Hugh Crow

Hugh Crow


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Hugh Crow, the son of Edmund Crow (1730–1809) and Judith (1737–1807) was born in Ramsey, Isle of Man, in 1765. In 1782 he moved to Whitehaven. He later recalled: "I went to Whitehaven, where I was a bound apprentice to Joseph Harriman, Esq. merchant. I was almost destitute of clothing, and indeed of every necessary, when I quitted my father's roof, and all I was to receive for my servitude of four years was £14, with which I had to find myself in clothing and washing during my apprenticeship. My employer, however, to his honour, paid for my education."

Crow worked on several ships as a carpenter. He admitted "I had at this time several offers to go as second mate to the coast of Africa, but like many others I had not overcome the prejudice I entertained against the trade." However, he eventually accepted work as a sailor on the slave-ship, The Elizabeth, owned by John Dawson.

The ship arrived at Annamaboe in December, 1790. Crow later recalled: "We came to anchor at Annamaboe in December, 1790, after a passage of seven weeks. We lay there about three weeks without transacting any trade, the king of that part of the coast having died some time before, in consequence of which all business was suspended. According to a barbarous custom of the country on occasion of the decease of a prince twenty-three of his wives were put to death while we remained; and many no doubt had met with a similar fate before our arrival."

The Elizabeth then went onto Lagos where they took on slaves. These were then sold in Benin: "We proceeded to a place called Lagos, with negroes, and thence to Benin. We traded between both places for several months, so that I acquired a considerable knowledge, as a pilot, of that part of the coast. I was much pleased with the gentle manners of the natives of Benin, who are truly a fine tractable race of people."

Crow approved of the regulation of the slave-trade. However, he rejected the criticism of William Wilberforce: "His proposition... that badges should be worn by African captains, who toiled at the risk of their lives for the accommodation of our colonies, and that he and others might enjoy their ease at home, was impertinent as well as ungracious; and his regulation that captains should land their cargoes without losing a certain number of black slaves, was absolutely ridiculous. Not a word was said about the white slaves, the poor sailors; these might die without regret.... And with respect to the insinuation thrown out, in this country, that African captains sometimes threw their slaves overboard, it is unworthy of notice, for it goes to impute an absolute disregard of self interest, as well as of all humanity. In the African trade, as in all others, there were individuals bad as well as good, and it is but justice to discriminate, and not condemn the whole for the delinquencies of a few."

According to his biographer, Elizabeth Baigent: "On 25 August 1793, during a twelve-month period of leave between June 1793 and June 1794, he married Mary Hall, with whom he had a son, born in May 1794. On his fourth slaving voyage, later in 1794, as chief mate of the Gregson, he was captured by the French and spent a year as a prisoner in France, eventually escaping disguised as a Breton by speaking Manx."

Crow, based in Liverpool, was appointed captain of his first slave-ship in 1798. Over the next nine years he made seven voyages. As captain of Kitty's Amelia, it is possible that Crow's was the last British vessel to leave West Africa with a cargo of slaves.

After the passing of the 1807 Abolition of the Slave Trade Act, Crow, who had become wealthy from the slave trade, purchased an estate in Ramsey. In 1817 he moved to Liverpool where he worked on his memoirs.

Hugh Crow died on 13th May 1829, and was buried in Kirk Maughold Churchyard on the Isle of Man. His autobiography, The Memoirs of Captain Hugh Crow, was published in 1830. Elizabeth Baigent has argued: "Having written them during the years of his retirement in Liverpool, he made provision in his will for their publication, an undertaking that evidently embarrassed his executors, who edited the manuscript. Nineteenth-century writings about Crow played down his involvement in the slave trade, and celebrated him as a patriotic Manx sea captain. His Memoirs remain of interest because of their early descriptions of the kingdom of Bonny, on the Niger delta, and of slave trading and privateering, as well as for the self-justifications of one of those who took part in the slave trade."

I went to Whitehaven, where I was a bound apprentice to Joseph Harriman, Esq. I was almost

destitute of clothing, and indeed of every necessary, when I quitted my father's roof, and all I was to

receive for my servitude of four years was £14, with which I had to find myself in clothing and washing

during my apprenticeship. My employer, however, to his honour, paid for my education, when I happened to be in port, and by a strict observance of economy, and the kind assistance of my parents, I managed to pass my novitiate with a considerable decree of comfort.

