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Slave Narratives

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Slave Narratives

Post  May on Fri Oct 28, 2011 10:36 pm



My review of the autobiography of Frederick Douglass, African American orator and abolitionist:

http://lostinthemythsofhistory.blogspot.com/2011/09/life-and-times-of-frederick-douglass.html
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Re: Slave Narratives

Post  Elena on Sat Oct 29, 2011 8:19 am

Thank you for introducing such a wonderful topic! I love you

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Re: Slave Narratives

Post  May on Sun Oct 30, 2011 9:56 pm

An article by Elizabeth Kerri Mahon on Elizabeth Keckley, a dressmaker, friend and confidante of Mary Todd Lincoln. Mrs. Keckley was the author of another 'slave narrative', the controversial memoir Behind the Scenes: Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House. This article, however, is not a review of the memoir itself, but a review of a dual biography of Mrs. Lincoln and Mrs. Keckley:

http://scandalouswoman.blogspot.com/2009/01/scandalous-book-review-mrs-lincoln-and.html

The actual memoir can be read here:

http://digilib.nypl.org/dynaweb/digs/wwm9713/@Generic__BookView
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Re: Slave Narratives

Post  Elena on Sun Oct 30, 2011 10:47 pm

Very interesting! Smile Here is my review of the book about Thomas Jefferson slaves.

http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2009/12/hemingses-of-monticello-american-family.html

The Hemingses of Monticello by Annette Gordon-Reed is an historical epic about Thomas Jefferson and the enslaved family who served him. Anyone who has ever done research based on the letters, memoirs and records of a family will know how difficult it can be to piece the information into a coherent narrative. For this reason, Dr. Gordon-Reed's work is truly awe-inspiring, in that she pulls together scraps of information about the Hemingses from the writings by and about the Jeffersons in order to craft a moving and insightful chronicle of slave life in America. Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and our third President, was quite outspoken about the rights of the man, rejoicing in the French Revolution and the overthrow of monarchy. Jefferson, however, excerized more power over his slaves than did any absolute monarch over their subjects. Jefferson chose to govern his slaves with a certain benevolent paternalism, letting the Hemings brothers James and Robert come and go pretty much as they pleased as long as they came when he called. Neverthless, the fact that his entire existence was entwined with an unjust institution from which he never sought to extricate himself is one of the great ironies of American history.

The book delves into the origins of slavery in Virginia, and how the "peculiar institution" became deeply ingrained in the culture of that time and place, not going away when free Virginians won their independence from Great Britain. Dr. Gordon-Reed relates how John Wayles, Jefferson's father-in-law, made his fortune as a lawyer who oversaw the buying and selling of slaves. Through his wife Martha Wayles, Jefferson inherited the Hemings family, many of whom were the children of John Wayles and his slave mistress, Elizabeth Hemings. Therefore, many of the enslaved servants of the Jefferson family were close relatives. When Jefferson made the teenage Sally Hemings his mistress, after Martha died, the situation became even more complicated. Even if Sally had not been enslaved, Jefferson could not have married her because under Virginia law it was illegal to marry the sibling of one's spouse. Jefferson kept a promise which he had made to Sally in Paris, where their liaison began, that he would free each of her children when they came of age, and it was a promise he kept. Most of the other Hemings and the Jefferson family slaves remained in slavery and were sold at auction after Jefferson's death to cover his enormous debts.

One aspect of the book which I found distracting was the author's propensity to remind the reader every few pages that various injustices were the result of the "doctrine of white supremacy." With such impeccable research presented in a flowing and compelling manner, it was unnecessary to be constantly preaching to the reader about the evils of such a "doctrine." It would have been better to let the injustices speak for themselves. Furthermore, there were others besides enslaved Africans who suffered from exploitation in the early days of our country, including white indentured servants, although they, unlike the African slaves, could at least look forward to freedom. In the cemetery of the parish church in Maryland where I went as a child there is a mass grave of Irish workers who died of cholera while constructing the C&O Canal and B&O Railroad during the epidemics of 1822 and 1832. The Irish immigrants rather than the African slaves were sent to do certain dangerous jobs because the slaves cost money and the Irish cost nothing. This form of servitude still does not compare to chattel slavery, since the Irish could not (usually) be sold.

