Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What does London owe to slavery?

Was Britain 'built on the blood of slaves'?

On June 2nd (Tuesday) a team of historians from UCL (University College London) will launch a major investigation into Britain's debt to slavery and create the first 'Encyclopaedia of British slave owners'. This online database will identify every slave-owner resident in Britain in the 1830s (when slavery was abolished) and show how slave-related wealth was put to use. It will highlight the major companies, art collections and institutions which can trace their existence back to colonial slavery in the 19th century.

The three-year project, entitled 'Legacies of British Slave Ownership', is the first comprehensive attempt to trace the impact of slave ownership on the development of modern Britain. The team, led by Professor Catherine Hall and including Dr Nick Draper and Keith McClelland, will build a systematic analysis of the economic, commercial, political, cultural, social and physical legacies of slave ownership.

"At the time of Emancipation under the 1833 Abolition Act, £20million – an enormous sum of money at that time – was paid as compensation to owners of the enslaved throughout the British colonies," explains Professor Hall. "The mechanisms set up by the British state to distribute these funds led to the creation of the first full census of colonial slave-ownership, and we've used these records to identify that over half of this compensation was paid to absentee owners and mortgagees in Britain itself. Our new study will focus on the contribution to the development of modern Britain of these men and women, their families and the firms and institutions which the slave-owners founded or financed, many of which are still identifiable in Britain today."

The study, funded by a £613,000 grant from the UK's Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), aims to produce a web-based encyclopaedia of slave ownership accessible to academic researchers and the general public. The team will co-operate with other scholars in Britain and abroad to pull together research on various aspects of slave ownership.

"The 2007 bicentenary stimulated many projects examining local and regional linkages with colonial slavery in metropolitan Britain," says Keith McClelland. "As yet, we don't have the big picture that would enable us to assess slave-ownership's national significance, but this is the project that will give us that overview."

Dr Nick Draper adds: "We're delighted to have won the support of the ERSC for a project that we believe will bring a much deeper understanding of the many ways in which slavery came home to Britain and allow us to map colonial slave-ownership on to the development of British metropolitan society." (source: EurekAlert!)

Dr Nick Draper (UCL History)

For Liverpool and Bristol much work has been done in tracing the role of the slave-trade and slavery in shaping the cities' histories, but the scale and complexity of London's growth in the 18th and 19th centuries has obscured the contribution of slavery to the formation of the modern capital. This lecture explores the evidence for the centrality of slavery in understanding how London became what we know it as today.

This lecture marks Black History Month.

What does London owe to slavery? (26 Oct 2010)

Slavery and Indentured Servants

Before the Civil War, slaves and indentured servants were considered personal property, and they or their descendants could be sold or inherited like any other personalty. Like other property, human chattel was governed largely by laws of individual states. Generally, these laws concerning indentured servants and slaves did not differentiate between the sexes. Some, however, addressed only women. Regardless of their country of origin, many early immigrants were indentured servants, people who sold their labor in exchange for passage to the New World and housing on their arrival. Initially, most laws passed concerned indentured servants, but around the middle of the seventeenth century, colonial laws began to reflect differences between indentured servants and slaves. More important, the laws began to differentiate between races: the association of “servitude for natural life” with people of African descent became common. Re Negro John Punch (1640) was one of the early cases that made a racial distinction among indentured servants.35

Virginia was one of the first states to acknowledge slavery in its laws, initially enacting such a law in 1661.36 The following year, Virginia passed two laws that pertained solely to women who were slaves or indentured servants and to their illegitimate children. Women servants who produced children by their masters could be punished by having to do two years of servitude with the churchwardens after the expiration of the term with their masters. The law reads, “that each woman servant gott with child by her master shall after her time by indenture or custome is expired be by the churchwardens of the parish where she lived when she was brought to bed of such bastard, sold for two years. . . .”37

The second law, which concerned the birthright of children born of “Negro” or mulatto women, would have a profound effect on the continuance of slavery, especially after the slave trade was abolished—and on the future descendants of these women. Great Britain had a very structured primogeniture system, under which children always claimed lineage through the father, even those born without the legitimacy of marriage. Virginia was one of the first colonies to legislate a change:


Negro womens children to serve according to the condition of the mother.

