Black History/Black Resistance

Pat Young

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My new article on Black Resistance during the Civil War and Reconstruction is up on the scholarly site Emerging Civil War. From resistance to abuse, to making sure their kids got an education, to political and labor organizing, you will see examples of African Americans seizing the opportunities that freedom presented from 1863 to 1869.
 
My new article on Black Resistance during the Civil War and Reconstruction is up on the scholarly site Emerging Civil War. From resistance to abuse, to making sure their kids got an education, to political and labor organizing, you will see examples of African Americans seizing the opportunities that freedom presented from 1863 to 1869.
Great rebuttal to Ron in your comments section.
 

Ole Miss

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Pat as always a well researched and written article! West Bogan's plight fairly well encapsulated the life of freed slaves living in the former Confederate territories.
I wish I could comment further but sadly I am not that well versed with the history of freed slaves to offer any further insights to this topic.
Regards
David
 

atlantis

Sergeant Major
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Pat I question whether the EP is constitutional. As for the black codes post war they were a legitimate attempt to create a legal format for the development of relations between the freed slaves and their former owners. The 14th and 15th amendments whatever their merits did damage to our constitutional system.
 

Pat Young

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Pat as always a well researched and written article! West Bogan's plight fairly well encapsulated the life of freed slaves living in the former Confederate territories.
I wish I could comment further but sadly I am not that well versed with the history of freed slaves to offer any further insights to this topic.
Regards
David
Thanks Da
Pat as always a well researched and written article! West Bogan's plight fairly well encapsulated the life of freed slaves living in the former Confederate territories.
I wish I could comment further but sadly I am not that well versed with the history of freed slaves to offer any further insights to this topic.
Regards
David
Thanks very much. By the way, I am reading Faulkner which made me recall you and your wife.
 

wausaubob

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My new article on Black Resistance during the Civil War and Reconstruction is up on the scholarly site Emerging Civil War. From resistance to abuse, to making sure their kids got an education, to political and labor organizing, you will see examples of African Americans seizing the opportunities that freedom presented from 1863 to 1869.
I commented. As I read I noted: "Disapproved" indeed.
 

Pat Young

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@Pat Young ,

Excellent article and rebuttal to Ron.

Sad to think that the 'faithful' require no history, no facts, to uphold their beliefs, only online articles that support such beliefs.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
Thanks. The cut-and-paste approach to history creates dangerous misunderstandings. It took six hours of research for me to rebut him, yet he can post this deceptive quote from the meme factory in a few seconds.
 

unionblue

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Thanks. The cut-and-paste approach to history creates dangerous misunderstandings. It took six hours of research for me to rebut him, yet he can post this deceptive quote from the meme factory in a few seconds.
The cut-and-paste approach is the easiest way to reinforce one's faith in the face of hard facts.

Hang in there, Pat, you're doing a great job.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 

ForeverFree

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As for the black codes post war they were a legitimate attempt to create a legal format for the development of relations between the freed slaves and their former owners.

In 1865, Edmund Rhett, of the famous SC Rhett family; who served as a CSA officer; and was an editor of the Charleston Mercury; wrote a letter dated 10/14/1865 to former US Representative Armistead Burke, detailing ideas for dealing with the negro after the War. These are excerpts; forgive my typos:

