May 20, 2017
Justice Initiative International
The U.S. is in the midst of a demographic transition unlike any in history. No nation with a white European ethnic majority has evolved to become a nonwhite-majority nation, a shift the U.S. is on track to achieve by mid-century. Certainly no nation has done so after half a millennium in which white Europeans and their American kin colonized much of the (nonwhite) world, and dominated global economics and warfare. (Bloomberg)
We now know that the invasion of Iraq had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11, as was the rationale at the outset by the Bush administration. And the real reason for the invasion of Iraq? Was it because of US desire for Iraqi oil? Was it at the request of Israel because of Saddam Hussein’s aggression against Israel? Was it about water? Was it because of the desire of America’s Military Industrial Complex to be the recipient of even more money from US taxpayers? Maybe it was a combination all these reasons and more.
I had heard early in the conflict that a major reason for the war was to assist Israel in the possible access to the Tigress and Euphrates Rivers in Iraq to serve Israeli water needs. It makes sense. As the violence in Iraq is ongoing, thanks in large part to the US destabilization in the area, the recent conflict is also about water. Regarding this, Fred Pearce notes in the Yale publication in 2014:
Conflicts over water have long haunted the Middle East. Yet in the current fighting in Iraq, the major dams on the Tigris and Euphrates rivers are seen not just as strategic targets but as powerful weapons of war….
The two rivers water a region long known as the “Fertile Crescent,” which sustained ancient Mesopotamian civilizations. They were the first rivers to be used for large-scale irrigation, beginning about 7500 years ago. The first water war was also recorded here, when the king of Umma cut the banks of irrigation canals alongside the Euphrates dug by his neighbor, the king of Girsu.
Not much has changed. The dependence persists, and so do the disputes. The main difference today is that the diversion dams are bigger, and supply hydroelectric power as well as water. And that is why in recent months, many of the key battles in Iraq’s civil war have been over large dams. (Yale)
The “real” reason(s) might not have seemed compelling enough to kill thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq or might demonstrate too much of the underlying greed of the government and its corporate backers. (Iraq Body Count notes that 280,000 violent deaths occurred in Iraq. Others, as by the Opinion Research Business survey, estimate 1,220,580 deaths thanks to the war.)
And war profiteering?
One of the top profiteers from the Iraq War was oil field services corporation, Halliburton. Halliburton gained $39.5 billion in “federal contracts related to the Iraq war”.Many individuals have asserted that there were profit motives for the Bush-Cheney administration to invade Iraq in 2003. Dick Cheney served as Halliburton’s CEO from 1995 until 2000. Cheney claimed he had cut ties with the corporation although, according to a CNN report, “Cheney was still receiving about $150,000 a year in deferred payments.” (Wikipedia)
The same behavior of government lying applies to domestic policies as well, and, in this instance, I will address (1) voting, (2) immigration issues and (3) other domestic policies in the United States such as removing diverse history from our schools. But first here is information about changing demographics.
Observing Patterns of White Concern about Changing Demographics
About 10 years ago I began hearing about stringent voter ID laws being both thought of and implemented in places like North Carolina and I began to inquire about what on earth was happening in the South. I explored this issue with civil rights activists and was told that the powers that be – mostly white, of course – were concerned that too many people of color were moving into the South. So, I realized then that southern whites were determined not to allow people of color to control the southern political scene any more than they already had since the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. And what better way then change laws or develop deceptive policies, such as crosschecking, that largely prevents huge numbers of people of color from voting!
Voter suppression also increased after the 2013 Shelby v Holder case in Alabama when the Supreme Court decision destroyed a critical part (preclearance) of the Voting Rights Act. As a result of the ruling, states are no longer required to seek permission from the courts to implement what might be discriminatory voting laws, such as stringent voter ID laws and gerrymandering of districts.
For decades, I have also worked in the rural south in efforts to save black owned land and assist black farmers throughout the region. In my contact with farmers, I knew first hand that countless Mexicans had moved into the region after NAFTA, as both black and white farmers were hiring Mexicans and many black farmers were learning Spanish so they could converse with their workers.
In fact, since the 1990’s passage of NAFTA, some 2.3 million Mexicans were forced off the land as workers or farmers in Mexico. This was largely because of the huge US Department of Agriculture subsidies of, for example, cheap corn and other crops that were dumped on the Mexican market. The Mexican farmers couldn’t compete with these cheap crops so many moved into the United States.
And Trump blames the Mexican migrants? Give me a break! Instead, he needs to go after the US policies that offer massive subsidies to huge corporate agribusiness entities. It’s the US that’s the culprit here and most certainly not the Mexican migrants. Invariably it’s the little guy or woman against the corporate and government exploiters.
Projections of Whites as a Minority in the United States
From a 2015 Aljazeera article, here is something about this:
The nation’s demographics are on a clear trajectory: White people are dying faster than they are being born, which means they are on target to become a minority in the United States in 30 years.
For the third year in a row, deaths of non-Hispanic whites outnumbered births, according to detailed population estimates for states and counties released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau….
White populations under 20 declined in 46 states – in all but Hawaii, Utah, South Dakota, North Dakota and the District of Columbia.
Non-Hispanic whites were the only group with a higher death rate than birthrate. As a result, their numbers grew the slowest: up 0.5 percent from 2013 to 2014, compared with 2.1 percent for Hispanics, 1.3 percent for black people, 3.2 percent for Asians, 1.4 percent for American Indians and Alaska Natives, and 2.3 percent for native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders.(Aljazeera)
Is this why the right-wing in America wants to rid the country of Planned Parenthood, women’s contraception and rights to abortion? They want more white babies as the real reason rather than any kind of religious moral issues? Something to think about!
Hopefully white women will wise up to this and consider stopping having sex with their white husbands or lovers to protest this attack against women. “No sex” protests have worked effectively to change policies in some countries. “Do sex strikes ever work? Yes, but mostly as a means of garnering media attention.” (Slate) Getting media attention on a sex protest like this sounds like an excellent idea!
Minority Population in the South?
Another major consideration to explain what I was witnessing as far as voter suppression is concerned is the rapidly changing demographics in the southern US in particular. Here is something from Loyala University in 2009 reporting North Carolina receiving huge numbers of Latinos:
As Figure 1 shows, seven of the ten states which witnessed the fastest rates of Latino growth during the decade of the 1990s, are located in the South. More specifically, the Latino population in North Carolina grew close to 400 percent, followed by those in Arkansas (337 percent), Georgia (300 percent), and Tennessee (278 percent). The hyper-growth of Latino communities in the South is all the more remarkable in light of the fact that during the same decade the average nationwide growth of the Latino population was only 58 percent….
Economic expansion in the South has been the direct result of the region’s insertion in global capitalism. A growing number of transnational corporations, such as CNN, Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Daimler-Benz, Toyota, Wal-Mart, and Fed-Ex, have located their headquarters or production plants in the region. These corporations operate through post-industrial forms of production that attracts more than just highly-skilled and high-income professional and managerial class. The new industrial models also depend on a vast low-skilled force, often hired in temporary and precarious arrangements, to support the housing, consumption, and lifestyle requirements of the professional class. Although there has been some migration of highly-skilled industrial workers from Latin America, the great majority of Latino immigrants have joined the flexible unskilled labor pool. Many work in construction, dry walling and roofing companies, landscaping firms, hotels, restaurants and manufacturing plants, not only in cities such as Atlanta and Raleigh, but also in Birmingham, Huntsville, Memphis, and Little Rock. (Loyola University)
White Supremacy Raises Its Ugly Head
In response to the changing demographics in America, and in the South in particular, the white elite in the South is doing whatever it can to maintain power. It is doing this, for one, with voter suppression, such as cross-checking as mentioned above; restrictive immigration initiatives; attacking black history departments and diversity in history overall in universities.
Cross checking is when states will compare voter roles. If the names are the same they will purge the names from the voting roll. They do not necessarily check middle names, dates of birth etc. Conservatives will state, as Trump did as well, that millions of people are voting twice. False news? Absolutely.
Does crosschecking discriminate against minorities? Yes, that appears to be the case. Here’s why:
We had Mark Swedlund, a database expert whose clients include eBay and American Express, look at the data from Georgia and Virginia, and he was shocked by Crosscheck’s “childish methodology.” He added, “God forbid your name is Garcia, of which there are 858,000 in the U.S., and your first name is Joseph or Jose. You’re probably suspected of voting in 27 states.”
Swedlund’s statistical analysis found that African-American, Latino and Asian names predominate, a simple result of the Crosscheck matching process, which spews out little more than a bunch of common names. No surprise: The U.S. Census data shows that minorities are overrepresented in 85 of 100 of the most common last names. If your name is Washington, there’s an 89 percent chance you’re African-American. If your last name is Hernandez, there’s a 94 percent chance you’re Hispanic. If your name is Kim, there’s a 95 percent chance you’re Asian. (Rolling Stone)
So here are some figures on the impact of crosschecking in the last election. In November 2016, just after the presidential elections, journalist Greg Palast made this striking report on the impact of crosschecking:
The system, called Crosscheck, is detailed in my Rolling Stone report,
“The GOP’s Stealth War on Voters,”
Crosscheck in action:
Trump victory margin in Arizona: 85,257
Arizona Crosscheck purge list: 270,824
Trump victory margin in North Carolina: 177,008
North Carolina Crosscheck purge list: 589,393
And people illegally voting or voting twice? In December 2016 the Washington Post reported that only 4 people voted twice that they could find from their research and here are the scenarios of these four:
Possible cases of voter fraud
Two possible cases of fraud in Washington state.Investigators are looking at two possible cases of fraud near the Idaho border. In the first, a man may have signed his deceased wife’s name on an absentee ballot; in the second, someone may have voted in both states. Charges have not been filed in either case.
A possible case in South Carolina. A man in the Palmetto State is being investigated on suspicion of voting both by absentee ballot and in person.
Ballots are being challenged in North Carolina. Because of the close gubernatorial race in North Carolina, several dozen ballots were challenged by Republicans as having been cast by convicted felons in the state. An independent group found that at least 18 of the 43 alleged cases of fraud were not fraud at all, instead confusing valid voters with people who were ineligible given their status. There’s not yet any verification that the other ballots were from ineligible voters, either….
As of writing, there are four demonstrated examples of people committing voter fraud during the 2016 general election. That’s 0.000002 percent of the ballots cast in the race for the White House – if they counted, which they won’t. (And it’s including the mayoral fraud in Florida.)
There is simply no evidence that fraudulent ballots played any significant role in the 2016 presidential election whatsoever. (Washington Post)
In many key states, the number of people purged by Crosscheck was much, much larger than Trump’s margin of victory. As Tom Hartmann notes in his January 2017 article “Does No One Care That 7 Million Votes Were Not Counted?”
In Michigan, for example, the number of people purged from the voting rolls — 449,000 — was about 40 times larger than Trump’s margin of victory — around 10,700 votes.
In other words, Crosscheck probably won Michigan for Trump.
It also probably won him Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
This is a HUGE story — the presidential election was probably stolen! (Hartmann)
Trump keeps trying to restrict those from various Middle Eastern countries and the courts continue to challenge his directives. The elite, such as Trump, is also justifying these actions by blaming migrants, primarily from the Mexico or the Middle East, of various crimes. Remember, these folks from Mexico and the Middle East are people of color!
Trump rails against Mexicans, for example, claiming rape or whatever he chooses to say that day about crimes committed by migrants, which are ridiculous accusations based on all the findings. But then Trump does not seem enamored with science, or research about anything that contradicts his mandate for the day. I must say that when George W. Bush said he was going after the “generic” terrorists in the wake of 9/11, I thought “good”, he was going after the real criminals in America – the white supremacists such as the KKK and others like the KKK now sitting in boardrooms, as renowned civil rights leader Reverend Joseph Lowery would remind us. It was wishful thinking on my part.
However, regarding migrants and crime, as reported in the New York Times in January 2017 “that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than people born in the United States”. This applies to the undocumented as well. Here’s what the New York Times had to say about this.
A central point of an executive order President Trump signed on Wednesday – and a mainstay of his campaign speeches – is the view that undocumented immigrants pose a threat to public safety.
