Archive for the ‘American History’ Category

Aside from reading all books Atlantic World oriented, I’ve been digging through the evidence for a murder from back in 1821.  Well at least it started out as a murder investigation.  It was like a CSI script in many ways.  A body washes up on shore, the man appears to have had his throat slit.  He was wrapped in a blanket that appeared to have been attached to several rocks to ensure the body wasn’t found.  Moreover, several witnesses reported that he was in possession of a large amount of cash and had been (quite stupidly) flaunting it.

The man boarded a ship to go from Virginia to Camden, North Carolina.  He never reached his destination and his body washed up on shore near Pasquotank County, North Carolina.  The local justices of the peace put out a warrant for his arrest and the story in the local paper about the “MURDER!” was published in over 15 papers from North Carolina to Maine. (more…)

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A Short Excerpt from

Chapter One: Life on the Plantation

Betsey was awoken by the sound of Susan’s voice, “Get up sleepy head!” Susan playfully pulled the pillow out from under Betsey’s head and yanked the bed sheet back. The young slave girl responded groggily, “Give me a minute” as she rubbed her eyes. “Daddy’s taking us into town today, I just can’t wait. Do you think he will let us see the ships again?”

Betsey sat up, “You know he will. He lets you do anything you want.” Susan smiled, “Of course, I am his only daughter. Now get ready, I don’t want him to leave without us.” Susan skipped out of the room as Betsey finished the slow process of waking up.

The room itself was both rustic and grand. The oak boards that covered the walls and ran across the floor came from trees felled not far away by Betsey’s father and the other slaves on the Bryant’s White Oak Plantation. While the walls and floor were of simple but fashionable design, the adornments of the room were elegant and possibly gaudy. Overly elaborate wooden designs weaved their way through the legs and drawers of the dresser, nightstand, and the young girl’s bed. It made a stark contrast with the simple sheet laid out on the floor next to the finely carved bed. (more…)

I’ve been working on my first book for the last two years now.  I am trying to write it for a 6th to 8th grade level and in such a manner as to fit within a curriculum on runaway slaves in particular and slavery in general.  The story is inspired by real people- two slaves named Betsey and Welcome– although I have taken liberty with the facts (let us call it artistic license) to fill in large gaps in their story.  In many ways I’ve tried to include modern scholarship to show what the experience of an average slave was like.  However, such is near impossible for the average experience of a slave was quite different depending on where they lived (Mississippi vs. North Carolina), their job (field vs. house), their individual master (a whole gamut running from benevolent to malicious), and a host of other reasons.  Consequently, I decided on writing a story that would accurately reflect the conditions, choices, and struggles that many slaves faced during the antebellum period in the American South. 

I’ve tried to include as many aspects of slavery as possible- the well known and the not so well known.  Also the contradictions and the competing loyalties take center stage quite often as characters negotiate difficult relationships: friendships that exist within the boundaries of the slave system’s social order, a master who considers himself benevolent but learns otherwise when his authority is challenged, familial bonds that kept some slaves from running away while others who chose to runaway fought with and lived with the memories of family members left behind, and the pain of loss at the extreme cruelties of the slave system that led many to choose deprivation, hunger, and even death over a life of enslaved misery.  The story is difficult to read at times, but it is important to know and understand how the slave system impacted the lives of everyday men, women, and children.  Why?  Because it is easy to get lost in statistics.  As Joseph Stalin once said, “A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.”  Through some odd quirk the death and suffering of many is easier to understand, process, and push aside than the death of one person.  Perhaps it isn’t an odd quirk though, since we usually come to know and understand the one person better.  We can hear about their life, their accomplishments, their dreams.  The million dead merge into one tangled mess that we often don’t have the time or energy to explain or understand.  Their dreams, hopes, accomplishments, and loves are lost with them.  Part of my goal in writing this story is to resurrect some small part of those great hopes and deep anguishes in a way that allows modern readers to connect with a slave girl who isn’t just a statistic.       

Let me know what you think in the comments section.  I haven’t done a lot of editing yet as I am still writing my way through the first draft.  So don’t be too surprised if you catch a typo or even a dozen.  I’ll post the first chapter on Monday.  Here is the Introduction which will hopefully catch your interest.  And be honest.  Most books gain or loss their reader’s interest in the first paragrpah or page, so let me know if you were left wanting more or not.  Thanks!

 

On Toward Freedom

Or

The Reluctant Rebel

 

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Well there are several big things coming up over the next couple of weeks.

First, I am taking the Men’s Health fitness challenge.  I encourage you guys to try it out too.  The test has five simple components: one mile run, vertical jump, chin-up, and push-up, and one-legged squat.  How many of each can you do?  Click here for more details.

I will post my results tomorrow after I take the test sometime in the afternoon.  Check back for my results.

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I think I will start a weekly post that links to several insightful articles. After all I read quite a few each day, and would like to share them with you. Not just because they are good articles, but because this blog is in many ways about personal disclosure- so I certainly won’t go out of my way to hide my political interests. [BTW: As of now I am considered an unaffiliated voter since the state of N.C. no longer recognizes the Libertarian party].

Criminal Charges for Flushing the Koran

This would be ridiculous if it weren’t true. In a nation where it isn’t illegal to burn the flag, where one can submerge a cross in urine (and get a federal grant), apparently you can’t put a Koran in the toilet. Making matters worse, noted statist Bill O’Reilly approved of the criminal charges.

I presume Bill is supporting these charges in an effort to appear even handed, since at heart he would probably like to be able to prosecute people who submerge crosses in urine or paint the Virgin Mary using dung. But I ask, what about the freedom to offend? This kind of thing gets my blood boiling. I would take my bar (if I had a spare $3,000 and three months to study non-stop) just to take this case to court.

Stanislav Shmulevich, you have my complete support. While your actions may have been at the least tacky, at the worst they were offensive. And causing offense is NEVER illegal, it is at the core of protected speech.

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Here is an example of an average day during the typical Two Week Total Transformation. I have also included plenty of links and info for those interested in starting their own stretching or running programs.

7:15 –Stretch. About 10-15 minutes is great for your mind, body, and spirit. I am amazed at how much better my day goes when I start off with a good stretch. It is the small things that change. Your steps seem lighter, picking up those keys you dropped on the floor is easier, and simple twists and turns are easier on the back. The Mayo Clinic offers some great examples (with pictures) for those of us who need the visuals.

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Tomorrow will be a very full day.

I have several projects for tomorrow- not including updating this blog.  I have…

  1. To write an encyclopedia entry on slave patrols,
  2. A guest blog post to write
  3. To complete a journal article (or at least get close to completing it) that I would like to have published before the end of this year.
  4. 300-400 pages to read (some fun American History stuff).
  5. Read as much as I can online about adoption.
  6. A hard workout to kickoff this new Two Week Total Transformation Challenge,
  7. Two very big dogs that need a long walk. Altogether, it means a long and most likely fulfilling day.

In addition, I have three blog posts planned for tomorrow. One will clear up some issues on our adoption plans. The second will be, well, the topic is up in the air at this moment. I will see where God leads me during my morning quiet time. And the third, well let’s just say God came through big on several fronts.

See you then. Until then, God bless.