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.

noqualmsaboutit said:

Just recently found out Francis Scott Key, who wrote the Star-Spangled Banner was a slaveholder. He was also a lawyer and avid defender of slavery. This saddens me but at the same time does not surprise me. I’m in the military so every time this song plays I have to stand at attention.

marksonushistoryproject said:

Do you think Americans have lived up to the ideals expressed in the Declaration of independence?

Not even the Founding Fathers themselves lived up to the ideals of the Declaration of Independence, as many were slaveholders who didn’t believe in universal suffrage and women’s rights. So I don’t think America has lived up to the ideals of the Declaration, but that’s partly because there was little way to when the document was inherently hypocritical. As for Americans some have lived up to the ideals and others haven’t - abolitionists who fought for the end of slavery, female suffragettes and civil rights protestors were all embodying the principles of universal liberty. However unfortunately there were, and continue to be, many who seem to stand opposed to the full realisation of the freedom set out in the Declaration.

But as I see that your blog is a project based on this very question I’ll open it up to the floor so you get more answers. What does everyone else think, have Americans lived up to the ideals of the Declaration of independence?

The Counter-Revolution of 1776: Slave Resistance and the Origins of the United States of America

 by Gerald Horne 

The successful 1776 revolt against British rule in North America has been hailed almost universally as a great step forward for humanity. But the Africans then residing in the colonies overwhelmingly sided with London. In this trailblazing book, Gerald Horne complements his earlier celebrated Negro Comrades of the Crown

, by showing that in the prelude to 1776, the abolition of slavery seemed all but inevitable in London, delighting Africans as much as it outraged slaveholders, and sparking the colonial revolt.  

The so-called Revolutionary War, Horne writes, was in large part a counter-revolution, a conservative movement that the founding fathers fought in order to preserve their liberty to enslave others—and which today takes the form of a racialized conservatism and a persistent racism targeting the descendants of the enslaved. The Counter-Revolution of 1776 drives us to a radical new understanding of the traditional heroic creation myth of the United States.

[book link


trying failing to raise one eyebrow

that “anarchist in America” documentary was okay. it was produced in like 1983 and had a hole bunch of cool interviews, with michael Bookhin and some homies of Emma Goldman as well as former miners involved in labor organizating. But, maybe just American anarchism in general, was all about ” liberation of self! personal freedom! don’t let the state or social mores dictate yer lyfe!” 

        which is cool but like…..what about the community? does personal freedom mean freedom to act like a racist dick and pollute the environment?

     Also hella romanticization of “Jeffersonion ( owner of slaves and feudal overlord) ideals” like whatever dead white slaveholding men who made a constitution that denied anyone else the right to vote should not be looked to as a “root of american anarchism”

also 15 minutes of Jello Biafra talking about punk and politics.

Overall rating: ⒶⒶ

[E]ven if Americans became serious about emulating the citizen militias of the ancient republics in order to avoid creating a standing army, Hamilton’s own principles would exclude the possibility because of the “peculiar institution” that made the ancient militias possible, namely, slavery. What the devotees of citizen militias sometimes forgot was that the ancient republics relied on slaves to provide their citizens with enough leisure to train and to fight. For America to have had true citizen militias rather than the pallid versions found in the states, slavery would have had to become more pervasive. Not coincidentally, the strongest proponents of citizen militias in America - Jefferson, Madison, Patrick Henry, John Taylor, etc. - generally came from the slaveholding South. Slavery, however, was morally repugnant to Hamilton. He also believed that America’s slaves, like the helots in ancient Sparta, constituted an Achilles heel. During the Revolutionary War, he accurately predicted that Great Britain would exploit America’s vulnerable southern flank by issuing proclamations that promised freedom to American slaves who escaped and joined the Loyalist side, and he singled out Virginia for being “incumbered by a numerous body of slaves bound by all the laws of injured humanity to hate their Masters.” Hamilton would express similar concerns during the Quasi-War with France. Thus, to the extent that effective citizen militias required a substantial slave population, prudence and justice precluded relying on them for the nation’s defense.
—  Michael Chan, Aristotle and Hamilton on Commerce and Statesmanship
Moirail Needed ( Gamzee / Karkat )

It was a damn good thing that Gamzee had decided to rent Karkat a while ago. Now that he was coming back down off sopor, hopefully not cold turkey, he’d be irritable again. Part of him still didn’t understand why Karkat and Jane got mad at him, he was just trying to make them happy.

