By Jueseppi B.
Throughout the month Of February, TheObamaCrat™ will post a daily series called The Black History Moment Series. Each day for 28 days of this historic month you will be given the food of Black History to satisfy your hunger for knowledge.
Celebrating Black History Month: The Black History Moment Series #19: Some Names You Should Know.
Notable Figures in Abolitionism
slave leader Born: 1811, Died: 1852. Birthplace: Sierra Leone, Africa.
Joseph Cinqué was a rice farmer in his native Sierra Leone when he was captured by Portuguese slavers and brought by ship to Havana, Cuba. This enslavement violated numerous treaties. Cinqué and 52 Africans, who had been sold to Spanish planters, were then boarded on the Spanish ship the Amistad, which was headed for a Caribbean plantation. Cinqué freed himself from his shackles and led a rebellion. The captives killed all but the ship’s navigator and demanded that he sail back to Africa. Instead, the navigator duped the Africans and headed for North America.
Two months later, the ship was captured by a U.S. Navy ship off Long Island Sound and the slaves were charged with murder and imprisoned in Conn. The murder charges were dismissed, but the slaves remained in prison as the planters, the Spanish government, and the captain of the U.S. ship all laid claim to the Africans.
President Martin Van Buren, hoping to win Southern votes, sought to have the slaves extradited to Cuba. Abolitionists who opposed extradition hired a defense team for the slaves. The lawyers argued in federal court that the slaves were kidnap victims rather than property. The court ruled in favor of the defense, saying that the Africans were held illegally as slaves. The decision was appealed, and former President John Quincy Adams defended the group before the Supreme Court in January 1841. The court upheld the earlier decision. Thirty-five of the former slaves secured passage home to Africa with the help of sympathetic missionary societies in 1842. The others died either in prison or on the journey back to their homeland.
Dred Scott (1795 – September 17, 1858), was a slave in the United States who unsuccessfully sued for his freedom and that of his wife and their two daughters in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case of 1857, popularly known as “the Dred Scott Decision.” The case was based on the fact that although he and his wife Harriet Scott were slaves, they had lived with his master Dr. John Emerson in states and territories where slavery was illegal according to both state laws and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, including Illinois and Minnesota (which was then part of the Wisconsin Territory). The United States Supreme Court decided 7–2 against Scott, finding that neither he nor any other person of African ancestry could claim citizenship in the United States, and therefore Scott could not bring suit in federal court under diversity of citizenship rules. Moreover, Scott’s temporary residence outside Missouri did not bring about his emancipation under the Missouri Compromise, which the court ruled unconstitutional as it would improperly deprive Scott’s owner of his legal property.
While Chief Justice Roger B. Taney had hoped to settle issues related to slavery and Congressional authority by this decision, it aroused public outrage and deepened sectional tensions between the northern and southern U.S. states. President Abraham Lincoln‘s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and the post-Civil War Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments nullified the decision.
Dred Scott Case, argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1856–57. It involved the then bitterly contested issue of the status of slavery in the federal territories. In 1834, Dred Scott, a black slave, personal servant to Dr. John Emerson, a U.S. army surgeon, was taken by his master from Missouri, a slave state, to Illinois, a free state, and thence to Fort Snelling (now in Minnesota) in Wisconsin Territory, where slavery was prohibited by the Missouri Compromise.
There he married before returning with Dr. Emerson to Missouri in 1838. After Emerson’s death, Scott sued (1846) Emerson’s widow for freedom for himself and his family (he had two children) on the ground that residence in a free state and then in a free territory had ended his bondage. He won his suit before a lower court in St. Louis, but the Missouri supreme court reversed the decision (thus reversing its own precedents). Scott’s lawyers then maneuvered the case into the federal courts. Since J. F. A. Sanford, Mrs. Emerson’s brother, was the legal administrator of her property and a resident of New York, the federal court accepted jurisdiction for the case on the basis of diversity of state citizenship.
After a federal district court decided against Scott, the case came on appeal to the Supreme Court. In Feb., 1857, the court decided in conference to avoid completely the question of the constitutionality of the Missouri Compromise and to rule against Scott on the ground that under Missouri law as now interpreted by the supreme court of that state he remained a slave despite his previous residence in free territory. However, when it became known that two antislavery justices, John McLean and Benjamin R. Curtis, planned to write dissenting opinions vigorously upholding the constitutionality of the Missouri Compromise (which had, in fact, been voided by the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854), the court’s Southern members, constituting the majority, decided to consider the whole question of federal power over slavery in the territories.
