thumbnail of Africans in America; 104; Judgment Day; Interview with Catherine Clinton, Writer and Historian
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this was danny campbell was probably the most famous actress of her generation so famous that people refer to it as the campbell era because she was the daughter of charles campbell shakespearean actor and niece sarah siddons the most famous actress of her generation she was put on the stage at the tender age of nineteen and going on stage she made her debut in order to lessen her family's financial burdens she came in overnight the ethical sensation playing all over england to great acclaim from critics and audiences they'd found a juliet for romeo and juliet they found a wonderful new star to focus on naturally her family wanted to capitalize on her great fame and build up their fortunes which were dwindling from their investment in covent garden so they took her
abroad when she arrived in new york philadelphia to ring up and down the eastern sea cause she became an international theatre star really was written about by all the great critics and literary folk of her time meyer says jimmy kimmel had grown up with the theater so when she went on stage she had no illusions about it being hard work her mother had been a star had as a teenager when her father died the eldest of four children she had been put on stage to support her family and in a sense she was following in her mother's footsteps which was very hard her first love was for writing and she was a play right before she was an actress and have a great feeling for her future destiny being that a writer said going on stage was really a comedown for her she felt that acting if it could be considered an art wasn't as great an art as
writing us this issue is danny campbell was very well educated for her time her father had sent her to schools in france she had boarded with a noncombatant been very well educated her older brother was a member of the cambridge crowd known as the apostles which included daiquiri tennis than great writers of their generation says she was exposed to great ideas during her time and was really a very intellectual a very forthright thinking women one of the strong minded women of the nineteenth century ms bisbee apparently when camel premiered in philadelphia her reputation had preceded her so all the young men are philadelphia hearing about this international sensation attended the theater and pierce butler
was apparently a member of the audience more than once he got a letter of introduction and was introduced to fanning campbell that tea she obviously was not very impressed when she met him commenting on what was said to be his excessive fortune although his short stature but certainly his devotion to her was something that touched her as he was an amateur musician he played in the orchestra frequently and indeed his devotion was that she could almost every night look out and see him and the audience mattias danny campbell had been put on stage at a very early age she had to serve her family's needs indeed she was the family meal ticket that's what brought
her to america the only way for her to escape this role was through marriage she was courted by many wealthy suitors throughout her to work mifflin big goals many young man paid quarter her peers other was the most persistent as someone who followed her up and down the coast ingratiate himself to her family not only her father charles campbell but most especially her beloved aunt adelaide to camp this cat and all was her closest confidante a woman who had never married would never found happiness and through marriage and encouraged her niece really to think about her future and romantic future self and he became involved with pierce butler we think through the encouragement of her aunt although she warned fanning about here's butler's reputation because he did have a reputation for being a ladies' man not very low intellectual and dill a time just a man of great fortune and indeed it was rumored that his fortune
came from a slave owning so for someone citizen like shani campbell who was an intellectual who was involved with the transatlantic intellectual community to become involved with the wealthy air to a slave owning fortune was quite an unlikely match a lot of the polls suggest that francisco says that even though florida as well that he is you know she was being truthful there's some controversy over whether or not fannie campbell knew where her future husband's wealth came from there certainly was a controversy over the fact that she knew he was very wealthy and that was very attractive to work as a matter of fact mccord church edward for
lonnie the great confidant of byron and shelley showed up in america a comforting the family on a vacation to work when pierce butler heard about this he came stayed at going up in order to interrupt this triangle because pierce butler had invested all a lot into their relationship and wanted to keep it on track but it's also true that shani campbell knew you was a wealthy man he came from philadelphia but the money he was inheriting was from his grandfather who was the wealthy slave owner and many philadelphia families were attached to the plantation south by marriage by inheritance so it's not so unlikely that she wasn't aware of the exact nature of his income as a maverick we know when she did marry him she assumed he was a man of great wealth and not as it turned out and became evident after the marriage someone who was expecting great wealth that come his way upon the death of elderly maiden
aunts so she was aware that he had this money coming to him and perhaps was not just curious as to how much it was when it might come to him was really more smitten by the idea of being a wealthy matron of giving up the drudgery of theater because she'd been put on a treadmill at a very young age and there was no way to step off that except through the acceptable outlet of marriage she couldn't give up her obligation to her family by birth until she gave her hand in marriage and created another family which she could have loyalty and devotion it's the politicians i think the transformation and danny campbell saved her about her husband and his
wealth came almost immediately upon the marriage indeed she did believe that after her marriage she would be able to continue her of the actual career for a short time because she had contractual obligations which he had promised she would fulfill she had promised her father she would see the contractor but when she married her husband essentially pulled the rug out from under her and told her that she could no longer continue to earn money as the actress frances campbell because she was now <unk> pierce butler and any money that she might earn quiz by rights has this created a spat between the son in law and father in law and created hardship and indeed fanning was disaffected from her family didn't communicate with them for many months after the marriage it was during that period that she also learned that pierce butler himself did not have enough money for them to set up a household in philadelphia then moved in with his brother john butler and wife gabriela and eventually they