WHEREAS some doubts have arrisen whether children got by any Englishman upon a Negro woman should be slave or free, Be it therefore enacted and declared by this present grand assembly, that all children borne in this country shalbe held bond or free only according to the condition of the mother, And that if any christian shall committ ffornication with a Negro man or woman, hee or shee soe offending shall pay double the ffines imposed by the former act.38

Most slave colonies or states enacted similar laws. After the slave trade officially ended, many slave owners tried to ensure that sufficient numbers of slaves were available to work their plantations. Slave women of childbearing age became more valuable. There are a number of court cases concerning slave women who either killed their masters who forced them to have sexual relations or killed the children rather than have the children enslaved.39

Miscegenation laws, forbidding marriage between races, were prevalent in the South and the West. Because English masters had had little regard for indentured servants of non-Anglo ethnic groups, they allowed and sometimes encouraged commingling of their servants. Being seen in public or bringing legitimacy to these relations, however, was not lawful. This is evinced by a court decision from 1630, the first court decision in which a Negro woman and a white man figured prominently. Re Davis (1630) concerned sexual relations between them, the decision stating, “Hugh Davis to be soundly whipt . . . for abusing himself to the dishonor of God and shame of Christianity by defiling his body in lying with a Negro, which fault he is to actk. next sabbath day.”40

Virginia passed its first miscegenation law in 1691 as part of “An act for suppressing outlying Slaves.”

And for prevention of that abominable mixture and spurious issue which hereafter may encrease in this dominion, as well by negroes, mulattoes, and Indians intermarrying with English, or other white women, as by their unlawfull accompanying with one another, Be it enacted by the authoritie aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, that for the time to come, whatsoever English or other white man or woman being free shall intermarry with a negroe, mulatto, or Indian man or woman bond or free shall within three months after such marriage be banished and removed from this dominion forever. . . .41

Another section of the law closed the loophole created by the 1662 birthright law, which mandated that children born of a free white mother and Negro father were technically free. This amendment stated that a free white woman who had a bastard child by a Negro or mulatto man had to pay fifteen pounds sterling within one month of the birth. If she could not pay, she would become an indentured servant for five years. Whether or not the fine was paid, however, the child would be bound in service for thirty years.

The laws that restricted slaves or indentured servants generally addressed the owners and penalized them for breaking the law. Laws governing slaves allowed masters to beat or kill them under certain circumstances. Nor could they go to court to seek redress. A person of color was not permitted to testify against a white Christian, as illustrated by the 1717 Maryland law:

II. Be it Therefore Enacted, by the right honourable the Lord Proprietary, by and with the advice and consent of his Lordship's Governor, and the Upper and Lower Houses of Assembly, and by the authority of the same, That from and after the end of this present session of assembly, no Negro or mulatto slave, free Negro, or mulatto born of a white woman, during his time of servitude by law, or any Indian slave, or free Indian natives, of this or the neighbouring provinces, be admitted and received as good and valid evidence in law, in any matter or thing whatsoever depending before any court of record, or before any magistrate within this province, wherein any christian white person is concerned.42

Against these overwhelming restrictions, there were a number of court cases in which slaves filed suit seeking their freedom or freed Negroes claimed property that had been inherited from their former owners. Elizabeth Freeman (1732/ 34-1829), a slave, presented her case for freedom in a Massachusetts court pro se in 1783 and won.43 In addition there were cases where the slave or freed person was the defendant; Celia, a Slave is a narrative account of such a trial in Missouri in 1855.44

White women were often involved in litigation concerning slaves through the workings of the dower laws. In some states women could inherit personalty but could only receive a life estate in real property.45 This situation created many problems, particularly if slaves were needed to make profits from the land. For example, if a woman chose to free her inherited personalty at death, her descendants would have no one to work the land unless they farmed it with paid workers or purchased new slaves. Frequently, wills or contracts that granted freedom or conveyed realty or personalty as dower were contested in court.

