Pictured Above: Black Men In Georgetown Circa 1918
As you start getting up in age you start getting them old folks aliments. I call it TR. It’s stands for “That’s Right.” Anywho for the past two weeks and a half I have been suffering.. no tormented by a ailment called Sciatica. It is a painful and debilitating ailment that encompasses the sciatic nerve which runs through your pelvis and down both sides of your body. It usually only affects one side of your body, so I’m walking around here feeling like Harvey Dent and thinking Batman’s going to crash through the window at any moment. Acute sciatica, which my body has the honor of hosting, can last anywhere from six to eight weeks. I’m going on my third week and have just begun to regain the ability to walk a couple of feet at a time without mind numbing pain and having to sing that old negro spiritual “The Upper Room..” It’s the kind of pain that makes you fall to the floor and crawl on yo hands and knees and whimper like a scolded dog… I’ve been on the floor so many times I’m thinking about changing my name to Rin Tin Tin… Anywho, as I continue my recuperation, I thought I would get back to what I really love doing.. writing for Hill1News.
Georgetown, District Of Columbia
On July 9, 1790, Congress passed a bill called the Residence Act, which approved a national capital on the Potomac River. Marse Washington, the first president, picked out the location. Although the use of the word “marse” is an offensive term here in the states… and not for the reasons you believe, I thought it would be appropriate because at that time it was a title used by enslaved blacks instead of the word “master” and because it is a well known fact that the first president had more slaves than Burton and Taylor in Cleopatra. Additionally “Marse” was a title that was often used in the Caribbean by plantation owners addressing other plantation owners as a general sign of respect. It is offensive because it was the title used by enslaved blacks instead of the word “master.” The Caribbean was primarily settled by the French and the word marse is has nothing to do with the word master. According to contemporary etymology it is a topographic name from a dialect variant of the French word marché, meaning market. Who knows, transplanted enslaved people might of had a problem with the English dialect and Marse was easier to say and remember than master. It has also been surmised that our enslaved ancestors bastardized the language of their captors as a form of rebellion. There is a interesting article on Black Voices News about black english during slavery. It says that “the Negro dialect as we know it today was formed by White song-writers for minstrel shows around the time of the Civil War.” Veddy intaresting:>) Here is the link. It’s about a 3 minute read.
Say It Again..
Whippa: “Beethoven, when the pastor comes over.. you address me as Marse Whippa.. after he leaves you can practice calling me Master Whippa again. I don’t need you running around heh calling me Monster, Monkey, Mutha or anything else like that… I’m still deciding if I should beat yo azz about calling me Mutha cause you was smiling…” That was embarrassing you telling the Decon, “The Mutha is in the house..”
Beethoven: Yes Marse Whippa..
Missy Whippa: Beethoven, where is the master?
Beethoven: He be tending de ash Missy Whippa.
Missy Whippa: You mean the fire… fetch that tattered gold dress and give it to him..
Beethoven: Yes Missy Whippa..
Beethoven: Marse Whippa… Missy Whippa sey take dis ole dress and stick it in de ash.
Whippa: What did you say?!! TAKE THIS OLD DRESS AND STICK IT IN MY WHAT!!! ”
Yep…you could get yourself in a lot of trouble with the English dialect…
So before Marse Washington signed the Residence Act, Georgetown was part of the providence of Maryland. The providence was founded in 1632 as a British colony and joined the other 12 colonies in 1778. After the Revolutionary War, the providence became the state of Maryland. A while back in another article I wrote, I said that “history is written by the victors”, a quote attributed to Winston Churchill. I went on to discuss the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse by the infamous traitor General Robert E. Lee. In part I said something like…“They dragged his beaten ass in there and made him sit on the floor and play conga drums while General Ulysses Grant and the great great grandfather of Malcolm X dranked Boones Farm and ate fried chicken. When it was time to sign the surrender of the rebel forces, General Afro Sheen looked at the disgusting racist and said, ” Put that pen down…. first tell me who’s your daddy?” Well being on the side of the victor, I could write history as I see fit. All of this to say, that’s what America did when writing about the Revolutionary War. They taught us about the patriots at Concord and Lexington and how Crispus Attucks, a black man gave his life for the pursuit of liberty. We learned about Cornwallis’s defeat at Yorktown, Washington crossing the Delaware River, the Boston Tea Party, taxation without representation and the signing of the Declaration of Independence… “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness…” blah.. blah blah.. Well let me tell you what they didn’t say. The war was fought because America owed England some money and didn’t want to pay them. When England saw they weren’t going to pay the money they loaned to them, they began taxing them to get their money back. You see, in 1754 and throughout the following nine years the English colonies were pitted against the French colonies in what is known as the French and Indian Wars. They were fighting over who would settle the Ohio Valley. Now although the English colonist outnumbered the French colonist, France was whipping them with the help of the Indians. It was at this time that the English colonist asked England for assistance. England supplied aid in the form of money and troops. So even though they supplied money and troops to fend off the French colonist in the Americas, England was also engaged in a war in Europe called the Seven Year War. It was also against France and England was hemorrhaging money fighting on two fronts. When it came time for America to pay them back the money for the defense they supplied them with during the French and Indian War… well… “When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…” blah.. blah.. blah..
