thumbnail of Africans in America; 104; Judgment Day; 
     Interview with Noel Ignatiev, Writer and Historian, Du Bois Institute,
    Harvard University, Visiting Associate Professor Bowdoin College
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three weeks well let's for rebelling let the rebellion and sell them and in virginia nineteen thirty one and it did a couple of things one is it pretty well eliminated the old patriarchal philanthropic anti slavery sentiment that still existed in the aftermath of the american revolution it made it impossible for those answers liver societies to continue to exist in the south because of the repression directly against them at the same time it gave birth to a new abolitionist on the abolitionists and that we were all later come to recognize and acknowledge as the center of anti slavery movement and i did in a curious way because the response of the slave holders to matters rebellion was to unleash a widespread furious campaign of repression both against the slaves and against the free negroes in the south to make it impossible for something like that to happen again as a result what that led to was an increase in the flight of slaves from the south where resistance nor was possible in the
south they began going and suddenly lead to an exit it's a free negroes from the south moving up to the north so that the black community in northern cities new york philadelphia and so forth expanded dramatically and eighteen thirties that's the period of the development oh the press the church movement the convention movement so for that free black community became the basis of abolitionists of the abolitionist movement wherein garrison began publishing his library or the same year as turner's rebellion and what turner did essentially between jazz and began the library originally announced the first issue i will be heard what was done everybody in that made it possible for him to be hurt and three hundred of the first four hundred subscribers to the library or were afro american throughout the life of a paper black readers made up the majority of the paper's subscribers and kept the paper going and that was in that was in part an outgrowth of nat turner because what matt
turner did was he established a link between these idealistic new england intellectuals and radicals and the mass of black folk and this country free and slave in that lake is what defined abolitionism for migration in the getting pushed west into the land could to kind of paint a picture of force that what was going on that was impossible true blue expulsion of the indians from a crucial last without also connecting it with the slave system i'm in from the beginning of this country the indian has been largely seen as like a timber wolf or a grizzly bear an obstacle to
civilization something that has to be cleared away like the wilderness or as the negro has been seen as a subordinate part of civilization like a boxer a mule and so the indian gets pushed west owes more labs is needed for slavery that becomes a major although not the sole impetus for the expulsion of the indians and a lot of that is taking place in the eighteen thirties critically in the south where president jackson like spells the cherokees and the creek and the other indians or for dissipates an expulsion of those groups from the land that they have traditionally held even though in fact some of them had established want no constitutions and literacy and churches and private property and all the other benefits of civilization when it became necessary to expand the slave system they too were squeezed west wing think
people are doing it well it was a slender was at specialist clever needed to expand for several reasons long because of course every source and so suddenly because slavery as the largest slave holders monopolize more and more of the best land for the growing of cotton rice and the other crops that were of global significance non slaveholding small holding whites were degraded more and more so the expansion of slavery was necessary in order to provide an outlet for the poor whites some place for them to go for the poor and middling whites that is it had been made otherwise they were an explosion waiting to happen within the slaveholding eric's well if all the land in south carolina is in the hands of a handful of large slave holders
where are the poor whites from self care what is going to be done with them some of them can workers' supervisors or police or whatever but there's not enough and so what has to be there must be an outlet westward migration was in part a safety valve for the poor whites it gives them the possibility of moving west to mississippi to arkansas to texas to perhaps save up and loved all the slave dont two slaves to establish themselves as placard but without the possibility of westward expansion that could not be and those people worry and therefore a constant threat to the domination of the slave owners within the slaveholding really made a real untold story or one of the real untold stories of southern history before the civil war is the constant battles but when the large slaveholding whites on the one hand and the non slaveholding whites only other hand over who was going to determine the course of politics and the self few
people in america actually owns hundreds of them managed to do well since so few people in united state owned slaves it was necessary to expand the base of support for slavery beyond the slave owners themselves otherwise the system of slavery could not have survived it is obvious that the relatively small number of slave holders could not buy themselves have policed all those slaves maintain them in a situation of of bondage was necessary to enlarge the base of support for slavery and that was done by making slavery linking slavery was a system of racial supremacy white supremacy seems important slavery is one thing racial supremacy as another slavery has existed in numbers of different human societies without unnecessary recourse to what we call racial slur and ari for instance in the west indies slavery was enforced by people when united states would have been defined as
