The Missouri Compromise

By 1819, the population of Missouri had grown to the point where it was ready for statehood. Ten thousand slaves already lived in Missouri. As such, It was assumed Missouri would become a slave state. On February 13th James Tallmadge, a Congressman from Poughkeepsie, New York, introduced a resolution in Congress making two modifications to the Missouri Enabling Act (The Enabling Act would give Missouri statehood). This act would ban any further importation of slaves into Missouri. It would also set in motion the gradual emancipation of the slaves currently residing in Missouri. Raising these modifications, a one term Congressman began a battle over slavery that was only ended by the Civil War. Obviously the Tallmadge amendment was not acceptable to the Southern states. The Congress was deadlocked until a compromise could be found. That compromise became known as “The Missouri Compromise”. Under the terms of the compromise, Missouri was to be admitted as a slave state, while Maine was admitted as a free state. The rest of the territory acquired from France (north of the latitude 36’30’) would be free states, while south of that point would be slave states.

The Missouri Compromise (1819) set a number of precedents. First, states would enter the Union in pairs– a slave state and a free state. This compromise helped the Southern states, as they were often admitted to the Union sooner than they would normally have been admitted (in order to keep the balance). Second, the Missouri Compromise delayed the sectional breakup of the Jefferson’s Republican party. The battle over Missouri signified a solidification of the Southern opposition to the eventual emancipation of the slaves. Until the fight over Missouri’s admission to the Union, there was some hope the South would follow the path indicated by many of the founders; a path leading to the eventual voluntary emancipation of all slaves. By the time the Missouri Compromise was reached, it was clear this was not meant to be.

Cotton Gin Invented

After the Revolutionary War the South was looking for a new crop to replace Indigo, whose trade it had lost during the war to India. One possibility was cotton. However, traditional cotton, known as long staple, or Egyptian cotton, could only be grown on the Atlantic Islands of the US. It required a very long growing season and sandy soil. The alternative was short season cotton. Though that cotton has sticky seeds that were very difficult to separate. Then, Eli Whitney came on to the scene.

Whitney heard about how difficult it was to gin (or clean) cotton. He thought of a machine that would be able to do it. He studded a roller with nails, one half inch apart. The roller could then be turned and the nails would pass through a grid. The roller pulled the cotton lint through the grid, leaving the seed behind. The lint would then be pulled off the nails while the seeds would fall off separately. A single laborer could now gin what it took 25 laborers to get done before. This made farming upland cotton economically feasible for the first time.

The effect of the development the cotton gin was unprecedented. In 1793, the United States produced about five million pounds of cotton– almost all of it the Sea Island type. This represented less than 1% of the world’s production of cotton. By 1860, the US was producing 2 billion pounds of cotton– over 75% of the world’s cotton production.

The effect of the growth of the cotton industry on slavery was overwhelming. Before the introduction of the Gin, the need for slaves was modest, and slaves were not considered that valuable. Before the Gin, a slave was could be bought for $300. By the time of the Civil War, the cost for a slave was $3,000. Cotton farming was a labor-intensive endeavor– even with the Cotton Gin. However, slavery made the labor of cotton very profitable.

U.S. Navy Created

The Continental Congress capped a number of months of debate when it authorized on October 13th 1775 the arming of two sailing ships with guns. The two ships were then ordered to try to intercept two British ships on the way to Canada with armaments. Some of the members of the Congress led by John Adams had been advocating for the establishment of the Naval forces for many months, arguing that they could help protect coastal communities and disrupt British communications. The Southern delegates opposed the move which they felt as too radical and would do little to protect Southern ports. An initial proposal by the Rhode Island delegation to establish an American naval fleet was attacked as too vague and never came to a vote. Circumstances changed when news reached the Congress that the British were sending two unarmed ships laden with arms to Canada.

At the same time Congress received a report from General Washington in which he reported that he had enlisted three coastal schooners into his forces to help intercept British ships. Since the US now effectively had naval ships, authorizing the arming of additional ones no longer seemed a stretch for members of Congress. Thus on October 13th they so authorized the action While the US navy during the Revolutionary War could never really threaten the British Naval superiority, it fielded over 50 ships of various kinds during the war, and captured 200 British ships. The Navy was key in maintaining the American communications to Europe and bringing vital supplies to the US.

