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In spite of many years of reading I have never before today come across the term "Negro Dogs". I found this mention on my twitter feed via Liam Hogan (University of Limerick, here), who posted the following ad for the sale of "Negro Dogs" for "the purpose of catching Runaway Negroes". "All who have negroes [sic] in the woods, will please give me a call".
[Source] "This ad was originally published in the Dadeville Banner (Alabama), and was republished in Frederick Douglass' Paper, April 8, 1859."
See: From Dog Law Reporter, the fascinating article "Dogs in the Economy and Operation of the Peculiar Institution: Evidence from Slave State Case Law", here: http://doglawreporter.blogspot.com/2012/02/dogs-in-economy-and-operation-of.html
A worthwhile appraisal of the "Negro Dog" can be seen a BlackVoices, here.
The title of the broadside is constrained though it does give a little bit of a pull and hint about the juicy tenders to follow, all brought to you from the National Library of Scotland:
'A full and particular Account of the Sale of a Woman, named Mary Mackintosh, which took place on Wednesday Evening, the 16th of July, 1828, in the Grass Market of Edinburgh, accused by her Husband of being a notorious Drunkard; with the Particulars of the bloody Battle which took place afterwards.'
Unfortunately it was legal to sell your possessions and your wife, though it seems as though this was an activity of the "lower classes" and a much frowned-upon activity by most.
And here are one set of the details that you could purchase for a penny, with much colorful language and alliteration to come:
"When, the crowd got a little quiet the people began to examine the countenance of the woman ; a Highland Drover stepped through the crowd, and pulled out his purse, and Said, " She be a good like lassie,'l will gi'e ten and twenty shillings for her." This caused great cheering among the crowd?then a stout Tinker made a bolt into the crowd, and said she should never go to the Highlands?he then bid sixpence more for her. At this time, one of the KlLLARNEY PIG JOBBERS, with his mouth open as wide as a turnpike gate, and half drunk, eried loudly, FAUGHAHOLLICE , I will give two shillings more, for she is a pratty woman. A Brogue maker, from Newry, coining out of a public house; as drunk as 5O cats in a wallet, came up to the Killarney man, and hits him in the bread bag,"
Full transcription http://digital.nls.uk/broadsides/broadside.cfm/id/15971/transcript/1
Source: National Library of Scotland http://deriv.nls.uk/dcn3/7441/74414096.3.jpg
I found this list (below) of 19th-century African-American newspapers in James T. Haley's Afro-American Encyclopaedia (Or, the Thoughts, Doings, and Sayings of the Race, Embracing Lectures, Biographical Sketches, Sermons, Poems, Names of Universities, Colleges, Seminaries, Newspapers, Books, and a History of the Denominations, Giving the Numerical Strength of Each. In Fact, it Teaches Every Subject of Interest to the Colored People, as Discussed by More Than One Hundred of Their Wisest and Best Men and Women), which was published in 1895 in Nashville (639pp,by Haley & Florida). The book was digitized by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as part of their digitization project, Documenting the American South. It is a fantastic thing absolutely filled with information and insight.
Full text found here: http://docsouth.unc.edu/church/haley/haley.html
The newspaper section starts with this introduction about the need for newspapers followed by a statement on the involvement, intelligence, and capacity to publish a newspaper:
Shall I Take a Paper?
"AT this season of the year, when publishers are making special offers to the reading public, we are all debating the mental fare with which we shall spread our table in 1895. We ought to have first a good church paper thoroughly representative of our denomination."
"The Methodist ought to have the South- Western Advocate, published at New Orleans; the African Methodist ought to have the Christian Recorder, published at Philadelphia; the Congregationalist ought to have The Congregationalist, published at Boston, or the The Advance, published at Chicago, and so on for the Baptists, Episcopalians,"
"Evangelists and other denominations among us. Each home ought to have its church paper. Next to that stands some good clean helpful race journal. Get one, in the columns of which the editors are seeking to help the race up, and not working to pull it down. When you subscribe for a race journal get one in which the editors display not pessimistic, but optimistic views of the race."
