Friday, June 12, 2015

Buffalo Soldiers and Native Americans

   After the Civil war, the western part of the united states was covered with tribes of Indians who called that land home. But the USA had a different idea. Settlers moved out that way due to the expanding barriers of the country. The two groups of people often clashed and many died because of it. So the federal Government decided that they would set up dividing rule for the Indians and also for the Buffalo soldiers. The soldiers were African Americans that protected the isolated settlements and kept the Indians at bay. Each group was discriminated against by the laws set in place. But most believed that what they were doing was just and part of the societal norm. This became evident by the way that buffalo boys were treated, on and off abuse in the way treatment, and the Native Americans, how schools were created and many 'savages' were reformed.
       The Buffalo soldiers regiments were originally created by Andrew Johnson after the civil war. The African Americans that were employed had been given the choice of becoming sharecroppers or going into the army. Considering that sharecropping involved being tied to a single owner of land, just like slavery, most opted for the second option. Johnson created six regiments. The Buffalo soldiers were given the hardest assignments, that most white regiments didn't want to bother going to. They were given horses near death, with their ribs showing. And when they weren't given horses, the soldiers had to walk up to ninety miles. Buffalo soldiers still fought with bravery and honor. But were often held in contempt by the very settlements they were protecting. And were given no sympathy or compassion. They did do their country a service, but at the same time, were treated as though they meant nothing.
       Just as the Buffalo Soldiers were discriminated, the Native Americans in the western planes had it perhaps worse. The main groups of Indians, such as Dakota, Lakota and Nakota, were forced out of their territories and made to move miles from what they originally called home. The Indians were slaughtered because they were defending themselves from the settlers onslaughts. Reformers eventually got it into their heads to try and help the Native Americans. They believed themselves a friend to the discriminated people. Reservation were created by such people to house the Native American. But as the land was under the protection of the federal government, it was seldom held for very long to those people. Carlyle schools were also set up to reform the Native Americans, which supported the idea that Native Americans needed to be in graded into American society in order to make them less savage like. And many were converted and transformed. Soon, the Dawes act of 1887 was created to keep the Indians in check. It stated, "Section 10. That nothing in this act contained shall be so construed to affect the right and power of Congress to grant the right of way through any lands granted to an Indian, or a tribe of Indians, for railroads or other highways, or telegraph lines, for the public use, or condemn such lands to public uses, upon making just compensation." The document is saying that they are willing to humor the Native Americans  but when the settlers really need something, they will not hesitated to take it. The rules of the federal government showed most people that Native Americans had no real need for sympathy or affection.
    The treatment of the Buffalo soldiers and Native Americans, though different, came with the same result. The groups felt very accutely the difference between themselves and the settlers. This was accepted as it was portrayed that the societal norms permitted it. People thought they were better than such groups, so naturally discrimination was the result.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Hey, is that from Above or Below?

    Revolts are only part of a rebellion. The people on either side of the spectrum have a direct effects on rebellion or change in a society. The freedom won by such change can come from either above or below. But, in the case of freeing black people from slavery, freedom came from the people above. This is because of the influence the people had at that time. Only the people in those positions had enough power to have any lasting effect. Like Abraham Lincoln, who's actions changed as the war and fight against slavery was fought. In the beginning, Lincoln thought that slavery was secondary but by his second inauguration he said that slavery was the cause of the war. His actions changed as time went on and this was because of the influenced from those below.
     Change from below was common but not as highly valued in the time of the Civil War. Slaves had some influence but not as much as they would have liked. They revolted and joined with the Union as much as they could. As in the case of the Letter from General Ambrose E. Burnside to the Secretary of War, describing a confederate town that was abandoned by it's inhabitants. Then, the slaves from the town and surrounding forest came and began loot and cause trouble in the town. The General describes it at, "They seemed to be wild with excitement and delight— they are now a source of very great anxiety to us; the city is being overrun with fugitives from surrounding towns and plantations— Two have reported themselves who have been in the swamps for five years— it would be utterly impossible if we were so disposed to keep them outside of our lines as they find their way to us through woods & swamps from every side—" In this instance, the slaves were not helpful but were also harmless. they had come to help give more of an effect on the change the Union soldiers were trying to instill. But this was not the only instance that slaves tried to change from below. In the Chickasaw Bayou, slaves met with a purpose to escape their masters. In the picture below, the slaves can be seen meeting and discussing their next move.

