Browsing "Race and the North"

The Americans of 1860

An honest appraisal of events leading up to the national convulsion of 1860-1865 begins with understanding the American mind of that era. The literature is clear that Northerners rid themselves of slaves in their midst by selling them southward and did not want the black man among them – but restricted to the South. Northern workingmen too feared black freedmen coming northward seeking employment at wages less than that which white men would accept. But war came and the black man solved Lincoln’s dwindling enlistment problem as refugee freedmen were put in the ranks; white veterans were showered with generous bounties after 1863 to reenlist and eventually muster out – if they lived – rather wealthy men.

The Americans of 1860

“There is no evidence to show that the American people of 1860, not only those living in slaveholding States, but also the vast majority of Americans living in the former slaveholding States of the north and others, thought the Negro capable of skipping over the tendencies which the white man had derived from thousands of years of his well-developed civilization, and passing with or without a few years training, from the mental condition and inheritance of barbarians and slaves into full equality with the free citizens of a self-governing republic, whose laws, traditions, habits and customs were totally alien, far more alien than those of the Japanese and Chinese.

The Americans of that day did not feel that a mere statute law permitting the Negro to equal the white man in autonomous government could enable him to do so. The slave system was considered fundamentally not as a matter of morals, of right and wrong, but merely as an economic arrangement which was essentially the outgrowth of an inequality and difference in inheritance between the average white and black man.

It is safe to say that all of the Southerners and most of the Northerners knew that the Negroes were not a race resembling angels in ability, to pass from one extreme to the other without passing through the middle.

Therefore, it cannot be said that there was a basic antagonism between the Northern and Southern people in regard to the slavery question in the Southern States. If there was any real vital difference between the North and South, it was on what constituted a sectional control of the federal government. And Northerners in 1860 failed to realize that the Republican party of 1860 answered perfectly to Washington’s definition of a geographical party against the formation of which he solemnly warned his fellow-countrymen in his Farewell Address.”

(The Peaceable Americans of 1860-1861: A Study in Public Opinion. Mary Scrugham, Columbia University, 1921, pp. 57-60)

Oct 29, 2022 - Black Soldiers, Lincoln's Grand Army, Northern Culture Laid Bare, Race and the North, Tales of Jim Crow    Comments Off on “Wouldn’t Command Negroes in Service”

“Wouldn’t Command Negroes in Service”

Antebellum Pennsylvanians in general did not want black people living within State borders and “free” black people there led circumscribed lives. We recall that William Penn himself was a slaveholder and the State formerly slaveholding; Frederick Douglass believed Philadelphia the most segregated city in the US, and Pennsylvania troops expressed concern that freedmen might journey northward and take their place in the workplace.

“Wouldn’t Command Negroes in Service”

“On August 16, 1862, in the battle of Deep River Run, Virginia, Company F of the 85th Pennsylvania assaulted and drove the Confederates from their intrenchments. Ed Leonard, of said company, had fired at the retreating Southern color bearer. When his gun was empty, he ordered the color bearer to halt which he refused to do.

Leonard threw his gun at him thinking he would knock him down with it – but he was just far enough away for the gun to turn once and the bayonet went through the body of the color bearer, killing him. Leonard picked up the flagstaff, tore the flag from it, and concealed it about his person, intending to send it home. But the hidden flag was discovered, and he was required to turn it into headquarters.

For this act of bravery Leonard was commissioned a captain. When assigned to his new command, he found it was a Negro company; he then returned the commission and went back to his company as a private.”

(“Wouldn’t Command Negroes in Service,” W.T. Rogers, Knoxville, Tennessee, Confederate Veteran Magazine, May 1912, page 213)

Black Recruits Unwelcome in Philadelphia

The North’s use of generous bounties for paid volunteers and resorting to the of black slaves as troops was an unmistakable admission that popular support for the war against the American South was nearly extinct by 1863.  Once Lincoln allowed dislocated and captured slaves to be counted against States troop quotas, Northern State agents swarmed into the occupied South in search of (and arguing over) black recruits who would leave white Northern men safe from Lincoln’s threat of conscription.

It is ironic that a Pennsylvania training camp for black recruits was named “Camp William Penn,” a slaveholder who founded the colony which bears his name.

Black Recruits Unwelcome in Philadelphia

“In spite of announcements assuring blacks of pay equal to that of the white soldier, actual practice belied this promise. White enlisted men received thirteen dollars a month with a clothing allowance of an additional three dollars and fifty cents. Black soldiers, however, were paid only ten dollars per month, three dollars of which might be deducted for clothing.

