A regular feature posted weekdays on "The War on Guns: Notes from the Resistance" blog is “This Day in History,” in which events and facts from the Revolutionary War era are presented, generally without personal comment, but with a link to the source so those interested can learn more. Many times I try to find things that are overlooked, and to focus on details such as little-known skirmishes, or hardships such as hunger, disease, or bitter weather, or lack of supplies, or treatment of prisoners, or personal observations and the like, rather than linking to more famous higher-level events, to give readers a sense of the sacrifices and complexities involved. The intent is to understand and impart a sense of what needed to be considered by the people of the time, what challenges and obstacles presented themselves, or what the thinking of key individuals was that students don’t learn about in general American history classes.
This year has concentrated on 1781, when the will of the British Empire to continue prosecuting the war was broken. On October 19, General Charles Cornwallis formally surrendered 8,000 soldiers and seamen to a French and American force at Yorktown.
It was a time of victory, a time for celebration of liberty. But the work of those directing the effort was far from over, and many other factors that needed to be dealt with were occupying the leaders, again matters that most will graduate from high school and even college without ever having learned.
George Washington had a matter of great concern to resolve among the orders of the day on October 25 that would have far-reaching effects on every American thereafter, including on me, on you, and on our children and theirs:
It having been represented that many Negroes and Mulattoes the property of Citizens of these States have concealed themselves on board the Ships in the harbor; that some still continue to attach themselves to British Officers and that others have attempted to impose themselves upon the officers of the French and American Armies as Freemen and to make their escapes in that manner, In order to prevent their succeeding in such practices All Officers of the Allied Army and other persons of every denomination concerned are directed not to suffer any such negroes or mulattoes to be retained in their Service but on the contrary to cause them to be delivered to the Guards which will be establish'd for their reception at one of the Redoubts in York and another in Gloucester. Mr. David Ross will have the superintendency and will give passes to enable them to return to their Masters or where that is not practicable will have directions to make other provision for them. Any Negroes or mulattoes who are free upon proving the same will be left to their own disposal.
What a monstrous injustice that went against every high-minded principle the Founders espoused, and the repercussions of which may yet result in worst fears being realized. It's one thing to intellectualize that the system of liberty-based government created by the victors made the continuation of the age-old obscenity of human bondage untenable and doomed to being eradicated in under a century, and another to note that would have been small comfort to the man, woman or child brutally treated as chattel. They would hardly have been sympathetic to the rationalization that "independence" could not have been won without slave interest support for the rebellion.
And let's not forget that this was a catalyst by which Lincoln advanced the interests of his backers to fundamentally transform the relationship between the national and state governments, which in turn enabled/made inevitable further ever-expanding changes and ever-tightening controls over We the People. It's fair to ask if slavery really ended or was merely disguised, repurposed and extended to include us all via ignorance, apathy, fraud and coercion.
We can test that speculation: Try acting free to do and to own and to utilize as you will, no one else, and let us know what happens. Not just with guns.
At least the whipped slaves were under no illusions they were free. Isn't that right, Lee Greenwood?
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The antis are coming at us from all angles. There’s too much for one person to even keep up with, let alone effectively respond to. The latest GUNS Magazine "Rights Watch" column is online, and you can read it before the magazine hits the stands. Click here to read "They’ve Got Us Surrounded!”