tv Kevin Waite West of Slavery CSPAN July 17, 2022 6:00pm-7:01pm EDT
for tonight. i am very pleased to introduce to you kevin waite. dr. kevin waite is an assistant professor of history and durham university in the uk. he received his phd from the university of pennsylvania in 2016. he also holds a masters of philosophy from the university of cambridge and a bachelor's in history and english from williams college. a political historian of the 19th century united states was a focus on slavery imperialism and the american west dr. waite has
written numerous scholarly articles and he comments frequently on american history and politics for major media outlets. his writing has appeared in the los angeles times the huffington post slate the new republic the conversation time and the them post just to name a few. and he's here tonight to talk with us about his first book and i think it is probably gonna be the first of many it looks like you've got some projects lined up but the book tonight west of slavery the southern dream of a transcontinental empire published by unc press and i will mention that we do have the shop the book for sale in our museum shop. so without without further ado, i'm going to turn the screen over to dr. waite. great. thank you, kelly. and thank you all for for showing up. i know it's been a long long
year. i'm not going to give individual shout-outs, but it's really nice to see a lot of familiar faces on my screen. so i i first went to the american civil war museum with my parents when i was a high school student, you know 15 plus years ago and at the time i didn't really i don't think i recognized that you could you could turn being a civil war buff into a profession but now looking back on that trip. i i think i i know now that that was sort of a really formative experience in the in the career path that i ultimately chose. so i'm going to fire up this powerpoint without further ado and please do tell me if you can't see it. is that good? okay, excellent. so if you found yourself sitting in a los angeles bar room in the spring of 1861 chances are you'd
hear this curious little anthem being sung. it was called will hang a blinken to a tree and it captured the loud angry spirit of rebellion. that was currently brewing in los angeles. over the coming years confederate sympathizers in la would do far more than just sing about their anti-union grievances. they stage rallies to celebrate confederate victories. they stockpiled arms and ammunition for the confederate war effort and they brawled with us soldiers stationed nearby. and hundreds of them left, california to enlist directly in confederate armies. in fact, los angeles furnished the only confederate militia from a free state a unit of about 80 men commanded by the former undersheriff of the
county. as one of la's rare unionists lamented quote the leading men of the county were for the jeff gate they discover government first last all the time. now why in the world did los angeles a frontier town in a free state which was located about 2500 miles from the heartland of the confederacy respond. so enthusiastically to a rebellion over slavery. that's really the question at the heart of this lecture. not because this lecture is about los angeles per se but by explaining the confederate orientation of la i think we gain sort of a new perspective on the geopolitics of slavery and the civil war writ large. and that's because confederate los angeles wasn't an outlier among places in the southwest at the time. it was in a lot of ways representative of a pro-slavery and anti-government ethos that really swept across the entire region in the decade before the civil war. beginning in the late 1840s slaveholders began to systematically draw the southwestern quarter of the
country into their political orbit. and as i'll argue, they transform this entire region which included new mexico, arizona parts of utah and california into a political client of the plantation states. so for the next half hour or so, i want to explain how they manage to do that and what this western history can tell us about the coming about the conduct and even to a certain extent about the consequences of the american civil war. so i want to i want to start with a map and not just any map but a particularly bad map, i think or a particularly misleading one. it's probably a version of a map you once saw in your high school american history textbook, right? so you have slave states in one color free states in another and then you typically get the
western territories in some sort of neutral beige. but what i'm trying to argue here is that there was nothing neutral about the territories of new mexico and utah and what would eventually become arizona and that california really doesn't deserve its free state blue either. in fact, it would be probably more accurate to color the entire southwest in a shade of pink, which is actually what i attempted to do with the cover of the book or to suggest with the cover of the book. now to explain how we get this map here and why it ultimately matters. i'm going to divide the talk into about three roughly equal sections. first i'll explain how slavery infiltrated the american west and the decade before the civil war then we'll move to the winter of 1860 to 1861 to look at how the secession crisis reached far beyond what would
become the 11 confederate states? and finally, we're going to spend some time in the civil war itself to sort of see how slave boulders longstanding dreams of western empire morphed into full-blown military campaign. and at the end of it, i hope that we'll begin to see the civil war era from a slightly new perspective and to appreciate how the crisis over slavery could never be quarantined to the eastern half of the country. the civil war as i argue was truly a continental crisis of the union and it left marks on the american west that can still be seen to this day. so, how did african-american chattel slavery infiltrate the american west that's really a story that begins with the california gold rush? among the masses of young men who dashed off to make their
