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OTTISSIPPI Ch. 12, part 2: Northern Slavery cont.

By Cheryl Morgan

THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD

Inaction of those who could have acted, indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph (Halle Selassie, Jews and African History).

History is suppressed. Zionism is a religious cover for White Supremacy. We are blind to the history of racism and oppression. Balanced respectful critique is a sign of a healthy society. Other opinions are necessary to balance out White Washing (African Holocaust).

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In 1805, there were six Colored men and nine Colored women in the town of Detroit. Their numbers increased in 1807 (and) Governor Hull organized a Company of Negro Militia.

In Detroit, a society was formed to aid refugees. Among the most active were Alanson Sheley, Horace Hallock, Samuel Zug, and the Reverend C.C. Foote. They purchased a tract of land ten miles from Windsor, Ontario, and parceled it into farms of ten to fifteen acres each. These were given to refugees, many of whose descendants are still nearby (Historic Michigan, Fuller). 

On April 26, 1837, the Detroit Antislavery Society was organized. The Officers were Shubael Conant, President; Edward Brooks, Edwin W. Cowles, and Cullen Brown, Vice Presidents; Henry Stewart, Secretary; George F. Porter, Treasurer; and William Kirkland, Alanson Sheley, and Peter Boughton, Executive Committee. The Society was in existence only a short time, but its spirit remained, and its principles grew increasingly popular.

The Liberty Association was a political organization which sought to promote the election of anti-slavery candidates. Horace Hallock was President, Cullen Brown was Vice President, and S.M. Holmes was Secretary.

In 1850, Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Act. It provided that slaves might be arrested in any state, appointed special officers to secure their arrest and directed that the testimony of fugitives in any trial growing out of their arrest should not be admitted.

This law greatly incensed many citizens and increased the strength of the antislavery sentiment. The proximity of Canada, where the slaves became free men, caused Detroit to become a noted departure, and fugitive slaves were constantly passing through. The attempts to retake fugitive slaves were in the main unsuccessful for the majority of the people were opposed to slavery and thus the slave holders were foiled and outwitted. Many people helped slaves escaping slavery go to Canada for freedom and safety. There was a complete chain of persons extending to the Southern states, who were organized for the relief and transportation of fugitive slaves.

The Underground Railroad was a league of men, most of whom were Quakers, who organized a system for spiriting away and conducting runaway slaves from Kentucky, Tennessee, and other Slave States through to Canada. They watched for fleeing bondsmen and ferried them away in rowboats by night over the Ohio river and then started them to the first station to Detroit where they were ferried over the river in rowboats to Canada and Freedom. Everything was kept secret the workings were a great mystery to people. Slaves strangely disappeared and nothing was ever heard of them until reported to have been seen in Canada. None of the methods were known to the public. Levi Coffin was the originator of the Underground Railroad.

The main route, known as the Central Michigan Line, passed through Battle Creek, where the famous old Quaker Erastus Hussey freely assisted with his time and money. Another (passed) through Adrian. The work was done because of a love for mankind, a sense of duty from a moral purpose. Like all Quakers, they would not recognize laws that sanctioned slavery. They were manmade laws; he obeyed only divine laws. Mr. Hussey secreted and fed over 1,000 Colored persons and sent them on to the next station at Marshall. Stations were established every 15 or 16 miles. All traveling was done in the dark, the work was done gratuitously and without price. All done out of sympathy and from principle, working for humanity.

A shorter route was started through Ohio by way of Sandusky and thence to Fort Malden and Amherstburg. Stations from Indiana were at Cassopolis, Michigan, (and) Schoolcraft, then Climax. Battle Creek came next. From Marshall the stations were Albion, Parma, one at Jackson, Michigan Center, Leioni, Grass Lake, Francisco, Dexter, Scio, Ann Arbor, Geddes, Ypsilanti, (and) Plymouth; they followed the River Rouge to Swartzburg, then to Detroit, Michigan.

Passwords were used, one being: Can you give shelter and protection to one or more persons?

