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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Nantucket Whalers in North Carolina: The Pinkhams

There’s a different world on the coast.  Outer Bankers are said to have spoken an older English dialect which still has traces today and while most North Carolinians can trace their ancestry back to England and Barbados, few of us realize the enormous maritime contribution of New Englanders like the Barnards, the Coffins, Folgers, Chadwicks, Colemans, Harkers, and numerous other families that still survive in North Carolina today.  Another factor which contributes to that “alien” feel to the Outer Banks, drawing a distinct line between farmer and seaman, is the recent presence on our coast of an industry that no longer exists today.  Creatures of the sea were hunted to extinction and the industry died with them.  The oil and ambergris they produced were no longer found off North Carolina.  These were “right whales” (shown above) and the enormously profitable whaling business has been conducted until the 19th century right here, off the coast of the Old North State.

Still, New England led in this industry and provided the whaling crews and captains that became a part of New England legend… and some that contributed to Carolina legend and folklore.  What were these men chasing whales for, you may ask?  I asked.

Whale oil was then used for making soap and burning in lanterns and candles, purely personal items.  In 1736, London, England went from the reputation of being the darkest city in Europe, with the darkest and most dangerous street corners to a lighted city, thanks to the discovery that “right-whale” and spermaceti whale oil burned cleaner and with a distinctly sweeter smell than vegetable oil, in use before 1736.  The lanterns went on poles and the street light was born.  The increased use of oil lamps on streets made whales very important in the English maritime world and contributed to great fortunes in the Americas.  Without an agricultural staple of value in New England, whale oil became a leading export, rising over three times in price from 10 pounds to 30 pounds by 1770. 

England's desire for the oil shows in the bounty provided from the British government on whale oil, increasing from 20 shillings per ton in 1733 to 40 shillings in 1749.  By 1757, the Lords of Trade and Plantations declared, "whale-bone and whale oil are materials indispensably necessary for the manufactures of this Kingdom."  The price of whale oil had risen so fast, in fact, that merchant Aaron Lopez, in 1761, joined eight other merchants to form a trust to control the price and distribution of whale oil.

In his History of Massachusetts, II (Boston, 1767), 445, Hutchinson writes, with reference to this period: "The increase of the consumption of oyl by lamps as well as by divers manufactures in Europe has been no small encouragement to our whale fishery. The flourishing state of the island of Nantucket must be attributed to it. The cod and whale fishery, being the principal source of our returns to Great Britain, are therefore worthy not only of provincial but national attention."

Still, whaling was a dangerous occupation, with the dangers of an open flame on board an already storm-threatened ship in the dangerous North Atlantic.  Still that’s where the whales were to be found… from Newfoundland to Cape Hatteras.  And that’s where many a whaler met his death.  Whalers always died young and rarely left wills.  Many of them died passing the deadly shoals of Cape Hatteras.  Numerous eighteenth-century newspaper articles reflect a sailor’s preoccupation with the Cape.  This example is only one of many:

Cape Hatteras, meeting place of the Gulf Stream and Labrador sea currents, churning dangerous shoals, topped off with Nor’easters immediately following hurricane season, became known as an obstacle to mariners and a place of danger.  Thrill-seeking whalers from Nantucket must have liked it.  They found it a great place to camp during the fall whaling season.

One unusual demographic factor amongst these whaling crews was the presence of the Native American.  Algonquians, mostly, comprised a large portion of whaling crews and often shared in the dangers of the whaling trade.  Another danger to whaling crews, as if fire and storms weren’t enough, were the French:

Pinkham was one of the old time whaling Nantucket families.  Zephaniah Pinkham, recently married to Sarah Maxey in 1744, was commanding a vessel that had fourteen crew, including these three Indian men.  Pinkham and several men escaped from Canada in short time:

This intrepid mariner’s son, Zephaniah Pinkham Jr. found North Carolina to his liking (probably because of family money problems) and came there in 1762, purchasing land in Carteret County on the “Straits” from two fellow Nantucket Chadwick brothers.  Presumably, Indian crews followed or Algonquians of North Carolina found work on whalers just as Mordicai Job and his friends.  Certainly, there was interchange because the whaling industry thrived on following the herds, as Sioux with buffalo.

Soon, North Carolina entrepreneurs desired a piece of the whaling action and fitted out a vessel expressly for that purpose… with Zephaniah Pinkham as the master of this sloop, named Sally, owned by Richard Ellis and refitted in 1768.  No massive whaling industry developed.   It may be that North Carolinians were content with hunting porpoises.  Still, Pinkham continued his base in Carteret until his death.

North Carolina held even more attraction for Zephaniah Pinkham in the lovely feminine form of Susanna Hampton, probably of the Currituck County Hamptons.  Zephaniah had at least two children by her, for in a deed, dated 1771, he leaves “Susanna Hampton” his land in the Straits for the love and affection he bore to her two sons, “Nathaniel and Job Hampton.”

The trouble that Zephaniah had, after 1770 was the woman that he married in Nantucket, Mary Coffin.  It has been surmised, not by myself… rather by my colleague, Roberta Estes, that Zephaniah gave Susanna the land because he feared her wrath.  That’s quite possible!  A male just doesn’t see these clues as well… or so my wife tells me.  As Roberta guesses, he had at least two children (3-5 years of personal history), with Susanna’s expectations shattered by the news of his marriage to Ms. Coffin.

That Pinkham still operated his Carolina trade we know from a 1774 Greenwich Hospital record on the Thames in London.  “EXTRACT from accounts of the collector of the Greenwich Hospital sixpenny duty: MARY and HENRY, of North Carolina, Zepha. Pinckam, master, of North Carolina trade. 6 Oct.”

What’s the phrase?  A girl in every port?  We can only wonder what Mary Coffin knew.  Perhaps her surname helped to form a picture not unlike the dangerous storms and shoals of North Carolina.  Davy Jones together with James Coffin and his shotgun… not pleasant.

Zephaniah Pinkham later settles in North Carolina permanently, records showing that Mary Coffin Pinkham married a cousin of Zephaniah’s, Charles Pinkham, by 1775.  Mary probably got wind… Susanna then adopts the name “Pinkham” as do the two boys, Nathaniel and Job.  We’re giving them the benefit of the doubt and declaring them to be married.

Zephaniah serves North Carolina in the Revolution as 1st lieutenant of Fort Hancock on Cape Lookout, a patriot like his sons, Nathaniel and Job in the War of 1812.  Zephaniah eventually passes on c1787.  Susanna married again to John Larrance (Lawrence) in 1796.

Nathaniel, now "Pinkham," becomes quite a North Carolina personality, serving John Gray Blount as crewman of the Beaver before joining in Blount’s venture of Shell Castle Island at the inlet at Ocracoke.  Nathaniel ran the tavern on that man-made island for “Governor” John Wallace, an uncle of David Wallace, a probable son-in-law of Zephaniah Pinkham.  Shell Castle Island was terraformed into a 25-acre facility that held storehouses and retail supplies for mariners, attracted to Carolina fishing.  As Pinkham would testify, it also held some entertainment at his establishment… the island’s tavern.