black now that did not happen in the united states in this country slavery was enforced by people who were called white what developed in this country was a system where anyone with any visible or known of any visible or non african ancestry i was assigned to the black room and was degraded to a position of slavery or near slavery was anyone of no known african ancestry was assigned to a white status and was elevated to a position above that of any black person in this country and this applied even to whites who themselves were extremely impoverished and degraded so that sort of race in this country it's a peculiarity of america it's not true everywhere or developed as part of a common way of defending i'm of of permitting slave owners to maintain their property to maintain their control and it rises in the period that we're talking about partly because slavery becomes more important a country becomes an economic category of the first importance of what we're talking about you know a meeting twenties and
thirties is no longer the slavery of eighteenth century virginia we still has a certain patriarchal character knows parcel service and so forth by the nineteenth century as copy becomes the pivotal crop of the global economy see what we're talking about is combining the miseries of slavery with the miseries of production for a global market so slavery becomes central to the development of the country and it becomes a crucial to defend i mean after all we know that in the period of the american revolution and the aftermath of that there are movements there was the possibility of you know there was a widespread expectation of slavery would die away as a system and a number of the founding parents where anti slavery and not necessarily so serious is the disruptor constitutional right but they certainly were not sympathetic to it as slavery itself became a report that's the sentiment disappeared then the question became how could slavery be defended the system well it was necessary therefore
to list and it's the feds people had no interest whatsoever who did not own slaves in we understand was slave holders get from slavery it was a cheap labor force that's the desire of employers everywhere a cheap labor force slavery is one way of guaranteeing but the problem of slavery is it has to be enforced house going to be enforced and maintained by a majority of people who are getting nothing from well the only way that can be maintained is by establishing for those people a system of protections which have become known as be on racial basis those to be white in this country is to be not merely defined as not a slave but as to be defined or was to be defined as an enforcer of slavery in return for the privileges and the right to vote the right to compete for jobs in all spheres the right to have access to political influence to serve on juries and so forth people became part of an enforcement mechanism of a system from which they themselves
directly gave nothing because they didn't employ any slaves or own it i think a lot of the country right right there are maybe where you may be able to use this is clearer way of ultra rich or i want to be average white portion of this country get from slavery really answer is not the slave owners had an economic stake in the slave system that's obvious represented cheap labor for them no other large farmers and merchants who were involved in supplying goods to the slave system shoes and clothes at a profit and so forth have a stake in the slave system your bankers who were involved in the international global cotton trade and then lending money financing slavery others have a stake in the average white person had no stake in slavery
for the average farmer in the north had every slave disappeared overnight it would make no difference whatsoever because these people were growing largely for a family farm and secondarily for a market beyond that northern laborers indirectly were already in competition with the slave system and therefore were having their own wages reduced by competing with slave labor which was often hired out and so forth and saw so this is the irony is that how was it possible to create a a massive social force that was willing to defend the slave system even though they were getting nothing from an answer to that is that the privileges of race in which his supper a ball from the actual institution of slavery and racial system the system of white pre ferment in employment and political access and citizenship and right on land in a variety of things like has developed atteberry it expanded enlarged itself and became sistema ties during this
period and so they came to embrace virtually all so called white people in this country who did in fact have a stake in the advantages of racial supremacy that access to jobs from which even free negroes were excluded they had the right to vote that access to put that could serve on juries they had access to political institutions which provided them with licenses that a certain amount of wry to migrate and settle on free land elsewhere so definitely white people gained from the system of racial supremacy without that white itself would have been meaningless category would have been simply a physical description like paul and apart from anything that they gained or lost by slavery itself and the peculiarity of america is that slavery was linked to a system of racial superiority which is different from the way it existed in other parts of the world slavery has existed in every
human society at different times without recourse to anything like racial supremacy that is to say even the branding of one group as slaves does not mean that all members of that group or slaves or that all others are non slaves in the west indies slavery was maintained and enforced by people who in the united states would have been regarded as black how crowded it is to observe that describe how the house just as holloway well how do ordinary white folks reconcile the national commitment to liberty with the existence of slavery in a number of different ways one by recourse to scientific racism the development of theories that suggested that people of african descent were somehow
