The Book of Negroes is a historical document which records names and descriptions of 3,000 African-American slaves who escaped to the British lines during the American Revolution and were evacuated by the British by ship to points in Nova Scotia as freedmen. The book was assembled by Samuel Birch (namesake of Birchtown, Nova Scotia) under the direction of Guy Carleton, 1st Baron Dorchester.

African Americans who escaped to the British during the American Revolutionary War became the first settlement of Black Nova Scotians and Black Canadians. Other Black Loyalists were transported to settlements in several islands in the West Indies and some to London. Recorded in 1783, this 150-page document is the only one to have recorded Black Americans in a large, detailed scope of work.[1]

The document contains records on 3000 African Americans; the former slaves recorded in the Book of Negroes were evacuated to British North America, where they were settled in the newly established Birchtown, Nova Scotia and other places in the colony. According to the Treaty of Paris (1783), the United States argued for the return of all property, including slaves. The British refused to return the slaves whom they had promised freedom during the war for joining their cause. The detailed records were created to document those freedmen whom the British resettled in Nova Scotia, along with other Loyalists.

Some freedmen later migrated from Nova Scotia to Sierra Leone, where they formed the original settlers of Freetown, under the auspices of the Sierra Leone Company. They founded the Krio people.

Notable people recorded in the Book of Negroes include Boston King, Henry Washington, Moses Wilkinson and Cato Perkins.

As the Book of Negroes was recorded separately by American and British officers, there are two versions of the document. The original British version is held in the UK National Archives in Kew, London. The American version of the Book of Negroesis held by the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC. It was published under the title The Black Loyalist Directory: African Americans in Exile After the American Revolution (1996), edited by Graham Russell Hodges, Susan Hawkes Cook, and Alan Edward Brown.*[2]

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1. Nova Scotia Archives & Records Management – African Nova Scotians – Archives

2. “Review: The Black Loyalist Directory: African Americans in Exile After the American Revolution, edited by Graham Russell Hodges, Susan Hawkes Cook, and Alan Edward Brown”, William and Mary Quarterly, 1996, Third Series, Vol. 53, No. 4, accessed 27 September 2011

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United States v. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542 (1876)[1] was an important United States Supreme Court decision in United States constitutional law, one of the earliest to deal with the application of the Bill of Rights to state governments following the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment.

The case arose during the Reconstruction Era from the 1872 Louisiana gubernatorial election which was hotly disputed, and led to both major political parties certifying their slates of local officers. At Colfax, Louisiana, tensions climaxed in the Colfax massacre, in which 105 black people were killed and three white people. A federal judge ruled that the Republican-majority legislature be seated, but growing social tensions erupted on April 13, 1873, when an armed militia of white Democrats attacked black Republican freedmen, who had gathered at the Grant ParishCourthouse in Colfax, Louisiana, to resist an attempt of Democratic takeover.[2]

Federal charges were brought against several members of the white mob under the Enforcement Act of 1870, which prohibited two or more people from conspiring to deprive anyone of their constitutional rights. Convictions were appealed to the Supreme Court. Among these charges including hindering the freedmen’s First Amendment right to freely assemble and their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. In its ruling, the Supreme Court overturned the convictions of the European-American men, holding that the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applies only to state action, not to actions by individual citizens. It said that the state would protect citizens.[3] The Court also ruled that the First Amendment right to assembly was not intended to limit the powers of the State governments in respect to their own citizens.[4] In addition, the Justices stated “The right to bear arms is not granted by the Constitution; neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence. The Second Amendments means no more than that it shall not be infringed by Congress,and has no other effect than to restrict the powers of the National Government. ” [5]

Federal troops were withdrawn from the South in 1877, and elections were often fraught with fraud and violence as white people struggled to suppress black voting. From 1890 to 1908, the southern states passed new constitutions or amendments that resulted in disfranchisement of most black people and many poor white people, a status that lasted until after passage of federal civil rights legislation in the 1960s.

