Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Ethnic Cleansing of History: When Harlem was Irish

Michael Henry Adams (NYT 5/27/2016) while lamenting the gentrification of black Harlem forgets that before Harlem was black it was Irish and Catholic.  My Irish family is from Harlem.  My grandfather died on the Harlem bus on the way home from visiting his sister in 1938, the same year Brother Rice High School was established at 74 W. 124th Street.   My grandfather, like many of his family and friends, was a devout supporter of Senator Bob Wagner who helped give us Social Security and the National Labor Relations Act.   Little remembered today, Wagner also supported the Tuskegee airmen's right to fly.   Our good friend Joseph Gavagan represented Harlem for many years in Congress until 1944.  He was a longtime ally of the NCAAP's Walter White in the effort to pass anti-lynching legislation.   Our family attended St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church at 211 W 141st Street,  which is celebrating its 125th anniversary.   In 1897,  St. Charles Borromeo held the funeral mass for Captain Edward Patrick Doherty who enlisted in the Union army, fought at Bull Run and throughout the Civil War, and in 1865, led the New York cavalry who hunted down and killed John Wilkes Booth.   It a very odd ethnic cleansing of New York history that forgets Gavagan and Doherty.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Anglophilia: why Diane Roberts Hates Andrew Jackson

Is it really a surprise that Diane Roberts, an Oxford University grad, BBC contributor and enthusiastic Anglophile, would enter the debate over the $20 bill by denouncing Andrew Jackson, America's first Irish president, who gave the British a drubbing at the Battle of New Orleans.

South of the Mason-Dixon line they never really liked the Irish, especially the Catholic kind.  In some parts of the South they have never gotten over John Kennedy, who was assassinated in Dallas, forcing them to enroll James Meredith at the University of Mississippi.

The Brits and Ms. Roberts employer, the BBC, have never forgiven Jackson for drubbing them at the Battle of New Orleans.   Jackson for his part hated the Brits and with good reason.  Jackson's father had to flee Ireland because he'd belonged to the anti-British United Irishmen movement.  Jackson lost his mother and a brother during the Revolutionary War and for a time was himself held prisoner by the British.   Not without cause Jackson believed the British instigated much of the trouble between Native Americans and the infant United States.  

Most of America's founding fathers were slaveholders, including Washington, Jefferson and Madison.  It's hard to think of an 18th or 19th century American who wasn't involved in Indian removals and Indian wars.   George Washington fought the French and Indians on behalf of the British.  During the Revolutionary War, Washington ordered scores of Iroquois villages burned to the ground because the Iroquois sided with the British.   It's no secret that Lincoln fought the Indians while fighting the Confederates.  The same U.S. militia that battled the Confederates in New Mexico was responsible for the Sand River Massacre in Colorado in 1864.  Lincoln also fought the Sioux  in Minnesota and had scores of the Indian rebels hung.  Grant was George Armstrong Custer's boss and, under Grant, Sheridan waged a brilliant, but ruthless, winter war to bring the Southern Plains Indians to bay.  Yet, Roberts singles out Jackson for opprobrium, clearly Anglophilia run amok. 

While condemning Jackson in this politically charged debate over pictures on currency, Jackson's Anglophile enemies won't acknowledge that Jackson saved America during its first secession crisis, when South Carolina tried to nullify U.S. law, threatening to leave the Union if it didn't get its way.  Jackson's response was:  try that and I'll personally lead an army down there and hang you all for treason. 

Nor will Jackson's Anglophile detractors admit that Jackson pushed American away from political and economic oligarchy toward real democracy.  Jackson gave the boot to Northeastern and British elites who wanted to control America's government and its banks.

Finally, Jackson's Anglophile detractors won't admit that Jackson inherited a mess from his predecessors.   Jefferson, for example, said: don't force the Indians to give up their land; just sell them goods on credit and the Indians will have to pay off their debts by selling their land to you.   By the time Jackson took office, Indians in the South still held onto a patchwork of lands and there was widespread and bloody skirmishing with white settlers over what remained.  When Jackson negotiated treaties for Indians to exchange their lands for lands west of the Mississippi, the Indians weren't happy, but they left peacefully of their own volition, concluding they'd be safer with a big river between them and the white land schemers.   It wasn't until the Van Buren administration that force was used to remove the remaining Native Americans their Southern lands.  The Anglophiles would rather blame Jackson, who had two adoped Native American sons, for genocide than stick to the facts.