But several studies, over many years, have concluded that immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than people born in the United States. And experts say the available evidence does not support the idea that undocumented immigrants commit a disproportionate share of crime. (New York Times)
Trump has also inappropriately complained about and pointed his fingers at Muslims and his accusations are totally inaccurate. From a Georgia State University study shared in a March 2017 article in Reason.com entitled “Do Muslims Commit Most U.S. Terrorist Attacks? Nope. Not even close” Ronald Bailey reports:The Georgia State researchers conclude: “By covering terrorist attacks by Muslims dramatically more than other incidents, media frame this type of event as more prevalent. Based on these findings, it is no wonder that Americans are so fearful of radical Islamic terrorism. Reality shows, however, that these fears are misplaced.”
Such fears are indeed misplaced. Your risk of being killed in a jihadist terror attack in the last 15 years amounted to roughly 1 in 2,640,000. Even if you stretch the period back to include 9/11, the risk would still just have been 1 in 110,000. Your lifetime risk of dying in a lightning strike is 1 in 161,000, and your chance of being killed in a motor vehicle crash is 1 in 114. Given that our government has already squandered more than $500 billion on homeland security, while encroaching on our liberties, it is vital that Americans keep the threat of terrorism in perspective. This new study is one small step in that direction. (Reason.com)
So Trump also wants to build a wall between the US and Mexico? Do you think he wants to primarily protect Mexicans from American violence? Maybe so!
Destroying Our Knowledge of Diverse Histories
One effective way to control people is to deny them their history. As Karl Marx would say, “People are treated differently for profit.” So denying people their history makes it easier to exploit and control others for your own profit and that appears to be largely the rationale here. White Americans are apparently poised to dilute the diversity of history being taught in universities. But here’s something more about the importance of knowing our own history.
Amos Wilson notes in the introduction of his profound book, “The Falsification of Afrikan Consciousness: Eurocentric History, and the Psychiatry of White Supremacy” that the control of history is one in which whites can control the behavior of those they desire to oppress for the white community’s benefit:
“Eurocentric historiography – the biasing and falsification of history in ways that justify White supremacy – is not merely fiddle-faddle of absent minded professors ensconced in academic ivory towers. It involves a deliberate and serious exercise in myth-making, in the development of Eurocentric cultural mythic thought which rationalizes a concrete social order founded on the perpetual subordination of Afrikan peoples to European peoples. Moreover, the Eurocentric social order which the European historiograhic and behavioral science establishment legitimate and support, is essentially a “social machine” which manufactures a consciousness and behavioral orientation in Afrikan peoples designed to serve the purposes of White supremacy.” (Amos Wilson)
In Georgia, Kennesaw State University has recently attempted to rid the University of its black history department. However, thanks to responses from both white and black students, the university has delayed the decision to do so. But it is my understanding that many universities across the country are exploring that same possibility of ridding their curriculum of Black history but also women’s history, etc.Another example is that some states are wanting to rid their schools of Howard Zinn’s book “The People’s History of the United States.” Here’s what has been happening recently in Arizona and Indiana as reported by “Democracy Now” on March 3, 2017:
And a bill before the Arkansas state Legislature would prohibit publicly funded schools from teaching the works of late legendary historian Howard Zinn. In 1980, Howard Zinn published his classic book, “A People’s History of the United States,” which would go on to sell more than a million copies. The Arkansas bill is not the first attempt to censor Howard Zinn’s works. Indiana’s governor attempted a similar measure in 2010, and in 2011, Arizona lawmakers removed “A People’s History” from schools in Tucson as part of the ban on Mexican American studies. (Democracy Now)
So Zinn is a threat to the white powers that be? It appears so. And I need to say that if something is identified as a threat to conservative whites it’s a time to run out and get the book, article or whatever they are wanting to ban because it will probably have important and relevant information for you and for the masses of people in the United States and all over the world.
And why is this the case? In his work, Zinn is about “empowering” the people whether they are black, white, Latino, native American, etc., he is writing about their history and sharing their stories. He wisely acknowledged that history is generally written by the conquerors rather than offering a narrative from the people themselves and about their struggles and victories and what their desires might be. He importantly wanted to change that traditional narrative by offering us his book:
In a letter responding to a 2007 critical review of his A Young People’s History Of The United States (a release of the title for younger readers) in The New York Times Book Review, Zinn wrote:
My history… describes the inspiring struggle of those who have fought slavery and racism (Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, Fannie Lou Hamer, Bob Moses), of the labor organizers who have led strikes for the rights of working people (Big Bill Haywood, Mother Jones, César Chávez), of the socialists and others who have protested war and militarism (Eugene V. Debs, Helen Keller, the Rev. Daniel Berrigan, Cindy Sheehan). My hero is not Theodore Roosevelt, who loved war and congratulated a general after a massacre of Filipino villagers at the turn of the century, but Mark Twain, who denounced the massacre and satirized imperialism.
I want young people to understand that ours is a beautiful country, but it has been taken over by men who have no respect for human rights or constitutional liberties. Our people are basically decent and caring, and our highest ideals are expressed in the Declaration of Independence, which says that all of us have an equal right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” The history of our country, I point out in my book, is a striving, against corporate robber barons and war makers, to make those ideals a reality – and all of us, of whatever age, can find immense satisfaction in becoming part of that. (Wikipedia)
So the white South wants us only to know about white male conquerors and white male accomplishments and white stories that shine the light on those of white European descent? How boring and irrelevant is that? Yet it appears to be the case and it needs to be defied! And, mind you, white woman are left out of these accounts as well.
White folks wanting this are obviously incredibly insecure and, in fact, American and European history has never been as broad or as diverse as it should be in the first place. Again, it takes one to know one! Diverse history? We need much more of it!
Given the perceived threat of whites becoming a minority in America, I have mentioned above some of what appears to be actions by white conservatives to maintain white power in America through voter suppression; harassing migrants and preventing more from coming into the country; attempting to deny all of us access to the diverse history of Americans and of those throughout world. These, I know, are but a few examples. Please keep in mind that these objectives of maintaining white superiority are not only southern, as it is often touted, but by countless whites across the entire country who are of that mindset as well.
Lies are being told by the national, state and local governments to achieve the goal of enhancing “white supremacy” instead of empowering all of the people in the United States in what is supposed to be a democracy.
We have our work cut out for us, that’s for sure, and activists, including countless white folks as well, and many of the courts all over the country are doing precisely that by organizing in response to this current state oppression. This is hugely encouraging. I firmly believe that democratic principles and the important collective mindset of respect for the other and honoring the humanity of the other are values engrained in millions of Americans. I must say I am also convinced that, ultimately, it is these values that will prevail.
By William Small
May 17, 2017
Justice Initiative International
The American political landscape currently seems to be in a state of disarray. The confusion that now seems to abound serves to create the impression, in the minds of some, that the Nation is experiencing some transition in its national values. It is true that we have a President who often lacks presidential composure and frequently fails to display a common acceptable standard of coherent adult behavior. However, it is the public unravelling of an American President that is being displayed center stage for the entire world to see, that some find so upsetting.America and particularly African Americans must not be overly influenced by those distractions. We must not fail to see that the policies and practices which the current President espouses are in fact consistent with what has become the standard United States policy play book. The breakdown in sophistication and competence displayed by the President has resulted in the removal of the mask, and the entire world is now looking at the naked heart of the nation’s political institutions; and they are frightened by what they see. This is the unsettling fact, as we wait to see who will emerge as the adult in the room?
It is for some a special concern that the names mentioned most as potentially helpful stable adults, and as persons who understand national and international government, are names that are most often drawn from a cadre of leaders who ”are” military Generals. These Generals have quietly exchanged their uniforms for business suits. My special concern is reinforced in the old adage “that if the only tool you have or the tool that you are most comfortable with is a hammer- then every problem looks like a nail”. I do not think it is a political coincidence that America has “just discovered” how antiquated and unprepared the United State military establishment has reportedly become. It is not, for me, a coincidence that the President of North Korea has selectively emerged as the newest and largest threat to the United States and to United State global interests: “Remember the Maine”, remember the Gulf of Tonkin, remember The Weapons of Mass Destruction,” remember Muammar Gaddafi. Most of all remember how the nature of war has changed over the last century. Remember that war today is almost entirely an enterprise orchestrated by proxy nations and supported by a non-draft based United State Military machine. A machine that has been consistently engaged in the enterprise of war for the last half century and has not produced a significant victory since WWII. The economic cost of war and the lingering negative impacts on survivors, civilian non-combatants, infrastructure, antiquities and other natural and valuable human and physical resources, could easily provide for peace-if peace was the desired outcome.
President Trump was praised by nearly all for acting Presidential when he fired 80 or so missiles into Syria, at the reported cost of 93 million dollars and a superb chocolate cake. This, of course, was in retaliation for their alleged use of poison gas by Syria. The President and UN Ambassador Niki Haley railed over the horrible sight of dead children who were presumed to have been poisoned by the gas incident.
However, when any person dies unnecessarily and in-humanely, death is a horror. We must remember that the United States and its Allies have flown thousands of sorties on Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Yemen, killing untold numbers of civilians and children in the process. Drone strikes have been invoked by the United States that have killed the 16 year old son of Anwar al Awlaki who was a United States citizen. Later the 8 year old daughter of al Awlaki was reported to have also been killed in a United States supported air strike. I heard no apologies recited, I heard no sympathies expressed. One child killed under the Obama administration, one child killed under the Trump administration. America must ask whether all lives do matter or whether the pronouncement is just more “fake news”.
Sadly, perhaps the real differences between both of America’s major political parties have been absorbed by the dominant values they share. Values like race and class privilege, power and an unholy respect for capital. Perhaps the “Citizens United” case has reduced establishment politics in America to a frenetic scramble for money, advantage and personal insulation from accountability. The Trump administration is actively stripping the veneer of specialness off of the American Democratic System.
As America watches the irrationality, “the voters become increasingly confused and upset” and the politicians try desperately to ignore or exploit the inconsistencies and the aberrations. Solutions seem to become further and further removed from the grasp and consciousness of our elected officials. Try as it may, this presidential administration, comports itself in a way which unmistakably says that wealth and white privilege continues to “Trump” the values of democracy in America and in the jurisdictions which America controls.
I ask the reader to reflect back to the election of President Obama. The Republican establishment was “as clear as a bell” that they were not going to accept Black political leadership. They vowed to work to insure President Obama’s marginalization and hopefully his failure. There was no serious recital of any ideological differences to support their position. None was necessary. It was not a difference in party objectives that put their bigotry on the national record. It was the resurrection of America’s historical nemesis “Racial Bigotry and the fear of losing ‘White Control'”. It could not have been said more plainly by the Republican establishment if they had posted a sign saying “Blacks Need Not Apply”. Like the Harlem Hell Fighters of WWI, President Obama, because of American racism, was more highly regarded abroad than he was in the halls of government in the country where he had been elected President.
The official Republican racist reaction to the election of an African American President was never specifically defined or adequately challenged by elected Democrats or by Black leadership. The Republican response to the election of Barack Hussein as the President of the United States, patently and quickly removed any doubt as to whether or not the spirit of the COINTELPRO was alive and well in America. Remember it was once announced under that program that Dr. Martin Luther King was “the most dangerous Negro in America”.
The question for Black political activists, strategists and leaders of all stripes and persuasions as the world and nation wrestle with the Trump approach to governing simply is: “What have we, as Black people, learned from history and how will that learning be manifested?”
Dr. William Small, Jr. is a retired educator, and a former Board Chairman
and Trustee at South Carolina State University.
As always, to understand most any conflict requires following the money. With King Cotton as its infamous commodity, the South reaped huge profits domestically and internationally thanks to slavery. So the South wanted to both save slavery and expand it to the west to appease what the South perceived as aspiring southern slave owners. The Northern Republicans were not about to let this happen. They wanted to western lands primarily for white independent farmers.
Regarding the freedmen, however, questions remain about the sentiments and/or animosity primarily of General William Sherman and President Abraham Lincoln toward the freedmen. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton seems somewhat consistent in expressing concern about the welfare of those under the oppression of slavery and white supremacy. Yet, change in attitudes is also possible which will not be explored in this article.
