Constitutional and Legal Racism in Indiana: 1787 – 1870

            The State of Indiana was created in 1816 and was carved out of the Northwest Territory as established in 1787 by the Congress of the Confederation.  Indiana would become one of six states, along with Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and part of Minnesota.  Part of the 1787 act created An Ordinance for the Government of the Territory of the United States, North-West of the River Ohio (Ordinance of 1787),[1] establishing territorial governments and the process for statehood.  Statehood could be achieved when the territorial population reached 60,000, but elected forms of government could be achieved after five thousand free male inhabitants resided there. 

            Congress, ever mindful of the issues of slavery, created Article 6 of the Ordinance Act, which states, “There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted: Provided, always, That any person escaping into the same, from whom labor or service is lawfully claimed in any one of the original States, such fugitive may be lawfully reclaimed and conveyed to the person claiming his or her labor or service as aforesaid.”[2]  The article meant that slavery would not be expanded into these northern sections.  But what did that mean for African Americans in these areas?  Would they be free and equal?

This dissertation will examine constitutional and legal racism in Indiana and the territory before statehood.  While Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin, were ‘free’ states, they were not necessarily open states to African Americans.  States such as Illinois and Indiana included in their state constitutions laws prohibiting African Americans from settling in their states.  Often the states enforced the Fugitive Slave Act, helping the South continue its enslavement of African Americans.  Yet, at other times, the states showed independence and applied progressive interpretations of state constitutions to deny slave owners of their ‘property.’ Even after the Civil War, midwestern states gave a mixed message on treating African Americans, often treating them as second-class citizens until the Civil Rights Act Era, if not today. 

The dissertation will examine Indiana’s constitutions (1816 and 1851) and laws on race to determine the state’s significance in the historiography of slavery and racism in the United States.  Legal historians[3] are in the best position to interpret constitutional and legal rulings of the Indiana State Supreme Court and the acts of the state legislature.  As race issues continue to plague the nation, it is essential to understand how the problem began and what is needed to overcome falsehoods and stereotypes.  While there are a significant number of works on the formation of Indiana and racism in the United States, the subject of racism in Indiana’s formative years has not been sufficient, and even fewer studies from a legal and constitutional perspective. 

The dissertation will map out the arguments and acts of the state’s founders and determine how racial attitudes and laws progressed.  It is crucial to find out why the State of Indiana, which fought on behalf of the North in the Civil War, placed in its state constitution of 1851 a prohibition for African Americans to live there. 

            The dissertation will look at the following periods in Indiana’s history: First, settlement during 1787 until the state constitutional convention in 1815, including the enforcement of the Federal Fugitive Slave Act, which was held constitutional by the United States Supreme Court Dred Scott v. Sandford.[4]  Second, the laws and constitution from 1816 until 1851, when a new constitution was enacted.  The final will study the state constitution of 1851 until the passing of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and the universal suffrage of African American males in Indiana in 1870.   

            The dissertation will use traditional historical research and look at Indiana historical depositories such as the Indiana State Archives and Indiana Historical Society Collections.  While the primary focus is on the legal treatment of African Americans, the dissertation will look at newspapers, legislative notes, speeches, and legal opinions.   Only by a variety of primary sources can the dissertation questions be explored.  Those questions, preliminarily, are: What were the political and social issues surrounding the various stages of racism in Indiana?  How did the Indiana county and Supreme Court rulings compare to similar judgments of the United States Supreme Court?  Did the state courts provide more protection?  Is there a discernable pattern?  Did the state supreme court rulings cause Indiana state legislatures to modify the law or state constitutions?  If so, did it attempt to correct the racial issue or look for other ways to maintain the status quo?   How does Indiana fit into the historiography of racism in the United States?  Finally, what questions still need to be explored by other historians?  Since this is an empirical search, the author has no preconceived notions of the answers to these questions.  Traditional history shows African Americans were mistreated in Indiana, and the causes must be studied.

[1] “Northwest Ordinance; July 13, 1787”Avalon Project. Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.  https://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/nworder.asp.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Mark A. King achieved his Juris Doctorate from Indiana University School of Law in 1998 and is a doctoral candidate in history at Liberty University.

