Originally posted on Souljourneying:
Did you hear about the Ani DiFranco fiasco?
She, as a fairly well-known feminist and LGBT singer-songwriter, decided to host a feminist songwriter workshop at a Louisiana plantation. There was a tremendous uproar that you can read about in the Huffington Post. While DiFranco eventually cancelled the retreat, HuffPo makes it sound as if this occurred because people were upset that the she agreed to host the retreat on a plantation. Period. I was following the stream of tweets on this, and I think they shed more light. If you look at those tweets, you see that some people, though not all, were not upset because the place was a plantation. They were upset by how the current plantation owners, who are descendants of the original plantation operators, depict slavery.
The plantation, you see, is one of the oldest and largest in all the South. This is not, and should not be the issue, however. The issue that is more troubling is the owners’ offensiveness, which you can see on their numerous YouTube videos or on their webpage. At first, I wasn’t appalled that DiFranco was hosting a retreat on a plantation. It took some digging to see what Twitter was abuzz about, and, once you were looking for it, it was easily found. The owners’ offensiveness stems from how they portray plantation life. They brag about things like still having the original slave bell that was used to announce “rising, meals, and retiring” and having the most complex and expansive “servant” call bells at the time. To me, this bragging is part and parcel to the revisionist history they are peddling, especially when they hint at how their slaves were treated with deference, “free” on Saturday and Sunday afternoons to tend to their needs and receiving medical attention from an onsite “slave hospital.” There is nothing “free” or “healthy” about being a slave. The claim that they worked five and a half hours per week is disingenuous given how grueling sugarcane fieldwork is, especially in the mid-19th century. The best line is the claim that the slaves were “probably well treated.”
Posted in General Research | Tagged African American, American Civil War, Ani DiFranco, Gather at the Table, History, History of the United States (1789–1849), reconciliation, slavery | Leave a Comment »
The biggest compromises the United States faced at it first became a Union and then as it tried to keep the Union together, were around the institution of slavery. This is a brief overview.
History, the word itself connotes something that is complete, done, over with, nothing more to discover. However, the trouble with that notion is that it can lead to a single story being told that could discount new information. Therefore as new information is discovered it is into an old narrative. Historians, rhetoricians, archivists, and museum curators need to seek out new information these discoveries are made they need to take a revisionist approach to placing it accurately into the existing historical account. be open to the possibility that new discoveries could explode the existing narrative and create a new story.
While history is presented in the classrooms and history books with varying degrees of complexity, overtime a less complex view of the Civil War has been accepted as popular memory. Despite being stripped of its nuance and complexity, the period leading up to the Civil War was fraught with compromise. The American institution of slavery was fraught with compromise since the founding of the United States.
Most notably the Constitutional compromise of 1787, in which the delegates from non-slaveholding states to the Constitutional Convention made compromises with the Southern delegation to count enslaved people as three-fifths of person for the purposes of representation in Congress and distribution of tax revenues (Willis 55-56). However, in Freedom National written by James Oakes he argues that the Northern delegation was willing to make this compromise because they believed the institution of slavery to be on the decline. He further explains the point by stating the Constitutional framers were convinced by the works of classical economist, like Adam Smith, “that slave economies were backward and inefficient” (x). Therefore, since slavery was on a natural decline driven by the laws of economics they believed that their compromise was not giving up was not actually giving up much.
Next came the Missouri Compromise of 1820, in which Missouri was allowed to enter the union as a slave state and Maine was allowed to enter the union as a free state.
Figure 1 Illustrates the map of the United States after the Missouri Compromise
The Compromise also drew an imaginary line at 36 degrees 30 minutes north latitude, dividing the new Louisiana Territory into a north and south area. All of the Louisiana Territory north of this line was free territory, meaning that any territories that became states from this area would enable African-Americans to be free. The Compromise also encouraged people in the north to return runaway slaves to their homes and did not prohibit slavery, even in the free territories (Kluger 480).
The next compromise that Congress made was as the United States expanded its western boarder to the Pacific Coast. This compromise was called, “The Great Compromise of 1850” and was first proposed by Henry Clay in the United States Senate (McPherson 70). However, the Compromise was not a single piece of legislation proposed by the Kentucky Senator, but were several bills broken into these five parts creating the compromise (loc.gov):
- The Fugitive Slave Act-which forced the free states to participate in returning runaway slaves to Southern states
- Ending the slave trade in Washington, D.C.