Notwithstanding these contradictions, the three (but primarily Sherman and Stanton) were engaged in the development of an historic document that still, in many ways, resonates today as expressed by Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates in the article below, in which he also provides more information about the origins of the “40 acres” or land distribution plan.
While it is also likely true that most who write their memoirs will attempt to give a good impression of themselves, General William T. Sherman was probably of that category. In the previous Part Three of this series I offer direct narrative from his memoir where he attempts to defend himself from accusations of racism from President Lincoln and those around Lincoln. New York Times writer and Civil War historian Rick Beard corroborates that Sherman’s attitude toward the freed slaves was, as he states, one of “racial antipathies”.
Beard summarizes Sherman’s attitudes in the following paragraph:
“Uncle Billy,” as his troops affectionately called him, had never hidden his racial antipathies. In a July 1864 letter from Atlanta, he insisted that “a nigger is not a white man, and all the Psalm singing on earth won’t make him so.” Around the same time, Lincoln reminded Sherman that, the deployment of black troops “being a law, it must be treated as such by all of us.” He closed with the gentle question, “May I ask therefore that you will give your hearty cooperation?” The response was vintage Sherman. After reassurances of his “highest veneration for the law” and promises to “respect it always,” he reminded his commander in chief that he had more pressing matters at hand. “When I have taken Atlanta and can sit down in some peace,” Sherman promised, “I will convey by letter a fuller expression of my views.”
(New York Times)
The views of Lincoln? It’s hard to summarize. Some have noted that his concern was primarily that of maintaining the Union and the issue of ending slavery was, then, not as much a factor for him. In fact, while Lincoln and others were opposed to the southern desire to expand slavery into the west, it was primarily slaves who created the enormous wealth for white southern plantation owners that was also of benefit to the northern industrialists. Yet the South was losing its grip on the new technologies of the day and was seemingly too arrogant to actually see what was happening.
The North, by contrast, was well on its way toward a commercial and manufacturing economy, which would have a direct impact on its war making ability. By 1860, 90 percent of the nation’s manufacturing output came from northern states. The North produced 17 times more cotton and woolen textiles than the South, 30 times more leather goods, 20 times more pig iron, and 32 times more firearms. The North produced 3,200 firearms to every 100 produced in the South. Only about 40 percent of the Northern population was still engaged in agriculture by 1860, as compared to 84 percent of the South….
….William T. Sherman’s Union troops laid waste to much of the Georgia countryside during the Atlanta Campaign and the subsequent “March to the Sea.” Sherman’s campaigns inflicted massive damage to Southern industry, agriculture and infrastructure. His soldiers destroyed rail lines and captured the major economic and transportation hub of Atlanta and the critical seaport of Savannah. When Sherman famously telegraphed Lincoln in December 1864, “I beg to present you as a Christmas gift the city of Savannah,” his gift included “about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton.” Sherman himself later estimated that this campaign, which eventually moved
north and similarly impacted the Carolinas, caused $100 million of destruction. An already troubled Confederate economy simply could not absorb such massive losses and survive. (National Park Service)
Nevertheless, Special Field Order 15, that evolved out of the Savannah gathering with Black leaders remains historic and a tragic betrayal all in one, as the freedmen had their 40 acres for such a short time after the assassination of Lincoln and the advent of President Andrew Johnson. The question always wisely asked is “Where is my forty acres and a mule?”
Henry Louis Gates indicates in the article below, however, how the response to Field Order 15 was significant and immediate in the press and the respective black and white communities. He writes: “The effect throughout the South was electric: As Eric Foner explains, “the freedmen hastened to take advantage of the Order.”
Gates also notes that:
Stanton, aware of the great historical significance of the meeting, presented Henry Ward Beecher (Harriet Beecher Stowe’s famous brother) a verbatim transcript of the discussion, which Beecher read to his congregation at New York’s Plymouth Church and which the New York Daily Tribune printed in full in its Feb. 13, 1865, edition. (The Root)
The Truth Behind ’40 Acres and a Mule’
by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. PBS
Originally posted on The Root
January 7, 2013
We’ve all heard the story of the “40 acres and a mule” promise to former slaves. It’s a staple of black history lessons, and it’s the name of Spike Lee’s film company. The promise was the first systematic attempt to provide a form of reparations to newly freed slaves, and it was astonishingly radical for its time, proto-socialist in its implications. In fact, such a policy would be radical in any country today: the federal government’s massive confiscation of private property – some 400,000 acres – formerly owned by Confederate land owners, and its methodical redistribution to former black slaves. What most of us haven’t heard is that the idea really was generated by black leaders themselves.
It is difficult to stress adequately how revolutionary this idea was: As the historian Eric Foner puts it in his book, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877, “Here in coastal South Carolina and Georgia, the prospect beckoned of a transformation of Southern society more radical even than the end of slavery.” Try to imagine how profoundly different the history of race relations in the United States would have been had this policy been implemented and enforced; had the former slaves actually had access to the ownership of land, of property; if they had had a chance to be self-sufficient economically, to build, accrue and pass on wealth. After all, one of the principal promises of America was the possibility of average people being able to own land, and all that such ownership entailed. As we know all too well, this promise was not to be realized for the overwhelming majority of the nation’s former slaves, who numbered about 3.9 million.
What Exactly Was Promised?
We have been taught in school that the source of the policy of “40 acres and a mule” was Union General William T. Sherman’s Special Field Order No. 15, issued on Jan. 16, 1865. (That account is half-right: Sherman prescribed the 40 acres in that Order, but not the mule. The mule would come later.) But what many accounts leave out is that this idea for massive land redistribution actually was the result of a discussion that Sherman and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton held four days before Sherman issued the Order, with 20 leaders of the black community in Savannah, Ga., where Sherman was headquartered following his famous March to the Sea. The meeting was unprecedented in American history.
Today, we commonly use the phrase “40 acres and a mule,” but few of us have read the Order itself. Three of its parts are relevant here. Section one bears repeating in full: “The islands from Charleston, south, the abandoned rice fields along the rivers for thirty miles back from the sea, and the country bordering the St. Johns river, Florida, are reserved and set apart for the settlement of the negroes [sic] now made free by the acts of war and the proclamation of the President of the United States.”
Section two specifies that these new communities, moreover, would be governed entirely by black people themselves: ” … on the islands, and in the settlements hereafter to be established, no white person whatever, unless military officers and soldiers detailed for duty, will be permitted to reside; and the sole and exclusive management of affairs will be left to the freed people themselves … By the laws of war, and orders of the President of the United States, the negro [sic] is free and must be dealt with as such.”
Finally, section three specifies the allocation of land: ” … each family shall have a plot of not more than (40) acres of tillable ground, and when it borders on some water channel, with not more than 800 feet water front, in the possession of which land the military authorities will afford them protection, until such time as they can protect themselves, or until Congress shall regulate their title.”
With this Order, 400,000 acres of land – “a strip of coastline stretching from Charleston, South Carolina, to the St. John’s River in Florida, including Georgia’s Sea Islands and the mainland thirty miles in from the coast,” as Barton Myers reports – would be redistributed to the newly freed slaves. The extent of this Order and its larger implications are mind-boggling, actually.
Who Came Up With the Idea?
Here’s how this radical proposal – which must have completely blown the minds of the rebel Confederates – actually came about. The abolitionists Charles Sumner and Thaddeus Stevens and other Radical Republicans had been actively advocating land redistribution “to break the back of Southern slaveholders’ power,” as Myers observed. But Sherman’s plan only took shape after the meeting that he and Stanton held with those black ministers, at 8:00 p.m., Jan. 12, on the second floor of Charles Green’s mansion on Savannah’s Macon Street. In its broadest strokes, “40 acres and a mule” was their idea.
Stanton, aware of the great historical significance of the meeting, presented Henry Ward Beecher (Harriet Beecher Stowe’s famous brother) a verbatim transcript of the discussion, which Beecher read to his congregation at New York’s Plymouth Church and which the New York Daily Tribune printed in full in its Feb. 13, 1865, edition. Stanton told Beecher that “for the first time in the history of this nation, the representatives of the government had gone to these poor debased people to ask them what they wanted for themselves.” Stanton had suggested to Sherman that they gather “the leaders of the local Negro community” and ask them something no one else had apparently thought to ask: “What do you want for your own people” following the war? And what they wanted astonishes us even today.
Who were these 20 thoughtful leaders who exhibited such foresight? They were all ministers, mostly Baptist and Methodist. Most curious of all to me is that 11 of the 20 had been born free in slave states, of which 10 had lived as free men in the Confederacy during the course of the Civil War. (The other one, a man named James Lynch, was born free in Maryland, a slave state, and had only moved to the South two years before.) The other nine ministers had been slaves in the South who became “contraband,” and hence free, only because of the Emancipation Proclamation, when Union forces liberated them.
Their chosen leader and spokesman was a Baptist minister named Garrison Frazier, aged 67, who had been born in Granville, N.C., and was a slave until 1857, “when he purchased freedom for himself and wife for $1000 in gold and silver,” as the New York Daily Tribune reported. Rev. Frazier had been “in the ministry for thirty-five years,” and it was he who bore the responsibility of answering the 12 questions that Sherman and Stanton put to the group. The stakes for the future of the Negro people were high.
And Frazier and his brothers did not disappoint. What did they tell Sherman and Stanton that the Negro most wanted? Land! “The way we can best take care of ourselves,” Rev. Frazier began his answer to the crucial third question, “is to have land, and turn it and till it by our own labor … and we can soon maintain ourselves and have something to spare … We want to be placed on land until we are able to buy it and make it our own.” And when asked next where the freed slaves “would rather live – whether scattered among the whites or in colonies by themselves,” without missing a beat, Brother Frazier (as the transcript calls him) replied that “I would prefer to live by ourselves, for there is a prejudice against us in the South that will take years to get over … ” When polled individually around the table, all but one – James Lynch, 26, the man who had moved south from Baltimore – said that they agreed with Frazier. Four days later, Sherman issued Special Field Order No. 15, after President Lincoln approved it.
What Became of the Land That Was Promised?
The response to the Order was immediate. When the transcript of the meeting was reprinted in the black publication Christian Recorder, an editorial note intoned that “From this it will be seen that the colored people down South are not so dumb as many suppose them to be,” reflecting North-South, slave-free black class tensions that continued well into the modern civil rights movement. The effect throughout the South was electric: As Eric Foner explains, “the freedmen hastened to take advantage of the Order.” Baptist minister Ulysses L. Houston, one of the group that had met with Sherman, led 1,000 blacks to Skidaway Island, Ga., where they established a self-governing community with Houston as the “black governor.” And by June, “40,000 freedmen had been settled on 400,000 acres of ‘Sherman Land.’ ” By the way, Sherman later ordered that the army could lend the new settlers mules; hence the phrase, “40 acres and a mule.”
And what happened to this astonishingly visionary program, which would have fundamentally altered the course of American race relations? Andrew Johnson, Lincoln’s successor and a sympathizer with the South, overturned the Order in the fall of 1865, and, as Barton Myers sadly concludes, “returned the land along the South Carolina, Georgia and Florida coasts to the planters who had originally owned it” – to the very people who had declared war on the United States of America.
May 10, 2017
Justice Initiative International
By the time Sherman arrived in Savannah, there were questions in Washington, DC about his attitude toward the freedmen and whether or not Sherman was being abusive and disrespectful of them. This could perhaps have been one of the reasons why Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, chose to come to Savannah to find out for himself what Sherman was up to. Sherman reflects upon all of this in his “Memoir” along with a private letter he received from General H.W. Halleck of Army Headquarters about the issue, which is shared below. There are two interesting facets here. One is that Lincoln was apparently concerned that the freedmen be treated with respect and the other is that Sherman was apparently of the same opinion and he defends himself in his “Memoir” about the critical attitudes about him resonating out of Washington, DC.
The other issue to be addressed is that many have questioned Lincoln’s attitude toward slavery and the freedmen altogether. Lincoln’s concern that freedmen be treated with respect, and that Sherman, as a representative of Lincoln’s government, should also be respectful of the freed slaves, is thought by some to perhaps be a point of departure for Lincoln. Some have alternatively questioned that this concern might, in fact, be the “real Lincoln!”
