The Pardu

The Pardu
Watchful eyes and ears feed the brain, thus nourishing the brain cells.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Django, John Brown, Insurrection, and US History

         

History is a wonderful phenomena. 

Human beings have the cognitive ability and wherewithal to look back on the past.  Some look back at things past and long for days of old.  Some look back on the past and wonder how could we ever have been so scandalous, corrupt and insensitive to others.  Others look back, and think we can "never go back gain."

I look back for a couple other reasons.  Entertainment is within reach with the mere thought of visiting historic times. Lessons come frequently. More significantly, I can look back at things I learned earlier in life, and add perspective and more to the learned experience with current information.

One distinct memories of US History is with human bondage: slavery or the historically sanitized "Triangular Trade".



A depiction of the so called " Triangular Trade" in real terms.


Thadeus Stevens
John Brown




Harriet Tubman
The horrors of slavery in the Americas.  Greed and abuse that reached  throughout various nooks and crannies of the human history became an existential foundation of US agriculture, and commerce in states south of the Mason Dixon Line and west to Missouri.  As is the case with forced servitude of human beings, some rebel. 
Nat turner 1
Nat Turner

I can remember when I first read about slave insurrections and the Underground Railroad.  The desperate courage of Nat Turner emblazoned a image in mind mind that well never fade. The courage and ingenuity of Harriet Tubman would also have a lifelong place in my mind.  When I learned that Quakers and German immigrants were integral to the Underground Railroad, I was thrust into an alternative universe: the abolitionist.  Thadeus Stevens and  John Brown, the extreme abolitionist, occupied my mind for long periods.  I realized that were it not for abolitionist, and a courageous US President, slavery may have become a centuries longer life of horror and hell in the United States.

Read more after the break



John Brown's death along with most of his raiders was a pre-Civil War History that garners scant lessons in US History (See video below).   Earlier I referenced current information that takes me back to earlier lessons.  The Quentin Tarantino movie Django Unchained  (whether you like it or not), via its fictional theme of bounty hunting and a quest to free Django's wife struck a curious note.  John Brown's Raiders included five former slaves and free black men set my mind on yet another quest.  The end stories of the five black raiders became unfounded history.
PBS
John Brown's black raiders
On October 16, 1859, John Brown led 21 men on an assault at Harpers Ferry -- an event that shook the nation and [nudged it even closer toward civil war]. Among these raiders were five black men: two of these men would die at Harpers Ferry, two would be captured and executed, and one would escape to Canada.

Dangerfield Newby, a strong, 6'2" African American, was the first of Brown's men to die in the fighting. Born a slave in 1815 but later freed by his white, Scottish father, Newby married a slave who was still in bondage in Virginia. A letter found on his dead body revealed his motive for joining Brown. . .
Dear Husband: I want you to buy me as soon as possible, for if you do not get me somebody else will. The servants are very disagreeable; they do all they can to set my mistress against me. Dear Husband,. . . the last two years have been like a troubled dream to me. It is said Master is in want of money. If so, I know not what time he may sell me, and then all my bright hopes of the future are blasted, for there has been one bright hope to cheer me in all my troubles, that is to be with you, for if I thought I should never see you, this earth would have no charms fo me. Do all you can for me, which I have no doubt you will. I want to see you so much.
Newby's wife was sold after the raid and moved farther to the south. (see below)


Lewis Sheridan Leary also died at Harpers Ferry, although he did survive for eight hours after receiving his wounds. Originally from North Carolina, Leary moved to Oberlin, Ohio, where he married Mary S. Patterson. She did not know Leary's plans when he left her and their six-month-old child to rendezvous with Brown. Leary did, however, manage to send his family messages before he died. 


A fugitive slave of pure African ancestry, Shields Green accompanied Frederick Douglass to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, where the great abolitionist spoke to John Brown for the last time. Brown was unsuccessful in convincing Douglass to join him in the raid; he did, however, recruit the young Green. Green was captured at Harpers Ferry and later executed. He was reportedly only 23 years old. 
Born free in Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1834, John Anthony Copeland, Jr. moved to Oberlin, Ohio, in 1842, where he later attended Oberlin College. In September of 1859 he was recruited to John Brown's army by his uncle and fellow black raider, Lewis Sheridan Leary. Copeland's role in the assault was to seize control of Hall's Rifle Works, along with John Kagi, a white raider. Kagi was killed while trying to escape from the factory. Copeland was captured alive. During his trial, in which he was convicted and sentenced to death, he managed to impress many of those with whom he came in contact. Speaking of Copeland, the trial's prosecuting attorney said. . .


From my intercourse with him I regard him as one of the most respectable persons we had. . . . He was a copper-colored Negro, behaved himself with as much firmness as any of them, and with far more dignity. If it had been possible to recommend a pardon for any of them it would have been this man Copeland as I regretted as much if not more, at seeing him executed than any other of the party."


