Category: 1800 – 1849

January 8 1811

GM – FBF – Man cannot be freed by the same injustice that enslaved it.

Remember – “All we want as Negros in this land is to be free” – Charles Deslandes

Today in our History – The German Coast Uprising of 1811 under the leadership of Charles Deslandes (1780 -15 January 1811) has evaded the attention of most historians. It is unclear if Deslondes was a free man of color born in Saint-Domingue and was part of the large-scale 1809 immigration to Louisiana from that colony after the Haitian Revolution (1891-1804). An unpublished work by scholar Gwendolyn Midlo Hall suggests, however, that Deslondes was a Louisiana-born slave.

Whatever his origins, it is clear that in 1811, Charles Deslondes was the leader of the revolt known as the German Coast Uprising on the eastern bank of the Mississippi River. On the evening of 8 January 1811, at the age of thirty-one, Deslondes led a band of rebels downriver on River Road. They began in Norco and continued through the parishes of St. Charles and St. John the Baptist in Louisiana, approximately forty miles from the city of New Orleans. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the region was part of the larger Territory of Orleans. In 1804, the Territory of Orleans was all of the land of the Louisiana Purchase south of the 33rd parallel. Because of its initial settlement by a small enclave of Germans, locals dubbed the province “The German Coast.” The historian Eugene D. Genovese estimated that Deslondes, inspired by the Haitian Revolution, led between three hundred and five hundred slaves in rebellion.

Deslondes was a slave driver at the Woodland Plantation owned by Manuel Andry, in east-bank St. John Parish, Louisiana. Witnesses stated that Deslondes united slaves on his plantation with runaways who formed a maroon society in the nearby swamps. Please research slave rebellions and share with you babies. Make it a champion day!

December 28 1829- Elizabeth Freeman

GM – FBF – Today’s story is about the first enslaved African American to file and win a freedom suit in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling, in her favor, found slavery to be inconsistent with the 1780 Massachusetts State Constitution. Her suit, Brom and Bett v. Ashley (1781), was cited in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court appellate review of Quock Walker’s freedom suit. When the court upheld her freedom under the state’s constitution, the ruling was considered to have implicitly ended slavery in Massachusetts. She also was the step-great-great-grandmother of the great W. E. B. Du Bois. Enjoy!

Remember – “Any time, any time while I was a slave, if one minute’s freedom had been offered to me, and I had been told I must die at the end of that minute, I would have taken it—just to stand one minute on God’s airth [sic] a free woman— I would.” — Elizabeth Freeman

Today in our History – December 28, 1829 – Elizabeth “MumBet” Freeman dies.

Freeman was illiterate and left no written records of her life. Her early history has been pieced together from the writings of contemporaries to whom she told her story or who heard it indirectly, as well as from historical records.

Freeman was born into slavery around 1744 at the farm of Pieter Hogeboom in Claverack, New York, where she was given the name Bet. When Hogeboom’s daughter Hannah married John Ashley of Sheffield, Massachusetts, Hogeboom gave Bet, around seven years old, to Hannah and her husband. Freeman remained with them until 1781, during which time she had a child, Little Bet. She is said to have married, though no marriage record has been located. Her husband (name unknown) is said to have never returned from service in the American Revolutionary War.

Throughout her life, Bet exhibited a strong spirit and sense of self. She came into conflict with Hannah Ashley, who was raised in the strict Dutch culture of the New York colony. In 1780, Bet prevented Hannah from striking a servant girl with a heated shovel; Elizabeth shielded the girl and received a deep wound in her arm. As the wound healed, Bet left it uncovered as evidence of her harsh treatment. John Ashley was a Yale-educated lawyer, wealthy landowner, businessman and leader in the community. His house was the site of many political discussions and the probable location of the signing of the Sheffield Resolves, which predated the Declaration of Independence.

In 1780, Freeman heard the newly ratified Massachusetts Constitution read at a public gathering in Sheffield, including the following:

All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness. — Massachusetts Constitution, Article 1.

Inspired by these words, Bett sought the counsel of Theodore Sedgwick, a young abolition-minded lawyer, to help her sue for freedom in court. According to Catherine Sedgwick’s account, she told him, “I heard that paper read yesterday, that says, all men are created equal, and that every man has a right to freedom. I’m not a dumb critter; won’t the law give me my freedom?” After much deliberation Sedgwick accepted her case, as well as that of Brom, another of Ashley’s slaves. He enlisted the aid of Tapping Reeve, the founder of Litchfield Law School, one of America’s earliest law schools, located in Litchfield, Connecticut. They were two of the top lawyers in Massachusetts, and Sedgwick later served as US Senator. Arthur Zilversmit suggests the attorneys may have selected these plaintiffs to test the status of slavery under the new state constitution.