Smile When You Happy!
Whippa: Beethoven I want you to go down to the market and bring back some fish, tell the keeper you want Oscars… pick up a loaf of bread too… here is a note for the keeper.
Beethoven: Yes Monkey…
Whippa: Beethoven are you playing with me cause I’m getting ready to whip yo azz!!
Beethoven: No Monkey, You want me to go to de market fo some bread en osca shist..
Missy Whippa: Turn him loose Oz!! Turn him loose!! You know he has a hard time with English!!
Whippa: Hell no!! He was smiling!! He was smiling!!
3000 K Street NW. Washington DC. ( Site of Colonial Harbor in the 1800’s)
Anywho, just thought I would throw in that little piece of little known history about the Revolutionary War before we continue. So yeah Georgetown was part of the Providence of Maryland and after the war became part of the state of Maryland. Around 1735 a trader named Gordon George opened a tobacco inspection house on the banks of the Potomac in Georgetown, which at the time was the farthest point upstream boats could navigate. As time went by the area grew into a bustling community as more businesses located to the port. By the end of the 18th century and after the establishment of the federal capital, Georgetown along with two other municipalities had established local governments within the federal city. They were Alexandria, D.C., Georgetown, D.C., and Washington, D.C. Together they were known as Washington County D.C. In 1871 Congress consolidated the all the local municipalities into one united federal city. In 1895 it repealed the rest of Georgetown’s local ordinances and changed the name of the streets to conform with the rest of the city. But earlier in Georgetown’s history around 1820 throughout the the later part of the 19th century.. being a independent municipality it was a magnet for laborers, especially free black men. So although slavery had not been abolished in DC “proper” until 1862, there were thousands of free blacks in the north who came to DC looking for work. This went on for a few decades and only declined because the Potomac River screwed them by becoming silted up and preventing ships from docking there. Silt is created when rock is eroded, or worn away, by water and ice. As flowing water transports tiny rock fragments, they scrape against the sides and bottoms of stream beds, chipping away more rock. The particles grind against each other, becoming smaller and smaller until they are silt-size. As the process continues water is displaced by silt. By the late 19th century commerce in Georgetown began to decline, in part because of the silting of the Potomac.
The Red Hat
Missy Whippa: Beethoven wait heh, until I and the master return… they don’t allow yo type in dis establishment.
Beethoven: Yes Missy Whippa.
A few minutes later..
Lady Blythe: Boy what are you standing here fo. Where be yo master?
Beethoven: He be at da saloon. The Mutha is wearing a big red hat..
Lady Blythe: What!! Boy somebody needs to teach you some manners! Well I know just the one! His name is Breakemdown Fletcher and I am going to get him you savage!!
Breakemdown. Fletcher: Boy I’m here to teach you some manners!! Why Lady Blythe said you cursed at her!!
Beethoven: No Mutha Flocker, I did’nt…
Breakemdown Fletcher: What did you call me!! I’m going to whip yo a…
Oz Whippa: Sir take your hands of my nigra!! You have no right to assail my property!!