[4] Dred Scott v. Sandford. 60 U.S. 393 (United States Supreme Court, 1856).

My Dissertation Journey #2

I have submitted my first draft of chapter one. With references it is at thirty-two pages. It will change significantly in my final submission. The first chapter is really my introduction and my historiography section. As I find more resources the historiography section will grow and I will be able to create other sections – abstract, thesis statement, and chapter overviews.

I can honestly say, that this first chapter was extremely tasking. I wasn’t sure what to expect and became a bit disheartened at first. But happily, Dr. Roberts was able to get me on track and give me the support I needed to regroup.

There will be no rest for the wicked – my next course starts on Monday and will last fifteen weeks. It is my understanding that I will spend most of the summer researching. I may even take a trip to Washington D.C. to the national archives and Library of Congress. It would be exciting to do research in these great institutions. Hard to believe I am a professional historian who goes to the capital to discover new things.

I have been emailing with my dissertation director, Dr. Upchurch, and I have complete confidence in his ability to get me through the process. He has already been providing much needed guidance. And I think we have really gotten to know each other.

To Carlos’s dismay, my personal library has grown substantially and more books are on their way. eBay, Thrift Books, and Amazon have been helping me find most of my needs. I love local bookstores but I have not had the time to go to any but I plan to soon.

My Dissertation Journey #1

As some of you know, I am writing my dissertation for my Ph.D. in History at Liberty University.  The starting of the dissertation has been a rough process, and I am in week 5, and my first draft of chapter one is being submitted today.  These first several weeks have been about narrowing my topic down, and I have expanded and narrowed it down at least four times.  The working title is Constitutional and Legal Racism in Indiana: 1787-1870.

This week I defined racism for this paper.  I searched the internet and found one I liked from the Australian Human Rights Commission.  I chose this one because it encapsulates the idea perfectly.  I modified the language to suit my academic needs and thoughts.

My dissertation will define legal racism as the systemic and institutional inequity that creates unequal opportunities and outcomes for people based on their racial or ethnic backgrounds.[1] The power to discriminate, oppress, or limit others’ rights constitutes legal racism, andI think this will help me focus my work.

I have my dissertation chair, Dr. Thomas Adams Upchurch.  I am very honored that he will be guiding my work.  Dr. Upchurch focuses on African American history (slavery, the abolitionist movement, and Jim Crow/Civil Rights) and religious history.  He is the author of Abolition Movement,[2]among others.  I am incredibly lucky to have him on this project.

I will update my blog from time to time to keep everyone up to date on my progress.  Some posts will be drafts, and some will be my thoughts on the process.

     [1] “What is Racism?” Australian Human Rights Commission.  https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/race-discrimination/what-racism.

     [2] Thomas Adams Upchurch, Abolition Movement (Oxford, UK: Greenwood, 2011).

Economic Theory of the Great Depression: Goverment Failure?

            America in the 1920’s was very prosperous and full of optimism.  The decade is known as the “Roaring Twenties” and despite nuisances, such as prohibition, the decade is often depicted as one long party.  And why not?  The Great War had ended; The 19th Amendment was passed, giving women the right to vote; and economic prosperity.  All of this came to an abrupt halt in 1929. 

Roaring 20’s

            What seemed like overnight, America and the world was thrown into chaos as the Great Depression enveloped around them.  What caused the world to enter the Great Depression is a complicated economic and political question.  There perhaps is no one reason that historians or economist can agree upon.  Historians looking at the Great Depression have focused their attention on several reason.  One reason is the Stock Market Crash in October of 1929.   This can be summed up by, Michael Bernstein in his work “The Great Depression as Historical Problem” when he wrote, “… that the resulting devaluation of wealth and disruption of the banking system explained the intensity of the crisis.  The “business confidence” thesis was perhaps the best example of this school of thought.  It held that regardless of the mechanisms that caused the collapse, the dramatic slide of the stock market created intensely pessimistic expectations in the business community.   The shock to confidence was so severe and unexpected that a dramatic panic took hold, stifling investment and thereby a full recovery.”[1]

            A second reason for the Great Depression is the Economic policies, or lack thereof, during the stock market crash.  According to Bernstein, “… the slump was the result of systematic policy errors.  According to this school of thought, inadequate theory, misleading information, and political pressures distorted the policy-making process.”[2]  There is no doubt that once the stock market crashed, President Herbert Hoover was unable to instill confidence in the economic system.

