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tv   American Artifacts African American History 1619 Through the Civil War  CSPAN  September 1, 2019 9:20am-10:01am EDT

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for the ease of the members. watch the entire three-part ceremony commemorate the 400th anniversary of the first virginia general assembly, starting monday at 8:00 eastern. you are watching american history tv. >> each week, american artifacts takes you to museums and historic places to learn about american history. next, we visit the american -- the virginia museum of culture and history in richmond to look at 400 years of african-american history. curator karen sherry focuses on the period of 1619-the civil war. sharing stories about individuals who led slave revolts, educated fellow free people and participated in john , brown's raid on harpers ferry. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2019] karen: welcome to the virginia museum of history and culture in richmond, virginia. and welcome to our latest special exhibition that is titled "determine, the 400-year
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struggle for black equality." it is part of the statewide commemoration of the 400th anniversary of significant events that happened in virginia. and fundamentally shaped the course of american history. that statewide commemoration is called american evolution 2019. and the determined exhibition is a legacy project of that statewide commemoration. and in particular, determined commemorates the 1619 arrival of the first recorded captive africans in virginia. it looks at the ensuing 400 years and traces the legacy of slavery in virginia through emancipation, segregation, the modern civil rights movement up
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to the present day. one of the unifying themes is the struggle for equality. it explores various ways in which black virginians have fought for equality, whether that means freedom from enslavement and oppression. whether that means fighting for equal justice and equal access for opportunities. and also fighting for full consideration of their humanity. the exhibition covers a broad chronological arc. it uses the unifying thread of a it fight for equality to explore the victories and defeats. the title, determined, that phrase is meant to embody the strength, resilience, and determination of black people
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, who faced various forms of oppression and discrimination throughout our history. the word, determined also evokes , notions of predetermination and the sense that your position in american society is often dictated by the color of your skin. we hope the word inspires people to think about what they are determined to do once they learn about this history and they experience this exhibition, and go out back into their communities. we hope that experience leaves them determined to bring true and meaningful equity to american society. why don't we go into the exhibition and start looking at some of the key individuals? determined is arranged
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chronologically, to explore various facets of black history in virginia over four centuries. the exhibition begins at 1619. with the arrival of the first captive africans on virginia shores. it marks the first recorded arrival of africans in british north america. there were two british privateers who brought about 50 enslaved people to virginia the . first shipment brought 20 in all negroes as they were described in the historical records. the first displays that visitors encounter is this display of silhouettes representing the 20 , people that arrived on these shores. they are semitransparent silhouettes, so that you can
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look to a backdrop that is filled with names of the early people of african descent here in virginia. these are the names drawn from the earliest colonial records of the virginia colony, as well as 17th-century records in the museum's collections. the silhouettes are meant to evoke not only the presence of the first africans in virginia, but because these people are represented in silhouettes, that is a two-dimensional form that does not give the full three dimensionality of their character and lives. that is meant to represent the fact that very often, historians don't know very much about these people. there are not documentary records or factual records. their history is often obscured. or even lost to us.
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nevertheless it's incumbent and and us to understand and try to imagine what the lives of these people would have been like. we can do that to the story of angela who is one of the first captive africans brought to virginia in 1619. we know very little about her, except the fact that she likely came from present day angola. she was a victim of the international transatlantic slave trade. she was on a portuguese ship that was sailing from the west african coast to veracruz, mexico. a large slave market town. during that transatlantic voyage, two british privateers attacked a portuguese ship and captured about 50 of the enslaved people on board,
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including angela. the british ship then came to virginia. that is how she arrived here. she only appears twice. she is listed in the early musters or censuses of the virginia colony. her name is spelled angelo or and she sometimes referred to angelo or the , feminized version angela. we know she was living and working in the house of captain william pierce, one of the leaders of the virginia colony. we have some items that evoke what her life might've been like. we often do not have archaeological or documentary evidence of these early people of african descent in virginia. the exhibition tries to evoke what their experiences would have been like with related objects.
