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Reading Notes

Fall History

Table of contents
  1. Forced Founders by Woody Holton
    1. Context/Background
    2. Notes on Section 1: Introduction
      1. Main Ideas
      2. Opening Ideas
      3. Example: Jacob Hite
      4. Hite’s story as proof against a faulty historical record
      5. Definitions
      6. Ways gentry-group interactions shapes independence
    3. Notes on Section 2: Tobacco Growers Versus Merchants and Parliament (pg. 7)
      1. Main Ideas
      2. Opening Ideas
      3. On Debt
      4. Explanations of Debt
      5. Mercantilism as Slavery (pg. 11)
      6. The Argument Against Taxation (pg. 11)
      7. The Navigation Act & Limitations on Trade (pg. 12)
      8. Soft Virginian Rhetoric Towards Mercantilism (pg. 15)
      9. The Attack on Manufacturing (pg. 16)
      10. Increasing Virginian Anti Navigation Acts Rhetoric (pg. 17)
      11. Creditor-Debtor Conflicts (pg. 18)
      12. Forced Immigration of Africans and West Indians into Virginia (pg. 21)
    4. Notes on Section 6: Gentlemen vs. Farmers (pg. 25)
      1. Main Ideas
  2. James Madison Letter to Thomas Jefferson: October 17, 1788
    1. Context/Background
    2. Notes
  3. Band of Sisters: Class and Gender in Industrial Lowell, 1820-1850 by Michael Reagan
    1. Introduction
      1. Broader Themes Across New England’s Social Fabric
      2. The Fight for Independence and Social Respect
      3. The Historical Contradiction
    2. Labor and the Cult of Domesticity
      1. The Evolution of the Role of Women into the Public Sphere
      2. Women’s Role in Textile Production
      3. Opposition to Women in the Industrialized Workforce and the Invention of the Cult of Domesticity
      4. Feminism and Activism
      5. The Fundamental Industrialist Goal
    3. The Waltham System
      1. Setbacks and Design
      2. The Need for Female Labor
      3. Benefits of the Boardinghouse System
    4. Industrial Women
      1. Visible Resistance
      2. Diminishing Corporate Returns
      3. Strike Attempts
      4. Political Organizations
      5. Successes of the LFLRA
      6. Themes of Revolution Across Strikes
      7. Wage Slavery
    5. Workingwomen and Workingmen
      1. Criticism of the Corruption of Virtuous and Moral Character
      2. A Common Interest Hindered by Gender Prejudice
      3. Appealing to Patriarchal Attitudes
    6. Corporate Feminity
      1. Living a Contradiction
      2. Corporate Redefinition of Womanhood and Feminine Morality
      3. Employer Control to Resolve Contradiction
      4. The Alignment of Social Good and Corporate Interests
    7. The Factory Girl
      1. Increasing Independence
      2. An Intellectual Environment
    8. Conclusion: Working-Class Feminism
  4. Early Factory Labor in New England” by Harriet H. Robinson (1883)
    1. Introduction
    2. Beginnings
    3. The Characterization of Women
    4. Descriptions of Factory Girls
    5. A Pleasant Factory Life
    6. Incentive to Labor - Male Education
    7. The Influence of Money on the Woman’s Identity
    8. Lowell 1836 Strike
  5. Anti-Catholic Petition, 1837
    1. Context
    2. The Defense Against Corrupt Principles
    3. The Dangers of Foreigners
    4. Constitutional Justifications
    5. Proposed Solutions
    6. Roman Catholics
    7. Intolerance Towards Intolerance
  6. “Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People” by Helen Zia
    1. Asians in the Early Americas
    2. Asian American Migration and Anglo American Slavery
    3. The Pioneers from Asia
    4. The Driving-Out Time
      1. Political Labor Stances
      2. Driving Out
      3. Chinese Exclusion Act
      4. Civil Rights Groups
    5. An Elusive Dream
      1. Japanese Immigration
      2. Race Lumping
      3. Anti-Asian Legislation
        1. Ozawa v. United States, 1922
        2. Immigration Act of 1924
      4. Indian Labor
      5. Asian Indian Race Theories and Superiority
        1. Asian Indian Exclusion
        2. Bhagat Singh Thind
      6. Korean Labor
      7. Philippine Labor
        1. Miscegenation and Salvador Roldan
        2. Fears and Solutions to Filipino Integration
        3. Tydings-McDuffie Act and Anti-Filipino Legislation
    6. Working on the Fringes of America
      1. The Use of Asian Workers as Racial Leverage
      2. Racial and Ethnic Antagonism
      3. Cross Nationality Unification
      4. Asian Contributions
      5. Going Around Legislative Restrictions
  7. “Becoming Caucasian: Vicissitudes of Whiteness in American Politics and Culture” by Matthew Frye Jacobson
    1. Thesis and Introduction
    2. History, Power, and the Mutability of Race
      1. The First Great Epoch: Naturalization Law
      2. The Second Great Epoch: Altering Authority and Untouched Enlightenment
      3. The Third Great Epoch: Massive Immigration
      4. Race as Not Only a Conception But a Perception
    3. A Case Study: Laura Z. Hobson’s Gentlemen’s Agreement
      1. The Question of Visuality
      2. Plot
      3. Sameness and Difference
      4. Recasting Race as Color
    4. Conclusion
  8. John Brown’s Last Speech
    1. Context
    2. Denial of Intent
    3. Injustice of Penalty
    4. Religious Justification
    5. Concluding Statements
  9. River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom by Walter Johnson
    1. Context
    2. The Hidden Capitalism of Slavery
      1. Connections Between Slavery of the South and Capitalism of the North
      2. The Three Sets of Planters’ Processes
      3. Rate of Conversion
      4. The Labor Calculation
    3. Slavery as Productivity
      1. The Aggregate Output Calculation
      2. Violence as the Metric of Production
    4. The Nature of Cotton
      1. Quality Escapes Measuring Cotton with a Quantitative Metric
      2. High Standards and Classifications of Cotton During Sale
        1. Poor and Fraudulent Packing
        2. Thesis of Current Section
    5. Where Slave-Owning Planters Capitalists?
      1. The Argument Against Slaveowners as Capitalists
      2. The Argument For Slaveowners as Capitalists
      3. Compare and Contrast of the Two Positions
      4. Reframing the Argument in Light of the Two Positions
    6. The Bale of Cotton
      1. American Cotton Powering the World Economy
      2. The Cotton Gin
      3. The Slave Market and the Cotton Market
      4. New Orleans
      5. Cotton Markets and Global Pathways
      6. New York and the Cotton Trade
    7. The Banking System of Slavery and Capital
      1. Credit and Debt
      2. Supplies and Costs
        1. Example
      3. Absorbment of Risk at the End of the Debt Chain
        1. The Brown Brothers
    8. Realities of the Ecosystem and Debt
      1. Weather
      2. Bugs and Pests
      3. Self-Imposed Biological Feedback Loop
      4. Transportation Issues
        1. Paper Packaging to Address Physical Vulnerabilities
    9. Speculation
      1. The Cotton Market
      2. Statistics and Predicting the Future
      3. Estimating the Size of Total Cotton Crop
      4. Information as Currency
    10. Factor-Planter Relationships
      1. Planter Control Over Markets
      2. Factor Divergence of Interests
      3. Planter Control Over Sales
      4. Lack of Information to Planters
      5. Lack of Trust Between Planters and Factors
    11. Planter Denial of Responsibility, Self-Perception, and Agency
    12. Planter-Slave Relationships
      1. Slaves as Capital
  10. Ain’t I A Woman?, Sojourner Truth
    1. Context
    2. Notes
    3. Full Text
  11. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Linda Brent
    1. Context
    2. Preface
    3. Introduction by the Editor
    4. Chapter 5: The Trials of Girlhood
  12. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass
    1. Context
    2. Chapter 2
    3. Chapter 7
    4. Chapter 9
    5. Chapter 10
    6. Chapter 11
  13. Black Reconstruction, Du Bois
    1. Context
    2. Summary and Key Points
    3. Introduction
    4. Initial Motivation for the War
      1. Economic Incentives
      2. Ignoring Interests of Minorities
    5. The Importance of Slaves
      1. Fugitive Slaves
      2. Southern Dependence on Slaves
        1. Military Usage
      3. Questioning that the Northernors were Abolitionists
      4. What the Civil War Was to Slaves
        1. Southern Propaganda
        2. A Stream of Fugitive Slaves
        3. Southern Denialism
      5. To Slaves as Militant Laborers
        1. Motivations for the Transition
    6. Systematic Organizing of Slaves
      1. Butler and the New Orleans Sugar Plantations
      2. Systems for Caring for Slaves
        1. Failing Systems and Justification Based on Conditions of Work
        2. General Grant’s System
        3. Blacks Buying Land
        4. Sherman and the Sea Island Circular
      3. Implications of Such Systems
        1. The Importance of Conditions of Work
    7. Formation of Organizations and Commissions
      1. Te American Missionary Association and Religion
      2. Educational Commissions
      3. Abuses of Commissions
    8. Redefinition of the Objectives of the North in War
      1. Impact on Strategies of the South
      2. Lincoln and Centering Slaves in the War
    9. Conclusion
  14. The Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln
    1. Context
    2. Paragraph 1
    3. Paragraph 2
    4. Paragraphs 3 and 4
    5. Paragraphs 5-End
  15. Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow, Jacqueline Jones
    1. Context
    2. Thesis and Main Points
    3. Introduction
    4. In Pursuit of Freedom
      1. Black Slaves and Impact on Family Structures
      2. Slaves That Stayed
      3. Conclusion
    5. Black Women as Free Laborers
      1. Northern Free Labor Thought
      2. Unionization of Slave Workers
      3. Conclusion
    6. The Political Economy of Black Family and Community Life in the Postwar Period
      1. Withdrawal of Black Females from Wage Labor
      2. Sharecroppping System
      3. Sexual Division of Labor
      4. Kinship and Collectivization of Labor
      5. Political Gathering of Freedmen
      6. Conclusion
    7. New Dresses, Defiant Words, and Their Price
      1. Conclusion
    8. Out of the Fields: City Life and Schooling
      1. Conclusion

Forced Founders by Woody Holton


  • Full Title: Forced Founders: Indians, Debtors, Slaves, and the Revolution in Virginia.
  • Published by the University of North Carolina Press on Sep. 1st, 1999.
  • Access online version here.
  • Notes on Sections 1, 2, and 6

Notes on Section 1: Introduction

Main Ideas

  • Nonelites powerfully influenced Revolutionary politics.
    • Virginian gentlemen’s struggle to extend freedom were aided by other freedom struggles.
    • The gentry that made the declaration of independence were very interested in the actions of natives, slaves, and smallholders.
  • The image of confident colonial elite pushing for freedom is lacking and excludes other groups.

Opening Ideas

  • Americans like to imagine the colonial elite - Thomas Jefferson & George Washington, to name two - as proud and optimistic leaders; instead, their desperation drove them to the American Revolution.
  • Consider Jacob Hite, who in April 1774 took desperate measures like: (p2)
    • Crashing down the gates of prisons
    • Placing weapons in the hands of slaves
    • Was one of the wealthiest men in Berkely County, Virginia

Example: Jacob Hite

  • Hite was the son of a successful land speculator.
  • 1760s scheme to gain land from Cherokee Indians
    • Business partner (Richard Pearis) had a half-Cherokee son (George)
    • George asked Cherokees for 150,000-acre land
    • Sold the land to Richard Pearis and Jacob Hite
  • Failure of deal
    • British officials feared it may provoke Cherokees to join an anti-British confederation; South Carolina court voided the deal.
    • Left Hite in debt, had property to be auctioned to pay it off.
    • Fall 1773 - price of tobacco sunk to lowest levels ever.
    • Sheriff siezed Hite’s slaves and horses to jail (Apr. 12, 1774)
  • Reclamation of property
    • Thomas Hite (son) and his gang surrounded the jail and siezed the salves & horses
    • The slaves would suffer if Sherriff recaptured them 1; Hite used this to convince and arm slaves against the Sherrif.
  • Debt was a powerful reason to protest Parliament.
    • Sherriff feared jury would side with Hite:

      “…it being too general a wish among the people to evade the payment of their Debts and render the authority of [court] Judgements… of none effect.”2

    • Virginia courts refused to try suits brought by creditors 3 against debtors 4
      • Temporarily closed to protest Parliament’s assault on “American liberty” and to prevent creditors from taking property and freedom from debtors.

Hite’s story as proof against a faulty historical record

  • Surely Hite’s story of desperation must not apply to other American figures; Patrick Henry, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson.
  • Opposition historical viewpoint:
    • Washington and Jefferson were confident and successful, continuing westward expansion was inevitable given:
      • Slave ownership
      • A solid relationship with British merchants
      • Exercising “almost unchallenged hegemony” over other classes in the province
    • The key to Virginia gentlemen’s secure position was a good relationship with small farmers, then
      • Surrounded by farmers, tenants, artisans, sailors
      • Historians question the assertion of gentry 5 confidence
  • It was not that the gentry 5 ‘pulled the strings’ of other groups 6; each group had leverage but, in complex and perhaps unintentional ways, helped push the gentry towards rebellion. (pg. 4)


What defines the ‘gentry’?

  • Owned money, slaves, and land.
  • Sat on the House of Burgesses, Executive Council, benches of county courts.
  • Fought for capital, labor, and land in each group
    • British merchants over capital
    • Agricultural workers over labor
    • Natives over their land
mercantile firms and transatlantic slave traders in Glasgow, London, and other British ports.
storekeepers or factors
employees of merchants located in the Chesapeake.
independent Virginia entrepreneurs.

Ways gentry-group interactions shapes independence

  • British-gentry-slave relationships
    • Enslaved population grew from 9% to 40% by 1775 7; good news for slaveowners and allowed House of Burgesses to stop importation of slaves 8.
    • British merchants persuaded Britain’s executive body to veto Virginian taxes on every imported African slave.
    • Threat of new slaves + financial damage by London government = support for political independence.
  • Late 1774, enslaved Virginians, who hoped to become free, furthered patriotic centiment and aided white Virginians.
  • Nonexportation provisions of Continental association deprived smallholders of their export income.
    • Contributed to gentry’s decision to make formal declaration of independence.

Notes on Section 2: Tobacco Growers Versus Merchants and Parliament (pg. 7)

Main Ideas

  • Many conflicts between tobacco growers and merchants & Parliament spurred the want for independence.
  • The Navigation Acts and limitations on trade drastically cut tobacco grower’s profits; the price of tobacco fell at least 75%.
  • Tobacco Growers and other poorer Virginians increasingly had conflicts with British creditors who came to collect debt, often by taking a large portion of the debtor’s property.
  • By forcing the Atlantic Slave Trade, Britain economically hurt and destabilized Virginia.
  • Taxation without representation was characterized as slavery. Britain has already monopolized Virginia’s trade, so they had no right to tax them as well. Even slaves (actual slaves) had the right to own their own money during Sundays and evenings.

Opening Ideas

  • Robert Routledge, Tuesday, June 3rd, 1766.
    • Lived in Virginia and sold freign merchandise to tobacco farmers.
    • Celebrating Parliament’s repeal of the Stamp Act (Virginia courts closed and refused to hear cases)
    • Courthouses would now reopen and Routledge could resume action against debtors.
  • John Chiswell
    • In thousands of pounds of debt
    • Son-in-law (John Robinson) died, lent Chiswell money; courts would demand funds be repaid.
  • Conflicting attitudes about the reopening of courts and got in an argument at the tavern.
    • Chiswell killed Routledge by sword, then later committed suicide.
  • Conflict between creditors and debtors (growsers and merchants).

On Debt

  • Many conflict revolved around debt.
    • Routledge and Chiswell (see above).
    • Jacob Hite’s debt drove him to attack the county jail and arm his slaves agains tthe Sherriff.
    • Thomas Swetnam fell so deep in debt his property was exhausted and his children were sold.
  • Debt destroyed lives and families, but also personal independence.
    • People that loathed debt feel deeper in it.

Explanations of Debt

  • Wealthy debtors and gentlemen attributed financial difficulties to the cutting out of middlemen dues.
    • Money problems blamed on personal extravagance.
  • Convinced British merchants persuaded Parliament to adopt policies that favored their interest and the expense of Virginians.

Mercantilism as Slavery (pg. 11)

  • In 1760s and 1770s, American pamphleteers often compared British taxations with consent as enslavement.
    • Becoming “the slaves of Britain”
  • Virginia slaveholders could not take away slaves’ rights to earn money for themselves on evenings and Sundays.
    • The British Parliament, while taking away much, still allowed “us the little we have been permitted to earn for ourselves”9.
  • Argument: Britain, which has monopolized Virginia’s trade, has no right to tax them as well.

The Argument Against Taxation (pg. 11)

  • Taxation as slavery may have been one of the reasons why colonists objected so much to parliamentary taxes that would seem less than in England, Wales, and Scotland.
  • Justifications:
    • Constitutional. Parliament has no right to taxation because colonists were not represented in it.
    • Practical. A master that has already control of his slaves’ labor cannot do the same with evening hours.
      • e.g. colonists have already submitted to Navigation Acts. They have shared their wealth to Britain enough.

