Poverty and Child Labor in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era in New York City

Poverty and Child Labor in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era New York City

John Louis Recchiuti

Why are people poor? What can be done to protect children who are growing up in impoverished households? These were central questions in Progressive Era New York City and across the country as they remain today. In this workshop your group will be assigned a particular perspective on poverty and child labor and develop arguments championing that perspective. You may find the perspective you are asked to argue to be precisely the opposite of your own view on the subject. The goal is to build-out elements in the debate so that we can gain insight into the public policy challenges surrounding poverty in turn-of-the-twentieth century New York City. Your final product will be testimony before “The New York City Commission on Poverty and Youth.” Your group’s testimony should be based on material provided in this package and any additional sources you wish to consult.

Group Perspectives:

  • Group 1: ”The Undeserving Poor and the Deserving Poor”
  • Group 2: Family, Faith, Education, and Work — “No government assistance!”
  • Group 3: Our Responsibility as Consumers
  • Group 4: The Need for Mothers’ Pensions
  • Group 5: State Governments are the proper venue for laws against child labor and for child education.
  • Group 6: Federal Child Labor Laws must be Passed
Working at Home. National Child Labor Committee

Background: New York City History

Source: J. Recchiuti (2007). Civic Engagement: Social Science and Progressive-Era Reform in New York City. University of Pennsylvania Press.

At the turn of the twentieth century New York City had evolved from its early seventeenth century beginnings as a Dutch harbor-colony into an international center of finance, commerce, manufacture, and culture – competing on the world stage with London, Paris, and Berlin. The Brooklyn Bridge was completed in 1883. The Statue of Liberty, arrived from Paris, was installed in 1886. The Washington Arch at Washington Square Park went up in 1889. Carnegie Hall opened in 1893. The first subway line opened in 1904. And, the city rose vertically: the 1902 21-story steel-framed Flatiron Building was eclipsed in 1913 by the 60-story Woolworth Building. Henry Frick, Henry Phipps, the Vanderbilts, and Andrew Carnegie built mansions along Fifth Avenue. While, at the same time, many New Yorkers lived in squalor. Tens of thousands of New Yorkers lived in ill-lighted, overcrowded tenements, many without running water, flush toilets, or electricity.

New York City was, in these years, the world’s largest port, and served as the point of entry for many of the nation’s eighteen million immigrants in the quarter century before the First World War. By 1910, 87 percent of the 4,767,000 people in Greater New York were immigrants or the children of immigrants.

In today’s Gotham there are few factories, but in the early 1900s there were 30,000 manufacturers in the City, employing more than 600,000 workers, and New York City ranked first in the nation’s industrial output. The Lower East Side, around Rivington Street, was an immigrant hub, its immigrant population in the late 1880s and early 1890s mainly Germans, Poles, Russian Jews, and Rumanians. A young woman, Helen Moore, a volunteer among the poor, wrote in 1893 of “fermenting garbage in the gutter and the smell of stale beer” and “a long panorama of heart-rending sights”:

“Every window opens into a room crowded with scantily-clothed, dull-faced men and women sewing upon heavy woollen coats and trousers. They pant for air, the perspiration that drops from their foreheads is like life-blood, but they toil on steadily, wearily…. From a political, sanitary, and educational point of view it [the Tenth Ward] is the worst ward in the city, and social statistics offer no parallel in any city.”

The Lower East Side was, the urban historian Kenneth T. Jackson notes, “The most crowded neighborhood in the world.” It had only private charity — often from churches and synagogues – and some municipal sponsored free coal for heat. (Federal veterans’ pensions did supply aid for that fraction of the population who had served the Union army in the Civil War, but most of the city did not qualify.) In the long tradition of private or county-sponsored relief, places of confinement, such as prisons, orphanages, asylums, and almshouses sheltered those in need and in distress.

A. Poverty in the City

In 1910 in New York City, tens of thousands of children labored for pennies an hour in many the c. 12,000 tenement sweat-shops licensed by the state. “Our little kindergarten children at Greenwich House (located near Greenwich Village in lower Manhattan),” Mary Simkhovitch, the settlement’s founder and head resident, wrote, “go home from school to help make artificial flowers and as late as eleven o’clock at night we have found their baby fingers still fashioning the gay petals.”  

Around the country, “Boys of 10 years were common in the blinding dust of coal breakers, picking slate with torn and bleeding fingers, or sweltering all night in the glare of the white-hot furnace of the glasshouse; the incarceration of little 10-year-old girls in the dust-laden cotton mills of the South or the silk mills of Pennsylvania for 12 hours a day was looked upon with approval or indifference; tobacco and cigarette factories, canneries, sweatshops, the street trades, and the night messenger service all took unchallenged too from schoolhouse, playground, or cradle.”

In 1904 Columbia University professor Henry Seager wrote, “It might be thought that considerations of common humanity would lead employers of children to fix hours and other conditions of employment that would not be injurious to them.” “Unfortunately,” “this is not the case,” he wrote. It was a “cruelty,” he said, “not only of employers, but even of [the children’s] own parents.”

B. Corruption

New York City’s government was corrupt. Tammany Hall battled with reformers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (Tammany Hall was not vanquished until 1966). In a memorable example of corruption in city government a student in the Manhattan-based “Training School for Public Service” (founded in 1911) recounted his first assignment at the School: 

“That assignment was to go to the City Hall and attend the meeting of the City Council; I was told to walk in and take my seat at the press table. I was a complete stranger in New York and had some difficulty in finding the City Hall and where the council met. The only thing the council did that morning was to discuss some routine matters and pass one resolution appropriating $25,000 for the paving of a certain street. I returned to the office of the [Training School] and handed in my report, thinking that the task was ended. The next morning my assignment was to locate that street and to see if it needed paving. The street was more difficult to find than the City Hall but I finally located it over on the east side. I found that it had never been paved. I made this report in writing, feeling that my task was ended. The next morning my assignment was to go to the city clerk’s office and search the records to see if the street had ever been paved before. I discovered that the street every year for 25 years had been paved.” 

C. Children in the City

As in today’s New York City, children in the late 1800s and early 1900s had a broad range of experiences, experiences that often depended on their socio-economic class. Edwin Seligman, future Columbia professor of economics, was born and raised in Manhattan—the child of a wealthy German-Jewish family. Seligman was tutored as a child by the children’s author Horatio Alger, famous for his rags-to-riches stories–in which a poor but honest, industrious, and frugal lad finds himself, by dint of pluck and not a little luck, happy, married, and wealthy by story’s end. Seligman’s own family history, and his childhood experiences in New York City, in many ways mirrored Horatio Alger’s stories of childhood flourishing.

But in that same city, and in these same years, on streets near Greenwich Village, the social settlement activist Mary Kingsbury Simkhovitch wrote (in November 1903): ”A neighbor’s child was burned to death alone in a tenement house. A man was stabbed on election night by a drunken comrade. On Cornelia Street…the [Irish and Italian] Jones Street boys are fighting the colored boys nightly with one or two really serious results.” And, a “Jewish girl, sixteen years old,” was told by an employment agent that “she was going to a restaurant to work for two dollars a week and tips,” discovered that she was to be sent to a brothel instead. The girl was saved when an unidentified “assistant” paid ten dollars to the agency for her release.

“CHILD LABOR IN NEW YORK,” New York Times, January 12, 1903, pg. 8. A petition with numerous signers, many of them persons of experience and authority in such matters, has been submitted to the Legislature for amendments to the laws regulating child labor and providing for compulsory education. The chief complaint brought forward by the petitioners is that the two laws do not agree, and the discrepancies interfere with the enforcement of each. The compulsory education law, for instance, requires as to children of twelve years of age merely that they shall attend school eighty days. The child labor law requires that children shall not work until they are fourteen years of age. If the former law required compulsory schooling until fourteen, the enforcement of the latter, it is believed, would be much more practicable. On the other hand, an amendment to the school law requiring school attendance at an age earlier than eight, as at preset, would also help. Amendments are also proposed prohibiting vacation work for children of twelve, making the ten-hour limit strict without reference to shorter hours on Saturdays, including street work in the occupations forbidden under fourteen, requiring a child’s name when employed to appear on a pay roll, and requiring a certificate of ability to read and write as a condition of lawful employment. These, as we understand them, are the points made in the petition, but that document is loosely drawn and not easily interpreted. Probably amendments are needed to the laws. These should be carefully studied and collated by a competent lawyer, and such recommendations should be made perfectly clear to the Legislature.

Group 1:”The Undeserving Poor and the Deserving Poor”

Josephine Shaw Lowell

You are assigned to give testimony to “The New York City Commission on Poverty and Youth.” Your group will explain its view that government does harm if it gets involved in aiding poor men and women whose poverty arises because they are “indolent” (lazy). Your group will refer to these men and women as “the undeserving poor.” You will report to the “Commission” as Mrs. Lowell and members of her Charity Organization Society of the late 1800s. You believe the “Undeserving Poor” must be offered jobs and not given “alms” (money). The poor need to learn the discipline of work, and private organizations such as the Charity Organization Society can help them get in the habit of work. Children who watch their parents work hard and take moral responsibility for their lives are likely themselves also to become responsible, hardworking citizens. Society needs to teach the underserving poor to take responsibility for their own lives. They must overcome their indolence, alcoholism, or drug dependency. The undeserving poor need to get a job!

Josephine Lowell founded the Charity Organization Society (COS) in the late nineteenth century. The COS sent “friendly visitors” into New York City’s poor neighborhoods. “Friendly visitors” used questionnaires to determine whether a poor man or woman deserved Charity Organization Society support. “Friendly visitors” went into apartments of the poor and asked questions. If the poor person was judged “undeserving” (that is, undeserving of being given money by the COS—for example, the “friendly visitor” might see evidence of alcohol or abuse) then the poor person would be refused alms.

Josephine Lowell said “recipients of alms become dependent, lose their energy, are rendered incapable of self-support, and what they receive in return for their lost character is quite inadequate to supply their needs; thus they are kept on the verge almost of death by the very persons who think they are relieving them.” 

Josephine Lowell continued “It is the greatest wrong that can be done to him to undermine the character of a poor man–for it is his all”; “almsgiving and dolegiving are hurtful–therefore they are not charitable”; “the proof that dolegiving and almsgiving do break down independence, do destroy energy, do undermine character, may be found in the growing ranks of pauperism in every city, in the fact that the larger the funds given in relief in any community, the more pressing is the demand for them, and in the experience and testimony of all practical workers among the poor.” (NOTE the importance of this last sentence: Lowell is arguing that when we as a society give out money to those who won’t work—as ‘welfare’ or alms—we find that more and more (and ever more) money is demanded by them. 

Lowell did fault “the pressure of the unjust social laws and legislative enactments which produce hardship and cause more people to become idlers than would otherwise be the case,” but, “the usual cause of poverty,” she wrote, “is to be found in some deficiency–moral, mental, or physical–in the person who suffers.”

The Charity Organization Society’s “Friendly Visitors” assessed the worthiness of each individual poor person who applied to it for aid, and also lectured the poor–and tried to find them jobs. The COS even hired many of the poor. Women deemed employable were sent to wash and iron at a Charity Organization Society laundry that opened in 1889 at 589 Park Avenue and moved to the Society’s Industrial Building at 516 West 28th Street in 1900. By the early 1900s the laundry was training eighty or ninety women a month. The system began first “over steaming wash-tubs, advances them to starching and ironing, and graduates them with a recommendation after thorough instruction in the ironing of filmy lace curtains and finest linen.”

The Charity Organization Society also opened a wood yard in 1884 on East 24th Street, where young men were sent to test their willingness to work. The Society sold tickets to the charitable for them to offer to street beggars in lieu of cash–each ticket entitled its bearer to a day’s work in the wood yard. Beggars who showed themselves willing to work were placed–as jobs became available–as domestic servants, factory workers, janitors and furnace men, messengers and delivery boys, porters, watchmen, drivers, dishwashers, bootblacks, and the like. The Charity Organization Society functioned, in this way, as an employment agency.

The Charity Organization Society did not content itself with its private activities but took public action against what it perceived as New York City’s indiscriminate charity. When the city persisted in distributing free coal to the poor (a practice it had begun in 1875), the COS lobbied legislators and the practice stopped. It even urged the municipal government to follow the European practice of giving lengthy prison sentences to vagrants and street beggars. And, when, in 1904, “a flurry of excitement over children who go breakfastless to school” created a movement to provide “free meals” at public expense, the Charity Organization Society opposed it in hearings before the city’s special committee of the Board of Education. 

Two years later, another proposal was offered to “give eye-glasses to all for whom they were prescribed” among the city’s school children, and the Society took a stand against it as “’certainly unnecessary’“ “in view of the admitted ability of parents in the very great majority of all cases to take care of their own children.” Although, the COS was stern but not heartless: it would “supply the needs of any child” whose family was truly unable to feed them or buy eyeglasses. (And, to be fair to Lowell, by the end of the century she was, increasingly asserting the need for some government assistance to the poor.)

Group 2: Family, Faith, Education, and Work — “No government assistance!”

John W. Burgess

You are assigned to give testimony to “The New York City Commission on Poverty and Youth” from the following perspective. You will explain the view held by Columbia University political scientist John W. Burgess that poverty will best be addressed and curtailed through faith, family, education, and individual moral responsibility.  John W. Burgess was a political conservative who believed, as he wrote in 1912: ”We dare not call anything progress . . . which contemplates . . . the expansion of governmental power.” He argued that “improvement and development of — the system of popular education, — revival of the influence of religion, –the restoration of a better family life, producing a more enlightened individual conscience and a more general conscientiousness would … be the truer way, the American way, the real progressive way of overcoming the claimed failure of our system.” In his writings, Burgess advocated government by the elite. “It is difficult to see why the most advantageous political system, for the present, would not be a democratic state with an aristocratic government, provided only the aristocracy be that of real merit, and not of artificial qualities. If this be not the real principle of the republican form of government then I must confess that I do not know what its principle is.”

Burgess also held racist ideas. He believed “Teutonic nations are particularly endowed with the capacity for establishing national states . . . they are intrusted [sic], in the general economy of history, with the mission of conducting the political civilization of the modern world.” In a book on Reconstruction after the Civil War he wrote “black skin means membership in a race of men which has never of itself succeeded in subjecting passion to reason, has never, therefore, created any civilization of any kind.”

Group 3: Our Responsibility as Consumers

Florence Kelley

Your Group is assigned to give testimony to “The New York City Commission on Poverty and Youth,” from the perspective that each of us as consumers can end poverty by buying goods and services made by workers being paid a living wage. This means buying from stores, farms, and manufacturers that pay a living (good/high) wage to employees — and from employers who do not hire children. If we will each buy goods and services made by workers (especially unionized workers) we can, by our individual shopping habits, reduce poverty among the working class–and end child labor (because working adults will be earning a living wage and will be able to afford to send their kids to school instead of into the factories to earn money to supplement parents’ low wages). Your group will argue from the perspective of Florence Kelley’s National Consumers’ League headquartered in New York City.

Under Kelley’s leadership the Consumers’ League worked against industrial sweatshops and against sweated labor in tenements, it sought an end to child labor, and to excessive hours and night work for women. In 1904 the League published a “Standard Child Labor Law” intended as a model for uniform laws across the country. A “Consumers’ League label” was affixed to articles “made under conditions approved by the League” and the League published a “White List” (the reverse of a blacklist) of recommended retail stores, where working conditions were, by League standards, fair. Kelley also championed state and federal minimum wage laws, and laws to regulate hours of labor, but she urged that we, individually, as consumers must also do our part by buying goods made by workers paid a living wage.

In 1907, Florence Kelly argued “An association of persons who in making their purchases strives to further the welfare of those who make or distribute the things bought. The act of shopping seems to many trivial and entirely personal, while in reality it exerts a far reaching, oft-repeated influence for good or evil.” Kelley also wrote “the interest of the community demands that all workers should receive, not the lowest wages, but fair living wages . . . Responsibility for debilitating workplace conditions “rests with the consumers who persist in buying in the cheapest markets regardless of how cheapness is brought about.” 

Frances Perkins, secretary of the New York branch of the Consumers’ League and later United States Secretary of Labor in Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration), wrote “The Consumers’ League is an organization of persons who wish to improve the industrial conditions by utilizing the shopping power, the buying power of the consumers, who are banded together, that is, by pledging themselves in their shopping to do their buying in such a way as to improve conditions, rather than make them worse.” 

According to Florence Kelley pensions would “lift the burden from the widowed mother by giving her, as her right and not as the dole of a private charity…an allowance out of public funds on condition that she stay in her home and keep her children at home and in school.” Jean M. Gordon, a National Child Labor Committee member, wrote in The Child Labor Bulletin: “I contend it is just as much the duty of the State to pension dependent mothers as dependent veterans. Certainly the mother does as much for the country in rearing her children as the veterans did in killing her sons!”

Group 4: The Need for Mothers’ Pensions

“Public aid would have to be administered with intelligence and care,” Mary Simkhovitch wrote in an essay, “Women’s Invasion of the Industrial Field.” “But the difficulty of developing the technique of such a plan is not to be compared with the difficulty the state will meet through the inadequate care of families.”

Your group will give testimony to “The New York City Commission on Poverty and Youth” explaining that mothers in single-headed households (households in which a father is not present) must be provided with money from New York City and New York State so that these mothers can feed, clothe, and shelter their children. In the early twentieth century the term “pension” was used in the context of giving people state tax dollars — there were, for example, Civil War Pensions in which former Union soldiers from the Civil War were given old age pensions. Your group will urge the Commission to create a system of Mothers’ Pensions (money the state will give single moms to help them raise their children). Your positions is that private charity organizations alone simply cannot feed and clothe all needy children.

Group 5: State Governments are the proper venue for laws against child labor and for child education.

Edgar Gardner Murphy

In your testimony to “The New York City Commission on Poverty and Youth,” you will argue that individual states, not the federal government, must pass laws to regulate child labor. You are in agreement with Edgar Murphy and his allies that child labor laws are the responsibility of individual state governments only. Edgar Murphy’s argument was grounded in federalism. Federalism is the view that powers not granted by the Constitution to the Federal government are powers that are retained by individual state governments. Since the regulation of child labor was not listed in the U.S. Constitution as a power of the Federal government, Child Labor must fall under the regulatory power of individual State governments.

Edgar Murphy was an Episcopal minister from the South and the first secretary of the National Child Labor Committee. In 1903, Murphy wrote “The conditions of industry vary so greatly and so decisively from state to state and from locality to locality that the enactment of a federal child labor law, applicable to all conditions and under all circumstances, would be inadequate if not unfortunate.” 

Murphy claimed he was “interested in the question of child labor, not merely because I have photographed children of six and seven years whom I have seen at labor in our factories for twelve and thirteen hours a day, not merely because I have seen them with their little fingers mangled by machinery and their little bodies numb and listless with exhaustion, but because I am not willing that our economic progress should be involved in such conditions; and because . . . I am resolved to take my part, however humbly, in the settling of the industrial character of our greatest industry . . . I believe that an intelligent moral interest in the conditions of the factory, and the jealous guarding of its ethical assumptions, will minister not merely to the humanity of its standards and the happiness of its operatives, but to the dignity, currency and value of its properties.”

Group 6: Federal Child Labor Laws must be Passed

Samuel McCune Lindsay

Your group will testify to “The New York City Commission on Poverty and Youth” that a Federal Child Labor law is needed. You will advise the Commission to support passage of the Keating-Owen Child Labor Bill, a 1916 bill that would regulate child labor from the federal level by forbidding the interstate shipment of products of child labor. 

Samuel McCune Lindsay, Professor of Social Legislation at Columbia University argued at the 1911 National Child Labor Committee conference: ”Is it not our duty to seek for greater uniformity in the protection of working children, so that the children of all states may enjoy the same rights to a normal childhood, to life, education and leisure, to a time for play, a chance to grow and an opportunity to develop their best abilities whether they are raised in Alabama or Pennsylvania, in Georgia or Massachusetts, in Texas or Ohio? It is precisely to promote and secure this equality of opportunity for all American children that we are organized as a National Child Labor Committee [and therefore a FEDERAL LAW making child labor illegal is needed].”