Shell Castle Island Tavern offered lodging, rum, wine, beer Porter, and many kinds of liquid refreshment as well as food.  Windsor chairs were even ordered by Wallace to spice up the atmosphere, which included imported wines and beer, all the way from Liverpool, New York, and Philadelphia.  Not to worry, fellow mariners and whalers, the state controlled the prices of the liquor:

“India Rum” was only 8 pence if sweetened with loaf sugar and “Country Made Brandy,” 6 pence.  Or, you could have a punch made from your favorite liquor at a fraction of the cost.  Step right up!

It was in the Heyday of mercantile bliss, in 1802, just as Shell Castle Island proved its worth, that native Hatteras Indian, Elizabeth Elks, deeded as a gift, the Indian grant of 1759 to Nathaniel Pinkham for his use until her son came of age.  The question is: what did Pinkham need with an old Indian village?  He may have been interested in a fishery to provide food for Shell Castle, not too distant from Hatteras.  John Wallace mentions in another letter that Pinkham was to “return with mullet” probably located in abundance on the sound side of Hatteras Island.  David Cecelski, in The Waterman’s Song, says that:

Mulleting demanded  able boatmen who knew their way around local waters but also required an intimacy with the barrier islands to tolerate the camp life.  

Carolina mullet fisherman usually built crude temporary shelters, resembling “Robinson Crusoe looking structures,” often rounded in shape quite like West African roundhouses (slave contributions).  This could very well have been what Nathaniel Pinkham was doing with the Elks land on Hatteras.  The fish supply would have been a great asset at his tavern on Shell Castle Island.

 The island site may also have served as a storage base for the Shell Castle salvage operations, due to the limited storage space available on the primary facility at the inlet.

The state became quite interested in the enterprise at Shell Castle, calling for a beacon to be constructed there in the same requisition as the lighthouse at Hatteras as this 1796 newspaper report tells.

A 1795 hurricane left little damage to Shell Castle Island.  Business was lucrative until a major hurricane struck the Carolina coast in 1806.  The 1806 hurricane, however may not have done much physical damage to the facilities as to currents and shoals at the inlet, restricting the traffic flow and access to the docks.  It also took quite a few lives.

WikiReference:  Great Coastal Hurricane of 1806—“The first major hurricane of the 19th Century made landfall south of the city of Wilmington on the southern shores of North Carolina on August 21st, and then proceeded on a gradual northeasterly drift for about 250 miles over the subsequent 36 hours. Constant gale force winds produced tremendous beach erosion, and "firmly established" the sandbar of Willoughby Spit at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay near Norfolk. It was also responsible for the loss of the ship, Rose-in-Bloom, which founded near Barnegat, New Jersey.”

This hurricane was said to have accounted for at least 46 deaths, not to include all of those who may have died later from disease and infection.  Penicillin has yet to be invented (actually not until the 20th century!).  Realistically, hundreds may have died from this storm and may account for another brother of Nathaniel Pinkham’s, George’s death (seen as witness on an 1802 deed, the registration of which stated that he was dead in 1823) as well as others.  Census records indicate that Nathaniel had a rather large family in 1800, but a much reduced core group by 1810 and few Pinkhams survive in census records or as heirs to Nathaniel (actually, only one according to estate records, Nathaniel Jr.).  Nathaniel’s brother Job seems to have been spared the loss of his two sons, William and James who later moved to Beaufort County (Bath & Pantego areas) and founded the greater part of the Pinkham family that still lives in North Carolina today.  Job, himself may not have been so lucky, apparently gone by 1810, another possible victim of nature’s “indigestion.”

All in all, the venture on Shell Castle Island sank beneath the waves eventually, lasting about fifteen years.  The storm may have had a strong affect on people and business at Shell Castle, and most likely the formerly deep channel it was built upon shoaled up and became useless to Wallace and Blount.  The only visual memory that remains is this image on a ceramic pitcher showing the facilities on the island

Nathaniel Pinkham served as a Justice of the Peace and as representative for Carteret County in the General Assembly at various times from 1798 to 1819.  He passed away July 1821 leaving a small family to follow him, three daughters and one son.  His brother, Job, despite his own early demise, left a large number of descendants in Beaufort County.

Like the churning maelstrom that is the Outer Banks, the exciting tale that is the Pinkhams in North Carolina comes full circle and settles down.  Nathaniel Pinkham Jr. married Rebecca Styron, daughter of Littleton Styron and followed a large Carteret contingent to the newly-opened former Indian territory of Alabama following the 1830 Indian Removal Act under Andrew Jackson.  The Pinkhams of North Carolina, though remain with us still.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Futile Resistance to the Wave

Known by the United States as "Chief Joseph" of the Wal-lam-wat-kain (Wallowa) band of Nez Perce became known for his principled resistance to the removal of his people by United States soldiers under General Oliver O. Howard to a reservation in Idaho.

Hinmuutu-yalatlat became the chief of his band when his father died.  The elder man knew of the white man's thirst for land and warned his son that he was not give in:

The younger man said, "I clasped my father's hand and promised to do as he asked. A man who would not defend his father's grave is worse than a wild animal."

A Stubborn Hinmuutu Removed as Chief

In 1863, a treaty between the United States and the Nez Perce reduced the size of the tribe's reservation in Idaho by nearly ninety percent, from 6,932,270 acres to 748,996 acres.  The "lower" or "non-treaty" Nez Perce viewed this "thief" treaty made by Chief Lawyer and the Indian Commissioners as a sell-out, exactly what the past chief, Hinmuutu's father had warned him about.

In "THE INVALIDITY OF THE NEZ PERCE TREATY OF 1863 AND THE TAKING OF THE WALLOWA VALLEY," by John K. Flanagan, printed in American Indian Law Review, Vol. 24, No. 1 (1999/2000), pp. 75-98, Flanagan states:
Lawyer had been made the "principal chief of the Nez Perce tribe in 1855. It is unclear whether the Nez Perce had actually elected Lawyer or whether he was chosen and then appointed by U.S. government officials.  Nevertheless, Washington Territory Governor Issac I. Stevens and other Americans had "recognized" him as the principal representative of the tribe for the 1855 Walla Walla Council, which had created the very first Nez Perce reservation.
Reflecting on the recent past...

Cherokee Removal Before the Nez Perce

This portrait of Major Ridge was painted by Charles Bird King in 1834.

