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In the minds of white southerners even to my generation the taking of a black woman was not rape

as she was the property of the master  to do with as he pleased. In fact it was worse than rape.

Rape implies no compliance but having sex with a woman as your due is to contradict natural law.

I believe Jackson was a very moral and ethical man albeit a man of his times. 

 

 

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Egalitarian Slaveowners

A  Sexual Defense of Andy Jackson

Conversations with 

Ben, Wilson, Louis, John, Joyce, Anita Miriam

 

A Post-Katrina Political Discussion

Ben: Rudy, Do not give Andrew Jackson a bad rap. Blacks fought for him at the Battle of New Orleans. Which is more than our Generals did in the first and second world wars. His last sentence was "We shall all meet in heaven, black and white, black and white," And his famous Answer to John Randolph and the Southern secessionist was "The Union, it must be preserved" this was 30 years before the Civil War.

Rudy:  Ben, I was told that Jackson had 200 slaves and an indeterminate number of raped female slaves. Moreover, he broke his promise to free those Negroes who fought in the Battle of New Orleans.

So I am not quite sure that he measures up to John Randolph, who, as I recall, freed his slaves, or at least some of them. What Jackson said in the 1830s is not what he might have said in the 1860s. So I think you are all adrift in your assessment of Jackson.

Ben: No one will argue with you that Jackson was a southern dyed in the wool slave owner and autocrat. When he was seventeen on his arrival in Nashville to practice law he purchased an 18 year old black female slave. Since Jackson was not only a young man but as he was a hell-riser gambler, drinker, and general party man there is little doubt that he vented his sexual desires upon the young woman. However, if this was "rape" then rape was the style in frontier America. 

Early Americans were short of women partners. Many men took Indians and Slaves as wives in the seventeenth and 18th centuries. It was not until the 19th century that sex with your slave was considered slightly inappropriate. Indeed, if you read Henry Adams The Life of John Randolph, Adams is of the opinion that the production of great men in colonial days such as John Randolph was their sexual licentiousness and freedom on isolated plantations. 

Are we surprised that Masters frequented their female slaves? It is not mentioned in discreet history books but common sense tells us that it was a matter of course. In the minds of white southerners even to my generation the taking of a black woman was not rape as she was the property of the master  to do with as he pleased. In fact it was worse than rape. Rape implies no compliance but having sex with a woman as your due is to contradict natural law. I believe Jackson was a very moral and ethical man albeit a man of his times. 

Rudy: Wilson, I'm not much of a historian. Nor am I very good with people who know how to twist historical information to suit their fancy. In Ben's  masterpiece, how would you respond? Or would you ignore it altogether.

Wilson:  1.  You are perfectly qualified to check basic historical facts.  I would suggest you simply consult a reliable reference tool for the intelligent layman, e. g., the one-volume Columbia Encyclopedia.  This is always the best place to go for basic factual knowledge on any subject. 

2.  Henry Adams was one of the great American historians, he was a brilliant researcher, a genius at interpretation.   I find much in him to admire.  He is authoritative, and his opinions are to be taken more seriously than those of the ordinary Joe.  It is rare for even the best historians to have read Adams' biography of Randolph.   I have not read it and doubt that many persons in most history departments have studied it   In any case, I cannot comment.  There is a recent biography of Thomas Jefferson, which offers the same logic to support the idea that Jefferson was the father of the Hemings children.  I find the logic interesting, and the theory fascinating.  Logic, along with informed theoretical speculation is a perfectly valid enterprise.  

3. Most people fail to understand that historians are like economists, in that they can interpret only such information as is available.  However, the information is always  incomplete and we have to evaluate it according to the same methods that are utilized by other intelligent and educated people.  Caution and skepticism must always be watchwords, and the task of the historian, in this respect, is no different than that of the sociologist, the economist, or the political scientist.  Excesses of speculation are to be avoided.

