Escaping Capture in Order to Capture Freedom

Being born into slavery was a common misfortune for countless persecuted African Americans.  To not even being capable to fathom what freedom is from the day you are born to the day you die should be unimaginable, however in the Narrative of the Life of Thomas Cooper, Isaac T. Hopper displays the tribulations that Thomas Cooper faced in his lifetime in order to acquire the freedom that vast amount of slaves had never experienced.  

Thomas Cooper, who was born into slavery in the state of Maryland, at the age of 25 he was able to escape to Philadelphia where he acquired a job and started a family.  After some time, Cooper is betrayed and is recaptured by his master, right in front of his children, Hopper writes:

“…poor John was handcuffed, and a rope fastened to each arm across his back…All this took place in the presence of his wife and children, who witnessed the horrid transaction with the utmost distress…his wife and children wept bitterly” (7-9).

The events that transpired here demonstrates a form of torment that many faced during the slave trade and slave auctions in antebellum America.  To be separated from the woman you cherish and the children you intend to dedicate your life to is what Thomas Cooper had to face in his lifetime.

Although in captivity, Cooper is able to escape and run to New Jersey where he is safely hidden by his friend and changes his name to John Smith.  His master soon finds his location and intends to capture him, however Cooper chooses to stop fleeing any longer and intends to stand his ground, Hopper writes:

“He had already suffered much, and now finding himself again pursued, was driven almost to despair, and determined to resist by violence…It was not long before he beheld his master advancing…towards his house…he called out, “don’t cross that fence, for the first man does, I will shoot him.” So unexpected a salutation, coming from a man with a gun in his hand, struck them with terror, and they soon turned back to procure assistance” (24-25).

 

In that moment, Cooper is able to reverse the roles of slave and master, as he displays that he has power over the men who intend to capture him.  This role reversal is significant due to the fact that slaves had always had less power than their masters, ergo causing them to bend to their master’s will, but Cooper intends to throw away those despicable roles and have to refer to no man as “master”.

Alexis Tocqueville refers to the mindset that Thomas Cooper may have been forced into had he not been able to escape enslavement and gain power over his master in order to pursue his individual freedom, Tocqueville writes:

“The Negro, plunged in this abyss of evils, scarcely feels his own calamitous situation…the habit of servitude gives him the thoughts and desires of a slave, he admires his tyrants more than he hates them, and finds his joy and his pride in the servile imitation of those who oppress him” (18).

After some time, Cooper goes to London where he makes a name for himself as a very popular preacher, however Cooper decides to take his family to Africa where he feels he belongs.  Cooper is even able to give a farewell address to the people of London, showing how well renowned he was in Britain.

 

After living in Africa for a few years, Cooper succumbs to an illness and dies.  Although saddened by his death, there were some happiness from the family considering that they know  that Cooper has lived the latter years of his life the way he wanted, Hopper notes:

Perhaps few men have ever lived, who experienced greater changes in their condition in life, than the person whose history we have been writing; we have seen him a poor menial…writhing under the lash of the tyrannical slave driver…[then] we see a minister of religion, pleading with the people to forsake the evil of their ways and shewing in his life, and by his own example, how far superior a life of virtue and integrity is, to that of vice and crime” (35).

Thomas Cooper was a man who was born into subjugation, but through perseverance and determination he was able to escape oppression and live an autonomous life right to the end.

 

Resistance and Repression in the Antebellum South

By Jeremy Mahr

From the founding of the Thirteen Colonies, to the close of the American Civil War, slavery remained as a fixture of American society, driving the economy while leaving deep divisions between anti-slavery abolitionists and pro-slavery advocates. Under the institution of slavery, enslaved blacks were systematically marginalized from society, forced to survive and work under some of the most brutal conditions known to mankind. Yet, it would be a mistake to claim that enslaved persons were simply passive victims to the whims of their masters. Although their means were limited, enslaved persons had the agency to choose to resist the horrors of slavery through various means. This is reflected by Jacob D. Green’s account of his life as an enslaved African-American, in his autobiography “Narration of the Life of J.D. Green, a Runaway Slave.” Presented as a transcription of various lectures spoken to abolitionist audiences, the narrative presents Green as emblematic of many enslaved blacks who, without legal or social recourse to openly fight back, still found ways of resisting the injustices of the system. This was accomplished through direct means, such as his repeated attempts to run away as a fugitive slave, as well as indirect means, such as Green’s clever uses of trickery to get what he wanted and avoid punishment from his master.

greenjtp

Title page of Green’s autobiography. Image courtesy of docsouth.unc.edu.

Green’s autobiography begins by describing his early life on the plantation of Judge Charles Earle in Queen Anne’s County, Maryland. From the start, his life is marked by tragedy: his mother is sold to another master in Woodfork, never to be seen by him again. The theme of family breakup is repeated through the entirety of the piece. Not only does Green lose his mother, but over the course of his life, he also loses his wife and children to slave purchasers, and witnesses the families of other enslaved persons being torn apart as family members are sold to different traders.

The sense of powerlessness among enslaved black families was especially magnified in black women, who are described by Green as being often victims of the lecherousness of their white masters. When Green’s wife, Jane, gives birth five months after their marriage to a light-skinned child, she informs him that the child is not his, but the master’s. In spite of this revelation, Green settles into his family life, and notes

notwithstanding this we lived happily together, and I felt happy and comfortable” (22). 

It is only when his wife is sold, without his knowledge, by the master’s jealous wife, that Green harbors thoughts of fleeing slavery. In one especially gruesome moment, an enslaved woman named Mary is raped in a barn by William, the young son of her master, and is saved by the intervention of her lover, Dan, who accidentally kills William in the process. Following the incident, Mary commits suicide out of fright and shame. After the master’s sons catch Dan, Green graphically describes Dan’s punishment at the hands of their master: being chained to a large tree and getting burned alive.

These terrible scenes are described in vivid detail, yet Green manages to keep his tone matter-of-fact and nonchalant throughout. During Dan’s painful demise, for example, Green writes:

The unearthly sounds that came from the blazing pile, as poor Dan writhed in the agonies of death, it is beyond the power of my pen to describe. After a while all was silent, except the cracking of the pine wood as the fire gradually devoured it with the prize that it contained. Poor Dan had ceased to struggle–he was at rest” (21).

