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backHistory Of Slavery, 1619 To 1789

backwardHistory Of Slavery, 1789 To 1829

Chronology On The History Of Slavery And Racism

The Chronology is broken up into three parts; 1619– 1789, 1790 to 1829 and 1830- to the end.

Compiled by Eddie Becker

Chronology On The History Of Slavery And Racism 1830 – The End

Andrew Jackson's Indian Removal Act forcibly removes five Indian nations from the lower South to less desirable land in the West, thus opening roughly 25 million acres to cotton cultivation. (Timeline from the PBS series Africans In America)

Andrew Jackson Census: 6 male and 8 female slaves, 5 "free Colored Persons" out of a household of 25. (Census Washington DC First Ward, page 67)

Census Graph Citation: From the United States Historical Census Data Browser.

. "In 1830, there were 6,152 free Negroes in the District of Columbia compared with 6,152 slaves; in 1840, 8,361 compared with 4,694 slaves; and in 1860, 11,131 compared with only 3,185. Thus is 30 years, the free colored population was nearly doubled, while the slave population was halved. It would be inaccurate to infer from this that there was any wholesale manumission or that the District was haven for free Negroes. The free Negroes were of several classes: Those whose antecedents had never been slaves, such as descendents of indentured servants; those born of free parent, or of free mothers; those manumitted; those who had bought their own freedom, or whose kinsmen had bought it for them; and those who were successful runaways. These free Negroes were an ever present 'Bad example' to the slaves of the District and of the surrounding slave States, and the more they prospered, the 'worse example' they became. Especially stringent regulations affecting free Negroes were added by the District Common Council to the slave codes. Every free Negro was required; (1) to give the mayor 'satisfactory evidence of freedom', plus $50 for himself, and $50 for each member of his family; (2) to post a bond of $1,000 and to secure five white guarantors of good behavior. It was necessary to show manumission papers in order to remain free; even so, gangs bent on kidnapping could and frequently did seize and destroy them. No Negro, slave or free, could testify against whites. The jails were crowded with captured free Negroes and suspected runaways; there were 290 of these in the city jail at one time. Many were sold for prison fees, ostensibly for a fixed period, but really for life. Meetings for any other than fraternal and religious purposes were forbidden. After Nat Turner's insurrection in Virginia in 1831, colored preachers were banned." (Washington, City and Capital, Federal Writers' Project, Works Progress Administration, American Guide Series. Washington, 1937, USGPO. P71-2)

Foreign travelers accounts from the 1830 and 1840 described the Robey and Williams slave pens which stood along the Mall in the shadow of the Capitol; the two were often juxtaposed in artworks, and the presence of slave pens in the center of the nation's capital captured the attention of abolitionists. (Ironically, today the Museum of African Art sits less than a block away from the former location of the Robey and Williams slave pens.) (The Mall, On-line Reference from the University of Virginia American Studies Department, Site developed by Mary Halnon )

"The District of Columbia, too small for slave rearing itself, served as depot for the purchase of interstate traders, who combed Maryland and northern Virginia for slaves. Since the slave jails, colloquially known as 'Georgia pens", and described by an ex-slave as worse than hog holes, were inadequate for the great demand, the public jails were made use of, accommodations for the criminals having to wait upon the more pressing and lucrative traffic in slaves. There were pens in what is now Potomac Park: and one in the Decatur House, fronting on what is now Lafayette Square. More notorious were McCandless' Tavern in Georgetown; in Washington, Robey's Tavern at Seventh and Maryland Avenue, and Williams' 'Yellow House' at Eighth and B street SW. In Alexandria, the pretentious establishment of Armfield and Franklin, who by 1834 were sending more than a thousand slaves a year to the Southwest, was succeeded and surpassed by the shambles of much-feared Kephart." (Washington, City and Capital, Federal Writers' Project, Works Progress Administration, American Guide Series. Washington, 1937, USGPO. p69)

Virginia Census shows the holdings of the Armfield and Franklin slave pen. Their inventory of consisted of predominantly of children and teenagers who would be taken from Virginia and surrounding States and sold to work the Cotton Plantations.
Sex and Age for 1830 census for the slave Pen of Armfield and Franklin.
1 male under 10
50 males 10-24
20 males 24—36
4 females under 10
50 females 10-24
20 females 24-36
(1830 DC Census Alexandria page 270)

Franklin and Armfield business dealings depended largely on the agents representing the enterprise, who were scattered throughout slave-holding areas of Maryland and Virginia. In Richmond there was R.C. Ballard & Co.; in Warrenton, Virginia, J.M. Saunders & Co.; in Baltimore, Rockville and Fredericktown, Maryland, George Kephart; in Frederick, Maryland, James Franklin Purvis, nephew of Isaac Franklin; and in Easton, Maryland, Thomas M. Jones (Sweig 1980;8). There eventually were three ships traveling between New Orleans and Alexandria for Franklin and Armfield—the Tribune, the Uncas, and the Isaac Franklin. (The Alexandria Slave Pen: The Archaeology of Urban Captivity, by Janice G. Artemel, Elizabeth A. Crowell and Jeff Parker, October 1987. Engineering-Science, Inc. Washington, DC)

For graphs showing the Age and Sex Selectivity in Slave Export from Virginia see The graph was used "to make a rough estimation of the impact commercial traders made in each subregion. While planters moving entire plantations tended to carry most slaves with them, from infants to older men and women, traders sought out the most marketable--men and women of prime work and child-bearing age.

In a best-case scenario for slave families and communities, we assume that planters did not act selectively in moving west--that is, they simply gathered everyone in the caravan. Since they would have drawn from every age and sex group in same proportions, the percentage of older slaves exported provides an indicator of planters' slave migrations. If planters took every migrating slave in the oldest group, and traders took none, then planters in the tidewater and piedmont tended to draw away between 3 and 6 percent of each age-sex cohort in the 1820s. Traders, then, would have been responsible for the remainder--the majority of slaves in their teens and twenties. (Geographies of Family and Market: Virginia's Domestic Slave Trade in the Nineteenth Century, Phillip D. Troutman Research Fellow Carter G. Woodson Institute for Afro-American and African Studies Ph.D. Candidate Corcoran Department of History University of Virginia, see also

John Gadsby was said to live in the Decatur house. The Census for Washington City shows John Gadsby with 38 slaves (1830 Census page 123)

Solomon Nothup, a freed man was kidnapped in Washington DC, held in a slave pen and sold into slavery. "It occurred to me then that I must be in an underground apartment, and the damp, moldy odors of the place confirmed the supposition. The noise above continued for at least an hour, when, at last, I heard footsteps approaching from without. A key rattled in the lock - a strong door swung back upon its hinges, admitting a flood of light, and two men entered and stood before me. One of them was a large, powerful man, forty years of age, perhaps, with dark, chestnut-colored hair, slightly interspersed with gray. His face was full, his complexion flush, his features grossly coarse, expressive of nothing but cruelty and cunning. He was about five feet ten inches high, of full habit, and, without prejudice, I must be allowed to say, was a man whose whole appearance was sinister and repugnant. His name was James H. Burch, as I learned afterwards - a well-known slave-dealer in Washington; and then, or lately connected in business, as a partner, with Theophilus Freeman, of New-Orleans. The person who accompanied him was a simple lackey, named Ebenezer Radburn, who acted merely in the capacity of turnkey. Both of these men still live in Washington, or did, at the time of my return through that city from slavery in January last. The light admitted through the open door enabled me to observe the room in which I was confined. It was about twelve feet square - the walls of solid masonry. The floor was of heavy plank. There was one small window, crossed with great iron bars, with an outside shutter, securely fastened. An iron-bound door led into an adjoining cell, or vault, wholly destitute of windows, or any means of admitting light. The furniture of the room in which I was, consisted of the wooden bench on which I sat, an old-fashioned, dirty box stove, and besides these, in either cell, there was neither bed, nor blanket, nor any other thing whatever. The door, through which Burch and Radburn entered, led through a small passage, up a flight of steps into a yard, surrounded by a brick wall ten or twelve feet high, immediately in rear of a building of the same width as itself. The yard extended rearward from the house about thirty feet. In one part of the wall there was a strongly ironed door, opening into a narrow, covered passage, leading along one side of the house into the street. The doom of the colored man, upon whom the door leading out of that narrow passage closed, was sealed. The top of the wall supported one end of a roof, which ascended inwards, forming a kind of open shed. Underneath the roof there was a crazy loft all round, where slaves, if so disposed, might sleep at night, or in inclement weather seek shelter from the storm. It was like a farmer's barnyard in most respects, save it was so constructed that the outside world could never see the human cattle that were herded there. The building to which the yard was attached, was two stories high, fronting on one of the public streets of Washington. Its outside presented only the appearance of a quiet private residence. A stranger looking at it, would never have dreamed of its execrable uses. Strange as it may seem, within plain sight of this same house, looking down from its commanding height upon it, was the Capitol. The voices of patriotic representatives boasting of freedom and equality, and the rattling of the poor slave's chains, almost commingled. A slave pen within the very shadow of the Capitol! Such is a correct description as it was in 1841, of Williams' slave pen in Washington, in one of the cellars of which I found myself so unaccountably confined." (Twelve Years a Slave. Narrative of Solomon Northup, a Citizen of New-York, Kidnapped in Washington City in 1841, and Rescued in 1853.: First published in 1853. Electronic Edition. )

In Fairfax County Virginia, a major source of income for residents came from selling or hiring out their excess slaves. Slave markets were run by Joseph Bruin at the West End and by Alexander Grigsby at Centreville. There were frequent slave auctions at the front door of the Fairfax courthouse. Bruin regularly advertised in the Gazette that he offered "cash for Negroes," and that he was "at all times in the market" for "likely young Negroes for the South" pay liberal prices for all Negroes from 10-30 years of age." (Gazettette, 20 March 1944) (Fairfax County, Virginia a History. Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Fairfax, Virginia, 1978 p 262)

Price, Birch, & Company Slave Pen
Duke St., Alexandria, Virginia
(William Pywell, 1863; LOC) Before the war a child would sell for about $50.00, a man at $1,000-$1,800 and a woman from $500 to $1,500.00

Franklin and Armfield Office
1315 Duke Street
Built in 1812 as a residence for General Andrew Young, this was the office building of the former interstate slave trading complex which stood on the site from 1828 to 1861. By 1835 Franklin and Armfield controlled nearly half the coastal slave trade from Virginia and Maryland to New Orleans. In 1846 the property was sold to a Franklin and Armfield agent, George Kephart, whose business became "the chief slave-dealing firm in [Virginia] and perhaps anywhere along the border between the Free and Slave States." After 1858, the slave pen was known as Price, Birch, and Co., and their sign can be seen in a Civil War era photograph. The business was appalling to many, especially to active abolitionists in Alexandria, where the large Quaker population contributed to a general distaste for slavery. Several abolitionists' accounts survive which describe the slave pen and the conditions encountered therein. Behind the house was a yard containing several structures, surrounded by a high, whitewashed brick wall. Male slaves were located in a yard to the west, while women and children were kept in a yard to the east, separated by a passage and a strong grated door of iron. The complex served as a Civil War prison from 1861 to 1865, and housed the Alexandria Hospital from 1878 to 1885. It was later apartments, and was renovated as offices in 1984. (Office of Historic Alexandria, Alexandria Sites Listed on the National Register of Historic Places )

There were more than 2 million African-American slaves in the U.S. The 1865 Emancipation Proclamation (1863) and Union victory (1865) freed almost 4 million slaves. (The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, 1995 by Columbia University Press from MS Bookshelf.)

Apparently this last entry offended pro confederate Civil War Web page, they try to argue that Slavery was not that bad. Give up and wind selectively reproducing a good portion of the rest of this chronology. (See Slavery Myths and Facts, Southern Comfort Civil War History

1830 United States Census for a John Adams at the same location as John Q. Adams from the 1820 Census located in the 1st Ward of Washington City show;
1 female slave 10-24; 1 free colored males under 10; 1 free colored male 10-24; 1 free colored male24-36; 1 free colored female 10-24; 2 white males 15-20 ; 1 white male 20-30; 1 white female 20-30; 2 white males 20-30; 1 white male 60-70, 2 white females under 5; 1 white female 20-30; 1 white female 30-40; (1830 DC Census, Second Entry page 58)

Abolitionists, in U.S. history, especially from 1830 to 1860, advocates of the compulsory emancipation of African-American slaves. Abolitionists are to be distinguished from free-soilers, who opposed the extension of slavery. The active campaign had its mainspring in the revival (1820s) in the North of evangelical religion, with its moral urgency to end sinful practices. It reached crusading stage in the 1830s, led by Theodore D. Weld, the brothers Arthur and Lewis Tappan, and William Lloyd Garrison. The American Anti-Slavery Society, established in 1833, flooded the slave states with abolitionist literature and lobbied in Washington, D.C. Writers like J.G. Whittier and orators such as Wendell Phillips lent strength to the cause. Despite unanimity on their goal, abolitionists were divided over the method of achieving it, Garrison advocating moral suasion, others direct political action. Uncle Tom's Cabin, by Harriet B. Stowe, became an effective piece of abolitionist propaganda, and the KANSAS question aroused both North and South. The culminating act of abolitionism was John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry. Abolitionist demands for immediate freeing of the slaves after the outbreak of the Civil War resulted in Pres. Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation. The abolitionist movement was one of high moral purpose and courage; its uncompromising temper hastened the demise of slavery in the U.S. (The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, 1995 by Columbia University Press from MS Bookshelf.)

Theodore Weld's American Slavery As It Is (1839), which cataloged horror stories about slavery drawn entirely from accounts in the Southern press, was an instant best seller and touched a raw moral nerve in the country. Harriet Beecher Stowe, scion of America's most distinguished religious family, used Uncle Tom's Cabin, a sentimental novel with explicit Christian lessons, to rivet the nation's attention to the institutional evils of slavery.

Theodore Weld. reared in a strict Calvinistic manse, was a protege of Charles Finney and studied at Lane Seminary (at which Lyman Beecher was president), where he was part a group that styled itself the "Illuminati". Weld's early reform passions were for education and abolitionism. He became a women's rights advocate after his marriage to Angelina Grimke, a Quaker feminist. (The Welds helped promote reforms like "bloomers" - progressive women's attire in the 19th century). His book American Slavery sold 100,000 copies in its first year and, in becoming an anti-slavery classic, made Weld the nation's leading abolitionist spokesman. His wife, however, pursued a different track, latching onto the millennialism of William Miller, who predicted Christ's imminent return in 1843. The Welds eventually drifted into spiritualism, Swedenborgianism, and Transcendentalism. After struggling with a son's insanity and suicide, and trying his hand at organic vegetable farming and teaching at a Utopian commune, Weld finally became a Unitarian. His life personifies Ephesians 4:14. (31. On Weld, see Robert Abzug, Passionate Liberator: Theodore Dwight Weld and the Dilemma of Reform (N.Y. Oxford, 1980). Weld's heterodox tendencies evidently began early. After asking his preacher-father a series of challenging questions, the senior Weld told the boy: "Shut your mouth, you little infidel!" (cited by Roger Schultz by Contra Mundum, No. 4 Summer 1992 Politics of Righteousness: Christian Political Movements in the Early 19th Century, )

Abolitionists were just as confused about the means they should use. Some endorsed immediate abolition, using violence if necessary. Others were committed to peaceful means and gradual emancipation. Some, such as the American Anti-Slavery Society, were simply committed to ending slavery. Still others, such as the American Colonization Society, driven by fears of post-emancipation racial tensions, wanted liberated slaves resettled in Africa. While some stressed abolition throughout the United States, others focused on preventing the spread of slavery into the territories. (Summer 1992 Politics of Righteousness: Christian Political Movements in the Early 19th Century)

During the 1830s, William Lloyd Garrison's violent condemnations of colonization as a slaveholder's plot to perpetuate slavery created deep hostility between abolitionists and colonizationists. (Library of Congress, African-American Mosaic, Colonization, )

Plantation Mission Movement 1830-1) Methodist chapels were constructed on many plantations ,As many as 1000 slaves lived on some plantations with little contact with the outside or with whites, other than the overseers. Many plantation slaves attended the chapels when a Methodist circuit -riding preacher came by. Baptists also made many converts. (a) Many blacks were permitted to become preachers because Baptists had no educational requirement for the ministry. (b) The role of minister was one of the only leadership roles available to blacks. (c) Besides the fact that the Baptists were a major group in the South, many of the Baptist institutions, such as the Baptismal service by immersion, or communion service (taken at the same time and not row by row), were attractive to blacks, even reminding some of similar practices held among African tribes. Separate Southern black denominations did not emerge until the post-Civil War (Growth of the Nation 1800 – 40 Jefferson's Administrations Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, TX )

In Ward Three the Census recorded 75 people in the infirmary none were slave or "free colored. (1830 DC Census 3rd Ward page 95)

George W P Custis Listed in Georgetown with 57 Slaves and next to him is Alexander Hunter with 22 (1830 DC Census page 217)

George Washington Parke Custis, Colonel, United States Army, Arlington House Builder, Born at Mount Airy, Maryland, on April 30, 1781, his parents were John Parke and Eleanor (Calvert) Custis. He attended St. John's College and Princeton University. He married Mary Lee Fitzhugh in 1804 and they had one daughter, Mary (later Mrs. Robert E. Lee). He was commissioned Colonel, United States Army, and aide-de-camp to General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney in 1799 and was a volunteer in the defense of Washington, D.C. during the War of 1812. He began as series of "Recollections of Washington" in the U.S. Gazette in 1826, and continued in the National Intelligencer, and published in book form in 1860. His first play, The Indian Prophecy, was performed in the Chestnut Street Theater, Philadelphia, in 1830. He also wrote: The Railroad, 1830; North Point of Baltimore Defended, 1833; Eighth of January, 1834. He was the adopted son of George Washington after the death of his parents. He built Arlington House as a tribute to, and to hold the belongings of, General George Washington. He died on October 19, 1852 and was buried in a private lot on the estate (long before it became a National Cemetery), which is now Section 13 of Arlington National Cemetery. His wife, Mary Fitzhugh Custis, who died on April 23, 1853, is buried with him. (Arlington House Web Page)

The first division of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad is completed May 24 to link Baltimore with Ellicott Mills, 13 miles away. (The People's Chronology, 1994 by James Trager from MS Bookshelf.)