African Americans in the South were left to the mercy of increasingly hostile state governments dominated by white Democratic legislatures; neither the legislatures, law enforcement or the courts worked to protect freedmen.[10] As Democrats regained power in the late 1870s, they struggled to suppress black voting through intimidation and fraud at the polls. Paramilitary groups such as the Red Shirts acted on behalf of the Democrats to suppress black voting. From 1890 to 1908, 10 of the 11 former Confederate states passed disfranchising constitutions or amendments,[11] with provisions for poll taxes,[12] residency requirements, literacy tests,[12] and grandfather clauses that effectively disfranchised most black voters and many poor white people. The disfranchisement also meant that black people could not serve on juries or hold any political office, which were restricted to voters; those who could not vote were excluded from the political system.

The Cruikshank ruling also allowed groups such as the Ku Klux Klan to flourish and continue to use paramilitary force to suppress black voting. As white Democrats dominated the Southern legislatures, they turned a blind eye on the violence. They refused to allow African Americans any right to bear arms.

As constitutional commentator Leonard Levy later wrote in 1987, “Cruikshank paralyzed the federal government’s attempt to protect black citizens by punishing violators of their Civil Rights and, in effect, shaped the Constitution to the advantage of the Ku Klux Klan.” Federal civil rights enforcement was blocked by Cruikshank until 1966 (United States v. Price; United States v. Guest) when the Court vitiated Cruikshank.[13]

All five Justices in the majority had been appointed by Republicans (three by Lincoln, two by Grant). The lone Democratic appointee Nathan Clifford dissented.

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1. 92 U.S. 542 Ulysses S. Grant, People and Events: “The Colfax Massacre”, PBS 
2. Website, accessed August 18, 2013.
3. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542 at 554
4. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542 at 552-553
5. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542 at 553
6. Keith, Leanna (2008). The Colfax Massacre.
7. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542 at 544-546
8. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542 at 549
9. Cruikshank, 92 U.S. 542 at 551
10. Finkelman, Paul (2006). Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties.
11. Chafetz, Joshua Aaron (2007). Democracy’s Privileged Few.
12. Klarman, Michael J. (2004). From Jim Crow to Civil Rights.
13. Leonard W. Levy, et al., eds., Encyclopedia of the American Constitution, MacMillan/Professional Books, 1987.

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Prelude to a Massacre

Before the Civil War, the land on which Colfax stood was a sugar and cotton plantation; after the surrender, its owner, William Smith (“Willie”) Calhoun readied his slaves for freedom by conveying to them his parents’ livestock, renting out 800 acres for tenancy and even agreeing to a school for black children. “In all the South,” LeeAnna Keith writes in her book, The Colfax Massacre: The Untold Story of Black Power, White Terror, and the Death of Reconstruction, Willie Calhoun “was probably the greatest slave master ever to embrace the cause of black equality.” Soon Calhoun would have another role to play, to no avail.