I also want to mention that when Sherman successfully made his march through Georgia to Savannah from November 15 to December 21, 1864, he wrote a note to President Lincoln on December 22, 1864 offering the “City of Savannah” as his December 1864 Christmas gift to Lincoln. Lincoln then responded to Sherman. Below is information about the exchange of letters.
On December 26, 1864, Sherman’s December 22, 1864 message to Lincoln was published in the New York Times. It read, “I beg to present you as a Christmas gift, the city of Savannah, with one hundred and fifty heavy guns and plenty of ammunition, and also about twenty-five thousand bales of cotton.” (The Learning Network)
Then, also on December 26, 1864, Lincoln replied to Sherman:
“Many, many thanks for your Christmas-gift – the capture of Savannah. When you were about leaving Atlanta for the Atlantic coast, I was anxious, if not fearful; but feeling that you were the better judge, and remembering that ‘nothing risked, nothing gained’ I did not interfere. Now, the undertaking being a success, the honor is all yours.” (The Learning Network)
Lincoln’s Questions about Sherman Regarding Freedmen and Sherman’s Response
From Sherman’s “Memoir” he recounts the apparent prevailing view of some around President Lincoln in 1864/65 that he, Sherman, was being inappropriately hostile toward the Freedmen. Sherman explains this dilemma that includes a letter from General H. W. Halleck of the Army Headquarters. Sherman assumes also that Secretary of War, Stanton, thought the same about him which is why he notes that Stanton likely preferred that Sherman not be in the meeting room with the Freedmen on January 12, 1865 when Stanton asked Twelfth Question about the “feeling of the colored people” toward Sherman. So Sherman left the room. As Sherman notes below, up to that time he had been a part of the discussion with the Freedmen. Below is the commentary about this issue, recounted directly from Sherman’s memoir.
From General William T. Sherman’s “Memoir”
Up to this time I was present, and, on Mr. Stanton’s intimating that he wanted to ask some questions affecting me, I withdrew, and then he put the twelfth and last question:
Twelfth Question. State what is the feeling of the colored people toward General Sherman, and how far do they regard his sentiments and actions as friendly to their rights and interests, or otherwise?
Answer. We looked upon General Sherman, prior to his arrival, as aman, in the providence of God, specially set apart to accomplish this work, and we unanimously felt inexpressible gratitude to him, looking upon him, as a man who should be honored for the faithful performance of his duty. Some of us called upon him immediately upon his arrival, and it is probable he did not meet the secretary with more courtesy than he did us. His conduct and deportment toward us characterized him as a friend and gentleman. We have conﬁdence in General Sherman, and think what concerns us could not be in better hands. This is our opinion now, from the short acquaintance and intercourse we have had.
It certainly was a strange fact that the great War Secretary should have catechized negroes concerning the character of a general who had commanded a hundred thousand men in battle, had captured cities, conducted sixty-ﬁve thousand men successfully across four hundred miles of hostile territory, and had just brought tens of thousands of freedmen to a place of security; but because I had not loaded down my army by other hundreds of thousands of poor negroes, I was construed by others as hostile to the black race. I had received from General Halleck, at Washington, a letter warning me that there were certain influential parties near the President who were torturing him with suspicions of my ﬁdelity to him and his negro policy; but I shall always believe that Mr. Lincoln, though a civilian, knew better, and appreciated my motives and character. Though this letter of General Halleck has always been treated by me as conﬁdential, I now insert it here at length:
HEADQUARTERS or THE ARMY,
WASHINGTON, D. C., December 30, 1864
Major-General W. T. SHERMAN, Savannah
MY DEAR GENERAL: I take the liberty of calling your attention, in this private and friendly way, to a matter which may possibly hereafter be of more importance to you than either of us may now anticipate. While almost every one is praising your great march through Georgia, and the capture of Savannah, there is a certain class having now great inﬂuence with the President, and very probably anticipating still more on a change of cabinet, who are decidedly disposed to make a point against you. I mean in regard to “inevitable Sambo.” The say that you have manifested an almost criminal dislike to the negro, and that you are not willing to carry out the wishes of the Government in regarding to him, but repulse him with contempt! They say you might have manifested an almost criminal dislike to the negro, and that you are not willing to carry out the wishes of the government in regard to him, but repulse him with contempt. They say you might have brought with you to Savannah more than ﬁfty thousand, thus stripping in Georgia of that number of laborers, and opening a road by which as many more could have escaped from their masters; but that, instead of this, you drove them from your ranks, prevented their following you by in cutting the bridges in your rear, and thus caused the massacre of large numbers by Wheeler’s calvary. To those cavalry who know you as I do, such accusation will pass as the idle winds, for we presume that you discouraged the negroes from following you because you had not the means of supporting them, and feared they might seriously embarrass your march. But there are others, and among them some in high authority, who think or pretend to think otherwise, and they are decidedly disposed to make a point against you.
I do not write this to induce you to conciliate this class of men by doing any thing which you do not deem right and proper, and for the interest of the Government and the country; but simply to call your attention to certain things which are viewed here somewhat differently than from your stand-point. I will explain as brieﬂy as possible:
Some here think that, in view of the scarcity of labor in the South, and the probability that a part, at least, of the able-bodied slaves will be called into the military service of the rebels, it is of the greatest importance to open outlets by which these slaves can escape into our lines, and they say that the route you have passed over should be made the route of escape, and Savannah the great place of refuge. These, I know, are the views of some of the leading men in the Administration, and they now express dissatisfaction that you did not carry them out in your great raid.
Now that you are in possession of Savannah, and there can be no further fears about supplies, would it not he possible for you to reopen these avenues of escape for the negroes, without interfering with your military operations? Could not such escaped slaves ﬁnd at least a partial supply of food in the rice-ﬁelds about Savannah, and cotton plantations on the coast.
I merely throw out these suggestions. I know that such a course would be approved by the Government, and I believe that a manifestation on your part of a desire to bring the slaves within our lines will do much to silence your opponents. You will appreciate my motives in writing this private letter.
H. W. HALLECK.
There is no doubt that Mr. Stanton, when he reached Savannah, shared these thoughts, but luckily the negroes themselves convinced him that he was in error, and that they understood their own interests far better better than did the men in Washington, who tried to make political capital out of this negro question. The idea that such men should have been permitted to hang around Mr. Lincoln, to torture his life by suspicions of the ofﬁcers who were toiling with the single purpose to bring the war to a successful end, and thereby to liberate all slaves is a fair illustration of the influences that poison a political capital. My aim then was, to whip the rebels, to humble their pride, to follow them to their inmost recesses, and make them fear and dread us. “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” I did not want them to cast in our teeth what General Hood had once done in Atlanta, that we had to call on their slaves to help us to subdue them. But, as regards kindness to the race, encouraging them to patience and forbearance, procuring them food and clothing, and providing them with land whereon to labor, I assert that no army ever did more for that race than those I commanded in Savannah.
When we reached Savannah, we were beset by ravenous State agents from Hilton Head, who enticed and carried away our servants, and the corps of pioneers which we had organized, and which had done such excellent service. On one occasion, my own aide-de-camp, Colonel Audenried, found at least a hundred poor negroes shut up in a house and pen, waiting for the night, to be conveyed stealthily to Hilton Head. They appealed to him for protection, alleging that they had been told that they must be soldiers, that “Massa Lincoln” wanted them, etc. I never denied the slaves a full opportunity for voluntary enlistment, but I did prohibit force to be used, for I knew that the State agents were more influenced by the profit they derived from the large bounties then being paid than by any love of country or of the colored race. In the language of Mr. Frazier, the enlistment of every black man “did not strengthen the army, but took away one white man from the ranks.” (See note below regarding Mr. Frazier.)
William Tecumseh Sherman: Memoirs
(First printed in 1875 by D. Appleton and Company & in the 2000 edition by Penguin Books.
(Note: Regarding “Mr. Frazier” mentioned above, Sherman is referring to Garrison Frazier who was the spokesperson for the freedmen who met with Sherman and Stanton. The description of Frazier is as follows: Garrison Frazier, aged 67 years, born in Granville County, N.C. Slave until eight years ago, when he bought himself and wife, paying $1,000 in gold and silver. Is an ordained minister in the Baptist Church, but, his health failing, has now charge of no congregation. Has been in the ministry 35 years.)
May 9, 2017
In Forty Acres and a Mule: Part One, I included comments directly from General William Sherman’s Memoir about Savannah and the circumstances surrounding the freedmen as well as the interests of Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, to meet with the freedmen in Savannah to explore their needs and demands. This was followed by the actual minutes of the meeting that, importantly, included the listing of the Black leaders who represented the freedmen at the meeting.
In Forty Acres and a Mule: Part One, I included comments directly from General William Sherman’s “Memoir” about Savannah and the circumstances surrounding the freedmen as well as the interests of Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, to meet with the freedmen in Savannah to explore their needs and demands. This was followed by the actual minutes of the meeting that, importantly, included the listing of the Black leaders who represented the freedmen at the meeting.
Following the meeting with Black leaders in Savannah, Georgia on January 12, 1865, Sherman notes in his “Memoir” that he was asked by Edwin Stanton to “draft an order on the subject, in accordance with my own views, that would meet the pressing necessities of the case” (the full commentary is below).
The result was “Special Field Order 15” as articulated below. Sherman importantly adhered to the request of the freedmen to independently develop their land without interference of white persons. In Section II of “Field Order 15”, Sherman states:
At Beaufort, Hilton Head, Savannah, Fernandina, Saint Augustine, and Jacksonville the blacks may remain in their chosen or accustomed vocations; but on the islands, and in the settlements hereafter to be established, no white person whatever, unless military officers and soldiers detailed for duty, will be permitted to reside; and the sole and exclusive management of affairs will be left to the freed people themselves, subject only to the United States military authority and the acts of Congress. By the laws of war and orders of the President of the United States the negro is free, and must be dealt with as such.
In his “Memoir”, prior to providing the narrative of the “Special Field Order No. 15”, Sherman makes the following statement regarding Stanton and his review of the document. Below this statement is the actual “Special Field Order No. 15” directly from Sherman’s “Memoir”:
During Mr. Stanton’s stay in Savannah we discussed this negro question very fully; he asked me to draft an order on the subject, in accordance with my own views, that would meet the pressing necessities of the case, and I did so. We went over this order, No. 15, of January 16, 1865, very carefully. The secretary made some verbal modifications, when it was approved by him in all its details, I published it, and it went into operation at once. It provided fully for the enlistment of colored troops, and gave the freedmen certain possessory rights to land, which afterward became matters of judicial inquiry and decision. Of course, the military authorities at that day, when war prevailed, had a perfect right to grant the possession of any vacant land to which they could extend military protection, but we did not undertake to give a fee-simple title; and all that was designed by these special field orders was to make temporary provisions for the freedmen and their families during the rest of the war, or until Congress should take action in the premises. All that I now propose to assert is, that Mr. Stanton, Secretary of War, saw these orders in the rough, and approved every paragraph thereof, before they were made public. (Pg: 609)
Special Field Orders No. 15.
Headquarters Military Division of the Mississippi,
In the Field, Savannah, Ga., January 16, 1865.
1. The islands from Charleston south, the abandoned rice-fields along the rivers for thirty miles back from the sea, and the country bordering the Saint Johns River, Fla., are reserved and set apart for the settlement of the negroes now made free by the acts of war and the proclamation of the President of the United States.
