Juneteenth Revisited – “The rest of the story”…

June 27, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

Roughly a week ago we were observing the most recent addition to our list of Federal Holidays: Juneteenth, which commemorates the day when Union troops marched into Galveston, Texas and Major General Gordon Granger informed the people of Texas that all enslaved people were now free. His General Order (No. 3) stated: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free…”. However, what is that at the end? Dot, dot, dot? There’s more?

His full order reads as follows: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.” In other words, “You are free, but if you think the government is going to support you if you leave your new ’employer’, think again.” For many, this would be analogous to someone who was bound, kidnapped, and being transported by airplane to some horrible location having their bindings removed and told they were welcome to leave any time they want (albeit, at 10,000 feet without a parachute). While this Order is quite historic, and the day does deserve to be celebrated, there is a whiff of Hotel California in the air: “You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave!”

Am I exaggerating – misrepresenting the circumstances? One might think so, but an article I recently discovered within a July 16, 1865 issue of The New York Times which printed a follow-up Order by General Granger given approximately one week later begs to differ:

Even when granted with good intentions, freedom needs to be embraced – and the “doing so” is often fraught with hardship. However, while the struggle continues, taking time to celebrate this momentous occasion (along with the many victories which have occurred since June 19, 1865) is worthy of our unified, citizen-wide efforts – regardless of our racial, social, political, religious or economic differences. The intrinsic hope of “We The People!” must ever be before us.

The Fight Against Slavery… 1822…

June 13, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

If asked to name famous men and women who fought to free slaves and/or to bring an end to this horrible era in American history, most short-lists would likely include Frederick Douglass, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, and John Brown, but many others were also sacrificially and emphatically committed to the cause who are relatively (if not completely) unknown. Such is the case of Telemaque, a free former slave who was executed for conspiracy. If you are from Charleston, SC, you likely know his name long with a handful of his accomplishments; however, the remainder of us would do well to learn more about him:  Telemaque (Denmark Vessey)

A woodcut masthead is worth a thousand words… Slavery…

May 16, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

A few weeks back my favorite person posted: Take a Closer Look … The Delicate Details of Woodcut Prints… 

Such prints are truly amazing. However, as is the case with (most?) works of art, to some degree they tell a story. One such story is that of “Slavery – The Cry for Emancipation”, as told through the masthead of The Liberator. While we have many historic newspapers containing articles chronicling the path from the horrors of slavery, through emancipation, then on to suffrage and beyond, few rival what is communicated through this most-amazing, intricate, illustration which was present at the top of nearly every issue. At a distance its beauty speaks to the eyes, but a close-up view shouts to the heart: ENOUGH!

See for yourself:

A Thankful Heart from the Mouth of Babes…

September 20, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

Sometimes an image perfectly captures an emotion or a moment in time. Sometimes that moment is in the present but sometimes it won’t be noticed for decades. Recently, as I was putting together issues for one of our collectors, I came across an image on the front of a Harper’s Weekly dated January 4, 1902 which was that perfect snapshot. Our culture seems to have gotten murky and a bit hard to decipher at times., but on the front of the photo of a little boy captured the simplicity of his life. He was thankful for a man who had sacrificed greatly to make his life better. Perhaps, as a way to cut through the muck and mire of our time, a thankful heart is just what our culture… what we… what I need.

The American Dream at Work…

June 10, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

What is the American Dream? We often hear that phrase bantered about but people seem to have differing views of just what it means. I was recently reading an article by a young woman in her early thirties with 2 small children. She and her husband had decided to move to Hawaii for a simpler life… a life not cluttered with as many things or as many stresses. Her final words on the subject were, “we chose to give up the American Dream”. WHAT !?! She had me until that final statement. Is it possible she could have grown up in this country and not actually know what the American Dream is !?! Could she have been deluded to believe the American Dream is about things and schedules and the size of your home? Ok … I’ve taken a breath and calmed down a bit. One of the blessings we have as students of American History is a foundational knowledge of what our Founders believed the American Dream was. Let me allow them to speak for themselves:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

The pursuit of Happiness … very different from guaranteed happiness. In many ways, the ability to pursue something is a far greater gift than it being given to you. There is often joy and a deep sense of accomplishment in the striving. Being handed something on a silver platter lacks the ability to give the same growth and satisfaction.

On April 14, 1964, The Leominster Enterprise wrote a front page article covering the Academy Award winners from the night before. One of these stars was Sidney Poitier, “who struggled from the poverty of a Caribbean tomato farm … Poitier, who was born in Florida, but who was raised on a tomato farm in Nassau, was unable to addend school until he was 11 years old. Two years later he was forced to help support his family. When he was 16 he moved to New York City with a series of odd jobs, including ditch digger, store clerk, pin-boy in a bowling alley and longshoreman. He finally joined the American Negro Theater and worked as a janitor in exchange for acting lessons. He advanced to small roles and moved on to stage parts…”.

Now there is the American Dream at work!

PS. That evening, Sidney Poitier became the 1st black man to win an Academy Award – all due to his PURSUIT of the American Dream.