The case of Brom and Bett v. Ashley was heard in August 1781 before the County Court of Common Pleas in Great Barrington. Sedgwick and Reeve asserted that the constitutional provision that “all men are born free and equal” effectively abolished slavery in the state. When the jury ruled in Bett’s favor, she became the first African-American woman to be set free under the Massachusetts state constitution.
The jury found that “…Brom & Bett are not, nor were they at the time of the purchase of the original writ the legal Negro of the said John Ashley…” The court assessed damages of thirty shillings and awarded both plaintiffs compensation for their labor. Ashley initially appealed the decision, but a month later dropped his appeal, apparently having decided the court’s ruling on constitutionality of slavery was “final and binding.”

After the ruling, Bett took the name Elizabeth Freeman. Although Ashley asked her to return to his house and work for wages, she chose to work in attorney Sedgwick’s household. She worked for his family until 1808 as senior servant and governess to the Sedgwick children, who called her “Mumbet.” The Sedgwick children included Catharine Sedgwick, who became a well-known author and wrote an account of her governess’s life. Also working at the Sedgwick household during much of this time was Agrippa Hull, a free black man who had served with rebel forces for years during the Revolutionary War.

From the time Freeman gained her freedom, she became widely recognized and in demand for her skills as a healer, midwife and nurse. After the Sedgwick children were grown, Freeman moved into her own house on Cherry Hill in Stockbridge near her daughter, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Freeman’s real age was never known, but an estimate on her tombstone puts her age at about 85. She died on December 28,1829 and was buried in the Sedgwick family plot in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Freeman remains the only non-Sedgwick buried in the Sedgwick plot. They provided a tombstone, inscribed as follows:
ELIZABETH FREEMAN, also known by the name of MUMBET died Dec. 28th 1829. Her supposed age was 85 Years. She was born a slave and remained a slave for nearly thirty years; She could neither read nor write, yet in her own sphere she had no superior or equal. She neither wasted time nor property. She never violated a trust, nor failed to perform a duty. In every situation of domestic trial, she was the most efficient helper and the tenderest friend. Good mother, farewell.

The decision in the case of Elizabeth Freeman was cited as precedent when the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court heard the appeal of Quock Walker v. Jennison later that year and upheld Walker’s freedom. These cases set the legal precedents that ended slavery in Massachusetts. Vermont had already abolished it explicitly in its constitution.

Civil Rights leader and historian W. E. B. Du Bois claimed Freeman as his relative and wrote that she married his maternal great-grandfather, “Jack” Burghardt. But, Freeman was 20 years senior to Burghardt, and no record of such a marriage has been found. It may have been Freeman’s daughter, Betsy Humphrey, who married Burghardt after her first husband, Jonah Humphrey, left the area “around 1811”, and after Burghardt’s first wife died (c. 1810). If so, Freeman would have been Du Bois’s step-great-great-grandmother. Anecdotal evidence supports Humphrey’s marrying Burghardt; a close relationship of some form is likely.

Season 1, episode 37 of the television show Liberty’s Kids, titled “Born Free and Equal”, is about her. It was first aired in 2003, and in it she is voiced by Yolanda King. Research more about the struggle of Black’s and the courts and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

December 26 1849 – David Ruggles

GM – FBF – Our story today is about an African-American abolitionist in Manhattan, New York who resisted slavery by his participation in a Committee of Vigilance and the Underground Railroad to aid fugitive slaves reach free states.

He was a printer in New York City during the 1830s, who also wrote numerous articles, and “was the prototype for black activist journalists of his time.” He claimed to have led more than 600 fugitive slaves to freedom in the North, including Frederick Douglass, who became a friend and fellow activist.

He is also credited with opening the first African American bookstore in the United States. Did you know those things? Enjoy!

Remember – “A man is sometimes lost in a dust of his own raising” – David Ruggles

Today in our History – December 26, 1849 – David Ruggles dies.