fortunes in california really beginning in 1849 were thousands of white southerners. and a number of these white southerners came west with enslaved african americans in tow. and they forced their enslaved workers to mine for gold and to basically carry out all the tasks like cooking and cleaning and washing and sewing on which their gold mining operations dependent. now some leaders in in the american south looked at these developments and they envisioned the next great slaveholding enterprise. henry wise the future governor of virginia predicted that his state alone stood to make about one billion dollars and that's billion with a b from the sale of its surplus slave population to california. i mean, his estimate was obviously wildly off target but southerners and california did in fact prove over the next
several years that they could reap some pretty tidy songs from slave labor in the mines. according to some reports i found black men were sold for as much as $4,000 on the san francisco slave market which was about four times the price that they would have fetched in the slave states of the south. now southerners typically brought just one or two enslaved workers at a time though some some mining operations did own upwards of a dozen and one planter alone shipped about 35 enslaved people to california. now a precise number is really tricky to pin down because a lot of these forced importations were obviously done clandestinely. but probably somewhere between 500 to 1500 enslaved black people were carried into california over the course of the gold rush. now sort of on its face that may
not sound like a like a whole lot like a like a high figure but when you consider the expense and the the logistical difficulties of forcibly transporting people across thousands of miles of terrain, it's actually pretty remarkable and pretty frightening i'm keep in mind that the cost of a prime field hand at that time was about a thousand dollars which is more or less the equivalent to 25 thousand today's currency. so to run the risk of bringing an enslaved person onto the california frontier, you'd have to be fairly confident of yielding a high return. of course as we know california came into the union as a free state and this is what's known as the compromise of 1850. with that act slavery was formally abolished in california
and this seemingly ends the history of slavery in the american far west right? i mean, that's precisely what the south carolina slaveholder john c calhoun famously argued in his last sentence. speech. and really that's also what most historians have been arguing ever since as a lot of you probably know most of the big important books on the coming of the civil war sort of mark the compromise of 1850 as this real breaking point. after that, california and really the far west in general just sort of fall out of the narrative. this part of the country is really no longer a central player in the drama over slavery and the civil war at least according to most books on the civil war era. the far west is is really just an abstraction in debates between easterners. but what my book argues is that the issue of slavery in the west was never abstract, you know,
and it obviously was never inconsequential i argue instead that this moment in 1850 was just the beginning of a new phase in campaign for slavery's expansion. that california's troubles with slavery had really only just begun. and that soon neighboring territories in the southwest would also get caught up in the thrall of slaveholders. and really you just need to look at what happened in mormon, utah two years after this in 1852 the legislature of utah resoundingly passed a slave code for the territory. black chattel slavery actually had existed in utah since the very beginning of the mormon presence there. in fact among the very first pioneers to arrive in utah were three enslaved men and as you can see here their names were inscribed on the brigham young monument, which sort of
celebrates this founding moment in utah history. you may notice though that these three slaves are euphemistically called colored servants at the base of the monument. so in total probably as many as a hundred enslaved african-americans were ultimately transported to utah where they could be legally held as property. now neighboring, new mexico passed its own slave code in 1859 and it was far more draconian than utah's law it gave tremendous latitude to slaveholders in the buying and the selling and the beating of their human property according to a us senator from kentucky quote. the law is as complete on the subject as the law of any state that i know of. um by the way, new mexico and utah territories at the time encompassed the present-day states of arizona and nevada
along with parts of colorado and wyoming. so these two codes meant that slavery was now legal across a huge swath of the american west i should add that that african american chattel slavery in utah, new mexico existed alongside the enslavement of native americans. so as i argue the southwest really was slave country. but the real issue wasn't necessarily the total number of black slaves that southerners managed to import into the west after all that number was relatively small. rather it was really the political power upon which these pro-slavery laws arrested in other words, utah, new mexico. and california didn't need to become big cotton-producing plantation states for planters to claim them as their own. and really california's early political history. i'd argue as a case in point.