The laws and resulting court cases that involved slavery and indentured servants have had a major impact on America, its men and women alike, in both the past and the present. Through the years, the laws that the states passed became steadily more restrictive toward slaves, mulattoes, and freed Negroes. In 1850, the federal government's involvement deepened with the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act, responding to strong lobbying efforts by slaveholders wanting to counteract abolitionist forces.46 In the face of these all-encompassing laws, women with extraordinary courage fought for a better life. For example, Harriet Tubman (ca. 1821-1913) returned to the South nineteen times to bring more than three hundred fugitives to freedom, and Charlotte Forten (1837-1914), a free black woman from Philadelphia, went to South Carolina during the early Civil War to teach “the contrabands of war” (slaves who had escaped to Union lines).47

In 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution ended slavery and involuntary servitude. Nevertheless, many laws and judicial precedents that had been established before that date would not be changed until the mid- or late-twentieth century.

The Virginia Company of London 1606-1624

From the PBS series Africans in America: The goal of the Virginia Company was clear enough: establish a permanent colony in America that would make a profit for the Company. The company, chartered by King James I in April, 1606, was comprised of two divisions. The Plymouth Company would establish a short-lived colony at the mouth of the Kennebec River near what is now Phippsburg, Maine. The London Company would establish Jamestown in Virginia, England's first permanent settlement in the New World.

There were two ways to become a member of the London Company. If you had money to buy shares in the Company but were inclined to remain safe and snug in England, you could invest as an "Adventurer." If you really were adventurous and didn't mind travelling to the new colony, you could become a member of the Company as a "Planter."

Planters were required to work for the Company for a set number of years. In exchange for this work -- or, more precisely, servitude -- the company provided housing, clothing, and food. At the end of the servitude the planter would be granted a piece of land and be free of obligations to the company. In addition, the planter would be entitled to a share of the profits made by the company. (The company also recruited indentured servants, who would work for a set number of years, typically seven, in exchange for passage to the colony.)

Sounds like a good deal, doesn't it? It really wasn't. The lives of these colonists were difficult and unpleasant, to say the least.

The planters were really servants of the company. They had no real freedom and were kept by force in the company. They had no choice but to accept any changes that the Governor or company decided to make, including an extension of their contracts. (Three-year contracts were sometimes extended to ten years.) Any letters sent to or received from England were destroyed if they contained any disparaging remarks about the company. Relatively minor offences could result in severe punishments. According to some colonists' accounts, there were continual whippings, as well as punishments such as hanging, shooting, breaking on the wheel, and even being burnt alive.

The Virginia Company was dissolved in 1624. Virginia then became a royal colony. (source: PBS)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Anthrax in the U.S.S.R.

On April 2, 1979, there was an unusual anthrax outbreak which affected 94 people and killed at least 64 of them in the Soviet city of Sverdlovsk (now called Ekaterinburg), roughly 850 miles east of Moscow. The first victim died after four days; the last one died six weeks later.

Ekaterinburg Map

The Soviet government claimed the deaths were caused by intestinal anthrax from tainted meat, a story some influential American scientists found believable. However, officials in the Carter administration suspected the outbreak was caused by an accidental release of anthrax spores from a suspected Soviet biological weapons facility located in the city. The US believed that the Soviet Union was violating the Biological Weapons Convention signed in 1972 and made their suspicions public. But the Soviets denied any activities relating to biological weapons and at numerous international conferences tried to prove their contaminated meat story.

It wasn't until thirteen years later - 1992- that President Boris Yeltsin admitted, without going into details, that the anthrax outbreak was the result of military activity at the facility. During those thirteen years, while an intense debate raged within the international scientific and intelligence communities on whether the Russians were telling the truth, the Soviet Union continued its offensive biological warfare program unabated.

Around the time Yeltsin admitted the military facility was responsible for the incident, Russia allowed a team of Western scientists to go to Sverdlovsk to investigate the outbreak. The team visited Sverdlovsk in June 1992 and August 1993 and included Professor Matt Meselson.

Although the KGB had confiscated hospital and other records after the incident, the Western scientists were able to track where all the victims had been at the time of the anthrax release. Their results showed that on the day of the incident all the victims were clustered along a straight line downwind from the military facility. Livestock in the same area also died of anthrax. After completing their investigation, the team concluded the outbreak was caused by a release of an aerosol of anthrax pathogen at the military facility. But they were unable to determine what caused the release or what specific activities were conducted at the facility.

According to FRONTLINE's interview with Dr. Kanatjan Alibekov, former first deputy chief for Biopreparat (the civilian part of the Soviet biological weapons program), the anthrax airborne leak had been caused by workers at the military facility who forgot to replace a filter in an exhaust system. The mistake was realized shortly after, but by then some anthrax spores were released. Alibekov says if the wind had been in the opposite direction that day--toward the city of Sverdlovsk--the death rate could have been in the hundreds of thousands.