were to make a concession of what became her home by other place other place was owned by elderly aunts who he would inherit from upon their death and shani campbell was very frustrated because she couldn't make improvements upon the place you didn't have the money to remodel to do all the things again bright i want to do because she learned very quickly that the money was all tied up in inheritance and the money was indeed all tied up on small islands off the coast of georgia and not readily cash on hand so this is in paris he has no issue is
because fiona campbell was such an intrinsic part of the transatlantic intellectual community she was very involved in abolitionism and long heard about the crimes against black people about the sins of slavery and she really wanted to confront the sins up close she really wanted to be an eyewitness to slavery she felt the only way to know the truth about slavery which was an ongoing all consuming and rage debate within philadelphia and many other cities she visited the only way to really find out about slavery was to see it for herself she was an adventurous she was an engaging a compelling women fb there's someone right at the heart of philadelphia's society in eighteen thirties as a member of the
slave owning class by richard her marriage danny campbell had been schooled in the gentility a slave owning that it was something for the benefit of slaves themselves at the same time as a print the transatlantic intelligentsia she had schooled herself an anti slavery tracks and heard about the evils of slavery the sins of slavery it was something she very much wanted to confront going down and seeing slavery as it is going down to the plantation as an eye witness gary campbell felt that she could ferret out the truth of slavery and indeed by being there a moral voice she would be able to speak out against the evil perhaps even to use her persuasive the actual powers in order to get people thinking differently about slavery so she really looked forward to this is the mission she was and tiring and her zeal to go there her husband refused to let her go down on his first trip out of their marriage and only relented indeed after her mother died and she
was left in mourning and he felt that it would be a worry to leave behind his wife and children so he took them with him down to fill it from philadelphia down to the plantation and it was sweet think a fatal step which led to the end of a marriage well pierce butler and the many missed judgments about any campbell from their courtship onward indeed one philadelphia newspaper writer said he thinks he may tame her like a kate but she's certainly a very strong minded woman and perhaps won't be tainted indeed that was the case he felt that he could show her slavery he did show her the softer side the real side but part of that soft real sign that he was going to expose where's the ignorance and degradation of african americans and this was something that that he was in cuba within pierce butler's nature he felt that blacks were inferior he felt the blacks needed slavery in order to keep good order that they
work childlike and needed his masterful attentions and of course he felt that his natural attention for what his wife emma campbell made it so in a way the two roles were conflated and turned them into even more of a despot within the family troubles which have been bubbling for many years this is how pierce butler felt that he was born into the planter class he'd inherited his position and that position was one of power and two word that he expected deference from the slaves he owned that he expected obedience that he would be the ruler of the roost when he arrived on his plantation we have to remember he was an absentee planter he never been raised on the plantation he only learned about slave owning from his plant are neighbors from his overseers who knew much more about the management of the plantation that it was weaker in his nature to feel as if he
were destined to rule destined to be master it was within his temperament to rule not gently but with an iron fist he does why journal keeping was certainly a significant part of nineteenth century america and the nineteenth century intelligentsia were keeping i'm recording an observing and it was really a reflective aristocratic tradition at the same time women expressing themselves women giving voice to their thoughts innermost feelings was something that was emerging throughout the night century and danny campbell actually kept a journal as an exercise to record her thoughts and feelings and they were done not particularly in a diary form
but it's letters written to one of her closest friends and confidence elizabeth centric centric was a part of the boston centric land they were abolitionists her sister in law catherine wilson abolitionists writer and a good friend of any campbell's she had been encouraged by this family to go down and look at slavery and to record her thoughts and feelings and to let them know about slavery as it is any campbell's journal of residents on a georgian plantation is a unique document which is why i think it still speaks to us a hundred years later why it still has power in the nineteen nineties that it did in the eighty nine uses it didn't the eighteen sixties when it was published it is a journal which tells about slavery not from him simply an eye witness pointed you but she looks at slavery from the inside of the system she
was given access to slave women slave nanny entire plantation to rome and query and ask questions like perhaps no other white visitor would have been given access she was someone who could from the inside ask questions of size which they would have to answer they answered them openly they answered them of course because she was a white woman and they were used to having white women in the roles of plantation mistress hear their complaints hear their pleas for help and assistance any campbell was not a typical plantation mr she had not been schooled on the southern view of slavery that this was a nurturing positive necessary evil was certainly the term used most often by southern women during this period that they were white washed in their view of slavery they believed what they were doing this was against all odds trying to take
an impossible situation being given the role of plantation mistress which they felt was a burden to them and to try and do the best for these slaves that were pulling on and that were weighing them down or burdening them and this was a view of slavery which southern women helped andy campbell an outsider could come and look at that with clear eyes could look at it with a critical perspective and see quite clearly that the lavish lifestyle of the material abundance which these women and should enjoy was extracted from the harsh labor in human cruelty which african american slaves into word well no when danny campbell came down to view slavery with her husband she felt that she would see on a harsh life she
