Decision Activity: Joshua Huddy, Monmouth County, 1780

Decision Activity: Joshua Huddy
Shrewsberry, New Jersey, September 1780

My name is Joshua Huddy, and I may only have a few minutes left to live. I am an ardent patriot and the Captain of the Monmouth Militia. I just heard glass break downstairs, and from my window, I can see members of the loyalist “Black Brigade” surrounding my house. I see Colonel Tye, standing about six feet tall, commanding his troops. While I fear no man, I begrudgingly respect the military prowess and fighting ability of Colonel Tye. It almost seemed inevitable that we would meet one day in combat. His infamous raids of Patriot homes and my raids of Loyalist homes in Monmouth County set us on a collision course.

We almost came musket to musket at the Battle of Monmouth. But alas, we are not facing off on the battlefield, but rather, at my home. I am outgunned and outmanned, but I am determined not to go down without a fight. Colonel Tye is demanding that I surrender and come out of my house unarmed. Can I resist? In April, Mr. Russell resisted Colonel Tye, and he was killed. I am sure Colonel Tye and the Loyalists want my blood. In 1777, my men and I dragged Loyalist Stephen Edwards from his home in Shrewsberry and hanged him. The Loyalists have wanted revenge ever since. Can I surrender? Will they kill me? Even if they take me prisoner, that may be worse than death. Rumors abound regarding the treatment of Patriot prisoners of war. Most do not survive. It is only me and my mistress, Lucretia Emmons, home tonight. But I have muskets and I have ammunition. We cannot fight Colonel Tye and his men from Refugeetown alone, but perhaps we can hold them off until members of my Monmouth Militia arrive. However, time is of the essence.

As Colonel Tye and his men surround my home, what should I do?

Be sure to provide reasoning for your response.

  1. Surrender to Colonel Tye and face the consequences of my raids? I may face the hangman’s noose. But I am a Captain of the Monmouth Militia. They may be able to negotiate my release.
  2. Fix my bayonet, load my musket, and go down in a blaze of glory. Even if I am taken down, I will try to take out Colonel Tye, and save my fellow Patriots from his raids.
  3. Defend my home by loading several muskets and placing them at every window. Then move from window to window, firing at Colonel Tye and his men, in an attempt to convince them that I have several soldiers here fighting along my side. This can buy me time until the Monmouth Militia arrives.

After making your decision complete the following extension activity:.

The Monmouth Militia has arrived. Write out your orders for your men to fight against Colonel Tye.

Below is a map of Monmouth County in 1781.

Use this map to answer the following:

1. Locate Shrewsberry on the map and describe the geographic features of the area.

2. Colonel Tye and his men were stationed in “Refugeetown” in Sandy Hook over the course of the American Revolution. Locate Sandy Hook on the map and use the “scale of miles” to determine the distance between Sandy Hook and Shrewsberry.

Decision Activity: William Franklin, Middlesex County, 1776

William Franklin: Like Father, Like Son?

Decision Activity: Middlesex County 1776

            Join or Die? Famous words from my old man in 1754. A little dramatic if you ask me. His message to the colonists was simple: unite, fight against the French and their Native American allies or…die. My dad’s words created negative sentiments for the Native Americans, both during the French and Indian War when they were published, and after. As a loyalist and supporter of the Oneida and Lenape natives in my state of New Jersey, I would ultimately strive to send a different message than my father during the Revolution.

            I wasn’t always a Jersey boy. I was born in Pennsylvania in 1730. I never knew my mother, and I wasn’t born into a life of privilege like my contemporary, George Washington. I referred to my dad earlier-have you figured out yet that it’s Benjamin Franklin? My dad was a successful printer, and turned his attention to politics in the 1750s. He was also an engineer, inventor–you can consider him a renaissance man of sorts. I wanted to be just like him. I followed him everywhere, including to Albany in 1754 where my dad laid out his famous Albany Plan of Union. Part of this plan was to create a colonial alliance during the French and Indian War. My dad created a woodcut of a severed snake that represented the demise of the colonies if unity was not established. Get it? Join. Or die. I know, I know. I mocked the join or die thing just a moment ago. But at the time I supported the sentiments.

            After the French and Indian War, I became the royal governor of New Jersey. Being royal governor meant I was expected to uphold the rules of the British crown. After the Stamp Act, tensions in the colonies were heating up and my dad was becoming more and more anti-British. I on the other hand wanted New Jersey to remain true to King George III.

How can we ensure that a new government will be better than this?

What will we lose in the process?

What if this turns to anarchy?

Because of my sentiments in keeping the royal government unchanged in the colonies, militias made up of Patriots were on to me. I was arrested in June of 1776 in Perth Amboy and there was no hope in keeping New Jersey “loyal” or should I say “irreconcilable” after that. I was jailed in Litchfield, Connecticut, 135 miles away! I guess they were expecting me to sit in my cell and ‘think about what I did,’ but instead I was pardoning Loyalists. Jokes on them! I left the prison two years later, and spent the remaining years during the Revolution in New York City. I continued to have correspondence with King George III, and eventually I returned to England in 1782 as part of a prisoner exchange.

Join or Die. Hm. What was there to “join”?

Supporting Questions/Decisions:

Have you ever gone against the beliefs of your parents or guardians?

What impact did this have on your life?

How did it affect your family members?

How did William’s decision affect his relationship with his father, Benjamin Franklin?


In your opinion, did William make the right decision in supporting the British crown? Do you think this influenced New Jersey’s history?


Is your history book more focused on the Patriot perspective than the Loyalist perspective during the Revolution? If yes, what changes would you make?


Decision Activity: Elizabeth Covenhoven, Monmouth County, 1778

Elizabeth Covenhoven

Decision Activity: Monmouth County, 1778

“What’s a Woman To Do … In Times Like These?”

“These are the times that try men’s souls.”  Those infamous words were echoed throughout the colonies since the publication of Thomas Paine’s American Crisis in December of 1776. But what then, can be said, of us ladies? Women: married, single, daughters, mothers, sisters, and grandmothers. A war where loyalties were drawn, neighbor against neighbor, friend against newly formed foe. And here, especially in New Jersey, the war was always in our backyard. With the colonial victories at Trenton and Princeton in the winter of 1776-1777 it would seem as though Washington’s troops were making some progress toward their campaign for victory. But the British were a tough enemy. They were unrelenting and refused to let a rag-tag group of Patriots win. That’s why it was no surprise to me when I heard the rustlings around town that the British were moving throughout the area on their way to New York, perhaps even stopping in the area of the Monmouth Courthouse, my hometown! (Freehold, New Jersey) This was a scary thought, especially to me, since I had heard rumors of British troops burning down homes, taking animals from the barns, and stealing good supplies, foodstuffs, and other valuables from the colonists!

Those of us ladies that remained were often left on our homesteads, alone, to fend for ourselves in the midst of war. I myself have reared 10 children in a one-room home that has stood on this property at 150 West Main Street for the past 25 years. After our children were grown and gone, my husband William and I built a substantial home with the wealth that our families left us, making it one of the most impressive in Monmouth County. We were also able to purchase some very nice furniture, and of course, a beautiful set of china plates, for entertainment purposes of course. I have worked too hard to lose any of these things!

            I guess by now you’re wondering, who am I? Well, my name is Elizabeth Covenhoven.   My husband William is a 5th generation Dutch-American who roots in Monmouth County date back to 1709.  At the time that the war came through my backyard in 1778, I was 74 years old, left alone to fend for myself alongside my four enslaved persons that lived with me on my property. My husband, unfortunately, was not here at the time that General Clinton passed through, and therefore, I alone had to make tough choices in order to survive. My home and its belongings are all I have. 

What should Elizabeth Covenhoven do in order to survive the British occupation of her hometown? Be sure to provide reasoning for your response. 

  1. RUN. This might be a bit challenging due to her age, but certainly, she can hopefully make it to one of her children’s homes and see if they can offer her protection from the British. That is, if they themselves aren’t already in trouble …
  1. OUTWIT. She realizes the limitations of her age. However, with the help of her enslaved persons, she can most certainly hide what possessions she has in the nearby woods and under the earth. The British certainly can’t be that intuitive to know what she has done …
  1. NEGOTIATE. Certainly, the British can’t be *as bad* as how they are perceived? And besides, she is a wealthy Monmouth County socialite, that could be helpful to tired and hungry soldiers and their officers.
  1. FIGHT. She can attempt to defend her land claims and property with the support of her four enslaved persons. Certainly, she can’t take on the British Army by herself, but she could attempt to not let them into her house to seize her property and possessions or set fire to her home.

After discussing and deciding on your decision, select one of the following activities. Be sure to use support from your knowledge of the time period in order to justify your response:

  1. Write a letter to your husband, William, justifying the choice that you made for survival. Remember that you will need to outline what happened to your possessions, as well as the home.
  1. Write a letter to General Clinton. Make sure that you state your case as to why your home should be spared from invasion/destruction of the British.
  1. Write a letter to General Washington. Explain your case to the General of the Continental Army and ask for any type of retribution that has to deal with what has happened to your homestead.


