The Jim Crow Laws were created in 1876 simply to segregate black people from the white population. Some English Dictionaries define ‘Jim Crow’ as the name for an implement that can straighten or bend iron rails; or, along with ‘Jim Crowism’, systems or practices of racial discrimination or segregation. The American English Dictionary suggests that the name only emerged in dictionaries in 1904, but it was clearly used generally in 1876, at least.
The origin of Jim Crow goes back to the 1820s and is credited to a song-and-dance man, Thomas Dartmouth ‘Daddy’ Rice. He implied that he had seen a limping black slave singing the following verse:
‘Come listen all you galls and boys
I’m going to sing a song
My names is Jim Crow
Weel about and turn around and do jis so,
Eb’ry time I weel about and jump Jim Crow.’
In 1828 Rice was the first man to blacken his face, dress as a plantation slave and perform such a routine, using his own compositions. As he gained fame he expanded his repertoire and gradually penned forty-four verses, most of them extremely insensitive. Indeed, his mockery of black people grew to the extent that his derogatory Jim Crow verses helped deepen the gulf between black and white communities. In 1838, the Southern States passed various laws of racial segregation, focused against the black sectors. By the turn of the century those laws were called the Jim Crow laws, both north and south.
Reverend Ralph David Abernathy, a grandson of a slave, became a highly respected pioneer who, alongside Martin Luther King, strove for civil rights for African Americans.
Abernathy was born on 11 March 1926 in Linden Alabama. He was one of William L. Abernathy’s twelve children and the family lived on his 500-acre farm. Well respected, William was the first black man to serve on a grand jury in his county. Ralph attended the Linden Academy, a Baptist school founded by the first Mount Pleasant District Association. Whilst there he led his first demonstration – protesting against the dire state of the college’s science lab.
During World War Two Abernathy enlisted in the army. Before the war he had not been aware of the blatant and widespread hostility towards black people and was stunned by the strict black and white segregation. Despite the disadvantage of his skin colour he achieved the rank of Platoon Sergeant; but a bout of rheumatic fever finished his army career. He was given an honourable discharge and a flight back to America.
After the war Abernathy enrolled at the Alabama State University; where he gained a Science Degree in Mathematics (with honours). Also, he earned a Master of Science Degree in Sociology while building the foundations of the Civil Rights Movement with Martin Luther King, Jr. His thesis, The Natural History of a Social Movement: The Montgomery Improvement Association, was later published in book form entitled The Walking City-the Montgomery Bus Boycott 1955-1956. During his studies Abernathy joined the ministry, delivering his first sermon on Mother’s Day, 1948.
Dred Scott was a slave who, through the courts, tried to obtain his and his family’s freedom. Eventually, in 1857, after eleven years of fighting, the US Supreme Court found against him, declaring that as an African descendent he was not an American citizen and therefore could not use the courts to sue for freedom. The decision further widened the gulf between the pro and anti-slavery movements. Less than three years after the decision, the US was at war.
Born in Virginia about 1799, Dred Scott was born a slave and brought up on the St Louis estate of his master, Peter Blow. In 1832, Blow died and Scott was purchased by an army surgeon, Dr John Emerson. In the course of his work, Emerson was posted to various different posts, and each time he took Scott with him. From Missouri, Emerson was posted to Illinois, a free state, then, after a stay of two and a half years, to the Wisconsin Territory, a free territory. It was in Wisconsin that Scott met fellow-slave, Harriet Robinson. Upon their marriage, Robinson also became the property of Dr Emerson. The Scotts were to have two children.
After several years away, Emerson, and his new wife, Irene, returned to Missouri, a slave state. Dr Emerson died in 1843, and Scott attempted to buy his freedom from Emerson’s widow, offering her the princely sum of $300. She refused.
Scott v Emerson
Not to be thwarted, in 1847, Dred and Harriet Scott took their case to court, arguing that as they had resided in two free states they, and their children, should be rendered freed from the bonds of servitude. The Scotts lost the case on a technicality but, in 1851, they were allowed a re-trial within the lower court. This time, the court agreed with the Scotts and granted them their freedom. But in 1852, the higher court, the Missouri Supreme Court, overturned the decision. Mrs Emerson moved away from Missouri, leaving her late husband’s estate, including its slaves, to her brother, John F A Sanford.