Smithsonian Report reads, "When (Adams) first takes seat in Congress he presents fifteen petitions signed numerously by citizens of Pennsylvania, praying for the abolition of slavery and the slave trade in the District of Columbia... That he had always cherished an abhorrence of slavery and a bitter antipathy to slave-holders as a class is sufficiently indicated by many chance remarks scattered through his Dairy and early years. (John T. Morse, jr., Book of John Quincy Adams, Mifflin, 1882) (Commentary in study "John Quincy Adams was against the principle and practice of slavery therefore making it unlikely that he would have tolerated slaves at the Columbia Mills." Cynthia Field: 1998 Smithsonian Study)

John Quincy Adams was presented with fifteen petitions from citizens of Pennsylvania asking for the abolition of slavery and especially slavery in the District, "he did not think its abolition there desirable," and said, "he hoped the subject would not be discussed in the House." He thought that "the citizens of Pennsylvania ought not petition in regard to the matter in the District of Columbia. It would lead to ill-will, heart-burning and mutual hatred." (Tremain, Mary. Slavery in the District of Columbia. The Policy of Congress and the Struggle for Abolition. Nebraska State University, cited in Milburn, Page. The Emancipation of Slaves in the District of Columbia. Records of the Columbia Society, Vol. 16 page98-99)

John Quincy Adams came to the House in 1830 and presented antislavery petition that first year. He acted here only because his Massachusetts constituents asked him to do so. Initially, he thought no more of the abolitionists' work as Congressmen than he had as president. I could only bring the country "to ill-will. To heartburning mutual hatred without accomplishing anything else. (Nye, Fettered Freedom, 48 in Piano p 33) When petitions calling for abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia deluged Congress in 1836, however, Adams had to pick a side, Southerners again raised the stakes by pushing a gag rule through the House requiring the tabling of such petitions. (They were not printed, referred to committee, or debated.) While Jackson stood with the South, Adams stood with the abolitionists and eventually made even Negrophobes in the North see that slavery eroded everyone's civil liberties. He did so by demonstrating the price that the gag-rule advocates were demanding: To protect slavery every American had to suffer the right to petition their government, a right guaranteed in the Constitution's First Amendment. (Nixon's Piano: Presidents and Racial Politics from Washington to Clinton, Kenneth O'Reilly, NY, Free Press 1995)

Census lists 40 slaves to Charles C Lackland and William O'neal (manager) Seems like a labor pool with many free whites and "coloreds" 200 total.. (1830 Census page 201 Washington County)

William Lloyd Garrison began abolitionist newspaper The Liberator. (The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1995 from MS Bookshelf)

Benjamin Lundy, a Quaker begins Washington’s first antislavery newspaper, The Genius of Universal Emancipation. (Melder, Keith, City of Magnificent Intentions. A History of the District of Columbia, 1983). Lundy and the Quaker abolitionists inspired more militant abolitionists like William Lloyd Garison, publisher of the of the Liberator. Garrison denounced both colonization and gradualism and called for immediate abolition. In 1833 founded the American Anti-Slavery Society. (From Events hat Changed American in the Nineteenth Century, edited by John E. Findling and Frank W. Thackeray.1997)

In the 1830s, those few Americans who actively sought to abolish slavery were treated as a lunatic fringe. As William Lee Miller points out in this often riveting story of the nation's first great political battle over the servitude of African-Americans, slavery was an interest, "concentrated, persistent, practical, and testily defensive," while antislavery was a mere sentiment, "diffuse, sporadic, moralistic and tentative." Spurred by the Christian evangelical fervor of the era, abolitionism was just beginning to coalesce from a set of privately held beliefs into a political movement that generated a growing stream of books, pamphlets-and petitions. (Bordewich, Fergus M., Arguing About Slavery: The Great Battle in the United States Congress; book review of book by William Lee Miller, Smithsonian December, 1996)

In 1829 Garrison entered into partnership with the American antislavery agitator Benjamin Lundy to publish a monthly periodical, The Genius of Universal Emancipation, in Baltimore, Maryland. Lundy believed in gradual emancipation, and Garrison at first shared his views; but he soon became convinced that immediate and complete emancipation was necessary. Because Baltimore was then a center of the domestic slave trade in the U.S., Garrison's eloquent denunciations of the trade aroused great animosity. A slave trader sued him for libel; he was fined, and, lacking funds to pay the fine, was jailed. After his release from prison Garrison dissolved his partnership with Lundy and returned to New England. In partnership with another American abolitionist, Isaac Knapp, Garrison launched The Liberator in Boston in 1831; the newspaper became one of the most influential journals in the United States. (Garrison, William Lloyd," Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia.)

The Liberator begins publication January 1 at Boston where local abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, 26, advocates emancipation of the slaves who account for nearly one-third of the U.S. population. (The People's Chronology, 1994 by James Trager from MS Bookshelf.)

Virginia, Thomas Dew, a legislator, proudly refers to Virginia as a Negro-raising state" for other states. Between 1830 and 1860, Virginia exports some 300,000 slaves. The price of slaves increases sharply due to expanding territory in which slaves are permitted and a booming economy in products harvested and processed by slave labor. (The Negro Almanac a reference work on the Afro American, compiled and edited by harry A Ploski, and Warren Marr, II. Third Edition 1978 Bellwether Publishing)

Nat Turner slave rebellion in Southampton county Virginia.

Turner, Nat, 1800–1831, African-American slave and revolutionary; b. Southampton co., Va. Believing himself divinely appointed to lead his fellow slaves to freedom, he commanded about 60 followers in a revolt (1831) that killed 55 whites. Although the so-called Southampton Insurrection was quickly crushed and Turner was caught and hanged six weeks later, it was the most serious uprising in the history of U.S. slavery and virtually ended the organized abolition movement in the South. (The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, 1995 by Columbia University Press from MS Bookshelf.) For the extraordinary transcript of Nat Turners Testimony see excerpts from Nat Turner's Trial < also see and

Nat Turner revolt, Southampton County, Va., August 21-22. Some 60 whites were killed. Nat Turner was not captured until October 30. Nat Turner was hanged, Jerusalem, Va., Nov. 11. (Major Revolts and Escapes, Lerone Bennett, Before the Mayflower,

The bloodiest insurrection of all, in which some sixty whites were murdered, occurred in Southampton County, Virginia, in August, 1831. Nat Turner, its leader, besides being a skilled carpenter, was a literate, mystical preacher. He had discovered particular relevance in the prophets of the Old Testament. Besides identifying with the slave experience of the Israelites, Turner and other slaves felt that the social righteousness which the prophets preached related directly to their situation. The picture of the Lord exercising vengeance against the oppressors gave them hope and inspiration. While the Bible did appear to tell the slave to be faithful and obedient to his master, it also condemned the wicked and provided examples that could be interpreted to prove God's willingness to use human instruments in order to bring justice against oppressors. Turner's growing hatred of slavery and his increasing concern for the plight of his brothers, led him to believe he was one of God's chosen instruments. As his conviction deepened, the solar eclipse early in 1831 appeared to him to be a sign that the day of vengeance was at hand. In the following months he collected a small band of followers, and in August they went into action. Unlike Prosser and Vesey, he began with only a very small band which lessened his chance of betrayal. As they moved from farm to farm, slaughtering the white inhabitants, they were joined by many of the slaves who were freed in the process. However, word of the massacre spread. At one farm, they were met by armed resistance. Slaves as well as masters fought fiercely to stop the attack. Some of Turner's men were killed and wounded, and the planned drive towards Jerusalem was thrown off stride. This enabled the militia to arrive and break up the attack. In due time Turner and several of his followers were captured and executed. White men in both the South and the North saw little similarity between these insurrections and the American Revolution. The Turner massacre was universally depicted as the work of savages and brutes, not of men. Vigilance was tightened, and new laws controlling the slaves were passed throughout the South. Both the violence of the slaves and the verbal abuse of the abolitionists only served to strengthen the South in its defense of the peculiar institution. Slaves who revolted were depicted as beasts who could not be freed because they would endanger society. Submissive slaves were pictured as children in need of paternal protection from the evils of a complex, modern world. They were never seen as men whose rights and liberties had been proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence. (Norman Coombs, The Immigrant Heritage of America, Twayne Press, 1972. , Chapter 4, Slave Insurrections)

The Washington City Council reacted by making the Black Codes harsher: A black man who struck a white person was now subject to having his ears cut off. (P 82 Melder, Keith. Slaves and Freedmen Wilson Quarterly 1989 13(1) 77-83)

The corporation of Georgetown enact an ordinance for the regulation including the offense of the possession of abolitionist information including the Liberator. (p142 Bryan, Wilhelmus Bogart. The History of the National Capital. Vol. II 1815-1878. Macmillan 1916 GW lib)

The slave insurrection in cased a bitter reaction in Maryland. The Maryland General Assembly took up the policy of colonization free blacks in Liberia in legislation passed that autumn of 1831, providing an annual appropriation to the Maryland State Colonization Society. At the same time, the Assembly prohibited any further importation of slaves into the state. There was already a statute on the books prohibiting free blacks from other states settling in Maryland. This act of 1807 was given more serious penalties in 1831, and made still more stringent in 1839. The District of Columbia afforded a loophole in the law until 1845, when, on complaint of Montgomery and Prince George's residents, a special act was passed to forbid blacks from crossing the District line to settle. (Jeffrey R. Brackett, The Negro in Maryland, A Study of the Institution of Slavery) (New York, reprint by Negro University Press, 1969 and James M. Wright, The Free Negro in Maryland 1634-1860, NY, Octagon Books 1971, reprint of 1921 ed. Cited in Richard K MacMaster and Ray Eldon Hiebert, A Grateful Remembrance, the story of Montgomery County, Maryland, Montgomery County Historical Society, 1976 p 156-157)

The Maryland General Assembly forbid free black citizens to buy liquor, own guns, sell food without a license, or even attend religious meetings if there wee no whites present. This last provision struck a crippling blow a the independent black church, the only real institution that the black community had been able to develop during its enslavement. (Lawrence H. McDonald, "Failure of the Great Reaction in Maryland" Ph.D. dissertation, University of Maryland, 1974), Appendix VI, cited in Richard K McAlester and Ray Eldon Hiebert, A Grateful Remembrance, the story of Montgomery County, Maryland, Montgomery County Historical Society, 1976 p 157)

Maryland further discouraged slave owners from manumitting their slaves by requiring them to send the free person out of the state. (Richard K MacMaster and Ray Eldon Hiebert, A Grateful Remembrance, the story of Montgomery County, Maryland, Montgomery County Historical Society, 1976 p 157)

The Maryland State Colonization Society established a settlement at Cape Palmas, some miles south of the major Liberian colony at Monrovia. It made a determined effort to recruit free black settlers from Maryland. Black Marylanders identified the colonization movement with a desire to remove the free blacks from the state lest they encourage restiveness among the slaves. They saw it generally committed to the preservation of slavery and inequality of free black citizens. Very few Marylanders were willing to leave their homes for n uncertain future in Africa. (Richard K MacMaster and Ray Eldon Hiebert, A Grateful Remembrance, the story of Montgomery County, Maryland, Montgomery County Historical Society, 1976. P 157)

With regard to the Nat Turner revolt, "It is difficult to decide with certainty whether it occurred as a reaction to the harshness of slave rule or as a result of the weakness of control." (Michael Craton, Sinews of Empire, A Short History of British Slavery, Anchor Books NY., 1974 p 227)

Turner, Nat b. Oct. 2, 1800, Southampton county, Va., U.S.--d. Nov. 11, 1831, Jerusalem, Va.), black American bondsman who led the only effective, sustained slave revolt (August 1831) in U.S. history. Spreading terror throughout the white South, his action set off a new wave of oppressive legislation prohibiting the education, movement, and assembly of slaves and stiffened proslavery, antiabolitionist convictions that persisted in that region until the American Civil War (1861-65). (On-Line African American History Reference)

Nat Turner's rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia, in the summer of 1831, threw the slaveholding South into a panic, and into a determined effort to bolster the security of the slave system. Turner, claiming religious visions, gathered about seventy slaves who went on a rampage from plantation to plantation, murdering at least fifty-five men, women, and children. They gathered supporters but were captured as their ammunition ran out. Turner and perhaps eighteen others were hanged.(Major Revolts and Escapes, Lerone Bennett, Before the Mayflower,)

Soon after the Nat Turner Rebellion, the General Assembly of Virginia, convened in 1831 to hear Governor John Floyd's annual message, which urged the Assembly to address the current crisis so as to quell the fears of the citizens and to restore order and safety to the Commonwealth. His address called for funds for the removal of free blacks from Virginia and for the houses to discuss what further action should be taken. As a result of Governor Floyd's address, a special committee was formed by the speaker of the House of Delegates to discuss the revolt of the past summer and present the house with possible solutions to the problem. The first week of the assembly saw numerous proposals for the colonization of free blacks and on December 14, William Henry Roane of Hanover presented a petition from the Society of Friends which proposed the abolition of slavery through the gradual colonization of slave in Africa. This proposal sparked intense debate between the members of the house and divided Tidewater delegates and those from the heavily agricultural "southside" of the James River. On January 11, 1832, Piedmont Delegate William O. Goode, a southsider, argued that debate on emancipation placed all of Virginia in grave danger because of the threat posed by blacks watching the actions of the Assembly. He proposed a resolution to table discussion for the safety of the Commonwealth. A counter-resolution was proposed by western Piedmont delegate Thomas Jefferson Randolph proposing a state-wide referendum on gradual emancipation so that the people of Virginia could decide the issue rather than the members of the Assembly, who held a disproportionate stake in the institution of slavery. If the majority of the citizens were for abolition, the process would begin with all slaves born on or after July 4, 1840, becoming the property of the Commonwealth. They would be hired out by the state until enough money had been raised to provide for their removal from the country. The session closed with the passage of a statement supporting the exploration of possible colonizing of slaves. That mood would change by the next fall, a result in large part of the essay on slavery published by William and Mary professor Thomas R. Dew at the close of the 1831-32 session. (Corey McLellan, The Debate in the 1831-32 Virginia General Assembly on the Abolition of Slavery, The University of Virginia.)

Dew attacked the plan, which called for all slaves to become property of the Virginia Commonwealth after July 4, 1840-- males at twenty-one, females at eighteen. This proposal, according to Dew, was a violation of property rights to slave owners and could never be accomplished because of the expense involved. Dew went on to the Biblical argument for slavery. He emphasized that nowhere does Scripture tag slavery as a sin, and that there is no command to abolish it. From the Biblical argument for slavery, Dew moved on to the historical one, pointing that slavery had existed continuously since the beginnings of recorded human history. Dew's arguments were the key factor in closing the door to emancipation in Virginia until the Civil War. (Thomas Dew's Review of the Debate in the Virginia Legislature of 1831- 1832)

James Hamilton, the governor of South Carolina, requested that Virginia governor John Floyd discuss the factors that led to the Nat Turner revolt in Southampton, Virginia in 1831, the most well known slave revolt in U.S. history. About sixty white people were killed. Governor Floyd's lengthy reply is in this letter. Floyd blamed the "spirit of insubordination" on the "Yankee population" in general and Yankee peddlers and traders in particular who shared Christianity with the slaves and taught them that all are born free and equal, and "that white people rebelled against England to obtain freedom, so have blacks a right to do." Floyd placed the blame for masterminding the plan on the church leaders, but he believed that all the discussions about freedom and equality led to the uprising. (Library of Congress, African American Odyssey, Slavery--The Peculiar Institution)

At a dinner in Boston, Alexis de Tocqueville, a young French magistrate who would go back home to write his classic book "Democracy in America," was seated next to former President John Quincy Adams and asked the old man: "Do you look on slavery as a great plague for the United States?" "Yes, certainly," Adams answered. "That is the root of almost all the troubles of the present and the fears for the future." ("Black justice, white cynicism," Byline: Richard Reeves; Universal Press Syndicate in The Baltimore Sun, October 5, 1995)

John Quincy Adams became a member of the First session of the twenty second Congress of the House of Representative from a district in Massachusetts.