southern slaveholders literally pulled their hair and nash their teeth when california came into the union as a free state only defined that their tantrums were were completely unwarranted. through the 1850s, california voted with the slave south on almost all the major issues of the day including the kansas-nebraska act and the dred scott decision. and that's largely because of this guy here william gwinn. when was california's ranking senator through most of the 1850s at the exact same time that he continued to operate by proxy a massive plantation with about 200 slaves in natchez, mississippi. in california, when ran this really well-oiled political machine, which basically maintained a monopoly on all the big federal jobs in the state, which he then packed with all his white southern friends.
so even though white southerners never really amounted to much more than about 30% of the state's total population. they won election after election after election. in other words, this really was a case of minority rule in, california. in the state's courts reinforced this minority coalition. five of the seven justices who sat on the california supreme court between 1852 and 1857 hailed from the slave states including the notoriously pro-slavery chief justice. on dozens of occasions the state supreme court and the courts below it ruled in favor of slaveholders and against the freedom claims of the enslaved. so in effect, they ensure that california was a free state in name only. and that's why slaveholders continue to import enslaved people after 1850 after the
passage of this anti-slavery law. and a letter from one young kentucky and california's gold country really sums up this logic pretty well, i think. he urged his father to send one of the family slaves the california in the early 1850s writing quote once he gets in i should like to see anyone get him out. now anti-slavery activists tried to mobilize against southern democrats in the state, but they largely fail so take the example of the california republican party. by the late 1850s anti-slavery republicans were surging across the northeast and the old northwest. but in california, they were trounced absolutely trounced year after year. so for example in the 1856 presidential election, john c fremont who was once this hero in california got just 19 percent of the state's total
vote anti-slavery politics were so unpopular in california. in fact that in 1857 the republican party nominated an actual slaveholder as their gubernatorial candidate in california. and as far as i know, that's the first in the only time that the expressly anti-slavery republican party did something like that. and the guy still lost in a total landslide. so true lincoln did end up carrying, california in 1860, but he did so with the lowest share of votes that he got in any free state and only because the democratic candidates so effectively split the vote. lincoln called this quote the closest political bookkeeping that i know of. he won the state by just about 600 votes out of about a hundred twenty thousand total votes cast. meanwhile california's entire congressional delegation.
it's two senators and it's two congressmen supported the staunchly pro-slavery candidate and that election. so this really brings us to secession and the eve of the civil war. when south carolina passed secession ordinances and broke from the united states in december 1860 it set off this chain reaction of disunion that really rippled all the way across the continent. and that's how we need to think of confederate secession in the coming of the civil war. i argue really as this continental crisis of the union that reached from charleston harbor all the way to the shores of the pacific. and the most dramatic rupture took place in arizona and the spring of 1861. so unlike today's state which as we know sits directly to the west of new mexico arizona at
the time was this much wider stretch of terrain to the south of new mexico and it was populated by this combination of native americans some mexican-born residents and crucially a bunch of migrants from, texas. and once these texans caught wind of south carolina's secession, they held three separate secessionist conventions of their own in three different towns in arizona. now most southern states had opted for just one convention, but arizona apparently felt like it needed to make its position triply clear and in each one of these conventions the delegates voted overwhelmingly to break from the union again. this was all in march 1861, which means that arizona seceded from the union. before the slave states of virginia, arkansas, north carolina and tennessee so in a
very real sense, arizona in the spring of 1861 found itself on the leading edge of a national rebellion. following arizona's lead secessionists began organizing in other parts of the west as well. so in california rebels started recruiting for a pacific coast extension to the confederacy hundreds of them mustard in los angeles alone then in san francisco a group of rebels approach albert sidney johnston, who was then the commander of the us department of the pacific and they urged him to lead a rebellion from within, california. johnston however, ultimately refused and in study told them quote. if you want to fight go south. johnson actually followed his own advice and he returned to the south where he received the commission as the second highest ranking officer in the confederacy before being mortally wounded at the battle of shiloh and as a lot of you
probably know a favorite counterfactual of civil war armchair generals is you know, what if johnston hadn't been killed at shiloh, but i actually like another counterfactual even better. what if he took the offer that these california rebels proposed and surrendered the us department of the pacific the confederacy. in the end though, arizona was the only part of the far southwest that formally seceded from the union which i think raises this fair question about the thesis of my entire book, which is if this part of the country the far west was so loyal to the south. why didn't more of it join the southern war effort. and part of the answer really has to do with abraham lincoln. in a statement that's going to surprise. nobody lincoln was a really good wartime president and he understood all too. well how fragile the union was especially in the far west?