The Louisiana Election of 1872
In Louisiana in 1872, there was no line at all between political and actual warfare. Nominally, it was a gubernatorial race between a Republican and a Democrat. What made the election close was a split within the Republican Party, with one wing seeking to advance the goals of Reconstruction and the other so anxious to pull it back that it formed a “Fusionist” coalition with the Democrats. Anyone interested in the full intrigue should read Charles Lane’s thrilling — and, to me, invaluable — account, The Day Freedom Died: The Colfax Massacre, the Supreme Court, and the Betrayal of Reconstruction.
Suffice it to say the results of the election were disputed, with each side accusing the other of fraud, while holding its own inaugural parade. Because the Reconstruction Republicans still controlled the federal courts, their candidate, William Pitt Kellogg, was ordered in with backup from federal troops President Ulysses Grant deployed. Yet, when the controversy failed to subside, even Kellogg waffled in appointing like-minded men to run the courthouse in Colfax.
Having none of it was William Ward, a black Civil War veteran, militia leader and outspoken Radical Republican of Louisiana soon to have his own seat in the state legislature. Ward is the hero of Joel Rogers’ account of Colfax in Your History and for good reason: He warned Governor Kellogg about what caving in to his Fusionist rivals would mean to the black voters who’d helped put him in office. With pressure from Ward, Kellogg kept his commitments, and in doing so, triggered a chain of events in Colfax that would destroy its backwater anonymity, and with it, innumerable lives.
The massacre resulted in a Supreme Court decision limiting the federal government’s ability to protect black Americans from racial targeting
In Colfax, La., on Easter Sunday 1873, a mob of white insurgents, including ex-Confederate and Union soldiers, led an assault on the Grant Parish Courthouse, the center of civic life in the community, which was occupied and surrounded — and defended — by black citizens determined to safeguard the results of the state’s most recent election. They, too, were armed, but they did not have the ammunition to outlast their foes, who, outflanking them, proceeded to mow down dozens of the courthouse’s black defenders, even when they surrendered their weapons. 
The legal ramifications were as horrifying as the violence — and certainly more enduring; in an altogether different kind of massacre, United States v. Cruikshank (1876), the U.S. Supreme Court tossed prosecutors’ charges against the killers in favor of severely limiting the federal government’s role in protecting the emancipated from racial targeting, especially at the hands of the Ku Klux Klan.
Historians know this tragedy as the Colfax Massacre, though in the aftermath, even today, some whites refer to it as the Colfax Riot in order to lay blame at the feet of those who, lifeless, could not tell their tale. In his canonical history of the period, Reconstruction: America’s Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877, Eric Foner has called the Colfax Massacre “[t]he bloodiest single instance of racial carnage in the Reconstruction era.” A generation earlier, Joel A. Rogers cited it to African Americans as an instance of Your History: From Beginning of Time to the Present. As we will see, Rogers saw it through a different lens.

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When Captain James Riley published in 1817 the account of his and his crew’s capture and enslavement at the hands of a group of North African tribesmen it became an immediate hit, readers being enthralled by this stark reversal of the usual master-slave narrative they were all so used to. 

This book was said to have greatly influenced Abraham Lincoln’s views against slavery upon his reading of the account.

Robert C. Davis, author of Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters, looks at the story in the context of other similar tales of Europeans being taken as slaves on the North African coast.

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In his research, “Diseases and Peculiarities of the Negro Race”, published in 1851, Dr. Samuel Cartwright who was a Louisiana physician, claimed to have discovered two mental diseases peculiar to blacks, which he believed justified their continued enslavement:

DRAPETOMANIA, OR THE DISEASE CAUSING NEGROES TO RUN AWAY. 
It is unknown to our medical authorities, although its diagnostic symptom, the absconding from service, is well known to our planters and overseers… 

In noticing a disease not heretofore classed among the long list of maladies that man is subject to, it was necessary to have a new term to express it. The cause in the most of cases, that induces the negro to run away from service, is as much a disease of the mind as any other species of mental alienation, and much more curable, as a general rule. With the advantages of proper medical advice, strictly followed, this troublesome practice that many negroes have of running away, can be almost entirely prevented, although the slaves be located on the borders of a free state, within a stone’s throw of the abolitionists.

If the white man attempts to oppose the Deity’s will, by trying to make the negro anything else than “the submissive knee-bender,” (which the Almighty declared he should be,) by trying to raise him to a level with himself, or by putting himself on an equality with the negro; or if he abuses the power which God has given him over his fellow-man, by being cruel to him, or punishing him in anger, or by neglecting to protect him from the wanton abuses of his fellow-servants and all others, or by denying him the usual comforts and necessaries of life, the negro will run away; but if he keeps him in the position that we learn from the Scriptures he was intended to occupy, that is, the position of submission; and if his master or overseer be kind and gracious in his hearing towards him, without condescension, and at the sane time ministers to his physical wants, and protects him from abuses, the negro is spell-bound, and cannot run away.