John Beard, a Quaker minister, and Levi Coffin were sent to Canada to learn how they were succeeding and to see what assistance they may need. Some of the slaves were frightened upon their arrival, while others were full of courage and joy. Usually one to four came together. One time 45 came in a bunch.

Slaves were forced to work in mines. Debt peonage and convict leasing were common, (as well as) coercive labor and human trafficking (The other Slavery, Indian Country Today. www).

Reverend O.C. Thompson ran a station of the Underground Railroad at St. Clair, Michigan. Where he instituted the St. Clair Academy School.

Many ship captains were abolitionists and carried slaves to freedom. Many slaves worked loading ships with goods and later with ore and other resources.

The Federal Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was to prevent Free States from offering refuge to runaway slaves through Free States and Territories into Canada.

The Underground Railroad formed. The infrastructure was capable of moving, escaping slaves long distances. The Quakers were the primary organizers and operators on the railroad to freedom. Southern Michigan was a very important part of the Underground Railroad and a resettlement place for former slaves.

From 1840 to 1860, the Underground Railroad was underway with slaves from the South escaping to the North. The Detroit Underground Railroad was one of the busiest sectors. There were major stations along the rivers. The Natives were also helping escaped slaves to find freedom in the north.

A paper called The Voice of the Fugitive was published, first at Sandwich and then at Windsor, by Henry Bibb. The 1851 issue contained the following:

This road is doing better business this fall than usual. The Fugitive Slave Law has given it more vitality, more activity, more passengers, and more opposition which invariably accelerates business. We have been under the necessity of tearing up the old strap rails and putting down T’s, so that we can run a lot of slaves through from almost any of the bordering states into Canada within forty-eight hours, and we defy the slaveholders and their abettors to beat that if they can.

We have just received a fresh lot today of hearty-looking men and women on the last train from Virginia, and still there is room.

In 1851, the paper contained this item: “Progress of Escape from Slavery”.

In enumerating the arrivals of this week, we can count only seventeen, ten of whom came together on the Express Train of the Underground Railroad. This lot consisted of a mother with six children and three men. The next day there came four men, the next day two men arrived, and then came one alone. The latter tells of having had a warm combat by the way with two slave catchers, in which he found it necessary to throw a handful of sand in the eyes of one of them; and while he was trying to wash it out, he broke away from the other and effected his escape. (Farmer 1884)

Dresden and the Dawn Settlement, Amherstburg, Malden, Chatham, Windsor, the Elgin Settlement, and Buxton Mission being a few places where the slaves now found freedom and established new lives and towns.

The Indians, Quakers, ship captains, railroads, farmers, families on the river, and small boats were all involved in the Underground Railroad.

A route from Battle Creek ran Northeast through Lansing and Flint to Port Huron, Michigan, where there was an easy transit across the St. Clair River to Canada. There was considerable, pronounced Abolition sentiment in Michigan.

The Strait Detroit River – St. Clair River, was a busy crossing place for escaping slaves to Canada. Many came to work in the Lumber Industry and farming. There were many safe houses with sympathetic whites throughout Southern Lower Michigan.

The census of 1837 counted 228 Negroes in Wayne County and 379 for the State population. Michigan was a haven for slaves fleeing the South (Fuller/ Genealogy Trails, www).

John Brown, the noted Abolitionist, had ties to the area across from Detroit and had rallies for and against slavery here and at Detroit. In 1859, John Brown arrived in Detroit with 14 slaves from Missouri, and John also had five of his own men with him. Frederick Douglas, the Colored Orator, was also present and lecturing on the same evening Brown arrived. After the lecture, a meeting was held to organize the Harper’s Ferry Raid. Though John was killed at the Raid, the Emancipation Proclamation was a result of the meeting in Detroit. Ontario has a John Brown Festival every year in Amherstburg.

John Brown, the great Freedom Fighter, had a cabin near Wallaceburg, Ontario. He had many meetings with the Abolitionists near Detroit.

After Emancipation, there were three million free Blacks, a large population. There were Northern Black codes. They received poor care, a form of Black genocide.

Their efforts to obtain citizenship began in 1843.

