In practice, however, there were not infrequently some distinctions likely to be drawn, the whites preferring that Negroes should have schools of their own. When Benjamin Drew visited [Amherstburg, Ontario] in 1854 he found the Negro separate school having neither blackboard nor chairs. The whole interior was comfortless and repulsive. The teacher was a colored woman, apparently doing the best she could under the discouragement of poor surroundings and frequent absences of her pupils.

The coming of so many people of another race and color into southwestern Ontario was not pleasing to all the white inhabitants. Deep prejudice manifested itself at times and an occasional outburst in some newspaper reflected the feelings of an element of the population. The Amherstburg Courier of October 27, 1849, prints a resolution of the district council passed on October 8 of that year, protesting vigorously against the proposed Elgin settlement which was planned by Reverend William King as a home for fugitives from slavery.

This resolution, which appears to have been instigated by a local politician, Larwill, resident in Chatham, declared that “there is but one feeling, and that is of disgust and hatred, that they (the Negroes) should be allowed to settle in any township where there is a white settlement.”

The resolution proceeded to ask for a disallowance of sale of lands to Negroes, suggested a poll tax on Negroes entering the country, asked for an enactment against amalgamation and a requirement that Negroes shall furnish good security that they will not become a burden. It was also suggested that it would be well to ascertain whether it would be impolitic to allow them the suffrage.

Dr. Samuel G. Howe, who visited [Amherstburg] in 1863 to investigate conditions . . . [was told by a Mr. Park of the town] that the Negroes were part of them indolent and part industrious. They tended to neglect their own poor and begged more than the whites. A Captain Averill who was interviewed said that the Negroes were satisfactory as sailors, “the very best men we have,” but they were never made mates and none owned ships of their own.”

(Amherstburg, Terminus of the Underground Railroad, Fred Landon, The Journal of Negro History, Vol. X., No. 1, January 1925, pp. 5-8)

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