How many Americans know that the first slave owner in America was a black tobacco farmer? How many Americans are aware that thousands of free blacks in the South were, themselves, slave owners?
Answer: Very few.
Embedded in the minds of Americans is a grand distortion of black history.
Our perception depends largely on activists in Hollywood and revisionists in academia. Add those who parrot Hollywood and academia and you have a broad swath of ignorance prevailing in America.
DailyKenn.com is here to set the record straight; at least in part.
Did you know the following about black history in America?
• The first slave owner in American history was black.
Anthony Johnson came to the American colonies in August, 1619 as an indentured servant. In 1623 Johnson had completed his indenture and was recognized as a free negro. In 1651 he acquired 250 acres of land in Virginia, later adding another 250 acres; a sizable holding at the time.
John Casor, a black indentured servant employed by Johnson, became America's first slave after a legal dispute with Robert Parker. Parker was a white colonist who employed Casor while Casor was still indentured to Johnson. Johnson sued Parker in Northampton Court in 1654. The court upheld Johnson's right to hold Casor as a slave on March 8, 1655. The court found:
The court seriously consideringe and maturely weighing the premisses, doe fynde that the saide Mr. Robert Parker most unjustly keepeth the said Negro from Anthony Johnson his master ... It is therefore the Judgement of the Court and ordered That the said John Casor Negro forthwith returne unto the service of the said master Anthony Johnson, And that Mr. Robert Parker make payment of all charges in the suit.
Five years later, in 1670, the colonial assembly passed legislation permitting blacks and Indians the right to own slaves of their own race, but prohibiting them from owning White slaves. [source]
• Free blacks commonly owned black slaves in the antebellum South.
There were thousands of black slave owners in the South.
"In 1830 there were 3,775 such slaveholders in the South who owned 12,740 black slaves, with 80% of them located in Louisiana, South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. There were economic differences between free blacks of the Upper South and Deep South, with the latter fewer in number, but wealthier and typically of mixed race. Half of the black slaveholders lived in cities rather than the countryside, with most in New Orleans and Charleston."
Historians John Hope Franklin and Loren Schweninger wrote:
"A large majority of profit-oriented free black slaveholders resided in the Lower South. For the most part, they were persons of mixed racial origin, often women who cohabited or were mistresses of white men, or mulatto men ... . Provided land and slaves by whites, they owned farms and plantations, worked their hands in the rice, cotton, and sugar fields, and like their white contemporaries were troubled with runaways."
Historian Ira Berlin wrote:
"In slave societies, nearly everyone – free and slave – aspired to enter the slaveholding class, and upon occasion some former slaves rose into slaveholders’ ranks. Their acceptance was grudging, as they carried the stigma of bondage in their lineage and, in the case of American slavery, color in their skin."
To write extensively about blacks who owned slaves in the antebellum South would require a library of full volumes. Black slaveowners: free Black slave masters in South Carolina, 1790-1860 By Larry Koger is one such volume.
Koger tells of Richard Holloway, Sr., a black carpenter who purchased his African cousins as slave labor. Cato was the name of one of his slaves. Cato remained in Holloway's possession throughout the 1830s and '40s, according to Koger, until he was sold to his son, Richard Holloway, Jr., in 1845. Cato died in 1851 and the younger Holloway replaced him with the purchase of a 16-year-old black male.
Koger says there were ten black slave owners in Charleston City, SC in 1830.
In 1860 the largest slave owner in South Carolina was William Ellison, a black plantation owner.
Again, to account for all black-owned slave in the South would require a volume of books.
• Blacks owning black slaves was even common in the pre-war North.
Nor was black-on-black slavery unique to Southern states.
Koger informs us that in 1830 New York City recorded eight black slave holders who owned a total of 17 black slaves. The total number of slaves owned by blacks in 1830 was more than 10,000 according to the federal census of 1830; and that includes only four states: Louisiana, Maryland, South Carolina and Virginia. In addition there were "black master in every state where slavery existed," Koger says.