Blacks were also generally denied bounties. Bounties were cash bonuses paid to volunteers by federal, State, or local authorities as an incentive to enlist. These bounties often totaled more than five hundred dollars or more, a generous amount exceeding the average annual wages for a Northern worker.  The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania eventually contributed a token bounty of ten dollars to each black recruit.

The War Department had also refused to commission black officers. A manyfold rationale stood behind this decision. First, the concept of black troops would be more acceptable [in the North] if white men exclusively were permitted to become officers in such units. Organizing “colored” regiments would create thousands of new positions for regimental officers. The awarding of these commissions to whites could create more support for the program and could reward those who had already shown support.

The [black recruits] of Camp William Penn constantly experienced another reminder of their inferior status through the discriminatory policy of the streetcars of Philadelphia. Of the nineteen streetcar and suburban railroad companies that operated in and around Philadelphia, eleven outright refused to permit blacks to ride.  The other eight tolerated black riders but required them to stand on the front platform with the driver.”

The “Grand Review” and battalion drills had all been executed in the friendly confines of the training camp itself. Colonel Wagner and the other [white] commanders recognized the risks they would face when their units left their camp. Earlier in the year, on September 18, the 3rd Regiment of US Colored Infantry marched through Philadelphia on its way to war. At that time the mayor and concerned officials compelled them to march unarmed and in civilian clothes.

[An] underlying tension still simmered because of the many residents who harbored deep prejudices.  This threatening situation had caused the mayor to delay an earlier planned parade of the 3rd US Colored Troops even after it had been publicly advertised.  During the 6th’s [US Colored Regiment] parade the fear of violence prompted marching officers to carry loaded revolvers to be used in an emergency. The enlisted [black] men, carrying musket and bayonet, “were not trusted with any ammunition.”

(Strike the Blow for Freedom, The 6th US Colored Infantry in the Civil War, James M. Paradis, White Mane Books, 1998, pp. 17-29)

Let the South Depart in Peace

Let the South Depart in Peace

Frederick Grimke’ (1791-1863) wrote about the meaning of American constitutional democracy in his “Nature and Tendency of Free Institutions” of 1848. His work was hailed as a fitting companion to Tocqueville’s Democracy in America as both works at the time were deep philosophical studies of this country’s democratic civilization.

Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Grimke’ was a Southern aristocrat, well-acquainted with American history and possessed a lifetime’s intimate experience with American legal and political institutions.  He parted with what he saw as Tocqueville’s grand mistake “of identifying equality of condition,” instead holding that the American system contained the promise of equality of opportunity.

On the subject of African bondage, he opposed immediate and uncompensated abolition and found himself frequently at odds with sisters Sarah and Angelina, the latter married to the intense Connecticut abolitionist Theodore Weld. Grimke’s first-hand experience with free black communities around Cincinnati convinced him of their not yet being ready to assume the responsibilities of American self-government.

As the sectional gulf between North and South widened, Grimke’ held that States could not nullify federal laws within the Union but were at full liberty to withdraw from that union and form another. He viewed this as akin to a person who had decided to migrate to another country.

He wrote that “no enlightened person who values freedom would contest the right of an individual to emigration; and likewise, none should threaten or compel a State bent on seceding to remain” in a political union it wished to leave.

Grimke’ understood this policy of peaceful departure from the 1789 Union by a group of States to be a lesser evil than war. Grimke’ also believed – as did Jefferson – that a number of regional American confederations might later be created; and while they would have distinct political governments, they would continue to belong, if not to the original union, but to the American democratic civilization which he so greatly prized.”

(The Nature and Tendency of Free Institutions, Frederick Grimke, John Williams Ward, editor. Harvard University Press, 1968. Review essay by Adrienne Kohn, South Carolina Historical Magazine, Vol. 71, 1970.)

 

Union Victory in Colorado

Union Victory in Colorado

Philadelphian Edward W. Wynkoop migrated westward in the late 1850s and became an officer in the First Colorado Regiment early in the Civil War. By 1864 his unit was fighting irate Cheyenne Indians who resisted the constant encroachments of white settlement in their territory. His view of the Indian being less than human was in line with most easterners coming West.

Wynkoop’s superior was Ohioan Colonel John Chivington, a Methodist minister who believe that the Cheyenne would “have to be soundly whipped before they will be quiet.” He instructed now-Major Wynkoop that any Cheyenne found in his vicinity were to be killed outright as that was the only way to deal with them.