Adams returns to Washington. "The issue of slavery was not, at this time, neatly defined and categorized in the minds of Louisa and John Quincy Adams, they did not abhor it with all their souls, as the abolitionists did. Nor were they ready to commit themselves without hesitation to its demise. "The Adams’s, as residents of Washington, saw slaves around them all the time. There were few free blacks, and it was common practice for householders to employ slaves as servants; a few lucky and hard-working slaves were even allowed to buy their own freedom in this manner. While the Adams’s never owned a slave, they frequently hired one or two from slaveholders, usually residents of Maryland or Virginia, as cooks or house servants. Such employment did not conflict, as we shall see with Louisa's or John Quincy’s position on slavery (337) Louisa, as a resident of Washington with relatives in Maryland, feared retribution of the slaves, and the surliness of the free blacks. Adams put the preservation of the union before slavery. (Shepherd, Jack; Cannibals of the Heart, 1980)

At the start of each session of Congress, on Petition Days, the number of "prayers" to ban slavery in the nation's capital had been increasing since William Lloyd Garrison launched his abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator, in 1831. That event coincided with the bloody Nat Turner slave rebellion in Virginia and the introduction of the steam printing press in New York City, where abolitionists began to print thousands of antislavery tracts and mail them South for distribution. Southern postmasters, prompted by pre-Ku Klux Klan vigilantes, began seizing and burning abolitionist material, and death threats were made against abolitionist visitors to the South. (Willard Sterne Randall, Newsday, January 28, 1996, p 33)

In the United States, the notion that slavery was God's will gained momentum after the Nat Turner slave rebellion of 1831. In hundreds of pamphlets, written from 1836 to 1866, Southern slaveholders were provided a host of religious reasons to justify the social caste system they had created. In their quest to justify black slavery, Southerners looked to the story of Noah's curse over his son Ham. According to Genesis 9, Noah planted a vineyard, drank too much wine and lay naked in his tent. When he awoke, Noah learned that his son Ham had seen him naked - a shame in the ancient world. He cursed Ham and his son, Canaan, saying, "lowest of slaves shall he be to his brothers," 9:25. Since Canaan and his descendants were said to settle Africa, some believed African-Americans therefore were destined to be slaves. According to Dale Martin, a professor of religion at Duke University. (Bible neither condemns nor condones slavery, News & Observer on the Web, Raleigh NC: August 9th 1996))

B & O Railroad between Georgetown and the Ellicott Mills running and generating modest income. (Walsh, Richard and Fox, William Lloyd. Maryland, A History 1632-1974. Maryland Historical Society)

In January of 1832, while President Andrew Jackson was dining with friends at the White House, someone whispered to him that the Senate had rejected the nomination of Martin Van Buren as Minister to England. Jackson jumped to his feet and exclaimed, "By the Eternal! I'll smash them!" So he did. His favorite, Van Buren, became Vice President, and succeeded to the Presidency when "Old Hickory" retired to the Hermitage, where he died in June 1845. (Andrew Jackson White House Bio)

In the wake of the Nat Turner’s insurrection in Virginia, Georgetown strengthened its black code punishing with particular severity any person of color possessing abolitionist literature. (Slavery and the Slave Trade in the District of Columbia, The Negro History Bulletin, Oct 1950, Springharm Library, Howard University Vertical File Washington, DC)

Louisiana presents resolution requesting Federal Government to arrange with Mexico to permit runaway slaves from Louisiana to be claimed when found on foreign soil. (Underground Railroad Chronology, National Park Service)

An act to abolish slavery was introduced into the Virginia legislature by Thomas Jefferson’s grandson and was defeated by only seven votes. ("Virginia," Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia. Microsoft Corporation.)

Jackson reelected will serve till Mar 1833 and Martin Van Buren , 1833-37.In 1832 the Anti-Masonic Party nominated a lawyer, William Wirt, as its candidate for the presidency, but he was defeated by Andrew Jackson, who supported Masonry. Ironically, Wirt himself was a Mason. After that date the Freemasons encountered little political opposition in the U.S. or elsewhere, until the rise to power of the National Socialists in Germany in 1933.

Opponents of Freemasonry, including sections of the press, churches, and antislavery elements, joined in the condemnation of the order. Thurlow Weed, publisher of the Rochester (New York) Telegraph and later of the Anti-Masonic Enquirer, led the press attack on Freemasonry and endorsed anti-Masonic candidates for New York State offices in the election of 1827. When 15 of these candidates were elected to the state Assembly, an Anti-Masonic Party was formed and in 1828 held its first state convention. National conventions were held in Philadelphia in 1830 and in Baltimore in 1831. At the latter, William Wirt, who had served as U.S. attorney general under Presidents James Monroe and John Quincy Adams, was nominated for president in opposition to Andrew Jackson, who supported Masonry. Wirt himself was a Freemason. The convention required a three-fourths majority to nominate, thereby setting a precedent for the two-thirds rule used by the Democrats in subsequent national conventions for more than 100 years. In the 1832 elections, however, the Anti-Masonic Party carried only the state of Vermont. It did win a considerable number of seats in the 23rd Congress (1833-35). The party survived until about 1834, when several prominent leaders founded the Whig Party or shifted to the Democratic Party. (Anti-Masonic Party," Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia. 1993-1997) (For antimasonic literature see John Quincy Adams, Letters On The Masonic Institution Originally Published: 1847 T. R. Marvin Boston, Massachusetts and in general

The Anti-Slavery Convention of 1833 held. A list of officers of the new society was then chosen: Arthur Tappan, of New York, president, and Elizur Wright, Jr., William Lloyd Garrison, and A. L. Cox, secretaries. Among the vice-presidents was Dr. Lord, of Dartmouth College, then professedly in favor of emancipation, but who afterwards turned a moral somersault, a self-inversion which left him ever after on his head instead of his feet. He became a querulous advocate of slavery as a divine institution, and denounced woe upon the abolitionists for interfering with the will and purpose of the Creator. ( Published originally in John G. Whittier's "Prose Works," the following is an excerpt from Whittier's recollection of the founding convention of the American Anti-Slavery Society.John G. Whittier, "The Anti-Slavery Convention of 1833," 1874.)

Monocracy Aqueduct built in 1833 as part of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (C & O Canal) system, it carried canal boats above the Monocacy River. It is one of ten such structures that still stand along the 185-mile stretch of the canal that extends from Cumberland, MD to Washington, DC. The 430-foot long aqueduct is composed of seven arches, built with white stone from nearby Sugarloaf Mountain, and is considered one of the finest examples of early civil engineering. (Press release of Senator Mikulski June 15, 1998 naming Monocracy Aqueduct, one of "America's Most Endangered Historic Sites" by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Press release titled "Senator Mikulski Joins First Lady Hillary At Monocacy Aqueduct, Named One Of America's Most Endangered Historic Places")

In the days before the railroads, the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal was designed to bypass the rapids of the Potomac River and move goods cheaply and efficiently from the Chesapeake Bay to the Ohio River. According to one expert, the construction of the C&O Canal was "a typical American heroic enterprise."

Along the way, a series of challenges faced engineers, including how to carry barges across the 11 major intersecting tributaries that drain into the Potomac River. The solution was a system of aqueducts.

At Mile 42, workers constructed the largest -- the Monocacy Aqueduct. Essentially a 516-foot bridge over the river, the aqueduct carried the canal in a flume-like trough supported by seven graceful arches. Mules dragging the barges walked along a towpath by the canal. The Monocacy Aqueduct is now considered to be one of the finest canal structures in the United States.

Hundreds of manual laborers, many of them Irish and Welsh immigrants, hauled heavy stone blocks from nearby Sugar Loaf Mountain to build the aqueduct, which took five years to complete. During the Civil War, Confederate troops tried to dynamite it to stop the movement of Northern soldiers, but they were unable to penetrate the dense stone. (Talking It Over by Hillary Rodham Clinton, June 17, 1998 )

Slavery abolished in Canada. See also the Upper Canada for 1791 and 1818.

Workers along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (C & O Canal) stage a riot January 29. President Jackson orders Secretary of War Lewis Cass to send in the Army, using federal troops for the first time in a U.S. labor conflict. (The People's Chronology, 1994 by James Trager from MS Bookshelf.)

Parliament orders abolition of slavery in the British colonies by August 1, 1834, in a bill passed August 23 after a long campaign by the humanitarian William Wilberforce who has died July 29 at age 73. Children under 6 are to be freed immediately, slaves over 6 given a period of apprenticeship that will be eliminated in 1837, slave-owners given a total of £120 million in compensation. (The People's Chronology 1995, 1996 by James Trager from MS Bookshelf)

U.S. Marshal for the District of Columbia petitioned the House Committee on the District of Columbia regarding a bill of $1,500 for housing runaway "Negroes" in the public jail 23A-G4.4. (National Archives, Guide to the Records of the United States House of Representatives Records Of The District Of Columbia Committee 10th-45th Congresses 1807-79)

The Senate also received petitions decrying the District's practice of arresting and then selling undocumented "persons of color" for jail fees (28A-G3). (National Archives, Guide to the Records of the United Senate. Records Of The Committee On The District Of Columbia 1816-1968 (512 ft.)

"A Colonization minded parson investigating a slave depot in Washington in 1835 consciously recorded that the premises were as clean and orderly as those of the District's penitentiary, which he had visited a few days before, but "the situation of the convicts at the penitentiary was far less deplorable than that of these slaves. Confined for the crime of being descended from ancestors who were forcibly reduced to bondage." (J.C. Furnas, Goodbye to Uncle Tom, William Sloane Associates, NY, 1956 p69)

Riots touched off by discovery of abolitionist literature among specimens of Dr. Reuben Crandall a botanist when an angry crowd of Navy Yard workers descend on the Washington County Jail where he was held. The mob was coursed out by a free Negro Beverly Snow who said some derogatory things about their wives. The crowd immediately surged towards Snow's tavern and, although they failed to lay their hands on Snow himself, they proceeded to wreck his establishment. Riots lasted for two days and three nights, smashing the windows of Negro churches and school, and homes. Drastic legislation would follow restricting the rights of free Negroes. (Dorothy Sproles Provine, The Free Negro In the District of Columbia 1800-1860, Thesis Louisiana State University Department of History, 1959, 1963)

In 1835 a slave reputedly attempted to murder Mrs. William Thornton, the widow of the architect of the Capitol, and passions were inflamed because it was thought that this abortive action was inspired by abolitionist sentiments. The resulting mob behavior was intended to intimidate free Negroes in the city. A Negro school and some tenements were destroyed, churches were attacked, and the furnishings were smashed in the fashionable Beverly Snow restaurant owned by a free Negro of that name. The School was set up by John f. Cook, a shoemaker in 1834.

The upheaval became known as the "Snow Riot" and was followed by restrictive legislation in 1836 designed to limit the right of the free Negroes to perform work other than "drive carts, drays, hackney carriages or wagons." There were no longer to operate restaurants, for example, a major outlet of work for the more enterprising blacks. The intent of the legislation was to reduce free Negroes to servile status. (G. Franklin Edwards and Michael R. Winston, Commentary: The Washington of Paul Jennings—White House Slave, Free Man, and Conspirator for Freedom. White House Historical Association. )

Snow Riot leads to formation of National Guard and Washington Light Infantry Company. By 1838, citizen patrols established. (Wilkelmus Bogart Bryan, A History of the National Capital from its Foundation through the Period of the Adoption of the Organic Act, (NY: Macmillan Co. 1916, II 147-148. Cited by Dolores T. Williams, Preliminary Checklist of Non-Official Imprints for the District of Columbia, 1836-37, with a Historical Introduction)

Between the 1820s and 1840s mob violence in the North and West came to be identified with lower class white attacks, fueled by racism and economic competition, on the increasingly visible urban black community. As blacks began organizing in earnest to claim their rights as Americans, white mob violence was used to restrict their ability to make political statements in the public sphere. Old traditions like Election Day and Pinkster celebrations were banned, black parades were frequent targets of mob attacks, and the representation of black culture in public was largely controlled by whites in blackface perpetuating the degrading stereotypes of the minstrel show. (James Oliver Horton and Lois E. Horton. _In Hope of Liberty: Culture, Community and Protest Among Northern Free Blacks, 1700-1860_. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997. Reviewed for H-Shear by Mitch Kachun, in, Thu, 21 May 1998)

This was a time when European immigrants were pouring into the North. Many of these people had faced discrimination and hardship in their native countries. But in America they found their rights expanding rapidly. They had entered a country in which they were part of a privileged category called "white." Classism and ethnic prejudices did exist among white Americans and had a tremendous impact on people's lives. But the bottom line was that for white people in America, no matter how poor or degraded they were, they knew there was a class of people below them. Poor whites were considered superior to blacks, and to Indians as well, simply by virtue of being white. Because of this, most identified with the rest of the white race and defended the institution of slavery. Working class whites did this even though slavery did not benefit them directly and was in many ways against their best interests. (Public Broadcasting Service Resource Bank. Race-based legislation in the North 1807 – 1850)

-- represented a "crest of rioting in the United States." Anti-abolitionist riots in the North erupted. The abolitionist mail campaign triggered riots in Charleston and other Southern towns. The work of vigilantes in Mississippi responding to the Murrell slave-stealing conspiracy and the Vicksburg gamblers, this, "inaugurated" America's most mob-filled year. The example for this mayhem, was set by the "slave-driving aristocrat" in the White House. Andrew Jackson's treatment of African and Native Americans, his war against the Bank, his contempt for the traditional political establishment, and his lack of respect for the law--all set a violent example for other Americans to follow, and they did so by going to the streets. Jackson, "was in public life a general, a man trained to act in terms of friends and foes, victories and defeats, rather than in terms of political and diplomatic courtesy and compromise." Jackson was a "bravely determined man certainly, but one who paid little heed to process or legality if they stood in the way of what he thought desirable" (p. 5). Thus Jackson and his movement was the wellspring of violence. (H-NET BOOK REVIEW Published by (February 1999) David Grimsted. _American Mobbing, 1828-1861: Toward the Civil War_. New York and Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1998. xviii + 372 pp. Notes and index. $65.00 (cloth), ISBN 0-19-511707-7. Reviewed for H-CivWar by James M. Denham <>, Department of History, Florida Southern College)

Amos Kendall, Postmaster General under Andrew Jackson, bans abolitionist literature from use of the mail service. "It is universally conceded, that our States are united only for certain purposes. There are interests, in relation to which they are believed to be as independent of each other as they were before the constitution was formed. The interest which the people of some of the States have in slaves, is one of them. No State obtained by the union any right whatsoever over slavery in any other State, nor did any State lose any of its power over it, within its own borders. On this subject, therefore, if this view be correct, the States are still independent, and may fence round and protect their interest in slaves, by such laws and regulations as in their sovereign will they may deem expedient." (Postmaster General Amos Kendall's Report on the delivery of Abolition Materials in the Southern States Report of the Postmaster General, House Documents, 24th Congress, First Session (1835), Appendix, 9. Located by Jenny Adamson and transcribed by Carolyn Sims, Department of History, Furman University)

Between 1820 and 1850, Northern blacks also became the frequent targets of mob violence. Whites looted, tore down, and burned black homes, churches, schools, and meeting halls. They stoned, beat, and sometimes murdered blacks. Philadelphia was the site of the worst and most frequent mob violence. City officials there generally refused to protect African Americans from white mobs and blamed blacks for inciting the violence with their "uppity" behavior. (Public Broadcasting Service Resource Bank. Race-based legislation in the North 1807 – 1850)

Congressman John Fairfield of York County, Maine, stood up on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives and presented a petition signed by 172 women calling for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia. (Willard Sterne Randall, Newsday, January 28, 1996, p 33)

Seminoles and their African Americans massacre a 103-man U.S. Army force under Major Francis L. Dade in Florida. (The People's Chronology, 1994 by James Trager from MS Bookshelf.)

An examination of Alexis de Tocqueville's thesis on the march of Russia and the United States to manifest destiny in the first half of the 19th century. Assesses first the impact of the age of democratic revolution, comparing the false images of President Andrew Jackson and Czar Nicholas I. Goes on to discuss abolitionism (of Negro slavery and serfdom) and expansionism (the Monroe Doctrine and Russophobia in Eastern Europe and Central Asia). Urbanization and the industrial revolution in the United States, and the growth of cultural maturity in Russia, were significant developments which limit the extent to which one can compare the experiences of these two emergent nations. Based on the author's forthcoming book, The Emergence of the Super-Powers; illus. (Dukes, Paul. Two Great Nations, 1815-50. Journal citation: History Today [Great Britain] 1970 20(2): 94-106.)

[In Washington, DC], To prove they were free, blacks had to carry identity papers. Free blacks needed permission to have a meeting or party in their house. They could not go on the streets after 10 p.m. without a pass. In 1836, the city, by denying licenses to blacks, tried to run them out of most businesses. (Bob Arnebeck A Shameful Heritage, Washington Post Magazine January 18, 1889, also see Washington Ordinances of October 29, 1836 and November 9, 1836)

In Virginia, a slave manumitted after 1836 had to obtain the permission of county court to remain legally in the state for more than a year after his manumission. Until the mid-1850's, the Fairfax court routinely permitted reputable, newly emancipated slaves to remain in the county. But in 1855 when Lewis Casey, a "free man of color' who had been recently manumitted by will and was known to be "honest, sober and industrious," petitioned the court for permission to remain, the justices refused. It was, they declared, "impolitic to encourage any larger increase in this class of our population." By the 1850s, the Virginia legislature, angered by Northern demands for the immediate abolition of slavery, was prepared to make the black code even harsher. One or two Virginia governors advocated that all free blacks be forcibly expelled from the state. Though the Assembly refused to accede to the governors' requests, it provided for the voluntary enslavement of free blacks, made it illegal for free blacks to purchase slaves, authorized the sale into slavery of free blacks convicted of certain crimes, and enacted legislation which made the escape of slaves more difficult. (Fairfax County, Virginia a History. Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, Fairfax, Virginia, 1978 p 273)

In an effort to suppress the still feeble antislavery forces, Southern Congressmen proposed what was, in effect, an intellectual blockade. They urged federal authorities to allow states to censor literature that they deemed "incendiary," including not only abolitionist broadsides but also a wide range of general magazines, Northern newspapers and religious journals that only occasionally mentioned slavery. Postmasters were encouraged to monitor citizens' mail and remove anything that they deemed related to abolitionism. All petitions to Congress on the subject of slavery were to be automatically tabled, without being printed or referred to in any way. (Bordewich, Fergus M., Arguing About Slavery: The Great Battle in the United States Congress; book review of book by William Lee Miller, Smithsonian December, 1996)

"When Adams idly presented his colleagues with another anti-slavery petition, a Georgian congressman rose to move that the list of signatures not be accepted. Some months later the notorious "gag rule" was put into effect, forbidding the further admission of such petitions to Congress. It would prove one of the more maladroit instances of Southern intransigence.