To this day, Western inspectors have not been allowed to visit this military facility.

The Mengele of Pretoria

Since October 1999 the trial takes place in Pretoria at the heart surgeon described as a genius Dr. Wouter Basson.

Basson is suspected in the eighties - as leader of the ultra-secret Project Coast - hundreds of black prisoners and opponents of the then apartheid regime to have subjected to horrific medical experiments and even killed. As a general in the South African Army was responsible for Dr Basson ontwiklzeling of a chemical and bacteriological weapons program and that neighbor called frontline states was deterred. At a time when South Africa groaned under a global boycott UN, built an unrivaled arsenal of Basson. He proved to be particularly obsessed with the development of WMD-sensitive pigment in the form of medication only on the black population would have a deadly effect.

Hans Knoop took weeks to process in Pretoria and held meetings with all stakeholders, including Dr. Basson himself. He had access to many hitherto unknown documents and files and bit set in its own manner, in this fascinating, often disgusting, but always complicated matter.

Many of his secrets will Basson - after an expected sentence of life many times - no doubt bring to his prison cell in Pretoria. That cell has already been prepared and is located next to the last six years to life sentence executioner of the apartheid regime, Colonel Eugene de Kock.

Apartheid in South Africa: Chemical and Biological Warfare

In 1998 South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission held hearings investigating activities of the apartheid-era government. Toward the end of the hearings, the Commission looked into the apartheid regime's Chemical and Biological Warfare (CBW) program and allegations that it developed a sterility vaccine to use on black South Africans, employed toxic and chemical poison weapons for political assassination, and in the late 1970s provided anthrax and cholera to Rhodesian troops for use against guerrilla rebels in their war to overthrow Rhodesia's white minority rule.

South Africa's CBW program was headed by Dr. Wouter Basson, a former Special Forces Army Brigadier and personal heart specialist to former President P.W. Botha. Basson ran the CBW program during the 1980s and early 1990s. CBW, also known as Project Coast, was initiated in the early 1980s to provide detection and protection capabilities to the South African Defence Force. However, there was an offensive component to the program and the claims are that CBW's offensive program:

  • Developed lethal chemical and biological weapons that targeted ANC political leaders and their supporters as well as populations living in the black townships. These weapons included an infertility toxin to secretly sterilize the black population; skin-absorbing poisons that could be applied to the clothing of targets; and poison concealed in products such as chocolates and cigarettes. (Read the interviews with former President F.W. de Klerk, and Dr. Daan Goosen, who worked with Basson in the CBW program.)
  • Released cholera strains into water sources of certain South African villages and provided anthrax and cholera to the government troops of Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) during the late 1970s to use against the rebel soldiers in the guerrilla war. In 1979 the world's largest outbreak of anthrax took place in Rhodesia where 82 people were killed and thousands became ill. Zimbabwe's current Minister of Health, Dr. Timothy Stamps, has ordered an investigation into whether South Africa was involved in the incident.

South Africa's CBW program underwent drastic changes after F.W. de Klerk became president in the early 1990s. De Klerk appointed General Pierre Steyn to investigate the CBW program and his report, known as the Steyn Report, exposed some of the alleged abuses of the program. De Klerk ordered the firing of numerous CBW scientists and officials and the destruction of all documents pertaining to CBW technology. All of the information was transferred to CD-ROMs to be kept under lock and key by the president. However, the official position of the South African government throughout the 1990s was that the program had been a strictly defensive one.

Basson was pressured to retire and became a consultant who travelled frequently, including trips to Libya which drew attention. Twice during de Klerk's presidency and once during Mandela's, the United States and Britain made démarches to express their concerns about the leaking of knowledge from the CBW program. The South African government re-hired Basson in 1995 in an effort to keep him close and under control. (Read the interview with Ronnie Kasrils, South Africa's current Deputy Defense Minister.)

In 1997 Basson was arrested on charges of selling the drug Ecstasy. During the investigation, authorities found CBW documents, which were supposed to have been destroyed, stored in Basson's home. Basson was pressured to come clean with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), but he refused to seek amnesty and delayed testifying until July 1998. He was the TRC's last witness and gave limited testimony. People who worked for Basson, however, did testify and have applied for amnesty and qualified for immunity from prosecution.