Wynkoop came to better understand the Cheyenne leaders after they agreed to peace negotiations as well as release white captives, though Unionist Governor John Evans at Denver agreed with Chivington. Major Wynkoop’s better relations with the Cheyenne was rewarded with his transfer to Fort Reilly, Kansas, ostensibly for not killing enough Indians.

In late November 1864 Col. Chivington, in command of the First and Third Colorado Regiments descended upon the Cheyenne-Arapaho village at Sand Creek which thought it was at peace with the whites. Chivington’s dawn attack butchered about two hundred Cheyenne – two-thirds of them women and children. His troopers later paraded through Denver “with the genitals of the dead dangling from their shirts and hats.”

Wynkoop was soon promoted to lieutenant-colonel and charged with investigating the Sand Creek “battle.” He called the affair an “unprecedented atrocity” in which “women and children were killed and scalped, children shot at their mothers’ breasts, and all the bodies mutilated in the most horrible manner.” Despite the official investigation and Wynkoop’s condemnation of Chivington’s monstrous conduct, the colonel was not charged and allowed to resign and retire from the United States Army.

Col. Chivington’s massacre of helpless Cheyenne only intensified the conflict as the southern Plains once again dripped with blood. Wynkoop continued to arrange peace talks and bring more peaceful relations, but continued postwar white encroachments brought an uneasy peace.

In early 1867 came Gen. Hancock and Custer to threaten the Indians – later came Sheridan, Sherman and Miles on their mission to clear the Plains of Indians.

(Between the Army and the Cheyenne. Louis Kraft. Military History Quarterly, Winter, 2002, pp. 48-53)

The Republican Party’s Manifest Destiny

While Northern Gen. W.T. Sherman is notorious for his war upon Southern civilians, his wife Ellen wrote of her fond hope of seeing a war “of extermination and that all Southerners would be driven like Swine into the sea . . . [and that we may] carry fire and sword into their States till not one habitation is left standing.” Lincoln used Grant, Sherman, Sheridan and Pope to remove or exterminate those in the way of the Republican party’s manifest destiny.

The Republican Party’s Manifest Destiny

“In 1851, the Santee Sioux Indians in Minnesota sold 24,000,000 acres of land to the federal government. The white people got the land but the Indians got almost none of the money. After a devastating crop failure in 1862, the Sioux were starving. With the federal government refusing to pay what was owed the tribe, the Sioux rose up.

Abraham Lincoln dispatched General John Pope to put down the insurrection, and rising to the occasion, Pope told a subordinate: “It is my purpose to utterly exterminate the Sioux . . . they are to be treated as maniacs or wild beasts, and by no means as people with whom treaties and compromise can be made.” The revolt was subdued and the Indians removed.

After show trials of ten to fifteen minutes each, 303 male Indians were sentenced to death. Fearing the bad international publicity that such a bloodbath might bring, Lincoln ordered the list pared down to thirty-nine representative native miscreants – all of whom were hanged on the day after Christmas, 1862.  It was the largest max execution in American history.

In July of 1865 with the war to subdue the American Confederacy scarcely over, Gen. Grant sent Gen. Sherman against the Plains Indians to allow government-subsidized railroads unrestricted passage westward. Warming to the task, Sherman wrote his commander in 1866: “We are not going to let a few thieving, ragged Indians check and stop the progress of the railroads. We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, ever to their extermination, men, women and children.”

Passing orders down to his army, Sherman observed that “during an assault [on an Indian village] the soldiers cannot pause to distinguish between male and female, or even discriminate as to age. As long as resistance to the government is made, death must be meted out.”

(Confessions of a Copperhead. Mark Royden Winchell, Shotwell Publishing, 2022, pp. 48-49)

 

New York City Schools – Circa 1957

Policemen in School Corridors?

The US News & World Report, December 6, 1957, pg. 94.

“Juvenile crime in New York public schools no becomes so serious that a grand jury wants to put police inside each school. “Blackboard jungles,” mostly in Negro and Puerto Rican areas, give most difficulty. Crime complaints exceed 2100 this year. Must schools be policed? A top official says, “We do not want Little Rock in New York City.” Yet trouble is mounting.”

NEW YORK CITY – Serious trouble in the public schools of the nation’s largest city broke into the open last week with a recommendation for drastic action.

