Today in history: November 18, 1803 - The Battle of Vertières the last major battle of the Haitian Revolution is fought leading to the establishment of the Republic of Haiti the first Black republic in the Western Hemisphere The battle delivered the final blow to the French attempt to re-institute slavery as they had done in the other parts of the Caribbean This decisive blow was a major loss for France and it’s colonial empire The Haitian Revolution helped inspire slave rebellions in the United States and British colonies and struck deep fear in the minds of the slaveholders and colonizers

Hattie McDaniel

Halle Berry made headlines in 2002 when she became the first African-American to win an Academy Award for Best Actress, for her role in Monster’s Ball. Yet this didn’t seem that unusual at a time only a few years removed from the election of the first black U.S. president. It was much more of a shock in 1940 when Hattie McDaniel became the first black person to win an Oscar. Ironically, McDaniel’s Oscar-winning performance as the character Mammy in Gone With the Wind was not universally viewed as a great achievement by blacks at the time; many criticized her appearance in a film sympathetic to the view of slaveholders. It wasn’t the only irony surrounding McDaniel’s award — in keeping with segregation protocols at the time, McDaniel sat at a blacks-only table during the Oscar ceremony. Although McDaniel is best remembered for her GWTW performance, she appeared in more than 80 other films during the 1930s and 1940s. She is also regarded as the first black woman to sing on radio in the United States. Fittingly, she has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, honoring both her singing and film careers.

Image: Hattie McDaniel in 1941.

In the midst of the Civil War, who was a slave and who was free? When African Americans in Maryland asked this question 150 years ago, in August 1864, they engaged in a sophisticated analysis. The answer was to be found in the confrontations between African Americans, slaveholders, and soldiers. Understanding emancipation required the careful reading of orders, statutes, and presidential edicts. The result was sometimes confusion, even for lawmakers. Judges, congress members, and the President differed over who had the authority to end slavery. Legal pundits suggested that the Constitution might not allow for abolition at all. Enslaved people had a great deal at stake: their liberty. They studied emancipation’s complex legal contours. They interpreted the law. Then, they acted.

Read more about what they did, including Annie Davis’ letter to Abraham Lincoln inquiring about her freedom.

The New Arrival // avariciousthrall


Jake decided to do what many would neglect - visit the newest slave. He had done something similar with John, but that was only after he’d found him locked in a cupboard, it was more of a chance encounter - this one was not.

Jade Harley, her name was, according to a guard he spoke to near her quarters in the slavehold. That certainly brought back memories. He would have mistaken her for his Jade if he wasn’t sure that his Jade was dead.

Long story, he thought to himself as he knocked on the door to her quarters, before opening it slowly and poking his head in. “Jade?” He asked softly, looking around at the meager furnishings.

In other words, saying Hamilton can guide us today requires a) taking the man out of context or b) making the lessons impossibly broad. There is no “leftist” Hamilton because he would never have recognized such a thing could be possible. It’s a construction of Hamilton based upon chosen facts and stories that serve a modern political purpose. I guess that’s alright, but it certainly raises the eyebrows of this historian. And if we are to learn this lesson from Hamilton, what other lessons should we learn? That the Alien and Sedition Acts were a good idea? That democracy is scary and should be crushed? None of these Founders are less complex than Jefferson; that the latter was a slaveholder who hated the urban poor was terrible, but he did genuinely believe in a form of democracy that was advanced for its day, even if it was a herrenvolk democracy. Hamilton sure didn’t believe in any form of democracy that advanced. If we are reappropriating Hamilton for the left, we have to reckon with these questions because they are as central to his being as creating the institutions of American capitalism, including a functioning federal government. Otherwise, we are cherry picking what we like about him.

Signing off, Cans got up & headed out to pick up his latest Slave. The Crews’ guards quickly scurried away in fear as he approached the Mansion, throwing the doors open & making his way down to the SlaveHold. After getting directions from one of the maids, Cans navigated the halls until he came to Meulins’ room, knocking softly on the door so he didn’t accidentally break it down.