so he initiated the sweeping purge of federal officials about 1500 of them in total and he replaced them all with reliable unionists. this include included firing the southern-born governor and the secretary of new mexico the exact same guys who oversaw the passage of the territory slave code in addition to firing basically all the friends who were in all the friends of william gwyn. who were in california is patronage positions. much harder to lead a rebellion in the rep in the west when you no longer really hold power there. now an equally important factor in a resting rebellion in the far west was ironically the position that the region's pro slavery leaders took it's what i wait and see separatism. so rather than provoke outright
rebellion, they basically preferred to cheer the confederacy from a nice safe distance. once the confederacy triumphed then they would launch a movement for an independent republic on the pacific coast. i mean at least this was their plan. and at one point or another every congressman and senator from california went on the record to basically endorse this plan for an independent pacific republic. it was a it was a common belief at the time actually echoed by people like george mcclellan and alexander stevens that if the union fractured it would probably continue fracturing until there were multiple republics within what was once the united states. so people like william gwynn wrote to friends in anticipation of this outcome. and if all went according to plan he hoped to overthrow the us government on the pacific and then establish his own empire
there. and in the summer of 1861 things were actually looking pretty good for rebels like william gwinn. and that's because the confederacy's very first invasion of the war brought the fight to the far west. it began with a tiny force of about 250 texans who slipped across the border into arizona and july of 1861, but then it grew to this occupying force of about 3,000 men. what was called the confederate army of new mexico. and by march 1862 this force had seized santa fe making it the only confederate army to ever capture a capital city in union territory. now scholars have written quite a bit about this invasion including megan kate nelson's really nice new book. so i'm going to go light on the details here. and instead what i want to do is
is really challenge some common misconceptions about the civil war and the far west and i also want to try to place this invasion within the context of a much longer southern fascination with the region. now it's it's tempting to view this campaign as sort of an errant into the wilderness the general who led it henry hopkins. sibley was was famously inept in underprepared. he was he was basically drunkenly incapacitated during some really key moments in the campaign. and his invasion was turned back decisively in the spring of 1862 by the time his army finally limped back to texas it had suffered in astronomical 30% casualty rate. and simply himself soon conceded that the region wasn't worth a quarter of the blood or the treasure that his men had sacrificed. and this i think is one of the reasons why historians like gary
gallagher see the sibley invasion as a complete sideshow and to be perfectly fair and frank gary landed some pretty good punches on some of my earlier writing about this facet of the war and so he's completely right to say, i think that jefferson davis was preoccupied with the major military theaters on the eastern half the country. where as we know the war would ultimately be won or lost. but before we completely dismiss this campaign, i think it's sort of helpful to shift our framework and i'd argue that we should view the invasion not necessarily from the perspective of richmond or washington, but rather from the perspective of los angeles and santa fe. from that perspective. this was actually a pretty major campaign. in fact the union in the confederate forces in new mexico where some of the largest and best equip armies if not the largest in best equipped armies
that the had ever seen. and for beleaguered unionists in the far west it all fit this alarming pattern this rebel invasion was effectively the military continuation of a political campaign that had begun more than a decade earlier. this is why a union soldier stationed in new mexico wrote to the us secretary of war in a panic at the approach of these invading texas because basically he knew his history. according to him the invasion belonged to quote a grand scheme of inner communication and territorial expansion more vast and complicated than was ever dreamed of by napoleon bonaparte and his polymiest days of pride and power and quote. and sibley's invasion wasn't the only threat to union control on the west. i mean far from it. secessionist activity in los
angeles had prompted the union high command to build an 1862 this extensive military complex to the tune of one million dollars. it was known as drum barracks and it was located just outside the city. and if you think you can sort of make out a camel and the foreground of that photo, that's because you can there is a camel there and i'm happy to talk about the history of camels and the american west during the q&a. anyway thousands of union troops and a couple camels pass through drum barracks over the course of the war. one of their duties was to police the rebellious population of los angeles. their commanders basically understood as well as anyone that the east and west were held together by this very narrow thread. so only through overwhelming military force could the southern hold on the far west be