The neutral tone, coupled with the graphic imagery, captures not only the brutality of the institution, but also how slavery normalized violence against the enslaved: under slavery, barbaric acts such as burning people alive became accepted as mere punishments towards rebellious enslaved persons, instead of as the gross abuses of human rights that people would rightly see it as today. It also served the purpose of the genre by highlighting the inherent contradictions and injustices in American society. While elites stressed the values of liberty and Christian morality, Green dismantled such pretensions by showing how those same values– God, family, and liberty– were undermined by the practice of slavery. Dan was not free to save his lover from rape and sexual assault. Green’s mother, while deeply religious and loving, found that her family was doomed to be split apart, regardless of her piety. Green remarks upon the unfairness of the system, especially in how blacks often faced harsher punishment than whites for the same misdeed. In one particular incident, J.D. Green catches a white boy in the act of stealing Green’s marbles and toys. Mr. Burmey, one of the overseers on the plantation, catches Green and the boy mid-fight. Almost immediately, Burmey takes the side of the white boy and attempts to punish Green for physically striking a white person. 

“[Mr. Burmey] kicked me away from the white boy, saying if I belonged to him he would cut off my hands for daring to strike a white boy; this without asking the cause of the quarrel, or ascertaining who was to blame” (7).

In spite of these troubles, Green found subtle ways of fighting back against the system. Throughout the text, Green presents himself as a trickster figure, of sorts. Striving to get his revenge on Mr. Burmey, Green realizes that Burmey, and another man named Roger, were both secret lovers of the master’s wife. Knowing Burmey to be a voracious smoker, he fills Burmey’s pipe with gunpowder, causing the pipe to explode and disfigure Mr. Burmey. Although Burmey ends up suing Roger in open court, Green himself is never suspected of the act. At times, Green’s scheming comes at the expense of other slaves, but he always finds new and ingenious methods of insulating himself against the injustices of slavery. In many respects, Green’s actions could be read as practical resistance and rebellion, against an oppressive system that otherwise robs him of few other options and opportunities. Despite threats of harsh punishments, Green also makes the choice to escape, not once, but three times, at times taking him all the way north to places such as Utica and Philadelphia before he finally prevails and lives the rest of his life as a free man in Toronto, Canada. These scenes show Green as someone who, in spite of personal tragedies, gives himself the agency to rebel and forge his own path any way he could.

henrybibb

Reward poster for Henry Bibb, a fugitive slave. Escaping slave plantations for safe haven in Canada or the Northern states was a relatively common, though risky, tactic for many enslaved persons including Green. Image courtesy of docsouth.unc.edu.

This sense of rebellion is particularly important to Green, because it marks his growing development as an independent agent. Through his entire life, Green is taught to be powerless and submissive: his family life is forever insecure and threatened by the possibility of separation, and he does not expect to receive equal treatment in society. Even his Christian faith is carefully selected by his master to emphasize the superiority of slavery. According to Mr. Cobb, the minister of Green’s church:

“when we were in our native country Africa, we were destitute of Bible light, worshipping idols of sticks and stones, ones, and barbarously murdering one another, God put it into the hearts of these good slaveholders to venture across the bosom of the hazardous Atlantic to Africa, and snatch us poor negroes as brands from the eternal burning, and bring us where we might sit under the droppings of his sanctuary, and learn the ways of industry and the way to God” (6).

In other words, the elites of Southern society, mediated by the power structures of the Church and the Plantation, argued that blacks were the beneficiaries and not the victims of slavery, because enslaved blacks were far too ignorant and uncivilized to strike out on their own. Green’s attempts at resistance, first through tricking his masters and later through running away from slavery, serve as attempts to establish his own destiny, away from the domineering influences of the larger society.

The presentation of the narrative as a series of transcribed lectures also furthers the idea of resistance, becoming an act of rebellion in its own right. Because he was speaking to a friendly audience, Green probably had the privilege of being candid about his experiences, showing both the good and the bad sides of his character without fear of backlash. Furthermore, Green’s accounts of the injustices, murders, and rapes that occurred under slavery would have shocked the audience, whose abolitionist ideas were usually guided by Christian impulses, and who also would have bristled at these violent accounts under slavery, and the Southern Christian ministers who helped enable them. Beyond simply deconstructing the idea of slavery, Green’s later career as a successful lecturer for the abolitionist cause was another rebuke to the Southern slaveholders, showing that blacks could still rise to excellence without the guiding hands of masters.

The autobiography of J.D. Green, although relatively short, is useful in the insights that Green permits into the everyday workings of slavery, and the actions that some slaves took to fight back in big or small ways. Slavery as an institution fundamentally contradicted the language of liberty and freedom that defined American society, but that did not mean that enslaved blacks passively gave in to their lot.

Fractured Family Dynamic of a Slave

By: Kyle Laguerre

Separation of family members was a prevalent part of the slave trade.  Even though many slave masters fathered children with the women they enslaved, these children were treated as chattel due to the fact freedom was determined by the freedom of the mother.  Despite the fact many of these biracial enslaved persons had a lighter complexion, European heritage, and were their master’s own offspring they were not exempt from the injustices of slavery. In William Craft’s slave narrative Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom he describes this injustice occurring with his biracial wife Ellen, who was also an person, stating:

“Notwithstanding my wife being of African extraction on her mother’s side, she is almost white–in fact, she is so nearly so that the tyrannical old lady to whom she first belonged became so annoyed, at finding her frequently mistaken for a child of the family, that she gave her when eleven years of age to a daughter, as a wedding present” (2).

craftfp

Ellen Craft’s disguise when escaping North to freedom.

Because of her similarity to her half-siblings Ellen is separated from her mother due to her step-mothers spite. Later in life, Ellen used her lighter complexion to disguise herself as a white man to escape with her husband to freedom. Instances of separation were not uncommon at all in slave trade of the American south. Laws and general attitudes during the 1800s reinforced such practices by giving slave holders the rights over the lives of enslaved persons, to the degree that using them for sexual pleasure and selling their own children was common practice. Craft states that:

“Any man with money (let him be ever such a rough brute), can buy a beautiful and virtuous girl, and force her to live with him in a criminal connexion; and as the law says a slave shall have no higher appeal than the mere will of the master, she cannot escape, unless it be by flight or death.”(16)

This attitude was perpetuated because of how the cruelty of slavery was downplayed during the 1800s. In America slavery was an institution built on contradictions and self-justification.  Besides the monetary value, one of the justifications used to argue for the necessity of slavery was that enslavement was allowing slave masters to elevating black people through religion and labor, because they could not help themselves. As absurd as the notion is, it was one of the reasons used by many religious slave owners to justify the use of black people as enslaved persons.    In Walter Johnson, Turning People into Products he discusses how slave owners needed to find ways to justify the cruelty of slavery.  He goes on to state that this is why slave traders would use proslavery rhetoric to reinforce their justifications, and craft narratives like the amputation of a enslaved persons’ fingers being performed out of mercy rather than punishment (127).  Craft exposes this hypocrisy by providing his own personal account:

“My old master had the reputation of being a very humane and Christian man, but he thought nothing of selling my poor old father, and dear aged mother, at separate times, to different persons, to be dragged off never to behold each other again, till summoned to appear before the great tribunal of heaven” (9).

henso18a

Mother separated with her child at slave auction

Through his narrative Craft exposes much injustices and hypocrisy that occurred with slavery especially when it came to the treatment of black women and separation of families.  Through the telling of his wife’s experience, he even confirms that those who even share the same blood as their oppressors were not exempt from the injustices faced by enslaved persons.  Although they did not face extreme physical abuse, the scars of separation left a lasting effect on William and Ellen when deciding to start a family and acted as their driving force to escape to freedom.


Sources:

The Sexual Oppression of Women in the 1890s as Seen Through Comics

By: Colleen vonVorys-Norton

 

Throughout history women have been systematically oppressed, especially when it comes to expressing their sexuality. This is not a single act, but is built into the patriarchal social structure where the oppression is kept in place with violence. Based on the social hierarchy, white men were the highest, then came white women, than men of color, and finally women of color. This is a highly simplified form, but is very clear in the 1890s.

 

A-Dreadful-Predicament-Puck

Samuel Ehrhart, A Dreadful Predicament, Puck vol 12 no. 570, February 8, 1888

One of the forms of suppression was the controlling of the female sexuality and using it to define her. White women were not allowed to show any form of sexuality. They were exclusively supposed to be seen as virtuous, motherly, and submissive to their husbands. This was only further reinforced with the Comstock Act of 1873. This act prohibited the spread of sexual material through the postal service. This included erotica but also educational material. In doing this, women were unable to properly learn about their sexual health and it became very taboo.

This concept is shown in the cartoon above. Since the act of bending over can be seen as a sexual one, she is not even able to tie her shoe with Comstock behind her. This shows just how unhelpful this act was since it only made sex a taboo thing. Also, since white women were aware of society’s negative view on sex, this made them want to act pure so they would not be seen in the negative light.

 

littleeqypt

Photographed by Benjamin Falk, Bellydancer, 1893

Since women of color are portrayed with all the negative stereotypes, having them be heavily sexualized makes them stand apart from white women. This also creates a polarity since white women wanted to remain virginal. The divide separated women and was an excuse for men to exploit them. The image, taken from the Chicago World’s Fair, is of an Egyptian belly dancer. How she is dressed is the opposite of what white women of the time were wearing and the dance they performed was labeled Hoochie Coochie by Anthony Comstock because he was trying to get the dance banned. Since men are supposed to be more sexually active and powerful, having a woman being sexual was seen as unable to be part of society.

 

Liliuokalani_on_a_platform_being_hold_up_by_bayonets_of_American_soldiers_political_cartoon_1893

Victor, Liliuokalani on Platform, Judge, December 2, 1893

This idea can be applied to the image above. Queen Liliuokalani, Queen of Hawaii, is being portrayed as the contrast to white women. Her clothes are loose and is barefoot, like the Egyptian dancers. Not only that but her posture and her knees are not put together. Having the legs apart is seen as intentionally sexual and is only reinforced with her holding papers that say “gross immorality” and “scandalous government”.

 

Liliuokalani_Racist_Cartoon

Liliuokalani, St. Paul Daily Globe, February 3, 1893

This hyper sexualization is seen again with how the artist drew Queen Liliuokalani’s dress be incredibly short and just having her bare legs and arms. Added with the size and exposure of the bust, she is hypersexualized to be stigmatized by society.

The state’s violence on controlling women, especially their sexualities, polarized women depending on the race and shows to men if the woman is able to be controlled and submissive or not.

Imperialism and White Supremacy: Justifications of State Violence in the 1890s

By Daria Martin

State violence in 1890s United States history can be understood through the framework of imperialism, where a belief in white supremacy over people of color, both in the continental U.S. and abroad, framed ideas about who had the ability to exercise sovereignty. Notions of white supremacy were implemented through American imperial projects within the historical events of the Massacre of Wounded Knee, the World’s Columbian Exposition, and the War of 1898. Three political cartoons from Puck Magazine, a satirical publication prominent in the 1890s, correlate to these events and reflect American attitudes toward imperialism and state violence during this decade.

These cartoons offer insight into the complex nature of state violence in the 1890s, where imperialist endeavors were justified through notions of white supremacy where Americans believed they possessed a superior capacity to act as a sovereign power. It is important to acknowledge the contradiction of white supremacy as being marshaled to both justify and critique imperialism depending on the source. This contradiction plays out through attempts to distinguish racial paternalism and racial violence, where white supremacy is tied to not only an excuse for sovereignty but for murder and subjugation. White supremacy as a justification for paternalism was utilized when convenient for the American government, as in the examples of forced assimilation of Natives, the hierarchy of racial displays at the World’s Fair, as well as through replacing Spain as the imperial master. White supremacy as a justification for violence worked in tandem with racial paternalism, as violence was deemed acceptable because of American understandings of racial difference. The following cartoons reflect how the state was engaged in these contradictions simultaneously, as white supremacy was employed throughout the imperial endeavors of the U.S. in the 1890s.

3b49121r

Joseph Keppler, “Consistency,” Puck Magazine, January 21, 1881.

The above cartoon, satirically entitled “Consistency,” draws upon the disparate treatment of Native Americans compared to Asians and Africans by the American government.  The artist depicts the Native Americans sympathetically at the Massacre at Wounded Knee, where the perpetrator of the violence, Uncle Sam, kills women and children indiscriminately. The image of the violence is juxtaposed with the supposed benevolence offered to caricatured versions of Asians and Africans. Keppler presents an image which demonstrates the power resting in Uncle Sam’s hands, representative of the larger concept of American sovereignty and influence over “uncivilized” peoples.