This dignity continued to be evident. On his way to the gallows he was heard to say, "If I am dying for freedom, I could not die for a better cause -- I had rather die than be a slave!" 
Of the five black raiders, only Osborn Perry Anderson would escape and remain free. He fled to Canada, but came back to the U.S. and enlisted with the Union army in 1864. Anderson would write the only eye-witness account of the raid, which was published two years after the raid. He died in 1872. 
Participant in John Brown's Raid

Dangerfield Newby (ca. 1820-1859). Culpeper County
Participant in John Brown's Raid
 
Dangerfield Newby (ca. 1820-1859) was born in Culpeper County, the oldest child of Henry Newby, a white man, and Elsey Newby, an enslaved black woman. In 1858, Henry Newby sold his land in Culpeper and moved with his family to Bridgeport, Ohio, thereby freeing his wife and their children. Shortly after moving to Bridgeport, Dangerfield Newby began raising money to buy his own wife and children, who were enslaved in Prince William County, Virginia. In the spring and summer of 1859 his wife wrote to him three times expressing concern that her owner would sell her before Newby was able to raise the money to free her. "Come this fall with out fail monny or no monny I want to see you so much," Harriet Newby wrote. "[I]t is said Master is in want of money[:] if so I know not what time he may sell me an[d] then all my bright hops of the futer are blasted."
 
Newby raised nearly $742 toward the $1,000 price that Harriet Newby's owner had set for her and one child, but he was unable to free his family. Shortly after learning of this disappointment, he joined John Brown in the planning for the raid on Harpers Ferry. During the raid, Newby shot and killed a grocer before he himself was shot and killed. His wife's letters were found on his body. In the 1890s his remains were moved from an unknown location to John Brown's Farm in North Elba, New York
D'Jango loosely based on Dangerfeild Newby.Dangerfield Newby (ca. 1820-1859) was born in Culpeper County, the oldestchild of Henry Newby, a white man, and Elsey Newby, an enslaved black woman. In 1858, Henry Newby sold his land in Culpeper and moved with his family to Bridgeport, Ohio, thereby freeing his wife and their children. Shortly after moving to Bridgeport, Dangerfield Newby began raising money to buy his own wife and children, who were enslaved in Prince William County, Virginia. In the spring and summer of 1859 his wife wrote to him three times expressing concern that her owner would sell her before Newby was able to raise the money to free her. 
"Come this fall with out fail monny or no monny I want to see you so much," Harriet Newby wrote. "[I]t is said Master is in want of money[:] if so I know not what time he may sell me an[d] then all my bright hops of the futer are blasted."
Newby raised nearly $742 toward the $1,000 price that Harriet Newby's owner had set for her and one child, but he was unable to free his family. Shortly after learning of this disappointment, he joined John Brown in the planning for the raid on Harpers Ferry. During the raid, Newby shot and killed a grocer before he himself was shot and killed. His wife's letters were found on his body. In the 1890s his remains were moved from an unknown location to John Brown's Farm in North Elba, New York.
(Harriet Newby's letters pdf)

Fictional movie-making depiction aside, Newby's quest to gain the freedom of his wife was part of a far greater endeavor than bounty hunting. John Brown's abolitionism and his (irrational) attempt to start a slave uprising stand in our history as courageous acts to correct horrendous wrongs.  John Brown for those who need more about an American hero, but a man with an obsession that placed him on the wrong side rational behavior. Yet he stands as other courageous abolitionist, who at saved thousands from slavery and death,

John Brown.....

7:08 Minutes

John Brown's Raid in American History: http://youtu.be/bB_kbFAui-U

John Brown's War

HistoryFeed

45:23 Minutes

John Brown's War: http://youtu.be/-06gy-e4ftM

Tarantino's fantasy character Django both entertains and reminds.  An Albert Einstein quote seems apropos.
The gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge. ~Albert Einstein
Tarantino's fantasy whether it riles you or satisfies a need for entertainment leaves me with thoughts similar to those left from viewing other cinematic expositions: The Hunger Game and Avatar. If a person can sit through either of the three expositions without reflection on mankind's greed and abuse of the "un-powerful", the person is a prime suspect for manipulation from elements in our nation who do us no good.

"Django Unchained" also reminds of our history as stark and ugly as it is at times, it is US History.  A history that is interwoven with the most horrific of human acts: First Nation People (native indigenous nations) genocide and slavery.

Despite overwhelming indifference towards certain parts of US History, I doubt there are millions in the nation who would find 'selling and buying the Negro" within the purview of sanity. Yet, it is clear millions among us would support unfettered regression to times past when the privileged view and treated others worse then animals.

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