Baseball and Race barrier in the 19th Century

By Andres Rodriguez

Negro League player 1880

Unidentified Negro Ball Player- 1880 Baseball Hall of Fame

The game of Baseball was invented sometime in the late 19th century. Although there is no concrete evidence of when or who exactly invented Baseball, it only took a short amount of time to be considered America’s pastime. The picture of the identified negro ball player is a very symbolic, especially for black people living in America at the time. There is not an ample amount of photographs taken in the 19th century of negro ball players. No surprise but racism was still occurring in both social and political contexts. This photograph is very symbolic in a sense that it gave black people a sense of equality and identity. Not only can white people play baseball but so can black people. According to Devon Carbado’s Racial naturalization essay, one of her arguments is about racism and the naturalization process for American Identity thru exclusion and inclusion. While this picture is symbolic for the black population, this is just another example of how negros where being excluded but also included  due to the way they look. In a time where Jim Crow laws were beginning established in the America, baseball was also effected by Jim Crow laws.  Black people were discriminated due to the dominant “superior race.” Devon Carbado mentions in her essay that “De Jure Racial Naturalization occurs when race is intentionally and explicitly used to establish an American identity” and she also gives an example of the Plessy vs. Ferguson Case that gives racial segregation to be constitutional. (Carbado 15) Black people were faced with racial segregation in America after the 1896 case of Plessy vs. Ferguson. The picture was dated in 1880 so it was around the time where Jim Crow laws were being established in America. Black people who did see this photograph did feel a sense of American identity even though the Plessy vs. Ferguson case formally excluded black people from obtaining identity. Black were included in America but also excluded by Jim Crow laws.

Although black people were segregated in America in the late 19th century, baseball helped black people become less segregated in a social sense. After the 19th century, baseball was only getting more popular and Jim Crow laws were still in place, negro ball players were formed and later established its own league, the negro league. It is important to mention the 20th century because the color barrier was coming to an end in baseball. According to Donn Rogosin, author of Invisible Men: Life in Baseball negro leagues, he writes about the overall lives of negro ball players and the impact it had on the black population in America.

“the importance of the Negro leagues transcended the world of sport. A small group of black men, with remarkable skills, reached far above the menial and the mundane…When their baseball victories came against white opponents, they undermined segregation itself” – Donn Rogosin, Visible Men: Life in Baseball Negro leagues

Negro leagues were established in the 20th century but if it was not for people like the one unidentified negro player it helped give hope for the black population in America.

The photograph of the unidentified negro ball player was very symbolic. It was taken in 1880 where Jim Crow laws were starting to be established thus undermining black identity in America. This photograph helped black people gain a sense of identity. They were not black people playing baseball, they were just people playing baseball. It became America’s national pastime where anyone could play baseball regardless of race.

Bibliography:

Devon W., Carbado. 2005. “Racial Naturalization.” American Quarterly no. 3: 633. JSTOR Journals, EBSCOhost (accessed December 17, 2017).

Rogosin, Donn. Invisible Men: Life in Baseball’s Negro Leagues. U of Nebraska Press, 2007.

Unidentified Negro Leagues Player photograph, 1880. Baseball Hall of Fame archives. https://collection.baseballhall.org/PASTIME/unidentified-negro-leagues-player-photograph-1880-0

 