The Ferguson Brothers Lynchings on Long Island: A Civil Rights Catalyst

The Ferguson Brothers Lynchings on Long Island: A Civil Rights Catalyst (The History Press, 2022) by Christopher Verga

Review by Alan Singer

(Reprinted with permission from New York Almanack)

In a book dedicated to Wilfred Ferguson, the son of Charles Ferguson, teacher and historian Christopher Verga resurrects the story of two Roosevelt, New York brothers killed by a Freeport police officer in 1946. Verga opens The Ferguson Brothers Lynchings on Long Island: A Civil Rights Catalyst with an account of the long history of racism on Long Island and in the Freeport area including Ku Klux Klan activity. The background to the 1946 killings takes up the first third of the book. The book is well researched and referenced with extended quotes from official court documents and newspaper accounts. It is available from Amazon in Kindle and paperback formats.

On February 5, 1946, two African American men, brothers, were shot and killed by a white probationary police officer in Freeport, New York. The officer claimed that the men were part of a group of four, all brothers, who were using “abusive and threatening language” and that one of the men he shot had stated that he had a .45 and was going to use. The officer’s first shot struck 27-year old Charles Ferguson, a World War II veteran, in the heart and killed him instantly. The second shot wounded Joseph Ferguson, aged 20, and then struck Alphonso Ferguson, aged 25, in the head. Charles and Joseph Ferguson were both wearing military uniforms when they were shot. Alphonso Ferguson was taken to Meadowbrook Hospital in East Hempstead where he died. The fourth brother, Richard Ferguson, also a veteran, was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct. He was tried, convicted, and sentenced to 100 days in jail, but his conviction was overturned on appeal. Military tribunals later cleared the brothers of any blame in the incident. Charles Ferguson was buried at the Long Island National Cemetery with full military honors.

At the time of the shootings, Freeport was a segregated town. There were no Black police officers there or teachers in the Freeport school system and Black children were all zoned to attend one elementary school regardless of where they lived.

After Nassau County District Attorney ruled that the shootings were justified, the New York Committee for Justice in Freeport, the American Jewish Congress, and Congressional Representative Vito Marcantonio of Manhattan demanded that Governor Thomas E. Dewey authorize a new investigation. In July, Dewey appointed Lawrence S. Greenbaum, as a special investigator to hold hearings and examine witnesses. Greenbaum, a lawyer, was a member of the NAACP. A petition to Governor Dewey condemned the Nassau County District Attorney for “not properly and without prejudice carry out his duties in the presentation to the February grand jury” and the Freeport Village Board for prejudicing the proceedings by exonerating the white officer before the grand jury had heard the case. The petition also asserted that the brothers were not drunk as the police claimed, and that the incident had been precipitated when the operator of a lunch counter had refused to serve the men because they were Black. Legendary folk singer and activist Woodie Guthrie wrote a song, “The Ferguson Brothers Shooting,” to support the campaign for justice for the Ferguson family.

The cop said that we had insulted the joint man.

He made us line up with our faces to the wall;

We laughed to ourselves as we stood there and listened

To the man of law and order putting in his riot call.

The cop turned around and walked back to young Charlie

Kicked him in the groin and then shot him to the ground;

This same bullet went through the brain of Alonzo

And the next bullet laid my brother Joseph down . . .

The town that we ride through is not Rankin, Mississippi,

Nor Bilbo’s Jim Crow town of Washington, D.C.

But it’s greater New York, our most fair-minded city

In all this big land here and streets of the brave.

At the hearing, held in Manhattan, the two surviving brothers testified that the police officer first kicked Charles and Joseph Ferguson and then drew his pistol and lined the four brothers against a wall. The police produced witnesses to support the accused officer, including an African American by-passer, and no cross-examination of witnesses was permitted. The officer repeated his accusation that Charles Ferguson claimed to have a weapon, and that he shot Alfonso Ferguson when Ferguson was charging at him. The officer and the other police witnesses admitted that they never saw a gun and no gun was found at the scene. A spokesperson for the New York Committee for Justice on Freeport charged that the investigation was a “white-wash” and an “unvarnished fraud’ because witnesses were not cross-examined. At the final inquiry session on July 23, most of the audience walked out in protest.

After the special investigator’s report was released on August 2 and exonerated the police officer and the Nassau County District Attorney’s office, Governor Dewey closed the inquiry. The report claimed that the police officer acted because he believed his life was in danger and there was reason to believe he would have acted differently if “the four men before him had been white and not colored.”

The killing of the African American men in Freeport became an issue in the November 1946 gubernatorial election as Dewey, a Republican, campaigned for reelection. Democratic party candidate James M. Mead charged that the shooting was a lynching and accused Dewey of endorsing Southern-style racism. However, once Dewey was reelected, the Freeport case dropped out of the news.

A side story in the book is the role of the American left including the Communist Party in the push for the special investigation into the killings and for justice for the Ferguson family. While the NAACP also called for the inquiry, it avoided being too closely associated with the left groups, and being branded as communist or communist directed. State and federal law officials investigated communist influence in the campaign, perhaps more carefully than they investigated the actual incident. In Nassau County and in Freeport supporters of the police officer used left involvement in the campaign as a way to discredit the specific charges and deny underlying racism in the area.

Verga concludes the book by examining a similar story about an African American veteran attacked and gravely injured by police in South Carolina and other incidents of racism in the United States and on Long Island after World War II including the notorious racial covenant banning African Americans from purchasing or renting Levittown homes. Verga note that at least demographically, Freeport and Long Island have changed since the deaths of Charles and Alponso Ferguson at the hands of a police officer in 1946.

Nineteen Reservoirs: On Their Creation and the Promise of Water for New York City

Nineteen Reservoirs: On Their Creation and the Promise of Water for New York City (The Experiment, 2022) by Lucy Sante with photographs by Tim Davis

From 1907 to 1967, a network of reservoirs and aqueducts was built across more than one million acres in upstate New York, including Greene, Delaware, Sullivan, and Ulster Counties. This feat of engineering served to meet New York City’s ever-increasing need for water, sustaining its inhabitants and cementing it as a center of industry. West of the Hudson, it meant that twenty-six villages, with their farms, forest lands, orchards, and quarries, were bought for a fraction of their value, demolished, and submerged, profoundly altering ecosystems in ways we will never fully appreciate. This paradox of victory and loss is at the heart of Nineteen Reservoirs, Lucy Sante’s meticulous account of how New York City secured its seemingly limitless fresh water supply, and why it cannot be taken for granted. In inimitable form, Sante plumbs the historical record to surface forgotten archives and images, bringing lost places back to life on the page. Her immaculately calibrated sensitivity honors both perspectives on New York City’s reservoir system and helps us understand the full import of its creation.

Coming Out of the Streets: LGBTQ Youth Experiencing Homelessness

Coming Out to the Streets: LGBTQ Youth Experiencing Homelessness, by Brandon Andrew Robinson (Oakland: University of California Press)

Review by Thomas Hansen

This is the story of a qualitative research study in which the professor was an observer who was able to get a great deal of trust and information from the subjects interviewed.  Volunteering at the shelter where the subjects were housed temporarily, the professor conducted this ethnographic study by using in-depth interviews to look at the lives and goals of young homeless persons.   

I disagree with the author making the clear point throughout the book that the family does not shoulder much of the blame for the young people becoming disenfranchised or bullied or shunned by society.  The author hopes people will move beyond simply blaming the family for all the difficulties youth must conquer in order to survive the young-adult years.  The author insists it is “the system” that needs to be fixed—not the youth and not the family.  There would be many people who disagree with this author on this point, including many people who have battled through those difficult years and somehow made it to the other side.

While I leaf back through the book and thought again about what I had recently read, two young gay men at the next table are telling of the terrible experiences they had growing up, coming out, and finally escaping a damning and hateful family—in both of their cases.  I keep moving away from them, but I can still hear every word they are saying and do not want to listen.  However, they get louder and louder as they share their experiences and hopes out loud. 

I am embarrassed I can hear all this—at the same time I am thankful I am hearing such a timely discussion when I am trying to write some notes that will lead to a review of this book. 

They share a common story about the oppressive life they have lead “at their family’s house.”  I know very little–if anything—about these two young men.  I do not know their names or where they are from or what their parents are like.  I do not know if anything they are sharing very loudly is true or not.  But most everything they are saying is similar to a story I have heard from many young people for years.   

It is true that different people, in different situations and cities, will have disparate realities as they “come out” into whatever sexuality or personality they take on as adults.  I would argue with this author that it is the great majority of young LGBTQ persons who have had the most difficulties at home—the very people who should be loving, supporting, and protecting the youths are instead perhaps the biggest challenge facing them. 

Children’s families often abandon them and turn them off.  Without the support of the very people who should be helping, these youth often have to make sure very hard decisions and face some terrible dangers to survive.  In the meantime, the family continues to withhold their assistance.         

