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tv   Underground Railroad Conductors  CSPAN  September 30, 2017 12:20pm-1:51pm EDT

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more or less comfort. >> watch the entire tour on american artifacts, sunday at 6:00. this is american history tv only on c-span3. historians talk about the underground railroad conductors. this is part of a conference in cambridge, maryland cohosted by the national parks service. this is about 90 minutes. >> we are going to go ahead and get started here. is title of this panel creators of the underground railroad. we're looking forward to some good papers from my colleagues.
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i am an assistant professor of history at the university of maryland. i'm going to be chairing the panel. i'm going to offer some brief comments, some thoughts and questions i had to start generating conversation. our threeto introduce presenters. if we are going to go in the order they appear on the program. they will speak for roughly 20 minutes. our first presenter is going to be graham hodges. he has written on african-americans and labor in new york city. he has written a political biography on underground railroad activities. he is working on a book and we
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will hear his ideas about the the secondrea printer is going to be a's associate professor of history at northwestern university. u.s. after the war and emancipation. our third presenter is going to be philip prop. -- troutman. he is working on a project that essentially explores of the literature and the images of radical anti-slavery during the antebellum period. we will hear about his approach that combination of literature and images today. we will go through these presenters and then we will move towards opening things up. all right. >> thank you and good morning to everyone here. it is lovely to be in this historic church.
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my father was a parish minister for 50 years and i learned how to speak in places like this. i feel very much at home. i feel so very inspired by what i have seen with the taliban center -- tubman center. i teach at colgate university, right in the middle of northstar country. tubman lived in auburn and they will be rebuilding and re-creating a center there. i hope they look to what you have done here for inspiration. it is really beautiful and moving for me. i did find one small thing wrong when going to the center yesterday, and perhaps something that is easily rectified. i hope the point in that direction this morning. there was a column that lists the places where tubman worked and helped people. it mentioned maryland and delaware in new york, pennsylvania. but not new jersey.
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new jersey was absent. despite the wonderful work by child's right, who outlined the underground railroad in new jersey. despite the fact that new jersey has a very significant black population that goes back to the origins of our nation. think about this between city island, new york and the philadelphia airport, including new jersey, with well over 50% of america's black population. -- 15% of america's black population. we know in 1849 harriet tubman makes her famous burst to freedom. she goes to william still. after that she begins to go back to maryland, rescue her family, bring them out of slavery. she does this for several years. we know as well according to an
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interview she made with franklin sanborn, one of the john brown eight of famous journalists, he talks about working as a domestic and the cape may hotels in the summer of 1852, and then leaving from cape may in the fall to go back to maryland to bring out nine people listed as unnamed over at the center. she brought them out. it was a failed attempt to bring up her family has kate larson talks about in her wonderful book. we know these kind of things, but there is a lot we don't know. well we she doing besides cooking in the summer of 1852? who did he associate with? if you build an underground railroad operation there and use it over the years? we don't really know that. cape may is a place right across from delaware. it is about 70 miles a very rough water. -- 17 miles of very rough water. it was used only during the most
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dangerous and difficult of moments. otherwise she would have gone further westwards. cape may is a special place, as is the surrounding region. whatever like to do is suggest to you some of the ways in which we can think about that region. the cape may slavery case goes back to 1688. they were plantations. most notably it was a seafaring area. most of the slaves worked for whalers or for fishermen. they were skilled at water men. is a predominant aspect of the underground railroad from north carolina and maryland and elsewhere. the watermen were skilled people and there were a lot of them there. new jersey begins emancipation and 18 o for. it does not end until the passage of the 13th amendment. there were enslaved people in the cape may area right until the time of the civil war.
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it is a kind of a culture hearth that it shares with nowhere -- delaware and maryland. there are a number of freed blacks. some of them prosperous. most impoverished, living on slivers of land they have been able to purchase to create a hardscrabble life. to build the church is that populate the accounts down there. the kind of thing cheryl talks about further west. the emergence of these black towns as spots of freedom. it is impossible to think that was not the case in new jersey. there is a very interesting book. i look at jennifer laroche's study about annamarie trustee, and immature genealogist, a woman of faith who identifies many of the families living around the cape may area, cumberland county, foster county -- glouster county.
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all she argues as part of this underground operation. it is not always reliable, but there are nuggets of genuine insight into that book. i rely on it a lot. by the late 1840's they were black communities, coldspring, goshen, springtown. these are north of cape may. they attract self emancipated people from the seventh eighth, known depots on the underground railroad's, and were slave catchers would go to try to receive the survivors of -- retrieve the survivors of slavery. they were black women that were very important. the first lacking the minister. she is from cape may, foreign in 1783. she becomes an itinerant on her own, going all around the same culture hearth.
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he is the first licensed minister in the ame church, she was alive when tubman was there. a powerful fascination. i will go back to the order of people in a moment but i want to speak about the black middle classes who come out from philadelphia along with the many members of the society of friends to enjoy the ocean breezes. cape may becomes a resort town by the 1830's and 1840's. there is a steamship that goes out everyday. railroads come in later on. this place is where the african-american elite can go and enjoy good weather. there was a man named george woolford who establishes a hotel for blacks in cape may, an area where harriet tubman may have found employment.
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there was another fascinating guy we should think more about named stephen smith. anybody know this name? stephen smith is one of the wealthiest black men in the united states. he was somebody who worked out of philadelphia with the eminent william weber. they were involved in lumber. they were involved in lumber. they would hide people in false bottoms in the car trains of their railroad. they were so notorious that at one point, smith, who was worth about $500,000 at the time, board member of a number of banks, was warned by local whites that your presence is not agreeable. the less you appear in the assembly of the white, the better it is for your black hyde as many think your absence of the benefit. -- would be a benefit. you are considered an injury to the real property of columbia. you better take the hand. -- you better take the hint.