David Ruggles (March 15, 1810 – December 26, 1849) was an African-American abolitionist in Manhattan, New York who resisted slavery by his participation in a Committee of Vigilance and the Underground Railroad to aid fugitive slaves reach free states. He was a printer in New York City during the 1830s, who also wrote numerous articles, and “was the prototype for black activist journalists of his time.” He claimed to have led more than 600 fugitive slaves to freedom in the North, including Frederick Douglass, who became a friend and fellow activist. Ruggles is also credited with opening the first African American bookstore in the United States.

Ruggles was born free in Lyme, Connecticut in 1810. His parents were David, Sr. and Nancy Ruggles, both free blacks. The family moved to Norwich, when David was very young and set up home in Bean Hill, a wealthy suburb. They lived in a small hut owned by his maternal aunt, Sylvia. His father David Sr. was a blacksmith and woodcutter, while his mother Nancy was a noted caterer, whose cakes were sought after for local social events. They were devout Methodists. David was the oldest of eight children. He was educated at Sabbath Schools, and was so bright that Bean Hill residents paid for a tutor from Yale to teach him Latin.

In 1826, at the age of sixteen, Ruggles moved to New York City, where he worked as a mariner before opening a grocery store. Nearby, other African-Americans ran grocery businesses in Golden Hill (John Street east of William Street), such as Mary Simpson (1752-March 18, 1836). After 1829, abolitionist Sojourner Truth (born Isabella (“Bell”) Baumfree; c. 1797 – November 26, 1883) also lived in lower Manhattan. At first, he sold liquor, then embraced temperance. He became involved in anti-slavery and the free produce movement. He was a sales agent for and contributor to The Liberator and The Emancipator, abolitionist newspapers.

After closing the grocery, Ruggles opened the first African American-owned bookstore in the United States. He edited a New York journal called The Mirror of Liberty, and also published a pamphlet called The Extinguisher. He also published “The Abrogation of the Seventh Commandment” in 1835, an appeal to northern women to confront husbands who kept enslaved black women as mistresses.

Ruggles was secretary of the New York Committee of Vigilance, a radical biracial organization to aid fugitive slaves, oppose slavery, and inform enslaved workers in New York about their rights in the state. New York had abolished slavery and stated that slaves voluntarily brought to the state by a master would automatically gain freedom after nine months of residence. On occasion, Ruggles went to private homes after learning that enslaved blacks were hidden there, to tell workers that they were free. In October 1838, Ruggles assisted Frederick Douglass on his journey to freedom, and reunited Douglass with his fiance Anna Murray.

Rev. James Pennington, a self-emancipated slave, married Murray and Douglass in Ruggles’ home shortly thereafter. Douglass’ autobiography ‘Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass’ explains “I had been in New York but a few days, when Mr. Ruggles sought me out, and very kindly took me to his boarding-house at the corner of Church and Lespenard Streets. 
Mr. Ruggles was then very deeply engaged in the memorable Darg case, as well as attending to a number of other fugitive slaves, devising ways and means for their successful escape; and, though watched and hemmed in on almost every side, he seemed to be more than a match for his enemies.”

Ruggles was especially active against “kidnappers,” bounty hunters who made a living by capturing escaped slaves. With demand high for slaves in the Deep South, there was also risk from men who kidnapped free blacks and sold them into slavery, as was done to Solomon Northup of Saratoga Springs, New York in 1841. With the Vigilance committee, Ruggles fought for fugitive slaves to have the right to jury trials and helped arrange legal assistance for them.

His activism earned him many enemies. Ruggles was physically assaulted and his business was destroyed through arson. He quickly reopened his library and bookshop. There were two known attempts to kidnap him and sell him into slavery in the South. His enemies included fellow abolitionists who disagreed with his tactics. He was criticized for his role in the well-publicized Darg case of 1838 involving a Virginia slaveholder named John P. Darg and his slave, Thomas Hughes.

Ruggles suffered from ill health, which intensified following the Darg case. In 1841, his father died, and Ruggles was ailing and almost blind. In 1842, Lydia Maria Child, a fellow abolitionist and friend, arranged for him to join a radical utopian commune called the Northampton Association of Education and Industry, in the present-day village of Florence, Massachusetts.

Applying home treatment upon hydropathic principles, he regained his health to some degree, but not his eyesight. He began practicing hydrotherapy, and by 1845, had established a “water cure” hospital in Florence. This was one of the earliest in the United States. Joel Shew and Russell Thatcher Trall (R.T. Trall) had preceded him in using this type of therapy. Ruggles died in Florence in 1849, due to a bowel infection. Research more about this great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

November 17 1834- Nancy Green

GM – FBF – Today, I would like to share with you a story of a Black American Female who made a lot of appetences for the company that she worked for and received a lot of death threats and nasty letters for trying to feed herself and family She was a great lady who died a terrible death and I know that you didn’t know about this true American story. Learn and Enjoy!