 This tactic of divide and conquer was typical in Native-American/United States relations.  The Cherokee were split into two factions by government pressures in the 1830s, with the "Ridge" party making a "back-room" deal with the United States that gave away the reservation in North Carolina and Tennessee.  The deal was that the United States would give the "Ridge" party land in Oklahoma for signing the treaty and agreeing to move their entire band.  The main problem with this treaty was that the majority of the Cherokee had never agreed to the removal and felt betrayed by Major Ridge.  The United States negotiators clearly understood the wishes of the non-Ridge Cherokee, but were encouraged to "finish the job" by a Congress heavily-influenced by Andrew Jackson's administration.  Some Cherokee avoided trouble and moved to Oklahoma.  Many did not.  These Cherokee defied the U.S. Troops and hid in the wilds to avoid being forced upon the "Trail of Tears."  This was not easy for the Cherokee who spent years acclimating to white society, developed a complex political and economic structure, an alphabet used in their own newspapers... they even owned slaves like their white neighbors.  But, Georgians wanted their land, lobbied Congress and despite their civilized ways, the Cherokee were still not of the privileged white class.  The final decision was inevitable.

The tide of greed had not yet breached the Mississippi River before the 1830s and the Nez Perce prophetically enjoyed the same trading relationship with the United States that the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, and others had enjoyed before the Indian Removal Act of 1830.  Still, as sociologist Stephen Cornell has noted, any reciprocity which may have existed was "weighted eventually against the Indians."

With the doctrine of "Manifest Destiny"firmly in hand, the United States continued to conquer territory on the steadily-expanding western border... until it reached the Pacific Ocean.  The Nez Perce eventually fell victim to this greed with all other Indian nations.

Peaceful Resistance of Hinmuutu

Executive Order of 1873 was signed by President Grant upon the recommendations of two government agents. John B. Monteith, the U.S. Indian Agent at Lapwai, and T. B. Odeneal, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Oregon, had met with Joseph and his younger brother, Ollokot, to discuss the legal aspects of the Treaty of 1863 and to convince Joseph and his band to move onto an already established reservation.

In 1873, Hinmuutu again negotiated with the militariliy-superior United States to keep his promise to his father and remain on their land.  But, President Grant, ignorant of Indian culture, grew quickly tired of the cultural objections in the negotiations.  Flanagan tells the inevitable results:

In 1875, President Grant rescinded his order and restored the land to the public domain. Any possible fraud in making the Treaty of 1863 did not much matter in the end. The nontreaty Nez Perce would inevitably lose. A decision would eventually be made to give Joseph's band an ultimatum to leave the Wallowa country of Oregon for the reservation in Idaho. By 1877, Joseph's band and other nontreaty Nez Perce would be forced to choose between war and the reservation. In the process of choosing the reservation, a war would begin and Joseph's band would lose the Wallowa country forever.

The United States once again reneged on an Indian treaty and sent General Howard to remove them.  History repeats itself.   Hinmuutu did what was best for his people and peaceably moved.

In 1941, Hinmuutu's band of the Nez Perce brought suit against the United States in the U.S. Court of Claims, seeking rights to regain their homeland.  The federal courts upheld the former "bad treaty" and denied the claim.  However, Flanagan suggests:

... the Court of Claims should have found the 1863 Nez Perce Treaty invalid in so far as it pertained to Joseph's band, and therefore should have recognized that the band had rights in the Wallowa or at least should have awarded the band appropriate compensation. 

In the suit brought by Joseph's band in 1941, the U.S. Court of Claims found that the Treaty of 1863 was valid and held the dissenting minority of Nez Perce bound by the action of the majority of the tribe. The dissenting minority included Joseph's band. The Court basically concluded that Principal Chief Lawyer and others represented the Nez Perce tribe "as an entity," thus making the 1863 treaty binding on the entire tribe. The Court failed to recognize Joseph's band as having rights in the Wallowa country separate from the tribe as a whole. The decision effectively denied Joseph's band any compensation for their land that was taken by the U.S. government and placed
in the public domain.

Bureaucratic double-speak for we win - you lose.  Thousands of words to say absolutely nothing.  The court's decision had already been made decades ago.  The Nez Perce today still fight for whatever piddling rights they still have, salmon fishing, logging, the right to environmental damage by Bonneville Power Administration, the list goes on... the United States attained the status of "superpower."  It's easy to win the game when you're holding all the cards.

The preceding article is provided as thoughtful reflection on the past imperialistic actions of the United States.  These acts are easy to ignore. Most of our ancestors were completely ignorant of these events.  But, would they have objected?  Still... they're history now.  But as George Orwell once said:

"Whoever controls the past, controls the future... but, whoever controls the present, controls the past"

The image of Hinmuttu in a 1901 advertisement.

History repeats itself.  Clearly, the past is instructive for our future, but what happens today is extremely important as to how that past is perceived, indeed as to how that past is transmitted to the future.  Perhaps students of tomorrow will hopefully view our actions in the Middle East today as a continuation of similar actions in the past, of the Phillipines, of Spanish territories in the West Indies and Central America and prevent these actions in the future.

Hopefully, we can learn to be more responsible, to make good decisions like Hinmuutu-yalatlat.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My First Grade Teacher's Act of Kindness

I'm probably not the world's biggest fan of the economic system that we call "capitalism." This poster here expresses my feelings pretty well.  Now, don't run off... I'm not going to just pout and whimper and b__ch about this without offering advice.  So, stick around and hear me out.  I would do it for you.  

Now, for an American to say absolutely anything negative about capitalism, you almost put your life at risk. Why should we fear reprisal in the land of the free? What makes arguments against capitalism so taboo? Why doesn't free speech cover this?  After all, it's just critical analysis in a democratic system... a balance, or check.

If you think about it... you've done things before that you're not proud of. I know you have, too so don't give me that "innocent ol' me" look. :) I used to smoke in a barn behind my Grandma's house when I was twelve. That's kinda young to start smoking, I know. I kept smoking on and off until my father's illness in 1983, when I realized what this crap really was. I smoked... I knew that I wasn't supposed to, but I did it anyway. I even defended it. I said that it made me look cool. I said that it really wasn't that bad for you, despite all the warnings. I fell into the psychological trap that tobacco manufacturers are hoping that you will... the illusion that smoking is a cultural thing, therefore a good thing. James Dean didn't help there, either.

The point is that there are lots of smokers and they will vehemently deny that smoking is bad for you, even though they know that the opposite is true. But, have you noticed how emotionally they defend it? Because they know it's bad, they know that you know it's bad... so they have to fight not only your good sense but they're own.

So, now think about capitalism. We depend on it like a smoker depends on cigarettes. We're addicted.  Our entire culture is based upon it. That means that our culture is based upon "Caveat Temptor, the buyer beware"... as opposed to "love thy neighbor," or "he who dies with the most toys" instead of "lend a helping hand." The system that I sometimes call "Barberica" (Barbados + America) is based upon capitalization of resources... meaning to take full advantage of every opportunity to achieve our financial ends like our abusive Bardadian ancestors and slave labor to achieve their ends. The only thing that held us in check (remember the idea of checks and balances in the Constitutiion?) was our religion.  

"Our religion"... why not the many religions that can be rightfully found in this country? By "our religion," I'm referring of course to Christianity. It's on our money (glad I'm not a hyphenated American). A wikipedia file states:

The motto IN GOD WE TRUST was placed on United States coins largely because of the increased religious sentiment existing during the Civil War. The motto first appeared on the 1864 two-cent coin, followed in 1866 by the 5 cent nickel (1866-1883), quarter dollar, half dollar, silver dollar and gold dollars. It did not become the official U.S. national motto until after the passage of an Act of Congress in 1956. It is codified as federal law in the United States Code at 36 U.S.C. § 302, which provides: "'In God we trust' is the national motto."