Just as the freedom came from below in some ways, the help also came from above in the form of speeches and words said by Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was the president at that time and gave several speeches that not only outline his feeling on the war but also his personal feeling on slavery and how they differ from his political feelings. In his speech, the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln points out that the Goal of the war is, "by virtue of the power vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion." This is saying how the rebellion in the states needs to be repressed by the Commander in Chief, namely himself. This Goal alters little in the other speeches. Although Lincoln does go on to say how he wishes to neither create nor abolish slavery. This view directly contrasts to the view point he has in the 2nd Inaugural Address, where he says, "These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war." Lincoln is explaining that he thinks slaves were the cause of the war, where as before he kept a diplomatic and neutral stand point on the subject. Abraham Lincoln's feeling changed rather drastically as the speeches progressed and the fact that he would blatantly say this shows just how much. The help from above is stronger as the 2nd Inaugural Address comes around. 
     The feelings Lincoln has both politically and personally on slavery also changed, by him saying that he felt it was only his duty in the beginning but now is the right choice. In the Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln gives his political feelings as, "all persons held as slaves within any state or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free;" And his personal feelings as, "And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God. In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed." Lincoln says, in both of these, that he gives slaves their freedom but that is all he really does. He doesn't seem to have any real convictions or fore bearings about doing this and setting the slaves free. But those feelings seem to change as Lincoln gives the 2nd Inaugural Address, in which his political feelings are, "Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God will that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so it still must be said, 'The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.'" And his personal feelings as, "If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war." In each part of the speech. Abraham Lincoln shows how much he is ashamed of his country for treating the slaves in such a way. He feels some semblance of remorse and disgrace for his country. And in this way, the help from above to free the slaves is at the strongest point it has ever been. 
      Although the Slaves put up a valiant fight, the real help and change in that time came  from above. As in the instance of the 13th Amendment. It was passed on April 8, 1864 form the Senate and on January 31, 1865 by the House. On February 1, 1865, President Lincoln approved the Joint Resolution of Congress submitting the proposed amendment to the state legislatures. And it was finally rratified on by December 6, 1865. The people in the Senate and the House had enough power and influence to make real change, unlike, however unpleasant, the people below. 
     Unlike then, however, change today comes from below. This is due to the fact that the people in such high position have very little to do with the social aspect of the world. As in the case with Bruce Jenner's famous interview. Now, he is not exactly below but he has little enough that he can be seen that way. Bruce Jenner basically abolished all of the rumors of his gender by blatantly stating he was agendered and also supported all people of such gender. He gave the subjects of sexuality and gender his full opinion and many people applauded him for his views and bravery. This is not the first time such change has come through this particular channel and from below. Many people have done things like this through the media to proclaim a particular change and it will not be the first nor the last time it happens. like that poor transgender girl, who killed herself and left that suicide note asking people to change the world. Today, almost all social change, the kind that people really care about anyway comes from below these days. 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Eastern, Western and Naval: Union and Confederate Victories

   As the Civil war is very well known, it is important that as the lessons about it are taught we understand how each battle was fought and who the victors were. So, to better understand it, our class decided to make it an adventure. We each were assigned a specific battle and were asked to do research on it. Then we posted the battles around the school with QR codes and would run around and scan them. The information on each was transferred to our notes. The main concerns we had were the trends in the victories and we made a padlet to show that. Our class discussed the trends and we each had different opinions on which army won in either the West, East or Naval theater. The examples we used were different. But the battles themselves told the story of the Civil war victories.

In the Eastern theater, the Confederates dominated the victories and this is manly due to position during the battles.  Each battle brought an opportunity for the confederacy to take the Union by surprise. Such as the battle of Chancellorsville, were the confederates took the Union by surprise. And in the battle of Bull run, in which the Confederates responded to the Union Army with more than 28,000 men. This was the largest number of soldiers in the entire war and was quickly one of the largest battles.
   In the Western theater, the Union held the upper hand. The count for the soldiers was much higher due to the higher population count. Most of the battles the Union won were due to the amount of soldiers they had and their abilities to stay together in a battle. As in the battle of Pittsburg Landing, where the confederates counterattacked several times but the Union was able to hold strong and keep the lines up. And Chattanooga Campaign, the foothold the Union gained allowed them to fight their way out. The Confederates eventually retreated.
   And, finally, the Naval theater held the victories of the Union. This is mainly because of the developed naval command before the war and the more supplies they were able to get. The battle of Fort Henry tells of an almost easy victory for the Union. The soldiers outnumbered the Confederates, the location was poor and much of the guns did not have ammunition. And in the battle of Fort Donelson, the fleet was moved up and put pressure on the Confederates. But the general of the Confederates made a mistake, instead of retreating, he push the soldiers back to their entrenchments. This made the Union almost inevitable and they were able to fire on the fort. This allowed them to gain back ground that had been lost. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Art of the Civil war