According to my experience, the “genu flexit”–the awe and reverence, must be exacted from them, or they will despise their masters, become rude and ungovernable, and run away. On Mason and Dixon’s line, two classes of persons were apt to lose their negroes: those who made themselves too familiar with them, treating them as equals, and making little or no distinction in regard to color; and, on the other hand, those who treated them cruelly, denied them the common necessaries of life, neglected to protect them against the abuses of others, or frightened them by a blustering manner of approach, when about to punish them for misdemeanors. Before the negroes run away, unless they are frightened or panic-struck, they become sulky and dissatisfied. The cause of this sulkiness and dissatisfaction should be inquired into and removed, or they are apt to run away or fall into the negro consumption. When sulky and dissatisfied without cause, the experience of those on the line and elsewhere, was decidedly in favor of whipping them out of it, as a preventive measure against absconding, or other bad conduct. It was called whipping the devil out of them.

If treated kindly, well fed and clothed, with fuel enough to keep a small fire burning all night–separated into families, each family having its own house–not permitted to run about at night to visit their neighbors, to receive visits or use intoxicating liquors, and not overworked or exposed too much to the weather, they are very easily governed–more so than any other people in the world. When all this is done, if any one of more of them, at any time, are inclined to raise their heads to a level with their master or overseer, humanity and their own good require that they should be punished until they fall into that submissive state which it was intended for them to occupy in all after-time, when their progenitor received the name of Canaan or “submissive knee-bender.” They have only to be kept in that state and treated like children, with care, kindness, attention and humanity, to prevent and cure them from running away.

DYSAETHESIA AETHIOPICA, OR HEBETUDE OF MIND AND OBTUSE SENSIBILITY OF BODY–A DISEASE PECULIAR TO NEGROES–CALLED BY OVERSEERS, ” RASCALITY.”
Dysaesthesia Aethiopica is a disease peculiar to negroes, affecting both mind and body in a manner as well expressed by dysaesthesia, the name I have given it, as could be by a single term. There is both mind and sensibility, but both seem to be difficult to reach by impressions from without. There is a partial insensibility of the skin, and so great a hebetude of the intellectual faculties, as to be like a person half asleep, that is with difficulty aroused and kept awake. It differs from every other species of mental disease, as it is accompanied with physical signs or lesions of the body discoverable to the medical observer, which are always present and sufficient to account for the symptoms. It is much more prevalent among free negroes living in clusters by themselves, than among slaves on our plantations, and attacks only such slaves as live like free negroes in regard to diet, drinks, exercise, etc. It is not my purpose to treat of the complaint as it prevails among free negroes, nearly all of whom are more or less afflicted with it, that have not got some white person to direct and to take care of them. To narrate its symptoms and effects among them would be to write a history of the ruins and dilapidation of Hayti, and every spot of earth they have ever had uncontrolled possession over for any length of time. I propose only to describe its symptoms among slaves.

From the careless movements of the individuals affected with the complaint, they are apt to do much mischief, which appears as if intentional, but is mostly owing to the stupidness of mind and insensibility of the nerves induced by the disease. Thus, they break, waste and destroy everything they handle,–abuse horses and cattle,–tear, burn or rend their own clothing, and, paying no attention to the rights of property, steal others, to replace what they have destroyed. They wander about at night, and keep in a half nodding sleep during the day. They slight their work,–cut up corn, cane, cotton or tobacco when hoeing it, as if for pure mischief. They raise disturbances with their overseers and fellow-servants without cause or motive, and seem to be insensible to pain when subjected to punishment. The fact of the existence of such a complaint, making man like an automaton or senseless machine, having the above or similar symptoms, can be clearly established by the most direct and positive testimony. That it should have escaped the attention of the medical profession, can only be accounted for because its attention has not been sufficiently directed to the maladies of the negro race. Otherwise a complaint of so common an occurrence on badly-governed plantations, and so universal among free negroes, or those who are not governed at all,–a disease radicated in physical lesions and having its peculiar and well marked symptoms and its curative indications, would not have escaped the notice of the profession. The northern physicians and people have noticed the symptoms, but not the disease from which they spring. They ignorantly attribute the symptoms to the debasing influence of slavery on the mind without considering that those who have never been in slavery, or their fathers before them, are the most afflicted, and the latest from the slave-holding South the least. The disease is the natural offspring of negro liberty–the liberty to be idle, to wallow in filth, and to indulge in improper food and drinks.