Our "official" motto did not become that until 1956!  I was born only 5 years later.  Something definitely changed since 1776 and despite the establishment clause in the Constitution.  Ok, fine. I don't intend to debate church and state.  So, we're religious.  But, "our religion" doesn't stop us from taking advantage of our neighbors, does it? But, it should!!!?? It's a Janus-faced twofer. On the one hand, we say "buyer beware" while on the other hand we say, "charity is a virtue."  

And religion as a control has become a great deal more impotent in recent years.  In many cases, modern religion actually supports behavior expressly forbidden in biblical texts.  A runaway behavioral effect took place and morality died in blitzkrieg of commercial conservatism.  Barbadians had Anglicanism, too.  Didn't stop them either.  It became cost-productive to work slaves literally to death.  After all, the bottom line, you know...

"Buyer beware" and "charity is a virtue."  I don't know if you've noticed, but those are completely polar ideas, inherently opposed to each other. They both can't be true. So, which is it? Do we do money, or good? Well, it seems that we do a lot more money than good. I know you have to agree with this. We all say it. To fight for that almighty dollar even if your "Almighty" tells you its a terrible thing. "The love of money is the root of all evil," right? Unless you want some more cigarettes. Then, you're whole perception of evil takes an about-face. 

Perhaps this is exactly what Charles Darwin referred to as "survival of the fittest." Capitalism does, indeed follow that precept. Still, is this what you would call civilized behavior or animal behavior? Which one of those do you most equate to? What is it, after all that separates us from animals? Most reply "intellect" to that question... the ability to think rationally. Rational thinking to achieve "survival of the fittest?" Isn't that convoluted logic, tautological reasoning that brings you right back where you started? In that world... we're still animals, fighting to die "with the most toys."

It only takes common sense to realize that this simply isn't right. And I believe that we all know it... ala the vehement and strong reactions to anything that questions capitalism. That kind of thinking is automatically called "socialist," and "communist," or any number of reactionary things that can't be said here. Marxist is another "negative" American-biased term. Still, these ideas are the ones that most closely corresponds to the morality that you will find in that book we call the "Bible." Has anybody ever read Marx's stuff?  You can't do it in public... you're not really free to do that.

I don't expect that I will change minds, here. Most of you will angrily oppose this line of reasoning... in my opinion, for exactly the reasons that I gave you. Inside, you will probably see the simple logic, however. For me, I can hear my mother saying, "share with your brother." 

My first grade teacher said the same thing one time when I forgot my lunch. I became the recipient of that teacher's sense of morality. I seriously doubt that she was a believer in capitalism. She probably never even thought about economics in that vein. But, her actions were more social, Marxist, or biblical and I was thankful for them. Will I see her morality as weak and take the food and never return it in kind? Not when I was NOT taught to be that way from the beginning... no. But, that's just me. I give everyday of what I can. I temper it with judgment... something we all have.   But, certainly not something that we all practice.

Now that I'm an adult, I shouldn't simply forget the moral lessons of childhood in order to conform to the modern ways of taking advantage... of "Caveat Temptor." Do I dump my morality at the first sign of green paper?

The problem we face is that everyone else will take what they can if we drop our guard. We cannot afford to simply follow our moral sense because someone else will capitalize upon our moment of "weakness." A system that views morality as a "weakness" is sick and ailing. After all, we seek to be civilized, to be more than the sum of our parts.

Why are we now in our present economic crisis? Because of people who practiced capitalism without a conscience. Conscience is a flimsy partition between morality and money. We can never assume that that behavior can be excised from our system completely, either. A greedy few can ruin it for all. It's like another first-grader running over and grabbing that halved peanut butter and jelly sandwich given to me by another generous kid as he scoops up everybody else's lunches, too.  My teacher would rightfully scold that little brat.  But, he's only acting in accord with the only economic system that he's allowed.  A drastic change needs to occur to change that kind of one-sided system. Education (something that's de-emphasized because of the risk of self-awareness) and our own talents of critical thinking can change this. 

Are you prepared to make life better for your kids?  Think about this: an internet-based system where we all have a true and direct say in American policy.  Is that democratic enough for you? 

I want to be civilized and I'm acutely aware that I'll never be perfect. But, I can be better than I am right now. How can I... how can WE change this? My ideas are what I like to call Moral Economics... an economic system based on producing the greatest amount of benefit for everyone... where we all work for each other and have an equal voice in government.  Thomas Jefferson proposed this idea of democratization back in the 18th century and we had it for awhile in the Articles of Confederation... but it wasn't feasible because counting votes from everyone across the country depended on a horseback courier that took weeks to get back with the answer.  It seemed kind of crazy in the eighteenth, nineteenth century or even the twentieth century and Jefferson's ideas suffered a lot since then... but, in the 21st century, we have instantaneous communication ability and can easily vote on any and every change that's proposed through the internet, within certain reasonable limitations, of course.  Thomas Jefferson would probably jump and cheer at this idea.  I rather believe that if the country could all vote on military action, we would not be in Afghanistan nor Iraq right now... the Lakota Sioux who died at Wounded Knee in 1890 might have lived.  Those were not our decisions. 

The first step, in my humble opinion, is to regulate the abusive system that puts 70% of the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches into 1% of American hands. That kind of system wouldn't last anyway... sooner or later, the American "mob" as Jefferson put it, will revolt (happened before). That much money should never be allowed in a single pair of hands. The Donald Trump's and Bill Gates, multi-mega-millionaires that are glorified on TV and have become the heroes of future capitalists must not be viewed in this way. Let's be responsible with what we show on TV... so vote on it. Mass-media really is the culprit. Lyndon Johnson wasn't ready for mass media in Vietnam, but every president since then has certainly relied upon it greatly.  They got used to closing their mouths and becoming better snake-oil salesmen.  Still, TV gives us more than we can reasonably handle. De-commercialize the average human life. Don't allow advertisers to fight over us like they do.  Vote on what products you want and end the battle there.  Vote on how much competition you would allow.  Competition is cool, but with mass media like TV, it takes on the guise of an epidemic.  

Foremost, make education the most admired tool in our repertoire by promoting critical thinking and morality side by side. Further scientific pursuit and discovery to provide us with the necessary ease in life.  And, be willing to share that ease.  Let's be more civilized than we have been.  Believe it or not, technology can bring it to us.  And, let's be ready to prosecute the corporate abuse, levy heavy fines and sentences on the abuse... literally, treason upon their fellow Americans. 

These are only preliminary arguments.  There are a lot of things that can be done... we just have to put the effort into making that discovery. It won't be so hard to find if we really look.  

Utopia? Heck, no. There's no such thing. But, the ideal is a terrific guide... strive for Utopia while understanding it's only a rhetorical tool to get the job done.