The Navigation Act & Limitations on Trade (pg. 12)

  • Navigation act: dictates that goods could only be exported from the colonies to England on British forces.
  • Exluded Dutch merchantmen from the Chesapeake trade; price of tobacco fell 75%.
  • Additional Navigation Act - prohibited shipment of foreign goods to American colonies except through British ports.
  • Navigation Acts and fall in tobacco market blamed for social unrest (Bacon’s Rebellion 1676 and 1682 plant-cutting riots especially).
  • Petitions and criticisms were censured and ignored.
    • This spurred a growing demand for independence from Britain.
  • Limited trade only with Britain tied up Virginians.

    Only by making trade free could Virginia render it profitable. -Richard Henry Lee

  • Navigation acts blamed for tobacco grower debts and Virginia’s trade deficit. 10
    • Arthur Lee argued half of Virginia’s trade deficit was the result of the Navigation Acts.
  • 100% of Chespeake tobacco was shipped to Britain.
  • 15% of tobacco was consumed in Britain, the remaining being exported to the European continent.
  • The sale profiteer was the British merchant, not the Chesapeake tobacco grower.
  • British mercantilism was seen as a “heavy tax upon the colonies” itself.
    • Why make ‘double contributions’ with parliamentary taxation?
  • The Americas gave England raw materials, Britain gave the American colonies manufactured goods.

  • Rationale for British taxation
    • Seven Years’ War doubled its debt from 72m to 123m.
    • Army officers returning from America told stories of fabulous wealth; British politicans enacted
      • Stamp Act (1765)
      • Townshend Duties (1767)
        • 1769 newspaper writer: “a gift to glind your eyes, whilst they continue to clog your trade.”
      • The Navigation Acts
        • Colonial trade helped expand ‘British greatness’.
        • 1/3 of Britain’s overseas trade was with the American colonies.
        • Navigation Acts as the great guardian of British Commerce (Lord George Townshend)

Soft Virginian Rhetoric Towards Mercantilism (pg. 15)

  • Rhetoric against the Navigation Acts in Virginia was strong
  • Did not advocate completely against a mercantilist system dismantling for reasons mentioned above; economically the British relied on mercantilism to survive.
  • Denouncing mercantilism openly would
    • “unite every man in Britain against us.” -Richard Henry Lee
    • Turn away powerful British merchants, from which many of the Virginian elite relied upon
  • By the end of 1774, most Virginians chose not to demand Parliament to lift restrictions on trade and manufacturing.

The Attack on Manufacturing (pg. 16)

  • Britain wished to maintain a monopoly on manufacturing.
  • Prohibited Americans from making iron and selling hats or woolen cloth outside of their home, shipping utensils in cotton and linen manufactures, among other manufacturing taxations.
  • George Washington 11 resisted the Townshend duties on manufactured goods to avoid dangerous precedent.

Increasing Virginian Anti Navigation Acts Rhetoric (pg. 17)

  • In summer of 1774, Parliament insisted colonists follow Navigation Acts and new taxes; free Virginians refused to for either.
  • Thomas Jefferson: a natural right to a free trade with all parts of the world.
    • British merchants ripped the Americans off via free trade and the limited trade of the American colonies.
  • Jefferson & Thomas Mason advocated for declarations against the Navigation Acts.
  • Most leading Virginians became willing to demand the repeal of the Navigation Acts.

  • After Lexington and Concrd, Virginians lost faith in British merchants persuading Parliament
    • Thus, they spoke openly against the Navigation Acts without fear of offending British businessmen.
  • Free trade became one of the most important centerpieces in advocating for independence.
  • By pitting Virginia tobacco growers against the British merchants, a class conflict in favor of independence emerged.

Creditor-Debtor Conflicts (pg. 18)

  • Both Virginia tobacco growers and British merchants clashed in creditor-debtor legislation.
  • Desperate debtors could become violent, and debt collectors often carried defensive weapons. Imprisoned debtors would burn down jails and attempt to recapture their property.
    • This alarmed the gentry, who believed they could only keep black slaves in check if the white population was completely unified.
  • House of Burgesses tried to legislatively protect debtors from British creditors.

  • Virginia financed Seven Years’ War by printing paper money; value depreciated in relation to pound sterling but did not require Virginia debtors to pay British debts in sterling.
  • Currency Act of 1764 prohibited provincial legislatures from issuing legal tender-paper money which creditors would be legally required to accept in discharge of debts.
  • Loan office proposals were thwarted by government officials who did not want to offend British merchants by approving any money.
    • Virginians expected the loan office to pull them out of financial crisis.
  • A money shortage meant that debtors often had to pay with property and not money.
    • Debtors often paid double what they owed.

Forced Immigration of Africans and West Indians into Virginia (pg. 21)

  • Another grower-merchant conflict was the forced immigration of Africans and West Indians into Virginia.
  • Thomas Jefferson opposed African immigration.
    • Jefferson denounced the slave trade in his draft of the Declaration of Independence because it hurt him personally.
      • Inherited debt from the slave trade.
  • April 1772 - Jefferson and every member of the House of Burgesses voted to ask George III to abolish the Atlantic slave trade.

  • 1767-1796, House of Burgesses voted to double the duty of slaves arriving in Virginia from 10 to 20%.
    • Goal: to curb further slaves, not to increase revenue.
  • Motives:
    • Curb the growth in number of Virginia laborers to increase tobacco price.
    • Increase the amont of cash in free Virginian hands to address hte money shortage.
    • Virginian slave sellers wanted to eliminate competition.
    • Remove tobacco growers financing slaves by going further into debt.
  • Leading Virginians believed cutting back slave imports woudl stabalize Virginia.
    • Slavery required so much capital that other areas like manufacturing projects were neglected.
    • Slavery degraded the value of manual labor.
    • Reduce the chance of slave insurrection plots.

      “Perhaps the primary Cause of the Destruction on the most flourishing Government that ever existed [Rome’s] was the Introduction of great Numbers of Slaves.” -George Mason, 1765.

  • Many richer and older gentlemen had stopped purchasing foreign slaves.
    • Since they produced slaves through existing slaves having children, they had a monopoly on slaves.
  • Less wealthy and younger southern piedmont growers who wanted slaves pressured HoB 12 into reducing the duty from 30% to 10%.
  • Regardless, the HoB tried to limit the trade by doubling the duty and petitioning the Privy Council to end it altogether 13.

  • After rejection, this was blamed on the British slave shippers.
  • Only through independence, could Virginia ignore slave merchants and stop the Atlantic African slave trade.
  • Conflict between Virginia’s gentry class and Britain’s mercantile class.

Notes on Section 6: Gentlemen vs. Farmers (pg. 25)

Main Ideas

  • The American Revolution is remembered as a confident step - it was actually an act of desperation.
  • Independent companies 14 were favored by the poor farmers for their democratic structure; efforts at militia reform and the creation of a minuteman battalion failed and were met with opposition.
    • The reformation, intended to provide structure to militias and quell unrest, provoked more of it.
  • Salt riots formed when the New England Restraining Act took effect as a result of lack of resources; open trade and independence was the prescribed solution.
  • Conflicts between renters and tenants broke out, especially in Loudoun.
    • Tenants, suffering under closed export markets, could not pay rent.
    • Paper money was depreciating in value, yet employers paid tenants in paper money.
    • Renters, who were aware of depreciating paper money, demanded other more constant forms of payment.
    • Tenants formed rent strikes and refused to pay. They were often evicted and had their property siezed.
  • Military policies were controversial.
    • The discrepancy between officers’ and common soldiers’ wages were high.
    • The war continued on for too long.
  • Virginia and other rebel provinces needed to contact a commercial alliance 15 to solve these problems.
    • One could only do so with Independence.
  • A formal government could better deal with uprising and civilian/military disorder.
    • The fear of disorder was a powerful tool for Independence.

Note: Apoligies for the briefness of this section’s notes. I had written them entirely out, but somewhere in the version pathways the commit got mixed and all the section’s progress was lost. Regardless, the main ideas are presented.

James Madison Letter to Thomas Jefferson: October 17, 1788

Access the letter here. Weekly Reading #4.


  • Written by James Madison, addressed to Thomas Jefferson
  • Addressed as “Dear Sir New York Ocr. 17. 1788”, Written from New York City.
  • Comparison of the function performed by a bill of rights in republican and monarchical systems of government and if it is necessary.
  • At this time, the States are adopting the new Constitution and are putting it into action “next March”.
  • The text contains certain encrypted words that have been decrypted; these were written in a numerical code Madison and Jefferson used for confidentiality.
  • Excerpt begins at “The states which have adopted…” and ends at “…will be unnecessarily sacrificed to the many”.
  • See footnote 16 for citations of the excerpt used in class.


  • Key Points
    • Important question: what purpose can a bill of rights serve in a republic (“popular government”)?
    • James Madison is largely conflicted in the debate between whether to include a bill of rights or not. He does not see clear indications for its inclusion or exclusion, although he leans towards its exclusion.
    • Main themes: the danger of democracies & mob rule, the circularity in danger of liberty, comparisons between power dynamics of monarchies and republics.
GovernmentPolitical PowerPhysical PowerPurpose of Bill of Rights
MonarchyIn the few 9In the many 10To unite the people, who have the physical power, to rebel against infringements on rights of the people by the few.
Republic “Popular”In the many 11In the many 11Not much purpose; the majority can infringe upon rights of the minority without political or physical repercussions.
  • Controversial proposal in adding a Bill of Rights.
    • Opinion groups:
      • Some want for further guards of public liberty and individual rights.
      • Some believe such an addition was not necessary (i.e. it already existed).
      • Some believe such articles were not to be in the Constitution at all.
  • James Madison’s Opinion on the Bill of Rights

    My [James Madison] own opinion has been in favor of a bill of rights; provided it be so framed as not to imply powers not meant to be included in the enumeration. At the same time I have never thought the ommission a material defect, nor been anxious to supply it even by subsequent amendment, for any other reason than that it is anxiously desired by others.16

    • Paraphrase: James Madison is in favor of a bill of rights given that it does not list too many individual powers; he is also fine with its exclusion (not a ‘material defect’). Largely neutral in opinion, although later he will provides reasoning against inclusion of a bill of rights.
    • Believed the Bill of Rights could be of use and “of no disservice” if executed properly.
  • Issues with the Bill of Rights/Points of Doubt James Madison writes:
    • There is reason to fear this declaration of individual rights would not be obtained with the lateral support necessary.
      • Rights that are broadly declared will likely be narrowed down in interpretation anyway.

        “One of the objections in New England was that the Constitution by prohibiting religious tests open a door for Jews Turks and infidels.” 1

    • The limited powers of the federal government gives the states, ultimately, the most power. This “security”, in Madison’s language, must be maintained.
    • A declaration of bill of rights causes problems when the government needs control.
  • The Danger of Pure Democracies

    “In Virginia I have seen the bill of rights violated in every instance where it has been opposed to a popular current.”2

    • Even if an “explicit provision contained in that instrument for the rights of Conscience3 were to exist, majorities often ‘override’ them.

      “Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is danger of oppression.”4

    • Often, majorities in the community infringe upon the private rights of the minorities, only because in these cases the government is simply a tool of the majority.
      • Madison writes that this truth has not been “sufficiently attended to.”
  • Comparisons in Power Dynamics of Monarchies and Republics
    • Republics are superior to monarchies because there is a lesser probability or impact of abuses of power.
      • In Monarchies, power can be exerted from one person to the majority.
      • In Republics, power can be exerted from a majority to a minority.
    • Differences in political and physical power.
      • In Monarchies, the political power is in the hands of a few but the physical power is in the majority. Rebellion, riot, and revolution likely arise.
      • In Republics, the political and physical power are both in the hands of the majority.
  • The Purpose of a Bill of Rights in Monarchies and Republics
    • What use can a bill of rights serve in popular governments if the majority control both the political and physical power?
    • Two answers Madison provides:
      • When these political truths (i.e. declarations of individual rights) are formally declared and become embedded in national sentiment, they “counteract the impulses of interest and passion.”5
      • Sometimes, infringements of power may also come from unpopular and unjust rulers; a bill of rights will be valuable just as it would be in uniting community in a monarchy.6
  • Liberty is a circular, not linear, in danger.
    • Too much and too little of it is dangerous.

      “It is a melancholy reflection that liberty should be equally exposed to danger whether the Government have too much or too little power”.7

    • The line that divides too much and too litle power is “inaccurately defined by experience.”
  • Madison’s Concluding Statements
    • Absolute declarations of rights should be avoided, in doubtful or emergency cases.
    • Certain rights, regardless how strong, will never be followed if the majority of the public opposes them, and completely lose their value after repeated violation.
      • The best security against the majority rule is to remove their fuel altogether.
    • Regardless, there is infinitely less danger of abuse in a republic than in a monarchy.
      • When power is in the hands of the few, it is natural to abuse it.
      • When power is in the hands of the many, danger is much lesser.

        “It is much more to be dreaded that the few will be unnecessarily sacrificed to the many.”8

Band of Sisters: Class and Gender in Industrial Lowell, 1820-1850 by Michael Reagan


  • November afternoon in 1821: land that was going to become Lowell, Massachusetts.
    • Merrimack & Concord Rivers, Pawtucket falls.
  • Two Boston industrialists: Nathan Appleton and Patrick Tracy Jackson, selecting site for next textile factory.
    • Reshape the countryside, create a city.
  • Lowell was the showcase industrial city of the North.
    • “City of spindles”.
    • Women flooded into the city to take advantage of:
      • High wages and moral paternalism16 of corporations.
  • Lowell became an industrial powerhouse.

Broader Themes Across New England’s Social Fabric

  • Lowell was the footprint of the industrial revolution in the United States.
  • This revolution also shaped the social fabric of New England.
  • Rise of industrial capitalism:
    • Joined wage labor employment.
    • Disrupted traditional gender roles.
    • Accelerated class stratification1.
  • Women negotiated changes - they were the first industrial labor force.
    • Reliance of textile corporations on female labor based on traditional gender devision of labor in textile work.
      • Employed women for the first time outside the home.
  • Social horizons were broadened, cultural restraints on mobility strengthened.

The Fight for Independence and Social Respect

  • Working women of Lowell fought to create independent and socially respected role. (page 2)
  • ‘Factory girls’ fought against gender oppression and labor exploitation.
  • Women’s secondary social status prevented them from acheiving economic and political rights.
    • Unable to vote.
    • Would face ostracism if they spoke.
  • Levied radical critiques of the factory system.
    • Wage labor as ‘wage slavery’.
    • Utilized strikes and worker organization.

The Historical Contradiction

  • Historians put feminist and labor movements in 1800-1860.
  • Rarely do texts engage with class and feminist methods. (page 3)
  • Writings about Lowell and feminism:
    • Confine scope to middle-class suffragettes.
    • Ignore rise of industrialism.
      • Stigmatizes working women.
    • Apply narrow class focus.
      • Labor focus is usually at home.
  • Reagan: class and labor plays a part in feminism.
    • Marxists tried to place female workers into the workingmen movement. (page 4)
  • New trend of scholarship: emphasizes important overlap between Marxist and feminist thought.

    “This essay is an attempt to move in that direction.” (page 4)

Labor and the Cult of Domesticity

  • Begins at page 5.
  • In colonial and revolutionary eras, a woman’s social status was tied to her labor.
    • Families were the unit of economic production.
    • Gender division facilitated production and accomodated farm life.
      • Men labored on staples of family income (crops),women managed and supplied the household.
    • Women’s work was vital to the survival of the home.
  • Gender division required mutual dependency. (page 5)
    • Trust: kept women in respectable positions.
  • Respectability did not change second-class citizenship.
    • Independence was restrained under aspects of society.
    • Women could not:
      • Make contracts
      • Sue in cort
      • Own property
      • Make a will
      • Serve on juries
      • Vote or run for office
  • Legal restrictions have economic implications. (page 6)
    • Married woman’s wages, income, and estate are property of her husband.

The Evolution of the Role of Women into the Public Sphere

  • Women’s evolution into the public sphere: industrial capitalism. (page 6)
  • Commercial market expansion & proto-industrial production changed men’s and women’s relationships with home and work.
  • More economical to purchase mass-produced cloth than to make it at home.
  • Freed up women’s labor. (page 7)
“putting out system”
local merchant-artisans organized distribution of unfinished goods to be worked on at homes and returned to markets for sales.
  • “Putting out systems” were at low piece-rate wages but gave women income to contribute.
    • A common practice. (page 7)
  • Weaving raw materials: straw for hats, yarn for textiles, leather for shoes.

Women’s Role in Textile Production

  • 1813: Francis Cabot Lowell began textile production in Waltham, Massachusetts.
  • Employed a female workforce.
    • Used b/c of their historical role as textile laborers.
    • Cheap and exploitable supply of labo.
  • Placed women’s work in a modern industrial production and wage-labor relations. (page 8)

  • An extremely successful operation.
    • Independent producers to wage laborers: ushered in industrial capitalism.
    • Created the ‘permanent factory population’.
  • Women were attracted to factory work by:
    • Relatively high wages.
    • A degree of social independence.
    • Promised protection of corporate paternalism.

Opposition to Women in the Industrialized Workforce and the Invention of the Cult of Domesticity

  • Concern raised over abused English working-class.
    • Lived in miserable conditions and minimal wages.
  • Danger posed to the “women’s character”.
  • Lamented changes of coming industrialism.
    • Household labor enshrined as a natural role for women.

      “Women were the fairer, moral sex whose natural role was the soothe and comfort man.” (page 8)

  • Vision of a soothing, ‘uncorrupted’ woman conflicted with women entering labor relations.
    • Amplified class divisions.
  • Cult of domesticity crafted as the antithesis of a working-class creation in America.
    • Image of ‘the lady’ emerged.
    • Lower-class women were ignored in the formation of values.

