Having travelled over a considerable portion of these United States, and having, in the course of my travels, taken the most accurate observations of things as they exist -- the result of my observations has warranted the full and unshaken conviction, that we, (coloured people of these United States,) are the most degraded, wretched, and abject set of beings that ever lived since the world began; and I pray God that none like us ever may live again until time shall be no more. They tell us of the Israelites in Egypt, the Helots in Sparta, and of the Roman Slaves, which last were made up from almost every nation under heaven, whose sufferings under those ancient and heathen nations, were, in comparison with ours, under this enlightened and Christian nation, no more than a cypher -- or, in other words, those heathen nations of antiquity, had but little more among them than the name and form of slavery; while wretchedness and endless miseries were reserved, apparently in a phial, to be poured out upon, our fathers ourselves and our children, by Christian Americans!
... I call upon the professing Christians, I call upon the philanthropist, I call upon the very tyrant himself, to show me a page of history, either sacred or profane, on which a verse can be found, which maintains, that the Egyptians heaped the insupportable insult upon the children of Israel, by telling them that they were not of the human family. Can the whites deny this charge? Have they not, after having reduced us to the deplorable condition of slaves under their feet, held us up as descending originally from the tribes of Monkeys or Orang-Outangs? O! my God! I appeal to every man of feeling-is not this insupportable? Is it not heaping the most gross insult upon our miseries, because they have got us under their feet and we cannot help ourselves? Oh! pity us we pray thee, Lord Jesus, Master. -- Has Mr. Jefferson declared to the world, that we are inferior to the whites, both in the endowments of our bodies and our minds? It is indeed surprising, that a man of such great learning, combined with such excellent natural parts, should speak so of a set of men in chains. I do not know what to compare it to, unless, like putting one wild deer in an iron cage, where it will be secured, and hold another by the side of the same, then let it go, and expect the one in the cage to run as fast as the one at liberty. So far, my brethren, were the Egyptians from heaping these insults upon their slaves, that Pharaoh's daughter took Moses, a son of Israel for her own, as will appear by the following.
The world knows, that slavery as it existed was, mans, (which was the primary cause of their destruction) was, comparatively speaking, no more than a cypher, when compared with ours under the Americans. Indeed I should not have noticed the Roman slaves, had not the very learned and penetrating Mr. Jefferson said, "when a master was murdered, all his slaves in the same house, or within hearing, were condemned to death." -- Here let me ask Mr. Jefferson, (but he is gone to answer at the bar of God, for the deeds done in his body while living,) I therefore ask the whole American people, had I not rather die, or be put to death, than to be a slave to any tyrant, who takes not only my own, but my wife and children's lives by the inches? Yea, would I meet death with avidity far! far!! in preference to such servile submission to the murderous hands of tyrants. Mr. Jefferson's very severe remarks on us have been so extensively argued upon by men whose attainments in literature, I shall never be able to reach, that I would not have meddled with it, were it not to solicit each of my brethren, who has the spirit of a man, to buy a copy of Mr. Jefferson's "Notes on Virginia," and put it in the hand of his son.
But let us review Mr. Jefferson's remarks respecting us some further. Comparing our miserable fathers, with the learned philosophers of Greece, he says: "Yet notwithstanding these and other discouraging circumstances among the Romans, their slaves were often their rarest artists. They excelled too, in science, insomuch as to be usually employed as tutors to their master's children; Epictetus, Terence and Phaedrus, were slaves, -- but they were of the race of whites. It is not their condition then, but nature, which has produced the distinction." See this, my brethren! ! Do you believe that this assertion is swallowed by millions of the whites? Do you know that Mr. Jefferson was one of as great characters as ever lived among the whites? See his writings for the world, and public labours for the United States of America. Do you believe that the assertions of such a man, will pass away into oblivion unobserved by this people and the world? If you do you are much mistaken-See how the American people treat us -- have we souls in our bodies? Are we men who have any spirits at all? I know that there are many swell-bellied fellows among us, whose greatest object is to fill their stomachs. Such I do not mean -- I am after those who know and feel, that we are MEN, as well as other people; to them, I say, that unless we try to refute Mr. Jefferson's arguments respecting us, we will only establish them.