Efforts continue on uncovering the truth of what happened in the CBW program. Basson is still employed by the government in the military's medical section and South Africa continues to have a CBW program but says it is strictly defensive. The country is now a member of the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention. (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/plague/sa/)

Apartheid in South Africa: Raw Documentary Footage (1957 Film)

Medical Ethics and Dr. Wouter Basson

Wouter Basson ran the apartheid-era regime's germ and chemical warfare program, Project Coast. He is charged with manufacturing dangerous drugs, some of which allegedly were used on activists.
From the Los Angeles Times, on 27 September 2011, by Robyn Dixon: Reporting from Johannesburg, South Africa — In South Africa, they call him "Dr. Death."

Wouter Basson, who ran the apartheid government's secret germ and chemical warfare program, Project Coast, once was accused of trying to create poisons that were lethal only to blacks. He was acquitted by a judge in 2002 of charges that included murder and drug possession.

But more than 20 years after he ran Project Coast, Basson's quiet life as a cardiologist in Cape Town is being threatened.

He is facing an inquiry by the Health Professions Council of South Africa for unethical conduct. If found guilty, he could be struck off the medical roll and lose his right to practice.

Basson is charged with manufacturing dangerous drugs in the 1980s and '90s, some of which allegedly were used on antiapartheid activists abducted by security forces.
He has acknowledged that he was given a free hand and almost unlimited budget to run Project Coast, which designed, tested, manufactured and deployed toxic weapons. He traveled the world, researching biological weapons.

Steven Miles, a medical ethics expert at the University of Minnesota, told a council hearing Tuesday in Pretoria that Basson's work on chemical and germ warfare had violated medical ethics and breached the laws of humanity. Basson's work was repugnant to the conscience of humankind, Miles said.

"The ethical core of medicine is to promote health. Dr. Basson's work risked causing disabilities, deaths and permanent brain damage," Miles said, adding that a doctor's moral duty to save lives was the same in times of peace and war.

Much of what Basson did was top secret. He ran a unit called Delta G, a secret chemical warfare facility that tested 24 different incapacitating agents during his tenure, according to evidence at his 2002 trial.

Basson said at his trial that he had no moral problem creating weapons with tear gas or drugs. But he argued that he was only following orders during the years he worked for the apartheid military, from 1981 to '93.

The health council has dropped several charges against Basson for lack of evidence, including some stemming from the alleged use of South African troops to test drugs such as Mandrax, ecstasy, tear gas and an incapacitating agent, BZ.

He still faces charges before the council involving thousands of mortar bombs allegedly equipped with tear gas, to be sent to Angola, cyanide capsules that would enable apartheid operatives to commit suicide and drugs aimed at disorienting prisoners.

Miles said Basson acted unethically by supplying a paralyzing drug to agents for use in abductions of antiapartheid activists outside South Africa. It was known at the time that the drug, scoline, could cause respiratory failure, muscle damage and kidney failure, he said.

An article Tuesday in the South African newspaper, Daily Maverick, criticized Basson for what it called his lack of remorse.

"He stands up and says he would do it all again, if confronted with the same decisions. As historical figures go, he's pretty unique on that score," the article says. "Because as a man who provided the drugs, the biological weapons, for the apartheid regime, what he did was really horrendous. It was he who literally ran the whole show in the theatre of horror."

Basson told reporters Monday that he just wanted to get on with his job as a doctor.

"I closed this chapter 20 years ago," he said. "All I want is to continue serving the country as a medical professional." (source: Los Angeles Times)

South Africa's Doctor Death, Cardiologist Wouter Basson

From the Irish Times, "South Africa's 'Dr Death' would like the past to stay in the past," by Bill Corcoran on October 2011: CAPE TOWN LETTER: Anti-apartheid activists considered him one of their most ghoulish adversaries but Wouter Basson wants to be let run his medical practice

THE MAN nicknamed “Dr Death” by the South African media over a decade ago for his role as head of the apartheid government’s germ warfare programme began a fight to retain his life as a medical practitioner last week.