knew that the hard work of slaves was not repaid and weird benefits with wages which is something she'd encouraged when she'd written about slavery in philadelphia but they are on st simons when she had to actually confront the sorrows the harshness the bitterness that slavery imposed upon african americans she was crushed by she was she was completely devastated by what she saw as the horrors of slavery the chorus which people confronted in everyday life the funerals the pregnant women laboring in the fields the flogging of women the stripping of them and the use of the lash was something that she could barely tolerate and it really struck to her heart to find that people were being punished for telling the truth of slavery to her when she discovered that the overseer would whip a woman for answering her question she would go to her husband and braille and he would explain that's the way we do things here and she learned that her voice that her
protest for her her ability to actually do anything about this horrible system was completely apparently yeah will certainly was the world of the plantation mistress to minister to the needs of slaves in all southern plantation mistress as were expected to let the shelter the clothing the health care and that material needs that slaves require something that slave could come in and ask for something in the mistress could pass on that request of the master it was frequently minister to soak certainly fannie campbell with great seal took on that role she then discovered that they were practices upon the plantation which the thing she could believe or unnecessarily harsh that plantation management
would be better and it would benefit the slaves and indeed the master and the running the plantation as some of these reforms were implemented most notably she was horrified to discover that women were put back into the fields where they were still nursing their children that there was not proper weaning period given that women were forced to almost i'm giving labor giving birth back into the fields within a matter of weeks and she asked her husband to extend that period to give women time to recover said that they would be more productive and not be gammage physically by this harsh regiment which the overseer had imposed this one of the things that andy campbell discovered was that women would come to her with special needs and petitions and whether petition that came to her were just couldn't women now have to return to the field so quickly after giving birth by being put back into the workforce after only three weeks but these women were
debilitated they couldn't nurse their children they found themselves not being able to give milk they found themselves getting sick they wanted help savannah campbell felt that she could make this reasonable request and she went her husband and beg that they not be put back in the field so quickly and he explained that he was ruling the plantation that he and the overseer of made this decision and that she must not interfere in indeed she must not listen to their petitions anymore because by that time some of the petitions involved in one of the most difficult problematic and secret shames of slavery and that was the selling a part of families naturally in philadelphia and most people thought that the burglars were the good play enters who never sold slaves away from the plantation that the children about their slaves would remain un butler plantations but hannah campbell arrived and discovered to her shock and horror that indeed families might be separated husbands and wives and mothers and children might
be sold away from the plantation this would deprive them of their extended family the only home they'd ever known the butler family protection which was by this time can a camel felt not worth much but she was horrified to discover to her dismay that once she made pierce butler aware of these kinds of violations he made her aware of the fact that it was something that they kept within a few years when georgia was settled as a colony at first the founders had tried to not have slavery very quickly to the north english planters wanted to extend slave slave owning and indeed eventually georgia capitulated it was a state with a great deal of land rich fertile land and not enough people one of the ways of making
georgia attractive was to sing the praises of slavery but there were not slaves coming into the united states indeed the slave trade shut down shortly after the turn of the nineteenth century and so the problem was in our ticket slaves out on to the front here you have to have a constant supply of the best way was through natural increase natural increase meant that slaves would give birth to more sites and the best way of dealing with the situation planters discovered was by having a healthy bounty slave nursery and that when these children reach the age of about six or seven it was a standard practice in post revolutionary georgia these children would be sold off on to the frontier her
when thinning campbell was coming south to confront slavery she had the views of her generation the views of her time that was that african americans were very different people from whites or irish or any other group at the same time she believed that all people weren't down with humanity she believed that the reason why african americans might be degraded by slavery were completely environmental reasons they were not taught me were not educated but it she felt it was her mission as a christian as a human trying communicate with these people the communications the the morality that she tried to project on the plantation was something which directly threaten the system over something that pierce butler saw cause concern not only are among slaves on a plantation and the overseer that indeed the neighbors began to see this because she wouldn't hold her tongue when they visited with other planters
when people would talk about how foul smelling blacks where she would mention that they win so much worse if they were free with day and paying wages might be a way of the earth of improving their condition of making their conditions better says she was fighting the hot pockets a slave holders ideology but it was for the own their own good that slaves were in this position but they were held in bondage and she would confront them and say oh that is christian in kuwait to be a slave holder why don't we educate them to the bible where they taught to read indeed she directly challenge that by trying to teach a slave alec to read as she commented very ironically and that she was confident and teaching him to read because of someone came to the plantation to arrest her she couldn't be arrested she couldn't be held accountable for her own actions because she was just the chattel of her husband and hid the georgia law says she's very very confidently
