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Queen Liliuokalani: The heart of a leader

One cannot consider Hawai’i and it’s fallen kingdom without thinking almost right away of Queen Liliuokalani, the last recognized royal of the Kingdom of Hawai’i.  In the late 19th century Hawai’i was a nation on the verge of collapse.  The greedy haole (Hawaiian for “the white man”) businessmen looked to take whatever they could from the soil and sea.[1]  Queen Liliuokalani could not have been prepared for the disrespect, humiliation, and abuse that she would endure at their will.  There are three sources that I have assessed in order to get more information on the circumstances surrounding the downfall of Hawai’i’s Kingdom.  Each is connected to the other by the Queen yet offers unique details and insight that have helped shape my own interpretation more clearly.  The first source is a letter by the Queen herself dated January 18th, 1893 and addressed to the President of the United States, Benjamin Harrison, pleading her case for the preservation of her kingdom.  The second is an article by an extensively educated artist, Paul X. Rutz, who enjoys a focus on military history.  In his article “Queen’s Ransom: How Hawaii’s indebted last queen lost her throne to sugar barons and the American rush to empire” Rutz lays out the history of 19th century Hawai’i leading to the overthrow of the Queen.  And lastly, I have found a historiography by a professor from Virginia Wesleyan College, Dr. Richard Bond.  In his historiography, Bond reviews a book by a native Hawaiian who tells the story of Queen Liliuokalani, and a connection to her own ancestors.  I aim to provide interesting information from each of these sources and compare them to one another to find similarities and/or differences.

As her Kingdom faced imminent conclusion, Queen Liliuokalani sent dozens of letters to various American government leaders, and representatives begging on behalf of her people.  As evidenced in a letter addressed to President Benjamin Harrison in January 1893, the message was always sent with respect and aloha (Hawaiian for “love and peace”): “MY GREAT AND GOOD FRIEND,”.[2]  But to anyone with compassion for an indigenous people the letters are also cringeworthy and uncomfortable: “This request has been refused and I now ask you that in justice to myself and to my people that no steps be taken by the Government of the United States until my cause can be heard by you,”.[3]  Within her correspondence is the plea of a leader who reveals her courage yet sadness to a growing super power.  Such lines as “This appeal is not made for myself personally, but for my people,” provide insight to her heart.[4]  Simply, her plea was this: allow me to rule alone and in peace.  It should not be missed that in a time when Hawai’i allowed and demanded respect for female leadership there stood in stark contrast the United States whose women would not even be allowed a voice at the ballot for decades to come.

Paul X. Rutz, recounts the history leading to the depose of Queen Liliuokalani in his article “Queen’s Ransom”.  He explains how in 1819 American missionaries traveled to Hawai’i to evangelize and educate and that their governmental ways soon had heavy influence there.[5]  It seems that Rutz might agree with many Hawaiians: that with the discovery of Hawai’i by the haole came quick, drastic, and even devastating changes.  Hawai’i was affected by introduction of diseases and viruses previously unknown to the natives, new ways of worship and dress, haole domination of Hawai’i’s natural resources, and thus a beginning to the disintegration of Hawaiian tradition and monarchy.  Rutz accuses wealthy sugar plantation owners of lending money to locals and the monarchy out of a desire for leverage to gain more political power in the nation.[6]  To prove this, he explains how in an 1874 election for the monarchy, King Kalakaua was voted in by the white dominated legislator despite being the less popular candidate of the natives.[7]  Rutz claims that a secret society formed of American and European men who believed they could prey on the weaknesses of Kalakaua, and indeed, at gunpoint they forced the king to sign a new constitution relinquishing much of his power while allowing him to remain, at least in imagery, as king.[8]  This has become known as the “Bayonet Constitution”.

In 1891, Kalakaua died, leaving his sister Liliuokalani to become Hawai’i’s Queen, and last monarch.[9]  It appears that Rutz might argue that Queen Liliuokalani had a lot of mess to clean up after her brother.  She had to repay debts, repair broken trust with the natives, and regain control of her government.  Rutz spins it as, once again, the haole men saw a moment of weakness in the Hawaiian Kingdom, so they planned a coup d’état that would lead to annexation (against the wills of most of the natives and Hawaiian leaders), and thus further the disintegration of Hawaiian culture and tradition.[10]

A third written work agrees in tone with the previous two.  Richard Bond wrote a brief historiography on a book, The Queen and I, by Sydney Lehua Iaukae who is a native Hawaiian.  According to Bond, Iaukae illustrates the United States confiscation of land, and the Queen’s struggle to keep control of her million acres.[11]   Furthermore, Iaukae shares the story that, like the Queen, the Queen’s ‘ohana (Hawaiian for “family”), and their descendants, her own ancestors suffered great loss at the rewriting of laws and land division by the new government.[12]  Iaukae also touches on the idea that a sense of true Hawaiian history and therefore culture was also taken.[13]  This story resonates with Bond.  He claims that Iaukae should have written more about how her culture and history were lost to Americanization, saying “It is unfortunate that Iaukae’s monograph never fully traces this part of her story,”.[14]  It is apparent that he too writes with a sensitivity to the Hawaiian natives and their culture that was almost erased.

In connecting the sources, consider first that Rutz confirms the many letters from Queen Liliuokalani sent to the United States government, as well as petitions full of signatures from locals who protested annexation.[15]  He asserts that the Queen mortgaged her estate and used all of her money, time, and resources to gather supporters and plea her case for two full years.[16]  Rutz displays a compassion for the history of Hawai’i and he attempts to display it honestly and out of respect for an indigenous people exploited by white America.  Consider the imagery he uses in his closing paragraph, “The annexation ceremony outside Iolani Palace marked the last step in Hawaii’s Americanization. On August 12 native Hawaiians in Western suits and dresses offered up Christian prayers… while their flag was lowered… The sight proved too much for the Hawaiian players, who abandoned their instruments and left the ceremony in tears”.[17]

All sources are in agreement that with Hawai’i annexation much was lost for Hawaiians.  In all three, most of the white American men are displayed as selfish and deceitful.  The disregard that the Queen sensed surely came at least in part by her dark skin and gender.  Indeed, in “Queen’s Ransom” Rutz agrees with this.  He writes, “She reportedly told Stevens’ replacement, U.S. Minister Albert S. Willis, the coup leaders deserved to be “beheaded.” Whether or not she meant that literally, the idea of the dark-skinned queen bringing back sacrificial practice made the American press howl,”.[18]

All three sources are tied by an empathy for the native Hawaiians and for the dissolution of their kingdom and culture.  Bond writes, “Historical memory is certainly a powerful inculcator of identity… it would be interesting to see [Iaukae] trace the construction of this regime of truth in order to demonstrate that the lack of discussion regarding the territorial government and its actions was a deliberate erasure by institutional forces…”.[19]  He insinuates that America erased Hawai’i history in order to assert their power over the land.

But perhaps one question that must be asked is this: did any good come from Hawai’i annexation for the people of Hawai’i themselves?  Although it is impossible to know the truest answer to a question that must be asked about a time that cannot reoccur, this question does cause intrigue.  It is possible that the Hawai’i nation could have thrived and entered into the industrial age of the 20th century without the economic and political power of the likes of America.  But it is also possible that Japan, or Russia would have eventually overthrown the monarchy pursuing their own exploitation ventures.  After the landing on the islands by Captain James Cook, was it inevitable that the Kingdom of Hawai’i would find its collapse at the will of a more powerful government and military?  As evidenced by these sources, one thing is certain.  From the standpoint of the United States government and businessmen, Hawai’i was a “pear… now fully ripe,” and it was “the golden hour for the United States to pluck it,”.[20]  Perhaps, not much has changed.

Bibliography

Bond, Richard. 2012. “Book Review.” Journal of American Culture 35 (2): 201. doi:10.1111/j.1542-734X.2012.00807

Pukui, Mary Kawena. 1986. Hawaiian Dictionary: Hawaiian-English, English-Hawaiian. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii to President Benjamin Harrison, January 18, 1893, The Annexation Of Hawaii: A Collection Of Document, Hamilton Library. University of Hawaii Manoa. http://libweb.hawaii.edu/digicoll/annexation/protest/liliu3.php

Rutz, Paul X. 2017. “Queen’s Ransom: How Hawaii’s Indebted Last Queen Lost Her Throne to Sugar Barons and the American Rush to Empire.” Military History. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsggo&AN=edsgcl.504179585&site=eds-live&scope=site.

John L. Stevens to John W. Foster, February 1, 1893. The Annexation Of Hawaii: A Collection Of Document, Hamilton Library. University of Hawaii Manoa. http://libweb.hawaii.edu/digicoll/annexation/blount/br0402.php

Citations:

[1] Mary Kawena Pukui, Hawaiian Dictionary: Hawaiian-English, English-Hawaiian (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1986) 58.

[2] Mary Kawena Pukui, Hawaiian Dictionary: Hawaiian-English, English-Hawaiian (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1986) 21.; Queen Liliuokalani to President Benjamin Harrison, January 18, 1893.

[3] Queen Liliuokalani to President Benjamin Harrison, January 18, 1893.

[4] Queen Liliuokalani to President Benjamin Harrison, January 18, 1893.

[5] Paul X. Rutz, “Queen’s Ransom: How Hawaii’s Indebted Last Queen Lost Her Throne to Sugar Barons and the American Rush to Empire,” Military History, (2017): 65.

[6] Paul X. Rutz, “Queen’s Ransom: How Hawaii’s Indebted Last Queen Lost Her Throne to Sugar Barons and the American Rush to Empire,” Military History, (2017): 66.

[7] Rutz, “Queen’s Ransom”, 66.

[8] Rutz, “Queen’s Ransom”, 66.

[9] Rutz, “Queen’s Ransom”, 67.

[10] Rutz, “Queen’s Ransom”, 68.

[11] Richard Bond, “Book Review”, Journal of American Culture 35 no.2 (2012): 201.

[12] Mary Kawena Pukui, Hawaiian Dictionary: Hawaiian-English, English-Hawaiian (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1986) 512.

[13] Richard Bond, “Book Review”, Journal of American Culture 35 no.2 (2012): 201.

[14] Bond, “Book Review”, 201.

[15] Paul X. Rutz, “Queen’s Ransom: How Hawaii’s Indebted Last Queen Lost Her Throne to Sugar Barons and the American Rush to Empire,” Military History, (2017): 69.

[16] Rutz, “Queen’s Ransom”, 69.

[17] Rutz, “Queen’s Ransom”, 69

[18] Paul X. Rutz, “Queen’s Ransom: How Hawaii’s Indebted Last Queen Lost Her Throne to Sugar Barons and the American Rush to Empire,” Military History, (2017): 69.

[19] Richard Bond, “Book Review”, Journal of American Culture 35 no.2 (2012): 201.

[20] John L. Stevens to John W. Foster, February 1, 1893.

African American Politics during Reconstruction

At the end of the Civil War, one of the most drastic and blatant matters was the millions of freed slaves whom required immediate attention for integration and securing liberty, and even life itself. There are several factors that came to be of importance to the African Americans, the majority of whom were adamant to see their freedom realized. Education became synonymous with freedom, so schools were built. Many black and white northerners heeded the call for formal teachers’ presence within the south in order to get freedmen’s children educated. Another factor was the religious institution. Churches became sanctuaries of worship while allowing African Americans to feel safe and comfortable amongst each other without the scrutiny and prejudice of white parishioners. Church also became a place for politics to be discussed and taught. A third aspect of freedom that African American’s held in high regard was the issue of land ownership. Owning land was one of the clearest symbols of being one’s own master and many felt that if the acquirement of land remained elusive, that freedom was not truly attainable. The fourth area that both whites and blacks regarded as symbolic of true freedom was politics. Without the ability to engage in American politics and secure status within the legal system as the equal of whites, African Americans would never stand a chance at life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The Freedmen’s Bureau, organized by government leaders and led predominantly by white men, appeared helpful in theory but in reality, struggled against the vast majority of southern, and even many northern, whites whom opposed black equality and long continued to crave a white supreme America. The Bureau was tasked with aiding the recently freed slaves, as well as some defeated impoverished whites, with the goals of education, land ownership, political and legal rights, as well as basic human needs related to food, water, and medicine.[1] Black politicians also cared for the economic welfare of former slaves and made attempts to pass laws regulating wages and labor contracts, but these never passed because most white Republicans were not comfortable asserting such authority over employers.[2] Southern whites in particular made it difficult. Most white people did not accept black people as equal. The majority resented the backlash of slavery’s abolishment.

