Skip to main content

tv   [untitled]    March 17, 2012 11:00pm-11:30pm EDT

11:00 pm
she really believed in this cause and she attracted many, many thousands of people to this lawn overlooking the atlantic, the chinese teahouse, which we're going to go to in a moment was built as the folly by alva just for fun. she actually hired two architects who went on a tour of china for a year and they came back with this design. so we'll see that in a minute. so alva vanderbilt built the chinese teahouse really as a folly. in 1914 she hired two architects and commissioned them to travel to china for more than a year and they came back with this design, which was later built. it was really just an expression of fun. she used to host parties centered around the chinese teahouse and certainly it was a
11:01 pm
great focal point standing on the terrace of marble house, looking out to the sea, overlooking this tremendous silhouette, the wonderful chinese red color. i think a great, great addition to the entire property of marble house. there's a new web site for american history tv where you can find our schedules and preview our upcoming programs, watch featured video from our regular weekly series, as well history tweets, history in the news and social media from facebook, youtube, twitter. >> abolitionist john willard
11:02 pm
menard was elected to congress in 1869. up next we hear more about him from phillip magness. this is about an hour from the u.s. capital historical society. >> before we begin, before i introduce the speakers, let me introduce congressman danny davis. [ applause ] >> thank you very much. and let me just say how delighted i am to be here.
11:03 pm
as a matter of fact, the last time i was at a meeting, i was so inspired by a woman who made a presentation of a book that she has written that i have been trying to get that book into school districts all around illinois and other places throughout the country. and actually had her at my home in chicago for the kwanzaa celebration that we do each year to present to our guests. so it is always a pleasure and a delight to see and be a part of looks at the development and evolution of our country. and to think of how magnificent it really is when we go back to where it was when it started. how it got started. all of the different people who have come from places throughout the world. all of the challenges that we
11:04 pm
have had. the contributions that so many different people have made, i decided for example, this year as we celebrate in my community, african-american history that we were going to highlight individuals in the neighborhood that i call unsung heros and sheroes that people have never heard of. that people will get the chance to know them differently. i'm suggesting that often times that we are surrounded by giants who are in holes and if somehow we can get the dirt from around them and uncover who they really are, rather than being grass hoppers, they become giants and there have been so many giants in the history and development
11:05 pm
of our country until it is unimaginable. and i thank the society for often times uncovering and rediscovering and helping the rest of us reconnect with some of those giants who have been forgotten. so thank you very much and it is indeed my pleasure to be here and to be a part of this discussion. thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you, congressman. and to speak about one of those unsung heros, we have three speakers. i will speak about them now and then they will come to the podium. at the conclusion time permitting we will have questions from the audience.
11:06 pm
our first speaker is phillip w. magnes magness. originally from houston, texas he obtained his degree from the university of saint thomas. dr. magnus specializes in the history of taxation and trade in the united states. he is the author of several scholarly works on 19th and 20th century tariff policy. long a civil war buff his attention turned to the in addition to writing, he's an academic program director the
11:07 pm
the institute for humane studies at georgetown university, has taught at american university and international trade at gmu. also in his biography is something i find fascinating. he's an avid scuba diver and plays underwater hockey. for the washington, d.c. and i love this name belt way bottom feeders. there is probably no end of applicants for that team. after dr. magness makes his presentation rodney ross will come to read a poem from john willis menard. rod is an old and dear friend a
11:08 pm
great proponent of history. he is very active in a number of organizations including the illinois state society which joins the capital historical society which sponsors today's event. after rod we will have our third speaker dr. matthew wasniewski. he is the historian of the united states house of representatives appointed in october of 2010. he had served as the historian and deputy chief of the office of history and preservation and he's the editor in chief of women in congress and directs many excellent programs in preservation of records and the publication of historical documents and information pertaining to the house of representatives. and on a personal note that prior to coming to the house of representatives he worked at the u.s. capital and historical society.