Feminism and Activism

  • Working women felt that they needed to defend their femininity to counteract their exclusion from domesticity.
  • Female factory workers were the most radical:
    • Called for equal rights for women’s participation in society and employment.
    • Recognized class-based gender oppression.
  • Became organizers around labor and women’s rights issues. (page 9)

  • Some groups were hostile to women’s radical claims of equality.
    • Workingmen framed support or opposition in patriarchal attitudes.

The Fundamental Industrialist Goal

  • How to use women’s low-cost labor whilst not violating social norms about women’s proper spaces? (page 10)
    • Created public spaces for women to work in, but limited civic participation.
    • Emphasized employer oversight and control.

The Waltham System

  • Women’s social transformation was dependent on the transformation of labor.
  • Disurptions laid the foundation for emergence of Lowell and industrial revolution.
    • 1807 Embargo Act
    • 1812 war with Great Britain
  • Merchant capitalists looking to spend their money elsewhere with profitable returns.

Setbacks and Design

  • Worked with partners and investors in Boston to organize a factory system.
    • Each facet of production isolated, but integrated.
  • First trial in Waltham, Massachusetts.
  • Initial setbacks (page 10):
    • Financing and organizing such a large project.
      • Solved by the ‘corporation’ legal entity creation.
      • Lowell raised capital and established a hierarchy of authority.
    • Scarcity of labor and stigma of factory work.
      • Derived from the English working-class.
      • Turned to women’s labor
  • Problem: control.
    • Addressed problems of the ‘putting out system’.
    • Concentration of production in one site established control.

The Need for Female Labor

  • Relied on tradition of women’s textile work and low cost.
  • Used not only to establish social acceptance of women in the workforce, but to establish control.
  • Factory work had a reputation of being for those with the lowest intelligence and morals.
    • Males were generally repulsed by factory work; viewed as a loss of independence.
  • Industrialists looked at marginalized labor sources to fulfill industrial demand.
  • Solution: high wages and moral regulation.
  • High wages:
    • A mill hand could earn in 1836 from 50 to 75 cents per day.
    • After a week, women could take as much as two dollars.
      • Well over other female professions but below that of average male mechanics.
    • High wages and payment in cash were a sharp turn from the putting out system.
      • Waltham system: utilizing patriarchal traditions of subordinating female labor to a male head.
  • Corporate paternalism & moral regulations:
    • Attempted to make women’s industrial work socially acceptable. (page 13)
    • Boardinghouse system pooled labor of women from isolated rural farms located all over New England.
    • Reassured New England communities that women’s moral virtue would be safeguarded.
  • Boarding house: protected women’s morality by:
    • Locking doors at 10 PM
    • Forbidding unapproved visitors
    • Enforcing church attendance
    • Banning ‘improper conduct’

Benefits of the Boardinghouse System

  • Boardinghouse system solved the two problems: scarcity and widespread public conern about the protection of moral character. (page 13)
  • Also benefited employers. (page 14)
    • When one factory girl led her room into the street in a 1836 strike, the matron was fired for not controlling her.
      • Was a check on improper behavior.
    • Exercised complete control over the girls.
  • Any worker who ended work had to recieve an honorable discharge to work again in the industry.
    • Company agents shared blacklist.
    • Advocating for change would place you on the blacklist.

Industrial Women

Visible Resistance

  • 1830s and 1840s - women’s labor protests engaged in explicitly public action.
  • 1840s - working women of Lowell organized Female Labor Reform Association.
    • Edited newspaper.
    • Organized petition drives.
    • Spread organization to other textile factory towns.
  • Protest in response to control and pay cutbacks.
    • Counter company propaganda.
  • Tired of working as much as 14 hours a day in unhealthy conditions.
  • Women’s resistance began with private, individual actions. (page 16)

  • Discharges show individual acts of challenging corporate authority.
    • Mutiny.
    • Disobedience.
    • Captiousness.

Diminishing Corporate Returns

  • Corporations saw enormous profits in first decade, but over several decades saw diminishing returns. (page 17)
  • In order to continually maximize profit, increased exploitation of workers.
    • Made them more productive.
    • Cut their wages.
  • 1830’s women began to organize against these conditions.

Strike Attempts

  • 1834, faced a wage cut of 19%.
  • Corporations preemptively fired one of the leaders.
  • Women used limited organization to the best of their ability.
  • Strike:
    • First day of strike: tried to rouse many working women in Lowell.
    • Second day of strike: petition circled that declared “union is power”, signed by 1,200 workers who pledged not to go back until wages were restored.
  • Unsuccessful strike. 1/6 of laborers in Lowell turned out, and effect on production was minimal.
  • Strikers relied on moral persuasiveness and symbolic weight of absence.

  • Agitation: corporations raised the cut of the boardinghouses (12.5% wage cut).
  • 1836 strike; between 1/4 and 1/3 (1.5k to 2.5k) workers left.
  • Women formed a temporary union.
  • Successful strike; corporations rescinded fee increase.

Political Organizations

  • 1830s strikes became political organizations in 1840s.
  • Lowell: the creation of the Female Labor Reform Association.
    • Directed petition drives to get state legislature to shorten work day to 10 hours.
    • Spread organization to other parts of New England.
    • Joined with New England Workingmen’s Association.
  • LFLRA under Sarah G. Bagley became one of the most successful nad radical workers’ organization in New England.
  • Membership into the hundreds within first few years.
    • Strength despite employer threats.

Successes of the LFLRA

  • 1845 - led a statewide campaign to petition Massachusetts legislature to limit working day to 10 hours. (page 19)
  • Asked state charters of incorporation for textile manufactures to give workers basic protections.
  • Petition drive 1: 1,151 signatures in Lowell & 2,139 names in state.
  • Legislature responded by forming a committee to investigate working conditions.
    • Head: William Schouler, Lowell representative.
    • Deemed regulation problematic and unnecessary.
    • Misrepresented testimony.
    • Bagley attacked Schouler, calling him a corporation machine or tool.
  • Schouler was voted out of office.
    • An incredible accomplishment considering women were not allowed to vote.

Themes of Revolution Across Strikes

  • Issue behind strikes and political actions not the issue of a wage reduction, but status and control.
  • Lowell women & labor movement in general relied on tradition of independence and revolt dating back to the Revolution.
    • Locke, Wollstonecraft, Jefferson influenced thinking and behavior.
  • Women defended positions as ‘daughters of freemen’.
    • Directly referencing revolutionary heritage.

      As our fathers resisted unto blood the lordly avarice of the British ministry, so we, their daughters, never will wear the yoke which has been prepared for us . . . [or] yield to the wicked oppressions attempted to be imposed upon us. (page 20)

  • Attempted to maintain dignity & independence of labor against corporate encroachment.

Wage Slavery

  • Working class Lowell women compared situation to slavery.
    • Loss of control of their labor.
    • Superficial resemblances.
  • Long black wagons sent by corporations looked like interstate slave traders.
  • Corporate hierarchy, condemned for tyranny and contradiction of libertarian and democratic principles.
  • Corporations changed the relationship of the individual to labor, extracting control.

Workingwomen and Workingmen

  • Establishment of low wage alternative to mechanics threatened workingmen’s livelihoods. (page 22)
    • Framed attacks not on corporations but on working women.

Criticism of the Corruption of Virtuous and Moral Character

  • Argued that public labor eroded women’s moral and virtuous character.
  • Press criticized women’s work and ridiculed women’s public actions.

    “The ambition of woman should be to beautify and adorn the domestic circle . . . yet how often do we see them declining to labor in a family, and preferring the quasi-slavery of a cotton factory, the last place in the world, a fashionable female academy excepted, to fit a woman for domestic society and usefulness.” (page 22)

  • Emphasized need to be ‘protected’.
    • Condemned factory system and argued for worker control of production.
  • Assumption: women’s public industrial work was by nature unvirtuous. (page 22)
    • Factory work a stepping stone to prostitution.
  • Illustrates patriarchal attitudes and depth of the “cult of domesticity”.

A Common Interest Hindered by Gender Prejudice

  • Huldah J. Stone. (page 23)
    • Secretary of LFLRA, responsible for selling subscriptions to *Voice of Industry.
  • Workingman - sympathetic to objectives of Voice but would not take a subscription.
  • Stone generally received well in factory towns.
  • Workingwomen eventually did win the support of workingmen, but came with condescending and paternalistic attidues.
    • Relationship between LFLRA and NEWA.
    • Spread quickly to Manchester FLRA and Nashua FLRA,among others.
  • Leadership in LFLRA even had leadership in NEWA.
    • Bagley as vice president (not president; workingmen’s organization needed a male head).
  • LFLRA was admitted into NEWA as an auxiliary.
    • Lowell women were careful about presentation.

Appealing to Patriarchal Attitudes

  • Bagley: asked how girls could help workingmen in arduous battles.

    We do not expect to enter the field as soldiers in this great warfare: but we would, like the heroines of the Revolution, be permitted to furnish the soldiers with a blanket ormreplenish their knapsacks from our pantries. We claim no exalted place in yourmdeliberations, nor do we expect to be instrumental of any great revolutions, yet we would not sit idly down and fold our hands and refuse to do the little that we may and ought to. We expect to see the revolution commenced, recorded among the revolutions of the past.

  • Bagley politely downplayed women’s involvement in labor.
    • NEWA struggled to gain traction b/c of debate between mechanics and ‘utopian socialists’.
  • Needs of labor support superceded radical feminist ideas.
    • Choose between class solidarity and allegiance to ‘womanhood’.

Corporate Feminity

  • Workingmen’s groups were hostile to women’s full participation, but corporations were completely opposed.
  • Corporations: limit women’s public participation to work and not politics.
    • Created a socially accepted place by guaranteeing to exert control.
    • Set up a highly publicized structure of moral police.

Living a Contradiction

  • Corporations gave women a relatively high wage and provided a place to be free of immediate family obligations.
  • Meanwhile, controlled their labor. (page 23)
  • Contradiction:
    • Took independence from public work.
    • Pushed for further gains in social equality and political participation.
  • Specifics of feminine morality and women’s role in society not important to corporations.
    • As long as women remained a controllable workforce, all was fine.

Corporate Redefinition of Womanhood and Feminine Morality

  • Fit working women into emerging middle-class cult of true womanhood. (page 25)
  • Emphasized women’s moral and virtuous character.
  • Sought to remove stigma attached to “factory girl”.
    • Assured investors that Lowell female workers would not be corrupted and debased.
  • Found a place for women outside of the domestic sphere.

Employer Control to Resolve Contradiction

  • A woman could work in public industrial labor and not violate restrictions of the domstic sphere. (page 26)
    • Contradiction solved by employer control.
  • Women maintained virtuous character only through corporate invasion of privacy and rigid control.
    • Boardinghouse system and company firing practices as 2 examples of corporate control.
    • ‘Moral Police’ of corporations.
  • When employees turned to strikes, protests, and petitions, corporations attacked them.
    • Grounds that they were violating social role as women.
    • Redefined public conception of womanhood to align with corporation interests.
  • Corporations directly attacked the feminine identity.
    • Female laborers should attain the corporate definition of a feminine identity.

The Alignment of Social Good and Corporate Interests

  • Belief that idle young women were prone to depravity.
    • Corporations argued employment was a contribution to public morality.
      • It was moral to employ women for 12-14 hour days.
  • Controlling the ‘social identity and morality’ of women also meant quelling strikes.
  • Hence, women attacked the capitalistic structure, which promoted sexism to become profitable.

The Factory Girl

  • Recognition that gender and class oppression reinforced one another contributed to chosen identity: factory girl.
    • A single, cohesive, rebellious identity.
  • Boardinghouses fostered close identification.
    • Close personal and working relationship led to affinity and collective action.
  • Networks of sisterhood.
    • Extended kina nd social relations.
  • “Factory girl” identity as a synthesis of sympathies of shared sisterhood.
    • Synthesis of “woman” and “worker”.
    • Identity of solidarity and support.

Increasing Independence

  • “Factory girls” gained a level of independence unknown before.
  • Mills used mostly young unmarried women.
    • Established them away from families.
    • Paid them comparatively well.
  • Women independent of corporations because they were not solely reliant on them for survival. (page 30)
    • Women returned to family homesteads after a term of work.
      • Relied on family & social networks to support independence from corporations.

An Intellectual Environment

  • Women sneaking single pages of books into mills. (page 30)
    • Reading and committing to memory.
    • Circumventing ban of books in the factory.
  • Lending libraries sprung up in mills.
  • Women questioned their role in supporting slavery, religious and moral concerns, slave-like working conditions.
  • Women transcended restrictions in the domestic sphere.
    • However, voices filtered through reports of men.
  • Lowell Offering - independent. Written and edited by former factory women.
    • Heavy funding from agent limited function.
    • A step in the right direction.
  • Mid-1840s: Voice of Industry.
    • Critiques against working situations in mills, social oppression.
    • Attacking separate-sphere ideologies.
      • Ideology used to limit women’s social action and public participation.
    • Wage discrepancy as evidence of gender and labor oppression.

Conclusion: Working-Class Feminism

  • Sarah Bagley: war with oppression in every form. (page 32)
    • Through writings, actions, and creation of identity, women fought back.
    • Challenged corporate control and women’s exclusion from political activity.
    • Working women that controlled the Voice could put forward fully articulated working class feminism.
  • Transformation of women’s labor and socal status in early 19th century linked to rise of industrial capitalism. (page 33)
    • Corporations brought women’s work into the public sphere.
    • To create a socially acceptable public work role, utilized traditions of patriarchal control.
  • Corporate attempts to include women in the cult of domesticity contradicted corporate femininity ideology.
    • Working women saw and exploited this contradiction.
    • Factory women created working-class feminism.
      • Synthesized opposition to gender oppression and labor exploitation.

Early Factory Labor in New England” by Harriet H. Robinson (1883)


  • Description of factory life in Lowell, Massachusetts, from 1832 to 1848.


  • 1832: Lowell was a small factory village. (page 1)
  • 5 corporations were started.
    • Robinson puts corporations in quotes.
      • Corporations were a newly developed legal entity.
  • Labor was in demand.
    • Stories of high wages were especially contagious.
    • Young girls from New England, Canada were aggregatedand delivered to factories.

The Characterization of Women

  • Lowell cotton mills: “caste of the factory girl.”
    • Described as the lowest employment of a woman.
    • England and France: represented as subjected to negative influences to destroy purity and self-respect.
  • Overseer: saw the factory girl as a “brute, a slave, to be beaten, pinched and pushed about.”

Descriptions of Factory Girls

  • Some were not over 10 years of age, some in middle life.
    • Majority between 16 and 25.
  • Young girls called “doffers”.
    • “Doffed” (took off) the full bobbins in spinning frames and replaced them with empty ones.
    • Worked 15 minutes per hour.
    • Paid 2 dollars a week.
    • On duty nearly 14 hours a day.
  • Working hours of all girls: 5 AM to 7 PM.
    • Two half-hour interjections for breakfast and dinner.

A Pleasant Factory Life

  • Mill girls who had hoems worked 8-10 months a year.
    • Remainder of time spent w/ family or friends.
  • Some taught school during the summer months.
  • No need to advance doctrine in relationship between employer and employed.

    “Help was to valuable to be ill-treated.”

Incentive to Labor - Male Education

  • Secure the means of education for a male member of the family.
    • Make a gentleman of a brother or son.
    • Give him a college education.
  • Dominant thought in many of the “better class of mill-girls.”
    • Giving every cent of wages to her brother to get an education to enter a profession.
  • Many men were helped to an education by mill-girls’ wages.

The Influence of Money on the Woman’s Identity

  • Prior, woman had been money saving instead o money earning.
    • Labor was a small return.
  • Women had no property rights.
    • A widow could be left without her share of the family’s property.
    • Father could make a will without reference to a daughter’s share of inheritance.
  • Law had no recognition of women as money-spenders.
    • If a woman did not marry or re-marry, had no choice but to open few employments.

Lowell 1836 Strike

  • Wages were to be cut.
  • Strike
    • Mills shut down.
    • Girls went from several corporations to the grove on Chapel Hill to listen to early labor reform speeches.
  • Strike did no good in practical results.
  • Corporations would not come to terms.
    • Girls were tired of holding out, went back to work at reduced rate of wages.
  • Set a precedent for succeeding strikes.

Anti-Catholic Petition, 1837


This documents is an Anti-Catholic petition from 97 electors in Washington County, New York to the U.S. Congress, 1837. Source: National Archives, Washington, D.C.

The Defense Against Corrupt Principles

  • Nations fall because of ‘fatal disregard of that which ultimately effected their ruin.’ (paragraph 1)
  • Human institutions are weak against corrupt principles. (paragraph 2)
    • Strength of institutions lies in intelligence, sound principles, and good morals.1 (paragraph 2)
    • Necessity of watchfulness on principles and measures that can ‘subvert the liberties of the State.’

The Dangers of Foreigners

  • America had “equal right of suffrage16”, which was the pride and pinnacle of all political institutions. (paragraph 3)
  • Easy access of foreigners to vote in the United States were dangerous to civil and religious liberties.

    …foreigners of doubtful morals and hostile political principles, is a source of danger…

    • Naturalization was too lenient on foreigners.
  • Inviting the speedy attention of Congress.

