Jefferson’s Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black, in a Young America

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Passing, Slavery, United States, Virginia, Women on 2018-02-22 05:03Z by Steven

Jefferson’s Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black, in a Young America

Ballantine Books
2018-01-30
448 pages
6.3 x 1.4 x 9.5 inches
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1101886243
Paperback ISBN: 978-0525524380

Catherine Kerrison, Associate Professor of History
Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania

The remarkable untold story of Thomas Jefferson’s three daughters—two white and free, one black and enslaved—and the divergent paths they forged in a newly independent America

Thomas Jefferson had three daughters: Martha and Maria by his wife, Martha Wayles Jefferson, and Harriet by his slave Sally Hemings. In Jefferson’s Daughters, Catherine Kerrison, a scholar of early American and women’s history, recounts the remarkable journey of these three women—and how their struggle to define themselves reflects both the possibilities and the limitations that resulted from the American Revolution.

Although the three women shared a father, the similarities end there. Martha and Maria received a fine convent school education while they lived with their father during his diplomatic posting in Paris—a hothouse of intellectual ferment whose celebrated salonnières are vividly brought to life in Kerrison’s narrative. Once they returned home, however, the sisters found their options limited by the laws and customs of early America.

Harriet Hemings followed a different path. She escaped slavery—apparently with the assistance of Jefferson himself. Leaving Monticello behind, she boarded a coach and set off for a decidedly uncertain future.

For this groundbreaking triple biography, Kerrison has uncovered never-before-published documents written by the Jefferson sisters when they were in their teens, as well as letters written by members of the Jefferson and Hemings families. She has interviewed Hemings family descendants (and, with their cooperation, initiated DNA testing) and searched for descendants of Harriet Hemings.

The eventful lives of Thomas Jefferson’s daughters provide a unique vantage point from which to examine the complicated patrimony of the American Revolution itself. The richly interwoven story of these three strong women and their fight to shape their own destinies sheds new light on the ongoing movement toward human rights in America—and on the personal and political legacy of one of our most controversial Founding Fathers.

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Frederick Douglass, Refugee

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Slavery on 2018-02-20 03:42Z by Steven

Frederick Douglass, Refugee

The Atlantic
2017-02-07

David Blight, Class of 1954 Professor of American History; Professor of African-American and American Studies; Director, Gilder Lehrman Center
Yale University


J.C. Buttre / Wikimedia

Throughout modern history, the millions forced to flee as refugees and beg for asylum have felt Douglass’s agony, and thought his thoughts.

Frederick Douglass, author, orator, editor, and most important African American leader of the 19th century, was a dangerous illegal immigrant. Well, in 1838 he escaped a thoroughly legal system of enslavement to the tenuous condition of fugitive resident of a northern state that had outlawed slavery, but could only protect his “freedom” outside of the law.

Douglass’s life and work serve as a striking symbol of one of the first major refugee crises in our history. From the 1830s through the 1850s, the many thousands of runaway slaves, like Douglass, who escaped into the North, into Canada, or Mexico put enormous pressure on those places’ political systems. The presence and contested status of fugitive slaves polarized voters in elections; they were the primary subject of major legislation such as the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 as well as Supreme Court decisions such as Dred Scott v. Sanford in 1857. They were at the heart of a politics of fear in the 1850s that led to disunion. Among the many legacies of Douglass’s life and writings alive today, one of the most potent is his role as an illegal migrant and very public abolitionist orator and journalist posing as a free black citizen in slaveholding America.

On February 1, 2017, President Donald J. Trump made some brief remarks on Black History Month. “Frederick Douglass,” he said, “is an example of somebody who’s done an amazing job, that is being recognized more and more, I notice.” That afternoon in one of the discussion sections of my lecture course at Yale on “The Civil War and Reconstruction Era,” my teaching fellow, Michael Hattem, reports that he read that quotation to the class. Students had just been assigned to read Douglass’s classic first autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. Michael says the class let out an audible collective groan, and one student declared: “My God, he doesn’t know who he was!”