I had now completed my apprenticeship, and my two old masters, Captain Newton and Captain Burns, who had vessels of their own, were each anxious to engage my services. I gave the preference to Captain Burns, who commanded a fine new brig called the Grove, then bound to Jamaica by way of Waterford. As I was considered expert as a carpenter, it was stipulated that I should be liberally paid for acting in that capacity, and I was moreover promised the earliest possible promotion.

We came to anchor at Annamaboe in December, 1790, after a passage of seven weeks. According to a barbarous custom of the country on occasion of the decease of a prince twenty-three of his wives were put to death while we remained; and many no doubt had met with a similar fate before our arrival. Yet to become the wives of these great men was considered, by the parents of the females, a high and honourable distinction. It was stated to me that the late king of Dahomy, a great kingdom in the interior, had seven hundred wives, all of whom were sacrificed soon after his decease; and Captain Ferrer, a gentleman of talent and observation, who happened to be at Dahomy during the perpetration of this horrid butchery, afterwards testified the fact in the British House of Commons. His evidence was, however, of little avail, for Mr. Wilberforce and his party threw discredit upon the whole statement.

After some delay at Annamaboe (where I first became acquainted with my excellent friend Captain

Luke Mann), we proceeded to a place called Lagos, with negroes, and thence to Benin. We traded between both places for several months, so that I acquired a considerable knowledge, as a pilot, of that

part of the coast. I was much pleased with the gentle manners of the natives of Benin, who are truly a fine tractable race of people. When they meet an European they fall down on the right knee, clap their hands three times, and exclaim "Doe ba, doe ba;" that is " We reverence you!" They then shake hands, in their way, by giving three fillips with the finger.

The agents who were employed on different parts of the coast by our owner, Mr. Dawson, having all fallen victims to the climate in a few months after their arrival, in order that we might convey to him the melancholy news as soon as possible, we took in a quantity of ivory and other articles and sailed

from Benin. We arrived at Liverpool in August, 1791 - where after my recovery from an attack of jaundice I engaged to go as mate in a fine ship called The Bell, Captain Rigby, belonging to William Harper, Esq. and bound to Cape Mount, on the windward coast of Africa.

The legalization of the African trade, of which every person acquainted with the business heartily approved. One of these enacted that only five blacks should be carried for every three tons burthen; and as Mr. Wilberforce was one of the promoters of these very proper regulations, I take this opportunity

of complimenting him for the first and last time. His proposition, however, that badges should be worn

by African captains, who toiled at the risk of their lives for the accommodation of our colonies, and that he and others might enjoy their ease at home, was impertinent as well as ungracious; and his regulation that captains should land their cargoes without losing a certain number of black slaves, was absolutely ridiculous. Many a laugh I and others have had at Mr. Wilberforce and his party, v/hen we received our hundred pounds bounty. In the African trade, as in all others, there were individuals bad as well as good, and it is but justice to discriminate, and not condemn the whole for the delinquencies of a few.


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Hugh was born on June 2, 1963 and passed away on Thursday, March 15, 2018.

Hugh was a resident of Phoenix, Arizona at the time of passing.

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Hugh Crow Analysis

This document by Hugh Crow was taken from his memoir later in his life, which means that he is reflecting on his experiences with the Eboe people to other Europeans who may read it. He begins by describing the Eboe people. Their physical features appear very important to Crow, who seems preoccupied with the slave trade and the apparent polity surrounding it. He describes them as having a better disposition than other tribes when making contact with the Europeans. This contrasts with the Quaw people, who he describes as being particularly disagreeable with sharpened teeth and mischievous tempers. These descriptions are racist at best and only serve as techniques by which the Europeans should exploit these tribes for personal gain, yet the second half of the document actually details their political system and leaves out the racial connotations favoring instead descriptive analyses of the Eboe leadership. The Eboe had an economic system that allowed for taxation of goods bought by the Europeans, as well as the slave labor purchased as such. Crow also describes the kings and their personal garb, adorned with gold-laced hats, as well as their degree of power which seemed absolute. They had absolute power within Eboe society and made decisions regarding the nation on their own. He describes their lavish court culture, as well as the palaces they resided in, and the canoes they rode in. He describes the rule of the kings of Bonny as less controlling and having a looser power over the tribe, this may be in part due to the location near the coast, where societies are often more laid back, but it could also relste to the proximity of European trading that dominated the culture during this period.

