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FREEDOMWAYS THIRD QUARTER 1969 wrought; and the oppressor is surprised that his assumptions and system of containment are being challenged. The explosion is even peaceful but it is a peacefulness embracing a determined effort to establish justice, in contrast to the "peacefulness" which is a mask for injustice. All of us remember Montgomery--which is legend; now there is Charleston, which is destined to be recognized as being to the Poor People's Campaign what Montgomery was to the mass action phase of the Civil Rights Movement. The events in Charleston in this recent period developed upon a background as old as the American Republic and yet as contemporary as the initiatives of the civil rights era of this decade. Early Charleston served as the door through which the plantation system was introduced into mainland North America in the seventeenth century. English planters who had developed this technique of efficient large-scale agricultural production in Barbados extended this to the Charleston area because of the abundance of land available and this was welded to a rice-growing culture brought from Madagascar. To provide the basic labor force for this new economic institution, the Charleston traders specialized in importing Mandingo from the Western Sudan whose roots in independent African societal institutions dated from the thirteenth century, and proud men and women from Angola and the Congo Basin who had resisted the Portuguese slave traders a half-century before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. By reducing these to a slave labor force on the rice and indigo plantations, the Charleston "aristocracy"-- planters, auctioneers and commission agents--flourished in wealth and comfort. The sale of Africans in Charleston was routinely reported in the Courier alongside the regular announcements of meetings of the Literary Society and the Carolina Art Association. Made affluent on the African slave trade, the Charleston aristocracy set the fashion for the other British-American colonies along the Eastern seaboard in sending their sons abroad to Eton and Oxford--or to Charleston College* and The Citadel, the local military academy. And when the signers of the U.S. Constitution were debating the issue of the slave trade, it was John Rutledge of South Carolina who provided the leadership fro the slave holders when he argued, "Religion and humanity have nothing to do with this question. Interest alone is the governing principle of nations"** Since "interest" in this equation * Charleston College--Founded in 1770, three years after Harvard. ** Quoted from Bancroft's Slave Trading in the Old South. 198
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---------- Reopened for Editing 2024-02-13 12:41:25 ---------- Reopened for Editing 2024-02-13 15:45:21 ---------- Reopened for Editing 2024-02-13 16:43:56
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