When it comes to African American involvement in politics, there was little hesitation to get involved following the Civil War. The thought that voting could be available to the recently freed slaves incited much conversation around its importance. During October of 1864, a convention held in Syracuse, New York found 145 black leaders, many of them well known to the American public, attending and voicing their expectations to be given full political and legal rights the same as the whites.[3] Congress, against President Andrew Johnson’s desires, pushed for the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments. The former provided that former slaves were citizens of the country and that citizenship should be protected by the state in which they resided, and the latter provided and protected the right to vote of all male American citizens.Although the federal enforcement of the amendment was poor it opened the door for blacks to become more involved and have a much louder voice than they had even before imagined. Black men were finally able to gain election, yet white men still made up the majority of the Republican party, even in the South despite the heavy black population and whites made up almost the entirety of the Democratic party. But in communities like South Carolina where large black populations remained, hundreds of black men found themselves elected to government offices for the first time in American history. Some of those elected include Mississippi Senators Blanche K. Bruce and Hiram Revels, and South Carolina Senator Joseph Rainey. Several others served in the House of Representatives, as lieutenant governors, and state house representatives. A black man named Jonathan J. Wright served as a supreme court justice for seven years in South Carolina, while Francis L. Cardoza served as the state’s secretary of state and treasurer. Dozens of others served in various public roles such as sheriff, superintendent, mayors and coroners.[4]

Discrimination against black politicians was rampant. Whites, especially in the South, attempted to discourage blacks from their positions in every way possible, even refusing to provide them services such as hotel, restaurant, or transportation accommodations.[5] Black politicians worked hard to fight against the discrimination that also affected the general (black) public, however they were often faced with opposition, even from their white fellow Republicans. They attempted to pass civil rights bills protecting black patrons, but these were vastly shot down. In the midst of growing intense violence people in the south reached out to the Federal government several times to send help but help rarely came. In the years following the Civil War, and for many decades to come, blacks received little interference from the government, nor even the Freedmen’s Bureau, in the violence that pursued them, and white attackers and murderers were often not held accountable at a legal level for the atrocities committed against blacks.[6] Despite local and militia efforts to prevent the Ku Klux Klan from gaining strength their efforts often backfired. The Colfax Massacre demonstrates how intense and violent the issue of voting and legal rights was in the South. Immediately following the Civil War blacks continued to attempt to assert their right to vote and faced immense opposition. During a standoff between Democrats and Republicans on the outcome of a Louisiana election the situation became so extreme in Colfax that over 105 black people were killed.[7] Eventually, in 1870, Congress finally made an attempt to help curtail the Klan’s violence by passing Enforcement Acts which asserted their intention to take more control over the states. It called for the disallowance of disguises, federal punishment of those that interfered with a citizen’s right to vote or serve in a public position and provided protection for the general civil rights of citizens.[8]

The ultimate outcome of black leaders attempts to improve the welfare of and provide protection for those formerly enslaved was dismal. At every turn it seemed Democrats, and more often than not, white Republicans fought them and refused their proposals. The diversity of the black politicians in terms of personal background and common good belief also was to the detriment of moving forward in a productive manner. For example, the Civil Rights Act of 1875 outlawed racial discrimination in public businesses, however the Supreme Court invalidated it in 1883.[9] An unfortunate mentality that gained popularity as the fight for freedom and equality continued on is that whites in the whole country began to feel frustration and less patience. Their attitudes concerning the demands for legal rights and protection turned sour as they increasingly desired to begin a focus on events and topics other than civil rights. Therefore, the biggest obstacle to black liberty and equality was in fact white people.

Bibliography

Hine, Darlene Clark, Hine, William C, and Stanley Harrold. 2018. The African American Odyssey, Volume 2.

Foner, Eric and Olivia Mahoney. 2003. America’s Reconstruction: People and Politics After the Civil War. Online Exhibit. http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/exhibits/reconstruction/index.html

Citations:

[1] Darlene Clark Hine, William C Hine, and Stanley Harrold, The African American Odyssey, Volume 2, (2018): 317.

[2] Hine, Hine, and Harrold, The African American Odyssey, Volume 2, 347.

[3] Hine, 328.

[4] Hine, 345.

[5] Hine, 347.

[6] Hine, 328.

[7] Hine, 358.

[8] Hine, 354.

[9] Hine, 356.

The Black Church: Meeting the Needs of Their People

All throughout history, humanity has been attached to the idea of spirituality and religion. From the Ancient Egyptians, to the Nordic Vikings, to the evangelical conservatives, religion has been a major factor in many human’s lives. African American’s are no different. Religion and the church have been a major contribution and epicenter for African Americans since the days of slavery. Church, music, and art have been an expression of black folks’ own struggles, hopes, dreams, and fears. Within the context of a congregation, there was found much safety and acceptance for African Americans for many decades following emancipation. One could attend church, and find themselves surrounded primarily by other African Americans, for as Martin Luther King Jr. has been quoted, “I think it is one of the tragedies of our nation, one of the shameful tragedies, that eleven o’clock on Sunday morning is one of the most segregated hours, if not the most segregated hours, in Christian America.”[1] While King certainly felt by 1960 that the natural segregation that occurred overtime within the church was a tragedy, and perhaps he is right in some ways, many other African Americans felt much more comfortable and at ease surrounded by others who had the same skin color, experiences, and fears that they themselves had had. The American black church became a great force because freed people had become tired of white abuse and the church provided a means of safety for expression and learning as well as having helped the African American community amidst their most challenging struggles.

Before slavery was abolished, white led churches were the most common attended for black worshippers within the south, yet blacks were not treated as equals even within the walls of a sanctuary. White people controlled the buildings, the services, and everything that went into it. Often the sermons might have been geared toward a “slaves, obey your masters” message where pastors and church leadership cherry picked scriptures that would support such convictions. Ministers even discouraged the message of being created in God’s image for the sake of deterring blacks from believing themselves to be equal to whites or their creator.[2] Christianity by nature is self-sacrificial, so it was not hard for masters to manipulate the Word of God to fit their own agendas. Primarily, slaves were not permitted to lead and attend organized religious services for fear that such institutions would undermine and challenge their enslavement. Yet the majority of white Christian slave owners wished for their slaves to become evangelized, partly in hopes of keeping them docile and accepting of their subservient roles. For those that lived and worked plantations far from churches, attendance was uncommon. Some white clergy and missionaries therefore went to great lengths to admonish plantation masters to bring the gospel to their slaves by plantation missionaries who would visit the plantations and attempt to lead services there.[3]

In some northern states such as Massachusetts where slavery was the minority and race relations were far less tense, black led churches became increasingly prominent throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth century.[4] These early establishments of separate places of worship might be a part of what instilled and supported the natural, church racial segregation that has lasted for centuries in America. Although there are some instances of black preachers rising up and even leading a congregation in the southern states, such as founder of the Black Baptist Church, reverend Andrew Bryan of Savannah, Georgia during the 1780s and 90s, who despite great abuse and opposition was able to grow a church, this was absolutely the exception.[5] As abolitionists became more outspoken and increased in numbers, what few black ministers there were used their pulpits to exclaim how evil slavery was and that it should no longer be accepted as one’s fate.[6] This is an example of how the black church was able to unite and give voice to their people in facing an extreme and terrible challenge together. It wasn’t until after the Civil War though that black churches in the south truly began to build. By then, black people generally preferred their ministers and preachers to be from their own race. Part of this was for a lack of trust, given the history that white church goers had created for black worshippers. Often, they also felt as though white preachers just could not fit the emotional and spiritual need that former slaves and freed people had.[7]

There is no doubt that religion was a major contribution to the survival of black folks during slavery. Despite it being heavily supplied and regulated by white people, religion and faith gave slaves something to hold onto, something that was personal, individual, and hopeful even in a world where the vast majority had little control and peace in their lives. Yet after slavery, there were many more injustices and painful times for African Americans, thus religion was just as important, but in a much more free, tangible, and obvious way. Furthermore, gospel music, which is a term accepted to mean the traditional music used and implemented during black church services, is a major piece of African American Christianity. With its heavy use of instruments, soothing and compelling croons, physical body language, and at times emotional lyrics, gospel music truly embodies the black church of the twentieth century and beyond. Gospel singer, Mahalia Jackson, explained it like this: “Gospel songs are the songs of hope. When you sing them, you are delivered of your burden,”.[8]

When it comes to the great migration of black folks moving to the northern urban cities from the deep south in the early twentieth century, the church was more than just a center for worship. Olivet Baptist Church of Chicago led by Reverend Lacey K. Williams is a great example of what more the church was during these transitional times. Reverend Williams went to great lengths to preach about and demonstrate how a church could help migraters adjust to their new lives.[9] Many other churches provided practical resources as well such as education, information, and even food or shelter in some instances. [10] One such example is the Peace Mission Movement, led by Father Major Jealous Divine, whom some might argue was more of a philanthropist than an actual clergyman. Father Divine caused many scenes and scandals with his outlandish and at time provocative language and methods, but he helped many African American people learn how to seek and instill better economic opportunities. He even opened up his own personal home to many where he sheltered them and provided meals.[11] Father Divine helped many impoverished and needy black people find secure jobs and improve their conditions, and despite some of his strange methods and language he had a substantial following for quite some time.

The black church played a pivotal role in the recent Civil Rights Movement, although not all churches were willing to get involved in such a formal way.[12] It is appropriate when investigating the role of the church in the Civil Rights Movement to start with Martin Luther King Jr. himself. Being raised in church and a leader of his very own, he often filled positions within his organizations and built relationships around him with other church leaders. He recognized the Christian values he respected such as freedom, justice, and equality as key examples of how he should lead his followers and secure rights. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), which King was the founder of, was made up of initially over 60 men, most of whom belonged to black churches across the south.[13] One supporter of King and the SCLC was Pastor Leon Sullivan, leader of the Zion Baptist church in Philadelphia. Pastor Sullivan birthed several economic initiatives out of his church in support of the Civil Rights Movement.[14] Another way that black churches contributed was by supporting and housing voter registration drives in order to ensure black enfranchisement. This came with great backlash within the south, but churches stood firm in their ventures despite white opposition. The black church was key in many other ways to the Movement. It provided a safe and free place for people to learn qualities they might not be able to learn other places such as leadership, and activism, and also provided a trustworthy institution to give financial resources for Civil Rights.[15]

It is clear that church and faith were huge contributors to the black community in America since the days of slavery. Not only did the church allow for a place of worship and security to be oneself, albeit facing occasional opposition, but it provided practical, artistic, and civil rights needs as well. In his essay, “The Black Church, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Future,”, Leonard Gadzekpo sums it up nicely by explaining that the value of freedom was and is central to many black Christian believers, and that this value is interpreted vastly different than a white believer. He professes that many black believers associated freedom with a “release from bondage; after emancipation, it meant education, employment, and freedom of movement to the ‘Negro’; and for the past forty years, it has meant social, political, and economic justice to African Americans,”.[16] These are very real and powerful associations and it is no wonder that the church has been a place of freedom and stability for African Americans in a very real and powerful way. The black church has been a major, if not the primary, institution of black culture and community in America and despite the sad reality of the many years of segregation in the church, it has flourished and stood as the pillar of freedom, justice, and equality.

Bibliography

Boles, Richard J. 2013. “Documents Relating to African American Experiences of White Congregational Churches in Massachusetts, 1773-1832.” The New England Quarterly 86, no. 2. 310-23. Accessed March 3, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/43284993.

Butler, Anthea and Jonathan Walton. October 11, 2010. “The Black Church”. God in America. Accessed February 27, 2020. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/godinamerica-black-church/

Charles, Allan D. 1988. “Black-White Relations in an Antebellum Church in the Carolina Upcountry.” The South Carolina Historical Magazine 89, no. 4. 218-26. Accessed March 3, 2020. http://www.jstor.org/stable/27568057.

Gadzekpo, Leonard. 1997. “The Black Church, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Future.” Journal of Religious Thought 53/54 (2/1). https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=hlh&AN=1857238&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Hine, Darlene. Hine, William C. and Harold, Stanley. 2018. The African American Odyssey, Volume Two. New York. Pearson Education.

King Jr., Martin Luther. April 17, 1960. Interview on “Meet the Press”. NBCNA-NNNBC, National Broadcasting Company News Archives, National Broadcasting Company, Inc., General Library, New York, N.Y. Accessed March 3, 2020, http://okra.stanford.edu/transcription/document_images/Vol05Scans/17Apr1960_InterviewonMeetthePress.pdf

Lutz, Norma Jean. 1998. “Chapter 4: The Civil Rights Movement and the Black Church.” In History of the Black Church, 52. US: Facts on File. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=khh&AN=9163104&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Salley, Columbus and Ronald Behm. 1981. What Color is Your God?Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Trinkaus, John, Alvin Puryear, and Joseph A. Giacalone. 2000. “Father Divine and the Development of African American Small Business.” Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship 5 (3). https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bsu&AN=4101716&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Citations:

[1] Martin Luther King Jr., Interview on “Meet the Press,”, NBCNA-NNNBC, (1960).  http://okra.stanford.edu/transcription/document_images/Vol05Scans/17Apr1960_InterviewonMeetthePress.pdf

[2] Columbus Salley and Ronald Behm, What Color is Your God?, (1981): 32.)

