Category: slavery

In 1315, Louis X, king of France, published a decree proclaiming that “France signifies freedom” and that any slave setting foot on the French ground should be freed. And France maintained that law, even after it began allowing slavery in its New World colonies in the 1600s. Any enslaved person who as brought to France became free. Born into slavery in Saint Domingue, Thomas-Alexandre Dumas became free when his father brought him to France in 1776.

Slavery in the French colonies was another story. The French crown regulated the slave trade and institution in the colonies, starting with Louis XIV’s Code Noir in 1685. The royal government had over 100 years of profiting from plantation-based slavery and particularly sugar production before the French Revolution killed the royal family and attempted to end slavery in the colonies. The first elected Assembly of the First Republic abolished slavery in France (since the royal law was no longer recognized) and more importantly in France’s colonies.

However, Napoleon restored slavery and the slave trade in 1802. This was mainly because of lobbying by planters in the West Indies, and to benefit from taxing the planter’s slavery-produced profits. In 1848, under the Second Republic, slavery was totally abolished in the French colonies. And this time it stuck.

This bust was entitled “Saïd Abdullah of the Mayac, Kingdom of the Darfur” by the sculptor Charles Henri Joseph Cordier in 1848. It was modeled on an African visitor to Paris.

That same year, slavery was abolished in all French colonies. Yes, in 1848. The sculpture, and its later companion piece “African Venus,” were hailed as expressions of human pride and dignity in the face of grave injustice. They also lent an exotic interest to “the other” which was a hallmark of romanticism.

In 1931, Zora Neale Hurston sought to publish the story of Cudjo Lewis, the final slave-ship survivor in the United States. His original name was Kossula.

Kossula had been captured at age 19 in an area now known as the country Benin, by warriors from the neighboring Dahomian tribe, and marched to a stockade, or barracoon, on the West African coast. There, he and some 120 others were purchased and herded onto the Clotilda, captained by William Foster and commissioned by three Alabama brothers to make the 1860 voyage. Kossula survived the Middle Passage, and was smuggled into Mobile, Alabama in the night. The international slave trade had been illegal in the United States for over fifty years. Kossula worked as a slave at docks on the Alabama River until 1865, and the end of the American Civil War.

After he was freed, Kossula lived for seventy years. He was interviewed by Hurston (a trained anthropologist) in 1930, who recorded his words in his dialect. But no one would publish the book she wrote with his story. One publisher was interested, but only if Hurston edited his dialect. She refused. His story was left in Howard University’s vault, forgotten. Now Kossula’s words are being published for the first time.

Descendants’ Stories of the Clotilda Slave Ship Drew Doubts. Now Some See Validation.:

“So many people said that it didn’t really happen that way, that we made the story up,” one woman said of the boat that brought her great-great-grandfather to America.

dietmountainmadewka:

historical-nonfiction:

Francis Scott Key, the man who wrote the anthem of the United States of America, was a slaveowner with a complicated relationship with slavery. He publicly criticized cruelty to slaves. As a lawyer he represented several slaves seeking their freedom in court, and he took their cases for free. Key was also a founding member of the American Colonization Society, which aimed ease relations between blacks and whites in the United States by sending African-Americans to their own colony in Africa.

However, Key owned slaves. In fact he likely owned at least one slave when he wrote the Star-Spangled Banner. As a lawyer, Key also represented several masters seeking return of their runaway slaves. He left the American Colonization Society’s board in 1833 when it became more pro-abolition. And when Francis Scott Key became the U.S. Attorney, he used his position to suppress abolitionist publications and to prosecute abolitionists.

So in the end, despite moral qualms about the treatment of slaves, Francis Scott Key supported slavery and did what he could to maintain it.

hero

I’m sorry, I feel like you might have missed the point of the post, @dietmountainmadewka. Francis Scott Key should be remembered as a complicated figure, who wrote our national anthem but who ultimately failed to consider fellow human beings …well, fellow human beings.

Francis Scott Key, the man who wrote the anthem of the United States of America, was a slaveowner with a complicated relationship with slavery. He publicly criticized cruelty to slaves. As a lawyer he represented several slaves seeking their freedom in court, and he took their cases for free. Key was also a founding member of the American Colonization Society, which aimed ease relations between blacks and whites in the United States by sending African-Americans to their own colony in Africa.

However, Key owned slaves. In fact he likely owned at least one slave when he wrote the Star-Spangled Banner. As a lawyer, Key also represented several masters seeking return of their runaway slaves. He left the American Colonization Society’s board in 1833 when it became more pro-abolition. And when Francis Scott Key became the U.S. Attorney, he used his position to suppress abolitionist publications and to prosecute abolitionists.

So in the end, despite moral qualms about the treatment of slaves, Francis Scott Key supported slavery and did what he could to maintain it.

Ex-Slave members of the Brotherhood of Our Lady of the Rosary dressed for the Congada Folk Dance to Celebrate the Abolition of Slavery in Brazil, Minas Gerais 1888.

via reddit

yesterdaysprint:

The Raleigh Register, North Carolina, May 14, 1853

“..hurry the poor negro from the genial clime he is accustomed to, to the icy regions of Queen Victoria’s Northern possessions..”

The Liberator, Boston, Massachusetts, March 7, 1856

image

The Raleigh Register, North Carolina, May 14, 1853

“..hurry the poor negro from the genial clime he is accustomed to, to the icy regions of Queen Victoria’s Northern possessions..”

Oney Judge was a slave on George Washington’s plantation in Virginia. Beginning in 1789, teenaged Oney began working as a personal slave to the new First Lady Martha Washington in the presidential households, first in New York City and then in Philadelphia. According to Pennsylvania law, slaves that stayed in the state for longer than six months could take their freedom. George Washington rotated his household slaves out of the state, every six months. That was illegal in Pennsylvania law! But no one challenged the new President and Father of the Nation.

Before one return to Virginia in 1796, when Congress was out of session, Martha Washington told Oney that she was being gifted! Oney was to be given to Martha Washington’s granddaughter as a wedding present. She was twenty at the time. “I knew that if I went back to Virginia, I should never get my liberty,” Oney later said in an interview. She contacted her friends among the free black community in Philadelphia, packing and sending her things to a friend’s home in advance. Then one night, while the first family ate dinner, she fled. With the free black community’s help Oney made her way to New Hampshire.

The Washingtons put notices of a runaway in the Philadelphia papers, and after finding out she was in New Hampshire, twice considered trying to kidnap her! Oney, with help from abolitionists both times, remained free. She eventually married a free black sailor, had a family, and died in 1848. Because George Washington’s will did not free her, she and her children were considered fugitives by the law until her death.