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there were two items excavated from early 17th century plantations. it is typical for what types of items angela probably worked with. hoe, that grub would have been used for gardening and a cooking pot. we also see this extraordinary gourd fiddle. it's much later than angela's lifetime, this fiddle dates to the 19th century. but it represents the impact , that african culture has had on american culture. particularly american music. this fiddle was made out of a , it's a traditional kind
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of instrument used in west african cultures for centuries and centuries. musical african traditions were brought to american shores by the captive africans were brought here. they ended up having a profound impact on american music and other cultural forms. such as foodways, language, and so forth. this fiddle is meant to represent the beginning of the influence of african culture on the development and creation of a unique and mixed american culture. a culture that derives from european, native american, as well as african traditions. at angela's display we also have , some interpretive text asking the question of whether she was indentured or enslaved. and there is a lot of confusion about the status of early africans and people of african descent in the virginia colony.
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and part of the reason for that confusion is that british law had not yet developed a codified system for slavery. sometimes people of african descent in early virginia were described as servants and described in the same way that white indentured servants who came here from england and europe were described. contracts, usually four yearsyears -- to 7 years were they were bonded to labor for that amount of time after they completed their service they were free. there was a system of indentured servitude, but british law and british practices but had not yet codified a system of slavery the way that we understand it in american history.
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that is often why there is often confusion about the status of captive africans and people of african descent in virginia. nevertheless it's important to understand these black people from the very beginning were treated differently than white people. and they were essentially enslaved. they were forced into labor. they were brought here against their will. they did not come here with an indentured contract and obtained their freedom after a certain number of years of servitude. speaking with the development of british law, another key figure in the story is a man named sam. he was enslaved by a man in westmoreland county. sam seems to have been a leader, someone intent upon resisting
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his bondage and trying to obtain his freedom. in 1688, he was punished by the virginia courts for fermenting rebellion. and as punishment, sam was whipped in public. he was paraded around town in order to be made an example of to serve as a deterrent against other enslaved people that might be thinking about rebelling. he was also forced to wear a punishment collar for the remainder of his life. they have an example of a punishment collar here in the exhibition. you can see what a horrifying object it is. it would have been a heavy iron collar with prongs poking out of them meaning to restrict his movement, to visibly marked him in public as a troublemaker.
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subjecting him to even further surveillance. and these types of objects were clearly meant to dehumanize the wearer. sam's story not only highlights the universal desire for freedom and liberty, we see various forms of resistance throughout the period of slavery in american history, but sam posey story underscores the physically -- sam's story underscores the physically coercive and punitive nature of really barbaric nature of slavery in the virginia colony and also throughout the rest of the british colonies in america. another story in the early part of the exhibition looking at the two enslavedod is
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people of robert king carter. ofg carter, as his nickname king suggests was one of the wealthiest and powerful planters in colonial virginia. king carter represents the development of the virginia colony from what was first day fledgling outpost of the british empire to what became over the course of the colonial period a gem in the crown of the british empire. it became one of the most politically and economically powerful colonies in the british empire. that evolution transpired through two interrelated developments. the development of tobacco cultivation. tobacco became the primary cash crop of virginia. and also the development of slavery. tobacco is a labor-intensive
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crop. it required a lot of laborers, planters initially in colonial virginia in the 17th century were using white indentured servants. they realized it was much more profitable for them to use enslaved black labor. that is how we have the development of slavery in virginia. it was a system that eventually spread throughout all the british colonies. has the wealthiest plantar, robert king carter represents how through the development of tobacco cultivation and slavery we also have the stratification of colonial virginia in society into a very powerful elite planter class. and everybody else with enslaved people at the bottom. now bambara harry and dinah were two of the 700 enslaved workers.
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they were not content with their lot. they wanted to resist their enslavement and tried to run away. unfortunately they were not successful. they were captured and as punishment for their attempt to escape robert carter got permission from the court in to 1708 have their toes cut off. wrote to a fellow plantar, that particular punishment, and according here, cured many a negro from running away. it was a punishment intended to thosely harm and punish two people who tried to escape, but it was also meant to serve as an example against other enslaved people who might have designs of running away.