[3] Anthea Butler and Jonathan Walton, “The Black Church,”, God in America (2010).  https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/godinamerica-black-church/

[4] Richard J. Boles, “Documents Relating to African American Experiences of White Congregational Churches in Massachusetts, 1773-1832,”, The New England Quarterly 86, no. 2 (2013). http://www.jstor.org/stable/43284993.

[5] Butler and Walton, “The Black Church,”.

[6] Butler and Walton.

[7] Darlene Hine, William C. Hine and Harold, Stanley, The African American Odyssey, Volume Two, (2018): 320.

[8] Hine, The African American Odyssey, Volume Two, 566.

[9] Butler and Walton.

[10] Hine, 575.

[11] John Trinkaus, Alvin Puryear and Joseph A. Giacalone, “Father Divine and the Development of African American Small Business,”, Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship, 5, 3 (2000): 221. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=bsu&AN=4101716&site=eds-live&scope=site.

[12] Butler and Walton.

[13] Norma Jean Lutz, “Chapter 4: The Civil Rights Movement and the Black Church,”, In History of the Black Church, (1998): 52. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=khh&AN=9163104&site=eds-live&scope=site.

[14] Lutz, “Chapter 4: The Civil Rights Movement and the Black Church,”, 52.

[15] Leonard Gadzekpo, “The Black Church, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Future,”, Journal of Religious Thought 53/54 (1997): 103. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=hlh&AN=1857238&site=eds-live&scope=site.

[16] Gadzekpo, “The Black Church, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Future,”, 98.

Gaining Independence: The (Internal) Fight for Freedom

Boisterous parades, the aroma of apple pie, and colorful fireworks exploding over a summer landscape. What does this image portray to the average American? A celebration of independence.  Instead of viewing America as a nation that was suppressed by British Rule in the colonial times, people might be better served by having a deeper understanding of the country’s birth.  The pursuit of liberty was a noble cause, but it was met with uncertainty and challenges. There were many in support of the patriot’s rising, but there were a significant number of colonists whom could not support revolution. Were these colonists truly against liberty, or was there more wisdom and steadfast to their beliefs than most would assume? Most of the British colonists who opposed the revolution were likely pragmatic, because they enjoyed the benefits of being a distant extension of Great Britain, they believed Britain would be victorious if a war erupted, and they feared that the colonies were not strong enough to build a new nation.

During the eighteenth century, colonists found themselves divided in the face of potential independence. Some, loyalists, wished to stay connected to Britain, allowing the king and the parliament to continue to govern The British Colonies.[1]  Other colonists sought a revolution in which they could gain independence.[2]  Yet another camp adhered to neutrality. They were typically poor or uneducated, likely farmers, and wanted to continue living their lives in a way that allowed them to provide for their families’ needs.[3]  Although the latter tried avoiding politics and war altogether, the patriots were so driven that the American Revolutionary War began in 1775.  King George III was more concerned about how his kingdom benefited from The Colonies than the state of The Colonies themselves. After the colonists resisted impressment and what they felt were high taxes, the king allowed parliament to impose new taxes and restrictions on trade such as the Tea Act of 1773. He tried to curtail potential patriot uprising by bringing stricter regulations over the colonists.[4]  In retaliation, the patriots fought the restrictions by moving violently on loyalist elite and by throwing tea overboard off the British East Indian ships such as in the Boston Tea Party. [5]  These events only further divided the people.  The Colonies were governed by the elite, or the gentry authority, some loyalist, some not, and many who considered themselves British still. Many militias began to form within the colonies and though their means to gaining tools and sustenance were often terrible and destructive, the patriots proved themselves a worthy adversary winning many battles, and ultimately, their freedom. [6]  The outcome of seven years of war was independence from Britain. Americans are taught from a young age about the bravery and valiance of historical characters such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Paul Revere. Many American’s see the American Revolution as a very positive and worthwhile event that truly shaped their nation from day one.

A major trend seen throughout the years surrounding the American Revolution is nationalism.  Nationalism could be described as a strong connection and loyalty to one’s nation even at the expense of other people or nations. Not only were the patriots dedicated to the idea of a new nation, but loyalists such as Reverend Charles Inglis were dedicated to Great Britain, so much so that they saw no hope or value in the purpose of seeking independence.[7] Patriots on the other hand, due to their extreme loyalty to their dreamt up nation, used many unethical avenues to acquire resources to support their militia and win the war. In addition to fighting the British Navy, the patriots wreaked havoc on colonist civilians by stealing livestock, food, tools and even injuring and raping during the pillage.[8]  A second trend that we see throughout the American Revolution is social class.  When discussing the trend of social class in the 18th century one might consider womens roles, the patriarchy rule, the role of the elite – both British and Whig, Natives, and the African slave system. A look into Robert Munford’s play “The Patriots” reveals just how complex some of these issues were. Women were seen as inferior and unable to understand or contribute to society much beyond their husbands and fathers’ direction, which mostly revolved around children and household duties. The gentry class authority is explored in the play as well, and specifically how that begins to break down amongst the overzealous patriots.[9]

In gaining independence from Britain, these trends are significant because they set the foundations for the culture and structure of the new nation.  Patriots knew that they wanted independence from Britain, and that is what they fought for. However, the majority of colonists likely didn’t have education or insight into what it would take to create a new country and government. Colonists chose a side based on their perceptions at the time, often with little foresight. Nationalism proved destructive in some ways because it created a huge and violent divide not just between the loyalist and patriot parties, but it further alienated and persecuted people that had wished to remain neutral, Natives that both picked a side and chose to stay out of the war, and slaves who had been promised freedom by fighting for the British.[10]Furthermore, the class system was threatened because as the patriots became more excited and passionate, the elite stood out as too safe. Perhaps their education provided them with reason to have concern and proceed with caution which the patriots saw as weakness.[11] Although the breakdown of some of these social structures may be perceived as positive progress, people such as the African Americans, Natives, and women continued to be persecuted and overlooked for decades, in fact some would argue that they are still. The war and the defense of the social culture also caused profound attention to be brought to the distrust between the classes. When the war was over and the patriots led by George Washington had secured victory in 1781, the new nation was built on huge debt, immoral social systems, and significant cultural problems that the Continental Congress didn’t know how to address.

The colonists had distinct benefits from being an extension of Great Britain.  Great Britain was considered a super power, not just in Europe but throughout the world. Thus, being a part of the British Empire, the colonies were protected by the greatest navy of the time. They had little to fear of threats from other nations.[12] Britain provided protection for open trade, and at considerably less tax than what the people living within Britains boundaries were expected to contribute. The average colonist paid about one shilling per year instead of the usual twenty-six that was expected of the British. Furthermore, many loyalists believe as Reverend Charles Inglis did, that the actual cost of import and export was a fraction of what it would be if they chose to revolt the rule of Great Britain.[13] Not only were exports efficiently handled, but imports received through British avenues were of great benefit such as silk, sugar and tea from Asia. The split from Britain would cause the colonists to have to find new and costly ways to secure such profitable trade. When it came to self-governance, the colonies were allowed a lot of leniency. Britain extended their laws but with little interference in a judiciary system outside of trade as evidenced by the insignificant number of Naval troops prior to the revolution.[14] They were presented with the stability of nationality without the need to put huge amounts of planning, effort, and money into nationhood. In short, being a part of Great Britain made a lot of people within the colonies feel safe, secure, and free to focus on expanding their families’ fortunes.

Most loyalists believed that if a war erupted, Great Britain was sure to be victorious.  Great Britain had the most powerful navy of its time.[15] The colonists hadn’t even organized an official militia. The patriots who did band together were viewed by many, such as loyalist Rev. Myles Cooper, as overly zealous, idiotic, and even attention seekers.[16] It seemed impossible that an unorganized, under resourced, and nonexistent military could conquer an empire as world renown and domineering as the Great Britain. The British Navy had what the patriots did not: an incredible amount of funding, troops, and resources. They also benefited from some local alliance in the form of the yeomen whom the loyalists convinced that the patriots didn’t care for their needs, but wished to have their own king in place.[17] And also from native tribes and free or runaway blacks. It seemed unlikely that a group of “Men undefin’d by any Rules, Ambiguous Things, half Knaves, half Fools”[18] could claim victory over the British Colonies, much less raise up a nation.

Although the notion of an independent, new nation was brave and noble, loyalists feared that the patriots did not have what it would take to build a new nation.  It would take people who could build government at the state and federal levels. These governments then would have to build just legislation, a strong military, infrastructure, and a successful economy.[19] As Rev. Charles Inglis reminds his readers, the Patriots had little money, little education, and little experience to do any of these things. The colonies would also have to face other challenges without the guidance and support of the British such as how to handle the ongoing Native conflicts, the nearby Spanish colonies, and the frustrated and depleted yeomen. With all these challenges combined, it seemed that even if the patriots could secure independence, that they would not be in any shape to bring structure and strength to the baby country.

Of course, everyone knows how that chapter of the story ended: America gained independence from British rule. The founding fathers of a new and mighty nation scrambled to form a base strong enough to govern such a large land while also allowing variances in colony to colony, or what would become, state to state. Although the colonists who opposed revolution were wrong about at least one fact, which is that the British military would smite the patriot militias, their other concerns were a little more founded perhaps. It took a lot of commitment and sacrifice after the revolution to build anew, and early America did not enjoy the same power and luxuries that British connection had allotted. They faced many challenges such as how to handle the continuing and inflammatory conflict with the Natives, post-revolution trade concerns with Europe and Asia, and with more wars on the horizon. However, perhaps the British colonists who fled revolution wished they had had more faith in the prospect of gaining independence. Although America still faces many challenges today, it is unreasonable to think that any nation would ever be in perfect peace and stability. But despite any challenges, the United States of America has certainly proven itself time and again in the ability to rise up, be strong, and march forward.

Bibliography

Cooper, Myles. The Patriots of North America: A Sketch. 1775. Excerpts. National Humanities Center, Research Triangle Park, NC. http://americainclass.org/sources/makingrevolution/rebellion/text1/cooperpatriotsnorthamerica.pdf.

Inglis, Charles. The Deceiver Unmasked; Or, Loyalty and Interest United: In Answer to a Pamphlet Entitled “Common Sense.” 1776. Excerpts. National Humanities Center, Research Triangle Park, NC. http://americainclass.org/sources/makingrevolution/rebellion/text7/inglisdeceiverunmasked.pdf.

Kim, Sung Bok. “The Limits of Politicization in the American Revolution: The Experience of Westchester County, New York.” The Journal of American History 80, no. 3 (1993): 868–89. https://doi.org/10.2307/2080407.

Mason, Keith. “Localism, Evangelicalism, and Loyalism: The Sources of Discontent in the Revolutionary Chesapeake.” The Journal of Southern History 56, no. 1 (1990): 23–54. https://doi.org/10.2307/2210663.

McDonnell, Michael A. “A World Turned ‘Topsy Turvy’: Robert Munford, The Patriots, and the Crisis of the Revolution in Virginia.” The William and Mary Quarterly 61, no. 2 (2004): 235–70. https://doi.org/10.2307/3491786.

Oliver, Peter. Origin and Progress of the American Rebellion. 1781. Appendix I. National Humanities Center, Research Triangle Park, NC. http://americainclass.org/sources/makingrevolution/rebellion/text2/oliverloyalistsviolence.pdf.

Paine, Thomas. Common Sense. 1776. http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/documents/1776-1785/thomas-paine-common-sense/in-the-following-pages-i-offer.php.

Citations:

[1]Charles Inglis, The Deceiver Unmasked; Or, Loyalty and Interest United: In Answer to a Pamphlet Entitled “Common Sense,” 1776, excerpts, National Humanities Center, Research Triangle Park, NC, 3, http://americainclass.org/sources/makingrevolution/rebellion/text7/inglisdeceiverunmasked.pdf.

[2]Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776, http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/documents/1776-1785/thomas-paine-common-sense/in-the-following-pages-i-offer.php.

[3]Sung Bok Kim, “The Limits of Politicization in the American Revolution: The Experience of Westchester County, New York,” The Journal of American History 80, no. 3 (1993): 871, https://doi.org/10.2307/2080407.

[4]Paine, Common Sense.