The professor who conducted this study insists it is society—not the family—that is the culprit in the destruction of young people who are meant to come out and live the responsible gay lives they should be allowed to live.  The professor attempts to show how blame for the young people’s stress can be levied against several different pieces of the system.  Teachers, school administrators, the courts, the police, and mainstream society in general are all to blame for presenting the young persons with great challenges and judgment.  The author makes the point that the family is not the main problem and she does this strongly in the book.

Maybe in this particular shelter where the author interviewed young people, and throughout this study, and elsewhere in this book, the family is not to blame.  However, I maintain the family is one of the most guilty parties in the oppression, judgment, and ostracizing of the young people who wind up out on the streets and facing terrible choices.

I know it is the average families, including the parents without much cultural and educational understanding, who have no idea how much they are contributing to creating a whole population of young adults in stress.  These are young persons who are struggling to gain their independence and who have to make difficult decisions to do so.  Young LGBTQ persons become involved in prostitution, selling drugs, using drugs, shoplifting and other sorts of crimes. 

The book does a good and typical glimpse of the young people who have been damaged by their families (and church and school and neighbors and etc.).  There is so much wasted time.  Instead of transitioning easily from being children to being adults, these young people have to use a huge amount of energy to survive, learn, begin to work, and then establish new goals later in life, and become adults “later” than they wanted to in some ways, and “way too early” in other ways.

Much as these young persons are still children, they are thrust into the rougher realities of an adult world not very interested in protecting them.  While I agree society can be one of the culprits, I maintain it is principally the family who bears the responsibility for making life difficult for the young people. 

There is plenty of evidence in the literature of the family’s negative role in the lives of such young adults.   

New York History: “A White Man Imprisoned 17 Years for Helping Enslaved People Escape to Freedom”

New York History: “A White Man Imprisoned 17 Years for Helping Enslaved People Escape to Freedom”

Reprinted with permission by the editorial staff of the New York Almanack.

Rev. Calvin Cornelius Fairbank was born November 3, 1816 in Pike, Wyoming County, NY. He began his academic studies at a seminary in Lima, Livingston County, NY, and became a licensed preacher in 1840. In 1842 he was ordained an elder in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and he graduated Oberlin College in Ohio two years later. At Oberlin he met John Mifflin Brown (1817-1893), a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church and an Underground Railroad activist.

Fairbank was a radical abolitionist who not only spoke out against slavery, but actively worked to free as many enslaved people as he could. “Forty-seven slaves I guided toward the North Star, in violation of the state codes of Kentucky and Virginia,” he wrote. “I piloted them through the forests, mostly by night, – girls fair and white, dressed as ladies; men and boys, as gentlemen or servants – men in women’s clothes, and women in men’s clothes; on horseback, in buggies, in carriages, common wagons, in and under loads of hay, straw, old furniture, boxes and bags; crossed the Jordan of the slave, swimming, or wading chin deep, or in boats, or skiffs, on rafts, and often on a pine log. And I never allowed one to be recaptured. For aiding these slaves to escape from their bondage, I was twice imprisoned, – in all seventeen years and four months; and received… thirty-five thousand, one hundred and five stripes from a leather strap…”

Fairbank helped free an enslaved person for the first time in 1837. While piloting a lumber raft down the Ohio River he ferried a slave across the river into free territory. He often guided escaped slaves to Levi Coffin who helped arrange further transportation north for thousands of people.

Fairbank was arrested for helping to transport Lewis Hayden, his wife Harriet and Harriet’s son Joseph by carriage to freedom in Ohio. He was tried in 1845 and sentenced to 15 years, five years for each of the slaves he helped free. Serving his sentence in the Kentucky State Penitentiary in Frankfort, he was pardoned in 1849 using money raised by Hayden from his new neighbors in Boston. Two years later he was arrested again for helping an enslaved man named Tamar escape Kentucky to Indiana. In November 1851, marshals from Kentucky, with the help of the sheriff of Clark County, Indiana and Indiana Governor Joseph A. Wright, abducted Fairbank and took him back to Kentucky. In 1852, he was again sentenced to 15 years. While imprisoned in the Frankfort Penitentiary he was the victim of harsh treatment, including being frequently whipped (he believed he had received some 35,000 lashes while imprisoned). From 1844 to 1870, Kentucky imprisoned at least 44 people for helping to free enslaved people. The last man was released in 1870, five years after the end of the Civil War. Eight of those imprisoned died prisoners. 

Late in the Civil War, in 1864, Fairbank was pardoned by Acting Kentucky Governor Richard T. Jacob. He later wrote a memoir, published in 1890, Rev. Calvin Fairbank During Slavery Times: How He “Fought the Good Fight” to Prepare “the Way.” He died in near-poverty in Angelica, Allegany County, NY. Rev. Calvin Cornelius Fairbank was inducted to the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum in Peterboro, New York in October 2022.

Rev. Calvin Fairbank During Slavery Times (1890) (Excerpts)

  1. “I took license to preach in 1840, and in 1842 was ordained an elder in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and closed my course of study, graduating in 1844. One incident, more than anything else outside of my organization, controlled and intensified my sentiments on the slavery question. It was this: I went with my father and mother to Rushford to quarterly meeting when a boy, and we were assigned to the good, clean home of a pair of escaped slaves. One night after service I sat on the hearthstone before the fire, and listened to the woman’s story of sorrow. It covered the history of thirty years. She had been sold from home, separated from her husband and family, and all ties of affection broken. My heart wept, my anger was kindled, and antagonism to slavery was fixed upon me. “Father,” I said, on going to our room, “when I get bigger they shall not do that;” and the resolve waxed stronger with my growth.”
  2. I grew to manhood with a positive, innate sense of impartial liberty and equality, of inalienable right, without regard to race, color, descent, sex or position. I never trained with the strong party simply because it was strong. From the time I heard that woman’s story I felt the most intense hatred and contempt for slavery, as the vilest evil that ever existed; and yet I supposed the institution provided for and protected by the United States Constitution, and legally established by every slave state; and when, previous to investigation, I repeatedly aided the slaves to escape in violation of law, I did it earnestly, honestly, in all good conscience toward God and man.
  3. Coming within the influence of active anti-slavery men at Oberlin, Ohio, I was led to examine the subject in the light of law and justice, and soon found the United States Constitution anti-slavery, and the institution existing in violation of law. My conclusion in regard to the anti-slavery character of the Constitution of the United States was based on common law, on its interpretation by the whole civilized world, and the recognition of self-evident truth as the basis of that interpretation, viz.: “Where rights are infringed, where fundamental principles are overthrown, where the general system of the law is departed from, the legislative intention must be expressed with irresistible clearness, in order to induce a court of justice to suppose a design to effect such object.”
  4. This conclusion enabled me to act without misgiving, as to my obligation to the General Government. I was no longer under obligation to respect the evil institution as protected by the Government, but was free to condemn slavery and the slave code, — free to follow the promptings of duty.
  5. Finding, then, the diabolical institution unprovided for — finding it positively prohibited—finding it to be a conceded fact by our best statesmen, North and South, that not a state in the Union had slavery established by law, I concluded, upon the highest authority in the universe, that slavery was chronic rebellion, and that I was not only justified, but bound by the “higher law,” to oppose it in defense of an oppressed people. From that time I never allowed an opportunity to aid the fugitives to pass unimproved; but when men and women came to me, pleading the “Fatherhood of God,” and the brotherhood of man, I did all in my power to set them free, subjecting myself to imprisonment and the deepest suffering.
  6. Forty-seven slaves I guided toward the North Star, in violation of the state codes of Virginia and Kentucky. I piloted them through the forests, mostly by night, — girls, fair and white, dressed as ladies; men and boys, as gentlemen, or servants, — men in women’s clothes, and women in men’s clothes; boys dressed as girls, and girls as boys; on foot or on horseback, in buggies, carriages, common wagons, in and under loads of hay, straw, old furniture, boxes, and bags; crossed the Jordan of the slave, swimming, or wading chin deep, or in boats, or skiffs, on rafts, and often on a pine log. And I never suffered one to be recaptured. None of them, so far as I have learned, have ever come to poverty, or to disgrace. I have visited a score of those families, finding them all industrious, frugal, prosperous, respectable citizens.
  7. For aiding those slaves to escape from their bondage, I was twice imprisoned — in all seventeen years and four months; and received, during the eight years from March first, 1854, to March first, 1862, thirty-five thousand, one hundred and five stripes from a leather strap fifteen to eighteen inches long, one and a half inches wide, and from one-quarter to three-eighths of an inch thick. It was of half-tanned leather, and frequently well soaked, so that it might burn the flesh more intensely. These floggings were not with a rawhide or cowhide, but with a strap of leather attached to a handle of convenient size and length to inflict as much pain as possible, with as little real damage as possible to the working capacity.


