You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Today in history’ category.
Another in a series drawing on @TodayinVa from Encylopedia Virginia.
The Westmoreland County slave plot compelled lawmakers to create a series of restrictions aimed at preventing further conspiracies. On July 26, 1690, Virginia lieutenant governor Francis Nicholson issued a proclamation ordering that the 1680 act be publicly read at all county courts and parish churches every six months. The following year, on April 3, 1691, the General Assembly passed “An act for suppressing outlying slaves,” which granted county sheriffs, their deputies, and any other “lawfull authority” the ability to kill any slaves resisting, running away, or refusing to surrender themselves when so ordered. For each slave killed in this manner, owners would collect 4,000 pounds of tobacco from the colonial government. The act further sought to prevent the “abominable mixture and spurious issue” of mixed-race unions by prohibiting English men or women from marrying any “negroe, mulatto, or Indian man or woman bond or free.”
As the first conspiracy in British North America not involving white supporters or participants, the Westmoreland plot confirmed long-held fears among planters while provoking new ones. Their concerns were now focused more sharply on enslaved African Americans, helping to show how Africanized the colony’s labor force had become since the Servants’ Plot of 1663. Servitude in Virginia had become a condition largely dictated by race, and, in the future, servile revolts would be planned and executed almost exclusively by blacks. Indeed, until John Brown‘s raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859, white support for slave revolts in Virginia was minimal at best.
Emphasis added. Parish churches means Church of England parishes, the precursor to The Episcopal Church. As the established church it was an instrument of the government of the time.
Read it all at EncyclopediaVirginia.org
I am descended from Chiltons who had large landholdings in Westmoreland during this time.
“Let’s tell Russia about this.”
Massive Resistance and the Closing of the Schools
Under the leadership of U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd Sr., Virginia chose to obstruct the Brown v. Board of Education decision by enacting a policy of Massive Resistance. Governor J. Lindsay Almond Jr. closed public schools in Warren County, Charlottesville, and Norfolk in the autumn of 1958 rather than integrate them, but two court decisions on January 19, 1959—one from a federal court, the other from the state supreme court—both overturned the Massive Resistance laws and demanded that the schools be reopened.
Prince Edward County officials continued to defy the court orders, however. On May 9, 1959, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals set September 1 as a deadline for integration. On June 26, the county board of supervisors voted instead to cut off revenues to the public schools. Encouraged by segregationists from across the state and the South, Prince Edward was the only locality in the nation to take such a step. The schools did not open on September 10 as scheduled and remained closed for the next five years.
While white students quickly moved into Prince Edward Academy—a new private school supported by state-approved tuition grants and donations from ardent segregationists—black students were left without any educational facilities. Some local churches provided a rudimentary substitute for the local schools, and some black students attended classes in nearby counties or, with the aid of the Quaker-affiliated American Friends Service Committee, relocated. Most black students, however, and especially children who were too young to move away from home, were denied access to any formal education. Similarly, most black teachers lost their jobs, forcing many to leave the community.
June 19th celebrates the day in 1865 when word reached slaves in Texas.
Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Dating back to 1865, it was on June 19th that the Union soldiers, led by Major General Gordon Granger, landed at Galveston, Texas with news that the war had ended and that the enslaved were now free. Note that this was two and a half years after President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation – which had become official January 1, 1863. The Emancipation Proclamation had little impact on the Texans due to the minimal number of Union troops to enforce the new Executive Order. However, with the surrender of General Lee in April of 1865, and the arrival of General Granger’s regiment, the forces were finally strong enough to influence and overcome the resistance.
General Granger read General Order, Number 3 to the people of Galveston:
See our previous post, Mapping Emancipation.