President Herbert Hoover

            President Hoover took office on March 4, 1929, the stock market was at unprecedented high.  Investors where trading stock on credit, due to extremely low interest rates and no government oversight.  However, on Monday, October 28, 1929, the market crashed.  “The epic boom ended in a cataclysmic bust.  On Black Monday, October 28, 1929, the Dow declined nearly 13 percent.  On the following day, Black Tuesday, the market dropped nearly 12 percent.  By mid-November, the Dow had lost almost half of its value.  The slide continued through the summer of 1932, when the Dow closed at 41.22, its lowest value of the twentieth century, 89 percent below its peak.  The Dow did not return to its pre-crash heights until November 1954.”[3]

            Clarence Barber wrote on the origins of the Great Depression.  In his work he quotes, J.R. Hicks, “The first thing to be said about (the Great Depression) is that it was a double slump.  It began with the Wall Street crash in 1929, a repetition, at least at first sight, of that of 1907, leading to a depression just as that had done.  But the recovery from the depression, which on previous experience might have been expected to follow within a year or two, did not take place.  Instead here was a double slump, superimposed upon the first. Now there is no doubt at all that this second slump was monetary in character; it is to be explained by the fragility of the international monetary system, reconstructed no more than imperfectly after the first World War.  First of all came the European monetary collapse, beginning with the Kreditanstalt crash in July 1931; there followed, as a consequence of that, the 1933 crisis in America.”[4]

            Eleanore Douglas describes how President Hoover and his economic philosophy failed to stop the Great Depression.  “Hoover and his political philosophy in many ways exemplified the best aspects of the Republican retrenchment strategy of the 1920s.  His approach seemed successful during an extended period of American economic growth and relative international quiescence.  Unlike more traditional proponents of laissez-faire government, Hoover adopted a strategy of retrenchment explicitly offered a positive vision for action in response to modern problems and even crises.  Hoover faithfully adhered to his approach as the austerity crisis of the Great Depression unfolded.  In response to the failure of retrenchment policies either to prevent or to mitigate the conditions of the Depression crisis…”[5]  Douglas further argues that his response “to scale back U.S. security commitments in the face of events to focus on the economic crises at home and abroad, despite evidence of dramatic changes to key elements of the post-war international security architecture. In so doing, some have argued that Hoover signaled too strongly America’s lack of interest in maintaining the stability of the international system and opened the door to the rise of new threats from Japan and Germany.”[6]

            Ultimately, the Great Depression would end, but how is still controversial.  One theory is that recovery occurred because of self-corrective measures.  However, this is disputed by Christiana Romer in her work on the Great Depression, Romer states, “my findings appear to dispute studies that suggest that the recovery from the Great Depression was due to the self- corrective powers of the U.S. economy in the 1930s. I find that aggregate-demand stimulus was the main source of the recovery from the Great Depression.  Thus, the Great Depression does not provide evidence that large shocks are rapidly undone by the forces of mean reversion.  Rather, it suggests that large falls in aggregate demand are sometimes followed by large rises, the combination of which leaves the economy back on trend.”[7] 

            However, others credit it to the New Deal created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.  However, “New Deal labor and industrial policies did not lift the economy out of the Depression as President Roosevelt had hoped.  Instead, the joint policies of increasing labor’s bargaining power and linking collusion with paying high wages prevented a normal recovery by creating rents and an inefficient insider-outsider friction that raised wages significantly and restricted employment.  Not only did the adoption of these industrial and trade policies coincide with the persistence of depression through the late 1930s, but the subsequent abandonment of these policies coincided with the strong economic recovery of the 1940s.”[8]  While still others claim it was the economic needs and boom of World War II.

[1] Michael A. Bernstein, “The Great Depression as Historical Problem.” OAH Magazine of History 16, no. 1 (2001): 4.  http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.liberty.edu/stable/25163480

[2] Ibid, 5.