The American Civil War was a years-long battle that divided the United States into two: north versus south. The war is most often remembered for its role in the end of slavery in the South, but many other political issues affected how each side was supported. The process of taking sides in the battle split families and friendships and created conflict between once-peaceful communities. But the Civil War was especially complex for Native Americans.
Native American tribes living in warring states were forced to make choices that affected their future. Tribes understood that aligning with the losing side could eventually put their freedom at risk. They also risked losing the ancestral lands they occupied. But there was disagreement over which side was the right one to follow, and that caused Native Americans to split their support. In some cases, individual tribes split to support opposing sides, creating another layer of conflict in the already complex fight between states.
Divided interests and allegiances
In total, more than 28,000 Native Americans participated in the American Civil War. (Pictured, an unidentified Native Indian during the Civil War, photographed by Mathew Brady). In many cases, the motivations for entering the war and choosing a side depended on perspective. For example, in the Union states, Native Americans had greater latitude in deciding whether to fight or stay out of the conflict. There were incentives to get involved, such as building goodwill with the government and continuing the tradition of fierce, brave tribal warriors. Perhaps most importantly, participating in the war carried the potential to earn Native Americans increased respect and ultimately help them preserve their culture within a growing country.
Stephen Douglas and Abraham Lincoln were both from Illinois, both were politicians, and both courted Mary Todd. There, the similarities seem to end.
Born in Brandon, Vermont to Stephen Arnold and Sarah Fisk Douglas, Stephen Douglas had a degree of formal education. Enough, at least, to qualify him to work as an itinerant teacher after he migrated to Winchester, Illinois in 1833. But schools in the American wilderness were only open for three months per year, and teachers’ pay was about three dollars per year for each student they taught. Douglas began to study law and settled in Jacksonville, Illinois.
Not long after, Douglas began his political career when he was appointed state’s attorney of Morgan County, Illinois. It was the first of a string of public offices. He was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives, appointed registrar of the Springfield, Illinois, land office, became the Illinois secretary of state, and was appointed associate justice to the Illinois Supreme Court in 1841 at the age of 27.
When Douglas was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1842, he resigned from the Illinois Supreme Court. He was elected for a second term in 1844, but in 1846, he ran for United States Senate and won.
In March of 1847, he married Martha Martin, the daughter of a Mississippi plantation owner. When his father-in-law died, Martha inherited the plantation, along with 100 slaves. Her husband was appointed manager of the estate and received twenty per cent of the profits. Douglas used the income to hire a manager and to advance his political career. He and Martha moved to Chicago where they had two sons. On 19 June 1853, Martha died giving birth to a daughter who also died.
Abolitonist, journalist, and social reformer, William Lloyd Garrison was born 12 December 1805 in Newburyport, Massachusetts. His parents, Abijah Garrison and Frances Maria Lloyd Garrison, immigrated to the United States from New Brunswick, Canada. His father abandoned the family in 1808 and young Garrison sold lemonade and candy to help support the family.
At the age of 13, Garrison was apprenticed to the Newbury Herald, where he began writing newspaper articles. He later owned his own paper, Free Press. It was a short-lived enterprise, but it was the first of several papers that he would own. Garrison kept writing, began speaking and publishing his work. In 1828, he became editor of the National Philanthropist in Boston, Massachusetts.
He joined the abolition movement at the age of 25 and associated himself, for a time, with the American Colonization Society, which promoted the relocation of African Americans to colonies in Africa. Garrison later rejected the concept of colonization, which was intended to reduce the number of freed slaves in the United States. He apologized for his ‘error,’ and began to censure others for making the same ‘mistake.’
The Black List
William Lloyd Garrison became co-editor of Genius of Universal Emancipation, a Quaker newspaper in Baltimore, Maryland. While working for the Genius, Garrison moved from the gradualist concept of ending slavery to the immediatist viewpoint. He began to include a column in the Genius called the ‘Black List’ which passed along stories of abuse and injustice against slaves. He ran a story on the list of a ship owner who was involved in the slave trade. After being sued, fined, and arrested for not paying the fine, Garrison and the Genuis parted ways.
If the French and Indian War of the mid-18th century had turned out differently, the official language of today’s United States might be French, not English. Some historians credit Native American nations, including the Chickasaw, for the British victory.
Native Americans figured prominently on both sides of the hostilities. Far from being pawns of European powers, tribe leaders were pursuing their economic and historic interests.