Edmund Rhett, Jr, letter to Armistead Burt, October 14, 1865.
Dear Sir:​
With great diffidence and some hesitation I venture to enclose you certain propositions relative to the negro-discipline and negro-labor questions, Which have occurred to me, and impressed me as essential to the preservation of our labor system, and, indeed, our social system. As one of the Commission Appointed to suggest such laws as are advisable for the regulation and the protection of the Negro, I venture to submit these propositions to your consideration​
…[T]he sudden and entire overthrow of that system which has taken place is unwise, injurious, and dangerous to our whole system, pecuniary and social… it must follow as a natural sequence, it appears to me, that, sudden and abrupt abolition having taken place by force of arms, it should be to the utmost extent practicable be limited, controlled, and surrounded with such safeguards, as will make the change as slight as possible both to the white man and the negro, the planter and of the workmen, the capitalist and the laborer.​
In other words, that the general interest of both the white man and the Negro requires that he should be kept as near to his former condition as Law can keep him and that he should be kept as near to the condition of slavery as possible, and as far from the condition of the white man as practicable.
If you agree with me in these premises, I trust too we shall not differ much in the conclusion-namely, as to what Laws are necessary to affect this end.​
I know that there are those who look to getting rid of the Negro entirely, and of resorting to white labor. I regard this idea as the mere infatuation of men who are at their wits' end. For in all of the cotton states all of the good lands are so malarious in the fall of the year as to render it impracticable for white men to labor under our suns. We must face the question-negroes must be made to work, or else cotton and rice must cease to be raised for export.​
Your obedient servant​
Edmond Rhett​
Enclosure-​
1st An Act prohibiting all Freedmen.. from ever holding or owning real estate in South Carolina or their posterity after them. An act of this sort is essential in order to uproot the idea which has now run the Negroes crazy all over this state - namely that they all to have 40 acre lots of their own. Let the idea of there ever owning land pervade amongst them, and they will never work for the white man, or upon any land but their own. The act is essential because it will at once cut off all competition between the white and the black man. The black man must then forever labor under the capital of the white man, and the white man must take care of him or else he will soon have no labor. I regard it as the most vital Law that can be made for our future prospering.​
Here, under these four propositions, we have the Negro, first, put upon the footing of a denizen. He can own no real estate the soil is out of his reach then we have him located, and prevented from vagrandizing. Then we compel him to keep his contracts. Then we control him, and keep him under good discipline. Under these laws, he left labor faithfully according to the laws of demand and supply or else he must leave the state.​
I do not conceive it is impracticable to pass such laws. Of course this is not the time to do it. The question should not be broached until we are back into the Union. If it is broached now, it will only strengthen the Black Republican Party and render the admission of the State difficult. After we are admitted, I believe it will be little difficulty. The [Andrew Johnson] administration will support us.​

This was Rhett's "legal format for the development of relations between the freed slaves and their former owners": keep the Negro "as near to the condition of slavery as possible." These "black codes" were virtual re-enslavement codes.

Of course, black southerners didn't believe this was in their "general" interest, hence their resistance.

- Alan
 

Pat Young

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Edmund Rhett, Jr, letter to Armistead Burt, October 14, 1865.
Dear Sir:​
With great diffidence and some hesitation I venture to enclose you certain propositions relative to the negro-discipline and negro-labor questions, Which have occurred to me, and impressed me as essential to the preservation of our labor system, and, indeed, our social system. As one of the Commission Appointed to suggest such laws as are advisable for the regulation and the protection of the Negro, I venture to submit these propositions to your consideration​
…[T]he sudden and entire overthrow of that system which has taken place is unwise, injurious, and dangerous to our whole system, pecuniary and social… it must follow as a natural sequence, it appears to me, that, sudden and abrupt abolition having taken place by force of arms, it should be to the utmost extent practicable be limited, controlled, and surrounded with such safeguards, as will make the change as slight as possible both to the white man and the negro, the planter and of the workmen, the capitalist and the laborer.​
In other words, that the general interest of both the white man and the Negro requires that he should be kept as near to his former condition as Law can keep him and that he should be kept as near to the condition of slavery as possible, and as far from the condition of the white man as practicable.
If you agree with me in these premises, I trust too we shall not differ much in the conclusion-namely, as to what Laws are necessary to affect this end.​
I know that there are those who look to getting rid of the Negro entirely, and of resorting to white labor. I regard this idea as the mere infatuation of men who are at their wits' end. For in all of the cotton states all of the good lands are so malarious in the fall of the year as to render it impracticable for white men to labor under our suns. We must face the question-negroes must be made to work, or else cotton and rice must cease to be raised for export.​
Your obedient servant​
Edmond Rhett​
Enclosure-​
1st An Act prohibiting all Freedmen.. from ever holding or owning real estate in South Carolina or their posterity after them. An act of this sort is essential in order to uproot the idea which has now run the Negroes crazy all over this state - namely that they all to have 40 acre lots of their own. Let the idea of there ever owning land pervade amongst them, and they will never work for the white man, or upon any land but their own. The act is essential because it will at once cut off all competition between the white and the black man. The black man must then forever labor under the capital of the white man, and the white man must take care of him or else he will soon have no labor. I regard it as the most vital Law that can be made for our future prospering.​
Here, under these four propositions, we have the Negro, first, put upon the footing of a denizen. He can own no real estate the soil is out of his reach then we have him located, and prevented from vagrandizing. Then we compel him to keep his contracts. Then we control him, and keep him under good discipline. Under these laws, he left labor faithfully according to the laws of demand and supply or else he must leave the state.​
I do not conceive it is impracticable to pass such laws. Of course this is not the time to do it. The question should not be broached until we are back into the Union. If it is broached now, it will only strengthen the Black Republican Party and render the admission of the State difficult. After we are admitted, I believe it will be little difficulty. The [Andrew Johnson] administration will support us.​