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when they ransacked his office, smith left her philadelphia where he operated an underground railroad depot unless he spent the summers in cape may. this is not the kind of man who would just stand there and let other people struggle. he would join with them. we know about the underground railroad in western new jersey. there was also one in the east. one source for that is thomas clement oliver who was interviewed in 1895. he talks about how we keep our passengers in greenwich with five or six wagons. arm and be ready to beat anybody. i have the keys to 15 to 20 stables so they can travel quickly. just outside cape may there was a man named john coleman. "i go to the cousin of henry highland garnet." a name very famous and
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in african-american history. these are all men and women, very prominent on the underground railroad. i want to go back for a moment to those hotels. because of course smith and others were very important. but, for most blacks, the resort world network. black's became the dominant workforce in the township. i think there is a lot of sense to this. not only did they go west towards philadelphia, but they would go along the atlantic coast. this was a world in which i think tubman felt at home. yes, she dealt with still and smith and garnet and later she would deal with other very prominent white people, but it's
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the ordinary working black people in the resort hotels that she liked. these are the domestic people she would work with. it is also a place where those hotels were racial battlegrounds. southerners would come up during the summer to escape the oppressive heat of the south. they would encounter sometimes self emancipated people. they would encounter free blacks. they were fistfights that were known to break out in the 1840's and 1850's between aggrieved whites who could understand the insolence of the waitstaff, and the waiters not willing to accept any demands for inferiority. perhaps at that point they did not note a slight tough woman
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intent upon rescuing her family. harriet tubman was there. such locales the underground railroad to thrive. let me talk about the area itself. trustee identifies people like julie sharp and ezekiel cooper, edward turner, these are all underground railroad operators who are mentioned in trustee's book to live outside cape may. they live in cumberland county, cape may county. they are all ministers of the ame episcopal church. they were known to receive slavery survivors that tubman and other spring to freedom. the church mount zion festival church founded in small glouster was a rest station for weary survivors. the church would feed and house them, send them on with fresh clothing. slate guesses were near and
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survivors written at a trapdoor in the secondary. trustee uses precise information that thomas clement oliver provides to support her argument about the underground railroad. i see no reason to doubt them. i think this is something significant in the kind of thing tubman would have been involved with. there are other instances of underground railroad operations there. still talks about a family that comes through in the 1860's. samuel ward who becomes a prominent minister recalls his parents flee from maryland and in 1820. live in springtown, burgettstown, black townships. they found numerous colored people. the quakers were truly practically friendly and they were loving in word and tongue, in deed and in truth. this part of the state does get rid of slavery fairly fast.
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they would help out. there are these resort town, small black towns,, the church's fraternal organizations, farmers and small slivers of land in which they would hide people. their other prosperous black they can provide money. smith is a fascinating guy. he is a significant abolitionist involved in all the conventions. john brown looks to him for help in 1859. he is the chief recruiter for black people, black men to go fight in the civil war in 1863. this is not a man who would stand idly aside. what i'm trying to show along with the better-known routes to the west, there is a significant amount of activity going through cape may up along the coast, going to black towns. these are the places that do the heavy lifting of the underground
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railroad. rescuing, transporting across the delaware bay, sheltering, feeding, restoring the lives of the self emancipated as they pass through the state to free soil. or, at times, stayed right there in new jersey. those black towns still exist. the descendents of the people that trustee talked about her still living there. they carry on the message. the user environments in which that these are environments in which harriet tubman with arrive. also the world that william still had contact with. david davis pointed out these of are the people, prosperous, some prosperous black mostly working-class blacks who run the underground railroad. who do the jobs connected to transportation who operate the churches in which people could gain succor. it is really harriet tubman not
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once but probably over and over again. does anybody know about the wild wellman scale? five points. the subject is developed. i think this area is right around a five, close to the top of what you can imagine. what is important about all of this? anything new on harriet tubman is important and i think we can all agree on that. i like to associate her more with the working classes, ordinary people of southern jersey. it would help to make the underground railroad more visible. there has been a big divide between popular history and academic historians but myself about the underground railroad -- like myself about what the underground railroad means. that is changing rapidly. the last 10 years and seen an upsurge of studies, was identified very clearly building on older work, where the
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underground railroad was. to make invisible. -- to make it more visible. to make it a real part of american history. that is why we are here today it is a symbol of the selfless freedom making their regular people. it is something which is really epitomized by harriet tubman herself. thank you. [applause] >> good morning. are we going to have -- i'm not sure if the projector is working , so i'm curious if it is or not. it is not? the video is out. we will survive. i was going to show you one slide of a map. i will just try to describe what would have been there. it's not too collocated.
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-- complicated. i teach at northwestern university. i was really delighted to hear on the last panel joe polaski said, what most struck you about learning the underground -- learning about the underground railroad for the show? he said this was the spy network for the civil war. i was like, that is what i'm talking about. i hope this will connect. this is the very beginning of the civil war and some of the things that were going on in the maryland-virginia borderland. if i had my slide, i would show you a map of the potomac river. i'm talking about the southern potomac river that stretches from washington, d.c. down through the border between virginia and maryland. in maryland, it is prince george's county, charles, and st. mary's county.