...I must observe to my brethren that at the close of the first Revolution in this country, with Great Britain, there were but thirteen States in the Union, now there are twenty-four, most of which are slave-holding States, and the whites are dragging us around in chains and in handcuffs, to their new States and Territories to work their mines and farms, to enrich them and their children-and millions of them believing firmly that we being a little darker than they, were made by our Creator to be an inheritance to them and their children for ever-the same as a parcel of brutes.
Are we MEN! ! -- I ask you, 0 my brethren I are we MEN? Did our Creator make us to be slaves to dust and ashes like ourselves? Are they not dying worms as well as we? Have they not to make their appearance before the tribunal of Heaven, to answer for the deeds done in the body, as well as we? Have we any other Master but Jesus Christ alone? Is he not their Master as well as ours? -- What right then, have we to obey and call any other Master, but Himself? How we could be so submissive to a gang of men, whom we cannot tell whether they are as good as ourselves or not, I never could conceive. However, this is shut up with the Lord, and we cannot precisely tell -- but I declare, we judge men by their works.
The whites have always been an unjust, jealous, unmerciful, avaricious and blood-thirsty set of beings, always seeking after power and authority.
...to my no ordinary astonishment, [a] Reverend gentleman got up and told us (coloured people) that slaves must be obedient to their masters -- must do their duty to their masters or be whipped -- the whip was made for the backs of fools, &c. Here I pause for a moment, to give the world time to consider what was my surprise, to hear such preaching from a minister of my Master, whose very gospel is that of peace and not of blood and whips, as this pretended preacher tried to make us believe. What the American preachers can think of us, I aver this day before my God, I have never been able to define. They have newspapers and monthly periodicals, which they receive in continual succession, but on the pages of which, you will scarcely ever find a paragraph respecting slavery, which is ten thousand times more injurious to this country than all the other evils put together; and which will be the final overthrow of its government, unless something is very speedily done; for their cup is nearly full.-Perhaps they will laugh at or make light of this; but I tell you Americans! that unless you speedily alter your course, you and your Country are gone! ! ! ! !
If any of us see fit to go away, go to those who have been for many years, and are now our greatest earthly friends and benefactors -- the English. If not so, go to our brethren, the Haytians, who, according to their word, are bound to protect and comfort us. The Americans say, that we are ungrateful-but I ask them for heaven's sake, what should we be grateful to them for -- for murdering our fathers and mothers ? -- Or do they wish us to return thanks to them for chaining and handcuffing us, branding us, cramming fire down our throats, or for keeping us in slavery, and beating us nearly or quite to death to make us work in ignorance and miseries, to support them and their families. They certainly think that we are a gang of fools. Those among them, who have volunteered their services for our redemption, though we are unable to compensate them for their labours, we nevertheless thank them from the bottom of our hearts, and have our eyes steadfastly fixed upon them, and their labours of love for God and man. -- But do slave-holders think that we thank them for keeping us in miseries, and taking our lives by the inches?
Let no man of us budge one step, and let slave-holders come to beat us from our country. America is more our country, than it is the whites-we have enriched it with our blood and tears. The greatest riches in all America have arisen from our blood and tears: -- and will they drive us from our property and homes, which we have earned with our blood? They must look sharp or this very thing will bring swift destruction upon them. The Americans have got so fat on our blood and groans, that they have almost forgotten the God of armies. But let the go on.
Do the colonizationists think to send us off without first being reconciled to us? Do they think to bundle us up like brutes and send us off, as they did our brethren of the State of Ohio? Have they not to be reconciled to us, or reconcile us to them, for the cruelties with which they have afflicted our fathers and us? Methinks colonizationists think they have a set of brutes to deal with, sure enough. Do they think to drive us from our country and homes, after having enriched it with our blood and tears, and keep back millions of our dear brethren, sunk in the most barbarous wretchedness, to dig up gold and silver for them and their children? Surely, the Americans must think that we are brutes, as some of them have represented us to be. They think that we do not feel for our brethren, whom they are murdering by the inches, but they are dreadfully deceived.