11:09 pm
it's a great pleasure to have him on the program. so without further adieu, dr. magness. >> thank you. i'm here to talk about john willis menard. he is somewhat of a familiar name for some. his main claim to fame was that he was the first african-american elected to the house of representatives but was denied a seat in 1869. we'll get into a bit of the reasons behind that. i'm here to talk about his life, background and history up until this point because he was actually an accomplished individual who sat at the crossroads of two major events in american history and international surprise. the american civil war right here in washington d.c. but shortly after the war he my
11:10 pm
migrated to jamaica and was a participant in a major event internationally, the morant bay rebellion of 1865. both of these events were tied to the end of slavery and greater freedom and civil rights for the african population, both in the british so, he had a front-row seat to two intersecting events at a troubled time in u.s. history. we don't know too much about his early life other than he was born in illinois. in 1838. he came from a family that was believed to have been french creole, possibly had a background in new orleans. it hasn't been firmly established but it was always the family history that he was the deseasoncendant of pierre m, the first lieutenant governor of
11:11 pm
illinois. he had a white grand father and a white grandmother. his parents were two free blacks from probably the new orleans area when he was born in 1838. he grew up on the frontier that was set aside to be a free state when it was incorporated there. there was a fairly vibrant free black community that grew up there. he had enough of a distinction to his background through the menard family connection that he was able to afford education. his parents sent him off to an abolitionist school. in the 1850s he shows up at an african-american -- he obtains a college education which was quite remarkable. you can tell from in works and speeches, he is
11:12 pm
thoroughly educated in a liberal arts background. he is a poet, he is a political philosopher, he's a thinker, an abolitionist, a man of letters, a newspaper publisher. he comes on to the state political scene, really the speaking is in 1859 where at the age of 21 hen abolitionist event in springfield, illinois. august 1st, 1859, that's emancipation day, the celebration of the freeing of the slaves in theritish empire in the west indies. we have the newspaper report of what was going on and the audience was shocked to see this young kid come up to the stage. he was 21 years old. the reporter makes a remark on
11:13 pm
the shock of seeing him. he said his voice was strong and his manner impressive. he spoke on american slavery, which he painted in the darkest hughes. his speech to our surprise was truly the best of the day. we don't know if abraham lincoln attended the event but was probably aware of what was going on. that is the first possible instance that they may have crossed paths. that is important because he comes into connection with the lincoln administration later. this speech establishing him as a rising star in the movement in the abolitionist movement in the united states. he is invited to take a role for a newspaper out of boston by the newspaper the pine and palm and it was establishes by 1860 to 1861.
11:14 pm
he appears writing opinion pieces on slavery. he publishes one m 1860 that is is an address to the free people in illinois. it's an attack on the fugitive slave law. i stances. he says in this article that the fugitive slave law has turned the whole north into one vast hunting ground for men and chased us to the shores of canada if we seek to attain freedom. he goes after the 2/5 clause. he also embraces at this point what was considered a controversial proposition especi i it aligns him with a faction,
11:15 pm
the immigration movement. he believed the united states would not hold out for equayle rights, civil rights, civil liberties and freedom for african-americans until some time in the very, very distant future and therefore he urges blacks under their own volition to seek out a better location abroad, to follow immigrant groups and this is modeled after the immigrant groups of europe that have faced oppression and some of them that came to the united states. we should shol in the foote paths of the irish, of the germans. again referring to the 3/5 clause. he becomes a leader in the snz immigrationist section that plays out some of the internal politics of that group
11:16 pm
throughout the 1860s and the early civil war. he moves to washington, d.c. around 1861 through his association with redpaths newspaper and his rising fame as a speaker within the community. what we do know at the time is that he comes to the attention of the lincoln administration. abraham lincoln was a colonizationist. this is a part of link's legacy in history that has caused quite a bit of controversy, but it is also very reflective of what existed in antislavery and northern moderate at that time in history. the movement was the belief that after emancipation that freed slaves should be settled abroad. liberia was a location where
11:17 pm
freed slaves set up their own government. lincoln investigated central america as his primary space where he was opening to obtain land. in 1862 lincoln held a meeting at the white house to pitch this proposal, this colonization proposal to them. he had obtained $600,000 in funding from congress to subsidize and support their transport and he was in the process of negotiating contracts with the government of colombia, the government of haiti which was interested in obtaining population, one of the two free black governments at the time and the other being liberia and later british honduras and the modern day country of guyana.
11:18 pm
menard saw this as an opportunity. while he did not agree with the notion of separating the races on account of civil rights, on account of civil liberties and the belief that the united states government should be a white man's government, which was the argument at the time, menard did see this as an opportunity to obtain his own end through the immigration movement and find a location abroad that would accept african-americans as equals and allow them to participate in the direction of their lives to own property, to participate in government to vote, to serve on juries, everything that was denied by the dread scott
11:19 pm
decision and the constitutional interpretations at the time. menard is hired in 1863 by the u.s. immigration office. i have pictures of three individuals here. this man in the center is james mitchell, who was abraham lincoln's commissioner of colonization. and he was the man that hired menard. mitchell was an irish-born american preacher that lincoln knew from illinois. he brought him to washington specifically for this role to administer the programs. and mitchell knew of menard through his abolitionist activities and thought of him as a potentially who could bridge the gap between the colkocolonin movement. he is hired on and makes him one of the first african-americans to obtain a white collar job in the united states government. he was given an equal salary to the white administrative workers
11:20 pm
in the interior department, which caused quite a bit of controversy. the other workers rebelled, complained to the secretary of interior and within three months had pressured them to discontinue menard's salary and urged the secretary of the interior to demote him to a messenger because they couldn't countenance standing there in the same office with an african-american who was attaining equal salary, even though he was probably better educated, more qualified for the job than most of his adversaries. menard nonetheless sticks it out with mitchell and the lincoln administration as a participant and a negotiator in these colonization seems. he also comes into contact with another abolitionist, henry highland garnet from the state of new york. mr. garnet is a very vibrant, fiery speaker who has long been an advocate of the liberia movement, the back-to-africa
11:21 pm
movement as a means to attain emancipation and freedom. started actually after the war becomes one of our first ambassadors to liberia and dies over there. but that was his life long mig. garnett was an ally of menard throughout the 1860s. another event happens in 1863 and that's the british governor arrives and entering into the negotiation to establish belize as a future colonization site. i have a picture. this came from belize itself. i fond it in the belize national archives a couple weeks ago. this is a copy of the agreement signed between lincoln and the manager of the british company that was to administer the agreement signed on june 13, 1863 at the white house. menard is aware of this agreement through mitchell, who was the other negotiator and the other signator.