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that's the location i'm talking about today. i will target with the river and -- talk about the river and what was going on on both sides of the river, but primarily on the maryland side. most of the papers will be talking about the kind of north-south or slave state-free stay borderlands so integral to the career of harriet tubman and many aspects of maryland's history. i will talk about a different kind of border. the border created in april, 1861 in the state of virginia declared itself separate from the united states and enjoy the the experiment known as the confederate states of america. in today's paper i'm going to talk about how african-americans on both sides of that brand medical border soft freedom and in some cases held the union war effort. when i was at the harriet tubman site, blackwater area last night for the first time, i was struck how the scenes in her life on
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display connect with what i'm going to talk about. i think those are mainly three things. one is continuity and african-american struggle for freedom. two, the importance in the struggle of family and community. three, the value and sophistication of enslaved people's knowledge of the landscape and its people. i will touch on these things and i want to emphasize that beyond the familiar roles that fugitives from slavery played as laborers for the u.s. forces,, we know that familiar image of contraband labor working in manual jobs and doing work for the united states' forces, they also offered information which was often called intelligence it was extremely important to the war effort. this is also a story about geography. my focus is on the western shore
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of the chesapeake, the counties you would see there. prince georges, charles and st. mary's. let me set the historical context for what i'm going to talk about. after the battle of bull run on july 21, 1861, confederates increasingly took up positions on the virginia side of the potomac river. the united states forces were caught somewhat unawares. navy ships were patrolling up and down the potomac river. three months after bull run some 10,000 united states soldiers commanded by general joseph hooker spread out across southern maryland trying to secure the new international border. if you go to the state park now, you can look across the river and see mount vernon. you can imagine what it would have been like to live in a moment when the potomac river was suddenly an international border separating two ostensibly different nations at war with
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each other. that watery border between maryland and virginia had been remarkably porous to that point, with a shared history of tobacco plantations. both sides of the river were part of an agricultural region. families often have members living of both sides of the river. on the maryland side, white residents of those counties were among the most pro-confederate of maryland. it was a heavenly plantation intensive area of maryland compared to other parts of maryland. those white residents were overwhelmingly favorable towards secession and the confederate effort. until the civil war, there was very little that kept those two sides of the river apart. when virginia seceded in
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and maryland did not, the river took undue importance. confederate sympathizers in maryland developed a robust system of signaling and trading across the river. white marylanders served as conduit of goods of a be shipped from baltimore and annapolis, through the bay, up the river, and those folks on the maryland side would put them in smaller boats and a night shift them -- at night, shift them over to confederate virginia. they also sent soldiers that way. none of this was acceptable to officials in washington, d.c. who wanted to stop all the illicit traffic across the potomac and ensure the confederate batteries on the virginia side did not stop commerce on the river. they were shooting down a t commercial ships on the river. this is a key route for the union, from these major maryland cities, baltimore, kannapolis, e, annapolis, to washington, d.c.
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they could plan an invasion of enemy territory. they wanted both sides to secure that place and be able to, if they wanted to invade, a mass armies and go over. despite the tensions during the summer and fall, general george mcclellan in charge of the army in washington does little to secure southern maryland until late october for the confederate threat became intolerable. import tobacco, the newspaper was over the supporting states rights candidates for the election. they were urging publicly a confederate invasion of southern maryland. a detachment of confederate skim came over to maryland year for , apparently on an exploratory venture. as mcclellan sent small detachments of soldiers to investigate the terrain, the telegraph wire, they make the potomac river increasingly impassible. at the end of october, mcclellan hookerker and --
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and his division of some 10,000 men south in the maryland. poker establishes headquarters here but scary across the river from quantico and virginia. he discovered for himself what his predecessors had already learned. the local white population was always entirely hostile. he reported local citizens would not help with his investigation of where people were worshiping -- who were shipping stuff over to the confederates over the confederate outposts were on the virginia side. he called the town a nest of secessionists. his own troops sometimes suffer from a lack of discipline, but they were disposed to magnify trifles in the mountains. now, the army and navy present in something very different to enslaved people in the region. this was an opportunity to claim freedom. here, i want to connect this
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history with the larger topic of this conference, slave escapes and ties and the underground railroad. the history of slavery is the history of fairly unbroken line of resistance. most often manifested not in enslaved people's violent uprising against owners, but in efforts to get away, to get free anywhere they could. as tubman's history shows, in peacetime, people sometimes manage to make their way to freedom, helped along by other black people and sometimes by sympathetic whites. in wartime, the equation changes completely as new forces that can challenge the power of slaveowners tended to destabilize slavery and create new opportunities. in fact, almost 50 years before the start of the civil war the chesapeake region and the potomac river had seen a similar situation in which warships representing the british and the americans had vied for control of the river. alan taylor has shown during the
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war of 1812 in slate people -- enslaved people living on both sides of the potomac and had regularly escaped british forces. for some enslaved people in the area at the beginning of the civil war this would have been within living memory. in 1861, a similar dynamic is enforced. the summit was a carefully guarded international border. from the soldier's perspective, different rules apply on each side of the border. in the summer of 1861 congress passed the confiscation act that allows u.s. forces to hold onto enslaved people who ran away and came to the union lines and claimed their owners have in -- had been forcing them to labor for the confederacy. this is where the term contraband war comes from. union officers did not believe that confiscation act was
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applicable in slave states that remain in the union. such as maryland. although many white marylanders sympathize for the confederacy and were helping the rebels, the state itself is not an insurrection against united states government. white marylanders were entitled to the usual rights, including the rights to claim human property. enslaved marylanders faced more precarious situations that virginians did. if the maryland owners came to get them, the u.s. army was inclined to permit it. from the earliest days of the occupation of southern maryland, the u.s. forces understood black people in their midst had viable information and that perception only increased as months went on. as officers took full measure of the hostility of the white population, it was slaves coming into union camps who subscribed
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the pro-confederate networks in the region who told him who is signaling across the river, hiding in small boats and whose barns were used to store supplies for the confederates. a reporter who was famously embedded with general daniel sigel's troops in southern maryland observed the army seemed unwilling to protect even those maryland slaves who had supplied them with information. he reported even after giving valuable information to the u.s. forces, some of them had been recouped by their masters. in some known cases, those who gave info to the u.s. were brutally with. -- later brutally whipped. in one case, he was whipped so severely that he died for telling what he knew. nevertheless, general hooker maintained a rigid stance on the
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rights of maryland slaveowners. his policy was neither he nor his officers would go in pursuit of enslaved people at an owner possibly hast. they wouldn't go after them, but if claimants could point out runaway slaves in army camps, hooker would instruct his guards to remove them, placing them at the mercy of their owner. he said the loyalty of individual maryland slaveowners made no difference, he would enforce the customary property rights of marylanders so long as maryland declares itself on the side of the union. he thought he was going along with the confiscation act of 1861 permitted. many of the u.s. soldiers and officers resisted. they were disturbed by his willingness to let slaveowners retrieve people from camps. this was the case in the new york regiment.