Black Lives that Mattered

Black Lives that Mattered

Alan Singer

Teachers are grappling with ways to develop a more culturally-responsive social studies curriculum. An excellent starting point for revising the United States history curriculum overall is Voices of a People’s History, a document collection by Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove that is a companion to Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. Voices includes African American spokespeople from a number of eras. Featured Black abolitions include David Walker (1830), Henry Bibb (1844), Frederick Douglass (1852), Sojourner Truth (1851), and Harriet Jacobs (1861). Civil Rights activists include Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1893), Langston Hughes (1951), Paul Robeson (1956), John Lewis (1963), Malcolm X (1963), Fannie Lou Hamer (1964), Martin Luther King (1967), and Anne Moody (1968). More recent speakers and writers include George Jackson (1970), Angela Davis (1970), Assata Shakur (1978), Marian Wright Edelman (1983), Public Enemy (1990), June Jordan (1991), Mumia Abu-Jamal (2001), and Danny Glover (2003). Important websites for adding Black achievements to in the United States to the curriculum are:

When teachers are resistant to change, “awoke” students have a role to play. Social Studies lessons are usually organized so students can answer essential or compelling historical or contemporary questions. Many teachers start the lesson with an AIM question that defines the lesson and often also serves as a summary question at the end of lesson. If teachers aren’t asking these questions, students can politely ask them during the course of a lesson. “I don’t understand”:

  • What role did the trans-Atlantic slave trade play in the settlement of the Americas?
  • How could the signers of the Declaration of Independence proclaim “all men are created equal” and then keep almost 20% of the population enslaved?
  • Is the wealth of the United States and its position in the world today based on the enslavement of Africans?
  • How did Frederick Douglass feel about the American celebration of July 4th?
  • Why did Abraham Lincoln promise the South they could keep Africans enslaved?
  • To whom did Abraham Lincoln offer “malice toward none” and “charity for all”?
  • How could the Supreme Court in the 1850s, the 1880s, and the 1890s blindly ignore what the Constitution says about equal rights?
  • Why did the federal government abandon Blacks after the Civil War and Reconstruction?
  • Why were American troops racially segregated in World War I and World War II?
  • Why did Martin Luther King ask “What is to be done?” after passage of the 1960s Civil Rights acts?
  • Why do housing and job discrimination and school segregation continue in the 21st century?
  • Why do so many Black men and women continue to be injured or killed by police?

These activity sheets introduce students to thirteen African Americans who made major contributions to American democracy, but who are normally not included in the United States history curriculum. Elizabeth “Mum Bett” Freeman, Julia Williams Garnet, Henry Highland Garnet, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Elizabeth Jennings Graham, Sarah Tompkins Garnet, Susan McKinney Steward, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, W.E.B. DuBois, A. Philip Randolph, Paul Robeson, Ralph Bunche, and Fanny Lou Hamer are in chronological order based on the year of their birth. An examination of these lives introduces students to major themes in African American and United States history, as well as to “Black Lives that Mattered.”

Elizabeth “Mum Bett” Freeman (c. 1744-1829): A Black Life that Mattered

Statue of Elizabeth Freeman, National Museum of African American History and Culture. An important source is the Ashley House historic site website. https://thetrustees.org/content/elizabeth-freeman-fighting-for-freedom/

Elizabeth “Mum Bett” Freeman was born enslaved in Claverack, New York in present day Columbia County. As a teenager she was sold to Colonel John Ashley and moved to his property in western Massachusetts near Great Barrington where she was kept enslaved for thirty years. In the 1770s, Mum Bett overheard conversations about revolutionary unrest in Massachusetts, challenges to British colonial rule, the Declaration of Independence, and a new Massachusetts constitution. Her decision to sue in court for freedom was probably in response to abuse by Mrs. Ashley. Mum Bett intervened when Hannah Ashley tried to hit another enslaved woman, who might have been Mum Bett’s sister or daughter, with a kitchen shovel. Mum Bett was hit instead in the face and was scarred. After the attack, Mum Bett sought help to escape slavery from Theodore Sedgwick, a lawyer in Stockbridge.

In 1780, Massachusetts adopted a state constitution that was largely drafted by future President John Adams. It drew on the promise of equality and liberty made in the Declaration of Independence and included a Bill of Rights that declared “All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights.

With Sedgwick’s help, Mum Bett sued for freedom in a Massachusetts Court of Common Pleas. In Brom and Bett v. Ashley, a local jury found that Mum Bett and another enslaved African, Brom, were legally free people and awarded them 30 shillings in damages. In 1781, the jury’s decision was affirmed by the Massachusetts Supreme Court and in 1783, citing its decision in Brom and Bett v. Ashley, the state’s Supreme Court declared slavery a violation of the Massachusetts state constitution. After securing her freedom, Mum Bett chose the name Elizabeth Freeman. John Ashley offered to hire her as a paid employee, but she refused to work for the family again.

Documents:

Sheffield Resolves (Sheffield, Massachusetts, 1773): “RESOLVED: That mankind in a state of nature are equal, free and independent of each other and have a right to the undisturbed enjoyment of their lives, their liberty and property.”

Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Article I: “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.”

https://malegislature.gov/laws/constitution

Chief Justice William Cushing charge to the jury in case of Quok Walker (1781): “As to the doctrine of slavery and the right of Christians to hold Africans in perpetual servitude, and sell and treat them as we do our horses and cattle, that (it is true) has been heretofore countenanced by the Province Laws formerly, but nowhere is it expressly enacted or established . . . But whatever sentiments have formerly prevailed in this particular or slid in upon us by the example of others, a different idea has taken place with the people of America, more favorable to the natural rights of mankind, and to that natural, innate desire of Liberty, with which Heaven (without regard to color, complexion, or shape of noses — features) has inspired all the human race. And upon this ground our Constitution of Government, by which the people of this Commonwealth have solemnly bound themselves, sets out with declaring that all men are born free and equal – and that every subject is entitled to liberty, and to have it guarded by the laws, as well as life and property – and in short is totally repugnant to the idea of being born slaves. This being the case, I think the idea of slavery is inconsistent with our own conduct and Constitution; and there can be no such thing as perpetual servitude of a rational creature, unless his liberty is forfeited by some criminal conduct or given up by personal consent or contract.”

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part2/2h38t.html

Massachusetts Supreme Court Ruling (1783): “These sentiments led the framers of our constitution of government – by which the people of this commonwealth have solemnly bound themselves to each other – to declare – that all men are born free and equal; and that every subject is entitled to liberty, and to have it guarded by the laws as well as his life and property. In short, without resorting to implication in constructing the constitution, slavery is in my judgment as effectively abolished as it can be by the granting of rights and privileges wholly incompatible and repugnant to its existence.”

Elizabeth Freeman’s Statement on Freedom: “Any time, any time while I was a slave, if one minute’s freedom had been offered to me & 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 earth a free woman — — I would.”

https://www.wbur.org/news/2020/01/27/elizabeth-freeman-sheffield-slave-ashley-sedgwick

Epitaph on Elizabeth Freeman’s grave stone (Stockbridge, MA): ELIZABETH FREEMAN known by the name of MUMBET Died Dec 28, 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 nor 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.

https://www.wbur.org/news/2020/01/27/elizabeth-freeman-sheffield-slave-ashley-sedgwick

Julia Williams Garnet (1811-1870): A Black Life that Mattered

Julia Williams was an African-American abolitionist who was active in Massachusetts, New York, Jamaica, and Washington DC. Williams was born free in Charleston, South Carolina and as a child moved with her family to Boston. While she did not leave her own written record, she often collaborated with her husband, Reverend Henry Highland Garnet, on his speeches and writings. Her life touched on a number of major abolitionist organizations and events. Williams was a student at both the Canterbury Female Boarding School in Connecticut and the Noyes Academy in Canaan, New Hampshire. Canterbury was a school for “young Ladies and little Misses of color.” Noyes had an interracial student body. Both schools were attacked by white mobs while she was attending and forced to close. Williams finally completed her education at the abolitionist run Oneida Institute in New York. Williams later was a member of the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society, attended the 1837 Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women in New York, was a missionary in Jamaica where she headed an industrial school for girls, and after the Civil War worked with freedmen in Washington, DC. 

Documents:

The Liberator Report on the Destruction of Noyes Academy (1835)

Source: https://www.newspapers.com/clip/19369301/noyes-academy-removal-criticism/

“The Superintending Committee appointed by said town to remove the ‘Noyes Academy’ proceeded at 7 o’clock, A.M of the 10th inst. [August 10] to discharge their duty; the performance of which they believe the interest of the town, the honor of the State, and the good of the whole community (both black and white) required without delay. At an early hour, the people of this town and of the neighboring towns assembled, full of the spirit of ’75 [sic], to the number of about three hundred, with between ninety and one hundred yoke of oxen, and with all necessary materials for the completion of the undertaking. Many of the most respectable and wealthy farmers of this and the adjacent towns rendered their assistance on this occasion . . . The work was commenced and carried on with very little noise, considering the number engaged, until the building was safely landed on the common near the Baptist meeting-house, where it stands, . . . the monument of the folly of those living spirits, who are struggling to destroy what our fathers have gained.

Address of the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society (1836)

Source: www.Docsteach.Org/Documents/Document/Address-Boston-Antislavery-Society?Tmpl=Component&Print=1

“As women, it is incumbent upon us, instantly and always, to labor to increase the knowledge and the love of God that such concentrated hatred of his character and laws may no longer be so entrenched in men’s business and bosoms that they dare not condemn and renounce it. As wives and mothers, as sisters and daughters, we are deeply responsible for the influence we have on the human race. We are bound to exert it; we are bound to urge men to cease to do evil, and learn to do well. We are bound to urge them to regain, defend, and preserve inviolate the rights of all, especially those whom they have most deeply wronged. We are bound to the constant exercise of the only right we ourselves enjoy — the right which our physical weakness renders peculiarly appropriate — the right of petition. We are bound to try how much it can accomplish in the District of Columbia, or we are as verily guilty touching slavery as our brethren and sisters in the slaveholding States: for Congress possesses power ‘to exercise exclusive legislation over the District of Columbia in all cases whatsoever,’ by a provision of the Constitution; and by an act of the First Congress, the right of petition was secured to us.”

An Appeal to the Women of the Nominally Free States, Issued by an Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women (1837)

Source: https://archive.org/stream/appealtowomenofn00anti/appealtowomenofn00anti_djvu.txt

The women of the North have high and holy duties to perform in the work of emancipation — duties to themselves, to the suffering slave, to the slaveholder, to the church, to their country, and to the world at large; and, above all, to their God. Duties which, if not performed now, may never be performed at all . . .  Many regard the excitement produced by the agitation of this subject as an evidence of the impolicy of free discussion, and a sufficient excuse for their own inactivity. Others so undervalue the rights and responsibilities of woman, as to scoff and gainsay whenever she goes forth to duties beyond the parlor and the nursery . . . Every citizen should feel an intense interest in the political concerns of the country, because the honor, happiness, and well-being of every class, are bound up in its politics, government and laws. Are we aliens because we are women? Are we bereft of citizenship because we are the mothers, wives, and daughters of a mighty people? Have women no country — no interest staked in public weal — no liabilities in common peril — no partnership in a nation’s guilt and shame? . . . Moral beings have essentially the same rights and the same duties, whether they be male or female. This is a truth the world has yet to learn, though she has had the experience of fifty-eight centuries by which to acquire the knowledge of this fundamental axiom. Ignorance of this has involved her in great inconsistencies, great errors, and great crimes, and hurled confusion over that beautiful and harmonious structure of human society which infinite wisdom had established.

Henry Highland Garnet (1815-1882): A Black Life that Mattered

This biography of Henry Highland Garnet is drawn from a number of online sources and New York and Slavery: Time to Teach the Truth (SUNY, 2008). It concludes with excerpts from Garnet’s 1843 speech at a National Negro Convention in Buffalo, New York. In the speech, Garnet called for active resistance to slavery.

Henry Highland Garnet was born to enslaved parents in Kent County, Maryland in 1815. In 1824, his parents received permission to attend a funeral and used it as an opportunity to escape to New Jersey. The Garnets arrived in New York City in 1825, where Henry entered the African Free School on Mott Street. After a sea voyage to Cuba as a cabin boy in 1829, Henry returned to New York where he learned that his family had separated in a desperate effort to evade slave catchers. Enraged and worried, Garnet wandered up and down Broadway with a knife. Eventually friends were able to arrange refuge for him with abolitionists on Long Island.

In 1835, while he was attending the interracial Noyes Academy in Canaan, New Hampshire, a mob destroyed the school and attacked the house where Garnet and the other Black students were living. They fought back but were eventually forced to flee the town. Garnet later graduated from Oneida Institute near Utica, New York and in 1842, he became a pastor of the Liberty Street Presbyterian Church in Troy, New York. While there, Garnet edited abolitionist newspapers which called for enslaved Blacks to rise up in rebellion. He joined the Liberty Party and was known as an effective orator, but more mainstream abolitionists like Frederick Douglass thought he was too radical. In a speech to the National Negro Convention, Garnet urged enslaved Africans to rebel against their chains because they were better off dying free than living as slaves. In the 1850s, he became a missionary in Jamaica and encouraged Blacks to move there. During the Civil War, Garnet was a minister at the Shiloh Presbyterian Church in Manhattan and chaplain for Black troops stationed at Riker’s Island. In July 1863, draft rioters stalked Garnet, forcing his family to hide with neighbors. Later in his career, Garnet founded the African Civilization Society and advocated migration to a West African colony in Yoruba. In 1881, he was appointed a United States representative to Liberia

In an 1843 speech at a National Negro Convention in Buffalo, New York, Henry Highland Garnet beseeched his enslaved brethren to “Awake, awake; millions of voices are calling you! Your dead fathers speak to you from their graves. Heaven, as with a voice of thunder, calls on you to arise from the dust. Let your motto be resistance! resistance! resistance! No oppressed people have ever secured their liberty without resistance.”

Document: Henry Highland Garnet Calls for Resistance! (1843)

“Brethren, it is as wrong for your lordly oppressors to keep you in slavery, as it was for the man thief to steal our ancestors from the coast of Africa. You should therefore now use the same manner of resistance, as would have been just in our ancestors, when the bloody foot-prints of the first remorseless soul-thief was placed upon the shores of our fatherland. The humblest peasant is as free in the sight of God as the proudest monarch. Liberty is a spirit sent out from God and is no respecter of persons. Brethren, arise, arise! Strike for your lives and liberties. Now is the day and the hour. Let every slave throughout the land do this, and the days of slavery are numbered. You cannot be more oppressed than you have been, you cannot suffer greater cruelties than you have already. Rather die freemen than live to be slaves. Remember that you are four millions!”

“In the name of God, we ask, are you men? Where is the blood of your fathers? Has it all run out of your veins? Awake, awake; millions of voices are calling you! Your dead fathers speak to you from their graves. Heaven, as with a voice of thunder, calls on you to arise from the dust. Let your motto be resistance! resistance! resistance! No oppressed people have ever secured their liberty without resistance. Trust in the living God. Labor for the peace of the human race, and remember that you are four millions.”

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1825-1911): A Black Life that Mattered

Source: https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/frances-ellen-watkins-harper

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was an abolitionist, poet, novelist, suffragist, lecturer, teacher and reformer who co-founded the National Association of Colored Women. She was born to free Black parents in Baltimore, Maryland during the era of slavery. When she was 26, she became the first female instructor at Union Seminary, a school for free African Americans in Wilberforce, Ohio. She published her first book of poetry when she was twenty years old and her anti-slavery poetry was printed in the abolitionist press. While living in Philadelphia in the 1850s, she assisted freedom seekers escaping on the Underground Railroad. In May 1866,Frances Ellen Watkins Harper addressed the Eleventh National Women’s Rights Convention in New York City. Other speakers included white suffragettes Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucretia Mott.

Documents:

Eliza Harris (Excerpt) https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/52447/eliza-harris

Like a fawn from the arrow, startled and wild, 

A woman swept by us, bearing a child; 

In her eye was the night of a settled despair, 

And her brow was o’ershaded with anguish and care. 

She was nearing the river—in reaching the brink, 

She heeded no danger, she paused not to think! 

For she is a mother—her child is a slave— 

And she’ll give him his freedom, or find him a grave! 

“We Are All Bound Up Together” (11th National Women’s Rights Convention in New York City, 1866)

Source: https://awpc.cattcenter.iastate.edu/2017/03/21/we-are-all-bound-up-together-may-1866/

“We are all bound up together in one great bundle of humanity, and society cannot trample on the weakest and feeblest of its members without receiving the curse in its own soul. You tried that in the case of the Negro. You pressed him down for two centuries; and in so doing you crippled the moral strength and paralyzed the spiritual energies of the white men of the country. When the hands of the black were fettered, white men were deprived of the liberty of speech and the freedom of the press . . . This grand and glorious revolution which has commenced, will fail to reach its climax of success, until throughout the length and breadth of the American Republic, the nation shall be so color-blind, as to know no man by the color of his skin or the curl of his hair. It will then have no privileged class, trampling upon outraging the unprivileged classes, but will be then one great privileged nation, whose privilege will be to produce the loftiest manhood and womanhood that humanity can attain.

I do not believe that giving the woman the ballot is immediately going to cure all the ills of life. I do not believer that white women are dew-drops just exhaled from the skies. I think that like men they may be divided into three classes, the good, the bad, and the indifferent. The good would vote according to their convictions and principles; the bad, as dictated by prejudice or malice; and the indifferent will vote on the strongest side of the question, with the winning party . . . You white women speak here of rights. I speak of wrongs. I, as a colored woman, have had in this country an education which has made me feel as if I were in the situation of Ishmael, my hand against every man, and every man’s hand against me. Let me go to-morrow morning and take my seat in one of your street cars — I do not know that they will do it in New York, but they will in Philadelphia — and the conductor will put up his hand and stop the car rather than let me ride.

In advocating the cause of the colored man, since the Dred Scott decision, I have sometimes said I thought the nation had touched bottom. But let me tell you there is a depth of infamy lower than that. It is when the nation, standing upon the threshold of a great peril, reached out its hands to a feebler race, and asked that race to help it, and when the peril was over, said, “You are good enough for soldiers, but not good enough for citizens . . . Talk of giving women the ballot-box? Go on. It is a normal school, and the white women of this country need it. While there exists this brutal element in society which tramples upon the feeble and treads down the weak, I tell you that if there is any class of people who need to be lifted out of their airy nothings and selfishness, it is the white women of America.”

Elizabeth Jennings Graham (1827-1901): A Black Life that Mattered

Source: New York and Slavery: Complicity and Resistance

On July 14, 1854, Elizabeth Jennings and her friend, Sarah Adams, walked to the corner of Pearl and Chatham streets in lower Manhattan. They planned to take a horse-drawn street car along Third Avenue to church. When Jennings tried to enter a street car reserved for whites she was ordered to leave. When she refused, she was physically thrown off the street car.

An account of what happened to Elizabeth was presented on July 17 at a protest meeting at the First Colored Congregational Church in New York City. Elizabeth wrote the statement but did not speak because she was recovering from injuries. Peter Ewell, the meeting’s secretary, read Elizabeth’s testimony to the audience. At the meeting at the First Colored Congregational Church, a Black Legal Rights Association was formed to investigate possible legal action. Elizabeth Jennings decided to sue the street car company. She was represented in court by a young white attorney named Chester A. Arthur, who later became a military officer during the Civil War and a politician. In 1880, Chester A. Arthur was elected Vice-President of the United States and he became president when James Garfield was murdered in 1881.

The court case was successful. The judge instructed the jury that transit companies had to respect the rights all respectable people and the jury awarded Elizabeth Jennings money for damages. While she had asked for $500 in her complaint, some members of the jury resisted granting such a large amount because she was “colored.” In the end, Elizabeth Jennings received $225 plus an additional ten percent for legal expenses.

At the time of this incident, Jennings was a teacher at the African Free School and a church organist. She later started New York City’s first kindergarten for African-American children and operated it from her Manhattan home until her death in 1901.

Documents:

“Outrage upon Colored Persons, “New York Tribune, July 19, 1854, 7:2.

“I (Elizabeth Jennings) held up my hand to the driver and he stopped the cars. We got on the platform, when the conductor told us to wait for the next car. I told him I could not wait, as I was in a hurry to go to church. He then told me that the other car had my people in it, that it was appropriated (intended) for that purpose. I then told him I wished to go to church, as I had been going for the last six months, and I did not wish to be detained.

