History

Between Time and Timbuktoo

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DeNeen Brown of The Washington Post reports that archeologists are uncovering interesting artifacts in the New Jersey town of Timbuctoo:

Good golly. Miss Mali?

Timbuctoo was founded by freed blacks and escaped slaves in the 1820s. It was probably named after Timbuktu, the town in Mali near the Niger River, although researchers are still trying to find out how and why it got its name. The neighborhood still exists in the township of Westampton, N.J., about a 45-minute drive northeast of Philadelphia, an enclave of many acres, so tiny and tucked away that when you ask someone at the store two miles away, he tells you he has no idea where it is.

Timbuctoo has always been a secret kind of a place. Had to be, because it was part of the Underground Railroad. There are newer houses here now where some descendants of original settlers still live. But much of the physical history of Timbuctoo is buried underground. Based on a geophysical survey, archaeologists believe that foundations of a whole village of perhaps 18 houses and a church dating back to the 1820s lies beneath layers of dirt.

Brown writes that similar excavations are "booming across the country," and in the process are rewriting the history of race in America: "adding evidence of resistance, not just physical oppression; evidence of integration, not just segregation. They are, [scholars] say, unearthing evidence not only of lives endured in slavery, but also of whole communities of escaped slaves hiding in small, self-sufficient communities."

Christopher Fennell, assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois, says communities connected to old black towns are saying: "'Don't tell us about brutality in the past. Tell us about how African Americans overcame racism.' There is much more focus on free African Americans like Timbuctoo." Researchers are focusing, for example, on how blacks participated in the Underground Railroad. "The untold story," Fennell says, "is that it was really run by free and enslaved African Americans helping slaves to escape."

It's an interesting case study in the history of history—how different Americans in different times and places reinterpret the past. One set of historians isn't especially interested in racial oppression, so they tend to ignore or even excuse it. The next generation is deeply offended by that approach, so it highlights the ways whites have victimized blacks. Then another wave of scholars worries that the new narrative treats blacks as helpless victims, not as human beings able to act on their own behalf, and so we see studies that recognize the repression but also search for signs of black self-help and self-government. It's an appealing approach, though it too has its excesses. (When you celebrate the people who built places like Timbuctoo, you run the risk of romanticizing them, which in turn can lead to garbling the facts.)

At any rate I recommend the Post piece, which is filled with details about such settlements in different corners of the American landscape. One more quote before we go:

New Philadelphia freedom

In New Mexico, archaeologists are unearthing a town called Blackdom, which was founded in 1901, by Frank Boyer, a black man who was said to have walked thousands of miles from Georgia to New Mexico to establish a town for black people.

"He wanted to create a place he could be free and he got other families to come join him," says Juanita Moore, president and CEO of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, the largest museum dedicated to African American history in the country. "The town existed for about eight years until the artesian spring vanished. They ran out of water, then they dispersed and went to other cities. Now there are foundations of some of the houses."

Some sites offer evidence of the business acumen of freed black men. In Illinois, archaeologists are unearthing New Philadelphia, one of the earliest towns in the country founded by a black man. In 1836, Frank McWorter, who was born into slavery, purchased his wife's freedom for $800 with money he earned from extra work in a mine. He then purchased his own freedom at $800 and went on to buy 42 acres of land in Pike County, Ill. McWorter subdivided the land, sold lots and used the proceeds to buy the freedom of 16 more family members.

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  1. Alt-text win.

    1. Good Gullah!

  2. There was a town near where I grew up founded by ex-slaves. What many people don’t realize, is that great progress was made in the late 19th century. Integration was happening, black were moving into the middle class, and race relations were improving. Then something strange happened around the turn of the century. We heavily regressed. We got Jim Crow laws, segregated military, etc.

    That something that happened was “Progressivism”. Yes, the same movement that brought us prohibition and eugenics brought us institutionalized racism. I do not trust the progressives even today, as they still latch onto the idea that people are lumps of clay that can be molded by government to create a better society.