They decided in the case of Scott v. Sandford (the name was misspelled in the formal reports) that Congress had no power to prohibit slavery in the territories, and Chief Justice Roger B. Taney delivered the court’s opinion that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional. Three of the justices also held that a black “whose ancestors were … sold as slaves” was not entitled to the rights of a federal citizen and therefore had no standing in court. The court’s verdict further inflamed the sectional controversy between North and South and was roundly denounced by the growing antislavery group in the North.
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James Armistead Lafayette (December 10, 1760–August 9, 1830) was the first African American double agent. An African American slave, Armistead was owned by William Armistead in Virginia during the American Revolution.
Most sources indicate that Armistead was born in 1748 in New Kent County, Virginia as a slave to William Armistead. Other sources put his birth around 1760 in Elizabeth City, Virginia. patriot of the American Revolution.
An African American slave in Virginia, Armistead sought and received permission from his master, William Armistead, to enlist under Gen. Marquis de Lafayette, a French officer who joined George Washington’s army during the American Revolution. Lafayette was seeking men to spy on British general Cornwallis and his army at Yorktown, Va. Impressed with Armistead’s intelligence, Lafayette had Armistead pose as a laborer looking for work.
He was hired at Cornwallis’s camp and was able to relay information about Cornwallis’s plans to Lafayette. Armistead also earned the trust of Cornwallis, who asked him to spy on the Americans. As a double agent, Armistead was able to move freely between both camps. He provided Lafayette with critical information that enabled the general to intercept Cornwallis’s much-needed naval support and ultimately defeat Cornwallis at Yorktown in Oct. 1781, the decisive battle that ended the Revolution.
After the war, Armistead returned to the Armistead plantation as a slave. He met with Lafayette in 1784, when the general visited the United States. He wrote a glowing recommendation for his former spy, which Armistead used when he petitioned the Virginia House of Delegates for freedom. He was finally freed on New Year’s Day 1787. He assumed Lafayette as his surname and spent the rest of his life as a farmer in Virginia.
Matthew Ashby was born in York County, Virginia, in 1727. He is a notable and rare example of the successful escape from slavery and indentured servitude. The son of a black slave and a white indentured servant, he was born free under Virginia law, which at the time gave children the legal status of their mothers. Ashby worked around the Williamsburg area as a carter and carpenter. He was also known to deliver messages for the state, working for Governor Botetourt. Although he himself was indentured until the age of 31, by law, he managed to acquire many things that were well out of the realm of the average slave or servant, including a silver watch, candle making supplies, tea boards, and books.
Purchased his own family out of slavery
Matthew married Ann, a slave of the bricklayer, Samuel Spurr. They had two children named John and Mary, who attended the Bray school, where Ms. Wager taught them of the Church of England catechism as well as other subjects. Matthew was able to use his free status to buy his children and wife from Spurr, at the cost of £150.
Despite owning his own children and wife Ashby still had to petition the government for their freedom. Standing before the council, Ashby proclaimed that his wife had been faithful and diligent in all her wifely duties, and that his children were also deserving of their freedom. The council deliberated and found that they agreed with his proposal and his family was granted their freedom in 1769. Two years later Ashby died of a heart disease, leaving his family alone. Having freed his family from slavery and amassing a sizable estate with monetary value well above the average indentured servant or slave.
Martin Robinson Delany
Martin R. Delany (1812–1885)
Martin R. Delany was an African American abolitionist, writer, editor, doctor, and politician. Born in Charles Town, Virginia (now West Virginia), he was the first black field officer in the United States Army, serving as a major during and after the American Civil War(1861–1865), and was among the first black nationalists. A fiercely independent thinker and wide-ranging writer, he co-edited with Frederick Douglass the abolitionist newspaper North Star and later penned a manifesto calling for black emigration from the United States to Central America.
Martin R. Delany was an African American abolitionist, writer, editor, doctor, and politician. Born in Charles Town, Virginia (now West Virginia), he was the first black field officer in the United States Army, serving as a major during and after the American Civil War(1861–1865), and was among the first black nationalists. A fiercely independent thinker and wide-ranging writer, he coedited with Frederick Douglass the abolitionist newspaper North Star and later penned a manifesto calling for black emigration from the United States to Central America.
Historians have tended to pigeonhole Delany’s contributions, emphasizing his more radical views (which were celebrated in the 1970s), while giving less attention to the extraordinary complexity of his career.
In 1856, Delany moved to Canada with his wife, Catherine, whom he married in 1843, and his children. (The couple had eleven children, seven of whom survived into adulthood.) He briefly dabbled in the politics of Liberia and during the Civil War helped to recruit and organize black soldiers in the Union army. Commissioned a major in 1865 after meeting with U.S. presidentAbraham Lincoln at the White House, Delany became the U.S. Army’s first black field officer.