What nation under heaven, will be able to do any thing with us, unless God gives us up into its hand? But Americans. I declare to you, while you keep us and our children in bondage, and treat us like brutes, to make us support you and your families, we cannot be your friends. You do not look for it do you? Treat us then like men, and we will be your friends. And there is not a doubt in my mind, but that the whole of the past will be sunk into oblivion, and we yet, under God, will become a united and happy people. The whites may say it is impossible, but remember that nothing is impossible with God.
I count my life not dear unto me, but I am ready to be offered at any moment, For what is the use of living, when in fact I am dead. But remember, Americans, that as miserable, wretched, degraded and abject as you have made us in preceding, and in this generation, to support you and your families, that some of you, (whites) on the continent of America, will yet curse the day that you ever were born. You want slaves, and want us for your slaves ! ! ! My colour will yet, root some of you out of the very face of the earth ! ! ! ! ! ! You may doubt it if you please. I know that thousands will doubt-they think they have us so well secured in wretchedness, to them and their children, that it is impossible for such things to occur.
See your Declaration Americans! ! ! Do you understand your won language? Hear your languages, proclaimed to the world, July 4th, 1776 -- "We hold these truths to be self evident -- that ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL! ! that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness! !" Compare your own language above, extracted from your Declaration of Independence, with your cruelties and murders inflicted by your cruel and unmerciful fathers and yourselves on our fathers and on us -- men who have never given your fathers or you the least provocation! ! ! ! ! !
David Walker's Appeal, In Four Articles: Together With A Preamble To The Coloured Citizens Of The World, But In Particular, And Very Expressly, To Those Of The United States Of America, revised Edition with an Introduction by Sean Wilentz Hill and Wang, New York, 1995 A Division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Nat Turner was born on October 2, 1800, in Southampton County, Virginia, the week before Gabriel was hanged. While still a young child, Nat was overheard describing events that had happened before he was born. This, along with his keen intelligence, and other signs marked him in the eyes of his people as a prophet "intended for some great purpose." A deeply religious man, he "therefore studiously avoided mixing in society, and wrapped [him]self in mystery, devoting [his] time to fasting and praying."
In 1821, Turner ran away from his overseer, returning after thirty days because of a vision in which the Spirit had told him to "return to the service of my earthly master." The next year, following the death of his master, Samuel Turner, Nat was sold to Thomas Moore. Three years later, Nat Turner had another vision. He saw lights in the sky and prayed to find out what they meant. Then "... while laboring in the field, I discovered drops of blood on the corn, as though it were dew from heaven, and I communicated it to many, both white and black, in the neighborhood; and then I found on the leaves in the woods hieroglyphic characters and numbers, with the forms of men in different attitudes, portrayed in blood, and representing the figures I had seen before in the heavens."
On May 12, 1828, Turner had his third vision: "I heard a loud noise in the heavens, and the Spirit instantly appeared to me and said the Serpent was loosened, and Christ had laid down the yoke he had borne for the sins of men, and that I should take it on and fight against the Serpent, for the time was fast approaching when the first should be last and the last should be first... And by signs in the heavens that it would make known to me when I should commence the great work, and until the first sign appeared I should conceal it from the knowledge of men; and on the appearance of the sign... I should arise and prepare myself and slay my enemies with their own weapons."
At the beginning of the year 1830, Turner was moved to the home of Joseph Travis, the new husband of Thomas Moore's widow. His official owner was Putnum Moore, still a young child. Turner described Travis as a kind master, against whom he had no complaints.
Then, in February, 1831, there was an eclipse of the sun. Turner took this to be the sign he had been promised and confided his plan to the four men he trusted the most, Henry, Hark, Nelson, and Sam. They decided to hold the insurrection on the 4th of July and began planning a strategy. However, they had to postpone action because Turner became ill.