De Bow’s Review

Southern and Western States

Volume XI, New Orleans, 1851

AMS Press, Inc. New York, 1967

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Often referred to as Louisiana’s version of the Ku Klux Klan, the Knights of the White Camellia emerged during Reconstruction as a force to combat the social and political changes wrought by the “radical” state constitution of 1868. Despite the organization’s short life span and ultimate failure, its deeds influenced the governing strategy of both national and state Republicans as well as the methods by which Democratic conservatives ultimately overthrew Reconstruction. 

As it did in other Southern states, the US Congress’s passage of the Reconstruction Acts in 1867 mandated the formation of a new government in Louisiana. The move deeply demoralized the political will of those Democratic conservatives whom the legislation had ejected from power while simultaneously energizing state Republicans, who quickly moved to establish a new government. By March 1868, a biracial convention had written a new state constitution. The next month, Louisiana’s voters ratified the constitution and elected Henry Clay Warmoth, an Illinois-born Republican, as governor. Well ahead of its time, the Louisiana state constitution of 1868 featured a sweeping civil rights code and dramatically altered the balance of political power in the state. For the first time in Louisiana’s history, black men had not only voted in an official state election, a significant number now held office. 

 

Formation of the Knights of the White Camellia:

Though they looked on with dismay, conservative Democrats invested little effort in opposing the creation of the new state government along Republican lines. Many Democrats simply considered the process illegitimate, and they believed that the entire Radical Reconstruction program could be crushed by a successful campaign to elect a Democratic presidential ticket in the coming November. Thus, the Knights of the White Camellia emerged during the spring of 1868 primarily to campaign in Louisiana for the Democratic presidential ticket of Horatio Seymour and Frank Blair. 

Most sources agree that the Knights of the White Camellia first appeared in St. Martin Parish under the leadership of Alcibiades De Blanc, a lawyer and former Confederate general. The degree to which the organization achieved any sort of uniformity may never be known, but it did have bylaws. Word of its existence likely spread through the existing network of political clubs that were common in rural nineteenth-century America. It is certain, however, that by the summer of 1868, the movement had spread across much of Louisiana. It featured a hierarchy of circles, and “chiefs of circles” who reported on activities to superiors. Yet, if the deeds of the Knights of the White Camellia are any indication, the groups’ leaders had relatively little control over its rank-and-file members. While the Knights of the White Camellia (KWC) do not seem to have been active in New Orleans, political organizations such as the Crescent City Democratic Club seem to have filled an identical role in the upcoming election.

Activities of the Knights of the White Camellia:

The Knights’ primary weapon was intimidation, which could take many forms. Members later gave testimony during a congressional investigation that seemed to substantiate claims that KWC members, unlike the Ku Klux Klan, did not go about robed and disguised. That freedmen recognized their tormentors only heightened the effect. Their activities included armed patrols on roads at night, during which they periodically confronted freedmen and white Republicans with violence, some of which was lethal. Some of the group’s worst outrages came at the hands of small parties of men who used the organization to settle personal animosities. More common, however, were the sort of intimidation tactics that in the coming decades would be as familiar to segregationists in the South as they would to union-busting factory owners in the North. The Knights wanted the freedmen to recognize them as the sort of influential men who could hurt them financially as well as physically. One member, who distributed “certificates” to black men seen voting the Democratic ticket, indicated that the Knights wanted to make sure that they were “friendly to those who had befriended us.” Thus, as early as 1868, conservative white Southerners recognized that their political future hinged upon their ability to either suppress or control the black vote. 