The historical context of this cartoon is settler colonialism, which is rooted in notions of white entitlement to the land and an ideology of cultural supremacy over the existing native cultural structure present before the arrival of Europeans. Historian David Grua explains that “with the reorganization of federal Indian policy in the decade, the American settler colonial project was fully implemented in Indian Country” (Grua, 15). Settler colonialism meant that white settlements resulted in the elimination of indigenous culture and sovereignty. State violence, such as what is depicted in the above cartoon at the Massacre of Wounded Knee, was precipitated by the forced relocation of the Lakota Sioux onto reservations along with aggressive assimilationist policies. This “assimilationist assault” entailed the white fear and condemnation of the Ghost Dance, which in part was used to frame the Lakota Sioux as the instigators of the violence at Wounded Knee (Grua, 15).

The Native Americans in this image appear less racialized in their depictions compared to their foreign counterparts. This is done to elevate the humanity of the Lakota compared to the Asians and Africans who are more foreign. Keppler, in titling the cartoon “Consistency,” intends to comment on the disparate treatment of natives through brutality compared to the generosity given to Asians and Africans. Keppler wants the U.S. government to be more consistent in their approach to non-white populations by being more paternalistic to the Natives and less generous to the Africans and Asians. 

3g02097v

Frederick Opper, “Uncle Sam’s Show,” Puck Magazine, October 30, 1893.

The 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago celebrated the four hundred year anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas. In hosting this celebration, the United States wanted to present itself on the global stage, both as a dominant technological and cultural power. Historian Curtis Hinsley confirms the idea that “as a collective phenomenon the industrial exposition celebrated the ascension of civilized power over nature and primitives” (Hinsley, 345). This was present in the midway plaisance, where people from around the world, such as Africans from the continent, “arrived to work on the Midway as representations of the world’s diversity as well as curiosities for the narrow minded” (Reed).

The Midway was intended to be a representation of  progress within human civilization, leading up to the White City which contained America’s showcase of innovation. “Uncle Sam’s Show” touts the “spectacular success” of the Fair, depicting a dancing Uncle Sam with eight other men, representing countries who participated in the exposition. The white European men are not presented as caricatures in the way that the Asian and African men are, just as white men were not the ones displayed as commodities within the exposition. The men of color in the cartoon are positioned farthest away from Uncle Sam, which may suggest that these men are also farthest away in terms of civilization. Additionally, Uncle Sam is physically much larger than the other men who are dancing, which also connects to American understanding of cultural supremacy over other racial groups.

28696r

Louis Dairymple, “It’s Got to be Sooner or Later, and it Looks like Sooner,” Puck Magazine, April 27, 1898.

In 1898, the U.S. went to war against Spain officially for their supposed attack on the U.S.S. Maine, but for the true purpose of extending their sovereignty over the Spanish possessions in the Caribbean and Pacific. This cartoon seeks to demonize the Spanish as they sail away from the Island of Cuba. After “400 years of misrule,” the cartoons celebrates Uncle Sam for extending his to hand to a Cuban woman, symbolically representing the U.S.’s reach over Cuban sovereignty. The image portrays Uncle Sam as a savior, freeing the Cubans rom oppressive rule. This fits into the narrative that the United States has been charged with civilizing the uncivilized, and must dominate over people such as the Cubans who are deemed unfit to rule due to incapacities tied to race.

This cartoon raises the issue that “the denial of imperialism still fuels a vision of America as an exceptional nation, one interested in spreading universal values, not domination” (Kaplan, 832). In creating an American Empire, the United States expressed a moral justification based on the American capacity to spread ideals of freedom abroad. Entitlement to the land is understood through the title of the cartoon, where America, “sooner or later,” is destined to become the new colonial master. Because Spain has failed in its duty as a white imperial master, the U.S. deems it their obligation to take on the paternal charge of extending its sovereignty over the Cuban people. This racial paternalism was rooted in notions of white supremacy, where the shifting of responsibility was put onto the United States to control the Cuban population.

Wilmington Race Riots of 1898: The Infusion of Racial Ideology into Politics

By Alex Sutton

In the 1890s, North Carolina saw historical shifts in politics and the emergence of new political parties. In response to the Democratic party that favored banks and railroads over agriculture, white agrarians founded the People’s Party, also known as the Populists. They soon formed an alliance with black Republicans that shared their economic grievances, something that was unimaginable to the white Democrats. The Populist-Republican interracial coalition, known as the “Fusion” coalition, became a major political player in North Carolina. While the economic depression deepened, the coalition advocated for popular control of local government, free public education, and electoral reforms that would give black men the same voting rights as whites. (Tyson)

In 1894, Fusion candidates won a majority in the legislature and won both U.S. Senate seats. The Fusion party was again victorious in 1896, when the alliance retained control of the legislature and elected a Republican governor, Daniel Russell. The victory of the Fusion coalition in 1894 signaled a political change for North Carolina, particularly Wilmington. The horrified white Democrats vowed to regain control of the government. (Kirshenbaum)

The Democratic Party began to conduct a statewide white supremacy campaign of racist appeals and political violence that aimed to demolish the interracial coalition. Instead of focusing on important political issues of the time, such as the economic depression, Democrats had to develop campaign issues that transcended party lines. Culminating in the Wilmington race riot of 1898, the Democrats’ white supremacy campaign led the revolution against interracial democracy. As historian Glenda Gilmore argues, “we can see that the white supremacy campaigns of the 1890s and early 1900s injected a vicious racial ideology into the heart of American political culture in a way that we have yet to transcend fully” (Gilmore 10).

Additionally, the federal governments’ refusal to take action during and after the riot illuminates the larger racial and political issues in the nation at the time. During the riot, President McKinley failed to send federal troops to put an end to the massacre, leaving Wilmington’s African American population unprotected. When the riot eventually came to an end, McKinley also failed to provide federal government assistance those who needed it after the terror of the riot. Most importantly, however, the federal government failed to prosecute the perpetrators of the riot. Fearing that an acquittal would undermine the authority of the federal government in North Carolina, prosecutors decided to drop the matter. The federal government’s lack of action demonstrated that the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of civil rights would not be enforced. Not until 1957 would a president take action to prove the power of the Reconstruction amendments in the South. The federal government’s failure to act in the face of the Wilmington race riot set a precedence that white supremacists power would be unchecked and that the federal government would not act to prevent racial violence. As historian Joel Willamson wrote, “once the riot had actually occurred in Wilmington,  there was no need for it to happen elsewhere” (Gilmore 5).  The memory of the riot and the terror that it anchored in African Americans allowed for the white supremacists to continue their domination long after the riot had ended. (Gilmore 86-87).