As the Eve of the Civil war was marked by several events, the art that was used to illustrate them was also marking the great time before that huge push. The different pieces of media offer different depictions that give us a sense of what those times where really like. Like the picture of Dread Scott, which allows us to see his point of view and his appearance to further gage who he really was. The video below gives us all that benefit as it not only shows the pictures but also a short description to base our judgements off of. The art of the Civil war will be remembered not only for when it was made but for what it represents.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Each Regions Abilities, Products and Count

With the difference in culture and belief came the difference of success and strategy in the civil war. With the North, It came down to a matter of population and product. The North had more manufactured goods and this gave them easier excess to supplies and tools. Plus, the North had more tracks on the railroads so they were able to get to those much easier and that was something that the South did not have. They also had more of the population, which gave the North an easier time getting troops together and keep their own small army and navy well supplied with troops. But the South had more of an advantage when it came to military preparation. The major army training facilities were all in the South, which made each graduate a Southerner and a member of the Confederacy. Plus, due to the major population being composed of slaves, the South had a large supply of expendable men who would be forced to fight. This meant a larger army and chance of winning. The South also didn't need to take any immediate military action. All they had to do was wait and keep beating back the North's constant attacks. Each of these reasons gave each region a direct and important advantage on the Civil war.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

What a Lovely Elephant!!!!

As the cotton and slave production and consumption grew, so did the problem and topic of slavery. Done to death in many political and social circle, this grew to an elephant proportion. It became a subject that was never discussed and yet always there. Politics swelled with the pro and anti-slavery thoughts and feelings. So how do we know the debate over slavery was the "elephant in the room" for American politics in the early 19th century? Slavery earned this distinction because of the constant battle between pro and anti shown in the Compromise of 1850, the Dred Scott Decision, and the John Brown Raid of 1858. Each one of these victories showed a victory for either the pro or anti believers. As this is an issue that spanned over a number of years, the timeline gives more light on the events.