"Where Adams had hitherto been a mild thorn in the side of the slave forces, he now became "old Man Eloquent," challenging the gag rule and slavery with a fanatical devotion that knew no pause. Moreover, the spectacle of a former president standing alone, unswayable and unyielding was not without its political psychodrama. Men who had no fixed opinion on slavery could not help but be moved by the struggle of wills between one old man and the whole Southern delegation. (Tom Dowling, Washington Star, Great Drama in Saving the Nation, October 6, 1976)

More shocking still, a gag rule imposed by Southerners and their Northern Democrat allies forbade members to discuss the subject of slavery upon the floor of Congress, under threat of censure. Not only was the enslaved black person denied every freedom but now the white person was even to be denied the freedom to talk about it. The hero of Miller's story is John Quincy Adams, the only former President in American history to later be elected to Congress, where he served with distinction for 17 years. Steeped from childhood in the hardheaded New England idealism of the Revolutionary era, Adams not only deplored slavery in principle, as many of his contemporaries did, but went far beyond most of them in condemning racial prejudice, which, as he put it, "taints the very sources of moral principle" by establishing "false estimates of virtue and vice." (Bordewich, Fergus M., Arguing About Slavery: The Great Battle in the United States Congress; book review of book by William Lee Miller, Smithsonian, December, 1996)

Beginning in 1836, and for nearly a decade, Adams relentlessly fought the gag rule, struggling to make white citizens see that the South's determination to protect slavery at all costs represented an assault upon their own treasured rights. It was a lonely and humiliating battle, almost without allies. Although a vigorous septuagenarian, Adams was openly scorned as a dotard by his enemies. He was at least twice threatened with assassination. At one point, the ex-President was nearly censured for daring to attempt to submit what his colleagues believed was a petition from a group of Maryland slaves. "Had anyone, before today, ever dreamed that the appellation of the people' embraced slaves?" demanded Aaron Vanderpoel, an influential New York Democrat and frequent apologist for slavery. (Bordewich, Fergus M., Arguing About Slavery: The Great Battle in the United States Congress; book review of book by William Lee Miller, Smithsonian December, 1996)

"All petitions, memorials, resolutions, propositions or papers relating in any way or to any extent whatsoever to the subject of slavery shall, without either being printed or referred, be laid on the table and that no further action whatever shall be had thereon."

Congress passes a resolution, stating that it has no authority over state slavery laws. (The People's Chronology, 1994 by James Trager from MS Bookshelf.)

Anti-Masonic leaders joined the new Whig Party. (Vermont," Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia. 1993-1997)

Death of the National Bank Jackson interpreted his election as a popular mandate to proceed against the Bank of the US and started removing Federal funds, depositing them in select state banks beginning in October, using 23 state banks, called "pet banks," by the end of 1833. Jackson justified his actions in his annual message to Congress, claimed complete responsibility for removing the deposits on the grounds that the bank had tried to influence elections.

Henry Clay introduced two resolutions in the Senate which censured the actions of the Treasury and of Jackson over this issue, both of which were adopted. Jackson supporters in the House passed 4 resolutions in support of his Bank policy. Jackson's conciliatory actions toward the Senate were rejected, as well as Taney , his nomination for the Treasury. Senator Benson successfully expunged the censure from the Senate record (January 1837)

The Bank died and was rechartered as the Bank of the US of Philadelphia. g. Deposit Act required the Secretary of the Treasury to designate at least one bank in each state and territory as the place of public deposit (1) The banks were assigned the general services previously given to the national government by the Bank of the US. (2) It also required that surplus revenue in excess of $5 million be distributed among the states as a loan subject to recall although it was never recalled.

Specie Circular July 1836. The use of paper currency was expanded by Biddle's banking policies, causing inflation and land speculation to increase. (1) In 1823 the average Bank notes issued was $4.5 million but by 1831 it increased to $19 million (2) The bank also made credit and currency more abundant in the West and South, causing land sales to skyrocket ($2,623,000 in 1832 to $24,877,000 in 1836). Jackson ordered the issuance of the Specie Circular which provided that after 15 August 1836, only gold, silver or Virginia land scrip would be accepted by the government in payment for public lands, although paper money was permitted until 15 December for parcels of land up to 320 acres purchased by actual settlers or bona fide residents of the state in which the save was made.

The purpose -- to repress "alleged frauds" from "the monopoly of the public lands in the hands of speculators and capitalists" and the "ruinous extension" of bank notes and credit d. Although public-land sales were reduced in the West, the circular taxed the inadequate resources of the state "pet" banks, drained specie from the East, led to hoarding, and weakened public confidence in the state banks. After Jackson defended the circular in his annual message in December 1836, and recommended that land sales be limited to actual settlers, Congress passed a measure that rescinded the Specie Circular, but it was pocket-vetoed by Jackson. The Specie Circular was not repealed until a joint resolution in May 1838. (Growth Of The Nation 1800 – 40 Jefferson's Administrations Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, TX )

President Jackson issues his Specie Circular. The circular lays down that future purchases of government land must be paid in gold or silver, or their strict equivalent, rather than in local notes or promises to pay. This has the effect of swelling the US government's coffers with specie. p 479 (A Comparative Chronology of Money from Ancient Times to the Present Day, 1830 – 1849, Based on the book: A History of Money from Ancient Times to the Present Day by Glyn Davies, rev. ed. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1996. 716p. ISBN 0 7083 1351 5.)

Congress enacts a gag law to suppress debate on the slavery issue. (The People's Chronology, 1994 by James Trager from MS Bookshelf.)

Country suffers severe depression. (Stefan Lorant, The Presidency, NY Macmillan, 1951, page 148-150. Cited by Cited by Dolores T. Williams, Preliminary Checklist of Non-Official Imprints for the District of Columbia, 1836-37, with a Historical Introduction)

Panic of 1837. The reckless land speculation and the specie circular resulted in a serious downturn in the US economy which worsened as Van Buren took office. The price of cotton fell by one-half in New Orleans. New York's unemployed demonstrated against high rents and inflated food and fuel prices and one mob broke into food warehouses and sacked their supplies. Several banks, beginning in New York, suspended specie payments. Public land sales fell from 20 million acres (1836) to 3 1/2 million acres (1838). The effects of the panic persisted until 1842-43 particularly in the South and West. (Growth Of The Nation 1800 – 40 Jefferson's Administrations Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, TX)

The uncontrolled, chaotic expansion of banking in the US is slowed, then partly reversed by a financial crisis in which every bank is forced to suspend specie payment of notes. The crisis leads to a depression in the economy which lasts until 1843.( p 480,483-484. A Comparative Chronology of Money from Ancient Times to the Present Day, 1830 – 1849, Based on the book: A History of Money from Ancient Times to the Present Day by Glyn Davies, rev. ed. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1996. 716p. ISBN 0 7083 1351 5. )

Martin Van Buren becomes President as Democrat. VP is Richard M. Johnson

Martin Van Buren presidential Inaugural Address deals with Slavery in the District of Columbia, "Fellow-Citizens: I then declared that if the desire of those of my countrymen who were favorable to my election was gratified. I must go into the Presidential chair the inflexible and uncompromising opponent of every attempt on the part of Congress to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia against the wishes of the slaveholding States, and also with a determination equally decided to resist the slightest interference with it in the States where it exists. I submitted also to my fellow-citizens, with fullness and frankness, the reasons which led me to this determination."

Two weeks after Van Buren`s inauguration a financial panic struck the New York commercial and financial community. Years earlier, Jackson decentralized the national bank, which allowed many state and local banks to engage in land and profit speculation. This speculation continued throughout Jackson`s final four years in office and into Van Buren`s administration. However, in 1837, the wild speculation ended, and a panic concerning the stability of the financial markets, the banks, and even in the government, spread across the nation. These fears caused a wide spread recession, ultimately ending in a depression, to engulf the nation. (The Depression of 1837; Economic Issues ))

Victorian Style, trends in British architecture and furniture in the Victorian era (1837-1901). An especially widespread tendency, called Eclectic Revivalism, was to adapt earlier styles to industrial-age needs... (Encarta 98 Desk Encyclopedia Microsoft Corporation.)

The "underground railway" organized by U.S. abolitionists transports southern slaves to freedom in Canada, but slaving interests at Philadelphia work on the fears of Irish immigrants and other working people who worry that freed slaves may take their jobs. A Philadelphia mob burns down Pennsylvania Hall May 17 in an effort to thwart antislavery meetings. (The People's Chronology 1995, 1996 by James Trager from MS Bookshelf.)

A book, co-authored by a professor at Howard University, pieces together a story of how quilts made by slaves before and during the Civil War were stitched with patterns that formed a secret code, part of a network of communication that helped slaves escape to freedom.

Existence of such coded quilts had long been suspected among those familiar with African-American quilting traditions, according to Raymond Dobard, professor of art history at Howard and co-author of "Hidden in Plain View: A Secret Story of Quilts and the Underground Railroad" (Doubleday; 272 pages; $27.50). But the new book by Dobard and University of Denver professor Jacqueline Tobin adds a scholarly dimension to what had been largely a story preserved in oral tradition, passed down from generation to generation. The research effort began when Tobin learned of the story from Ozella McDaniel Williams, an African-American quilter from South Carolina. The code Williams described had three main components: a series of 10 symbols that told slaves where and when escapes were planned, what routes to take and instructions about how to survive in the wilderness; an enigmatic story passed down by oral tradition that explained what the symbols meant; and spirituals whose titles and lyrics have long been recognized as covert traveling instructions ("Wade in the Water," "Steal Away"). (Fern Robinson "Underground Railroad Signals" Washington Post. Thursday, February 18, 1999; Page T04)
(Conducting Underground Railroad Research? See & which has an excellent bibliography on slavery. see also underground railroad bibliography at

Presbyterians divide over slavery. (Slavery and Religion in America: A timeline 1440-1866. By the Internet Public Library

Frederick Douglas escaped from slavery in Baltimore, Sept. 3. (Major Revolts and Escapes, Lerone Bennett, Before the Mayflower)

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal started in 1828 reaches 134 miles west of Georgetown but runs into financial difficulties (see 1850). (The People's Chronology, 1994 by James Trager from MS Bookshelf.)

William Grason Governor of Md. (MD info from Maryland A Chronology & Documentary Handbook, 1978 Oceana Publications, Inc.)

Roughly a 30 per cent of the inhabitants of the District of Columbia were Negroes. (Letitia W Brown, Residence Patterns of Negroes in the District of Columbia, 1800-1860, Records of the Columbia Historical Society of Washington DC, 1969-70, p68)


The World’s Anti-Slavery Convention opens at London, but Boston abolitionist William Garrison refuses to attend, protesting the exclusion of women (see 1831). The U.S. antislavery movement has split into two factions in the past year largely because of Garrison’s advocacy of women’s rights, including their right to participate in the antislavery movement (see first Women’s Rights Convention, 1848). (The People's Chronology 1995, 1996 by James Trager from MS Bookshelf.)

.At the World's Anti-slavery Convention, African American Charles Remond refused to be seated when he learned that women were being segregated in the gallery (Denise Pazur, The Plain Dealer, Jan 31, 1993, page 8)

United States Census pages for President Van Buran and Congressperson John Q. Adams missing (DC Census 1840 Roll 35 page 5 microprint 0006)

A court at Washington, D.C., rules March 9 that Cinque and his fellow mutineers aboard the Spanish slave ship Amistad last year are not guilty and orders their release. Madrid protests. (The People's Chronology, 1994 by James Trager from MS Bookshelf.)

The 1839 case involved about 50 Africans who, against international law, had been captured and shipped to Havana, Cuba, where they seized the schooner Amistad, which was taking them to a plantation. Two crewmen were killed in the fight, and the rest of the crew were put ashore. Then the Africans ordered the owners to sail the ship back to Africa. However, the Amistad was seized by a U.S. brig off the Atlantic coast, and the Africans were imprisoned in Connecticut. The Connecticut court referred the case to the Supreme Court of the United States.

The Supreme Court heard arguments in 1841. Adams argued that the United States should treat as free any persons escaping from illegal bondage. He denounced the administration of President Martin Van Buren for favoring the return of the captives to the Spanish planters who claimed ownership of them. The court decided for the Africans and, with money raised by abolitionists, 32 of them were returned to their homeland of Sierra Leone. The others had died at sea or while awaiting trial. ("Adams, John Quincy," Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia. Microsoft Corporation.)

The Second Bank of the United States crashes. By this time it is simply a private bank and no longer a national institution. When it ran into difficulties during the 1837 crisis it was still the largest bank in the world, but it finally crashes in 1841. p 484 (A Comparative Chronology of Money from Ancient Times to the Present Day, 1830 – 1849, Based on the book: A History of Money from Ancient Times to the Present Day by Glyn Davies, rev. ed. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1996. 716p. ISBN 0 7083 1351 5.)

William H. Harrison, Whig becomes President. VP John Tyler

Journal Article traces the controversy stemming from the reply of Julia Gardiner Tyler, wife of former President John Tyler, to the 1852 address of an English duchess which called on American women to support gradual abolition, immediate ending of the breakup of slave families, and improvement of slave education. Mrs. Tyler claimed that British social conditions were worse than those of American slaves, and attacked the British "Affectionate and Christian Address . . . " mainly as unwarranted interference in US domestic affairs. She defended southern womanhood and questioned the motivation of British appealers. 63 notes. (Pugh, Evelyn L., Women And Slavery: Julia Gardiner Tyler And The Duchess Of Sutherland. Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 1980 88 (2): 186-202.)

Slave revolt on slave trader 'Creole' which was en route from Hampton, Va., to New Orleans, La., Nov 7. Slaves overpowered crew and sailed vessel to Bahamas where they were granted asylum and freedom. (Major Revolts and Escapes, Lerone Bennett, Before the Mayflower,)

Maryland passed a law requiring a penalty of ten to twenty years imprisonment for any free black having any materials relating to abolition in his possession. In 1858, Samuel Green, a minister from Dorchester County, was sentenced to a ten year prison term for possessing a copy of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Green was also suspected of having actively participated in the Underground Railroad. (Roland C. McConnell, Editor, Three Hundred and Fifty years: A Chronology of the Afro-American in Maryland, 1634-1984, 1985)

Supreme Court rules in Prigg v. Pennsylvania that state officials are not required to assist in the return of fugitive slaves. (Underground Railroad Chronology, National Park Service))

The owner of a fugitive slave may recover him under the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793, the Supreme Court rules March 1 in Prigg v. Pennsylvania. The court overturns an 1826 Pennsylvania law that made kidnapping a slave a felony, saying an owner cannot be stopped from recovering a slave, but it says also that state authorities are under no obligation to help the slaveowner. (The People's Chronology, 1994 by James Trager from MS Bookshelf.)

In 1848, William Craft (d. 1900) and Ellen Craft (d. 1890), slaves on a Georgia plantation, escaped to Philadelphia and later moved to Boston where they remained until Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Their owners then demanded extradition of the Crafts to Georgia. Despite aid from antislavery groups, extradition appeared inevitable, forcing the Crafts to flee to Great Britain where they remained until the American Civil War ended. In England, the Crafts played prominent roles in helping British abolitionist groups oppose slavery. Based on archival, newspaper, and secondary sources; 54 notes. (Blackett, R. J. M. Title: Fugitive Slaves In Britian: The Odyssey Of William And Ellen Craft . Journal of American Studies [Great Britain] 1978 12(1): 41-62. Also see the National Park Service Biographies of the Crafts Taken from: The African Meeting House in Boston: A Sourcebook, by William S. Parsons & Margaret A. Drew)

The Council of the District of Columbia passed an Act to created an auxiliary night police to patrol the streets of the city and in part to enforce the 10pm "colored curfew." At 10: PM, all "colored" people out without a pass were liable to arrest, fine and flogging. The floggings were administered sometimes at the guard post and sometimes at the whipping-post of the jail, on the northeast corner of Judiciary Square. "In place of the baton, each officer carried a stick surmounted by an iron spear-head, intended originally to pry open doors in case of fire or when in pursuit of thieves...some of the officers became so proficient as to make it a formidable weapon either when used as a club or thrown as a javelin." (Richard Sylvester, District of Columbia Police, Policemen's Fund, Washington, DC 1894 page 29)

1843 Africa
-- November 29 to December 16. Four United States vessels demonstrated and landed various parties (one of 200 marines and sailors) to discourage piracy and the slave trade along the Ivory coast, and to punish attacks by the natives on American seamen and shipping. (Instances of Use of United States Forces Abroad, 1798 – 1993 by Ellen C. Collier, Specialist in U.S. Foreign Policy, Foreign Affairs and National Defense Division Washington DC: Congressional Research Service -- Library of Congress -- October 7, 1993 )

The law that now exists in the District of Columbia, relative to fugitive slaves, compels a Negro under arrest to prove that he was born free. (The Sun (Baltimore) Jan 9-15, 1844, reprinted January 9th 1994)

Mexico-. President Tyler deployed U.S. forces to protect Texas against Mexico, pending Senate approval of a treaty of annexation. (Later rejected.) He defended his action against a Senate resolution of inquiry. (Instances of Use of United States Forces Abroad, 1798 -1993 by Ellen C. Collier, Specialist in U.S. Foreign Policy, Congressional Research Service -Oct 7, 1993,)

The questions of slavery in the territories and slavery in the Mexican province of Texas divided the nation. Before 1836, the Mexican border with the United States was Louisiana, Arkansas territory, and the Indian lands of Oklahoma. As one of Spain's New World colonies, slavery was legally protected in Mexico. Still, there was little slavery in the underpopulated province of Texas until, at almost the same time that Mexicans rose in revolt against Spanish domination (1819), American slaveholders moved into Texas and began to carve out plantations with slave labor. The newly-independent Mexicans wanted Texas to be settled, but they did not want American slavery to be a permanent part of their new nation. The Mexican legislature agreed in 1827 that, after the adoption of its constitution, no one would be born a slave on Mexican soil. American efforts to get around this by registering their slaves as indentured servants ultimately failed. This tension over slavery was a primary cause for American Texans to seek independence from Mexico and to establish the Republic of Texas (1836-1848).50 (See Randolph Campbell, An Empire for Slavery: The Peculiar Institution in Texas, 1821-1865 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1989 cited in The Underground Railroad In American History, The National Park Service)

The gag rule was revoked when Northern Democrats, breaking ranks with their Southern counterparts, voted against the rule. The gag rule was overturned, after an alliance of Northern and Southern Democrats at last began to fissure. But it would take a civil war before the questions raised by Adams were finally answered. Yet, in those debates of the 1830s, tectonic plates had shifted. Adams had shaken the "immense, rooted institution" of slavery as no one had before. The effort to silence Adams and his handful of allies had only intensified popular concern over the moral and political cost of protecting slavery. . (Bordewich, Fergus M., Arguing About Slavery: The Great Battle in the United States Congress; book review of book by William Lee Miller, Smithsonian December, 1996)

Morse invented the telegraph (Selected Review Of Important Media Related Historical Events And Facts. Oklahoma Baptist University)

Daniel Reaves Goodloe of Louisburg began his career as an anti-slavery journalist in Washington, D.C. (Some Notable Events and Persons, in the First 200 Years of Franklin County's North Carolina History, Compiled by Dr. George-Anne Willard, )

James Knox Polk, Democrat becomes President. VP George M. Dallas.