Constitutional Justifications

  • Equal right to vote is the right of a majority to rule.
  • The Constitution did not consider a majority “hostile to its principels” (paragraph 4)
  • The United States has principles and institutions to be maintained in opposition to a foreigner.
  • A right to defend liberties from “foreign invasion.”

Proposed Solutions

  • Protecting from ‘foreign invasion’ by open warfare or ‘undercover tactics’ to prevent citizenship. (paragraph 4)
  • Naturalization laws are protected.
    • Accept the poor and the oppressed, and let America be their asylum.

      Let us see that those admitted from the lap of tyranny to the right of suffrage with us be indeed the friends of our cherished liberties.

    • Those that are accepted must accept and embrace American principles.

Roman Catholics

  • The flow of Roman Catholics from Europe and their admission to citizenship is concerning. (paragraph 5)
  • Foreigners “retaining their principles” threatens civil and religious liberties.
  • Catholicism - a practice that is persecuting, sanguinary, and encroaching.
  • No hostility towards Roman Catholics.2 (paragraph 6)
    • Asking no legislation against the religion, but asking ‘defensive religion’ against its political principels.
    • Combat with education and religious institutions.

Intolerance Towards Intolerance

  • Catholicism advocates for ‘political intolerance’, therefore the religious liberties of the Constitution dictate intolerance for it.
  • Political intolerance does not escape under the guise of religion. (paragraph 7)
  • Argues that Roman Catholics tie their religion with their politics.
    • Union of Church and State, “and the subjection of the latter to the former” (paragraph 7)
    • Allegiance to the Pope of Rome.
  • Amendments to laws of naturalization to secure free institutions, liberties, “even under the cloak of religion.”

“Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People” by Helen Zia

Asians in the Early Americas

  • First Asian Americas appeared as early as the 1500s.
  • Spanish galleon trade between Manila and Mexico - Phillipine sailors conscripted into service on Spanish shifts.
    • Settlement on coast of Louisiana.
  • 1600s, Chinatown in Mexico City.
    • Asians seen as threats to a ‘New World’.
  • Asian American New Worker in 1825.
    • Son of a Chinese merchant seaman and an Irishwoman.
  • 1850, young Japanese sailor rescued at sea by an American ship; became a U.S. citizen.

Asian American Migration and Anglo American Slavery

  • 1806: 200 Chinese were brought to Trinidad.
    • Used ‘coolie’ labor from China and India to perform the same conditions.
    • Continued slavery under Asians that worked alongside Africans.
  • Asian workers were not slaves.
    • Worked knowing they would be free after they served 8 year contracts.
    • A pool of desperate Asian workers available as commodities.
  • Reliance on Asia for cheap labor.
  • 1845 and several decades afterwards: >500,000 Asian Indians shipped to Buyana, West Indies, and French Colonies.
    • Importation of Chinese in 1847 to Cuba.
    • Over 125,000 chinese supplementing shrinking African labor force.

The Pioneers from Asia

  • When gold was first discovered, <100 Chinese (merchants and traders) were living in California.
  • Plans to import labor was already being discussed.
  • 1860: 41,000 Chinese had come to the United States.
    • ‘semifree’ men deeply in debt.
    • Comparison: 2.5 million Europeans immigrated in the same period.
  • New laws and taxes singled out the Chinese.
    • Foreign-miners tax targeted Chinese miners. (page 5)
    • Forbade Chinese to testify in court, even in their own defense.
    • Zoning ordinances enforced against Chinese.
    • Citizenship denied to the Chinese even after the Civil War because they were neither black nor white.
  • Killings. (page 5)
    • White gold diggers siezed Chinese miners’ stakes by beating, burning, and shooting the Chinese.
    • Mass kidnappings and murders of the Chinese.
  • Work for the railroad company.
    • Expelled from the gold fields.
    • 12,000 Chinese were hired. 90% of company’s workforce.
    • Shovelled, picked, blasted, drilled through mountain peaks.
    • 1 in 10 Chinese died building the railroad.
    • Were paid 60% the salary of white workers.
    • Chinese workers went on strike but were forced back to work when food suply was cut.

The Driving-Out Time

  • Late 1870s, anti-Chinese “Yellow Peril” movement gripped the West.
  • Cities erupted in riots against the Chinese.
    • Buildings were burned to the ground.
    • Murders and lynchings were common.
  • Workingmen’s Party of California: “The Chinese must go!”
    • Attempted to drop a balloon with dynamit on San Francisco’s Chinatown.

Political Labor Stances

  • Democrats exploited race hysteria to win support of labor.
  • Republicans supported business ideal of an unlimited supply of labor.
  • Racism of both parties.

Driving Out

  • From LA to Denver, Seattle to Rock Springs, Chiense were driven out.
  • in Tacoma, Washington, hundreds of Chinese were herded onto boats and set adrift at sea.
  • Mobs burned Chinese homes and businesses in Denver in 1880.
  • New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle feared that the Chinese, with the freed black population, would become a threat.

Chinese Exclusion Act

  • Congress: Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.
  • Barred Chinese from immigrating and forbade legal residents from becoming ciitzens.
    • Inhibited Asian American political development for several decades.
  • First legislation passed by Congress that explicitly targeted a group based on race. (page 6)

Civil Rights Groups

  • Chiense Americans organized civil rights groups.
    • Native Sons of the Golden State / Chiense Americans Citizens Alliance in San Francisco
    • Chiene Equal Rights League in New York
    • Chinese Six Companies in 185 fought the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to the Supreme Court.
      • Ruled against them in 1889.
    • 17 lawsuits by Chinese Americans went to the Supreme Court between 1881 and 1896.
  • 1896 Yick Wo v. Hopkins established race neutral laws could not be enforced against a particular group.
  • 1898 Wong Kim Ark - native-born American, established the principle of US citizenship by birthright.
    • Many cases became precedents that broke down barriers for African Americans.

An Elusive Dream

  • Other Asian nations offered a source of labor when white workers weren’t willing to.
  • American labor brokers introduced Japanese, Indian, Korean, and Filipino workers.
  • Ethnic hostilities pitted Asians against each other.

Japanese Immigration

  • 1888, 75 Japanese workers brought for the Californian harvest.
  • Japan was in deep economic crisis.
  • Widespread starvation motivated many to become indentured laborers in America.
  • 1920s - Japanese American population reached 220,596, almost 2x the Chinese population.
  • Japanese government16 took interest in citizen’s welfare.
    • Confident citizens would avoid fate of the Chinese.
    • Believed they were responsible for their misfortunes in America.
  • ‘Picture bride’ system - matchmaking through photo exchanges.
    • Women were encouraged to emigrate for stabilization.
  • Growing Japanese population on the West Coast and in Hawaii became target for racial hatred against the Chinese.

Race Lumping

  • anti-Chinese and anti-Japanese slurs were used against both with no difference.
  • New laws were written against the Japanese.
    • Condemned as being more dangerous because they were willing to adopt American customs.1 (page 7)
  • Chinese attacked for not assimilating.
  • Japanese attacked for integrating too much.

Anti-Asian Legislation

  • 1913 - many states west of Mississippi River prohibited Chinese and Asian Indians from owning land.
  • Alien Land Law passed in 1920.
    • Prevented anyone of Asian ancestry from owning land.
Ozawa v. United States, 1922
  • Takao Ozawa attended high school in California and studied at University of California for 3 years.
  • Had no dealings with Japanese organizations.
  • Family spoke Englisha nd children attended American schools.
  • US District Court rejected application for citizenship in 1916.
    • Qualified for citizenship, except for race.
  • Supreme Court upheld decision that Ozawa was not entitled to citizenship because of his race.
  • A setback for the Japanese.
    • Attacked as being too foreign and for being too ready to adapt.
    • Kingdom of Hawaii - many Japanese had become naturalized, but when Hawaii become a territory the US refused to recognize US citizenship.

      “Of all the races ineligible to citizenship, the Japanese are the least assimilable and the most dangerous to this country… They come here… for the purpose of colonizing and establishing permanently the proud Yamato race. They never cease to be Japanese.” -V.S. McClatchy, Congress Testimony.

Immigration Act of 1924
  • Worded in a veiled way to sound applicable to all immigratns.
  • Barred anyone whow as “forbidden to be a U.S. citizen” from immigrating at all.,
  • Intent of law: halt Japanese immigration.
  • White nativists complained of ‘huge waves’ of Asian immigrants.
    • 275,000 Japanese over 30-year span.
    • 283,000 Italians in one year (1913-14).
    • Development of a white culture?

Indian Labor

  • Population of Japanese immigrants increased.
    • Plantation owners and labor brokers feared they might organize for more money.
    • Keep the workforce fragmented: looked to India for workers.
  • 1900: about 2,050 Asian Indians lived int eh United States.
    • Professionals, students, merchants, or visitors.
  • 1906-1908: nearly 5,000 Asian Indians from the Punjab region arrived in Canada.
  • Canada quickly established regulations.
  • Misbranding: ‘Hindus’.
    • In reality, most were Sikhs and one third were Muslim.
  • Many Indians headed south to Washington and Oregon.
  • Intra-Asian hostilities arose between Japanese and Asian Indian laborers.

Asian Indian Race Theories and Superiority

  • Some Caucasians included Asian Indians in their race. (page 8)
    • European Americans acknowledged them as “full-blooded Aryans.”2
    • Asian Indians counted as the “Mediterranean branch of the Caucasian family.”
  • Led many Asian Indians to believe they were above other Asian migrants.
  • Citizenship was granted to about 67 Indians in 17 states.
Asian Indian Exclusion
  • Dark skin and willingness to work for low wages made Asian Indians a theat to white society.
    • Japanese and Korean Exclusion League (est. 1905) changed their name to Asian Exclusion League to include Punjabis.
  • Barred Asian Indians from entering the United States between 1908 and 1920.
  • Whites forced several hundred Asian Indians from Bellingham, Washington across the border in Canada, 1907.
  • Asian Indians in Everett, Washington were rounded up and expelled.
  • Indian immigration ended with the Immigration Act of 1917.
Bhagat Singh Thind
  • Attempted to break citizenship barriers for Asian Indians.
  • Bhagat Singh Thind took the issue to court.
    • Thind granted citizenship in 1920 by an Oregon court on grounds that he was Caucasian.
    • Federal government disagreed and apealed in 1923.
  • Thind reasoned that Indians are Caucasians, not Asians.
  • Court ruled in United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind that it was not enough to be Caucasian.
    • It was necessary to be white.
  • Citizenship of naturalized Indian Americans revoked. (page 8)

Korean Labor

  • Korea offered a pool of cheap labor for the United States.
  • Political and economic instability resulted from Japanese aggression.
  • 1903 to 1907: about 7,000 Koreans came to the United States.
    • Worked as contract plantation workers to Hawaii.
  • Korean immigrants came from cities.
    • Worked as police officers, miners, clerks, etc.
    • 40% were Christians, encouraged to come to the US by American missionaries.
  • Koreans didn’t develop communities or settlements.
    • Sought to become quickly integrated into American society.
    • Learned English as quickly as possible.
    • Workshipped as Christians.
    • Expressed gratitude towards America.
  • Many Koreans felt that the Chinese and Japanese were to blame for their downfalls.
  • Koreans in America were still subject to anti-Asian laws.
    • Barred from citizenship, land ownership, and equal access to education and housing.
  • Japan, which occupied Korea since late 1800s, cut off Korean immigration to Hawaii in 1970.
    • Feared Korean labor would hurt Hawaiian Japanese.
  • Immigration Act of 1924 ended all immigration from China, japan, India, and Korea.

Philippine Labor

  • The Philipines was a U.S. territory and residents were U.S. nationals.
  • Filipinos carried U.S. passports and could travel in the United States.
    • Only Asians eligible for immigration after 1924.
  • Many Filipinos came to the U.S. as college students beginning in 1903.
  • Filipinos believed they could circumvent troubles of other Asians.
Miscegenation and Salvador Roldan
  • 1993: Filipino Salvador Roldan sought right to marry outside his race.
  • 1880 California Antimiscegenation law.

    Prohibited marriage between whites and “Negroes, mulattoes, or Mongolians.”

  • Roldan argued that Filipinos were “Malay”, not “Mongolian”.
  • California Court of Appeals agreed that Filipinos were not Mongolian.
    • Allowed Roldan to marry his white fiancee.
  • The California legislature immediately voted to add “Malay” race to the list.
Fears and Solutions to Filipino Integration
  • Feared that Filipino men had a preference for white women.

    “California in this matter is seeking to protect the nation… against this peaceful penetration of another colored race.” -V.S. McClatchy

  • White exclusionists argued that the one way to end Filipino immigration was to grant independence to the philippines.
Tydings-McDuffie Act and Anti-Filipino Legislation
  • 1934: converted the Philippines to a commonwealth.
  • All Filipinos were reclassified as aliens and prohibited from applying for citizenship.
  • Only 50 Filipinos would be permitted to immigrate every year.
  • Congress offerred to pay workers’ fare to the Philippines if they agreed not to return.
    • Fewer than 5% took the offer.

Working on the Fringes of America

  • Of the 489,000 Asians living in the US when immigration from Asia was shut in 1934, 99% had come to work as laborers.
  • Found no solidarity with other workers. (page 9)
  • Status as “aliens ineligible for citizenship” who were neither black nor white.
    • Objects of hostility ann revulsion.

The Use of Asian Workers as Racial Leverage

  • California business leaders acknowledged in late 1800s that industries developed wiht Chinese labor.
    • build railroads.
    • drained delta swamps of Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers.
    • build vineyards and worked in main manufacturing industries.
  • Low wages they were paid could be used to intimidate white and black workers.
  • Southern plantation owners imported Chinese to Mississippi, Arkansas, and Lousiana in the 1870s.
  • Brought to factories in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania to keep wage rates low.
  • Gave white labor the possibility of upward mobility by subordinating the Chinese.

    “After we got Chinamen to work, we took the more intelligent of the white laborers and made foremen of them… they got a start by controlling Chinese labor on our railroad.” -Railroad builder Charles Crocker

  • Native Hawaiian population decimated by illnesses. (page 10)
    • Plantation developers relied on imported Asian labor.
    • 1920: contractors imported >300,000 laborers from Asia.

Racial and Ethnic Antagonism

  • Labor strategy: keeping a variety of laborers of different nationalities prevented unified action.
  • Asian workers were commodities. One plantation receipt reads:

    Bone meal, canvas, Japanese laborers, macaroni, a Chinaman.

  • Race-peddling and control.
    • Foreign labor was used to ‘set an example’ for Native Hawaiian workers.
    • Chinese hired to ‘play off’ Japanese.
    • Portuguese used to offset the Chinese.
  • Inter-Asian resentment led to fights and riotsin labor camps.
  • Divide-and-conquer strategy was effective.

Cross Nationality Unification

  • Even attempts to provoke ethnic disruption were trumped by eventual ethnic unity.
  • 1920: Filipino and Japanese plantation workers joined against plantation owners.
    • 3,000 members of Filipino Federation of Labor and 5,000 Japanese workers went on strike after higher demands for wages rejected.
    • Representing 77% of the workforce, halted sugar production.
    • Led to a $12 million production loss.
  • Strikers joined by Portuguese and Chinese workers in an interethnic labor action in Hawaii.
  • Resulted in a 50% wage increase. (page 10)
    • Paved the way for strong trade union movement tradition.
  • Filipino workers contributed to the American labor movement.
    • Built interethnic solidarity with Mexican and white workers.
    • 1936 strike alongside Mexican workers.
    • Filipino labor activists initiated United Farm Workers’ grape pickers’ strike that Cesar Chavez would build into a movement.

Asian Contributions

  • 1875: Ah Bing developed the Bing cherry in Oregon.
  • 1886: Lue Gim Gong produced the frost-resistant Lue orange.
    • Foundation of Florida’s citrus industry.
  • Hawaii: Japanese workers created irrigation through the islands.
  • 1921: Koreans Harry Kim and Charles Kim invented the nectarine.
  • Descendants of Filipino sailors introduced sun-drying shrimp to Louisiana.

Going Around Legislative Restrictions

  • Children of immigrants were American citizens by birth and not subject to alien land ownership prohibitions.
  • Immigrants bought farmland in children’s names.
  • Asian immigrants were able to create thousands of acres of productive farms across the West.
  • Still treated as foreigners.

“Becoming Caucasian: Vicissitudes of Whiteness in American Politics and Culture” by Matthew Frye Jacobson

Thesis and Introduction

  • Race is thought of as being a feature of the natural landscape and as being biological.
  • Instead, racial categories change in response to politica, economic, and social circumstances.
  • European immigrants have been racialized and reracialized.
    • This demonstrates the mutability of racial constructions.
  • Argument: race is not social but biological.
    • Why can a white woman have black children but a black woman cannot have white children?
    • What happened to Celts, Slavs, Hebrews, Anglo-Saxons?
    • There is a level of arbitrariness in affixing racial labels.
    • Racial groups become. For instanc, Jews became viewed as caucasian.
  • Two premises:
    1. Race resides not in nature, but in politics and culture.
    2. Race perceptions shift over time, and for particular reasons.
  • Non-white groups defined whiteness historically.