attacks slavery as a system which imprisoned women and the slave holders weiss is a system which in prison humanity because it made both the african americans in slate and the whites who held them in bondage inhuman the dehumanizing process of slavery was they kept women on the pedestal and slaves on the auction block and that terrible bondage was something which whites and blacks were locked into and kept them perpetually out one another not really either group able to fill the air humanity danny campbell knew that slavery was an important economic system indeed one of the planter said common and the reason why slavery wooden and was because a slave would fetch a thousand dollars on the charleston slave
markets are really was an economic system but as a woman campbell confront the system in a different way she saw slavery not just as a system of production that would produce wealth that it was a system of reproduction it was a system which kept sexual favors in the hands of white man and those sexual favors repeated they would have control over all women with implantation society indeed it weighs dehumanizing it was ghastly to see a system which she thought turned all homes into herons to wear black women could be the sexual prayer masters to wear white women with stan helpless there has been producing lot of bastards gerson says
get over it this is a sam danny campbell was one of the few women of her generation who was willing to confront the hypocrisy the slaveholding ideology she pointed out the hypocrisy and she pointed out the fact that the rules of nature were supposed to keep black and why apart but it was really the rules of the state of georgia which forbade marriage which with sanctioned in law these liaisons which were going on because indeed you could look around the plantations then very behind closed doors or behind fans ladies might whisper about who was whose illegitimate offspring they use the term natural children so at this time certainly this hypocrisy went on they were illegitimate children being born and as the great diarist mary cassatt commented every planter was willing to point out who the neighbors children belong to
but they thought those on their own plantation might have dropped from the skies have been found in the cabbage patch so indeed it was a matter of i'm pointing the finger but everything was behind closed doors on her own plantation in savannah campbell can see how women could continue to endure this kind of silence and secrecy and it was the silence and secrecy that ate away internally at the planter class one of those stories with us danny campbell is one of the few women willing to indict slavery the way she saw it and she said a system which victimize women both black and white that parker see which it fostered among white women would be as narrator sex the men in her diary that women were willing to play now to the illegitimate offspring who them latinos belong to one other plantations but never on their own their own they seem to think might
drop from the skies and this was something that fan a camel to every opportunity to point out that it wasn't a christian loving family system was a system which preyed on black women and produced illegitimate children in the name of christian bondage it may have been a little too the and a camel danny campbell was specially horrified because
that she took on the oil plantation mistress and she looked to the fact that white women were supposed to be a softening influence in to try and help slaves in their conditions so to hear a story that came out of this place now that a slave a poor slave women went to complain to the overseers wife about the fact that white men were forcing themselves on her that this was a situation where she was and unwanted sexual rape and could she intercede as a woman and help her instead this one was flawed and sent to five pounds which was the penile outpost and indeed any woman who came to that woman who's going to be so severely punished because her husband was perhaps one of the white men who would force himself on the slave women of the plantation and instead of responding emphatically to it she became an instrument of torture or an instrument of exile and the fact that the system of slavery would turn white women into accomplices
with something that horrified hannah campbell the world with what is your view of russell crowe as a fan e campbell confronted her husband several times about practices on the plantation because she knew that russell king sr had really truly been a master for an important part of the rising fortunes of the butler plantations and russell king jr indeed taken over his father's role and seemed to be almighty because she investigated she found that there were children running around the plantation who wore a striking resemblance to the younger king and she had her husband investigated and he wrote back a letter which is part of the artful craft of omission that he addressed very politely the increased that never really directly confronted the fact that indeed these might be his children these might be his offspring but he wasn't going to own up to it and
indeed it was in the best interests of the plantation that they kept think it's going the way they work this is what led a descendant fannie campbell's to speculate that over the course of her time on the plantation if danny campbell may have been forced to confront something even worse than roswell king's impregnating slave women but perhaps her husband's dalliance as with slaves might have been discovered during her months on the plantation was this i let us that are the ones that stood for years on his collar jobs at joe's says curators you know talk about this subject and her own right
there the real power within a campbell's journal is that it can take us directly to the heart of slavery lettuce directly conflicts that's right i think the power of fan of campbell's journal on why it still speaks to us after all these years is the way she can go directly to the heart of slavery near the end of her months on the plantation she wrote to her friend elizabeth to tell her just wait a day of slavery was like an image he tried to describe really in every day terms what she was confronting so women came to her with their petitions and she would ask them questions about how many children they had what their lives were like in in the record of one day we really learn a lot about
slavery fannie has had six children all dead but one she came to beg her to have her work in the field light and nanny has had three children two of them are dead she came to implore that the rule of sending them into the field three weeks after confinement might be altered we at caesar's wife has had six children three are dead the list of nine women goes on now from the us we might do a statistical abstracts we might learn how many children are born how many children die how many miscarriages are interred how long it was before women went back into the fields to find her simple testimony here we can hear the voices of these women the women who were not given a voice at the time really can speak to us so that we learned the sorrow of slavery is through their own lives their own testimony that they can testify to us years later
