Monday, January 30, 2006

a little bit of connecticut history

i had no idea there were positions of 'black governors' in the colonies. it's an interesting article. please click on the link above and read the whole thing.

Black governors rode 'path for future'
Connecticut Post
A dignified rider, sitting straight atop his horse in a parade down a fashionable avenue, wears a silk top hat, a well-knotted cravat, starched white shirt and magnificent morning suit complete with a colorful satin sash.
That's the image, as recorded in an antique woodcut, of one of Connecticut's black governors, once obscure figures whose place in American history has re-emerged through recent research, highlighted in conjunction with Black History Month in February.
The black governors are important to remember, historians say, because they were the mediators of their time between dominant American whites and their black slaves.
These black governors functioned as the ceremonial chiefs and political voices of the black community from the American Colonial era through the middle of the 19th century, right up to the Civil War.
They were chosen for the positions by a consensus of area slaves rather than majority rule. The black governors had no authority over the white community, and often were the slaves of wealthy white families.
The black governors' primary role was to resolve disputes within their community. In many towns, the black governor prescribed punishments for other blacks. They often appointed lieutenants and deputies to help in their duties.
Several of Connecticut's black governors came from the Naugatuck Valley area.
One of them, Quash Freeman lived in Derby, but was born in Africa, and had been kidnapped as a child and brought to New England. He took the name Freeman to symbolize his freedom when his owner emancipated him.
During his years as a black governor from 1810-15, Freeman had a lieutenant so short they called him "Little Roman." His sword dragged on the ground behind him, said Katherine Harris, associate professor at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain.
"We have not found Quash Freeman's burial spot, but we found his son's burial spot from the 1800s. His son, Rodwell Freeman, was also a black governor. He is buried in Bare Plains Cemetery next to his wife, Nancy," said Harris, who has lectured in Derby on the history of the state's black governors.
In Seymour, there was Juba Weston, who had two sons who also became black governors.
Primarily, the black governors from the Valley were involved in the Abolitionist Movement of the 1800s, which worked to outlaw slavery. Eventually, that goal was achieved when President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863 — but not before the Civil War erupted over the divisive issue............

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