     The time of expansion was ripe and rich. The Missouri Compromise had brought about 11 free states and 11 slave states which meant an even keel in the Senate. This lasted a few years and life was good. But as the Gold Rush came about in 1849, so did trouble. California came to the Union and requested to join the Union as a free state. But Henry Clay, a politician, anticipated the complaints from the slave states and suggested a compromise. This was debated and eventually named the 5 part Compromise of 1850. This held five different parts that detailed what was to happen to keep the slave and free states hapy. We read an article called PBS’s Africans in America and found different quotes explaining such parts. Here, it explains the first four rules, “According to the compromise, Texas would relinquish the land in dispute but, in compensation, be given 10 million dollars -- money it would use to pay off its debt to Mexico. Also, the territories of New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah would be organized without mention of slavery. (The decision would be made by the territories' inhabitants later, when they applied for statehood.) Regarding Washington, the slave trade would be abolished in the District of Columbia, although slavery would still be permitted. Finally, California would be admitted as a free state. To pacify slave-state politicians, who would have objected to the imbalance created by adding another free state, the Fugitive Slave Act was passed.” The first part of the compromise was saying that Texas would be given compensation for relinquishing land. The states that were organized would be given free rein in the slavery respect and that was shaky territory since both the Union and Confederacy could convince people to move to those territories and spread the ideals of those places. Since the capital of the USA was abolishing slavery in that district, that meant that the country was representing a non-slavery outlook. And California was allowed to joined the fun. But to help pacify the South even more, the fugitive slave act was passed. As it is explained here, “Of all the bills that made up the Compromise of 1850, the Fugitive Slave Act was the most controversial. It required citizens to assist in the recovery of fugitive slaves. It denied a fugitive's right to a jury trial. (Cases would instead be handled by special commissioners -- commissioners who would be paid $5 if an alleged fugitive were released and $10 if he or she were sent away with the claimant.) The act called for changes in filing for a claim, making the process easier for slaveowners. Also, according to the act, there would be more federal officials responsible for enforcing the law.” The Fugitive Slave act meant that slaves who lived in and escaped to the free states were not really free and it bothered the North because it undermined the underground railroad. It also meant that the North was not allowed to fight against slavery. This was a victory for both pro and anti but the pro-slavery people in the south had more advantages in the long run.
    Dred Scott was one of the only slaves who took his owner to court and had the issue escalate to such a high degree that it was turned into a national event. Dred Scott and his wife claimed that since their owner had moved them from Illinois(a free state) to Missouri(a slave state) that mean that they were both free to live and vote. This raised many voices and questions from both sides. But the SCOTUS eventually ruled 7 to 2 against the Scots and the issue was put to rest. But this court event had lasting effects. We read about such effects in an article called PBS’s Africans in America that explained such effects. First and foremost, slaves, because they are not citizens, are not allowed to sue in court. As it is said, “They had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery. . . . He was bought and sold, and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever a profit could be made by it. This opinion was at that time fixed and universal in the civilized portion of the white race.” This outlook cuts down the Scotts as well as any other slave who wishes to change the way of life for his fellow man. It also degrades them to property and destroys their rights, while claiming that all whites feel this way. And if they don’t they are uncivilized. Second, enslaved people cannot win or gain freedom by living in or visiting a free state. The article tells us, “"One of these clauses reserves to each of the thirteen States the right to import slaves until the year 1808.... And by the other provision the States pledge themselves to each other to maintain the fight of property of the master, by delivering up to him any slave who may have escaped from his service, and be found within their respective territories." This meant that the North had no say on whether they could help or care for a slave because they could not help them to freedom. And that any slave was condemned to his fate till his death or until his master saw fit to release him. Slaves began to feel the weight of the South on them at this time and began to feel it more keenly as the next change came along. Last, The Missouri Compromise was declared unconstitutional and all territories were open to slavery. “If any of its provisions are deemed unjust, there is a mode prescribed in the instrument itself by which it may be amended; but while it remains unaltered, it must be construed now as it was understood at the time of its adoption. It is not only the same in words, but the same in meaning, and delegates the same powers to the Government, and reserves and secures the same rights and privileges to the citizen; and as long as it continues to exist in its present form, it speaks not only in the same words, but with the same meaning and intent with which it spoke when it came from the hands of its framers, and was voted on and adopted by the people of the United States. Any other rule of construction would abrogate the judicial character of this court, and make it the mere reflex of the popular opinion or passion of the day. This court was not created by the Constitution for such purposes.” This was an outrage to the Union as well as to the slaves. It took the beliefs of their people and threw them out the back door. The North felt cornered and the slaves were now trapped. The annulment of the Missouri compromise meant that slavery would run rampant throughout America and could soon take hold of the North. This whole ordeal was a huge victory for the South and meant they were one step closer to a country full of slavery.
   There was a man named John Brown, who, seeing these things occur, decided to do something about it. Only he chose a rather extreme way of going about it. John Brown was known for his killing of five influential southerners in the middle of the night by cutting them up in front of their families. This gave him a famous reputation and a great many enemies. But Brown soon earned a greater reputation for his raid on Harper’s Ferry in 1858. In this small town in Virginia, John Brown took a group of men and pillaged the armory in the town for guns to give to a group of slaves waiting for them. But the group was intercepted and cut down by USA soldiers and half were killed. Brown was taken into custody and tried for treason. He was hung. The South was extremely happy as this meant that the man who was responsible for the death of many southerners was condemned. But the North grieved for him as he was a man who represented them in beliefs, albeit in a very extreme way. His reputation can be veiwed here in a stanza of a song from John Brown’s Body, “He captured Harper's Ferry with his nineteen men so true. He frightened old Virginia till she trembled through and through. They hung him for a traitor, but themselves the traitor crew. His soul is marching on.”  This was a win for the North but at a heavier cost than before. The cause was just but it was also the way it was brought about was very questionable.
  The right and pathway of slavery is that of an elephant as you can see now. The North and South have danced around this issue for years and have done any thing in the name of their beliefs on the subject. This creates the problem and inflates it. So the North and South both won but each had to deal with the elephant.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Slavery in the 19th Century