There is no record, to my knowledge, of a slave ship disembarking in a Southern port. All blacks slaves from Africa were delivered to ports in the North and transported to the South.
• Without black African slave owners there would have been no slavery in America.
Henry Louis Gates of the White House 'Beer Summit' fame enraged his base in 2010 by strongly opposing repartions to blacks. According to Gates the slave trade was almost wholly the result of black slave owners selling their human wares to Europeans.
"While we are all familiar with the role played by the United States and the European colonial powers like Britain, France, Holland, Portugal and Spain, there is very little discussion of the role Africans themselves played. And that role, it turns out, was a considerable one, especially for the slave-trading kingdoms of western and central Africa. These included the Akan of the kingdom of Asante in what is now Ghana, the Fon of Dahomey (now Benin), the Mbundu of Ndongo in modern Angola and the Kongo of today’s Congo, among several others."
"The historians John Thornton and Linda Heywood of Boston University estimate that 90 percent of those shipped to the New World were enslaved by Africans and then sold to European traders. The sad truth is that without complex business partnerships between African elites and European traders and commercial agents, the slave trade to the New World would have been impossible, at least on the scale it occurred." [Emphasis added]
The notion of White European raiding parties descending on unsuspecting African villages is a gross distortion of reality. Not only does the historical record argue against White raiding parties, but such parties would have been costly and inefficient compared to purchasing Africans already held in slavery. White slave traders would not endure the risk related to such incursions. Furthermore, Africans already held as slaves would be less willing to resist, particularly among those whose African owners were brutal enemies.
[Source: Ending the Slavery Blame-Game, Henry Louis Gates, The New York Times April 22, 2010]
• Beating black slaves in the South was extremely uncommon.
In 1838 Harriet Martineau visited New Orleans where she heard tales of a particularly abusive slave owner. At issue was slave owner Delphine LaLaurie who resided in a mansion at 1140 Royal Street. "Martineau reported that public rumors about LaLaurie's mistreatment of her slaves were sufficiently widespread that a local lawyer was dispatched to Royal Street to remind LaLaurie of the laws relevant to the upkeep of slaves." The attorney found no evidence of wrong doing.
Nonetheless, LaLaurie was forced to forfeit nine slaves after a subsequent investigation found her guilty of slave abuse.
It was later rumored that one of LaLaurie slaves intentionally set fire to the mansion to draw attention to ongoing abuse. Bystanders forced entry to squelch the fire and discovered "seven slaves, more or less horribly mutilated ... suspended by the neck, with their limbs apparently stretched and torn from one extremity to the other."
Tale of the abuse quickly spread throughout New Orleans. An angry mob of White residents descended on the mansion and "demolished and destroyed everything upon which they could lay their hands."
LaLaurie fled the mob violence, escaping to Mobile, Alabama and then to Paris.
What we learn from the historical LaLaurie episode is that:
1. Laws protecting slaves from abuse were enforced.
2. White residents did not tolerate owners who abused their slaves.
• Mutiny by black soldiers occurred in the U.S. military.
The two most notorious black mutinies were in Houston (1917) and Townsville, Australia (1942).
The latter mutiny was marred by black soldiers turning machine guns on their commanding officers. Australian troops were summoned to quash the rebellion. When serving in the U.S. Congress, Lyndon Johnson was sent to Townsville to investigate the uprising. The Townsville mutiny remained censored from American history until early 2012 when papers of the late president were reviewed.
• About one-third of lynching victims were white.
There were 4,743 victims of lynching between 1882 and 1968. Of those 1,297 were white and 3,446 were black.
Lynchings occurred in 44 states. There were more whites than blacks lynched in 25 of those 44 states.
The Department of Justice informs us that each year there are an estimated 8,000 to 9,000 black-on-black homicides. Using 8,500 as a mean, there are as many black-on-black homicides every five months as there were blacks killed during the 86-year lynching era.
SOURCE, with sources: http://dailykenn.blogspot.com/2012/05/2-how-many-americans-know-that-first.html
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