[3] Gary Richardson, Alejandro Komai, Michael Gou and Daniel Park, “Stock Market Crash of 1929,” Federal Reserve History (November 22, 2013).  Stock Market Crash of 1929 | Federal Reserve History.

[4] Clarence L. Barber, “On the Origins of the Great Depression,” Southern Economic Journal 44, no. 3 (1978): 434.

[5] Eleanore Douglas, STRATEGIC RETRENCHMENT AND RENEWAL IN THE AMERICAN EXPERIENCE. Report. Edited by Peter Feaver, Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, 2014: 71.

[6] Ibid, 72.

[7] Christina D. Romer, “What Ended the Great Depression?” The Journal of Economic History 52, no. 4 (1992): 783.

[8] Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian, “New Deal Policies and the Persistence of the Great Depression: A General Equilibrium Analysis,” Journal of Political Economy 112, no. 4 (2004): 813.


From Slave to First Female Millionaire

There are very few rags to riches stories, such as that of Madden C. J. Walker[1], who was born to former slaves on December 23, 1867.  Born Sarah Breedlove, she was just one of six children born in Delta, Louisiana to Owen and Minerva Anderson Breedlove.  Sarah what is the fifth child of Owen and Sarah and the first to be born free.[2] 

Sarah, like most young black children, in the Deep South, had very little formal education.  In fact, the Louisiana state legislators refused to fund education for black children.   She attended a small church presided over by Reverend Curtis Pollard, a black minister who was a state senator during reconstruction.  Sarah’s parents both died when she was seven years old, and she had to go to work to help support her family.[3] 

At the age of 10 Sarah moved to Vicksburg Mississippi and by 14 she was married had one child, a daughter, however she was a widow by the age of 20 and living in St. Louis, Missouri. By 1900 she had discovered a treatment for African American hair and in July of 1905 she moved to Denver Colorado to start a business.  While not easy, she was able to create successful business and traveled over around the country to introduce her product, which was delivered by mail-order.[4] 

In February of 1910 she traveled to Indianapolis, Indiana and was decided to make it her home.  In Indianapolis, she built a factory, laboratory, and a home all next to each other.  The cost of the factory was approximately one million dollars, in 1910 or $28.6 million today and was a state-of-the-art facility.[5]  By 1912, the company had 1,600 black employees selling her products on commission, some of whom earned around $1,000 per week (the equivalent purchasing power of $28,000 today).

“Though she began by offering her formula door to door, Walker understood that that was not the way fortunes were made. She established a chain of beauty parlors throughout the country, the Caribbean, and South America.  She had her own factories and laboratories, said to be the most advanced of their kind.  Walker set up training schools in hair culture, and employed black women agents to sell the products—including hair growers, salves for psoriasis, and oils—on a commission basis.”[6]

In the company yearbook in 1938, it describes the company as, “The Madam C. J. Walker manufacturing company has gone on growing from year to year until now it is the world’s largest manufacturing enterprise, the racist outstanding industrial success because it was founded on, and continues to be operated on, the principles of unselfish service to all humanity and a full measure of quality and quantity to its every customer.”  This comment about unselfishness describes Madam Walker’s personally philosophy.[7]

Madam Walker died on May 25, 1919, at the age of 51 from Kidney failure and had previously moved to New York, New York.  After her death and the death of her daughter, who took over the company, W.E.B. Du Bois, criticized the company and made some false and harmful claims.  “On December 18, 1937, Du Bois used his column in the Pittsburgh Courier to criticize the Indianapolis-based Madam C.J. Walker Manufacturing Company… The attack was part of Du Bois’s long-running critique of what he perceived as the failure of black businesses to address the basic needs of black Americans. Although Du Bois praised the accomplishments of the late “Ma dame Walker and her hair culture business” as “epoch-making,” he attacked the firm: “Since Madame Walker’s death the business has fallen, I have been told, mainly into the hands of white capitalists.” Further, the company had based itself “on the usual exploitation of labor.”[8]

Freeman B. Ransom, the company manager and attorney responded to these allegations.  “In an open letter to Du Bois published in the Pittsburgh Courier, he angrily protested the attack. “There is not now, or has there ever been,” Ransom insisted, “one share of stock of the Mme. C.J. Walker Mfg. Company owned by any white man” or ” ‘by white capitalists.’ ” Only “members of the Walker family” had ever held shares in the firm.”[9]