The Casket Girls of New Orleans

What exactly are casket girls? The filles à la cassette (“women with suitcases”) traveled to French colonies in America. They arrived in the New World with a trunk, or cassette, containing their belongings. The word “cassette” morphed into “casquette” over time, and that translaed to “casket”. History recorded these women as “casket” girls. The filles à la cassette were some of the original “mothers” of New Orleans. Here’s their story.

Legends:

“Caskets” conjure up images quite different from a suitcase of dresses and petticoats these woman were known to carry on the long voyage to New Orleans. These suitcases were relatively small, so that the women could carry them without assistance. Many of the photos of “original” cassettes stretch this concept, literally, so that the suitcases appear to be large enough to carry a body.

By the time the storytellers told the tale of these women, their suitcases took on a new perspective. Why did young women bring “caskets” to the new world? Did their luggage contain more than petticoats? Paranormal Fiction writers love old New Orleans. The city’s mix of Catholicism and voudon set in a location influenced by Africans, French, Spanish, British, and Asian is nirvana for writers. It’s natural for writers to run with this and tell vampire tales.

Most of the vampire-themed stories centering on the filles focus on two things: the caskets and the convent. Perhaps one of the most interesting legends relating to vampires are the stories about the third floor of the 1751 convent building. The legend is that the third floor was sealed off. The windows were permanently shuttered. While some stories say those shutters were nailed down with nails blessed by a pope, Pope John Paul II was the first pontiff to visit New Orleans in 1987. One might assume these nails were brought to Rome for blessing, then shipped across the Atlantic. In spite of the holes in the stories, many are still fun to read. Don’t pass up the opportunity to visit the Old Ursuline Convent to decide for yourself. In the meantime, here’s a little history about the casket girls.

History of the casket girls:

The founders of New Orleans were explorers, trappers, and traders who established encampments along the lower part of the Mississippi River.  The French established three main outposts along the Gulf Coast: Mobile, Biloxi, and later, New Orleans. Because the early explorers were mostly male, Catholic priests in the region became concerned that, without wives, the future of Christian evangelism in the French territory was at risk. They turned to bishops and mayors of French port cities, who gladly agreed to empty their jails and brothels. This was essentially “transportation” of “undesirable” women.

These women did not make good domestic partners for the colonial men. The priests sought an alternative plan. They asked King Louis IV for assistance. The King tasked the Bishop of Québec with appealing to convents and orphanages in France. They sought out young women who they could contract to come to the colonies. The bishop’s expectation was that virtuous women from the convents to be good candidates for marriage. The “casket girls” were contracted to be wives of men in the colonies.

Most of the Casket Girls didn’t see much of their spouses. French women used to working in convents and orphanages now took charge of households. The men of the colony in the 1720s-1730s were fur trappers and traders. The trappers spent long periods away from home, collecting the merchandise they sold for export. The traders took manufactured goods from Europe to the farms, plantations, and outposts for sale.

The climate of the colony also required a good bit of adjustment for these women. The weather was hot and the clothing they brought from France was likely wrong for the climate. They adapted to the city as they established households and raised children.

Source: https://gonola.com

Reconstruction Act of 1867

As the Civil War drew to a close how to treat those states that had left the Union was a significant challenge. President Lincoln had a forgiving attitude and believed that the states never actually left the Union, and thus believed that all the states needed to do was accept the 13th amendment outlawing slavery. They then had to a elect new local governments and send their representatives to Washington. When Lincoln was assassinated Vice President Johnson took over. As the only Senator from the South to remain loyal during the Civil War he was not totally trusted by the Northerns. Johnson continued Lincoln’s policies towards the Southern states, but without Lincolns prestige, Johnson was opposed by the Republicans in the Congress. Johnson’s task was made harder by the actions of the Southern States in passing “Black Codes”- laws that put restrictions on the freed slaves.

The Republicans in the Congress who became known as the Radical Republicans never accepted Lincoln approach and believed that it was up to the legislative branch to allow states to fully return to the Union. In 1867 they passed the Reconstruction Act that assigned the military of the role of organizing local government, making sure that ex slaves received the full right to vote, and denied the right to vote to supporters of the confederacy. The South was divided into five military districts and the goal of the military was to ensure that African Americans were able to vote. The military oversaw the election process, and were responsible to make sure that all people holding office had taken an oath to the United States. Under the act for a state to be readmitted to the Union it had to approve the 14th amendment guaranteeing all men the right to vote.

President Johnson opposed the Reconstruction Act and vetoed it. His veto was easily overridden by Congress and became law. New governments were elected in the South and they included many African Americans.