Remember – “Many of my people didn’t like what I was doing but I had to eat also.” Nancy Green

Today in our History – November 17, 1834 Nancy Green was born and would become a household name as the first and original “Aunt Jemima”.

Nancy Green (November 17, 1834 – August 30, 1923) was a storyteller, cook, activist, and the first of several African-American models hired to promote a corporate trademark as “Aunt Jemima”.

Green was born into slavery on November 17, 1834, near Mount Sterling in Montgomery County, Kentucky. She was hired in 1890 by the R.T. Davis Milling Company in St. Joseph, Missouri, to represent “Aunt Jemima”, an advertising character named after a song from a minstrel show. Davis Milling had recently acquired the formula to a ready-mixed, self-rising pancake flour from St. Joseph Gazette editor Chris L. Ruttand Charles Underwood and were looking to employ an African-American woman as a Mammy archetype to promote their new product. In 1893 Green was introduced as Aunt Jemima at the World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago, where it was her job to operate a pancake-cooking display.

Her amicable personality and talent as a cook for the Walker family, whose children grew up to become Chicago Circuit Judge Charles M. Walker and Dr. Samuel Walker helped establish a successful showing of the product, for which she received a medal and certificate from the Expo officials. After the Expo, Green was offered a lifetime contract to adopt the Aunt Jemima moniker and promote the pancake mix. This marked the beginning of a major promotional push by the company that included thousands of personal appearances and Aunt Jemima merchandising. Nancy Green maintained her job with Davis Milling (which was renamed Aunt Jemima Mills Company in 1914) until her death in 1923; she was still working as Aunt Jemima at the time. A lawsuit claims that Nancy Green’s heirs as well as other heirs from the other women used as Aunt Jemima models deserve $2 billion and a share of future revenue from the sales of popular demand.

The federal lawsuit was filed in Chicago by another model (Anna Short Harrington)’s grandsons who claim that she and Green were the roots in creating the recipe for the nation’s first self-proclaimed pancake mix. It also states that Green was the originator and came up with the idea of adding powdered milk for extra flavor in the pancakes. Quaker Oats, who is the current owner of the brand, says this image of Aunt Jemima was in fact fake and never real claiming that there are no trace of contracts between the women who displayed as Aunt Jemima models and their bosses. The suit was dismissed as the heirs failed to prove that they were related to the lady who posed as Aunt Jemima.

Green was one of the organizers of the Olivet Baptist Church. Her career allowed Green the financial freedom to become an activist and engage in antipoverty programs. She was one of the first African-American missionary workers. She used her stature as a spokesperson to become a leading advocate against poverty and in favor of equal rights for individuals in Chicago.

Green died on August 30, 1923, in Chicago when a car collided with a truck and flipped over onto the sidewalk where she was standing. She is buried in the northeast quadrant of Chicago’s Oak Woods Cemetery. The famous image of Aunt Jemima was based on the real image of Nancy Green, who was known as a magnificent cook, an attractive woman of outgoing nature and friendly personality, an original painting of which sold for $9,030 at MastroNet. The painting was rendered by A. B. Frost, who is now well known as one of the great illustrators of the Golden Age of American Illustration. Share your story about Aunt Jemima or research more about Nancy Green and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

October 14 1834- Henry Blair

GM – FBF – Today’s story is about an Inventor Henry Blair was born in Glen Ross, Maryland, in 1807. Blair was an African-American farmer who patented two devices designed to help boost agricultural productivity. In so doing, he became the second African American to receive a United States patent. Little is known about Blair’s personal life or family background. He died in 1860.

Remember – “The short successes that can be gained in a brief time and without difficulty are not worth much.” – Henry Blair

Today In Our History – October 14, 1834 – Henry Blair receives a U.S. Patent.

Henry Blair was born in Glen Ross, Maryland, in 1807. Little is known about Blair’s personal life or family background. It is clear that Blair was a farmer who invented new devices to assist in the planting and harvesting of crops. Although he came of age before the Emancipation Proclamation, Blair was apparently not enslaved and operated an independent business.