Commemorating and Memorializing the Civil War

By Andres Rodriguez

The Civil War is the deadliest war in American history to date because since it was a Civil War within one country, no other country or nation took part in this war. The question many Americans ask today is why did the Civil War occur in the United States. Many people believe the war occurred because southern states wanted to keep the institution of slavery while others believe Southern States wanted to keep their state rights. According to the John Oliver video that was about the ongoing debate about controversial confederate monuments in public spaces, he brings a very interesting static that reads, “48% of people, in the U.S., believe that the main cause of the Civil War was over state rights and only 38% of people believe it was because of slavery.” (John Oliver Video) This static brings confusion because I personally thought that most Americans believed the Civil War occurred because of slavery. Going back to the controversial confederate monument debate, many people are arguing for the removal of Confederate Monuments because they are offensive to African Americans and their ancestors. In Drew Faust book, This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War, she mentions various themes like “Dying,” “Killing,” “Burying,” “Realizing,” “Believing and Doubting,” “Numbering,” and “Surviving.” (Faust) The theme of “Killing” can help defend African Americans who find certain Confederate Monuments as offensive because of the treatment of African Americans who fought in the Civil War. For example, The Secretary of War James Seddon of the Confederate South is said to have “declared…that negros captured will not be regarded as prisoners of war.” The question that usually comes next is what are the “Negros” that are captured regarded as? They were executed with no mercy. On page 44 Faust mentions how W.D Rutherford of South Carolina wrote to his wife in which said these words, “the determination in our army is to kill them all and spare not” (44). The treatment of captured black troops and the overall perspective of black troops from the Confederate army is immoral and racist. The perspective of many Americans towards Confederate Monuments is mostly negative except for those few Americans whose ancestors fought on the Confederate side. Those certain individuals find it more disrespectful to take down such monuments because “it is history and you cannot erase history” as said by one of the individuals on the John Oliver show. I do understand the difficulty of accepting that your ancestor fought for the side that wanted to keep slavery going in America but I do think the removal of Confederate officers is disrespectful. These monuments should not be destroyed after they are taken down from public spaces but should be put in Museums where people can learn about the Civil War in a more private and optional space. I think the overall problem with having Confederate Monuments in public spaces is that it commemorates certain Confederate officers, even though they fought for the institution of slavery which is very offensive to African Americans. The history of Slavery can never be erased but it can be put in places where it can be option for people to view or read it like museums. Also, military cemeteries can also be an alternative way of commemorating and memorizing  the Civil War for both Union and Confederate Soldiers. In the Faust book, the “Burying” theme has similar burying rituals for both Union and Confederate soldiers. For example, the Gettysburg cemetery is considered to be the most equal and democratic of all grave sites from the Civil War because it has no private sections for officers, everyone is buried together regardless of rank or race. There are alternative ways to commemorating and memorizing the Civil War without offending Union/Confederate ancestors.

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Robert E. Lee Sculpture, Charlottesville, VA, courtsey of the New York Times. Found on http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2017/aug/13/protest-over-lee-statue-in-virginia-tur-1/

This photo is displaying white nationalist who are commemorating a statue of Robert E. Lee who was the famous Confederate General during the Civil War. This photo is quite disturbing because there are clearly so many people who are commemorating a statue of a man who served for the side that wanted to keep the institution of slavery. This photo also brings the attention of the static I mentioned earlier that about 48 percent of Americans believe the main cause of the Civil War was over state rights. The people in this photo are the 48 percent. This statue should be taken down because the more people are clearly being offended by it being up than being taken down. Robert E. Lee should not be forgotten or erased from history but should not be in a public space where many African Americans walk by it. It is offensive to African Americans because of the mistreatment of slaves and statues that commemorate individuals who wanted to keep slavery alive should be taken down from public space and put in an Museum.

American Romanticism and the Gothic Features of Gelyna, 1828

By Andres Rodriguez

Cole_Thomas_Gelyna_(View_near_Ticonderoga)_1826-1828

Thomas Cole, Gelyna (View From Ticonderoga), 1828

Thomas Cole is an American painter who is well-known for capturing the romanticism of the American landscape. Unlike most of his paintings, this specific painting has very dark, even Gothic symbolism. The dark black paint surrounding the picture which is caused from the cloud cover. The dead body of the British solider lying on the ground. The Gothic style of Edgar Allan Poe is significant in this painting because Thomas Cole captures the darkness of the American landscape. He also displays death by the British solider lying on the ground while another British solider on the left looks like he’s point something in the direction of the dead solider. He might be holding a gun or just pointing out that the solider is lying on the ground, possibly injured or dead. Nevertheless, the use of dark colors and the British solider lying on the ground creates a dark even Gothic theme of the painting while also capturing the American landscape of Fort Ticonderoga, New York.

Edgar Allan Poe’s Gothic Identity during the 19th Century

By Andres Rodriguez

Edgar Allan Poe is one of the most famous American writers of all time. There is no question that a majority of people in America have learned something about Edgar Allan Poe. If not, here is brief background of Edgar Allan Poe. He was born on January 19th, 1809 in Boston Massachusetts. Early in his life, his mother passed away from disease and his father left him also. He also had two siblings in which his brother also died due to disease. He winded up an orphan where he was taken in by a wealthy tobacco merchant family. His foster father never took his writing talents seriously. He finally met the love of his life, Virginia, in which his inspiration and motivation to write stemmed from her. Unfortunately, his beloved wife passed away from the same disease as his mother and brother died from, Tuberculosis. He lived in poverty and heartbreak until his death in 1849. The point is, Edgar Allan Poe suffered from overwhelming heartbreak due to deaths and loss, commonly the themes of many of his poems and short stories, like The Raven.