James Edward Oglethorpe and the Founding of Georgia

James Edward Oglethorpe was born on December 22, 1696 in London England. He was one of ten children born to Eleanor and Theophilus Oglethorpe. James had a comfortable childhood, since his father owned land in different parts of England. The political nature of James Oglethorpe’s family had great influence on him. In 1698, Theophilus, James’ father, was elected to the House of Commons. While not much is know about Oglethorpe’s childhood, it is known that beginning in 1714 he was admitted to Corpus Christi College at Oxford University. Oglethorpe soon dropped out of school and joined the English military. He had a very successful campaign against the Turks. He returned to school after, but never graduated. Even though in 1731 Corpus Christi College awarded him an M.A. In 1722, Oglethorpe followed his father’s footsteps and was elected House of Commons where he focused on the domestic and international policies of England. At that time, in England, people could be jailed for their debt. This was the case with Robert Castell, one of Oglethorpe’s close friends. Due to the death of his friend in prison, as a result of bad prison conditions, Oglethorpe launched a campaign to improve prison conditions which earned him national notoriety.

It was during this time that Oglethorpe formed a plan to deal with all the poverty in England. His idea was to take all the “worthy poor” and move them to a new colony in the Americas where they could become farmers and merchants. Oglethorpe was also set on the idea that the structure of the social classes in England, which caused so much poverty, should be avoided in the new colony. This meant no one person would be allowed to hold much land and slavery would be prohibited. After he revealed his idea to King George II, he was given clearance to begin the colony of Georgia. Oglethorpe was also named one of the twenty-one trustees who would govern the colony. Unfortunately, when the new colonists were being selected, the original idea of picking people with debts was lost and the selection focused more on skills and usefulness.

In November 1732, 114 people left for Georgia to make their home there. Oglethorpe was on this first boat load of settlers. As a trustee, Oglethorpe worked hard, and at times, even broke the law, in order to allow Jews and other persecuted religious groups to settle in Georgia. He was strongly opposed to slavery. He did his best to make fair treaties with Native Americans and protect them from white traders. Though he was not officially a “governor”, because as a trustee he was not allowed to hold office, many considered him Georgia’s first governor for his clear leadership over the colony.

Georgia was agreed upon partially because it was a place the English could protect their colonies in America against the Spanish. It was because of this situation that Oglethorpe convinced the king to make him a Colonel. Oglethorpe launched a preemptive attack on the Spanish, which failed. The Spanish counter-attacked but Oglethorpe’s regiment managed to push back the Spanish in the Battle of Gully Hole Creek. In the Battle of the Bloody Marsh, Oglethorpe managed to beat the Spanish badly enough that they decided the heavy losses sustained were not worth the fight. Oglethorpe had successfully defended Georgia.

In 1744, Oglethorpe returned to England and married Elizabeth Wright. He settled in the small Essex town of Cranham. Oglethorpe remained a Trustee, but the other trustees in Georgia relaxed their restrictions on alcohol, slavery and land ownership. Oglethorpe lived to see the colony that he had made become part of the United States of America. After a brief sickness, Oglethorpe died on June 30, 1785.

Carolina Colony Founded

In August 1669 three ships left with the first settlers. Each family had paid 500 Pounds for their part of the settlement. They founded the settlement of Charlestown. Within two years there were 271 men and 69 women in the settlement

The proprietors of the settlement set up a system of government that was called “the Fundamental Constitution of the Carolinas”. One of the authors of the Constitution was John Locke. It provided for an independent parliament in the colony, which gave greater power to the owners of large lands.

The growth of the Carolina colony was slow. The coastal land was swampy and many of the early inhabitants came down with malaria. The proprietors of the colony wanted to offer large land holdings to a small number of settlers. This limited the number of settlers and slowed down the growth of the colony.

The settlement of northern and southern Carolina were very different. Settlers from Virginia seeking more land, while settlers in the Southern part of the colony were coming from the West Indies and Europe mostly settled Northern Carolinas. Settlers in the northern part grew tobacco, while the settler in the Southern part of the colony grew rice. The parts of the colony grew apart and finally, in 1712 they separated and became North and South Carolina.