In 1853, steamers and every boat carried fugitive slaves to freedom in Canada. Any Black residing in Canada since 1819 was free.

In 1861, the Negro population of Detroit was about 500.

The first organization effected to better the condition of Michigan’s Afro Americans occurred on October 8th and 9th in 1869. When a convention of Colored men met at Battle Creek, Michigan, for the purpose, of the Right of Suffrage to consider the status of Colored people and devise means to better their condition.

The Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, on March 30, 1870, declared them citizens and voters. The restrictive word “White” was stricken from the Constitution of Michigan on November 8, 1870, and the votes of the Colored citizens were first cast in Detroit on the same day (Farmer 1884).

During the Civil War from 1861 to 1865, 623,000 men died. All slaves were free as of January 1, 1863.

The first celebration in honor of the Emancipation Day was held on January 6, 1863 at the Colored Baptist Church.

Slavery was abolished in 1865. June 19th is now celebrated as “Junteenth, the actual day slavery ended”.

From 1916 to 1970, many African Americans moved North in the Great Migration, for higher wages and shorter work days. Many were attracted to Detroit for the Auto Industry.

WHAT SHALL I TELL MY CHILDREN WHO ARE BLACK – MARGARET BURROUGHS

What shall I tell my children who are black

Of what it means to be a captive in this dark skin?

What shall I tell my dear one, fruit of my womb,

of how beautiful they are when everywhere they turn

they are faced with abhorrence of everything that is black [. . .]

What shall I tell my dear ones raised in a white world

A place where white has been made to represent

all that is good and pure and fine and decent [. . .]

white. . .all, all. . .white.

What can I say therefore when my Child

comes home in tears because a playmate

Has called him black, big lipped, flat nosed and nappy headed?

What will he think when I dry his tears and whisper

“Yes, that’s true. But no less beautiful and dear.”

How, shall I lift up his head get him to square

his shoulders, look his adversaries in the eye,

confident in the knowledge of his worth.

Serene under his own skin and proud of his own beauty?

What can I do, to give him strength

That he may come through life’s adversities

As a whole human being unwarped and human, in a world

of biased laws and inhuman practices, that he might

Survive. And survive he must! For who knows?

Perhaps this black child here bears the genius

To discover the cure for. . .cancer

Or to chart the course for exploration of the universe.

So, he must survive for the good of all humanity.

He must and will survive.

I have drunk deeply of late from the fountain

of my black culture, sat at the knee and learned

from mother Africa, discovered the truth of my heritage.

The truth, so often obscured and omitted.

And I find I have much to say to my black children.

I will lift up their heads in proud blackness,

with the story of their fathers and their father’s fathers.

And I shall take them into a way back time

of kings and queens who ruled the Nile,

and measured the stars and discovered the laws of mathematics.

I will tell them of a black people upon whose backs have been built

the wealth of two continents.

I will tell him this and more.

And his heritage shall be his weapon and his armor;

It will make him strong enough to win any battle he may face.

And since this story is often obscured,

I must sacrifice to find it for my children,

even as I sacrificed to feed, clothe and shelter them. [. . .]

None will do it for me.

I must find the truth of heritage for myself and pass it on to them.

In years to come, I believe because I have armed them with the truth,

my children and their children’s children will venerate me.

For it is the truth that will make us free!

 (Margaret Dusable Burroughs, Director, Museum of Negro History, Chicago, Illinois)

The Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution abolished slavery except for those duly convicted of a crime. Though slavery was abolished, those in bondage were not freed, only their descendants. Another form of slavery was used, called indentured servitude, so the practice of slavery continued into the 1900s.

Selective breeding was practiced; there were restrictions for undesirable ethnic groups, prevention of unfit marriages, and sterilization of defective individuals. Eugenics was in practice in the 1940s. Forty thousand to 70,000 Americans were sterilized against their will; they were the minorities, poor and uneducated (the Heinous Program of Racial Hygiene).

In, The Lie About When Slavery Ended (2012), Denise Oliver Velez writes,

“I hate lies, and History books are still full of them. Lies about the founding of this country lies about the treatment of Native Americans, lies about the Civil War and slavery. Too many textbooks are yet unrevised. Some have to take it upon themselves to spread some truth.”