    1. And “scientific racism”.

    2. “To Progressivism! The cause of… and solution to… all of life’s problems”

  3. It was probably named after Timbuktu, the town in Mali near the Niger River, although researchers are still trying to find out how and why it got its name.

    I think you dropped a ‘g’ there.

    1. More proof that racists are also uneducated. “Omitted” or “forgot” is what you’re looking for.

      1. Or evidence that you are much too sensitive for this blog.

    2. You’re hilarious Jim! Can you do Holocaust routines for kids’ parties, too?

      1. I haven’t created any Jewish material (yet) but I have a gag on Kurdish genocide that just kills.

  4. Thread jack.
    It’s already past 3pm on the East Coast but I still haven’t seen a single post here decrying the criticism of the proposed burning of Koran.

    Some American Muslims said they were especially on edge as the anniversary of 9/11 approaches. The pastor of a small church in Florida has promised to burn a pile of Korans that day. Muslim leaders are telling their followers that the stunt has been widely condemned by Christian and other religious groups and should be ignored. But they said some young American Muslims were questioning how they could simply sit by and watch the promised desecration.

    The pastor has a right to burn Korans. It’s in the constitution. This means it’s the right decision. The end of the discussion. And anyone who dares criticize the pastor is an anti-American bigot.

    1. I remember tyring to explain to someone that Piss Christ was protected by the 1st.

      1. Sure but when the exhibit was sponsored by Tidy Bowl that was going too far.

      2. As I recall the question of whether Piss Christ was protected by the First was only part of the question – wasn’t the artist working of a federal arts endowment grant or something?

        When the fed gov starts underwriting art, the question at some point becomes what actually is “art” that qualifies for such funding? Because of the First Amendment, the government puts itself in a tough position with respect to trying to deny funding for one kind of “art” that it doesn’t like, while funding other “art” it does like.

        So the argument then becomes, “we’ll fund any kind of art, but that’s not art.” (I have to admit, I fail to see the “art” of putting a crucifix in a jar of urine – it just seems very juvenile and stupid to me, designed solely to offend just about every Christian on the planet).

        Which really just points to why the government should not be in the business of subsidizing art in the first place.

    2. Part of being a libertarian is defending behaviors that are odious. Yeah, the dumbshit redneck intolerant cracker preacher has a right to do this.

      Just as I have a right to say what the hell I think about him and his mouth breating followers.

      1. mouth breating

        Kinky.

      2. I thought we tolerated shit, we didn’t actively defend them…

      3. Yes you do. And people who were pissed about the Park whatever Mosque have a right to say what they think about those mouth breathers.

        1. Has anyone suggested people don’t have a right to be pissed off about the Mosque? Iirc they simply denounce them for the goofy reasons they have for being pissed off, and when they call for government intervention to prevent its building.

          1. No. They just call them racists, which is the functional equivalent of saying someone has no right to an opinion in our society.

            1. “which is the functional equivalent of saying someone has no right to an opinion in our society.”

              Not for a libertarian. They often defend the rights of racists while denouncing the racism.

              1. And believe me, we’re labeled every bit as racist for defending the right of a racist to be racist, as the racist is for being racist. Even if we openly and enthusiastically denounce said racism (the real one, not the trumped up charge of it from the left).

      4. What’s odious about burning Korans? Only bigoted rednecks here could express an opinion that building a mosque next to the Ground Zero was not a wise decision. On the contrary, there was absolutely nothing to criticize about that. But burning a Koran is unquestionably odious. It’s ironic that these two events occurred so close to each other. I see zillions of people taking inconsistent positions here. Should be fun.

        1. I’m trying to decide if you’re serious, because your snark is bending in on itself.

          Do you think burning a Koran actually is odious, or not?

          1. I think that burning a Koran is a moronic provocation that won’t lead to anything good. I think that building a big mosque next to the Ground Zero is a provocation too that has already made the Americans’ attitude toward Islam deteriorate.