Jamestown Founded

The British Monarchy did not have enough money to organize settlement activity in North America. Instead, they assigned that role to independent companies that raised money from merchants to accomplish this goal. King James gave the charter to settle the area around Virginia Company of London

On December 20th 1606, 105 settlers set sail to the New World to establish a colony for the London Virginia company. The group included 35 gentlemen, a minister, a doctor, 40 soldiers and a mixture of artisans and laborers. They arrived off the coast of Virginia in late April 1607. Captain Newport, who commanded the expeditions, was given instructions to find a site that was safe from Spanish attack, but gave access to the sea. Newport sailed up the James River. He found a site 50 miles up the river that was joined to the mainland by a small natural passageway, and thus defensible. He decided on that site and claimed it for James I. He called the new settlement “Jamestown”.

The settlers began by clearing the land and building a fortified settlement. They built small one and two room timber cottages and cleared additional land for planting crops. Initially, they found the Native Americans friendly and willing to trade, but relations with the native Indians remained uneven. Soon some of the negatives of the location of became apparent, as settlers began to die of disease– some from diseases they had brought from England and others from diseases they encountered in the mosquito infested swamp that they found initially in Jamestown. By winter, it was clear that not enough crops had been grown to survive the winter, a winter that turned out to be devastating. Despite trading with the Natives, by the end of the winter only 30 of the original settlers survived.

In the spring of 1608, Captain John Smith, who was a natural leader, took control of the settlement. Smith overcame one of the major problems of the settlement, the unwillingness of many of the noblemen to work. He made a simple rule: no work … no food.

Louisiana Code Noir

In 1741, four African slaves lived in the colony for every 1.2 free white. This imbalanced population combined with high mortality, the threat of conflict with Native Americans, shortages of food and goods, and isolation produced a colony in which African, French, and Spanish cultures blended to create a unique culture known as Creole. Because most of the Africans who first arrived in Louisiana were of one nation, the Bambara, they succeeded in preserving their language and culture and, through their solidarity, ultimately acted as an Africanizing influence on Louisiana. European colonists, aware of their precarious position in the colony, were inclined to work together with slaves and afford them some rights under the Code Noir.

While the system was certainly brutal for African slaves, the harsh conditions of life in Louisiana resulted in difficulties for all settlers. Since many of the colonists were themselves rejected by French society and forced into exile in Louisiana as criminals or debtors, historian Gwendolyn Midlo Hall states, “Africans arrived in an extremely fluid society where a socio-racial hierarchy was ill defined and hard to enforce.” Hall expertly sums up the situation in colonial Louisiana, “Desperation transcended race and even, to some extent, status, leading to cooperation among diverse peoples.” Though the arrival of Anglo-Americans with the Louisiana Purchase resulted in stricter laws governing slavery and narrower views in terms of race, Louisiana society would remain more diverse, fluid, and racially ambiguous than the other Southern slave states.

The Code Noir was established in 1724 to regulate slavery in colonial Louisiana. The Code Noir stated that slaves were to be instructed in the Catholic faith, given food and clothing allowances, and allowed to rest on Sundays and the right to petition a public prosecutor if they were mistreated. Also, young children had to be sold with their mothers. The Code Noir prohibited slaves from owning property or testify against whites.

Roanoke Colony (The Lost Colony)

In 1584, Sir Walter Raleigh dispatched an expedition to find a suitable location to establish a settlement in North America. The expedition, led by Richard Greenville, first attacked Spanish shipping in the Carribean then on the way back to England explored Albermale Sound in North Carolina and recommended it for settlement.

In 1585, a small group led by Richard Grenville established a settlement. Grenville left Captain Ralph Lane on Roanoke Island, with around 75 men and instructions to build a fort. He promised to return with more men and supplies. Lane had poor control over his men. They fought the local Indians. When Sir Francis Drake stopped in on the colony on the way back to England and offered to take the settlers back, the settlers accepted.

A few weeks after the colonists left, Greenville returned with more supplies. Greenville found the fort intact, but with no settlers. He left 15 soldiers behind in the fort, while he returned to England to bring more settlers. 121 settlers, led by John White set sail in 1587 for the colony. Soon after landing White’s daughter gave birth to Virginia Dare, the first English baby North America. The colonists were attacked a number of times by Native Indians. They convinced White to return to England, to explain their situation and bring back additional support. White returned to England but before he could organize a relief mission, Spain attempted to invade England. Not until the Spanish Armada was defeated was White able to return. When he arrived in August 1590, he found the settlement deserted, with no signs of the settlers or of a struggle. The only clue as to the whereabouts of the colonists was the word “CROATOAN.” To this day, the fate of these colonists remains a mystery.