broken. this was really one of the lessons from los angeles and elsewhere during the war. so the buildup of troops at drum barracks was accompanied by a flurry of other actions and policies. the slave codes of utah and new mexico were abolished laws permitting the virtual enslavement of california indians were overturned rebel sympathizing newspapers in the west were banned and they were ransacked confederate sympathizers including william gwinn were arrested and imprisoned. and a number of them actually landed here there were some of the first inmates of the prison at alcatraz. and taken together these strong arm tactics help quash rebellion in the west and finally broke the powerful southern influence over the region. or so it seemed but of course, it wasn't ever quite that simple.
the slave south enjoyed this long strange afterlife in the far west and this is really how i want to end the lecture by basically moving us into the 21st century and by examining the long tail to this story. it's a story that i think might have particular resonance for anyone living in richmond and witnessing firsthand this battle over confederate iconography along monument avenue there. and in short it's the it's the story of the lost cause in, california. i mean obviously california never built anything on the scale of monument avenue. but it did dedicate far more monuments and memorials and place names to the confederacy than any other state outside the south. i've located more than a dozen of them basically from one end of the state to the other. so there were large stone memorials to the common
confederate soldier there were schools and redwood trees named for robert e lee at least five large markers to jefferson davis as well as a confederate as long as it as well as a california mountain named after the confederate president. there was also the town of confederate corners and a scenic series of foothills named for the css, alabama and the one and only confederate veterans retirement home outside the former slave states and territories. now most of these monuments have been either removed or renamed and the recent controversy over confederate statues. but really until then a lot of them had stood almost unnoticed for nearly a century. and when i tell california's about these monuments, they can't quite believe it and and full disclosure.
i'm california and myself and i never learned about to see there and a lot of them and maybe a lot of us clinged this image of california as a land of cultural progressivism and cultural pluralism. somehow untouched by anything related to slavery. after all myths of the american west as the sort of landscape of freedom and rugged individual are rooted really deep in popular culture, right and these myths die hard but as i argue, you don't really have to scratch all that far beneath the veneer of this mythology to get a much darker much more complicated history. and so if you take the long view of western history, maybe these california confederate monuments aren't all that surprising after all. for much the 19th century the south and the west were separated separated by this pretty thin line.
and so the fact that confederate monuments began cropping up in california and the 20th century merely reinforces this fact. each and every one of them was a testament albeit a generally sort of overlooked testament to the enduring hold of the slave south over the far west and that's the long curious history that my book attempts to uncover. thank you. so, thank you so much. that was excellent. i am. i have to say i was taking notes like crazy because it was a lot of new information for me and i probably want to go to youtube and hear this once we get it posted again, but i think we've had some questions come in. so let me see what we've got here. and kelly would it be helpful for me to stop screen sharing
now or do people still? oh, yes, you could stop going to screen sharing. i didn't realize that that it was still on screen share. so excellent. i could always pop those up he wants to reference this. so, let me see what we have neil says, i would be interested in hearing your thoughts on the separest separatist movements in california during the antebellum years and the secession crisis although california remain part of the union did these movements dissipate in the aftermath of the war? and i don't know if he's referring to what you addressed in your talk or is he talking about other separatists? separatist movements specifically, so i guess that is a little different maybe. yeah. no, that's a really good question neil and i'm just looking for the text myself. it was from neil wasn't it? yes from wheels. for meals? okay great. great. yeah really good question. so for a little bit of background, it wasn't just that there was sort of a separatist.
