1) Columbus kidnapped a Carib woman and gave her to a crew member to rape
2) On Hispaniola, a member of Columbus’ crew publicly cut off an Indian’s ears to shock others into submission
Hispaniola, now divided between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. (NASA/JPL/SRTM)
After an attack by over 2,000 Indians, Columbus had an underling, Alonso de Ojeda, bring him three Indian leaders, who Columbus then ordered publicly beheaded. Ojeda also ordered his men to grab another Indian, bring him to the middle of his village, and “‘cut off his ears’ in retribution for the Indians’ failing to be helpful to the Spaniards when fording a stream.” (Bergreen, 170-171)
3) Columbus kidnapped and enslaved over a thousand people on Hispaniola- According to Cuneo, Columbus ordered 1,500 men and women seized, letting 400 go and condemning 500 to be sent to Spain, and another 600 to be enslaved by Spanish men remaining on the island. About 200 of the 500 sent to Spain died on the voyage, and were thrown by the Spanish into the Atlantic (Bergreen, 196-197).
4) Columbus forced Indians to collect gold for him or else die- Columbus ordered every Indian over 14 to give a large quantity of gold to the Spanish, on pain of death. Those in regions without much gold were allowed to give cotton instead. Participants in this system were given a “stamped copper or brass token to wear around their necks in what became a symbol of intolerable shame” (Bergreen, 203).
5) About 50,000 Indians committed mass suicide rather than comply with the Spanish-The Indians destroyed their stores of bread so that neither they nor the invaders would be able to eat it. They plunged off cliffs, they poisoned themselves with roots, and they starved themselves to death. Oppressed by the impossible requirement to deliver tributes of gold, the Indians were no longer able to tend their fields, or care for their sick, children, and elderly. They had given up and committed mass suicide to avoid being killed or captured by Christians, and to avoid sharing their land with them, their fields, groves, beaches, forests, and women: the future of their people.
6) 56 years after Columbus’s first voyage, only 500 out of 300,000 Indians remained on Hispaniola– Population figures from five hundred years ago are necessarily imprecise, but Bergreen estimates that there were about 300,000 inhabitants of Hispaniola in 1492. 100,000 died between 1494 and 1496, half due to mass suicide. In 1508, the population was down to 60,000. By 1548, it was estimated to be only 500.
7) Columbus was also horrible to the Spanish under his rule- While paling in comparison to his crimes against Caribs and Taino Indians, Columbus’ rule over Spanish settlers was also brutal. He ordered at least a dozen Spaniards “to be whipped in public, tied by the neck, and bound together by the feet” for trading gold for food to avoid starvation. He ordered a woman’s tongue cut out for having “spoken ill of the Admiral and his brothers.” Another woman was “stripped and placed on the back of a donkey … to be whipped” as punishment for falsely claiming to be pregnant. He “ordered Spaniards to be hanged for stealing bread.”
8) Settlers under Columbus sold 9- and 10-year-old girls into sexual slavery– This one he admitted himself in a letter to Doña Juana de la Torre, a friend of the Spanish queen: “There are plenty of dealers who go about looking for girls; those from nine to ten are now in demand, and for all ages a good price must be paid.”
9) Indian slaves were beheaded when their Spanish captors couldn’t be bothered to untie them.- Benjamin Keen, a historian of the Spanish conquest of the Americas, noted that multiple sources confirmed accounts of “exhausted Indian carriers, chained by the neck, whose heads the Spaniards severed from their bodies so they might not have to stop to untie them.”
One of the escaped slaves that night was William B. Gould, a 24-year old plasterer who worked on the Bellamy Mansion. What is known of the daring escape is based on Gould’s diary. The slaves’ goal was to reach the Union blockading ships and thus gain freedom. At one point, they had to pass directly beneath Fort Caswell, a Confederate stronghold heavily armed to keep Union naval forces out of Wilmington harbor. Escapees aboard all three ships ultimately were picked up by Union ships. Gould went on to serve aboard two ships in the U.S. Navy. His diary—the only known diary of a black soldier during the Civil War who was a former slave—provides a unique insight into the Maritime Underground Railroad and the day-to-day life of a former slave fighting to secure freedom for himself.
Kennard wrote poignant letters about the need for desegregation and his right to attend Mississippi Southern College. Instead of being admitted, the state of Mississippi framed him on criminal charges for a petty crime and sentenced him to seven years of hard labor at Parchman Penitentiary where he was beaten and serious health problems went untreated. Read more about Kennard’s brave story and his moving letters on the Zinn Education Project website: http://bit.ly/1ghbmMw Read more July 4 people’s history stories from throughout U.S. history here: http://bit.ly/1JDtrkk Portrait by Robert Shetterly of Americans Who Tell the Truth.
July 2, 1777- Vermont became the first American colony to abolish slavery. By 1783 slavery was prohibited in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Pennsylvania passed a gradual emancipation law in 1780. Connecticut and Rhode Island barred slavery in 1784 and were followed by New York (gradual emancipation) and New Jersey in 1799 and 1804, respectively. Slavery died in the North as a direct result of forces set in motion by the Rights of Man movement.
Allen was born Allen Macon Bolling August 4, 1816 in Indiana. He grew up a free man and learned to read and write on his own. In the early 1840s, he moved to Portland, Maine where he earned his license to practice law. However, because White people were unwilling to have a Black man represent them in court, in 1845 Allen moved to Boston, Massachusetts. Allen passed the Massachusetts bar exam that same year and he and Robert Morris, Jr. opened the first Black law office in the U. S. In 1848, Allen passed another exam to become Justice of the Peace for Middlesex County. After the Civil War, Allen moved to Charleston, South Carolina and in 1873 was appointed Judge in the Inferior Court of Charleston. The next year, he was elected Judge Probate for Charleston County. Later, Allen moved to Washington, D. C. where he worked as an attorney for the Land and Improvement Association. Allen practiced law right up until his death June 11, 1894.
March 6, 1857 the U.S. Supreme Court declared in Dred Scott v. Sandford that “Any person descended from Africans, whether slave or free, is not a citizen of the United States, according to the Constitution.” Read “From Dred Scott to Ferguson: Missouri at the Heart of a National Debate” by historian Blair Kelly in CommonDreams.org: http://bit.ly/1waalfP The Zinn Education Project offers a classroom lesson on a people’s history of the abolition movement.Portrait by Louis Schultze/Missouri Historical Societyo