The power of Dr. Gordon-Reed's book lies in exposing once again the sad and tragic fact that many white Americans were convinced that Africans were subhuman. Examples are given in the book of Jefferson's conviction that Africans were biologically inferior to whites. That those who framed our system of government had such an approach to other human beings is a jarring commentary. It has always been a mystery how leaders like Thomas Jefferson could cry so loud for liberty and then live off the labor of those in chattel bondage. After reading The Hemingses of Monticello my understanding of the enigmatic Jefferson has been expanded as well as my compassion for those whom he held as slaves.

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Re: Slave Narratives

Post  May on Mon Oct 31, 2011 9:21 pm

A sad story.
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Modern Slave Narratives

Post  Elena on Thu Nov 17, 2011 6:56 pm

Ghastly. Not for the faint of heart.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/17/opinion/kristof-the-face-of-modern-slavery.html?_r=2&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=tha212

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Re: Slave Narratives

Post  May on Fri Nov 18, 2011 2:29 am

"Pierre Toussaint: Slave, Saint and Gentilhomme of Old New York": a fascinating and beautifully written series by James Sullivan, who is preparing a book on the same topic. sunny

http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2011/11/pierre-toussaint-slave-saint-and.html
http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2011/11/pierre-toussaint-slave-saint-and_15.html
http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2011/11/pierre-toussaint-slave-saint-and_16.html
http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2011/11/pierre-toussaint-slave-saint-and_17.html
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Re: Slave Narratives

Post  May on Sun Aug 05, 2012 5:34 pm

A website about Isabella Baumfree aka Sojourner Truth, helping to sort through fact and legend:

http://www.sojournertruth.org/Default.htm
Some scholarly articles:
http://www.sojournertruth.org/Library/Scholars/Default.htm
http://www.sojournertruth.org/Library/Archive/Default.htm
Excerpts from some of her own speeches:
http://www.sojournertruth.org/Library/Speeches/Default.htm
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Re: Slave Narratives

Post  May on Sun Aug 05, 2012 6:30 pm

I just saw this post from Leah Marie Brown about plantation life on 18th century French sugar islands:
http://leahmariebrownhistoricals.blogspot.com/2012/08/18th-century-sugar-cane-plantations.html
In the painting to the left, a young mulatto boy holds out a bowl of refined, ground sugar for a French plantation owner to inspect. Meanwhile, the boy's mother, a slave, labors in the background. Though the French passed laws forbidding white plantation owners from engaging in sexual relations with their slaves, the laws were not always enforced. By the mid-18th century, the islands of the West French Indies were heavily populated by the offspring of such unions.

This golden age of industry revealed a darker, more brutal nature of mankind. Plantation owners bought slaves to work in the fields and process and distill the cane. Slaves were treated worse than horses (in fact, there were laws to protect horses, but not slaves). Most slaves died within their first three years at a sugar plantation. Others were brutalized through beatings, deprivation, and torture.
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Re: Slave Narratives

Post  Elena on Sun Aug 05, 2012 9:02 pm

The slaves were treated horrendously in the French sugar islands which led to the violent revolts. Thanks for the link and the wonderful article about Sojourner Truth!! flower

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Re: Slave Narratives

Post  May on Sun Aug 05, 2012 10:52 pm

Well I am glad you liked it! I love you

What did Louis XVI do about the situation in the sugar islands? (You probably talked about it somewhere, but I can't remember). It seems like something he would be concerned about...

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Re: Slave Narratives

Post  Elena on Mon Aug 06, 2012 12:15 am

Louis XVI was against slavery and during his reign citizens were not allowed to hold slaves in France which is why Thomas Jefferson had to start giving wages to his black servants. In 1789 the slave trade was abolished in the colonies but Napoleon reinstated it again in 1802.