The final paragraph in the document deals primarily with the slave trade and its relation to the Bonny people. Slavery is quickly becoming less popular in favor of palm oil, yet the kings of Benin still advocate for slavery saying that as long as there are fields slavery will exist. He describes the slave traders within the Bonny kingdom. He describes them as having very good memories, but prone to lying. This is interesting because it probably would describe slave traders throughout the world. One caveat of dealing in human flesh is that it seems distancing oneself from the abhorrent work that one conducts will lead to a more profitable venture if that is the goal, this transcends race apparently because not only Europeans are guilty of slavery. He also makes the point that the Europeans corrupted the Africans into this practice implying that without European interference in the creation of this system, it may not have become as vicious as it did.

Overall Crow’s description of the peoples he visited is a reflection of his time. While the racialized descriptions of the locals do not reflect well on the European systems, it does give modern scholars a window into the society of the turn of the 19 th century African nations.


Community Reviews

Captain Hugh Crow (1765-1829) was born in Ramsay, Isle of Man, and as a seventeen-year-old embarked on his first voyage aboard The Crown in 1782. He became a skilled carpenter and worked his way through the ranks aboard a number of British ships and, according to his own telling, became unwillingly involved in the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade during the late-1700s because he needed stable employment. Crow spent the majority of his time running a slave route between Bonny and Calabar on the western Captain Hugh Crow (1765-1829) was born in Ramsay, Isle of Man, and as a seventeen-year-old embarked on his first voyage aboard The Crown in 1782. He became a skilled carpenter and worked his way through the ranks aboard a number of British ships and, according to his own telling, became unwillingly involved in the trans-Atlantic Slave Trade during the late-1700s because he needed stable employment. Crow spent the majority of his time running a slave route between Bonny and Calabar on the western coast of Africa to Kingston, Jamaica to Liverpool. He died at the age of 64 on May 13, 1829, having spent the majority of his life at sea. He wrote his memoir partly to exonerate himself from any wrongdoing by his participation in the slave trade, offer justifications for the trade, and lament the British abolition of the slave trade which he considered detrimental to the British economy, British sailors, and perversely, African slaves. The memoir is roughly divided into two sections. The first part is Captain Crow’s actual memoir and the second part represents the work of the volume’s editors (during the nineteenth century) who, borrowing from Crow’s assorted writings, try to assemble a coherent narrative about the history and sociopolitical composition of Bonny and Calabar. Both are potentially useful as primary sources on the trans-Atlantic slave trade, but with obviously different biases and perspectives. Crow writes in a very self-serving manner, always looking for a way to position himself as the savior and/or benefactor of Africans (both the African traders and factors, as well as, the slaves he transported to the Caribbean).

*Note, I unfortunately had to read an older copy of Crow's memoirs published during the 1970s, as the library lost the modern Bodleian Library copy that, presumably, contained an introduction detailing many of the biases, omissions, and quirks about this memoir. . more


How Jim Crow Shaped America

For the better part of a century, African Americans lived under the burden of what now are known as Jim Crow laws. This racist system of segregating people, mainly blacks from whites, infected virtually every sector of American life, and reached far beyond the South where it was best known and most cruelly practiced.

Worse yet, Jim Crow and the deep wounds it inflicted on American society are not relegated to the past tense. Its legacy is still felt, in many ways, today.

"Jim Crow was about so much more than laws," says Stephen Berrey, a professor of American Culture at the University of Michigan and the author of "The Jim Crow Routine: Everyday Performances of Race, Civil Rights, and Segregation in Mississippi." "It really was an all-encompassing system that involved political practices, economic practices, social practices, cultural practices. Some of that was about legal things, but some of it wasn't.

"One of the challenges why Jim Crow often seems like it's in the past, people tend to think that, 'Oh, it was a few laws, and we got rid of segregation laws, and we got the Voting Rights Act, so that must have taken care of it.'

Who Was Jim Crow?

