Monday, January 19, 2015

MLK Day

This isn't a post about justice or accuracy of black history, nor is it an attempt to decide the morality of anything gone before me. This post is not to start an endless debate, so please keep any comments positive. I was raised in a small northern Indiana town in the post Jim Crowe 70's and 80's, where the 2010 US Census still shows a 95% white population. We covered precious little of Black history in school, and it's sad to say that Alex Haley's Roots, was my best education about Black history as a youngster.

I'm no expert, or voice of authority on MLK Day. 

Public Domain Image from WikiMedia.org

However, since I love history and feel compelled to learn more than was given to me in my school years. I did pause to take a moment to try to understand our complex history as a nation.

I am a comfort creature. I don't wear lace, or scratchy things. I love cotton. That is to say, next to cashmere or lambswool, cotton is my numero uno clothing of choice. Who doesn't love a Saturday morning snuggled on the couch in cotton flannels, socks, a T-shirt, and a throw? There's nothing better than cotton blue jeans and flannel sheets....


But in regards to MLK Day, I took a little look back in time.
    I discovered much I didn't know about cotton and the history of slavery:
~~Some historians believe had it not been for the invention of the cotton gin, slavery might have died out without as much tragedy as it eventually did.

~~Since the 1790's many American abolitionists fought for the end of the international slave trade.

~~Britain outlawed slave trading, thought not slavery itself, in 1807.

~~Enough African Americans had gained freedom in the early 1800's that government was afraid their numbers would  overthrow the balance of ruling white power.

~~The first Federal Census of 1790 counted nearly 700,000 slaves, while the 1810 Census counted 1.2 million.

~~Spurred by Gabriel's Rebellion while Governor of Virginia, James Monroe came to believe the immediate abolition of slavery would result in mob violence and race wars. He advocated gradual abolition, and when he became the 5th US President, he supported colonization of free African Americans back to Liberia where the colony was named Monrovia.

~~Prior to cotton, the cash crops of the South were indigo and tobacco.

~~In 1793, Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, allowing cotton farmers to make cotton the number one cash crop, increasing the demand for land and labor.

~~While tobacco was difficult to grow and needed to rest the land every 7 years, cotton was easy to grow, even on nutrient depleted soil.

~~As the shift in industry grew, land and slave owners pushed westward, swaying the efforts of the abolitionists by a swelling economy.

~~With the Panic of 1819, in the post Napoleonic War era, and post Revolutionary War era, land expansion created an economic bubble that crashed similar to our own 2008 recession.

~~What followed was a steady growth of demand for cotton from the South, exported to the Northern and European textile manufacturers leading up to the pre-Civil War era.

~~This trend left the South void of good infrastructure. They lacked development of roads, transportation, or manufacturing because their capital was tied up in owning slaves.

~~The North had developed manufacturing, including a textile industry that manufactured cotton textiles. Though the Missouri Compromise passed by Congress in 1820 prohibited slavery in the North, the ironic complexities of their economic benefit is not lost.

Whitney's Cotton Gin
In the end, it amazes me how pivotal the cotton gin was to the cotton industry and the abolition of slavery. Cotton: the thing I love and freely wear for my comfort, holds deep roots in our nation's past.

I join in the words on MLK: 
"I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exhalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together." (from Isaiah 40: 4-5)

Only the blood of Jesus can right the un-repayable debts to mankind. It's this truth I remember as I wear my comfy cotton. In this alone can I take comfort, that one day His blood will cover all. And by it, real freedom, real justice will prevail.

Isaiah 40: 1-3:
Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord's hand double for all her sins.
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
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Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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Represented by Sarah Freese, WordServe Literary


3 comments:

  1. I did a report about him in high school. Growing up in Canada and being black, I had no idea who he was until high school. I went to a school that was 98% Caucasian so I didn't know any better. But it is neat how a lot of the slaves came to Canada. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I'd love to hear about that Ladonna! Thanks for sharing. It's never too late to learn.

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  2. Thank you for this interesting history lesson, Anne!! I look forward to my eternal home where there is no prejudice!!

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