He insisted upon my getting off the car, but I did not get off. He waited some few minutes, when the driver, becoming impatient, said to me, “Well, you may go in, but remember, if the passengers raise any objections you shall go out, whether or no, or I’ll put you out.”  I told him I was a respectable person, born and raised in New York, that I had never been insulted before while going to church, and that he was a good for nothing impudent (rude) fellow for insulting decent persons while on their way to church. He then said he would put me out.

I told him not to lay his hands on me. I took hold of the window sash and held on. He pulled me until he broke my grasp and I took hold of his coat and held onto that. He ordered the driver to fasten his horses, which he did, and come and help him put me out of the car. They then both seized hold of me by the arms and pulled and dragged me flat down on the bottom of the platform, so that my feet hung one way and my head the other, nearly on the ground. I screamed murder with all my voice, and my companion screamed out “you’ll kill her. Don’t kill her.”

The driver then let go of me and went to his horses. I went again in the car, and the conductor said you shall sweat for this; then told the driver to drive as fast as he could and not to take another passenger in the car; to drive until he saw an officer or a Station House.

They got an officer on the corner of Walker and Bowery, whom the conductor told that his orders from the agent were to admit colored persons if the passengers did not object, but if they did, not to let them ride. When the officer took me there were some eight or ten persons in the car. Then the officer, without listening to anything I had to say, thrust me out, and then pushed me, and tauntingly told me to get redress if I could. I would have come up myself, but am quite sore and stiff from the treatment I received from those monsters in human form yesterday afternoon.”

“A Wholesome Verdict,” New York Tribune, February 23, 1855, 7:4.

“The case of Elizabeth Jennings vs. the Third Ave. Railroad Company, was tried yesterday in the Brooklyn circuit, before Judge Rockwell. The plaintiff is a colored lady, a teacher in one of the public schools, and the organist in one of the churches in this City. She got upon one of the Company’s cars last summer, on the Sabbath, to ride to church. The conductor finally undertook to get her off, first alleging the car was full, and when that was shown to be false, he pretended the other passengers were displeased at her presence. She saw nothing of that, and insisted on her rights. He took hold of her by force to expel her. She resisted, they got her down on the platform, jammed her bonnet, soiled her dress, and injured her person. Quite a crowd gathered around, but she effectually (effectively) resisted, and they were not able to get her off. Finally, after the car had gone on further, they got the aid of a policeman, and succeeded in getting her from the car.

Judge Rockwell gave a very clear and able charge, instructing the Jury that the Company were liable for the acts of their agents, whether committed carelessly and negligently, or willfully and maliciously. That they were common carriers, and as such bound to carry all respectable persons; that colored person, if sober, well-behaved, and free from disease, had the same rights as others; and could neither be excluded by any rules of the Company, nor by force or violence; and in case of such expulsion or exclusion, the Company was liable. The plaintiff claimed $500 in her complaint, and a majority of the jury were for giving her the full amount; but others maintained some peculiar notions as to colored people’s rights, and they finally agreed on $225, on which the Court added ten per cent, besides the costs.

Railroads, steamboats, omnibuses, and ferry boats will be admonished from this, as to the rights of respectable colored people. It is high time the rights of this class of citizens were ascertained (respected), and that it should be known whether they are to be thrust from our public conveyances (vehicles), while German or Irish women, with a quarter of mutton or a load of codfish, can be admitted.”

“Legal Rights Vindicated,” Frederick Douglass’ Paper, March 2, 1855, 2:5

“Our readers will rejoice with us in the righteous verdict. Miss Elizabeth Jennings, whose courageous conduct in the premises is beyond all praise, comes of a good old New York stock. Her grandfather, Jacob Cartwright, a native African, was a soldier in the Revolutionary War, and took active part in city politics until the time of his death in 1824; her father, Mr. Thomas L. Jennings, was mentioned in our paper as having delivered an oration on the Emancipation of the slaves in this State in 1827, and he was a founder of the New York African Society for Mutual Relief and of other institutions for the benefit and elevation of the colored people. In this suit he has broken new ground, which he proposes to follow up by the formation of a ‘Legal Rights League.’ We hold our New York City gentleman responsible for the carrying out this decision into practice, by putting an end to their exclusion from cars and omnibuses; they must be craven indeed if they fail to follow the lead of a woman.”

Sarah Tompkins Garnet and Susan McKinney Steward: Black Lives that Mattered

Sources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_J._Garnet; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_McKinney_Steward

Sarah and Susan Smithwere highly accomplished sisters. Their father, Sylvanus Smith, was one of the founders of the African-American community of Weeksville in Kings County, now Brooklyn, and one of the very few Black Americans eligible to vote in New York when the state still had slavery. Their mother Anne (Springsteel) Smith, was born in Shinnecock in Suffolk County and may have had Native American ancestry.

Sarah Tompkins Garnet (1831-1911)

Sarah Tompkins Garnet was an educator and suffragist and the first female African-American school principal in the New York City public school system. She began teaching at the African Free School of Williamsburg in 1854 and became principal of Grammar School No. 4 in 1863. When she retired in 1900, Garnet had been a teacher and principal for 37 years. Garnet was the founder of the Brooklyn Equal Suffrage League and a leader of the National Association of Colored Women. She married noted abolitionist and minister Henry Highland Garnet in 1879 and they traveled together to Africa. She and her sister Susan McKinney Steward participated in the 1911 Universal Races Congress in London. Public School 9 in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn is named after her.

Susan McKinney Steward (1847-1918)

Susan McKinney Steward was an American physician and author. She was the first African-American woman to earn a medical degree in New York State. Her medical career focused on prenatal care and childhood disease. Between 1870 and 1895, Steward had her own practice in Brooklyn and co-founded the Brooklyn Women’s Homeopathic Hospital and Dispensary. She was also on the board and practiced medicine at the Brooklyn Home for Aged Colored People. Later she was a college physician at Wilberforce University. In 1911, she delivered a paper, “Colored American Women”” at the Universal Race Congress in London.

Documents:

“Mrs. Garnet’s Reception,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle. 25 June 1907.

“Mrs. Sarah J. S. Garnet, who for many years was the principal of Public School No. 80 and who was an active worker or the retention of Afro-American teachers in the public schools of this state and is now on the retired teachers’ list, gave a reception to New York teachers at her residence, 74 Hancock Street, last evening. There was an excellent program of impromptu speeches varied with music by Professor [Walter] Craig, a pupil of Mrs. Garnet.”

“School to change name in honor of 1st African-American female principal in NYC”

http://brooklyn.news12.com/story/40287636/school-to-change-name-in-honor-of-1st-africanamerican-female-principal-in-nyc

An elementary school in Prospect Heights is changing its name to honor Sarah Smith Garnet, the first African-American female school principal in New York City. P.S. 9 Teunis G Bergen is currently named after a Brooklyn politician in the 1800s who was a slave owner. Parents say the current name sends a bad message. For the past year, parents have discussed changing the name and students got involved. Ninety-three fifth-graders signed a petition for the name change. The new name was decided by a vote. The Department of Education is backing the decision calling Garnet, “a trail-blazing leader who changed our schools and city.” The school’s principal says it is an empowering move for the school, where 40% of the students are black. “It’s important for our children to understand that everyone has a voice and no matter your race, your religion, no matter who you are, you do have a voice and your voice counts,” says principal Sandra D’Avilar.

MARASMUS INFANTUM, By S. S. McKinney, M. D., BROOKLYN, N. Y.

https://archive.org/stream/transactions14yorkgoog/transactions14yorkgoog_djvu.txt

Of the many diseases to which children are victims, marasmus is to me one of the most interesting, from the fact that my success in entering upon and building up a comparatively fair practice is, in a measure, due to the good results I have had in the treatment of this disease. One of my very first cases after graduation was that of a little patient afflicted with this disease, whose parents had become discouraged with the old school treatment, and, as they stated, were willing to give me a trial. The case was a typical one. I put forth my best efforts, supplemented by careful nursing on the part of a loving and intelligent mother, and in time my little patient rounded out into a fine healthy looking child, rewarding my labors in its behalf by being the means of other children being brought to me, similarly afflicted. Thus all along the line up to the present time I find myself being called upon as one able to alleviate the sufferings, if not always able to cure the condition.

The word marasmus is derived from the Greek, meaning ‘I grow lean,’ and is used synonymously with the word atrophy. The name has been fitly chosen for the condition, and indicates a general waste of all the tissues from malnutrition. This disease may develop at any stage of infantile life, and is chiefly the result of the following causes: Unsuitable food, chronic vomiting, chronic diarrhea, worm in the alimentary canal, and more especially inherited syphilis.

The most prominent symptoms are: Emaciation exhaustion, hectic fever, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, dark and shriveled skin, anorexia or great voracity, thirst, sweats, bloated and hard abdomen, enlargement of the glands, great restlessness and nervous irritability, and a host of other symptoms.

In taking charge of a case of this disease, I make it a rule never to promise a cure, but say I will do all I can to restore the little patient to health. I shape my course of treatment to suit each individual case as presented, directing careful attention to the dietary and hygienic needs of the little patients and apply homoeopathic remedies according to their symptomatology.

Ida B. Wells-Barnett (1862-1931): A Black Life that Mattered

Source: https://spartacus-educational.com/FWWwells.htm

In 1901, Ida B. Well published Lynching and the Excuse for It. She argued that the main reasons for lynchings was to intimidate Blacks from demanding their rights and to maintain white power in the South. She was a founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1909 and headed the organization’s push to make lynching a federal crime. A strong supporter of the right of women to vote, she challenged segregation in the suffrage movement, refusing to march in the back of a march in Washington with a separate black delegation of women. In 1894, Ida B. Wells married Fernand Barnett and they had four children.

Documents:

On Women’s Rights (1886): “I will not begin at this late day by doing what my soul abhors; sugaring men, weak deceitful creatures, with flattery to retain them as escorts or to gratify a revenge.”

Preface to Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases (1892): “The greater part of what is contained in these pages was published in the New York Age June 25, 1892, in explanation of the editorial which the Memphis whites considered sufficiently infamous to justify the destruction of my paper, The Free Speech. Since the appearance of that statement, requests have come from all parts of the country that ‘Exiled,’ (the name under which it then appeared) be issued in pamphlet form . . . It is with no pleasure I have dipped my hands in the corruption here exposed. Somebody must show that the Afro-American race is more sinned against than sinning, and it seems to have fallen upon me to do so. The awful death-roll that Judge Lynch is calling every week is appalling, not only because of the lives it takes, the rank cruelty and outrage to the victims, but because of the prejudice it fosters and the stain it places against the good name of a weak race. The Afro-American is not a bestial race. If this work can contribute in any way toward proving this, and at the same time arouse the conscience of the American people to a demand for justice to every citizen, and punishment by law for the lawless, I shall feel I have done my race a service. Other considerations are of minor importance.”

Letter to President McKinley (1898): “For nearly twenty years lynching crimes have been committed and permitted by this Christian nation. Nowhere in the civilized world save the United States of America do men, possessing all civil and political power, go out in bands of 50 to 5,000 to hunt down, shoot, hang or burn to death a single individual, unarmed and absolutely powerless. Statistics show that nearly 10,000 American citizens have been lynched in the past 20 years. To our appeals for justice the stereotyped reply has been the government could not interfere in a state matter.”

Protest Against the Execution of 12 Black Soldiers (1917): “The result of the court-martial of those who had fired on the police and the citizens of Houston was that twelve of them were condemned to be hanged and the remaining members of that immediate regiment were sentenced to Leavenworth for different terms of imprisonment. The twelve were afterward hanged by the neck until they were dead, and, according to the newspapers, their bodies were thrown into nameless graves. This was done to placate southern hatred. It seemed to me a terrible thing that our government would take the lives of men who had bared their breasts fighting for the defence of our country.”

Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Crusade for Justice (1828): “All my life I had known that such conditions were accepted as a matter of course. I found that this rape of helpless Negro girls and women, which began in slavery days, still continued without let or hindrance, check or reproof from the church, state, or press until there had been created this race within a race – and all designated by the inclusive term of ‘colored.’ I also found that what the white man of the South practiced as all right for himself, he assumed to be unthinkable in white women. They could and did fall in love with the pretty mulatto and quadroon girls as well as black ones, but they professed an inability to imagine white women doing the same thing with Negro and mulatto men. Whenever they did so and were found out, the cry of rape was raised, and the lowest element of the white South was turned loose to wreak its fiendish cruelty on those too weak to help themselves. No torture of helpless victims by heathen savages or cruel red Indians ever exceeded the cold-blooded savagery of white devils under lynch law. This was done by white men who controlled all the forces of law and order in their communities and who could have legally punished rapists and murderers, especially black men who had neither political power nor financial strength with which to evade any justly deserved fate. The more I studied the situation, the more I was convinced that the Southerner had never gotten over his resentment that the Negro was no longer his plaything, his servant, and his source of income . . . I’d rather go down in history as one lone Negro who dared to tell the government that it had done a dastardly thing than to save my skin by taking back what I have said. I would consider it an honour to spend whatever years are necessary in prison as the one member of the race who protested, rather than to be with all the 11,999,999 Negroes who didn’t have to go to prison because they kept their mouths shut.”

W.E.B. DuBois (1868-1963): A Black Life that Mattered

Source: https://spartacus-educational.com/USAdubois.htm

W.E.B. DuBois was a leading American scholar and civil rights activist at the end of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century. He was the first African American to earn a doctorate at Harvard University, a founder of the NAACP in 1909, and editor of its journal, The Crisis.

William Edward Burghardt DuBois was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts in 1868. After graduating from high school, he earned a scholarship to Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee where he worked as a teacher while attending school. DuBois studied for two years at the University of Berlin and then returned to the United States to complete his education. His Harvard doctoral dissertation on the trans-Atlantic slave trade was later published as a book. His other influential books included The Souls of Black Folk, a biography of John Brown, and Black Reconstruction in America.

As editor of The Crisis, DuBois campaigned against lynchings and Jim Crow laws and for women’s suffrage and equal rights. He also became a socialist, supporting Eugene Debs for President in 1912. His positions brought him into sharp conflict with other African American leaders, particularly Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey.

Starting in the 1930s, DuBois’ views were increasingly aligned with Marxism and its interpretation of race relations in the United States. He supported Henry Wallace’s Progressive Party candidacy for President in 1948, was the party’s candidate for the United States Senate from New York in 1950, and in 1951, during the McCarthy anti-communist witch hunts he was accused of being a Soviet agent and denied a U.S. passport.

In 1961, DuBois joined the Communist Party – USA declaring “Capitalism cannot reform itself. Communism – the effort to give all men what they need and to ask of each the best they can contribute – this is the only way of human life.” DuBois moved to Ghana at the age of 91 where he became a citizen and lived until his death.

Documents:

The Philadelphia Negro (1899): “Such discrimination is morally wrong, politically dangerous, industrially wasteful, and socially silly. It is the duty of the whites to stop it, and to do so primarily for their own sakes. Industrial freedom of opportunity has by long experience been proven to be generally best for all. Moreover the cost of crime and pauperism, the growth of slums, and the pernicious influence of idleness and lewdness, cost the public far more than would the hurt to the feelings of a carpenter to work beside a black man, or a shop girl to start beside a darker mate.”

The Forethought, The Souls of Black Folks (1903): “Herein lie buried many things which if read with patience may show the strange meaning of being black here at the dawning of the Twentieth Century. This meaning is not without interest to you, Gentle Reader; for the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line.” 

Speech at the Niagara Movement (1906): “We will not be satisfied to take one jot or tittle less than our full manhood rights. We claim for ourselves every single right that belongs to a free-born American, political, civil and social; and until we get these rights we will never cease to protest and assail the ears of America. The battle we wage is not for ourselves alone but for all true Americans.”

The Crisis (1911): “Every argument for Negro suffrage is an argument for women’s suffrage; every argument for women’s suffrage is an argument for Negro suffrage; both are great moments in democracy. There should be on the part of Negroes absolutely no hesitation whenever and wherever responsible human beings are without voice in their government. The man of Negro blood who hesitates to do them justice is false to his race, his ideals and his country.”

Black Reconstruction in America (1935): “The unending tragedy of Reconstruction is the utter inability of the American mind to grasp its real significance, its national and world wide implications . . . This problem involved the very foundations of American democracy, both political and economic.”

The Autobiography of W.E.B. DuBois (1968): “Perhaps the most extraordinary characteristic of current America is the attempt to reduce life to buying and selling. Life is not love unless love is sex and bought and sold. Life is not knowledge save knowledge of technique, of science for destruction. Life is not beauty except beauty for sale. Life is not art unless its price is high and it is sold for profit. All life is production for profit, and for what is profit but for buying and selling again?”

A. Philip Randolph (1889-1979): A Black Life that Mattered

Source: https://spartacus-educational.com/USArandolph.htm

Asa Philip Randolph was born in Florida in 1889. His father was a tailor and an African Methodist Episcopal Church minister. His mother was a seamstress. After high school, Randolph moved north to attend the City College of New York where he studied economics and philosophy, became a socialist, and founded The Messenger, a radical monthly magazine that opposed lynching and U.S. participation in World War I. Randolph was arrested and charged with treason for urging African American men to avoid the military draft but was never prosecuted. As a member of the Socialist Party, Randolph ran a number of unsuccessful campaigns for local office in New York City. During the 1920s, A. Philip Randolph organized Black workers in laundries, clothes factories, and sleeping car porters and in 1929 became president of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters.

Documents:

The Messenger, July 1918: “We are fighting ‘to make the world safe for democracy,’ to carry democracy to Germany . . . We are conscripting the Negro into the military and industrial establishments to achieve this end for white democracy four thousand miles away, while the Negro at home, through bearing the burden in every way, is denied economic, political, educational and civil democracy.”

The Messenger, July 1919: “The IWW is the only labor organization in the United States which draws no race or color line. There is another reason why Negroes should join the IWW. The Negro must engage in direct action. He is forced to do this by the Government. When the whites speak of direct action, they are told to use their political power. But with the Negro it is different. He has no political power. Therefore the only recourse the Negro has is industrial action, and since he must combine with those forces which draw no line against him, it is simply logical for him to draw his lot with the Industrial Workers of the World.”

Statement on Proposed March on Washington (January 1941): “Negro America must bring its power and pressure to bear upon the agencies and representatives of the Federal Government to exact their rights in National Defense employment and the armed forces of the country. I suggest that ten thousand Negroes march on Washington, D. C. with the slogan: “We loyal Negro American citizens demand the right to work and fight for our country.” No propaganda could be whipped up and spread to the effect that Negroes seek to hamper defense. No charge could be made that Negroes are attempting to mar national unity. They want to do none of these things. On the contrary, we seek the right to play our part in advancing the cause of national defense and national unity. But certainly there can be no national unity where one tenth of the population are denied their basic rights as American citizens.”

Speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (August 1963): “We are not an organization or a group of organizations. We are not a mob. We are the advance guard of a massive moral revolution for jobs and freedom. The revolution reverberates throughout the land, touching every city, every town, every village where blacks are segregated, oppressed and exploited. But this civil rights demonstration is not confined to the Negro; nor is it confined to civil rights; for our white allies knew that they cannot be free while we are not. And we know that we have no future in which six million black and white people are unemployed, and millions more live in poverty. Those who deplore our militancy, who exhort patience in the name of a false peace, are in fact supporting segregation and exploitation. They would have social peace at the expense of social and racial justice. They are more concerned with easing racial tensions than enforcing racial democracy.”

Paul Robeson (1898-1976): A Black Life that Mattered

Paul Robeson was an American social activist, actor, singer, lawyer, and All-American athlete. As an activist, he received global recognition, but in the United States he was persecuted for his radical ideas and suspected communist ties. In August 1949, rioters supported by local law enforcement and the KKK prevented him from performing at a concert in Peekskill, New York. In 1950, his passport was revoked by the United States State Department and in 1956 he was forced to appear at a sub-committee hearing of the House Un-American Activities Committee where he was threatened with indictment for contempt of Congress.

In 1945, Robeson received the NAACP Spingarn medal for outstanding achievement by an African American. In 1978, after his death, he was recognized by the United Nations General Assembly for his efforts challenging apartheid in South Africa. He is a member of the College Football, American Theater, and New Jersey Hall of Fames.