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this is another instance of the brutality of enslavement. for as horrific as that story is, i think it also underscores the intense desire for liberty and freedom. what they were willing to risk in order to of obtain their freedom. midst of the horror and brutality of their punishment i hope that visitors can appreciate their incredible courage and determination, the risks they were willing to take for their freedom. i think there was heroism and that story. a couple of the items we have harry and dimbara nah's story. we have an early print in block. inmate labels for packaging tobacco. tobacco was such an important
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commodity throughout the british atlantic world and the period we regularly see packages labeled with those kind of labels. if you get in close and look at the details, you will see a plantar smoking a pipe of blacko within enslaved worker cultivating the field in the background, a literal representation of the ment of tobacco and slave labor. we also have an extraordinary document, the 1743 inventory of robert king carter's estate. it was taken a year after he died. it inventories all his vast holdings, which included more than 40 plantations and more than enslaved individuals. pages, youead the --l see how the knee grows
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harvested right along furnishings, tools, cattle, and other assets. this underscores the fact that enslaved people were treated like assets. legally they were considered anderty and counted as such inventories such as this one of robert king carter's estate. in 1733.made dinah dooint harry and not appear in this inventory, would suggest they had either died or had been sold off to a different master. unfortunately we don't know their ultimate fate. we are now in the second chronological section of the determined exhibition. this area explores the roughly
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d between theperio american revolution and the civil war. the first of which establish the united states as an independent nation. the second of which almost tore the nation apart but ultimately ended 246 years of slavery in the united states. it begins with a foundational paradox. the birth of our nation through gaining its independence from britain and becoming an independent nation. but the birth of this nation was predicated on a fundamental contradiction between the ideals of liberty and freedom, which with the patriot cause was fighting for, and the reality of slavery. at the founding of our nation, all of the 13 original colonies practiced slavery. slavery was a reality of
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american life at the birth of the united states. and i think for many americans, myself included, this is difficult if not impossible to reconcile that conundrum. ofs embodied by two virginia's great founding fathers, george washington and thomas jefferson. the men who gained us our freedom through their leadership , who authored some of our most cherished ideals and the notion that all men are created equal, yet these two men also held hundreds of people in bondage. both of them where wealthy planters with hundreds of enslaved people. they really embody that fund -- fundamental contradiction of american history. century, thehe century-long period between this
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revolution in the civil war we , see the nation growing increasingly divided over the issue of slavery. the northern states gradually theished that practiced in institution becomes ever more deeply entrenched in the southern states. asluding virginia as well newly expanded states such as mississippi and alabama and so forth. asitors will encounter fascinating cast of characters in this section. one of the key figures that they used to tell the story of black history in this part of the exhibition is a woman named jane minor. she has quite next-door in every story. jane was born into slavery and she worked as a nurse in petersburg. she gained her freedom in 1824
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as a reward for heroically nursing the citizens of petersburg through an epidemic. to reward her for that service her owners treat her -- freed her. jane minor went on to continue practice nursing. we have some objects related to her practice. bloodletting was a very standard medical practice up through the middle of the 19th century. we have a couple of items that were used in cupping and bleeding and bloodletting practices. , a bladed knife you would use to cut into a vein . another item is the cupping jar. you would burn a candle under the jar to heat of the air and create a vacuum. then you would put that cup over the lacerated skin to draw out the blood.
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these are the kind of tools jane would have used in her daily practice as a nurse. nurse,tion to being a jane became an emancipator. after she was freed she went on to use her earnings to purchase the freedom of other enslaved 16 women and children. it is a pretty remarkable story. we have reproductions of the deeds that were issued by the petersburg court. it shows what is often a two-step process. first of jane purchasing enslaved people and the second transaction was her giving them their freedom. it is quite a remarkable story. one of the women jane minor freed was phoebe jackson. phoebe jackson's deed is reproduced here in the exhibition.