On August 13, there was an atmospheric disturbance in which the sun appeared bluish-green. This was the final sign, and a week later, on August 21, Turner and six of his men met in the woods to eat a dinner and make their plans. At 2:00 that morning, they set out to the Travis household, where they killed the entire family as they lay sleeping. They continued on, from house to house, killing all of the white people they encountered. Turner's force eventually consisted of more than 40 slaves, most on horseback.
By about mid-day on August 22, Turner decided to march toward Jerusalem, the closest town. By then word of the rebellion had gotten out to the whites; confronted by a group of militia, the rebels scattered, and Turner's force became disorganized. After spending the night near some slave cabins, Turner and his men attempted to attack another house, but were repulsed. Several of the rebels were captured. The remaining force then met the state and federal troops in final skirmish, in which one slave was killed and many escaped, including Turner. In the end, the rebels had stabbed, shot and clubbed at least 55 white people to death.
Nat Turner hid in several different places near the Travis farm, but on October 30 was discovered and captured. His "Confession," dictated to physician Thomas R. Gray, was taken while he was imprisoned in the County Jail. On November 5, Nat Turner was tried in the Southampton County Court and sentenced to execution. He was hanged, and then skinned, on November 11.
In total, the state executed 55 people, banished many more, and acquitted a few. The state reimbursed the slaveholders for their slaves. But in the hysterical climate that followed the rebellion, close to 200 black people, many of whom had nothing to do with the rebellion, were murdered by white mobs. In addition, slaves as far away as North Carolina were accused of having a connection with the insurrection, and were subsequently tried and executed.
The state legislature of Virginia considered abolishing slavery, but in a close vote decided to retain slavery and to support a repressive policy against black people, slave and free.
"...finally the trial is over and the decision comes from the Chief Justice Taney. Who is Taney?...Taney is a second generation Irish, his own family had been indentured (white slaves). Now, he is rendering a decision against a black slave and that decision her rendered in 1857 still holds for this nation... He said 'no black man has any rights that a white man is bound to respect'. That is the global approach between black men and white men this very day. No matter what the law is you only have those rights he chooses to respect and none that he is bound to respect."
at the Berlin residence of Chancellor Otto von Bismarck in 1884, the
foreign ministers of fourteen European powers and the United States
established ground rules for the future exploitation of the "dark
continent." Africans were not invited or made privy to their decisions.
1884-1885 - Berlin West African Conference carves Africa into spheres of control
the second half of the nineteenth century, after more than four
centuries of contact, the European powers finally laid claim to
virtually all of Africa. Parts of the continent had been "explored," but
now representatives of European governments and rulers arrived to
create or expand African spheres of influence for their patrons.
Competition was intense. Spheres of influence began to crowd each other.
It was time for negotiation, and in late 1884 a conference was convened
in Berlin to sort things out. This conference laid the groundwork for
the now familiar politico-geographical map of Africa.
November 1884, the imperial chancellor and architect of the German
Empire, Otto von Bismarck, convened a conference of 14 states (including
the United States) to settle the political partitioning of Africa. Bismarck
wanted not only to expand German spheres of influence in Africa but
also to play off Germany's colonial rivals against one another to the
Germans' advantage. Of these fourteen nations, France, Germany, Great
Britain, and Portugal were the major players in the conference,
controlling most of colonial Africa at the time.
Berlin Conference was Africa's undoing in more ways than one. The
colonial powers superimposed their domains on the African Continent. By
the time Africa regained its independence after the late 1950s, the
realm had acquired a legacy of political fragmentation that could
neither be eliminated nor made to operate satisfactorily. The African
politico-geographical map is thus a permanent liability that resulted
from the three months of ignorant, greedy acquisitiveness during a
period when Europe's search for minerals and markets had become
French dominated most of West Africa, and the British East and Southern
Africa. The Belgians acquired the vast territory that became The Congo.