            I agree there was too much snark in my original post.

          2. No. I don’t think that burning a Koran is odious per se.

    3. Does the gubmint have a legitimate power to use lawful force to stop them from burning Korans/Qurans? No – see First Amendment, U.S. Const.

      Does that mean that the rest of us should not excoriate them for the ignorant, hypocritical, bigoted rednecks that they apparently are, or that they should not be urged to reconsider their extremely poor choice of protest action? Of course not.

      They’re free to burn bibles or korans/qurans or whatever, and I’m just as free to say they’re fucking inbred mutant mongoloid idiots for doing so.

      1. I think my only concern is that the pastor is burning his own Korans. As long as he owns them, he can do as he pleases.

        And I’m sure not peep would come from that pastor if someone burned a Bible. Not a peep.

    4. Can’t do anything about it, because of the First Amendment, but it’s a stupid and evil move. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone dies because of it, though that’s the fault of the unreasonable listener more than of the unreasonable speaker. But still.

      1. If this dude burns some Korans, and a Muslim kills someone over it, it’s still the killer’s fault, no matter how much of a dick the pastor might be.

        1. I’d like to add that I personally don’t give a shit if he burns Korans; Muslims, like Christians and Jews, can go fuck themselves over their “holy” shit. It’s a book and people can do as they damn well please with it.

          1. My only thought to hearing about this was, “This ought to be interesting.”

            You’re going to burn Korans? Whatever, drama queen.

        2. Didn’t I say that?

    5. I’m all for a 1:1 Bible/Koran burn off. It it goes on long enough maybe we’ll run out of both.

    6. This is not bigoted at all.

      It really is absolutely no different from Everybody Draw Mohammad Day.

      It’s an inanimate object. Getting offended by its destruction to the point of threatening violence is insane. The people out there who would get that angry over the destruction of an inanimate object are every bit as irrational as the people who threatened the Danish cartoonists, and need to be tweaked and outraged at every opportunity.

      Actually, it’s bigotry to support Everybody Draw Mohammad Day, but feign outrage at this pastor’s action. Because they’re the same essential action, merely undertaken by different people. If a Reason editor draws Mohammad, that deliberate blasphemy is clever and brave defiance of irrational religious fanatics. If a pastor of some no-name church burns a Koran, though, his deliberate blasphemy is hateful bigotry and unnecessary provocation. Why? Because he’s a pastor, silly. Am I on the right track here? I think I am.

      1. You have my respect here, Fluffy. You’re certainly consistent on this issue.

        1. I’m not so sure that book burnings and offensive drawings of Mohammed are in the same category. Book burnings have a long history of violence and bigotry. It’s kind of an implied threat to the people who owned the books. It’s associated with the Inquisition, Nazis, police states, religious nut bags, etc. The statement behind it is that the books symbolize something so vile it needs to be destroyed. Books have traditionally been burned to prevent the spread of “dangerous” ideas. Or religious persecution. In any case, book burners have, as a general rule, been total assholes.

          Whereas doodling a offensive comic doesn’t carry all that baggage. It mocks, but it doesn’t destroy. At the very least you aren’t invoking images of repression and violence. So I think they are different things. Both protected by the first amendment, but certainly not functionally equivalent.

          1. I’m afraid I didn’t make myself clear. I admired Fluffy for not condemning outright the Koran-burning pastor and sort of comparing him to brave editors of Reason. Fluffy consistently remains an asshole. J_D, on the other hand, didn’t pass the test. See above.

          2. A flag burning destroys.

            The group burning the Koran has explicitly stated that they’re undertaking this symbolic action because too many people live in fear of offending extremist Muslims.

            It’s a deliberate statement undertaking blasphemy in order to show the Muslim community that they don’t get to impose their views about sacrilege on the rest of us.

            That makes it pretty much the exact equivalent of Everybody Draw Mohammad Day, in my opinion.