Robeson was born on April 9, 1898, in Princeton, New Jersey. He was the youngest child of Maria Louisa Robeson and Reverend William Robeson, a Presbyterian minister. Reverend Robeson was born enslaved in North Carolina in 1844. In 1901, Reverend Robeson was forced to resign as pastor of the Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church in Princeton because of his outspoken opposition to racial injustice. Paul Robeson credited his commitment to social justice to the way his father was treated.

During World War II, Robeson help rally Americans to support the war effort. In 1940 he broadcast and then recorded Ballad for Americans, a song that defined the United States as an inclusive nation committed to rights for all. Although many considered Robeson the country’s leading entertainer and he continually performed in benefit concerts, he was sometimes prevented from performing or staying in hotels because of racial segregation. In New York City, Robeson performed at the Polo Grounds, the former stadium of the Giants baseball team and at Lewisohn Stadium on the City College campus, both located in Harlem. Among his other interests, Robeson lobbied to desegregate Major League Baseball.

Robeson’s political troubles began at the conclusion of the war. After four African Americans were lynched in July 1946, Robeson met with President Harry Truman. The meeting ended abruptly when Truman declared it was not the right time for a federal anti-lynching law. Robeson responded by founding the American Crusade Against Lynching.

In his testimony before the House Un-American Activities sub-committee, excerpted below from the History Matters website, Paul Robeson accused committee members of being the real Un-Americans and defended fundamental American constitutional rights. James Earl Jones has a narrated version of the testimony available on YouTube.

Document: Testimony of Paul Robeson before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, June 12, 1956

Source: Congress, House, Committee on Un-American Activities, Investigation of the Unauthorized Use of U.S. Passports, 84th Congress, Part 3, June 12, 1956; in Thirty Years of Treason: Excerpts from Hearings Before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, 1938–1968, Eric Bentley, ed. (New York: Viking Press, 1971), 770.

Part 1: “Are you now a member of the Communist Party?”

RICHARD ARENS (counsel for HUAC and a former aide to Senator McCarthy): Are you now a member of the Communist Party?

PAUL ROBESON: Oh please, please, please.

CONG. GORDON SCHERER (R-OH): Please answer, will you, Mr. Robeson?

PAUL ROBESON: What is the Communist Party? What do you mean by that?

CONG. SCHERER: I ask that you direct the witness to answer the question.

PAUL ROBESON: What do you mean by the Communist Party? As far as I know it is a legal party like the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. Do you mean a party of people who have sacrificed for my people, and for all Americans and workers, that they can live in dignity? Do you mean that party?

ARENS: Are you now a member of the Communist Party?

PAUL ROBESON: Would you like to come to the ballot box when I vote and take out the ballot and see?

ARENS: Mr. Chairman, I respectfully suggest that the witness be ordered and directed to answer that question.

CONG. FRANCIS WALTER, CHAIRMAN (D-PA): You are directed to answer the question.

PAUL ROBESON: I stand upon the Fifth Amendment of the American Constitution.

ARENS: Do you mean you invoke the Fifth Amendment?

PAUL ROBESON: I invoke the Fifth Amendment.

ARENS: Do you honestly apprehend that if you told this Committee truthfully —

PAUL ROBESON: I have no desire to consider anything. I invoke the Fifth Amendment, and it is none of your business what I would like to do, and I invoke the Fifth Amendment . . . [W]herever I have been in the world, Scandinavia, England, and many places, the first to die in the struggle against Fascism were the Communists and I laid many wreaths upon graves of Communists. It is not criminal, and the Fifth Amendment has nothing to do with criminality. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Warren, has been very clear on that in many speeches, that the Fifth Amendment does not have anything to do with the inference of criminality. I invoke the Fifth Amendment.

Part 2: “To whom am I talking?”

PAUL ROBESON: To whom am I talking?

CONG. WALTER: You are speaking to the Chairman of this Committee.

PAUL ROBESON: Mr. Walter?

CONG. WALTER:  Yes.

PAUL ROBESON: The Pennsylvania Walter?

CONG. WALTER: That is right.

PAUL ROBESON: Representative of the steelworkers?

CONG. WALTER:  That is right.

PAUL ROBESON: Of the coal-mining workers and not United States Steel, by any chance? A great patriot.

CONG. WALTER:  That is right.

PAUL ROBESON: You are the author of all of the bills that are going to keep all kinds of decent people out of the country.

CONG. WALTER:  No, only your kind.

PAUL ROBESON: Colored people like myself, from the West Indies and all kinds. And just the Teutonic Anglo-Saxon stock that you would let come in.

CONG. WALTER:  We are trying to make it easier to get rid of your kind, too.

PAUL ROBESON: You do not want any colored people to come in?

Part 3: “The reason I am here today”

PAUL ROBESON: Could I say that the reason that I am here today, you know, from the mouth of the State Department itself, is: I should not be allowed to travel because I have struggled for years for the independence of the colonial peoples of Africa. For many years I have so labored and I can say modestly that my name is very much honored all over Africa, in my struggles for their independence . . . The other reason that I am here today, again from the State Department and from the court record of the court of appeals, is that when I am abroad I speak out against the injustices against the Negro people of this land. I sent a message to the Bandung Conference and so forth. That is why I am here. This is the basis, and I am not being tried for whether I am a Communist, I am being tried for fighting for the rights of my people, who are still second-class citizens in this United States of America. My mother was born in your state, Mr. Walter, and my mother was a Quaker, and my ancestors in the time of Washington baked bread for George Washington’s troops when they crossed the Delaware, and my own father was a slave. I stand here struggling for the rights of my people to be full citizens in this country. And they are not. They are not in Mississippi. And they are not in Montgomery, Alabama. And they are not in Washington. They are nowhere, and that is why I am here today. You want to shut up every Negro who has the courage to stand up and fight for the rights of his people, for the rights of workers, and I have been on many a picket line for the steelworkers too. And that is why I am here today.”

Part 4: “I belong to the American resistance movement.”

PAUL ROBESON: Would you please let me read my statement at some point?

CONG. WALTER: We will consider your statement.

ARENS: I do not hesitate one second to state clearly and unmistakably: I belong to the American resistance movement which fights against American imperialism, just as the resistance movement fought against Hitler.

PAUL ROBESON: Just like Frederick Douglass and Harriet Tubman were underground railroaders, and fighting for our freedom, you bet your life . . . Four hundred million in India, and millions everywhere, have told you, precisely, that the colored people are not going to die for anybody: they are going to die for their independence. We are dealing not with fifteen million colored people, we are dealing with hundreds of millions.

Part 5: “My people died to build this country.”

PAUL ROBESON: In Russia I felt for the first time like a full human being. No color prejudice like in Mississippi, no color prejudice like in Washington. It was the first time I felt like a human being. Where I did not feel the pressure of color as I feel [it] in this Committee today.

CONG. SCHERER: Why do you not stay in Russia?

PAUL ROBESON: Because my father was a slave, and my people died to build this country, and I am going to stay here, and have a part of it just like you. And no Fascist-minded people will drive me from it. Is that clear? I am for peace with the Soviet Union, and I am for peace with China, and I am not for peace or friendship with the Fascist Franco, and I am not for peace with Fascist Nazi Germans. I am for peace with decent people.

CONG. SCHERER: You are here because you are promoting the Communist cause.

PAUL ROBESON: I am here because I am opposing the neo-Fascist cause which I see arising in these committees. You are like the Alien [and] Sedition Act, and Jefferson could be sitting here, and Frederick Douglass could be sitting here, and Eugene Debs could be here . . .[Y]ou gentlemen belong with the Alien and Sedition Acts, and you are the non-patriots, and you are the un-Americans, and you ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

Ralph Bunche (1904-1971): A Black Life that Mattered

Documents:

Segregation in Los Angeles (1926)

“I hope that the future generations of our race rise as one to combat this vicious habit at every opportunity until it is completely broken down. I want to tell you that when I think of such outrageous atrocities as this latest swimming pool incident, which has been perpetrated upon Los Angeles Negroes, my blood boils. And when I see my people so foolhardy as to patronize such a place, and thus give it their sanction, my disgust is trebled. Any Los Angeles Negro who would go bathing in that dirty hole with that sign—‘For Colored Only,’ gawking down at him in insolent mockery of his Race, is either a fool or a traitor to his kind.”

Some Reflections on Peace in Our Time (1950)

“In this most anxious period of human history, the subject of peace, above every other, commands the solemn attention of all men of reason and goodwill. Moreover, on this particular occasion, marking the fiftieth anniversary of the Nobel Foundation, it is eminently fitting to speak of peace. No subject could be closer to my own heart, since I have the honour to speak as a member of the international Secretariat of the United Nations.  In these critical times – times which test to the utmost the good sense, the forbearance, and the morality of every peace-loving people – it is not easy to speak of peace with either conviction or reassurance. True it is that statesmen the world over, exalting lofty concepts and noble ideals, pay homage to peace and freedom in a perpetual torrent of eloquent phrases. But the statesmen also speak darkly of the lurking threat of war; and the preparations for war ever intensify, while strife flares or threatens in many localities.

The words used by statesmen in our day no longer have a common meaning. Perhaps they never had. Freedom, democracy, human rights, international morality, peace itself, mean different things to different men. Words, in a constant flow of propaganda – itself an instrument of war – are employed to confuse, mislead, and debase the common man. Democracy is prostituted to dignify enslavement; freedom and equality are held good for some men but withheld from others by and in allegedly “democratic” societies; in “free” societies, so-called, individual human rights are severely denied; aggressive adventures are launched under the guise of “liberation”. Truth and morality are subverted by propaganda, on the cynical assumption that truth is whatever propaganda can induce people to believe. Truth and morality, therefore, become gravely weakened as defences against injustice and war. With what great insight did Voltaire, hating war enormously, declare: ‘War is the greatest of all crimes; and yet there is no aggressor who does not colour his crime with the pretext of justice’.”

Racial Prejudice in America (1954)

“The existence of racial prejudice, the practice of racial or religious bigotry in our midst today, should be the active concern of every American who believes in our democratic way of life. Such attitudes and practices subvert the foundation principles of our society. They are more costly and more dangerous today than ever before in our history. Indeed, it is impossible to calculate the tremendous costs to the nation of such attitudes and their shameful manifestations. They are a seriously divisive influence amongst our people. They create resentment, unrest and disturbances in our communities. They deprive us of our maximum national unity at a time when our way of life and all that we stand for is gravely threatened from without. They prevent us from using a substantial part of our manpower effectively, even though we are seriously short of manpower, to meet the challenge confronting us from an external world.”

Letter to 4th graders (1964)

“The habit of always looking on the bright side of things may make one appear naive now and then, but in my experience it is the best antidote for worry and ulcers. I am often called an optimist. No doubt I am; but if so, it is by training rather than by nature – my mother’s training. I am convinced that nothing is ever finally lost until faith and hope and dreams are abandoned, and then everything is lost. This, I feel, is what my mother meant.”

Fannie Lou Hamer (1917-1977): A Black Life that Mattered

Fannie Lou Townsend’s parents were sharecroppers on the Marlow Plantation in the Mississippi River delta region of Sunflower County, Mississippi. Fannie Lou was the youngest of her parent’s twenty children. As a child, Hamer helped her family pick cotton and grow corn. She was only able to attend school until sixth grade. In 1945, Fannie Lou married Perry Hamer, a tractor driver and sharecropper on the Marlow plantation. The couple never had children.

In 1961, Hamer had a hysterectomy and was sterilized without her consent. It is suspected this was part of a plan by the State of Mississippi to reduce the number of poor blacks in the state.

 In 1962, after participating in a bus trip organized by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) to register African-Americans voters, Fanny Lou Hamer was recruited to work for that organization. Her demand to vote led to threats on her life and the lives of family members and she was forced to move away to protect them.

In June 1963, Fanny Lou Hamer was arrested on a false charge and severely beaten by police in Winona, Mississippi. In 1964, she helped found and was elected vice-chair of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party. On August 22, 1964, Hamer addressed the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey where she challenged Mississippi’s all-white and anti-civil rights delegation. Hamer ran for Congress in 1964 and 1965, and in 1968 was a member of Mississippi’s official delegation to the Democratic National Convention. She died of heart failure in 1977.

This biography of Fannie Lou Hamer is drawn from a number of online sources including Timeline, Wikipedia, and American Public Media. It concludes with excerpts from her testimony at the 1964 Democratic Party presidential nominating convention and a speech she delivered in Harlem, New York in December 1964.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fannie_Lou_Hamer

https://timeline.com/hamer-speech-voting-rights-d5f6ddc7470a

Documents:

Fannie Lou Hamer testifies before the Credentials Committee of the Democratic National Convention in Atlantic City, New Jersey (August 22, 1964)

http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/sayitplain/flhamer.html

“My name is Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer, and I live at 626 East Lafayette Street, Ruleville, Mississippi, Sunflower County, the home of Senator James O. Eastland, and Senator Stennis. It was the 31st of August in 1962 that eighteen of us traveled twenty-six miles to the county courthouse in Indianola to try to register to become first-class citizens. We were met in Indianola by policemen, Highway Patrolmen, and they only allowed two of us in to take the literacy test at the time. After we had taken this test and started back to Ruleville, we were held up by the City Police and the State Highway Patrolmen and carried back to Indianola where the bus driver was charged that day with driving a bus the wrong color.

After we paid the fine among us, we continued on to Ruleville, and Reverend Jeff Sunny carried me four miles in the rural area where I had worked as a timekeeper and sharecropper for eighteen years. I was met there by my children, who told me that the plantation owner was angry because I had gone down to try to register. After they told me, my husband came, and said the plantation owner was raising Cain because I had tried to register. Before he quit talking the plantation owner came and said, “Fannie Lou, do you know – did Pap tell you what I said?” And I said, “Yes, sir.” He said, “Well I mean that.” He said, “If you don’t go down and withdraw your registration, you will have to leave” . . . And I addressed him and told him and said, “I didn’t try to register for you. I tried to register for myself.” I had to leave that same night.

June the 9th, 1963, I had attended a voter registration workshop; was returning back to Mississippi. Ten of us was traveling by the Continental Trailway bus. When we got to Winona, Mississippi . . . I stepped off of the bus to see what was happening and somebody screamed from the car that the five workers were in and said, “Get that one there.” When I went to get in the car, when the man told me I was under arrest, he kicked me. I was carried to the county jail . . . And it wasn’t too long before three white men came to my cell . . . I was carried out of that cell into another cell where they had two Negro prisoners. The State Highway Patrolmen ordered the first Negro to take the blackjack. The first Negro prisoner ordered me, by orders from the State Highway Patrolman, for me to lay down on a bunk bed on my face. I laid on my face and the first Negro began to beat. I was beat by the first Negro until he was exhausted. I was holding my hands behind me at that time on my left side, because I suffered from polio when I was six years old. After the first Negro had beat until he was exhausted, the State Highway Patrolman ordered the second Negro to take the blackjack . . . Is this America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, where we have to sleep with our telephones off the hooks because our lives be threatened daily, because we want to live as decent human beings, in America?”

“I’m Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired,” Harlem, New York (Dec. 20, 1964)

https://awpc.cattcenter.iastate.edu/2019/08/09/im-sick-and-tired-of-being-sick-and-tired-dec-20-1964/

“For three hundred years, we’ve given them time. And I’ve been tired so long, now I am sick and tired of being sick and tired, and we want a change. We want a change in this society in America because, you see, we can no longer ignore the facts and getting our children to sing, “Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light, what so proudly we hailed.” What do we have to hail here? The truth is the only thing going to free us. And you know this whole society is sick . . . But this is something we going to have to learn to do and quit saying that we are free in America when I know we are not free. You are not free in Harlem. The people are not free in Chicago, because I’ve been there, too. They are not free in Philadelphia, because I’ve been there, too. And when you get it over with all the way around, some of the places is a Mississippi in disguise. And we want a change. And we hope you support us in this challenge.”

Lyddie the Mill Girl – An Interdisciplinary 7th Grade Unit

Lyddie the Mill Girl – An Interdisciplinary 7th Grade Unit

Natalie Casale, Dena Giacobbe, Amanda Nardo, and Jamie Thomas

In these lessons, we will look back to the 19th century where workers were not protected and oftentimes had to work in awful conditions, like the young women who worked in the mills in Lowell, Massachusetts. These young women, known as mill girls, worked long hours and were often hurt by the machinery. If they were lucky enough to escape getting hurt by the machines, after working in the mills for a couple of years, the girls started to have respiratory health problems. The novel Lyddie is about a young girl who worked in the Lowell mills. By reading the book, the students have learned about what a typical day is like working at the mills and have read about Lyddie and her friends enduring horrible working conditions and getting hurt as a result. This lesson will explore what the conditions were like working in the mills in the 19th century. Students will examine a picture of a mill girl working the machinery and recall the effects the mills had on Lyddie and her friends. The students will then read about the Lowell mills and about one mill girl’s life, Sarah Bagley. Students will compare and contrast Lyddie and Bagley’s experiences in the mills. By the end of the lesson, the students will be able to describe what it is like to work in the mills and recommend what future mill girls should keep in mind when working in the mills. The students will be grouped homogeneously, working with partners throughout the lesson.

 (A) Sarah George Bagley

Source: https://www.nps.gov/lowe/learn/historyculture/sarah-bagley.htm

The Mill Girls of Lowell
https://www.nps.gov/lowe/learn/historyculture/the-mill-girls-of-lowell.htm

(A) Sarah George Bagley
Source: https://www.nps.gov/lowe/learn/historyculture/sarah-bagley.htm

Sarah George Bagley was born April 19, 1806 to Nathan and Rhoda Witham Bagley. Raised in rural Candia, New Hampshire, she came to the booming industrial city of Lowell in 1837 at the age of 31, where she began work as a weaver at the Hamilton Manufacturing Company. Though older than many of the Yankee women who flocked to Lowell’s mills, Bagley shared with them the shift from rural family life to the urban industrial sphere. While working in the Lowell mills, Sarah Bagley’s view of the world around her changed radically. While much of her life remains surrounded by questions, the record of Bagley’s experiences as a worker and activist in Lowell, Massachusetts, reveals a remarkable spirit. Condemned by some as a rabble rouser and enemy of social order, many have celebrated her as a woman who fought against the confines of patriarchal industrial society on behalf of all her sisters in work and struggle.

“Let no one suppose the ‘factory girls’ are without guardian. We are placed in the care of overseers who feel under moral obligation to look after our interests.” – Sarah Bagley, 1840

 “I am sick at heart when I look into the social world and see woman so willingly made a dupe to the beastly selfishness of man.” – Sarah Bagley, 1847

While many found a sense of independence in coming to the city and earning a wage for the first time, the presence of paternalistic capitalism ensured that working women would never be “without guardian;” or as Bagley would later assert, that factory women would never experience true freedom. Bagley was initially inclined to accept the prescribed order in the Spindle City—she became an excellent weaver and began to write for the Lowell Offering, a literary magazine written by mill workers but overseen and partly funded by the mill corporations. Bagley’s 1840 essay entitled “The Pleasures of Factory Work,” which argued that cotton mill labor was congenial to “pleasurable contemplation” and other noble pursuits, was representative of the positive, proper image of the mills presented in the pages of the Offering.

An 1850 illustration of the Middlesex Manufacturing Company in Lowell Stirrings of Conflict

Was it deteriorating conditions in the cotton factories or some internal shift in Sarah Bagley’s worldview that precipitated her transformation from “mill girl” to ground-breaking labor activist in the span of only a few short years? By 1840 the exploitation of Lowell mill workers was becoming increasingly apparent: the frequent speedups and constant pressure to produce more cloth drove Bagley from the weave room into the cleaner, more relenting dressing room. Here she oversaw the starching (or “dressing”) of the warp threads that constitute the framework for woven cloth.

By 1842 the pressures that Bagley had experienced as a weaver began to erupt in the form of labor conflict. In that year the Middlesex Manufacturing Company, one of Lowell’s textile giants, announced a speedup and subsequent 20% pay cut. In protest, seventy female workers walked out. All were fired and blacklisted. Lowell’s industrial capitalists made it very clear that they would not tolerate challenges to their authority, especially not by young female workers.