well i think that sami sadat a lot of power in the lives of african americans that she encountered the boat men the minister london was someone who she had conversations with that she truly believe that through keeping her spiritual contact your belief through the wonderful power of survival that african americans could indeed make their lives better that she was struck by song the way in which people would have their own songs of pete way in which people would say no matter what entered the most horrifying harsh conditions still the testimony of gospel came through and it was something that renewed her sense of the place she also found that the affections of people she talks about writing her journal and people creeping into the room by the candlelight and sitting and watching her right that the power of writing in the power of the word was something so important so when a young slave boy now i came to her and asked if he could learn to
write it was a request which she felt necessary to meet and when she spoke to slaves who could read and write and found that under no circumstances would they reveal how they learned to read and write she realized just how people struggled so hard against the elements against society against so many forces in order to become a people who have the language who had a story who had a history who had tales to tell and they told them to her secretly surreptitiously but nevertheless they're powerful story for once which he wanted to convey and indeed conveyed in this journal which eventually made its way to the entire english speaking world is it for
you how is the race issue it's certainly a popular historical contemporary game to label people as a racist or not racist and to assign twentieth century values to their eighteenth or nineteenth century views i think when you're reading fanning campbell it's important to put her views into context and to see that indeed she talked about the distinctiveness and race in some ways that we may now label politically correct or politically incorrect but at the same time i think what's striking is that she actually encountered african americans as a people struggling against bondage that she believed that most of the conditions and examples that that southern planters wade trot out his reasons
for at slavery as causes of inferiority as the ongoing yield switch which african americans imposed on the plantation south's really excuses that they were confronting that they indeed have caused these things to happen and indeed and she frequently made references to other groups i mean i think a lot of modern scholars are horrified the way in which he makes references to the irish and talks about them as a race so she was a product of her generation and was someone who spoke about differences in a very direct way but when we look at these differences and put them in the context we can see that she wasn't simple races that we would like to label where indeed she was so complex that i think she's one of the only figures has given conflicting labels by scholars within a period found twenty twenty five years between the time when her journal came back in to reprint in was popular in the nineteen sixties well into the nineteen seventies and eighties i have found references to
her as an abolitionist i found references to her as a plantation mistress i found references to her as an english travel traveler and all right and yet i found references to her as an abolitionist and references to her as a plantation mistress i found references to her as an english traveler and within all three she's the same person so it's really that people make use of fanning campbell in many different ways but she clearly had views about race that were years ahead of her time she clearly had entered the and she clearly trying to do something about it indeed it's important to see that she stayed at her views so strongly that it literally destroyed her marriage that we know after she and her husband returned to philadelphia that her coffee dance report that she refused to take the marriage bed with her husband something which he took great umbrage that they eventually lived in separate bedrooms that they eventually
separated for two years which led to a divorce an international scandal because she was a woman leading her children mr pierce butler was pressing her to marry him at a time when she was extremely vulnerable to lonnie had just been visiting her pressing his suit he was an adventurer great romantic figure very more ish looking and he was trying to sweep her away at the same time her beloved aunt had an injury and slowly start to scratch disintegrating before her very eyes this confidant this person who was the person she was closest to in the world died and pierce butler was the air this butler helped her bury her now auburn cemetery his butler became her coffin on after that so he was the person closest to her at a time when she was extremely vulnerable she was a way from her mother her father was pushing her to keep up their theatrical engagement should know when to talk to and there was pierce butler who was always there throughout the tour who is someone who when you're going on a picnic brought
along silver said that she wouldn't have to eat on wooden utensils who was seeing to her every needs the moment she then said yes the moment she gave in to him because he was someone who had a great conquest mentality the trap door came down and no more which she be able to exercise for will no more could she pursued her theatrical career she made a promise to her father that he no longer was willing to honor it went off on a honeymoon and it was no honeymoon after that annie campbell rana way from her husband in the first six months of the marriage she literally packed up her bags and left but unfortunately she can find anywhere to go and eventually returned to the home and eventually was council by her friend stay with him please then they come to your senses do the right thing says she indeed stuck out the marriage it was when they went to the plantation when chief finally had to confront with full horror what her husband's iron willed meant that not only did
he rule her life and would rule her children's lives but he ruled over all the people on the plantation he would look no interference indeed during that period he exercise greater and greater authority became even more of a despot it was during that period that was the permanent alienation of their affections when they came back to philadelphia great brouhaha erupted great battles erupted they had to live in separate establishment her friends were counseling family think of your children they went off to europe together during that period her sister said fannie please you you must think of your children but eventually fanning campbell felt that she could no longer stomach what pearce burglar had turned her into a week the pendant one man who had no will of her own and even worse he kept her from her children because under the laws she was no longer allowed to spend time with her children he cut her off or her children and then she eventually left him