“Du Bois replied privately to Ransom on December 22, 1937: I am sorry that my reference to your company in the ‘Pittsburgh Courier’ did not altogether please you. You will remember that I did not say that the business had fallen into the hands of white capitalists. I said that I had been told it had. Nor was there anything in my statement or intention to decry or injure your business in any way. Most of us are engaged in work which is directed wholly or in part by white capital. That fact in itself is not at all derogatory. I merely mentioned the rumor in this case because the matter was of importance in the possible development of cooperative business among us.”[10]

Madam C. J. Walker was an amazing woman who personifies the American entrepreneurial spirit.  She was born to former slaves, married at 14 and a widow at 20, yet became the first female millionaire (according to Guinness World Records[11].  She advanced the cause of equality for African Americans and helped many of them make it to the middle class.

[1] Sarah changed her name to Madam C. J. Walker in memory of her husband Charles Joseph Walker when she started to promote her business.

[2] Rita G. Koman and TwHP Staff, “Two American Entrepreneurs: Madam C. J. Walker and J. C. Penney,” OAH Magazine of History 20, no. 1 (2006): 29.

[3] Ibid.

[4]A’Lelia. Bundles, “The Life and Times of Madam C. J. Walker,” History News 58, no. 1 (2003): 6-9.  Ms. Bundles is the great-great granddaughter of Madam Walker.

[5] “Madam C. J. Walker year book, 1938,”  Madam C. J. Walker Manufacturing Company, (1938).

[6] Darlene Clark Hine, “African American Women and Their Communities in the Twentieth Century: The Foundation and Future of Black Women’s Studies,” Black Women, Gender Families 1, no. 1 (2007): 8.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Mark David Higbee, “W. E. B. Du Bois, F. B. Ransom, the Madam Walker Company, and Black Business Leadership in the 1930s,” Indiana Magazine of History 89, no. 2 (1993): 102.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid, 104.

[11] https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/search?term=first%20self%20made%20female%20millionare&page=1&type=all&max=20&partial=_Results&.

Growth in the Postbellum Economy: North and South Carolina Economic Recovery.

After the Civil War the United States entered in to a period of reconstruction. The war destroyed many of the plantations in the south, which provided for the economic need. This discussion will look at how tobacco and cotton faired in the south during reconstruction. It will analyze two different articles. The first article looked at towns in North Carolina and the second discussed South Carolina.

Because the south was decimated after the civil war and it’s economy changed, the south entered a phase of economic rebirth.  The south was at a disadvantage since the north had major urban industries and the south was more agrarian. Roger Biles, in his article, looked at different areas of North Carolinas.  The article, “Tobacco Towns: Urban Growth and Economic Development in Eastern North Carolina.”[1] looked at two towns Winston and Durham to illustrate growth.  For instance Winston’s population grew for 443 to 10,008 residents in a 10 year period demonstrating a recovery from 1890-1900.[2]

In all, Biles study he considered “the four communities that grew and prospered most because of the tobacco boom—Wilson, Kinston, Greenville, and Rocky Mount.”[3] Prior to the mid-1800s there was not wide spread planting of tobacco in North Carolina.  However innovation in how to produce the tobacco and the desire grew rapidly.  “When domestic manufacturers began using the yellow leaves as wrappers for twists of plug tobacco, market prices for the new product shot even higher. ‘Many persons have taken to growing tobacco within the last year or two who probably never raised a plant before,’ commented the editor of the North Carolina Planter in 1858. By 1860, bowing to the requests of their readership, both the North Carolina Planter and the Southern Planter published instructions for the cultivation and curing of bright leaf tobacco.”[4] Just prior to the war land in North Carolina began selling 20-30 times higher.[5]

The importance of tobacco to the North Carolina recovery after the war was even more evident when the price of cotton dripped.  By 1894 cotton was only worth about 4.59 cents per pound from 25 cents per pound in 1868.[6]  This caused more farms to switch to tobacco.  In 1894, “ officials of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad launched a campaign urging farmers to plant more tobacco. The railroad’s managers published supportive editorials in the Southern Tobacco Journal and distributed twenty thousand copies of a pamphlet titled, The Tobacco Planter’s Guide for novice growers of the crop. Soon residents of eastern North Carolina towns joined in the tobacco boom by raising the crop on small plots just beyond the municipal limits.”[7]

This shift even occurred in areas and communities that were “historically and inextricably tied to the Cotton Kingdom” such as the Rocky Mount area, which had the second oldest cotton mill in the state but turned to tobacco.[8]  In all, Biles shows that North Carolina adopted tobacco as an economic response to the falling prices of cotton and the need to rebuild an economy.