The walkout of 1842 did not instantly convert Sarah Bagley into a labor activist; several months after the unsuccessful strike by the Middlesex weavers, Bagley returned to weaving, this time as an employee of the Middlesex mills.

A radical change in Sarah’s own views of the world around her, however, was not far off. How exactly she became involved with the labor movement is uncertain. In 1844, the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association (LFLRA) was founded, becoming one of the earliest successful organizations of working women in the United States, with Sarah Bagley as its president. Working in cooperation with the New England Workingmen’s Association (NEWA) and spurred by a recent extension of work hours, the organizations submitted petitions totaling 2,139 names to the Massachusetts state legislature in 1845. These petitions demanded the reduction of the workday to ten hours on behalf workers’ health as well as their “intellectual, moral and religious habits.” In response, the legislature called a hearing and asked Bagley, among eight others, to testify. Despite the efforts of Bagley and her colleagues, the legislators ultimately refused to act against the powerful mills.

While advocating for the ten-hour workday and against corporate abuses remained the cornerstones of the LFLRA’s activism under Bagley’s presidency, women’s rights issues quickly assumed a prominent role as well. Speaking at the first New England Workingmen’s Association convention at a time when public speaking represented a radical departure from acceptable feminine behavior, Bagley called on male workers to exercise their right to vote on behalf of female workers who lacked political representation.

The year 1845 also saw Sarah taking on new responsibilities as a writer and editor for the Voice of Industry, founded in 1844 by the New England Workingmen’s Association. In a July Fourth speech, Bagley—just named one of the NEWA’s five new vice presidents—condemned the Lowell Offering and its editor Harriet Farley as “a mouthpiece of the corporations,” voicing a deep transformation of her own views. The ensuing public feud belied Bagley’s own praise of the mill companies published in the Offering only five years prior.

1846 was a busy year for Bagley and the Female Labor Reform Association, as she and several associates traveled throughout New England recruiting workers and organizing chapters of the FLRA and the NEWA. She also served as a delegate to numerous labor conventions and associated with a wide variety of progressives beyond the immediate labor movement, from abolitionists to prison reformers. Having left mill work in early 1846, Bagley now considered labor reform her primary calling. 1846 also saw an increase in the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association’s activities, mounting a campaign against yet another speedup and piece rate reduction, establishing a lecture series for workers, and penning pamphlets exposing the contradictions of mill owner paternalism and decrying the “ignorance, misery, and premature decay of both body and intellect” caused by mill work.

These achievements, however, were tempered by continued frustration on the ten-hour front. A second petition, this time numbering 4,500 signatures, was submitted to the legislature and rejected. Perhaps in part owing to the lack of success in attaining this goal, the Lowell Female Labor Reform Association began to shift its focus away from the militant labor activism espoused by Sarah Bagley. Around this time Bagley also came into conflict with the Voice of Industry’s new editor, John Allen, over the role of women in the newspaper’s production. In October of 1846 Bagley published her last piece in the Voice of Industry; in early 1847 she left the Female Labor Reform and Mutual Aid Society (formerly LFLRA) after three brief but influential years of radical activism.

Sarah Bagley once again defied expectations and gendered boundaries in the latter half of 1846 when she took a job as the nation’s first female telegraph operator, first in Lowell and then in Springfield, Massachusetts. Local newspapers were skeptical of both this new technology and of the ability of a woman to fill the position of telegraph depot superintendent—one paper mused, “Can a woman keep a secret?” However, Bagley proved well-suited to this work and through her example opened the new occupational field of telegraphy to women around the country.

Bagley remained employed at the telegraph depot until 1848, when Hamilton mill records show her mysteriously returning to work in the weave room for five months. Bagley had been out of the mills for two years; it must have been a melancholy return for the woman who had risen to fame as an activist against the corporations that she now for whatever reason had to rely upon once again. In September of 1848 she left Lowell to care for her sick father and never returned. At this point Bagley’s life lapses again into partial obscurity—some report that she moved to Philadelphia and worked as a social reformer before marrying and moving to upstate New York to practice homeopathic medicine. While there is some evidence to support this story, others have asserted that she in fact dropped completely from the historical record after 1848. Her date of death is unknown.

(B) The Lowell Mill Girls Go on Strike (1836)

by Harriet Hanson Robinson

Source: Harriet Hanson Robinson, Loom and Spindle or Life Among the Early Mill Girls (New York, T. Y. Crowell, 1898), 83–86. http://hti.osu.edu/sites/hti.osu.edu/files/Harriet-Robinson-account.pdf

A group of Boston capitalists built a major textile manufacturing center in Lowell, Massachusetts, in the second quarter of the 19th century. The first factories recruited women from rural New England as their labor force. These young women, far from home, lived in rows of boardinghouses adjacent to the growing number of mills. The industrial production of textiles was highly profitable, and the number of factories in Lowell and other mill towns increased. More mills led to overproduction, which led to a drop in prices and profits. Mill owners reduced wages and speeded up the pace of work. The young female operatives organized to protest these wage cuts in 1834 and 1836. Harriet Hanson Robinson was one of those factory operatives; she began work in Lowell at the age of ten, later becoming an author and advocate of women’s suffrage. In 1898 she published Loom and Spindle, a memoir of her Lowell experiences, where she recounted the strike of 1836.

One of the first strikes of cotton-factory operatives that ever took place in this country was that in Lowell, in October, 1836. When it was announced that the wages were to be cut down, great indignation was felt, and it was decided to strike, en masse. This was done. The mills were shut down, and the girls went in procession from their several corporations to the “grove” on Chapel Hill, and listened to “incendiary” speeches from early labor reformers.

One of the girls stood on a pump, and gave vent to the feelings of her companions in a neat speech, declaring that it was their duty to resist all attempts at cutting down the wages. This was the first time a woman had spoken in public in Lowell, and the event caused surprise and consternation among her audience.

Cutting down the wages was not their only grievance, nor the only cause of this strike. Hitherto the corporations had paid twenty—five cents a week towards the board of each operative, and now it was their purpose to have the girls pay the sum; and this, in addition to the cut in the wages, would make a difference of at least one dollar a week. It was estimated that as many as twelve or fifteen hundred girls turned out, and walked in procession through the streets. They had neither flags nor music, but sang songs, a favorite (but rather inappropriate) one being a parody on “I won’t be a nun.”

“Oh! isn’t it a pity, such a pretty girl as I-

Should be sent to the factory to pine away and die?

Oh ! I cannot be a slave,

I will not be a slave,

For I’m so fond of liberty

That I cannot be a slave.”

My own recollection of this first strike (or “turn out” as it was called) is very vivid. I worked in a lower room, where I had heard the proposed strike fully, if not vehemently, discussed; I had been an ardent listener to what was said against this attempt at “oppression” on the part of the corporation, and naturally I took sides with the strikers. When the day came on which the girls were to turn out, those in the upper rooms started first, and so many of them left that our mill was at once shut down. Then, when the girls in my room stood irresolute, uncertain what to do, asking each other, “Would you?” or “Shall we turn out?” and not one of them 1laving the courage to lead off, I, who began to think they would not go out, after all their talk, became impatient, and started on ahead, saying, with childish bravado, “I don’t care what you do, I am going to turn out, whether any one else does or not;‘’ and I marched out, and was followed by the others.

As I looked back at the long line that followed me, I was more proud than I have ever been since at any success I may have achieved, and more proud than I shall ever be again until my own beloved State gives to its women citizens the right of suffrage.

The agent of the corporation where I then worked took some small revenges on the supposed ringleaders; on the principle of sending the weaker to the wall, my mother was turned away from her boarding-house, that functionary saying,” Mrs. Hanson, you could not prevent the older girls from turning out, but your daughter is a child, and her you could control.”

It is hardly necessary to say that so far as results were concerned this strike did no good. The dissatisfaction of the operatives subsided, or burned itself out, and though the authorities did not accede to their demands, the majority returned to their work, and the corporation went on cutting down the wages.

And after a time, as the wages became more and more reduced, the best portion of the girls left and went to their homes, or to the other employments that were fast opening to women, until there were very few of the old guard left; and thus the status of the factory population of New England gradually became what we know it to be to-day.

Note: Harriet Robinson worked in the Lowell Mills intermittently from 1835 to 1848. She was 10 when she started at the mills and 23 when she left them to marry. Presumably, she wrote this account in the 1890s, for it was published in her Loom and Spindle; or, Life among the Early Mill Girls in 1898.

 (C) Factory Girls Described by Harriet Hanson Robinson

Source: https://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/robinsonfactgirls.html

“When I look back into the factory life of fifty or sixty years ago, I do not see what is called “a class” of young men and women going to and from their daily work, like so many ants that cannot be distinguished one from another; I see them as individuals, with personalities of their own. This one has about her the atmosphere of her early home. That one is impelled by a strong and noble purpose. The other,—what she is, has been an influence for good to me and to all womankind. 

Yet they were a class of factory operatives, and were spoken of (as the same class is spoken of now) as a set of persons who earned their daily bread, whose condition was fixed, and who must continue to spin and to weave to the end of their natural existence. Nothing but this was expected of them, and they were not supposed to be capable of social or mental improvement. That they could be educated and developed into something more than work-people, was an idea that had not yet entered the public mind. So little does one class of persons really know about the thoughts and aspirations of another! It was the good fortune of these early mill-girls to teach the people of that time that this sort of labor is not degrading; that the operative is not only “capable of virtue,” but also capable of self-cultivation. 

At the time the Lowell cotton-mills were started, the factory girl was the lowest among women. In England, and in France particularly, great injustice had been done to her real character; she was represented as subjected to influences that could not fail to destroy her purity and self-respect. In the eyes of her overseer she was but a brute, slave, to be beaten, pinched, and pushed about. 

It was to overcome this prejudice that such high wages had been offered to women that they might be induced to become mill-girls, in spice of the opprobrium that still clung to this “degrading occupation.” At first only a few came; for, though tempted by the high wages to be regularly paid in “cash,” there were many who still preferred to go on working at some more genteel employment at seventy-five cents a week and their board. 

But in a short time the prejudice against the factory labor wore away, and the Lowell mills became filled with blooming and energetic New England women. They were naturally intelligent, had mother-wit, and fell easily into the ways of their new life. They soon began to associate with those who formed the community in which they had come to live, and were invited to their houses. They went to the same church, and sometimes married into some of the best families. Or if they returned to their secluded homes again, instead of being looked down upon as “factory girls” by the squire’s or lawyer’s family, they were more often welcomed as coming from the metropolis, bringing new fashions, new books, and new ideas with them. 

In 1831 Lowell was little more than a factory village. Several corporations were started, and the cotton-mills belonging to them were building. Help was in great demand; and the stories were told all over the country of the new factory town, and the high wages that were offered to all classes of work-people,—stories that reached the ears of mechanics’ and farmers’ sons, and gave new life to lonely and dependent women in distant towns and farmhouses. Into this Yankee El Dorado, these needy people began to pour by the various modes of travel known to those slow old days. The stage-coach and the canal-boat came every day, always filled with the new recruits for this army of useful people. The mechanic and machinist came, each with his home-made chest of tools, and oftentimes his wife and little ones. The widow came with her little flock of scanty housekeeping goods to open a boarding-house or variety store, and so provided a home for her fatherless children. Many farmers’ daughters came to earn money to complete their wedding outfit, or buy the bride’s share of housekeeping articles. 

Women with past histories came, to hide their griefs and their identity, and to earn an honest living in the “sweat of their brow.” Single young men came, full of hope and life, to get money for an education, or to lift the mortgage from the home-farm. Troops of young girls came by stages and baggage-wagons, men often being employed to go to other States and to Canada, to collect them at so much a head, and deliver them to the factories…. 

These country girls had queer names, which added to the singularity of their appearance. Samantha, Triphena, Plumy, Kezia, Aseneth, Elgardy, Leafy, Ruhamah, Lovey, Almaretta, Sarepta, and Flotilla were among them. 

Their dialect was also very peculiar. On the broken English and Scotch of their ancestors was ingrafted the nasal Yankee twang; so that many of them, when they had just come down, spoke a language almost unintelligible. But the severe discipline and ridicule which met them was as good as a school education, and they were soon taught the “city way of speaking”…

(D) Letter from Mary Paul to her Family (1845)

https://www.albany.edu/history/history316/MaryPaulLetters.html

“I received your letter on Thursday the 14th with much pleasure. I am well which is one comfort. My life and health are spared while others are cut off. Last Thursday one girl fell down and broke her neck which caused instant death. She was going in or coming out of the mill and slipped down it being very icy. The same day a man was killed by the [railroad] cars. Another had nearly all of his ribs broken. Another was nearly killed by falling down and having a bale of cotton fall on him. Last Tuesday we were paid. In all I had six dollars and sixty cents paid $4.68 for board. With the rest I got me a pair of rubbers and a pair of 50.cts shoes. Next payment I am to have a dollar a week beside my board. We have not had much snow the deepest being not more than 4 inches. It has been very warm for winter. Perhaps you would like something about our regulations about going in and coming out of the mill. At 5 o’clock in the morning the bell rings for the folks to get up and get breakfast. At half past six it rings for the girls to get up and at seven they are called into the mill. At half past 12 we have dinner are called back again at one and stay till half past seven. I get along very well with my work. I can doff as fast as any girl in our room. I think I shall have frames before long. The usual time allowed for learning is six months but I think I shall have frames before I have been in three as I get along so fast. I think that the factory is the best place for me and if any girl wants employment I advise them to come to Lowell. Tell Harriet that though she does not hear from me she is not forgotten. I have little time to devote to writing that I cannot write all I want to. There are half a dozen letters which I ought to write to day but I have not time. Tell Harriet I send my love to her and all of the girls. Give my love to Mrs. Clement. Tell Henry this will answer for him and you too for this time.”

Historic New York: Hudson Valley History Lessons

Historic New York: Hudson Valley History Lessons

Debra Bruno

Edited and reprinted with permission from the Washington Post magazine, July 22, 2020.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/magazine/2020/07/22/after-i-discovered-that-my-ancestors-had-enslaved-people-i-connected-with-descendant-those-who-were-enslaved/?arc404=true

I didn’t know much about my Dutch ancestry when I was growing up in New York’s Hudson Valley in the 1960s and ’70s. I thought of myself as Italian. My father was the second son of an immigrant named Pasquale Bruno, who had made his way to New York as a teenager from southern Italy’s impoverished Calabria region. Our holidays were feasts of pasta, meatballs and eggplant Parmesan. The smell of tomato sauce simmering on a Sunday is all I need to feel at home.

But of course, there is also my mother’s side. Her maiden name is Van Valkenburg. All I really knew about her ancestors was that they had helped settle New Netherland, as New York State and the surrounding territory was called in the 1600s. “Think Rip Van Winkle,” I would tell people about that part of my heritage. The Dutch side, I thought, was more white-bread plain. Yet I did wonder about those Dutch, and when the boom in companies like Ancestry turned millions of Americans into amateur genealogists, I joined the trend and started researching. I imagined I’d find a string of farmers and housewives and shopkeepers and laborers, living modest, quiet lives.

Then one day, scrolling through the Ancestry website, I came upon the 1796 last will and testament of one Isaac Collier, born in 1725 in a place called Loonenburg, which is today named Athens. That’s my hometown. And Collier is my grandmother’s maiden name. Isaac was my five-times-great-grandfather.

Isaac was thinking about his legacy. In his will, the 70-year-old carefully divided his land, working out in precise detail where his property lines extended and to which of his five surviving sons each parcel went. Then he got to other items: to his son Joel, “one other Feather Bed, one Negro Boy named Will and my sorrel mare and sorrel stallion, one wagon and harrow.” To his granddaughter Christina Spoor went a “negro wench named Marie.”

“The remains of my negro slaves male and female,” I read, were to be “equally divided” among his remaining sons and one grandson, “share and share alike.”

I sat very still. This will, written in a beautiful, sweeping script, with elegant phrases like “whenever it shall please the Almighty to take me to himself,” hit me with a gut punch. Here was a man blithely imagining his reception into heaven while painstakingly leaving this permanent record of sin.

Here, in the branches of my family tree, was incontrovertible evidence that my Dutch ancestors weren’t just innocent farmers. That I was the descendant of people who enslaved others. How could this be? Growing up in the North, I’d rarely thought about slavery, and the civil rights struggles of the 1960s seemed as distant as the moon landing. But suddenly, slavery was as real as the rolling hills beside the Hudson River that flowed past my parents’ home. Suddenly, my sense of Northern disengagement from our country’s original sin was snapped away.

As a child, I’d learned nothing about New York state’s history of slavery. I didn’t even know that there had been enslaved people in the North. We weren’t like those racist Southerners, or so we thought.

In elementary school, we took the requisite trips to places like the Bronck House in Coxsackie, built in 1663 for one of the region’s first families, from whom the Bronx gets its name. Low beams, enormous fireplaces, historians wearing colonial dress. No one mentioned slavery other than in relation to the Civil War, a war that happened elsewhere and much later in history. Northern slavery wasn’t part of our school lessons. Only since about 2016 has New York state slavery been listed as a small part of the seventh-grade social studies curriculum.

Some scholars believe that Northern slavery was deliberately whitewashed from the history books. Leslie M. Harris, a professor of history at Northwestern University and author of “In the Shadow of Slavery: African Americans in New York City, 1626-1863,” says that the idea of a free North that helped end slavery is “one of the most powerful elements of our culture.” Adding in Northern slavery “complicates what is otherwise a simple, heroic story.”

But slavery was not only a powerful institution in New York; it lasted for nearly 200 years there. Not long after colonizing New Netherland in the 1600s, Dutch settlers, needing to fill a labor shortage, began buying enslaved people from traders with the Dutch West India Company. (The Dutch also tried to enslave the Native Americans who lived nearby, but many of them escaped. They also tried using indentured servants imported from Europe, but those people also tended to die very young or run off, according to Historic Hudson Valley, an organization with a website dedicated in part to teaching about slavery in New York. Of course, it was impossible for Africans to blend in and escape in the same way.)

New York was one of the last Northern states to outlaw slavery. But instead of a sudden explosion of freedom, the state passed the Gradual Emancipation Act of 1799, which slow-rolled freedom over nearly 30 years. It was a compromise measure designed to placate the Dutch farmers reluctant to give up their property.

My roots in the mid-Hudson Valley run deep, and now I suspected that if one family in my tree enslaved people, there had to be others. So I dove in. The more I dug, the more enslavers I found in wills and census records: Hallenbeck, Vosburgh, Van Petten, Van Vechten, Conine, Brandow, Houghtaling and, yes, Bronck.

I also realized that I was not alone. Jonathan Palmer, archivist at the Vedder Research Library in Coxsackie, says that anyone with deep-enough Dutch roots in the region will eventually find enslavers. “For them to have that moment when they confront that is special for me as an archivist,” he says, “for them to stare at a mirror and realize this was the side they were on.”

Castle Garden: An Early Gateway to the United States

Castle Garden: An Early Gateway to the United States

Jenny Ashcraft

Since the founding of the United States, millions of people hoping for a brighter future left their home countries and immigrated to the United States. The number of immigrants increased dramatically after the Civil War with nearly 12 million arriving between 1870-1900. More than 70% of all immigrants entered through New York City. Castle Garden opened in 1855 as the primary immigration processing center and operated as such until Ellis Island’s opening in 1892 (though from 1890-1892, the center was moved to the U.S. Barge Office). These are some of the stories behind some of those immigrants’ arrivals.

Excerpted and adapted from an article “Before Ellis Island: Entering America Through Castle Garden, 1855-1890” by Jenny Ashcraft, https://blog.newspapers.com/before-ellis-island-entering-america-through-castle-garden-1855-1892/

Source: New York Public Library: Drawing c. 1861
1870 Currier and Ives map of Lower Manhattan. Castle Garden is the circular building on the southwest side of the island.
This brief notice, published in 1855 described the arrival experience for immigrants. They registered their names, the amount of money they carried was recorded, and were taken to a bathhouse where up to twenty-four people bathed at the same time, men and women in separate compartments.
An 1884 article in the New York World told the story of Maggie and Mary Slinsby who arrived at Castle Garden from County Tipperary in Ireland. The sisters, aged 9 and 10, traveled alone and were on their way to meet their parents in Urbana, Ohio. The children were wearing cardboard breastplates with their identification.
Prospective immigrants to the United States had to be careful about swindlers who preyed on immigrants unfamiliar with English. This 1884 clipping from the New York Tribune warns of a swindler selling fraudulent railroad tickets.