            Sorry, the “historical baggage” you want to bring into the discussion doesn’t impress me. If we’re going to start limiting acceptable political expression to only those forms that were never used by racists or oppressors, we’re going to have a short list. “Hitler wrote a book, you know. That means that writing a book proves that you’re a bigoted oppressor!” Talk to me about the specific action under consideration and no other action.

            1. Symbolism and allusion do matter. There’s about a thousand ways you can piss off extremist Muslims without invoking Torquemada and thousands of years of religious and political oppression. There’s only one way to do it that does invoke all that baggage (and unlike writing a book or giving a speech, book burning is exclusively the domain of opressive douchenozzles). When they select that one way, it makes me think they have other, less savory, motives. Or they are stupid. You don’t have to do much to get death threats; Southpark got them for showing the Mohammed in a giant bear suit. Go make a statute of Mohammed out of spam with bacon for pubic hair if you want to show you aren’t afraid.

          3. It’s kind of an implied threat to the people who owned the books.

            If the people burning {property} own said {property}, what’s the problem? I don’t think they’re saying they want to take anyone’s Koran away and burn it. They’ll essentially be creating a demand for more Korans to be printed. It’s a stimulus plan!

            1. Book burning is protected by the 1st amendment, but the reason we have the 1st amendment is to protect us from the book burners.

              If I saw a mob of people burning National Geographics and Carl Sagan books, I would still feel it was a threat even though it wasn’t MY copy of the Demon Haunted World. In short, if you cut the bullshit and descend from the ivory tower, its hard to really approve of a mob of people expressing violent disapproval of the ideas symbolized by the books being torched. It indicates that the mob doing the burning thinks that the people who write and subscribe to those ideas deserve the same treatment. To pretend otherwise is to try to treat book burning in the patented Libertarian Context Vacuum, and so to miss the entire point.

              1. Book burning is protected by the 1st amendment, but the reason we have the 1st amendment is to protect us from the book burners.

                No, the reason we have the first amendment is to ensure we can all be book burners.

                I’m an atheist. Can I go to Mecca? What does that say about the ideas I subscribe to?

                1. Kilroy, that’s a massively ignorant thing you just said. Historically.

                  Also, do we really want to hold ourselves down to the standards of Saudi Arabia?

                  Hell, I never disputed that they are free to burn whatever books they want. They’re either a bunch of tone-deaf jerkoffs or they are a bunch of religious bigots.

                  1. Right.

                    As I expected, there’s nothing behind your argument but a lot of nonsense about symbolic mumbo-jumbo and empty assertions that one can undertake “violence” against one’s own property.

                    And even though burning a Koran and drawing Mohammad carry equal symbolic weight to Muslims, one is an act of violence and bigotry and one isn’t.

                    Although I can guarantee you that if it was Matt Welch burning a Koran, no one – no one – would say it was an act of religious bigotry. It only is magically transformed into one because it’s a church group doing it. If Welch does it, we assume it’s a symbolic statement about free expression. If a church group does it, it means they want to burn all Muslims, too. Is that about right?

                  2. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

                    I said: No, the reason we have the first amendment is to ensure we can all be book burners.

                    To which you replied: Kilroy, that’s a massively ignorant thing you just said. Historically.

                    With the actual text of the FA in your face, would you like to explain that?

                    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_burning

                      Like I said, historical ignorance.

                      This pro-book burners are operating in a historical vacuum.

                      Images have meaning. They have history. When you employ images and symbolism, you invoke that history and meaning. The history of book burning is a history of hate intolerance, violence and oppression. That matters. You might not like that, but it does.

                    2. What ever symbolism and “meaning” you associate with book burning doesn’t change the fact that the FA constrains the government in a way that allows everyone to burn books.

                      My statement that “the reason we have the first amendment is to ensure we can all be book burners is absolutely correct. The ignorance here is yours.