Here is a good article on the French involvement in the slave trade which was abolished for good in1848. http://etymonline.com/columns/frenchslavery.htm

Here are articles on the Code Noir developed under Louis XIV and Louis XV. (It sounds brutal but American slaves had no code to "protect" them.)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Code_Noir

http://www.sexualfables.com/Code-Noir.php

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Re: Slave Narratives

Post  May on Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:48 pm

Tough-minded Harriet Tubman:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harriet_Tubman
http://www.nyhistory.com/harriettubman/life.htm
http://civilwarsaga.com/harriet-tubman-didnt-like-abraham-lincoln/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rgjaVosqNA
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Re: Slave Narratives

Post  May on Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:51 pm


Harriet in later years.
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Re: Slave Narratives

Post  Elena on Tue Aug 07, 2012 10:23 am

In our local news, a chatelaine of one of the great Maryland homes has recently passed away, Mrs. Mary Tilghman of Wye House. Wye House is the plantation where the author Frederick Douglass was enslaved, and it had been in Mrs. Tilghman's family for 11 generations. Mrs. Tilghman opened her home and her family archives in order to contribute to our knowledge of slave life in America. It was she who initiated the archaeological digs on the site of the old slave quarters. To quote The Star Democrat:
A gracious lady of Talbot County, Mary Donnell Singer Tilghman, passed away Friday morning at the age of 93.

She died at her home, the Wye House estate. She was the 11th generation owner of Wye House, one of the largest estates in Talbot County, with her family’s ownership stretching back three and a half centuries.

Mrs. Tilghman grew up in Pittsburgh, but spent her summers at Wye House, riding horses, playing in the box garden or enjoying the river. She and her late husband inherited the property in 1993. Since then, Mrs. Tilghman dedicated herself to learning about and preserving the house and the Lloyd family history, including the role of slavery at the plantation.

Edward Lloyd IV built the present Wye House mansion on the site between 1787 and 1792. There is evidence the Lloyds lived there before 1670, and the first Edward Lloyd, an early tobacco planter, was known as the richest man in the state in his time. He died in 1695.

From 1660 until emancipation, Wye House ran on slave labor. Mrs. Tilghman lived in what was known as the “Captain’s House,” a circa-1700 dwelling once occupied by Aaron Anthony, overseer and owner of famed orator, author and abolitionist Frederick Douglass who was brought to the plantation to begin his usefulness as a slave at age 6.

That rich history went hand in hand with the large, beautiful home filled with portraits, letters and priceless antiques, which Mrs. Tilghman painstakingly preserved. She allowed 400 boxes of Lloyd family papers to be archived at the Maryland Historical Society. Those from the past who have visited the plantation included ambassadors, governors, statesmen and celebrities, among them Jefferson Davis, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and Frederick Douglass when he was no longer a slave.

Douglass wrote several autobiographies, eloquently describing his experiences as a slave, particularly on the Wye House plantation. His work became famous and influential in its support for abolition. After emancipation, many members of the slave population of Wye House settled nearby, forming the community of Unionville.

About eight years ago, Mrs. Tilghman commissioned Archaeology in Annapolis to study slavery at Wye House through an archaeological dig.

“I have always felt it was a rather brave thing for her to do,” said archaeologist Dr. Mark Leone of the University of Maryland.

“She thought slavery was a wicked institution. She said that to me,” he said.

“She felt that archaeology was a way of making slavery at Wye House a part of African-American knowledge in Talbot County,” he said.

A series of archaeological digs at Wye House have happened every summer since then. They specifically target the area on the plantation known as “the long green,” where slave quarters and slave work areas were located, according to the Douglass autobiography. Along with digging, students researched and reviewed the family papers, helping slave descendants in Unionville also gain information.

“For me, Mrs. Tilghman was a very gracious lady. Without hesitation, she opened her historic home so we could learn more about the history of our ancestors,” said Harriette Lowery of the Frederick Douglass Honor Society.

“I don’t think until Mary Tilghman had come back home anyone had thought about opening the home to the neighbors,” she said.

“Her family records had such detail that it helped many of us in Unionville learn more about our ancestors. It answered a lot of unanswered questions for us.”

“It was remarkable that they had so much history that was recorded and stored. Not many people get to do that. She allowed that to happen.”