[5]Peter Oliver, Origin and Progress of the American Rebellion, 1781, Appendix I, National Humanities Center, Research Triangle Park, NC, 5, http://americainclass.org/sources/makingrevolution/rebellion/text2/oliverloyalistsviolence.pdf.

[6]Kim, “The Limits of Politicization,” 877.

[7]Inglis, The Deceiver Unmasked, 2-4.

[8]Kim, “The Limits of Politicization,” 884-886.

[9]Michael A. McDonnell, “A World Turned ‘Topsy Turvy’: Robert Munford, The Patriots, and the Crisis of the Revolution in Virginia,” The William and Mary Quarterly 61, no. 2 (2004): 238, https://doi.org/10.2307/3491786.

[10]Kim, “The Limits of Politicization,” 887.

[11]McDonnell, “A World Turned ‘Topsy Turvy,’” 266.

[12]Inglis, The Deceiver Unmasked, 3.

[13]Ibid.

[14]Ibid., 4.

[15]Ibid., 3.

[16]Myles Cooper, The Patriots of North America: A Sketch, 1775, excerpts, National Humanities Center, Research Triangle Park, NC, 2, http://americainclass.org/sources/makingrevolution/rebellion/text1/cooperpatriotsnorthamerica.pdf.

[17]Keith Mason, “Localism, Evangelicalism, and Loyalism: The Sources of Discontent in the Revolutionary Chesapeake,” The Journal of Southern History 56, no. 1 (1990): 45, 46, https://doi.org/10.2307/2210663.

[18]Cooper, The Patriots of North America, 5.

[19]Inglis, The Deceiver Unmasked, 5.

The Intercultural Marketplace

There is an oversimplification that most people believe and repeat concerning the colonization of America, yet the true events are far more complex and difficult to procure. Where the Puritans had big ideas of settlement, religious freedom, and quick prosperity, upon arriving to New England they realized that the land which surrounded them was not conducive to such fast success. Winters were harsh. They were grossly unprepared for growing sustenance or procuring medical necessities in the face of mass illness. They lacked basic needs like sturdy shelter and food supplies. But there were a people that they encountered, the natives of America, whom had learned to adapt and thrive within the environment for millennia, and many of these natives were willing at first to coexist and even help the foreigners who came across the ocean. Ultimately this willingness came at a drastic cost to their own people. One area that is worth exploring in these cross-cultural relationships is that of trade, for it is one that has an interesting history demonstrating the successes and failures caused by the colliding of two distinct societies. When it comes to trade in Colonial New England, at first the settlers were dependent on the Indians for survival and for the ability to repay debts. By the eighteenth-century Indian trading with the English had left them depleted in population, transformed in culture, and lacking in land on which to live.

The New England land, weather, and history were quite different from Europe in many ways. In England, an island off the coast of the mainland considered a temperate climate, winter temperatures although cold, were likely far warmer than what New England saw. Surrounded by ocean and highly developed lands with dense populations, England was a completely different landscape to the average Englishman or woman than the thick forests, frigid temperatures, feet of snow and ice, and various elevations of New England. There was a lack of structure in their new land that the English had grown accustomed to in Europe, especially concerning social aspects, economy, and even physical developments upon the land. What did exist of these in the America’s was unlike English culture, and therefore in order to be productive, colonizers had to let go of many of their traditional ways of life. They had to come up with new and foreign solutions to the problems they faced and be willing to compromise on what was comfortable.[1] Edward Winslow, a colonist in New England, is well known as having been a key mediator between the New England natives and the pilgrims. In this book, Good News from New England he chronicles many of his experiences on Plymouth Plantation which is very useful in understanding relations in those early days. Part of Winslow’s intention was to convince Europeans of the pilgrim’s advantage of having established trade relations. Winslow wrote that although the land in New England was indeed abundant in such things as bass and cod, that the settlers lacked the ability and tools that they needed in order to catch such abundance, and thus often went hungry despite the plenty.[2]

Lest one believes that the pilgrims came to America from an abundant life, Professor Margaret Newell reminds readers that English population grew so drastically in the fifty or so years leading to the Mayflower’s departure in 1620 that there came to be major food, housing, and job shortages in the country.[3] Furthermore, Newell claims that in England the Puritans (who made up the Mayflower passenger list) were a minority group, and relocating to New England would provide them an opportunity to create and administer a society that they saw fit according to their beliefs: they could become the majority.[4] The information that she presents speaks to the context of which the forefathers risked their lives to seek more prosperous ones. The Puritans had come from a land of little opportunity and low religious tolerance and were therefore willing to take great risks to start a new life, which was in part made possible by the Indian’s help. Professor Newell’s book, From Dependency to Independence is a great resource for understanding economic development in Colonial New England as she explores the Indian people’s role in the success of the colonists.

On the other end of the Atlantic lived the American Indians, and although most English knew of the “savages”, they seemed unaware of their numbers. History professor, Mark Meuwese gives an in depth look of the Pequot Wars in his article “The Dutch Connection,”. He presents information about the trade alliances that were built between the Pequot and the Dutch, and how the breakdown of those alliances combined with influence from New Englanders, led to devastation for the Pequot, and ultimately, war. His assertation that parts of New England were a densely populated area prior to the arrival of the Europeans helps readers understand that the new world was not in fact “new” in the context that most English wished to believe.[5] There were dozens of tribes living in the Northeast Woodlands including the Wampanoag, the Pequot, the Algonquin, and the Narragansett tribes.[6]

Around New England, in the northern areas, Indians were mostly nomadic, hunting and fishing for much of their sustenance and constantly moving based on the seasons and the herd migrations. [7] In the southern areas, although there was still much mobility many tribes also had learned to implement agricultural practices in order to better sustain their nutritional needs. Of course, the Indians had impact on their environment, as William Cronon, author of Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England points out. Cronon, an environmental historian from Connecticut, takes a look at how economy affected New England ecosystems. Not only does he demonstrate how the Indian’s impacted their land prior to English settlement, but he continues on to explore how the primary items of trade which the Indians came to offer colonists were natural resources, further changing and depleting their natural environment. Yet, prior to English arrival, Cronon explains how one impact that the agricultural tribes had on the land was to manipulate their terrain with intentional fires in order to prepare land for growing plots and create more conducive hunting areas. Cronon addresses this twice a year ritual, explaining,

Selective Indian burning thus promoted the mosaic quality of New England ecosystems, creating forests in many different states of ecological succession. In particular, regular fires promoted what ecologists call the “edge effect.” By encouraging the growth of extensive regions which resembled the boundary areas between forests and grasslands, Indians created ideal habitats for a host of wildlife species.[8]

Roger Williams, agreed, writing, “this burning of the wood to them the count a Benefit, both for destroying of vermin, and keeping downe the Weeds and thickets.”[9] This information demonstrates that the natives had learned to adapt and thrive in their environment successfully for many generations without the influence of European populations and customs.

As a painting of an Indian village in Colonial America in the late sixteenth century depicts, Indians were certainly at home within their landscape. English settler John White’s painting includes images of their living structures, their agriculture, and even some of them sharing a meal.[10] This primary source is a watercolor painting and is valuable because it shows a firsthand view of how Indians lived. White labeled parts of his painting so it clearly demonstrates how they obtained and enjoyed food, information that they shared with the original colonists of New England. The painting helps enforce the idea that there was a successful, lively people in North America before the arrival of the Europeans, and that without those people’s help, the New England pilgrims would have been just as unsuccessful as the first colonists of Virginia, furthering the idea that the different cultures impacted one another.

When the English voyagers finally arrived at the new land, after months of journeying between the Mayflower and the Cape Cod coast in search of a suitable building ground as well as battling many illnesses and hunger, there remained about half of what left Europe. Ironically, the Indian’s that the English had encountered were also in a state of weakness and hunger when the two groups initially met. In 1614 when Captain John Smith had surveyed Massachusetts land he had noted that there were up to 3000 Indians in some areas, but by the time the pilgrims got there in 1620, the same villages were deserted with little to no survivors due to exposure to diseases through the French fur trade system.[11] It is estimated that disease knocked out up to ninety percent of the Algonquin tribe. It is no surprise then that in the initial months of the English arrival in the Massachusetts Bay, the local Wampanoag people chose to observe the newcomers from afar before deciding if they would intervene in the English woes and blunders.[12]

Yet by the spring of 1621, after struggling through their first New England winter, the English finally began to gain enough strength and sustenance to settle the land. If it had not been for the discovery of abandoned Indian corn fields while surveying the vast lands, as well as the eventual help of one famous Indian, Squanto, the English surely would have perished within their first year at Plymouth. The settlers were only able to grow sustenance, by way of corn and beans given to them by the Indian’s whom decided that it may be beneficial after all to engage the English.[13] In fact, it was likely Squanto in the summer of 1621 that set off the famous fur trade with the English.[14] However, even with the continued learning of how to survive in New England and growing sustenance, the English continued to struggle greatly due to the arrivals of other ships, such as the Fortune which often came bearing more hungry stomachs and still, great lack of provision or talents to help feed the people.[15]

According to Cronon, the English settlers viewed their new environment in terms of economic value.[16] They realized that there were enough desirable natural materials which would enable them to enter the trade market with European countries. It was difficult for the settlers to relinquish their customary lifestyles in the face of a new and often harsh landscape so exporting and importing became a priority. Furthermore, there were debts that had to be paid. William Bradford, one of the original passengers of the Mayflower who played a prominent role in New England colonization kept fantastic records of his Puritan and pilgriming life which has helped historians understand the discovery and development of New England. His book Of Plymouth Plantation serves as a primary source, and quite an important one, as there is much to be found in his recordings about relations with Indians, including remarks on trade. Without such a valuable resource it would be difficult to understand the context of trade in Colonial New England. Because of the leadership appointed to him in Plymouth Colony he not only came to be the primary correspondence with European counterparts, but Bradford and some of his fellow settlers gained exclusive “rights” for fishing and fur trading in order to pay off the debts owed to the merchants whom had financed the Mayflower’s voyage.[17] All of these needs were highlighted by the fact that the settlers own knowledge and abilities were limited for the harsh realities of surviving New England, especially in the winter. Hence, in the early years of settlement they also had to rely on trading European goods to local Indians in order to secure nourishment, warmth, or protection.

As time passed there are two items that came to be of utmost importance within the marketplace between Indians and Europeans: fur and wampum. (Wampum were small beads made from silver colored and purple seashells found on some North East coasts.[18]) Although timber was one resource that the settlers attempted to export because such wood had become quite scarce in England, it ultimately was too costly to export.[19] Cod, also desirable and found in incredible quantities as the name Cape Cod would suggest, needed to be preserved properly to be valuable and thus too was not worth the export expense. Thus, fur became the major basis for repaying debts of the colonies to Europe, and a highly valued trade item in general.[20] Wampum on the other hand had been used as a currency of sorts amongst Indian tribes for some time before the settlers arrived.[21] Because the settlers recognized how valuable wampum was to the Indians, they often accepted it as trade for their commodities because they could then turn around and use it as trade with other Indians for valuable furs. A telling quote about the importance of wampum to Indians, used by Ernest Ingersoll in his article “Wampum and its History” is as follows.

This is the money with which you may buy skins, furs, slaves, or anything the Indians have; it being the mammon (as our money is to us) that entices and persuades them to do anything and part with everything they possess except their children for slaves. As for their wives, they are often sold and their daughters violated for it. With this they buy off murders; and whatsoever a man can do that is ill, this wampum will quit him of, and make him, in their opinion, good and virtuous, though never so black before.[22]

Thus, Wampum and beaver fur both became recognized as legal tender throughout Massachusetts by the 1640s. Fur was not difficult for the settlers to come by because the Indians seemed willing to use their superior hunting and trapping skills to gather furs and trade them for the items that the New Englanders offered. The Algonquins of Maine for example traded beaver furs with the Plymouth settlers for their corn to supplement their diets, being primarily hunters and nonagricultural.[23] Some other items that the Indians sought in exchange for furs were kettles, cloth, knives, and firearms.[24] These trades are part of what began to change the Indian culture.