NY Times: a Long History of anti-Catholicism

The Times refuses to acknowledge and apologize for it's long history of anti-Catholic Nativism, starting with its role in founding a Republican party which incorporated Know Nothing Nativism.  Here's a sampling from the early days until now.

Times published "No Catholic Need Apply"  job ads

Times egregiously stalks General Sherman's deathbed hoping to shock New York by discovering a Catholic priest.

Times says New York not an American city:  too many Irish.

Times Book Review covers up Nativism of prominent historian who claimed, even though the Union army never recorded the religion of its soldiers, that Catholics refused to fight to free slaves.

The Times ongoing role in covering up deaths of civilians killed by army and police during the 1863 draft riots.

Times shamelessly debating the Irish character while covering up deaths of civilians killed by militia during the "Orange and Green" riots.

Times celebrates the King James Bible, failing to note its controversial role in the city's history

Times features Anglo-German exceptionalism

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Emancipation 1829

Daniel O'Connell.png
Daneil O'Connell
The Liberator

"Catholic emancipation or Catholic relief was a process in the Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in the late 18th century and early 19th century that involved reducing and removing many of the restrictions on Roman Catholics introduced by the Act of Uniformity, the Test Acts and the penal laws."

Relief from the proto-Apartheid penal laws that oppressed the Irish.

Frederick Douglass Family and Douglass Ireland Project Board to Join Dedication of Frederick Douglass Square at University of Maryland

The Frederick Douglass Ireland Project Founded in 2011 as the Frederick Douglass/Daniel O'Connell Project, the Frederick Douglass Ireland Project highlights the inspirational role that Ireland and the Irish people played in Frederick Douglass’s life. In 1845, as Ireland was descending into the despair of the great famine, Douglass arrived for a four-month lecture tour of the island. Douglass had escaped slavery in Maryland seven years earlier and had recently published his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself. He was shocked and appalled by the living conditions of the Irish peasantry and likened them to conditions endured by slaves on American plantations. Douglass was greeted in cities and towns including Dublin, Belfast, and Cork by swells of enthusiastic crowds. Although Douglass continued his speaking tour in Scotland and England, it was his experience in Ireland that he described as “transformative. " Douglass often recalled that his time in “Dear Old Ireland” - the first country outside of the U.S. to publish his autobiography- had given him “a new life.”

Saturday, February 20, 2016

We Cannot Own Slaves

Ellen Boyle Ewing and her husband William Tecumseh Sherman had eight children.  Ellen and her husband spent much of their life apart.  In part due to Sherman's military campaigns during America's Civil War.   But even before, they would separate.   When Sherman accepted the post of superintendent of the Louisiana Military Academy just prior to the Civil War,  his wife did not accompany him.  Ellen Ewing was a devout Catholic.  She stayed behind in the North in part because of the unhealthy Louisiana climate and in part because it would be impossible to find help to care for her eight children: "We cannot own slaves."


Pope Gregory XVI - 1839

In our time Pius VII, moved by the same religious and charitable spirit as his Predecessors, intervened zealously with those in possession of power to secure that the slave trade should at least cease amongst the Christians. The penalties imposed and the care given by Our Predecessors contributed in no small measure, with the help of God, to protect the Indians and the other people mentioned against the cruelty of the invaders or the cupidity of Christian merchants, without however carrying success to such a point that the Holy See could rejoice over the complete success of its efforts in this direction; for the slave trade, although it has diminished in more than one district, is still practiced by numerous Christians. This is why, desiring to remove such a shame from all the Christian nations, having fully reflected over the whole question and having taken the advice of many of Our Venerable Brothers the Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church, and walking in the footsteps of Our Predecessors,
We warn and adjure earnestly in the Lord faithful Christians of every condition that no one in the future dare to vex anyone, despoil him of his possessions, reduce to servitude, or lend aid and favour to those who give themselves up to these practices, or exercise that inhuman traffic by which the Blacks, as if they were not men but rather animals, having been brought into servitude, in no matter what way, are, without any distinction, in contempt of the rights of justice and humanity, bought, sold, and devoted sometimes to the hardest labour. Further, in the hope of gain, propositions of purchase being made to the first owners of the Blacks, dissensions and almost perpetual conflicts are aroused in these regions.

We reprove, then, by virtue of Our Apostolic Authority, all the practices above mentioned as absolutely unworthy of the Christian name. By the same Authority We prohibit and strictly forbid any Ecclesiastic or lay person from presuming to defend as permissible this traffic in Blacks under no matter what pretext or excuse, or from publishing or teaching in any manner whatsoever, in public or privately, opinions contrary to what We have set forth in this Apostolic Letter.