Don't blame Republicans, Democrats, or Libertarians, on even that one public personality... a visible target that we love to abuse and harangue in public (this is usually the poor president).  We're just reacting because we're scared and don't know what to do.  Again, education can provide the tools to help us find out what to do.  Corporations win because they depend on American ignorance.  Put all the effort into education that's possible and keep corporations from getting all our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mapping Hatteras... the White Apology

Much debate has surrounded John White's 16th century maps of the North Carolina coast and the questionable accuracy of Theodore DeBry's engraving of White's watercolor.  Any comparison between White's depictions of the natives of the Carolina coast and DeBry's engravings of those depictions and you can easily question the veracity of the map.  The faces of most of the natives look much more European in DeBry's engravings and several bits of minor details were left out.

That engraved DeBry/White map is important to us as to the accuracy of the locations of the Indian villages indicated on Hatteras Island, or "Croatoan."  The "extra cape" on White's original and on the engraving caused me more than a little concern.  Fear not, however, for White/DeBry's "questionable" detail of the "extra cape," indicated in all these versions for it actually exists... or did exist.  There's proof.  That "extra cape" turns out to be a "false cape" that is still preserved under the surface as the coastal hazard that we now know as "Wimble shoals."

Ever since our project's helpful contribution from Andy Powell, an email about that “false cape” in the area of Rodanthe on the Outer Banks, it has been bugging me about the current water levels as compared with the water levels suspected in 1585 when John White made his map. It had to be much lower in 1585. By how much was the next question. What did the Outer Banks look like at the time that John White watercolored them? Why in the world did he paint such a prominent cape that is not visible today?

Here are the two versions of White’s map, compared in DeBry’s chosen orientation of West on top:

On both maps, “Croatoan” is colored completely red, indicating that the English had spent considerable time there. Note though that on one map the mainland next to Roanoke Island is all red, while the other map has specific towns colored in. There are two dots where “Dasmemonquepeuc” is supposed to be. The supposition is that these two maps might have been done at different stages of the colonization period 1585-1588. For instance, the area of the first “false cape” area (as per Andy Powell) has no red on one map, but some indications of exploration on the other.

The point that I want to make here is that John White, without the benefit of a surveyor’s eye, drew a damned fine map! The extra cape (what I indignantly and once loudly called it) was not a figment of White’s imagination. It’s real. Andy Powell told us where to find it. So, I looked. In 2000, geologists did a survey of the Outer Banks in order to determine sand resources. They mapped the area presently under the sea (see below). On this map, the yellow areas indicate the present Outer Banks but with the water level artificially dropped to five meters, we wind up with a shoreline where the orange/red area is. Go a little further, to about seven meters (specifically for the “false cape” area at the present site of Rodanthe, and you have a shoreline in the area that I have colored purple for illustration purposes. If you go all the way down to 10 meters, you even get the little “claw hook” that White painted and DeBry engraved in the sixteenth century (shown in faint pink below the purple).

Background: Theodore DeBry map engaving of 1590; Inset: Stephen K. Boss and Charles W. Hoffman. “Final Report: Sand Resources of the North Carolina Outer Banks,” Prepared for the Outer Banks Task Force and the North Carolina Department of Transportation, April 2000.

Now, we have to temper this with the fact that this is the famed Outer Banks, site of sand-churning, killer shoals. The sands did not remain consistent over 300 years. Still, the hardened, or partially “cemented” areas of sandstone deep under the banks, are more resistant and are still there for all intents and purposes. So, the basic shape still remains of that “false cape” and we now call that area “Wimble Shoals.” By the way, the inlets that I have placed in there by erasing the landforms I did NOT do so because that’s where White put them but rather because that’s where the geologists indicated in 2000 were areas of possible inlets, or “instability.” Again, confirmation of White’s observations.

What does this have to do with our mapping of Hatteras? I’m glad you asked. John White was fairly accurate. He’s also our eye-witness and his testimony has to be the primary evidence that we use to determine the evolution of Hatteras Island, the past “Croatoan.” This analysis only vindicates John White’s observations and his recording of those observations on his maps. As to Theodore DeBry’s version (as you can see on the map comparison figure), his interpretation of White’s painting was accurate in many details. The locations of the Indian villages are easily identifiable as Buxton, Frisco and Hatteras village at Durant’s point (comparing the exaggerated “bumps” on DeBry’s map). These locations we generally agree are high ground areas where Indians would likely settle (assuming that they didn’t like having their towns flooded on occasion). Indians had centuries of experience with the Outer Banks and would have known about the feasibility of these areas, a subtlety not immediately recognizable to White or DeBry or any other European. So, why did DeBry put the towns where he did? Because that’s where White told him they were! It has to be. These town sites can be roughly defined as “Hatteras village,” “Frisco” and “Buxton” today.

Archaeology has confirmed the site of Buxton and deed records are confirming the temporally extensive (until 1788) Indian occupation at Frisco. We have yet to examine deed records for the Buxton area to determine who exactly owned the area of that town, but we’ll get there. Progress, folks! Definite progress through archaeology and team work.

Let’s all give ourselves, but especially, John White a hand… and, from me, an apology. I was really harsh on the guy. I was saying things like, “was this dude on drugs, or what?” Right now, he’d be giving me “the eye.” What can I say? Academics are typically hot-headed and spoiled, right? That’s my excuse.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Murder on Hatteras!

Beautiful, isn't it?  The North Carolina Outer Banks so calm and serene...  children playing in the surf and sand pipers running along the shores.  But, underneath this deceptive display of serenity are the gargantuan forces of mother nature, two powerful currents, the warm Gulf Stream from the south and the cool Labrador from the north... they meet in a whirlwind of tremendous power like an underwater hurricane, thrusting the loose bottom sands into piles called shoals that changed from day to day and threatened shipping close to shore.

Diamond shoals would become famous for its unpredictability and the number of shipwrecks that it contributed to the "Graveyard of the Atlantic," coined by a young Alexander Hamilton, who remembered how it almost took his life one day.  Diamond shoals was the meeting point of the currents and it also forms the tip of the island that we call Hatteras, home to the ironically peaceful Croatoan Indians that once sheltered the first English visitors to these shores.

The early days of North Carolina were filled with rough and tumble types, many of them coming to Carolina because they couldn't make it elsewhere in America.  Cape Hatteras, also was the last place in the rowdy southern colony that anyone in their right mind would settle.  So, for a murder to occur there was by no means a surprise.

Newspapers carried notices like this 1719 Boston newspaper ad... Cape Hatteras as a dangerous endpoint of a dangerous range on the eastern seaboard:

Almost every reference I have ever found was to Cape Hatteras as a place you should NOT go.  What's more is that Blackbeard (the most famous pirate of the Carolina shores) was killed just southwest of Hatteras in 1718.  He hung out in North Carolina for the weather... right!  No, it was because anyone else would be foolish to try to brave the dangerous shoals and come after him there.  Ask Kevin Duffus who just wrote a great new book on the man.