Harriet Beecher Stowe, born this in date in 1811, followed her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852), with her nonfiction book A Key to Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1853). She explains the reason for writing A Key:
At different times, doubt has been expressed -whether the representations of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” are a fair representation of slavery as it at present exists…. The writer acknowledges that the book is a very inadequate representation of slavery; and it is so, necessarily, for this reason,— that slavery, in some of its workings, is too dreadful for the purposes of art. A work which should represent it strictly as it is would be a work which could not be read. And all works which ever mean to give pleasure must draw a veil somewhere, or they cannot succeed.
William Meade (1789-1862) was elected Assistant bishop of Virginia in 1829. He became the third bishop of Virginia at the death of Bishop Moore in 1841 and served as diocesan until own death in 1862.
Stowe and Meade intersect in A Key. In A Key we do not see the Meade who was troubled by slavery, who implored his recalcitrant clergy to evangelize the enslaved and who was a leading member of the American Colonization Society. Meade’s portrait is not as simple as that. Meade was a prolific writer and this is the Meade that Stowe knows. She writes,
Concerning the absolute authority of the master, take the following extract from Bishop Mead’s sermon. (Brooke’s Slavery, pp. 30. 31, 32.)
Having thus shown you the chief duties you owe to your great Master in heaven, I now come to lay before you the duties you owe to your masters and mistresses here upon earth; and for this you have one general rule that you ought always to carry in your minds, and that is, to do all service for them as if you did it for God himself. Poor creatures! you little consider, when you are idle and neglectful of your masters’ business, when you steal and waste and hurt any of their substance, when you are saucy and impudent, when you are telling them lies and deceiving them; or when you prove stubborn and sullen, and will not do the work you are set about without stripes and vexation; you do not consider, I say, that what faults you are guilty of towards your masters and mistresses are faults done against God himself, who hath set your masters and mistresses over you in his own stead, and expects that you will do for them just as you would do for Him. And, pray, do not think that I want to deceive you when I tell you that your masters and mistresses are God’s overseers; and that, if you are faulty towards them, God himself will punish you severely for it in the next world, unless you repent of it, and strive to make amends by your faithfulness and diligence for the time to come; for God himself hath declared the same.
Now, from this general rule, — namely, that you are to do all service for your masters and mistresses as if you did it for God himself, — there arise several other rules of duty towards your masters and mistresses, which I shall endeavor to lay out in order before you.
And, in the first place, you are to be obedient and subject to your masters in all things.
And Christian ministers are commanded to “exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things, not answering them again, or gainsaying.” [Titus 2:9.] You see how strictly God requires this of you, that whatever your masters and mistresses order you to do, you must set about it immediately, and faithfully perform it, without any disputing or grumbling, and take care to please them well in all things. And for your encouragement he tells you that he will reward you for it in heaven; because, while you are honestly and faithfully doing your master’s business here, you are serving your Lord and Master in heaven. You see also that you aro not to take any exceptions to the behavior of your masters and mistresses; and that you are to be subject and obedient, not only to such as are good, and gentle, and mild, towards you, but also to such as may be froward, peevish, and hard. For you are not at liberty to choose your own masters; but into whatever hands God hath been pleased to put you, you must do your duty, and God will reward you for it.
. . . .
You are to be faithful and honest to your masters and mistresses, not purloining or wasting their goods or substance, but showing all good fidelity in all things…. Do not your masters, under God, provide for you? And how shall they be able to do this, to feed and to clothe you, unless you take honest care of everything that belongs to them? Remember that God requires this of you; and, if you are not afraid of suffering for it here, you cannot escape the vengeance of Almighty God, who will judge between you and your masters, and make you pay severely in the next world for all the injustice you do them here. And though you could manage so cunningly as to escape the eyes and hands of man, yet think what a dreadful thing it is to fall into the hands of the living God, who is able to cast both soul and body into hell!