Documents A-H

A. Sisters Arrive at Castle Garden with Names Painted on Boards Attached Like Breastplates, Boston Globe, September 6, 1884: 4 (reprinted from the New York World)

“Maggie and Mary Slinsby, 9 and 10 years old, from Tipperary, Ireland. arrived at Castle Garden yesterday on the steamer Republic. They are going to their parents in Urbana, O. The most noticeable feature about them was an elaborate, heavy cardboard breast-plate on which the name of each child was neatly printed, evidently by a professional painter. The cards were attached to the body by a profusion of green ribbons. Clerk Kilroy. who took charge of the children, declared the cardboard breast-plates to be “the high – tonedest [sic] affairs he had ever seen at the Garden.”

B. Unaccompanied small children arrive at Castle Garden, The Inter Ocean, Chicago, Illinois, April 17, 1887: 6
“Among the passenger of the steamship Britannic, which arrived at Castle Garden to-day, were two children. James and Annie Morris, 9 and 11 year old. Eight years ago their parent left Ireland to seek fortune in his country. They left their children with a grandmother and recently sent for them. There was no one at the Garden to welcome too children after their long and stormy voyage. Their parents live in Cleveland, Ohio. They were at once notified by telegraph. The children will be cared for at Castle garden until their parents send money for their fare to Cleveland.

C. Three children tagged and shipped to Chicago to meet their father after arriving at Castle Garden, New York Times, August 9, 1887: 3.

“Otto Heinzman, Superintendent of the Castle Garden Landing Bureau, placed tags yesterday on Louisa Schmidt, aged 8, and her brothers, who are twins, several years younger than herself, and shipped them to their father, who resides in Chicago. They arrived at Castle Garden Saturday.”

D. A 10-year-old girl arrives at Castle Garden to reunite with her mother, Boston Globe, September 14, 1887: 4

Among the crowd of immigrants who arrived at Castle Garden today were two more remarkable than the rest. One was a woman over 80 years of age; the other a child of 10. The old woman was going to Elmira to die with her only daughter and two sons. The little girl was on her way to her mother. who is living in Webster, Mass. The two are from the same barony in county Clare, Ireland, but are wholly unknown to each other. The old woman. whose name is Margaret Collins, cannot speak a word of English; but the little girl speaks it with a fluency and vivaciousness that interested everybody in the garden. Her name is Mary Whalen. Twenty-three years ago, Mrs. Collins said, her three children, Patrick. John and Jane, left her and their father to try their fortune in America, and settled in Elmira. Herself and the old man, Pat, remained on the old sod, cultivating the little farm they had held ever since they were married, and on which their children had been born. She received a letter, she said, every Michaelmas. Christmas and Lady day from her children, bringing her money to make herself and the old man comfortable, and to pay the landlord the rent of the little patch of land. But on Lady day last year the old man died, and then she had no one in the old land on whom she could rely. Her children learned of their father’s death and insisted on her coming to this country. One of them, Mrs. Jane Costello, wife of Martin Costello, South Main street, Elmira. is herself a grandmother. As soon as the old lady arrived at Castle Garden word was sent to her children at Elmira, and a grave-looking old gentleman presented himself, stating that he wanted his mother. She was given to him, and be took her away to die amid her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. The other immigrant was born after her father’s death, and, after being nursed for a little over four years by her mother, was left in the care of the nuns at Kilrush. in the County Clare, in which the child was born. Her mother. with her two eider children, boys, at that time immigrated hither and settled in Webster, Mass. Mrs. Whalen worked as a dressmaker and nut her two boys to the tailoring business, and will now be happy in the possession of her little daughter.”

E. “To Meet Her Lover,” The Oakes Times, Oakes, North Dakota, December 12, 1890: 5.

At 5:30 in the morning a well-dressed young woman arrived in Utica from Castle Garden. He had come all this way from a place in western Russia, and was on her way to meet her lover in Duluth, Minn., who had left her two years before to find a home for both of them in the New World. He went to Duluth and became fairly prosperous. As soon as he was able he wrote to his sweetheart and urged her to come to him, but the age and sickness of her parents kept her in Russia until this year. Both her parents having died, the young man sent her tickets to bring her to America, with what was supposed to be sufficient money for the journey. The young woman began her journey more than a month ago, and when she arrived at Castle Garden thought she must be within a few hours’ journey of her friend. She came on to Utica, as stated, and was taken to the Central depot, whence she was to proceed on her journey by another train. She waited about the depot all day, and at night in broken German told Leonard Pruey, the baggage master, that she had not had anything to eat all day, and had only twenty cents in her purse. When she had recited the whole story, and Mr. Pruey told her that instead of a few hours she would yet have several days of travel, her distress was pitiful. The kind hearted baggageman promised to do all he could for her, and began his ministrations by giving her a square meal. He then interested himself in bettering her financial condition, and told Conductor John Unser, of Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg, about it. Mr. Unser was bound north with his train and made no promises, but early the next morning when he came to Utica again, he gave Mr. Pruey a purse of money which he had collected on his train to help the girl on her way. She finally left Utica, after a delay of about twenty-four hours, with a big bag of provisions and many good wishes.”

F. New immigrants visit bathhouse at Castle Garden, New York Times, August 4, 1855: 1.

“Next, the emigrant is shown to the baths. We join the crowd of males that flock in to the right. Here we find a large room, in the centre of which hang several coarse roller towels, and along the side is a deep trough of running Croton. This is the wash-room. Soap abounds- we hope no motives of niggardly economy will ever make it less plenty. Behind a screen that reaches across the room is the basin for bathing. A dozen or two can be accommodated in it at the same time. Indeed, every facility is granted the new corner, whatever may be his condition on entering it, to leave Castle Garden personally clean. The female bath and wash-room were the counterpart of the male, but as it was in use at the time, we consented to take the statement of our conductor and forego a personal investigation.”

G. “A Pitiful Story, If True,” Oakland Tribune, Oakland, California, January 14, 1879: 3

“An old man yesterday morning appealed to Superintendent Jackson of Castle Garden, for assistance to reach, his home in Hungary. His name is Paul Ostrich, 66 years old. He arrived at Castle Garden, he says, on the steamship Pennsylvania last March, with $500 in money, having been told by immigrant agents in Hungary that he would soon become a wealthy man in America. He was a farmer, and finally hired a few acres of ground in Washington Territory, but on account of lack of rain his crops failed, and he lost everything. He then wandered to San Francisco, and, applying to a German society, was furnished with a ticket to Omaha and $3 in money. Letters were given him by railroad agents in San Francisco to those in Omaha, asking them to help him on, but at Omaha all assistance was refused him. Ostrich then started on foot September 17th for New York, inquiring his way as he went along. With the exception of two nights, when he was entertained by German families, he slept either in the fields or barns. He walked the entire distance to New York barefooted and scantily clothed, his food consisting of bread and pork, which he was able to buy with his small pittance, and which lasted him until a few days ago. Sometimes he picked up a few apples. He could not describe the route by which he came, but remembers passing through Chicago. Upon his arrival here, his limbs were swollen and his feet blistered and sore. Dr. Villaniyi gave him food, doctored his wounds and gave him two dollars. The doctor also took him to a clergyman, who gave him a pair of shoes and a supply of clothing, and then directed him to Castle Garden.

H. A Castle Garden Romance, New York Times, October 1, 1878: 8

“A little over five years ago Michael O’Brien left his wife and four children in Tipperary and came to this country to seek his fortune. For a while he corresponded with and sent money to his family. Suddenly both letters and remittances ceased, and they heard nothing more from him until recently, when his wife received information that he had married again. She immediately resolved to seek him out, and on Wednesday last she and the children landed at Castle Garden from the Bothnia. She knew that he had worked at one time in a dyeing factory at Glenwood, NJ, near Fort Lee; so on Friday she took the boat to the latter place in the hope of tracing him. On the boat she met some persons who knew him, and when they heard her story they directed her to the factory where he was still employed. She walked up to where he was working in ignorance which must have been blissful, and quietly tapped him on the back. She says he confessed his fault with many tears and promised reformation, but she is reticent as to whether any arrangement looking towards a happy reunion was arrived at. The Castle-Garden officials are of the opinion that this is so, and that she is trying to shield him from the consequences of his bigamy and the wrath of her rival.”

Learning Through the Presidency of John F. Kennedy: How We Can Teach the Power of Television and Media

Learning Through the Presidency of John F. Kennedy: How We Can Teach the Power of Television and Media

Jon Iorio

We are living through times as Americans where television and media prove to be dominant in our everyday lives. Even more so, the media, using exposure from the television, have shown they have immeasurable power when it comes to shaping the beliefs and ideals of Americans from all corners of the country. It should be up to us as teachers to begin to include the power of media and television and content because it is hard to ignore the impact both have had on our political landscape as a country. On top of this, presidents have shown that they are more than willing to use television and media to their advantage, especially when it comes to pleasing their base. This happens in the forms of rallies, commercials, press conferences, briefings, and interviews on new channels like Fox News and CNN. I believe that, in order to teach our students about the powers of both entities, we must go back to the president who made them a part of main stream American culture. This requires us to go back and analyze the presidency of none other than John F. Kennedy.

Content in many history classes shine light on many presidents like Abraham Lincoln, the heroics of George Washington, the groundbreaking policies of the New Deal era from Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but John F. Kennedy is held to a different standard. JFK was a president the country lost too soon, that cannot be argued differently. However, he is also a president who has become a sort of mythological creature for many younger-generation Americans, deservedly so. As a man who is often remembered for that dreadful day in Dallas, Texas, I believe it is up to us as teachers to start to move towards a different narrative for Kennedy. Although it is challenging to analyze the presidency of JFK from a policy standpoint, since he just simply did not spend an ample amount of time in the White House, he should be remembered and taught in more ways that just his assassination. John F. Kennedy, through television and media, transformed the job of the presidency. He changed what it meant to be presidential because there had never been a president who had been displayed so much to the American public as Kennedy. Mary Ann Watson, a historian from the University of Michigan in her piece, “A Tour of the White House with Mrs. John F Kennedy”, echoes this sentiment, saying, “the symbiotic bond between television and the occupant of the White House was forever sealed during the Kennedy years” (Watson, 1986). We as teachers have been missing out on a key moment in American history when it comes to the analysis of John F. Kennedy’s presidency. The bond Kennedy created between himself and Americans using television explains the development we have seen play out between presidents and presidential candidates in history. It is time for students to learn about the impact he made.

            If you asked a class full of your students when the last time they saw President Trump or President-Elect Biden on their televisions at home with their families, it could be assumed that many would raise their hands. This is an important development of the presidency that has not always been a part of the job title. While it would be ignorant to say that this would not have happened if not for Kennedy and his presidency, the way he connected to Americans so effectively through the exposure from television and the media created a blue print for every presidential hopeful after him to follow. Take it from Kennedy himself, who said in an address as a senator about the impacts of television on politics, “but for better or worse-and I side with those who feel its net effect can be definitely be for the better, the impact of TV on politics is tremendous” (Kennedy, 1959). Kennedy and the television boom the country experienced throughout the 1960’s created a perfect storm. It effectively begun the relationship we are all so familiar with having with our president or presidential nominee every four years.

            The media in 2020 has seemingly unlimited access to presidents and nominees in the climate we find ourselves in. While this has created a transparency between presidents and citizens, it has also allowed for a dangerous dynamic to be created. Something that is often forgot about Kennedy and his relationship with the media is hypnosis he put many of them under during his time in office. Alice George, author of Awaiting Armageddon, said that, “Kennedy was too responsive to journalist’s opinions, and because he made journalists feel important, they became too susceptible to his charms” (George, 2003, p. 88). It could be said the relationship Kennedy and the press had together became toxic for the well-being of America. Kennedy greatly impacted what they told the American people, which created a lack of transparency for the administration. We have seen this playout with many presidents who succeeded Kennedy.

The current political climate when it comes to media coverage is dangerously partisan, and it seems to be getting worse, not better. Kennedy was insecure at times when it came to what the media was saying about him because he knew his image he had with many Americans was something he could not lose hold of. In Joseph P. Berry Jr.’s book, John F. Kennedy and the Media, he wrote, “despite Kennedy’s cooperation with the media, they sometimes wrote or aired reports with which he disagreed; he would then contact the source to let them know of his displeasure and to seek corrections.” And conversely, “whenever Kennedy read a favorable article about himself, he would not only tell the writer, but would then from memory quote direct phases” (Berry, 2002, p. 59). This type of relationship Kennedy had with the media has become more apparent for presidents in office today. Just in this administration alone, we have seen President Trump call every article or claim from the media he does not like “fake news”, while he will praise a Fox News piece that sheds any type of positive light on himself. This has created a dynamic around the office of the presidency where we cannot take everything we hear from the person in office as fact. This is a dangerous precedent, and one America must get off the path of. Our students must know that this has become a part of the presidency when it comes to trusting what they hear from the media. If they don’t, the political climate will become even more partisan because the younger generation will continuously support the channels and news outlets who are either trying to please or undermine the man in office.

Kennedy and the way he transformed the presidency by use of television and media fundamentally changed what it meant to be President of the United States. Every president after Kennedy has had to juggle both the exposure from television as well as intense scrutiny and judgment from the media. Presidents have dealt with it differently, we have seen some fail like Nixon, and some prosper like Reagan. Students must know about the way Kennedy impacted the presidency by shifting the presidency to a man Americans rarely saw to a man who was a part of their lives. Presidents today have a place in millions of homes across America through television and media exposure, it is time students realize the impact President John F. Kennedy had on this monumental change.

References

Berry, J.P. (2002).  John F. Kennedy and the media: The first television president. Auburn, NY: Legend Books.

George, A.L. (2003). Awaiting Armageddon: How Americans faced the Cuban Missile Crisis. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Kennedy, J.F. (1959). “A Force That Has Changed the Political Scene.” Retrieved from https://www.museum.tv/debateweb/html/equalizer/print/tvguide_jfkforce.htm?

Watson, M.A. (1986). A tour of the White House with Mrs. John F. Kennedy: An international special event. Retrieved from https://archive.org/stream/ERIC_ED295564/ERIC_ED295564_djvu.txt

Neither Here Nor There, So Where Shall I Go?

Neither Here Nor There, So Where Shall I Go?

Michael Gil

The individual care of a group or communities is often the best way to assimilate different demographics within home, school, or other places of safety and inclusion. One day Alicia Hsu, a teacher, was talking to her class about the circumstances of Rosa Parks’ epic stand against discrimination and asked if they were in her situation, what they would do? The children responded in their native dialect and answered, “I would move” (Hsu, 1995, p. 240). To which Mrs. Hsu asks gasping, “You would?  But why?”… “Because,” Tang mumbled, “we do not belong. It is their home. It is their train” (Hsu, 1995, p. 240.  To that effect Hsu wanted to know what went wrong and how she failed to inspire in them the belief that they have a place in a nation of immigrants, a nation to which they belonged for it was their home as well. During the 1800s to 1900s, Chinese immigrants were all but assimilated and cared for equally by their fellow man. As the racial tensions began to stir, many American legislators and policy makers view that the Chinese national character was inferior to that of the white men. This began to affect the children of Chinese immigrants in their ability to assimilate into American society. The primary factors that led to long lasting and profound discrimination against Chinese and Chinese Americans were violence, racial legislation, belief in a superior race, and economic instability. To which the children of Chinese immigrants never saw themselves as Americans as they were constantly reminded of the white man’s world and they are not white men but children from an “alien” race.

Within the field of social studies it is important to understand subjects of sensitivity, particular in areas examining discrimination. Students want and desire to be educated based on the historical content and context of particular stories within American history that concern their own demographic in order to understand their own history and identify with it. Teachers in association are to deliver that content and express the ideas of the time and explain the significance of that very event. For it is within those very explanations and examples given by the instructor that a student readily intakes the subject matter and applies it to social gathers to see if that very old version of history within the U.S still holds true. If not then they are ready to identify signs of unequal treatment as they were informed based on how previously America held very different ideas on how immigrants should be treated. Within this very article seeks to demonstrate and inform instructors on the topic of Anti-Chinese sentiments that led to events such as the Chinese Exclusion Law, violence against Chinese Americans, and developing stereotypes that may continue today within modern American communities (Chung, 2018). The Chinese Exclusion law was used to deny entry to certain status types of Chinese immigrants but soon began to prevent all Chinese immigrants from coming into the United States either as skilled or unskilled laborers (Chinese Exclusion Act, 2009). Americans thought that Chinese immigrants would degrade morale in American communities with opium and gambling while stealing American jobs. The significance of the Chinese Exclusion law was that it allowed anti-Chinese Americans to brand Chinese immigrant families as deviants and pests in the American quality of life. Which prompted many Americans to confront the threat of the so-called new Chinese menace, by any means, to what was seen as an endangerment of their own communities. In relation one of the primary means to discriminate against Chinese immigrants that American citizens used was violence and political interference. These Americans were dubbed Anti-Chinese and used violence and other means to enforce fear in Chinese communities. Americans felt that Chinese immigrants were unsuited for American citizenship to participate in the American way of life. They saw Chinese Americana’s unworthy or unable to positively contribute to American communities and are only capable of stealing from it. The effects of how the treatment of Chinese Americans and the future generations onward demonstrate a change in attitudes in anti-Chinese immigration, thus prompting an essential question. What were the primary factors that led to having a profound impact of discriminatory practices against Chinese Americans and what did the children of those immigrants see themselves as within American culture?

The study of Chinese exclusion from American communities ranges from violence, discrimination, stereotyping, and lack of assimilation for the children of those very immigrants. In the work of Sue Fawn Chung, Chinese Exclusion, the First Bureau of Immigration, and the 1905 Special Chinese Census: Registered, Counted, Arrested, Deported–1892-1906,  she depicts and analyzes the history of the Chinese Exclusion law with the inclusion of the Bureau of Immigration. The Bureau of Immigration primary focus was to find Chinese immigrants with improper documentation and detain them. Chung approaches the topic of Chinese exclusion by gathering evidence in accordance with the United States program created in the 1895 called BI which their primary purpose was to control immigrants, especially Chinese (Chung, 2018). Chung details that due to the BI’s realm of control at the time and enforcement powers involved regulations involved in completely sanctioned naked body search of Chinese immigrants despite knowing that in Chinese culture it was extremely offensive. Chung later argues that the new Chinese Census was an important part of the efforts for the BI to regulate further Chinese immigrants for political and economic reasons (Chung, 2018). That later created an atmosphere of fear as many Chinese immigrants view those very procedures made by the BI and Chinese Census were racially motivated. Finally, the main argument of Sun Fawn Chung was that Chinese immigrants were experiencing massive political struggle as anti-Chinese movements sought to protect American democracy in a nation full of immigrants from the seen Chinese menace.

The place of labor and economic fortune within America is seen by many as a market built and used by the American people. However, in Eddie L. Wong’s, Racial Reconstruction : Black Inclusion, Chinese Exclusion, and the Fictions of Citizenship, he details how planters looked to China as a source for workers and importing them to the United states became known as “coolieism”, they were paid at a lower wage rate then white workers. Wong approaches his historical analysis by using source material from “Senate floor debates to Supreme Court test cases brought by Chinese activists, public anxieties over major shifts in the U.S. industrial landscape and class relations became displaced onto the figure of the Chinese labor immigrant who struggled for inclusion at a time when black freedmen were fighting to redefine citizenship” (Wong, 2015). That very source material helps Wong demonstrate a correlation towards immigration and citizenship troubles in the shadow of Reconstruction. For in the wake of racial exclusion, Wong states “post-emancipation deemed Native and Chinese Americans as unredeemable heathens and morally unfit to participate in America’s manifest Destiny” (Wong, 2015). This philosophy or declaration, directly decides that Chinese Americans are not only a hazard to American communities but unfit to partake in the greater picture in how America will spread itself across the continent. Meaning at the time, minority groups such as Chinese Americans have no desirable historical contribution worthy of note within the grand scheme of how the country will continue to grow and succeed. Thus, removing later generations of Chinese Americans to have any sort of assimilation to look to in order to see themselves as an American, as their culture was denied any sort of worthy contribution to the American way of life. 