…Born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, his father likely his owner and his mother, Harriet, likely the owner’s slave, Douglass lived twenty years in bondage on Maryland’s eastern shore and in Baltimore. At age 18 he organized an escape plot with a small “band of brothers” among the slaves on a farm near St. Michaels, Maryland. Foiled and betrayed, he and his comrades were arrested, put in chains and marched several miles to the jail in Easton, the Talbot County seat. As great luck, Douglass’s owner, Thomas Auld, sent his slave back to Baltimore rather than selling him into obscurity in the deep South. Two years later, in a cunning and brave plot hatched with a few friends and with his intrepid fiancée, Anna Murray, Douglass escaped from slavery by train, steamer, and ferryboat to New York City, disguised as a sailor. His story is one of great drama and risk in the face of what he called a sense of “hopelessness” and “loneliness.” But in recollecting these events Douglass left the world an illegal refugee-immigrant’s language of fear and courage. His greatest power always resided in the written and spoken word…

Read the entire article here.

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Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

Posted in Biography, Books, Forthcoming Media, History, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2018-02-20 01:43Z by Steven

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom

Simon & Schuster
October 2018
864 pages
Hardcover ISBN: 9781416590316

David W. Blight, Class of 1954 Professor of American History; Professor of African-American and American Studies; Director, Gilder Lehrman Center
Yale University

The definitive, dramatic biography of the most important African-American of the nineteenth century: Frederick Douglass, the escaped slave who became the greatest orator of his day and one of the leading abolitionists and writers of the era.

As a young man Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) escaped from slavery in Baltimore, Maryland. He was fortunate to have been taught to read by his slave owner mistress, and he would go on to become one of the major literary figures of his time. He wrote three versions of his autobiography over the course of his lifetime and published his own newspaper. His very existence gave the lie to slave owners: with dignity and great intelligence he bore witness to the brutality of slavery.

Initially mentored by William Lloyd Garrison, Douglass spoke widely, often to large crowds, using his own story to condemn slavery. He broke with Garrison to become a political abolitionist, a Republican, and eventually a Lincoln supporter. By the Civil War and during Reconstruction, Douglass became the most famed and widely travelled orator in the nation. He denounced the premature end of Reconstruction and the emerging Jim Crow era. In his unique and eloquent voice, written and spoken, Douglass was a fierce critic of the United States as well as a radical patriot. He sometimes argued politically with younger African-Americans, but he never forsook either the Republican party or the cause of black civil and political rights.

In this remarkable biography, David Blight has drawn on new information held in a private collection that few other historian have consulted, as well as recently discovered issues of Douglass’s newspapers. Blight tells the fascinating story of Douglass’s two marriages and his complex extended family. Douglass was not only an astonishing man of words, but a thinker steeped in Biblical story and theology. There has not been a major biography of Douglass in a quarter century. David Blight’s Frederick Douglass affords this important American the distinguished biography he deserves.

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Intersection – Author Junot Díaz on Immigration, Empire and White Supremacy

Posted in Articles, Audio, History, Latino Studies, Media Archive, Slavery, Social Justice, United States on 2018-02-12 01:55Z by Steven

Intersection – Author Junot Díaz on Immigration, Empire and White Supremacy

Intersection
KBIA 91.3 FM
Columbia, Missouri
2018-02-06

Sara Shahriari, Abby Ivory-Ganja & Elena Rivera

This week on Intersection, we bring you excerpts from author Junot Díaz’s Jan. 22 talk at MU [University of Missouri].

Díaz won the 2008 Pulitzer prize for his first novel, “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.” He received a MacArthur ‘Genius’ Fellowship and co-founded the Voices of Our National Arts Foundation, which holds workshops for writers of color. He is a professor of writing at MIT.

Díaz immigrated from the Dominican Republic to the United State when he was six. In his literary work and activism, he tackles issues including immigration, assimilation and oppression.

His speech was part of the MU Celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. event. During the talk, Díaz spoke about white supremacy, the role of artists and the lasting effects of slavery…

Read the story here. Listen to the speech (00:28:27) here.

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Frederick Douglass: a multi-racial trailblazer

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Law, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2018-02-11 05:14Z by Steven

Frederick Douglass: a multi-racial trailblazer

The Baltimore Sun
2018-02-08

Tanya Katerí Hernández, Professor of Law
Fordham University School of Law


Gregory Morton purchased Frederick Douglass’ home in Fells Point and makes it available to rent on Airbnb. (Barbara Haddock Taylor / Baltimore Sun)

Last year President Trump made statements that left the impression he believed that abolitionist Frederick Douglass was still alive. In some respects, he still is. This month marks the 200th anniversary of Frederick Douglass’ birth, and his racial justice work continues to be relevant today. In fact, after President Trump was informed that Douglass died in 1895, the president signed into law the Frederick Douglass Bicentennial Commission Act to organize events to honor the bicentennial anniversary of Douglass’s birth.