In a cost cutting measure Sarah Polk wife of the President replaced White House servants with slaves and rearranged the White House Basement into slave quarters. (William Seale, "The President's House: a History," White House Historical Association with the Cooperation of the National Geographic Society and Harry N Abrams, 1986, vol. 1, pages 256 see Commissioner's letters sent, May-Oct 184, passim: see also Polk's financial records in Polk papers LC not draft of July 20, 1846, to for January 9, 1847, Feb 2, 1847 and Jan 1, N.D. for purchase of slaves.)

Her primary economic measure had been tried by previous southern Presidents, a substantial reduction of the numbers in the salaried staff and their replacement with slaves. About ten hired servants were let go, and their positions were taken by a combination of slaves from the Polk's home place in Tennessee and several more slaves purchased from relatives and friends during the first three years of Polk's Presidency. (The President's House: a History by William Seale, White House Historical Association with the Cooperation of the National Geographic Society and Harry N Abrams, 1986, vol. 1, page 257)

The Methodist Episcopal Church in America splits into northern and southern conferences after Georgia bishop James O. Andrews resists an order that he give up his slaves or quit his bishopric. (The People's Chronology, 1994 by James Trager from MS Bookshelf.)

"It is well known that the rift came over Georgia Bishop James O. Andrew's acquisition of slaves. Ironically, Andrew was chosen bishop by the General Conference of 1832, because he owned no bondsmen (although servants belonging to others were provided for his use). In an age when a woman's property routinely passed at marriage to her husband, Owen became a slaveholder when he remarried, following the death of his first wife. The bishop thought that he could avoid controversy by deeding his human property back to his spouse, but northern delegates to the 1844 General Conference demanded his resignation. A peacemaker, Andrew would have given up his post, except for the southern delegation's strong urging that he stand firm. The southerners feared that they would lose influence at home, if they gave into northern "ultraism."

In the end Methodists, North and South, agreed to an amicable divorce, with a prorated division of church assets. Both sides displayed a measure of moderation, with the Georgia Methodists supporting the legalization of slave marriages and keeping antislavery references in their _Discipline_ until 1857, and the northern Methodist Episcopal Church waiting almost to the end of the Civil War before barring slaveholders from membership. (Christopher H. Owen. _The Sacred Flame of Love: Methodism and Society in Nineteenth-Century Georgia. Athens and London: The University of Georgia Press, 1998. xx + 290 pp. Notes, bibliography, and index. $50.00 (cloth), ISBN 0-8203-1963-5. Reviewed for H-AmRel by Thomas A. Scott <>, Department of History and Philosophy, Kennesaw State University, Georgia)

In the 1840's pastors and congregations of the Methodist church were expressing their views on slavery in no uncertain terms. In Alexandria Virginia, the Methodists presented a house dived unto itself. Trading in slaves must have been considerable as the slave pen, located at 1318 Duke Street, was known as "The Norman". The tense feeling of the day was reflected in the views of two outstanding pastors: Norval Wilson, a man of strong Southern views who preached at the Alexandria Station in 1850 and Alfred Griffith pastor in this city in 1843 and 1844, whose deep anti-slavery views crystallized the break that came in the General Conference in 1844. The General Conference of 1844 agreed upon a Plan of Separation. The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, became a distinct organization. The split in Alexandria Virginia was finalized in 1849 when the Virginia Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church South, with The Reverend J. H. Davis presiding met. The new congregation had made arrangements with Benjamin Hollowell, Quaker schoolmaster and president of the Lyceum organization to use that building which then was comparatively new, being only fourteen years old. (Washington Street United Methodist Church, Alexandria, Virginia, Reflections 1849-1989. Researcher and Editor Kathryn Pierpoint Hedman, 1989)

In 1843, 1,200 Methodist ministers owned 1,500 slaves, and 25,000 members owned 208,000 slaves, the Methodist Church as a whole remained silent and neutral on the issue of slavery. (Growth Of The Nation, 1800 – 40 Jefferson's Administrations Stephen F. Austin State University, Nacogdoches, TX))

Samuel Morse hired Andrew Jackson's former postmaster general, Amos Kendall, as his agent in locating potential buyers of the telegraph. Kendall realized the value of the device, and had little trouble convincing others of its potential for profit. By the spring he had attracted a small group of investors. They subscribed $15,000 and formed the Magnetic Telegraph Company. Many new telegraph companies were formed as Morse sold licenses wherever he could. (Smithsonian Institution, Resources for the history of invention Collections on Invention and Innovation in the NMAH, Archives Center. Register of the Western Union Telegraph Company Collection 1848-1963 by Robert S. Harding Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution )

Amos Kendall’s Expositor, was published in Washington DC, One issue of June 16, 1841 was sold at auction, described as "A lively political sheet produced by Amos Kendall, a self-appointed watchdog for the new Whig administration of Harrison and Tyler. Interesting opinions on the functioning of the government and special interests lobbyists show that very little has really changed! (Old World Auctions. Antique Newspapers )

Kendall would also edit along with other the Globe according to auction. [Harrison, William Henry}. Extra Globe, Containing Official Discussions, Documentary Props, Etc., [Washington, D. C.]. Vol. 6 # 1-27. May 16, 1840 - Jan. 29, 1841. Contemporary half morocco. First edition. A Jacksonian periodical which covers the entire election season ( May - Oct) 1840. Much on abolition, J. C. Calhoun, Henry Clay, presidential election returns, Amos Kendall, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, Daniel Webster, etc. Each number contains valuable material. Very scarce. Edited by Blair, Rives, and Kendall. 450.00 (Michael Ginsberg Books, Sharon, MA.)

The slow economic development of the city of Washington in the early years, coupled by the political disincentives of having no vote for representation in the Congress or the presidential election, spurred discussion of retrocession among the residents almost immediately. In 1846, the residents of Alexandria City successfully won their fight for retrocession into Virginia, thus leaving the District its current size. Residents in the Virginia portion also feared the impending abolition of the slave trade in the federal city as Alexandria was a slave port (Harris, Congress and the Governance of the Nation's Capital: The Conflict of Federal and Local Interests, p. 4). (District of Columbia Home Rule Charter Review in collaboration with the Federal City Council )

Alexandria given back to Virginia. DC had been called "the very seat and center of the slave trade." (John Hope Franklin and Alfred A. Moss, Jr. From Slavery to Freedom, 1947, 1997 pages 114-115 in LC reference.) See also William T. Laprade, "The Domestic Slave-Trade in the District of Columbia," Journal of Negro History, XI (January, 1926 pp 17-34)

Smithsonian Institution research institution founded by the bequest of the English scientist James Smithson. Although it was held by John C. Calhoun and other members of Congress that the federal government had no power to accept such a gift, it was finally secured, largely through the efforts of John Quincy Adams, and in 1846 the institution was established by congressional act at Washington, D.C. (Encyclopedia Britannica On-Line)

The Cornerstone of the Smithsonian Institution was laid in 1847 by the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Freemasons, Benjamin B. French in the presence of President James K Polk. (Ray Baker Harris, The Laying of cornerstones, Supreme Council 33°, Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, Washington DC, 1961)

Scholars generally agree that the Industrial Revolution occurred in the United States beginning at about the middle of the 19th century.

Irish immigration increases due to the potato famine.

1846/04/24 – 1848/05/30
War against Mexico adds territory to the United States (Dates given by US Navy & Marine Casualty WEB page )

On May 13,1846, the United States recognized the existence of a state of war with Mexico. After the annexation of Texas in 1845, the United States and Mexico failed to resolve a boundary dispute and President Polk said that it was necessary to deploy forces in Mexico to meet a threatened invasion. (Instances of Use of United States Forces Abroad, 1798 -1993 by Ellen C. Collier, Specialist in U.S. Foreign Policy, Congressional Research Service -Oct 7, 1993)


Escaped slave Frederick Douglas, 30, begins publication at Rochester, N.Y., of an abolitionist newspaper, the North Star. The Massachusetts Antislavery Society published Douglas's’ autobiography 2 years ago and he has earned enough from lecture fees in Britain, Ireland, and the United States to buy his freedom. (The People's Chronology 1995, 1996 by James Trager from MS Bookshelf.)

About 1000 slaves per year escaped to the North during the pre-Civil War decades, most from the upper South. This represented only a small percentage of those who attempted to escape, however, since for every slave who made it to freedom, several more tried. Other fugitives remained within the South, heading for cities or swamps, or hiding out near their plantations for days or weeks before either returning voluntarily or being tracked down and captured. ("Slavery in the United States," Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia. Microsoft Corporation.)

Steam powers a U.S. cotton mill for the first time at Salem, Mass., where the Maumkoag Steam Cotton Mill begins production. (The People's Chronology 1995, 1996 by James Trager from MS Bookshelf.)

Liberia declares independence from American Colonization Society. (D.T.'s Chronology of History 1840-1849! )

The Virginia Legislature has enacted (Sess. Acts 1847-8, ch. 10, § 24,) that "any free person who, by speaking or writing, shall maintain that owners have not right of property in their slaves, shall be punishable by confinement in the jail, not more than twelve months, and by fine not exceeding five hundred dollars." (Bacon v. The Commonwealth. Supreme Court Of Virginia, 48 Va. 602; 1850 Va. Lexis 43; 7 Gratt. 602, June Term, 1850)

Gold Rush in California. The discovery of gold in California leads in the following decade to a massive increase in the production of gold coins by the mint with the result that in practice the US moves away from bimetallism towards a gold standard. p 481 (A Comparative Chronology of Money from Ancient Times to the Present Day, 1830 – 1849, Based on the book: A History of Money from Ancient Times to the Present Day by Glyn Davies, rev. ed. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1996. 716p. ISBN 0 7083 1351 5. ))

Work begun on the Washington Monument, DC Obelisk honoring the first U.S. president. (The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1996 from MS Bookshelf)

Mexican War ends, expanding U.S. slave territory into Texas.

Daniel Drayton attempted to smuggle 76 slaves on the ship Pearl out of Washington to Freedom in the North. The slaves belonged to "41 of the most prominent families in Washington and Georgetown and were valued at $100,000." The Pearl got as far as Chesapeake but ran into headwinds. "A steamer was chartered by owners and friends armed to the teeth with guns pistols and bowie knives for the pursuit. The steamer took Drayton's vessel into tow, and brought them back to Washington. A mob had assembled on 4th street and rushed the group when they reached Pennsylvania avenue shouting Lynch them, Lynch them. (George Rothwell Brown, Capital Silhouettes, Washington Post March 10, 1924)

According to Josephine Pacheco, professor emeritus of history at George Mason University, former first lady Dolley Madison owned one slave heading for the Pearl. Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison claimed that another worked in President James K. Polks's White House. (Mary Kay Ricks, Escape on the Pearl,, Washington Post, Horizon August 12, 1998.)

"The public was infuriated and tended to blame Dr. Gamaliel Bailey, the editor of the antislavery newspaper, the National Era, for conceiving and planning the whole affair. A crowd formed before the office of Bailey's newspaper and pelted the building with stones until they were dispersed by the police (National Era, April 27, 1848; The Liberator, April 28 1848 cited in Dorothy Sproles Provine, The Free Negro In the District of Columbia 1800-1860, Thesis Louisiana State University Department of History, 1959, 1963)

Drayton, Daniel. Personal Memoir Of Daniel Drayton, (For Four Years And Four Months A Prisoner (For Charity's Sake In Washington Jail, Negro Universities Press, 1969 122pp) including a narrative of the voyage and capture of the schooner Pearl. First published in 1855 by Bela. Drayton, born in Cumberland County, NJ, plied a vessel between Delaware Bay and Virginia's eastern shore, coming into frequent contact with the African-American slaves in the Chesapeake region. Soon, he was helping slaves escape North aboard his schooner "Pearl," until he was seized on the Potomac and imprisoned.

For the Role of Paul Jennings in the Pearl escape, see (G. Franklin Edwards and Michael R. Winston, Commentary: The Washington of Paul Jennings—White House Slave, Free Man, and Conspirator for Freedom. White House Historical Association.)

In Washington DC, a description of conditions just beyond the city limit, Florida Avenue "The slaves are watched by the patrols, who ride about to try to catch them off the quarters, especially at the house of a free person of color. I have known the slaves to stretch clothes lines across the street, high enough to let the horse pass, but not the rider; then the boys would run, and the patrols in full chase would be thrown off by running against the lines. The patrols are poor white men, who live by plundering and stealing, getting rewards for runaways, and setting up little shops on the public roads. They will take whatever the slaves steal, paying in money, whiskey, or whatever the slaves want. They take pigs, sheep, wheat, corn- - any thing that's raised they encourage the slaves to steal: these they take to market next day. It's all speculation- - all a matter of self- interest, and when the slaves run away, these same traders catch them if they can, to get the reward. If the slave threatens to expose his traffic, he does not care- - for the slave's word is good for nothing- - it would not be taken." ("My Bedstead Consisted Of A Board Wide Enough To Sleep On". Francis Henderson was 19 when he managed to escape from a slave plantation outside of Washington, D.C., in 1841. Here, he describes conditions on his plantation. Source: Benjamin Drew, A North- Side View of Slavery (Boston, 1856). (For a description of the conditions of slave just outside Washington, DC see slave narrative)

Another well-known example of abolitionist activity in the South was the case of the ship Pearl which attempted to leave Washington City in April, 1848, with 77 slaves who were to leave the ship as free persons when it docked in New York. Betrayed by an offended black man, the Pearl was seized and its captain, Daniel Drayton, and owner, Sayres, were arrested and tried in Washington. The trial lasted six weeks in the summer of 1848 and Drayton was sentenced to prison while Sayres paid a fine of $10,000. Drayton, whose release was gained in April 1853 by black Boston lawyer Robert Morris after he served four years, committed suicide in New Bedford in 1857.

Leonard Grimes, born to free parents in Leesburg, Virginia, became a hackman in Washington, D.C., and part of a large group of African Americans, both free and fugitive, who had grown up in the south and were intimately acquainted with its geography and many of its people. These residents of Washington were well positioned to aid runaways -- and they did so. Grimes was apprehended by the local authorities on one of his trips to Virginia while attempting to transport a free black man and his slave family out of the state. He served two years in the Virginia penitentiary. After his release, he moved north and became the minister of the Twelfth Baptist Church in Boston where he and his congregation continued to aid fugitives.

Free-Soil party, U.S. political party born in 1847–48 to oppose the extension of slavery into territories newly gained from Mexico. In 1848 the Free-Soil party ran Martin Van Buren and Charles Francis Adams for president and vice president; by polling 300,000 votes it gave New York State to the Whigs and thus made Zachary Taylor president. After the Compromise of 1850 seemed to settle the slavery-extension issue, the group known as the Barnburners left the Free-Soilers to return to the Democratic party, but radicals kept the Free-Soil party alive until 1854, when the new Republican party absorbed it. (The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, 1995 by Columbia University Press from MS Bookshelf.)

A third party took part in the election of 1848. Called the Free-Soil Party, it included Democrats and Whigs who disagreed with their parties, and abolitionists, who wanted an immediate end to slavery. The Free-Soil Party nominated former president Martin Van Buren of New York for president and Massachusetts legislator Charles Francis Adams for vice president. (Fillmore, Millard, Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia.)

Congress passed the Oregon Territory bill, which prohibited slavery in the area. President James K. Polk signed the bill because the Oregon Territory lay north of the Missouri Compromise line. Later proposals tried to extend the line by law across the continent to the Pacific Ocean. These efforts failed. The Missouri Compromise was repealed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. (Political Compromises: Missouri Compromise, The World Book, African American Journey.)

Zachary Taylor, Whig becomes President. VP Millard Fillmore.Taylor brought house slaves from Louisiana to work at the White House. There were approximately 15, including children; one was the body servant who had accompanies General Taylor to Mexico. (The President's House: a History by William Seale , White House Historical Association with the Cooperation of the National Geographic Society and Harry N Abrams, 1986, vol. 1, page 282)

Abraham Lincoln as Representative, unsuccessfully proposed a bill for the "compensated emancipation of slaves in the District of Columbia. (Mary Kay Ricks, Escape on the Pearl, Washington Post, Horizon August 12, 1998.)

Maryland slave Harriet Tubman, 29, escapes to the North and begins a career as "conductor" on the Underground Railway that started in 1838. Tubman will make 19 trips back to the South to free upward of 300 slaves including her aged parents whom she will bring North in 1857. (The People's Chronology 1995, 1996 by James Trager from MS Bookshelf.)

The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal begun in 1828 finally reaches Cumberland, Md., which the B&O Railroad reached in 1842. The $22 million 184.5-mile canal with its 74 lift locks is obsolete, plans to continue it 180 miles westward to Pittsburgh are abandoned, but it will be used until 1924. (The People's Chronology, 1994 by James Trager from MS Bookshelf.)

Compromise of 1850 attempts to settle slavery issue. As part of the Compromise, a new Fugitive Slave Act is added to enforce the 1793 law and allows slaveholders to retrieve slaves in northern states and free territories. (Underground Railroad Chronology, National Park Service,

The Fugitive Slave Law passed in September 1850 allowed escaped slaves to be captured and brought back to their masters. The law also prosecuted anyone who helped hide slaves or who aided fugitive slaves in any way. The law was very expensive to the United States of America as it cost thousands of dollars to return all slaves to the places from where they had escaped. A boom also began in the slave catching business. It was easy to take any black person, free or not and say they escaped. Slave catchers roamed the whole continent looking for black people. Because of this law many blacks escaped to Canada in the 1850's and 60's. The Fugitive Slave Law was responsible for the escalation of blacks in Chatham and Buxton (Canadian towns), as they were final stations of the Underground Railroad. (The Buxton Settlement -Cultural Landscape. North Buxton Ontario, Canada. This information is taken from a Black History project completed by students and Staff from Chatham Collegiate Institute in Chatham, Ontario. Material was compiled from the collections of the Chatham - Kent sites of the African Canadian Heritage Tour.)

