Silent Partners of History Matter
American history has many examples where silent partnerships sought to achieve common or uncommon goals. Even during the less desirable periods of slavery and discrimination, there were examples of common goals of accomplished; though partnership was unintended. The fire sale for the territory known as the Louisiana Purchase came as a result of a partnership of 500,000 determined and rebellious Haitian slaves to challenge the French status-quo. The vast production of 60 per cent of the world’s sugar demand in 1802 was the world’s largest. This transformation caused Napoleon to offer the French territory west of the Mississippi for a sum of $15,000,000 or .02 cents per acre. French control of the region dated from 1682. This huge acreage contains 14 states of the United States west of the Mississippi. The sale was needed to create cash flow to finance France’s wars in Europe. Without the participati0n of partnership in Haiti in 1802, what would be the size of the United States today?
Shortly after America’s purchase of this vast territory, it was York, William Clark’ s slave, (Meriwether Lewis and William Clark) that was the handyman that carried out the details of the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804-1806. The forty man, one woman expedition requested by President Thomas Jefferson spent two years travel west of the Mississippi River and offered many surprises and rewards. It was York who bonded with the unknown Indian tribes, saved Clark from drowning in a swift river current, and hunted successfully for game in unknown territories to feed the team. Yet, following the festive return to St. Louis, Mo., all the participants were rewarded except York. He still remained a slave after his skillful support of the mission and passionate request for his freedom.
America’s freedom was threatened by the war of 1812 and produced another example of American partnership. Andrew Jackson’s defense of Louisana against the British, used approximately 500 free black sailors with a total of 6,000 fighting to prevent invasion. Black saliors contributed to impressive victories. Further north, near Canada, a black regiment faught and won the battle of Queenton Heights and consisted of about 10-20% of the sailors that faught in the Great Lakes against the Britsh.
Almost 50 years later, the 1860 presidential election victory by the new Republican party candidate, Abraham Lincoln, increased the tensions between the north and the south. Lincoln’s adamant stand against slavery infuriated the eleven southern states and provoked them to succeed from the United States. War was declared by the Rebels who commenced firing on South Carolina’s Fort Sumner with cannons. The issue was the same as when Presidnent Lincoln articulated that a nation could not continue to exist half slave and half free. Free labor was worshipped by the south while the skills of the industrial revolution in the north were prevalent. Where the 1787 U.S. Constitution failed to address the slavery issue on the mainland, it required the loss of over 620,000 lives in war and the 1863 Emancipation Proclaimation to start to eradicate this 250 years – old cancer from this nation’s fabric. Later, the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments were added to abolish slavery, grant citizenship and voting rights. Yet, partnership prevailed as colored troops enlisted and displayed bravery at the battles of Fort Wagner and Port Hudson to ultimately defeat the south. Both sons of the famous abolitionist, Fredrick Douglas, served with honor.
Such honor traveled Westward when expansion continued following the war and produced a need for security for the wagon trains, mail routes, homesteaders and railroads. The honorable military service of colored troops created a position for continual military service demands. U. S. Congress created special calvary and infantry branches for the talent former slaves and freemen. The ninth and tenth calvary; The 24th and 25th infantry made their mark for service during the Indian wars for security of railroads and maintenance of communications lines. The respect gained from fierce battles with the Cheyenne Indians earned them name of the Buffalo Soldiers. The name is still respected today.
Following three decades of fighting on the plains and other western teritories, a call came from Cuba to assist the Cubans to resist the imposition of Spain’s forced suppression. In 1898, the Buffalo Soldiers and Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders volunteered to support Cuba’s rebels following an order from President McKinley. Capture of San Jaun Hill was a memorable victory for the American forces when the American flag was planted on the hill by a Buffalo Soldier. Silent partnership was demonstrated again to quell the violence south of our boarder.
The 20th century was silent too; and without national press coverage. Despite the increase of racial violence through white mobs precipitating riots and lynchings throughout the nation, partnership expressions prevailed. Tuskegee, Alabama created a new model for the region and the nation to observe and practice. This new model shall be a coming film called, Freedom Bound University. The powerful characters that made a difference are featured to send a clear message to America today. “Three treads are better than one.” This proverb was true then and now. Find some common ground with another to produce the extraordinary rather than the ordinary. See you at the movie.