"It will be well to remember that it takes brains to edit a newspaper, and men who have not been trained to think are hardly men to be entrusted with the perilous task of giving direction to public opinion. The editorial chair requires more than that culture gotten from the reading of newspapers. The editor who is sending out week by week his paper into the world ought to be able to grapple with the problems of the day and think them through. There is too much guessing on the grave social problems of the day by editors. Riots and mobs are the result of false teaching, both on the part of the hotheaded anarchists and incompetent editors who are not anachists. In selecting your race journal for the next year find one whose editorial columns show moderation, and one which is not always squared off with a chip on its shoulder daring someone to knock it off. The paper which busies itself with fighting its contemporaries cannot be of very much help to you. When you raise the question about taking a race journal remember there are two reasons especially to be remembered why you should. The first is a duty you owe to yourself to keep up with the movements among your own people. Second, you owe it to the race to support laudable enterprises which look to the betterment of the race. Let us remember, too, that the press, the pulpit and the platform have been the great liberators of the nations In this land of ours we need the influence of all of these to plead our cause up and down the length of our land. Put some good race weekly on your list for 1895."--Cleveland (Ohio) Gazette.
The following is a list of newspapers and magazines edited and published by and for Afro-Americans. Alphabetically arranged by States:
There was a time in 1943, in London, that there was a great call for the "immediate rescue" of the Jews and other victims of Nazi massacre--given everything, those were pretty strong words, a call to instant action in helping populations in the immediate threat of "extermination". Nazi massacres of the Jews & others : some practical proposals for immediate rescue (1943) was written with the addresses made by the Archbishop of Canterbury (William Temple) and Lord Rochester (Ernest Henry Lamb, Baron of Rochester) in speeches made on March 23rd 1943 in the House of Lords, an addressed an issue that few cared to discus.
There are volumes of reports and newspaper articles by 1943 on the extermination and deportation of the Jews and other people, but, really, there was very little discussion about what to do about it. There were no plans for rescue. Even when it came down to much more simple issue of raising the levels for accepting refugees (and this by the tens of thousands) there was usually struggle and defeat. On the practicable end of the argument, ships full of refugees were often turned away.
It is a very contentious issue as to whether the Allies could have taken pro-active measures against the concentration camps, and the issue of the discussion of whether help could have been given is contentious in itself. What makes this pamphlet noteworthy is that it showed there was a public display of concern during a time when there wasn't much public thinking being done on that. This is a complex issue, though I think the capacity to effect some sort of rescue of thousands, or hundreds of thousands (or millions) of people could have taken place2, though it did not, for reasons of indifference more so than for ability or capacity.
This pamphlet certainly laid the issue wide open:
"My chief protest is against procrastination of any kind. ... The Jews are being slaughtered at the rate of tens of thousands a day on many days. ... It is always true that the obligations of decent men are decided for them by contingencies which they did not themselves create and very largely by the action of wicked men. The priest and the Levite in the parable were not in the least responsible for the traveller's wounds as he lay there by the roadside and no doubt they had many other pressing things to attend to, but they stand as the picture of those who are condemned for neglecting the opportunity of showing mercy. We at this moment have upon us a tremendous responsibility. We stand at the bar of history, of humanity and of God."
I couldn't find the full text online, so I scanned my copy and include it below:
1. Nazi massacres of the Jews & others : some practical proposals for immediate rescuemade by the Archbishop of Canterbury and Lord Rochester in speeches on March 23rd 1943 in the House of Lords / [William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury ; Ernest Henry Lamb, Baron of Rochester.
2. This has been shown work by David Wyman The Abandonment of the Jews, America and the Holocaust 1941-1945 (1998) and Richard Breitman FDR and the Jews (2014), among others.
Captives of Capitalism (printed ca. 1925)is a small pamphlet with a big reach. It was published by the Committee for International Workers Aid, a Communist organization created in Berlin in 1921 (as the International Arbeiter-Hilfe) to help raise money for famine and drought victims in Russia. It was evidently expanded to include collecting money to help victims and prisoner of Fascism, which seems to be the major target in this pamphlet.
Although pretty slight the pamphlet looses no time in getting to the heart of the matter, detailing atrocities and unjust imprisonments by fascists and capitalists in Germany, Roumania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Lithuania, Finland, Lithuania, and Italy. Although not mentioning the United States the "Call to Action" states that "Democracy is on the rampage, with proletarians as its victims" with calls for unity of workers and donations to the International Workers Aid as well as to Red Aid--money to help "lighten the burden of the imprisoned" and to "support starving families".