It was not long that this new marketplace that had been created in part from English customs, and in contrast to Indian ones, grew out of control. The English settlers were not the only Europeans who ventured to the new world for the sake of prosperity. The Dutch who had claimed stake just south of New England were determined to make their mark also. The wampum currency was a part of the Dutch colonial culture as well and in fact, wampum trade increased in part because of contributions the Dutch made to the Indians. They cleverly traded to the Pequot tribe their metal drills, increasing productivity and speed of the shell money.[25] The trade that the Europeans brought to the new world could be blamed for creating contention between the various Indian tribes that had once been at least slightly more harmonious in their existence. As their lifestyles changed due to getting sucked into the fur and wampum control that the English and Dutch maintained, they became increasingly dependent on the trades and therefore as the sources dwindled there became more competition. For example, where the Mayflower passengers had relied on the Indians to provide them with corn for survival, within ten years’ time it was the settlers who were trading corn to the Indians for furs, in no small part because the Indians had taken to spending more time searching for the shells and providing the labour to make wampum, as well as traveling further and investing more time into beaver hunting, thus their agricultural tasks often were lower priorities.[26]

In the same way that the trade impacted the way that the Indians chose to be productive, trade, and colonization in general had major repercussions on the environment that the Indians had lived in for millennia. Cronon points to the fur trade as well as colonist control of wampum as huge factors of the ecosystem transformations that took place during the seventeenth century in New England. He explains the many effects of the fur trade such as the decline of beaver, deer, wolf, moose, and bear populations.[27] Indians whom had been viewed as killing minimally and only out of pure personal necessity came to kill on a much more massive scale for the sake of trade.[28] They also began to neglect their bi-yearly burnings in the forests which they had once relied on for healthy crops and hunting. Moreover, as the English concept of “land ownership” began to dominate, it affected the Indians traditions of living and therefore, changed the way the terrain developed because of lack of fires, and devastated the Indian’s hunting abilities because of decline in animals as well as lack of land to hunt on.[29]

The colonists disregarded Indian’s property “rights” simply because they decided that the “savages” had no right’s to the land because they had not “improved” it by way of enclosures or permanent buildings due to their migratory lifestyles.[30] These explanations were part of the justification of pushing the Indian’s out of the Massachusetts Bay. The European’s domesticated animals and fence obsessions also presented a huge problem in Indian relations, especially pertaining to property ownership as well as the effects these had on the environment.[31] A chronicle by John Easton, governor of colonial Rhode Island, recorded his interactions with Metacom, a Wampanoag leader, transcribing the complaints that his tribe had against the English settlers. Easton shows the relations between Indians and English settlers, to understand the frustrations between the cultures and how peace was eventually no longer an option for some. Metacom was the son of Massasoit, the first Wampanoag chief whom the English interacted and negotiated with upon settling in Plymouth. Massasoit had been incredibly helpful to the colonizers; in fact, it is widely believed that without his help they all likely would have perished during that first cold and brutal winter.[32] But his aid was not motived in generosity alone. Massasoit recognized that the English might be helpful allies against their own prior enemy tribes. Metacom however was unable to maintain these peaceful relations. During his leadership the alliance became tainted, due to the complaints that Easton highlighted.

It seems that at the center of Metacom’s grievances was the issue of the Indian’s land loss as the English abused their powers in dominating more and more acreage. Metacom was also greatly concerned with the imbalance of justice as applied in great variation from English to Indian. He expressed how it was wrong that even if “20 of their honest Indians testified” against an English man that it was disregarded, yet if even one testified against their own it was sufficient to accuse the Indian.[33] He expressed how it was not unnoticed that the English were prone to inciting the Indians to drunkenness in order to cheat them out of more land and always cause them to be on the bottom of a bargain.[34] Yet another grievance was the unruliness of the English livestock who wreaked havoc on Indian cornfields while the Indian planters never received retribution for the damages.[35]

Easton writes in a way that makes it clear that the Indian’s preferred not to fight saying, “The Indians owned that fighting was the worst Way; then they propounded how Right might take Place.”[36] Yet it seems that war was inevitable. The fighting began in June of 1675 when some Wampanoags killed nine of the English men, and was fought for over a year.[37] King Philip’s War devasted relations between colonists and Indians, even pertaining to trade.[38] The war also killed off about forty percent of the Wampanoag population, whom had already come close to annihilation because of disease in prior years.[39] As evidenced by Easton, the big idea behind the crumbling of Indian and English relations in the seventeenth century is that the English dominated politically and in sovereignty. The Indian’s had believed that they were equals, and made decisions for many years under this pretense, but the English demanded increasing control which ultimately stole what little of the last resource that the Indian’s had left, land.[40]

In conclusion, it is clear that there are a few factors that must be contributed to the story which American’s pass down to their children concerning the settlement of the new world. Although it is true that pilgrims from Europe boarded a boat which they sailed across the Atlantic in search of new land, it is wrong to assume that they were a wealthy or privileged class seeking out further riches and fame. Rather, they were a people that felt on the verge of religious persecution and lacking abundant life, willing to risk their very lives to work hard for a new one. And although the pilgrims and Indians certainly celebrated a Thanksgiving of sorts as evidenced by William Bradford’s journals, it is clear that the initial interactions between the English and the tribes of Massachusetts were cold and distant, coming to a hesitant alliance after some time and negotiation, mainly because of the sachems (Indian leaders) fear of further destruction by disease which they had experienced from the French fur trade of the earlier part of the century. And despite the image of English killing Indians to take over their lands for economic pursuit that is ingrained in many American minds, readers can now understand how the relationship between the two societies was far more sophisticated and even generous than that in the beginning, but ultimately wars occurred and blood was shed, and in the end it is evident that the losing side, was the Indians.

 

Bibliography

Bradford, William, and Samuel Eliot Morison. 1952. Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647. Electronic Resource: The Complete Text. ACLS Humanities E-Book. Alfred A. Knopf. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=cat04477a&AN=snhu.b1387019&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Cronon, William. 2003. Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England. Hill and Wang. New York.

Dempsey, J. 1999. “Reading the Revels – The Riddle of May Day in ‘New English Canaan’ (Thomas Morton, New England, Fur Trade, Gun Trade).” Early American Literature 34 (3): 283–312. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edswah&AN=000083923600004&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Indian Tribes and Languages of the Northeast Woodlands. Native Languages of the Americas. Date accessed December 1, 2019. http://www.native-languages.org/northeast-culture.htm

Ingersoll, Ernest. “Wampum and Its History.” The American Naturalist 17, no. 5 (1883): 467-79. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2448968.

Meuwese, Mark. 2011. “The Dutch Connection: New Netherland, the Pequots, and the Puritans in Southern New England, 1620-1638.” Early American Studies, An Interdisciplinary Journal 9 (2): 295. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edb&AN=59736916&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Newell, Margaret Ellen. 2015. From Dependency to Independence: Economic Revolution in Colonial New England.Cornell University Press. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=cat04477a&AN=snhu.b1624966&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Pynchon, John, and Carl Bridenbaugh. 1982. The Pynchon Papers: Volume I, Letters of John Pynchon, 1654-1700.   https://www.colonialsociety.org/node/1273

Shupe, Kevin D. 2012. “VOLUME 1: REPORTS ON NEW WORLD SETTLEMENT: A Relation of the Indian War.” Defining Documents: Exploration & Colonial America (1492-1755), December, 172–81. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=khh&AN=127122295&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Todt, Kim. 2011. “Trading between New Netherland and New England, 1624-1664.” Early American Studies, An Interdisciplinary Journal 9 (2): 348–78. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=hlh&AN=59736918&site=eds-live&scope=site.

White, John. 1585-1593. The Indian village of Secoton. watercolor. Place: British Museum, http://www.britishmuseum.org/. https://library-artstor-org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/asset/AGERNSHEIMIG_10313154440.

Winslow, Edward, and Kelly Wisecup. 2014. “Good News from New England” by Edward Winslow: A Scholarly Edition. Vol. A scholarly edition. Native Americans of the Northeast. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=1245483&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Citations:

[1] Edward Winslow, and Kelly Wisecup, “Good News from New England” by Edward Winslow: A Scholarly Edition. Vol. A scholarly edition. Native Americans of the Northeast, Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press. (2014):19. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=1245483&site=eds-live&scope=site.

[2] Winslow, “Good News from New England”, 67.

 [3] Margaret Ellen Newell, From Dependency to Independence: Economic Revolution in Colonial New England, Cornell University Press. (2015)): 18.  https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=cat04477a&AN=snhu.b1624966&site=eds-live&scope=site.

[4] Newell, From Dependency to Independence: Economic Revolution in Colonial New England, 36.

 [5] Mark Meuwese, “The Dutch Connection: New Netherland, the Pequots, and the Puritans in Southern New England, 1620-1638.” Early American Studies, An Interdisciplinary Journal 9, 2, (2011): 297. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edb&AN=59736916&site=eds-live&scope=site.

[6] Indian Tribes and Languages of the Northeast Woodlands. Native Languages of the Americas. Date accessed December 1, 2019.http://www.native-languages.org/northeast-culture.htm

[7] William Cronon, Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England. New York: Hill and Wang, (2003): 38.

 [8] Cronon, Changes in the Land: Indians, Colonists, and the Ecology of New England. 51.

 [9] Cronon, 51.

 [10] John White, The Indian village of Secoton. watercolor. Place: British Museum, (1585-1593). http://www.britishmuseum.org/. https://library-artstor-org.ezproxy.snhu.edu/asset/AGERNSHEIMIG_10313154440.

 [11] Winslow, 26, 27.

 [12] Winslow, 36.

 [13] Newell, 42.

 [14] William Bradford and Samuel Eliot Morison, Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647. Electronic Resource: The Complete Text. ACLS Humanities E-Book. Alfred A. Knopf. (1952): xxv.  https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=cat04477a&AN=snhu.b1387019&site=eds-live&scope=site.

[15] Winslow, 66.

[16] Cronon, 20.

[17] William Bradford, Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1647, xxv.

[18] Meuwese, “The Dutch Connection: New Netherland, the Pequots, and the Puritans in Southern New England, 1620-1638.”, 298.

 [19] Cronon, 113.

 [20] Newell, 51.

 [21] Ernest Ingersoll, “Wampum and Its History.” The American Naturalist 17, no. 5 (1883): 472. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2448968.

 [22] Ingersoll, “Wampum and Its History.”, 471.

 [23] Meuwese, 307.

 [24] Newell, 52.

 [25] Meuwese, 309.

 [26] Newell, 52.

 [27] Cronon, 101, 105.

 [28] Cronon, 98.

 [29] Cronon, 102.

 [30] Newell, 41.

 [31] Cronon, 127.

[32] Kevin D. Shupe, “VOLUME 1: REPORTS ON NEW WORLD SETTLEMENT: A Relation of the Indian War.” Defining Documents: Exploration & Colonial America (1492-1755), December, (2012): 173. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=khh&AN=127122295&site=eds-live&scope=site.

 [33] Shupe, “VOLUME 1: REPORTS ON NEW WORLD SETTLEMENT.”, 175.

 [34] Shupe, 175.

 [35] Shupe, 175.

 [36] Shupe, 174.

 [37] Shupe, 176.

 [38] Shupe, 172.

[39] Shupe, 178.

 [40] Shupe, 172.

Deep South Culture during Secession

Eighty-five years. That is how much time passed between the unity of a people, fighting together for an independent nation, and the breakdown of that unity. Yet much transpired in the eighty-five years that bridged 1776 and 1861. Massive population increases, economic growth and hardships, and an ever-growing landscape are just a few. It is no secret that leading into the American Civil War there stood two geographical areas that were in stark contrast to one another on some inflammatory issues and the question of slavery was not the least among them. But what motives had the South given as the truest for inciting secession and civil war? The answer is not simple, for although the issue of slavery is easy to target, the majority of Unionists did not have a strong conviction to abolish slavery. Nor is it satisfactory to claim that the Confederates were unwilling to develop past their archaic, bondage ways especially when one considers how few Southerners actually kept slaves.

In investigating the reasons why Southern states were unable to compromise their government and culture under the leadership of Abraham Lincoln’s Republican party, it is necessary to understand that culture, as well as the realities of life in the Deep South and the events leading to 1861. To people today, it might seem that Southerners had more to risk by fighting the Union and adhering to slavery than they did by submitting to the changes occurring, but this viewpoint is too elementary. True the fight cost the Confederate states much, but surely this cost was deemed worthy the risk. The leaders and people of the South felt that secession was necessary because not only had their institution of slavery been threatened, but what they believed to be their honor, their economies, and their very lives were also at risk by the election of Abraham Lincoln.

The antebellum South was a much different landscape than what exists today. Having been occupied by the Indians until the 1820s, many areas of the Deep South resembled a frontier, vastly undeveloped compared to northern parts of the country, and most settlers that arrived in the first thirty years of the nineteenth century lived in poverty.[1] The lack of development meant that life was often what one thinks of when they consider the “wild west”, meaning that there were many dangers for the settlers. Wild animals, illness, Indians, and even other dangerous settlers were to be feared, and this wilderness contributed to an obsession of physical strength, courage and the ability to protect oneself and family. Southern men were raised not to turn away from a threat. Survival was based on these values. Furthermore, although neighbors were sparse in many instances, community was relied upon for survival and relationships.[2] This reliance meant that public behaviour and reputation had to be guarded and valued. Christopher Olsen, author of Political Culture and Secession in Mississippi: Masculinity, Honor, and the Antiparty Tradition, 1830-1860, sums it up saying, “Mississippians [and others in the Deep South] of all classes agreed that a man’s foremost duty was the defense of personal honor, home, and family reputation. Another shared element was the valuation of physical form, even comeliness. A man’s stature, bearing, even his nose and his genitalia, reflected his inner manliness,”.[3] Olsen explains the dilemma of the Deep Southerner who often valued and therefore wished to defend their reputation and honor more than they wished to preserve the Union.[4] This is not to say how little the Union was important to them, but instead to underscore how massively they prioritized their honor and reputation, based out of their culture.