inferior to in their natural capacities and people of european descent that rose that philosophy arose largely during that period that's no small part of it but secondly they had an uneasy conscience white americans on the subject of slavery and the most white americans knew slavery was wrong as president lincoln said long before was president of slavery isn't wrong then nothing as rock jefferson a number of people expressed misgivings about the slave system the way they resent reconcile themselves to it was that to think that it could be abolished would bring worse consequences on the country one is that it would disrupt the constitution it would be perhaps only civil war that they would unleash a large mass of free black people who were regarded as not the syllable in the society that it would lead to calamities and so as jefferson's and we got the war five years we can either
hold on let him go and so the country bar long maintaining you know a slave system simply by saying that the alternative of abolishing it was worse and now they were schemes for instance colonization schemes to free and slavery and friendship out the black folk someplace else but this was impulse we're talking about several million people who could not be shipped out anyway so colonization pretty quickly was exposed not as a way of getting rid of slavery but as a way of getting rid of the opponents of slavery that is the free negro the boards and i'm sure but you know then emancipated and shook off that began the essence of colonization so it actually became part of slavery defense not oppose opposition to it but the other thing that was he one of the reasons why the abolitionists were so unpopular even though they were anti slavery and were expressing a view which was
hell probably by seventy percent of the northern white population was not merely that they were anti slavery but that they meant it they were willing to disrupt the union they were willing to brook possibly provoke civil war they were willing to violate the law in order to get rid of slavery because i'm more over and particularly they were committed to full equality between the african american and european american cities they understood that the slave question could be some other way that one's one granted be on a similar ability of the african american then you one would fall back all kinds of excuses or justifications why slavery could not be abolished the abolitionist like that head on and seven abolition of slavery and complete equality for all people in those days falls in within all spheres of of life now that made them extremely unpopular the majority of americans probably would've been happy white northern americans and perhaps even sommeliers would've been happy to abolish slavery if he could be
guaranteed that the slaves were stay on the plantations in the south to continue picking cotton for wages but the possibility that they might become part of the ice there's a whole might compete for jobs might take our laws that might be voters might you know go to school and so forth that was something that was too horrible for most white americans to contemplate and so they stifle their doubts about slavery and where along with a system which a bottom they knew wasn't just because they could see no way out and the abolitionists could see where well all things about the period four years or so before the civil war is that race definitions of race hardened and were in and henry shaped during that period fear of the revolution afterwards the lines between freedom and slavery work on blurred there were a number of people of european as well as
african descent were an un free category bond servants apprentices that laborers a variety of people like that and so the line between freedom and on freedom did not exactly correspond to the line between black and white and there's a certain amount of fluidity across racial boundaries that you see in the period say from seventeen ad to eighteen ten now slavery becomes more important as an economic category as it becomes more crucial to develop a popular base of support for an indefensible system race lines hard and as away of bringing all those who are identified as white into part of a political project that is whose name as the defense labored part of that of course was the reader that was the definition of the emirates has won many irish in particular the pill is going
while the characteristics of it lawyers working on the docks when frederick when frederick douglass was working on the docks and what we eat when frederick douglass was working on the docks in baltimore he was hired out to as a slavery was hired out to work he ran across a couple of irishman who were saddened today was talking to them and they were just suddenly discover that he was a slave for life it's interesting they put it that way there were slaves by the day and they felt sorry for him that he was a slave for life and he attributes to them a certain importance and stimulating and the idea that maybe there was an alternative maybe even have to be a slave i mean i was an expression and gratefully express that later on in his book you thank them for that and that was an expression of the kind of a natural sympathy that labor and folk everywhere we turned out of course someone else in their situation or even a worse
situation many irish come to this country you know from a situation the catholic irish where in britain in ireland is there any victims of racial oppression and day and they come here and opposition his indeterminate i mean we look back on it now we say well of course the irish were white they were first in their european was obvious that they would be welcomed into the ranks of those who would enjoy all the privileges of citizenship but was not so obvious at the time and that conceivably they could've been assigned to a third to a third category intermediate between slaves and free or whatever and the outcome was a result of activities and things that people did both among the irish among the part of those were you're already and so forth that eventually there was a tremendous amount of resistance to admitting the irish as full citizens enjoying the rights of white folk they were you know racial lies to caricature is that the