The real-life person, Jim Crow, never was. Crow was a fictional character in a minstrel show, a representation of a black man — an exaggerated, stereotypical, racist representation — carried out by a white man onstage, in blackface, in the early part of the 19th century. The New York actor's singing, babbling, raggedy version of "Jim Crow" was a hit with many audiences, and by 1838, the term "Jim Crow" had become a racial epithet. As states began passing laws to restrict the rights of slaves freed at the end of the Civil War, the laws came to be known as Jim Crow laws.

These laws were said to be enacted for many reasons, but the simplest explanation for them is this: They aimed to maintain white people's claim to first-class status in American society, and to forever keep black people as second class. From the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan:

The Birth of Jim Crow Laws

The Emancipation Proclamation of 1863 freed all slaves from states that had seceded from the Union, and in the following years, three amendments to the U.S. Constitution — the 13th (in 1865, abolishing slavery), 14th (1868) and 15th (1870) — guaranteed "equal protection" to all citizens (14th) and the right to vote regardless of "race, color, or previous condition of servitude" (15th).

The South, humiliated by its loss in the Civil War and what it felt was punishment meted out by the U.S. government, responded by enacting a series of laws over several years to severely restrict the rights that had been granted to blacks. A few early examples:

1866: The Tennessee legislature passed a bill requiring separate schools for blacks and whites. Between 1866 and 1955, Tennessee passed 20 Jim Crow laws, including ones that outlawed miscegenation and required segregation in public accommodations.

1877: The new constitution of the state of Georgia included requirements that primary schools be segregated and established a separate university for blacks. It also instituted a poll tax, which disproportionately affected poor, black people, effectively stripping them of the right to vote.

1890: The Louisiana Railways Accommodation Act (also known as the Separate Car Act) required railways "to provide equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races." That law would be the basis of a chilling Supreme Court decision later that decade.

Laws like these kept blacks from voting, and thereby having a say in governance barred them from holding public office, slanting the justice system against them restricted them socially (requiring blacks to use different phone booths, drinking fountains, restrooms, etc.) stymied them economically and, in all, prohibited them from gaining equal footing with white citizens.

By themselves, the Jim Crow laws were devastating. But, as Berrey points out, the legal aspect of Jim Crow was only part of the problem. Blacks also were subjected to widespread violence and murder — implicitly condoned by much of white society and rarely prosecuted — that continued well into the 20th century. The Ku Klux Klan, originally a club for Confederate veterans, was born in the aftermath of the Civil War and has terrorized black people for decades.

The Equal Justice Initiative in 2015 released a report, "Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror" that documented, in the period between 1877 and 1950, almost 4,000 lynchings.

All this — the suffocating laws, the extreme violence — had its desired effect. Black people lived in everyday fear. They felt powerless. They were, in every way, made to feel inferior to whites and forced to live that way.

"There's this tendency to think of both Jim Crow, specifically, and racism more broadly as being this overt form that looks like the KKK that looks like a cross burning that looks like dramatic acts of violence. Sometimes it is that," Berrey says. "But often it's much more subtle. It's in the air that we breathe and the water that we drink."


Segregation During the Great Migration

During the Great Migration, a period between 1916 and 1970, six million African Americans left the South. Huge numbers moved northeast and reported discrimination and segregation similar to what they had experienced in the South.

As late as the 1940s, it was still possible to find “Whites Only” signs on businesses in the North. Segregated schools and neighborhoods existed, and even after World War II, Black activists reported hostile reactions when Black people attempted to move into white neighborhoods.


First Black Captain of WWII Ship: Hugh Mulzac

A woman from Trinidad once told me that she could never stand for the discrimination that Blacks in the United States had to endure. A Jamaican family friend long ago insisted that she would never sit in the back of a bus, like Negros once had to because of Jim Crow laws. To the woman from Trinidad I gave her a brief history lesson and patiently explained to her what would happen to her if she resisted. She then understood.

Blacks from other countries often experience a major culture shock upon coming to America. They hail from lands where Blacks are the majority and hold political and social power. This is not to say that Non-American Blacks did not experience discrimination, because many of these countries were colonized by Europeans at one time. But coming to America, from either Africa or places of the African diaspora, one can be in for a rude awakening.