Through infusing politics with hateful racial ideology, white supremacists aimed to gain more support from the white males that had belonged to the Fusion party. Using tactics such as portraying African Americans as conspiring to spread “negro domination” through taking away the white man’s right to autonomy, Democrats illuminated the assumed threat posed to the state’s elites. Additionally, playing on racial fears that African Americans were a threat to womanhood, the white supremacist campaign was able to remake men into killers that were justified in protecting white women at any cost. The tactics used by the white supremacy campaign against the Fusion coalition in 1898 would make racial hatred a facet of politics, greatly damaging interracial coalitions in the future.


To wage their white supremacy campaign, Democrats recruited a group of aggressive, colorful, and dynamic young supporters. Among these new recruits was Josephus Daniels, the editor of the Raleigh News and Observer. Daniels became the Democrats’ leading mouthpiece and a militant voice of white supremacy, using his newspaper to disseminate the hateful, racial ideology that fueled the white supremacy campaign and would become commonplace in American politics.(Prather 22).

Raleigh News and Observer

Raleigh News and Observer, November 11, 1898.

In the months leading up to the election and race riots, the Raleigh News and Observer published countless political cartoons demonstrating the threat that the Fusionist party presented to the white population in North Carolina.

 

bat

A Warning. Get Back! We Will Not Stand It,Raleigh News and Observer, August 30, 1898.

One of the most crucial tactics that Democrats employed during their campaign of white supremacy was appealing to the white man’s masculinity. As discussed by historian Glenda Gilmore, by using the language of “home protection,” Democrats were able to give the discontent a powerful psychosexual charge. By convincing the Populist white man that had valued his class interests over his race interests, opponents of the Fusion party bolstered the idea that the Populist man had allowed for the incubus to become a threat to white women. The belief that white men needed to assert their manhood and protect “family values” became the justification needed for the men to take violent action against African Americans. (Gilmore 76-77). The political cartoon, “A Warning. Get Back! We Will Not Stand It,” published in 1898 depicts the belief of white men that it was their duty to defeat “negro rule.” The arm of the “honest white man” is seen using his ballot to fend of the African American man, symbolizing as his hat states, the “negro rule.” While portraying the conflict in a political light, the cartoon displays the strong moral obligation white men had to keep the black man out of public affairs and governance.

 

devil

Don’t Be Tempted By The Devil,Raleigh News and Observer, October 26, 1898.

One of the main images used during the White Supremacy Campaign in 1898 was that of the incubus. As discussed by historian Glenda Gilmore, the incubus was created by white politicians in an effort to seize political power, being used as a scare tactic to pull white voters back into the Democratic Party (Gilmore 74). While the incubus was seen as a threat to white women, the representation of African Americans as demonic figures was widespread. As seen in the cartoon, “Don’t Be Tempted By The Devil,” the incubus-like winged devil represents the Fusionist party, particularly the black members of the party. This portrayal played into the racial idea that African Americans were evil, devil like figures out to harm the white population. The devil is seen exerting its influence and control over the unsuspecting white-voter at the ballot box. The vote that the white man is seen casting is “for negro rule,” showing that what the devil wants is for African Americans to gain political control. It also equates a vote for the Fusion party as a vote “for negro rule.” The image would have played into the fear of “Negro Domination” and would have made white mean fear for the safety of their autonomy.

 

dance

“I Make Them Dance Or I Crush Them,” Raleigh News and Observer, October 12, 1898.

In response to the Fusion coalition’s victories, Democrats formed the White Supremacy Campaign in 1898. Historian Glenda Gilmore argues “what happened in Wilmington was part of an orchestrated campaign to end interracial cooperation, restore white supremacy, and in the process assure the rule of the state’s planter and industrial leaders” (Gilmore 6). Importantly, Democrats targeted white Fusionists as much as African Americans. The cartoon, “I Make Them Dance or I Crush Them,” published in 1898, depicts the Democrats view of the control African Americans held in the Fusion party. In the cartoon, white men are seen dancing in the palm of a hand, labeled on the cuff of its shirt as a “negro.” The hand of the “negro” is illustrated not as the hand of a human-being, but as the hand of an incubus: a demonic, beast-like creature possessing long, claw-like finger nails and hairy hands. Additionally, the cartoon depicts Governor Russell in the hands of his African American electorate, demonstrating that even fusionism was a type of “negro domination” to the Democrats. The cartoon also alludes to the idea that the Fusionist Party would cause white men to become subordinate to black men, rather than being their political equals. Playing on the fear of losing their masculinity, this idea would have instilled fear in the white men, causing them to see Fusionists as an even larger threat.



Additional Sources:

Kirshenbaum, Andrea Meryl, “The Vampire That Hovers over North Carolina: Gender, White Supremacy, and the Wilmington Race Riot of 1898.” Southern Cultures, no. 3, 1998.

Prather Sr., H. Leon, “We Have Taken a City,” in Democracy Betrayed: The Wilmington Race Riot of 1898 and Its Legacy, eds. Cecelski and Tyson (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998), 15-43.

Tyson, Timonty B., “The Ghosts of 1898: Wilmington’s Race Riot and the Rise of White Supremacy.” Raleigh News and Observer, 17 November 2006.

 

The Public’s view towards law enforcement in 90s

By Peter Chien

The 90s- a fascinating, booming, and lively era in American history- had the entire country going through conflict between race, government, class, even gender. During this time, a major controversy erupted in regards to brutality of police and corruption of jurisdiction system. A major problem was that the police wouldn’t actively offer support to the lower-class communities and even accepted bribery to help maintain privilege to wealthy individuals. Political cartoons and arts gave us a deeper understanding of citizen’s views towards law enforcement. Moreover, most of those political cartoons contained negative values and depression of the police and politicians. In New Orleans, police committed multiple homicides and were still able to walk out court free. Also, police departments were entirely manipulated by the wealthy, such that the wealthy drove the inner-actions of many police departments. NYPD- The New York Police Department- was being accused of accepting bribes from wealthy class to work towards their benefits. Politicians were acting the same way as the police during that time. Both were very corruptive and abusively use of force. It has come to a place where the United States constitution was no longer valid in situations regarding politicians or law enforcement. The tension between residents and law enforcement was raised to the breaking point; a series of riots happened all over the country due to injustice of jurisdiction system and also police brutality. In the next section of the paper, media arts and cartoons will be analyzed to depict the police brutality of the 90’s. In a well-captioned title: “Result of Police Outrage Investigations,” political cartoons such as these infiltrated the mind of the viewer; everyone noticed the injustices committed by the police.

Result_of_Police_Outrage_Investigations_New_Orleans_Mascot_Crop

(F. B., “Result of Police Outrage Investigations New Orleans Mascot Crop,” The Mascot, Feb. 23, 1889.)