You are to serve your masters with cheerfulness, reverence, and humility. You are to do your masters” service with good will, doing it as the will of God from the heart, without any sauciness or answering again. IIow many of you do things quite otherwise, and, instead of going about your work with a good will and a good heart, dispute and grumble, give saucy answers, and behave in a surly manner! There is something so becoming and engaging in a modest, cheerful, good-natured behavior, that a little work done in that manner seems better done, and gives far more satisfaction, than a great deal more, that must be done with fretting, vexation, and the lash always held over you. It also gains the good will and love of those you belong to, and makes your own life pass with more ease and pleasure. Besides, you are to consider that this grumbling and ill-will do not affect your masters and mistresses only. They have ways and means in their hands of forcing you to do your work, whether you are willing or not. But your murmuring and grumbling is against God, who hath placed you in that service, who will punish you severely in the next world for despising his commands.
A very awful query here occurs to the mind. If the poor, ignorant slave, who wastes his master’s temporal goods to answer some of his own present purposes, be exposed to this heavy retribution, what will become of those educated men, who, for their temporal convenience, make and hold in force laws which rob generation after generation of men, not only of their daily earnings, but of all their righte and privileges as immortal beings? Read the rest of this entry »
On June 12, 1967 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Loving v. Virginia. Once again, Encyclopedia Virginia has the story:
In the 1967 case of Loving v. Virginia, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws banning interracial marriages in the United States. At one time, as many as forty-one states had such prohibitions. Virginia’s law had been passed in 1691and, after being amended several times, reached its final version in the Racial Integrity Act, passed by the Virginia General Assembly on March 20, 1924. Although every state with such a law banned marriage between a white person and an African American, some laws, including Virginia’s, went further and prohibited marriage between whites and other non-white ethnic groups such as Asians and Native Americans. Loving v. Virginia was a landmark case, both in the history of race relations in the United States and in the ongoing political and cultural dispute over the proper definition of marriage.
Perhaps the most dramatic moment in the courtroom came when Cohen quoted Richard Loving as saying, “Mr. Cohen, tell the Court I love my wife, and it is just unfair that I can’t live with her in Virginia.”
A unanimous ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Virginia’s law, stating that to deny the “fundamental freedom” of marriage “on so unsupportable a basis” as race “is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law.”
Over time, marriages between whites and African Americans became both more numerous and more accepted. Same-sex marriages, meanwhile, became more disputed, with gay rights activists attempting to use Loving v. Virginia as a precedent in their favor. The courts have preferred reading the case strictly in terms of race, although in 2007 the group Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, or GLAD, released a statement that attributed to Mildred Loving support for same-sex marriage. After her death, the Loving family denied that she held these views. Richard Loving died in 1975, and Mildred Loving died in 2008.
Read it all.
Encyclopedia Virginia has a great twitter account, @TodayInVa. My favorite are their links to events on this day in history. For Virginia those events so often surround fights for liberty whether it’s the Revolutionary War, the Civil War or the Civil Rights Era.
June 6, 1963 marks the Danville civil rights demonstrations. Here’s a portion of the account of those events provided by Encyclopedia Virginia:
- May 31, 1963 – A few weeks after well-publicized demonstrations in Birmingham, Alabama, protests led by two members of the Danville Christian Progressive Association begin in Danville. The demonstrators seek the participation of blacks in municipal government and services and the hiring of blacks in downtown white businesses.
- June 5, 1963 – Danville Christian Progressive Association protesters march into City Hall and occupy the city manager’s office.
- June 6, 1963 – Two hundred people demonstrate at the Danville Municipal Building. Danville Corporation Court Judge Archibald M. Aiken Jr. indicts three demonstration leaders for “conspiring to incite the colored population of the State to acts of violence and war against the white population,” an 1859 statute enacted after John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry.
- June 10, 1963 – A prayer vigil for those arrested earlier in the day for participating in the Danville civil rights demonstrations is met with violence as police and deputized garbage men attack the vigil with clubs and fire hoses, injuring forty-seven.
- June 17, 1963 – Trials begin for those arrested in the Danville civil rights demonstrations. The U.S. Justice Department issues a brief that strongly criticizes Judge Archibald M. Aiken Jr.’s courtroom procedures.