Gamzee had left the common room with Jane, but she wound up having to go do something. Something about baking. Whatever. That left Gamzee waiting in his hive for Karkat to join him, as he had asked him to when he was ready. Gamzee was looking forward to spending the next couple weeks with Karkat, even if it wasn’t consistent and he went back to the slavehold here and there. 

The indigo blood relaxed on the couch in his living room, his usual spot while waiting for slaves to arrive. Not that he really thought of Karkat that way. When Karkat arrived by transportalizer, he would be standing in front of two large wooden doors, both with knockers on them. One with a happy face, one sad.

In 1845, Frederick Douglass, a fugitive from slavery, joined dozens of white passengers on the British ship Cambria in New York harbor. Somewhere out on the Atlantic, the other passengers discovered that the African American activist in their midst had just published a sensational autobiography. They convinced the captain to host a sort of salon, wherein Douglass would tell them his life story. But when the young black man stood up to talk, a group of Southern slaveholders, on their way to Britain for vacation or business or both, confronted him. Every time Douglass said something about what it was like to be enslaved, they shouted him down: Lies! Lies! Slaves were treated well, insisted the slaveholders; after all, they said, the masters remained financially interested in the health of their human “property”.

A now-withdrawn review written in The Economist about a book on slavery said, “Mr Baptist has not written an objective history of slavery. Almost all the blacks in his book are victims, almost all the whites villains. This is not history; it is advocacy.” Was this an apology for— or justification of— slavery? Were there any slaveholders who weren’t “villains,” participating, as they did, in an evil institution?

White rural communities that house prisons wind up with more people in state legislatures representing them, while poor communities of color lose representatives because it appears their population has declined. This policy is disturbingly reminiscent of the three-fifths clause in the original Constitution, which enhanced the political clout of slaveholding states by including 60 percent of slaves in the population base for calculating Congressional seats and electoral votes, even though they could not vote.
—  Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

Colonist would not have become resentful of the elite class if they had no sense of universal equality. Belief in a biological or divine hierarchy in status would have upheld the aristocratic system and the Declaration of Independence would have never been written. The fact that these men drafted the document is a confirmation of a ubiquitous idea of equality. Every economic layer of colonial society knew oppression was the consequence of greed, not inherent social status. Planters and merchants learned this from their experience with the British, just as slaves and workers leaned it from theirs with planters and merchants.

While a common justification among slaveholders was that Africans were biologically inferior to Americans, ideas to the contrary grew in conjunction with the success of slavery. The immorality of slavery is a relative to the immorality of economic manipulation of the colonies and abolitionists recognized this.

Although the British saw no fault in their control over the colonies, their actions were still oppressive and corrupt. Jefferson, Franklin, and Addams could see the speck of sawdust in the eyes of the British but dismissed the plank in their own while drafting The Declaration of independence.

“He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.”

“For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury”

“For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences”

35. ‘Hell on Wheels' 2011-now | Drama, Western

Cullen Bohannon, a former soldier and slaveholder, follows the track of a band of Union soldiers, the killers of his wife. This brings him to the middle of one of the biggest projects in US history, the building of the transcontinental railroad. After the war years in the 1860s, this undertaking connected the prospering east with the still wild west.


David Walker’s Appeal
by David Walker

"David Walker’s Appeal is a landmark work of American history and letters, the most radical piece of writing by an African American in the nineteenth century. Startling in its intensity, unrelenting in its attacks on slavery and white racism, it alarmed Southern slaveholders, inspired Northern abolitionists, and hastened the sectional conflicts that led to the Civil War. In this new edition of the Appeal, the distinguished historian Sean Wilentz draws on a generation of innovative research to throw fresh light on Walker’s life and ideas—and their enduring importance."