  5. A paragraph I would like to see:

    One set of libertarians isn’t especially interested in the flaws in the market, so they tend to ignore or even excuse them. The next generation is deeply offended by that approach, so it highlights the ways the market has failed. Then another wave of libertarians worries that the new narrative treats the poor as helpless victims, not as human beings able to act on their own behalf, and so we see studies that recognize market failures but also search for signs of entrepreneurial self-help, while recongnizing the role of the public sector.

    1. Sentence I’d like to see:

      Max breaks his neck while attempting to lick his own asshole.

      1. Go scuk Ron Pauls dick. Im thru with you wingnuts. This is my last post hear.

        1. Obviously a spoofer, but still more coherent than Max.

      2. Something we”l never see:

        A clever retort from SugarFree

        1. Who’s being clever? I really would like to get the news that you broke you neck licking your own asshole. We all know you’ve tried to lick your own asshole and that merely fingering your asshole and licking your fingers clean won’t suffice any longer. Live the dream, Max. Get your tongue in there like you’ve thought about so long.

          1. That’s not clever either. You just can’t come up with a zinger.

            1. And this isn’t Max, because he can’t go two posts without talking about Ron Paul’s cock.

      3. Something I’d like love really love kill to see:

        People not feeding the trolls.

    2. A paragraph I would like to see.

      Notorious H&R troll Max mysteriously choked to death while giving fellatio to a horse last week.

      1. For what it’s worth, I’d gladly settle for witty or intellectually engaging trolling.

        1. So would I. If Max were actually funny it wouldn’t be so annoying.

      2. Wow, and you said I had sexual issues.

        I always knew John was one for beating a dead horse, but this…

        1. Do you want my phone number that badly? I am married and I have never dated a guy. But, you seem to think you can convert me to the other team. Stop with the teasing already and just come out with it. No one will think less of you for it.

          1. John
            I do not own a horse…

            1. Oh, so you rent for your horse fellatio needs? Is that considered prostitution?

              Somebody call Elliot Spitzer and get an opinion.

    3. A paragraph I would like to see:

      One set of libertarians leftists isn’t especially interested in the flaws in the market government interventions, so they tend to ignore or even excuse them. The next generation is deeply offended by that approach, so it highlights the ways the market has government interventions have failed. Then another wave of libertarians leftists worries that the new narrative treats the poor as helpless victims, not as human beings able to act on their own behalf, and benefit Big Business and so we see studies that recognize market government failures but also search for signs of entrepreneurial self-help ways to privatize unnecessary government functions and eliminate barriers to entry, while recongnizing recognizing the role importance of the public private sector.

      There, FTFY

  6. It would be nice if we could have more real histories of slavery instead of bullshit popular culture like Roots or Gone With the Wind. I am told That Peculiar Institution is quite good. But there are few others that I know of.

    Having lived in the South, I could not help but wonder when I looked at the countryside what really happened there. The whole history of slavery seems to have been wiped out. In the West you can still see traces of the old West. In the South, there seems to be nothing of the antebellum South and the slave culture in it left.

    1. Most Southern Planations (Mt. Vernon,
      the Lee place, etc.) will point out where the slave quarters were, etc.

      We need to remember, too, that 185,000 blacks donned the Federal uniform and fought for their freedom. Recommended book on the subject is “Like Men of War” by Noah Trudeau.

      1. But there are very few plantations left. One third of the population was in bondage. That is a lot of people. A lot more than just the ones on the few plantations that are still around. What was the rest of it like? How did they live? How did people manage to keep just a few slaves?

        1. James Loewen mentions a slave hotel in DC that’s mostly still there.

          It looks more like a prison than a hotel.

        2. Part of the problem is that it’s hard to write a good slave history, because the sources are lacking.

          With that in mind, go straight to the source: The Narrative of the Life of Henry Box Brown and Solomon Northup’s autobiographies are good.

  7. the history of history

    Historiography.

  8. At first I thought this was another Wal Mart building on sacred ground story. What a relief.

  9. Prathertown unincorporated

    Apparently the singer for Clutch grew up near one of those little old unincorporated black communities in Maryland, and wrote a song about it. I imagine it has a fairly cool history.