irish were commonplace in popular culture in the newspapers and so forth they were widely referred to as the negro negroes turned inside out as black people were often called smoke irish and it seems obvious to us now after hundred and hundred years or so that of course the archer want their fair skinned there from europe but i was not so obvious in the united states when they began coming over here in large numbers in it and thirties and forties that they would in fact be admitted so all the rights of whites and granted all the privileges of citizenship mean they were the targets of racial laws stereotypes caricature is in the popular press depicted as an analyst at the poses and demeanor they were referred popularly as smug or negros turned inside out well but people are often called smoked irish
and it's quite conceivable that they could have been assigned to a position in from media between that of the slave in the south and out of the free native born american or english in the united states what happened is partly as a result of their insistence and beating down the river the opposition to their admission they gained access to the privileges of whiteness but our duo that they had overcome the opposition in the resistance that was put up to them when mavis who wanted in fact to defer their citizenship to deny them voting rights and so forth and saw another democratic party she became the vehicle the principal vehicle for beginning of the rights of citizenship by the immigrants and you think about why the democratic party is the party above all of the slave owners in order for it to as the party of you know that the fan slavery ask specifically committed to that in order for it to be a national party not a regional party it has to establish a base of support in the north and
it does that on the basis of becoming the party not merely of slavery but the party of racial white supremacy that's why the democratic party can become both the party of the slave holders and the party of the poor irish working on the canals and the railroads who had nothing in common with the slave order except that they were also beneficiaries of the privilege of the white skin so to hear a lot more about you know well had severe at one had to watch that were people conscious of those prices that of course is the difficult question to know well it's early there is evidence and garrison the abolitionist talked about in one of his letters that there was a plot unfolding on the part of the slave holders to incorporate the irish into the ranks of
the pro slavery supporters on the basis of racial supremacy in a certain token symbolic support for the struggles of ireland against britain the center is an extremely dangerous than i do hope it doesn't succeed but of course it did succeed and that was part of bard was choices made by the irish themselves become to this country essentially being a blank slate so for scholars consider they know nothing about racial supremacy know plenty about oppression because they're the victims of it are the company's country know nothing about black and white but they take a look and i say well here are the people who are black or the ones were slave enslaved and ones were degraded and every aspect of their life and the ones who were white are the ones who enjoy the rights of citizenship and land ownership and all the rest of it while they make the choice they'd rather be right and black and so they themselves clamor for membership into a group they fight against the nativist a fight for rights of citizenship they and what becomes is that eventually they gain access not to say that they
overcome all ethnic prejudice or bigotry but essentially they gain the right to vote the right to serve on juries the right to sell themselves by the day instead of being sold a lot of the things the right way we having a well they're all come home in the right to vote the right to serve on juries the right to be elected the right to spend money freely whatever money you have without social restrictions to write later on to serve the militias too migrate west always of course the rights of citizenship in the united states but in this period in particular they get defined as the ice of whites they get identified so that citizenship in the eye stays becomes critique will lead to whiteness and it's impossible to think of citizenship and their face without coupling it with a racial lies notion of becomes the white
republic not a free republic by republic for white folks while black people lose their right to vote even those who had even in places where they haven't before that the same movement that extends the right to vote for immigrants that removes property qualifications of the poor whites get the right to vote is the same period the same movement often the same driving forces that the nih to take away the right to vote from afro americans even in places where they haven't before but began to exclude them from juries that deny them access to certain spheres of the labor market and meanwhile things that takes place there's a number of traits a number of occupations with black people in the united states have access to and were kept coming out of the period of slavery after all we know that in the south the slaves that all the way to work on the plantation including supervision in the north they formed a tremendous portion of the skilled labor force and the service population of northern cities during the late eighteenth century beginning of the nineteenth century