4.  Historians, like other intellectuals, have to take moral stands.   It looks to me as if your friend is something of a moral relativist.  I have noticed that many conservatives tend to be moral relativists on the issue of slavery, but moral absolutists on the issue of abortion. Most people swing back and forth on the question of moral relativism, depending on the issue.   Nobody would justify the pedophilism of Tiberius Caesar on grounds of moral relativism.   Nor would we justify Hitler's murder of the Jews on the basis of moral relativism. 

The question of historical method is not a matter of whether one belongs to the labor guild, but one of how systematically, slowly, and cautiously one wishes to proceed in reaching a conclusion.  Caution, care and painstakingly laborious slowness are necessary ingredients for working in any discipline.  These traits are not dependent on whether one has a Ph.D., but on whether or not one wishes to proceed with deliberate caution, and systematic method derived from sociology, political science, economics, literary studies, linguistics, and other cautious methodological practices. 

Rudy: Thanks. I suppose it's not the shortage of historical fact, really, though I'm indeed not familiar with Jackson's personal life. I suppose it is the attitude, and worse so, in that I believe Ben is a Jew, and thus, his view comes as a surprise, in that I usually think of Jews as liberal in their social outlook. This indeed is a strange kind of liberalism, much too much Americanism in it. The way he casts his view of Jackson seems, really, ahistorical. 

Though I am short of historical facts with regard to Jackson that is not what troubles me. It is rather Ben's attitude toward slavery, "frontier women," and the slavery of black women. His sensibility is off-key. Ben says "It was not until the 19th century that sex with your slave was considered slightly inappropriate."

I do not think that the laymen's version of Columbia Encyclopedia and what it has to say about Andrew Jackson will help me very much with such a remark. Ben said, as I recall, that he was 70 or so. Somehow he seems to have slept through the 80s and 90s; if he did not sleep, it seems, he has totally ignored (blanked out) the thought of women writers.

But the criticism of Mencken is indeed a part of his generation. In his In Defense of Women, Mencken wrote, "That it should still be necessary, at this late stage in the senility of the human race to argue that women have a fine and fluent intelligence is surely eloquent proof of the defective observation, incurable prejudice, and general imbecility of their lords and masters."

In all my historical reading, I've never gotten this impression that Ben provides: "Indeed, if you read Henry Adams The Life of John Randolph, Adams is of the opinion that the production of great men in colonial days such as John Randolph was their sexual licentiousness and freedom on isolated plantations." That is, licentious freedom with slave and Native American women generated America's "great men." I'm sure here Ben is not referring to the issue of such "licentiousness" as great men. But rather the attitude of such “masters” toward slave women made such men feel as if they were "great men" and that attitude was handed down to the sons of their white wives.

Then Ben asks, "Are we surprised that Masters frequented their female slaves?" Actually, this frequency is not surprising. Ben's view is not commonly held. Usually we have no explanation for the high rate of mulattos that existed before 1863. Ben's common sense here is “refreshing.” As you know, what Ben has surmised in the case of Andy Jackson, I came to a similar conclusion with regard to Benjamin Turner, his purchase of an African woman, his rape of her, with the issue being Nathaniel Turner. As Ben points out, such acts were "a matter of course." Of course, a public school education does not help us in ferreting the truth, for such crucial events are "not mentioned in discreet history books but common sense tells us," and will lead us to the truth of slavery if we are willing to reason matters out. There is matter in this view.

Ben, however, merely views this “licentiousness” within a social environmental context, a status quo in limited circles and within restricted moments. That’s troubling.  These men of early America, Ben explains, "were short of women partners." So their behavior is on some level only that which a man can understand. And thus Ben reaches this conclusion, "even to my generation the taking of a black woman was not rape as she was the property of the master to do with as he pleased." 

Ben backtracks but comes out no better, proving himself, to paraphrase Mencken, if not an ass at least, "a booby."

From Ben’s curious male point of view, what Andy Jackson and Ben Turner did "was worse than rape." Rape, seemingly, is not very high on his scales of crimes. The greater violation is the master's attitude rather than the act of rape itself: "Rape implies no compliance but having sex with a woman as your due is to contradict natural law." Of course, I am not familiar with what "natural law" says in such matters. But that is no matter for discussion here.