instinct in california during the war itself it ran further back in into the 1850s and really to the to the beginning of california's integration into the us basically since the us mexico wore people worried that california was going to splinter off into its own independent republic president polk said that exactly he wrote that during the the us mexico war and it was thought that in less california could somehow be yoked the to the rest of the united states with the transcontinental railroad, it would sort of naturally just spin out and so over the course of the 1850s there was sort of light talk about the formation of the specific republic. there was also a movement in the 1850s to split southern california off from the rest of the state and form a new territory from southern california. they were going to call this the territory of colorado because colorado as we know it today
hadn't yet been formed and it was wid. believed probably accurately that if this territory formed it would be a slaveholding territory a white southerners represented the majority of the anglo-american population in southern california, and they sort of they they held the the levers of power. southern california actually voted to sort of brexit from the rest of california in 1859. but the final decision had to pass to congress and by the time it reached congress. the national scene was so convulsed with fears of southern secession that it never really made it onto the agenda and sort of the movement to break southern california off at that point died, but you can you can sort of see that the afterlife of that movement. it's shifted from southern, california to northern california, but there's still you know, every year this annual push to break off california and to into smaller parts. i don't know if that begins to
get at the question nails, but hopefully it's a start excellent, and let's go from california to arizona. karen asked. how could arizona even consider secession since they were a territory not a state? arizona also like southern california had been agitating for independent status. for years before the civil war so as southern california was was pushing to form its own territory, arizona as the southern part of new mexico was also pushing for territorial status. they seceded as as a territory and were recognized into the confederate congress as a territory. so just because they lack statehood didn't mean that that they were ineligible to have to have a delegate present in the confederate congress. it meant that you know, it was relatively sparsely populated.
so arizona is admittance into the confederacy. never never made quite the splash obviously is as say virginia's or texas's but it did sort of speak to the the reach of the rebellion and sort of the appeal of anti-unionism in these farophone territories. all right. thank you for that and chris asked in the years following the ward in southerners gained political prominence in any of the western states as they did in the former confederate states. yeah, that's a very good question. so in the immediate post war years the the democrats that once the the southern democrats that ruled, california through the antebellum period enjoyed this phenomenal resurgence. so in 1867 democrat storm back to power in california on an
explicitly white supremacist, anti-reconstruction platform. i mean, they very clearly linked their political movement with the revolt against reconstruction that was taking place simultaneously in the south. and they were they were really successful. i mean they sort of because of california's unique demographics with a large chinese population anti-reconstruction politics took on a a sort of different cue than it did in the south but the message was largely the same it was rule for for white men, and i've actually identified about i think a few more than a dozen kkk assaults on chinese immigrants in california during this period and they very self-consciously mimic the rhetoric and they mimic the strategies of the clan in the south because they knew that those terrorists tactics inspired terror and they knew that they were effective. so whether or not there was any
coordination between klansman and the south and klansmen in california. i don't think there's clear evidence for that, but it is very clear. that white california's knew what worked in the south and they very readily employed those tactics in their own state. i mean, they they beat back republican rule sooner than most southern states did. interesting and neil's has another question. this one is if in your research on enslaved african-americans in california, have you come across a a man named john wesley newsome? it was from north carolina originally ended up in california during the gold rush. and owned property that is now camp. twanaga near groveland and they're wondering the camp leadership is interested in finding out more about his north
carolina background and whether he was enslaved or a free person of color, huh? no, i i haven't and if and if you want to chime in here nails, i'd love to hear more i could give you a little of background about. north carolina during the california gold rush and and you know some some of the other people who came into california at the time and i let's say it's neil's respond. i have every people are muted. so can't really say anything but neil's might type something in here in a bet. in the meantime, i'll just add to that important point that north carolina's were really common in the gold diggings and they were very commonly holders of enslaved people. that's partly because north carolina enjoyed sort of a gold rush of its own or at least the southeast part of the united