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the soldiers had no desire to cooperate with white marylanders who they thought were colluding with the enemy. the brigade commander later testified to congress that the soldiers supposedly to honor the requests was an extremely disagreeable one and it is very odious to that regiment and the practice it persisted and would lead to serious and unpleasant events in the regiment. i think what was happening was the officers were trying to pass down instructions they had to cooperate and the soldiers were saying we don't want to. there is fighting and disagreement within the regiment. switching over to people -- slave people coming in from virginia. their status was a bit simpler. the confiscation act all military officials to put those folks to work if they said their owners and try to use them in the confederate war effort. black virginians began bringing
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in less information to the u.s. forces as soon as the conflict began, but a large group of enslaved virginians came over to maryland after the u.s. forces made a foray across the river. by some accounts, about 90 people cross the river as -- with the soldiers as they returned to maryland. some came on gunboats, but several came on a boat the enslaved people themselves had captured from the confederates on the virginia side and sailed over to maryland. as was the case with harriet tubman and so many others who escaped bondage, getting away by yourself was rarely enough. it was often men who made the first escape unencumbered by the rest of their family members. there is a lot of evidence even from this particular situation i'm talking about in southern maryland that they were eager to ensure the freedom of their 10. -- of their kin. consider the case of james locke who became a renowned spy.
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, he came aboard a u.s. ship in september 1860 one and impress naval officers with the specificity of the information he provided about confederate positions. a naval commander interviewed him about the information and sent him to washington, reporting he was a servant" and and quite an intelligent man who would help them considerably. at some point he returned to southern maryland and in january he made it known he wanted to rescue his wife and four children from slavery in virginia. naval officials were incredulous that he was the debt he would be to be able to go back and get people and bring them out into maryland, but they dropped them off on the virginia side of the river and about 24 hours later he came back with his wife and four children. they crossed back into maryland. this caught the attention of officers, including hooker who was not inclined to think highly of the intelligence at first at highly of the intelligence at
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offered by escaping slaves. he was ready and willing to visit the district any night. he had made it clear he would go back there any time. in fact, scabies from virginia -- escape thees from virginia brought something that became increasingly valuable to u.s. forces, information about the terrain and knowledge of personnel in enemy territory. white commanders sometimes mark remarked a particular person was especially intelligent, perhaps indicating their preconceptions about race and ability. they would say this person is especially intelligent. they also use the term intelligence to talk about information and military intelligence. there is an interesting connection between the words. even if their views about race and inequality were being challenged, regardless of whether they were being challenged by the intelligence and information and the remarkable savvy those folks had, they were relying on them no matter what. they were desperate and they were interested in taking on as much information as they could and trying to discern who had
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the most information who was likely to be the most reliable. as an example, the new york times reporter embedded in southern maryland noted a slave from virginia tells the story with a clearness in perpetuity hardly to be expected from someone in his condition. they were having these white northerners having to their expectations challenged by the people they were encountering. the army spent a anxious and cold winter in southern maryland hoping they would soon be permitted to moving to virginia. -- move into virginia. among the refugees, some included james lawson, they were known as daring and effective spies. even hooker was thinking they were increasingly reliable. things started to shift in march of 1862 when the confederate and
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the virginia side evacuated. they burned all of the remaining fortifications and left. this caused the people on the maryland side to say what is going on. finally they're going to start moving. at this point, general hooker instructed sickles specifically to send the negro spies to learn the number of troops some 30 miles away in fredericksburg. offer any price for this information, he instructed. he added the men who went for their wives seem to be the most likely to learn through their friends. you can see these union officers were learning by and how the escaping people could serve them and they valued the kind of experience and information they had. sickle engaged james lawson who travel through enemy territory. they returned two days later as anticipated brought the detailed report on a number of confederate troops concentrating below the towns, the locations of their trend men's.
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and the standards of civilian population. sickle said were to hooker that james lawson to be liberally rewarded. this is the fourth or fifth successful scouting he has done, he should have $100. lawson's bravery and effectiveness became renowned among officers and garnered press attention. the new york times profiled him and sat down to interview him. he made it on the pages of the new york times where the reporter said he was a hero who d more honor than that . called to testify on the conduct, sickles readily confirmed soldiers in southern maryland had relied on information provided by escaping slaves. he said unequivocally the most
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valuable and reliable information of the enemy's movements in our vicinity that we have been able to get is derived from negros coming to our lines. many of them were persons of remarkable intelligence. similar servitude if rendered by white men would according to the usages be very liberally rewarded. he was making an argument that the work that those men had done was of utmost value to the union war effort and that they should receive just as much compensation and honor as a white man doing the same thing. let me wrap up because my time is up by saying to emphasize the contributions of escaped slaves, to military intelligence during the civil war is not to argue that their goals were entirely aligned with the u.s. war effort. as a black reporter on the maryland be reported, enslaved people in the area by no means believed the u.s. soldiers were on the side of freedom, particularly when they saw how
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solicited the soldiers were of the maryland slaveowners. during the war though, the in trust of many people who were escaping and searching for freedom coincided with the interest of the union war effort. amid the destabilizing influence of union occupation, james lawson and others decided to use their knowledge or intelligence about the region and its inhabitants to support the u.s. war effort. the work of scouting and spine required bravery, conning, -- and spying required bravery, conning, accuracy and strong comedic asian. , accuracy and strong communication. beyond anecdotes, we still know little about the story. we should remember james lawson and other african-american scouts and spies who took risks to reunite their families and friends and also to advance the cause of freedom. thank you.