2. At Beaufort, Hilton Head, Savannah, Fernandina, Saint Augustine, and
Jacksonville the blacks may remain in their chosen or accustomed vocations; but on the islands, and in the settlements hereafter to be established, no white person whatever, unless military officers and soldiers detailed for duty, will be permitted to reside; and the sole and exclusive management of affairs will be left to the freed people themselves, subject only to the United States military authority and the acts of Congress. By the laws of war and orders of the President of the United States the negro is free, and must be dealt with as such. He cannot be subjected to conscription or forced military service, save by the written orders of the highest military authority of the Department, under such regulations as the President or Congress may prescribe; domestic servants, blacksmiths, carpenters, and other mechanics will be free to select their own work and residence, but the young and able-bodied negroes must be encouraged to enlist as soldiers in the service of the United States, to contribute their share toward maintaining their own freedom and securing their rights as citizens of the United States. Negroes so enlisted will be organized into companies, battalions, and regiments, under the orders of the United States military authorities, and will be paid, fed, and clothed according to law. The bounties paid on enlistment may, with the consent of the recruit, go to assist his family and settlement in procuring agricultural implements, seed, tools, boats, clothing, and other articles necessary for their livelihood.
3. Whenever three respectable negroes, heads of families, shall desire to settle on land, and shall have selected for that purpose an island, or a locality clearly defined within the limits above designated, the inspector of settlements and plantations will himself, or by such sub-ordinate officer as he may appoint, give them a license to settle such island or district, and afford them such assistance as he can to enable them to establish a peaceable agricultural settlement. The three parties named will subdivide the land, under the supervision of the inspector, among themselves and such others as may choose to settle near them, so that each family shall have a plot of not more than forty acres of tillable ground, and when it borders on some water channel with not more than 800 feet water front, in the possession of which land the military authorities will afford them protection until such time as they can protect themselves or until Congress shall regulate their title. The quartermaster may, on the requisition of the inspector of settlements and plantations, place at the disposal of the inspector one or more of the captured steamers to ply between the settlements and one or more of the commercial points, heretofore named in orders, to afford the settlers the opportunity to supply their necessary wants and to sell the products of their land and labor.
4. Whenever a negro has enlisted in the military service of the United States he may locate his family in any one of the settlements at pleasure and acquire a homestead and all other rights and privileges of a settler as though present in person. In like manner negroes may settle their families and engage on board the gunboats, or in fishing, or in the navigation of the inland waters, without losing any claim to land or other advantages derived from this system. But no one, unless an actual settler as above defined, or unless absent on Government service, will be entitled to claim any right to land or property in any settlement by virtue of these orders.
5. In order to carry out this system of settlement a general officer will be detailed as inspector of settlements and plantations, whose duty it shall be to visit the settlements, to regulate their police and general management, and who will furnish personally to each head of a family, subject to the approval of the President of the United States, a possessory title in writing, giving as near as possible the description of boundaries, and who shall adjust all claims or conflicts that may arise under the same, subject to the like approval, treating such titles altogether as possessory. The same general officer will also be charged with the enlistment and organization of the negro recruits and protecting their interests while absent from their settlements, and will be governed by the rules and regulations prescribed by the War Department for such purpose.
6. Brig. Gen. R. Saxton is hereby appointed inspector of settlements and plantations and will at once enter on the performance of his duties. No change is intended or desired in the settlement now on Beaufort Island, nor will any rights to property heretofore acquired be affected thereby.
By order of Major General W. T. Sherman,
L. N. DAYTON, Assistant Adjutant-General.
“William Tecumseh Sherman: Memoirs”
(First printed in 1875 by D. Appleton and Company & in the 2000 edition by Penguin Books.)
By Heather Gray
May 7, 2017
Justice initiative International
Most of my professional career has been devoted to cooperative economic development and issues relevant to Black farmers in the southern United States. Doing this work you cannot help but become ensconced in the history of slavery, the Civil War and its consequences. In this instance, knowing the actions and attitudes of General William Tecomseh Sherman is essential, albeit with his occasional condescending statements coupled with some understanding and seeming generosity (a general’s mindset some have noted).
In fact, it was Sherman and Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, who initiated the concept of the “40 acres” for freed slaves after listening to the demands of the freedmen.
As Sherman marched through Georgia toward Savannah from November 15 to December 21, 1864, slaves left the Georgia plantations to follow him. Once in Savannah, Sherman realized he had to do something about the Black folks who had followed him so he and Stanton called for a meeting with Black elders to ask what they wanted.
“Forty Acres and a Mule”? In summary, the Black attendees in this historic meeting told Stanton and Sherman that they wanted land to grow food and a community of their own to develop. Sherman responded with the famous “Field Order 15.” In the “Order” Sherman provided 40 acres for families in the abandoned land along the South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida “low country.” Sherman also ultimately offered Army mules that might be available – thus the, “Forty Acres and a Mule”. As a result, untold numbers of the Black families almost immediately moved into the lowlands.
Then on April 14, 1865 President Lincoln was assassinated, Andrew Johnson becomes president and not long after he rescinds Field Order 15. The devastation and betrayal was immense. Johnson states ultimately that he is giving the land back to the white owners and blacks will need to work for the white owners.
However, for “Part One” about “Forty Acres and a Mule” I want to share the following:
(1) From Sherman’s Memoir – information about Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, in Savannah and the decision to meet with the Black community on January 12, 1865.
Mr. Stanton staid in Savannah several days, and seemed very curious about matters and things in general. I walked with him through the city, especially the bivouacs of the several regiments that occupied the vacant squares, and he seemed particularly pleased at the ingenuity of men in the constructing their temporary huts. Four of the “dog-tents,” or tentes d’abri, buttoned together, served for a roof, and the sides were made of clapboards, or rough boards brought from demolished houses or fences. I remember his marked admiration for the hut of a soldier who had made his door out of a handsome parlor mirror the glass gone and its gilt frame serving for his door.
He talked to me a great deal about the negroes, the former slaves, and I told him of many interesting incidents, illustrating their simple character and faith in our arms and progress. He inquired particularly about General Jeff. C. Davis, who, he said, was a Democrat, and hostile to the negro. I assured him that General Davis was an excellent soldier, and I did not believe he had any hostility to the negro; that our army we had no negro soldiers, and, as a rule, we preferred white soldiers, but that we employed a large force of them as servants, teamsters, and pioneers, who had rendered admirable service.
He then showed me a newspaper account of General Davis taking up his pontoon-bridge across Ebenezer Creek, leaving sleeping negro men, women, and children, on the other side, to be slaughtered by Wheeler’s calvary. I had heard such a rumor, and advised Mr. Stanton, before becoming prejudiced, to allow me to send for General Davis, which he did, and General Davis explained the matter to his entire satisfaction.
The truth was, that, as we approached the seaboard, the freedmen in droves, old and young, followed the several columns to reach a place of safety. It so happened that General Davis’s route into Savannah followed what was known as the “River-road,” and he had to make constant use of his pontoon-train–the head of his column reaching some deep, impassable creek before the rear was fairly over another. He had occasionally to use the pontoons both day and night.
On the occasion referred to, the bridge was taken up from Ebenezer Creek. while some of the camp-followers remained asleep on the farther side, and these were picked up by Wheeler’s cavalry.
Some of them, in their fright, were drowned in trying to swim over, and others may have been cruelly killed by Wheeler’s men, but this was a mere supposition.
At all events, the same thing might have resulted to General Howard, or to any other of the many most humane commanders who ﬁlled the army. General Jeff. C. Davis was strictly a soldier, and doubtless hated to have his wagons and columns encumbered by these poor negroes, for whom we all felt sympathy, but a sympathy of a different sort from that of Mr. Stanton, which was not of pure humanity, but of politics.
The negro question was beginning to loom up among the political eventualities of the day, and many foresaw that not only would the slaves secure their freedom, but that they would also have votes. I did not dream of such a result then, but knew that slavery, as such, was dead forever, and did not suppose that the former slaves would be suddenly, without preparation, manufactured into voters equal to all others, politically and socially.
Mr. Stanton seemed desirous of coming into contact with the negroes to confer with them, and he asked me to arrange an interview for him. I accordingly sent out and invited the most intelligent of the negroes, mostly Baptist and Methodist preachers, to come to my rooms to meet the Secretary of War. Twenty responded, and were received in my room up-stairs in Mr. Green’s house, where Mr. Stanton and Adjutant-General Townsend took down the conversation in the form of questions and answers. Each of the twenty gave his name and partial history, and then selected Garrison Frazier as their spokesman.
(2) General Sherman’s archived minutes in Sherman’s memoir of this historic January 12, 1865 meeting in Savannah also includes the names and description of the Black leaders. The minutes were also printed in the New York Tribune on February 13, 1865.
MINUTES OF AN INTERVIEW BETWEEN THE COLORED MINISTERS AND CHURCH OFFICERS AT SAVANNAH WITH THE SECRETARY OF WAR AND MAJOR-GEN. SHERMAN.
HEADQUARTERS OF MAJ.-GEN. SHERMAN,
CITY OF SAVANNAH, GA., Jan., 12, 1865-8 P.M.
On the evening of Thursday, the 12th day of January, 1865, the following persons of African descent met by appointment to hold an interview with Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War, and Major-Gen. Sherman, to have a conference upon matters relating to the freedmen of the State of Georgia, to-wit:
One: William J. Campbell, aged 51 years, born in Savannah, slave until 1849, and then liberated by will of his mistress, Mrs. May Maxwell. For ten years pastor of the 1st Baptist Church of Savannah, numbering about 1,800 members. Average congregation, 1,900. The church property belonging to the congregation. Trustees white. Worth $18,000.
Two: John Cox, aged fifty-eight years, born in Savannah; slave until 1849, when he bought his freedom for $1,100. Pastor of the 2d African Baptist Church. In the ministry fifteen years. Congregation 1,222 persons. Church property worth $10,000, belonging to the congregation.
Three: Ulysses L. Houston, aged forty-one years, born in Grahamsville, S.C.; slave until the Union army entered Savannah. Owned by Moses Henderson, Savannah, and pastor of Third African Baptist Church. Congregation numbering 400. Church property worth $5,000; belongs to congregation. In the ministry about eight years.
Four: William Bentley, aged 72 years, born in Savannah, slave until 25 years of age, when his master, John Waters, emancipated him by will. Pastor of Andrew’s Chapel, Methodist Episcopal Church-only one of that denomination in Savannah; congregation numbering 360 members; church property worth about $20,000, and is owned by the congregation; been in the ministry about twenty years; a member of Georgia Conference.
Five: Charles Bradwell, aged 40 years, born in Liberty County, Ga.; slave until 1851; emancipated by will of his master, J. L. Bradwell. Local preacher in charge of the Methodist Episcopal congregation (Andrew’s Chapel) in the absence of the minister; in the ministry 10 years.?
Six: William Gaines, aged 41 years; born in Wills Co., Ga. Slave until the Union forces freed me. Owned by Robert Toombs, formerly United States Senator, and his brother, Gabriel Toombs, local preacher of the M.E. Church (Andrew’s Chapel.) In the ministry 16 years.
Seven: James Hill, aged 52 years; born in Bryan Co., Ga. Slave up to the time the Union army came in. Owned by H. F. Willings, of Savannah. In the ministry 16 years.
Eight: Glasgon Taylor, aged 72 years, born in Wilkes County, Ga. Slave until the Union army came; owned by A. P. Wetter. Is a local preacher of the M.E. Church (Andrew’s Chapel.) In the ministry 35 years.
Nine: Garrison Frazier, aged 67 years, born in Granville County, N.C. Slave until eight years ago, when he bought himself and wife, paying $1,000 in gold and silver. Is an ordained minister in the Baptist Church, but, his health failing, has now charge of no congregation. Has been in the ministry 35 years.
Ten: James Mills, aged 56 years, born in Savannah; free-born, and is a licensed preacher of the first Baptist Church. Has been eight years in the ministry.
Eleven: Abraham Burke, aged 48 years, born in Bryan County, Ga. Slave until 20 years ago, when he bought himself for $800. Has been in the ministry about 10 years.
Twelve: Arthur Wardell, aged 44 years, born in Liberty County, Ga. Slave until freed by the Union army. Owned by A. A. Solomons, Savannah, and is a licensed minister in the Baptist Church. Has been in the ministry 6 years.
Thirteen: Alexander Harris, aged 47 years, born in Savannah; free born. Licensed minister of Third African Baptist Church. Licensed about one month ago.
Fourteen: Andrew Neal, aged 61 years, born in Savannah, slave until the Union army liberated him. Owned by Mr. Wm. Gibbons, and has been deacon in the Third Baptist Church for 10 years.