The treatment and racial discrimination of Chinese Americans are apparent within American society during the 1800s to 1900s. For during the so called invasion of the coolies was also when the very same Chinese Americans were experiencing discrimination from the American people and legislation out of stereotypical fears and potential lose in American jobs. As the racial tensions began to stir, many American legislators and policy makers viewed that the Chinese national character was inferior to the white man. This began soon to affect the children of Chinese immigrants in their ability to assimilate into American society. The primary factors that led to long lasting and profound effects in discriminatory factors for Chinese Americans were violence, racial legislation, belief in a superior race, and economic instability. To which the children of Chinese immigrants never saw themselves as Americans as they were constantly reminded of the white man’s world and they are not white men but children from an “alien” race.

Nothing further increases the reality of political belief than the law itself to institute and enforce legislation. In the year of 1882 Congress passed a series of laws to exclude Chinese laborers from entering the United States (Meade, 2017, p. 293). Those very series of laws prompted the famous law that barred a single demographic for a century within the United States. The case itself is known as Chae Chan Ping vs. The United States, given the title “Chinese Exclusion” by Justice Stephen Field. The court’s power to regulate immigration to the U.S provided the parameters over a controversial legal debate. During this time in the early 1880s many Americans were clamoring for a sort of theoretical Chinese wall where there would be more guards stationed across major immigration ports and create a new administration to enforce this theoretical Chinese wall in light of the Chinese exclusion law. In relation to this, much of the controversy again stemmed from the association of the loss of jobs within American due to Chinese immigrants taking those very jobs. In terms of how the white laborer can combat this was seen as impossible, “if he would attempt competition with the coolie, and will always be driven from his presence, as cheap currency displaces the better for while it is true that wages are relatively highest on the Pacific Coast, the coolie reduces wages and competes everywhere.” and “White labor will not submit to the degradation of a rivalry with such a competitor, but will either assert its power through the government or be driven from the presence of the coolie altogether” (Meade, 2017). The competition between the two groups was seen as an impossible competition as some employers believed in natural rights to which the employer can choose whomever to engage while hiring including immigrants. Which further increases the case’s importance in and causes discrimination and witch hunting among American citizens to Chinese immigrants.

The identity of a foreign entity brings with them a blank slate of which its only purpose is to be filled with some sort of applicable standard over what they are. In the case of the Chinese immigrants, they were given racial inequality and were branded as pests within their new found American communities. What prompted the legal racial inequality was the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, as those of Asian descent were the first to be barred from entering the United States and prevented them from gaining citizenship. The regulations towards the arrival of Chinese immigrants were those seeking skilled or unskilled labor under the fear of Chinese immigrants infecting the good order of certain localities within the United States. Within the original piece of legal material of the Chinese Exclusion Law states “Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, …… coming of Chinese laborers to the United States be, and the same is hereby, suspended; and during such suspension it shall not be lawful for any Chinese laborer to come, or, having so come after the expiration of said ninety days, to remain within the United States” (Chinese Exclusion Act, 2009). With the outlook of Chinese laborers as poor contributors to American communities and immigrants “stealing” the jobs of deserving Americans, many politicians rode the wave of Chinese exclusion by using 15 sections of Anti-Chinese legislation. By banning the Chinese laborers during the crisis of economic instability, being able to obtain a job lead to one of the primary factors in discriminatory ideas against Chinese Americans.

However, despite supposedly higher job opportunities many Chinese workers and Chinese Americans felt out of place and felt that they were not getting the opportunities they deserve just because they are Chinese. The story of Lawrence Klindt Kentwell, follows a Eurasian of English and Chinese descent who spent his formative years in Hawaii studying to be a lawyer. However due to his Chinese blood, he was excluded from local politics in Hawaii and thus did not have a single chance at entering the legal profession in the United States. The racism he experienced when trying to obtain his natural rights in the United States only made him strongly identify with his Chinese roots, leading him to leave his adopted home in America for good and go to China (Chen, 2019). Due to lack of equal treatment Kentwell felt that it was best to travel back where his roots came from in order to escape unequal treatment and seek better opportunity.  Many Americans saw Chinese people as an inferior group was due to three main reasons such degradation of social standards, habits of filth, and the wage rate. Those very two factors affect social dynamics in American communities as the spreading stereotypes of Chinese immigrants began to warrant them unwanted discrimination and violence. Americans fought back against what they saw as the rise of Chinese immigration to be an invading army that was stealing the resources that they deserve as Americans. In relation to the idea of social standards the overall quality of American living within condensed neighborhoods were given the idea that the Chinese demoralize social instincts and customs. In short, Chinese immigrants would be “inveterate gamblers, opium smokers, bring no families with them, and have reduced prostitution to a system. ……. the Chinese immigrant gambles & deadens his sensibilities by smoking his opium.” (Atchinson, 1894, p. 141).  Those very ideas of foreign born being attributed to America are seen as Anglo-Saxon traditions and continue to still affect it when dealing with attitudes towards immigration from the 1800s and 1900s. For within the Anglo-Saxon tradition sees itself as manifest child of destiny which has been encouraged thought American politics as they accept original various immigrants into their nation Also, shows a key correlation in Chinese American’s, in the face of racial discrimination and legislation, do not feel as if they are American as violence and discriminatory comments are against them. As the legislation and social attitudes change show from the 1800s to 1900s so does how Chinese Americans continue to see themselves.

Chinese Americans had lacked opportunities that were essential to their American way of living. The ability to assimilate into American culture was never properly given to them from the late 1800s to 1900s as many Chinese descendants felt they were alienated within the very nation they were born in. The history of violence, economic instability, discrimination, and alienation drove Chinese American descent and Chinese immigrants to experience hardships that they would not experience otherwise. For the usage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, the denial of civil rights, racism, and stereotyping prompted many Americans to see Chinese immigrants as a pest. Thus undeserving of the American privileges which prompted a few Chinese Americans to shut themselves out of the American way of life as only “true Americans” can experience America or life in the United States altogether. For during the so called invasion of the “coolies” was also when the very same Chinese Americans were experiencing discrimination from the American people and legislation out of stereotypical fears and potential lose in American jobs. Jobs were being rapidly taken by Chinese workers for less pay, thus prompting Americans to view that the Chinese were stealing their jobs. The primary factors that led to long lasting and profound effects in discriminatory factors  for  Chinese  Americans  were  violence,  racial  legislation,  belief  in  a  superior  race, and economic instability. To which the children of Chinese immigrants  never  saw  themselves  as  Americans  as  they  were constantly reminded of the white man’s world and they are not white men but children from an “alien” race. These feelings of lesser worth with the context of historically demographic treatment can leave an impact on a child who is discovering that his or her idea of the world is not all inspiring. Instead, they may see it as a battle for potentially, that someday, discrimination will perhaps resurface if the rights conditions are met. For the instructor’s role within teaching the subject, they must inform students how in certain parts of history there are terrible things that yet to be fully extinguished in our modern society. As such elements of discrimination has yet to leave world and instructors must inform students on that history in order to prevent and bring awareness to discrimination within and outside the classroom.

References 

Atchinson, R.M. (1894). Perils of unrestricted immigration. Retrieved from https://athena.rider.edu:2065/ehost/detail/detail?vid=0&sid=8e8de26b-f1ed-4f46-99e8-cf078e746178%40sdc-v-sessmgr01&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZSZzY29wZT1zaXRl#AN=21213317&db=fth Chen, L. (2019). A mixed-race child’s fate under the Chinese Exclusion Act: Lawrence Kentwell’s fight for inclusion in local politics and legal profession. Asian Pacific American Law Journal, 23(1), 1–17.

Chinese Exclusion Act. (2009). Chinese exclusion act of 1882. Retrieved from https://athena.rider.edu:2063/login.aspx?direct=true&db=mth&AN=21212613&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Chung, S. F. (2018). Chinese exclusion, the first bureau of immigration, and the 1905 special Chinese census: Registered, counted, arrested, deported, 1892-1906. Chinese America: History and Perspectives. Retrieved from https://go.gale.com/ps/anonymous?id=GALE%7CA581024572&sid=googleScholar&v=2.1&it=r&linkaccess=abs&issn=10517642&p=AONE&sw=w

Hsu, A. (1995). It’s our train. Horn Book Magazine, 71(2), 240–246.

Meade, E. (2017). Chinese immigration to the United States, 293. Retrieved from https://athena.rider.edu:2063/login.aspx?direct=true&db=prh&AN=21213081&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Wong, E.L. (2015). Racial Reconstruction : Black inclusion, Chinese exclusion, and the fictions of citizenship. NYU Press.

Enemies in Their Own Homes

Enemies in Their Own Homes

Austin Parrish

“I am the grandson of immigrants from Japan who went to America. Boldly going to a strange new world, seeking new opportunities.”  George Takei, a famous Japanese American actor who is proud of his heritage is also proud to be an American citizen.  Just as his grandparents came to the United States, so did many other Japanese people.  They came to seek opportunities and create a new life for themselves. They wanted to live the American dream, and all was well until the day that will live in infamy, flipped the lives of the Japanese Americans.  After the attack on Pearl Harbor the United States felt that the only things that they could do to prevent further attacks on the United States was to round up the Japanese Americans and put them into internment camps all over the country.  This was heavily backed up by powerful figures in government such as the President and the Secretary of War.  There were those who opposed the idea but the overwhelming push for the Japanese Americans to be put into the internment camps drowned out the opposition.  Japanese Americans became an important part of the economy in a few different states and by removing them all so rapidly it would be extremely detrimental to American’s society.  This paper will argue that it did more harm to the United States socially and economically to put the Japanese Americans into the internment camps.  It cost the United States a lot of money to set up the camps, round up all the Japanese Americans and keep them there for a couple of years.  Socially it was detrimental to the Japanese Americans after they returned home from the Internment camps as they lost everything upon returning home.  The United States felt that they were making the right decision and wanted to make the public feel safe.   To keep the citizens at peace of mind they made the decision to put them in the camps even though it would cost the United States.  Even though the Japanese attacked the United States directly it did not mean that all the Japanese people living in the United States were spies for Japan or had mal intent.

Japanese immigration to the United States started around the 1900s and when they first arrived in the United States their economic status was on par with that of African Americans.  There were many restrictions set on Japanese immigrants, making it difficult for them to be economically successful.  They were not allowed to own any farm land or even lease it in a few different states.  However, according to historian Masao Suzuki, due to their culture and solidarity they were able to be more successful and some considered them an “ideal minority”. In the eyes of the American people the ideal minority was what they were looking for in the immigrants that were coming into the United States.   The idea of “ideal minority” meant that they were helpful to society in that they were able to keep jobs and work hard as well.  The Jewish people were also considered ideal minorities because they shared a similar work ethic because of their culture and the society that they lived in.  However, the neighbors to the Japanese, the Chinese were very hard workers but due to their lifestyle in China most of them were looked down upon and would not fit into American culture as easily as the Japanese did.

Immigrants coming into the United States were usually coming for one reason to work.  In the short time between 1900 and 1940 about 90% of the Japanese population that had come to the United States were working in jobs.  Many of those jobs were unskilled, which included things such as farming, railroad work, mining, and domestic servants.  There was also a small 2% of Japanese Americans that were professionals or proprietors and that only continued to increase and eventually by the 1940s it went up to 18%, the highest of all minorities.  The Japanese were a crucial part of the economy in some states.  Even though they were very productive and contributed to society they were still looked down upon in the eyes of white Americans and were still not seen as equals to the other white minorities.  However, on the day that will live in infamy, December 7th 1941, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor everything changed for the Japanese Americans and their lives were turned upside down.  The view of the Japanese people drastically shifted and led the United States to take immediate action.  Franklin D. Roosevelt the 32nd President of the United States created the Executive Order 9006 which resulted in the internment of the Japanese Americans.  This further alienated the Japanese Americans in the eyes of the American people.  Which had a very negative social impact on the Japanese Americans as well as problems for civil rights in the United States.

The attack on Pearl Harbor stunned Americans and President Franklin D. Roosevelt made a speech December 7th 1941 in response to the attack on Hawaii.  Roosevelt stated “YESTERDAY, December 7th, 1941 a date which will live in infamy the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.” There was civil unrest among the people of the United States as they were scared of the uncertainty that lay ahead of them.  The main reason behind the President creating the Executive Order 9066 was to protect from any form of espionage, to do this he gave power to the Secretary of War.   He was given the power to evacuate the Japanese Americans from their homes and bring them into military controlled camps.  The Japanese Americans were uprooted from their homes and were only allowed to bring with them what they could carry.  Even though there was much support from influential members of the government for the internment camps there were those such as Governor of Colorado, Ralph L. Carr, who were very much against the idea.  An American General by the name of DeWitt states that “a Japs a Jap… Whether the Jap is a citizen or not”.  This sentiment was the widely accepted view for the American people at that time because of the immediate impact Pearl Harbor had on the population.  This order outraged Carr, who believed that all American citizens, regardless of race or ethnicity, should be guaranteed their constitutional rights.  Even though there was support against the internment of Japanese Americans there was not enough to free them from the camps.

This paper will be delving into the social and economic effects of putting the Japanese Americans into the internment camps.  The United States had done more harm to itself socially and economically by putting the Japanese Americans in the camps.  It will discuss the social changes that occurred when the Japanese citizens were vacated from their homes.  The paper will also take into consideration the economic effects of removing the Japanese Americans from their homes and into the camps.  From the jobs that the Japanese Americans were doing, to feeding them in the camps, setting up the camps, and giving retribution for what they had lost as well.  The paper will also take into consideration the reasoning for the Japanese being put into the internment camps and the possible positive outcomes.

In the years leading up to the United States entering World War II because of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese American population started to assimilate into American society.  Japanese American families made the United States into their home just as George Takei’s mother and father did.  Prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor Takei’s family had been living comfortably in Los Angeles and were even celebrating the American holiday of Christmas because they felt as though they were truly American citizens.  After the attack on Pearl Harbor the morning after, the Takei family’s car was smashed and painted on saying “Get out Japs”This act of vandalism shows how the call for internment caused problems socially on a whole other level because the act of hatred made it seem as though all Americans were against the Japanese.  Which was a very backwards way to try and rally the people because it made the Japanese Americans feel as though they cannot be trusted even though in some cases families had been living in the United States for multiple generations. This incident was incited by the speech that President Franklin D. Roosevelt gave after it was reported that the Japanese were the ones behind the attack.  His speech and call for congress to go to action further alienated the Japanese Americans in the eyes of the American people.  Socially for the Japanese Americans they now felt as if they were enemies in their own home, that even though they were tax paying Americans they were considered the enemy.  The claim was that they wanted to avoid something of the magnitude of Pearl Harbor to happen again and they felt that it was the best thing to do to make the American people feel most safe.

The internment of the Japanese Americans was truly unjustified as it was discovered that there was no real threat of Japanese Americans attacking the country.  Under the order of the President there was a man by the name of Curtis B. Munson and he was tasked with gathering intelligence on the loyalty of the Japanese Americans.  His research concluded that the Japanese Americans were loyal and would pose little threat to the United States.  He said that “There is no Japanese `problem’ on the Coast … There is far more danger from Communists and people of the Bridges type on the Coast than there is from Japanese.” The report goes into the different generations and how each of them are loyal to the United States, the first generation of Japanese Americans who are around 55-65 may romantically be connected to Japan but he goes on to say how their loyalty to Japan has been severely weakened because they have chosen to leave Japan.  Munson had written in his report that “they have chosen to make this their home and have brought up their children here. They expect to die here. They are quite fearful of being put in a concentration camp. Many would take out American citizenship if allowed to do so.” This is where socially for the United States wanting to intern their own citizens continues to cause problems for them.  What the United States described as “model minorities” are being attacked and the minorities are in fear of their own government which was reason enough to want to leave.  Even though what the government planned to do was a large civil rights issue, they felt as though they were doing the right thing as there is always a need to defend one’s country.   From the report there was a generation of Japanese Americans that the government did feel they needed to watch.  The younger generation that had been taught their early years in Japan and then had come to the United States however, even they were considered to be no real threat.  This showed that the main reason for the United States to call for the internment of Japanese Americans, was really not backed by much evidence besides that they were being over cautious.  Which leads to the idea that there was a deeper cause for the internment of the Japanese Americans rooted in a racial bias.  If the United States government had truly taken account of the report they could have avoided the social repercussions for what they had done prior to the Japanese Americans being released.  The United States government waited seventy-four days after the attack on Pearl Harbor to take action against the Japanese Americans calling for Executive order 9066 in which the government gave the call to intern the Japanese Americans in camps across the country.

Executive Order 9066 was detrimental to American society because it took away American citizens’ civil liberties. The order was a big step backwards in the case of civil rights which only led to further problems in the future socially for the United States.  The order gave permission to “the Secretary of War and the said Military Commanders to take such other steps as he or the appropriate Military Commander may deem advisable to enforce compliance with the restrictions applicable to each Military area hereinabove authorized to be designated, including the use of federal troops and other federal agencies, with authority to accept assistance of state and local agencies.”.  The President gave the military power to handle the situation and for them to take the lead in putting the Japanese into the internment camps.  Japanese Americans had no intention of revolting but were still going to be put into the camps and the Americans were now faced with interning over 100,000 Japanese Americans and keeping them in a camp for over two years.  This order proves to show that there would be social repercussions for going about this in the wrong way.  By giving the military the job of interning the Japanese Americans it made them feel far more alienated.  As they would really no longer be true American citizens as all their civil liberties are being stripped away. 

The issue for the United States would be that they have to pay the workers for filling in for the Japanese workers but the problem was that the employers now have to pay the workers more money.  This was not beneficial to the businesses and or the economy of the United States as now the businesses could not make as much money.  This shows another way that the United States caused harm to itself for interning the Japanese Americans.  There was more of a negative impact economically for the white Americans that owned the farm and business but also for those people who were buying from them as well.  Since they had to pay the workers more, that means that had to increase the price for the food or labor that was being supplied.  California was highly populated by the Japanese so they were most heavily affected by the sudden disappearance of the Japanese workers on their farms.  

The Japanese Americans at that time were responsible for the production of almost 40% of the agricultural growth in California.  California was hit hard when a sudden disappearance of workers stunted the amount of agriculture that California was producing.  An interview done with a man who had been in the internment camps states that “At 98, Riichi Fuwa doesn’t remember his Social Security number, but he remembers this: “19949. That was my number the government gave me,” he said. “19949. You were more number than name.”.  The assigning of the numbers to the people rather than using their own names was another thing that caused problems for the Japanese socially.  As this was a practice used to dehumanize people and was used even by the Nazi’s in their internment camps.  However, there is no comparison to what went on in Germany and there is no intent to really compare them in any way.  Fuwa was assigned that number when he arrived at the camp when he was 24 years old and when he arrived he saw “Rows and rows and rows of these buildings, We were inside the barbed-wire fence, the armed guard towers. We couldn’t walk out of the enclosure. I might get shot.” He remembered thinking, “Hey, I’m an American citizen! Now I’m the one being hunted.”.  It was noted that they paid the Japanese Americans and that depended on each of the camps but in the one Fuwa was working they paid them twelve dollars a month which was barely anything compared to what they were paid outside of the camps.   This was a struggle both economically and socially for the Japanese Americans as they were losing money while being in the camps for so long, and also being dehumanized in these camps.  They were treated almost as live stock and they had most if not all of their civil rights taken away.  This maltreatment of the Japanese Americans left a lasting impact on these citizens and would not soon forget.

When the Japanese Americans were brought to the camps they were forced to leave everything behind including their homes and business.  They were given time to gather what they could carry and told that they would be taken to the camps to live until they would be released.  The United States decided that they would buy the Japanese Americans homes and businesses from them, however they were paying almost nothing and they had no choice but to accept it.  The United States was able to take advantage of the Japanese Americans once again they were able to buy land and homes from that at extremely low prices.  This caused problems for the Japanese Americans after they had left the internment camps.  They did not know what their future would be like after they had left the internment camps because they no longer had a home, their business, or their job.  This would lead to more social problems for the United States as it was unfair the way they were treated which would lead to reparations causing issues for the United States economically.