In a second article by David Latzko on the South Carolina’s economy as well.[9]  Latzo, in his article, really delved in to the pre and post war economy.  Latzko states, “the Civil War and emancipation affected agriculture and manufacturing everywhere in South Carolina, but the effects were not evenly distributed. The war and its immediate aftermath resulted in a large shift in the geographic distribution of economic activity.”[10] He showed that Farm output in South Carolina in 1860 was about $32,005,366 by 1870 is fell by 52% to $15, 345,679[11], which shows the devastation.  Most interesting about this article is that author breaks down the economic impacts of each county and the major industries.

Like the Biles article, Latzko discussed how cotton prices fell in South Carolina, along with other key factors.  “Cotton production, which accounted for half of all farm output in the state in I860, fell from 353,412 bales in 1860 to 224,500 bales in 1870, dropping in dollar value by 37 percent. The quantity of rice produced declined 73 percent, from 119,100,528 pounds to 32,304,825 pounds, between 1860 and 1870. Rice production decreased 82 percent in value. Between 1860 and 1870, sweet potato production decreased 67 percent, the quantity of wheat produced fell 39 percent, corn production fell 49 percent, and the value of animals slaughtered dropped 74 per.”[12]

Finally, Latzko discusses emancipation and how that impacted the economy of South Carolina.  “The newly freed slaves, owning little non-movable property, had less reason than whites to remain where economic prospects were meager and greater incentive to move where such opportunity.”[13] This impacted the ability to get cheap labor since whites demanded more money for the same work.

It is clear that reconstruction really devasted the economy of both North Carolina and South Carolina.  North Carolina was able to recover better because it quickly shifted from cotton to tobacco.  South’s Carolina’s greater reliance on slave labor caused their recovery to go slower.

[1] Biles, Roger. “Tobacco Towns: Urban Growth and Economic Development in Eastern North Carolina.” The North Carolina Historical Review 84, no. 2 (2007): 156-90. Accessed July 8, 2021. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23522906

[2] Ibid, 157.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid, 158.

[5] Ibid, 159.

[6] Ibid, 162.

[7] Ibid, 163-4.

[8] Ibid, 164.

[9] Latzko, David A. “MAPPING THE SHORT-RUN IMPACT OF THE CIVIL WAR AND EMANCIPATION ON THE SOUTH CAROLINA ECONOMY.” The South Carolina Historical Magazine 116, no. 4 (2015): 258-79. Accessed July 8, 2021. http://www.jstor.org/stable/44289835.

[10] Ibid, 263.

[11] Ibid, 264.

[12] Ibid, 267.

[13] Ibid, 276.

My Maternal Grandmother

As most of you know, I have been working on my PhD in history and this week we were tasked with writing a blog on Applied History. One of the options that we were given for this blog was Genealogical History (our own family history).  This happens to be an interesting and exciting topic for me as I recently joined ancestry.com. Working with my mother, we have been tracing our family lineage back several hundred years. This assignment gives me an opportunity to create an outlet for what I have found, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.

First, I want to discuss the process really quick on genealogy. I remember working in the library when I was in undergrad and people came to work on genealogy. I worked for the Allen County Public Library and they have one of the country’s largest deposit of genealogical research (https://acpl-cms.wise.oclc.org/genealogy).  I would watch day in and day out, as people would spend hours and hours combing through books and newspapers. Today we have programs such as ancestry.com which makes the work a lot easier, but still very time consuming. However, these type of programs are only a tool that must be used in conjunction with some sort of knowledge of your family to start with.