  1. In what decade did Calvin Fairbank become a member of the clergy?
  2. What “incident’ convinced Rev. Fairbank to organize his life to oppose slavery?
  3. Rev. Fairbank believed in a “positive, innate sense of impartial liberty and equality, of inalienable right, without regard to race, color, descent, sex or position.” In which foundational American document(s) do those ideas appear?
  4. What was his initial view of the United States Constitution?
  5. How did his view of the Constitution and the government change?
  6. How many freedom seekers did Fairbank assist on the Underground Railroad?
  7. What happened to Fairbank as a result of his activity on the Underground Railroad?
  8. Rev. Calvin Fairbank was recently inducted into the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum in Peterboro, New York. In your opinion, did he merit this honor? Explain.

The Use of Social Framework as an Analysis of a Historical Event

The Use of Social Framework as an Analysis of a Historical Event

Jakob Morrissey

A “social framework” is a way that the public perceives a specific event that is ongoing or is being analyzed. Learning how something is socially constructed is by analyzing the primary sources of the specific event one is talking about. Primary sources include newspaper clippings, speeches, government documents, etc.… Social framework determines if a historical event is genuinely bad or genuinely good, but sometimes social frameworks of historical events are not completely true. When analyzing traditional history, generally speaking, top-down, it’s difficult to see what is going on at the smaller more local levels of society. Put this way, traditional history is usually analyzed from the top-down perspective, an analogy would be looking at a battle and looking at the battle from the general’s perspective. So an alternate way to determine the social framework would be taking the social-historical route where when analyzing an event, again back to the battle example, one can see the soldier’s perspective of the battle and how bullets were flying by, no food, seeing their friends being killed. Taking the social history route is key when discussing a lot of historical events. For example, during the crack epidemic, many politicians and rich people were not affected and they are at the top of society, therefore they never realized what life was like for people in those positions. During the crack epidemic, there were not many primary sources that were actually showing and displaying some of the characteristics that were shown during the heroin epidemic. So, the differences between the crack epidemic and the heroin epidemic were that first off there was a racialized component, and second that the crack epidemic was seen from that top-down analysis, and the heroin epidemic was seen from the social history approach

A way to show the racial privilege effect of the crack epidemic is the way that the epidemic was framed socially compared to other drug epidemics. Sadé L. Lindsay, author of Drug Epidemics and Moral Crusades: The Role of Race in Framing Issues of Substance Abuse  explains the idea of public perception perfectly. Lindsay discusses the crack epidemic and the heroin epidemic and how they were both framed in the public eye. In one section of her research, Lindsay describes her findings on personal narratives in newspaper articles. Prior, Lindsay discusses how the heroin epidemic primarily hit suburban neighborhoods which are predominantly areas that affect white people, and how the crack epidemic hit inner cities which predominantly affect areas of African Americans. In her findings, Lindsay cited an article from the New York Times that stated Everyone’s dream child… She was in the honor society, a cheerleader, and sang the national anthem at school events” (Sade, 2017, p.2) and described this quote as a “positive characterization of heroin addicts was common from family and friends who were given the opportunity to discuss their heroin-addicted loved ones.” (Sade, 2017 Page24)  When a media outlet describes victims of a drug-related death as positive, it gives a sense that what’s going on is a tragedy which is true. A tragedy in one drug-related death during a drug epidemic should be applied across the board regardless of what drug caused the death, but when it comes to the crack epidemic, Lindsay quoted an article from the Washington Post stating “[Crack] users typically binge without eating, sleeping, or bathing until their crack and money are gone and they collapse physically… addicts break into vacant buildings to smoke and share pipes. They also share common squalor (WP 1988).”(Sade, 2017 Page 26)  Stating that the victims of a drug epidemic are unhygienic and physically unhealthy gives a negative connotation to them and is completely opposite of the heroin epidemic. With the heroin epidemic affecting whites, the media gives sympathy for them and praises the victims for how good their life was and how they got ruined by heroin. When the media covers the crack epidemic, there is no sympathy at all but rather a somewhat condescending attitude toward victims and most of the victims of the crack epidemic were blacks in inner cities.

To prove the difference in the social framework of the two drug epidemics, an article by the New York Times and by STAT news were drawn. Crack’s Destructive Sprint Across America written by Michael Massing, in 1989, discusses the effects of the crack epidemic while Behind the photo: How heroin took over an Ohio town written by Casey Ross, in 2016, discusses the heroin epidemic and its effects in small towns in Ohio. In Massing’s article, he stated many negative connotations of the crack epidemic specifically drawn into New York City. Massing discusses how the neighborhood of Washington Heights used to be an excellent vibrant cultural melting pot then states now if you “Wander off Broadway, though, and the neighborhood quickly seems like an American nightmare” (Massing 1989) giving a bad reputation to a neighborhood and people that lived in it as a whole. Massing also went on to state that “in Harlem, in South Jamaica, Queens, in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bushwick and Brownsville, poor young blacks – jobless, uneducated and desperate – hungered for a piece of the ”crazy money” crack offered”(Massing 1989)  again going back to what Sade stated, the use of condescending labels was put onto the people who were affected even going as far to state that “the gangs did their job only too well, killing 800 people by election day” (Massing 1989). In Ross’s article about the heroin epidemic, they hone in on a personal narrative rather than the heroin epidemic as a whole, again a statistic that Sade stated would be popular in comparison to the articles. The heroin epidemic has caused many people to overdose right in front of their children, in an interview with paramedic Christine Lerussi she stated “do you know how many houses we go into that the kids are sitting on the couch watching us?” (Ross,2016) as the newspaper article is sort of portraying a need for sympathy. A photo was taken by police of two parents overdosed in a car with a child in the back screaming for help, and the police department decided to put it on their Facebook as “Their decision to put it on Facebook was, in some ways, a cry for help.”(Massing 1989) It’s understandable to seek sympathy for victims in all aspects of a drug epidemic, but when the epidemic gets racialized, it’s seen that there is no sympathy for African Americans. Referring back to Sade she states that “largely frame the heroin epidemic as a public health concern by humanizing heroin addicts through personal narratives and advocating for collective action” (Massing 1989) but “the crack epidemic was framed as a public safety concern that emphasized punishment and crime prevention” (Sade,2017, p. 2), which is what can be seen between an analysis of both of these articles. Crack was dehumanizing, patronizing, and condescending acting as if the victims were not to be cared about. A drug epidemic again is a sad deal, but the application of sympathy through personal narratives should be applied equally when discussing both of them.

The Schlieffen Plan in World War 1

The Schlieffen Plan in World War I

Nick Strain

The Schlieffen Plan was an offensive military strategy that contributed to Germany’s defeat in World War I. The purpose of this plan was for Germany to break up a two-front war between France and Russia. Germany produced the idea of the Schlieffen Plan due to Field Marshal Alfred von Schlieffen. Alfred Von Schlieffen was a former Chief and General Staff of the German Army. Schlieffen was successful as a Chief and General Staff. For example, before World War I began, Germany was successful in battles such as “smashing the Danes in 1864, the Austrians in 1866, and the French in 1870-71.” (Bolger, 1). Instead of continuing to run the same plan, Schlieffen was overconfident that he wanted to design a new plan for Germany. The Schlieffen plan according to Schlieffen took inspiration from “Hannibal Barca of Carthage during the Battle of Cannae.” (Bolger, 1). Hannibal during the Battle of Cannae inspired  Schlieffen that Hannibal was known for attacking such as “swinging in both of his flanking contingents, bagging the stunned Roman legionaries.” (Bolger, 1). Germany agreed to an alliance with Austria-Hungary, which led them to a two-front war between France and Russia.

Not only did Germany have to deal with France and Russia, but the plan also failed dramatically in World War I due to them entering through Belgium, not having enough resources, and underestimating France and Russia.

The Schlieffen Plan was designed for Germany to defeat France in six weeks before Russia could mobilize. The reason Schlieffen gave an estimated timeline of six weeks is that Russia suffered considerable damage to Japan during the Russo-Japanese War. While Schlieffen was planning to attack France, he had to think about where he had to send his troops to. Schlieffen decided to send his troops up North instead of South because the Swiss army was “ready for war and the passes through the Jura mountains.” (Foley, 226). So, they decided to enter through Luxembourg and Belgium. His reasoning behind this is that Luxembourg “possesses no army, and through Belgium, which will withdraw its relatively weak army into its fortress.” (Foley, 226). While the Schlieffen Plan initially seemed that it was going to be successful, when the Germans entered Belgium, it violated a treaty forcing Britain to declare World War I. The significance of the Schlieffen Plan was for Germany to “capture Paris before France’s allies could join the battle.” (Reid,1). Due to Britain declaring war, the plan was less likely to be successful because the purpose of the plan was for Germany to conquer Paris without one of their alliances joining them. Not only did Germany incite Britain to declare war by entering Belgium, but they also underestimated Russia and France throughout World War I. This led to the Schlieffen Plan being a failure in World War I. The failure of the Schlieffen Plan illustrates how a lack of planning and respect for the opposition had repercussions that led to the greater conflict of World War I.