Fifteen: Jas. Porter, aged 39 years, born in Charleston, South Carolina; free-born, his mother having purchased her freedom. Is lay-reader and president of the board of wardens and vestry of St. Stephen’s Protestant Episcopal Colored Church in Savannah. Has been in communion 9 years. The congregation numbers about 200 persons. The church property is worth about $10,000, and is owned by the congregation.
Sixteen: Adolphus Delmotte, aged 28 years, born in Savannah; free born. Is a licensed minister of the Missionary Baptist Church of Milledgeville. Congregation numbering about 300 or 400 persons. Has been in the ministry about two years.
Seventeen: Jacob Godfrey, aged 57 years, born in Marion, S.C. Slave until the Union army freed me; owned by James E. Godfrey-Methodist preacher now in the Rebel army. Is a class-leader and steward of Andrew’s Chapel since 1836.
Eighteen: John Johnson, aged 51 years, born in Bryan County, Georgia. Slave up to the time the Union army came here; owned by W. W. Lincoln of Savannah. Is class-leader and treasurer of Andrew’s Chapel for sixteen years.
Nineteen: Robt. N. Taylor, aged 51 years, born in Wilkes Co., Ga. Slave to the time the Union army came. Was owned by Augustus P. Welter, Savannah, and is class-leader in Andrew’s Chapel for nine years.
Twenty: Jas. Lynch, aged 26 years, born in Baltimore, Md.; free-born. Is presiding elder of the M.E. Church and missionary to the department of the South. Has been seven years in the ministry and two years in the South.
Garrison Frazier being chosen by the persons present to express their common sentiments upon the matters of inquiry, makes answers to inquiries as follows:
First: State what your understanding is in regard to the acts of Congress and President Lincoln’s [Emancipation] proclamation, touching the condition of the colored people in the Rebel States.
Answer: So far as I understand President Lincoln’s proclamation to the Rebellious States, it is, that if they would lay down their arms and submit to the laws of the United States before the first of January, 1863, all should be well; but if they did not, then all the slaves in the Rebel States should be free henceforth and forever. That is what I understood.
Second: State what you understand by Slavery and the freedom that was to be given by the President’s proclamation.
Answer: Slavery is, receiving by irresistible power the work of another man, and not by his consent. The freedom, as I understand it, promised by the proclamation, is taking us from under the yoke of bondage, and placing us where we could reap the fruit of our own labor, take care of ourselves and assist the Government in maintaining our freedom.
Third: State in what manner you think you can take care of yourselves, and how can you best assist the Government in maintaining your freedom.
Answer: The way we can best take care of ourselves is to have land, and turn it and till it by our own labor-that is, by the labor of the women and children and old men; and we can soon maintain ourselves and have something to spare. And to assist the Government, the young men should enlist in the service of the Government, and serve in such manner as they may be wanted. (The Rebels told us that they piled them up and made batteries of them, and sold them to Cuba; but we don’t believe that.) We want to be placed on land until we are able to buy it and make it our own.
Fourth: State in what manner you would rather live-whether scattered among the whites or in colonies by yourselves.
Answer: I would prefer to live by ourselves, for there is a prejudice against us in the South that will take years to get over; but I do not know that I can answer for my brethren. [Mr. Lynch says he thinks they should not be separated, but live together. All the other persons present, being questioned one by one, answer that they agree with Brother Frazier.]1
Fifth: Do you think that there is intelligence enough among the slaves of the South to maintain themselves under the Government of the United States and the equal protection of its laws, and maintain good and peaceable relations among yourselves and with your neighbors?
Answer: I think there is sufficient intelligence among us to do so.
Sixth: State what is the feeling of the black population of the South toward the Government of the United States; what is the understanding in respect to the present war-its causes and object, and their disposition to aid either side. State fully your views.
Answer: I think you will find there are thousands that are willing to make any sacrifice to assist the Government of the United States, while there are also many that are not willing to take up arms. I do not suppose there are a dozen men that are opposed to the Government. I understand, as to the war, that the South is the aggressor. President Lincoln was elected President by a majority of the United States, which guaranteed him the right of holding the office and exercising that right over the whole United States. The South, without knowing what he would do, rebelled. The war was commenced by the Rebels before he came into office. The object of the war was not at first to give the slaves their freedom, but the sole object of the war was at first to bring the rebellious States back into the Union and their loyalty to the laws of the United States. Afterward, knowing the value set on the slaves by the Rebels, the President thought that his proclamation would stimulate them to lay down their arms, reduce them to obedience, and help to bring back the Rebel States; and their not doing so has now made the freedom of the slaves a part of the war. It is my opinion that there is not a man in this city that could be started to help the Rebels one inch, for that would be suicide. There were two black men left with the Rebels because they had taken an active part for the Rebels, and thought something might befall them if they stayed behind; but there is not another man. If the prayers that have gone up for the Union army could be read out, you would not get through them these two weeks.
Seventh: State whether the sentiments you now express are those only of the colored people in the city; or do they extend to the colored population through the country? and what are your means of knowing the sentiments of those living in the country?
Answer: I think the sentiments are the same among the colored people of the State. My opinion is formed by personal communication in the course of my ministry, and also from the thousands that followed the Union army, leaving their homes and undergoing suffering. I did not think there would be so many; the number surpassed my expectation.
Eighth: If the Rebel leaders were to arm the slaves, what would be its effect?
Answer: I think they would fight as long as they were before the bayonet, and just as soon as soon as they could get away, they would desert, in my opinion.
Ninth: What, in your opinion, is the feeling of the colored people about enlisting and serving as soldiers of the United States? and what kind of military service do they prefer?
Answer: A large number have gone as soldiers to Port Royal [S.C.] to be drilled and put in the service; and I think there are thousands of the young men that would enlist. There is something about them that perhaps is wrong. They have suffered so long from the Rebels that they want to shoulder the musket. Others want to go into the Quartermaster’s or Commissary’s service.
Tenth: Do you understand the mode of enlistments of colored persons in the Rebel States by State agents under the Act of Congress?2 If yea, state what your understanding is.
Answer: My understanding is, that colored persons enlisted by State agents are enlisted as substitutes, and give credit to the States, and do not swell the army, because every black man enlisted by a State agent leaves a white man at home; and, also, that larger bounties are given or promised by State agents than are given by the States. The great object should be to push through this Rebellion the shortest way, and there seems to be something wanting in the enlistment by State agents, for it don’t strengthen the army, but takes one away for every colored man enlisted.
Eleventh: State what, in your opinion, is the best way to enlist colored men for soldiers.
Answer: I think, sir, that all compulsory operations should be put a stop to. The ministers would talk to them, and the young men would enlist. It is my opinion that it would be far better for the State agents to stay at home, and the enlistments to be made for the United States under the direction of Gen. Sherman.
In the absence of Gen. Sherman, the following question was asked:
Twelfth: State what is the feeling of the colored people in regard to Gen. Sherman; and how far do they regard his sentiments and actions as friendly to their rights and interests, or otherwise?Answer: We looked upon Gen. Sherman prior to his arrival as a man in the Providence of God specially set apart to accomplish this work, and we unanimously feel inexpressible gratitude to him, looking upon him as a man that should be honored for the faithful performance of his duty. Some of us called upon him immediately upon his arrival, and it is probable he would not meet the Secretary with more courtesy than he met us. His conduct and deportment toward us characterized him as a friend and a gentleman. We have confidence in Gen. Sherman, and think that what concerns us could not be under better hands. This is our opinion now from the short acquaintance and interest we have had. (Mr. Lynch states that with his limited acquaintance with Gen. Sherman, he is unwilling to express an opinion. All others present declare their agreement with Mr. Frazier about Gen. Sherman.)
Some conversation upon general subjects relating to Gen. Sherman’s march then ensued, of which no note was taken.
Clipping from New-York Daily Tribune, [13 Feb. 1865], “Negroes of Savannah,” Consolidated Correspondence File, series 225, Central Records, Quartermaster General, Record Group 92, National Archives.
1. Brackets in the original.
2. The act, adopted on July 4, 1864, permitted agents from Northern states to recruit soldiers among black men in the Confederate states, crediting them against the draft quotas of the Northern states. (U.S., Statutes at Large, Treaties, and Proclamations, vol. 13 [Boston, 1866], pp. 379-81.)
Published in The Wartime Genesis of Free Labor: The Lower South, pp. 331-38, in Free at Last, pp. 310-18, and in Freedom’s Soldiers, pp. 149-53.
General Sherman’s notes on Stanton and the minutes of the meeting with Black leaders in Savannah were available in:
William Tecumseh Sherman: Memoirs (First printed in 1875 by D. Appleton and Company & in the 2000 edition by Penguin Books.
By Heather Gray
May 4, 2017
For Mexicans, maize is not a crop but a deep cultural symbol intrinsic to daily life. Corn was domesticated from a grass called teocintle by the peoples of Meso-America approximately 10,000 years ago. (Cultural Survival)
Yes, corn originated in Mexico some 10,000 years ago and it eventually moved into North America. And now, in a rather strange reversal of it all, those of us in North America are attempting to destroy this special Mexican crop and cultural symbolism. And it’s all for greed.
I have a radio program on WRFG-FM in Atlanta. In the mid-1990’s while NAFTA was being debated in Congress, I interviewed representatives of the Sierra Club about the likely disastrous consequences of NAFTA on Mexico’s small sustainable farmers. It had to do with U.S. corporate agribusiness that would dump millions of dollars of subsidized corn on the Mexican market. We appropriately could see the doom and gloom of this “unfair” trade agreement. After my show that day, someone from CNN called me and asked why I didn’t have a pro-NAFTA person on the show as well. My response was, “You want pro-NAFTA? Just listen to CNN!”
Our predictions were correct! The small farmers in Mexico simply could not compete with the American subsidized agriculture products that were dumped on the Mexican market.
The hypocrisy? Trump chooses to act against Canadian “subsidized” lumber without even considering America’s own devastating subsidy complicity in the NAFTA scenario against the Mexican people? Regarding the Canadian lumber issue, in April 2017 the following was reported in the New York Times:
The Commerce Department determined that Canada had been improperly subsidizing the sale of softwood lumber products to the United States, and after failed negotiations, Washington decided to retaliate with tariffs of 3 percent to 24 percent. The penalties will be collected retroactively on imports dating back 90 days. (New York Times)
Subsidized lumber? Again, what about U.S. subsidized agribusiness and its impact on Mexicans and actually American farmers as well? Herein lies the hypocrisy of it all. As was noted in a Huffington Post article by Susana G. Baumann in 2014, the impact of NAFTA on the farmers has been immense:
For all products, Mexican producers’ prices fell from 44 to 67 percent from early 1990’s levels, declining local production and increasing import dependency. Mexican crop production also fell except for corn and meats, which at lower prices, was rapidly adopted for consumption in the Mexican families’ diet.
“An estimated 2.3 million people have left agriculture in a country desperate for livelihoods,” said Wise (see note below). The study estimated that the cost to Mexican producers was around $12.8 billion in the nine-year period, more than 10 percent of the U.S.-Mexico agricultural trade value annually.
The other cost, the one that we, north of the border pay, is the constant migration of these displaced rural workers into the United States.
Note: Timothy A. Wise referred to above is the Director of the Research and Policy Program at the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University.
So thanks to U.S. policy, 2.3 million Mexicans were forced off the land. And then Donald Trump rails against Mexicans coming across the border as if the consequences, devastation and loss of their livelihoods was their fault?
And, yes, Trump points his finger at migrants who are now in the U.S. as well and makes their lives all the more vulnerable and difficult.
And Trump wants to build a wall as if to again point his finger at these victims?
The immorality here is breathtaking.
Rather then building a wall, Trump needs to get rid of the real problem which is, for one, these huge agriculture subsidies that benefit his millionaire/billionaire buddies in corporate agribusiness who clearly care less about the “real” farmers of the world, or the well-being of those, such as, the Mexican farmers they’ve managed to destroy. Nor do they care about the important “diversity” of the corn production and respect for the long and important tradition of small and informed producers who we all should honor and support.