oh yes he was someone who believed in the power and authority of the master and a husband was the ruler and his own household and when fanny campbell with no longer obeyed his rules he then issued written contracts and she broke the rules he told her that he could no longer support her and indeed she eventually was not even given access to her children no more than one hour and day by the time the relationship had disintegrated to where there was no longer a marriage and she was no longer allowed to be a mother she left the country i returned to england and her theatrical career she only returned after two years when he served there with divorce papers in order to defend her reputation because he had charged her with desertion she felt it was very important not let her children think that she had deserted them so she went back and she fought for them but what she was unwilling to do was to go into an open
court room and charge him with adultery she had evidence of adultery she'd found letters she certainly had confessions from hand it was his right as a man to do what he wanted to do and he was completely unwilling to listen to her complaints on the score and if she had gone into an open courtroom and charged him with adultery she might have had a slim chance to retain custody of her children but her lawyers warned that she did lose custody of her children and she was and willing to gamble with her children at that point she didn't whine about loose completely her children and then to take the one parent they remained with all those years cause pierce butler had been a devoted father he had maintained his daughters in the absence of his wife he was completely devoted to both fanny and sarah and she didn't want to tarnish him in their eyes and lose her children so instead they work out an agreement that very wisely any
help property and have it signed over in her daughter's name so later when pierced but there's financial situation worsened because by that time his gambling had become legendary in both in england and america each indeed gambled away a fortune and was forced eventually to sell half of his great great number of slaves and it was the greatest slave sale of the entire antebellum period he's a lanky shani campbell went into butler's island to st simons in hopes of discovering the truth about slavery and i think came back with a greater truth than she'd ever imagined she learned something about herself that she did not
turn her back on her true feelings that she had to speak her mind that she had to live out her beliefs and that she could no longer tolerate the repressive role of wife and mother the hypocritical role a plantation mistress which her marriage to pierce butler had imposed upon her wages wages i think that the truth about his brother came out when the truth about slavery came out that slavery as a system the grades those who owned slaves and those who are slaves and i think it probably had her hardest to discover that instead of confronting that degradation her husband did not deny and indeed you probably reveled in it the fact that he could have so much power over other people's lives
affected he could drive his sense of satisfaction in stature at the expense of others if any campbell no matter how much she hated the theaters that you be willing to go back on the stage and she didn't have to extract her life her comfort from the toil of these others and when she saw what her life was bought by the blood sweat and tears of african americans she no longer wanted to be a part of that work as well the great contemporary writer who recently died pauli murray wrote a memoir of her family proud shoes and in it she wrote about her many different ancestors for white ancestors her black ancestors and one of the things she emphasized was that
americans must confront the past and confronting their past can be a black passed and the white house that were all in this together that we can no longer look at people as perpetrators of violence an innocent victims we must look and see the way in which the system and traps assault not to say that you can certainly point a finger at man's inhumanity to man on slavery was indeed that kind of system but she wants us to see more clearly that indeed it was a system which brought everyone down that families were divided white families within themselves black families within themselves black and white families thrown together and torn apart by the horror of slavery is bad under slavery as monsters were bred as monsters are still strong and sturdy in a prowl among us and what
they're telling us is that we are all of one family blacks and whites to came together through the system of slavery you announcer and flu thing and i'm sorry but when i had it in my head and i say there's no better fb i'm skinny campbell knew that slavery was not a system which protected family values which was something that southern slave owners preach rabbit was a system which destroyed families black and why indeed that slavery was an assistant set up to protect slaves that slavery had as its sturdy shameful secret
the fact that all black women were vulnerable to all white men within a slave society as bill not to go into the fox of common interest slavery was a system which destroyed families black and why danny campbell was someone who indicted the fact that instead of being a system of protection which slavery promised indeed it was one that sold mothers away from children were sold father's away from mothers which sold has been some lives apart but she also was willing to point a finger and say quite directly that slavery was a system which forced black women into a form of sexual slavery that under the system of southern slave holding all black women within southern society where sexual pray of all white men that's not to say that relationships were constant indirect but it is to say that they were
vulnerable too and that on the moral register of error that white men could and did great black women under the law a slave could not be right under the law a slave was property such a white man ray to slave woman and the law her owner could collect money for damages that was a dehumanizing humiliating horrible episode in our legal history a horrible truth of her past so today we're under the system of southern slavery white women were to be accomplices in that system which allowed white men to pray and black women the system whitewash society they were not allowed to