Delinquency of all kinds had been growing with 1280 arrests made on New York City school grounds thus far this year. These had been for offenses ranging from petty thievery to rape and murder. A special grand jury investigating lawlessness in Brooklyn’s public schools came up on November 25 with this terse recommendation:

“This grand jury recommends that a uniformed New York City policeman be assigned to all schools throughout the city to patrol the corridors, the stairways and the recreation yards as a preventative measure.”

Reaction to the proposal was swift. New York City Superintendent of Schools William Jansen called it “unthinkable.”

Nevertheless, there was agreement that the situation was serious and close to being out of hand. The judge presiding over the grand jury, Samuel Leibowitz stated that “conditions were alarming and that school authorities have been utterly incapable of coping with the situation.”

Most of the “difficult” schools as listed by the city’s Board of Education are situated in predominantly Negro and Puerto Rican neighborhoods. Student achievement levels there are generally below the average for the city and discipline is a major problem. Teachers are reported to be frequently defied by pupils and, in some instances, to be threatened with physical harm by gang members who invade the classrooms.

The at-school crime that finally touched off the grand jury probe occurred in September at Thomas Jefferson High School in Brooklyn. There, a 17-year-old Negro boy hurled a bottle of lye into a classroom, partially blinding one boy and splattering 18 other pupils and the teacher.

Fear of being assigned to a difficult school has hurt teacher recruiting efforts although the extent of the damage cannot be measured. The facts now coming to light about New York’s school problem indicate that troubles here run deep, and serious school problems, it appears, are not confined to the American South.”

 

Abolitionist Jonathan Walker

Abolitionist Jonathan Walker was born in Massachusetts in 1799, a State known as the first to codify African slavery and deeply involved in the transatlantic slave trade. This brought already enslaved Africans from the Dark Continent’s west coast to the West Indies and North America.

Walker is said to have migrated to the Florida Territory in 1837 attracted by work in railroad construction.

Said to be concerned about working conditions for African slaves used for labor, Walker first conspired with fellow-abolitionist and Quaker Benjamin Lunday to establish a colony of escaped slaves in Mexico. Walker is most notorious for aiding seven African slaves in 1844, who at his suggestion attempted to reach the Bahamas by boat. It is claimed that he fell ill during the voyage and the craft lost its direction with the Africans unable to navigate, but all saved from disaster by a passing sloop in search of wrecks to salvage. All were taken to Key West and turned over to civil authorities; the Africans were likely boarded at the island’s barracoon while awaiting return to their employment. Walker was imprisoned for his crime.

Anchored off Key West on Saturday, July 12, 1844, Master Edwin Anderson aboard the USS General Taylor noted in his diary that at 1PM a corporal’s guard from the island’s US garrison came alongside with Walker who was to be conveyed to Pensacola. Anderson recorded that the prisoner was “confined in double irons and placed below in the hold.” Arriving at Pensacola on the 18th of July, Walker was turned over to the city marshal and held at the city jail. Some accounts claim that the Africans were confined with him, though it was more likely they were returned from where Walker had enticed them.

Tried in federal court at Pensacola, Walker was punished with eleven months imprisonment and a fine of $10,000 which was said to have been paid by Northern abolitionists. It was claimed that Walker’s right hand was “branded” with S.S. to indicate “slave stealer,” though this was likely invented for the benefit of gullible Northern audiences. After release from prison Walker returned to Plymouth, Massachusetts where he found but little sympathy for his actions.

Walker’s abolitionist friends saw him as valuable to their own ends and sent him on a five-month lecture tour of the North to further whip audiences into an anti-Southern frenzy. After events such as this, the American South began reducing its commerce with the North while recalculating the benefit of political union with the Northern States.

Herein lies an important cause of Southern independence, or “secession,” from the United States. The States that prosecuted the war to deny that independence, were led by those New England States primarily responsible for the African slaves in North America and had profited handsomely from the transatlantic slave trade that brought them – already enslaved – from Africa. To his credit, Lincoln had proposed compensated emancipation to deal with slavery, which the sons of New England slave traders loudly denounced.

 

 

Emancipation and Colonization

The antebellum idea of compensated emancipation for slaves never gained traction as the North would not agree to help fund the repatriation of Africans’ they themselves had grown wealthy importing to the Americas for 100 years or more. Abraham Lincoln was an avid proponent of colonization once his armies overran the South and created refugees, knowing the North would not accept them flooding northward. Lincoln’s Caribbean colonization schemes are mentioned below and further detailed in the soon-to-be-released “Rather Unsafe for a Southern Man to Live Here: Key West’s Civil War,” by Bernhard Thuersam.  www.shotwellpublishing.com.