History, Power, and the Mutability of Race

  • White privilege has been a ‘constant’ in American political culture.
    • Whiteness has been subject to all sorts of historical vicissitudes.
    • For instance, Alabama Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a crime of miscegenation because the Sicilian woman was not deemed white.
  • A broader pattern of racial thinking persisted in the US between the mid 1800s to the mid 1900s.
  • One could be an exotic racial ‘other’ as well as an acceptable, chivalric European.
    • Usages of ‘white’, ‘Caucasian’, and ‘Celt’ had tremendous overlap.
    • Often, racial designations were also relative to each other.
  • Political culture produced a racial order that drew a color line around, rather tehan within Europe. (page 8)
  • Race is a theory of history.
    • Who belongs to what and who does not.
    • Who deserves what and who is capable of what.
  • Looking at racial categories offers glimpse into theories of history.

The First Great Epoch: Naturalization Law

  • The naturalization law of 1790 limited naturalized citizenship to free white persons.
  • Demonstrates ‘republican convergence of race and “fitness for self-government”’ (page 9)
  • Presumed character and unambiguous boundaries of whiteness.
  • Demonstrated tasks of citizens in a settler society against ‘Indians’ and slave rebellions.

The Second Great Epoch: Altering Authority and Untouched Enlightenment

  • American Revolution radically changed lines of authority from the Crown to the people.
  • Left untouched Enlightenment assumptions of what ‘the people’ should be (page 9).
  • Demanded moral character from people.
    • Needed to be disciplined, self-sacrificing, productive, wise.
    • Characters inscribed in Euro-American thought.

      Negro: “idelness, treachery, revenge, debauchery, nastiness.” Entry for an encyclopedia in Philadelphia, 1790.

  • Citizenship became linked to whiteness naturally.
  • This uncomplicated view of whiteness existed until the 1840s.

The Third Great Epoch: Massive Immigration

  • A massive influx of undesirable but white person from Ireland.
    • Caused new interpretations in whiteness.
  • Mass European immigration from 1840s until 1924.
    • Whiteness became a hierarchy of plural and scientifically determined white races.
  • Questions on whether immigrants were fit for self-government or not.
  • Anglo-Saxon supremacism replaces simple white supremacy.
  • Restrictive legislation and racial mixing generated by African-American migration.
    • Whiteness was reconsolidated.

Race as Not Only a Conception But a Perception

  • Problem is not how races are comprehended or defined, but how they are seen.
  • In racial matters, the “eye that sees” is conditioned by a certain culture.
  • Race as an ideology resides in its ability to pass from generation to generation.

A Case Study: Laura Z. Hobson’s Gentlemen’s Agreement

The Question of Visuality

  • Looking at American Jews’ racial “odyssey”: from ‘Semitic’ or ‘Hebrew’ to ‘Caucasian’.
  • Laura Z. Hobson’s 1947 novel Gentlemen’s Agreement.


A journalist named Philip Green is assigned a series on American anti-Semitism for a major news magazine. He hits upon the idea of posing as a Jew, and writing a piece based on his own experience. He finds that most everyone he knows, including his fiancee, is anti-Semitic.

Sameness and Difference

  • Racialized conceptions of Jewishness.
    • Hobson articulates the theme of reracialization beyond passing and interchangability.
    • Three great divisions of mankind: “Caucasian race, the Mongoloid, the Negroid… There is no Jewish race.”
  • Franz Boas in 1930s attempted to stir indignation in the scientific communit about German extermination of Jews.
    • Both sides of the Atlantic lamented the method, not the ethnological findings.
  • Is decency predicated on sameness?
    • Challenging percieved difference dividing Anglo-Saxon and Hebrew while not touching the differences between “Caucasian” and “Negroid” or “Mongoloid”.
  • Endorsement of the color-line.
  • Provides no syntax for commenting on anti-black racism (page 16)

Recasting Race as Color

  • Racial difference; Caucasian unity won.
  • “White races” had significant impact on ideology and perception.
  • Politics of justice: not based on sameness, but acceptance of difference.


  • A snapshot in time.
    • Hobson attempts to rethink ‘race’ but solidifies whiteness.
  • Europeans’ racial status as “free white persons” were crucial to their entrance.
  • Racial inclusion was premised upon the racial exclusion of others.
  • European immigration and assimilation was fundamentally racial.

John Brown’s Last Speech


On October, 16, 1859, John Brown and nearly two dozen comrades seized the armory at Harper’s Ferry in West Virginia, hoping to use its massive arsenal in the struggle to forcibly end slavery. Captured and brought to trial at nearby Charles Town, Brown was found guilty of treason. One month before his execution, John Brown addressed a courtroom in Charlestown, West Virginia, defending his role in the action at Harper’s Ferry. Henry David Thoreau, although himself did not favor violence, praised John Brown, and when the fiery Preacher was sentenced to death, Ralph Waldo emerson said: “He will make the gallows holy as the cross.”

Denial of Intent

  • Intended to free the slaves.
  • In last winter, took slaves from Missouri to Canada “without the snapping of a gun.”
    • Intended to the same thing on a larger scale.
  • Did not intend murder, treason, or to create a slave insurrection/rebellion16.

Injustice of Penalty

  • It is unjust that such a penalty be given to Brown.
  • If Brown had successfully completed his plans, it would have been right.
    • Every man in the court would have rewarded instead of punished it.

      …so interfered in behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so-called great… …and suffered and sacrificed what I have in this interference…

Religious Justification

  • The court acknowledges the validity of the law of God.
  • The Bible teaches to do unto others what others do to you.
  • Teaches to “remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them.”
  • It was right to interfere on behalf of “His despised poor”.
  • If it is necessary for life to be removed “…for the furtherance of the ends of justice”, then “I submit; so let it be done!”

Concluding Statements

  • Satisfied with treatment on the trial.
    • More generous than expected.
  • Feels no consciousness of guilt; never had malicious intent.

Now I am done.

River of Dark Dreams: Slavery and Empire in the Cotton Kingdom by Walter Johnson


  • Written by Walter Johnson. He is Winthrop Professor of History and Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, where he is also director of the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History.
  • Published by the Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
  • Published in 2013 at Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • The reading excerpt for class is Chapter 9: The Mississippi Valley in the Time of Cotton.
  • Every section will be marked by *Page 244 (excerpt p.2)*. This indicates that the section information begins on page 244 in the book, or the 2nd page of the PDF given for the class reading.

The Hidden Capitalism of Slavery

Page 244 (excerpt p.2)

  • The experience of slaves in the Mississippi Valley seems far from capitalism.
    • Laborered far from the North and England.
  • No exploitation under a contract; seems not to be capitalistic.

Connections Between Slavery of the South and Capitalism of the North

Page 244 (excerpt p.2)

…lashes into labor into bales into dollars into pounds sterling.

  • Planters were not only concerned with profits, but productivity.
    • Extracted profit from slaves by economizing on inputs and extending the working day.
  • Between 1820 & 1860, productivity of slave increased 6x at average cotton plantation.
    • Viewed th ecotton business as a series of sum totals. (days, bales, dollars)
  • Cotton business was less a series of summed-out totals than a set of processes, causes and effects, risks.

The Three Sets of Planters’ Processes

Page 245 (excerpt p.2)

  1. Natural processes by which sun, water, & soil into cotton.
  2. Labor process by which cotton plants turned into bales.
  3. Financial process by which credit was transformed into income.
    • Planters needed to negotiate exchanges.
    • Cotton made at the juncture of these three processes.
      • These forces threatened to escape their control.

Rate of Conversion

Page 246 (excerpt p.3)

  • Slaveholders prided themselves at the rate of which their slaes worked.
  • Planters worried constantly that slaves were not working hard enough.
  • Getting slaves to work harder, faster, and better required ‘supervision’ and ‘management’.
  • Planter’s gaze ruled by productivity.
  • Only wanted to convert cotton with more efficiency.

The Labor Calculation

Page 246 (excerpt p.3)

  • Bales per acre per hand.
  • Standard mesure widely employed.
  • Framed the intensity of cropping cotton and land fertility.
  • This formula calcualtes the productivity of labor, not total yield.
  • Ecological exhaustion. The planters were squeezing out more fertility from the land than it could yield; depleting lands to save labor.

    the great limitation to production is labor. -American Cotton Planter, 1853

Slavery as Productivity

Page 246 (excerpt p.3)

  • 1860s - defenders of slavery pointing to the productivity of labor.
  • Bales per acre per hand rose from 4 to 5 to 8, then even 10.
    • the “seeming productiveness of slavery” - David Christy
  • Defenders believed productivity of labor to be a defining feature of Southern civilization.

The Aggregate Output Calculation

Page 247 (excerpt p.3)

  • Pounds per day was an important metric.
  • Slaves picked, cleaned, ginned, packed, and shipped millions of pounds of cotton.
  • Daily numbers were used to tract deviations at the beginning of the season.
    • Deviated numbers were disciplined.
  • If the weight of the cotton falls short in weight, the “[slave] must suffer.”

Violence as the Metric of Production

Page 248 (excerpt p.4)

  • Failing to make weight, leaving cotton in the boll, breaking branches, spoiling cotton with dirt or twigs, etc. translated onto punishments.
  • 15 to 400 lash scale.
  • Standard measures of cotton production to measure the speed and efficiency of the process.
  • Standards to assess cotton quality: Inferior, Ordinary, Low Middling, Middling, Good Middling, Middling Fair, Fair, Good Fair, Good, Fine.
  • Quality dependend on how quickly and carefully a crop was picked and processed.

The Nature of Cotton

Page 249 (excerpt p.4)

  • It is important to understand the nature of cotton to understand the rate of slave labor and market grade.
  • When cotton bloomed, it continuously diminished in value through exposure.
  • e.g. Petit Gulf cotton prized for ‘pickability’, but was vulnerable to wind.
  • Rain could mat cotton fibers together and entangle them
  • Cotton near the bottom of the plant could be splahed with mud.
  • Frost could stain the cotton deep red.
  • Blood from fingers from the rough husks of cotton bolls could stain fibers.

Quality Escapes Measuring Cotton with a Quantitative Metric

Page 250 (excerpt p.5)

  • Pounds per day was convenient for biological process of diminishing value.
  • However, the metric was a poor template of the crop’s quality.
  • Slaves knew work were measured by the pound, had little incentive to pick clean cotton.
    • Gathered leaves and stems with bolls, dragged sacks over soil, emptied them ont he ground at the end of the row, packed them down with muddy feet, etc.
  • This metric did not emphasize quality.

High Standards and Classifications of Cotton During Sale

Page 250 (excerpt p.5)

  • Classified by color and staple - length & strength of strands, how finely it could be woven.
  • Impressions were hand counted and often determined by the eye.
  • Attempted to make slaves embody metropolitan standards of cotton.
    • In the gin house, slaves determined which cotton was ready to be ginned.
  • Cotton went to the market in bales.
    • Shape and condition determined its merchantability.
    • Cotton bales were large and heavy. Often reached market with damage.
    • Cotton that was explosed to rain would ruin it.
    • Improperly sorted cotton would compromise sales.
Poor and Fraudulent Packing

Page 251 (excerpt p.5)

  • Of great concern to buyers and brokers in Atlantic cotton market.
  • Torn bagging makes the cotton “trashy and worthless”.
  • Careless packaging caused a discrepancy between “sample and the bulk”.
  • Adjudication of capitalists were phrased on this.
Thesis of Current Section

Cotton planters were not ignorant of standards of the market; they were capitalists operating in a capitalistic sphere. Planters watched sharply over their slaves and strictly managed and balanced influences of ecology, labor, and finance.

Where Slave-Owning Planters Capitalists?

Page 252 (excerpt p.6)

  • Few discussion has been had on this topic.

The Argument Against Slaveowners as Capitalists

Page 252 (excerpt p.6)

  • Capitalism emerged in the 17th century, characterized by separation of laborers from the land, and the **commodification of labor power).
    • Performance of work by an hourly wage.
    • e.g. factory system of production.
  • From these premises, one cannot argue that slavery was capitalist.

The Argument For Slaveowners as Capitalists

Page 252 (excerpt p.6)

  • Capitalism as a global system of commerce and exchange that emerged long before the industrial revolution.
  • How else could the slave-produced commodities be produced?
    • Slavery was then hence unquestionably capitalist.

Compare and Contrast of the Two Positions

Page 253 (excerpt p.6)

PositionVirtues and Positives
AgainstVirtue of specificity. Locates emergence of capitalism at a specific time and place. Places working people at the center of capitalism.
ForRepresents simultaneous and interdependent economic histories of Europe, Africa, Americas, and Asia. Focuses on exchange.
AgainstEurocentric. Treats history of capitalism in England as global. Subordinates other histories. Treats enslavement in Africa as primary accumulation. Claims are not universal.
ForTreats capitalism as a series of markers regardless the sphere of production. Do the differences in designations of slaves and wage-earning works not matter? Capitalism must distinguish between slave and free labor.

Reframing the Argument in Light of the Two Positions

Page 254 (excerpt p.7)

  • A materialist and historical analysis begins from the fact that there was no 19th century capitalism without slavery.
  • Industrial slavery, however, it may have developed w/o solave-produced cotton and Southern capital markets, did not develop that way.
  • One cannot extract the history of industrial development from its entanglement with slavery and label the former capitalist and the latter ‘precapitalist’ or ‘noncapitalist’.
  • Understand more concretely the workings of the market.
    • Set aside prefabricated questions and begin with *the bale of cotton.

The Bale of Cotton

Page 254 (excerpt p.7)

  • Numbers are representations of real bales of cotton; abstractions of progress.
    • Bales per acre per hand.
    • Bales sent to market.
    • Drayage.
    • Insurance.
    • Storage.
    • Price per pound.
  • The commercial standard of the cotton trade is the bale.
    • However, the weight is not uniform.
    • There is almost not standard of capacity that is uniform for the bale.

American Cotton Powering the World Economy

Page 255 (excerpt p.7)

  • The American cotton dominated global supply of cotton and a large portion of global economic activity.
    • From little cotton in end of 18th century to 2nd quarter of 19th.

The Cotton Gin

Page 255 (excerpt p.7)

  • In 1794, the cotton gin was invented.
    • Credited to Eli Whitney, although is contested.
  • Provided cotton planters with a machine that could remove seeds entangled in each bool.
  • Made it possible to cultivate cotton profitably in large portions of the Southern US.
  • High prices of cotton produced the greatest economic boom in the nation’s century.
  • 1821; Mississippi and Louisiana produced 20 million pounds of cotton.
  • 1859; that numbers was about 864 million pounds.
  • Cotton and slavery went together.

The Slave Market and the Cotton Market

Page 256 (excerpt p.8)

  • Prices in the slave market varied directly with that of the cotton market.
    • This was no surprise in an economy where planters determined productivity of labor in cotton rather than in currency.

New Orleans

Page 256 (excerpt p.8)

  • Cotton produced by slaves in the Mississippi Valley made their way through the market into the port of New Orleans.
  • Cotton economy grew; river traffic on the Mississippi grew correspondingly.
  • New Orleans was an export-processing zone mediating the Cotton Kingdom (of the Mississippi) and the Atlantic.
  • New Orleans workers unloaded hundreds of thousands of bales of cotton from steamboats.
    • Cotton was weighed, sampled, and sold.

Cotton Markets and Global Pathways

Page 257 (excerpt p.8)

  • Not all cotton shipped directly from the Mississippi Valley to Great Britain directly across the Atlantic.
  • Cotton from New Orleans might take several paths to the market.
    • 15% of Southern cotton was annually sold to domestic manufactures (usually in New England).
      • This was a small portion of the global cotton trade.
      • Accounted for a large portion of the industrial output of the United States.
    • 85% of the crop was shipped directly from New Orleans across the Atlantic to Liverpool.
  • Lots of cotton was shipped to New York, where it wasa unloaded, inspected, consigned, reloaded, then shipped across the Atlantic.
  • Southern cotton reached Europe by way of New York.

New York and the Cotton Trade

Page 257 (excerpt p.8)

  • New York attained large control over the cotton trade.
    • This was a concern to pro-slavery analysts of the cotton trade more than any other concern had been.
  • Commercial spaces of the nineteenth century were made, not given.
    • Distance measured not in miles but dollars.
    • New York’s banks were able to offer longer credit on better terms to those interested in buying cotton.
  • Slower rates of money paid for cotton degraded; this could compensate for the longer distance the cotton would have to travel to market.
  • A large existing volume of trade between New York and Liverpool.
    • Government had granted New York a monopoly over the mail service to Great Britain.
    • Enabled regularly schedule ships to operate at a profit.
  • US imported lots from Great Britain but exported very little other than cotton; it was in the interest of packets to ship cotton at lower rates than competitors.
  • Lowered the per-pound rate for shipping cotton to Liverpool via New York; shortened the distance cotton travelled to the market.
    • Measured in dollars, New Orleans to New York to Liverpool was shorter than travelling directly (measured in miles).

The Banking System of Slavery and Capital

Page 259 (excerpt p.9)

  • Agriculturalists that create the wealth of the country do not get daily receipts of money; their produce is ready only once a year.
  • Required supplies to be purchased on credit year round.
  • Banking system of the country based around this bill movement of produce.
  • Debts represented a dimension of linkages between Mississippi Valley.
  • Capital entered the Mississippi Valley in the winter months when cotton was sold.
  • Crops came to markets in New Orlenas; cotton merchants (often agents of merchant banks in NY or Liverpool) provided advances for eventual sale.
  • In return for lending factors, the cotton merchants recieved the right to sell it on a consignment basis.
    • Perhaps earning the right to ship it aboard their own ships.
  • Credit took the form of a sight draft payable in NY or Liverpool.

