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     Interview with Thomas J. Davis, Professor of History, Arizona State
    University and author of "Africans in the Americas: A History of the
    Black Diaspora" 2 of 2
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what the episode with adventurers smith's intervening in the altercation between his mistress and his wife further illustrates is the difference between the public and private dimensions of sniper and that is savers relationship between and among persons with its relationship maintained by the society so there's certain public interest in maintaining a slave in a particular role in having a slave behave in a certain way but the personal relationship between the person who purports to almost way the slave holder and the slave that private dimension or so require certain kinds of interactions of course a certain kinds of protections the two overlap in part that they also gave her and the situation with venture illustrates that on the personal side they're levels of interactions between how for example ventures wife and ventures mistress
were going to interact and whether they find each other amiable enough whether one is always intractable so what we have in the literature in mobile examples of slave holders writing notes making protestations about a particular slave not behaving i can't make her behave i can't make him behave they won't do was their toll recognizing the personality of the individual sworn sleigh they do have their own minds they will exercise their own will although the individual exercise of their own minds the individual exercising their own world does not release them from that social strata that slavery has in polls that the society has imposed by declaring those persons to be slick so the ability to exercise one's
will on a particular day or at a particular moment or in a particular caucus being recalcitrant refusing to obey once a master or mistress doesn't represent that one is able to escape slavery it simply represents that one has expressed his or her personality what options are venture in tracks with his holder with stanton on this particular issue in regard to vengeance having intervened in that argument between stands wife and now ventures wife illustrates again this dichotomy between
the public interest or the public sphere and the private interest on the private sphere stand recognizes that he individually or so he is the slave holder cannot stand up to venture one aim man to man basis stanton is not a match so he does not directly confront venture on ventures intervention on the way venture has treated stanton's wife what stanton does rather is to stealthily come behind venture car bomb over their heads seek to get the best of him and find himself bested because venture of the bigger stronger man afro standoff throws into the ground and then does something which one might find fairly interest the ventures seeks to find a public shield for this private abuse venture bros and to the justice of the peace and says
i'm being abused by my holder but venture has knoll civil standing other than to sway so what the justice he says is well venture oh that's a very interesting story you told me about this abuse and it's really too bad that that you treated that way but there's nothing i can do as a public work force and official you don't have any standing in society without do on a private level a speech you're holder meanwhile stanton and his brother come in and take eventual often as they're on their way home set upon venture and again foreign adventures a better man so so when the internet are separated your bicycle in addition to his own money take some hours now with no one is that say you know very possible that possible outlook for revealing sale with their
separation with the future well venture is punished for not submitting to his holder and he's punished by being sold away from his wife away from his child we have a separation when venture he is separated he has been a gathering up a little cache of monies some of which is holding his confiscated he goes off not only with a cash for himself was earned but with the cash was part of a cache that his wife has earned what agreements they came to among themselves one now can can never know if he is going to go further in the future to purchase as children and then eventually purchased his wife what they have in mind at the moment of their own immediate separation other than lawson
and heartfelt grief of this separation again one can know so for certain issues just as a man as a husband are so far and what does it mean to an all new monument i expect adventure was extremely angry venture situation part reminds me of quack roosevelt situation in the events that are described as great negro pipeline kong new york and seventeen forty one the quacks wife was the governor's cook and go for whatever reasons the government decided to that quack could no longer come to the house to visit and the governor on like a private citizen had the army to protect his torso yet a sentry outside his door to turn quack away
quack comes up one evening asks for entrance and centrists is no other governors giving orders and you can come and quacks is ongoing i'm gonna come in the century proceeds to call them with your musket and quack takes the gun away from the moon and beats manhattan goes on anyway gone ventured isn't quite faced with that situation but the issues are the same or are these snowy old ties there is this love which you were being denied you're being denied access to the most basic elements of of human existence and so there's a basic refusal to accept them in a profound regret or not being able to exercise you will to realize what or to be you listen to this you lost money was my last visit to the americans