In this photograph, we have two juxtaposed views of a police officer, the two views being beset by the setting and those who inhabit the setting and thus experience the two views. This picture, debuted in The Mascot, a newspaper in New Orleans, was titled The Results of Police Outrage Investigations and was aimed squarely at the injustice of police activity in the streets that was in turn touted at the higher up, more affluent and white circles as just and correct police word. In the caption on the left, we have a police officer with the head of a lion, beating two men with a bloody Billy club and firing wildly into nothingness. At this time, there was a heavy use of police brutality and physical force against the lower class, particularly those of colors, and public outrage was met with little to no acknowledgement. In the right caption, we have an angel-winged officer with a Herder’s stick, signaling a leader and protector of people, a doer of good. The officer also has a lamb head, innuendo of innocence, and this officer is exiting a Committee portal ostensibly as a do-gooder on police and public relations. Lastly, and most importantly, there is a sign in the second caption reading “whitewashing done cheep,” referring not only to the carte blanche attitude and policy of police protection, but even furthermore depicting the idea of innocence and police being white, alluding to violence and malign intent coming from those of color.

Where is the difference

(Louis Dalrymple, “Where is the difference? Library of Congress,” Puck, August 1, 1894.)

This picture, titled “Where is the Difference,” was penned in 1894. In it, we are shown two men, one a New York Police Officer and the other a member of the U.S. Senate done as a general depiction. The police officer is depicted as taking money from a woman’s hand that is coming from a window labeled N.Y. Den, the Senate Member taking money from a window labeled Trusts. In the middle, as a point of commonality, both men are leaning against a pedestal labeled Protection with a dollar sign on it. The title of this picture, Where is the Difference, really goes a long way in explaining what this picture is getting at. One the police officer side, the officer is accepting bribe money, or protection money, in order to allow the Den, which was jargon in this time for Bordello, to operate. This is clearly demonstrated as the exact opposite of what is supposed to be going on. Likewise, the Senate member is seen as taking money from US Trusts, from a plump, bejeweled male hand, clearly depicting a banker, which can also be seen as protection money for allowing the bank to operate however it so chose with impunity. Both sides are doing the opposite of what they are supposed to be doing, and getting paid via tax dollars for it. This depicts the feeling of helplessness and corruption in this time in New York, where people felt they could trust neither law enforcement nor the Federal or State governments to protect them.

Mulberry ring - growing fat on ill gotten gains

(Thomas Nast, “Mulberry ring – growing fat on ill gotten gains,” The New York Gazette, Apr. 17, 1892.)

In this cartoon, labeled,” Mulberry ring – growing fat on ill gotten gains” has the clearest explanation in the title. It was penned and published in 1892, at a time of public unrest over the massive amounts of presumed corruption within the police department and government alike. The NYPD was demanding fees from illegal business to prevent from arrest. It has numerous inscription around the central character, most of them geared around not tolerating the corruption any longer or questioning the true use of the police. The chaotic verbiage swirling around the central character highlights the chaos and outrage of the general citizenry, and is juxtaposed against the calm, collected character of a police officer, depicted as a bulldog and dressed in the uniform of NYPD. He is leaning casually against a billboard further demonstrating that they police work on a cash basis, alluding to corruption and extortion. The officer is also casually swinging a Billy club as well, carefully but clearly signaling that anything that makes the officer unhappy will be met with violence. The Mulberry Ring, signaled in the largest letters at the top of the cartoon, refers to many things, one of which being the ring of extortion and bribery that the police took in order for them to ‘allow’ businesses to do business, not unlike the mob. The deeper significance of this alludes to the song with the lyrics of “Ring Around the Mulberry Bush,” which was a song about the poverty and disease, commonly referred to as the plague, that the rich and the powerful ignored in many parts of Europe and that ultimately was a major killer in earlier Europe.

Virtuosity and the Freedom of Black Women

by Elisabeth Graham

A common thread that weaves through slave narratives in the 19th century is the idea of exceptionalism. It is not enough for an enslaved person to be freed because they are a person, apparently. No, it would seem that it is more incredulous that a free person has ever been enslaved because they are a person of exceptional wit or grace. White authors are time and time again relaying their shock and bewilderment at the eloquence and resilience of slaves in  their narratives.

For black women in this time period, there is a similar story. Within the narratives written by or about freed black women, there is a common theme: an emphasis on virtue. The stories in this collection emphasize black women’s piety as a key component in asserting their right to freedom.

In exploring the biographies of freed black women, I found dozens of narratives written by white women. In these narratives, these religious white women time and time again highlight the inherent virtue of black women. Abigail Mott — a white, Quaker woman — wrote and published a book entitled Narratives of Colored Americans. The introduction to this collection insists that the stories will, “prove acceptable reading to our Colored Americans” (Mott verso). Mott’s book is arranged by narratives — small, bite-sized parables — that “Colored Americans” can learn from and enjoy. Each of the narratives emphasizes the goodness and virtue of freed black Americans so that others might learn by example. Choosing to underscore the piety and goodness of these black Americans reveals Mott’s true desire as an abolitionist. 

The first story Mott writes showcases the exceptional good will and virtue of Phillis Wheatley — a young slave woman who became one of the most celebrated poets in early America. Mott writes, “ Phillis never departed from [being] humble and unassuming . . .  She respected the prejudice against her color, and, when invited to the tables of the great or wealthy, she chose a place apart for herself, that none might be offended at a thing so unusual as sitting at table with a woman of color” (6). This excerpt highlights Wheatley’s meekness — a virtue reserved typically for white women. In displaying a deeper understanding and “respect for her prejudice,” Wheatley proves that black women are more than capable of knowing their place. Following this description of Wheatley, Mott chooses to highlight a few of Wheatley’s poems. Mott writes this of Wheatley’s poetry: “Most of her poetry has a religious or moral bearing; all breathes a soft and sentimental feeling” (7). By focusing on Wheatley’s piety in her poetry and then calling it “soft and sentimental,” Mott wants the reader to believe in Wheatley’s inherent virtue and capability for delicacy.