Credit and Debt

Page 260 (excerpt p.10)

  • Credit extended by merchant houses revolved the complexity of trade into liquidity.
  • Planters in Louisiana and Mississippi were able to pay their debts when they delivered their crop.
  • American importers were able to buy debt that they could use to pay for European imports.
  • Foreign exchange cycled from the Deep South in the fal to the North in the winter.
  • Bills entered a transatlantic money market.
    • Paid for finished goods imported to Great Britain, where cotton was shipped to a market where it was sampled, graded, and sold to a manufacturer.

Page 263 (excerpt p.11)

  • Even a good crop did not protect a planter if he could not get it to market in time.
  • Even when crops were gathered, ginned, packed, and shipped, cotton planters were substantially exposed.
    • Bore the risks of the global market.
  • Cotton was sold on consignment; planters retained legal ownership to the time it was sold.
  • Could find themselves demanded for money they had already paid; front of the debt chain.

Supplies and Costs

Page 261 (excerpt p.10)

  • A working plantation needed many things:
    • Rough-cut shoes worn by slaves
    • Salt pork for their rations
    • Cornish hens and French wins for the planter
    • Schoolbooks for his children
    • Ribbons for his wife hair
    • Hoes to cut graph
    • Baling wire to pack cotton
    • etc.
  • Planter’s indebtedness to merchants was “common sense”.
  • In the form of plantation supplies, consumable goods, or cash advanced, money that factors lent to planters was not their own.
    • Borrowed from banks in New Orleans, New York, or even Liverpool.
    • A fictional stream of capital.
  • Provided the factor with credit that could be used to pay for goods over the course of the year.
  • Drafts promising payment at a specified date could be “discounted”16 by local bankers and money changers.
    • Credit allowed temporal and spatial unevenness of the cotton market to be smoothed out.

Page 261 (excerpt p.10) A planter who needed cotton seed in March could have it purchased by a factor in New Orleans, who could buy it with money borrowed from a bank in New York.

When the seed grew into cotton, it will be shipped to the factor, who would sell the cotton and use the proceeds to cover his own debt to the bank. When the sale of cotton was insufficient, the factor would roll the debt to the next year’s crop.

Factor rates:


Absorbment of Risk at the End of the Debt Chain

Page 261 (excerpt p.10)

  • The network of advances and consignments structured the cotton trade with a small risk on the end of the chain of debt.
  • Factors and merchant-bankers were able to make money off the cotton trade while absorbing very little risk.

Page 262 (excerpt p.11)

  • Merchant bankers could require borrowers to obtain an endorsement.
    • ‘Accomodating endorsers’ would be liable for debt if principal borrower defaulted.
  • Endorsers lent their creditworthiness to the borrower; eased the flow of capital into the economy.
  • Endorsement respatialized and recapitalized risk by using local networks of trade and sociability to insulate merchant bankers.
The Brown Brothers

Page 262 (excerpt p.11)

  • One of the largest firms heavily involved in the cotton trade.
  • Tried to limit risk by advancing only 3/4 of the value theye xpected cotton would eventually bring.
  • Brown Brothers rarely purchased cotton on the company’s account.
    • Distributed risk through a network of factors and cotton brokers.
    • Lent them money and recieved guaranteed consignments.

Realities of the Ecosystem and Debt

Page 262 (excerpt p.11)


Page 262 (excerpt p.11)

  • Rain or high wind after cotton bloomed would diminish the value of the crop.
  • Severe storms, cold springs, and droughts could leave plants small and the bolls few.
  • Too much sun in the middle of the season could cause a crop ot wither.
  • Too much rain could drown it.
  • Late spring meant that the crop bloomed ‘behind’.
  • Early frost meant that picking season would be cut short.

Bugs and Pests

Page 263 (excerpt p.11)

  • Narrowing of genetic spectrum of Southern cotton meant it was more vulnerable to insects and parasites.
  • “Rust and rot” were the primary threats to the cotton plant.
    • “Rust” gave the leaves a brown and deadened tinge.
    • “Rot” attacked the boll; indicated the presence of worms.
  • “Army worm”; cannot be exterminated.

Self-Imposed Biological Feedback Loop

Page 263 (excerpt p.11)

  • Planters sough to revise ecological limits of a slave-based economic practice by using hybridized seed.
  • This created a biological feedback loop that threatened to ruin crops.

Transportation Issues

Page 264 (excerpt p.12)

  • Physical properties of cotton made it vulnerable to ‘going bad’ in the field.
    • Cotton could be ‘skidded’ across a muddy embankment,
    • Exposed to weather,
    • Warehoused underneath a leaking rough,
    • Partially eaten by cattle.
  • Cotton went to market in a ‘reckless’ way: rafts often were not careful with the luggage and ruined cotton.

Page 270 (excerpt p.15)

  • Even if cotton was stowed in the hold of a ship, it could be delayed by low water and miss the high prices of the season.
Paper Packaging to Address Physical Vulnerabilities

Page 265 (excerpt p.12)

  • Much of factor business involved encasing bales of cotton in a protective coating.
  • Vulnerable physical properties were accompanied by paper guarantees of weight and quality, partitions of ownership and risk, designations of responsibility, etc.
  • The ‘merchantability’ of cotton was rendered separable from its physical form: volatile cotton was determined to be commercially stable.
    • Factors collapsed the dimensionality of time in the cotton market into timeliness, focusing on being in the right place at the right time.


Page 266 (excerpt p.13)

  • Cotton was stabilized by commercial paper.
  • This made it a good medium for speculation.

    The Cotton Market

    Page 266 (excerpt p.13)

  • Cotton market had tremendous volatility.
  • Prices often varied 10 to 15 percent within a month.
  • Difference between a good crop and a good one could be determined by where the sale of one’s cotton fell on a seasonal price curve.

Statistics and Predicting the Future

Page 267 (excerpt p.13)

  • Buyers and sellers in the cotton market began the season by trying to estimate the size of the previous year’s crop.
  • These numbers helped planters and merchants imagine the future.
    • Would there be a shortage of cotton?
    • Would the bulk of the crop come in the middle of the season?
  • Mastering the cotton trade requires factors to imagine the arc of the cotton market.

Estimating the Size of Total Cotton Crop

Page 268 (excerpt p.14)

  • A crucial aspect of trader’s speculation.
  • New Orlenas firms sent agent into the countryside to track the growth of crop in the field.
  • Factors that could determine the size of the crop:
    • Too much rain in Alabama.
    • Rain and rust in Georgia.
    • The boll worm in Eastern Mississippi.
    • etc.

Information as Currency

Page 269 (excerpt p.14)

  • Planters would sell their cotton, then talk up the size of their crop.
  • Cotton market subject to pull of stories told about it.
    • Published reports and tables turne dto rumors and gossip.
  • Rumor and gossip at one end of the season became news and intelligence of history.
  • 1825: NY speculators exploited gap in news and newspaper by paying a postal contractor to transmit cotton purchase orders while holding mail containing news from Europe, upon which their bets were based.
  • Telegraphy in 1840s evened geographic access to market information.

Page 271 (excerpt p.15)

  • Cotton could arrive at the market on the wave of rising prices.
    • News of a short crop, long credit, expanding worldwide demand.
  • If the time was right, cotton planters could make considerable profit.
  • Cotton planters were often compared to gamblers.

    They turn the farmer’s life into that of a gambler and speculator. -Lousiana journalist.

  • Dependent upon chances and evil cards - bad seasons, fall in prices, etc.

Factor-Planter Relationships

Planter Control Over Markets

Page 271 (excerpt p.15)

  • Planters were legally but not physically present at the sale of their cotton.
  • Crucial decisions where usually made by factors.
  • Planter scould exert control over the sale of their crop by holding it back from the market.
  • Crops could be held back when planters believed it was going to be short
  • Cotton being held back into country in anticipation of higher prices was a source of uncertainty.
    • Cotton factors urged planters to send crops further for sale.
  • When the market was active, it was best to ship cotton to catch the save.
  • When the market was dull, it was best to ship cotton so that it was available whent hings began to move.

Page 272 (excerpt p.16)

  • Planters could gamble on rhythm of cotton season by withholding cotton.
  • Could not, however, stop the flow of time.
  • Always another crop gathering at their back.

Factor Divergence of Interests

Page 272 (excerpt p.16)

  • Factors handled multiple crops and made their money on commission.
    • Had less of a stake in any particular transaction.
  • Income depended on maximizing the volume of sales, instead of maximizing the value of any one sale.

Planter Control Over Sales

Page 273 (excerpt p.16)

  • Once crop was sent, planters could control the shipment of cotton with written guidelines.
  • e.g. hold onto cotton until it reaches x price, then sell.
  • A factor that sold cotton for less than that price could be held legally liable for the difference between that obtained and the one specified by the planter.
  • Cotton held a risk of not being sold.
    • Generally planters allowed factors discretion in marketing cotton.

Lack of Information to Planters

Page 274 (excerpt p.17)

  • Information about a crop was often given the planters in writing.
  • Formulations gestureda t daily business of the cotton market.
    • Even if they drew specifics, likely speculation.
  • Factors had not seen the bales themselves.
    • Actions they took in the cotton market was shrouded in speculation.

      Merchants act advisedly - planters in the dark.

  • Mishandling of crops could become subjects of lawsuits.

Lack of Trust Between Planters and Factors

Page 275 (excerpt p.17)

  • Cotton planters often doubted the honesty of factors.
  • Cotton merchants as “Southern Yankees”.
  • New Orlenas merchants had creative accounting, heavy charging.
  • Planters believed agents would be dishonest:
    • Record sales at a lower rate in their books,
    • Deduct a half-cent on the rest,
    • Launder goods they owned themselves through third-party sellers.
  • For instance, erred recordings in factor books: William Brandon owed $6,000 instead of being $6,000 in debt.
  • Interest of planters may have been sacrificed (sold short) at any chain of advance purchase and promised payment.
  • Cotton was regularly ‘slaughtered’ for capital.

Planter Denial of Responsibility, Self-Perception, and Agency

Page 277 (excerpt p.18)

  • Planters would often credit themselvs for good prices and high cotton returns.
  • Terms like “management”, “skill’, “diligence”, etc. reflected an image of wordly success.
  • “I”-language used extensively.
  • When return was low, the services like factors were not supports but contraints on freedom.
  • When times were bad, planters beat their slaves and blamed merchants.
  • Planters emphasized loss of control over their own affairs.
  • Claims of the South becoming “tributary” to a network of “avricious merchants”.

Planter-Slave Relationships

Page 278 (excerpt p.19)

  • Planters wereoverseers, not slaves; interposed betweens chedule of money market and cotton trade.
  • Former slaves attirbuted owner’s violence to indebtedness.
  • Whereas the conventional political economy the separation of capital and labor is important, in the Cotton Kingdom slaves were both.

Slaves as Capital

Page 279 (excerpt p.19)

  • Slaveholders stored savings in salves.
    • Slaves stood security for those that owned them.
  • Antebellum: majority of collateralized loans in Lousiana involved mortgages on slaves.
  • Mobility and salability of slaves - meant that slaves could be moved from place to place.
    • Rendered the most liquidated form of capital in the Mississippi valley.
  • Slaves served as guarantors of loans that banks made to merchants and merchants made to planters.
  • Slaves were the human hosts for speculative loans of the cotton trade.
  • A “determination to ocnvert his slaves, and even his own flesh and blood, into money to pay his debt.”
  • The real cotton could not absorb the flow of fictional capital; difference was accounted for in human flesh.

Ain’t I A Woman?, Sojourner Truth


Written by Sojourner Truth (1797-1883), delivered 1851 at the Women’s Convention, Akron, Ohio.


  • Women of the north and black slaves of the South discussing race.
  • One perspective: women should be helped into carriages, lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere.
    • No one helped Truth into a carriage.
    • Isn’t she a woman?
    • Bore 13 children, most sold off into slavery.
  • What does ‘intellect’ have to do with women’s rights or slaves’ rights?
    • If one person begins at a disadvantaged place, it is only right to let them have their “little half measure full”.
  • Argument: women do not have as many rights as men because Christ wasn’t a woman.
    • Christ came from God and a woman.

Full Text

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Ain't I A Woman?
Delivered 1851
Women's Convention, Akron, Ohio
Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?
That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mudpuddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman?
I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman? Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?
Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him. If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.
Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say. 

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Linda Brent


  • Complete title: “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. Written by Herself.
  • Edited by L. Maria Child, published in Boston in 1861.
  • Signed under the name “Linda Brent”.
  • Each section will begin with ‘page x’, which indicates the content begins on page x in the PDF given for class.
  • This excerpt contains a preface by the author, an introduction by the editor, and Chapter 5: The Trials of Girlhood.


page 2

  • This narrative is not fiction. Some descriptions may seem incredible but are strictly true.
  • Have not exaggerating the wrongs of slavery.16
  • Arrived in Philadelphia; Bishop Paine advised to publish a sketch of her life.
  • Did not write these experiences to draw attention to themself.
    • Nor cares to “excite sympathy for my own sufferings.”
  • Desire to arouse the women of the North in realizing the conditions of two million women in the South.
    • Convince the people in the Free States what slavery really is.

Introduction by the Editor

page 4

  • The author in the autobiography is personally known to the editor.
  • The author has lived with a distinguished family in New York for the past 17 years.
  • Author’s accounts are accurate; “though some incidents in her story are more romantic than fiction.”
  • Made revisions to her manuscript, but these have been for condensation and arrangement.
    • No changes to remarks or important comments.
  • Surprised that a woman born in slavey could write so well.
    • Deflect suspicions of falsehood.
    • Nature gave her an ability to learn quickly.
    • Her mistress taught her to read and spell.
    • When she came to the north, having frequent intercourse disposed her to self-improvement.
  • Aware that some will accuse the editor of impropriety for presenting this work.
    • The experiences of the author some may call delicate, and others indelicate.
  • Slavery has been veiled; the public should understand its horrific aspects.

    I willinglly take the responsibility of presenting them with the veil withdrawn.

  • Goal: arouse and organize women of the North on the question of slavery.
    • Hopes men will not send fugitives back.

Chapter 5: The Trials of Girlhood

page 6

  • First years of ‘service’ in Dr. Flint’s family.
  • In her fifteenth year, Dr. Flint “began to whisper foul words in my ear.”1
    • Sexual degredation.
  • Dr. Flint had stormy ways and gentleness.
    • Author prefered the stormy moods.
    • Dr. Flint attempted to corrupt pure principles.
  • Daily, Dr. Flint “violated the most sacred commandments of nature.”
    • Told the author that she was his property.
  • Soul yearned to revolt, but could not turn for protection.
    • No shadow of law to protect a slave from violence or even death.
    • The mistress feels jealousy and rage towards slaves.
  • If the North knew about the true degredation of slavery, “you… would not help to tighten the yoke.”
    • Northerners would refuse to do for the master that the “lowest class of whites” do for “the master” in the South. 2
  • Even the young child must learn why her mistress hates her so much.
    • Will be compelled to realize that she is no longer a child.
    • God bestowing beauty upon her is the greatest curse.

      That which commands admiration in the white woman only hastens the degradation of the female slave.

  • The master’s presence hovered over the slave at every turn.
  • If author talked to her grandmother, master would kill her.
    • Felt guilty telling grandmother such “guilty things”.
    • Although did not confide in her, felt comforted by grandmother’s presence.
  • Even as the laws and customs were egregious in the slaveholding community, professional men deemed it prudent to keep up some show of decency.
  • Goal: to kindle a flame of compassion for the “sisters who are still in bondage, suffering as I once suffered.”
  • In light of these actions, why are the free men and women of the North silent?

    God bless those, every where, who are laboring to advance the cause of humanity!

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass


  • Complete title: Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave. Written by Himself.
  • Published in Boston by the Anti-Slavery Office in 185.
  • Frederick Douglass was born into slavery on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in 1818. He escaped from slavery at age 20 and became an active figure in the abolitionist movement, eventually becoming one of the most important black American figures of the 19th century. In these excerpts from his first autobiography, he describes his experiences as a slave.

Chapter 2

  • Slaves of all other farms recieved allowance of food and clothing.
    • Monthly allowance: 8 pounds of pork and one bushel of corn meal.
    • Yearly clothing: no more than 7 dollars of cost.
  • Children who could not work in the field had only two coarse linen shirts per year.
    • Went naked until the next allowance day otherwise.
  • No beds given to the sleep. Minimal sleeping time was given.
  • At the sound of the driver’s horn, all must rise to the field.
    • No age or sex finds any favor.
  • Mr. Severe - an overseer.
    • Whipped a woman, causing the blood to run half an hour at a time, in the midst of her crying children.
    • A profane swearer.

Chapter 7

  • Lived in Master Hugh’s family for about 7 years.
  • Succeeded in learning how to read and write.
    • Needed to formulate many strategies.
  • Mistress was kind-hearted; this was a contradiction to slavery, in which human relationships could not be human.
  • Under slavery, the mistress hardened.
    • Ceased to instruct the author.
    • Became more violent and easily angered.
  • Plan adopted: made friends with the little white boys met in the street.
    • These became teachers; author brought books and bread.
  • The bread given to the poor white boys was returned with the “more valuable bread of knowledge.”

Chapter 9

  • Mr. Cookman: believed to be a good man.
    • Thought to be instrumental in getting Mr. Samuel Harrison16 to emancipate his slaves.
  • Mr. Cookman took notice of the slaves; yet could not come along with them.
  • Proposed a Sabbath school for slaves, but were rejected.
  • Master found religious sanction in his cruelty.
    • Master tied up a young woman and whipped her, in justification with a passage from the Scripture.
  • Master Thoomas - one of many slaveholders who held slaves for the purpose of taking care of them.