This was Rhett's "legal format for the development of relations between the freed slaves and their former owners": keep the Negro "as near to the condition of slavery as possible." These "black codes" were virtual re-enslavement codes.

Of course, black southerners didn't believe this was in their "general" interest, hence their resistance.

- Alan
Alan, would you mind if I use your transcription in an article?
 

Pat Young

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Location
Long Island, NY
Edmund Rhett, Jr, letter to Armistead Burt, October 14, 1865.
Dear Sir:​
With great diffidence and some hesitation I venture to enclose you certain propositions relative to the negro-discipline and negro-labor questions, Which have occurred to me, and impressed me as essential to the preservation of our labor system, and, indeed, our social system. As one of the Commission Appointed to suggest such laws as are advisable for the regulation and the protection of the Negro, I venture to submit these propositions to your consideration​
…[T]he sudden and entire overthrow of that system which has taken place is unwise, injurious, and dangerous to our whole system, pecuniary and social… it must follow as a natural sequence, it appears to me, that, sudden and abrupt abolition having taken place by force of arms, it should be to the utmost extent practicable be limited, controlled, and surrounded with such safeguards, as will make the change as slight as possible both to the white man and the negro, the planter and of the workmen, the capitalist and the laborer.​
In other words, that the general interest of both the white man and the Negro requires that he should be kept as near to his former condition as Law can keep him and that he should be kept as near to the condition of slavery as possible, and as far from the condition of the white man as practicable.
If you agree with me in these premises, I trust too we shall not differ much in the conclusion-namely, as to what Laws are necessary to affect this end.​
I know that there are those who look to getting rid of the Negro entirely, and of resorting to white labor. I regard this idea as the mere infatuation of men who are at their wits' end. For in all of the cotton states all of the good lands are so malarious in the fall of the year as to render it impracticable for white men to labor under our suns. We must face the question-negroes must be made to work, or else cotton and rice must cease to be raised for export.​
Your obedient servant​
Edmond Rhett​
Enclosure-​
1st An Act prohibiting all Freedmen.. from ever holding or owning real estate in South Carolina or their posterity after them. An act of this sort is essential in order to uproot the idea which has now run the Negroes crazy all over this state - namely that they all to have 40 acre lots of their own. Let the idea of there ever owning land pervade amongst them, and they will never work for the white man, or upon any land but their own. The act is essential because it will at once cut off all competition between the white and the black man. The black man must then forever labor under the capital of the white man, and the white man must take care of him or else he will soon have no labor. I regard it as the most vital Law that can be made for our future prospering.​
Here, under these four propositions, we have the Negro, first, put upon the footing of a denizen. He can own no real estate the soil is out of his reach then we have him located, and prevented from vagrandizing. Then we compel him to keep his contracts. Then we control him, and keep him under good discipline. Under these laws, he left labor faithfully according to the laws of demand and supply or else he must leave the state.​
I do not conceive it is impracticable to pass such laws. Of course this is not the time to do it. The question should not be broached until we are back into the Union. If it is broached now, it will only strengthen the Black Republican Party and render the admission of the State difficult. After we are admitted, I believe it will be little difficulty. The [Andrew Johnson] administration will support us.​