After the war, he was transferred to South Carolina, where he remained for much of the rest of his life. He was active politically, often supporting Democrats, though he ran as an independent Republican for South Carolina lieutenant governor in 1874 and lost the election to Richard Howell Gleaves. He also served as a trial justice in Charleston before charges of fraud were brought against him. He was forced to resign and serve a prison term. Delany pursued business interests and practiced medicine until his death in Ohio on January 24, 1885.
Delany emerged as a symbol of black separatism during the Black Power and Black Arts movements of the 1960s and 1970s, and as a result he has been “invoked primarily as the dark binary opposite” of more moderate figures, from Douglass to Martin Luther King Jr., according to Robert S. Levine.
LOGAN, GREENBURY (1799–1881). Greenbury (Greenberry) Logan, free black soldier in the Texas Revolution, was born a slave in Kentucky in 1799 and emancipated by his white father, David Logan. He was married to Judah Duncan and had five children when he emigrated from Missouri to Texas in February 1831. In December he received a grant of a quarter league of land on Chocolate Bayou in Austin’s third colony, now in Brazoria County, and leased a blacksmith shop on Francis Bingham‘s plantation. In June 1832 he took part in the battle of Velasco. In 1834 he purchased the freedom of Bingham’s slave Caroline and married her.
Logan joined the Texas army on October 7, 1835, and fought in James W. Fannin, Jr.‘s company in the battle of Concepción. He was a member of Capt. John Yorkqv‘s company when he volunteered to join Benjamin R. Milam for the siege of Bexar. Logan was the third man to fall; a wound in his right arm crippled him for life. In 1836, when the First Congress convened in Columbia, he and Caroline bought a house in nearby Brazoria that became a popular boarding place for congressmen.
In 1835 Logan received a bounty warrant for a half section of land for his military service and a donation certificate of one section for participating in the siege of Bexar. In March 1837 he submitted a petition in response to the Constitution of 1836, which required all free blacks residing in Texas to receive the consent of Congress to remain in the republic. Twenty-three prominent Texans, including Henry Austin, signed his petition.
In 1841 Logan complained to Robert M. Forbes that the Constitution of 1836 deprived him of “every privilege dear to a freeman…no vote or say in any way,” and asked that his bounty land be declared tax-exempt by Congress. A bill to do so failed to pass the Congress. In 1853 Logan received patents for his bounty land in Callahan County and his donation grant in Brown County. He died before March 1881, when his widow applied for a land certificate under an act granting land to surviving soldiers of the revolution or their widows.
Gabriel Prosser slave revolt leader Born: c. 1775, Died: 1800. Birthplace: Henrico County, Virginia.
An educated slave, Prosser worked as a blacksmith. Inspired by the successful Haitian slave revolt, Prosser planned an insurrection to capture Richmond and massacre whites, except Methodists, Quakers, Frenchmen, and the poor, whom he regarded as sympathetic to blacks. He intended to make himself king of a new black nation. On Aug. 30, 1800, Prosser assembled a number of slaves outside Richmond. However, heavy rains washed out bridges and roads, while an informer told authorities about the revolt. The militia captured several dozen slaves. Prosser was finally caught on board a ship in Norfolk and was hanged in Richmond. As a result of the planned revolt, Virginia’s slave laws were tightened and abolitionist societies were forced to go underground.
Gabriel’s Rebellion, The Slave Revolt That Never Was, Richmond Virginia 1800
Prosser would escape to Norfolk but was seen and later betrayed by a slave hoping to get a cash reward from the state. Ironically, the slave would never get the full reward for his betrayal. Prosser was then returned to Richmond, where he faced a trial, but stood defiant in defeat.
Prosser, his brothers, and 23 slaves were hanged for daring to free themselves from bondage.
Denmark Vesey, originally Telemaque, (1767 – July 2, 1822) was an African-American man who was most famous for planning a slave rebellion in the United States in 1822. He was enslaved in South Carolina. After purchasing his freedom, he planned an extensive slave rebellion. Word of the plans was leaked, and authorities arrested the plot’s leaders at Charleston, South Carolina, before the uprising could begin. Vesey and others were convicted and executed.
Many antislavery activists came to regard Vesey as a hero. During the American Civil War,abolitionist Frederick Douglass used Vesey’s name as a battle cry to rally African-American regiments, especially the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.
In Case You Missed This Series….Black History Month 2014 Presents: Celebrating Black History Month; The Black History Moment Series.