One thing that Duffus was convinced of... and that was that Capt. Edward Teach, Thatch... maybe "Beard"... was not that unusual... not compared with other North Carolina residents of the time, especially residents of the Outer Banks.  Many of his former crew members may have come back to Bath after being released by Gov. Alexander Spotswood, subsequently let off the hook by North Carolina's governor, Charles Eden (Blackbeard's buddy), and even became influential Carolina citizens (the very wealthy "cooper," Edward Salter, for one).  James Robbins came back to bath, but still liked carousing and drinking and loving the ladies too much... he even got in the court records for loving more than one lady at the same time! 

I think you get the impression that pirating was a fairly common profession for our ancestors.  Undoubtedly so on Hatteras.

Of the early colonial grants on Hatteras Island, we find three men specifically that obtained grants in the same area of the island.  Henry Davis obtained 320 Acres "joining on ye Indian town" (probably the one that John Lawson visited in 1701... of the three towns, that is) on Sept 19th, 1716.  Three weeks later, Patrick Callihan & John ONeal were granted land adjoining each other on Tom King's Creek in present Frisco.  These grants were not surveyed very well (probably from the sound in a boat) and the direction of the creek was misjudged.  Consequently, Callihan & ONeal's grants were quite a bit different than they originally assumed, with the creek suddenly turning east a few hundred feet from its mouth on the sound's edge. ONeal very likely lost a lot of land.  Callihan, on the other hand stood to gain much more than his original 200 Acres.

But, there was a problem... that Davis grant three weeks earlier had been made on both Callihan and ONeal's later patents.  That's right, there was a portion of that land owned by two men at once.  Callihan and Davis shared the greater portion.

Now, most men gathered as much land as they could in the colony and may not have even visited their grants right away with so much more to look after.  So, there was no reason to worry... for awhile.

It seems that John ONeal was doing well for himself, paying his quitrents mostly on time (he slipped one year but made up for it the next).  But, Patrick Callihan and Henry Davis were not so lucky.  Tax lists for 1718 & 1719 show both men in arrears.  A "Denis Callahan"of Currituck County (where Hatteras was at this time) lost land in 1719, perhaps a relative of Patrick Callihan.  So, the Callihan family was perhaps not financially secure.  Henry Davis was still in arrears by 1000 Acres, but not yet in dire straits.

Then, something happened.  The North Carolina Colonial Records ( ) had this to say in 1722:

Minutes of the General Court of North Carolina
North Carolina. General CourtMarch 27, 1722 - April 07, 1722 Volume 02, Pages 463-473
A bill of Indictment agst Patrick Callihan for the murder of Henry Davis.
A Bill of Indictment agst Chas Williamson and Willm Maccoy for the Murder of Salmon Burges
A Bill of Indictment agst Wm Maccoy for ye murder of John Palmer.
A Bill of Indictment agst Patrick Callihan for an Escape

There was more than one murder on the daily docket for this wild colony (William Maccoy charged with two!  And, him being my own ancestor is not just a little uncomfortable...)... still, notice the names in bold print.  Callihan and Davis obviously had their own argument about something... I'll give you three guesses.

Continuing in court, 1722:

The Jurors for our Sovereign Lord the King Presents that Patrick Callihan late of Curratuck Precinct in ye County of Albemarle Planter not having the fear of God before his Eyes but being moved and Seduced by the Instigation of the Devill on the one and twentieth day of August in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and twenty one at Curratuck aforesd in & upon one Henry Davis in the Peace of God and our Lord the King then and there being by force & Armes an assault did make and the sd Henry Davis did beat cutt & bruise by giving and striking him two Mortall blows and cutts on the head with a certain weapon called a Cymeter or Cuttlash (a sword) of the value of one shilling and so voluntarily feloniously & of malice forethought the sd Henry Davis at Curratuck aforesaid beat cutt and wounded particularly on or about his head in such violent that of the said Mortall blows Cutts & wounds he pined & languished untill the five and Twentieth day of the same Month and on the five and twentieth day of the same Month of August at Curratuck of the aforesaid beating cutting and wounding did die and so the said Jurors on their Oaths do say that the aforesaid Patrick Callihan on the aforesd five & twentieth day of August at Curratuck aforesd in manner & form as aforesd & of malice forethought did feloniously & willfully kill & murder contrary to the Peace of our Sovereign Lord the King that now is his Royall Crown & dignity &c.
Upon which Indictment the said Patrick Callihan was arraigned and upon his arraignment pleaded Not Guilty and for tryall thereof putt himself putt himself upon God and the Country.

 a little further down, on page 465, we find: 

Wee of the Jury find Patrick Callihan is guilty of Manslaughter. [Is anybody else questioning the judge's sanity, here... TWO mortal wounds (didn't mention how many others) ON THE HEAD and he only gets ... MANSLAUGHTER!!!]
then the sd Callihan being asked if he had any thing to say why sentence should not pass agst him as the Law in that case had provided and he offering nothing in avoydance thereof
Whereupon it is considerd and adjudgd that the sd Callihan be burnt in the hand with the letter (M) [oh... painful!] that he forfeit all his goods & Chattells for ever and the profits of his Lands for a year and a day [that hurts worse] also that he become bound by Recognizance in the sum of two hundred pounds wth two sureties in an hundred pounds each for his good behaviour for a year and a day and that he remain in the Marshalls custody till he has given such security and paid the accruing Costs. Memorandm yt that part of the Sentence of burning in the hand was Executed upon ye sd Callihan in open Court, And then it was further Ordered That the Provost Marshall doe seize and take into his Custody all the personall estate of the said Callihan wherever to be found in this Governmt and that he out of the said estate doe pay all the accruing costs occasiond by his prosecution and apprehension as farr as his goods will amount. And that he pay the remainder (if any) to the Receiver Genl to the use of the Lords Proprietors as Grantees from the Crowne.  [There’s how he lost his Hatteras patent on Tom King’s Creek…]

This was not the end of the story... remember that Patrick Callihan was also accused of an escape....

North Carolina—ss.
To the Honble Christopher Gale Esqr Cheif Justice of this Province & to ye rest of the Justices for holdn ye Genl Court there
The jurors for our Sovereign Lord the King upon their oaths present that Patrick Callihan late of Curratuck prcinct in the County of Albemarle Planter was arrested for the murder of Henry Davis late of the same precinct and afterwards vizl the sixth day of August Anno Dom. one thousand seven hundred & twenty one at pasquotank precinct in the same County by John ffurry Esqr Justice of our said Lord the King for keeping the Peace in the precinct of Pasquotank & County aforesaid was com̄itted into the Custody of Majr Thos Harvey then Provost Marshl for the said County of Albemarle & having in his Custody the aforesaid Patrick Callihan for the Murder aforesd within a very short time after his said Com̄ittment by force & Armes out of the Custody of the said Majr Thomas Harvey & agst the will & knowledge of the sd Thomas Harvey feloniously did gett & goe & from him did escape and fly out of the view & sight of the said Thomas Harvey agst the Peace of our Sovereign Lord the King that now is his Royall Crown & Dignity &c.
Upon which Indictment the said Patrick Callihan was Arraigned & upon his Arraignment pleaded not Guilty but being a second time called to the Barr in order to his Tryall he prayed leave to withdraw his plea which being Granted him he then Pleaded Guilty as to the escape & humbly moved the Court that he might be heard by his Councill as to the ffelony And the same being argued by his Councill & likwise by the Attorney Genl on behalf of the King. The Court here is of Opinion that he is Guilty of Misdemeanour only.
Whereupon it was Considerd, and Sentence was Pronounced that he should be publickly whip't and receive nineteen lashes on his bare back well laid on  [ouch! ... still, his land profits!  Damn!]