Doctor Death, Cardiologist Wouter Basson

Cardiologist Wouter Basson does not strike fear into the heart of most South Africans anymore, but there was a time throughout the 1980s when anti-apartheid activists would have considered him one of their most ghoulish adversaries.

Between 1981 and 1993, Basson was head of Project Coast, the South African army’s top secret biological and chemical warfare programme, where he allegedly oversaw the development of poisons and biological weapons for use against enemies of the state.

Among numerous other things, the 61-year-old was accused of being involved in the creation of poisons that targeted black people, and of administering sedatives to dozens of anti-apartheid fighters then thrown from a plane to their deaths.

In the mid-1990s, when South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission started to investigate his role in Project Coast as part of its efforts to find out what happened security forces’ victims, Basson refused to participate in the process. However, in 1999, he was forced to reveal the extent of his involvement after a total of 67 different criminal charges were brought against him.

The charges related to 229 murders – 200 of which were carried out in Namibia – and conspiracy to commit murder, drug possession, drug trafficking, fraud and the embezzlement of €36 million. During his trial, Basson admitted heading up Project Coast, and that the programme had developed “24 different incapacitating substances . . . over the years”. But he was adamant he was innocent of any wrongdoing, arguing he acted under orders of the South African Defence Force.

Much to the dismay of state prosecutors, after a marathon 30-month trial, Basson was acquitted of all the charges against him and was granted amnesty. In relation to the 200 deaths in Namibia, the judge ruled a South African court did not have jurisdiction to prosecute crimes committed in other countries.

After the trial, Basson established a private practice in Durbanville, a small town outside of Cape Town, and it appeared that one of South Africa’s most infamous individuals would be allowed to put his past behind him and live out his life in relative peace and quiet.

However, the Health Professions Council of South Africa had other ideas. In 2007, the body brought six charges against Basson relating to whether he breached the medical code of ethics while overseeing Project Coast.

They included allegations that he manufactured mandrax, ecstasy and other drugs to sedate apartheid-era prisoners of the South African Defence Forces.

In addition, he is charged with providing cyanide capsules to security force members for the purposes of committing suicide if captured, and with “weaponising thousands of 120mm mortars with tear gas for use in Angola”.

It has taken the health professions council four years to get Basson to appear before the inquiry, due to his ongoing efforts to thwart the process.

Last year, the Pretoria high court dismissed an application by Basson to have the inquiry halted. Basson wanted the hearing to be found unlawful, unreasonable and unfair. During a break last Monday on the first day of the medical inquiry in Pretoria, he told reporters gathered outside the hearing that, as far as he was concerned, the past should stay in the past. “I closed this chapter 20 years ago,” he said. “All I want is to continue serving the country as a medical professional.”

Whether he gets to do this or not now depends on the council’s ruling in the inquiry. If he is found guilty, the body has the power to revoke his medical licence.

On Monday, Basson confirmed he co-ordinated research for Project Coast, but said he never crossed the ethical boundaries of his profession.

“The accused denies that any unlawful conduct of any nature and/or research or conduct contrary to any relevant convention or rule of the relevant national or international authorities was ever pursued or executed in the project,” he stated in a written explanation.

While a full week of witness evidence has unfolded in the hearing, observers say there is a strong likelihood the case could drag on for months, if not longer, as the ins and outs of medical ethics are presented by witnesses for both sides.

So will Basson’s past eventually catch up with him? Only time will tell. But until the inquiry is finalised, he remains free to continue in the medical profession. (source: Irish Times)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

White Women Lynched in New England

Fear is the quicksand of humanity. In 1692, mass hysteria led to the hanging of nineteen innocent people in Salem. Join historians as they piece together what really happened.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The State of Race in America: Media and Popular Culture

The State of Race in America: Media and Popular Culture

Forty Acres And A Mule: Special Field Orders, No. 15

During Mr. Stanton's stay in Savannah we discussed this negro question very fully; he asked me to draft an order on the subject, in accordance with my own views, that would meet the pressing necessities of the case, and I did so. We went over this order, No. 15, of January 16, 1865, very carefully. The secretary made some verbal modifications, when it was approved by him in all its details, I published it, and it went into operation at once. It provided fully for the enlistment of colored troops, and gave the freedmen certain possessory rights to land, which afterward became matters of judicial inquiry and decision. Of course, the military authorities at that day, when war prevailed, had a perfect right to grant the possession of any vacant land to which they could extend military protection, but we did not undertake to give a fee-simple title; and all that was designed by these special field orders was to make temporary provisions for the freedmen and their families during the rest of the war, or until Congress should take action in the premises. All that I now propose to assert is, that Mr. Stanton, Secretary of War, saw these orders in the rough, and approved every paragraph thereof, before they were made public:


1. The islands from Charleston south, the abandoned rice-fields along the rivers for thirty miles back from the sea, and the country bordering the St. John's River, Florida, are reserved and set apart for the settlement of the negroes now made free by the acts of war and the proclamation of the President of the United States.

2. At Beaufort, Hilton Head, Savannah, Fernandina, St. Augustine, and Jacksonville, the blacks may remain in their chosen or accustomed vocations; but on the islands, and in the settlements hereafter to be established, no white person whatever, unless military officers and soldiers detailed for duty, will be permitted to reside; and the sole and exclusive management of affairs will be left to the freed people themselves, subject only to the United States military authority, and the acts of Congress. By the laws of war, and orders of the President of the United States, the negro is free, and must be dealt with as such. He cannot be subjected to conscription, or forced military service, save by the written orders of the highest military authority of the department, under such regulations as the President or Congress may prescribe. Domestic servants, blacksmiths, carpenters, and other mechanics, will be free to select their own work and residence, but the young and able-bodied negroes must be encouraged to enlist as soldiery in the service of the United States, to contribute their share toward maintaining their own freedom, and securing their rights as citizens of the United States.

Negroes so enlisted will be organized into companies, battalions, and regiments, under the orders of the United States military authorities, and will be paid, fed, and clothed; according to law. The bounties paid on enlistment may, with the consent of the recruit, go to assist his family and settlement in procuring agricultural implements, seed, tools, boots, clothing, and other articles necessary for their livelihood.

8. Whenever three respectable negroes, heads of families, shall desire to settle on land, and shall have selected for that purpose an island or a locality clearly defined within the limits above designated, the Inspector of Settlements and Plantations will himself, or, by such subordinate officer as he may appoint, give them a license to settle such island or district, and afford them such assistance as he can to enable them to establish a peaceable agricultural settlement.

The three parties named will subdivide the land, under the supervision of the inspector, among themselves, and such others as may choose to settle near them, so that each family shall have a plot of not more than forty acres of tillable ground, and, when it borders on some water-channel, with not more than eight hundred feet water-front, in the possession of which land the military authorities will afford them protection until such time as they can protect themselves, or until Congress shall regulate their title. The quartermaster may, on the requisition of the Inspector of Settlements and Plantations, place at the disposal of the inspector one or more of the captured steamers to ply between the settlements and one or more of the commercial points heretofore named, in order to afford the settlers the opportunity to supply their necessary wants, and to sell the products of their land and labor.

4. Whenever a negro has enlisted in the military service of the United States, he may locate his family in any one of the settlements at pleasure, and acquire a homestead, and all other rights and privileges of a settler, as though present in person. In like manner, negroes may settle their families and engage on board the gunboats, or in fishing, or in the navigation of the inland waters, without losing any claim to land or other advantages derived from this system. But no one, unless an actual settler as above defined, or unless absent on Government service, will be entitled to claim any right to land or property in any settlement by virtue of these orders.

5. In order to carry out this system of settlement, a general officer will be detailed as Inspector of Settlements and Plantations, whose duty it shall be to visit the settlements, to regulate their police and general arrangement, and who will furnish personally to each head of a family, subject to the approval of the President of the United States, a possessory title in writing, giving as near as possible the description of boundaries; and who shall adjust all claims or conflicts that may arise under the same, subject to the like approval, treating such titles altogether as possessory. The same general officer will also be charged with the enlistment and organization of the negro recruits, and protecting their interests while absent from their settlements; and will be governed by the rules and regulations prescribed by the War Department for such purposes.

6. Brigadier-General R. Saxton is hereby appointed Inspector of Settlements and Plantations, and will at once enter on the performance of his duties. No change is intended or desired in the settlement now on Beaufort Island, nor will any rights to property heretofore acquired be affected thereby.

By order of Major-General W. T. Sherman, L. M. DAYTON, Assistant Adjutant-General.


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