11:22 pm
anderson is important because he has a long standing role in the british anti-slavery movement going back to the 18 o 30s. he had been a crusader from scotland and he travels to meet with lincoln at the white house and negotiate the terms of this agreement. anderson was based on the island of jamaica, which comes in and plays an important role in menard's later career. this is the first time they meet. anderson was a very wealthy and religious philanthropist type and he devoted most of his energy and cause to bettering the condition of the blacks on the island and fighting for abolition internationally. he aligned with menard, they had
11:23 pm
a very natural agreement on ideas. but after this contract of sorts was signed, the u.s. immigration office decided they needed to investigate the site in belize and check it out, see what they were getting into. what kind of housing existed, facilities existed to settle the emancipated slaves on. they tapped menard to actually go down there and visit the site. this is the letter that menard presented to the governor of the colony of british honduras when he arrived on august 3rd, 1863. he was the leader of a four-man party. we only know the name of one of the other members, a black abolitionist named charles babcock based out of boston. they traveled to belize, they were presented to the government, they toured the colonial assembly, met with several members of the government who were quite pleased because the colonial assembly had black members at
11:24 pm
the time, which was very rare for the world. this is one of the appeals of belize as a colony. they were later taken up the coast and inland to the site of the british honduras company's land. this is actually a picture of a -- the ruins of a sugar mill in belize that was on the land of the british honduras company. they had a sugar form they were going to partition and give to the settlers. menard toured and vitsed the site. we have a report or letter at least that he arrived at this particular location, saw sugar production under way, all the construction of buildings under way and he comes back and reports to the u.s. government everything he's seen on this site and dates to around 1860 and was in operation until 1874 down here in belize. but upon his return he also notices some problems with the colony. he notices it's very much the frontier of the british empire. the ability of the colonial
11:25 pm
company that was down there to sustain a very large inflexion of population had not been established yet. many of the buildings that they had promised were still under construction. they didn't have the facility to take in large numbers of people. he reports on this almost immediately when he returns to the united states, goes straight to henry highland garnet's church and gives a speech about the findings of the condition of belize. he observes at the that a few men of the right stock could be suitable to settling on this frontier and remarks favorably upon the country but at the same time is skeptical that right now is the time to initiate immigration. he also reports on this to president lincoln and drafts what we believe is a fairly substantial and lengthy essay on the subject. that has been lost but here is the letter he attached to this
11:26 pm
when he delivered it to president lincoln in september 1863. now, the british colony shortly afterwards ran into trouble. there were problems between the british and united states government. britain wanted to sustain its neutrality in the raging civil war and became somewhat skittish about continuing this agreement for the belief that the confederacy, which was still very active fighting the war, would interpret this as british power coming in and endorsing the emancipation proclamation. menard comes back to new york and he learns that the new york draft riots of 1863 had occurred when several three african-americans in the city were lynched. they were attacked on the streets, including henry highland garnett who had to take cover in his home and remicrosoft sign from his door
11:27 pm
to prevent the mob from coming in and attacking him and his family. this definitely unsettles several members of the free black community and they perceived british honduras as a possibility to escape to. but at the same time, menard is encountering political opposition emerging within the republican party to the col colonization movement. and the funds are rescinded due to opposition out of the united states senate. menard himself at the time turned next to another location. a jamaican philanthropist stopped at the island of jamaica and he fell in love. he met his wife, elizabeth, there. this is on the steam route back
11:28 pm
to new york city and with the patronage, we believe, the anderson, he relocates to the island of jamaica we think sometime in early 1865. we don't know the exact date that this occurs but anderson is most likely the sponsor of his trip, his journey there, because he settles in a parish right next to and ace -- adjacent to a plantation. there are two other figures that enters menard life internationally now. he had been introduced to linkoned and now he is brought over into the highest levels of the jamaican government. george william gordon was a member of the jamaican parliament and a leader of the
11:29 pm
liberal faction within colonial politics. he was an advocate of increased voting rights, increased property rights, the ability to purchase land, the ability to vote and participate and sit on juries that were major colonial issues in the british empire at the time. this other fellow is the governor of jamaica, ed war eyre, associated with the complete opposite faction of mr. gordon. they served in the jamaican assembly together. they good friends and formed a life insurance company together. menard instantly becomes active in jamaican politics as a newspaper publisher, as an advocate on the right of the free black population in jamaica and above all of that, he starts a literary and debate society with the explicit purpose of increasing participation in


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on