The Schlieffen Plan was a failure in World War I due to Kaiser Wilhelm II being overconfident. For example, before World War I began, the French were not successful when it came to wars. Daniel Bolger, a writer for the Army Magazine, discussed “Schlieffen’s Perfect Plan” and “the war of 1870-71 indicated that France could not beat Germany.” (Bolger, 1). The purpose of the Schlieffen Plan was for Germany to “keep France isolated.” (Bolger, 1). Instead, what happened to Germany was that Kaiser Wilhelm II did not keep good relations with the Russians. The reason he did not keep good relations with Russia is that he believed that the Russians were not prepared for war after the outcome of the Russo-Japanese War. Not only did Wilhelm II believe that Russia was not prepared for war, but he was also overconfident and not afraid of a two-front war between France and Russia. Before Wilhelm II took office, Germans such as Chancellor Otto von Bismarck were trying to keep a good relationship with Russia. Since the goal of the Schlieffen Plan was to “isolate France,” “Bismarck wove elaborate diplomatic schemes to ensure good relations with Russia.” (Bolger, 1). Germany had a good relationship with Russia before Wilhelm II took office. The reason Wilhelm II was a major problem for Germany was that he did not agree with Bismarck’s idea of keeping an alliance with the Russians. When Wilhelm II took over, “he dumped Bismarck, while he watched Russia and France create an alliance.” (Bolger, 1). Not only did Wilhelm fire Chancellor Bismarck, but he was also overconfident in World War I, which gave Germany a huge disadvantage. For example, Daniel Bolger on page one emphasizes that “Wilhelm II didn’t fear a two-front war and was confident in Germany’s burgeoning strength, he intended to win it.” Not only was Kaiser Wilhelm II overconfident in World War I, but General Alfred Moltke was also guilty of being overconfident with the Schlieffen Plan.

Moltke’s overconfidence in the Schlieffen Plan resulted in its failure. Since Wilhelm II burned bridges with the Russians, Alfred Von Schlieffen had to produce a plan to defeat a two-front war between France and Russia. Before Wilhelm burned bridges with Russia, the Schlieffen Plan was designed for Germany so that they “must make our right-wing strong and extend it as far west as possible.” (Foley, 225). So, what Schlieffen did with the plan is that he attacked up North through Belgium and Luxembourg. The reason Schlieffen did this was due to the mountainous terrain of Switzerland, as well as their army. In addition, Schlieffen wanted to do this due to the flat terrain of Belgium and Luxembourg helping the Germans send their troops. Another reason Schlieffen attacked through Belgium instead of France was to avoid the strong defended French Border fortifications through the South.” (Reid, 10). On the other hand, the problem with Wilhelm II was that he made things complicated after not setting up good relationships with Russia. This led to General Moltke staying offensive in a two-front war between France and Russia. Due to the German’s overconfidence in World War I, they continued to use the Schlieffen Plan. General Moltke was overconfident in World War I because he continued to use the Schlieffen Plan in 1915 when it was proven to be a failure in 1905. The Schlieffen Plan was a failure since Alfred Von Schlieffen left his own plan. For example, “some surviving military leaders blamed the deceased Moltke, claiming he perversely ignored a plan for sure victory that Schlieffen supposedly left.” (O’Neil, 806). What Moltke did to the Schlieffen Plan is that he changed the plan, which made the plan a failure during World War I. Before World War I even began, General Moltke “weakened the Schlieffen Plan even before the start of World War by Tannenberg worries and had a nervous collapse before the two sides made their race to the Channel.” (Gadfly). The French were not good compared to the Germans but their leaders being incompetent, helped the French defeat the Germans.

Alfred Von Schlieffen was also to blame for the Schlieffen Plan. Even though the Schlieffen Plan was designed for Germany to beat France in six weeks and then defeat Russia, “Schlieffen did not give any instructions for adhering to a precise and imperative timetable; he even allowed for the whole advance to be brought to a temporary halt if it became necessary to deal with a British landing on the northern coast of France.” (Holmes, 514). For example, the reason Schlieffen said six weeks is that it was an estimate. According to Buchholz, “Russian forces were expected to cross the German border by the fortieth day after mobilization.” (Holmes, 514). This quote supports that Schlieffen estimated that it would take six weeks to beat France while Russia would take a long time to mobilize. Schlieffen’s switching to a new plan cost Germany from being successful during World War I. Even though Schlieffen took many years to prepare for the war, it was not successful due to the plan being reckless. For example, the Schlieffen Plan was not “a rational war plan but a reckless adventure: In Herwig’s words, “fourteen years of General Staff work came down to a gambler’s dice.” (Holmes, 514). The reason the Schlieffen Plan is described as a “gamblers dice” is that the plan did not give any timeline on when Russia would mobilize, how long it would take for them to defeat France and they underestimated Belgium, France, and Russia during World War I. For example, some “German commanders like Cluck and Bulow, as well as the royal commanders, were either too old (them) or not fully competent for general reasons (some of the royals).” (Gadfly). Another reason Schlieffen was overconfident about his own plan is that he was confident to switch things up. Historians believed that the Schlieffen Plan was “a sobering reminder of the high price of military arrogance.” (Bolger, 76). Since Schlieffen wanted the Germans to march through Belgium, the Schlieffen Plan became one of the causes of World War I.

Since the Germans were afraid of Switzerland due to its terrain as well as their army, the Germans decided to enter through Belgium. When the Germans marched through Belgium, they violated a treaty that England had with them in 1839. The treaty of London was to make Belgium neutral throughout World War I. The reason Great Britain wanted Belgium to stay neutral throughout World War I is that Great Britain was afraid of the expansion of Germany through Western Europe. Since Schlieffen decided to enter Belgium, Britain decided to join forces with France in World War I. The purpose of the Schlieffen Plan for Germany was for them to capture France without one of their allies joining them. Germany should have done a better job on “geopolitics such as not doing international law violations of Britain’s blockade by extension later in the war.” (Gadfly). Due to the Germans trying to expand through Western Europe through the Schlieffen Plan, caused the plan to fail drastically as well as it made Great Britain join forces with France. Not only did the Schlieffen Plan cause Great Britain to join World War I, but Germany also had a lack of resources that caused the plan to fail dramatically during World War I.

Germany’s lack of resources, including the number of railroads and troops, resulted in the plan’s failure. The Schlieffen Plan was a big project that needed several pieces of equipment. For example, what Schlieffen was trying to do was build a railroad through Luxembourg as well as Belgium. Building a railroad takes a long time and it was difficult for Germany to build one on Belgium territory. The reason it was difficult for the Germans to build a railroad in Belgium is that “Belgium refused Germany’s request to match troops through Belgian territory.” (Reid, 10). When the Germans tried to build railroads, Belgium destroyed them. Another reason General Moltke was overconfident during World War I is that the Germans did not have enough resources such as troops to be sent over to France. According to Schlieffen, “the German army would need at least 48.5 corps to succeed with an attack on France by way of Belgium.” (Holmes, 193). Instead, General Moltke switched up the plan by changing the original plan that Schlieffen had. The difference between what General Moltke did compared to Schlieffen is that Moltke “reduces the strength of the right-wing.” (Holmes, 193). What Holmes is referring to in his book is Moltke having fewer troops compared to Schlieffen. While Schlieffen said that the Germans need “48.5” troops for the plan to be successful, Moltke had different ideas. Instead, General Moltke had only, “34 corps at his disposal in the west.” (Holmes, 193). Not only did Moltke have fewer troops than Schlieffen intended to have, but he also had troops in a different location than Schlieffen such as being in the West rather than the North. Due to Moltke being overconfident, he believed that the Germans would be fine with a lack of troops. For example, Schlieffen believed that “the defensive is the stronger form of war.” (Holmes, 213). Moltke on the other hand believed that “the stronger form of combat lies in the offensive’ because it represents a striving after positive goals.” (Holmes, 213). Moltke later explains that the “offensive could make up for a lack of numbers.” (Holmes, 213). Terrence Holmes is not the only author that highlights Germany’s lack of troops during World War I. Since Germany was suffering from a lack of troops, it made it difficult for them to “invade Belgium, Germany’s advance was slow.” (Reid, 10). Not only did the Germans suffer from a lack of resources, but the Schlieffen Plan also failed due to aerial reconnaissance.

The Germans were superior on land rather than air. The Germans were successful due to aerial reconnaissance, which helped them win the Battle of Tannenberg. For example, “The combined result of German radio intelligence and aerial reconnaissance by both aircraft and Zeppelin dirigibles enabled General von Hindenburg to score a stunning victory over the Russian forces at Tannenberg.” (Hussain). Even though aerial reconnaissance helped the Germans win the Battle of Tannenberg, it gave France and England a huge advantage while the Germans tried to do the Schlieffen Plan. The importance of aerial reconnaissance for the British and French is that it helped them find “the change in orientation of von Kluck’s formation towards the new axis was spotted.” (Hussain). Since the British and French knew where the Germans were going due to aerial reconnaissance, it helped them win the Battle of Marne. For example, “Paris was saved, and the war shifted from the Schlieffen Plan to the bloody trench warfare.” (Hussain). Not only did aerial reconnaissance help the French and British understand where the Germans were, aerial reconnaissance actually “stalled the German offensive at Marne that ground the revolving door at a halt.” (Hussain). As Hussain later says in his article, the Germans were stuck in trench warfare rather than using the Schlieffen Plan. Aerial reconnaissance forced the Germans to stop being offensive as well as it helped stalled them during World War I. Although aerial reconnaissance was a key factor as to why the Schlieffen Plan failed, geography was also a key factor for them.