This was Rhett's "legal format for the development of relations between the freed slaves and their former owners": keep the Negro "as near to the condition of slavery as possible." These "black codes" were virtual re-enslavement codes.

Of course, black southerners didn't believe this was in their "general" interest, hence their resistance.

- Alan
Alan, would you mind if I use your transcription in an article?
Sure you can. It's from Stephen Budiansky, The Bloody Shirt, p 23-26.

Also see here.

- Alan
yes, thanks. I remember seeing it on your blog a few years ago.
 

atlantis

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
In 1865, Edmund Rhett, of the famous SC Rhett family; who served as a CSA officer; and was an editor of the Charleston Mercury; wrote a letter dated 10/14/1865 to former US Representative Armistead Burke, detailing ideas for dealing with the negro after the War. These are excerpts; forgive my typos:

Edmund Rhett, Jr, letter to Armistead Burt, October 14, 1865.
Dear Sir:​
With great diffidence and some hesitation I venture to enclose you certain propositions relative to the negro-discipline and negro-labor questions, Which have occurred to me, and impressed me as essential to the preservation of our labor system, and, indeed, our social system. As one of the Commission Appointed to suggest such laws as are advisable for the regulation and the protection of the Negro, I venture to submit these propositions to your consideration​
…[T]he sudden and entire overthrow of that system which has taken place is unwise, injurious, and dangerous to our whole system, pecuniary and social… it must follow as a natural sequence, it appears to me, that, sudden and abrupt abolition having taken place by force of arms, it should be to the utmost extent practicable be limited, controlled, and surrounded with such safeguards, as will make the change as slight as possible both to the white man and the negro, the planter and of the workmen, the capitalist and the laborer.​
In other words, that the general interest of both the white man and the Negro requires that he should be kept as near to his former condition as Law can keep him and that he should be kept as near to the condition of slavery as possible, and as far from the condition of the white man as practicable.
If you agree with me in these premises, I trust too we shall not differ much in the conclusion-namely, as to what Laws are necessary to affect this end.​
I know that there are those who look to getting rid of the Negro entirely, and of resorting to white labor. I regard this idea as the mere infatuation of men who are at their wits' end. For in all of the cotton states all of the good lands are so malarious in the fall of the year as to render it impracticable for white men to labor under our suns. We must face the question-negroes must be made to work, or else cotton and rice must cease to be raised for export.​
Your obedient servant​
Edmond Rhett​
Enclosure-​
1st An Act prohibiting all Freedmen.. from ever holding or owning real estate in South Carolina or their posterity after them. An act of this sort is essential in order to uproot the idea which has now run the Negroes crazy all over this state - namely that they all to have 40 acre lots of their own. Let the idea of there ever owning land pervade amongst them, and they will never work for the white man, or upon any land but their own. The act is essential because it will at once cut off all competition between the white and the black man. The black man must then forever labor under the capital of the white man, and the white man must take care of him or else he will soon have no labor. I regard it as the most vital Law that can be made for our future prospering.​
Here, under these four propositions, we have the Negro, first, put upon the footing of a denizen. He can own no real estate the soil is out of his reach then we have him located, and prevented from vagrandizing. Then we compel him to keep his contracts. Then we control him, and keep him under good discipline. Under these laws, he left labor faithfully according to the laws of demand and supply or else he must leave the state.​
I do not conceive it is impracticable to pass such laws. Of course this is not the time to do it. The question should not be broached until we are back into the Union. If it is broached now, it will only strengthen the Black Republican Party and render the admission of the State difficult. After we are admitted, I believe it will be little difficulty. The [Andrew Johnson] administration will support us.​

This was Rhett's "legal format for the development of relations between the freed slaves and their former owners": keep the Negro "as near to the condition of slavery as possible." These "black codes" were virtual re-enslavement codes.