states enjoyed a gold rush of its own and they employed african american slaves in and during that gold rush and so north carolina has had first-hand experience of how to use enslaved workers in gold mining operations. and so the the records that i've read would say almost more often than not are written by north carolinians and really interesting. sometimes you get letters in these collections written by enslaved people themselves. i take it that they're usually dictated to the slave holder and then written out but there's this really really poignant letter collection at the huntington about written from a man named mural his family back i think in kentucky, so he isn't obviously one of these north carolinians and he brought a man named ruben with him and basically mural had -- luck in the gold diggings. he couldn't find gold, you know as hard as he looked and he
could barely get by but because he had slave labor ruben was actually able to earn basically a living for mural. and ruben tragically and reuben has these wonderful poignant letters in this collection writing to his family back in kentucky. i think bowling green saying how much he misses them and how he hopes to return one day and ruben tragically drowns in a river while he's attempting to help a man cry for the river. and neil says that there were some free people of color who came to california during the gold rush. and there were also enslaved people who were able to purchase their freedom through the goals that they were able to dig. so i think maybe that's why there's some confusion about whether this newsome was enslaved or free or had purchased his freedom. yeah. yeah. i'm not surprised to hear that, you know, and in fact that that
photo that i included in the slideshow of two black miners and two white miners, it's unclear whether those two black men were enslaved they probably were because that was a part of the of gold country that was heavily populated by white southerners and their slaves, but there's no way to know for sure and that's the case with so many of these people and and i should add that the boundaries of slavery and freedom sort of get blurred in gold rush, california and stacey smith. the historian makes a really good point about this when in slave people come west they're able to press for certain they're able to sort of loosen the strictures of slavery in certain key ways because the slaveholders know that on a sort of sparsely populated and sparsely police frontier that they're enslaved workers can run away far more easily than they could in the plantation south that said a lot of these enslaved people really wanted to get back to the south to the
people that they had left behind. i mean reubens ruben makes this really clear in his letters to his family. what he's trying to do is just sort of bide his time with with this guy mural and make it back to see his family. so that was that was actually the greatest deterrent to to fugitive slaves on the frontier. but of course there were there were a lot of enslaved people that managed to sort of renegotiate the conditions of their enslavement or as you say in your question heels to buy their freedom. there was something called a sunday claim usually enslaved people were given one day off a week where they didn't have to labor forcibly one day a week and they could use that day off on sunday. to mine on their own and from the earnings from from sunday. some of them were able to buy their freedom. very interesting and kind of thinking about post war since slavery ended in the southwest
after the civil war did many southerners go to mexico to live. and can you talk a little bit about that? yeah, that was actually going to be my next book about all the all the confederates the sort of disillusioned and jaded confederates that flee the the reunited united states after the civil war. so a number of them go to mexico tons and tons of them go to brazil some go to some central american countries some go to egypt some go to the pacific islands and entrap asian indentured workers in sort of cycles, of course coercive labor. you can find confederate veterans all over the world after the civil war and often they're behind schemes to either reinflame or to coerce the labor of others, so it's sort of their
the rebellion continues in in various shapes and forms, just like it continues in the american south with the kkk and other white nationals organizations. it continues globally as well and you know crucially at the time you could still acquire slave labor in brazil and some of these guys managed to bring their enslaved workers into mexico and they just never told them they were free. and then going back to arizona again. hell asked was arizona not admitted as a state until 1912 because of its lack of population or because the federal government didn't trust arizona as a state. yeah, that's really interesting. so typically you had to hit a certain population threshold to be admitted into statehood that threshold could be fudged in certain instances and and other instances even when territories
exceeded that threshold they weren't admitted into the union. i mean, this is really more the case with with new mexico, but it applies to arizona as well, basically. statehood was delayed significantly because those places were deemed insufficiently white. they had very large hispanic populations, and they had very large indigenous populations. and so really the crucial figure that that a territory was aiming for and gaining statehood was white population more so than general population. that makes that makes sense. so still on the topic of arizona the question about their secession again since they succeeded before the states in the upper south. why didn't they end up gaining statehood as a confederate state? mmm, that's a good question.