When I say, “inherent virtue,” I am calling upon a common theme during this time period. This is the idea that black Americans are naturals when it comes to being good Christians. In “Blackface and Blackness: The Minstrel Show in American Culture,” Eric Lott discusses this phenomenon. Lott writes, “Slavery was evil . . . because it destroyed the great good nature, the blithe innocence, and above all the family structure of, in Methodist Bishop Gilbert Haven’s words, “the choice blood of America.” Blacks, it came to be argued, were not only exemplars of virtue but natural Christians” (33). In this argument, Mott’s description of Wheatley gains clarity. Slavery is not becoming for a woman of Wheatley’s character. Wheatley is allowed to be free because her status as a slave tarnishes her innate innocence and talent compared to her white masters.

Religion and virtue are also impressed upon the autobiographical narratives of freed black women like Amanda Smith. As a freed black missionary, Smith relays her first religious experience in the church. In this story, she highlights Miss Mary Bloser, a white woman of the Church. Smith writes, “One night as [Miss Bloser] was speaking to persons in the congregation, she came to me, a poor colored girl sitting away back by the door, and with entreaties and tears, which I really felt, she asked me to go forward. I was the only colored girl there, but I went. She knelt beside me with her arm around me and prayed for me . . . I seemed to be so light. In my heart was peace, but I did not know how to exercise faith as I should” (28). First, Smith’s presence as the “only colored girl” in attendance shows how this group of religious white people believed that she belonged to the group of “natural Christians.” Smith had never attended a church service before, and her presence at this church service is just the beginning of a young woman who was born into slavery coming into the light and being saved by God. By taking this innocent young black woman into the church, they can further protect that piety and innocence and nurture it to be their own.

Both Phillis Wheatley and Amanda Smith, born nearly 90 years apart, share a common part of their story: their freedom is qualified by white Americans who believe in their capability to be religious, black Americans. Supporting Wheatley and Smith is a safe bet, compared to other more radical black Americans. These black women represent a future America where the black population can be safely assimilated into the idea of what it means to be a white, Christian American. Without their dedication to lead pious lives, it is unclear whether or not we would ever know their stories.

When Slaves Become Strange

by Chanina Wong

Conjoined since birth, twins Millie and Christine garnered mass interest and attraction from when they were even ten months old.

Millie and Christine McKoy were twin sisters conjoined at the lower spine born into slave family in North Carolina, 1851. Even at birth, they were considered a spectacle as many onlookers sought to see their deformity themselves with many visitors going to their owner’s home , causing him to sell them to another white couple. It was under Joseph Pearson Smith and his wife, that they felt they were treated kindly; the Smiths even made an effort to locate and purchase Millie and Christine’s entire family. They contribute their Christian beliefs from their “white ma”, Mrs. Smith, who they revered who also taught them how to dance, sing, read, and speak different languages (19):

“None can mistake our determination in remaining under the guardianship of Mrs. Smith. Our object is two-fold: We can trust her, and what is more, we feel grateful to her and regard her with true filial affection” (16).

The History of the Carolina Twins: “Told in Their Own Peculiar Way” by “One of Them” was sold by the twins’ agents, written directly to their audience they perform for and “skeptics” of their deformity, as seen by a medical testimony placed at the end by doctors who observed the twins themselves and the detailed explanation of their lives. Their entire history is present from when they were born shocking their family, to when they were kidnapped from their “kind master and guardian”, to the publication’s present when they performed and traveled as a show (8). The publication almost acts as a form of advertisement, for skeptics to visit the Carolina Twins’ show and see for themselves the oddity of their body. Reviews are placed in the publication further enhancing its goal of persuasion.

It is crucial in narratives of enslaved persons to consider how the speakers view themselves, especially when “one’s self” is arguably, two separate minds connected in one body. It is difficult to tell if the narrative actually stems from the twins’ own words or if it was twisted, despite referring to themselves in first person. At the end of their published pamphlet, the author placed lyrics of their popular songs they sing when performing, which many have requested a copy of:

“Two heads, four arms, four feet, All in one perfect body meet, I am most wonderfully made…I’m happy, quite, because I’m good; I love my Savior and my God. I love all things that God has done, Whether I’m created two or one”(21).

Millie and Christine consider themselves according to the publication as one, or “Millie-Christine”, one with the same thoughts, ideas, opinions, despite two different brains and heads. Even on trains they were required only one ticket, considered only one person. One train ticket, of course, makes more sense economically, but being constantly portrayed as one person, “Millie-Christine”, demonstrates how the twins viewed themselves as a singular person and a unique creation that should be displayed.

How the public viewed Millie and Christine is similar to their own perception, as an odd, but beautiful demonstration of “God’s creation”. They were presented like a sort of circus act as  the “Eighth Wonder of the World”, pleasing many crowds intriqued with their uniqueness:

Millie-Christine, the “Caroline Twin”, are photographed in the center, advertised as one of the “Eight Wonders of the World”, revered as a spectacle and a “freak of nature”.

“The editor of the Louisville Journal said, ‘The exhibition of these remarkable twins is characterized by the peculiar delicacy, modesty and ingeniousness of these young girls themselves. Nothing occurs nor can occur offensive to the most fastidious sense of propriety, or refined taste’” (17).

Their deformities were not only placed as entertainment for many to enjoy, but their songs and dancing were of “exquisite taste and sweetness”. “Christine [had] a soprano voice. Millie a contralto”, and their harmonic duets were paired with graceful dancing that is seen as even more impressive with the uniqueness of their four legs (16).

Christine and Millie were sold like products between owners through transactions, and were kidnapped for someone to gain a profit. They were of course, not treated with the dignity of that era’s white person. But the twins were so marveled and revered that their skin color, which was a large contributing factor to how one was categorized in 19th century America, was not the reason for their “oppression” as profitable products that traveled and entertained. There is an alternative situation to consider. If Millie and Christine were white, would perhaps they be treated differently, or if their deformity been taken advantage the exact same way?

Millie and Christine’s life raises the conversation discussing whether the twins were placed under the same oppression as black enslaved persons in America, even being born within a family under slavery. The twins were not set to work in the fields or care for their white masters as exploited labor. They traveled as commodities, displaying their talents as exhibitions for an audience. There are connections to be made, however, to the practice of slave traders commodifying their slaves as “products” to appear their fittest and most healthiest to gain a large profit. Such practices by slave traders included shaving men’s beards, plucking gray hairs and blackening them with dye, exercising slaves so their muscles stay toned, amongst other techniques “by which the traders turned people into things and then into money” (Johnson 119).

The twins do not speak much about slavery in their publication, considering it was for their audience, not abolitionists. Slavery is spoken more as a given fact of that time’s culture instead of a horrifying one, like financial transactions between owners instead of terrible exploitation. There is no incident spoken that is recalled to be graphic or violent that is usually described in an enslaved person’s experience, and they revere and compliment their white owners. According to their narrative, it appears that Mrs. Smith truly loved and appreciated the twins, but her efforts in educating the twins could be considered grooming them to perform for profit. It must also be mentioned that this publication was sold by their “agents”, who were their owners.