you know this resolution some ways is more of help mr freeman visa for many years as a story ironies of emancipation for african americans in the cornmeal and international period is that mercurial it many were better off before emancipation after before emancipation they had someone with property and standing in the community as the patron to recognize their rights to have rights vindicated to protect them once they are in fact emancipated by many mission they no longer have a patient being separate being on the margin of society really having perhaps
no civil status they left to fend for themselves they have no necessary employment when they were slaves they had employment with beer holders they have a household they have a house once so many mission occurs they are entirely on their own and suffer over it of of snobs venture smith for example complaints about a civil war on done him where some properties is lost he's charged with it all though he actually was not the one who lost a property and the white person who susan and wins sort of snubs his nose adventurous is yes i recognize that you didn't do this he won because of money losing most casks overboard but i took your money and there's nothing you can do you issued as the former stanford prison until you read that means if we sure
emancipation many mission puts the former slave not in a position of person it simply makes them a free negro and a free negro is not equated with a free person and one will say and the colts particularly in the southern slave states is a separate court for free negroes separate and different from free persons the pay voice well there's a clear distinction in that many states between free negroes and free persons
in tripoli in the south there is a code specifically for free negroes that prohibits their ownership of property that were commensurate certain occupations that living in certain areas so one should not confuse the notion that the former slave and the mission rises to this status with award recognizes the person as in fact a legal person having the capacities to enter into contracts whole property and do all manner of things a gray area about what might have been a factor behind injury may the reason i made this decision together to buy a conference on his son's freedom first before magan that are what what goes on behind closed doors between a husband wife is always difficult for
someone else to say that a variety of ways to conceptualize the decision that venture smith made to purchase his sons his two sons and then his door before purchasing of the freedom of his wife one might speculate that maybe as a mother begged for the freedom for children before or herself the notion of the self sacrificing mother willing to restrain her her own desires for the betterment of her children another take on that would be that of the boys coming into maturity would be able to go out working to iron a rate that would allow future purchase more rapidly so the notion that eventually by his older son first as a helpmate to enlarge their bankroll them to
buy the next on providing for certain progression in their income are also has a certain direction but again how megan venture came to the decision that they would redeem their children and then maybe a is only open speculation was this a lot lately and think about it what it reflects is the reality event time males are the standard in the workplace then head to a woman is and really marginalized in labor market a woman is not a person who is able to go from countdown go from place to place on her own and easily find labored labored to behead as a harley normally areas is really the sort of labor that is physically exacting
venture makes a lot of his own money by felling trees he makes a lot of his money on the waterways as a fisherman this is not to say that women cannot fell trees are forgotten fish but the labor market of that day is a market in which the standard is male labor market that's both the patient voters living in colorado connecticut for example along the river allows us to understand the real place award always play in cloning the waterways represent locations where colonial settlements are if one looks at the development of cloning settlements they're very few settlements that are not going to have access to some navigable body of water that represents the fact the waterways are
the transportation highways of the day but more than their waterways represent an important area of the kind and now colonial and early commission what we see is people still going out whaling massachusetts is renowned for its whaling fleets but people going out fishing they're making a livelihood not only of ocean fish and also affirmed fishing in the rivers and streams so that the waterways are really an artery of life an important element of conscious whether the waterways leading to the way wells said and we some structures her day well but when one looks at the well one is looking at something a little different than the waterways and what we need to recall is what life was like in the
beginning of the nineteenth century which were not a time without indoor plumbing we talking about a time when if you needed water for the most part in an urban area and probably on a homestead you went out to the well in an urban area such as near city the wells are going to be congregation places they become a social set pics they are places where people meet importing daily routines as they go out at a particular time forty water they go at it out at a particular time to get water for breakfast they go at a particular time to get water for long for no one thinks about how many times no one is looking for water during the normal day one understands the importance of that the well comes to work to plan also the difficulty