though was those that happens in the period say beginning eighteen fifteen and carrying on up to the civil war is that free negroes who had access to these trades who have these skills gradually gets squeezed out of these trades lose their right to work in them as a result of public boycotting of them and as a result of mob violence and exclusion and governmental collaboration with those who are seeking to secure for themselves a monopoly on these jobs so that for instance in new york there were carter jobs people had jobs on the docks hauling cargo around and they have been traditionally held by black people among others after about eighteen twenty twenty one black folk began gradually strike beginning around eighteen five eighteen six black folk began gradually being excluded from the job they were denied licenses
see without which one they could not work in these jobs and it was the result of pressure from white labor isn't quite often immigrant laborers who said we need a monopoly of those jobs and without that we can survive the same thing happens in a variety of jobs on the docks you see in new york city again where irish in particular but whites rather than irish i don't typically one single out the irish for this mobilize themselves in mobs and dr black people for those jobs the same thing happens on the coal loading docks on this google river in philadelphia that people are driving black folk out of jobs that they traditionally held and it's not as so many people have said the bases of black irish rivalry is that they were competing for jobs all workers compete for jobs irish can be with other irish for jobs blacks could be wood of the blacks for jobs the bases of the particular hostility between black and white is not job competition is rather the effort of the whites to school black people from that job competition to create barriers that makes it impossible for black laborers to
compete and as a result after they succeed in doing that after they create the buyer is after they drive black folk out of the jobs which they traditionally held is not why compete as black as wikipedia so it for these jobs you know will the free slow movement was a movement that are aimed at blocking the extension of slavery into the new territories that were taken from mexico during the mexican war and while it was a movement that certainly world is hostile to the interests of the slave holders that was not an atmosphere was not an
abolitionist movement and one has to be clear and that when the original promoter do stop on the floor of third they will muster up on the floor of congress he made a declaration i'm as speaker i rise to speak on behalf of white labour and the idea was to preserve the western territories as a place of selma for white labor law which meant excluding slavery but are awesome and excluding the free negro so in that sense it was not abolitionists and in fact they were so concerned with excluding the free negro and so unable to make a distinction between a slave and a person of black skin that when frederick douglass proposed that the way to exclude slavery from say kansas was to sell a thousand free negro families in kansas would create a wall of fire passed with slavery could not you know advance the free sodas rejected that proposal and rather would take their chances on the possibility of this fabric of slavery in the west rather
than share the west with afro american families who were of course was land hungry as anybody else in the east free sodas that was a lot like a lot of re form and radicals in the united states it was decisively defined by its racial character was free solo for whites free labor for whites and the free speech for whites and that's what it represented now it also represented a real challenge to the domination of the onion by the slave owners who had a boneless appetite to expand the slavery system and wanted to gobble kansas sang every place else texas and new mexico and california all the rest and so the the irony of it is you have to cover the conflict between those who want to expand slavery everywhere the slave owners had a boundless appetite to expand the
slave system i mean they wanted ken says they wanted texas they wanted to mexico they wanted california they want everything else they could get you know they might've wanted to take the rest of mexico and even you know follow follow the south and that absorbed cuban all the rest of that those kinds of speculations amongst themselves and free soil isn't what was not against slavery or rather well it did not propose to abolish slavery where it was certainly intended to block the expansion of slavery and to the west of the republican party was the continuation of resorts after kansas after the fugitive slave law and when lincoln was elected he made it very clear what he was like and at sixty that he had no intention of tampering with slavery where it existed as proof of his good intentions he ordered an obligation or two for strict enforcement of the fugitive slave billy did a number of things like that to conciliate the south in the make it clear that it would not tamper with slavery where existed even though he personally was
against it that was not enough for the south the south was not enough to keep slavery where existed expansion was a necessary part of the system and so the war developed between as frederick douglass said those awards take slavery out of the union and those wanted to keep it in the us that is the slave owners wanted to get out of the union and republicans who wanted to keep it in the union but restricts its expansion that is what touched off the civil war now as it turned out in the course of the war that proved impossible for the union to defeat the slave holders without striking at the basis of their strength the slave system and so the union abolished slavery not in general on the part of most people as a consequence of omar or opposition to slavery but as a military measure aimed at defeating the slave system