This was the first list your name would be on, and you were a bit excited for it. Scurrying to the rec room, you discover it upon the wall, and tilt your head at the results. You didn’t know who Eridan was, but you had heard murmurs of him throughout the slavehold. You only wished he’d be a kind master, as you’ve heard terrible stories of some of the others. Incredibly violent or strict…

For now, you took a seat, waiting for your new master to come retrieve you, as Jake said they would.

Radical Rodeo [Latula/The Summoner]

Hella dark tonight, the skater thinks, casually making her way to the slavehold on her favorite skateboard. The slave she’s rented seems to be one of the Rebellion’s bigger casualties. He’s probably had a pretty rough time so far; the slave trade is not at all kind to traitors of the regime, after all. As always, Latula has decided to take her time getting to the manse. She likes stopping to smell the roses… Er… So to speak…

Though despite your earlier thought, the atmosphere is actually no darker than usual. But somehow, the identity of the slave you’ve rented makes the darkness around you feel thicker. Kinda depressing; it’s almost enough to harsh your grinds. But the thought of being able to give the guy some relief from the usual shit that seems to constantly go on in this place mellows you out. Stay positive, Tules, she reminds herself.

Moments later, she’s in front of the large doors. After taking a moment to calm herself down slightly (she’s actually pretty damn hyped up), she enters and makes her way The Summoner’s location.

As she always does with most everyone she meets, she greets him with outstanding enthusiasm. “Heyyyyyyy! What’s up, with you, bruh? Name’s Latula, but call me whatever you want: Tula, Tules, Lats, Tulip, she was a skater girl, he said see ya later girl~ … Uh, yeah. Call me whatevs! S’all the same to me. So, ‘nough about me. What’s your deal? I’ve seen you around, but I don’t think I’ve got the full story. Wanna fill me in?”

She leans against the nearest wall, crossing her arms, patiently waiting for a response. She offers The Summoner a friendly smile.

The Legend


Today, Jake was renting a legend. The Dolorosa herself, mother to the Sufferer. It was too good to be true, he thought happily, as he made his way into the slavehold. He went down into the sub-level and entered the common room, seeing her almost immediately. He beckoned to her with a warm smile, and turned to walk out when he knew she was following.

In 1981, Mauritania became the last country in the world to abolish slavery, while making no provision for punishing slave owners. In 2007, under international pressure, it passed a law that allowed slaveholders to be prosecuted. Yet slavery persists there, even as the government and religious leaders deny it. Although definitive numbers are difficult to find, the Global Slavery Index estimates that at least a hundred and forty thousand people are enslaved in Mauritania, out of a population of 3.8 million. Bruce Hall, a professor of African history at Duke University, said that people endure slavelike conditions in other countries in the region, but that the problem in Mauritania is unusually severe: “Some proximate form of slavery has continued to be a foundation of the social structure and the division of labor within households, so there are many more people who are willing to support it as an institution.” While Abeid was travelling, a well-known imam had given a televised interview. A journalist asked whether slavery existed in Mauritania, and the imam said no. Then why, the journalist asked, had the imam recently given the journalist’s boss a slave girl as a gift? The imam simply smiled.  Letter from Mauritania Freedom Fighter: A slaving society and an abolitionist’s crusade.
The panic so widely observable today is the expression of an emaciated spirit, of a passive nihilism that provokes its active counterpart. Of course, no one is easier to terrorize than the person who believes that everything is over when his fleeting phenomenon is extinguished. The new slaveholders have realized this, and this explains the importance for them of materialistic theories, which serve to shatter the old order during the insurrection and to perpetuate the reign of terror afterward. No bastion is to be left standing where a man may feel unassailable and therefore unafraid.
—  Ernst Junger, The Forest Passage
My decision to begin documenting Gullah life was solidified one day as I drove along Hilton Head’s main thoroughfare. Passing the gated communities that line the stretch, I really took notice of the names of the developments—Hilton Head Plantation, Sea Pines Plantation and Port Royal Plantation among them. That’s when it occurred to me that Hilton Head had come full circle. On land once owned by slaveholders, the wealthy were once again living on plantations. Only this time, slave descendants were the ones doing most of the landscaping, housekeeping, maintenance and other arduous work. I found the link to the past stunning.