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she gained her freedom in july of 1843 through jane minor's help. we also have a medical account book that phoebe jackson kept. phoebe jackson herself was a nurse. we suspect jane minor taught her the craft of nursing. it is a remarkable story and of the ways black virginians help each other gained their freedom but also how they passed on some skills and knowledge through probably some kind of apprenticeship or mentoring relationship. we have phoebe jackson's account book in which she listed the various treatment that she provided. notes how much it costs and an account is paid when she obtained payment for that particular treatment. like jane minor, phoebe jackson performed typical practices of the day, cupping and bleeding and leaching, also preparing bodies for the dead and tending
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to the sick and so forth. story. jane and phoebe it's an important reminder that there were many freed blacks in virginia during the antebellum period. there were particularly vibrant communities in the larger cities. that said, even though they were free, they still faced widespread racial discrimination. we are going to explore a couple of other stories in this section. stories of rebellion and revolt. another key figure in the exhibition is madison washington. man notngly he is a
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well-known known in the history books but he should be because he led the single most successful slave result -- slave revolt in u.s. history. that occurred in 1841. madison washington was an enslaved man. he was sold at auction in richmond and put onto a slave ship. the ship creol which was bound for the slave market at new orleans. that speaks to virginia's participation and dominance in the domestic slave trade in the decades leading up to the civil war. many enslaved people were sold from virginia slave markets and sent to the deep south to work the cotton fields. that was probably what madison washington's intended fate was. except that during the voyage from richmond to new orleans,
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madison washington led a mutiny on board the creole. he and 18 other enslaved men on board broke out of the cargo hold. they commandeered the ship, and they sailed to the bahamas which was a british territory. and at that time, slavery had been abolished in the british empire, so madison washington and his conspirators knew that if they got to british waters or got to british territories, they had a good chance of becoming free. the creole incident became an international sensation and it caused a diplomatic furor between american slaveholders who wanted what they consider their property back and the british government that decided
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to free most of the 135 enslaved people who had been on board the creole including madison washington. it is quite an extraordinary story. when madison washington and his conspirators broke out of the hold and were overpowering the crew, they use whatever weapons they could find. including things such as i marlon spike and we have an example of one here. these are the kinds of nautical tools that were used to tighten and tie ropes aboard the ship. we also have quite a beautiful although harrowing example of a sailor's chest. sailors kept their belongings in chest such as this one. we do not know who owned that this particular chest, but he did personalize it with the name of his ship, the brig sultan, and the nature of that ship's business.
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there is a painted scene of a white man holding a black man in chains. it is a scene of the slave trade. we know the brig sultan was involved in the slave trade. we have a copy of the original edition of frederick douglass's published novella. frederick douglass was so captivated by madison washington's story that he penned a novella, frederick douglass's only work of fiction. frederick douglass was himself a former slave who was a leading abolitionist voice in the 19th century, one of the most famous black intellectuals of that period. and in his novella, the heroic slave, he described madison washington as a freedom-loving
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virginian akin to other freedom loving virginians namely george washington, thomas jefferson, patrick henry, and other founding fathers. while madison washington's story of revolt is a success story, unfortunately many attempts at slave revolt and the state, and other forms of resistance were not successful. that is because the entire system at the local state and national level was set up to preserve the institution of slavery. enslaved people and their allies who were trying to resist were fighting against insurmountable odds in many cases, and we see that in the example of dangerfield newbie, one of the small group of men who joined the radical abolitionist, john
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brown, for his raid on the federal arsenal at harpers ferry in october, 1859. this raid was part of a planned slavery revolt. john brown and his army were not only going to take weapons at harpers ferry, but they were going to add a new cache of weapons and march to the south distributing these weapons to the enslaved people they encountered who would revolt, and that army would violently overthrow slavery in the united states. john brown, who was an activist who had been fighting to end slavery for at least a decade, by 1859, he designed this plan for a revolt because he felt the only way slavery would end in the united states was through violence. dangerfield newburry's
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motivations for joining the unsuccessful raid at harpers ferry, but in 1859. newby was a former slave, even though he was free, his wife and children were still in bondage. after several attempts to obtain freedom to trying to raise money to purchase them and negotiate -- as reasons for joining john brown's army for much more personal. himself was a former slave, even though he was free, his wife and children were still in bondage. after several attempts to obtain their freedom through trying to raise money to purchase them and trying to negotiate with their master, he was at his wit's end, and he joined john brown's army really out of desperation a last , resort to try to free his family after other avenues had failed. you get a sense of how personal this was for dangerfield newby through several letters found on
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his person. dangerfield newby was the first man killed at harpers ferry. he died the first day of fighting. several letters from his wife, harriet, were found on his person. these letters did not survive but were transcribed as part of the government report on the raid on harpers ferry. you can get a sense what motivated dangerfield newby when you read his wife's incredibly poignant and very powerful and painful letters in which she is telling her husband the master is struggling economically and wants to sell me and our children down south soon. i want to be reunited with you, please come quickly. she is entreating him to help her get her and her children out of slavery before they get sold down south.