a whole lingo a five gallon bucket of water as it is not something that everyone has is up to him so that rituals of all around the watering hole as it were and it's not accidental that we have in the language this notion of bell watering hole as a gathering place as a congregation place as a socially in soviet lies in the mind makes his living hauling things and people around the world in the world was the big ones and then just settles on the salmon river and the river is an avenue of commerce it set avenue that allows him not only to move is produce or his product from one place to another but he's going to make money hauling a person's one can
only imagine the river as an actual highway it's the thing on which other things happen to be located on the river is essentially it is a prime place to have easy access to a movement to have easy access to one ruling an awful hard your fingers as well what is the game of this acquisition and considering laws and co need arose is it for that shit one presumes at the earliest opportunity makes available for himself the acquisition of his own ground to have a piece of real estate which is a symbol a tangible element over the achievement of a certain dimension into your freedom
mandy is a camaraderie when to ease the idea that allows a person to stand in society and they say in fact i am i am a pier in many states in the early national period to vote the premise for that was partly hold a particular level so that and ventures acquisition of land means that he's on that path that he has become part of the progress toward achieving a broader wider richer dimension of his freedom does it more candy is the equal with his neighbors know now does not as the is experiencing in in court to demonstrate
as the revolutionary war bridget for a moment what's at stake for free what significance was the significance of that of free negroes casting her was in the slave or he hadn't prepared to shoot for since inflow a row various very good in those center of other elements on the one hand there is the clear contradiction of this group of persons were holding another group of persons without their freedom declaring for their own freedom in independence and blacks and in boston elsewhere announce the clear contradiction here by saying excuse me something is terribly wrong here that you who
have designed yourself as patriots would seek to claim your own freedom while same time holding us enslaved there is the basic contradiction that blacks point out between those who style themselves as patients declaring for their own independence while simultaneously holding slaves blacks throwback the rhetoric of the revolution in the face of the patriots what's at stake than it is a struggle in which
there are a variety of levels in free blacks and slaves are on particular words in in that struggle venture smith and his sons are not on the level of what george washington george washington's vistas the opportunities open to him his reasons for engaging are different from those of adventures smith for his son the question for someone like a venture some cough is what's to be more for and what he's being offered by state like connecticut where a state like new york vermont massachusetts is a bonus what the revolutionary government saying as well when we have these lands end to make these lands available to people who volunteer now initially and send in seventy six when the question of blacks enlisting in the armed
forces really oh the patriots were old george washington's council adamantly said no we will not allow the enlistment of black so slave or free and this is in the face of blacks already distinguishing themselves in that argument and elsewhere george washington and his counsel would in time changing minds in a bus engine seventy eight nine the patriots are sorely pressed for manpower their war for bounties and down is our land to free blacks and other food three persons into slaves and war for freedom in that war for freedom comes really in the form of a payment to the slave holder which will then allow for it in the emancipation now
in the northern town has such as a connecticut massachusetts and new york splitter curtis slaves and freed that blacks or sort of taking lots they're interested in throwing a lot in with the lenders so they are trying to estimate whether the king is going to be a war to reassert his power winning over congress or one of these upstart patriots are going to be victorious in connecticut and massachusetts most of the time enslaved african americans and free african americans who join in the revolution joined in on the side of the patriots in new york that happens outside of new york city the british a whole new york city they occupy throughout the war so you have a different case
there but in the senate colleagues such as virginia a very different scenario develops in the most of the blacks who shoulder arms and revolution of the shoulder lands on the side of the king they heard them directly fighting for their freedom fighting against the person who is in this world it's his children three and support their losses and see coming and in sales going on home speculative the house likely to feel the cuts i spent the coffers of a variety of minds about inventions of riot variety of minds about the person listening on the one hand i expect it has a somebody apprehension in any fatah has one son goes off to battle when you go to war that
