". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Hello From Richmond, VA, On the Way to Chestertown, MD

Or -- a correction to the NYTimes.

It’s the birthday of Stephen F. Austin, who worked to settle Anglo-American families in Mexican Texas and who in 1836 became the In today's New York Times morning briefing, we read:

" ... founder of the Republic of Texas, which lasted nine years."

It could have as easily read:

>It’s the birthday of Stephen F. Austin, who brought slavery to Texas.

To quote from, yes, The American Slave Coast:

"Mexico after its independence in 1821 prohibited slavery, but the territory was only sparsely settled; hoping to populate it, the Mexican government invited in settlers from the United States, giving them land. But once the settlers moved in, they declared it theirs. Moses Austin, who had become one of the country’s major producers of lead, was a major promoter of the Texas colonization movement. With his eyes on Mexico’s lead mines, Austin had sworn allegiance to the Spanish crown in 1798. His son, the Virginia-born, Missouri-raised land speculator Stephen F. Austin, brought slavery to Texas and fought to keep it.

It was an article of faith throughout the South that American slavery must expand into Texas and beyond. There was no question that Texas would be an ultimate destination for young African Americans who were being born and raised all over the cotton kingdom. Stephen Austin wrote his sister Emily from New Orleans in August 1835, the summer of the Southern abolition panic: “It is very evident that Texas should be effectually, and fully, Americanized . . . Texas must be a slave country. It is no longer a matter of doubt. The interest of Louisiana requires that it should be. A population of fanatical abolitionists in Texas would have a very dangerous and pernicious influence on the overgrown slave population of [Louisiana].” 

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