Breakemdown Fletcher: Sir your nigra cursed me to my face in front of Lady Blythe! I demand satisfaction!!
Beethoven: Mutha Flocker is lying.. I was standing heh minding my own business when da Shady Blytch asked me where you be. I told her you was in da saloon with the odda Mutha’s. Dats when dat Mutha Flocker came ova heh.. . like he be da head Mutha…. I’m glad you ain’t like dat Mutha Flocker! Mutha Flocker beating on people fo no reason..
Breakemdown Fletcher: I’ll give you ten dollars for him…
Oz Whippa: Okay…
Map Of DC 1862
In 1800 the US Census put the number of enslaved blacks in Georgetown at 1,449 and free blacks at 277 out of a total population of around 5100. Remember in 1800 Georgetown still was part of Maryland with it’s own municipal laws. After the Civil War, the population increased to almost 14,000 people, with nearly 3,330 of that total being black. So before the Civil War and right up until to 1862 after the Civil War began, slavery still was legal in the District of Columbia. I mean they was selling slaves right in front of the Capitol… right along with copies of the Bill Of Rights!.. Slaver:“Getcha copy of the BIll Of Rights heerre!.. Yes sir, I can let you have that nigra for $200.. Sure you don’t want a copy of the Bill Of Rights too… Let you have them both for a dollar extra!! No.. okay… Read all about it!! All men are created equal!! Get your copy and a nigra right heerre!!” Okay I don’t know if they was selling slaves in front of the Capitol.. but they was sure selling slaves in Georgetown. Although Lincoln abolished slavery in the District in 1862 and issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, the acts did not free one man, woman or child in Georgetown. Remember Georgetown was still a part of Maryland. The proclamation freed slaves in the states which were in rebellion against the Federal government… Maryland was part of the Union and the emancipation meant nothing to them, and since Georgetown was in Maryland, well Lincoln’s abolishing slavery in the District didn’t affect those enslaved people living in Georgetown. I mean theoretically it could come down to a matter of which side of the street you lived on which determined if you were a slave or free man after abolishing slavery in the District. As an aside.. the original map for the land obtained for the federal city was a diamond shape which included Alexandria and Arlington. It was ten square miles. The current map shows the legacy of slavery in which the diamond was halved by the municipalities refusing to give up slavery.
Slavery In Chocolate City
When you think of the Black Codes, what usually comes to mind is a bunch of hillbillies sitting in front of Lucy’s Red Garter Saloon looking at their watches to make sure that fifteen minutes before sundown everybody has their hoods and ropes ready. They are always in the deep, deep south and go by names like Tater, Possum or Biscuit… Well I hate to tell you this, but the black codes were also practiced in Chocolate City. Yep folks, because DC was the nation’s capital and because of the commerce in Georgetown, thousands of free blacks and hundreds of slaves live here. The pro slavery faction started feeling some kind of way and in 1808 legislated the first set of black codes. The laws made it unlawful for Negros or loose, idle disorderly people to be on the streets after 10:00pm. By loose, idle and disorderly people they meant Native Americans and Asians. Free black people who violated this curfew could be fined five dollars which is north of $120.00 in today’s money. In the case of enslaved black people, their owners would have to pay the fine. Anyone unable to pay the fine would receive the runners up prize.. a whipping. So I’m like wow, if the owner was unable to pay the $5.00 they would whip the owner? Excuse me for my ignorance… If that was the case, slaves be like, “Mutha Flocker beat me today.. Ima go get drunk and den go down and holla at da womans in front of the White House..” So this was before the Civil War and you didn’t have to worry about the Klan… Superwhipped: “Hey baby!! I got half a possum tongue, some watermelon rinds and creek water at the crib.. how bout me and you catch a donkey…” Yep.. even back in the day… don’t hate the player.. hate the game… lol.. Anywho, so yeah, the owner was not the one that received the beating. In 1812 the Mayor and the Aldermen enhanced the penalties for breaking the curfew. Free blacks would be fined $20 and enslaved blacks would receive 40 lashes. The twenty dollars is equal to $465.00 in today’s money and 40 lashes is painful as sh*t no matter what year you get them in. They also demanded that free blacks register with the government, carry their certificates of freedom with them at all times and to appear before the mayor with documents signed by three white people vouching for their good character. The character references were suppose to be a deterrent against blacks