now of course morality coincided with that there were many people among them the abolitionists who always oppose slavery the day opposition that a slave holder is certainly encouraged a moral sentiment against slavery but the reason for the emancipation proclamation in for the abolition of slavery in the savoy war was not the nation's commitment to free the slave but rather the nation's commitment to defeat the slave owners and maintain the integrity of europe was a military matter because they were westerners great american soldiers he says
the west plays an important role in american sense of who they are certainly the movement west since the puritans landed on the rocky shores of new england the movement west has always been identified with the quest for freedom with a flight from several from restriction from the old repressive border has always involved a search for adventure for freedom known as a tremendous myth and culture and so forth built up around that and his ability to that but like every other aspect of american society it assumes a different ten to one is looked at through the colors sensitive lands because when one realizes that the move west was also part of the terms of westward settlement was an explosion of the afro american from the possibility of participating in that settlement then the western movement takes on a new contact the point is that it is
not in looking at the history of the former prisoners country one must look at it not as if this is some exotic group of interesting people in a foreign country about whom we'll learn a little bit more but rather understand that the history of black folk minutes it's essential to the history of americans as a whole that applies to the shaping of the american national identity to particular forms that the american republic takes to the meaning of citizenship to remain westward movement to a meeting of labor movement of reform of every other aspect of american society if you put reassure the negro and through their proper place in that history then it really shapes how we look at all the rest of that history as well we're
well the move west did me grand her was it did involve sacrifice and do arduous conditions and so forth on the part of those cores a genocidal extermination of the the native occupiers of the land the indians and awesome at either the bringing of the negro west as part of like your heart or the exclusion of the free negro from the west so that like everything else it reshaped the meaning of the western sentiment and lead to in fact not for the access to the west for your ordinary whites or blacks or rather free access to the west for railroads and you've mining come by it's unlikely monopolies and all the rest of it i mean that's the irony of it the country as the country has always been built on the basis of freeze of the ideal husband free citizenship
republicanism universal participation and so forth and yet the reality is that this continues to be a classless it continues to be a society in which the few dominate the many and that the majority of americans are still stuck in miserable alienated jobs in eastern cities have not had access to western movement they have not had access to the small farm that's been wiped out and part of the reason is in the same way that american liberty and freedom has in fact given rise to wood based republicans not a genuine society of free discussion and participation but a debased degraded republicanism because i am but you're ok well it does take a few seconds or use on uk is a well our authority that were going on in the nineteenth century the willingness of white americans to cooperate or to their complicity cooperation with the system that the find all the privileges of citizenship on a
color line meant that in fact those privileges of those access that america promised to people proved illusory in many cases the whites did not gain access to the west it was arose to gain access to the way whites what i had the right to vote founded their votes were bought and sold by politicians and had no real influence on the political process it was a degraded debased republicanism that characterized american politics you know through from the eighteen thirties on through the gilded age and in the same way that more whites were gaining for themselves a monopoly of jobs say on the boxcars carter's are uncertain various causes what were those jobs except ten twelve hour day underpaid miserable exploitative labor and the only thing you could say about it was that it was better than bacon cut in georgia i think that the odds for
american in the history of this country has always posed for the country as a whole in the history of this country the afro american has always posed for the country as a whole the steps that it must take in order to to advance to the next that the true meaning of democracy in this country have been most fully embodying the struggle of black people to take part entirely in american life and the attempt to exclude them hos crippled a limited democracy not ready for black folk but for the ones who were doing the limiting and the exclusion as well in egypt well we all learned in school at that lincoln freed the slaves i would argue on the contrary it was not lincoln and the north the free the slaves it was rather the slaves who
freed the united states from the domination of the slaveholding system that was not her and harriet tubman and john brown who was a black man and all the color and the others the two hundred thousand slaves who fought on the side of the union during the civil war mark the difference in fact between victory and defeat as lincoln himself said who freed the united states as a whole from the domination of the system of slavery which had retarded southern culture which have eliminated educational institutions from the south which condemned the majority of white folks in the south much as black folks put white folks in the south to a bag systems up in the hills drake and moonshine and denied letters and it was at every step in the development of this country it has been the negro who has posed for the country as a whole and taken the lead in say this the country must do to the extent that americans in general have