is the chance that you don't come back that they die or are maimed and in some way but on the other hand venture throughout his life and writings that he's left us shows itself to be an accountant tilling up and what he gained on this what he lost on man don't what are companies were available to him so eat it he may easily have seen that his sons a listener was a chance for his son too and launches his own a state to have property and gained some standing on his own and in that regard he was probably pleased at his son's initiative one of them is the sense is that the price will venture doesn't buy indentured servants would venture doesn't buy sleds
signs are a massive reproduction their labor they are that thing which is necessary if one ease to grow prosper and it's very close society is based on increasing acquisition of these methods of production of having more labor venture ak says his neighbors have been seeking to acquire more labor he purchases slows the heat attest to treating them very well and then also a test to surprise when they get out then and revenge seeking their own freedom if he needed that i think to think back on the days when he was in the circumstances perhaps he felt that if he'd been treated as they'd been treated he would have had gone a different route i think what venture was most concerned about
what he was most bitter about was not that those who ran away from him we're seeking to experience freedom for themselves venture felt they had cheated him that he has provided them the opportunity to purchase themselves to gain their own freedom and rather than acting out this contract which made them in reality the sort of indentured servants we walk to which one might lose they broke the contract they deny this side of the border they left him holding the bag as it were and that's what he was upset about i don't want to give the award compensation in new york where there are thousands of fugitive slaves who had been with the british and they're trying to escape and those that transition though that are left behind arvin gather that part that's part of a colonial army's duty to sit together in washington
for responsible for singing if you want to see life i think because at the end of the revolution looks out on those who picked the wrong side and who are essentially being punished for being on the losing side he can take his lucky stars that he picked the right side that he was on the winning side at the same time i suspect that he recognizes the real benefits that and have been the story on him by accident as a worm because but for the grace of god there he went back to virginia back to south carolina or someplace else to toil in slavery there were only if you buy the records of the few blacks declined so do you think that might've
been the kind of purity of the conflict or the one of the things that that occurs repeatedly in petitions from blacks when in connecticut or elsewhere blacks such as cuff remarking on their service in the war for american independence eight or whatever of the war was is that the values which they for the elements which they hope to been vindicated when i'm in fact indicated that the levels of of oppression levels of differentiation segregation or not lessened body of valiant efforts by the form comments by the ocean i'm going to talk you looking towards forward towards the constitution's sanctions
on what we can to ensure and they can live conference all the second song america expect for the future the constitution or to have been a disappointment to many african americans particularly in the point that it is a document that sanctions slaveholding granted the word slave is no we used in the original document a man only occurs in the thirteenth amendment but the fact that the men do i venture smith up purchases his two sons solomon and coughing and any purchases his wife made and many purchases that to help those
two i'm looking at the constitution sanctions at all what does that say i think the constitution of the united states that was drawn up in sending eighty seven may have said to venture smith made in their children that the hopes that they might have had for the new nation that eliminates later that recognize me basic humanity and personality and flow of every individual was not going to be a reality that does the new nation was based on a notion of subordination that it was not an escape from the subordination that slavery was going to be part of the very foundation of the nation but one of things that's striking about that just because he's won
seventeen going into using that and end up in rhode island as opposed to south carolina or the caribbean if he's something else you know there's these opportunities you know what is that what his essay about what images become between seventeen fifteen the possibilities of twenty fifteen and eighteen what we send to fifteen eighteen hundred the things are the english colonies of north america begin to change rapidly and the major change is the declaration of the united states of america and seventy and seventy six and so in a two hundred you have this new nation would choose ratified this new frame of government the constitution and is headed off in a particular direction life has changed tremendously not merely from being
subjects of the king of great britain but now to being citizens of the state for some persons are being citizens of united states and for a person like consciousness for his wife in seventeen fifty they like others can i have a vision of what the place is going to be biting hundred george washington was born the same year as venture smith has or has no ability to work they envision these things but what has happened as we look back we can see a divergence between african americans and other americans not including native americans what's happened over time through the colonial period is that we begin with a period