who may have forged documents. In any event they also doubled down by requiring the free black person to pay a “peace bond” of $20 to a “respected” white man as a commitment to good behavior. “Boy do you promise to obey the white man with fear and trembling… and with sincerity in yo heart? “Yes Marse Sanders… here’s yo $20” “Wait a minute boy… I ain’t finished…and do you promise to put your hands over yo eyes when you see the pure flower of the South… a white women walk by … so help you gawd?” “Yes Marse Sanders.” “Okay.. give me $20..” lol.. Ephesians 6:5 was a favorite of slaveholders and a verse they used to justify an enslaved persons obedience as being ordained.. and of course post antebellum racism in the southern states was typically justified on the pretense of upholding the purity and innocence of white women. In fact that was the Klu Klux Klan complete justification or so they said.. to preserve Southern white womanhood. Historians believe that the southern racist real motives was to regain the political clout and dominance that they lost after the war. I’ma go with Maya Angelou on this one.. “When somebody shows you who they are.. believe them the first time…”
Brakemdown Fletcher: Bo..lock this nigra up with the other one.. I’ll take care of them when I get back. (Bo takes Beethoven and throws him in the shed.)
Beethoven: (Looks around and see another man chained to the floor.) What be you here for?
ZoLong: Zit… zie zon’t zo.
ZoLong: Zie zaid.. zie zont zo.
Beethoven: You dont know..?
ZoLong: Zats zite.
Beethoven: Well what did you do?
ZoLong: Zie zus zat ze zark zand zie zot zirsty..
Beethoven: I see.. you was at de park and you got thirsty..
ZoLong: Zats zite… zut ze zirds zad zit zon ze zountain.
Beethoven: What!! The birds sh*t on da fountain!!
ZoLong: Zats zite.. Zo zie zent zome zand zot zay zazz.
Beethoven: You went home and got a glass.. Why didn’t you just get some water at home?
ZoLong: Zigger zu zont zu zear za zory zor zot!!
Beethoven: You be a nasty one .. but go head… I want to hear the story…
ZoLong: Zum zon zad zeed zin za zell!!
Beethoven: Oh they peed in da well!!
ZoLong: Zats zite.. Zo za zaster zaw ze zith za zass zand zaid zie zole zit.
Beethoven: I see.. Mutha Flocker said you stole the glass? What did he do?
ZoLong: Ze zit ze zon za zed zit za zic.
Beethoven: He hit you on the head with a stick!! Didn’t you tell him the glass was yours??
ZoLong: Zes!! Zut ze zit ze zery zime zie zied zu zell zim!!
Beethoven: He hit you every time you tried to tell him?? What did you tell him!!!
ZoLong: Zie zold zim… “Zis Zy Zazz Zaster!!!… Zis Zy Zazz !!!!
Beethoven: Okay.. now I know why you heh…
Yep you can get into a lot of trouble with the English language.. lol… anywho….
So in 1808 DC enacted the black codes, but by 1821 free blacks begin to fight back. Not physically because the colonist wish a nigra would… but through the courts. In 1821, a free black man named William Costin refused to pay the peace bond and went to court. He said the Constitution did not recognize color and that all free men were to be afforded the same rights. After they hung him from the top of the courthouse, nobody else.. okay I’m kidding.. they didn’t hang him… as a matter of fact Costin won his case. The judge said that although the codes were legal, they could not be imposed on a free man who had been a resident before the codes were enacted. It was a small victory. I’m reading it as.. if you live there before the codes were enacted, you didn’t have to pay the peace bond, however if you came after the codes were enacted then… “I said put your hands over your eyes nigg@r.” Costin also called into question the question of race.. his ancestry included Cherokee, European and African. He said any of those could define him. The judge said, “Keep pushing boy!” I need to stop that right… Anywho Costin was not your usual early 1800’s black man. He married the slave of Martha Washington’s granddaughter. Martha Washington was George Washington’s wife. Later on he bought her freedom along with several other relatives who were also enslaved under the Washington-Custis family. His business was supported by George Washington Custis, a wealthy plantation owner and the stepson of President Washington. The guy had juice.. I’m mean we talking about a black man going to court in the 1800’s talking about he ain’t all black and you better respect him and the Constitution? Back in those days.. people heads were put on poles for that kinda disrespect. Come to find out his enslaved mother was Ann Dandridge Costin and her father was Col. John Dandridge! John Dandridge was Martha Washington father!! That made his mother the half sister of Martha Washington… George Washington’s wife! So if ever don’t try this at home was a person… Costin died June 4, 1842 and among some of the notables that attended his funeral was Francis Scott Key. Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner.