The twins were of course viewed as some sort of product with services to sell, but they were differentiated from black enslaved persons, perhaps more “worthy” of white people’s attention and admiration. Practically celebrities, they even were gifted jewelry from Queen Victoria, and lived under seemingly caring owners who extensively strived to unite their family and provide an education for the twins. Their unique circumstance presents questioning if their deformity saved them from a lifetime of oppression, a different type of oppression, under typical enslavement. Did the twins even percieve themselves as oppressed at all? It may not be entirely clear, but perhaps Millie and Christine were very fortunate to have been bought under the “very giving” Smiths, who appear to have loved and worked hard for Mille and Christine and their family. Millie and Christine’s circumstances cannot be understood without the backdrop of slavery, however, where they were still considered products and not breathing, meaningful people.

Trials and Tribulations of Enslaved Motherhood

 By: Melissa Wilson                    slave picture 2
MARTHA PAYNE  Mother of Daniel A. Payne Founder of Wilberforce University

        To fully understand the extent of severity slavery inflicted upon the enslaved individuals is to read their narratives remembering their enslavement. Reading and studying slave narratives are “essential to the study of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American history and literature” because they enhance historians’ knowledge on slavery through first-hand accounts. It is to be noted that many enslaved persons were unable to read or write and had someone annotate their story as an enslaved person. Therefore there is room for ambiguity on events that may or may not have taken out of context. Historians cannot fully depend on a slave narrative to be an adequate form of understanding the true evil of slavery, but it’s a start. As slave narratives were formed there were also a variety of historical fiction slave narratives that drew upon autobiographical slave narratives. One common theme amongst them was the function of the enslaved mother and her position and integrity in the story. Whether she enslaved mother was an effective caring mother or unable to handle slavery and being a mother that she made questionable decisions that might not have been beneficial for her family.

         There is an argument to be made that the modern-day African American family roots stem back all the way from slavery. The family structure and dynamics of a matriarchal household with sometimes an absentee father resembles how families were set up during slavery. There are obvious differences, for instance, families nowadays do not deal with their master, but there are similarities in oppression African American families deal with on a day to day basis. On the top of this family structure is the mother who, in many slave narratives, only wants her family safe and tries to keep them together as long as possible. Due to families being separated through the internal slave trade in the United States family members were scattered all across slave states. In various slave narratives I read, the mother always functioned as the “glue” to keep the family together and when she fails to do so, she finally would break down, opening up the dark truth of slavery. These families were treated as cattle being sold from one owner to the next not thinking they would mind being separated from their other family members. Yet, these people are not cattle, they had a voice and they used it when they felt they lost all hope. Reverend Josiah Henson autobiography when he separates from his mother is similar to many slave narratives of family separation.

          Reverend Josiah Henson was an enslaved person in 1789 in Maryland. His autobiography influenced Harriet Beecher Stowe used for her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin as a template slave narrative. Henson tried to buy in his freedom in 1828 but his master raised the price after he was able to afford his freedom. He then escaped and was “involved in the underground railroad” helping other ex-enslaved persons escape slavery. He eventually wrote a biography of his life while residing in Canada. The scene that I am focusing on is the last moment he had with his mother at the slave auction when they were separated. This separation from his mother violated the family’s social constraints that society placed on families. Slavery for Henson’s mother broke her integrity to be an effective mother yet from an outsider perspective they did not think the slave auctions were cruel and brutal for the enslaved persons.

 

“Whose worth can never be measured/ Her moral and mental and physical life” (viii)

 

Slave Picture                     “O, Master, just buy my baby; all the rest are gone, and I will go anywhere, and do anything for you.”

        Henson’s mother pleaded her life just to be with her “baby”. It comes into question if motherhood is what breaks a slave mother from being so strong throughout. Henson remarks after he was sold to another master he remarks ” I heard her sob out, “Oh, Lord Jesus, how long, how long shall I suffer this way?””. This narrative furthers the idea of how powerless the slave mother truly was during this time period. In society’s view mothers are seen as the sole caretakers of their children, and when they are seen to be failing at that task, society begins to question the mother’s integrity. 

 

“…can it be believed that this man, thus appealed to, was capable not merely of turning a deaf ear to her supplication, but of disengaging himself from her with such violent blows and kicks…” (18)

 

This is not the first case of questionable decisions enslaved mother’s made during their enslavement. The autobiography of Henson is said to have influenced Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, where the mother in that novel has questionable integrity. Eliza was crossing the river with her infant, and she almost killed their child in the process. Immediately, society’s view of Eliza is that is was an unfit parent and ineffective mother. Eliza was desperate to save her child from being sold and she did everything in her power to protect her child. Just as Henson’s mother pleaded her life away just to stay with her children.

Henson and Stowe depict these women as heroic characters sacrificing their lives to better their child. These women were depicted as single mothers trying to make due to their situation. Yet the difference between nowadays and then were they were in enslaved and stripped of all their rights to their children. The narratives serve as empathy for the enslaved mothers the shed light on their cruel situation. The mothers were not horrible mothers at all, but are deemed as heroic and placed on a pedestal.

Both authors chose to write about the enslaved women where the reader would have empathy and sympathy for the mother who dealt with these horrific circumstances. The narratives give context as to why enslaved mother’s made decisions that seemed absurd to white folks. The norm of slavery and slave auctions were debunked through these narratives where the reader can empathize with the enslaved mothers. These narratives were mostly written for white folks and widely read across the country. These narratives served as a foundational platform for unveiling the true evil of slavery and what it does to a human being under those circumstances. 

Brown, Hallie Q.Homespun Heroines and Other Women of Distinction. First edition, 2000. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, The Aldine Publishing Company 2000.

 John Lobb “Uncle Tom’s Story of His Life.” An Autobiography of the Rev. Josiah Henson  (Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s”Uncle Tom”). From 1789 to 1876.First edition, 2006. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2006. 

Stowe, Harriet Beecher.Uncle Tom’s Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly. PUBLISHED: Boston: John P. Jewett & Co., 1852.

http://nationalhumanitiescenter.org/tserve/freedom/1609-1865/essays/aafamilies.htm

https://www.biography.com/people/josiah-henson-541392

http://utc.iath.virginia.edu/interpret/exhibits/turner/turner.html