A STEP IN THE FUTURE. Politics, Economy.

The President’s message is the faithful expression of his careful and conservative mind. He would like to maintain the Union without stripping slave-masters of their property, for thirty-seven years from this point, while offering compensation to all who, before this long period of time is finished, will have given liberty to their slaves.

            Mr. Lincoln is tired of war; he would like to enter into an arrangement with slaveholders, and to lead them, if it’s possible, by political and economic considerations to treat with him. He avoids bringing up that, according to the laws of nature and religion, as according to the divine laws of justice, Africans have the right “to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” It is regrettable for the country, that its primary magistrate is not resolved to bravely take position on the rock of universal liberty. He cannot count on help from above, as long as the Union’s best friends seek to destroy human slavery only from motives of convenience and economics.


Front page of December 23 1862 issue. Image. December 23, 1862. Washingtoniana Collection. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, Washington, DC.

L’Union (New Orleans, LA). “Un Pas Dans l’Avenir” [A Step in the Future]. December 23, 1862.

One cannot escape the question by hand-waving at the past, disavowing the acts of one’s ancestors, nor by citing a recent date of ancestral immigration. The last slaveholder has been dead for a very long time. The last soldier to endure Valley Forge has been dead much longer. To proudly claim the veteran and disown the slaveholder is patriotism à la carte. A nation outlives its generations. We were not there when Washington crossed the Delaware, but Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze’s rendering has meaning to us. We were not there when Woodrow Wilson took us into World War I, but we are still paying out the pensions. If Thomas Jefferson’s genius matters, then so does his taking of Sally Hemings’s body. If George Washington crossing the Delaware matters, so must his ruthless pursuit of the runagate Oney Judge.
—  Ta’Neshi Coates - The Case for Reparations

#currentlyreading I appreciate the need for a biography on Burr, and agree that his place in history as a ‘villain’ is an exaggeration, but Isenberg paints an incredibly biased portrait of her ‘muse’ in this book. She glosses over the fact that he was a slaveholder, and treats him as a victim in regards to the Burr conspiracy and the Burr-Hamilton Duel. She also claims that Burr deserves to be considered as one of the main Founding Fathers, but she does not convincingly prove that claim. #aaronburr #history #foundingfathers #ushistory

1858: Ingenious Cruelty


"Every Person at the South in whose ancestry can be detected a trace, however faint, of negro blood, is assumed to be a slave, in all places and cases where he cannot produce white testimony to the contrary. It is disgraceful enough to us in Massachusetts  a disgrace which we have merited by our voluntary union, in Church and State, with slaveholders, but which, we fervently hope, will be shaken off by the next Legislature) that we allow the possibility, by evidence, of proving a man a slave; and that we consent on the testimony of trumpery documents, which, whether forged or genuine, are alike contrary to justice, to refasten upon a human being the oppressor’s chain which his skill or courage has thrown off. Even this, we say, is a shame to a people who call themselves civilized and Christian. But in the South, where tyranny is the rule and justice the exception a practice more infamous prevails, and every colored person who finds himself among strangers is called upon to rebut, by particular testimony, the general assumption above mentioned, and to bring evidence, the evidence of white men, be it remembered that he is not a slave.

One great security of slavery is the prima facie case generally made out against the fugitive by his complexion. In the slaveholding States, by every colored person, but pre-eminently by every fugitive slave, the old Roman maxim is realized to be true, that the stranger is the enemy. Any white person is authorized, alike by law and usage, to stop any unknown colored person, and require him to give an account of himself the question being of course, ‘Who do you belong to?’—Of course, therefore, the person who bears in his face the certificate of this subjugation, visible almost as far as his figure is visible, must find the greatest difficulty in making his way through this barbarous region to a Christian country.