Congress enacted the famous Compromise of 1850. A provision of the Compromise relating to slavery included the outlawing of the slave trade in Washington, D.C. but the retention of slavery itself. (Alton Hornsby, JR,. Chronology of African American History, Gale Research 1991, in LC reference)

The Compromise of 1850 stiffened existing fugitive slave laws and allowed claimants to recover fugitives by applying to federal judges and commissioners to establish ownership. The testimony of fugitives was not admitted as evidence. Anyone who interfered with the enforcement of these laws was subject to punishment. Many of the cases in this publication contain only the warrants for arrest, and others contain papers relating to proof of ownership. (Description of Federal Court Records: A Select Catalog Of National Archives Microfilm Publications (Part 6) National Archives)

The Compromise of 1850 strengthened the fugitive slave law. "All good citizens" were required to obey it on pain of heavy penalty; jury trial and the right to testify were prohibited to fugitives. The Abolitionists and new personal-liberty laws defied these provisions. Notable fugitive slave trials stirred up public opinion in both the North and South. Northern Nullification of the fugitive slave laws was cited in 1860 by South Carolina as a cause of secession. Congress repealed both laws in 1864, during the Civil War. (The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, 1995 by Columbia University Press from MS Bookshelf.)

"Relatively few [slaves] escaped permanently. . . The federal census of 1850 recorded the escapes to free territory of only 1,010 slaves. In 1860, the number was 803. They came principally from the border states. An organization of Quakers and antislavery people in the border states and in the North aided some slaves to escape to Canada; however, their assistance has been vastly exaggerated in the legend of the Underground Railroad. The more valuable aid given to escaping slaves was by free Negroes and fellow slaves ... They hid the fugitives in the daytime and gave directions to them" (From Clement Eaton, Growth of Southern Civilization New York: Harper, 1961 page 73, cited in The Underground Railroad In American History, The National Park Service)

Sen. Henry Clay’s Compromise of 1850 admitted California as 31st state Sept. 9, slavery forbidden; made Utah and New Mexico territories without decision on slavery; made Fugitive Slave Law more harsh; ended District of Columbia slave trade. (The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1996 from MS Bookshelf)

The Compromise of 1850 was worked out by Henry Clay to settle the dispute between North and South. On January 29, 1850, it was introduced to the Senate as follows:

  1. California should be admitted immediately as a free state;
  2. Utah should be separated from New Mexico, and the two territories should be allowed to decide for them selves whether they wanted slavery or not;
  3. The land disputed between Texas and New Mexico should be assigned to New Mexico;
  4. In return, the United States should pay the debts which Texas had contracted before annexation;
  5. Slavery should not be abolished in the District of Columbia without the consent of its residents and the surrounding state of Maryland, and then only if the owners were paid for their slaves.
  6. Slave-trading (but not slavery) should be banned in the District of Columbia;
  7. A stricter fugitive slave law should be adopted.

(Jordan, W. et al. (1985): The Americans. p. 310) The Compromise resulted in heavy debates in the Senate. Especially the leader of the Conscience Whigs, William H. Seward, criticized it. He argued that there was "a higher law than the Constitution" (Jordan, W. et al. (1985): The Americans. p. 311.), and alluded to the law of God, which forbade slavery. Still the people seemed to accept the Compromise with some hesitation. President Zachory Taylor was truly against the plan and created a deadlock, but as he died, and was succeeded by Vice- President Millard Fillmore, the whole thing got a new turn. He successfully convinced the Whig party. However, the Compromise was turned down in Congress. Henry Clay withdrew from politics due to poor health and Stephen A. Douglas took over the task of dealing with the Compromise. (Andreas Sandgren, "Causes Of The Civil War In America, 1861-1865" Lund, Spyken, 1993)

Zachary Taylor died in office on July 9. Millard Fillmore, as a Whig Took the presidential oath the following day. There was no Vice president

Myrtilla Miner founded a "school for colored girls," which the University of the District of Columbia looks back to as it's roots. (History and Mission of the University of the District of Columbia. Updated: April 29, 1998)

Mytilla Miner, alarmed the city's white citizens by opening the Normal School for Colored Girls, a college preparatory school in a city where slavery remained legal. In 1854, Minor wrote" "Emily (Edmonson) and I lived here alone, unprotected, except by God. The rowdies occasionally stone our house in the evening. Emily and I have been seen practicing shooting with a pistol. The family (Paul and Amelia Edmonson) have come with a dog." (Mary Kay Ricks, Escape on the Pearl,, Washington Post, Horizon August 12, 1998.)

She selected the District "because it was the common property of the nation and because the laws of the District gave her the right to educate free colored children, and she attempted to teach none others." (Special Report of the Commissioner of Education on the Condition and Improvement of Public Schools in the District of Columbia. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1871.)

Within two months the enrollment grew from 6 to 40, and, despite hostility from a portion of the community, the school prospered. Contributions from Quakers continued to arrive, and Harriet Beecher Stowe gave $1,000 of her Uncle Tom's Cabin royalties. The school was forced to move three times in its first two years, but in 1854 it settled on a three-acre lot with house and barn on the edge of the city. In 1856 the school came under the care of a board of trustees, among whom were Henry Ward Beecher and Johns Hopkins. While the school offered primary schooling and classes in domestic skills, its emphasis from the outset was on training teachers. Miner stressed hygiene and nature study in addition to rigorous academic training. By 1858 six former students were teaching in schools of their own. By that time Miner's connection with the school had been lessened by her failing health, and from 1857 Emily Howland was in charge. In 1860 the school had to be closed, and the next year Miner went to California in an attempt to regain her health. A carriage accident in 1864 ended that hope, and Miner died on December 17, 1864, shortly after her return to Washington, D.C. (Women in American History by Encyclopedia Britannica)

Why are little girls familiar with Louisa May Alcott rather than Margaret Fuller, with Scarlett O'Hara and not Myrtilla Miner, with Florence Nightingale and not Fanny Wright. Why have they never heard of the Grimke Sisters, Sojourner Truth, Inez Milholland, Prudence Crandall, Ernestine Rose, Abigail Scott Duniway, Harriet Tubman, Clara Lemlich, Alice Paul, and many others in a long list of brilliant courageous people? Something smells fishy when scarcely fifty years after the vote was won, the whole WRM is largely forgotten, remembered only by a few eccentric old ladies. May I suggest the reason for this, why women's history has been hushed up just as Negro history has been hushed up, so that the black child learns, not about Nat Turner but about the triumph of Ralph Bunche, or George Washington Carver and the peanut.

Her students were insulted and attacked by white men along the streets. The building was stoned and set afire. But Miss miner stood her ground. Using some of their leisure time, she and Emily Edmondson (of the famous case of the Pearl) warned hoodlums of their mettle by firing pistols at a target in the yard. (Washington, City and Capital, Federal Writers' Project, Works Progress Administration, American Guide Series. Washington, 1937, USGPO. P73)

Myrtilla Miner's Papers are available at the (Manuscript Reading Room at the Library of Congress.)

Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin is published as a response to the pro-slavery argument. (Underground Railroad Chronology, National Park Service)

Anthony Bowen, a freed slave, founded the (first African-American YMCA in Washington, D.C)

Jossiah Priest publishes Bible defence of slavery. (Slavery and Religion in America: A timeline 1440-1866. By the Internet Public Library)

Franklin Pierce Democrat becomes President. VP William R. King, 1853 and Apr 1853-Mar 1857

Dred Scott decision by U.S. Supreme Court Mar. 6 held, 6-3, that a slave did not become free when taken into a free state, Congress could not bar slavery from a territory, and blacks could not be citizens. (The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1996, from MS Bookshelf.)

Supreme Court declares in Scott v. Sandford that blacks are not U.S. citizens, and slaveholders have the right to take slaves in free areas of the county. (Underground Railroad Chronology, National Park Service)


The Dred Scott decision announced by Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney, 79, March 6 enrages abolitionists and encourages slaveowners. The fugitive slave Dred Scott, now 62, brought suit in 1848 to claim freedom on the ground that he resided in free territory, but the court rules that his residence in Minnesota Territory does not make him free, that a black may not bring suit in a federal court, and in an obiter dicta by Taney, that Congress never had the authority to ban slavery in the territories, a ruling that in effect calls the Missouri Compromise of 1820 unconstitutional. (The People's Chronology 1995, 1996 by James Trager from MS Bookshelf.)

The notoriety surrounding Dred Scott v. Sandford (US, 1857) has frequently hindered historians' efforts to understand the policy-making role of the antebellum Supreme Court. The Dred Scott case was neither exceptional nor anomalous. It was, however, the natural result of judicial doctrines and tendencies that had been developing for several years. John Marshall, though opposed to slavery in the abstract, believed that a judge's moral instincts should not influence his rulings in light of the law. Roger Taney, as Chief Justice, was determined to destroy antislavery constitutional ideas argued in cases before him. Even before the famous Dred Scott case, Supreme Court decisions involving Groves (1841), Prigg (1842), and Van Zandt (1847) consistently undermined antislavery constitutional ideas argued before the Court. The Dred Scott decision was no aberration. 89 notes. (Wiecek, William M. Slavery And Abolition Before The United States Supreme Court, 1820-1860. Journal of American History 1978 65(1): 34-59.)

Excerpts from Dred Scott Decision, "But there are two clauses in the Constitution which point directly and specifically to the Negro race as a separate class of persons, and show clearly that they were not regarded as a portion of the people or citizens of the Government then formed.

One of these clauses reserves to each of the thirteen States the right to import slaves until the year 1808, if it thinks proper. And the importation which it thus sanctions was unquestionably of persons of the race of which we are speaking, as the traffic in slaves in the United States had always been confined to them. And by the other provision the States pledge themselves to each other to maintain the right of property of the master, by delivering up to him any slave who may have escaped from his service, and be found within their respective territories. By the first above mentioned clause, therefore, the right to purchase and hold this property is directly sanctioned and authorized for twenty years by the people who framed the Constitution. And by the second, they pledge themselves to maintain and uphold the right of the master in the manner specified, as long as the Government they then formed should endure. And these two provisions show, conclusively, that neither the description of persons therein referred to, nor their descendants, were embraced in any of the other provisions of the Constitution; for certainly these two clauses were not intended to confer on them or their posterity the blessings of liberty, or any of the personal rights so carefully provided for the citizen.

No one of that race had ever migrated to the United States voluntarily; all of them had been brought here as articles of merchandise. The number that had been emancipated at that time were but few in comparison with those held in slavery; and they were identified in the public mind with the race to which they belonged, and regarded as a part of the slave population rather than the free. It is obvious that they were not even in the minds of the framers of the Constitution when they were conferring special rights and privileges upon the citizens of a State in every other part of the Union." (See Dred Scott, Plaintiff In Error v John F. A. Sandford. December Term, 1856 Justice Catrpm, Justice Wayne, Justice Nelson, Justice Grier, Justice Daniel, and Justice Campbell concurring in separate opinions. Justice McLean and Justice Curtis dissenting in separate opinions)

"Confrontation with mob during election violence outside City Hall, Washington DC," leaves two US Marines wounded. (US Navy and Marine Casualties)

James Buchanan Democrat becomes President. VP John C. Breckinridge On slavery he favored popular sovereignty and choice by state constitutions. He denied the right of states to secede. (The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1996, from MS Bookshelf.)

The last slave ship arrives. During this year, the last ship to bring slaves to the United States, the Clothilde, arrived in Mobile Bay, Alabama. (Timeline of African American History, 1852-1925 by the Staff of the Library of Congress)

Abolitionist John Brown with 21 men seized U.S. Armory at Harpers Ferry (then Virginia) Oct. 16. U.S. Marines captured raiders, killing several. Brown was hanged for treason by Virginia Dec. 2. (The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1996, from MS Bookshelf.)

Marine assault on building occupied by abolitionist John Brown and followers, Harper's Ferry, Virginia, 18 Oct. 1859. One Marine killed and one Wounded. (US Navy & Marine Casualties )

Census data
Total number of slaves in the Lower South : 2,312,352 (47% of total population).
Total number of slaves in the Upper South: 1,208758 (29% of total population).
Total number of slaves in the Border States: 432,586 (13% of total population).

Almost one-third of all Southern families owned slaves. In Mississippi and South Carolina it approached one half. The total number of slave owners was 385,000 (including, in Louisiana, some free Negroes). As for the number of slaves owned by each master, 88% held fewer than twenty, and nearly 50% held fewer than five. (A complete table on slave-owning percentages is given at the bottom of this page.)

For comparison's sake, let it be noted that in the 1950's, only 2% of American families owned corporation stocks equal in value to the 1860 value of a single slave. Thus, slave ownership was much more widespread in the South than corporate investment was in 1950's America.

On a typical plantation (more than 20 slaves) the capital value of the slaves was greater than the capital value of the land and implements. (Selected Statistics on Slavery in the United States. part of This Civil War Circuit site by Jim Epperson see Causes of the Civil War for pointers on the Civil War )

From the United States Historical Census Data Browser.

Methodist southern bishops kept their regional denomination from officially backing secession. After the Confederacy became a reality, white Georgia Methodists supported it, since their church _Discipline_ required obedience to whatever government was in power. After southern defeat, they had no difficulty submitting again to the authority of the U.S.A. in secular matters, while yielding to no one but God in matters sacred. Owen believes that the southern church actually came out of the war stronger than ever. An institution not under government control, the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (MECS), gave white Wesleyans a refuge from northern cultural and political domination. Meanwhile, black Methodists flocked out of the Caucasian-controlled denomination into the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) and the Colored Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church, where former bondsmen found bastions against the destructive influence of white supremacy. (Christopher H. Owen. _The Sacred Flame of Love: Methodism and Society in Nineteenth-Century Georgia. Athens and London: The University of Georgia Press, 1998. xx + 290 pp. Notes, bibliography, and index. $50.00 (cloth), ISBN 0-8203-1963-5. Reviewed for H-AmRel by Thomas A. Scott <>, Department of History and Philosophy, Kennesaw State University, Georgia)

The US Civil War. The Confederacy finances its war effort mainly by printing money. In addition to the Confederate notes, the States, railway, insurance and other companies also issue notes. The resulting hyperinflation renders Confederate paper worthless. By comparison inflation in the North is relatively moderate as the Union government raises very substantial sums of money by taxation and borrowing. p 485-488 (A Comparative Chronology of Money from Ancient Times to the Present Day, 1860 – 1879, Based on the book: A History of Money from Ancient Times to the Present Day by Glyn Davies, rev. ed. Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1996. 716p. ISBN 0 7083 1351 5)

For a Chronology of Emancipation during the Civil War with Links, see Free at Last: A Documentary History of Slavery, Freedom, and the Civil War published by The New Press, c/o W. W. Norton & Co

(The Macon Telegraph)

First Confiscation Act nullifies owners' claims to fugitive slaves who had been employed in the Confederate war effort.. (Chronology of Emancipation during the Civil War for the brief chronology, adapted from the version published in Free at Last: A Documentary History of Slavery, Freedom, and the Civil War, lists important events in the history of emancipation during the Civil War.)

Did Blacks fight for the Confederacy? …what many historians find outrageous are the claims being made by men like Charlie Condon (South Carolina's attorney general) . Though he later revised his estimate to 50,000 blacks who "served in the Confederate Army," Edward Smith at American University puts the number of black rebels "actually shooting people" at 30,000. Most historians regard this figure as inflated- by almost 30,000. "It's pure fantasy," contends James McPherson, a Princeton historian and one of the nation's leading Civil War scholars. Adds Edwin Bearss, historian emeritus at the National Park Service: "It's b.s., wishful thinking." Robert Krick, author of 10 books on the Confederacy, has studied the records of 150,000 Southern soldiers and found fewer than a dozen were black. "Of course, if I documented 12, someone would start adding zeros," he says. Tainted History? These and other scholars say claims about black rebels derive from unreliable anecdotes, a blurring of soldiers and laborers, and the rapid spread on the Internet of what McPherson calls "pseudohistory." Thousands of blacks did accompany rebel troops- as servants, cooks, teamsters and musicians. Most were slaves who served involuntarily; until the final days of the war, the Confederacy staunchly refused to enlist black soldiers. Some blacks carried guns for their masters and wore spare or castoff uniforms, which may explain eyewitness accounts of black units. But any blacks who actually fought did so unofficially, either out of personal loyalty or self-defense, many historians say. (Shades of Gray: Did Blacks Fight Freely For the Confederacy?)

It Is Possible Mr. Nelson Did; Some Historians See a Rebel Whitewash By Tony Horowitz Staff Reporter of The Wall Street Journal )

Slavery was abolished in the District of Columbia by Congress on this day. One million dollars was appropriated to compensate owners of freed slaves, and $100,000 was set aside to pay district slaves who wished to emigrate to Haiti, Liberia or any other country outside the United States. (Jet Magazine, This Week in Black History, Johnson Publishing Company, Inc. April 21, 1997)

President Abraham Lincoln signed a bill ending slavery in the District of Columbia. Passage of this act came 9 months before President Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation. The act brought to conclusion decades of agitation aimed at ending what antislavery advocates called "the national shame" of slavery in the nation's capital.

The law provided for immediate emancipation, compensation of up to $300 for each slave to loyal Unionist masters, voluntary colonization of former slaves to colonies outside the United States, and payments of up to $100 to each person choosing emigration. Over the next 9 months, the federal government paid almost $1 million for the freedom of approximately 3,100 former slaves.