where the differentiation this or not that great but over time they're going to grow larger wouldn't look only approved begins in the english colonies the majority of the persons who live in the english colonies a ride in some form of bondage eighteen hundred years only person in bondage at the beginning of the cloning a period bondage is not merely an issue off race it's not merely identified by column by two hundred it is only an issue of race and only an issue of car the differentiation zika have confined in constricted african americans to a pretty cheeky were long of society a long that goes beyond
them your status a slave a wrong that really marginalizes them in society that sets them apart that saber against them for time not mealy for the indefinite tenure of a particular service but one which really separates them and their progeny from the larger body the great is one of the interesting elements or ventures and then just missed life is when he's about twenty two he decides to make common cause with an indentured servant and then some others some other indentured servants then she decides to make common cause with some and a white indentured servants and and they run off they've been none
creating a little cache of supplies to sustain them and they take a little boat and then they go off to long island and one of the indentured servants decides that he's better off if he has all the goodies and so he abandons venture and are his compatriots it's interesting to severe to speculate about venture is eagerness to seize on any opportunity or freedom a person who weighs in his life is gonna come to accounting for rail all of his various moods and in the hour and cents terms is seeking to recapture his life and he goes out on this venture they ended two levels of betrayal set in one is mat seeing that is why compatriot is taken off of all the goodies venture
announces a sickness too was hard about sort of making common cause thinking that he could trust these other persons and then being betrayed in that way in it appears that he's beginning to think about his own life to weigh the advantages to going out on his own as he hands to becoming a fugitive or being a slave and working his way out of that in a legally acceptable fashion one ventured does it is to go out and recapture his compatriot was gone off with goodies none of which are left and dove rather than moving forward in this attempt to seize his freedom outside of the legal lines as it were he then
the trades that group at least his compatriot by going back from whence he claimed and turning the runway and then going one about his own life one might ask what were the actions will venture could have gone off and not pursued by his runaway contagion when venture caught up with his runaway compatriot in and found that the cash was so spent and gone he could have just said oh well i made a bad bargain with you you go on your way out on my way up what he does one wonders whether that evidence some faith in the development of the social system where he was what eventually saying to himself perhaps what i should do is go back the legal work my way through
and then come to a status in which i have a certain security rather than becoming the future the patient in the terms of the day venture smith was probably something of a man's man he grew in stature to somewhere between six to win six four and by the end of his life that he was weighing know somewhere around three hundred pounds but the point is that in his prime years broad shouldered strong back strong muscle it was a pride in hand which is one of the reasons he had to pay somewhat for freedom because he was a person who could go out and half those heavy canvas fellow those large trees that is the kind of labor and that's the kind of production that slave holders were looking for
Africans in America
Episode Number
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Interview with Thomas J. Davis, Professor of History, Arizona State University and author of "Africans in the Americas: A History of the Black Diaspora" 2 of 2
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WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
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Thomas J. Davis is interviewed about Venture Smith and the relationship between slave and slave holder, Venture's loss of his family and the purchase of their freedom, the difference between a free Negro and a free person, the importance of waterways in colonial life, Venture Smith's acquisition of land, the significance of the Revolutionary War, Venture Smith as slave owner, The Constitution's sanction of slavery and what it meant to Venture Smith
Race and Ethnicity
American history, African Americans, civil rights, slavery, abolition, Civil War
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Chicago: “Africans in America; 102; Revolution; Interview with Thomas J. Davis, Professor of History, Arizona State University and author of "Africans in the Americas: A History of the Black Diaspora" 2 of 2 ,” 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; 102; Revolution; Interview with Thomas J. Davis, Professor of History, Arizona State University and author of "Africans in the Americas: A History of the Black Diaspora" 2 of 2 .” 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; 102; Revolution; Interview with Thomas J. Davis, Professor of History, Arizona State University and author of "Africans in the Americas: A History of the Black Diaspora" 2 of 2 . Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (WGBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from