The geography made it difficult for Germany to deal with a two-front war between Russia and France. Since Kaiser Wilhelm II fired Otto von Bismarck, the Germans did not have good relations with Russia. This made the Schlieffen Plan difficult because the plan was originally designed for the Germans to just capture Paris before an alley joined them. The reason the Germans went through Luxembourg and Belgium was that they were both neutral and flat countries. In addition, the Germans did not go through France because the Germans wanted to “avoid the strongly defended French border fortifications through the South.” (Reid, 10). The reason the French improved their borders was that the French lost to the Germans in 1870- 71 and lost the “provinces of Alsace and Lorraine.” (Bolger, 10). Not only could the Germans not go through France due to their improved borders, but they would also have had a tough time if they had gone through Switzerland.

The reason Schlieffen did not consider Switzerland for the Schlieffen Plan to set his troops to mobilize into France was two things, their army as well as location. Even though Switzerland was neutral during World War I, it had a powerful army. For example, if Schlieffen decided to send his troops down to Switzerland, the Swiss would have been “ready for war.” (Foley, 226). Since the Germans did not want to attack a neutral country, they decided to go through Belgium and Luxembourg. Also, Switzerland is known for its elevation such as the Jura Mountains. The importance of Switzerland’s geography is that it would have been difficult for Germany to mobilize their troops due to the Swiss mountains. Not only would it have been difficult for Germany to mobilize their troops, but it would also have been difficult for them to build railroads on steep mountains.

The significance of the railroad is that it helped Germany mobilize their troops faster rather than taking a car, plane, or walking. For example, after Germany was faced with a two-front war, the railroad was designed in the Schlieffen Plan to help the Germans give them a huge advantage during the war “by rail to deal with the slower arriving Russians.” (Bolger, 10). Even though Germany did not expect Russia to mobilize faster than they expected, the Schlieffen Plan was a clever idea but due to their geographical location, it was difficult for the Schlieffen Plan to work during World War I due to France improving their borders as well as Switzerland’s army and geography. Germany instead had to send their troops through Luxembourg and Belgium. Since Germany sent their troops through Belgium, Great Britain declared World War I. Kaiser Wilhelm II burning bridges with the Russians made geography a disadvantage for Germany during World War I.

Kaiser Wilhelm II made it difficult for the Germans during World War I is that he destroyed the relationship that Germany had with Russia. The Schlieffen Plan was designed to be a one-front war instead of a two-front war. The purpose of the plan was to defeat France before an ally joined them. Things changed when the Germans entered Belgium and Luxembourg as Britain decided to join forces with the French. The reason Britain joined France is that the British had a deal with Belgium in the Treaty of London. The Treaty of London was a treaty that forced Belgium to be neutral during the war but since Germany went through Belgium, it violated the Treaty of London, which forced Great Britain to declare World War I. Not only did the Schlieffen Plan cause World War I, countries also such as Britain and France were afraid of Germany due to them creating an alliance with Austria- Hungary. Germany and Austria-Hungary formed an alliance, which led Britain, France, and Russia to create their own alliance before World War I even started. Wilhelm II, Moltke, and Schlieffen being overconfident in World War I, led the Schlieffen Plan to fail.

The reason Wilhelm II was overconfident is that he created a two-front war after firing Otto von Bismarck. The importance of Otto von Bismarck is that he set up good relationships with Russia so Schlieffen could use his original plan, a one-front war. Moltke throughout World War I was overconfident by “weakening the right flanks.” (Hussain). Not only did Moltke weaken the right flanks, but he also revised the Schlieffen Plan. For example, Schlieffen said that for the plan to work, the Germans needed “48.5 troops.” (Holmes, 193). Instead, General Moltke had different ideas. For example, the Germans only had “34 corps at his disposal in the west.” (Holmes, 193). Moltke continued to run the Schlieffen Plan even though the Germans did not have a lot of resources such as troops. During World War I, the Schlieffen Plan was a failure due to the founder, Alfred von Schlieffen leaving his own plan. The overconfidence from Moltke forced the Germans to continue to run the Schlieffen Plan during World War I. The reason Schlieffen was overconfident in the Schlieffen Plan is that he did not produce the plan. For example, Hannibal in the Battle of Carthage inspired the Schlieffen Plan.

Instead of producing his own plan as he did in battles before World War I, Germany might have been successful during World War I. Looking back at the Schlieffen Plan, historians believed that Schlieffen could have done a better job with the Schlieffen Plan during World War I. For example, the Schlieffen Plan was described as “a sobering reminder of the high price of military arrogance.” (Bolger, 76). The failure of the Schlieffen Plan illustrates how a lack of planning and respect for the opposition had repercussions that led to the greater conflict of World War I and contributed to Germany’s defeat.


Bolger, Daniel P. “Schlieffen’s Perfect Plan.” Army Magazine 64, no. 8 (August 2014): 74–76.

Foley, Robert T. “The Origins of the Schlieffen Plan.” War in History 10, no. 2 (2003): 222-32. Accessed April 9, 2021.

Gadfly. “World War I’s causes”. Socratic Gadfly. February 18, 2016, Thursday.

Holmes, Terence M. “Absolute Numbers: The Schlieffen Plan as a Critique of German Strategy in 1914.” War in History 21, no. 2 (April 2014): 193–213. doi:10.1177/0968344513505499. &AN=95564642&site=ehost-live&scope=site  

Holmes, Terence M. “”One Throw of the Gambler’s Dice”: A Comment on Holger Herwig’s View of the Schlieffen Plan.” The Journal of Military History 67, no. 2 (2003): 513-16. Accessed April 13, 2021.

Jamal Hussain. “Development of Air Power Strategy – A Historical Perspective”. Defense Journal. June 30, 2011, Thursday.

O’Neil, William D. 2016. “The Schlieffen Plan: International Perspectives on the German Strategy for World War I.” Historian 78 (4): 805–7. doi:10.1111/hisn.12390. &AN=119881270&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Reid, Mark Collin. “A War of Attrition.” Canada’s History 98, no. 5 (October 2018): 10–11. &AN=131803385&site=ehost-live&scope=sit

The Revolt That Changed Everything: The Haitian Revolution’s Immediate Effect on the United States

The Revolt that Changed Everything: The Haitian Revolution’s Immediate Effect on the United States

Noah Phayre

The year is 1804, and the New World is functioning as it had for the past thirty years since the American Revolution. After the war, a new constitution, and three presidential administrations, America had begun to find its footing as a new nation. With this, many Americans began to get used to their existence as a small democratic nation. However, whether the American people knew it or not, their world was about to drastically change. 1,888 miles south of the US, another revolution had been fought and won on the island of Saint-Domingue. The rebels, much like the US patriots, were able to cast off the yoke of a powerful European empire and establish the second democracy in the Western Hemisphere. However, this rebellion was much different than the one that occurred back in 1776. Unlike the US driving out the British and establishing a new government, the rebels of 1804 were living under much harsher oppression. These rebels were slaves who were living on Saint-Domingue under French colonial rule. In 1791, the slaves revolted against the French starting a twelve year bloodbath that would end in the abolition of slavery on the island and the establishment of the Empire of Haiti.

The United States, though in theory should be very pleased with another democracy emerging nearby, were none too happy about this development. This mostly stemmed from the fact that the Haitian government were all freed slaves. This idea of a successful African rebellion was so foreign to the American government. The success of a slave revolt also flew in the face of the then legal practice of slavery in the United States. This caused the US to avoid recognizing Haiti as a nation until the start of the Civil War. However, despite all of this, the US was greatly affected by the Haitian Revolution as well as their early interactions with the new nation. First, the Louisiana Purchase, which was caused due to the French needing money after the war’s economic devastation on the nation. This exchange doubled the US’ size and allowed it to begin expanding as a nation, taking its first steps to becoming a world power. But even beyond the Louisiana Purchase, the Haitian Revolution and its aftermath still affected the US greatly in terms of trade, foreign policy, and thoughts on how to deal with the issue of slavery.

Sadly, the Haitian Revolution as well as its profound impact on the United States is often not talked about when discussing how America became what it is today. It is very important that these effects be discussed and understood by a broader audience. There is a lack of awareness in terms of the connections between the Haitian Revolution and the growth of America. This proposal aims to answer the question of just how the Haitian Revolution impacted the United States in its immediate aftermath. Ultimately, through qualitative research this paper attempts to explain that the Haitian Revolution affected the United States in a way that caused it to grow into a far more powerful nation.

Teaching this event is an undertaking, as there are many ins and outs in regards to this revolution. Educating students based on the historiographic data found in this paper can actually prove to be a superior style as opposed to an ordinary lesson. With the information gleaned from the historians that are cited in this essay, students can achieve a much deeper understanding of the Haitian Revolution as well as its impact that it had on the United States.