While slave records mark Douglass’ birth month as February — he was born in a plantation on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay in Talbot County — his status as a slave meant he had no information about the exact day he was born. As an adult he chose Feb. 14th for himself as a birth date. He was also never told who his father was, but circumstances lead him to conclude that it was his white slave owner.

Despite his mixed-race heritage and likely connection to his owner, Douglass was separated from his mother at an early age and exposed to physical abuse from his owners…

Read the entire article here.

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Iola Leroy or, Shadows Uplifted

Posted in Books, Forthcoming Media, Novels, Slavery, United States, Women on 2018-02-11 04:19Z by Steven

Iola Leroy or, Shadows Uplifted

Broadview Press
2018-02-28
352 pages
5½” x 8½”
Hardcover ISBN: 9781554813858 / 1554813859
(Originally published in 1892)

Frances E. W. Harper (1825-1911)

Edited by:

Koritha Mitchell, Associate Professor of English
Ohio State University

Frances Harper’s fourth novel follows the life of the beautiful, light-skinned Iola Leroy to tell the story of black families in slavery, during the Civil War, and after Emancipation. Iola Leroy adopts and adapts three genres that commanded significant audiences in the nineteenth century: the sentimental romance, the slave narrative, and plantation fiction. Written by the foremost black woman activist of the nineteenth century, the novel sheds light on the movements for abolition, public education, and voting rights through a compelling narrative.

This edition engages the latest research on Harper’s life and work and offers ways to teach these major moments in United States history by centering the experiences of African Americans. The appendices provide primary documents that help readers do what they are seldom encouraged to do: consider the experiences and perspectives of people who are not white. The Introduction traces Harper’s biography and the changing critical perspectives on the novel.

Contents

  • Acknowledgements
  • Introduction
  • Frances Ellen Watkins Harper: A Brief Chronology
  • A Note on the Text
  • Iola Leroy; Or, Shadows Uplifted
  • Appendix A: Slavery, Civil War and Emancipation, Reconstruction and Its Demise
    1. From the Fugitive Slave Act (1850)
    2. United States Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney, the Dred Scott Decision (1857)
    3. From the First Confiscation Act (1861)
    4. From the Second Confiscation Act (1862)
    5. The Emancipation Proclamation (1863)
    6. From the Freedmen’s Bureau Act (1865)
    7. The Thirteenth Amendment (1865)
    8. From the Fourteenth Amendment (1868)
    9. The Fifteenth Amendment (1870)
    10. The Compromise of 1877
    11. From United States Supreme Court Justice Billings Brown, Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)
  • Appendix B: Not White? Then You Can’t Be Equal
    1. From Abraham Lincoln, Address on Colonization to a Deputation of Negroes (1862)
    2. From Frances Harper, “Mrs. Frances E. Watkins Harper on the War and the President’s Colonization Scheme,” Christian Recorder (27 September 1862)
    3. From Michigan Supreme Court Justice James Campbell, The People v. Dean (1866)
  • Appendix C: Black Families in Slavery and Freedom
    1. From Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845)
    2. Dictated letters between enslaved husbands and wives while separated by their owners
    3. From “Arrest of Fugitive Slaves,” Cincinnati Gazette (29 January 1856)
    4. Frances Harper, “The Slave Mother: A Tale of Ohio” 1857)
    5. Testimony about enslaved men and women who fled slavery to join the Union effort and often planned to return to help family members escape (1863)
    6. Letter from a black soldier to his children (1864)
    7. Letter from a black soldier to the owner of one of his daughters (1864)
    8. Newspaper Notices in Hopes of Finding Lost Loved Ones after Emancipation (1866–93)
  • Appendix D: Education in Slavery and Freedom
    1. From the South Carolina Negro Act (1740)
    2. Account about an enslaved woman who ran a midnight school (1881)
    3. Account of teaching/learning in secret during slavery (1902)
    4. An account of finding the spark for learning while enslaved (1885)
    5. Accounts of the consequences of learning to read and write
    6. Account of black soldiers wanting education
    7. Account of recently emancipated people’s eagerness to learn
    8. Testimony on Ku Klux Klan preventing school attendance after Emancipation (1872)
  • Appendix E: Preventing Freedom Even after Emancipation
    1. Laws constraining black girls and boys via apprenticeship and African Americans of every age via vagrancy statutes (1865)
    2. Testimony about Ku Klux Klan raping black women whose husbands/fathers voted (1871)
    3. From Henry W. Grady, “The Race Problem in the South” (1889)
    4. From Ida B. Wells, The Red Record: Tabulated Statistics and Alleged Causes of Lynching in the United States (1895)
  • Appendix F: Black Women’s Activism
    1. From Frances Harper, “We Are All Bound Up Together” (1866)
    2. Frances Harper, “Aunt Chloe’s Politics” (1872)
    3. From Frances Harper, “Colored Women of America,” Englishwoman’s Review (15 January 1878)
    4. From Frances Harper, “The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and the ColoredWoman,” African Methodist Episcopal Church Review (1888)
    5. From Frances Harper, “Enlightened Motherhood: An Address … Before the Brooklyn Literary Society” (15 November 1892)
    6. From Fannie Barrier Williams, “The Intellectual Progress of The Colored Women of the United States Since the Emancipation Proclamation” (1893)
  • Appendix G: Being Black and a Woman: Aesthetics and Reception
    1. William J. Watkins, “The Reformer,” Frederick Douglass’ Paper (7 April 1854)
    2. Grace Greenwood, Impressions of Harper as a Speaker (1866)
    3. From Anna Julia Cooper, “The Status of Woman in America” (1892)
    4. Reviews of Iola Leroy
      1. “Publications Reviewed,” Christian Recorder (12 January 1893)
      2. From “Review 1,” Independent (5 January 1893)
      3. Richmond Planet (21 January 1893)
      4. From “Recent Fiction,” The Nation (23 February 1893)
      5. From “Our Book List,” A.M.E. Church Review (April 1893)
      6. “Book Review,” Friends’ Review; a Religious, Literary and Miscellaneous Journal (22 June 1893)
      7. Review of Reviews (January 1895)
      8. From “Recent Fiction,” Independent (29 October 1896)
      9. From Edward Elmore Brock, “Brock’s Literary Leaves,” Freeman (Indianapolis) (14 August 1897)
      10. [W.E.B. Du Bois,] “Writers,” Crisis (April 1911)
  • Works Cited and Select Bibliography
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Jefferson’s Three Daughters — Two Free, One Enslaved