Regardless, also, of the role of the Mexican government might have played in early NAFTA negotiations in the 1990s vis-a-vis their powerful northern neighbors – Canada and the U.S. – it is likely the American government and its corporate supporters knew in advance that the exploitation of Mexico’s markets and cheap labor would satisfy their greed.
Thankfully, the Mexican government presently has a ban against Monsanto’s GMO corn crops and hopefully the Mexican court will continue to uphold this. As reported on February 9, 2017 by Natural News:
Just last week, a Mexican court chose to uphold a 2013 ruling that followed a legal challenge on the effects GMO crops have on the environment, which temporarily put a stop on GMO corn-growing, including pilot plots….
Opponents of GMO crops believe that these modified corn seeds could contaminate heirloom varieties, and that the pesticides used to protect GMO crops are harmful to beneficial insects like bees – which have been dying off in record numbers. Community advocates state that Mexico’s 59 varieties of native corn will be at risk if Monsanto is allowed to take hold of the corn market. [RELATED: Learn more about the dangers of genetically modified food at GMO.news
Again, when will Trump denigrate his own country for its outrageous policies and when will he and those in Congress understand how millions in Mexico have suffered through no fault of their own. This is best stated by Rick Relinger, in his 2010 article, where he notes in reference to research about the issue:
As the study’s results demonstrate, billions of dollars of federal subsidies for American-grown corn are largely responsible for the economic displacement of Mexico’s corn farmers. The impact of U.S. corn subsidies has severely transformed the lives of people who have no influence on U.S. policies. This economic vulnerability of Mexican farmers was initiated through the approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement. The inclusion of the agricultural sector within the agreement’s broader agenda of trade liberalization exposed Mexicans employed in agriculture to U.S. domestic economic policies. (It is important to note that U.S.-Canada side of the agreement contrastingly maintains significant restrictions to protect the Canadian agricultural sector). Although these subsidies produced an increase in the corporate ownership of corn production, a decrease in corn prices, and dwindling numbers of employed corn farmers-not to mention the displacement and forced migration of Mexican corn farmers-Mexican voters have no voice in congressional deliberations regarding the approval of federal subsidies for American-grown corn. (Prospect)
Invariably, in this neoliberal economic world in which we live, corporations take precedence over individual well-being at virtually every juncture. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of this!!!
I will end with this 2006 excellent article below about the importance of corn in Mexico by Christina Santini who recently worked at the “Food and Agriculture Organization” of the United Nations and at the time worked in urban planning and development at Harvard University. She is also a professional cook.
THE PEOPLE OF THE CORN
For Mexicans, maize is not a crop but a deep cultural symbol intrinsic to daily life. Corn was domesticated from a grass called teocintle by the peoples of Meso-America approximately 10,000 years ago. Often referred to as humanity’s greatest agronomic achievement, maize is now grown all over the world. The yellow corn commonly found in the United States pales in comparison to the shapes, sizes, and colors of the traditional maize varieties cultivated by the indigenous peoples of Mexico. The ears of corn may range from a couple of inches to a foot long, in colors that include white, red, yellow, blue, and black. Some varieties even have an assortment of colors on one ear.
Corn is inextricably tied to the quotidian lives of the peasants and indigenous peoples of Mexico. As the basic grain, it shapes daily meals, and it’s growing cycle influences the timing of festivals. The image and shape of maize is a ubiquitous component of architecture and crafts. Spiritually, physically, and economically, corn sustains indigenous peoples. In the words of one Indian woman, “Corn is so important because it allows us to live at peace. It’s our form of food security.” Corn is linked to survival: During rough economic times or in the face of natural disasters, families will produce more maize to feed themselves. A Tzotzil Maya elder recounts, “During the past five centuries, while our people have withstood suffering-enormous sufferings-our corn has allowed us to survive.”
Now the North American Free Trade Agreement threatens to change that history. NAFTA has allowed the Mexican market to be flooded with imported corn from the United States, the vast majority of which is genetically modified. Before NAFTA, more than a third of the corn produced by rural farmers was retained for consumption at home, and the rest was sold on local markets. Indigenous peoples and peasants were practicing true food sovereignty and protected themselves from natural disasters and price fluctuations. Most local maize is sold through DISCONSA, a network of rural food stores common in poor and remote regions. As multinationals entered the market, a few began to sell their corn through the DISCONSA network, a practice that artificially lowered prices, hurt local farmers’ income, and disrupted the usual pattern of retaining enough corn for contingencies. More importantly, some of the corn flowing into the network consisted of genetically modified organisms. Estimates of contamination vary according to locality, from 3 percent to 60 percent. Within the DISCONSA network, the Mexican government found 37 percent contamination.
“We have learned that agrochemical companies patented our maize,” said a Tzotzil statement published in 2002 in La Jornada. “They are putting in genes from other living beings and many chemicals to completely put an end to our natural maize, so we’ll have to buy nothing but transgenic maize. If these agrochemical companies try to do away with our maize, it will be like putting an end to part of the culture that our Mayan ancestors bequeathed to us. Our indigenous peasant grandparents gave their labor and their hearts; they cried as they asked protection from our Creator for their work to bear fruit.”
To address the threat to traditional corn, the Tzotzil people formed the Mother Seeds in Resistance project. Mother Seeds is based in an autonomous indigenous school in the Chiapas highlands. There the community is identifying seeds to be preserved and preparing them to be frozen (for preservation, the moisture content in the seeds must be below 6 percent; otherwise the water inside the seeds will freeze and then burst the cell membranes, destroying them).
Community members of all ages are involved in the identification process, and it has become a channel through which young are learning from their elders. “It’s good to talk about these things in Tzotzil,” said two teachers, “because it is our own language.” Aldo Gonzalez, an indigenous Zapotec who has been on the forefront of the campaign against genetically modified maize, says, “Native seeds are a very important part of our culture. The pyramids may have been destroyed, but a handful of maize seed is the legacy we can leave to our children and grandchildren.”
Note: Trump’s mission in almost every instance is more rights for big business at the expense of individual Americans. And that’s making America “great”? I think not! Below is an excerpt from “InfoWorld” followed by an explanation from Free Press about Net Neutrality.
Justice Initiative International
Now that Trump has taken office and is adorning his cabinet with fellow millionaires and billionaires, net neutrality is on the chopping block. The principle that all internet traffic should be treated equally is all but dead. With net neutrality, Amazon, for example, can’t cut a deal with Time Warner to make its website come up faster than Walmart’s. For all the talk of being for the common man, this administration won’t stand in the way of big businesses making deals.
What the end of net neutrality means for you
Net Neutrality: What You Need to Know Now
The Federal Communications Commission’s historic Net Neutrality rules keep the internet free and open – allowing you to share and access information of your choosing without interference from companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon.
This victory came thanks to the millions of activists who fought for a decade to protect the open internet. But right now this win is in jeopardy: The Trump administration and new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai want to get rid of Net Neutrality.
What is Net Neutrality?
Net Neutrality is the internet’s guiding principle: It preserves our right to communicate freely online.
Net Neutrality means an internet that enables and protects free speech. It means that ISPs should provide us with open networks – and shouldn’t block or discriminate against any applications or content that ride over those networks. Just as your phone company shouldn’t decide who you call and what you say on that call, your ISP shouldn’t interfere with the content you view or post online.
Without Net Neutrality, cable and phone companies could carve the internet into fast and slow lanes. An ISP could slow down its competitors’ content or block political opinions it disagreed with. ISPs could charge extra fees to the few content companies that could afford to pay for preferential treatment – relegating everyone else to a slower tier of service. This would destroy the open internet.
How did we get strong Net Neutrality rules?
In May 2014, then-FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler released a plan that would have allowed internet service providers to discriminate online and create pay-to-play fast lanes.
Millions of you spoke out – and fought back.
Thanks to the huge public and political outcry, Wheeler shelved his original proposal, and on Feb. 4, 2015, he announced that he would base new Net Neutrality rules on Title II of the Communications Act, giving internet users the strongest protections possible.
The FCC approved the new rules on Feb. 26, 2015.
But ever since then opponents have done everything they can to destroy Net Neutrality. And Chairman Pai – a former Verizon lawyer – is moving fast to destroy the open internet.
Who’s attacking Net Neutrality?
Big phone and cable companies and their lobbyists filed suit almost as soon as the Net Neutrality rules were adopted. Free Press jumped in and helped argue the case defending the FCC – and on June 14, 2016, a federal appeals court upheld the open-internet protections in all respects.
Meanwhile, industry-funded Net Neutrality opponents in Congress have done everything they can to dismantle or undermine the rules. Legislators have introduced numerous deceptive bills and attached damaging riders to must-pass government-funding bills. So far Net Neutrality activists have defeated all of these attempts to sabotage the FCC protections.
Why is Net Neutrality crucial for communities of color?
The open internet allows people of color to tell their own stories and organize for racial and social justice. When activists are able to turn out thousands of people in the streets at a moment’s notice, it’s because ISPs aren’t allowed to block their messages or websites.
The mainstream media have long misrepresented, ignored and harmed people of color. And thanks to systemic racism, economic inequality and runaway media consolidation, people of color own just a handful of broadcast stations. The lack of diverse ownership is a primary reason why the media have gotten away with criminalizing and otherwise stereotyping communities of color.
The open internet allows people of color and other vulnerable communities to bypass traditional media gatekeepers. Without Net Neutrality, ISPs could block speech and prevent dissident voices from speaking freely online. Without Net Neutrality, people of color would lose a vital platform.
And without Net Neutrality, millions of small businesses owned by people of color wouldn’t be able to compete against larger corporations online, which would deepen economic disparities.
Why is Net Neutrality important for businesses?
Net Neutrality lowers the barriers of entry by preserving the internet’s fair and level playing field. It’s because of Net Neutrality that small businesses and entrepreneurs have been able to thrive online.
No company should be allowed to interfere with this open marketplace. ISPs are the internet’s gatekeepers, and without Net Neutrality, they would seize every possible opportunity to profit from that gatekeeper position.
Without Net Neutrality, the next Google or Facebook would never get off the ground.
What can we do now?
Chairman Pai wants to replace the agency’s strong rules with “voluntary” conditions that no ISP would ever comply with. Pai unveiled his plan in a closed-door meeting with industry lobbyists in April 2017 and intends to move on it soon.
The Trump administration is doing everything in its power to clamp down on dissent. If we lose Net Neutrality, it will have succeeded.
Millions have already taken a stand to defend our rights to connect and communicate. Take action now and join the fight.
By Heather Gray
April 11, 2017
Justice Initiative InternationalAre you having trouble making sense of the Syrian conflict and the recent bombing by the Trump administration? As in, what is really going on here?
It is likely a “war for oil!
The players in this Syria debacle reported by the media seem to be Syria, Russia and the United States, when the major player is likely Israel.
Also, rarely mentioned in the news regarding the tragic events in the past few weeks, is that in 2015 Israel reported findings of huge oil reserves in the occupied Golan Heights. Therein lies the critical lynchpin of it all.
Ever since it was claimed or illegally occupied by Israel and away from Syrian control after the 1967 war, the Golan Heights is disputed land. Against international law, Israel continues to attempt to claim the land. Here is a brief history of some issues regarding the legalities of occupied land and extraction of resources:
Unlike the other, costlier Israeli oil exploration program, offshore, the drilling in the Golan is cost effective. So far, Afek has spent about $2.0 million in drilling with funding from private sources, and with the entire program falling well within budget. As technically and financially sound the discovery in the Golan might be, such activities could face legal problems as the area of Golan Heights is still technically Syrian territory and considered “occupied.”
This suggests that the exploitation of mineral reserves in the occupied Golan Heights would violate international law. As a precedent, Singapore successfully sued Japan in the International Court of Justice for having exploited Singapore’s oil resources during World War II. (Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.)
International law establishes that an occupying power can operate already existing and operating oil fields first used by the sovereign country under its control. However, the authorities and the law are in absolute agreement that the drilling of new wells, let alone fracking, by an occupying power is illegal. (Profit Confidential)
A review of the cast of characters involved in it all is also telling, regarding the likely recent motivations of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Trump, as well, to undermine and oust the Syrian government.