Inside of my copy of the pamphlet was a small handout, a long sheet folded into quarters with the working "title" of "Drop by Drop the Bucket Will Fill", and on opening the sheet the entire reverse is a form to fill in with the names of donors and amounts of the "drops" they send into the bucket. This request series in particular was aimed at "Xmas Relief"
The "Call to Action" ends very strongly: "A united front of the workers of the world so that
of a proletarian fighter against capitalism creates a millionfold echo from the workers of the world."
Unfortunately the Soviet Union would become its own home-made disaster following the turmoil and famine(s) of the early 'twenties. Lenin's death in 1924 led to Stalin, and Stalin went down a terrifically bad path, beginning his Five Year Plans in 1928 which would displace 25 million families to create the collective farm state; smashmouth industrialization lead to great gloom and the development of Stalin's cult-of-state created the Great Famine in '32-'33 and the rest of the hideousness that would cover the Soviet Union through the rest of Stalin's existence.
Just a reminder that even blattant and bad propaganda has its sub rosa content...
This is a nasty (pronounced nazty) piece of work by the loftily-named League for Constitutional Government, comparing Roosevelt's New Deal legislation and program to an overall regime for world domination under Socialist and Communist dictums/control. Everything is Communist, and whatever wasn't Communist was Socialist, and there really wasn't to much of a distinction in anything, except that under everything else were the Jews. It is rough and bumpy work, not well written, not well thought-out, though there was a lot of action that was taking place between the badly-formed lines, and if you looked a little hard at it everything starts turning up Fascist.
It turns out that the League for Constitutional Government is a tough bit to research from home, with not that much written on the organization itself, though there is a fair amount of what can be learned about it by the company it keeps int eh histories of Right-Wing-Lugnut political movements from that period, and all of that association thus far is Fascist. It appears in lists along with the National American ("America's National-Socialist Party"); "The American Guard, "The White Man's Party"; the German American Bund; America First; local bad boy Charles Pelley of Silver Shirts infamy; and in publications including The Revealer, a Christian News Journal, Social Justice, ( a Reverend T,. Coughlin organ), just to name a few. It is in comfortable splendor with far Christian right organizations like the Christian Patriots (see Mark J, Mozzell, God at the Crossroads, p.209), and evidently worked to gain control of the east coast section of the America First party (found via Ruth Sarlesp's The Story of America First, page 28). There's also quite a spread on Fascist organizations in America that appeared in Life magazine (March 6, 1939, "Fascism in America: Like Communism It Masquerades as Americanism").
And then there is this from the "Anti-Jewish Propaganda Front" issued by the American Jewish Committee in 1937 (here):
I had never heard of this League for Constitutional Government before last night, and had a difficult time making my way through its somehow dense and loosely packed four-page contents--until it dawned on me that what I was really reading was Fascist propaganda--and that was surprising, mainly because it was so early on it the history of Fascist stuff going on in America.
My copy of this document was once owned by H.L. Mencken, who gave the thing to the Library of Congress, which in turn decided it wasn't worth having around (at least in duplicate). I don't need to own it either, though as a piece of quiet-ish political junk it should be somewhere to remind people that even in flaming propagandistic rhetoric there's more reading to be done between the lines.
Here's an unpopular opinion for 1943: close the Japanese internment camps.
The Roosevelt administration’s Executive Order 9066 was the legal bombshell that gave the War Department the authority to authorize the removal of the Japanese (19 February 1942) and theoretically prevent those people from engaging in sub rosa and fifth column activities as wartime terrorists fighting for Imperial Japan, and which basically authorized a 60-mile swath of the Pacific Coast as a military zone subject to national defense requirements. 100,000 men, women and children were removed to ten different relocation centers, barrack-enclosures located in remote areas, where the great majority of the "dislocated" waited out the war, some two-thirds of them American citizens.
Mostly desolate and occasionally beautiful, with light policing, they were still prisons.
The great majority of the American population saw this as a military and unfortunate necessity, a byproduct of war. Citizenship did not come into play.
So it was a popular unpopular move; the policy occasionally met with resistance in print, like this example from the April 16, 1943 issue of The Nation, which I reprint in full below. "Jap Crow" was a response to the treatment of the Japanese in America, a version of Jim Crow, which was the de facto regulatory discriminatory and racist behavior towards African Americans and other people of color in the U.S.