Callihan was branded on the thumb, then whipped for attempted escape.  Up till the escape, he was only charged with manslaughter (not exactly justice, I'll warrant).  But, keep reading in the colonial records... 

John Man [probably of Mann's Harbor township & Roanoke Island] being bound by Bond to appear at this Court on Suspition of having harbourd & Concealed one Patrick Callihan who had made his Escape from the Provost Marshall to whose Custody he was Com̄itted for ye Murder of one Henry Davis made his appearance but noe person
-------------------- page 470 --------------------
appearing to prosecute or give Evidence to make good the Charge against him he is dismist without day paying Costs. 

Well, at least Mann got off for harboring a fugitive (wonder if the township was named for that reputation).  That was probably a common charge, too.  North Carolina has undoubtedly matured since those days.  Still, I think we've still got a bit of the rogue in our personalities... I know I do.  :)  Maybe that's why I play a pirate almost every Halloween.... sometimes at Christmas.   Well, don't play around with the swords... you might mortally wound somebody... twice!  I'll be off to tend me wounds from the last fight, ya lubbers!  Keep the wind at yer backs!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

By Any Other Name...

Hello, fellow genealogists. As an historian who has spent some time studying Native American culture and is currently involved in a research project on natives of Eastern North Carolina, I feel that I must caution everyone on the Indian use of surnames.

Indians of the colonial period were doing their best to cope with many European ways such as the use of alcohol, land ownership, legal rights, firearms, and just a general view of the world that was very alien to anything that Indians were used to. It is easy to assume that Indians behaved like Europeans, but I think you will find that it took a long time before that happened.

An evolving impression of Native American culture must begin with something very much like this excerpt from an introductory textbook on Anthropology:

"All societies regulate the allocation of land and other valuable resources. In nonindustrial societies, individual ownership of land is rare; generally land is controlled by kinship groups, such as the lineage or band. The band provides flexibility of land use, since the size of a band and its territories can be adjusted according to availability of resources in any particular place (Haviland, Prins, Walrath, and McBride, Essence of Anthropology, 2007, 221)."

Renowned Native American scholars, Theda Purdue and Christopher Arris Oakley have recently revised Purdue’s 1985 edition of Native Carolinians. In the 2010 edition, they propose similar anthropological ideas in the context of Native Americans:

"Europeans who came to North Carolina were part of a culture characterized by Christianity, constitutional monarchy, a commercial economy, patriarchal (or male-dominated) households, and considerable freedom for and emphasis upon the individual… Indians had little notion of monotheism, or belief in one god. Led rather than ruled, they governed themselves through open councils that arrived at decisions by consensus. Their religious and ethical systems condemned acquisitiveness and reinforced a subsistence-level economy in which people produced only enough for survival. Women had considerable power and influence within the family and, among some native peoples, within the tribe as a whole. Finally, while Carolina Indians had considerable personal freedom, the well-being of the community normally took precedence over the desires of the individual (Purdue and Oakley, Native Carolinians, 2010, 16)."

You can see that Indians simply thought differently than the European. Their families were matrilineal, meaning that the "surnames" or family identification would come from the line of your mother, and her mother, and so forth. Whereas, in European culture, it is patrilineal. I am a Brooks because my father was a Brooks. However, Red Eagle was of the Wind clan because his mother was Wind clan. He might have termed himself Red Eagle Wind, but that is a European pattern of name-taking in itself and is not consistent with Indian practice.

Indians took European surnames simply as a natural tendency of Indians to take names identified with powerful figures. In colonial times, to speak of an Indian "surname" as we might use one was simply ludicrous.

History shows us that King Sothel of the Bay/Bear River Indians only took that name because he respected Seth Sothel's authority as governor or "chief" of the Europeans in North Carolina. He probably did not pass this name to his children, but rather they took the family names of their mothers when they reached maturity. That was even different... Indians did not have a given name at birth but assumed one after their rite of passage at puberty.  Imagine that Phil wasn't called "Phil" until after his thirteenth birthday!

Other prominent Indian figures from history did likewise: King Tom Blunt of the Tuscarora took his name most likely from Captain Thomas Blount, a member of the Chowan vestry and assemblyman who had direct dealings with Indians during the killings of certain white men by Bay River Indians at the time of Henderson Walker's term as interim-governor at the turn of the 17th century.

Another such example would be William Elks of Hatteras who most likely took his name from Emanuel Elks or that family who lived in northern Currituck County, NC around that same time period, 1700-1730 or so. Understand that Emanuel Elks was a white man, William Elks was not. These Elks did break with Indian custom somewhat. The wife and daughter of William Elks, Mary & Elizabeth, used the name Elks as well... but the son-in-law, Thomas Elks took his wife's family name, Elks. Capt. Job Carr wrote to Gov. Arthur Dobbs about an Indian Elks claim to land on Cape Hatteras:

"I have made diligent inquiry as to the complaint of Thomas Elks Indian and I find the greatest part to be erroneous…the complaint of sundry persons that came and indeavor to disposess him and the rest of the indians which is a small number for there is but (faded) man beside himself and one small boy ... Thomas Elks [is not] intiteled to the royelty for he is but a son in law to the late King Elks desesed and part of the Maromosceat line of Indians for the true line of the Hatteras Indians are mostly dead. Job Carr"

Thomas Elks and two other Hatteras Indian males were left and had moved onward to the Lake Mattamuskeet area. That they might have used the Elks name once there is problematic because it simply was not their custom. European officials are the only ones who recorded any documents about the Indians and they were biased toward the patrilineal custom, referring to the male Indians only, not the females, and assuming that a male must sign a deed to make it legal when the Indians felt that only women had that authority.

It is possible that some females of the line left Hatteras as well (how would we know?), but the males would not transmit the name most likely. Elks all over the eastern North Carolina area are very likely NOT native... the Pitt County Elks have DNA-tested as European. Most of the rest will as well, I'm sure. I'm not saying that it's impossible, just very unlikely. The truth of the matter is that most of us are mutts of many varieties, with European, Native American, and African blood in the mix. Haplogroups will only show the male descent, however. So, if your father was European and your mother was the Indian, you will have a European haplogroup in your DNA test.

Rest assured, however... we all have a little of everything. But, saying that we descend from any particular Indian is nearly impossible to say definitively.