As the Deep South became more settled and developed, these values streamed into politics. Rather than focusing on a collective party functioning around a few core issues such as was common in northern states, politics in the Deep South revolved around individuals.[5] This meant that reputations and relationships were imperative to being elected. High importance of honor and loyalty fueled elections. In Mississippi, democracy had long been a value, at least for white men. The state lacked some of the typically seen guidelines for voting that other American states had such as financial requirements, military qualifications, or length of residency status.[6] Furthermore, most state offices were elected rather than appointed, which meant that reputations were that much more necessary to uphold. This democratic culture helped assert whiteness, masculinity, and honor as some of the most valuable assets in Mississippi culture.

Southern culture manifested in a mindset of intense protection of one’s physical self, and masculine honor. As aforementioned, it also caused a slight isolationist way of living due to the sparse population, while simultaneously, encouraging a deep reliance on one’s community. The ideas of honor, and protection were deeply encouraged by the practice of violence. [7] Furthermore, the identity of becoming an honorable, strong, and protective white male was so key to the upbringing of Southern children that in this context, slavery was a tool to instill the mentality, providing an easy benchmark on which to build off of. White men, no matter how poor or dishonest or lazy would always be toward the top simply because they were white and male. These thoughts fueled the white supremacy legacy.

Yet when it comes to slave ownership, it was a small percentage of the population in the Southern states that owned large plantations, and therefore slaves. Despite this small population the crop which was primary in the South by the 1860’s, cotton, was a staple that many depended on throughout the world. “King Cotton” as it became referred to, grown in the South by the labour of black slaves, drove the nation’s textile industry and so the economy was much at risk if emancipation occurred.[8] Furthermore, plantation owners realized that they faced economic challenges because of rising costs of slaves due to the outlawing of the African slave trade, as well as land. Environmental impacts that they had induced with their fields such as soil depletion were also a concern. For cotton plantations to continue to bear fruit they had to expand, and as the North attempted to block the entrance of slave territories in the West, the Southerners became more restricted in their options. Slavery supporters believed that being allowed to create new slave states and territories could help spread the slave population to reduce the risk of insurrection, an added bonus.[9] At the political level, they claimed that this would also improve conditions for the slaves, but this argument was to no avail as evidenced by the Compromise of 1850 which revolved around the admission of new territories as “free or slave” and was in the end further restrictive on slavery.[10] Feeling their hands were bound and seeing secession as the last alternative, the elite plantation owners intended to unify the South and get all Southerners regardless of financial situation to believe that slavery was imperative to their southern ways and to economic success.[11] Slavery was the backbone of Southern economy. In order to understand the deep attachment to slavery that came to exist in the Deep South, one must also understand elements that helped slavery become relied upon in the first place.

As cited by Lacy Ford in “Reconfiguring the Old South: ‘Solving’ the Problem of Slavery, 1787-1838,” a prominent Savannah merchant, Joseph Clay, has been quoted as saying, “the Negro business is a great object with us, both with a View to our Interest individually, and the general prosperity of this State and its commerce, it is to the trade of this Country, as Soul to the Body,”.[12] This quote symbolizes the widely popular viewpoint of the 1700’s in Southern states that without the ability to import slaves from Africa, there was no possibility of economic success. During the early 1800’s as Louisiana territory was added, and Mississippi became more developed, cotton expansion “boomed” drawing more plantation owners to the Deep South. At the same time, the upper South was beginning to realize that basing their industries off of slavery carried risk. Also, the foreign slave trade was on its way out and people like Thomas Jefferson were beginning to advocate, albeit with hesitance, colonization of the slaves, and even emancipation. Ford explains that these factors combined caused many slave owners in the upper South to start selling their slaves to people of the lower South during the cotton boom.[13]

Violent reinforcement of slavery was often encouraged, valued even. Whites, slaveowners or not, were caught up in a culture where they had enforced, with violence, the enslavement of blacks. By relinquishing this institution their culture would be disrupted regardless of how few white families actually owned slaves. The social position of all white men would be challenged. Southern white boys were taught the importance of loyalty to their own race in case of threats to or rebellion against white dominance.[14] The institution of slavery fueled this culture while also causing it to have a significant reason to be enforced because of the perceived threat of black rebellions. During any slave-rebellion scares, white men of the South were put into positions to prove their commitment to slavery and white supremacy in order to maintain their lifestyles, and to protect their community. In Mississippi, the slaves were the majority of the population, so revolts were perceived as realistic and life threatening to whites, who relied on one another for protection, even if it meant slave massacre. The case of freedman Denmark Vesey, a slave insurrection leader in 1822, South Carolina, is just one example. Vesey, a longtime friend to the slaves of South Carolina and religious leader, met with many blacks (slave and free) to incite a revolt which he hoped to implement on July 14, 1822.[15] Plans supposedly included killing slave masters and fleeing to Haiti for refuge. When a couple slaves revealed the plan to their slave owners in the beginning of June, within two weeks Vesey and at least six other rebels were executed. Over forty more blacks suspected of being involved were killed, and dozens of others sold as slaves outside the country.[16] The swift and harsh reaction by the whites of Charleston prove how effective the Southern culture of white violence and loyalty was in controlling the slave population.

By 1860 however, the newly formed Republican Party threatened the culture and traditions of the South. The fear that Republicans would attempt to make equal the races, and even encourage marriage between them was very real and so offensive that it pushed many to buckle down on their secession advocacy.[17] In fact, in their article of secession, Mississippi cites this perceived call for “negro equality” as a reason for secession.[18] The Republican Party uprising, the Free Soiler’s movement, the Wilmot Proviso (albeit unsuccessful), California’s Free Soil statehood, and the neglect by the North of the Fugitive Slave Act were abhorred by Southern leaders.[19] Not only were these political hits because the occurrences threatened their understanding of the constitution and their enjoyment of white supremacy, but the Southerners took these as grave offense to their honor, reputations, and lifestyles. The call for secession was about the Federal governments lack of protection, but also about a sense of deep, unforgivable insult to a people who still believed that a pistol’s duel was a widely accepted way of resolving disputes.

Southerners were perturbed by the Northerner’s insinuations, and sometimes even outright saying, that the Southern way of life was immoral and inferior because of their reliance on the institution of slavery.[20] These claims were not only insulting and confirmation of the belief that the North discriminated against the South, but they appeared downright hypocritical considering the North’s own dependence on Southern cotton. This was too much for some who believed that to accept such an assault from the North on their honor was to admit weakness and evil-doing, an accusation that Southerners were willing to fight to defend themselves from. The institution of slavery was so ingrained in their communities and culture that they were unable to separate the distaste of the institution, from distaste of their own reputations. In fact, many Southerners believed that the Republican party had been born out of anti-slavery sentiment and as an attack on Southern morality. These beliefs enforced the idea that Southern men had to defend their honor, their families, and their communities from attacks from the Republicans. To quote Olsen, “Southern men were struggling to vindicate their own, as well as their society’s reputation and character,”.[21] To the Southerners, maintaining their honor and integrity was more important than compromising to preserve the Union, indeed, this may have been more important to them even than combatting the Compromise of 1850, as despite the South’s threats of secession during the Compromise, it wasn’t until the election of a Republican president, whose party stood accusatory of Southern culture, that secession was actually executed.

Although each Southern state’s article to secede is varying in style and description, the messages are all the same: we refuse to give up slavery, and we refuse to be ruled by a government that would continue to berate us on the matter. However, an aspect of secession worth noting here is addressed by Hudson Meadwell, and Lawrence M. Anderson, authors of “Sequence and Strategy in the Secession of the American South,”. Meadwell and Anderson present the idea that without the leadership and motivation of South Carolina, secession would likely not have happened, nor the Confederacy.[22] South Carolina politics were unique within the South because of their history of nullification. During the 1830s in response to a federal tariff policy, being the only state that objected to the point of voiding the federal tariff, Meadwell and Anderson argue nullification is what set South Carolina apart.[23] This caused a breeding ground for secessionist ideology. During the nullification crisis, South Carolina, although having had intention to secede, opted not to because they did not have the support of their southern neighbors.[24] It was the election of Lincoln and the harassment of abolitionists that caused South Carolina leaders to finally mobilize. There was a significant aristocratic population in South Carolina who had heavy ties in cotton planting thus, South Carolina’s economy had much at risk by losing their slaves.

But other states clearly had much as risk also. Due to the previously mentioned personable politics of the Deep South, during the Confederate convention in Montgomery of 1861, leaders called on their delegates to be unified, and put aside any differences for the sake of successful secession.[25] South Carolina secession supporters knew that to secure support, they had to get others to believe that all of their interests were one in the same. They professed that slavery was a key benefit to all white men regardless of ownership, and that if they didn’t help defend the institution that all of their lives would be impacted in a negative way.[26] The governors of Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida all wrote South Carolina officials to tell them that would the former lead the way to secession, the latter would likely follow.[27] Radical secessionists in South Carolina are the ones that strategized, and lead the secessionist movement. The vote to secede was substantial and swift after the election of Abraham Lincoln, and with the leadership of South Carolina, all of the Deep South states seceded.

In their Declaration of Secession, the people of South Carolina seemed to maintain that state government should be free from, independent of, and sovereign to federal government. They professed that the Northern states disobeyed the constitution, and therefore initiated secession. It is worth mentioning here that, as teachers and authors Nancy Ogden, Catherine Perkins, and David M. Donahue assert in their article, “Not a Peculiar Institution: Challenging Students’ Assumptions about Slavery in U.S. History,” that the government had historically acknowledged the nation as a “slave holding republic” protected under the constitution. [28] Therefore it was not shocking that South Carolinians would have felt that a threat to slavery was a threat to their constitutional rights. Ultimately, they cited the election of an anti-slavery man as their reasons for secession, saying that the government “[has] denounced as sinful the institution of slavery,”.[29] South Carolinians were anxious about the development of the Republican party,

A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction…

The guaranties of the Constitution will then no longer exist; the equal rights of the States will be lost. The slaveholding States will no longer have the power of self-government, or self-protection, and the Federal Government will have become their enemy.[30]

For Georgia, reasons to secede were also found in the context of slavery. Georgians saw the disallowance of slavery in some of the new territories as a direct threat to their rights.[31] Furthermore, Georgia points out the hypocrisy of the North delivering fugitive criminals back to their home states, but not doing the same in regards to the Fugitive Slave Act, a valid frustration as slavery had not yet been abolished in entirety. The Georgians claim the government failed to perform their job: to protect the South from the hostility and idiocy of the North. They too seem perturbed by the election of Lincoln, calling it an anti-slavery party. They claim that it is unjust and illogical to allow themselves to be ruled by such a party so adverse to slavery, the backbone of Southern economy.

Because by their declared principles and policy they have outlawed $3,000,000,000 of our property in the common territories of the Union; put it under the ban of the Republic in the States where it exists and out of the protection of Federal law everywhere; because they give sanctuary to thieves and incendiaries who assail it to the whole extent of their power, in spite of their most solemn obligations and covenants; because their avowed purpose is to subvert our society and subject us not only to the loss of our property but the destruction of ourselves, our wives, and our children, and the desolation of our homes, our altars, and our firesides. To avoid these evils we resume the powers which our fathers delegated to the Government of the United States, and henceforth will seek new safeguards for our liberty, equality, security, and tranquility.[32]

Mississippi agreed, claiming that their purpose was entirely about the “institution of slavery”, and the idea that abolishment would be traumatic to their economy, the world’s economy, and wreak havoc on civilization itself.[33] A reminder here is that Northern economy was also dependent on Southern cotton, or more bluntly, slave labour. The cotton from the South was sold as a raw material to the North and to other countries such as England, hence it is not unfathomable to think that Mississippians truly believed that the abolishment of slavery would be detrimental to world economy. The clever Mississippian’s claim that the North had been accusing them of immorality by holding onto slavery, yet there had been no presentation of a solution to the problems that abolishment would create; no alternative provided.