One such person who was subjected to a rude awakening was Hugh Mulzac. He holds the distinction of being the first Black to be captain of a ship during World War II. Stipulated Mulzac:

Mulzac was born in the British West Indies (Union Island, St. Vincent and Grenadines) in 1886. He worked on the sea after high school, traveling on British vessels. The sailor attended Nautical School in Swansea, Wales, where he earned a mate's second in command license. During World War I he sailed as a ship's officer.

Caribbean-born Mulzac was confronted with the "barbarous customs of our northern neighbor", meaning the United States. He attempted to attend a North Carolina White church while on port of call from a Norwegian ship. Mulzac was refused entry because of his color. This incident became his first exposure to the stinging racism of America's Jim Crow South.

Mulzac later immigrated to the United States in 1918 and became a citizen. In 1920 he scored 100 percent on the US shipmaster exam. However, there was no shipmaster assignment. The belief system of the day made it difficult for a Black person to captain a ship. Being a cook or cleaning were the few options for a Negro sailor. In the meantime, he became an expert in food service.

wikipedia.org
Captain Hugh Mulzac with his crew. (Mulzac is fourth from the left)

Hugh Mulzac later served as a mate on the SS Yarmouth, a ship of Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey's Black Starline, in 1920. He became displeased with the operations and resigned the ambitious line went out of business in 1922. Years would go by, and Mulzac held on to his dream of being a captain of a ship. He was a founding member of the National Maritime Union in 1937. A good two decades would pass until finally Mulzac was offered his plum assignment: Captain of the Booker T. Washington during World War II. Mulzac was 56 years old.

Hugh Mulzac had a fully integrated crew representing 18 different nationalities. He was originally assigned an all Black crew, which he refused. Protests resulted in an integrated crew. The Booker T. Washington made over 22 round trip voyages in five years. Under Mulzac the vessel carried 18,000 troops and cargo to Europe and the Pacific. He braved extremely dangerous waters. The Merchant Marines suffered a high ratio of casualty losses compared to the various branches of the military.

Unlike surviving Montford Marines who are in their seventies-nineties, Hugh Mulzac received limited glory. After the Allied victory he was unable to command a ship. He filled a lawsuit against the ship operators in 1948 and lost. He was also blacklisted for being a member of the labor movement at the height of McCarthyism, where groups associated with Communism were considered Un-American. Mulzac ran for NY Controllers Office and was defeated. He made his living for the next two decades in the steward's department on several shipping lines.

Usmm.org
Hugh Mulzac (1886-1971)

Hugh Mulzac did have success as a self taught painter, however. His works were on display at the Countee Cullen Library, New York City, in the year 1958. Two years later, his license and seaman's papers were finally restored by a federal court. The former captain was able to work again at age seventy-four--as a night mate. Mulzac died before Merchant Marines would win the right to receive Veteran's benefits.

Hugh Mulzac successfully helped America defeat the Axis Powers by providing his impeccable navigational skills. He made history as the first Black to command a WWII era ship, and repeatedly made the perilous journey of crossing German submarined infested oceans. He ultimately never gave up his dreams of commanding an integrated ship.

aaregistry.org
Crew of the Booker T. Washington
with mascot dog.

Sources:
maraad.dot.gov
voyagetodiscovery.org
wikipedia.org
http://hubpages.com/hub/Hugh-Mulzac-First-Black-Captain-of-a-WW2-Liberty-Ship
books.google.Hidden History: Profiles of Black Americans

African Diaspora- Countries throughout the world where people of African descent dispersed.

Marcus Garvey (1887-1940)-Jamaican political leader, publisher, journalist, entrepreneur.

McCarthyism-Named after Senator Joseph McCarthy (1908-1957). 1950s era hunt for people believed to be Communist and often without evidence.


Jim Crow/Jump Jim Crow

The term Jim Crow originates back to 1828 when a white New York comedian, Thomas Dartmouth “Daddy” Rice, performed in blackface his song and dance that he called Jump Jim Crow. Rice’s performance was supposedly inspired by the song and dance of a physically disabled black man he had seen in Cincinnati, Ohio, named Jim Cuff or Jim Crow. The song became a huge hit in the 19th century and Thomas Rice performed it across the country as “Daddy Jim Crow,” a caricature of a shabbily dressed African American man.

