A gentle reminder ...

The goal of this blog initially was for Mr. Mc to show his students and friends what he doing while in Pennsylvania and DC in 2011. Now it's being used as a place for him, travelling colleagues and former students to discuss edumacation and history related "stuff" as well as ... well, anything which pops into his head. Mr. Mc would never knowingly embarrass either the school he loves or the family he is devoted to. By joining in the discussion, he expects the same of you.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Kicking a can with a wolf by the ear and other mixed metaphors


The Branded Hand, from the Anti-Slavery Bugle, circa 1845
Someone caught ferrying runaway slaves could be branded with SS for "Slave Stealer" on their right hand as a visible warning to others of their 'crime'. (Source: LOC)
My class is exploring slavery prior to the Civil War and I have had some interesting observations...

The irony of ship names:
The White Lion is the ship which brings the first African slaves to Jamestown in 1619.
The first slave ship crafted and launched in the colonies is named the Destiny in 1636. (BTW-it will transport Native Americans from the Pequot War into enslavement in the West Indies as well.)

Diagram of 'stowage' conditions of a slave ship circa 1780s (Source: LOC)
The Americans have as much success controlling the movement into the Ohio Territory as the British did two decades earlier. That would be almost no succes for either the Royal Proclamation of 1763 or the Nothwest Ordinance (1787).

By the 1770s, the colonies no longer needed the international slave trade. Virginia has enough of a surplus of enslaved people that they could provide to the Deep South for generations.

Kids are fascinated by the slave revolts, work stoppages, work 'slowages' and the Underground Railroad. The idea that slaves were a passive group who accepted their lot is not correct and its fun to see my students make that connection.

Published account of the slave revolt by Nat Turner while awaiting trial (Source: University of North Carolina)
While slavery can't easilt be dealt with, crusaders will begin to change the public attitude on the mentally ill, education, prisons, alcoholism and women's rights in the first half of the 19th Century. Some of the same crusaders will have important roles in the anti-slavery movement.

Abraham Lincoln did not identify himself as an abolitionist. My students always assume he was one and are suprised to hear his thoughts on the cause.

TJ's 'wolf by the ear' letter (LOC)
We also wrestled with Thomas Jefferson's 'wolf by the ear' letter from 1820. The letter was a response to correspondence from John Holmes in April 1820 where TJ says that the control the U.S. has on slavery is akin to holding a "wolf by the ear, and we can neither hold him, nor safely let him go. justice is in one scale, and self-preservation in the other." We talk about the founding generation 'kicking the can (slavery)" down the road to the next generation and the Missouri Compromise is that next gen's attempt at 'kick the can'. By 1860, the can can no longer be kicked and ...

...Tomorrow is Fredrick Douglas!!! I can't wait to 'agitate, agtitate, agitate.'

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