". . . 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

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Privateers and Steam Brigs

The rains that appears to be pouring down along all the Atlantic coast is keeping me inside today. I'd planned to spend it at the Kent County News transcribing from issues published during the War of 1812 and stories about the first steam brigs taking slaves from here down to New Orleans. The biggest professional slave trader, Isaac Franklin and his partner, had built steam brigs for specifically built for them and this trade. I'm trying to find out who the builder was (Franklin's traders came into the C'town port). Thursday is good for this, since this is the day the weekly issue comes out, thus things are a bit less hectic in the offices.

Then I'd planned to finish up the day in the library to transcribe material from reference books on the Letters of Marque in the War of 1812. There's an excellent history of this published in 1930 by a local Baltimore history publisher, and later by Norton, with the best definitiions of the differences between piracy and privateers, and the history of privateers -- going back to the 13th century! I didn't know. But the real point is the Brits and how they dealt with all those Eastern Shore slaves running away and converging upon their ships in promise for transport to elsewhere and freedom. As well, the slave population provided many services to the British navy from navigation to food to spying out information -- to the bewildered outrage of their owners, of course. I'm trying to get some real numbers. Also find out what really happened to those who were transported to the West Indies, as promised -- where slavery was still in effect. This one's kind of a replay of the Brits - slave relationships during the War of Independence.

But I don't want to take my laptop out for a walk in the rain. My umbrella is small. Nor do I have the right rain footgear here yet.

Fortunately I can continue with other areas here at home.

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