i think probably because the the population was too small that that seems the the most likely cause of it and you know, you could spin out a number of counterfactuals here, you know, if the confederacy wanted its independence, i'm thinking arizona would have been admitted into statehood a lot sooner than it was, you know, once the confederacy was quashed. interestingly, arizona, the reason arizona looks like it does today with the reason why it's to the west of new mexico and not to the south is because during the war lincoln and his government realized that to allow arizona to retain that that territorial configuration would just invite trouble so they they split it in half. and so the concentration of you know rebels down there. yeah could be more easily corralled and they were all so
just beaten back by an overwhelming. military presence by i think about 1864 1865. maybe there were about 24,000 us troops in in the american southwest which is actually 50% larger than the entire us pre-war military and they were there first to beat back this confederate invasion, but they were really there to put down native resistance in the area. and so the civil war is this time where the southwest really comes over firm under firm us control for the first time before then, you know, the apaches and the navajos really held the balance of power in the region. and one more question from nails. he says if southern leaders had successfully seized control of us military forts along the california coast. how do you think it might have affected the outcome of the civil war? hmm i mean ulysses has grant.
i don't know if this is apocryphal, but he said thank god for that gold coming from california. that's the only way we won the war. the confederacy actually did attempt to disrupt the gold shipments from from california because jefferson davis knew that it was sort of thinly guarded the us naval presence along the pacific was was pretty weak and so he actually commissioned this random adventure named ashbury harpending you can't make the stuff up. the names are too good. he commissioned him as a captain in the confederate navy and he said, okay go outfit a ship sees one of the gold freighters from california arm that and then start rating the pacific ashbury harpending didn't get past the the port san francisco. the plan was foiled by one. i think i don't know if it was the cook somebody on the ship
gave him away. and they were arrested and and he was hucked in prison for a while. he was lucky to escape with his life. but that was that was the sort of inglorious and short career of confederate piracy in the pacific. that that's very interesting. i haven't heard that story either so fascinating one last question and i will say that there have been so many comments pouring in about what a great. talk this was tonight and what? interesting new information. so i think it's new to a lot of us one final question though about the apaches and the navajos and did they take sides during the war in the invasion of new mexico? did they see it primarily as a war between white people? yeah, that's that's a really good question in in one section in the book. i sort of i lump indigenous
people and mormons together, which is a really odd pairing. that's not a pairing that they would have naturally put together, but i did that because both of these groups sort of adopted the same strategy during the war mormons in utah and native people in the southwest did not like the united states government because the united states government infringed upon what they saw as they're sovereignty and so they they also adopted this sort of wait and see separatism. they wanted to sort of buy their time and see if the united states would ultimately lose and they could claim a greater share of control over the region. so in the early days of the war as union forces were being withdrawn from certain forts in the southwest. native people watch this and they they saw their opportunity. and so they they dramatically increased their rating because they knew that this was their chance to really strike and to
really claim sovereignty and that sort of in turn explains why you get this massive military buildup of federal troops in the southwest because first the apaches and then the navajos really intensify their rating on on forts and mostly on on sort of farmers and travelers interestingly that when when the confederacy had it sort of moment of glory in the southwest the confederate commanders came up with a policy to deal with this native resistance. it was enslavement the two confederate commanders in new mexico. and arizona said, well just capture these indians and sell them into slavery. that's obviously the solution here. it works really well on the plantations in the south. it'll work really well here and so you or if they were able to retain control of the region. what the sort of labor order would look like?
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