After 1863, new forms of forced labor emerged in the American South, keeping hundreds of thousands of African Americans in bondage, trapping them in a brutal system that would persist until the onset of WWII. Neo-slavery began and persisted in 1865-1945. This supported the re-enslavement of Black Americans in prison camps and chain gangs. Evidence has been deliberately suppressed and smoothed over into false face. It has not ended, and we are still being fed lies.

Hillary Crosby, in “When Were Blacks Truly Freed from Slavery”, wrote:

Laws were instituted that stripped African Americans of their Rights.

Jail owners profited from the hard labor of Black inmates incarcerated for petty crimes like vagrancy, which carried long sentences. Sold workforce to nearby industrial companies to work as coal miners, inmates were often worked to death.

Whites fabricated debts owed by Blacks, forcing them to trade years of free work for their freedom across the Bible Belt. Roosevelt’s Anti Peonage Law in 1941 criminalized the practice.

The War on Drugs and Draconian Law created in the 1980s caused mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. Subjugation through Criminalization.

Jazz Hayden wrote in “The New Form of Slavery” on Alternet, www, wrote; “The New Form of Slavery has the same intent and purpose as the old, which is to rob us of our labor and to keep us powerless.”

The last slaves in America were freed in the 1900s.

There were slaves in all 50 states of the United States.

February is African American History Month.

Americans are 5% of the world’s population and have 25% of the world’s prisoners. In some places, the system abuses the fines and surcharges of the court system and community service.

“The Indians were stereotyped, and a racist government created evil against these peoples, as with the Negroes of that day” (Herman Cameron).

QUOTES ABOUT FREEDOM

“Exploitation and humiliation are caused by racism.”

“The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism.” – Wole Soyika, African Holocaust/Indian Holocaust

“In the classes of oppressed people, there is a relationship between popular education and the politics of oppression. This is called Second Class Citizenship. Want people to assume certain positions and never challenge their natural place in Society. Trained in the Industrial Way.

Mental Development, if men can be made to think like his oppressor, then his actions can be determined by remote control on most levels. Opponents of freedom and social justice enslave the mind, not the body.” – African Holocaust

“Assured of his superiority, others are made to feel always a failure, the subjection of his will is necessary, a freedman was still a slave. When you determine what a man shall think, you do not have to compel him to accept an inferior status; he will seek it himself. If you make a man think he is an outcast, you do not have to order him to the back door.” – Motive and Method of the Education System in the U.S. of America

“The European model, traditions, values, hegemony, intellectual imperialism, colonial thinking, cultural thought and behavior are close minded policies. It does not equal intelligence.”

“The system colonizer: socialization into accepting the value system, history and culture of the dominant society and education for economic productivity, the public policy to limit, control, and destabilize the life chances and opportunities for children.” Lies my teacher told me, Loewen.

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PERIODICALS

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Friends of the St. Clair River Watershed, Brochure

Harpers Magazine, Vol. 98, Pokagon, Simon, The massacre of Fort Dearborn at Chicago, 1899, www

Marine City Gazette, 1876, Western Historical Co., Aura Stewart, Early St. Clair County

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Saturday Evening Post, 1947, Robert Murphy, Mother Rodd

The Detroit News Tribune, 1896, Dixon, Mother Rodd

The Penny Magazine, April 29, 1837, Ontario, Canada

The Smithsonian, 2014, Amanda Foreman, The Birth of American Freedom and the Founding of the Union

[/mks_accordion

This book came about after a visit to the library where I could not find local Indian History. I grew up in the St. Clair and Black River area of Michigan, fishing on all the area waters with my father and brothers. I loved books, libraries, horses and puzzles; I was not a tech person. I love to cook, garden, travel, and camp. I was determined to find and share the truth. This has been a difficult journey in every way. I give you, the reader, the truth and blessings I also reaped. Cheryl Morgan

Cheryl Morgan lives near Port Huron, Michigan with her husband Tom and dog Fred.

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