Zell.. Zats Zats
Fletcher: Bo bring that nigra named ZoLong to me.. (Bo unlocks the shack and brings ZoLong)(Beethoven stand with his ear to to the door..)
Fletcher: Boy the only thing keeping me from shooting you and putting your head on that pole over there is the truth!!
ZoLong: ZIE Zizn’t Zu Zit Zutha Zlocker!! Zis ZY Zazz!!
Fletcher: WHAT!! (BANG!! BANG!!) Bring that other nigra Bo!!
Fletcher: (Beethoven comes in and looks at poor ZoLong.. with his head on a pole..) Whats wrong nigra.. cat got your tongue?
Beethoven: No Master, I think there has been a grave misunderstanding…
Fletcher: Did you change your accent or something boy?
Beethoven: No Master.. I know you feel aggrieved but happenstance…
Fletcher: BANG!! BANG!! BANG!! You know Bo.. I kinda liked that boy.. but he too uppity.. what does happenstance mean?
In 1848 we had a situation in DC when 75 slaves tried to escape on a boat harbored the Anacostia river. It was called the Pearl incident. Two white men named Daniel Drayton and Edward Sayres charted the boat for $100. As reported by historians.. “After dark on that Saturday night, the freedom seekers made their way to the wharf in small family groups. The Pearl set off to sail by night down the Potomac River to Alexandria, Virginia, and subsequently to the Chesapeake Bay where the captain planned to turn and head toward Pennsylvania, but bad weather slowed the voyage. The next morning, when the 41 white families that owned the fugitives discovered the escape, a posse was formed to capture them. Having learned about the escape route from an informer, the posse of 30 white men traveled by steamboat and overtook the Pearl at Point Lookout, about 100 miles southeast of the capital, and returned all aboard to Washington. As the news of the escape attempt spread, pro-slavery rioters attacked known abolitionist businesses for three days. Drayton and Sayres were held in the city jail, from which a mob attempted to remove them for hanging. Most of the escapees were jailed before being sold to slave dealers in New Orleans and Georgia. Though unsuccessful, it was the nation’s largest single escape attempt. I hope the informer wasn’t a brother… Sambo: “Massa isun know where der be a mess of dem no good nigra’s trying to escape on the riva bed tonight.. Massa: Do tell.. Sambo: Well Massa I kinda be needing some extra fatback fo my sweetie and a spoon full of dat suga so I can have me some dandelion tea and sit on da porch like you…” Massa: Simon give dat nigra some fatback and a teaspoon of suga..” Simon: (pulls out his bullwhip) whap!! whap!! whap!! Sambo: Massa dey ova der and be leaving tonight at 8: o’clock. Massa: Simon!! Simon: Whap!! Whap!! whap! whap!! whap!! Massa: Simon cut da nigra rations in half.. he got blood all over my grass!! In December 1861, Henry Wilson, a junior Massachusetts senator, introduced a bill in Congress to end slavery in Washington, DC. It was called “An Act for the release for the release of certain persons held to service or labor in the District of Columbia.” To appease the southern senators, the documents title made no mention of slavery or slaves. It freed 3,100 women, men and children who were enslaved in the District in 1862. It also paid slave owners $300 for each individual they had legally owned and offered $100 for the freed men and women to immigrate to another country. Six months after the Confederate General Lee surrendered his troops to the Union Army, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed by Congress in December 1865 and it finally outlawed slavery throughout the entire United States. (Pictured: Mary and Emily Edmonson were sold after the Pearl incident but returned to the District after a yellow fever epidemic struck New Orleans.)