acknowledge these relationships however we find when plantation mistresses did commit vengeful often heinous acts against black women often cut a bitch was involved for example in a newspaper report where a white women cuts the head of a black baby we find that this child was the illegitimate child sire buyer has been born to a slave woman we find that women were driven to horrible torture but they might be too physically but they might deprive women of their children because those children were indeed the bastard offspring of their own husbands who the husband's might bring into the heart of household to taunt the women we find examples of divorce cases were husbands would bring the concubines into the home with them at the table sometimes not only in the bedrooms but in the very beds of their wives so indeed white men within southern slaveholding to society's the
total power over women black and white this was a driving a wedge into the white family as mothers who were supposed to represent christian values and morality were undermined by a system which corrupted tainted and destroyed a white family it also says that this is it's also a story about a woman comes to this world for all her husband as saul berenson it was just these issues within slaveholding society white women were supposed to be pure alabaster symbols of einstein with ny within southern antebellum society why women were supposed to be icons of virtue pure alabaster and sell it at the same time black women were then supposed to be their cultural opposites they were supposed to be peace cio earthy
sensual and therefore within society whether black women and white women were friends or we're closer companion that it didn't matter because the system of slavery created a divide between them so they were pitted against one another culturally that everything warm and nurturing positive but also deep dark sexual was associated with black women which is why they weren't nurse white babies which would why they could be taken into masters the ads whereas the white woman who was supposed to remain pure and then selling would stand on the past pedestal to be untouchable to be a symbol but not a real woman with insane society slavery unlike other systems of
exploitation was something which rob people of their labor but i think more importantly we overlook that rob people of their families that is that you had served and you had forced labor but what was important was that slavery was a system which could take away your family but also for slave women took away their bodies they had no rights to their body they were they were able to be invaded they were able to be impregnated they were able to have children that weren't there is that to be taken away whether they have a choice and made or not and i think this is at the core of the system and this was something which white slave owners themselves were very rarely willing to articulate but it was something that abolitionists attacked again and again especially women abolitionists which was why danny campbell emphasize this which is why she so effective in her indictment of slavery but i think it's something that we need to think about because the consequences i love this kind of exploitation are very much with us today we have many
contemporary black writers and thinkers and critics who are now willing to confront this which is really the side of slavery that we have been so long and willing to talk about this is the site is doing i'd like it is slavery was a system of labor slavery was a system of labor expropriation then you have emancipation and it's the end of slavery and the consequences of slavery or over that slavery was a system of social organization it was a system of power is a system of white over black it was a system of whites taking what they wanted and forcing blacks to be obedient and african americans wrestled away their own freedom during the civil war and they don't want to articulate their own freedom when the most important freedoms which black women at the end of the
nineteenth century exerted was their right to purity and we did a camry back announce some kind of pronounce it with the black women were trying to take their own bodies back and you're also trying to take away the kind of cultural lee inappropriate symbols and projections that white society was putting on them so today we're still living with those symbols living with those images of black women today have to struggle and fight for control that white women as well have been labeled and saddled with inappropriate images that southern women today are still forced into another role of fearlessness of being an icon of femininity and this is something that we have to look at in terms of its impact on race relations and gender relations and await those still remain very much intertwined what happens with this disease
racial issues in generations at the end of the nineteenth century many black women and many black man made projections in arguments about the twentieth century certainly the boy said it would be a century which we would confront the color line by james weldon johnson said at the very heart of the race problem is a sex problem in over the course of the twentieth century we've had debates incidence flare ups and trials certainly tribulations we have ongoing controversies over these questions and less were willing to really look squarely at what the legacy of slavery was the exploitation the cruelty the harshness the holocaust which african americans into word then we're never going to come out of this nightmare as we move into the twenty first century with an a really confront these
issues unless we truly squarely confronting today i was going to say slavery created a set of circumstances in america which constructed race as a problem to be solved and what we need to learn and think about as we approach the twenty first century is that race is not a problem but learning to live with racial differences learning to understand one another as people that many races made up this country many races will continue to flood into america to create a new america that the mixing of races the celebration of races the celebration of difference is important to keeping our country strong in it that's very important that separation is the choice of coming together as a choice but
it's a matter of assaulting people together that race is no longer something which is a problem to be destroyed but it's something which we must come together and ponder together i think one of the worst horrors of slavery was that your children are not your own that can certainly something that we all are born to do you look to your parents you look to your family around you that slavery taught a lesson that these may be your blood relatives but they could be taken away from you that it was system which could destroy these blood ties indeed slavery was even a system that you're born into it and your sense of yourself a sense of descending from and going forward was suspended in time that you were put in limbo that you were not even born i myself because that self might be taken away by slavery slavery was at the human as a humanizing system dehumanizing to the point to where you could not even own yourself