Of course, black southerners didn't believe this was in their "general" interest, hence their resistance.
A reasonable proposal because the prohibition on land ownership could be rejected or if enacted later repealed.
The proposal is not clear if prohibition on land ownership also applies to lots in incorporated cities.
It is understandable that black southerners didn't believe this was in their interest because of the false promises of 40 acres and a mule. Concentrating in incorporated communities where there was safety in numbers was better than being out in the country vulnerable to people like Rhett.
 

ForeverFree

Major
Joined
Feb 6, 2010
Location
District of Columbia
A reasonable proposal because the prohibition on land ownership could be rejected or if enacted later repealed.
The proposal is not clear if prohibition on land ownership also applies to lots in incorporated cities.
It is understandable that black southerners didn't believe this was in their interest because of the false promises of 40 acres and a mule. Concentrating in incorporated communities where there was safety in numbers was better than being out in the country vulnerable to people like Rhett.
Black people found this unreasonable because it would put them in a position of virtual slavery. They disapproved of such policies regardless of whether they got any land or not.

Many white people found it unreasonable on the same grounds. But other whites who believed in racial supremacy found it not merely reasonable, but financially and politically beneficial.

- Alan
 

atlantis

Sergeant Major
Joined
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Black people found this unreasonable because it would put them in a position of virtual slavery. They disapproved of such policies regardless of whether they got any land or not.

Many white people found it unreasonable on the same grounds. But other whites who believed in racial supremacy found it not merely reasonable, but financially and politically beneficial.

- Alan
First off Alan let me say how much I value the detail you bring to these threads, thank you.
Now to the topic at hand there had to a starting point somewhere for establishing a new legal relationship post slavery and given that fire eating morons like Rhett were still around it was bound to be a small start. Rhett and like minded had brought total destruction upon their way of life and still held to their beliefs. The saying you can bring a horse to water but you can't make him drink comes to mind when I think of fellows like Rhett.
 

ForeverFree

Major
Joined
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Location
District of Columbia
First off Alan let me say how much I value the detail you bring to these threads, thank you.
Now to the topic at hand there had to a starting point somewhere for establishing a new legal relationship post slavery and given that fire eating morons like Rhett were still around it was bound to be a small start. Rhett and like minded had brought total destruction upon their way of life and still held to their beliefs. The saying you can bring a horse to water but you can't make him drink comes to mind when I think of fellows like Rhett.

Atlantis, thank you for your kind words.

Regarding Rhett: Regardless of whether he was pre-war fire-eater or not; he was not an outlier when it came to the desire for racial supremacy in the post-war South. The evidence of a widespread aspiration among white southerner to maintain racial hierarchy is voluminous. Those folks were not hiding these desires: they were explicit in their writings, rhetoric, laws, governance, and social behaviors.

As a counterpoint, I am reminded of Rev Henry McNeal Turner and the Georgia legislative expulsion of 1868.

In September 1868, the Georgia House of Representatives (state legislature) voted to remove black members of that body on the grounds that the state constitution did not recognize the right of black citizens to hold public office and thus made them ineligible to sit in the General Assembly. Of the 29 black representatives, four mulatto members were allowed to hold their seat, while the remaining 25 were removed. Ten days later, the Georgia Senate removed its 3 black members.

Henry McNeal Turner responded in one of the more famous speeches of the Reconstruction Era (at least, famous to some of us). Turner was freeborn and raised in South Carolina, moved to Macon, GA, and eventually moved to the Maryland/Washington, DC area. He served as a chaplain in the US Colored Troops. He re-settled in Georgia after the war, and was one the first set of African Americans to be elected to the Georgia House.