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[applause] >> thank you. i'm going to go to the other end of the underground railroad, in the north, where once you got away, you had to stay away. eliza wright jr. was in new york city six month before confronting it in the incarceration system. as a white man from ohio, he arrived in the fall of 1833 to found the american anti-slavery society. by march 1834 he had come personally involved in the case of henry scott, a seven-year-old boy dragged from his classroom and jailed as a fugitive slave. he intervened, helping to organize community meetings and raise funds for his bail and
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secure legal aid. when henry was released, he and his wife took him in into their home and ultimately brought him upstate. as his biographer has shown, caring for henry scott galvanized right and further developing his interaction with the african-american community in new york. and the activists there. he was an early proponent of interpreting the constitution as anti-slavery and protecting the rights of all residents through due process. he increasingly takes on a civil rather than religious form of argumentation. he also notes that scott -- henry scott spurred him to publish a series of articles called chronicles of kidnapping in new york, detailing similar cases in highlighting the cruelty of the system from the harshness of the jail itself and its jailers to the injustices of the legal system which deferred almost wholly to the claims of the accusers and was right with -- rife with official corruption.
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what i want to explore from here are the ways that his article tried to provide some platform however narrow from which the accused themselves might witness. all the actions here are being driven by these people we have been talking about. the people who are escaping and help each other escape and getting to the north. the african americans themselves. what i want to look at here is how he was trying to get those stories out to the broader public. his own interviews, these are based on his own interviews and his advocacy for the accused and they play two roles. first of all, they serve as documentary evidence. eyewitness testimony to the workings of new york's justice system revealing case is not es not seen normally by the public and specific detail that was impossible to come by. he names the accused, the claimants, the sheriffs and judges and many details of the ir cases. the articles provided a semblance of a public voice for
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the accused. probably obviously control the narrative, he tried to convey some sense of experience, emotions and ideas of the accused themselves. many of these people were not actually fugitives, they were free people in new york. what i want to do is give you a sense of the detail of that voice, if we can call it that , and explore the degree to which the perspectives of the accused are represented in the articles and images. i did not have enough for everyone, there are some flyers going around. in his first article, he detailed the taking of henry scott. identifying the sheriff is originally from new england, falling short of naming the man but implying he's a well-known collaborator with bounty
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hunters. he gave specifics of the location, mrs. miller's classroom at the public school in duane street. and describing the scenario. most of this was quotation. as the sheriff tore him from the arms of mrs. miller, the screeches of his schoolmates filled the room with dismay. some ran for their parents and some follow the kidnapper crying "kidnapper, let him alone." in the next issue, he offered the first in the series of chronicles of kidnapping in new york walking his readers through the legal steps in henry scott's case as well as conveying his trauma. when henry was taken from the classroom, that he to witness the transaction. henry was brought solving and terrified in front of the honorable richard riker and claim richard hack fall of richmond, virginia as a property of his mother. he did not have the required proof that he was the alleged
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owner's authorized agent, so riker deferred the case and released henry to the promise of a couple of friends for his appearance at 11:00 tomorrow. wright and his wife susan appeared in court with him the next day and a number of legal gentlemen of the first respectability who had volunteered to plea on his behalf. here, wright provided dialogue. riker indicated dismissively that henry would not suffer in virginia but would play about the yard. hacksaw's brother and several witnesses swore to take the boy and noted to me in particular they paid many valuable complements. riker ruled that hacksaw's verbal evidence alone suffice to authorize him his agent. but henry's lawyers pressed for the will granting him the claim
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in the first place. riker place henry scott in prison again until hacksaw could produce the will. here, wright gave further detail that henry had been brought to the city by his father. according to the confession of all parties and with the full consent of his mother. the father goes to see -- the father goes to sea from the port and maintains the child from school. the legal status is not stated. the community managed to raise henry's bail money and he went on to stay with elizer and susan who later secreted him upstate who was reunited with his father. wright promises readers updates, but this was the last update in the emancipator. in august 1835 there was a brief
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story on henry in a little track on the anti-slavery society. it added some detail that when henry was at wright's house that he was so afraid he could hardly fall asleep. he would speak out in his dreams , "i won't go." he was free now and at school in the country somewhere. wright's stated goals were on the documentation of public cases to affect change. to put the wrongs and woes before the public who would share his outrage at the use of a law and to put their cases forward in specific detail with names and dates, what may. let the facts sink or swim. he did warn this containing these bit of idiosyncratic perspective and emotional experience of the same time. documenting the ways these arrests reverberated among
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family members. in another case, peter martin had been in new york about four years. he had a wife and child, he worked most recently for the a merchant on 57 water street , where he had a good reputation. the salesman commence them as a faithful and trustworthy man and his having no fault of being too modest or unassuming. he was trusted to open the shop, which is what he was doing when kidnappers came upon him and wright narrated, one of them told them he must go with them. he replied he was engaged and could not. upon this, he was violently seized and received a blow to the face. the horrible fact came upon him that he was taken as a slave. he had a knife in his hand which he was accustomed to use about the store. in mending cotton bags, etc. with this, he defended himself to the considerable injury of the deputy sheriff. a sufficient posse was in attendance and a number of butchers were brought to the
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assistance by the cry of thief, thief, he is stolen $1000. -- the cry of "thief, thief, he has stolen $1000." the whole rabble rushed to him, bruise him underfoot. martin was a member of the sabbath school attached to the chapel street. he is treated this way. with this level of detail which the reader infers was gleaned from the personal interviews, wright sought to get the full story. this was not only the truth, but also spoke to the kind of masculinity he elsewhere endorsed. black men were men and should behave as men. he carried the series into the anti-slavery record, which he edited and elaborated further on the role of martin's wife, who uncharacteristically perhaps
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wright did not name. he imply this expense that the anti-slavery society that of a defended her for free, but he said the promptness of action illustrated the strength of her affection. through months of waiting for trial, she never gave up on him or his case. she appeared regularly at the door with such conference as she could procure. she raised his bail and briefly got him released. his trial went to the state supreme court, who denied his right to a trial by jury and the claimant agents to richmond to sell him. she did not give up. she raised $600 again in the new york community to have him purchased secretly by an agent of his employers. and brought back to new york to work for them. and it worked. wright cautioned that this was not an endorsement of his as
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of purchase for emancipation . he emphasizes these cases were not isolated. it is part of the wider corruption and abuse written into the law. in may of 1834, peter martin was one of only 11 seasons confined in the city prison as slaves in -- persons confined in the city prison as slaves in that moment. often in cells only three and half by seven feet. all he said had fired their writ demanding a jury determine the facts of fugitive status and the court's right to hold them in the first place. he went on to explain this form of writ in these cases had been declared unconstitutional and laid solely in the magistrate. federal law required fugitives
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to be returned, but provided no means of determining whether the accused was a fugitive in the first place and even subject to arrest. northern states generally refused to rule on a slave status and generally would call to the white claimant's assertion, leaving the accused little chance to review those. the list wright began listed people -- henry scott, william miller, james carter, william carter, william scott, peter martin, francis smith. he gave names and stories to what were otherwise often more generic accounts. these personal encounters seem to have shaped wright and his family on a personal level. they employed police two at least two african-americans in their home, one would been a kidnapping victim.
