Monday, March 25, 2013

A History Lesson - 14th & 15th Amendments and Some Neglected Truth About American Slavery

As I was writing up the curriculum for the state of Kansas I learned something new in history which isn't taught in school. Kansas was the first state to pass the 15th amendment. Which is a fun thing to know, however, I also learned... that when the Republican congress passed the fifteen amendment to the Constitution that 11 northern states had no problem ratifying it. They were ALL Republican states. Four states would not ratify it. They were ALL Democrat states.

Furthermore, the southern states were fighting against allowing freed slaves to vote and the four Democrat states of the north were helping them in this fight. In order to ensure suffrage to the freed slaves, the Republican congress passed a law which required any state to be readmitted into the Union to ratify both the 14th and 15th amendment (the 14th amendment made the freed slaves legal citizen status). The democrats fought it tooth and nail, but lost.

Then I remembered Anthony Johnson. Now Anthony Johnson is the reason slavery was made legal in the U.S. to begin with. He lived in Virginia and came over as an indentured servant. He later bought his and his wife's freedom and then brought over five indentured servants of his own. They were all black (contrary to what is taught in schools, many Africans came here willingly as indentured servants, the same way many white people came here). Now there were some slaves in the colonies, but the legal status of being "owned" by a master did not exist, and many of those slaves were Native American and also white. *

One of Johnson's indentured servants, John Casor, wanted to buy his freedom, but Anthony Johnson fought in court the right to keep him forever as his slave. The court sided with Johnson and Casor became the first legal slave in the Americas. Interesting note is that Casor came as an indentured servant and thereby had a RIGHT to buy his freedom. It was Johnson, his black master, who went to court to take away that man's right.

So there you have it. A truth that is willfully ignored in school, a black "master" was the first one to formally fight for the right to legally own a slave.

*The first slaves in America were actually white and made up 1/2 to 2/3 of the population of the original colonies. The Royal Company of Africa when created to import black slaves AFTER it was determined that there weren't enough WHITE slaves to do all the work. After the abolition of the African slave trade, slaves were brought in from China and India. And we can't forget the Native American slave trade. Just as many Native Americans were sold on the auction block as there were Africans, many times Native Americans were traded for the Africans. The Native Americans were then sent off to work sugar plantations on the islands because when kept in the colonies they escaped. I won't even START on the Trails of Tears because there were MANY of them and there isn't nearly enough focus on what can only be called attempted genocide in America. These FACTS are important when we discuss the history of slavery in America, as are the FACTS that while the history books try to rewrite history, the TRUTH is that both African and Native American waring tribes sold each other into slavery.***

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I have said these things unto you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.
~John 16:33