Without doubt, undermining and overturning the Syrian government serves Israeli interests. After the oil find, and invariably side-stepping the United Nations and international law, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had attempted to encourage President Obama to acknowledge Israel’s right to the Golan Heights. Obama did not work. Now, Netanyahu is seemingly doing the same with Trump and is probably making progress. It appears Netanyahu is of the opinion that if the U.S. is on Israel’s side, regarding Israeli claims to the occupied land, that a major hurdle will have been overcome. The UN Security Council, however, would still need to address the issue.
Regarding the UN and Israel, however, Trump did state the following that certainly expresses his views regarding his hostility toward the UN and support for Israel:
“The UN is not a friend of democracy, it’s not a friend to freedom, it’s not a friend even to the United States… and it surely is not a friend to Israel… I will veto any attempt by the UN to impose its will on the Jewish state… When I become president, the days of treating Israel like a second-class citizen will end on day one… We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem.” – Donald Trump
In this article are the following topics – much of it citing direct sources: (1) Oil Find in the Golan Heights (2) What Syria Planned Regarding the Oil in the Golan Heights (3) Genie Energy and the listing of the Strategic Advisory Board of Genie Energy (4) Rising Tensions between Israel and Syria, and (5) About Children.
Before going further, however, it is important to note that, since WWII, “Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance.” Most of it is for military purposes. Here is the December 2016 report from the Congressional Research Service:
Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $127.4 billion (current, or non-inflation-adjusted, dollars) in bilateral assistance. Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance, although in the past Israel also received significant economic assistance. (Congressional Research Service)
Oil Find in the Golan Heights
Leadership of company behind the find seen as close to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.
NEWARK, N.J., Oct. 9, 2015 (UPI) — Genie Energy, a company with headquarters in the United States, confirmed it made a major discovery of oil and natural gas in the Golan Heights.
The New Jersey-based company said data from exploratory wells drilling into the area confirm what it said were “significant” quantities of oil and natural gas.
“We remain optimistic given the results to date,” Genie Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Howard Jonas said in a statement. “We are now working diligently to determine the production costs and total quantity of the resource.”
The company’s Israeli subsidiary, Afek Oil and Gas, drilled into a column of reserves about 1,150 feet thick, about 10 times larger than the global average.
Genie said it lacks evidence to determine if the reserves in the Golan Heights can be technically or economically produced.
The Israeli Ministry of Energy and Water Resources awarded a drilling permit to Genie for territory in the southern Golan Heights in 2013. The company at the time estimated the reserve potential in a 150-square-mile southern portion of the Golan Heights was high.
Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney had served as an adviser to Genie. In a profile published by Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Genie CEO Jonas was described as one of the primary campaign supporters and U.S. allies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel annexed the southern part of the Golan in 1981, though the United States and most of the international community don’t recognize the claims to sovereignty. Syria still claims the Golan and demands its return. (UPI)
In 2016, after the oil find, Netanyahu stated that Israel will never return the Golan Heights to Syria:
Jerusalem (CNN) Israel’s Prime Minister has declared that the Golan Heights will remain permanently under the country’s control, during Israel’s first Cabinet meeting held in the territory.
“The time has come for the international community to recognize reality, especially two basic facts,” said Benjamin Netanyahu during a Cabinet meeting Sunday.
“One, whatever is beyond the border, the boundary itself will not change. Two, after 50 years, the time has come for the international community to finally recognize that the Golan Heights will remain under Israel’s sovereignty permanently.” (CNN)
What Syria Planned for the Oil in the Golan Heights
Below is an excerpt from an article entitled “Israel exploits Syrian chaos to plan looting of Golan oil” regarding the Israeli exploitation of the Syrian resources and what has been the Syrian government’s plan for the oil.
Looting Syria’s resources
The Golan plateau was occupied by Israel during the 1967 War. UN Security Council resolution 242and several other resolutions since have called for Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territory and condemned Israel’s actions there.
These have included: annexation and imposition of Israeli law in 1981, an action the UN Security Council declared “null and void.” Israel has also transferred its own population into the area for the purpose of colonization and the use of the territory’s resources for its own economic interests.
The Golan’s fertile land and water resources have been a strategic interest for Israel and now its energy potential may bring huge financial rewards.
Despite international criticism, Israel’s inherently discriminatory and exploitative policies inside the Golan continue without sanction. Israeli ministers have voiced their desire to capitalize on the destabilization of Syria as an excuse to cement Israel’s illegal hold on the territory.
Whilst Israel continues to exploit the natural resources of the territories it occupies, the international community continues to do nothing to enforce its decisions as the occupation of the Golan verges on reaching the 50-year milestone.
The Syrian government had planned to build a pipeline across the Middle East into Lebanon and the Mediterranean for the European markets. It had signed agreements with Iran and Iraq towards this end.
It seems likely therefore that Israel will have a free hand to loot Syrian oil from the Golan, backed by the West. (The Electronic Intifada)
The oil exploration in the Golan Heights at the behest of the Israel, and reported in 2015, was conducted by the Afek Israeli Energy Company whose interests are held by the U.S. based Genie Energy. Below is information about the company from its website:
Genie Energy is comprised of two divisions: Genie Retail Energy and Genie Oil and Gas:
Genie Retail Energy
Genie Retail Energy is a leading independent supplier of electricity and natural gas to homes and small business in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern United States. The key to Genie Retail Energy’s success is our commitment to consumer choice. We offer a variety of plans that empower consumers. Genie Retail Energy brands include IDT Energy and Residents Energy.
Genie Oil and Gas (GOGAS)
GOGAS is an oil and gas exploration company focused on producing clean and affordable transportation fuels from the world’s oil and gas resources. GOGAS utilizes technologies that will help to preserve the quality of ground water, reduce carbon emissions, and minimize impacts on local landscapes.
GOGAS contains Genie Energy’s interests in Afek:Afek holds an exclusive petroleum exploration license covering 396.5 square kilometers in Northern Israel. The Company believes, based on its preliminary analysis and interpretation of data from its ongoing exploratory drilling program and other geological data, that its exploratory license area contains significant quantities of conventional oil and gas.
The listing below, of the influential Strategic Advisory Board of Genie Energy, speaks for itself! The board members, many well known in the American political and economic arenas, are more than likely weighing in on many of the decisions regarding Syria itself as well as the Golan Heights legal issues. Given the sizable findings of oil in the Golan Heights, the company stands to make huge profits.
Taken from the Genie Energy website, those serving on the Genie Energy Strategic Advisory Board are the following:
Michael Steinhardt (SAB Chairman)
Noted Wall Street investor and Principal Manager, Steinhardt Management LLC. Founder Steinhardt, Fine, Berkowitz & Co., and noted philanthropist.
46th Vice President of the United States. Vice President Cheney also served as President and CEO of Halliburton Company and U.S. Secretary of Defense from 1989 to 1993.Marry Landrieu
United States Senator from Louisiana from 1996 to 2014. Senator Landrieu served as chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. In her capacity as chair, she sponsored and passed the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Bill. The bill fosters partnerships focused on developing resources such as natural gas and alternative fuels, on the academic, business and governmental levels.
Founder and Executive Chairman of News Corporation, one of the world’s largest diversified media companies. News Corporation’s holdings include Fox Entertainment, Dow Jones and Company, the New York Post, HarperCollins and significant media assets on six continents.Bill Richardson
Governor of New Mexico from 2003 to 2011. Mr. Richardson has served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (1997-1998), Energy Secretary in the Clinton administration (1998-2001), Chairman of the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and as Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association.
Jacob Rothschild, OM, GBEChairman of the J. Rothschild group of companies and of RIT Capital Partners plc. Chairman of Five Arrows Limited. Lord Rothschold is a noted philanthropist and Chairman of the Rothschild Foundation.
Dr. Lawrence SummersCharles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus at Harvard University. Dr. Summers served as the 71st Secretary of the Treasury under President Clinton and as Director of the National Economic Council for President Obama.
R. James Woolsey
Director of Central Intelligence from 1993 to 1995 and as Under Secretary of the Navy from 1977 to 1979. Mr. Woolsey is co-founder of the United States Energy Security Council and is Chairman of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Regarding the oil find and the Assad government, two of the board members – Rothschild and Rupert Murdoch – were referred to in the 2015 Profit Confidential article entitled “Genie Energy Stock – Golan Heights Oil Discovery Could Shake Middle East Politics:”
Here’s the Bottom Line on Israeli’s Oil DiscoveryThe fact that Jacob Rothschild and Rupert Murdoch invested in attempts to search for oil in the occupied Syrian territories suggests they support the overthrow of the Assad government in Damascus.
In that sense, the oil discovery in the Golan will not in itself alter crude prices. But the related geopolitical concerns suggest tensions in the Middle East will increase. This should help in boosting the cost of oil in the short and medium run.
Rising Tensions Regarding Golan Heights Oil, Syria and IsraelSome have noted that it is highly unlikely that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gassed his own people. Progress had been made by the US and Russia regarding Syria. Trump had said earlier he would not go after Assad or encourage overturning the Assad government. The question was/is “Why would Assad initiate a poison gas assault on his own people to essentially commit suicide?” It makes no sense. So the question remains who or what was responsible for the gas assault? Trump, inappropriately, did not insist on an investigation but instead presumed the guilt of Assad.Did Israel play a role in the Syrian gas assault? Some have questioned if that might be the case but there has not been an investigation, as yet, as mentioned.
Also, just before the U.S. bombing, tensions between Israel and Syria had been increasing, as reported by CNN, as well as from Al Jazeera:
(CNN) March 19, 2017
Friday’s (March 17) encounter was the most serious clash between Israel and Syria since the start of the Syrian civil war six years ago. Tension between the two countries de-escalated as the conflict progressed, but the threats have increased between the two countries in recent months, along with Israel’s reported strikes.
An airstrike near Palmyra would be one of the deepest inside Syria since the beginning of the fighting….
Israel carries out air strikes inside Syria
(Al Jazeera) March 17, 2017
The Israeli army says its aircraft have carried out several strikes inside Syria, prompting Syrian forces to retaliate with ground-to-air missiles, one of which was intercepted.
Thursday night’s attack was one of the most serious incidents between the two countries, which remain technically at war, since civil war broke out in Syria in March 2011….And further, in addition to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s widely reported meeting with Trump in February 2017, Trump also “secretly” met with Yossi Cohen, the head of Mossad (Israeli Secret Service), in December 2016 as reported by “The Times of Israel“. We are not to know, but probably the issue of the Golan Heights was discussed.
Mossad Director Yossi Cohen briefed the Trump staff members on the Iranian nuclear deal, the Syrian civil war, terror threats and the Palestinian issue, Ynet reported Saturday. The report did not say when the briefings took place.
There are no innocent players in the mix here. It appears that the concern and outrage about the tragic death of Syrian children, who had been exposed to the deadly gas, was presented as a major catalyst for Trump ordering the launching of Tomahawk missiles against Syria. This bombing by the U.S. was done, even though there was never an investigation regarding who the culprit was that instigated this tragedy.
Nevertheless, if Trump wishes to express concern about children – and he should – then he also needs to look at the Israeli record of killing Palestinian children to also express concern and alarm at Israel for its “apartheid” system and violent treatment of Palestinians. From 2000 to 2017, the reported number of deaths of Palestinian children, thanks to Israeli aggression, was 2,150 as reported by “If Americans Knew.”
“The majority of these [Palestinian] children were killed and injured while going about normal daily activities, such as going to school, playing, shopping, or simply being in their homes. Sixty-four percent of children killed during the first six months of 2003 died as a result of Israeli air and ground attacks, or from indiscriminate fire from Israeli soldiers.” – Catherine Cook
Given the oil find in the Golan Heights and the desire by Israel to own and control it all, it is fairly clear that Israel has a vested interest in both overturning the Syrian government and to install a more compliant government that will serve Israeli interests and perhaps sway international law in its favor.
Especially given the oil find, Israel also has a vested interest in changing the international law regarding the Syrian right to the Golan Heights and to ease any restrictions on Israel extracting the oil for its exclusive use.
To repeat, for all intents and purposes, the U.S. appears to be engaged in a “War for Oil” against Syria to serve the interests of Israel.