“It has puzzled many critics, sometimes to the point of vituperation, that Poe stands simultaneously as the germinal figure of a central modernist trajectory and as much-acknowledged pioneer of several durable mass-cultured genres, detective fiction and science fiction, as well as certain modes of sensational or Gothic horror, which are today…”  (02.) – Reading at the Social Limit: Affect, Mass Culture, and Edgar Allan Poe

Arguably his most famous poem, The Raven, gives America a new identity in terms of 19th Century Literature. America was desperately trying to gain an identity that differs from British or even French Literature. Edgar Allan Poe gave American literature an identity by writing in a Gothic style. Jonathon Elmer, author of Reading at the Social Limit: Affect, Mass Culture, and Edgar Allan Poe, mentions Poe’s Gothic style by describing many of his other “mass-cultured genres” (02.) Reading at the Social Limit: Affect, Mass Culture, and Edgar Allan Poe. In The Raven, the narrator is sitting on a chair at midnight when he hears knocking sounds, he winds up opening his window to check it out and a raven fly’s into his room. The narrator starts to speak to the Raven and the Raven winds up speaking but only says “nevermore.”

“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing, Doubting, dreaming dreams of no mortal ever dared to dream before; But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness have no token, And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, ‘Lenore?’ This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, ‘Lenore!’  Merely this and nothing more.” 5th Stanza, The Raven.

The narrator in The Raven, mentions fear and “dreams of no mortal ever dream” symbolizes how the Gothic style of horror due to the Raven in the poem. The literal speaking of the Raven gives a Gothic symbol but the only thing the Raven says is “nevermore.” The narrator mentions “Lenore” which in second stanza, he mentions “the lost of Lenore.” The narrator also keeps asking questions to the Raven during the poem but the Raven only says nevermore. The narrator eventually loses his mind by the end of the poem because he knows his beloved Lenore will be “nevermore” than before. The narrators suffering from his deceased  loved and the fear stemming from the talking Raven makes the poem a Gothic theme of death and loss.

“Like everyone else, however, Poe’s life had highs and lows during which he responded appropriately. During periods of tragedy or loss, Poe experienced bouts with grief. In moments of injustice, Poe expressed righteous anger. On the whole, Poe’s life could be called happy. He had his share of disappointments and tragedies, but he also succeeded at his only real ambition—to become a significant poet.” (31.) – Evermore; Edgar Allan Poe and the Mystery of the Universe.

Like I said before, Poe experienced many deaths from loved ones throughout his life. Like Harry Lee Poe, Author of Evermore; Edgar Allan Poe and the Mystery of the Universe, mentions how like almost every other person, Poe suffered many tragedies throughout his life. Harry Poe does mention that his suffering made him into a very “significant poet.” Edgar Allan Poe created a Gothic identity in which differed from British Literature. American Literature gained a new Gothic identity in the 19th century from Edgar Allan Poe’s creative and imaginative writings.

Bibliography

Elmer, Jonathon. “Introduction: The Figure of Mass Culture.” Reading at the Social Limit: Affect, Mass Culture, and Edgar Allan Poe. Stanford University Press, 1995, pp. 2–3. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=gDcRQLLk45MC&oi=fnd&pg=PR10&dq=raven+edgar+allan+poe&ots=5nCaSG7hjy&sig=RU6xFxaai_axR7KeGFH6DM-sCCQ#v=onepage&q=raven%20edgar%20allan%20poe&f=false

Poe, Harry Lee. Evermore: Edgar Allan Poe and the Mystery of the Universe. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2012. https://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed November 4, 2017).

Poe, Edgar Allan. The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe. New York City, NY: Barnes & Noble, Inc., 2006.

The Importance of Education for African Americans in the 19th Century

By Andres Rodriguez

Manual Labor requires strength, patience and more importantly obedience. The least required asset for manual labor is to be educated. Slave owners in America had the same requirements. Slave owners would search and acquire slaves that were very physically strong, and very obedient.  They did not care if the slave was able to read and write, they only cared about the physical attributes of that slave. The question that I want to know is why do slave owners want their “property” to be the least educated? If a slave was able to read and write than they can be utilized to do specific tasks, like write a letter for their masters and be able to go into town to do tasks that requires more of their knowledge in order to accomplish. Slave owners thought the exact opposite.