Beyond just simply understanding the events, impact, and significance of certain episodes in history, there is a much deeper understanding one can acquire when studying certain key events. In the craft of historiography, a deeper analysis of history is made, where instead of reading for the information about a topic, the purpose is to understand how historians wrote and by extension, felt about said topic. In the case of the Haitian Revolution and its immediate effect of the United States, scholars range in their specific takes on the topic. Scholarship on the topic also has numerous areas of interest that different authors focus on. While some focus on the economic implications, others focus on the racial statements that the revolution made to the US. Other scholars fixate on the level of coverage the Haitian Revolution receives and how it reflects a larger issue with how history is written. These numerous points of focus often shed light on the historians who are behind them, as educators it is important to look past what the author is saying and think about why they are saying it.

However, all of these scholars touch on specifics that merely scrape the surface in regards to correlation of the Haitian Revolution to the US. But what is not touched on is how these numerous aspects and results of the conflict helped jumpstart the US into becoming the powerhouse it is today. This fact is often overlooked in classrooms, hence why many teachers breeze through the Revolution during lessons or just omit it from their courses entirely. Upon deeper inspection, many sources about the Haitian Revolution fail to elaborate on just how significant the slave insurrection was when it comes to paving the way for America to expand. While many authors like to praise and critique many aspects of the Revolution’s significance they often ignore how their many points of interest come together to reveal a much grander impact on America. A plethora of sources that has been compiled helps shed light on the absence of scholarship on this matter. Moreover, this will show why further research into how the Haitian Revolution molded America is certainly necessary and lastly how more teaching on this subject is also important.

Most scholars see the Haitian Revolution as a landmark event in terms of the fight against slavery. However, certain authors tend to lean more towards how the fight against racism was affected by the revolution. For example, Philippe Girard notes how after only two years into the Haitian Revolution, the First French Republic declared slavery an abolished practice. Girard discusses this in his piece, “Making Freedom Work: The Long Transition from Slavery to Freedom during the Haitian Revolution.” and goes on to explain how racism was talked about much more after the revolution. He backs this up by going through the long history of the fight against different forms of slavery and racism that were seen during the years during and after the revolution.[1]

Mitch Katchun builds off of Girard’s focus on racism in his own work, “Antebellum African Americans, Public Commemoration, and the Haitian Revolution: A Problem of Historical Mythmaking.”. In Katchun’s piece, he elaborates on how the revolution had an effect on the fight against slavery and racism, but specifically in Antebellum America. Katchun complements the ideas of Girard but goes deeper when discussing how the revolution specifically started conversations about racism in enslaved African American circles. Citing the 1811 slave march in Louisiana led by Charles Deslondes, the author puts a lot of emphasis on how the events in Haiti inspired the fight against slavery to be expanded but in a more tangible way, such as another revolution.[2] This facet of the impact of the revolution is one of the most widely discussed, however it can be expanded upon in numerous ways as shown by other scholars. It must also be noted that accounts such as this are valuable for teachers. This showcases how the Haitian Revolution influenced the slaves in the southern United States and was an early seed that was planted in their minds that would eventually grow into slave revolts within the US.

Numerous other authors chime in on the discussion of the Haitian Revolution’s impact (racially speaking) on the US. Tim Matthewson dives into this racial layer with his piece “Abraham Bishop, ‘The Rights of Black Men,’ and the American Reaction to the Haitian Revolution.”. In his writing, Matthewson discusses Abraham Bishop, an American man who wrote three pieces regarding the Haitian Revolution in the 1790s. Bishop supported the revolution and urged America as a whole to get behind the rebel’s cause. He stated how the US supported the French Revolution and also staged their very own revolution as well. With that said, Bishop argued that the US should support the similar cause in Haiti, but stated that it was due to the issue of slavery that prevented the US from doing that.[3] Unlike the previous two scholars, Matthewson uses Bishop’s writings to showcase how white people were affected by the events in Haiti and started to defend the black people in the US. Overall, this subset of scholarship on the Haitian Revolution’s impact on the US was heavily focused on race which played a large role in the narrative of the event. However, other scholars attempt to break away from the ever prominent racial aspect and focus on other areas such as economic and political effects.

When looking at how the Haitian Revolution changed the US economically and politically, certain authors touch on a bevy of policy changes, and repercussions during and after the war. An example of this comes in the form of Robin Blackburn, a scholar who in her piece “Haiti, Slavery, and the Age of the Democratic Revolution.” touches on how the US had to begin forming its own international policies. One such policy was its refusal to recognize Haiti. This included an embargo on the new nation, despite it being a massive trading partner when under French control. This changed the US’s treatment of other nations when it came to trade as it set a precedent with Haiti that essentially states that the US will not trade with another nation and ignore what’s beneficial for itself if it does not support the government of that nation. This stems from the statement made by the success of the slave rebels.

This is focused on by Blackburn who infuses the issue of race and slavery but adds an economic/political spin to it. She notes how the US put itself in a bizarre situation by supporting other democratic revolutions (Like the French) but not ones such as Haiti. This is due to the fact that the US would be forced to admit (in a sense) that the black slaves were capable trading partners, which flies in the face of the notion that black people were sub-human and deserved to be nothing more than slaves. And as Blackburn points out, it only became worse when Haiti survived for decades after the revolution. So the US opted to simply not recognize the island nation, something that would continue up until 1862.[4] This is interesting for educators as it can be used by teachers to explain two layers of the issue that the US was faced with during this time. The US’ problem was not just a racial one, it was an economic one as well. Author Tim Matthewson brings up how the US immediately reacted to the revolution and what he states is very telling. In his piece “George Washington’s Policy Towards the Haitian Revolution ” the author states that under the first presidential administration in the US, American merchants actually were allowed to aid the French with supplies and even men. This was in hopes to defeat the slaves, showing that the US had been willing to help squash all slave revolts in the name of maintaining the practice.[5] Matthewson uses this little known fact to highlight the idea that the US was very much a pro slavery nation, and that even before the revolution had been won, the US had already been trying to put it down.

Another scholar adds to the discussion by way of citing the particular benefits and unintentional problems that the rebellion had on America. This scholar is Jim Thomson, author of “The Haitian Revolution and the Forging of America.”

 In his piece, Thompson adds to the discussion of the Haitian Revolution’s effect on the US by highlighting a few results of the conflict. One was how France had to sell the Louisiana Territory to the US to get money to fund Napoleon’s conquest of Europe. This important moment for the US, a moment that doubled its size was caused by the Haitian Revolution’s economic impact on France. This dent in the already fragile economy of France caused Napoleon to work with the US which resulted in the monumental Louisiana Purchase.[6]

These particular scholars prefer to highlight why Haiti changed the United States’ political and economic status in the world. Whereas previous authors focused on race, this group, specifically Thompson who really hones in on that aspect of the relationship between Haiti and America. Blackburn is different as she focuses on the impacts politically and economically, however she infuses a bit of race into her point of study. Citing how the political relationship between the two nations was tense due to the issues of race and slavery, Blackburn connects what the previous scholars have noted about the revolution with her own part of the conversation. This blends the two areas of study together and actually shows how these different impacts (racial, political, economic) did not exist apart from each other but rather built off each other to make a much larger impact on the United States.

The final area of study that scholars seem to focus on, is the historiography of this tense relationship between Haiti and the United States. Many scholars often go into why the revolution has not been noted as a larger event historically and why the aforementioned impacts it had on other nations (specifically the US) have often been downplayed. John E. Baur makes mention of this in his piece “International Repercussions of the Haitian Revolution.”. In it Baur states that there has never been a full scale study of the impacts of the Revolution and just rather numerous articles and pieces about certain aspects of it and its impact.[7] This gets at exactly what this proposal aims to achieve, putting those pieces together to create a full scale study on the topic of Haiti’s impact on the US. With more study into this topic, teachers can better utilize this monumental moment from history by implementing it into their curriculums.

This historiographical aspect to the topic is unique as it explains why the topic of the revolution and its effects has not been given the recognition it deserves. Thomas Reinhardt answers this question in his piece “200 Years of Forgetting: Hushing up the Haitian Revolution.”. In his work, Reinhardt states that the authors who wrote about the revolution spoke of it in a demeaning manner. The brutality of the insurrection was what most scholars used as their rationale for why black people are barbaric and without Western guidance they will act savagely as they did back in Africa. Reinhardt notes how the success of the rebellion and establishment of the Haitian nation was completely undercut by these writers who simply wanted to discredit black people.[8] Reinhardt asserts that writings like those were why many people did not pay much attention to the Haitian Revolution and its significance.