Harper’s Weekly, Feb. 15, 1862,

Caption, “Instrument of Torture used by Slaveholders”. Sent to Harper’s Weekly by a sergeant in the Union Army, this sketch “of an instrument of torture” used in Missouri “to punish their negroes” includes the following descriptive comments: “It was securely riveted [around the neck] and required an hour’s filing before it could be removed. This proved to be a very painful operation to the poor ‘contraband’; for his neck was so snugly incased by the iron band … . The negro stated that he had worn it two months … . The form of the instrument prevented him from lying down and taking his rest at night; and its weight and close fit rendered it very burdensome during the day. It consisted of a heavy iron ring, fitting closely round the neck, from which extended three prongs, each two feet in length, with a ring on the end….”

What to the Slave is the Fourth of July--Response

In this speech Frederick Douglass takes an indirect approach to manifest the inhumanity of slavery. He addresses, however, those who advocate and defend the slave system directly. A strategy he chose is to cease telling the white slaveholders what they already know. This is a different mentality from what he once had: “Ignorance is a high virtue in a human chattel; and as the master studies to keep the slave ignorant, the slave is cunning enough to make the master think he succeeds” (MBMF 73). Frederick realizes that ignorance is not enough anymore to break the chains of his brothers and sisters. He points out, instead, the ignorance of the whites for celebrating the land of the free, where so many of its citizens are enchained.

"Your sounds of rejoice are empty and heartless" (MBMF 344). I found this statement powerful because it expresses how those who are honoring their liberty, on such a day as the Fourth of July, are the same ones who are depriving their fellow neighbors of the same right. This speech is compelling and brilliant. I believe it was a reality check for America, at the time. We boasted about our founding fathers and the principles of justice and equality but allowed so many of our inhabitants to suffer. 

No, this had to be a story, and one couldn’t tell it solely from the perspective of powerful actors. True, politicians and planters and bankers shaped policies, the movement of people, and the growing and selling of cotton, and even remade the land itself. But when one takes Lorenzo Ivy’s words as a starting point, the whole history of the United States comes walking over the hill behind a line of people in chains. Changes that reshaped the entire world began on the auction block where enslaved migrants stood or in the frontier cotton fields where they toiled. Their individual drama was a struggle to survive. Their reward was to endure a brutal transition to new ways of labor that made them reinvent themselves every day. Enslaved people’s creativity enabled their survival, but, stolen from them in the form of ever-growing cotton productivity, their creativity also expanded the slaveholding South at an unprecedented rate. Enslaved African Americans built the modern United States, and indeed the entire modern world, in ways both obvious and hidden.

One day I found a metaphor that helped. It came from the great African-American author Ralph Ellison. You might know his novel Invisible Man. But in the 1950s, Ellison also produced incredible essays. In one of them he wrote, “On the moral level I propose we view the whole of American life as a drama enacted on the body of a Negro giant who, lying trussed up like Gulliver, forms the stage and the scene upon which and within which the action unfolds.”


“The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism” by Edward Baptist

As I also show, bankers worked hard to create innovative new financial products, many of them very similar to (for instance) the bonds and derivatives trumpeted by recent market fundamentalists as vital drivers of economic growth. Nineteenth-century financial innovations enabled enslavers to buy more slaves—on credit—to increase their slave labor camps’ capacity even more. But that also meant that slaveowners were deeply in debt, which led them to—you guessed it—push slaves even harder.

In a sense, then, the Economist was right: enslavers were not simply evil villains. They were also under enormous pressure—the pressure of the free market. (There’s lots of evidence that the experience and culture of slaveholding shaped many of them into deeply evil individuals, but remember, I’m trying to write a review here.) Even the decision-making influence of the long-term investment they’d made in enslaved bodies shrank in comparison to the short-term demands of cotton markets and credit markets. Every piece of information that the market fed them in the form of prices pushed them to push slaves harder.

I think you see where I’m going. Had the Economist actually engaged the book’s arguments, the reviewer would have had to confront the scary fact that the unrestrained domination of market forces can sometimes amplify existing forms of oppression into something more horrific. No wonder the Economist abandoned its long-standing intellectual commitments in favor of sloppy old paternalism on Sept. 4, because if it hadn’t, Mr./Ms. Anonymous might have had to admit that market fundamentalism doesn’t always provide the best solution for every economic or social problem.