The life and location of these camps was well documented, sometimes by some of the greatest photographers of the American 20th century. Dorothea Lange and Ansel Adams, in particular, made a long series of images at Manzanar. One of the great, iconic images made by Adams comes from this period, and as it turns out, its one of those odd sorts of photos that turns in the opposite direction of what the photographer was there "for". Mount Williamson is just a drop-dead shot to be sure--it is also an image of what the Japanese in the camp were looking out at. Adams turns his camera around, around from the disgrace, and makes one of his greatest images.
The Japanese at the Manzanar relocation center were from the West Coast who were bused away from their homes and lives and businesses with extremely limited notice, and who were forced to sell nearly all possessions (including lands and businesses) at what were less than fire sale prices. They were made to board buses and trains and were shipped to locations (mainly in California) where they were processed and sent further and deeper into the trying hinterlands of the west for their final destinations until the war was won. (One of the processing centers was the Santa Anita racetrack, where thousands of Japanese were sent to live for periods in converted, just-painted horse stalls.) Manzanar itself is well enough out there—removed, trying, desolate, difficult. Beautiful, too , if you weren’t in prison there. It was a high desert plateau with the snow-capped sierras, ringing the place; no grass, barely a tree, with extreme temperatures and a tough wind that was freezing in the winter and blew hot in the summer…tough enough to make it hard to keep the tar paper on the roof and sides of the thinly constructed barracks that held these people. While every other relocation camp had barbed wire and guard towers, Manzanar had none—its location was so remote and difficult that it made the construction of these inferior barriers unnecessary.
As difficult was life was at Manzanar, and having being completely torn off of the American map and their way of life, the Japanese at the camp established irrigation systems and gardens, made their own furniture from bits and scraps, established a newspaper, created a government, schools, police, and so on, making their life as orderly and hospitable as possible.
A government film, insisting that these people are "dislocated", "evacuees", casualties of war, and not "internees":
The Negro Soldier was a film produced by Frank Capra1 for the U.S. Army as part of a recruitment effort for African American soldiers--in addition to the being a small appeasement to the nearly 880,000 who were already serving in 1943. It was also used as an orientation film, and was required viewing by all servicemen. It was a tricky business for the time, given the racist policies in place, the de facto segregation2, and the unfortunately high incidence of racist feeling among U.S. servicemen.
The armed services needed men. The Army had a similar problem in 1918, though there seems to have been little effort to learn its lessons with segregation and appeasement. In World War I there were over 400,000 Black soldiers, half of them in France, but fewer than 40,000 of them actually saw combat duty, the rest being left to construction/upkeep and menial tasks, an army of 760,000 trained men being kept from participation because of racial practices. The Negro Soldier was certainly a partial response to this issue and an appeal to social tolerance and an incorporation of the Black soldier into a unified fighting force.
It was a difficult time for African Americans in films--not to mention in real life-- where the vast majority of portrayals of Black people in cinema was a caricature, indecent. This film has none of the trappings of a contemporary movie about Black people, and was received with high acclaim by Langston Hughes among many others. Although the film portrayed Black people in honorable professions and with respect and dignity, it was also a propaganda film for domestic consumption, and showed a fractured history of African American contributions in quick run-throughs of U.S. history, while also failing to mention things like slavery, breezing through the Civil War in about 20 seconds. Again, that's not what the film was intended to address--it really was supposed to be a "leveler" of sorts, evening the mountainous arena of race relations, attempting to portray the sameness of the races in the fight against Germany. On the other hand I can help but think about the difference between what was shown in the film and what was happening in real life, and expect men to go and fight for a principle that for them mostly existed in theory.
It is interesting to see this movie still of a minister (the screenwriter Moss) preaching by using quotes from Mein Kampf; he spells out exactly what is there by Hitler concerning Black people, and it is very bad stuff, calling them half-apes and criminal that they should be allowed to have any position of responsibility....and that the Nazi goal was world domination.
So although a flawed product it was much better than the average fare, not that there was anything to compare it to for the recruitment of Black troops, because (I believe) there weren't any others. In spite of the obvious lack of historical context top place the African American in some sort of context in the history of the U.S., this was probably a very good film, and evidently fulfilled its mission.