A successful farmer, Blair patented two inventions that helped him to boost his productivity. He received his first patent—for a corn planter—on October 14, 1834. The planter resembled a wheelbarrow, with a compartment to hold the seed and rakes dragging behind to cover them. This device enabled farmers to plant their crops more efficiently and enable a greater total yield. Blair signed the patent with an “X,” indicating that he was illiterate.

Blair obtained his second patent, for a cotton planter, on August 31, 1836. This invention functioned by splitting the ground with two shovel-like blades that were pulled along by a horse or other draft animal. A wheel-driven cylinder behind the blades deposited seed into the freshly plowed ground. The design helped to promote weed control while distributing seeds quickly and evenly.

In claiming credit for his two inventions, Henry Blair became only the second African American to hold a United States patent. While Blair appears to have been a free man, the granting of his patents is not evidence of his legal status. At the time Blair’s patents were granted, United States law allowed patents to be granted to both free and enslaved men. In 1857, a slave owner challenged the courts for the right to claim credit for a slave’s inventions. Since an owner’s slaves were his property, the plaintiff argued, anything in the possession of these slaves was the owner’s property as well.

The following year, patent law changed so as to exclude slaves from patent eligibility. In 1871, after the Civil War, the law was revised to grant all American men, regardless of race, the right to patent their inventions. Women were not included in this intellectual-property protection. Blair followed only Thomas Jennings as an African-American patent holder. Extant records indicate that Jennings received a patent in 1821 for the “dry scouring of clothes.” Though the patent record contains no mention of Jennings’s race, his background has been substantiated through other sources. Research more about Black Inventors and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

August 31 1842- Ruffin

GM – FBF – Today is the last day of sales training class and I will be able to once again respond to your posts tomorrow. Today, I would like to share with you a great story of an African American woman who you might not have heard of but her story needs to be told. Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin was an African-American publisher, journalist, civil rights leader, suffragist, and editor of the Woman’s Era, the first newspaper published by and for African-American women. Enjoy her story!

Remember –“ [W]e need to talk over not only those things which are of vital importance to us as women, but also the things that are of especial interest to us as colored women.”
Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin

Today in our History – August 31,1842 – Ruffin was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to John St. Pierre, of French and African descent from Martinique, and Elizabeth Matilda Menhenick from Cornwall, England. Her father was a successful clothier and founder of a Boston Zion Church. She attended public schools in Charlestown and Salem, and a private school in New York City because of her parents’ objections to the segregated schools in Boston. She completed her studies at the Bowdoin School (not to be confused with Bowdoin College), after segregation in Boston schools ended.

Ruffin supported women’s suffrage and, in 1869, joined with Julia Ward Howe and Lucy Stone to form the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) in Boston. Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopedia. “American Woman Suffrage Association.” Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 12 June 2015, A group of these women, Howe and Stone also founded the New England Women’s Club in 1868. Josephine Ruffin was its first bi-racial member when she joined in the mid-1890s. Ruffin also wrote for the black weekly paper, The Courant and became a member of the New England Woman’s Press Association.

When her husband George died at the age of 52 in 1886, Ruffin used her financial security and organizational abilities to start the Woman’s Era, the country’s first newspaper published by and for African-American women. She served as the editor and publisher from 1890 to 1897. While promoting interracial activities, the Woman’s Era called on black women to demand increased rights for their race.

In 1894, Ruffin organized the Woman’s Era Club, an advocacy group for black women, with the help of her daughter Florida Ridley and Maria Baldwin, a Boston school principal
In 1895, Ruffin organized the National Federation of Afro-American Women. She convened The First National Conference of the Colored Women of America in Boston, which was attended by women from 42 black women’s clubs from 14 states. The following year, the organization merged with the Colored Women’s League to form the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs (NACWC). Mary Church Terrell was elected president and Ruffin served as one of the organization’s vice-presidents.

Just as the NACWC was forming, Ruffin was integrating the New England Woman’s Club. When the General Federation of Women’s Clubs met in Milwaukee in 1900, she planned to attend as a representative of three organizations – the Woman’s Era Club, the New England Woman’s Club and the New England Woman’s Press Club. Southern women were in positions of power in the General Federation and, when the Executive Committee discovered that all of the New Era’s club members were black, they would not accept Ruffin’s credentials Ruffin was told that she could be seated as a representative of the two white clubs but not the black one.

She refused on principle and was excluded from the proceedings. These events became known as “The Ruffin Incident”[ and were widely covered in newspapers around the country, most of whom supported Ruffin.[ Afterwards, the Woman’s Era Club made an official statement “that colored women should confine themselves to their clubs and the large field of work open to them there.”