Adding to the idea that there was a concerted effort to diminish the importance of the Haitian Revolution is author Manuel Barcia. Barcia agrees with the ideas of Reinhardt in that white historians were made uncomfortable by the success of the uprising. In his piece “Comment: From Revolution to Recognition: Haiti’s Place in the Post-1804 Atlantic World.” Barcia particularly takes note of what the success of black people meant for the rest of the world. Barcia notes that acknowledging the fact that the Haitian rebels won and were able to run a sustainable nation would mean that one would have to acknowledge the fact that black people were just as skilled as anyone else. This of course threatened the status quo of white people dominating black people in society, which Barcia says is why it has not been touched upon by mainstream history. One interesting point made by the author is how the US in particular would trade with Haiti (covertly) but still not recognize them as a nation. This, according to Barcia, helped justify the lack of coverage writers gave Haiti as it was not recognized by the US until decades after the revolution.[9]

The final historian being examined is Shannon Marie Peck-Bartle. In her piece “Toussaint L’Ouver-Who? An Anthropological Approach to Infusing the African Diaspora into Caribbean History.” Peck-Bartle adds to the discussion on the lack of recognition the rebellion has received. The piece pushes that the reason why the impact of Haiti has not fully been appreciated is because the Western world has spun a Eurocentric narrative of the events since 1804. This is to say that the West essentially took credit for Haiti’s success by asserting that without their European philosophies and culture, the Haitians could never have been able to successfully stage an insurrection and maintain a stable society for as long as they did. Peck-Bartle challenges this notion by pushing that rather than European culture creating the revolution, it was African culture that actually helped unite the Haitian rebels to be able to succeed.[10] This information is valuable for teachers as it offers the opportunity to look at what is being taught in schools and see how culturally imbalanced the material is. The Eurocentric nature of most classes is unfortunate but also a very real thing and topics like the Haitian Revolution and its historiography help show teachers that there is not a lot of representation for numerous cultures around the world.

This third subsection of scholarship on the Haitian Revolution is unique as it focuses on the historiography of the event. Different scholars discuss different avenues of why this topic isn’t explored as often as it should. While people like Baur point out how there has been no full scale look into this event and its impact, people like Reinhardt and Barcia provide the reasons why. With Reinhardt asserting that the West simply went out of its way to paint the revolution in a bad light and Barcia explaining that this was because the alternative was to acknowledge the fact that black people were capable of both freeing and governing themselves. Peck-Bartle actually veers from this and states that actually the West chose to take credit for the Haitian’s success instead of outright ignoring or demonizing it. Overall, these scholars helped explain why the revolution doesn’t get as much attention and just why its impact on the US is not highlighted as often as it should.


Upon review of all ten sources it is quite clear that they all have their merits and add to the discussion about Haiti’s revolution and its impact on the US. The sources focusing on race helped explain why the US had such an awkward relationship with the new nation. Girard and Katchun particularly provided strong arguments that supported their theses. The economic/politically based scholars helped pinpoint what changes occurred in the US because of the revolution. Blackburn is the most prominent of these scholars as she mixes both the racial component previously discussed along with the political components. She successfully adds to the discussion and links two different areas of study. The final section is the historiographical section that hones in on why the impacts of the Haitian Revolution aren’t discussed as much as they should be. Again, these scholars connect the two other areas of study, the racial and economic/political by explaining why racism and Eurocentrism created a historiography that neglects the Haitian Revolution’s impact. This section seems to have the most debate over the truth behind why Haiti has been neglected. While Reinhardt and Barcia seem to agree with Peck-Bartle that race plays a major role in the downplaying of Haiti’s significance, they disagree with her when she says the West took credit for Haiti’s success and impact.

With the exception of the historiographical section, the scholarship on Haiti and its impact on the US is rather cohesive. The scholars mostly agree with each other and some of the different subsets actually blend well with each other, creating a clearer image of what the effects the Haitian Revolution had on the US were. The biggest issue these authors have is that they do not go deeper with their claims. They state that the revolution impacted the United States and list examples of how it did so. They also explain why there hasn’t been much research done on the topic. But the scholarship lacks one major point of focus, and that is how all of these subsets come together. What this proposal attempts to explore is how the Haitian Revolution immediately affected the United States. Furthermore, upon answering that question, this proposal aims to show how this impact absolutely molded the US into the world power that it is today. By infusing the three most prominent areas of study in regards to the revolution, this proposal will expand upon what has already been stated. The large scale implications for the United States brought on because of the Haitian Revolution and its success will be uncovered and ultimately show how a seemingly insignificant slave revolt changed the trajectory of a country that would become one of the most powerful nations on Earth. 

Educational value

The Haitian Revolution serves as a historic reminder of the triumphs of African people. It also serves as an interesting point of study when examining its relationship with the United States. The revolution’s mere existence shed light on the US’ own issues with slavery as well as early signs of the nation’s hypocrisy. The issues of racism and slavery are interconnected to the revolution; these two topics envelop the history of the modern west and cannot be ignored. With this said, these topics can be showcased through lessons about the Haitian Revolution as well as the island nation’s relationship with the United States.

The beauty of this topic is that it goes even deeper than that as it can also be used as a way to examine the historiography of the subject, something that is often overlooked in classes today. Examining how people have written history helps show students how people viewed a certain topic back then as well as how they view it now. These are valuable for both students and educators alike. Lastly, the study into the Haitian Revolution helps show how the US became the nation that it is today. Looking at the success of the US through the lens of the Haitian Revolution can help expand students’ understanding of the success of other people outside of the US. It can also showcase some of the inspiration for change in the US, namely the fight to end slavery. Overall, the educational value of the Haitian Revolution stretches far beyond its use as a fun and exciting historic episode. Through its links to race relations, slavery, economics and historiography, the Haitian Revolution truly makes for a great area of focus for educators who want to make their students better and more well-rounded scholars in the field of history. 


Barcia, Manuel. “Comment: From Revolution to Recognition: Haiti’s Place in the Post-1804 Atlantic World.” American Historical Review 125, no. 3 (June 2020): 899–905. doi:10.1093/ahr/rhaa240.

Baur, John E. “International Repercussions of the Haitian Revolution.” The Americas 26, no. 4 (1970): 394–418.

Blackburn, Robin. “Haiti, Slavery, and the Age of the Democratic Revolution.” The William and Mary Quarterly 63, no. 4 (2006): 643–74.

Girard, Philippe. “Making Freedom Work: The Long Transition from Slavery to Freedom during the Haitian Revolution.” Slavery & Abolition 40, no. 1 (March 2019): 87–108. doi:10.1080/0144039X.2018.1452683.

Kachun, Mitch. “Antebellum African Americans, Public Commemoration, and the Haitian Revolution: A Problem of Historical Mythmaking.” Journal of the Early Republic 26, no. 2 (2006): 249–73.

Matthewson, Tim. “Abraham Bishop, ‘The Rights of Black Men,’ and the American Reaction to the Haitian Revolution.” The Journal of Negro History 67, no. 2 (1982): 148–54.

Matthewson, Timothy M. “George Washington’s Policy Toward the Haitian Revolution.” Diplomatic History 3, no. 3 (1979): 321–36.

Peck-Bartle, Shannon Marie. “Toussaint L’Ouver-Who? An Anthropological Approach to Infusing the African Diaspora into Caribbean History.” Social Studies 111, no. 3 (January 1, 2020): 155–62.

Reinhardt, Thomas. “200 Years of Forgetting: Hushing up the Haitian Revolution.” Journal of Black Studies 35, no. 4 (2005): 246–61.

Thomson, Jim. “The Haitian Revolution and the Forging of America.” History Teacher 34, no. 1 (January 1, 2000): 76–94.

[1] Girard, Philippe. “Making Freedom Work: The Long Transition from Slavery to Freedom during the Haitian Revolution.” Slavery & Abolition 40, no. 1 (March 2019): 87–108.

[2] Kachun, Mitch. “Antebellum African Americans, Public Commemoration, and the Haitian Revolution: A Problem of Historical Mythmaking.” Journal of the Early Republic 26, no. 2 (2006): 249–73.

[3] Matthewson, Tim. “Abraham Bishop, ‘The Rights of Black Men,’ and the American Reaction to the Haitian Revolution.” The Journal of Negro History 67, no. 2 (1982): 148–54.

[4] Blackburn, Robin. “Haiti, Slavery, and the Age of the Democratic Revolution.” The William and Mary Quarterly 63, no. 4 (2006): 643–74.

[5] Matthewson, Timothy M. “George Washington’s Policy Toward the Haitian Revolution.” Diplomatic History 3, no. 3 (1979): 321–36.

[6] Thomson, Jim. “The Haitian Revolution and the Forging of America.” History Teacher 34, no. 1 (January 1, 2000): 76–94.

[7] Baur, John E. “International Repercussions of the Haitian Revolution.” The Americas 26, no. 4 (1970): 394–418.

[8] Reinhardt, Thomas. “200 Years of Forgetting: Hushing up the Haitian Revolution.” Journal of Black Studies 35, no. 4 (2005): 246–61.

[9] Barcia, Manuel. “Comment: From Revolution to Recognition: Haiti’s Place in the Post-1804 Atlantic World.” American Historical Review 125, no. 3 (June 2020): 899–905.

[10] Peck-Bartle, Shannon Marie. “Toussaint L’Ouver-Who? An Anthropological Approach to Infusing the African Diaspora into Caribbean History.” Social Studies 111, no. 3 (January 1, 2020): 155–62.