In response to the illegal expulsion of himself and other African Americans from the Georgia legislature (the GA Supreme Court later ruled the expulsion was not proper), he gave his memorable speech to the Georgia House, excoriating those responsible for this infamous act. He said in part:

Mr. Speaker: Before proceeding to argue this question upon its intrinsic merits, I wish the members of this House to understand the position that I take. I hold that I am a member of this body. Therefore, sir, I shall neither fawn nor cringe before any party, nor stoop to beg them for my rights. Some of my colored fellow members, in the course of their remarks, took occasion to appeal to the sympathies of members on the opposite side, and to eulogize their character for magnanimity. It reminds me very much, sir, of slaves begging under the lash.​
I am here to demand my rights and to hurl thunderbolts at the men who would dare to cross the threshold of my manhood. There is an old aphorism which says, "fight the devil with fire," and if I should observe the rule in this instance, I wish gentlemen to understand that it is but fighting them with their own weapon.​
The great question, sir, is this: Am I a man? If I am such, I claim the rights of a man. Am I not a man because I happen to be of a darker hue than honorable gentlemen around me?...
A certain gentleman has argued that the Negro was a mere development similar to the orangoutang or chimpanzee, but it so happens that, when a Negro is examined, physiologically, phrenologically and anatomically, and I may say, physiognomically, he is found to be the same as persons of different color. I would like to ask any gentleman on this floor, where is the analogy? Do you find me a quadruped, or do you find me a man? Do you find three bones less in my back than in that of the white man? Do you find fewer organs in the brain? If you know nothing of this, I do; for I have helped to dissect fifty men, black and white, and I assert that by the time you take off the mucous pigment the color of the skin you cannot, to save your life, distinguish between the black man and the white.​
Am I a man? Have I a soul to save, as you have? Am I susceptible of eternal development, as you are? Can I learn all the arts and sciences that you can? Has it ever been demonstrated in the history of the world? Have black men ever exhibited bravery as white men have done? Have they ever been in the professions? Have they not as good articulative organs as you? Some people argue that there is a very close similarity between the larynx of the Negro and that of the orangoutang. Why, sir, there is not so much similarity between them as there is between the larynx of the man and that of the dog, and this fact I dare any member of this House to dispute.​
But, Mr. Speaker, I do not regard this movement as a thrust at me. It is a thrust at the Bible a thrust at the God of the Universe, for making a man and not finishing him; it is simply calling the Great Jehovah a fool. Why, sir, though we are not white, we have accomplished much. We have pioneered civilization here; we have built up your country; we have worked in your fields and garnered your harvests for two hundred and fifty years! And what do we ask of you in return? Do we ask you for compensation for the sweat our fathers bore for you for the tears you have caused, and the hearts you have broken, and the lives you have curtailed, and the blood you have spilled? Do we ask retaliation? We ask it not.​
We are willing to let the dead past bury its dead; but we ask you, now for our rights. You have all the elements of superiority upon your side; you have our money and your own; you have our education and your own; and you have our land and your own too. We, who number hundreds of thousands in Georgia, including our wives and families, with not a foot of land to call our own strangers in the land of our birth; without money, without education, without aid, without a roof to cover us while we live, nor sufficient clay to cover us when we die!​
It is extraordinary that a race such as yours, professing gallantry and chivalry and education and superiority, living in a land where ringing chimes call child and sire to the church of God a land where Bibles are read and Gospel truths are spoken, and where courts of justice are presumed to exist; it is extraordinary that, with all these advantages on your side, you can make war upon the poor defenseless black man. You know we have no money, no railroads, no telegraphs, no advantages of any sort, and yet all manner of injustice is placed upon us. You know that the black people of this country acknowledge you as their superiors, by virtue of your education and advantages...​
...Go on with your oppressions. Babylon fell. Where is Greece? Where is Nineveh? And where is Rome, the Mistress Empire of the world? Why is it that she stands, today, in broken fragments throughout Europe? Because oppression killed her. Every act that we commit is like a bounding ball. If you curse a man, that curse rebounds upon you; and when you bless a man, the blessing returns to you; and when you oppress a man, the oppression also will rebound. Where have you ever heard of four millions of freemen being governed by laws, and yet have no hand in their making? Search the records of the world, and you will find no example.​
"Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed." How dare you to make laws by which to try me and my wife and children, and deny me a voice in the making of these laws? I know you can establish a monarchy, an autocracy, an oligarchy, or any other kind of ocracy that you please; and that you can declare whom you please to be sovereign; but tell me, sir, how you can clothe me with more power than another, where all are sovereigns alike? How can you say you have a republican form of government, when you make such distinction and enact such proscriptive laws?​
We are a persecuted people. Luther was persecuted; Galileo was persecuted; good men in all nations have been persecuted; but the persecutors have been handed down to posterity with shame and ignominy... When you expel us, you make us forever your political foes, and you will never find a black man to vote a Democratic ticket again; for, so help me God, I will go through all the length and breadth of the land, where a man of my race is to be found, and advise him to beware of the Democratic party. Justice is the great doctrine taught in the Bible. God's Eternal justice is founded upon Truth, and the man who steps from justice steps from Truth, and cannot make his principles to prevail.​
All of that sounds reasonable to me.