The District of Columbia Emancipation Act is the only example of compensated emancipation in the United States. Though its three-way approach of immediate emancipation, compensation, and colonization did not serve as a model for the future, it was an early signal of slavery's death. Emancipation was greeted with great jubilation by the District's African-American community. For many years afterward, black Washingtonians celebrated Emancipation Day on April 16 with parades and festivals. (National Archives and Records Administration Featured Document)

The District of Columbia Emancipation Act

Lincoln was certainly not an abolitionist. He found slavery personally abhorrent, but ending it was not his first priority. He was in many ways what we would consider in modern terms a typical cautious liberal -- a compromiser on serious moral issues, only moving on them when pushed by social movements. As a Congressman, he was opposed to the Mexican War (which was designed to add slave territory) but still voted to finance it. He would not speak publicly against the Fugitive Slave Act, wrote to a friend "I confess I hate to see the poor creatures hunted down...but I bite my lips and keep quiet." He was a lawyer, with a legalistic approach to slavery: the Constitution did not give the federal government the power to interfere with slavery in the states. The District of Columbia was not a state, and he did offer a resolution, while in Congress, to abolish slavery there, but accompanied this with a fugitive slave provision that escaped slaves coming into D.C. must be returned. Wendell Phillips, the militant Boston abolitionist, called Lincoln "that slavehound from Illinois". During the Civil War he would not do anything about slavery for fear of alienating the states fighting on the side of the North which still had slavery, said plainly that his main aim in the war was not to end slavery but to get the South back into the Union, and would do this even if it meant retaining slavery. The Whig Party which became the Republican Party which elected Lincoln represented economic interests which wanted a large country with a huge market for goods, with high tariffs to protect manufactures (which Southern states opposed). The South stood in the way of capitalist expansion. If you look at the legislation passed by Congress during the War, with the South no longer an obstacle, you see the economic interests: Railroad subsidies, high tariffs, contract labor law to bring in immigrant workers for cheap labor and to use as strikebreakers, a national bank putting the government in a partnership with banking interests. The Emancipation Proclamation was a weak document for freeing slaves, but did have great moral force. I deal with all this in my book A Peoples History Of The United States. There's an excellent chapter on Lincoln in Richard Hofstadter's book The American Political Tradition. (Howard Zinn, A Selection of Zinn's Posts from the ZinnZine Forum)

Maryland slaves emancipated by State Constitution of 1864. (Maryland Historical Chronology )

Robert E. Lee surrendered 27,800 Confederate troops to Grant at Appomattox Court House, VA, Apr. 9. J. E. Johnston surrendered 31,200 to Sherman at Durham Station, NC, Apr. 18. Last rebel troops surrendered May 26.

President Lincoln was shot Apr. 14 by John Wilkes Booth in Ford’s Theater, Washington; died the following morning. Booth was reported dead Apr. 26. Four co-conspirators were hanged July 7. Thirteenth Amendment, abolishing slavery, was ratified Dec. 6. (The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1996, from MS Bookshelf.)

1865 Amendment XIII. Slavery abolished.
Proposed by Congress Jan. 31, 1865; ratified Dec. 6, 1865. The amendment, when first proposed by a resolution in Congress, was passed by the Senate, 38 to 6, on Apr. 8, 1864, but was defeated in the House, 95 to 66 on June 15, 1864. On reconsideration by the House, on Jan. 31, 1865, the resolution passed, 119 to 56. It was approved by President Lincoln on Feb. 1, 1865, although the Supreme Court had decided in 1798 that the President has nothing to do with the proposing of amendments to the Constitution, or their adoption.)
1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. (The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1996, from MS Bookshelf.)

Andrew Johnson, Democratic/National Union Party becomes President

Juneteenth or June 19, 1865, is considered the date when the last slaves in America were freed. Although the rumors of freedom were widespread prior to this, actual emancipation did not come until General Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas and issued General Order No. 3, on June 19, almost two and a half years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. (For the History of Juneteenth see; NJCLC National Juneteenth Christian Leadership Council’s web page)

An act of the Virginia General legalized common law marriages among free or enslaved Americans of African descent. The Act was "rendered necessary to meet the abnormal condition that existed among the colored race in consequence of the abolition of Negro slavery in the South as a result of the Civil War. Without this enabling act, slave-marriages which largely obtained among that class of the population were invalid, because, being slaves, the parties were incapable to make any contract, including that of marriage. When, therefore, these former slaves were emancipated and clothed with the rights and privileges of citizenship, the good order of society demanded that these inchoate marriages should be recognized as lawful and the children legitimated. And the right of children of slave-marriages to inherit property from the father was regarded of sufficient consequence to be expressly secured both by the Constitutions of 1869 and of 1902 (Constitution of Virginia, 1869, sec. 9, Art. &I; and sec. 195, Art. XIV, of the present Constitution). The act in question (now section 2227 of the Code) declares that, "Where colored persons prior to February 27, 1866, agreed to occupy the relation * * * of husband and wife, and were cohabiting together * * * at that date, whether the rites of marriage had been celebrated between them or not, they shall be deemed husband and wife, and be entitled to the rights and privileges, and subject to the duties and obligations of that relation in like manner, as if they had lawfully married; and all their children shall be deemed legitimate, whether born before or after said date. And where the parties ceased to cohabit before February 27, 1866, in consequence of the death of the woman, or from any other cause, all the children of the woman, recognized by the man to be his, shall be deemed legitimate." (Francis and Others v. Tazewell and Others, Supreme Court Of Virginia, 120 Va. 319; 91 S.E. 202; 1917 Va. Lexis 110, January 11, 1917)

"Professor John B. Minor, in his … discussion of slavery in Virginia, observes: "Previous to February 27, 1866, the marriage laws of Virginia did not contemplate nor include Negroes, not even free Negroes, at least in respect to any penalties for disregard of the laws touching license or prohibition of bigamy, of incestuous marriages, or lewd cohabitation; and hence marriages of free Negroes (those of slaves being void) were governed altogether by the common law." 1 Minor's Inst. (4th ed.), p. 268. The author, at page 188, says: "It is agreed that [*812] slaves have no power to make contracts. Hence the marriages of slaves are void." (Lemons v. Harris and Others, Supreme Court Of Virginia, 115 Va. 809; 80 S.E. 740; 1914 Va. Lexis 134, January 15, 1914)

Benjamin B. Minor (1818-1905), was a University of Virginia Law Professor and a member of the Virginia Branch of the American Colonization Society. (Introductory Material Mss3Am353a1, American Colonization Society, Virginia Branch Minute Book, 1823-1859, Richmond, Virginia; also Liberia see

1866/04/19 The African-American citizens of Washington, D.C., celebrated the abolition of slavery. A procession of 4,000 to 5,000 people assembled at the White House, where they were addressed by President Andrew Johnson (1808-1875). Marching past 10,000 cheering spectators, the procession, led by two black regiments, proceeded up Pennsylvania Avenue to Franklin Square for religious services and speeches by prominent politicians. A sign on top of the speaker's platform read: "We have received our civil rights. Give us the right of suffrage and the work is done."

"Celebration of the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia by the colored people in Washington, April 19, 1866," From Harper's Weekly, May 12, 1866, p. 300 Photomural from woodcut Prints and Photographs Division (62)

Presidential meeting for black suffrage. On February 2, a black delegation led by Frederick Douglass met with President Andrew Johnson at the White House to advocate black suffrage. The president expressed his opposition, and the meeting ended in controversy. (Timeline of African American History, 1852-1925 by the Staff of the Library of Congress)

1866 Civil Rights Act. Congress overrode President Johnson's veto on April 9 and passed the Civil Rights Act, conferring citizenship upon black Americans and guaranteeing equal rights with whites.(Timeline of African American History, 1852-1925 by the Staff of the Library of Congress)

The Fourteenth Amendment. On June 13, Congress approved the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, guaranteeing due process and equal protection under the law to all citizens. The amendment would also grant citizenship to blacks. (Timeline of African American History, 1852-1925 by the Staff of the Library of Congress))

Black suffrage. On January 8, overriding President Johnson's veto, Congress granted the black citizens of the District of Columbia the right to vote. (Timeline of African American History, 1852-1925 by the Staff of the Library of Congress)

That year dealt the ruling white elite of the South a grave blow. In the South, the substantial numbers of African-Americans who had been able to vote steadfastly refused to return their former masters to power. (Original Footnote: Wade, Wyn Craig, The Fiery Cross. (Simon and Schuster, 1987)) At the national level, Congress had grown impatient with the so-called "Presidential" Reconstruction. Presidential Reconstruction included the return of former Confederates to power, the Southern states’ unanimous rejection of the fourteenth amendment, and the establishment of the notorious "Black Codes," which gravely limited the freedoms and citizenship’s of African-Americans in the South, and made it plain that the white aristocrats who controlled the Southern state governments "intended to yield none of their pre-war power over poor whites and especially over Blacks." (Text footnote Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), The Ku Klux Klan, a History of Racism and Violence. (Klanwatch. 1988), 9) As a result, the Radical Reconstructionists passed the Congressional Reconstruction Act, which overturned the lenient reconstruction of Lincoln and Johnson and invalidated the governments of every Southern state but Tennessee, divided them into military districts, and attempted to ensure the Civil rights of African-Americans. (Text Footnote: Chalmers, David M., Hooded Americanism. (Duke University Press, 1987), 11) The members of the Klan correctly perceived these actions as a threat to continued white supremacy, and quickly organized to combat them. In April of 1867, the Klan had held a secret meeting in Nashville to prepare for the August elections, and decided to offer the leadership of the Klan to a former Confederate Cavalry commander named Nathan Bedford Forrest. (Wade, Wyn Craig, The Fiery Cross. (Simon and Schuster, 1987), p 37) Nathan Bedford Forrest was described by the Cincinnati Commercial as six feet one inch and a half in height, with broad shoulders, a full chest... one hundred and eighty-five pounds; dark-gray eyes, dark hair, mustache and beard worn upon his chin." Text Footnote: Wade, Wyn Craig, The Fiery Cross. (Simon and Schuster, 1987), A dashing example of the Southern Caviler, he had been a millionaire slave-trader and plantation owner prior to the war, and made a brilliant reputation as a commander of cavalry during the war. He also, however, commanded the troops which massacred captured African-American soldiers at Fort Pillow in April of 1864. (Text Footnote: Dictionary of American Biography, Volume III, (American Council of Learned Societies: 1930), p532.) (Robert Arjet History of the Ku Klux Klan: The First Era, found in HateWatch which was originally called "A Guide to Hate Groups on the Internet")

For a Chronology of lynchings see Timeline of African American History, 1852-1925 by the Staff of the Library of Congress.

Fourteenth Amendment ratified. On July 21, the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, granting citizenship to any person born or naturalized in the United States. (Timeline of African American History, 1852-1925 by the Staff of the Library of Congress)

Fifteenth Amendment approved. On February 26, Congress sent the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution to the states for approval. The amendment would guarantee black Americans the right to vote. (Timeline of African American History, 1852-1925 by the Staff of the Library of Congress)

The 1870 census is usually the end of the line when tracing African American genealogy. "African American slaves didn't appear by name on federal censuses before 1870 because they were property. But they were identified by name on other records. They were named in deeds, wills and other court records. Court records are the next step in the research process after the 1870 Census, particularly wills and intestate records. Intestate records list the property the deceased person left behind if that person did not leave a will.. In Chambers County, Alabama, for instance, in many cases, slave families were sold or otherwise passed on as units. Often, husbands, wives and small children were sold as units. The exceptions were the young people that were over 12 years old. They were able to work and didn't require a mother's care, and were often sold away from the family. The researcher tries to find former slaves by name. Problem! Court records usually give only the first names of slaves. However, you must identify your ancestors by surname. How do you do this?

After emancipation former slaves were able to choose any name they desired. In many cases they chose the name of their last owner. In many cases they chose the name of a previous owner. And in many cases they did not choose a name of any former owner. They wanted to distance themselves from slavery. So how do you find slave ancestors? Look through court records for first names that you recognize as belonging to your 1870 families. (After the 1870 Federal Census, What Next? Where to look and what to look for. By Cliff Murray in African American Lifelines visit this site for many hints on genealogical research. also see the genealogical links at AfriGeneas)

Height of global European Imperialism and the "scramble for Africa" proceed, rationalized as a "civilizing mission" based on white supremacy. Europeans assert their "spheres of interest" in African colonies arbitrarily, cutting across traditionally established boundaries, homelands, and ethnic groupings of African peoples and cultures. Following a "divide and rule" theory, Europeans promote traditional inter-ethnic hostilities. "The European onslaught of Africa that began in the mid 1400s progressed to various conquests over the continent, and culminated over 400 years later with the partitioning of Africa. Armed with guns, fortified by ships, driven by the industry of capitalist economies in search of cheap raw materials, and unified by a Christian and racist ideology against the African 'heathen,' aggressive European colonial interests followed their earlier merchant and missionary inroads into Africa"(Mutere). [See gold "Soul Washer's Badge" taken from the Asante king's bedroom by Lieutenant R.C. Annesley of the 79th Queens Own Cameron Highlanders, when a British military expedition captured the Asante capital of Kumasi ["Gold Coast," now Ghana] on February 4, 1874.] (African Timelines Table of Contents History, Orature, Literature, & Film Part IV: Anti-Colonialism & Reconstruction, compiled by Cora Agatucci, Central Oregon Community College)

The conquest of Africa by Europe and the American acquisition of lands in the Caribbean and Pacific which were inhabited by darker peoples, were taken as clear evidence of racial inequality even in the land which had been founded on the belief in the equality of all men. Second-class citizenship for blacks had become a fact which was accepted by Presidents, Congress, the Supreme Court, the business community, and by labor unions. Segregation was universal. In the North it was rooted in social custom, but in the South it had been made a matter of law. Separate facilities were inferior facilities. The basic political and civil rights of the Afro-American were severely limited in almost every state. (Norman Coombs, The Immigrant Heritage of America, Twayne Press, 1972. , Chapter 4, All Men Are Created Equal, Slavery and the American Revolution)

Smallpox outbreaks hit New York, Philadelphia and other cities, and it was discovered that many children had not been vaccinated. The New York City Board of Health recommended that all residents be vaccinated in 1870, but there was widespread public resistance, since the vaccine itself was not without risk, and people perceived the campaign as creating a panic situation and allowing doctors to profit from it. (Some Historically Significant Epidemics This list was compiled largely from Encyclopedia of Plague and Pestilence, edited by George C. Kohn, and published by Facts On File, Inc., 1995)

Civil Rights Act of 1875. Congress approved the Civil Rights Act on March 1, guaranteeing equal rights to black Americans in public accommodations and jury duty. The legislation was invalidated by the Supreme Court in 1883. (Timeline of African American History, 1852-1925 by the Staff of the Library of Congress.

The end of Reconstruction. A deal with Southern Democratic leaders made Rutherford B. Hayes (Republican) president, in exchange for the withdrawal of federal troops from the South and the end of federal efforts to protect the civil rights of African-Americans. (Timeline of African American History, 1852-1925 by the Staff of the Library of Congress.)

Home rule ended in the District of Columbia. (1890 DC Census Index)

Segregation of public transportation. Tennessee segregated railroad cars, followed by Florida (1887), Mississippi (1888), Texas (1889), Louisiana (1890), Alabama, Kentucky, Arkansas, and Georgia (1891), South Carolina (1898), North Carolina (1899), Virginia (1900), Maryland (1904), and Oklahoma (1907). (Timeline of African American History, 1852-1925 by the Staff of the Library of Congress. )

Civil Rights Act overturned. On October 15, the Supreme Court declared the Civil Rights Act of 1875 unconstitutional. The Court declared that the Fourteenth Amendment forbids states, but not citizens, from discriminating. (Timeline of African American History, 1852-1925 by the Staff of the Library of Congress)

Plessy V. Ferguson. As Americans we have been struggling since the beginning of time to fight for what is right in our society. After the Civil War many Southern states were determined to try and limit the rights of former slaves. One of the biggest fears in society was the mixing of the races, this was something the white people vowed to stop. The government succeeded by using the segregation laws, such as the one passed by Florida in 1887, which required railroads operating in the state or passing through the state to house black passengers in separate cars from the whites. It was soon after this that separate car laws were in forced in most of the South.

A group of New Orleans black businessmen decided to fight these laws along with railroads who were also against the law. The group decided to test the case, and a black man by the name of Homer Plessy volunteered to break the law. Plessy boarded a East Louisiana railroad train in New Orleans and took a seat in a white-only car. He was asked to move and refused. He was then arrested and brought before New Orleans Parish Judge John Ferguson. Plessy and his attorney argued that the separate car laws violated his civil rights. Ferguson found Plessy guilty and he was charged with a twenty-five dollar fine.

However, this case was far from over, it went to the Supreme Court and the law of separate cars was quickly found constitutional. The Court ruled that "separate but equal facilities" was proper under the 14th Amendment. After the case was argued twice and almost two years later the court ruled 8-1 that Louisiana was correct.

On May 16, 1896, Brown wrote the majority opinion; Harlan dissented. A state law requiring trains to provide separate but equal facilities for black and white passengers does not infringe upon federal authority to regulate interstate commerce nor is it in violation of the 13th or 14th Amendments. The train was local; a legal distinction between the two races did not destroy the legal equality of the two races guaranteed by the 13th Amendment and the 14th Amendment protected only political, not social, equality, the majority said.

John Marshall declared that the "Constitution is color blind and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens." "Separate but Equal" remained the law of the land for fifty-eight years, until 1954 when the Court held in Brown v. Board of Education that separate is "inherently unequal." References: Wagman, Robert J. The Supreme Court. Pharos Books 1993. Witt, Elder. Guide to the U.S. Supreme Court. Congressional quarterly Inc. 1979. (Prepared by Tamara L. Ort. History Of American Education Web Project maintained by Robert N. Barger, University of Notre Dame)

President signs National Zoological Park into law. (Marion P. McCrane, Zoologist to Eda B. Frost July, 28, 1967, SIA, RU 365, NZP OPA 1805-1988 Box 35 Folder 9) Design by Frederick Law Olmstead

Olmsted or Olmstead, Frederick Law, 1822–1903, American landscape architect and writer; b. Hartford, Conn. In the 1850s he attained fame for his travel books, which describe slaveholding society in the South. When Central Park, N.Y.C., was projected (1856), he and Calvert Vaux prepared the plan that was accepted, and he supervised its execution. This was the first of many parks he designed; others are in Brooklyn (Prospect Park), Chicago, Montreal, Buffalo, and Boston. He laid out the grounds for the 1893 Columbian Exposition, Chicago (now Jackson Park). (The Concise Columbia Encyclopedia, 1995 by Columbia University Press from MS Bookshelf.)