To begin my research on my family genealogy I started with a piece of paper, some notes really, I took many years ago with my grandmother.  We were sitting at my sisters dining room table, when I asked her to tell me about our family. It should be noted that talking to my grandmother was never the easiest task for me, she often thought I was just “messing” with her when I would ask her questions, but this time she opened up and told me about her mother, her grandmother and so forth. I took the information grandmother gave me and I’ve kept it for over twenty years.

Page One of Notes I took with Grandma

Starting with this piece of paper, I inputted what little information I had into ancestry.com and began to work. Next, I contacted my mother and told her what I was doing and had discovered so far, and I asked her questions to verify what I found and expanded my research.   Now I don’t have a traditional two parent household and some of the questions I asked probably is not something my Christian mother would like me sharing, but let’s just say there was a few branches that I had to work on.

Grandpa Marsee Draft Card World War II Era

It would be impossible to share everything I’ve learned thus far about my family in such a short blog.  However, I want to discuss the branch of my tree and the lady who started it all – my maternal grandmother Lillie Juanita Green.  My grandmother was born September 5, 1922 in Middleburg, Kentucky, to John Green and Teeney Mary Green.

Death Certificate Grandma Marsee

My grandmother may have had several other siblings, but I only knew of one sibling; a brother named Esco Charlie Green. I vaguely remember meeting him once as a child and knowing there was something about his relationship with my grandfather that was upsetting to my grandmother. Years later I would learn that Uncle Esco was a homosexual, and my grandfather was unaccepting of him being near us. No one ever really spoke of Uncle Esco and I learned that he died on January 5, 1981 in Dade County Florida.  I know this was a sore spot for my grandmother and I remember her in tears when she learned of his death and recall her saying he was buried in a pauper’s grave.

Grandparents Grave

My maternal great-grandmother, Mary Green, as she preferred to be called, was born August 3, 1891 to Baxter and Esther Poore.  I was able to find several records on her, including her social security number.  I was able to locate census records for 1930 and 1940, which is why I think my grandmother may have had other siblings.  There seems to be a disconnect of some kind here. 

1940 Census Record – Bell County, KY

My mother cannot verify this information, but all the research does support it.  I am not surprised that this information is not known to my mother however, my grandfather had several sisters in the Fort Wayne, IN area (where we lived) and he never saw them, and I never met them.  Our family seems to have a poor sibling dynamic.  I see it happening even with my brother, sister and me.

Grave of Jesse Poore 1770-1858

So far, I have traced my maternal grandmother’s family back to Jesse Poore, who was a private in the Confederate Army for the 16th Regiment, North Carolina Infantry and his father, Jesse Poor (Poore)-there are spelling changes, which I credit to bad penmanship in translating documents-who was born in 1770, North Carolina and died in 1858, Tazwell, TN.  I am hoping to go back further to see how all the branches of the family came to the Americas. 

Boston Tea Party Part One

This is part one of my History H701 post on The Boston Tea Party.

Using Jstor I researched the Boston Tea Party which took place on December 16, 1773.  On that night, approximately 50 members of the Sons of Liberty organized in part by Samuel Adams disguised themselves as Indians and bordered three British ships and threw its cargo of imported tea overboard.   The “official” purpose of this action was to protest the British Tea Act of 1773. 

The first scholarly work I found was actually a chapter in a book Called the Defiance of the Patriots by Benjamin Carp Yale University press. 2010.  I then went to another database and was able to locate the book in electronic format.  The book is a detailed account of the revolutionary war using a significant number of primary sources.  This is a general work on the entire period. 

I did find a second article on Jstor from the same writer.  In a 2012 article Carp wrote “Did Dutch Smuggler’s Provoke the Boston Tea Party, written in the Early American Studies Journal.  This work was intriguing because the author advanced the notion that smugglers were actually behind the demonstration in order to protect their lucrative tea trade.  This work cited a series of works by authors on the war.  It further used primary sources such as letters from Generals, British Lords and writings of John Adams.  His conclusion appears to be that while the Dutch may have tried to start the demonstration it certainly didn’t know it would lead to war.