Chapter 10

  • Mr. Covey was at the house; when the fan stopped, he came immediately.
    • Author had crawled away in hope to find relief from the sun.
    • Was kicked and told to get up; then gave a heavy blow to the head.
  • Resolved to go to the master, enter a complaint, and ask for his protection.
    • Needed to walk 7 miles; a evere undertaking.
    • Had sickness and was feeble from the violence.
  • Covey discovered him and threatened if he did not return.
  • Upon arrival, was told that he deserved the punishment by Covey.
    • Gave him many salts and was told to return to Mr. Covey’s in the morning.
  • In the morning, ran into the cornfield - the high corn afforded a means of hiding.
    • That night, fell with Sandy Jenkins; had a free wife who lived about four miles from Mr. Covey’s.
    • Invited him to go home with Jenkins.
  • Afterward, had a fight with Mr. Covey; was a turning-point in career as a slave.
    • Rekindled feelings of freedom and revivd a feeling of manhood.
  • Was never whipped again, albeit involved in several fights.
  • Theory: reputation at stake, suffered him to go unpunished.

  • Mr. Freeland was the owner of only two slaves - Henry and John Harris.
    • The other hands he hired (Douglass, Jenkins, and Hnady Caldwell)
  • Devoted Sundays to teaching fellow slaves how to read.
  • Slaves gave themselves the chance to read.
    • As little publicity as possible.
  • Messrs. Wright Fairbanks and Garrison West rushed in with sticks and stones, breaking up the Sabbath school.
    • Held the Sabbath school at the house of a free colored man.
  • Instructing fellow slaves was “the sweetest engagement with which I was ever blessed.”

Chapter 11

  • Thought of leaving friends was the most painful thought needed to contend.
  • Hoped to get away with anything less than the severest punishment.
  • On September 3, 1838, left his chains and reached New York.
    • Must leave this unexplained, for reasons mentioned.
  • Have never really been able to answer how Douglass was able to find himself in a free State in the first place.
    • Immediately after arrival to New York, felt like he had escaped a den of hungry lions.
  • However, had a feeling of great insecurity and loneliness.
    • Was afraid to speak to anyone for fear of speaking to the wrong person.
    • Money-loving kidnappers could lie in wait for a fugitive.
  • Motto adopted for slavery: “Trust no man!”
  • Every moment, subjected to the liability of being seized.
    • Without shelter, wanting money or credit, wanting break, etc.
  • The “Liberator” paper becmae “my meat and my drink. My soulw as set all on fire.”
    • Never felt happier than at an anti-slavery meeting.
  • Attended an anti-slavery convention at Nantucket on August 11, 1841.
    • Felt strongly moved to speak.

Black Reconstruction, Du Bois


  • Complete title: Black Reconstruction: An Essay Toward a History of the Part Which Black Folk Played in the Attempt to Reconstruct Democracy in America, 1860-1880
  • By W.E. Burghardt Du Bois, professor of sociology in the Atlanta University.
  • Published by Harcourt, Brace and Company in New York.
  • Page numbers reference the PDF given in class.
  • Excerpt from in class is Chapter IV: The General Strike.

Summary and Key Points

  • Theory: Black slaves escaped the South to the North because they did not want to work anymore.
    • Arising contradiction: Black slaves were better off in plantations than following a Northern army around, fugitives were ill-treated in the North.
  • Alternate theory: Instead, Black slaves objected not to work itself but the conditions of work.
    • They were willing to work the same plantation work for the North, but when principles of honesty in treatment and education were fulfilled.
    • Wanted to see the toils of their own work; when this was respected Black slaves were incredibly productive.
    • They objected not to laboring but to the circumstances under which they labored.
  • Timeline:
    • Beginnings of the Civil War. The Northern army initially does not aim to fight against slavery.
    • Fugitive slaves begin approaching Northern troops in large numbers. Some officials in the Northern arm see labor potential and set them to work.
      • Slaves are still often ill-treated.
    • More fugitive slaves continue to arrive. As the white Northern soldier grew tired, the fugitive slave became a military laborer.
    • The North found that fugitives were very productive when given their own land and some level of freedom.
      • Several ‘experiments’ that used this were successful.
  • Thesis: The North was not abolitionist, but given the black slave’s objection not to work itself but tyrannical conditions of work, the black slave became valuable assets that strengthened the North and weakened the South. This reframed the war from unity around slavery, something neither side had anticipated.


Page 2

  • War was murder, anarchy, and debt; it results in evil despite intended good.
  • Before 1861, neither the North nor the South had an intention of going to war.
    • Were not prepared for war.
    • National army small, poorly equipped, did not have experience.
  • Northern armies did not intend to become armies of emancipation.
    • Did not propose to attack property or to free slaves.
    • Was a war to preserve the Union.

Initial Motivation for the War

page 2

  • Slavery did not touch the heart of American masses.
    • Common men did not understand the political and economic cost of slavery.
    • The Northern white population did not fight against slavery.
    • Free soil was a stronger motive
    • Large economic ideal of keeping a large market for goods; the United States appealed to the West and the North.
      • Additionally appealed to broder states.
        To the flag we are pledged, all its foes we abhor,
        And we ain't for the n*****, but we are here for the war.

Economic Incentives

page 3

  • Border States wanted to cotton belt in the Union.
    • Allowed surplus slaves to be sold.
  • Wanted to be in the same union with the North and West; profit of trade was increasing.
    • Saving the Union was a rallying cry of war; made the Border States hesitate secession to the South.
    • Knew that the only prescription was abolition.
  • If the South had trained leadership, a compromise would have been made.
    • Would have rendered the slave system impregnable for generations.

Ignoring Interests of Minorities

page 3

  • North and South ignored interests of the laboring class.
    • North expected patriotism and union.
    • South expected all white men to defend slaveholder property.
    • Both expected a sharp, quick fight.
      • South expected to secede peaceably and impose terms that recognized slavery.
      • North expected South would return with slave property recognized but geographically limited.
  • Both ignored slaves.
    • The North saw slaves as a ‘curiosity’.
    • Black slaves not considered important by a majority.

The Importance of Slaves

page 4

  • Black slaves occupied the center stage.
    • The war occurred in the South; there were ~4 million black slaves and ~260,000 free blacks.
      • What did war mean to them? What did they mean to the war?
  • Two theories:
    • Black slaves faithfully served until emancipation was thrust upon them.
    • Black slaves immediately left serfdom and took their stand with freedom.
  • 9/10 of the black slaves could not read or write.
    • Most isolated; mass movement would occur slowly.
    • Black slaves waited, looked, and listened.
      • No use seeking refuge in “an army which was not the army of freedom”.

Fugitive Slaves

page 4

  • When it became clear that the Union armies would not return fugitives, slaves entered in a general strike.
  • Ran away to safety and offered services to the Federal Army.
  • Served the emancipating army.

Southern Dependence on Slaves

page 4

  • The South was heavily dependent on black slaves to raqise food and money for civillians and the army.
    • The South ignored the idea that slaves would want to be rescued.
    • Convinced the slaves did not want tob e free.
  • South made a careful calculation of military value of slaves.
    • Slaves would run throughout the war.
    • In the industrial North, the men fighting would be workers and laborers that ran it.
    • The institution of slavery was a strong economic weapon.
Military Usage

page 5

  • The South considered using slaves as military labor.
    • Would throw up breastworks, transport and prepare food, act as servants.
    • Authorized slaves to work on military construction.
    • Texas: 1,000 slaves offerred by planters to work on public defenses.
    • Pondering military use as soldiers.
  • Slavery softened as the war proceeded.
    • Some level of harshness had to disappear; women and children were mainly left.
    • The condition of the slave had changed, no matter who won the war.
  • The South needed to be careful; assured them of the bad character of the North.

Questioning that the Northernors were Abolitionists

page 6

  • War was about to happen; slaves began to sense it and large numbers of fugitive salves & free blacks rushed to the North.
  • When Northern officials arrived in war, they made sure not to touch slavery.
    • W.T. Sherman in October 1861: was polite and said he had no idea of interfering with slaves.
    • Major Generasl Dix: was careful in seizure of two counties in Virginia not to touch slaves.
    • Burnside: returned two slaves that had tried to run away from them.
      • May have been salves.
    • July 4th, Colonel Pryor of Ohio: repudiated that the Northern army were abolitionists.
  • Southern newspapers argued that the war was over abolition; Northeners denied this.
    • Some even promised to put down slave insurrections “with an iron hand”.
    • Some took measures to send fugitives back.
  • In the North, blacks were not allowed to enlist. ``` [The Civil War was begun]… in the interests of slavery on both sides. The South was fighting to take slavery out of the Union, and the North fighting to keep it in the Union; the South fighting tog et it beyond the limits of the United State Constitution, and the North fighting for the old guarantees;
  • both despising the Negro, but insulting the Negro.
  • Frederick Douglass, Boston 1865 ```

What the Civil War Was to Slaves

Southern Propaganda

page 8

  • It was not clear to most of the slaves what the war meant.
    • Spread propaganda: the Northeners would sell the slaves into worse slavery of the West Indies.
    • Would drive slaves from plantations into highways and danger.
  • The South spread propaganda and pointed to how badly fugitive slaves lived.
    • Spread stories of Northernors taking women away forcefully.
A Stream of Fugitive Slaves

page 9

  • As long as the Union stood still, the slave worked; when the Union army moved into slave territory, the slave joined it.
  • Fugitive slaves: had been running to the North and onwards to Canada.
    • Kept down the chanc of insurrection.
    • The chhance to run away increased, there was encouragement.
  • The Union did not propose to fight for slaves or to touch slavery; yet faced a stampede of fugitive slaves.
  • Tried to send the slaves back; marker of a “dress parade war” (fancily and status-driven constructions of etiquette).
    • When it became a real war, slaves were captured or recieved, used as laborers & servants for the Northern army.
  • Southern worker held the key to the war.
    • The black worker raised food and raw materials in a more strategic place than the white worker.
  • When Fremont in Missouri freed slaves, Lincoln repudiated what he had done.
    • General Butler: kept fugitives and freed them letting them to do whatever work they could.
  • Slaves were being used for military purposes by the North.
  • A flood of fugitives arrived; a slave population pushed its way towards Northern troops.
    • Sometimes encountered worse treatment, but still stuck given that their interests were identical.
    • Included a few poorerw hties as well.
  • Movement became a general strike against the slave system for all that could find oppurtunity.
  • A swarming and increasing population of slaves refused to work on Confederate plantations and sought freedom in the Northern armies.
    • Treatment of slaves generally left at the discretion of department managers.
  • Eventually, fugitives organized and became laborers, servants, and spies.
Southern Denialism

page 12

  • South prided itself on absence of slave violence.
  • However, this was not true; hundreds of thousands of slaves were leaving masters.
    • Found an easier and decent way to freedom.

To Slaves as Militant Laborers

page 13

  • Using fugitive slaves as soldiers to replace tired and rebellious white Northerners.
    • Premise: the fugitive slave must have been fre.
  • The North began with the idea of fighting a war without touching slavery.
    • Futigive slaves were eventually considered to be “contraband of war”, a step to attract and introduce fugitive slave labor to assist Northern armies.
  • Eventually, became military laborers and plantation laborers to support the Federal army.
  • The North found itself freeing slaves hwen it had no intention of doing so.
    • Rise of “Department[s] of Negro Affairs”.
Motivations for the Transition

page 14

  • The Northern army with refugees is important but understudied.
  • It is not enough to say that “black slaves were tired of work and wanted to live at the expense of the government”.
  • Contradiction: movement and suffering of the refugees, were better off on plantations than trailing an army.
    • Were mistreated, ridiculed, and driven away.
  • It was a strike against not work but the conditions of work.
  • Wanted to stop the plantation system economy, so they left the plantations.
  • Black slaves found work they were willing to do in the North.
    • Wanted land and to see and own the results of their labor.
  • When conditions of honesty in treatment and education were fulfilled, the result was phenomenal.

Systematic Organizing of Slaves

Butler and the New Orleans Sugar Plantations

page 15

  • Greatest and most systematic organizing of fugitives - New Orleans.
    • Butler issued orders that no slave would be received in New Orleans.
    • Planters were unable to make slaves work; sent them back to the Federal lands.
    • Butler emancipated these slaves16; seized abandoned sugar plantations and worked them with slave labor for the benefit of the government.
  • With permission from the War Department and authority of the Confiscation Act;
    • Butler organized colonies of fugitives and regulated employment.
    • Black slaves were willing to do the work on the very same Southern plantations, but for the North.
  • Maintained a black regimnet and kept black officers.

    “the colored people of Louisiana under the proper sense of the good you have done to the African race in the United States, beg leave to express you their gratitude.”

Systems for Caring for Slaves

  • Butler and General Banks1 provided thousands of freedmen with medicine, rations, and clothing.
Failing Systems and Justification Based on Conditions of Work
  • On January 30th, 1863, General Banks made labor on public works compulsory for blacks.
  • The plan failed; blacks refused to work.
    • They were not against work, but against conditions of work.
  • Fixed this mistake: selected blacks to look into conditions and report what was needed, etc.
  • When respect was given, the experiment ran itself.
General Grant’s System
  • In Mississippi; many slaves had arrived from surrounding country.
    • Begged for protection and needed food, clothing, and shelter.
  • A few were employed as servants, cooks, and scouts.
    • Majority were left to freeze adn starve.
  • Grant determined that blacks would perform camp duties done normally by soldiers.
  • Grant: selected John Eaton as head of Dep. of Negro Affairs.
    • Was appalled at the scenes at the camps.
  • White sodliers were2 unwilling to serve black fugitive slaves.
  • Economic basis in which work of relief can be placed:
    • Fugitives were willing to go to work haqrvesting ungathered corn and cotton that could be sold.
    • Eaton fixed wages and kept accounts for workers.
  • The freedmen became self-sustaining and gave little trouble.
    • Constructed cabins for themselves.
  • Were perfectly willing to have a tax on their wages to support the sick and dependant.
Blacks Buying Land

page 19

  • In particular cases, blacks were encouraged to buy land.
    • Building cabins and forming settlements was encouraged; a system of education was established.
  • Refugees were grouped into villages; their work was systemized.
  • Blacks saved up money from the sale of pigs, chickens, and eggs (and other work) to buy a tract of land.
  • Under General Saxton in South Carolina, blacks began to buy land sold for non-payment of taxes.
    • Immensely productive in terms of cotton output. Lower cost.
Sherman and the Sea Island Circular

page 20

  • Land and labor control were successful; a flood of refugees emerged from previously ontouched lands.
  • Sherman’s march to the sea cut the Cotton Kingdom in two.
  • Sherman issued the Sea Island Circular in Jan. 18, 1865.
    • Islands from southern Charleston were reserved as a settlement for blacks.
    • A great success; worked with energy and diligence.

Implications of Such Systems

page 22

  • Blacks worked fewer hours and had more time for self-expression as a result.
    • Exports were fewer than during slavery.
    • Emancipation enlarged the black person’s purchasing power; producing to consume.
  • Freedmen were further organized for cotton raising.
The Importance of Conditions of Work

page 24

  • Efficiency as free laborers dependent on the conditions in which they labored under.
  • Dishonesty and indolence were the creation fo slavery and not “faults of the negro Character.”

Formation of Organizations and Commissions

page 24

  • To aid the government came religious and benevolent organizations.

Te American Missionary Association and Religion

page 24

  • The AMA grew out of defense for black slaves; captured the slave ship Amistad in 1837.
  • Extended work in 1862-1863, establishing missions along the Atlantic Coast.
  • Churches and missionary societies responded to the reports of Pierce, Dupont, and Sherman.
  • Scope of work enlarged by the arrival of white refugees.
    • A portal through which poor whites and blacks were sent to loyal states for homes and employment.

Educational Commissions

page 25

  • Educational organization in Bosto, suggested by reports of Pierce.
    • New England aFreedman’s Aid Society; worked in all Southern States.
  • National Freedmens’ Relief Association in NYC, broadened towards the whole South.
  • Port Royal Relief Committee in Philadelphia, etc. expanded quickly.

Abuses of Commissions

page 26

  • President Yeatman of the Western Sanitary Commission in 1863; visited freedmen in Mississippi Valley.
  • Saw abuses of the leasing system.
    • Suggested a plan to organize free labor and leasing plantations.
  • Bureau to take charge of leasing land and to secure justice and freedom to fo freedmen.
    • Was adopted and satisfactory.
  • Confusion and lack of system were natural results of the general strike.
    • Accomplished first aim; escaped plantation discipline, were recieving wages, and had protection from violence and justice3 in the courts.

Redefinition of the Objectives of the North in War

page 26

  • The South woke up to the fact that the war would be very long.
  • The North realized what war meant in blood and money.
    • The relationship between the North and the black person changed.
  • Free blacks of the North were clamoring; a war against the South was a war against slavery.
  • Abolitionists no longer needed to fear the mob; leaders of church and state talked of freedom.
    • The black person was valuable labor initially, as a key to Southern resistance.
    • Became military power: without them, Lincoln says, the North would not have won the war.
  • Slow changing of perceptions of the slave were not only a matter of soldiers.
    • Without the labor of the slaves the South would starve.