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Passing, Slavery, United States, Virginia on 2018-01-29 20:24Z by Steven

Jefferson’s Three Daughters — Two Free, One Enslaved

Book Review
The New York Times
2018-01-26

Mary Beth Norton, Mary Donlon Alger Professor of American History History
Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

JEFFERSON’S DAUGHTERS
Three Sisters, White and Black, in a Young America
By Catherine Kerrison
Illustrated. 425 pp. Ballantine Books. $28.


Martha Jefferson Randolph
Credit Thomas Jefferson Foundation

Fawn Brodie would be astonished — and gratified. In 1974, her biography “Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History” contended that the third president had fathered children with his slave Sally Hemings. For this, Catherine Kerrison, a professor of American history at Villanova University, accurately notes, Brodie was “excoriated by a cadre of Jefferson experts.” A lot has changed, and largely because of the work of Annette Gordon-Reed, who took seriously Hemings family stories and, bolstered by a DNA study, convinced nearly all scholars, including Kerrison, that Brodie was correct. “Jefferson’s Daughters,” Kerrison’s beautifully written book, takes the relationship’s existence as a given.

And so, to a nuanced study of Jefferson’s two white daughters, Martha (born 1772) and Maria (born 1778), she innovatively adds a discussion of his only enslaved daughter, Harriet Hemings (born 1801). The result is a stunning if unavoidably imbalanced book, combining detailed treatments of Martha’s and Maria’s experiences with imaginative attempts to reconstruct Harriet’s life…

Read the entire review here.

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How did we lose a president’s daughter?

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, Passing, Slavery, United States, Virginia, Women on 2018-01-29 00:05Z by Steven

How did we lose a president’s daughter?

The Washington Post
2018-01-25

Catherine Kerrison, Associate Professor of History
Villanova University, Villanova, Pennsylvania


Thomas Jefferson is shown in a painting by Rembrandt Peale. Jefferson was the father of several children born to Sally Hemings, an enslaved woman at Monticello, one of whom chose to pass as white rather than claim her relation to the president. (AP/New York Historical Society)

What the disappearance of Thomas Jefferson’s daughter can tell us about racism in America.