What is worst of all is Ben's conclusion, which is not far from the status quo. After he allows that there has been some moral and ethical violations on the part of our white masters, still he says: "I believe Jackson was a very moral and ethical man albeit a man of his times." I doubt any man is without any morals and ethics, even thieves and murderers.

But such whitewashing of Jackson's moral and ethics after he has acknowledged his immorality and unethical behavior is astounding to say the least. This definitely is not the cautious intellectual view, Wilson told me I should expect from the best minds. And if indeed Ben’s view of our Founding Fathers and Presidents (17th –19th centuries), are our view of them, my God, we are overdue for a revolution of thought. 

Louis: Rudy, even the History Channel, running a two-hour piece on Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone, acknowledges Jackson's attitudes towards both Slaves and Indians. In the segment covering Crockett, the narrator points to how Crockett had felt used by Jackson and the other large plantation owners of Kentucky and Tennessee to the point of finally leaving him after the Indian Wars of 1815. Inside of this scenario, we find hints in the narration to support some of his licentiousness, even while they don't directly speak to it.

With my own research into the Caribbean, the reason why the creolization (translate that to miscegenation) of Amerindians and Africans takes place is directly because of the overwhelming disproportion of white men to white women who made the trip across the Atlantic prior to the 19th Century (like deeper than 10 to 1 ration).

Ben: Rudy, Yes I am a Jew, albeit, a Southern Jew who ate hominy grits and ham like the rest. Yes, I have a somewhat pragmatic view of Southern ethics as I graduated from public school in Washington D.C. with not only the schools segregated but all hotels restaurants parks swimming pools and churches segregated. I think it a misconception to place 21st sensitivities upon the backs of 19th century societies. Andrew Jackson would challenge you to a duel if you said he was an unfair, or unjust man. He considered himself a paragon of virtue. 

Confederates believed they were protecting an honorable society. To criticize them in retrospect is to compare pears to oranges. Save your criticism for contemporary bigots, of which we have plenty. The fact is that sex on a southern plantation in the 19th century considered woman slaves, woman slaves, nothing more. You may read all history books printed and not find mention of that discreet subject but if you want to be philosophical about it when sex was involved men became very egalitarian. And let us not forget that most Southern men were nursed by black women. The "wet nurse" has disappeared.

Perhaps, I am too old, and perhaps, things have changed. But I doubt it

Rudy: Ben, I have no problem with hominy grits or ham. Your "pragmatic view of Southern ethics," however, is what troubles me. I am a Virginian thus I am a bit familiar with Southern ethics. Black slavery was not only wrong just yesterday. It was wrong from the 17th c through 19th c. The wrongness of it did not start in 1863. The moral revulsion to the abuse of slave women did not start two decades ago.

Matter of fact, there was an entire literature dedicated to it called "slave narratives" and an entire movement dedicated to it called "abolitionism." And the relationship of the "master" and his female slaves was one of the key arguments of the immorality of slavery. Here we have not only a violation of "property" but we have here also a violation of marriage vows and other religious tenets. So it is a bit of self-delusion and bravado on your part to charge that I'm judging with "21st sensitivities." That is so much hogwash, however Southern you think you might be.

My God, Ben, what does it mean to say "when sex was involved men became very egalitarian." A white man sleeping with a black female slave automatically makes him "egalitarian"? You must indeed have a strange notion of what "egalitarian" is and what it means to be a female slave. This kind of argument is more akin to the ethics of a fraternity house that practices their loose morals and jest on overweight women. These women are somehow elevated by the frat brother's presence and attention. But all of this has nothing to do with Southern morality. Books aside, no Southern aristocrat or descendant of a Southern aristocrat would put forth such arguments as you have made.