Brief Overview of the French and Indian War (1756-1763)
The war was primarily a contest between imperial France and Britain for control over lucrative colonies in North America. Quebec and the Ohio River Valley were at the heart of the competition — and were the primary battlegrounds.
French and British forces didn’t fight any major battles south of the Ohio River Valley. But the southern arena had strategic importance, because it lay between the valley and the French colony of Louisiana. Raids by native forces allied with the British complicated French resupply efforts from the south. Thus, France not only had difficulty equipping its troops, but often lacked sufficient Continue reading
General Sir Henry Clinton, 1730 – 1795, was a key commander of British forces during the American Revolution, and British commander-in-chief from 1778 to 1782.
Little is known of the earliest years of Henry Clinton’s life. Even his date of birth, 16 April 1730, is in doubt. In 1739 his father, a high-ranking military naval officer, applied for the governorship of the Province of New York. He won the post in 1741 with the assistance of the Duke of Newcastle (who was his brother’s brother-in-law), but did not actually go to New York until 1743, taking young Henry with him.
Henry Clinton was educated in the New York and began his military career by joining the local militia in 1748. Three years later, he returned to England to enter the British Army. Purchasing a commission as a captain in the Coldstream Guards, Clinton proved a gifted officer.
American War of Independence
Clinton took part in the 1775 Battle of Bunker Hill, Massachusetts, and went on to command an unsuccessful expedition against Charleston, South Carolina in 1776. In 1777, he headed the British occupation of Rhode Island. When the British Commander, Sir William Howe moved on Philadelphia, Clinton assumed the command of New York, but took no part in the British defeat at Saratoga, New York.
Born 26 March 1914, near Spartanburg, South Carolina, William Westmoreland went on to fight in most of America’s major areas of conflict during World War Two and the Cold War, and came to prominence during the Vietnam War. He served as Superintendent at West Point, and enjoyed the patronage of two US Presidents. However, by the end of 1968 his reputation was in tatters, and his stock had declined such that the aspiring nominee for the Republican party’s presidential candidate in 1980 refused to sit next to him on a flight for fear that he be tarnished by association with the disgraced former general.
As commander of Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), Westmoreland strongly believed in the policy of attrition, refusing to accept that a small nation such as North Vietnam could absorb huge losses. This belief led him to misinterpret the critical lessons of the war, none more so than the unsuitability of conventional big unit tactics to the jungles of Vietnam. Whilst he rightly pointed to the horrendous casualty figures on the communist side, this ignored the growing casualty lists, and equipment losses on the US side.
The Tet Offensive of 1968 turned out to be the beginning of the end of his military career in Vietnam. After announcing the light at the end of the tunnel in a press conference at the end of 1967, his claims of impending success were shown to be hollow as the North Vietnamese launched their largest campaign of the conflict thus far. Even as Westmoreland emphasized the success of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) and US forces in crushing the offensive, images of Viet Cong (VC) guerrillas in the grounds of the US embassy, and holding out in the South Vietnamese city of Hue only served to undermine his credibility still further.
Slavery in the newly-established United States did encounter a decline shortly after the end of the American Revolution. It has been argued that slavery might have eventually died out from lack of necessity. At this crucial time, however, a young man from Massachusetts named Eli Whitney was on his way to South Carolina to accept a position as a tutor. Instead, he accepted an invitation from Catherine Greene to visit her Georgia plantation. While there, Whitney invented the cotton gin. The year was 1793, and the cotton gin was a key invention in the industrial revolution. It made the production of short staple cotton profitable and invigorated the need for slave labor to produce it.
North vs South
As the new nation spread westward, the balance of power between slave state and free state became of major concern. The industrialized North had different needs than the agrarian South, which meant that legislation intended to benefit one side was sometimes detrimental to the other. Both sides were acutely aware of how important it was to have as much or more power in government than the other in order to safeguard their interests.
When the Louisiana Territory was purchased, concern as to whether territories applying for admission to the United States were slave or free grew. The territory stretched from the Gulf of Mexico to beyond the Canadian border. It included all or part of what would become fourteen states as well as a small portion of Canada, with the Mississippi River as its eastern boundary. Both sides of the slavery issue knew that dividing the territory into states, and determining whether each of those states was free or slave was crucial to the balance of political power.