Here's another interesting propaganda film, the story of a Black farmer in Georgia. Henry Browne, Farmer was made on what seems to be a pretty low budget in 1942, and presents the ideas of the soldier, the soldier of production, and the soldier of the soil, of which Mr. Browne was the later. The film is sympathetic, though Browne and his family are living pretty close-to-the-cuff, plowing with mule teams, taking their mule-driven wagon into a town (Macon?) highly populated with cars. Of high dignity, the Brownes are fairly poor, in spite of having a fine-looking 40 acres. On their wagon trip to town they visit their son, who is a pilot with the 99th Pursuit Squadron, and we watch them as they watch their son climb into a T6 and take off. I liked that part quite a bit.
1. The screenplay was written by Carlton Moss--who also plays the Black preacher--and directed by Stuart Hiesler.
2. The U.S. Navy would officially end segregation in February 1946; the Army followed with Executive Order 9981 in July 1948.
What this toughly bleak political art is referencing was the gloom and doom of the corruption of the economy, with fortunes and family savings lost, of despondencies, of mass failure. It appeared in The Nation for the issue of March 8, 1933, the first issue printed in the newly inaugurated Roosevelt presidency, four days after the famous inaugural "The only thing we have to fear is fear itself" speech. [See here for text of the speech as well as audio.]
So in the first 1100 days or so of the Depression, there was plenty of fear to fear, not the least of which was booming unemployment. The average rate of unemployment for this period went from 3.2% in 1929 to:1930: 8.9%;1931: 16.3%; 1932: 24.1%; 1933: 24.9%; 1934: 21.7%; 1935: 20.1%; 1936: 16.9%; 1937: 14.3%; 1938: 19.0%; 1939: 17.2%.
There was also the general malaise and partial breakdown of the production of the country as a whole, as measured by the U.S. Gross Domestic Product, which (in current dollars) looked like a retracting landscape, with the pre-crash 1929 figures being $103.6 billion, followed by 1931 at $76.5, 1932 at $58.7, 1933 ($56.4), 1934 ($66 billion and the beginning of the Roosevelt era and through 1937 a period of fantastic recovery and growth); 1935 at $73.3, 1936 at $83.8, 1937 at $91.9,1938 at $86.1, 1939 at $92.1, 1940 at $101 (which was the year that mobilization began in earnest, with huge/record spikes in production); 1941 at $126.7, 1943 at $198.6, 1944 at $219.8, 1945 at $223.
(And just because I have the figures at hand, the amounts of government spending during the Hoover years were 1929: $9.4 billion; 1930: $10; 1931: $9.9;1932: $8.7; then under Roosevelt in 1933: $8.7 billion: 1934: $10.5; 1935: $10.9; 1936: $13.1;1937: $12.8; 1938: $13.8;1939: $14.8, followed by the war years and buildup, which in itself was explosive growth 1940: $15.0 billion;1941: $26.5;1942: $62.7;1943: $94.8;1944: $105.3; and 1945: $93. The average government spending as a percentage of GDP under Roosevelt increased to 15% in the 1933-1939 period from 11% under Hoover; during the mobilization the average expanded to about 35%. )
So, the social commentary by the artist was really a slapping announcement to all readers that the crash of 1929 was still crashing, that the economy was still failing, and that things were getting worse. Welcome to Washington, Mr. Roosevelt.
I'm here again with The Nation, a marvel of social reporting and interpretation. I was recently able to have 40 years of it come my way, and I have the luxury of sitting down with the odd volume and breezing through it--though it isn't much of a breeze. It is shocking to me how much of what they cover is absolutely new and fresh to me, especially since I thought I knew something about the decades that I'm pushing through right now (1919-1945).
I opened tonight almost immediately to this commentary on the Scottsboro Boys case--and it doesn't take much to figure out what is going on, even if you never heard of it before, This illustrate an article on Haywood Patterson, one of the nine African American teenagers who were accused of raping two white women in the state of Alabama in May 1931 and the legal morass and bitter institutional racism that he and the rest of the accused had been dragged through. It is a complicated set of cases --but the fact that there were trials and that there was some sort of legal sensibility to the matter was in itself noteworthy, because the case was highly inflammatory, enraging parts of the population who wanted immediate justice-and-punishment.
That didn't happen in public, but it could be argued that is what was attempted by the Alabama criminal justice system--a judicial lynching. The cases of these men went back and forth for a number of years, the men being convicted, and then sentenced to death by electrocution, and then appealing, and finding parts of the judgment overturned, and then starting again, finishing again, overturning again, and other complications.