The New Era Club was disbanded in 1903, but Ruffin remained active in the struggle for equal rights and, in 1910, helped form the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Ruffin was one of the charter members of NAACP. Along with other women who had belonged to the New Era Club, she co-founded the League of Women for Community Service, which still exists today.

Ruffin married George Lewis Ruffin (1834–1886), who went on to become the first African-American male graduate from Harvard Law School, the first African American elected to the Boston City Council, and the first African-American municipal judge. Josephine and Ruffin were married in 1858 when she was 16 years old. The couple moved to Liverpool but returned to Boston soon afterwards and bought a house in the West End. They had five children: Hubert, an attorney; Florida Ridley, a school principal and co-founder of Woman’s Era; Stanley, an inventor; George, a musician; and Robert, who died in his first year of life. The couple became active in the struggle against slavery. During the Civil War, they helped recruit black soldiers for the Union Army, the 54th and 55th Massachusetts regiments. The couple also worked for the Sanitation Commission, which provided aid for the care of soldiers in the field.

She died of nephritis at her home on St. Botolph Street, Boston, in 1924, and was buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge. Research more about black female publishers and journalists and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

August 30 1843- Henry Highland Garnet

GM – FBF – This has been a busy week for me and I am sorry that I haven’t had time to respond to your posts. I will on the weekend. Today I want to share with you a story about one of the most forgotten men when it comes to leaders speaking of Black freedom during the 1800’s. David Walker you should know just like Nate Turner,s Gabriel Prosser,Denmark Vesey and Fredrick Douglass. All great men of their time who spoke truth to power. I want to share with you a man who you may have never heard of and before the Civil War he preached and spoke about freedom. Enjoy!

Remember – “I had better die freemen, than live to be slaves. Let your motto be reisstance!” – Henry Highland Garnet

Today in our History – August 30, 1843 The National Negro Convention meets in Buffalo, New York. The African American abolitionist and activist Henry Highland Garnet (1815-1882) was a religious man. And on this day, he was raising Hell.
Garnet was all of 27 years old when, in August of 1843, he addressed the National Negro Convention in Buffalo, New York. The meeting was part of the decades long National Negro Convention Movement, in which northern free blacks met to discuss strategies for achieving racial equality and civil rights for freemen in the North, and emancipation and liberty for enslaved blacks in the South. These discussions often centered on the benefits of using “moral suasion versus political action” – that is, whether or not blacks and whites should use moral persuasion to convince American society to end racial prejudice, or, engage in direct political action to gain liberty and equality for people of African descent. (The influential white abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison was among those who eschewed political activism.)

Garnet had a much more radical approach to the problems of those in bondage. The son of a fugitive slave (one source indicates his grandfather was a Mandingo warrior prince), the youthful Garnet and his family were always fearful of being taken by slave catchers; his father once made a narrow escape from slave hunters, and his sister was taken into slavery for a time. His life experiences may have made him more open to solutions that went beyond suasion and politics, because in August of 1843, Garnet was openly calling for a slave rebellion.

Garnet’s speech was not just some angry rant. He grew up in New York City, with acquaintances such as Alexander Crummell, Samuel Ringgold Ward, James McCune Smith, Ira Aldridge, and Charles Reason, men who are among a who’s who of early 19th century northern black leaders. He attended a free school in New York, and sailed on ships to Cuba as a cabin boy. He had theological training and served as a Presbyterian pastor. Garnet was educated and worldly, and his speech reflected that, with references to pride in African heritage, slavery policy in the colonial and Revolutionary War eras, and the global context of abolitionism. This was in addition to his speech’s major themes that slavery was anti-Christian, and resistance to slavery pro-Christian; and that manhood and honor dictated that (male) slaves use “every means” necessary to liberate themselves.

It’s probably too much to say that in tone, Garnet sounded to his contemporaries like Malcolm X did to his. But Garnet’s righteous and religious anger, and his open call for manhood-based armed resistance, was surely uncomfortable to the more pacifist natures of current day black and white abolitionists. Fellow convention attendee Frederick Douglass, who was associated with William Lloyd Garrison, made a rebuttal to Garnet’s speech; unfortunately, Douglass’ speech did not survive for us to read it today.

His words may be Garnet’s lasting legacy. It is believed that Garnet’s “Call to Rebellion” helped inspire others in the abolitionist movement to take action, including John Brown who led the 1859 attack on the arsenal in Harpers Ferry, Virginia (now West Virginia).