responded and have followed that lead the country has advanced to the extent to which they have not the country has been held back now one of the things about the period of the eighteen sixties the civil war and a few years after it is that was a period when the majority of white americans for a variety of different reasons we're following the initiative that the slave played nat turner and harriet tubman and the others had laid out for them years before they were striking hard of the slave system and they were committing themselves to do whatever was necessary to abolish it including if necessary recruiting blacks into the army and after the war extending them the rights of citizenship that's the highest point for decades the abolitionists had been insisting that if the country was to realize its promise and to abolish slavery now in a civil war broke out when lincoln was
elected and sass start a seceding from the union the leading abolitionists some of them had to go into hiding because mobs in the north blamed them for the breakup of the un wendell phillips carry a pistol on the streets of boston to protect himself from the patriots who were one a collision because the funniest is start of the war two years later one of those was invited to address a joint session of congress how to win the war and got up there and he said there's two things you do to win the war emancipate the slaves and west black soldiers others have been the abolitionist project for thirty years that was implemented in various ways through the underground railroad through the roman and the vigilance committees through john brown and kansas and harpers ferry and finally reluctantly dragging their feet at every step lincoln and the republicans were compelled to adopt the abolitionist program but most of the slaves and
black soldiers and they didn't do it as i said before they didn't do it because i have a love for them the war general commitment to freedom they did it as a military necessity but what it did was it started the united states on a road that opened up the possibilities of genuine democracy for all of breaking the oligarch extract gold over the country's economy and so forth that period from eighteen sixty three through the period of reconstruction was a curtain which traditional race lines or broken down in america that before the war the difference between black and white have roughly correspond to the difference between slavery and freedom and the abolition of slavery transformed that eliminated that the stench and the country faced for the great the first time in its history the possibility of moving beyond being a white republic to being universal republic and what that might mean for the possibility of progress for all it says is that was a very frightening prospect to a number of
people black people of course face the problem of how to adjust to the requirements of being independent actors in an economy and there's a tremendous literature how they adjusted to that and why folks pays the possibility of how they would live without the special protections of the words can walk at the colorless american democracy might me that's not what happened the overthrow of reconstruction man the restoration of the white republican in the race no longer corresponding to the difference between freedom and slavery in our correspondent to the difference between those who essentially had the rights of citizenship and the right to work in the general economy and those were condemned to lose teenage debt slavery disenfranchisement in the south to resolve that was that railroads and banks and large corporations replaced the slave holders and the dominant group in
american society after eighteen seventy seven the individual lights so one thing the civil war to me of the aftermath of the civil war had brought black folk into political power in a number of places in the south the first south carolina state conventions sixty have a hundred and twenty five delegates to the convention were former slaves and another thirty or more property taxes and i was that was never a pure working class parliament in the history of the planet then this constitutional convention of the state of south carolina and eight in sixty eight and the government that was set up out of that was a government that important black representation and black people did not dominate the government put these early exercise an important influence with that and as a
result south carolina passed the most progressive legislative measures that have ever passed before sense measures for public school system for roads for silence for the ag and firmly and saying they are women's rights to own property to participate probably a number of measures were passed during that period that indicated in a small way what the possibilities of a genuinely free republic might have been there was talk about seizing the plantations and dividing them among the laborers black and white you know that was not carried out they were not strong enough to do that but that indicated some of the possibilities of what an american republic might have meant so the reconstruction governments and south carolina mississippi and elsewhere indicated in a small way hinted at the possibilities that might be achieved by a genuine
nonracial democracy of ordinary laboring folk in this country now of course that posed a problem for whites in that they could not have that and at the same time maintain their status as privileged whites and was a painful choice for many of them are in the north and where we want white laborers who fought the war got out of the war with the domination of the banks of the railroads obviously they did not like that they have developed a tremendous oppositional insurgent movement a part of white laborers in the north who wanted to believe that they have fought for liberty and freedom and hadn't got as a result of the civil war what they had got was the domination of the slave holders was ended and now its place is the domination of banks and railroads so they developed a movement against that was a tremendous strike wave it wasn't great deal of labor education the problem was that white labor in the north was never able to establish its connection with the struggles of black labor in the south it continued to define