The cases made their way through to 1935 with sentencing in 1937, at which point the death penalties were overturned, but replaced by long prison sentences.
Haywood Patterson escaped the electric chair, but was sentenced to 75 years for a crime for which there was no evidence. He wound up escaping in 1948, and wrote a book about his case (The Scottsboro Boy) in 1950; soon afterwards he was in a bar where he had an argument with a man and knifed him to death; Patterson was subsequently arrested and convicted of manslaughter, and would die of cancer in prison in 1952.
Mr. Patterson was evidently the first Afircan American in the history of such cases in the state of Alabama to not be executed for the crime.
[Image source: "The South Speaks", by John Henry Hammond, Jr., in The Nation, April 26, 1933, opposite page 465.]
"In this May 1, 1935 file photo, attorney Samuel Leibowitz, second left, meets with seven of the Scottsboro defendants at the jail in Scottsboro, Ala. just after he asked the governor to pardon the nine youths held in the case. From left are Deputy Sheriff Charles McComb, Leibowitz, and defendants, Roy Wright, Olen Montgomery, Ozie Powell, Willie Robertson, Eugene Williams, Charlie Weems, and Andy Wright. The black youths were charged with an attack on two white women on March 25, 1931."--Source as above.
[Source: Emory University, here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmsYLmqx3wg]
Dorothea L(ynde) Dix (1802-1887) was an nurse and ultratrian, a very-much-practiced humanitarian who for years fought for the stabilized and just treatment of people with disabilities, mainly and for extended periods of time and travel for those suffering from mental diseases and development. The pamphlet that I've reproduced below is a generalized statement for her appeal before the U.S. Congress based on her 30,000 miles of travels throughout the country, visiting nine states and inspecting the ways in which "the indigent curable and incurable insane" were treated. She gathered data on how these people were kept--state by state--and also the reasons for their being admitted to whatever facility they found themselves in. This is pioneering work on behalf of a class of people who really needed the help, and her report in general is not pretty story, a version of the Willowbrook story without the cameras, 120 years earlier.
I've linked the text from the copy from the National Medical Library (located here, though the front page above is from right here) which has a very elegant access to the 32-page document. My own copy (available for sale via this blog's bookstore, here) is a decent copy that was once in the library of the Smithsonian Institution before being sent to the Library of Congress, where it slept in a very dusty and unused assembly of odd and odder pamphlets (called The Pamphlet Collection) before coming to me.
I'm including an unlikely image from my copy--the bit of string and the knot that held the pages of this document together. Rather than the stitching normally found in these pamphlets issued by U.S. goverment printers Tippin & Streeper (identified in tiny 3-point print at the bottom of the front page) this one has only a single side-saddled stitch, with a tenuous double knot, holding the sheets of paper together. It was almost as though the thing was constructed for impermanence--it wasn't, of course; it was just bound quickly and with little thought. Somehow it kept itself together.
Dix's plea before Congress outlines very harsh conditions, as well as some of the semi-standards of the day for how a person could find their way into such a state to begin with, listing in the third page of teh work some of the reasons for commitment (in 1843) to the Massachusetts State Hospital (followed by the number admitted)
Ill health 279
Domestic afflictions 179
Disappointed affections 64
Disappointed ambition 33
Wounds on the head 21
Abuse of snuff and tobacco 8
And here an extract by Dix on some of what she found in Georgia (from page 22):
"Georgia has, so far as I have been able to ascertain, fewer insane, in
proportion to population, than either North or South Carolina, but there
is not less injudicious or cruel management of the violent cases through-
out the State; chains and ropes are employed to increase security from
escapes, in addition to closed doors, and the bolts and bars which shut
the dreary cells and dungeons of jails and other receptacles. I have
seen the deep scars of former wounds produced by chains and blows ;
and those who have received patients transported to the State hospitals,
are as much at a loss for any decent language for describing the condition
of these unfortunate beings as myself. Their condition is indeed inde-
scribable. Patients have not seldom been transported to the hospital in
'open carts, chained and bound with heavy cords..."
The whole document is fascinating, and well worth a quick read.
The document: Memorial of D.L. Dix, Praying a grant of land for teh relief and support of the indigent curable and incurable insane in the United States, June 27, 1848, 30th Congress, 1st Session, Miscellaneous Document No. 150, 32pp.