Jump Jim Crow initiated a new form of popular music and theatrical performances in the United States that focused their attention on the mockery of African Americans. This new genre was called the minstrel show. Jim Crow as entertainment spread rapidly across the United States in the years prior to the Civil War and eventually around the world. An example of this influence came when the United States’ special ambassador to Central America, John Lloyd Stephens, arrived in Merida on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula in 1841. Upon his arrival a local brass band played Jump Jim Crow mistakenly thinking it was the national anthem of the United States. The popularity of Jump Jim Crow and the blackface form of entertainment also prompted many whites to refer to most black males routinely as Jim Crow.

Eventually the term Jim Crow was applied to the body of racial segregation laws and practices throughout the nation. As early as 1837 the term Jim Crow was used to describe racial segregation in Vermont. Most of these laws, however, emerged in the southern and border states of the United States between the years 1876 and 1965. They mandated the separation of the races and separate and unequal status for African Americans. The most important Jim Crow laws required that public schools, public accommodations, and public transportation, including buses and trains, have separate facilities for whites and blacks. The facilities established for African Americans were always far inferior to whites, and reinforced their poverty and political exclusion. These laws also generated a decades-long struggle for equal rights.


Crow Facts

Crows are members of the Corvidae family, which also includes ravens, magpies, and blue jays. Loud, rambunctious, and very intelligent, crows are most often associated with a long history of fear and loathing. They are considered pests by farmers trying to protect their crops and seedlings. Many people fear them simply because of their black feathers, which are often associating them with death. But research demonstrated in A Murder of Crows proves crows are actually very social and caring creatures, and also among the smartest animals on the planet.

Where do crows live?

Crows live all over the world, except for Antarctica.

What do they eat?

Crows are predators and scavengers, which means that they will eat practically anything. Their diet consists of various road-kill, insects, frogs, snakes, mice, corn, human fast food, even eggs and nestlings of other birds. An adult crow needs about 11 ounces of food daily.

How many species are there?

There are about 40 or so species in the Corvus genus. These range from pigeon-sized birds to ravens, which can be as much as 24-27 inches long.

Photo by Tyler Quiring on Unsplash.

Social Environment

Crows are very social and have a tight-knit family. They roost in huge numbers (in the thousands) to protect themselves from enemies like red-tailed hawks, horned-owls, and raccoons. Crows also use at least 250 different calls. The distress call brings other crows to their aid, as crows will defend unrelated crows. Crows mate for life.

Close Relatives

The Corvus genus includes the common American crow, ravens, rooks, and other variations, and the wider family (Corvidae) includes jays, magpies, nutcrackers, and other birds.

Crows and West Nile Virus

Crows are susceptible to West Nile virus, and their deaths are used as early indicators of potential human disease in an area. West Nile Virus has killed 45% of American crows since 1999, though they’re still listed as Least Concern species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels.

What’s a murder of crows?

A group of crows is called a “murder.” There are several different explanations for the origin of this term, mostly based on old folk tales and superstitions.

For instance, there is a folktale that crows will gather and decide the capital fate of another crow.

Many view the appearance of crows as an omen of death because ravens and crows are scavengers and are generally associated with dead bodies, battlefields, and cemeteries, and they’re thought to circle in large numbers above sites where animals or people are expected to soon die.

But the term “murder of crows” mostly reflects a time when groupings of many animals had colorful and poetic names. Other fun examples of “group” names include: an ostentation of peacocks, a parliament of owls, a knot frogs, and a skulk of foxes.


Confederate Statues Were Built To Further A 'White Supremacist Future'

Crews worked to remove the statue of Supreme Court judge and segregationist Roger Taney from the front lawn of the Maryland State House late Thursday night. Taney wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision that defended slavery and said black Americans could never be citizens. Baltimore Sun/TNS via Getty Images hide caption

Crews worked to remove the statue of Supreme Court judge and segregationist Roger Taney from the front lawn of the Maryland State House late Thursday night. Taney wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision that defended slavery and said black Americans could never be citizens.

Baltimore Sun/TNS via Getty Images

As President Trump doubled down on his defense of Confederate statues and monuments this week, he overlooked an important fact noted by historians: The majority of the memorials seem to have been built with the intention not to honor fallen soldiers, but specifically to further ideals of white supremacy.