They Put It In Print (1862)… Slavery At The Capital…

July 10, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

We all have a tendency to view things through a lens of our own creation – and the internet and social media – both which customize our “news” to our liking, only help refine our “news” into that which reinforces our worldview. In the end, honest, open dialogue – once the fabric of our public discourse, is reduced to mere noise falling upon deadened ears. Truth is, all Republicans… all Democrats… all Libertarians… all those who disagree with our point of view are not uneducated, haters, bigots and/or evil. Republicans do not “own” patriotism, and Democrats do not possess the mantle of black-American advocacy. How do we know? Back in 1862, The New York Tribune dated March 14, 1862 put it in print:

 

 

I’m New Here: Week Sixteen…

May 31, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Here in “our neck of the woods” Spring frequently brings tornado warnings. Yesterday, radios, smartphones, and computer displays all sounded the alarm. One of the part-time people working on the labels for Catalog 283 asked what I would choose for my last meal before the tornado hit. I parried with “what would you take into your safe space from the annals?” And my contribution, quickly and easily, was “The American Museum” issues — as many as I could grab from the shelf.
I have one collector who looks for these and he contacts me by email with a list of five or six dates. Every time I search, thinking “there is no way we have any from that month.” Each time I locate one or two, and he happily buys them. During that brief interaction studying dates and verifying the appropriate appendices I have come to find this publication ridiculously beautiful. If I were trapped in a tornado shelter, 18th Century American Magazines would suffice for amusement and instruction. In a single issue there are lexicons for four different Native American languages, methods for preparing dye, a treatise on the Biblical perspective of capital punishment, and political news from around the world. Stock prices are listed alongside poetry. In fact, the complete title enthralls me: “The American Museum: or Repository of Ancient and Modern Fugitive Pieces, &c. Prose and Poetical”.
Subscriber names, by state, are listed alphabetically over the first ten pages. The issue I randomly pulled has a touching inscription: “Henry Wayman Woods presented by his dear mother August 6, 1832. Wisdom is the principle thing, Henry.” The content feature is Lexington and Concord, but buried within one of the random sections is an article about the first reported African-American doctor and details of the “Virginia Calculator”, a slave from New Orleans who was described as a savant by Dr. Benjamin Rush (one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence).
There is so much to learn, packed within these octavo-sized (8” x 5”) papers.  Knowledge was culled from every imaginable subject, in order to educate and enlighten.  A well-informed public, it seems, was deemed critical for the development of the young country.  In my opinion, that’s a lofty goal that would translate well to any civilization at any point in history.

Wisdom is, quite possibly, the principle thing.

Salute in protest… The Traveler…

October 15, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

I journeyed today to Parsons, Kansas, via The Parsons Sun of October 17, 1968. I found the Olympics were being held in Mexico City and that the United States sprinter Tommie Smith had broken the World’s Record. But that is not completely what claimed the headline, it reads “Set World Mark – Sprinters In Protest”. “Black, not gold, became the dominant color of these troubled 19th Olympic Games today… the dark cloud of racial unrest overshadowed the record-breaking performances of the U.S. athletes.  Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised high the block-gloved fist of racial protest Wednesday while still on the podium after receiving their medals for the a 1-3 finish in the 200-meter dash… ‘White America would not understand’ the gesture, Carlos… ‘They recognize me only when I do something bad and they call em ‘Negro…'”

Due to their actions, the Olympic Committee’s response was to suspend the two athletes from the US team and ban them from the Olympic Village. The US Olympic Committee refused, but then they were threatened with banning the entire US track team. This threat lead to the expulsion of the two athletes from the Games.

~The Traveler

The Traveler… the Ku Klux Klan… Their first “recorded” assassination…

July 26, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

A little over a month ago I journeyed to Wilmington, North Carolina, by the way of the Daily Journal dated June 17, 1868. There I found the headline “The Georgia Military Outrage.” “On the night of the 30th of March, G. W. Ashburn was killed in a negro house of ill-fame, in the city of Columbus, Georgia… One Bennett, who had been an active Radical partisan, a prominent member of the ‘loyal league,’ was in the house at the time of the killing… Sometime after the killing, and after the military Governor of Georgia had offered an unusually large reward for the apprehension of the murderers, several of the most prominent and respectable young gentlemen of Columbus were arrested by military authority, together with two negroes… When the matter of the arrests was brought to the attention of Congress and the country by Hon. Mr. Beck… now confined in the military barracks at Atlanta, awaiting trial… “

Considered a scalawag by his white Columbus neighbors, he worked with the Freedmens Bureau and alongside African American leaders such as Henry McNeal Turner. His actions quickly created several enemies across the South. Ashburn lived amongst the African American population and garnered attention from the Ku Klux Klan, which established their Columbus chapter on March 21, 1868 after a visit from Nathan Bedford Forrest. Henry Benning testified that Mr. Ashburn had “quit his wife and took up with a negro woman in Columbus.” The trial, beginning on June 29, gained national attention as over twenty persons were arrested and held at Fort McPherson. The prisoners consisted mostly of prominent white residents of Columbus. General Henry L. Benning and former Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens agreed to represent the accused. The Federal government was pushing for Georgia to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment, while the Georgia legislature was resisting it. The defenders of the KKK saw here an opportunity for a bargain. On July 21, as the trial progressed, Georgia agreed to ratify the 14th Amendment in exchange for General Meade’s termination of the prosecution of the murder. All prisoners made bail and returned to Columbus. No one was ever prosecuted. [source: Wikipedia]

~The Traveler

Snapshot 1827… Fourth of July – New York abolishes slavery…

July 4, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

The following snapshot comes from the July 9, 1827 issue of The Connecticut Courant, Hartford

 

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