There is an abridged version of Garnet’s speech to the 1843 National Negro Convention, which is often referred to as his “Address to the Slaves”. Please research it and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

August 23 1848 Henry “box” Brown

GM – FBF – Today, I would like to share with you a story about a man who wanted freedom so bad that he shipped his way to freedom by package to Philadelphia. Out of all of the stories in many text books of the 1960’s and 1970’s this story was in the slavery section. Enjoy!

Remember – “When they took my family away and sold them to another plantation. I said that I was leaving too” – Henry “Box” Brown

Today in our History – August 23, Brown, Henry “Box” – August 23, 1848. Henry “Box” Brown’s family was sold to a plantation in North Carolina.

To escape enslavement on a plantation near Richmond, Virginia, Henry “Box” Brown in 1849 exploited maritime elements of the Underground Railroad. Brown’s moniker “Box” was a result of his squeezing himself into a box and having himself shipped 250 miles from Richmond, Virginia to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Henry Brown, born enslaved in 1816 to John Barret, a former mayor of Richmond, eventually married another slave named Nancy and the couple had three children. Brown became an active member of Richmond’s First African Baptist Church where he was known for singing in the choir. In 1848 Brown’s wife and children were abruptly sold to away to North Carolina. Using “overwork” (overtime) money, Brown decided to arrange for his freedom.

He constructed a wooden crate three feet long and two feet six inches deep with two air holes. With help from Philadelphia abolitionists, he obtained a legal freight contract from Adams Express. This freight company with both rail and steamboat capabilities arranged to ship his package labeled “Dry Goods” to Philadelphia. The package was a heavy wooden box holding Brown’s 200 pounds.

Henry “Box” Brown loaded himself in Richmond on March 22, 1849, and from there the package moved via horse-drawn carriage to the rail depot of the Richmond-Fredericksburg-Potomac Railroad. Brown’s freight car was off-loaded 56 miles north on the Potomac River’s Aquia Landing and then placed aboard a Potomac River steamboat and shipped 40 miles upriver into Washington D.C. Here, the “package” transferred to the Washington & Baltimore Train Depot and passed by rail through Baltimore, arriving 149 miles later in the Port of Philadelphia on March 24, 1849. A local Philadelphia carting firm delivered “the package” to the Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Society. Delivered in 27 hours, Brown was welcomed by Philadelphia abolitionists led by Underground Railroad organizer, William Still.

Brown carried a bladder filled with drinking water and a gimlet if he needed to drive more air holes in the box. Tossed about and turned upside down when moved by drayage men aboard a steamship, he wrote that “veins on his temple grossly distended with eyes swelling and popping pain.” A fellow passenger, tired of standing, righted the box and had a seat, unaware of its human cargo. When the freight package opened, Henry “Box” Brown started singing a song of celebration and thanksgiving. After his escape “Box” Brown became a popular abolitionist speaker.

Upon passage of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, Brown left the United States for England. Here as a featured speaker in England’s abolitionist circuit he used visual aids such as a landscaped “moving panorama,” a painted scroll showing a lengthy series of related inter-connected panels painted on a single cloth.

By 1875 Brown had returned to New England and married a second time. He lectured under the name Professor H. “Box” Brown until his death. Brown is believed to have died around 1889. Samuel Rowse’s, Resurrection of Henry “Box” Brown lithograph, immortalizes Brown’s 1849 journey. Research more about how Blacks found their way north to freedom and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

July 27 1816- The Battle Of Fort Negro

GM – FBF – Today I would like to share with you a lesson that many have not heard about, where Black Soulders and Native Americans were beatin in a fight at Fort Negro, FL. One man lived and his name was Abraham. I don’t have in this post to tell his story. What a hidden secret that is not in your history books.

Remember – ” Once the cannon ball hit the power for the cannons. We were through” – Abraham

Today in our History – July 27, 1816 – Black Soulders massacurd at Fort Negro!

The Battle of Negro Fort was a short military siege during 1816 in which forces of the United States assaulted and managed to blow up African-American fortified stronghold in the frontier of northern Spanish Florida. The act was the first major engagement of the Seminole Wars period and was the beginning in which General Andrew Jackson’s Conquest of Florida. In 1814, during the War of 1812, the British Royal Marines established what was known as the Negro Fort on Prospect Bluff this was along the Spanish side of the Apalachicola River.