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the other, mary gordon, whose son was later murdered in cuba. they helped other fugitives find housing or get out of the city it need be. and elizier taught latin to a boy working in the anti-slavery offices. the voices of the fugitives into infused into his own writing which was caustic, sarcastic and direct. i will talk about that more later. he'd already gained a reputation for going no holds barred against the colonization is early in his career, he was known as a cantankerous speaker and did not care what others thought of him. his perspective and anti-slavery represented some of the african-american perspective. this is most clear in some images in our handout. these images he edited, he commissioned these for the antislavery record, they
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frequently departed from the static images of victimhood. his image of peter martin and his wife draws on the imagery of the kneeling slave, but in this case, both of these characters in the image are very actively pleading with the white man to help, either this is a magistrate or someone they are trying to get to support them financially in some way. just to note that the story -- the image was about peter martin , although the story that it it is aboutfollows stephen downing, another person that wright interviewed. other images make bolder moves. in a chaotic scene of resistance as described in the coming story , the viewer sees the free woman of color wielding a stick against a maryland planter, whom she had nursed as an infant.
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tillman was trying to seize harriet's adult son and daughter, james and margaret and james's wife, betty. tillman legally owned james and james and harriet's daughter , margaret, had each individually escaped. they made their way to philadelphia, where harriet lived. they then move out -- i've lost the note. it is about 20 miles outside of philadelphia. they moved to a smaller town. harriet moves out of philadelphia with them as well l. she and her husband, who was also apparently free. in this scene, james is trying to escape out the door while tillman grabs margaret on the left. others scuffle elsewhere in the scene. most shockingly, we can see
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harriet's left hand reach up to pull down the top of her blouse. it recounts a gesture recounting the more famous one of the sojourner truth later. harriet uncovers herbalism and scolds tillman, i suckled you at this breast and now you drag my children away for me to drag into slavery. this undomesticated action was unseen anywhere else in the anti-slavery rags. may represent wright's attempt to capture something of the gestures and actions in physical remonstrating harriet had wielded upon tillman as she recounted the story later. june 1836 featured another melee described in text as recounting the black man in the center is an african-american barber in
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buffalo helping the family at the right escape to canada. he is threatening the white pair of boatman, telling them to ignore the commands from the georgia planter on horseback at left on the new york shore. the ferryman cuts the rope, allowing the family to escape to the canadian shore. the image and text juxtaposition is worth noting. we have an image of muscular resistance titled the runaway. even though this image of the runaway some have argued is sort of passive that abolitionists circulated, in fact they are using the runaway as a symbol of resistance it so. -- resistance itself. as a result of the local encounters documented in the chronicle, wright and others worked to change the law. hopefully, chris can talk about this in his comments.
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in 1840, they succeeded in getting jury trials required in cases of alleged fugitives in new york. as graham hodges has suggested, the authorities documented in these stories documented in the chronicles or in part helped inspire david to found the vigilance committee in new york and to continue this work on a more systematic basis. that is a fascinating read. these fugitives in their actions and words spurred on northern organization, not only against slavery, but for civil rights in the north as well. this was where a prominent in -- very prominent in the rhetoric. they are not just talking about slavery, they are talking about equal rights throughout this literature. as the fugitives crossing expose d all the linkages binding the north to slavery as well as the south.
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this view that the needs, interests and experience of the fugitives continually catalyzed and fueled the movement is one that wright seems to a glimpse. -- to have glimpsed. he was among the first white men to argue for the arming of black troops. he took the haitian revolution as his example, another radical move for a white abolitionists to make. after the war, he shared a of the views of his contemporary black activist to establish what has become finally our own understanding of emancipation and how it unfolded. slavery was abolished not in washington, but at fort hudson and fort wagner and many other deadly beaches. slaves won their own liberty by saving the nation's life. after it most reluctantly consented to so being saved. now, for white government politicians to come along with parchments of manumission and arrogate to themselves the glory
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of having given liberty, there is a great injustice. it is a contemptible piece of arrogance. [applause] >> i'm going to talk for a few minutes and offer some thoughts i prepared about this work and then give you a chance to gather your thoughts and come out with a microphone and have you speak to our presenters. so, my comments. the underground railroad demanded african-american ability. slavery worked by confining them for the profits of slave owners. the underground railroad help ed slaves move beyond their owner's control. it was a result of that movement. fugitive slaves came to be major players in helping other people move toward the run freedom. there was a lot of mobility.