The third article is not new at all, as it was written in Jan of 1898 in The American Historical Review by Max Farrand.  The article titled “The Taxation of Tea, 1767-1773” is what I considered to be a unique take on the question.  The was written from a historical economic viewpoint on what the purpose of the taxation was and why it was so confusing to everyone.  The author concluded that the tea could have been sold for a profit without the tax which was meant to make the tea from the East India Company profitable.  The author used historical writings and calculations to make this interesting argument.

Overall, the writing on the Boston Tea Party is not as prevalent as I thought it would.  While lots of writings include it to some extent, it is not a topic that is written on exclusively as much.

Boston Tea Party Part Two

This was the second post from him History H701 course.

For this week’s discussion I used the Jerry Falwell library, specifically the American historical imprints database in order to look for primary sources to enhance a special topic that may be taught in an American history course. Continuing on with my topic of the Boston tea party I located two documents which I think would greatly enhance any course and student understanding of the events that took place.

As I discussed last week, The Boston Tea Party which took place on December 16, 1773.  On that night, approximately 50 members of the Sons of Liberty organized in part by Samuel Adams disguised themselves as Indians and bordered three British ships and threw its cargo of imported tea overboard.   The “official” purpose of this action was to protest the British Tea Act of 1773. 

The first Item I found was a notification produced by William Cooper who is the town clerk this notice was posted on November 17th, 1773, less than one month before the Boston tea party. In the notification Cooper writes “the town being greatly alarmed with the hourly expectation of the arrival of the teas exported by the East India company to this port and apprehending that they supposed consignees  are now sufficiently informed upon what terms the tea is consigned to them – the select men, agreeable to the request of a number of the inhabitant, hereby notify the freeholders and other inhabitants of the town of Boston, Qualify as the law directs to meet at Faneuil- Hall tomorrow at 10:00 o’clock in the forenoon , in order to consult whether further application shall be made to said consignee’s, or otherwise to act as the town shouting proper at the present dangerous crisis.”  At the bottom of the document, it states the select men earnestly recommend a general attendance of the inhabitants upon this very important occasion.

The second item I found Was a document circulated with what I would call a national song entitled Tea destroyed by Indians “Ye glorious sons of freedom, brave and bold, that had stood forth fair Liberty to hold; though you were Indians, come from defiant shores, like men acted not like Savage moors.”  And then it breaks out into a chorus, which I won’t hurt you with my singing, but the first stanza reads “Bostonian sons keep your courage good or die like martyrs in fair freeborn blood our Liberty and life is now invaded, and freedom’s brightest charms are darkly shaded, but we will stand and think it Noble mirth too dart the man that dare oppress the earth.”  This is an obvious reference to King George.

I believe these would enhance an American History Course, especially on the topic of The Boston Tea Party because, Students today have trouble understanding how items were communicated back during the revolutionary. In the days a video, Instagram and network news, it is hard for the average student to comprehend exactly what was necessary to rally a group of persons to protest. When looking at the protests that are currently happening in the United States it was social media in the news that disseminated the information this was never the case for the revolutionary period. Students seeing how notifications were posted, how songs inspired and how newspapers reported the events that take place is important for their understanding and appreciation for the founding fathers.

Overall, the database did not have a wealth of items specific to this topic.  The search produced 15 results, and some were duplicate items.  The database is very exciting to search and located primary sources.

“Notification,” 1773, https://docs.newsbank.com/openurl?ctx_ver=z39.88-2004&rft_id=info:sid/iw.newsbank.com:EAIX&rft_val_format=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:ctx&rft_dat=0F2F81D9ACE7F8C0&svc_dat=Evans:eaidoc&req_dat=8A8B718A23D24E09993EC67C59F3D21D America’s Historical Imprints (liberty.edu)

“Tea, destroyed by Indians,” 1773, Song, in six stanzas, extolling the Boston Tea Party of 1773; first line: Ye glorious sons of Freedom, brave and bold.

Relief cut of a ship following title (Reilly 1130).  https://docs.newsbank.com/openurl?ctx_ver=z39.88-2004&rft_id=info:sid/iw.newsbank.com:EAIX&rft_val_format=info:ofi/fmt:kev:mtx:ctx&rft_dat=0F2F81CA6180E398&svc_dat=Evans:eaidoc&req_dat=8A8B718A23D24E09993EC67C59F3D21D America’s Historical Imprints (liberty.edu)