Mrs. Tilghman was a strong proponent to have the Frederick Douglass statue erected on the Talbot County Courthouse lawn.

“During one of my visits, I was sitting down talking to her,” President of the Frederick Douglass Honor Society Eric Lowery said. “She was passionate about the project. She was disappointed that it was delayed. She said that she hoped she lived long enough to see the project completed.”

And she did. Lowery recalled looking out and seeing her sitting on the courthouse lawn during the statue’s dedication.

“It was a pleasure to know she lived long enough to see that,” he said.

Mrs. Tilghman was named one of only two honorary members of the Frederick Douglass Honor Society as a descendent of the Douglass story. The organization cited her for bringing history together, promoting healing and public reconciliation.

The Maryland Historical Society named her Marylander of the Year in 2010 for her many contributions in preservation. She commissioned the Maryland Historical Society the cataloging of the massive collection of Lloyd and Tilghman family papers, making them available for the first time to historians and scholars.

“She exemplified unpracticed charity. What I mean by that is she did not have to think twice before giving,” said Dr. Leone. “She inspired generous work because she was so generous,” he said.
More here: http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2012/08/a-gracious-lady.html

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Re: Slave Narratives

Post  May on Tue Aug 07, 2012 1:58 pm

Very touching!! flower
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Re: Slave Narratives

Post  May on Fri Aug 17, 2012 2:03 pm

Here is a description of Frederick Douglass' return in later years to visit the Lloyd estates where he had been enslaved as a child and meet the descendants of the family:
http://books.google.com/books?id=fFTcLFXId-wC&pg=PA539#v=snippet&q=return%20to%20wye%20house&f=false

A brief excerpt from the account:
The next part of this memorable trip took us to the home of Mrs. Buchanan, the widow of Admiral Buchanan, one of the only two living daughters of old Governor Lloyd, and here my reception was as kindly as that received at the Great House, where I had often seen her when a slender young lady of eighteen. She is now about seventy-four years, but marvelously well preserved. She invited me to a seat by her side, introduced me to her grandchildren, conversed with me as freely and with as little embarrassment as if I had been an old acquaintance and occupied an equal station with the most aristocratic of the Caucasian race. I saw in her much of the quiet dignity as well as the features of her father. I spent an hour or so in conversation with Mrs. Buchanan, and when I left a beautiful little grand-daughter of hers, with a pleasant smile on her face, handed me a bouquet of many-colored flowers. I never accepted such a gift with a sweeter sentiment of gratitude, than from the hand of this lovely child. It told me many things, and among them that a new dispensation of justice, kindness and human brotherhood was dawning not only in the North, but in the South; that the war and the slavery that caused the war were a thing of the past, and that the rising generation are turning their eyes from the sunset of decayed institutions to the grand possibilities of a glorious future.
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Re: Slave Narratives

Post  Elena on Thu Oct 17, 2013 7:50 pm

Here is an article on the African roots of Southern cooking:
http://teaattrianon.blogspot.com/2013/10/the-african-roots-of-southern-cooking.html
Southern food is really not that simple. It is an essential American storyteller along with our government and music. It has a long history. Southern food encompasses many regions, people and economics. It’s good, healing food born from strife and survival. The slaves weren’t creating Southern cuisine in order to make history, they were cooking to stay alive....

You have to look at two things: what came with the slaves on the boat and what they had to work with when they got to America. There was a strong Native American influence in the early beginnings of Southern food when slaves began arriving: crops like corn and techniques like frying. Then, you have crops and techniques that came over from West Africa with the slaves, like the peanut (or goober peas), okra (or gumbo) and stewing techniques. There’s also daily survival ingredients like watermelons, which served as canteens in the fields. It’s 95 percent water. The slaves also used the rind as soles for their shoes. So ingredients like this that are now part of Americana and the Native American influence really started shaping Southern food very early on. But you can’t discount other influences like that of the Spanish and Portuguese through Louisiana or the Latin influence through parts of Texas. The slaves worked with what was available to them and adapted their daily diets accordingly.

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