itself on a racial lies bases and saw that what was going and did not say that the significance for the labor movement as a whole of what black laborers were doing in the south as a consequence black labor and white labor did not succeed in establishing lines southern black power during the reconstruction period was crushed the white labor movement in the north was either crushed ortega so it was totally harmless and the outcome of that whole period was the banks the railroads and so forth were able to cement their domination over the united states is a whole and opens the next period of american history which is of course beyond what we're talking about talk about the spirit of the people and before you know
well the expulsion of the native american peoples from the southeastern for many the territories that that was directly linked with the expansion of the slave system that the portion of the indian out was part of the process that was moving the negro the slave westward but the united states since its beginning as a viewer the american indian as an obstacle to civilization something like a grizzly bear or temporal something to be cleared away in order to make way for a big expansion of what is called civilization the same time it is viewed the negro as a part of civilization a subordinate part like a boxer or muir and so they the forcible expulsion of the indian from the territories in the southeast was part of the process that led to the forest removal of the negro or the expansion of slavery the slave system from the southeast into the new territories in the west
civil war essentially erased the coal or in the analysis of race the main basis for one opposed two white americans was the possibility of a country in which the white skin was no longer a special value to them it meant that they would no longer have access special access to jobs to votes to citizenship to political influence that might mean that their children would go to school or that they would have to compete with blood flow for jobs and it must have been a very frightening prospect at the same time the possibility of the enfranchise men and the empowerment of a tremendous sector of the labor and population of the country also opened up possibilities for the development of a genuine massive democracy of the poor and those were choices that people have to make at the end of the civil war on the underground or if i may
one of the things that actually brought the civil war a closer was the insistence of the south on enforcement of the fugitive slave because what fugitive slaves did the fugitive slave represented the face of slavery naugle tom's cabin was after all a tremendously moving experience because i'm a human being could stand there and say i had no not have been an ox i have been a slave at the same time the fugitive slave built implicated northerners in the enforcement of slavery in a way that they had never been previously indicated was no longer possible friends say less a southern problem i have nothing to do with it because they were being involved in capturing and returning fugitive slaves and their legislators and their judges and so forth were involved in doing so in that sense the underground railroad yet the country together of all the railroads that have been credited with building this country the underground railroad is probably the most important because what it did was a link the south and the north together in a way that they had never been connected through the person of the fugitive
slave a person who had been in the south who was now in the north and a good stand before an audience and say i have been an ox i have been alone who becomes the basis of uncle tom's cabin the most popular novel and work of proof of the stage in american history
Africans in America
Episode Number
Judgment Day
Raw Footage
Interview with Noel Ignatiev, Writer and Historian, Du Bois Institute, Harvard University, Visiting Associate Professor Bowdoin College
Contributing Organization
WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
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Noel Ignatiev is interviewed about the aftermath of Nat Turner's rebellion and the beginning of abolitionism, the expulsion of Native Americans to expand the system of slavery, westward expansion, slavery in the 19th century, slavery and race, fear of black equality, Frederick Douglass, racial supremacy, free soilism, Emancipation Proclaimation as a military necessity, domination by slave owners in American society replaced by bankers and railroads, the Civil War, fugitive slaves and the underground railroad.
Race and Ethnicity
American history, African Americans, civil rights, slavery, abolition, Civil War
(c) 1998-2017 WGBH Educational Foundation
Media type
Moving Image
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: WGBH Educational Foundation
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Identifier: Ignatiev_Noel_04_merged_SALES_ASP_h264.mp4 (unknown)
Duration: 0:56:34
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Chicago: “Africans in America; 104; Judgment Day; Interview with Noel Ignatiev, Writer and Historian, Du Bois Institute, Harvard University, Visiting Associate Professor Bowdoin College ,” 1998-00-00, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 21, 2024,
MLA: “Africans in America; 104; Judgment Day; Interview with Noel Ignatiev, Writer and Historian, Du Bois Institute, Harvard University, Visiting Associate Professor Bowdoin College .” 1998-00-00. WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 21, 2024. <>.
APA: Africans in America; 104; Judgment Day; Interview with Noel Ignatiev, Writer and Historian, Du Bois Institute, Harvard University, Visiting Associate Professor Bowdoin College . Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from