The Germans held four colonies, one in each of the realm's regions. The
Portuguese held a small colony in West Africa and two large ones in
colonial rule was firmly established in Africa, the only change in
possessions came after World War I. Germany's four colonies were placed
under the League of Nations, which established a mandate system for
other colonizers to administer the territories.
Congo Free State, conceived as a "neutral" zone to be run by an
international association in the interest of bringing science,
civilization, and Christianity to the indigenes, received the Berlin
Conference's blessings. Belgium's King Leopold II (far left) soon took
control, reaping fabulous personal profits through the sale of land and
development rights. Scandalously little was reinvested in schools like
the one shown here.
BBC news site:
man who exploited Congo's resources and contributed to up to 10 million
deaths. One man told the BBC: "He left us in poverty. He exploited our
raw materials and left us with nothing."
European colonial powers shared one objective in their African
colonies; exploitation. But in the way they governed their dependencies,
they reflected their differences. Some colonial powers were themselves
democracies (the United Kingdom and France); others were dictatorships
(Portugal, Spain). The British established a system of indirect rule
over much of their domain, leaving indigenous power structure in place
and making local rulers representatives of the British Crown. This was
unthinkable in the Portuguese colonies, where harsh, direct control was
the rule. The French sought to create culturally assimilated elites what
would represent French ideals in the colonies. In the Belgian Congo,
however, King Leopold II, who had financed the expeditions that staked
Belgium's claim in Berlin, embarked on a campaign of ruthless
exploitation. His enforcers mobilized almost the entire Congolese
populations to gather rubber, kill elephants for their ivory, and build
public works to improve export routes. For failing to meet production
quotes, entire communities were massacred. Killing and maiming became
routine in a colony in which horror was the only common denominator.
After the impact of the slave trade, King Leopold's reign of terror was
Africa's most severe demographic disaster. By the time it ended, after a
growing outcry around the world, as many as 10 million Congolese had
been murdered. In 1908 the Belgium government administrators, and the
Roman Catholic Church each pursued their sometimes competing interest.
But no one thought to change the name of the colonial capital: it was
Leopoldville until the Belgian Congo achieved independence in 1960.
Washington Williams - American soldier, minister, politician and
historian. Shortly before his death he travelled to King Leopold II's
Congo Free State and his open letter to Leopold about the suffering of
the region's inhabitants at the hands of Leopold's agents, helped to
sway European and American public opinion against the regime running the
Congo, under which some 10 million people lost their lives.
this letter, he condemned the brutal and inhuman treatment the
Congolese were suffering at the hands of the colonizers. He mentioned
the role played by Henry M. Stanley, sent to the Congo by the King, in
tricking and mistreating the Africans. Williams reminded the King that
the crimes committed were all committed in his name, making him as
guilty as the actual culprits. He appealed to the international
community of the day to “call and create an International Commission to
investigate the charges herein preferred in the name of Humanity ...”
His charges and the reaction to them were discussed in the book, King Leopold's Ghost.
King Makoko and Queen
explorer named Savorgnan de Brazza. Nominally employed by the French
government, he undertook an expedition up the Ogoue River in the 1870’s.
Along his journey, de Brazza concluded a series of treaties with an
African chief known as Makoko. These treaties ceded large tracts of land
to de Brazza, as a representative of France; yet they were vague and
highly irregular, and the government decided to ignore them. However, in
1882, as a result of the Egypt crisis, the government of France
reversed itself and publicly recognized the Makoko treaties as valid,
thereby claiming a considerable amount of territory in Central Africa.
It wasn’t so much that the French government wanted to get back at
Britain, but rather the French public, resenting the losses their
country suffered to Germany and angered by the weak role France had
played in Egypt, was particularly susceptible to the press campaign that
de Brazza, members of the government and other interested parties waged
in support of the treaties (Chamberlain 53).
Makoko of the Teke says he and his ancestors have not benefited enough
from a contract they signed in 1880 with the French explorer, Pierre
Savorgnan de Brazza, and which ceded the Teke kingdom to France. (Full
article at BBC News)
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