More than 30 cities either have removed or are removing Confederate monuments, according to a list compiled by The New York Times, and the president said Thursday that in the process, the history and culture of the country was being "ripped apart."

Groups like the Sons of Confederate Veterans defend the monuments, arguing they are an important part of history. One of the leaders of that group, Carl V. Jones, wrote a letter on Aug. 14 condemning the violence and "bigotry" displayed in Charlottesville, but he also denounced "the hatred being leveled against our glorious ancestors by radical leftists who seek to erase our history."

That letter to "compatriots" was signed the day before Trump's raucous press conference, in which he also cast blame on what he called the "alt-left" — comments for which he faced criticism from business leaders, nonprofits and members of his own party, among others.

The Two-Way

Charlottesville Victim's Mother Says She Will Not Take Trump's Calls

Yet many historians say the argument about preserving Southern history doesn't hold up when you consider the timing of when the "beautiful" statues, as Trump called them, went up.

"Most of the people who were involved in erecting the monuments were not necessarily erecting a monument to the past," said Jane Dailey, an associate professor of history at the University of Chicago."But were rather, erecting them toward a white supremacist future."

The most recent comprehensive study of Confederate statues and monuments across the country was published by the Southern Poverty Law Center last year. A look at this chart shows huge spikes in construction twice during the 20th century: in the early 1900s, and then again in the 1950s and 60s. Both were times of extreme civil rights tension.

A portion of the Southern Poverty Law Center's graph showing when Confederate monuments and statues were erected across the country. Southern Poverty Law Center hide caption

A portion of the Southern Poverty Law Center's graph showing when Confederate monuments and statues were erected across the country.

In the early 1900s, states were enacting Jim Crow laws to disenfranchise black Americans. In the middle part of the century, the civil rights movement pushed back against that segregation.

History

Who Are The Confederate Men Memorialized With Statues?

James Grossman, the executive director of the American Historical Association, says that the increase in statues and monuments was clearly meant to send a message.

"These statues were meant to create legitimate garb for white supremacy," Grossman said. "Why would you put a statue of Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson in 1948 in Baltimore?"

Grossman was referencing the four statues that came down earlier this week in the city. After the violence in Charlottesville, Va., when a counterprotester was killed while demonstrating, and the action in Durham, N.C., where a crowd pulled down a Confederate statue themselves, the mayor of Baltimore ordered that city to remove its statues in the dead of night.

"They needed to come down," said Mayor Catherine Pugh, according to The Baltimore Sun. "My concern is for the safety and security of our people. We moved as quickly as we could."

Thousands of Marylanders fought in the Civil War, as NPR's Bill Chappell noted, but nearly three times as many fought for the Union as for the Confederacy.

Code Switch

How Charlottesville Looks From Berlin

Around the Nation

Sitting 26 Feet High Atop A Horse, Gen. Lee Becomes A Lightning Rod For Discontent

Still, in 1948, the statues went up.

"Who erects a statue of former Confederate generals on the very heels of fighting and winning a war for democracy?" writes Dailey, in a piece for HuffPost, referencing the just-ended World War II. "People who want to send a message to black veterans, the Supreme Court, and the president of the United States, that's who."

Statues and monuments are often seen as long-standing, permanent fixtures, but such memorabilia take effort, planning and politics to get placed, especially on government property. In an interview with NPR, Dailey said it's impossible to separate symbols of the Confederacy from the values of white supremacy. In comparing Robert E. Lee to Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson on Tuesday, President Trump doesn't seem to feel the same.

Dailey pointed to an 1861 speech by Alexander Stephens, who would go on to become vice president of the Confederacy.

"[Our new government's] foundations are laid, its cornerstone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man," Stevens said, in Savannah, Ga. "That slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition."

To build Confederate statues, says Dailey, in public spaces, near government buildings, and especially in front of court houses, was a "power play" meant to intimidate those looking to come to the "seat of justice or the seat of the law."

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"I think it's important to understand that one of the meanings of these monuments when they're put up, is to try to settle the meaning of the war" Dailey said. "But also the shape of the future, by saying that elite Southern whites are in control and are going to build monuments to themselves effectively."

"And those monuments will endure and whatever is going around them will not."


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