  10. “Blackdom.”

    Blackdom.

    Awesom.

      1. See, I thought you we’re going to link to something like this.

        1. My first thought was to find a picture of a black dominatrix, but an inept mobster named Black Dom was too good to pass up.

  11. In 1836, Frank McWorter, who was born into slavery, purchased his wife’s freedom for $800 with money he earned from extra work in a mine. He then purchased his own freedom at $800

    That’s about $35K in current purchasing power.

    1. 35 Gs for a wife? I dunno about that.

      1. Technically, $17.5K for a wife.

        What I find interesting is that he was able to legally contract to buy himself. I figured Asshole McSlaveowner would just pocket the cash.

        Of course, even after having to literally buy himself from someone else, I doubt our trolls would consider him to have the rights of self-ownership.

        1. He just got the middleman (the slave-owner) out of the master/slave relationship with the state. It’s a good thing!

        2. Slaves had legal rights and could go to court. Had the slave owner screwed him, he could have gone to court and won his freedom. This kind of stuff was more common than you think.

          1. Slaves had legal rights and could go to court.

            Tell it to Dred Scott.

        3. “I doubt our trolls would consider him to have the rights of self-ownership.”

          Wow, SF really does believe that anyone who disagrees with his axioms is a “troll.”

          What a tiny little world some folks live in…

          1. I’m comfortable labeling anyone who believes that slavery is a desirable condition for any man a troll.

            You don’t own me, fucker.

          2. But you don’t believe in self-ownership. So why are you complaining when someone says that you don’t?

            1. It’s also curious that when I mention trolls, MNG springs into action. I guess he knows himself well enough.

            2. I complained about saying that someone who believes with the libertarian idea of self-ownership is a “troll”, i.e., someone who is just saying that to rile up folks. It’s actually possible for reasonable people to sincerely disagree with the libertarian notions involving “self-ownership.”

              1. Should say “someone who disagrees with…”

                1. Should say “unreasonable people…”

        4. I knew that slaves could buy themselves in Roman times, but I was unaware that they could do so in America.

          Also, note which part of your post that weaselfucker MNG took issue with, SugarFree.

          1. Well, of course. How dare anyone assert they have rights not bestowed upon them by the omnibenevolent government.

            Remember when Tony said it was OK for me to murder him if we were alone on a desert island because their was no government around to say taking someone else’s life was wrong? Moral midgets.

            1. “Remember when Tony said it was OK for me to murder him if we were alone on a desert island because their was no government around to say taking someone else’s life was wrong?”

              If he said that then it was very silly. I think right and wrong are as objective as 2+2=4. I likely disagree with you about what makes something right and wrong, but it has nothing to do with whether a government says so.

            2. No, no, notice that he only objected to being called a troll. He’s cool with being a slaver, apparently.

        5. [quote]Of course, even after having to literally buy himself from someone else, I doubt our trolls would consider him to have the rights of self-ownership.[/quote]

          All he did was buy out the lessee’s claim. The state still remained the true owner.

        6. They’re wondering whether he paid taxes on his $1600 earned dollars.

    2. I saw that to. That dude did some serious work in the mines.

  12. “He wanted to create a place he could be free and he got other families to come join him,” says Juanita Moore, president and CEO of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, the largest museum dedicated to African American history in the country.

  13. Threadjackoff:

    Claims that Mayor Richie is stepping down may be exaggerated.

  14. ‘Don’t tell us about brutality in the past. Tell us about how African Americans overcame racism.’

    Today the entire membership Congressional Black Caucus will call that racist for not acknowledging oppression.

  15. I went to a high school in Southern New Jersey where about 1/3 of the students were from a town called Lawnside. Lawnside was a “stop” on the underground railroad.

    http://historiccamdencounty.com/ccnews16.shtml

  16. Burning korans is OK. We should also burn all bibles. And some christians too. Oh and the jewish ‘faith’ deserves just as much respect. That is, none.

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