Impact on Strategies of the South

Page 27

  • Action of slaves impacted poor whites.
    • So long as the planters’ war seemed successful, seemed to be little opposition.
    • When conscription and other burdens were placed, there was increasing opposition.
  • Racism was developed to pit white mechanics with the planters against slaves and the North.
    • Racial basis emphasized to harden the line between black and white.
  • Even the race argument could not hide that rich Southernors were not fighting in the war.
    • Desperately, arguments were made that the poor white would benefit the most from protecting slavery.
  • Poor whites were losing faith; saw poverty was fighting the war, not wealth.
    • Combination of fear and jealousy of blacks as much as disaffection with slaveowners.
    • Economic rivalry with blacks arose.

Lincoln and Centering Slaves in the War

page 29

  • Lincoln began to see that the war was centering around slaves.
  • Talked about compensation for emancipated slaves, passed the Confiscation Act in August 1861.
    • Freed slaves used in war by the enemy.
  • Lincoln suggests provision made for colonization fo salves.
    • Could not envision free blakcs in the United States.
    • If Lincoln could hold the country together and keep slavery, he would do it.
  • August, Lincoln faced the truth; blacks not only ought to be free, but thousands of them were already free.
    • Either the black man would be allowed to fight, or the draft would not bring enough white men.
  • North faced the moral strength of declaring that they were fighting for the emancipation of slaves.
    • Lincoln declared that the slaves of all persons in rebellion were “henceforward and forever free”.


  • The fugitive slaves, fugitives as “contrabands”, spies, serants and laborers; the black persona s a soldier, citizen, then voter.
    • Steps were an almost rhythmic drumbeat.
  • Price of disaster of war; a price few Americans initially dreamed of paying.
  • North was not abolitionist; but as abolitionist-democracy gained in power, they guided the nation out of moral failure.

The Emancipation Proclamation, Lincoln


The Emancipation Proclamation, issued on September 22nd, 1862, by President Lincoln.

During the course of the Civil War, Lincoln had wanted to declare all slaves free. He waited, however, until the Union forces had some decisive victories over the Rebels; no doubt his holding off was to prevent giving the South a rallying point until one would have no effect on the outcome of the war. After the Southern defeat at Antietam, he felt the time was right. He announced that in 100 days, on January 1, 1863, he would issue an order freeing the slaves in the states in rebellion. The reason that Lincoln restricted the Proclamation to those states active in the rebellion is that Lincoln felt he could take such unilateral action in those states not currently recognizing the authority of the Union; the loyal Union states had certain rights that a Presidential Proclamation would have no Constitutional power over. The effect was to embolden the South, with an “I told you so” sort of pride - they could say that the President had always intended to take away their right to their slaves. They also saw it as a call for a slave rebellion within the Confederate borders. However, it also had the effect of causing European powers from backing off their already wavering support of the Confederacy, lest they be seen as supporting slavery. Unfortunately, the Proclamation also made the war less popular in the North; the war now seemed to be over the freeing of slaves (something many Northerners were not particularly keen on, despite the general Northern propensity towards abolition) and not about the need to keep the Union together. The war ended two and a half years later.

Paragraph 1

  • All persons held as slaves will be free.
  • The Executive Government of the US will recognize and maintain such freedom.
  • Guarantees not to repress the freedoms of such slaves.

Paragraph 2

  • On January 1st, slaveholding states will be given a chance to ‘vote their way out’.
  • If there is conclusive evidence, such a state will be considered “not in rebellion against the United States.”

Paragraphs 3 and 4

  • By the virtue of the power vested in Abraham Lincoln, orders and designates all states and parts of states to surrender:

    Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth[)], and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.

  • Note that this does not include border states of Missouri, Kentucky, Delaware, and Maryland, which practiced slavery.
    • Lincoln did not want to propel them to the Confederate side.

Paragraphs 5-End

  • Declare all persons held as slaves to be free.
    • Military and naval authorities will recognize and maintain this freedom.
  • Slaves will be free to abstain from violence, unless in self-defense.
    • Recommends that they “labor faithfully for reasonable wages”.
  • Slaves will be accepted into military positions.
  • This is believed to be an act of justice warranted by the Constitution.

Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow, Jacqueline Jones


  • Full title: Labor of Love, Labor of Sorrow: Black Women, Work, and the Family from Slavery to the Present.
  • Class reading is Chapter 2: Freed Women? The Civil War and Reconstruction.
  • By Jacqueline Jones.
  • Published by Basic Books, Inc., Publishers in New York.

Thesis and Main Points

  • Among the dislocation of the Civil War, a common purpose remained to escape oppression of slavery while attempting to keep family intact.
  • In making decisions about how family labor was organized, black people rejected materialistic individualism of the North as well as brutal authoritarianism of the South.
  • The development of a coexisting between economic and social family worlds was significant and made a living increasingly carried by individuals apart from family life.
  • Patterns of interracial violence revealed anxieties related to sex, race, and power that remained locked in the South’s collective consciousness.
  • Black women continued occupied two statuses: as wives, mothers, and upholders of culture in their neighborhoods, and as workers belonging to a despised caste. Freedwomen percieved freedom not to be a release from labor, but the oppurtunity labor for their own families and community.


page 2

  • Thomas W. Conway - stated his policy regarding families of southern black Union soldiers; although slaveowners had drove them off plantations in starving conditions, Conway believed in treating the black soldiers and their families to the same responsibilities as white soldiers.
    • Acknowledged the sacrifices black men had made, but believed that freed people could do well off with “a little economy and industry”.
  • A debate over the fate of emancipated slaves cast major white participants into new roles.
    • Neoabolitionists sought to implement ideas of moral significance.
    • “Free labor” ideology provided former slave with oppurtunity to exchange labor in a new marketplace.
  • Whites feared black people’s desire for family autonomy.
    • Preference of wives and mothers to take wage work instead of their own households.
    • Freedwomen were considered exempt from ideal of full-time domesticity.
  • Southern plantations believed that “free black labor” was a contradiction.
    • Began a vicious cycle of prodding labor and hysteria about low agricultural productivity in the South.
  • The North and the South differed tremendously in how they would re-build the South.
    • Did assume black wives and mothers would continue in productive labor outside their homes.
  • However, freed blacks resisted northern work ethic and neoslavery.
    • Were happiest when they worked for themselves in a sharecropping sense.
    • The industrial North was increasingly becoming authoritarian in its manager-worker relations.
    • Sharecropping sytem gave innumerable benefits of freedom.
  • Emancipation was not a gift given by some presidential proclamation, but a process in which black people transfered their labor from their masters to themselves.
    • Black people struggled between spheres of economic and social welfare, but wanted for women to be wives first and cotton pickers econd.
  • Experiences of black women in these time reveals the strength and personal level of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

In Pursuit of Freedom

page 4

  • Slavery gradually diminished, however, freedom was opened to many but very slowly and only in a few degree.
  • Women: welfare of children was often the primary consideration in determining an appropriate course of action.
  • Awareness and choice often shaped the decisions of slave women during this time.
    • Some engineered dramatic escapes, some decided to remain on plantations for their children.
    • Black children were not allowed to go to school, taught only to work.
  • Under the conditions in which situations produced by an absent master or nervous mistress unable to obtain an upper hand, slaves would slow their workpace: “awkward’, “inefficient”, “lazy”.
    • This seemed to spur more fears about the role of black female slaves, often in households, that might perform some sort of sabatoge.
  • Loosened by distractions of war, slaves pushed physical and emotional resolve of those in authority.
    • The war had intensified their hardships.
  • Slave women took an increasing role in caring for the children, ill, and the elderly during wartime, more so than during the antebellum period.
    • Military mobilization broke fragile ties between slave families.
    • Men were put in military construction projects, armies, factories, etc. slave impressment policies.
  • An approaching Union army gave laves a chance to flee from their masters.
    • Single mothers ran away from their masters and sought protection behind Union lines.

Black Slaves and Impact on Family Structures

  • Union territory symbolized the beginning of a new life, but the beginning was not entirely pleasant. Lacked food, shelter, medicine, etc.
    • Refugee settlements became targets for black male conscription.
    • However, caused resentment among the refugees; women saw the draft as a seizure or a raid.
    • Well-being of families remained a source of anxiety for them
    • Black soldiers demanded the federal government provide loved ones with some sort of protection.
  • Some families followed male soldiers to the front lines; however this was discouraged.
  • Payment of soldiers’ wages was slow and unpredictable. Left mothers with complete responsibility for full support of children.
    • Discouraged qualified women from seeking aid in the Army Quartermaster Department.
  • Employment as a cook, etc. did not come easily.

Slaves That Stayed

  • Although many women had no choice but to seek food and safety from Northern troops, some attained relative freedom where they were.
  • Many whites had fled in large numbers were black men had marched.
    • Several hundred women made a small colony.
  • Fleeing black women deprived the South of a large labor supply.


Among the dislocation of the Civil War, a common purpose remained to escape oppression of slavery while attempting to keep family intact.

Black Women as Free Laborers

page 18

  • Many black women and men travelled to towns to escape masters, but many had to search for work.
    • Government failed to institute comprehensive land confiscation and redistribution; Southern whites refused to sell property or extend credit to former slaves.
    • Majority of slaves would remain economicaly dependent on the group to which they had served as salves.
  • Most freed people remained concentrated in the Cotton Belt.
  • Northern vision of free labor markets struck the Confederates as ludicrous.

Northern Free Labor Thought

  • There was some divergence in reconstructing southern society, but freedom was often equated with oppurtunity to work for oneself.
  • Northerners conceived a contract labor system that would ensure cotton production and deincentivize exploitation.
    • Contract system premised on the idea that freed people would embrace gainful employment out of economic necessity.
  • Some believed black slaves required punitive measures to refresh their souls.
  • Slave women did not have much luxury in choosing which work they would do.
    • Many workers were defrauded, both monetarily and in term of the physical punishment they were promised not to be subjected to.
  • Many Northerners detested southern planters but empathized with them as capitalists.
  • Union officials believed that freedwomen as a group should contribute full muscle power towards the rebuilding of the region’s economic system.

Unionization of Slave Workers

  • Slave women performed many jobs, be it cooking, gardening, special talents, etc.; varied and depended widely on time and difficult to guage because of geographic mobility.
  • Freed people were largely dependent on whites for employment, but strikes and group labor resistance began to surface.
    • Whites began to learn an important basic lesson fo Reconstruction: blacks’ attitudes towards work depended on the extent of their freedom from white supervision.
  • Blacks challenged intentions of bureau agents and northqern/southern planters alike; both underestimated the power of the workers.


In making decisions about how family labor was organized, black people rejected materialistic individualism of the North as well as brutal authoritarianism of the South.

The Political Economy of Black Family and Community Life in the Postwar Period

  • Northerners that hoped black workers would pursue interests as individuals did not take into account strong family ties.
    • Family bound black households together.
  • Black women constituted a sizable proportion fo the labor force, but their obligation to family took priority.
  • Freedom, thus has little to do with individual oppurtunity but instead int he context of family.
  • Institution of slavery posed a threat to the stability of family, and after emancipation family relationships solidifed.
  • Black labor correspondingly dropped significantly after emancipation.

Withdrawal of Black Females from Wage Labor

  • Major theme in Reconstruction: widthdrawal of black females from wage-labor.
  • Northernors ridiculed “lazy” freedwomen for working within their own homes.
  • Many assumed freed people were engaged in an attempt to imitate white middle-class norms. However, reorganization of female labor resulted from choices by men and women.
    • Women were to be protected by freedmen from rape by eliminating white man-black woman interaction.
  • Slavery’s persistence continued in the minds of black women that continued to suffer abuse from white employers.
  • Blacks preferred to organize by kin group, or “squad” system.
    • Non-bureaucratic, self-regulating, self-selecting worker peer group.
  • Tug of economic and pyschological warfare between planters cultiminated in the “compromise” - the sharecropping system.

Sharecroppping System

  • Met demands of each party; a relatively reliable source of labor and a measure of independence.
  • Sharecroppers moved into small houses around a plantation; contracts were renegotiated every year.
  • This system reshaped Southern race and class relations.
  • Most freedwomen lived in rural areas, were illiterate, and very poor.
    • Fertility rates went down very lowly; women were severely circumscribed.
    • Most children did not have a chance to go to school.
    • Black women were distinguished primarily by lower socioeconomic status and reliance on families of work done outside the realm of traditional domestic responsbilities.

Sexual Division of Labor

  • The husband represented the family; men exercised authoritiy by age and sex.
  • Freedmen’s Bureau’s wage guidelines mandated black women and men recieve unequal compensation; bureau held men responsible for wives’ unwillingness to labor.
  • This division of labor became more sharp after emancipation.
    • Domestic duties were seen to be a woman’s major obligation; contrast with slavemaster’s view of female as a field or hosue worker.
  • Women’s agricultural labor was more seasonal than that of their husbands; they worked when there labor was needed.
  • One cannot separate freedwomen’s “work” from family-based obligations; productive labor had no meaning outside of family.
  • Husbands and wives needed each other to form a complete economic unit.
    • If necessary, the wife would step into the husband’s “sphere” or work.
  • The interests of the family superceded individual desires.
  • Obligations of black women assumed greater significance than immigrant or poor white communities because of distinctive low economic status possessed by blacks.

Kinship and Collectivization of Labor

  • Field workers and nonworkers managed to care for themselves by growing vegetables, catching fish, trapping game, etc.
    • Relied consequently less on wages paid by their employer.
  • There was a belief that black workers were burdened by their relatives.

Political Gathering of Freedmen

  • Vitality of the political process provided back men a public forum distinct from the private sphere inhabited by woemn.
    • Black men believed males alone were responsible for the serious business of politicking.
  • Freedmen monopolized formal positions of power within their own communities; however, freedwomen did not simply accept them all. Often these worlds clashed.
  • Freed people had a preference to work in “traditional” rural society rather than a nationalistic goal of social or economic progress.
  • Black households conformed to the “premodern” family model; however, the terms are a bit misleading becuase sharecropping families actually represented an adaptation.


The development of a coexisting between economic and social family worlds was significant and made a living increasingly carried by individuals apart from family life.

New Dresses, Defiant Words, and Their Price

  • Significance of clothing in an era whenr ace relations were at least temporarily fluctuating.
  • Role of women’s clothes in transition from slavery to freedomw as significant.
    • Older forms of dress were scorned in favor of more colorful and elaborate garments.
  • Black husbands took pride in buying fashinoable dresses for their women.
  • Clothing signaled a struggle over “social equality”; freedwomen were more outspoken and aggressive in their willingnes to confront white authority figures.
  • Freedwomen were especially impressed by the challenge to womanhood that subverted female submissiveness.
    • Almost ironically, this put freedmen into a position of being more “reasonable”.
  • Black women paid for their assertiveness by acting like free women.
    • Continued to toil as they had under slavery and remained susceptible to punishment for offenses by angry overseers, often over compensation disagreements.
    • Violence was not only sanctioned by sometimes initiated by ‘law-enforcement’.
  • Systematic legal corruption made it difficult for black women to get justice for their assault.
  • These were personal attacks carried out face-to-face.


Patterns of interracial violence revealed anxieties related to sex, race, and power that remained locked in the South’s collective consciousness.

Out of the Fields: City Life and Schooling

page 31

  • Only 1/10 blacks lived in towns with populations > 2,5000 in 1870.
    • However, experiences of urban freedwomen are important to consider.
  • Black men, women,a nd children came to the city; fleeing the war-torn countryside to seek food and safety but seen by many whites as an escape to luxury and apathy.
  • Hostility among whites caused a black exodus from the cotton fields; women were overrepresented among free people that remained in the cities permanently after the war.
  • Black women ecured jobs in a limited number of occupations at the bottom of the wage scale, like “women’s work” or as industrial laborers.
  • Three times as many black women to white women listed an occupation.
  • Quality of city life had little to offer to mot freed people; encountered resentment of white competitors and racism fo white customers.
  • Economic and political conditions crushed health, stability, and welfare of the urban black family.
    • Meanwhile, it gave rich culutral, educational, and religious oppurtunities.
    • Social structure in urban areas was more complex.
    • City children were able to attend class, variety of educational institutions concentrated.
  • Black women sponsored and supported social events, reinforced black community solidarity.
    • Working women found it less difficult to band together and stage collective job actions.
  • Social consequences of freedom accompanied by changes in the way women worked, dressed, and thought about themsevles.
  • Liberation from bondage brought tangible, immediate benefits to some women.
  • For most women, childbearing and rearing, household chores and employment, etc. representing a continuum from slavery to freedom.


Black women continued to occupy two statuses: as wives, mothers, and upholders of culture in their neighborhoods, and as workers belonging to a despised caste. Freedwomen percieved freedom not to be a release from labor, but the oppurtunity labor for their own families and community.

  1. Butler’s successor  2 3 4 5 6 7

  2. for the most part, at least  2 3 4 5 6

  3. of some sort  2 3

  4. Fallon, Completing and Implementing the Constitution, 369.  2

  5. Fallon, Completing and Implementing the Constitution, 370.  2 3

  6. Although Madison does later remark that he does not see much of a tendency for republics to end up in this situation; regardless, “precaution can do no harm.”  2

  7. Fallon, Completing and Implementing the Constitution, 371.  2

  8. Fallon, Completing and Implementing the Constitution, 371.  2

  9. (in the monarch.)  2

  10. (in the people.)  2

  11. (in the majority.)  2 3

  12. House of Burgesses. 

  13. These were vetoed. 

  14. Small, independent militias formed to retaliate against British threats. 

  15. Presumably with France or another European nation. 

  16. even though it was against Lincoln’s policy.  2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10