Many people know that Thomas Jefferson had a long-standing relationship with his slave, Sally Hemings. But fewer know that they had four children, three boys and a girl, who survived to adulthood. Born into slavery, Sally’s daughter Harriet boarded a stagecoach to freedom at age 21, bound for Washington, D.C. Her father had given her $50 for her travel expenses. She would never see her mother or younger brothers again.

With her departure from Monticello in 1822, Harriet disappeared from the historical record, not to be heard of again for more than 50 years, when her brother told her story. Seven-eighths white, Harriet had “thought it to her interest to go to Washington as a white woman,” he said. She married a “white man in good standing” in that city and “raised a family of children.” In the half-century during which she passed as white, her brother was “not aware that her identity as Harriet Hemings of Monticello has ever been discovered.”

So how did we lose a president’s daughter? Given America’s obsession with the Founding Fathers, with the children of the Revolution and their descendants, why did Jefferson’s child disappear? As it turns out, America has an even greater obsession with race, so that not even Harriet Hemings’s lineage as a president’s daughter was sufficient to convey the benefits of freedom. Instead, her birth into slavery marked her as black and drove her decision to erase her family history…

Catherine Kerrison is an associate professor of history at Villanova University, and the author of the forthcoming book “Jefferson’s Daughters: Three Sisters, White and Black in a Young America.”

Read the entire article here.

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Grappling With the Memory of New Orleans

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Louisiana, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2018-01-07 23:01Z by Steven

Grappling With the Memory of New Orleans

The Atlantic
2015-10-25

Mark Charles Roudané


Christian Senger / Flickr

A family’s story traces the roots of the eclectic city, the country’s first black daily newspaper, and the evolution of racial injustice.

My father is listed as white on his birth certificate. His great-grandfather was the founder of America’s first black daily newspaper. But when I tell the story of my family, inextricably linked to the narrative of New Orleans and, in fact, to the country, I do not start with either of them.

Aimée Potens, my third great-grandmother, stares at me. Holding a daguerreotype from the 1840s, I am transfixed by her eyes. I try to imagine what they had seen. Aimée’s eyes are my window to the world that made New Orleans, a world that seems impenetrable, lost somewhere in a gauzy historical memory of tangled white, free-black, and enslaved cultures…

…I was raised to be a white person in Jim Crow New Orleans. The past was hidden from me, and I grew up not knowing that this history was my history, too. When Reconstruction collapsed, the loss of hope for people of color was devastating. As I reflect on the ways the past has shaped the social construct of race and my own identity, I wonder what my story would be like had the Tribune’s crusade succeeded. Would my family have claimed its remarkable heritage instead of passing as white?…

Read the entire article here.

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Painter Ellen Gallagher’s tragic sea tales: How African slaves went from human to cargo on the Atlantic

Posted in Articles, Arts, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States on 2017-12-27 21:13Z by Steven

Painter Ellen Gallagher’s tragic sea tales: How African slaves went from human to cargo on the Atlantic

The Los Angeles Times
2017-11-17

Carolina A. Miranda


An installation view of Ellen Gallagher’s painting “Aquajujidsu” at Hauser & Wirth in Los Angeles. (Fredrik Nilsen / Hauser & Wirth)

On first glance, the painting that greets visitors to the South Gallery at Hauser & Wirth in downtown Los Angeles looks like a crab quietly resting on the bottom of an ocean floor. But look again and that crab morphs into the fragmented face of a person, its myriad pieces coming undone in a watery deep.

In her first solo show in Los Angeles, painter Ellen Gallagher broaches the history of the Middle Passage in ways that are both poetic and surprising — rendering underwater scenes that seem perfectly innocent at first glance, but that on second, third and fourth viewing, quietly evoke the terrible tragedies that occurred in the Atlantic Ocean during the roughly four centuries of the slave trade.

“These are history paintings,” she says thoughtfully, as she settles into a sleek chair in a small lounge at Hauser & Wirth. “It’s this portrait of this space in between, this space where you are dead and alive at the same time.”


Artist Ellen Gallagher. Ellen Gallagher / Hauser & Wirth

The artist, who divides her time between New York and Rotterdam, and whose work resides in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, has long explored questions of history and power in works that straddle the gray area between figurative and abstract…

Read the entire article here.

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