 “If you give a nigger an inch, he will take an ell. A nigger should know nothing but to obey his master–to do as he is told to do. Learning would spoil the best nigger in the world. Now,” said he, “if you teach that nigger (speaking of myself) how to read, there would be no keeping him. It would forever unfit him to be a slave. He would at once become unmanageable, and of no value to his master. As to himself, it could do him no good, but a great deal of harm. It would make him discontented and unhappy.”  –Narrative of the Frederick Douglass (33)

This was said by one of Frederick Douglass’ former master when he found out Frederick was being educated. Frederick Douglas was born into slavery in February 1818 in Maryland. He is notorious for being a self-taught slave who escaped and began his career as a writer, abolitionist and statesman. Frederick Douglass realized that if he could gain enough education, he could escape slavery forever. Slaves that are least educated can be controlled better which would lower the risk of one trying to escape. A slave who does not know of anything other than work, will end up working until they die. Frederick Douglass gained enough education, through the most unthinkable ways possible, and figured out a way to escape for a third time and was successful. What does this say about the importance of education? Frederick Douglass realized that if someone can read and write, they could expand their knowledge and be bound by nothing! He proved that his education helped him get out slavery forever.

Frederick Douglass

Portrait of Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass has proved that his education helped him escape slavery but what happens after he is freed and starts his writing career? Is he seen, respected and treated the same as his white-counter parts? Equality seemed to be a non-existent term in 19th century America until Henry O. Flipper made history.

Henry O. Flipper

Henry O. Flipper as a Cadet in West Point Academy

Henry O. Flipper was the first African American man to graduate from West Point. This was no easy task for any “colored” man to accomplish, especially in 19th century America. He accomplished this impossible task by his merits, determination, respect, and most importantly his education. He was not the only “colored” person in the academy…. four others joined him but unfortunately, they failed to pass their examinations throughout the years.

“My own success answers most conclusively the first question, and changes the nature of the other. Was it, then, color or actual deficiency that caused the dismissal of all former colored cadets? I shall not venture to reply more than to say my opinion is deducible from what I have said elsewhere in my narrative. However, my correspondent agrees with me that color is of no consequence in considering the question of equality socially. My friends, he says, gain an important point in the argument for equal rights. It will be in this wise, viz., that want of education, want of the proof of equality of intellect, is the obstacle, and not color. And the only way to get this proof is to get education, and not by “war of races.” Equal rights must be a consequence of this proof, and not something existing before it. Equal rights will come in due time, civil rights bill, war of races, or anything of that kind to the contrary not- withstanding.” The Colored Cadet at West Point (184)

Henry Flipper realized his hard-work in the classroom allowed him to excel in his classes. His merits were the reason why he was able to graduate from West Point. He also stated that equal rights will come in time. He realizes that his graduation from West Point proves that education can bring a sense of equality in America. This cannot happen overnight but he realizes that it will happen over time. Flipper experienced a sense of equality by one his former classmates.

“One winter’s night, while on guard in barracks during supper, a cadet of the next class above my own stopped on my post and conversed with me as long as it was safe to do so. He expressed–as all have who have spoken to me–great regret that I should be so isolated, asked how I got along in my studies, and many other like questions. He spoke at great length of my general treatment. He assured me that he was wholly unprejudiced, and would ever be a friend. He even went far enough to say, to my great astonishment, that he cursed me and my race among the cadets to keep up appearances with them, and that I must think none the less well of him for so doing. It was a sort of necessity, he said, for he would not only be “cut,” but would be treated a great deal worse than I was if he should fraternize with me. Upon leaving me he said, “I’m d–d sorry to see you come here to be treated so, but I am glad to see you stay.” – The Colored Cadet at West Point (142-143)

Henry’s fellow classmate, who is white, realizes he cannot speak to him due his fear of being punished but he compliments Henry’s hard-work and determination and is even glad to see Henry at West Point. Even though his classmate is afraid to be seen talking and complimenting him, this indicates great progress towards equality in America. Education proves to be a vital and important asset for a “colored” individual living in 19th century America.

Sources:

Douglass, Frederick. Narrative of the Frederick Douglass. Boston. 1845. http://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/douglass/douglass.html

Flipper, Henry O. The Colored Cadet at West Point. New York. 1878. http://docsouth.unc.edu/neh/flipper/flipper.html