Archive for the ‘North Carolina’ 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…)

In the category of “Not the best way to argue your innocence” is Orlando Maurice Guarino (38), suspected of killing his wife and two young children.  After telling reporters that he didn’t commit the murders he, rather unfortunately for his defense counsel, added:

It could be me, man, you never know. I’m not going to play it out in the media. … Anything’s possible, you know what I mean? You look at the circumstances, I mean, I would accuse me too.” – Yahoo! News

Way to go.  Most likely your lawyer will be an underpaid and over worked public defender.  I am sure he will thank you for making his job harder.

In the category of “How NOT to Hire a Hitman” (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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Swing on over to my latest posting on recent news and opinions.  Today’s topics include: the bridge collapse, John Edwards, Animal Cruelty, and a special surprise.  And I even found some great pictures.  It will be a trip down memory lane for those who remember the love between the two Johns.  A love so precious it couldn’t be squandered on a successful presidential campaign.

——–>>> CLICK HERE <<<———–

Even as a boring researcher who spends days on end in dusty old archives, every now and again something shocks you. I came across this ad not long into my research regarding runaway slaves in Eastern North Carolina. [The full size image can be found below the page break].

Runaway Slave Ad

Why is an old advertisement so shocking and interesting? The above advertisement’s five simple (although surprisingly verbose) paragraphs are short hand for a much larger and even more interesting tale. Their story includes enslavement, betrayal, yearning for freedom, fatherhood, rebellion, courage, anger, and half a dozen other compelling emotional angles that should perk the ears and tug at the heart.

Beyond that, the characters are laid out in a detailed manner (considering the space allowed for an advertisement), but in such a way that you are left desiring to know more about them.

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I needed an outlet for my historical blogging needs so I opened a new blog here at WordPress at

http://thehistorydump.wordpress.com

I didn’t want to bore all those who check my blog for weight loss advice with long discussions of slavery and slave patrols.  So if you are interested swing on by  and leave a few comments.

Here is a copy of the inaugural post on my new blog…

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Here are some excerpts from a graduate level paper I wrote a few years ago. The first part is merely restating the position of other scholars (proving I understood their work), the second part is my original work in reviewing and analyzing several North Carolina Supreme Court decisions regarding slaves, free blacks, white men, white women, and the theme that tied it all together- honor.

Here are a few excerpts. The full paper can be found in Word format file linked at the bottom of this post. Citations have been omitted from this posting and can be found in the complete paper provided below.

Why couldn’t slaves possess honor?

Four reasons explain the perception of slaves as beings without honor. First, plantation life led many whites to view blacks as hopelessly depraved and indifferent to correction. Second, laws enacted by the legislature created a wall that kept slaves from acquiring the ability to meet the requirements of the duel and honor. Third, “scientific” literature on race fed into white beliefs that blacks lacked the capacity of bearing honor, from their flat noses to their skin color. Lastly, the peculiar institution required total submission from slaves. If slaves had been granted honor it would have required the reciprocal ability to defend that honor— an ability that would have proved dangerous to the system itself.

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