In conclusion, these secession articles prove that it is obvious that the thought of abolishing slavery to the Southerners was not just insulting or damaging, it was in their minds impossible because of the long-held dependence on it. Not only did they face economic turmoil, but many Southerners, especially in the Deep South, believed that freed blacks would cause physical harm on them if given the opportunity. The risk of suffering through potential death, injury, famine, and devastation by war against the Union, was less terrifying than facing a South without slavery. Many Southerners believed that the rapid belief in abolishment and threats to Southern institutions were unconstitutional and given the historical facts it is hard to argue this belief. The shame is that as the enlightenment that slavery was immoral, disgraceful, and depressing gained traction, the people of the Deep South were caught up in a world that could not exist without it. Olsen compares slavery to a cancer, one that spread “its malignant effects to warp southern gender norms, class relations, evangelical religion, and virtually every other cultural trait,”.[34] Slavery was an institution that had been so long relied upon and instilled in Southern culture that although an unfortunate choice to build their economies on, it seemed impossible to eradicate, even if the Southerners wanted to.

 

 

Bibliography

Confederate States of America – Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union Secession, Yale Law School, Lillian Goldman Law Library (2008). https://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/csa_scarsec.asp

Confederate States of America – Mississippi Secession, 2008. Yale Law School, Lillian Goldman Law Library. https://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/csa_missec.asp

“Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of Georgia from the Feder.” 2017. Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce & Justify the Secession of Georgia from the Federal Union, August, 1. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=khh&AN=21212260&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Egerton, Douglas R., Robert L. Paquette, Stanley Harrold, and Randall M. Miller. 2017. The Denmark Vesey Affair: A Documentary History. Southern Dissent. Gainesville: University Press of Florida. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=1435037&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Ford, Lacy. 2008. “Reconfiguring the Old South: ‘Solving’ the Problem of Slavery, 1787-1838.” Journal of American History 95 (1): 95–122. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=khh&AN=32796485&site=eds-live&scope=site.

McPherson, James M. and James K Hogue, 2010. Ordeal by Fire; The Civil Ware and Reconstruction, Boston, MA: McGraw Hill Higher Education.

Meadwell, Hudson and Lawrence M. Anderson. 2008. “Sequence and Strategy in the Secession of the American South.” Theory and Society 37 (3): 199. doi:10.1007/s11186-007-9047-8.

Ogden, Nancy, Catherine Perkins, and David M. Donahue. 2008. “Not a Peculiar Institution: Challenging Students’ Assumptions about Slavery in U.S. History.” History Teacher 41 (4): 469–88. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=asn&AN=34235050&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Olsen, Christopher J. 2000. Political Culture and Secession in Mississippi: Masculinity, Honor, and the Antiparty Tradition, 1830-1860. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=92697&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Remini, Robert V. 2010. “Clay’s Compromise.” American Heritage 60 (2): 23. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f5h&AN=51508582&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Citations:

[1] Christopher J. Olsen, Political Culture and Secession in Mississippi: Masculinity, Honor, and the Antiparty Tradition, 1830-1860. Oxford University Press. (2000): 17. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=92697&site=eds-live&scope=site.

[2] Olsen, Political Culture and Secession in Mississippi: Masculinity, Honor, and the Antiparty Tradition, 1830-1860, 21.

[3] Olsen, 23.

[4] Olsen, 9.

[5] Olsen, 6.

[6] Olsen, 30.

 [7] Olsen, 22.

[8] Nancy Ogden, Catherine Perkins, and David M. Donahue, “Not a Peculiar Institution: Challenging Students’ Assumptions about Slavery in U.S. History,” History Teacher 41, 4 (2008): 474. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=asn&AN=34235050&site=eds-live&scope=site.

[9] Lacy Ford, “Reconfiguring the Old South: ‘Solving’ the Problem of Slavery, 1787-1838,” Journal of American History 95, 1 (2008): 106. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=khh&AN=32796485&site=eds-live&scope=site.

[10] Robert V. Remini, “Clay’s Compromise,” American Heritage 60, 2 (2010): 23. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=f5h&AN=51508582&site=eds-live&scope=site.

[11] Olsen, 7.

[12] Ford, “Reconfiguring the Old South: ‘Solving’ the Problem of Slavery, 1787-1838,” 96.

[13] Ford, 105.

[14] Olsen, 22.

[15] Douglas R. Egerton, Robert L. Paquette, Stanley Harrold, and Randall M. Miller, The Denmark Vesey Affair: A Documentary History, University Press of Florida, (2017): 75. https://search-ebscohost-com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=1435037&site=eds-live&scope=site.

[16] Egerton, et al., The Denmark Vesey Affair: A Documentary History, xxi.

[17] James M. McPherson and James K Hogue, Ordeal by Fire; The Civil Ware and Reconstruction, McGraw Hill Higher Education, (2010): 142.

[18] Confederate States of America – Mississippi Secession, Yale Law School, Lillian Goldman Law Library (2008). https://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/csa_missec.asp

[19] McPherson and Hogue, Ordeal by Fire; The Civil Ware and Reconstruction, 144.

[20] Olsen, 8.

[21] Olsen, 9.

[22] Hudson Meadwell, and Lawrence M. Anderson, “Sequence and Strategy in the Secession of the American South.” Theory and Society 37, 3 (2008): 200. doi:10.1007/s11186-007-9047-8.

[23] Meadwell and Anderson, “Sequence and Strategy in the Secession of the American South.” 211.

[24] Meadwell and Anderson, 213.

[25] Olsen, 40.

[26] Meadwell and Anderson, 209

[27] Meadwell and Anderson, 217.

[28] Ogden et al., “Not a Peculiar Institution: Challenging Students’ Assumptions about Slavery in U.S. History.” 470.

[29] Confederate States of America – Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union Secession, Yale Law School, Lillian Goldman Law Library (2008). https://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/csa_scarsec.asp

[30] Confederate States of America – Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union Secession.

[31] Confederate States of America – Georgia Secession, Yale Law School, Lillian Goldman Law Library (2008). https://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/csa_geosec.asp

[32] Confederate States of America – Georgia Secession.

[33] Confederate States of America – Mississippi Secession.

[34] Olsen, 9.

The Fall of Lincoln

“That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, 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 the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.”

By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

The American Civil War had just ended.  General Ulysses S. Grant of the Union Army had met with General Robert E. Lee of the Confederacy at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865.  Although President Abraham Lincoln along with General Grant promised to allow the Confederates to surrender peacefully and without harsh punishment, in losing the war and secession the south had lost much, including 4 million slaves whom were the backbone of the southern economy.  There was a lot of anger toward the president and congress, and a lot of hate toward the recently freed slaves.  In a time when the nation needed a leader to stand steadfast with a solid, swift plan for reconstruction and reunification, it instead saw the first assassination of its president.  Abraham Lincoln died from a gunshot wound to his head on April 15, not even a full week after the Civil War’s end.  The assassination of Abraham Lincoln was detrimental to reconstruction of America as his successor, Andrew Johnson, was a poor leader who did not have the same care and attention to detail, nor foresight that he himself possessed.  Because of the inability to secure strong leadership immediately following the Confederate’s surrender, unification was difficult and handled in an ineffective way.  The nation was further divided, and Washington chose to avert their eyes from the South’s racist and improper way of responding to the 13th, 14th, and 15thamendments which led to greater suffering for the African Americans and set the tone for racism in our country for decades to come.

While reconstruction needed to be a strict priority following the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln did not in fact have a strong plan in terms of freed slaves.   He was not an abolitionist in the traditional sense.  He did not even consider himself to be one until he abolished slavery and became one by default.  In September of 1862, President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation which essentially freed slaves in Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina, and most of Louisiana and Virginia.  Despite what most people believe, it was not a nationwide abolishment of slavery, and in fact was issued as a tool of war (Lemann 19).  President Lincoln believed that by allowing slaves in these areas to be free, he created a strategy to weaken the Southern army while strengthening the army of the North, because he knew that many of the recently freed blacks would flee to the Union and commit service having no where else to go.  In January of 1865, Lincoln’s 13th Amendment, which declared that slavery was outlawed, passed the House.  In the question of what to do with all the freed slaves, Lincoln was known for preferring the theory of colonization which suggests sending the freed slaves out of the country, however he never felt that it should be a forced thing, but rather voluntary (Blair and Fisher 46).  Although many impressive historical events occurred under President Lincoln’s time that led to the abolishment of slavery and led the way for the 14th and 15th Amendments, Lincoln himself didn’t seem to be the African-American defending president that most believe him to be.  He was not a slave holder, and found it to be a moral atrocity, but it seems that his conviction stopped there.  For the purpose of the war he viewed the freed slaves as tools to victory.  After abolishment, he would have rather seen them all shipped away from America’s shores forever rather than deal with having to figure out how to give them a fair shot at life here.

In Lincoln’s “Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction” there is grace extended to the rebellious states.  But that grace hinges on the acceptance of the revised constitution, and utter devotion again to the country.  It was likely difficult for most Southern governments to want to pledge allegiance to the country and president that they had fought for so long to secede from.  There was a lot of bitterness in all that was lost.  Not only the millions of slaves lost, but also the hundreds of thousands of people whom died fighting.  Yet Lincoln’s plan for reconstruction in this proclamation lies around incorporating the southern states back into the union under an oath of allegiance that is as follows:

“I,                  , do solemnly swear, in presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Union of the States thereunder; and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all acts of congress passed during the existing rebellion with reference to slaves, so long and so far as not repealed, modified, or held void by congress, or by decision of the supreme court; and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all proclamations of the President made during the existing rebellion having reference to slaves, so long and so far as not modified or declared void by decision of the supreme court. So help me God,” (Lincoln).

Within five years following the Civil War and Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, congress passed the 14thamendment which provided citizenship and all its rights to freed slaves, and the 15th amendment which prohibited denying citizens the right to vote based on race.  Despite these constitutional rights being passed, the south still went to great, violent lengths to discriminate, segregate, and terrorize the African-Americans.  Congress did send federal troops into the south to protect them for a time, but it was a short time and other than that nothing was done to prohibit the horrible treatment (Lemann 18-9).  Based on President Lincoln’s “Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction”, and his ability to pass the 13th Amendment, it seems that he demonstrated a strong ability to accomplish what he willed and then ensure its following.  Therefore, if he had survived into the reconstruction period, perhaps these bills would have been passed sooner.  Being so, he would have seen the South’s inability to honor the constitution, and it’s possible that Lincoln would have rescinded his grace on the rebellious states or at least taken action to ensure proper obedience of the laws.  Had he been alive, the South would have gotten away with a lot less in the four remaining years of his presidency than they had under the eye of Andrew Johnson.

Andrew Johnson, Lincoln’s successor, was an interesting character who seemed to carry strong passion and courage, yet great weakness as well.  His weakness was to the detriment of reconstruction and race relations.  President Johnson had three tasks that he needed to focus on upon entering the presidency.  He needed to gain the Union’s support and strengthen its unity, he needed to decide how to deal with the Southern rebels, and he needed to find a solution for all the former slaves (Bergeron 68).  Although Johnson had grown up in the south, he had been working for Lincoln and the Union during the war and he had never owned any slaves of his own (8).  It is apparent that he was torn between his devotion to the constitution and his southern upbringing in many of the decisions that he made.  One way this is apparent is that, as most historians point out, Johnson was a racist at least to some extent.  He strongly believed in protecting the U.S. Constitution, which is what motivated him to join the Union.  He also favored state’s rights to govern over federals (9).  This explains why it was so easy for him to avert his eyes from the south’s mistreatment of African-Americans despite the passing of the 13th amendment.  He may have been torn between wanting to protect the Constitution, while also wanting to allow the southern states some room to govern themselves as they saw fit.  Congress and the president were often at odds as well (8).  There was a power struggle at play all throughout his presidency which left little for him to accomplish.

The assassination of Abraham Lincoln caused a different man to be president, Andrew Johnson, and he simply couldn’t play the same part.  He lacked the relationships that Lincoln had had within his government, and he lacked the motivation and conviction to see reconstruction through as justly as possible.  This tragic transition brought a lot of complex implications with it, and although within specific events it is possible to see how history has been formed, it is also apparent that there are many factors that contribute to racial divide today.

            (A note from Rhiannon: My interest in the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, and African-American history started over 20 years ago when I first learned about these topics in my sixth-grade history class.  I remember obsessing over the books, movies, and research I was exposed to.  I took the memorization of the Gettysburg Address very seriously.  That initial passion has only been strengthened since, and so I chose the assassination and reconstruction for my essay.  It was also in the sixth grade that my mother took me on a trip to Washington D.C.  Being in Ford’s theater and hearing the story about Lincoln’s assassination is what I remember most as well as seeing the Lincoln Memorial.  When given the opportunity to pick any historical event to research and write about, it is obvious to me that I would have chosen something surrounding the Civil War.) 