Throughout its history, America had been predominantly an Anglo-Saxon and Protestant country. The Afro-American stood out in sharp distinction to this picture both because of his color and his African heritage. By the end of the nineteenth century America was being flooded with immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe. They too were much darker than the dominant strains of Northern Europe, and many were Catholics. There was a growing feeling that these new immigrants, like the Negroes, were inherently alien and intrinsically inassimilable. Liberals in the progressive movement, who were concerned about protecting the integrity and morality of American society, were in the fore-front of those who feared the new hordes of "swarthy" immigrants.

One of those who feared that the large influx of South and East Europeans would undermine the quality of American life was Madison Grant. In his book The Passing of the Great Race, he warned that Nordic excellence would be swamped by the faster-spawning Catholic immigrants. Originally these racial stereotypes had some cultural and historical basis, but they were gaining a new strength and authority from the sociological and biological sciences centering in the concepts of Social Darwinisn. Darwinism and related theories in anthropology and sociology helped to give an aura of respectability to racism in both Europe and America. The same kind of pseudo-scientific thinking which was developed in Europe to justify anti-Semitism was used in America to reinforce prejudices against Negroes as well as against Jews and South Europeans.

In the first half of the nineteenth century the American anthropologist Samuel George Morton argued that each race had its own unique characteristics. Racial character, he believed, was the result of inheritance rather than of environment. Because these characteristics found specific environments congenial, each race had gravitated to its preordained geographic habitat. Darwin's theory of evolution offered another explanation for the existence of differing species in the animal kingdom, and anthropologists concluded that it would also provide an explanation for racial differences in mankind. Early anthropologists and sociologists were preoccupied with dividing humanity into differing races and trying to catalog and explain these differences. Phrenology was another pseudo-science which attempted to construct a system according to which intellectual and moral characteristics would be correlated with the size and shape of the human head. On this basis many tried to divide mankind into physical types and to assign to each its own intellectual and moral qualities. (Norman Coombs, The Immigrant Heritage of America, Twayne Press, 1972, Chapter 4, All Men Are Created Equal, Slavery and the American Revolution.)

African-Americans are disenfranchised. The Mississippi Plan, approved on November 1, used literacy and "understanding" tests to disenfranchise black American citizens. Similar statutes were adopted by South Carolina (1895), Louisiana (1898), North Carolina (1900), Alabama (1901), Virginia (1901), Georgia (1908), and Oklahoma (1910). (Timeline of African American History, 1852-1925 by the Staff of the Library of Congress)

Massive depression convinced many that equal opportunity was out of reach for many Americans. (The Progressive Era, Polytechnic School Pasadena, California, 1999 )

Georgetown becomes part of the City of Washington. (1890 DC Census Index)

Plessy v. Ferguson. The Supreme Court decided on May 18 in Plessy v. Ferguson that "separate but equal" facilities satisfy Fourteenth Amendment guarantees, thus giving legal sanction to Jim Crow segregation laws. (Timeline of African American History, 1852-1925 by the Staff of the Library of Congress)

Rayford W. Logan, in his book The Betrayal of the Negro described the turn of the century as the low point in Afro-American history. After Emancipation, he contended, the hopes of the Negroes were betrayed. Again they were pushed down into second-class status. It appeared that democracy was for whites only. Actually, the increasing growth of racism and of segregation as well, led inevitably to the development of opposition groups bent on destroying this discrimination. Segregation promoted the creation of Negro institutions which then became the center for this counterattack. (Norman Coombs, The Immigrant Heritage of America, Twayne Press, 1972. , Chapter 4, All Men Are Created Equal, Slavery and the American Revolution)

The last African-American congressman for 28 years. George H. White gave up his seat on March 4. No African-American would serve in Congress for the next 28 years.(Timeline of African American History, 1852-1925 by the Staff of the Library of Congress)

Race Riot in Springfield Illinois leads to the creation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) (The Springfield Race Riot of 1908, Deepak Madala, Jennifer Jordan, and August Appleton)

The NAACP is formed. On February 12 -- the centennial of the birth of Lincoln -- a national appeal led to the establishment of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, an organization formed to promote use of the courts to restore the legal rights of black Americans. (Timeline of African American History, 1852-1925 by the Staff of the Library of Congress)

Segregated neighborhoods. On December 19, the City Council of Baltimore approved the first city ordinance designating the boundaries of black and white neighborhoods. This ordinance was followed by similar ones in Dallas, Texas, Greensboro, North Carolina, Louisville, Kentucky, Norfolk, Virginia, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Richmond, Virginia, Roanoke, Virginia, and St. Louis, Missouri. The Supreme Court declared the Louisville ordinance to be unconstitutional in 1917 (Timeline of African American History, 1852-1925 by the Staff of the Library of Congress)

Federal segregation. On April 11, the Wilson administration began government-wide segregation of work places, rest rooms and lunch rooms. (Timeline of African American History, 1852-1925 by the Staff of the Library of Congress)

"D.W. Griffith's "Birth of A Nation" represented the essence of racism in film. The movie set the stage for future portrayals of blacks in film. Griffith showed blacks as, "endearing inferiors duped into rising above their accustomed station by misinformed abolitionists and vindictive reconstruction congressmen who had betrayed Lincoln's benign plans for the defeated South." 'Birth of a Nation' created a set of black comic figures studios used as prototypes in film for years to come. (Television and Film)

One final factor made the United States in 1915 perhaps more ready than it had ever been for Simmons’s vision of a new Klan. That year, a media phenomenon began that was to profoundly alter the course of American race relations: D.W. Griffith’s racist epic film The Birth of a Nation debuted that fall, and race-hatred would never be the same.

The Birth of a Nation occupies a seminal position in American film. It introduced the very concept of the film epic to the American people, and transformed the way Americans thought about the motion picture. Unfortunately, its impact was at least as influential on the Ku Klux Klan. The Birth of a Nation is perhaps the greatest single piece of propaganda in the history of mass media, both in its efficacy and in its reach, and its prime beneficiaries have been the Klan. (Text Footnote: Discussion of The Birth of a Nation literally fills volumes. See, for example, The Birth of a Nation, a 1994 collection edited by Robert Lang)

The Birth of a Nation depicts events in a Southern town before, during and after the Civil War, giving special attention to the "heroic" actions of the Klan, and depicting them as a noble order of valiant white men who restored order and justice in a chaotic time. While Birth propagated the false history of the first-era Klan as discussed earlier, what the film added to Klan lore was vitally important. First, Birth gave the Klan a visual iconography that they had never before enjoyed. Contrary to widespread belief, the first-era Klan did not burn crosses—that practice was purely an invention of Thomas Dixon Jr., the author of the books upon which Birth of a Nation was based. (Text note: While the literature on Birth of a Nation is extensive, much less attention is paid to the books on which the movie was based. The Leopard's Spots and The Clansman, by Thomas Dixon, Jr. These books were wildly popular in their day (early 1900s) and laid the groundwork for 20th century racism in the United States. See Joel Williamson's The Crucible of Race for a rare investigation of Dixon's novels)

Likewise, the first-era Klan did not always wear the impressive white robes depicted in the film. First-era uniforms were a motley assortment, and often consisted of nothing more than a flour bag thrown over the head for disguise.

The second effect that the film had for the Klan was that it exposed millions of Americans to a rousing adventure story in which the Klan were the saviors of all that was good, holy, and pure about America. The sensation that The Birth of a Nation created is hard to overestimate. Grossing an unheard-of $18 million dollars (the equivalent of 360 million today), Birth of a Nation took the nation by storm. In Historian Wyn Craig Wade’s words, "In an astonishing few months, Griffith’s masterpiece had united white Americans in a vast national drama, convincing them of a past that had never been." (Text Footnote: Wade, Wyn Craig, The Fiery Cross. (Simon and Schuster, 1987) p 139)

Although the film’s gross inaccuracies were strongly attacked, especially by the NAACP, it should be noted that the film was accurate according to the history books of its time. A generation of (mostly Northern) scholars including future president Woodrow Wilson and historian William A. Dunning had, from 1873 to 1907, "systematically distorted the motives of radical Republicans, falsified the behavior of Southern Blacks, and glorified the Ku-Klux Klansmen as heroes." (Text Footnote: Wade, Wyn Craig, The Fiery Cross. (Simon and Schuster, 1987) p 115)

As malicious as The Birth of a nation was, it was also a "faithful composite of the "proven facts" and " authentic evidence" contained in the most reputable history books of 1915." (Text Footnote: Wade, Wyn Craig, The Fiery Cross. (Simon and Schuster, 1987) p 132)

The impact of The Birth of a Nation was not lost on Joseph Simmons. He could tell that the public was receptive to the idea of a heroic Klan, and made every effort to turn the sensation the film caused into free advertising for his new Klan. In addition, he was not above capitalizing on a gruesome murder and subsequent lynching to advertise his "fraternal order." (Robert Arjet, History of the Ku Klux Klan: The Second Era of the Ku Klux Klan, 1915-1944, found in HateWatch was originally called "A Guide to Hate Groups on the Internet")

The film "The Birth of a Nation" by David W. Griffith is released. An adaptation of Rev. Thomas Dixon JR's. novel/play The Klansmen or The Clansmen.

In its presentation of the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) as heroes and Southern blacks as villains, it appealed to white Americans due to its mythic view of the Old South, and its thematic exploration of two great American issues: inter-racial sex and the empowerment of blacks. Ironically, the film's major black roles (stereotypically played) were filled with white actors - in blackface. [The real blacks in the film only played in minor roles.] Its climactic finale helped to assuage America's sexual fears about the rise of defiant, strong (and sexual) black men.

"The propagandistic film was one of the biggest box-office money-makers in the history of film - it made $18 million by the start of the talkies. It caused immediate criticism by the NAACP for its racist portrayal of blacks. They denounced the film as "the meanest vilification of the Negro race." Riots broke out in major cities, and subsequent lawsuits and picketing tailed the film for years. Even President Woodrow Wilson during a private screening at the White House is reported to have naively exclaimed: "It's like writing history with lightning. And my only regret is that it is all terribly true." (The Birth Of A Nation (1915) reviewed by Tim Dirks, 1996,, full version on line))

Lynchings, Searching through America's past for the last 25 years, collector James Allen uncovered an extraordinary visual legacy: photographs and postcards taken as souvenirs at lynchings throughout America. With essays by Hilton Als, Leon Litwack, Congressman John Lewis and James Allen, these photographs have been published as a book "Without Sanctuary" by Twin Palms Publishers and are on display at the New York Historical Society through July 9. Experience the images as a flash movie with narrative comments by James Allen, or as a gallery of photos which will grow to over 100 photos in coming weeks. Participate in a forum about the images, and contact us if you know of other similar postcards and photographs.

Writing (on the history of slavery) in the first half of the twentieth century was that blacks were inferior to whites, that races should be separated, and that therefore slavery was not so bad after all. This perspective is best typified by Ulrich B. Phillips's American Negro Slavery (1918), a classic work which dominated the interpretation of southern history for the next thirty years. Phillips depicted a plantation system in which slaves were generally contented with their lot and unlikely to resist. Those rare occasions in which resistance did occur were more likely the result of slaves having lazy or criminal characters rather than any legitimate complaint about their conditions. Indeed, Phillips saw slavery as a system which was economically unprofitable but socially desirable--a civilizing institution necessitated by the racial inferiority of African Americans. (Theresa Anne Murphy, Scholarship On Southern Farms And Plantations 1996 American Studies Department of George Washington University, for the National Park Service Web Page on Slavery)

Journal article analyzes writings that provided important American perceptions of Africa from colonial times through the early 20th century when American impressions of Africa derived substantially from commentators such as Theodore Roosevelt, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, and Charles Francis Adams, Jr. Generally American portrayals of Africa have been characterized by distortions and frequently have served uniquely American purposes such as justifying slavery and sanctioning racial segregation. Since 1900, many American writers on Africa equated the events of European colonization in Eastern and Southeastern Africa with the processes that Americans popularly presumed were inherent in the taming of American frontiers. Based on American writings about Africa and on secondary sources; 43 notes. (McCarthy, Michael. Africa And The American West. Journal of American Studies [Great Britain] 1977 11(2): 187-201.)

Flew epidemic then called the Spanish Influenza hits Washington, DC. 35,000 become ill while 3,500 die. (WAMU Radio the 20th Century Real Audio file. Broadcast May 8, 1999.)

Whites riot against blacks in Washington, DC. The rampage by about 400 whites initially drew only scattered resistance in the black community, and the police were nowhere to be seen. When the Metropolitan Police Department finally arrived in force, its white officers arrested more blacks than whites, sending a clear signal about their sympathies.

It was only the beginning. The white mob – whose actions were triggered in large part by weeks of sensational newspaper accounts of alleged sex crimes by a "Negro fiend" – unleashed a wave of violence that swept over the city for four days. Nine people were killed in brutal street fighting, and an estimated 30 more would die eventually from their wounds. More than 150 men, women and children were clubbed, beaten and shot by mobs of both races. Several Marine guards and six D.C. policemen were shot, two fatally.

The Washington riot was one of more than 20 that took place that summer. With rioting in Chicago, Omaha, Knoxville, Tenn., Charleston, S.C., and other cities, the bloody interval came to be known as "the Red Summer." Unlike virtually all the disturbances that preceded it – in which white-on-black violence dominated – the Washington riot of 1919 was distinguished by strong, organized and armed black resistance, foreshadowing the civil rights struggles later in the century.

Racial resentment was particularly intense among Washington's several thousand returning black war veterans. They had proudly served their country in such units as the District's 1st Separate Battalion, part of the segregated Army force that fought in France. These men had been forced to fight for the right to serve in combat because the Army at first refused to draft blacks for any role other than laborer. They returned home hopeful that their military service would earn them fair treatment.

Instead, they saw race relations worsening in an administration dominated by conservative Southern whites brought here by Woodrow Wilson, a Virginian. Wilson's promise of a "New Freedom" had won him more black voters than any Democrat before him, but they were cruelly disappointed: Previously integrated departments such as the Post Office and the Treasury had now set up "Jim Crow corners" with separate washrooms and lunchrooms for "colored only." Meanwhile, the Ku Klux Klan was being revived in Maryland and Virginia, as racial hatred burst forth with the resurgence of lynching of black men and women around the country – 28 public lynchings in the first six months of 1919 alone, including seven black veterans killed while still wearing their Army uniforms.

Washington's newspapers made a tense situation worse, with an unrelenting series of sensational stories of alleged sexual assaults by an unknown black perpetrator upon white women. The headlines dominated the city's four daily papers – the Evening Star, the Times, the Herald and The Post – for more than a month. A sampling of these July headlines illustrates the growing lynch-mob mentality: 13 SUSPECTS ARRESTED IN NEGRO HUNT; POSSES KEEP UP HUNT FOR NEGRO; HUNT COLORED ASSAILANT; NEGRO FIEND SOUGHT ANEW. Washington's newly formed chapter of the NAACP was so concerned that on July 9 – 10 days before the bloodshed – it sent a letter to the four daily papers saying they were "sowing the seeds of a race riot by their inflammatory headlines." (Excerpted from "Race Riot of 1919, Gave Glimpse of Future Struggles" By Peter Perl Washington Post Staff Writer. Monday, March 1, 1999; Page A1)

Perhaps the nations deadliest racial confrontation begin in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The exact number of people killed in the riot, which destroyed a 30-square-block area of north Tulsa known as Greenwood, a primarily black neighborhood, was never determined. Newspaper accounts at the time varied, with some reporting as many as 76 dead. But some historians, citing survivors' accounts, have put the figure as high as 300. Blacks here have long maintained that whites used airplanes to bomb homes, churches and businesses in north Tulsa. By 1999, a special commission to investigate the incident and determine compensation was financed through a $50,000 grant from the Oklahoma Historical Society. Scott Ellsworth, a former historian at the Smithsonian Institution and author of "Death in a Promised Land: The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921," is one of the advisers to the commission. The historian John Hope Franklin, whose father lost his home in the riot, is also an adviser to the commission. Franklin last year headed the advisory board to the President's Initiative on Race. (New York Times 2/21/99 Panel Tries to Get Clearer Picture of 1921 Race Riot)

An anti-lynching effort. On January 26, a federal anti-lynching bill was killed by a filibuster in the United States Senate. (Timeline of African American History, 1852-1925 by the Staff of the Library of Congress)

"Sit down" at segregated Barrett Library by five young African American men: Otto L. Tucker, Edward Gaddis, Morris L. Murray, William Evans, and Clarence Strange. The protest led the City to open Alexandria’s first library for African Americans, Robert Robinson Library, in 1940. Today, the building houses the Black History Resource Center (City of Alexandria Timeline)

A proliferating number of popular and scholarly books about slavery are stripping away whatever is left of the velvety romance of benign slaveholders presiding over docile slaves. And they are emphasizing efforts of the enslaved to escape or rebel and the punishments they faced that ranged from branding to amputation. Much of the bleaker information emerges from the faded pages of court records and antebellum divorce petitions. But among the newly published books are some milder views expressed in the memoirs of planters' wives, old handwritten diaries and slave narratives. Much of the burst in publishing about slavery has come in the 1990s, with 53 titles published last year and 16 published so far this year, according to R.R. Bowker's Books in Print. In previous decades, the yearly output of titles was less than 12 a year. (Doreen Carvajal, Slavery's Truths (and Tales) Come Flocking Home New York Times 3/28/99)

End of Slavery Chronology

The Chronology is broken up into three parts:

  1. 1619 – 1789 .
  2. 1790 - 1829
  3. 1830 - the end

Citation information and credit: (Chronology on the History of Slavery, Compiled by Eddie Becker 1999, see on line at