- California entered the Union as a free state
- Utah formed a territorial government
- The boarder dispute between New Mexico and Texas was settled
This compromise was meant to provide representational balance between free states and slave states in order to keep the United States together as a Union. However, McPherson points out that this compromise was not one where, “all parties conceded part of what they wanted, but a series of separately enacted measures each of which became law with a majority of congressmen from one section voting against a majority of those from the other” (71). These measures only temporarily prevented the crisis and come again in a few short years through the Civil War.
From the founding of the country through each one of these compromise crises there was one central issue: slavery. The power that came from the institution of slavery and the economic system it produced was not one that could be dismantled easily. Illustrated through these compromises is that the institution of slavery in the United States was constantly changing. Slavery existed in every part of the Union no matter if it was legally a free state or a slave state (Bachman).
Posted in Thesis | Tagged African American, American Civil War, calhoun, Christopher Lehman, Civil War, History, History of slavery, History of the United States (1789–1849), Louisiana Territory, Minnesota, Minnesota Territory, Missouri Compromise, New Mexico, Oppression and Intolerance, research, rhetoric, Slavery in the United States, St. Cloud Minnesota, St. Cloud State University, Union, United States, Washington DC | Leave a Comment »
Historically, St. Cloud, Minnesota has been known as a racially homogenous community. Located in central Minnesota, St. Cloud is situated on the Mississippi River and its metro region extents through these four counties: Benton, Stearns, Sherburne, and Wright. Although, the city of St. Cloud itself is only in Benton and Stearns counties. While the city of St. Cloud is not large it serves as a regional commerce hub to the rural farming community it is surrounded by.
According to St. Cloud’s governmental website, the city formed from three different townships incorporating into one municipality. The original three cities were known as Upper, Middle, and Lower towns (website). Middle Town was primarily first settled by German Catholic immigrants and migrants from the east coast states. While Lower Town’s founders were migrants from New England. The third town that incorporated with the other to when St. Cloud was formed was Upper Town or Arcadia. Prominent founding members of the Upper Town community were Southerners who had relocated to the Minnesota Territory through Federal appointments, missionary work, or the fur trade. In 1856, these three towns combined into the city of St. Cloud.
The city developed into an area for commerce not just for the fur trade, but also granite. When granite was discovered in the quarries near St. Cloud it allowed the town to grow beyond its fur trading roots. In the mid 1800′s most of the commercial granite in the United States came from New Hampshire and other rocky areas of the East. The market for granite was relatively small in the sparsely settled Midwest, and transportation costs made it difficult for Minnesota companies to compete for work in faraway eastern cities. St. Cloud benefited from the development of the steamship that could make traversing the Mississippi River timelier and thus improved commerce. Many quarries failed, but others survived as new uses for granite were developed. Prosperity came to the St. Cloud area quarries in the 1890′s when monument work began to replace paving, bridge, and foundation blocks as their principal products. St. Cloud continues to be a major supplier of granite. Prized now more for its beauty than its strength, granite quarried in the St. Cloud area graces such state landmarks as the Capitol and the History Center in St. Paul (citation).
Even with all of this commerce, the population of St. Cloud remained low keeping it a small town. There was the expected growth after World War II where the whole country experienced a baby boom. From 1950 through 1980 the growth from census to census was marginally small. However, the U.S. Census Bureau numbers for the St. Cloud area have shown dramatic increases over the past 20 years. As Table 1 illustrates the city of St. Cloud experienced a population growth of 35%. On the other hand, the Stearns County population increased by 27% during the same time period. As stated previously, St. Cloud is also in Benton County and this would account for Stearns County not representing St. Cloud’s full population growth.
Table1: Population Growth 1990-2010
||2010% Minority Population
|St. Cloud (city)
Data Source: United States Census Bureau
It is also significant to note that the racial makeup of both St. Cloud and Stearns County is becoming more diverse. As of the 2010 United States Census, the European American population for this area was 84.59%, which mirrors the European American population for the state of Minnesota at 85.3% (Admin Minnesota). In contrast, the white population of the United States as a whole is 72.4% with minorities comprising 27.6% of the population in the country. As is noted in Table 1, St. Cloud shows a higher concentration of minorities within the city; as opposed to Stearns County whose minority population does not reach ten percent.
My purpose for presenting this demographic data is to present a more complete understanding of the rhetorical situation in which the Stearns County History Museum will present its exhibit. As Stearns County continues to grow and become more diverse it will benefit the community as a whole to understand that the history of Stearns County is more complex than people might think at first.
Posted in Thesis | Tagged 2010 United States Census, Central Minnesota, Cloud, Education, History, Minnesota, Minnesota Territory, Mississippi River, research, rhetoric, Saint-Cloud, St. Cloud, St. Cloud Minnesota, Stearns County Minnesota, thesis, United States, United States Census Bureau, Upper Mississippi River | Leave a Comment »