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one of the things that is so important is that we see black civility as essential to the work of making freedom. african-americans in places could see legal representation for those seen as fugitives. they can offer their churches to runaway slaves. they could share the army about -- with the army the information they had about the places they lived. creating the underground railroad involved creating black homes and family and communities and also creating knowledge in a way that used relatively stable structures to facilitate the work of the freedom. the story about people having information about a landscape and about troop movements. knowledge that came from there ir long roots in particular places, constructing a spy network for the civil war. a couple things i was wondering about connections as you suggest
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between antebellum fugitives and wartime spies, what sense do we have about how black families were disturbing knowledge? coming of what we know from the records of the union army? how much can we know about the kind of connections you are suggesting between fugitive slaves and wartime people seeking freedom and aiding? another thing that comes up here , this tension or distance between the pursuit of freedom and assistance that union war -- to the union war effort. there is an interesting language, the language of intelligence work. there is a particular political power involved in black people doing intelligence work in a context in which people doubt black intellectual capacity. i wonder about the meaning of that politics. is there a particular pride for black people to pursue this kind
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of work? how might we relate or compare spying to the effort among black men to claim their masculinity by bearing arms and wearing union blue? how can we know these goals? where black people's knowledge of the union army might encourage them to see links between their interests and those of the military. i'm going to work through these backwards chronologically -- graham's paper emerges from a question about the most famous underground railroad operator and asking what harriet tubman did in cape may, we get a look into black people and their politics in southern new jersey. harriet tubman is building on the labor of many other people.
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african-americans in southern new jersey, they are living on slivers of freedom and they establish networks and churches. depots to aid those fleeing bondage. i wonder about the internal dynamics of the black community in southern new jersey. stephen smith is another major figure in this paper. does his particular story represent the political tendencies of other propertied african-americans? it was dangerous to try to make freedom in a slaveholding nation and that danger might've been particularly tangible to those who were fortunate enough to have some degree of economic stability. is there a way we could see more complex portrait of the communities and recognize that sometimes people choose not to engage in particular political activity? part of why i think this is important to break down the community in terms of how individuals were involved is that it would further emphasize
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how radical it was for someone like stephen smith to risk as much as he did by sheltering people who were fleeing slavery. also along the lines on this point about danger, i'm curious how communities survived. southern jersey attracts some -- self emancipated people, but also attracts slave catchers. it is a known location for this setup rescue operation. do you have a sense of how and how long these anti-slavery enclaves could endure? to what extent was invaluable or viable to have known stations when it was was being underground path to freedom? part of why we know the things we do about people like tubman and the underground railroad is that abolitionist like to talk about what they were doing. i talk about when they were -- they talk about when they were successful when liberating enslaved people. thousands saw freedom and they
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kidnapping,nger of connectin but philip points out we don't often have a sense of these individuals lives and feeling. one of the questions i had is whether we know so little by design. fugitives and alleged fugitives might have wanted to give a low profile. but wright wants to construct a platform for them and speak them out. -- and wants for them to speak out. what tensions might have this produced? for their problems that arose when a white abolitionist with certain goals might of had an idea that runs counter to those of the accused african-americans. i'm curious about wright's writing and what it says about black people's relationship to the law. what exactly are the wrongs that are evident in these cases? i was struck throughout the discussion of scott by how much he benefits from legal processes. he had lawyers, he had richard reicher, who was his judge, a well-known friend of a slave
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owner. he requires written proof before he sends henry to the south and also the judge grants bail for henry scott and henry once he gets that they'll is able to go -- that bail is able to go run to the north. what is actually wrong here? the concept of justice is moving through the paper but i wonder what justice would've looked like for the people involved. it seems the injustice was slavery itself rather than any particular aspect of how the law is operating, at least in this particular case. would justice be a set of legal processes who protect the rights of those accused as fugitives or would justice require destroying or rejecting a system in which it was legal to hold people as property? this question about the visions this question about the visions of justice is partly why wanted to talk about this last one. there is a little epilogue to the paper where he suggests some connections and parallels between anti-kidnapping and the
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black lives matter movement in terms of essentially publicizing the stories of the horrors inflicted upon african-americans. i think that thinking about visions of justice might help us to interrogate the parallels. it should go without saying, but black people today don't -- are not anti-police. they want the justices to work fairly. but black new yorkers in the 1830's wore anti-slavery. they did not necessarily just want legal protections against kidnapping, they wanted to destroy slavery, which slavery itself may kidnapping viable. but slavery was rooted in american law. there might be a tension in terms of what justice meant in the 30's as opposed to now. the last thing i want to say is that the title of the panel and the breadth of these papers
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points to a larger question which is who created the underground railroad? what exactly did it look like. should the term service number my sense is that it's difficult, but it is useful to draw boundaries around the term, to highlight how dangerous it was to actually usher fugitive slaves to freedom. particularly it is useful to think about the railroad in context and the complexities of black and politics in the antebellum. we will now open things up to anyone who might like to share questions, comments, queries, concerns, clause, with our presenters. >> can i start with a response.
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it is one i thought about a lot putting these people at risk any further. there may be cases where he was and he gave certain details about family members who -- there were details about how they got away, he is often -- just to the question of wright's interest, i think they're conflicted as well. yet had a larger interest in abolishing slavery, but he has these tactical interests in helping these individual people at this moment, either not be kidnapped or to get out of the situation they are in as fugitives. i think it is a good question about whether he put any of them at risk further by releasing some of the details that he did and i guess i would have to look closer at each individual case and see whether he did.
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in most cases they are already in jail and i would have to look at that, that is a good question. tactically, there -- i think they are caught in that as well. they are working outside this earlier on this. they are working ad hoc. he just arrived in new york from ohio ready to organize this thing and they immediately start going to prisons and helping people in these cases. they don't really know what they are doing in a way and they are trying to use whatever mechanisms they have. i think the injustice they discovered was that basically there was a risk you could -- a writ you can apply for that would let you go home with someone until you show up in court, but there is -- basically the magistrate gets to decide whether he will let you have the writ or not. he also gets to decide whether to take oral testimony from the bounty hunters or to ask for the will.
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he did not have to ask for the will, he did in that case. there is nothing in the law that requires him to ask for legal documentation. he could simply accept the word of the bounty hunter. that is the injustice they were running into. it leads them to push for jury trials to decide whether the person is indeed a fugitive or not. >> i'm loud enough, hi, i'm a teacher living in new york city. my question is relevant to kind of the south jersey new york city. i know this'll make sense. do you think the fugitive anti-fugitive legacy in south jersey aid in the current trends of criminality in law enforcement in the areas today?