There is something terribly American, full of hope, and trust, and celebration in this anniversary celebration pamphlet for the city of Mound Bayou, Mississippi--an African American town founded in 1887. The Souvenir Program, for the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the town (July 11-17, 1937), is filled with town history, and advertisements, and photographs.
[Souvenir Program of the 50th Anniversary of Mound Bayou, Mississippi, July 11-17, 1937. Shelby, Miss. : Press of J.W. Covington, 12x9 inches, 59pp, illustrations, with articles, and numerous local ads. This was formerly part of the Library of Congress Pamphlet Collection, coming to the library form the White House (so marked on the back of the cover, stamped "By Transfer/the White House/August 17, 1937").]
Isaiah T. Montgomery was one of the founders of Mound Bayou, clearing out the bottomlands in the wilderness of northwest Mississippi, the town being populated by Freedmen. But here at the time of the anniversary, in 1937, with the failure of cotton prices and the Depression being at its height or depth, the majority of the people living in Mound Bayou were sharecroppers, with most property lost.
I've come across two telling pieces of ephemera on the history of work, of women and working, and of labor unions, and they both address the textile strike in Passaic, New Jersey, in 1926.
The pamphlet was an appeal to like-minded people to contribute to a fund to help relieve the dire conditions of the textile worker strikers. There were more than 16,000 people involved in this sometimes-brutal strike, people who were trying to stay even in their lives, looking for a little more money and a little better working conditions than what they had. The Passiac (a working city just south of Patterson in an industrial triangle section of the state) strikers were moving against a number of textile (wool and silk) mills there, trying to force management to pay them something closer to the $1400 annual income for a family of four to survive.
Most workers there were making $1,000-$1,200 a year ($800-$1,000 if the worker was a woman, and about half of them were) for 50+ hours of labor per week. The result was that the workers could not afford good housing and food, and those disadvantages paid off in high rates of tuberculosis, very high incidence of child mortality, and a low average life expectancy. The strike began slowly in January 1926, with the mills responding with vicious attacks by paid thugs and by police. It was a long and involved process for the strikers, with the strike lasting its way for another 14 months, finally getting choked out in March 1927. It looks like there were some victories, but those seem mainly pyrrhic to me--at the end of the process many of the strikers were hired back but soon terminated, replaced by other workers who agreed to work for less.
The second item is a broadside--it was the communal effort involved with keeping the strikers (and the strike) going in the face of hunger and goons and police. The strikers needed money to live, as there was certainly no money coming in, and since there was obviously no union, there was no general fund from which any of these families could draw food money from). they needed money just to buy food and pay for housing. So the call for "Give all you can!" and "Give right away!" were as desperate as they sounded. My guess is that there would be a representative of the International Workers Aid society national office going from factory to factory, or door-to-door, soliciting for money for the Passaic workers' relief. The strike was no doubt a very nasty business, with a victory only a victory once there was more food on the table, less illness, and far fewer babies dying from preventable causes. Probably this looked like a victory to others so far as the future of fair labor/pay was concerned, but not so much for the strikers who brought this about.
There's quite a bit written on this strike, and most seem to say that it was an important event in the history of "labor relations", and that it was the first time that a Communist-led strike succeeded in the United States, (There is a complex legacy as to who the leadership was for this strike, but the end result is that, at the end, the Communists were in charge.)
It is also interesting to note that both of these items were given at some point to H.L. Mencken, who gave it right away to the Library of Congress, where it wound up in a forgotten "Pamphlet Collection", and then sold to me (years afterwards).
In the Report of the Board of Indian Commissioners for 18711 I found the following report of a meeting held between General S.J. McKinney (Superintendant of Indian Affairs for Washington Territory) and Chief Napoleon at the Tulalip Reservation in Washington Territory:
“Napoleon, the Chief, came forward with much and laid before…a bunch of split sticks, saying ‘these represent the number of Indians killed by white men in the past year, all Indian chiefs, fifteen of them, and yet nothing has been done by the government to the white men who killed them. They killed them by selling them whisky. I do not speak of them because I have a bad heart, but because I want you to know what kinds of men live about us. The whites now scare all of the Indians, and we wonder when they will kill all of us.’”
I've pulled up the first two dozen pieces of baseball sheet music from the American Memory Project at the Library of Congress. Please follow this link to full images and descriptions at the Library site, where there are more than a hundred others.