Emancipation and Colonization

Hugh Talmadge Lefler and Albert Ray Newsome well-explained antebellum views toward slavery in their History of North Carolina (Chapel Hill, 1954). They wrote that slavery was the most serious antebellum controversy between North and South with people in both sections criticizing it as a moral, economic and social evil. But importantly, the United States Constitution recognized those held to labor and left the States with complete authority over the question within their own borders. Though every Northern State took action to begin gradual emancipation by 1804 – with many selling their slaves southward – no Southern State followed suit because of economic, social and racial considerations.

Lefler and Newsome wrote that “Many Southerners opposed slavery and realized its dangerous possibilities, but most of the early Southern opposition to the slavery was conditioned upon the “antislavery” idea of gradual emancipation to owners, and colonization to Africa or elsewhere. The colonization plan, sponsored by various manumission societies, proved impractical, though Liberia on the African coast was begun as a result of a few thousand Negroes being colonized there by the joint efforts of these societies and acts of Congress.”

The question of colonization was on the mind of Abraham Lincoln once his 1861 invasion destroyed Upper South plantations and produced numerous black refugees.  It was Lincoln’s early intention to emancipate by decree through constitutional amendments and compensating owners – but this failed to gain support in his fractious party.

Author Michael J. Douma has written extensively of Lincoln’s colonization plans and noting that “Historians have long known that in the summer of 1862 Lincoln announced his intention to negotiate with foreign powers concerning the colonization of freedmen abroad.” For the next two years federally-funded initiatives arose to settle freedmen in Chiriqui [Panama] and Haiti – in addition to the British Honduras, Guiana and Dutch Surinam. These talks were quite serious and continued even after the war, anticipating the transport of freedmen to these islands as laborers.

The Danes also expressed interest in colonizing unwanted contrabands to work their plantations on St. Croix, now the US Virgin Islands. In 1862 Seward signed an agreement with the Danes to take all captured aboard slave ships in the Atlantic to St. Croix to work as plantation labor despite Danish acknowledgement that workers on the island would not find conditions much different from previous slavery, but they would be technically “free.” To facilitate the process of removal the Lincoln authorized Danish ships to sail down the US east coast to recruit freedmen. The Danish minister viewed South Carolina as a highly fertile recruiting ground which was seconded by Secretary of State Seward. The Dutch were also fascinated with freedmen and actively sought them as labor for their colony of Suriname on South America’s northeast coast.

Lincoln and Seward were not the only proponents of colonization as they were ably supported by leading Republicans Charles Sumner, Francis Blair, Preston King and Benjamin Wade. Though supportive before 1863, all became aware of the value of black troops used to invade the South as white volunteers became hard to find or had to be paid astronomical financial bounties to enlist. Few black men stepped forward and many had to be coerced, but by war’s end the colonization to the Caribbean regained speed.

 

Emancipation Explained

Perhaps in anticipation of emancipation, in 1862 the constitutional convention in Illinois proposed in Article XVII that “No Negro or mulatto shall migrate or settle in this State; No Negro or mulatto shall have the right of suffrage or hold any office in the State; The general assembly shall pass all laws necessary to carry into effect the provisions of this article.”

Emancipation Explained

“As incident to the war of 1861 “and as a fit and necessary war measure” in September 1862, was issued a paper which (with a sequel 100 days later) is called “proclamation of emancipation.” By this in portions of the country called rebellious, slaves were made free, unless by the 1st of January 1863, said communities ceased to rebel. Slave ownership was to be the reward of loyalty, slave abolition the penalty of rebellion.

This might be translated: “Negroes shall continue to be slaves to their masters if only their masters will be slaves to us. Let us have in peace the jobs which are in sight and your slaves may reap in peace your harvests, taxed only by our tariffs. We will let you have your slaves if you will let us have your freedom.”

After this offer had been made and rejected, who had the right to say that the South was fighting to preserve slavery, or Lincoln for the slave’s freedom? As in the South construed, the motive was not to free the slave but to enslave the free.

In October 1863, Lord Brougham (an abolitionist ab initio) referring to this proclamation said: “Hollow we may well call it for those who proclaimed emancipation confess that it was a measure of hostility to the whites and designed to produce slave insurrection from which the much enduring nature of the unhappy Negro saved the country.”

(Brilliant Eulogy on Gen. W.H. Payne from Good Old Rebels Who Don’t Care, Leigh Robinson, Southern Historical Society Papers, Vol. XXXVI, R.A. Brock, ed., 1991, Broadfoot Publishing, pp. 328-331)

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