- Alan
 
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atlantis

Sergeant Major
Joined
Nov 12, 2016
Atlantis, thank you for your kind words.

Regarding Rhett: Regardless of whether he was pre-war fire-eater or not; he was not an outlier when it came to the desire for racial supremacy in the post-war South. The evidence of a widespread aspiration among white southerner to maintain racial hierarchy is voluminous. Those folks were not hiding these desires: they were explicit in their writings, rhetoric, laws, governance, and social behaviors.

As a counterpoint, I am reminded of Rev Henry McNeal Turner and the Georgia legislative expulsion of 1868.

In September 1868, the Georgia House of Representatives (state legislature) voted to remove black members of that body on the grounds that the state constitution did not recognize the right of black citizens to hold public office and thus made them ineligible to sit in the General Assembly. Of the 29 black representatives, four mulatto members were allowed to hold their seat, while the remaining 25 were removed. Ten days later, the Georgia Senate removed its 3 black members.

Henry McNeal Turner responded in one of the more famous speeches of the Reconstruction Era (at least, famous to some of us). Turner was freeborn and raised in South Carolina, moved to Macon, GA, and eventually moved to the Maryland/Washington, DC area. He served as a chaplain in the US Colored Troops. He re-settled in Georgia after the war, and was one the first set of African Americans to be elected to the Georgia House.

In response to the illegal expulsion of himself and other African Americans from the Georgia legislature (the GA Supreme Court later ruled the expulsion was not proper), he gave his memorable speech to the Georgia House, excoriating those responsible for this infamous act. He said in part:

Mr. Speaker: Before proceeding to argue this question upon its intrinsic merits, I wish the members of this House to understand the position that I take. I hold that I am a member of this body. Therefore, sir, I shall neither fawn nor cringe before any party, nor stoop to beg them for my rights. Some of my colored fellow members, in the course of their remarks, took occasion to appeal to the sympathies of members on the opposite side, and to eulogize their character for magnanimity. It reminds me very much, sir, of slaves begging under the lash.​
I am here to demand my rights and to hurl thunderbolts at the men who would dare to cross the threshold of my manhood. There is an old aphorism which says, "fight the devil with fire," and if I should observe the rule in this instance, I wish gentlemen to understand that it is but fighting them with their own weapon.​
The great question, sir, is this: Am I a man? If I am such, I claim the rights of a man. Am I not a man because I happen to be of a darker hue than honorable gentlemen around me?...
A certain gentleman has argued that the Negro was a mere development similar to the orangoutang or chimpanzee, but it so happens that, when a Negro is examined, physiologically, phrenologically and anatomically, and I may say, physiognomically, he is found to be the same as persons of different color. I would like to ask any gentleman on this floor, where is the analogy? Do you find me a quadruped, or do you find me a man? Do you find three bones less in my back than in that of the white man? Do you find fewer organs in the brain? If you know nothing of this, I do; for I have helped to dissect fifty men, black and white, and I assert that by the time you take off the mucous pigment the color of the skin you cannot, to save your life, distinguish between the black man and the white.​
Am I a man? Have I a soul to save, as you have? Am I susceptible of eternal development, as you are? Can I learn all the arts and sciences that you can? Has it ever been demonstrated in the history of the world? Have black men ever exhibited bravery as white men have done? Have they ever been in the professions? Have they not as good articulative organs as you? Some people argue that there is a very close similarity between the larynx of the Negro and that of the orangoutang. Why, sir, there is not so much similarity between them as there is between the larynx of the man and that of the dog, and this fact I dare any member of this House to dispute.​
But, Mr. Speaker, I do not regard this movement as a thrust at me. It is a thrust at the Bible a thrust at the God of the Universe, for making a man and not finishing him; it is simply calling the Great Jehovah a fool. Why, sir, though we are not white, we have accomplished much. We have pioneered civilization here; we have built up your country; we have worked in your fields and garnered your harvests for two hundred and fifty years! And what do we ask of you in return? Do we ask you for compensation for the sweat our fathers bore for you for the tears you have caused, and the hearts you have broken, and the lives you have curtailed, and the blood you have spilled? Do we ask retaliation? We ask it not.​
We are willing to let the dead past bury its dead; but we ask you, now for our rights. You have all the elements of superiority upon your side; you have our money and your own; you have our education and your own; and you have our land and your own too. We, who number hundreds of thousands in Georgia, including our wives and families, with not a foot of land to call our own strangers in the land of our birth; without money, without education, without aid, without a roof to cover us while we live, nor sufficient clay to cover us when we die!​
It is extraordinary that a race such as yours, professing gallantry and chivalry and education and superiority, living in a land where ringing chimes call child and sire to the church of God a land where Bibles are read and Gospel truths are spoken, and where courts of justice are presumed to exist; it is extraordinary that, with all these advantages on your side, you can make war upon the poor defenseless black man. You know we have no money, no railroads, no telegraphs, no advantages of any sort, and yet all manner of injustice is placed upon us. You know that the black people of this country acknowledge you as their superiors, by virtue of your education and advantages...​
...Go on with your oppressions. Babylon fell. Where is Greece? Where is Nineveh? And where is Rome, the Mistress Empire of the world? Why is it that she stands, today, in broken fragments throughout Europe? Because oppression killed her. Every act that we commit is like a bounding ball. If you curse a man, that curse rebounds upon you; and when you bless a man, the blessing returns to you; and when you oppress a man, the oppression also will rebound. Where have you ever heard of four millions of freemen being governed by laws, and yet have no hand in their making? Search the records of the world, and you will find no example.​
"Governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed." How dare you to make laws by which to try me and my wife and children, and deny me a voice in the making of these laws? I know you can establish a monarchy, an autocracy, an oligarchy, or any other kind of ocracy that you please; and that you can declare whom you please to be sovereign; but tell me, sir, how you can clothe me with more power than another, where all are sovereigns alike? How can you say you have a republican form of government, when you make such distinction and enact such proscriptive laws?​
We are a persecuted people. Luther was persecuted; Galileo was persecuted; good men in all nations have been persecuted; but the persecutors have been handed down to posterity with shame and ignominy... When you expel us, you make us forever your political foes, and you will never find a black man to vote a Democratic ticket again; for, so help me God, I will go through all the length and breadth of the land, where a man of my race is to be found, and advise him to beware of the Democratic party. Justice is the great doctrine taught in the Bible. God's Eternal justice is founded upon Truth, and the man who steps from justice steps from Truth, and cannot make his principles to prevail.​
All of that sounds reasonable to me.

- Alan
That was a very powerful speech by Rev Turner. It touches my heart and reminds me of the tie that binds black and white southerners together, our shared faith even if our better angels do not always prevail.
 
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