Slavery itself, however, provides for a portion of the enslaved a remedy to remove this first difficulty from their path.  The longer slavery lasts, the more numerous become the cases in which the children and grandchildren of the slaveholder himself (these two relationships being sometimes united in one individual) are reckoned among his slaves. Where, for a series of generations, the master, and his sons, and his and their male guests and the overseer, and any white man who happens or contrives to find any slave girl alone, have had supreme power over the bodies of female slaves, of course, great numbers of slaves will be born and grow up in whom the suspicious feature of colored skin is scarcely, if at all, perceptible, and who of course, will be less likely to be stopped and questioned as slaves. Especially will this immunity exist where a master has slave-issue by his own mulatto or quadroon daughter, since here the features as well as the complexion will be transmitted, thus giving better opportunity for the person in question (in the common phraseology of fugitive slave advertisements) ‘to be generally mistaken for white’!

In the case of these children or grandchildren (or both) of the slaveholders, especially those in whom blue eyes and light hair, nearly straight, combine with a fair complexion, it becomes necessary to take special precautions against the prima facie evidence of ‘high caste,’ and a chance of their passage unsuspected, (as William Craft’s wife did,) even though the midst of slaveholders. We find in the Charleston Mercury the following ingenious method—entirely new to us—of meeting this difficulty:—

$100 REWARD.—Ran away from me, on the 2d of September, 1857, my slave JOHN. He is 17 years old, 5 feet 8 inches high, slender and awkward, long narrow face, sharp chin, mouth small, lips thick, and not well closed; he has blue eyes, sandy hair, and inclined to curl only; his complexion so fair as to be generally mistaken for white. He has S L on one side, and V E on the other side of his face, pricked in with India ink; he said he would remove these letters, which will leave scores of scares on his face.

I will give $20 to have him lodge in any safe confinement, $30 for delivery to me at Gillisonville, and $50 for proof to convict any responsible person for harboring him; and any information respecting him will be thankfully received. WM. YOUMANS. Gillsonville, S.C., Oct. 8, 1857.

The idea of Mr. William Youmans, of Gillisonville, (Beaufort District) S.C., seems to have been to have the nose of this white young man perform the part of the letter A, and thus to have him bear across his face the conspicuous and indelible inscription SLAVE. And since the animated clay thus deliberately stamped as a vessel of dishonor and incautiously declared his intention of destroying the portions of his skin thus disfigured, Mr. Youmans reveals the depth of his stratagem, and announces to the kidnapping public of his native State, that whenever these letters are removed, sores or permanent scars will tell, with equal plainness, the story of the original inscription.

Is Mr. William Youmans more brutal, more degraded, than the majority of his brother slaveholders in South Caroline? Is he, on the other hand, a man of good reputation, eminent respectability, well-known piety, good and regular membership in some evangelical church? How can we tell? His conduct towards this slave (told by himself over his own signature in the public papers, without the slightest fear, or cause for fear, that it will be discreditable to him in the eyes of his neighbors) gives us not the slightest clue to a true answer to these questions. Even if we had not been well assured before, both by the essential nature of slavery and by documentary evidence showing its customary usages, that a church member may, just as freely as another man, own what slave property he pleases, mark it as he pleases to show the ownership, use it as he pleases to make the ownership profitable, and mar it whenever it pleases him so to exercise his authority—the case of Deacon John Netherland of Tennessee might give us these assurances.

This man on some suspicion, which afterwards proved to be unfounded, subjected an aged negro, of respectable character, to such intolerable and long continued torments using a handsaw as the instrument of correction, that the neighbors and the owner of the building interfered for the relief of their own ears from his screams; and the sheriff and jailer afterwards interfered, for the same reason, when a similar discipline was commenced in another place. The Rev. Samuel Sawyer, minister of the church in which Col. Netherland was deacon, esteeming this treatment to be cruelty and feeling some official responsibility in the matter, undertook to inflict church censure on the deacon, and to have this cruelty formally discountenanced by the church. To his surprise, the church discountenanced him instead of deacon Netherland, told him to mind his own business, and by way of helping him to do so, discharged him from the pastoral office.”

~From Anti-slavery bugle. (New-Lisbon, Ohio), 21 Aug. 1858. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers. Lib. of Congress.