From what you have written you know little or nothing, that I can detect, about the complexity of Southern morality. Faint shadows of what you suggest may be found in Faulkner and other Southern writers. But they would dare not put forth such a crass moral argument as you have done here. I do not believe for one moment that Thomas Jefferson ceased being Thomas Jefferson when he slept and fathered children on Sally Hemings. 

Joyce: You have the patience of Job. I wonder how this man exercises this dangerously warped ethics in the world today.

John: you should direct your friend to some contemporary accounts such as  In Miserable Slavery the diary of Thomas Thistlewod. The slaveowners in Jamaica were the same people as the slaveowners in  Virginia  They knew they were committing rape. Church histories are full of condemnations of rape of slave women.

Ben: Rudy,  I am talking about the real world, not the world of philosophers and sophisticates. If we look for historical support we can cite Jesus for a start. But the cruel fact is that the society as a whole was not sympathetic to the sensitivity of slaves. Society as a whole both North and South condoned slavery and deprecated black men and women with impunity. I am not talking about The South but the capital of our country, Washington D.C. in the forties and fifties. Not so long ago. When white boys considered it a game to drive to black neighborhoods and rape black girls.

Tell me how many arrests for rape can you find in newspapers of that period. Rather than consider it criminal and cruel society ignored it. I am just saying that white man's abuse of black women was considered as usual and society simply did not care. In Gone With The Wind we find Clark Gable in a brothel. But heroes could frequent brothels by the unwritten law. Again, the injustices of history cannot be rectified but the injustices of today can be.

Miriam: Rudy, who is Ben Schwartz and who endowed him with the Truth?  I am so sick of that "but he was a man of his times" rationalization to defend the immoral behavior of licentious White men.  Yeah, and what about that lie (as opposed to the  "myth") about the sexually-aggressive enslaved Black woman who seduced her master.  Give me a break!  

Anita: Hi Rudy. (But first, it's safe to say probably Andrew Jackson ate grits and ham, too.)

You were too polite to Ben. He displays a warped and a sick white reasoning. Worse yet is that he would say these things! Defending white slave owners that raped their women slaves like it was a packaged deal. And how does he know what Confederates really believed? Ben's reading too many white history books. Putting a name on something (egalitarian) doesn't make it then, acceptable no matter what year it happened!  

"even to my generation the taking of a black woman was not rape as she was the property of the master to do with as he pleased"..

What generation would that be? Hope it's not mine! And why did he say 'perhaps I am too old'? It doesn't matter how old he is. No one is too old to know the Truth.

To add to the disgust is the fact that white politicians, did this! Being a Southern hominy-ham-eating Jew, doesn't make Ben, know what he's talking about. The fact that everything around him was segregated makes me think he really didn't know what was going on because everything around him was white. Unless maybe somebody way back in his family was a slave owner!

Ben needs to know nothing in history has changed. Slave owning and raping the women along with the other heinous criminal acts upon Black men have ALWAYS been WRONG. Selling human beings? Put Ben on the blocks and see how much $ he's worth! Then he can know what it feels like.

There is no purpose in trying to make excuses up for what white people did to Black people. Ben should know his song well before he sings it! Better yet he shouldn't sing his song at all.

Thanks, Rudy. It's always nice to hear from you even when I cringed reading this one.

Miriam: Rudy, I don't like this Ben at all.  He has a supercilious attitude that I find very dismissive of you and your views.  But then he's a Southerner.  Aha, that explains it, because many Southern Jews capitulated to the "morality" and "ethics" of the mainstream.

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See also: Distant Drums (1951) Andrew Jackson & the origins of the Democratic Party

posted 4 October 2005  

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DVDs -- A Huey P. Newton Story 2001  / What We Want, What We Believe The Black Panther Party Library 

The Spook Who Sat By the Door  / Passin' It On; The Black Panthers' Search for Justice /

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DVDs -- A Huey P. Newton Story 2001  / What We Want, What We Believe The Black Panther Party Library 

The Spook Who Sat By the Door  / Passin' It On; The Black Panthers' Search for Justice

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The New Jim Crow

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Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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Ancient African Nations

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