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that unfortunately is a tragedy that tore apart many enslaved families, husbands separated from wives, children separated from their parents. dangerfield newby was facing that tragedy, so he took up arms in the hope that john brown's raid would be successful and he could free his family from slavery. as i mentioned, john brown and his army were hoping to commandeer the weapons at the federal arsenal at harpers ferry. john brown commissioned 900 of these pikes from a connecticut forge, and these pikes were to be distributed to enslaved people. they were going to arm the slaves to fight with them to abolish slavery in the united states.
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we also have a 20th century print by the extraordinary african-american artist jacob lawrence. jacob lawrence did a series on john brown's raid, and this is one of the prints from that series. he used bold colors and geometrically simplified forms to express the interracial alliance of john brown's army. dangerfield newby was one of five black men who fought alongside his white allies, showing a interracial army armed with pikes. they are looking over the ramparts of the arsenal at harpers ferry, presumably looking at the state and federal militia who amassed to put down that particular raid. we have just wrapped up our tour of the first two chronological sections of the exhibition explored the colonial period through the civil war in which slavery was established in
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america. up to the moment when it was abolished with the civil war. the two later chronological sections at the exhibition look at post slavery america, the period after the civil war through the present day. >> this was the first of a two part tour of the virginia museum of history and cultures's exhibit on 400 years of african-american history. you can watch this and other american artifacts programs by visiting our website, 1850's, americans generally trust to congressmen but did not trust congress as institution.
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by 1860, many congress member routinely armed. not because they were eager to kill their opponents, but at fear their opponent might kill them. >> professor and author joanne freeman will be our guest on "in depth." her latest book is "the field of blood." her other titles include "the essential hamilton," and "affairs of honor." join our conversation with your phone calls, tweets and facebook questions. at 9:00 p.m. eastern on "afterwards," in his book "the moral majority" ben howe examines evangelicals choosing political power over christian values. contributes to keeping a system in place that takes accountability out of the system. i think it also is an easy way to bring in something like
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as aelicalism and use that way to get votes, which seems like the worst possible weight you could do it. >> watch book tv every weekend on c-span2. 1979, a small network rolled out of big idea. lead viewers make up their own minds. c-span opened the door to washington policymaking, bringing you unfiltered content from congress and beyond. a lot has changed in 40 years, but today the idea is more relevant than ever. c-span is your unfiltered view of government so you can make up your own mind. brought to you as a public service by your cable or satellite provider. tackles the civil war in 56 minutes. he begins with the lead up to the war, from the compromise of 1850 two bloody kansas, taper
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him lincoln's 1860 election and the succession crisis. then he highlights the major battles from each year of the conflict and concludes with the confederate surrender and lincoln's assassination in 1865. the gettysburg heritage center hosted this talk. >> our next speaker is gary adelman. he's a graduate of michigan state university as well as shipenburg university of pennsylvania. he's an award-winning author, co-author or editor of 27 civil -- 20 civil war books and more than 40 related articles. most of which are relevant to the civil war photography. he is the vice president of the center for civil war photographer. he's been a licensed battlefield guide for 25 years. he's appeared on numerous productions shown on the bbc, c-span, the pennsylvania public network and works full time as


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