Works Cited

Bergeron, Paul H. Andrew Johnson’s Civil War and Reconstruction. The University of Tennessee Press/Knoxville, 2011.

Blair, William Alan and Karen Fisher. Lincoln’s Proclamation: Emancipation Reconsidered. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2009.

Lemann, Nicholas. “Deconstructing Reconstruction”. Washington Monthly,  January 1, 2013, Vol. 45, Issue 1-2, pp.18-20.

Lincoln, Abraham. Emancipation Proclamation. September 22, 1862, http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=34&page=transcript

 Lincoln, Abraham. Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction. December 8, 1863, http://www.freedmen.umd.edu/procamn.htm

We must not be afraid of failure in order to succeed at our wildest dreams.

If I were to ask you what some of your wildest dreams are, could you answer? When was the last time you gave them any thought or attention?  If it has been a while, why?

Due to an incredibly difficult and serious burden put on my life a couple months ago, I have decided to reassess my life, my past choices, and where I am headed.  The nature of this burden is one that forces a person to face mistakes and at a high cost.  For me, part of facing mistakes is to learn from them, and do better.  I have been inspired and motivated in a very practical, real, and crazy way and I am excited!  I am soaking up words of advice, podcasts, sermons, and books to feed this drive within me. I will speak more about the burden, and the mistakes, and the goals at another time but this post is about some advice that was given to me recently that I desperately needed, although at the time I didn’t realize it.  The advice was very straightforward, and quite possibly even obvious to most people. But for me, it changed everything.

img_0289“Create a path to your goal and do not veer off that path.  It will get hard, but do not give up, keep on the path,” (a professor of mine whom I respect tremendously gave me this gold a couple weeks ago).  Thank you, Chuck. I have not been able to stop thinking about not only this advice, but what my goals are and what paths I should consider taking to get there, weighing in my head every night which path makes the most sense and will set me up for the most success.

Around the same time, I had a phone conversation with one of my best friends whom has recently moved 3000 miles away from me.  img_5814(Yes, another good friend very far away.  That story, and those feelings I will also save for another post).  She suggested a podcast to me, which then led me to a book called “The Last Arrow” by Erwin McMannus.  I am only two chapters in, but I am already changed.  My friend still has no idea how imperative this man’s wisdom is to my drive.  If you have goals, and dreams, it might behoove you to check this book out.  It will light a fire under your butt.

A few things have stood out to me these last couple weeks, some from the book, some from the advice I was given by Chuck, and I wanted to talk a little bit about some of those thoughts because I hope that you can also be inspired and pushed! For me, it has been so healthy and uplifting, I hope for you my words can be as well.

One of the main points that has been driven home for me through all this discovery is that we must move forward as if we have nothing to lose and with no intention of turning back, or in other words, we must go beyond the point of no return.  You see, right now for me I have my “eyes on the prize” and if I am honest, I am realizing how much I have settled in recent years on what that prize(s) is! I believe that the desires deep within us that we simply cannot shake, no matter what we do or how we try, are literally engrained in our DNA and we should not stop and be satisfied for less.  Some might even say that God put those desires there, and that He purposed us to live those dreams.  I am convinced more than ever that settling is not okay.  It is a disservice to ourselves, to humanity, and for me, to my God, to settle on anything less.

Erwin McMannus talks in his book about not saving anything for a next life, about pushing as hard and as far as possible in this life to try to reach those goals and desires.  Don’t hold back!

This also makes me think back to a sermon I heard in Hawaii from a stellar dude.  He spoke about a story that we see in John chapter 5.  Let me set the scene.  There was a sick man who laid by the city fountain for 38 years, lame and with no healing in sight.  He lay on a mat.  Now in those times, the mat was probably one of his only possessions, it symbolized his “work” (as a beggar), and it also held his place so that others couldn’t take it (which was possibly a good place to do his “work”).  So, his mat, and where it lay, was important.  When Jesus saw him, he healed the lame man and he told him to stand, pick up his mat, and walk.  If we can ignore the miracle of instantaneous healing for a second, the part of this story that is speaking to me right now is that Jesus says to the man, who was previously lame, to STAND, PICK UP HIS MAT, AND WALK.  Wow.  Talk about a future change.  Not only has the lame man’s future changed from paralyzed limbs to ability to walk but Jesus tells him to pick up his mat, which means DON’T LEAVE ANYTHING BEHIND, DON’T LOOK BACK.  How many times do we see the dream, and start moving toward it, but leave our mats behind, as if to say, “I may be back someday and need this again,” or in other words “I am afraid of failure and giving up is an option”.

No, its not.  If you want to succeed, i’s not.  You cannot walk forward with fear of failing.

56899483974__ead02255-a24d-4b50-aac9-7b43c18000fe-1Erwin McMannus also says, “We can become so afraid of death that we never live, so afraid of failure that we never take risk, and so afraid of pain that we never discover how strong we really are.”  Wow does this speak to me.  Not only have I realized where I have settled on my dreams and desires, but how much I have let fear keep me from them as well.

I had a conversation with my husband recently about what I believe the difference is between someone who succeeds at their life’s goals and dreams, and someone who settles or is living less than.  I believe one of the big differences is desire.  The one who succeeds just wants it more! They want to live their best life more, they want to succeed at their goals more, they are driven, and they won’t settle.  They understand that in order to succeed they cannot be afraid of failure.  The fear of failure must not outweigh the desire for greatness.  They push forward, past the point of no return.

I know for me, regarding the path that I am about to step onto, failure isn’t an option.  I literally am choosing to believe that it is impossible to fail.  And I am choosing to hold nothing back, I am going to pick up my mat, give it my all, and refuse to look back as if back is an option.

The dreams I have are big, and to some they may seem impossible, and even for my life they are going to break molds.  But I have resolved to push forward and work.

Only forward. img_6178

Happy New Year

Happy New Year my friends.

Heres a look at my “best nine” of 2018 instagram style.

From top left to bottom right:best nine 2018

Our house.

My man and I.

With a  great friend on her wedding day.

Ashlynn loving on the kiddos.

One of our favourite views on Oahu.

My home library being built.

Enjoying vegan ice cream at “banan” in Honolulu.

Me playing my new guitar.  Baby girl and I at her first concert, in Boston.

Starting today, I have many commitments that I plan to begin.  Some will be lifestyle restarts. Some will be accomplishments for within the year, and some will merely be the beginning of new things.

One commitment is to get back in a groove with my blog.  It has been a crazy five months of highs and lows since my last post and I pledge this New Years Day to keep it more fresh and up to date.  There have been a lot of lessons, gains, and losses, and I hope to share them all with you.

My hope for 2019 is to be a year of “getting serious”, “preparing for the future”, and “investing in the longterm”.  My husband and I reflect on 2018 and see a lot of in the moment decisions and feelings.  Most of them were good, some of them were difficult.  We have learned a lot and feel more determined than ever to build our future on the foundation that we’ve been given, by God’s grace.  I am excited!

Hello 2019!

I’m Still Alive

This month marks ten years since my father died.  I knew I didn’t want to let the month pass without writing something about that, something that might help or encourage someone else, because this is real life, and My Aloha Journey is all about speaking to someone, anyone, even one.

You see, when my father died it was sudden, it was unexpected.  He was young: 44 years old.

And the circumstances between us were not great, in fact they were pretty awful. I had been harboring a lot of anger and unforgiveness toward him in the year or so leading up to his death and I wasn’t even speaking to him.  I was ignoring his phone calls, and every attempt he made to talk to me.  Subconsciously, perhaps even a little consciously if I am honest, I would think “I can always talk to him and forgive him later, but not right now”.

Then, on June 5th2008, as I was hosting a tent at a marketing event in downtown my mum called me.  She told me that my father had been found dead that morning.

My memory of that moment is something like you would see in a movie. Children playing all around, loud music, food and drink type event, people having a great time, and zoom in on main character in the middle of it all.  Dead silence all of the sudden, yet the normalness of commotion and humanity continues in the background, during this tragic, life-changing moment for her. I remember leaving, like in slow motion, heading to my car and fleeing the scene.

The following days and weeks were rough.  Like super rough.  Looking back now, to put it tame, I would say that I went a little crazy.  I went through periods where I would stay in bed not eating, to days where I couldn’t sit still for even a minute of rest.  I remember one day lying in bed after an evening unable to sleep.  I had this sudden thought that I would drive to some undecided place and go be all alone in the woods for a while.  I drove for hours until I came across a campground and purchased a site for three nights.  That first night lying in my tent and still unable to sleep, I decided that I had to get the hell out of there.  I packed up, got in my car, and started driving the 3 hours back to my apartment. I remember coming within feet of hitting a moose on the pitch black highway.  I was messed up: I literally could not handle being with myself anymore to the point that I put myself in dangerous situations.

Here is an excerpt from my journal.  I wrote it four days after my father passed.

“I’ve thought of a good analogy, a perfect picture of how I feel…

Imagine a rose, the most beautiful, amazing, perfectly formed rose.  It’s the most wonderful color you can imagine, you can tell just by looking at it that it has the softest petals you could ever touch. Its perfection calls to you, cries to you to touch it, be with it.  Its whole glorious, dreaminess was created for your love, your affections, and you alone. 

Now imagine this rose is surrounded by thorns.  Sharp, pain-inflicting, thorns.  Hundreds of them.  And you must make you way through those thorns.  The only path to this captivating love that you so crave is to pass through those thorns that will rip your skin and tear at your body.  Make you bleed.  You want to get the rose, but you are afraid of the pain.  So you wait.  For “courage”, for “the right moment”, or for “a sign”.  A few times you even are brave enough to slip pass through a couple, but never enough to grab the rose.

And one day, after years of dreaming of the very beauty that is before you, you see that unexpectedly, unexplainably, your precious, untouched love has withered and died.  You will never again have this chance.  Your dream is dead.  Your desperation unanswered.  

And somehow you must believe that it was meant to be this way.”

You see, this somewhat poetic attempt at a young woman’s explanation of how she felt about this tragedy tells a lot.  It expresses a girls natural need for a father’s love.  It speaks of years of pain that happens when this love is denied. And it shows how much blame she put on herself around the circumstances leading up to her unattainable dreams disappearance, and her regret in not taking her chances.

After my Dad died, all the anger, all the unforgiveness, all the pain I had (specifically the last year of it) no longer had a target.  So my aim became myself.

I couldn’t forgive myself for how I hurt him in that last year and a half of ignoring his calls, and denying him my love when he was asking for it (and ultimately what I had wanted was a healthy and loving relationship with him too).  I became angry at myself for being such a horrible daughter in the end and treating him that way (yet at the time I didn’t know any other way to handle the situation).

After he died, I couldn’t live with myself.  So I made unhealthy decisions, I accepted a life of living with regret, I allowed my mind to be consumed by death and darkness and the belief that I didn’t deserve any better.  Looking back on the year and a half after my father’s passing, I would say that I was like a dead woman walking in some ways.

Thanksgiving of 2011, three years after my Dad died, I finally felt release. I was with that side of the family for the holiday and I finally opened up a little about these feelings to one of my Aunts.  And her simple, truthful, emotional, real response was perfect for me.

“Your father would not want you to live that way.  He already forgave you.  He loved you so much he would not want you to live with that self-hate”.

Her assurance from my father that I should love myself, and forgive myself was a huge healing moment for me.  I realized that although he was dead, and I would never receive the only thing I had ever truly wanted my whole life – a healthy and consistent relationship with my Daddy – I was not dead.  My life was more than that dream.  And the death of that dream SUCKED, but it didn’t have to kill me too.

I love the song by one of my all-time favourite bands – Pearl jam: Alive.

It’s a song about the song writer’s own father’s supposed death.  I am not going to write all the lyrics or their supposed meanings here but I will quote the chorus, “I’m still alive”.  I love when this song comes on, I scream it out!

“I’m still alive”.

Perhaps this story is just a story to you.  Or perhaps it’s an inspiration to get good.

Death can be a horrible, devastating occurrence, and something that most people don’t even like to talk about.  It is not a pleasant conversation.  And everybody experiences the loss of a family member in a unique way.  I believe that no one can ever truly “know what someone is going through”, just because they lost someone also.  But in MY experience, one thing is true.  The death of a loved one is hard to get through. It is hard to get to the “other side”, or even begin to define what the other side is! I don’t think I’ve arrived yet. But what has helped me is to remember that despite any issues between us, my father always had love for me. Despite his lack of ability to maintain a healthy relationship, he protected me in his own way and helped direct my steps.  Despite my initial anger toward him, and then hatred of myself, he assured me that he forgave me and I should forgive myself.  Despite his very sudden, very painful, very agonizing death, he reminded me that I’M STILL ALIVE, and to live like that as long as I am.