 

Knights of the White Camellia Influences on Politics of Reconstruction:

The intimidation tactics of the KWC and similarly predisposed clubs in New Orleans proved effective in the election of 1868. Although Republicans had turned out in large numbers the previous April to elect its governor, they stayed home in November. As a result, Democrats carried Louisiana for Seymour and Blair by a wide margin. Yet the overall plan to overthrow Reconstruction nationally had failed. The only other former Confederate state to give its electoral votes to the Democratic Party was Georgia, where a similar terror campaign by the Klan had kept Republicans from the polls. In the North, a majority voted for Ulysses S. Grant, though his landslide in the Electoral College obscures the closeness of the 53/47 percent margin in the popular vote. The overarching strategy of the KWC had fallen short, but not by much. 

The Republican Party, both nationally and in Louisiana, heeded the lessons of the turbulent 1868 election. Nationally, the Enforcement Acts made the sort of Klan-style violence and intimidation tactics perpetrated by the KWC a federal crime. Known popularly as the “Ku Klux Act,” it proved to be somewhat effective until gutted legally by United States v. Cruikshank (1876), a US Supreme Court case stemming from a violent episode in Grant Parish known as the Colfax Massacre. In Louisiana, Governor Warmoth sought out a more tangible solution to ensure the safety of his party, forming both the Louisiana State Militia and the much more effective and heavily armed Metropolitan Police. 

The Democratic White League that emerged in the spring of 1874 also owed much of its success to lessons learned in 1868, since many of the same men who had belonged to the KWC helped form the White League. Shifting national attitudes away from the merits of Reconstruction combined with the more politically savvy tactics of the White League ultimately played a key role in the overthrow of Republican rule in Louisiana in 1877. 
 
Written By Justin A. Nystrom, Loyola University, New Orleans

Published » January 31, 2013 | Last Updated » August 21, 2013

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Nystrom, Justin A. “Knights of the White Camellia.” In KnowLA Encyclopedia of Louisiana, edited by David Johnson. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, 2010–. Article published January 31, 2013. http://www.knowla.org/entry/1050/.

Nystrom, Justin A. “Knights of the White Camellia.” KnowLA Encyclopedia of Louisiana. Ed. David Johnson. Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, 31 Jan 2013. Web. 7 Feb. 2015.

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The U.S. population’s distribution by race and ethnicity in 2010 was as follows (due to rounding, figures may not add up to the totals shown):

Race / Ethnicity 

Number 

Percentage of U.S. population

Americans 

308,745,538 

100.0 %

White or European American 

223,553,265 

72.4 %

Black or African American 

38,929,319 

12.6 %

Asian American 

14,674,252 

4.8 %

American Indian or Alaska Native 

2,932,248 

0.9 %

Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander 

540,013 

0.2 %

Some other race 

19,107,368 

6.2 %

Two or more races 

9,009,073 

2.9 %

Approximately 12%-13% of the American population is African-American, but they make up 40.1% of the almost 2.1 million male inmates in jail or prison (U.S. Department of Justice, 2009).[1] 

Several studies, including one by the Justice Policy Institute, which advocates alternatives to incarceration, have concluded that overall, more black males are in prison than are enrolled in colleges and universities. 

On an average day in 1996, more black male high school dropouts aged 20–35 were in custody than in paid employment; by 1999, over one-fifth of black non-college men in their early 30’s had prison records. [2]

In 2000 there were 791,600 black men in prison and 603,032 enrolled in college versus 1980, when there were 143,000 black men in prison and 463,700 enrolled in college.

In 2003, according to Justice Department figures, 193,000 black college-age men were in prison, while 532,000 black college-age men were attending college. 
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[1] “Prison Inmates 2009 – Statistical Tables (Table 16).”
[2] http://www.wjh.harvard.edu/soc/faculty/western/pdfs/western_asr.pdf

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