perhaps the greatest horror of slavery was that you were denied their own children you were denied indeed your own birthright you were born into the world that the self that you were descended from your family and then giving itself to your family and going forward in life and having a sense of everlasting was taken away for you you were suspended in time you are in limbo you could not even have yourself under slavery yourself heard was denied now you of course were a person you lived in the world she made a culture that that slave culture had to be a counterculture everything around too because whatever you made to be taken away and whoever you were could be denied which is why slave names culture religion looking to the next world was so important amongst african americans
the pain that's the greatest horror of slavery would be you could be denied her own children that although you were born into a family and you might indeed barrier around children who would be your descendants you are somehow cut off from them by slavery was a system which could destroy blood ties which could not destroy the bonds of affection which might try and survive and rise above and transcend the system of slavery that you were born into the world and knew who you were that cell phone to be denied by society around you you didn't own your own body you had no legal standing you were not a person under the law and indeed that kind of constant reinforcement of alienation was one of the greatest psychological damages of slavery and even if you might try and send the psychological damage that this did you nevertheless knew that at any time your family could be taken away and
then there's a news story that is right yes nineteenth century abolitionist had a wide range of views on racial ideology for example we know that many supported racial equality and sometimes that racial equality extended to believing that there were no differences between blacks and whites so at one particular instance there was a wedding within the abolitionists community in philadelphia and eight black man and a white woman were marrying a white woman abolitionist was going to come to the wedding to celebrate it but she really believes in racial difference and she could not reconcile those feelings of conflict
within or so although she was willing to attend the celebration afterwards she stepped outside during the wedding ceremony because she didn't really want to be there to sanction in front of god with interracial unions so this is an example of how one can have very strong zealous feelings about equality and standing before the law that have different feelings about morality or internal cues and sometimes we could look at those conflicts and say well she's simply a racist and dismiss or that but this one in races for example may worked her entire life for racial equality and been a spokesperson very outspoken on the question a bike a quality was therefore points truth is this is this is the year no he says there is a way
it's much higher or frequently we discuss issues of slavery today with a lot of cash that we might say where slavery profitable this is something that scholars liked to debate was a profitable system i would think it really depends on where you descended from people who owned slaves are descended from people who were slaves themselves with a little higher or to be detached about these ideas because slavery was a system that tried to introduce notions of power or stature exploitation which are very widespread so for example the majority of white southerners were not slave owners the majority of white southerners who might say stood outside the system of slavery they never would owned slaves they never would come in contact with slaves at the same time we know very clearly they benefited directly from slavery because slavery which was a system which dw it's dividing people on the basis of race so white skin privilege within southern society braised you above all
those who are black and indeed the majority of blacks were sluts they've got me around with as only read any campbell's journal i'm very struck by the way in which her voice can still speak to me but even more importantly the way in which the lives of the black women who she talks about who appealed to her who's voices she heard can still speak to us and they were protesting the system it was inhumane a system that was wrong and they ask her for her help and she is a woman did which she tried to do by going down and confronting system to improve the lives of those who needed her help as she felt she didn't succeed she failed miserably as a matter of fact she felt that while she was on the plantation her attempts at helping these women lead to some of
them being punished more severely and also led her hopes being dashed indeed she felt very badly about her failed attempts while she was there that she kept a record indeed she thought it might be good to circulate that record and many abolitionists when reddit encourage her to publish it at that time her marriage was failing so rapidly that she couldn't risk it and took twenty four years before she was willing to publish that document and it's been said that the publication of her journal had some influence over popular opinion during the civil war perhaps may have prevented england from intervening in a civil war that the very important testimony the protests of these women could have led to a change of international dimension i think is very important so as i reread the journal i think that one person's voice loud insistent protesting can make a difference and perhaps that's a lesson we need to learn and to not forget that you may
Africans in America
Episode Number
Judgment Day
Raw Footage
Interview with Catherine Clinton, Writer and Historian
Contributing Organization
WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
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Catherine Clinton is interviewed about Frances "Fanny" Kembel, her marriage to Pierce Butler, and her journals documenting slave life on Butler Island, the lives of women slaves, the breaking of families, the Weeping Time, slavery as a symbol of power and how it still impacts American society.
Race and Ethnicity
American history, African Americans, civil rights, slavery, abolition, Civil War
(c) 1998-2017 WGBH Educational Foundation
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: WGBH Educational Foundation
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Identifier: Clinton_Catherine_04_merged_SALES_ASP_h264.mp4 (unknown)
Duration: 1:13:19
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Chicago: “Africans in America; 104; Judgment Day; Interview with Catherine Clinton, Writer and Historian,” 1998-00-00, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 20, 2020,
MLA: “Africans in America; 104; Judgment Day; Interview with Catherine Clinton, Writer and Historian.” 1998-00-00. WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 20, 2020. <>.
APA: Africans in America; 104; Judgment Day; Interview with Catherine Clinton, Writer and Historian. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from