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>> the question is about whether or not the legacy contributes to criminality? i'll put it this way, i think we can look at the underground railroad certainly from the antebellum period as a part of what would become the great migration from the 1870's and on word which radically transforms new jersey's black population. it amplifies it a lot, more people coming from the south. these underground railroad survivors are the first part of that. one does see among white new jerseyans, a much greater concern about crime, a rising modern racism rather than the racism of slavery and anxiety caused by the treatment of blacks. i wouldn't say the people
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themselves were inspiring crime, i would say the concern about them and the rise of jim crow certainly is a reaction to the great migration. i don't think that is anything new. if we link the underground railroad to that, there are plenty of whites who are anxious about that. at the same time, i think the numbers were small enough and the black communities were careful enough that they would weed out troublemakers. that becomes more difficult when you get thousands of people coming in up north. >> because of the high population of numbers. >> before the civil war, new jersey is not a whole lot
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different from maryland in that a black person is either enslaved or someone whose status is not clear. after the war and this is something that kate can speak to more accurately, there is an enormous anxiety about these new freedoms and the mobility of blacks into the north. you do see a lot more racism and anxiety about labor displacement, but just about proximity. jim crow happens pretty rapidly, especially, and this beast to what we were talking about earlier, which is cape may. who is in the water or the beach? this is the area along with schools of greatest contest. will the schools be separate? yes they have to be. beaches separate? more and more they become separate.
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i think that is where i can go on that. >> i would say the system of incarceration built in new york city under slavery is defaulting to the claimant. it defaults to the people claiming. the system is built and abused in all kinds of way. your kidnapping rings paying off the shares to arrest people on accusations and they claim them and turn them into slaves. the systems are institutionally building in the false that are continuous. >> i want to thank you all for a very informative panel and a particular want to thank you graham for thinking about something like the work that would've been uniformly dismissed by a serious historian and engaging with that and using and thinking about it and his story sizing what she talked about.
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i have a specific question for kate and it is very short. were those spies ever actually paid? >> i think that they were. i think lawson and the people -- lawson is by far the most visible and hit every time he is mentioned, it is sort of like lawson and his colleagues are doing this and that. from what i can tell from this, lawson and paying lawson comes up several different times in different types of records. the last one chronologically i have seen was when sickles is testifying before the committee and he says that is why recommended he be paid just as well as a white person. there is probably a record somewhere, i would think there might.
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you could see if someone literally with accounting books pay lawson. i haven't done that research, but from what i'm hearing sickles saying is that he in fact was paid. he is not -- sickles is not saying why aren't you paying him , he is saying that is why recommended he be paid generously. my guess is somebody as visible as lawson. there are also records that are more between hooker and sickles where hooker is saying pay them whatever it takes. he said that before sickles commissioned lawson. there would be a paper trail. i would say lawson likely was paid. the many other people who are more anonymous who did not rise to that level, they probably were not compensated in any expense either with pay or even just recognition and notoriety in the way that -- that they
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should have been. if you compare it as chris was suggesting, compare that service to the country with soldiering, one thing is they were much more regularly courted as soldiers, paid in equitably and then more equitably and eligible for pensions. it is possible someone like lawson who was working at a spot -- as a spy would have been enlisted when it became possible to enlist. i'm just going by t implication and record up to 1862. but i don't have concrete evidence he was paid. it seems the tone of the testimony acts like he was but i don't absolutely no. thank you for the question. >> let me follow up. it is -- the book is a fascinating work. disorganized and difficult at
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times, but it is really useful as a model for us here to identify people genealogically who could be related to the underground railroad. one thing i should've mentioned in my paper is that she does talk about the significant number of cape may region blacks , some of them children of the self emancipated who very quickly enlisted in the union army. there is a lot of that in there as well. they do serve. it is an area that relates to military service. trustee is also a name, around here. a lot of them in this region and in delaware as well is in new jersey. the title is the underground
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railroad and there's a subtitle. >> i think his ties that bind. >> we are running close on time so i will take 1, 2, three altogether and i will ask everyone to keep it as brief as possible. >> i'm deirdre from new york city and we are searching from slave rescue in utica. one of the people rescue described how the person who was pursuing them, the bounty hunter would gamble away money in new york city and captured people and take them down south to sell them so we had more money to gamble. i kind of wonder what percentage of people who were kidnapped in new york for example actually had any legal process whatsoever and word just dragged out of there?
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>> my name is gwen, i represent the lest we forget museum in philadelphia. i have a question about the conversation as relates to harriet. in my readings i understand she only got her pension later in life and i wonder if it had to do with the fact he was a female as opposed to some of these white men. i heard she got it later in life and that she never got any. >> my question is relating to the community aspect of the underground railroad. in terms of escape -- justice kagan slave people. are there people who escaped without the aid of stations or stationmaster's?
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just an understanding of that definition in terms of escape, are there any instances where something would be -- from the underground railroad? >> big ones there. >> i think it is a really good question. i'm going to go my soapbox very briefly and say any person who is self emancipated, that person is part of the underground railroad. you don't need a helper at the other end. it is nice of you get them, but the fact that you are creating your own freedom, making it put you in the underground railroad, yes. >> i think as far as the question of people being kidnapped, i do know where the question was,. i think what we can document in
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the case of both kidnapped these -- escapees is just the tip of the iceberg. it is difficult to know what else was going on all the time. we are constantly hearing about new cases we never heard of. i've learned a lot this week just about these sorts of things happening all the time. there is sort of, it is not background noise but there are things happening that don't rise to the level of getting into the records. >> thank you guys for your questions and i would like you to thank the panel. [applause] you are watching american history tv. 48 hours of rogue rimming un-american his all weekend onry weekend to follow us
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