The base location initially included about 1,000 Britons, and several hundred African Americans. These people had been recruited as a detached unit of the Corps of Colonial Marines, they had the strength of four infantry companies. After the war in 1815, the British paid off the Colonial Marines, withdrew from the post, and left the black population in occupation. Over the next few years the “fort became a colony for escaped slaves from Pensacola and Georgia.

By 1816 over 600 freedmen and women had settled around the fort. There were some friendly natives in the area as well. Following the construction of Forst Scoot on the Flint River by Colonel Duncan Lamont Clinch of the United States Army, Andrew Jackson decided that to resupply the post they would need to use the navy transport goods via the Apalacicola through the sovereign territory of Spain without their permission.

During one of these resupply missions, a party of sailors from gunboats 149 and 154 stopped along the river near Negro Fort to fill their canteens with water. While doing so, they were attacked by the garrison of the fort and all but one of the Americans were killed. In response Andrew Jackson requested permission to attack the fort, they then dispatched gunboats to reduce Negro Fort.

Secretary of State John Quincy Adams justified the attack and subsequent seizure of Spanish Florida by Andrew Jackson as national “self-defense,” a response to alleged Spanish and British complicity in fomenting the “Indian and Negro War.” Adams even produced a letter from a Georgia planter complaining about “brigand Negroes” who made “this neighborhood extremely dangerous to a population like ours.”

Southern leaders worried that even a small, impoverished island of rebel slaves in the Caribbean or a parcel of Florida land occupied by a few hundred blacks could threaten the institution of slavery. According to Historian William Cooper Nell, the Freedmen who occupied the fort “caught the spirit of liberty,–at that time so prevalent throughout our land” and “they were slain for adhering to the doctrine that ‘all men are endowed by their Creator with the inalienable right to enjoy life and liberty. Read more about the battle and share it with your babies. Make it a champion day!

July 26 1848- Douglas M’Clintock

GM – FBF – Today I would like to share with you a man who also spoke in behalf of women. He was one of the best speakers of truth during his time. Enjoy!

Remember – “There are to many great women speaking out for rights for women, Let me show them the way” – Frederick Douglasss

Today in our History – July 26, 1848, M’Clintock invited Douglass to attend the First Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, NY.

Born into slavery in February 1818, Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) became one of the most outspoken advocates of abolition and women’s rights in the 19th century. Believing that “Right is of no sex, truth is of no color,” Douglass urged an immediate end to slavery and supported Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and other women’s rights activists in their crusade for woman suffrage.

In his autobiography Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, published in 1845, Douglass recounted his childhood as a slave in Maryland, detailing all the cruel treatment to which he and other slaves were subjected. In 1838 Douglass escaped from bondage and fled to New York City. His autobiography described the joy he felt upon his arrival in the North:

“I have been frequently asked how I felt when I found myself in a free State. I have never been able to answer the question with any satisfaction to myself. It was a moment of the highest excitement I ever experienced. I suppose I felt as one may imagine the unarmed mariner to feel when he is rescued by a friendly man-of-war from the pursuit of a pirate.”

Douglass joined the abolitionist movement in 1841 and put his considerable oratorical skills to work as a speaker for the American Anti-Slavery Society. By 1847 he had moved to Rochester, NY, where he published the North Star, a weekly abolitionist newspaper.

Douglass was also active with the Western New York Anti-Slavery Society, and it was through this organization that he met Elizabeth M’Clintock. In July 26, of 1848, M’Clintock invited Douglass to attend the First Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, NY. Douglass readily accepted, and his participation at the convention revealed his commitment to woman suffrage. In an issue of the North Star published shortly after the convention, Douglass wrote,

“In respect to political rights, we hold woman to be justly entitled to all we claim for man. We go farther, and express our conviction that all political rights which it is expedient for man to exercise, it is equally so for women. All that distinguishes man as an intelligent and accountable being, is equally true of woman; and if that government is only just which governs by the free consent of the governed, there can be no reason in the world for denying to woman the exercise of the elective franchise, or a hand in making and administering the laws of the land. Our doctrine is, that “Right is of no sex.”

Douglass continued to support the cause of women after the 1848 convention. In 1866 Douglass, along with Elizabeth Cady Stantonand Susan B. Anthony, founded the American Equal Rights Association, an organization that demanded universal suffrage. Though the group disbanded just three years later due to growing tension between women’s rights activists and Africa-American rights activists, Douglass remained influential in both movements, championing the cause of equal rights until his death in 1895. Research more about this great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!