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Underground Railroad Research Forum

Re: More Independent Research
In Response To: More Independent Research ()

Anita et al,

Re: The first line of your posting-I understand where you are coming from, as I am frequently frustrated by written references that only repeat secondary resources. In the current research I am doing on the USCT, I often find errors that to me are non only unconscionable, but misleading to others who read the work. (An example-in several well-known volumes on the USCT, there are references to a court-martial and execution of a Black sergeant. The source listed is a book. Unfortunately, anyone trying to find that particular soldier would have to look long and hard, as the references give the WRONG first name.

My reaction to those folks at this point, is that they are not true HISTORIANS, and I tend to find that their assumptions and conclusions are about as superficial as the "research". This is not a failing that can be directed at "Black historians"-or White ones. My own subjective opinion that history is best viewed through the eyes and words of the participants, and it is what I strive to present. The greatest compliment I can receive is that people don't find much of "me" in those writings, as I am but the scribe. Yes, it's true that few participants in particular events know the larger scope of events around them, but I feel those can be added to make a whole, without compromising the primary effort.

I have mixed reactions to your last paragraph. Certainly no one needed to tell Blacks what their sufferings were, but in my own research (again, primary resources-letters, diaries, contemporary accounts)the Abolitionist and Anti-Slavery movements were less in response to Black activism, then to a religious and philosophical response. I am speaking here, specifically of New England. Certainly they responded to the many Black voices that attested to the evils of slavery-there was virtually a speaking circuit in the NE. Absolutely, they aided and supported those who made their way North via rail and ship, and the UGRR across New England was quite active, certainly as the tales of slave experiences became more well-known there was an increased response to that need, but I can't arbitrarily make the statement that work with white organizations was in response to black leaders and activists. The reality is very complex.

As an aside-the movements of the early 1800's provided the background for some of the strongest supporters of the use of Black troops in the Civil War-Col. Higginson was an abolitionist long before the war, and sustained a sabre cut to his cheek during efforts to remove Anthony Burns from jail in Boston in defiance of the fugitive slave act. He carried it all his life. Col. Shaw of the 54th, who died with his men at Ft. Wagner was the son of abolitionists. There are many, many more. A discussion with Bennie McCrae yesterday was a clear reminder that evil doesn't come in one color or in one location. That discussion was about Hickory Hill-a horrible abomination allowed to survive and thrive in a free state, apparently directly as a result of wealth. The same holds true for honor and truth. There is so much work to be done, to save and resurrect what we can of all the truths-good and evil. In forums like this, we can help each other


18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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