This court case is evidence to support the United States facing social repercussions and many more issues.  The first court case was between Kiyoshi Hirabayashi v. United States, which started May 10th 1943 and finished June 21st 1943.  Kiyoshi was convicted of violating a curfew and relocation order.  This happened during the time the Japanese Americans were being put into the internment camps and laws were being enforced against them.  They were not given the option to leave their home and many Japanese Americans did not feel they should have to leave and that is what ultimately caused this court case to begin.  The reason this court case was so important was because they were looking at whether or not the President’s executive order and the power delegated to the military authorities discriminate against Americans and resident aliens of Japanese descent.  These actions that had taken place were violating their Fifth Amendment rights.  This court case goes to argue that the United States was taking advantage of their power and caused problems with its own citizens by taking away many of the Japanese American’s rights.  By having put them in the internment camps and even charging the Japanese for breaking their new laws showed just how poorly this was handled and the error that they made in making the internment camps in the first place. However, the United States government found the President’s actions to be constitutional, claiming that the relocation and curfew laws put in were okay.  The reasoning behind the court decision had to do with the fact that much of the military supplies were being built on the west coast and it would be in the best interest for the United States to make sure the Japanese Americans could not go near them.  During the case they ducked the idea of relocation as they really had no answer for that and really only focused on the curfew aspect.  This shows how the internment continued to cause issues socially for the Japanese Americans and that their problems with the internment were getting pushed aside rather than listened which would lead to another court case that happened a year after.  This court case ended quite quickly as the United States government knew what they were doing was wrong and truly unjustified as seen by the Munson Report.  This issue of relocation would turn into something much more, as civil rights issues were starting to sprout up at this time.  Due to the war however much of this was swept under the carpet only to reappear after the war’s end.  

This case like the prior one discusses the social issues that were caused by the internment of the Japanese Americans.  It was about a Japanese-American man living in San Leandro, Fred Korematsu, chose to stay at his residence rather than obey the order to relocate.  Korematsu was arrested and convicted of violating the order.  He responded by arguing that Executive Order 9066 violated the Fifth Amendment.  The court case was important because of the fact that this was similar to the prior court case in that it was affecting the Japanese Americans in a negative aspect once again.  It showed that more Japanese Americans believed that they were citizens just like everyone else and that they had certain rights that should not have been taken away from them.  This affected the United States in the social end because this angered many Japanese Americans who were very much in support of America to feel alienated and eventually move into support for the civil rights push after they were released from the internment camps.  In an opinion written by Justice Black, the Court ruled that the evacuation order violated by Korematsu was valid. The majority found that the Executive Order did not show racial prejudice but rather responded to the strategic imperative of keeping the U.S. and particularly the West Coast, which is the closest region to Japan, secure from invasion. The Court relied heavily on a 1943 decision, Hirabayashi v. U.S., which addressed similar issues. Black argued that the validation of the military’s decision by Congress merited even more deference.  Justice Frankfurter concurred, writing that the “martial necessity arising from the danger of espionage and sabotage” warranted the military’s evacuation order.  Justice Jackson who disagreed, argued that the exclusion order legitimized racism that violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. There were swaying opinions on the case but ultimately met the same fate as the last one so not much was accomplished for the Japanese Americans but this only seemed to cause more problems for the United States.  

These two court cases truly are some of the stronger documents as they give extremely valid arguments against the relocation and internment of the Japanese Americans.  It is clear to the common people that their civil liberties are being violated and the executive order and curfew are in direct violation of the Fifth Amendment, as the Japanese Americans were not given fair trial before really in a sense being sentenced to jail.  There was no evidence given to be able to do such a massive thing, such as relocation of an entire ethnic group.  They had done research “The Munson Report” that the Japanese Americans in fact were not a threat to the United States in any way.  They had no need to fear the Japanese Americans would do any harm to the United States and even though California had the largest population of Japanese Americans the report showed that even they really had nothing to fear.  They made the claim that they were protecting the production aspect of California and that it is in fact the closest to Japan; this was still not a good enough reason for them to have to relocate.  Even by putting them in internment camps that did not affect the fact that they could still be attacked by the Japanese directly.  It is not as if the Japanese did not know where California is.

Even with those trying to fight for the Japanese Americans no real change was seen until much later on after the war finished with Proclamation 4417.   President Gerald R. Ford’s Proclamation 4417 confirmed the termination of the Executive order that authorized the Japanese American’s internment during World War II.  This took place February 19th, 1976.  This was the first step taken by the United States to begin to attempt to make up for what they did to the Japanese American population.  The President said “that we have learned from the tragedy of that long-ago experience forever to treasure liberty and justice for each individual American, and resolve that this kind of action shall never again be repeated.”.  The government now acknowledges what they had done goes against the ideals of a democracy.  This Proclamation goes into prove the argument that the United States by putting the Japanese Americans in internment camps only caused the society more harm and hurt the belief that many Japanese Americans had about the United States.  Not much longer after that, there were a string of new bills that go onto try and pay back the Japanese Americans for what they went through including the Civil Liberties Act of 1987 and the amendments made to it not much long after.  There was also the Japanese claims act which had to do with both the economic effects as well as the social, as the Japanese Americans had lost everything upon returning to their homes after they had been released by the American government.  

The Japanese claim act was a very important act that was created in order to give compensation to the Japanese Americans after they had left the internment camps.  The Japanese Americans had everything they had taken from them and when they got out they pretty much had no money, a place to live, or a job.  This act was extremely detrimental to the United States government as they had to give up a lot of money to pay back what they had taken from them.  However, not every Japanese American filed for the compensation.  There were 26,550 claims made and each claim was supposed to be given about $20,000.   Which ended up being around 36 million in reparations paid which in today’s money is a little over 4 billion dollars.  While this was not a huge sum of money, it was still a lump sum that could have been used in other ways besides having to pay reparations.  These payments not only affected them economically but impacted them socially as well.  This was really not enough money to give back to the Japanese Americans as they had lost everything and $20,000 would not buy back their homes, business and cars.

The Civil Liberties Act of 1987 was introduced January 1st, 1987 and was done by the House and the Judiciary branches of the government.  These two were the committee responsible for the law.  The Act declares a few different things including that  a grave injustice was done to citizens and permanent resident aliens of Japanese ancestry by the evacuation, relocation, and internment of civilians during World War II; (2) these actions were without security reasons and without any acts of espionage or sabotage documented by the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, and were motivated by racial prejudice, wartime hysteria, and a failure of political leadership; (3) the excluded individuals suffered enormous damages for which appropriate compensation has not been made; and (4) the Congress apologizes on behalf of the Nation.

The United States was faced with a difficult decision after the infamous day of the attack on Pearl Harbor.  However, the choice they made to intern the Japanese Americans had far more negative effects than they originally thought.  It affected the United States both socially and economically, while it did not affect it as economically as originally believed it still had a negative impact on the United States.   The United States was able to take advantage of the field work that the Japanese Americans were doing by selling excess crops and food to the free market while this did help the government.  It really only harmed the common American farmer who had lost workers to go work on other farms.  They also took advantage of the fact, that after they would be released, they now knew of more government owned farm land that they could use or sell. The real effect was felt socially by the Japanese Americans until reparations and acts had been put into place to make up for what had been done.  The United States government going on to openly say what they had done back then was wrong and to try and amend for what they had done strengthens the argument that they had done more harm both economically and socially to the United States.

References:

Daniels, R. (2004). Prisoners without trial: Japanese Americans in World War II. Hill and Wang.

Legal Information Institute. (n.d.). Toyosaburo Korematsu v. United States vol. 22, 11 Oct. 1944. Retrieved from www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/323/214.

Morehouse, L., and Fuwa, R. (2017). Farming behind barbed wire: Japanese-Americans remember WWII incarceration. NPR. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2017/02/19/515822019/farming-behind-barbed-wire-japanese-americans-remember-wwii-incarceration

Munson, C.B. (1941). Munson Report. Retrieved from https://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/active_learning/explorations/japanese_internment/munson_report.cfm

Nagata, D. (2015). Processing cultural trauma: Intergenerational effects of the Japanese American incarceration. Journal of Social Issues, 71 (2), 356-370.

Parrish, A.E., and Cole, H.L. (1999). The Great Depression in the United States from a neoclassical perspective. Quarterly Review, 23 (1).

Ray, M. (2018). Executive Order 9066. Britannica.  Retrieved from www.britannica.com/topic/Executive-Order-9066.

Robinson, G. (2003). By order of the president: FDR and the internment of Japanese Americans. Harvard University Press.

Robinson, G. (2011). A tragedy of democracy: Japanese confinement in North America. Columbia University Press.

Suzuki, M. (2002). Selective immigration and ethnic economic achievement: Japanese Americans before World War II. Explorations in Economic History, 39 (3), 254–277.

Takei, G. (2020). They called us enemy. Top Shelf Productions.

Taylor, S.C. (2013). Japanese Americans, From Relocation to Redress. University of Washington Press: Seattle, WA.

U.S. Bureau of the Census. (1904), Occupations at the twelfth census. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office.

The American Flapper Through Media

The American Flapper through Media

Kaitlyn Ford

The American flapper, a “new woman”, a change in society, oftentimes overlooked inside history. The flapper did not provide any legal change for women, did not gain them more political rights in her time. She did something else entirely. The American flapper held change in the role of women, the appearance of women, and the way women were looked at inside society. Their power was in their style, their actions, and the culture time period they lived in. When it comes to teaching the flapper, she many times will be brushed over and not paid enough attention. Inside this paper, I will explain a way to place the flapper inside the social studies classroom that will be engaging for the students.

            The flapper emerged during a time in American history where much of society and culture was undergoing change. Historians Kathleen Drowne and Patrick Huber wrote “According to many historians, the Jazz Age marked the birth of Modern America” (Drowne & Huber, 2004). Meaning that during this time considered “the Jazz Age” is what truly began what many consider to be modern American, many of our modern themes came about and can be traced to begin with this time period in America. This time period in American history was one of change, prosperity, and modernization. Many people look here and can see the beginning of the modern times Americans would soon enjoy. So, what exactly happened in this time? A positive aspect of the 20s was the consumer culture. In 1922 the economy had a reboot due to consumer goods being manufactured in industries (Drowne & Huber, 2004). This made products faster, easier, and cheaper. More people would be able to afford a top since it was mass produced by machines. One major reason for consumer goods spreading quickly inside America was through the new media. “Consumer goods revolution fueled the nation’s flourishing economy and increasing reliance on new technologies and mass media transformed the daily lives of ordinary Americans” (Drowne & Huber, 2004). The media was able to influence the lives of Americans across states, classes, and genders aiding in influencing this new consumer culture. People began to use the media and technology to grasp what consumer goods they should purchase during this time period. All of this would be useful information to provide for students to prepare them for the flapper and why the media plays a role in her fame. If the students come into the lesson I explain later one, with a background of the consumer culture and the new media outlets for Americans, it can make learning about the flapper better.

            Who was the American flapper? Historian Joshua Zeitz provided a description of the flapper in Flapper. He states “… the notorious character type who bobbed her hair, smoked cigarettes, drank gin, sported short skirts, and passed her evenings in the steamy jazz clubs, where she danced in a shockingly immodest fashion” (Zeitz, 2006). Inside this activity, I am not trying to convince them of who the flapper is or what she is trying to gain, but more so how she became a household name inside America during the 1920s. After taking the time to explain the 1920s, it is time to begin the flapper movement.

            As a way to engage the students and allow them to move about the classroom, you can create a station activity. This would be a group activity but their review will be independent to see each student’s understanding of the material. Throughout the research done around the American flapper, I have been able to find numerous sources from the time period that can help express the flapper. The goal of this activity is to allow the students to engage with the primary sources and develop their own interpretations. Another goal would be for the students to see how the media during this time could change an opinion of a subject, for them to see bias using the flapper as an example. At the end of the lesson, the students should be able to explain the various types of media sources during the 1920s allowed ideas, opinions, and themes to spread throughout America.

            You can add more sources if you deem necessary but for my lesson I have two newspaper sources and three magazine covers from LIFE. Day One will be the introduction to the 1920s and the mass media (as discussed above). For the review and to check for understanding, they will have a brief response to compare the primary sources they interacted with and explain how those sources depicted the flapper and what influence these would have on the American people then. If it is an honors class, it would be useful to also add for them to describe how these sources affect Americans today in comparison to the 1920s.

            The first newspaper was from the Library of Congress. It was a fashion page that describes the latest trends in dressing, shoes, and hats. A famous actress Clara Bow who portrays a flapper in the film “IT” in 1927 is shown modeling her own hat. It was labeled “the latest for girls” (Evening Star, 1927).  The second newspaper was NYS Historic Newspaper. This paper as well was centered on Clara Bow but instead of her fashion, it was her movie “IT” (The Massena Observer, 1927), showing the times the movie was playing at and the theater it was located in. It allowed Americans to find the film easier by simply reading the paper. As well, this paper promotes the film to the people and could influence a person to attend the theater that day. With these two newspapers, it allows the students to interact with the primary source material on their own and come to understand the type of sources written about the flapper during this time.

The three magazine covers by John Held can be found in numerous books such as Carolyn Kitch’s The Girl on the Magazine Cover; The origins of visual stereotypes in American Mass Media. However, these images can also be discovered on the web. The first one “The Sweet Girl Graduate” depicts the flapper with a cap on her head and diploma in her hand. This expresses the view that the American flapper was educated to some degree. It allows the students a different perspective on the flapper from simply the fashion and actress inside the newspaper.

The next magazine cover was labeled “Sitting Pretty”. This picture shows a flapper and dog both sitting. It expressed the dress, appearance and appeal of the flapper to the students. The newspaper did not do a great job at seeing the flapper since it was more grain like, whereas this cartoon makes it more clear. It helps to show just another aspect of the flapper that would be displayed to the American public.

The final magazine to look into was titled “Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks”. This image shows a young flapper dancing with an older man. They both appear to be enjoying their time and having fun. During this Jazz Age, there was music and dancing, this image helped bring that to life. Part of the flapper was going out and having a good time, so to fully understand this flapper, they would need this side as well.

“The Sweet Girl Graduate”
“Sitting Pretty”
“Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks”

For the setup of the lesson. I would create the five stations. Have the desk preorganized with the primary source already at the table, however it would be hidden inside a folder and they would be told not to touch it yet to keep them from being distracted. Then I would start with a Do Now. Personally, I would begin with asking the students what is a flapper. It would be interesting to see what they do and do not know about this term. Then, pass out the paper they will be using for the activity. The first section on their paper will be filled with questions from the 1920s review. I would have, define the consumer culture, what mass media is, and why this period is considered “Modern America”. This way, as they continue through the stations they can reference if needed and can use this after watching the film. Then, after the review, they can begin their stations. They would be given questions to answer at each station. What type of source are you looking at? When was the source created? What is the source attempting to convey or show the reader? How do you think this influenced a person’s view on the flapper? Depending how long the block is would determine how much time they are given at each station. Allow roughly 10 minutes to briefly go over what they learned and their opinions on the primary sources. I would bring up bias at this point in the lesson.

            Overall, the students should be able to use the primary sources and develop their own understanding of how media affected Americans during this time. The students would use the flapper to better understand the media and the power it could have over this time period. As stated before, the flapper is commonly overlooked. However, she can be used to not only show the changing of women inside society and creating a modern woman, but the flapper can also show them how the media played a role inside the lives of Americans.

References

Drowne, K., and Huber, P. (2004), The 1920s: American Pop Culture Through History 3-28.

Evening Star. [volume], (Washington D.C.) September 23, 1927, page 22, Image 22. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn83045462/1927-09-23/ed-1/seq-22/

Kitch, C. (2001), The Girl on the Magazine Cover; The origins of visual stereotypes in American Mass Media, 121-135.

The Massena observer. (Massena, St. Lawrence County, N.Y.) June 2, 1927. Page 12, Image 12. http://nyhistoricnewspapers.org/lccn/sn84031311/1927-06-02/ed-1/seq-12/

The Teachable Idols of the ’60s: Their March Toward Civil Equality

The Teachable Idols of the ‘60’s: Their March towards Civil Equality

Thomas Colantino

2020 will be stamped in history books worldwide. You always wonder when analyzing history what it was like to live in some of the most chaotic time periods. I guess you never realize what it’s like living through history when it is happening around you every day. Teaching history relies on this idea of perspective. Students must be able to not only comprehend the content, but also be able to focus through another lens, which is the ability to put themselves in the situation that is being taught. I feel as though the best way to achieve this is through student engagement. The most important question in education is how to get students to be engaged with the material and to learn the lessons accordingly? For myself, the philosophy is you have to find ways to relate or spark the interests of the student. Schooling, in a repetitive manner can become exceedingly dull and classes can become white noise to students, ESPECIALLY, in the world we live in today. With virtual learning students are partaking in classes sometimes still in bed. There is a plethora of distractions when working from home, so as the educator, the objective is to make the class not only packed with content, but also have the ability to intrigue the students.

            For myself, the best way to pique the interest of students would be to somehow combine a mutual interest and find it in history, or how at least it could correlate. I feel as though my capstone is this happy medium. The entertainment business, of any kind reaches a wide variety of people. Whether it be through film, art, music, or athletics, one of the many outlets connects with someone. So, why wouldn’t you try and incorporate the entertainment business into a lesson. If you could show history through entertainment, potentially students would be more interested to learn that lesson. My capstone centers around the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s, one of the most crucial topics of not only modern America, but American history in general. Yet, with a little twist, I focus on the celebrities of the time period, and how they were able to utilize their platforms to promote change. Not only just working for activists, but also alongside them. With many of the unfortunate events that had transpired over the course of the year in relation to social issues, it was interesting to see which individuals were on the forefront fighting the battle and protesting in the street. In several different cities around the country, several different actors, athletes, etc., flooded the streets with the general civilian voicing their wants and desires. For students, seeing their favorite athlete or musician voicing their opinion for change, could change the student’s perspective and raises interests. As a result, this idea can be depicted also for the Civil Rights Movement. By finding celebrities that chose to fight for the Civil Rights Movement, it creates another avenue for students to stay engaged with the material.

            So how would one go about collaborating the important material in regards of the history aspect of the Civil Rights Movement, and also sparking the interest of students through the entertainment of the era. For myself, I start with the true trailblazers, the ones that’s actions outside of their own profession spoke louder than those within their respected fields. One of the obvious names to start with in this case is Jackie Robinson. Now, Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, well before the 1960s and its decade of civil rights activism, but every lesson has a background section, no? To Segway to a historical standpoint, around this same era, dealing with the same kind of circumstance, Executive Order 9981 (1948), the desegregation of the military declared by President Harry Truman. See, there are connections that can be made. In terms of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s itself, the individuals to stick with are those who worked closely with the activists of the era. Someone like Harry Belafonte, singer by day, activist by night, had a loft in New York City where activists would meet to create rally plans and protests to promote change. Even the idea of the stories that could be shared of activists and celebrities would be intriguing enough for students to work with the material. The overall argument here is that there is knowledge that can be learned from these celebrities and their work towards promoting civil equality.

            To conclude, there were similar arguments I attempted to prove that could be utilized within the classroom. I tried analyzing media sources such as newspapers to see the perception of historical events. The objective here was to see how the events were written and perceived by the general public. This idea derives from how medias portrayal of an event can alter an individual’s viewpoint of that situation.  The influence of the public can be changed through how the media covers the situation. This idea of an influence can also be seen in comparison to those of celebrities and their aurora. Celebrity platforms reach a wide variety of individuals. The way they speak and carry themselves can and does influence their fans. The idea here that I try to create with the Civil Rights Movement is that if the celebrities preach change, then their fans will want change. In closing, the main argument of this work is how important student engagement is. Yes, we bounce around the ideas that are focused within my capstone, but the reason for its importance is how it can provoke interest in students. Every child is entertained by a commodity of life. Why not, as teachers, add the entertainment factor to the classroom and connect it with your lessons? Throughout history there are other aspects that connect history to everyday life. As an example, when teaching the Renaissance, generally professors and educators utilize the art aspect of the movement to pique the interest of their students. The colors, pictures, paintings, etc. help the class visualize the era. How about when teaching the Civil Rights Movement, add the sounds of Bob Dylan and Harry Belafonte, with the words of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X to see the similarities—or just as importantly the differences? Or add the movement of one Muhammad Ali in and outside the ring with the movement of protest marches for civil justice and voting rights in the South during the early stages of Civil Rights Movement. There are many ways to connect, it just takes thinking outside the box to not only teach, but to entertain.