   In the 19th century, Slavery was a hot topic. This has been one for quite sometimes. But different question are brought up about it every time we look at this age. How did slavery become entrenched in the American economy by the 19th century? How did the system of slavery based on race affect human dignity? What human characteristics did such a system tend to ignore? These are just a few question we ask. 
    By the 19th century, cotton became a major export of the united states and the south that was kick started by the invention of the cotton gin. Eli Whitney, the inventor, helped the slaves become a major commodity. As it is described here, "Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton gin gave slavery a new lease on life. Between 1792, when Whitney invented the cotton gin, and 1794, the price of slaves doubled. By 1825, field hands, who had brought $500 apiece in 1794, were worth $1,500. As the price of slaves grew, so, too, did their numbers. During the first decade of the nineteenth century, the number of slaves in the United States rose by 33 percent; during the following decade, the slave population grew another 29 percent.(1)"  This growth in cotton correlated directly with the growth of cotton production. In the beginning roughly 35 million pounds were produced and accounted for about 7% percent of the nations revenues. This number gradually and majorly skyrocketed. By the 1840's cotton production had reached 834 million pounds. And the numbers didn't stop there. Finally, 1860 came around with about 2.28 billion pounds of cotton. These numbers and growth of revenue correlated to the spread of slavery in the united states. As more cotton needed to be picked, more slaves were transported in and by mid century, about 3,204,000 slaves were held in the south. Most of the higher concentrations of slaves were held in the lower Mississippi basin and Gulf Coast states.   
     Since the North also relied on the revenue of the South and United States, even as they were opposed to slavery, they depended on it for a large portion of their well being. Cotton brought in clothing, trad-able goods and money. So that was a controversial topic in the government as well. The Northerners believed that it was brutal and horrible but the Southerners pointed out that it paid the bills and kept America out of debt.     
      Where the line of human dignity has come in question, we, as Americans, have never been able to stand when that line was crossed. Except in the manner of slavery. The system of slavery took the human dignity and lowered it a few levels. The slaves were treated like property and that can be seen in the Constitution. The founders of the Constitution put different laws in place to help keep slaves in their proper place. Such as Article 4, Section 2, Clause 3 says, "No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.(2)" Here, the Founding Fathers are explaining If a slave escapes from the state in which they are in servitude, they are not free of their owner, and they must be sent back to whoever they escaped from. This treats slaves like property and degrades them to a low standard. Which also lowers the line of human dignity.   
     Where the subject of slavery is concerned, many people have had objections because of the morality and brutality of it. This system tends to ignore vital human characteristics and needs for life. Such as the needs for compassion and family. The slaves would often be torn apart form family and friends. While being shown very little compassion. As we have heard before, "Enslaved persons stationed in the household were under the constant watchful eye of the slaveholder and his family, which limited their autonomy and made less time available to them to manage their own personal affairs. For enslaved women, it also meant the ever-present possibility of sexual assault by the slaveholder. Those who worked in the fields faced daunting labor.(3)" This kind of constant degradation made slave life in the united states a living nightmare. But it was only this way in America. Slavery in other places was not such a burden. In Futa Jallon, a colony in Africa, slavery was described as, "By the third generation, the status of a slave was similar to that of a freed person, and children born of a free father and an enslaved mother were free and could reach the highest echelon of political power. Some captives were blacksmiths, potters, weavers, and soldiers but most worked in agriculture and lived in villages in the countryside where they had little contact with their owners. Placed under the direction of one of their own, they grew rice, corn, grain, yam, peanuts, millet, and cassava. They worked in their fields and gardens two days a week to feed themselves, and could hold property. Part of the crops they produced for their owners was sold to the Europeans.(3)" Here, slavery does not mean a complete alienation form society and human dignity. It simply means a lower rank and more work. America is one of the only places that took slavery to such an extreme and made it such a huge question of morality.       
     In American history, and the 19th century, slavery degraded the human dignity to a low stand point by treating slaves like property. The North and South, although each had different opinions on the subject, heavily depended on the imports and exports that slavery provided. And such a system ignored the characteristics of a good life such as love and compassion. These three contributing factors lead us, now, to cringe at the history of slavery. 

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