Yes, I targeted the Elks because of the great fervor in eastern North Carolina today over the "Elks line of Indians." I hope Elks families discover some Indian roots, I do. However, there won't be many of you from that line. More likely, you will find some of the clan that King Blunt and King Sothel came from... maybe King Hancock or "John Hoyter King of the Chowan Indyans."

After all, what's in a name?  If you asked a colonial Indian, his response would probably surprise you.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Great-Great-Grandpa is my Teacher

Ohiyesa, known as "Charles Eastman" said "More than this, even in those white men who professed religion we found much inconsistency of conduct. They spoke much of spiritual things, while seeking only the material."

Are we sorry about what happened to Native Americans in this country?  It’s a rhetorical question, with an answer that’s simply expected.  A more enlightening question, perhaps is… Were our ancestors sorry in 1835 about Cherokee Removal or the later Wounded Knee Massacre?  Whose ancestors did this, exactly?  There were those, of course who thought that it was a horrible thing to do.  But, if they had opinion polls in the 19th century, what would they have said about those things? 

According to history textbooks, they were resoundingly FOR removal and “getting rid of” the Indian.  Officially, 19th century America felt that Indians were in the way.  But, did all of America feel this way?  According to the history books, they did.

An opinion poll is democratic, right?  Well… maybe not.  Today, I think that it's rather a tool of those in control to supply the illusion of public support to something that they are sure may generate opposition.  When the public learns that the “opinion polls” stated that the country was behind any act committed by the government, then they will accept it and stay quiet. But, opinion polls reflect only the opinions of those polled, not necessarily the whole population.  

Here’s another question… if opinion polls were around in the 19th century, what would they say about Wounded Knee before and after December 29, 1890?  I ask about both periods because public opinion would have certainly changed after the massacre.  Before that date, the public would probably have been less FOR the attack on the Lakota Sioux than we think… but, AFTER the massacre (indeed, it was a massacre), the public would most certainly have been against it.  They're good people, our ancestors.  But, they simply had no public venue to voice their opinion beyond newspapers.  Newspapers did carry opposing viewpoints AFTER the massacre, but people were lying dead and frozen on the ground at that point.  Still, the objective was accomplished and public opinion could not get in the way.  “Progress” would continue.  Government found it easy to push their ideology through the official channels. By Government, I'm referring to Congress, of course, the politicians, the guys and gals who follow public opinion (whose public opinion mattered then, again?).  But, then there were no opinion polls, so how did they know.  Railroad companies, Mining Companies, businesses that employed everyone else had lobbyists that threatened to pull their support unless that village got eliminated from the land that they wanted... certainly, that qualified as an opinion poll to Congress.  My Great-Great-Grandpa was probably plowing his field and had no earthly idea. Every Sunday, though, his preacher told him about what happened last month.  Not exactly the Associated Press wire service.  Still, he got to display his democratic prowess and vote every four years, right?  How informed do you think he could have been?

In the 19th century, leaders didn’t need opinion polls because speedy news would have to wait for television and CNN.  Whatever happened, happened, and THEN the country (meaning, people like you and me) found out about it. 

When did opinion polls begin?  Well, in the 19th century, the first such poll was conducted by The Harrisburg Pennsylvanian in 1824 to show that Andrew Jackson was leading John Quincy Adams.  It was a simple poll with one point and a small voter base.  Woodrow Wilson was the subject of another small poll in 1916 and in 1936, the Literary Digest ran a poll, this time with 2.3 million voters, however they were generally more affluent Americans who tended to have conservative or Republican sympathies (rich people, probably with financial interests in oil).  Great-Grandpa was probably a democrat.

What about today?  Well, today the opinion polls are necessary largely due to that annoying thing called television.  If Wilson's day had television, then everyone would have known immediately about our invasion of the newly soviet Russia who de-privatized ownership of oil fields, much to Standard Oil Company's distastes.  What?  Surprised?  1918, Russian invasion... didn't you read about this in school?  Neither did I.  Actually, neither did Congress in 1918 (slight unconstitutional booboo there).  They could've used a TV, I tell ya.  Executive power grew in the early 20th century and virtually ripped control from them, reducing the power structure from a pesky 535 to only 1.  Afterwards, the power(s) that be hated the invention of the television... at first.  They still depended on public opinion, but now that opinion was easily generated and easily broadcast.  Watch any good newscasts on Vietnam lately?  Boy, was that embarrassing for Johnson? Congress/President had to adapt to provide the services that conservative businesses still demanded.  Today, I think you'll agree that it works for them much more than it works against them.

Meanwhile, Grandpa (third generation) was still working the plow, probably another good family democrat.  Still happily plowing that same field, most likely.

Here’s another most annoying question (back to the 19th century... I know, I'm bouncing here)… whose opinion would have been polled, anyway?  Who was allowed to vote?  To be sure, this was not exactly a democratic system, was it?  Did African Americans have a say in the administration before the Civil War?  How about after the failure of Reconstruction?  Did Indians vote for their own removal?  No.  That simply wasn’t the pattern, here.  Public opinion didn’t mean a hill of beans, or wouldn’t have, at least not to everyone involved, only those that mattered.  Manifest Destiny assured us of a right to this land.  I was going to say “our” right, but that was simply my programmed instinct… not reality.  We weren’t happy about how Wounded Knee was done and legislated to prevent future massacres.  Of course, by then, the Indian was nearly a memory.  Railroads crisscrossed native lands all over America.  

Ok... that was awful and embarrassing.  But, we still hide from it today by not teaching this part of our history in school, a white lie about how we got here. We don't want our children to know how naughty we were.  But, they HAVE TO KNOW.  Their opinion will make a difference one day.

Certainly, we have grown a bit.  For that, we can be very proud.  We have much to learn, however.  It’s a daily process, this “learning,” making mistakes, and then learning some more.  Yes, we have much to be proud of (remember? three hard-working generations of yeoman farmers plowing that field) … but, we should never hide from our faults, faults that will teach us the greatest lessons and help us grow even more.  Ohiyesa did his best to instruct us on this point.  It is a fervent need to believe that we have reached perfection, that we have achieved civilization, especially now that everyone else knows what we're thinking (thanks again, TV).  Crime and poverty still haunt that dream, however and throw mud on the picture-perfect party.  Ideals are like that, elusive.  That’s ok.  That’s what guidelines are all about. 

What is past is past.  The future is yet to come, as the saying goes.  Look forward, not back.  But, if we don’t at least peak behind us willingly, we will not know what to expect tomorrow.  Education is absolutely vital and I’m not referring to only your kids.  Educate freely (yourself, too), without worrying about how your ancestors are going to look to you or to your kids.  Tell them that great-great-grandpa was a great man that worked hard and plowed his field, yes, but that he made some mistakes.  We all do.  We all have responsibility for America's reputation in the world community.  Learn about those mistakes so you can add to your repertoire of useful tools and be a more capable representative.  I’ll bet all of our Grandpas would be proud of us for that… they would want what is best for our futures and would willingly teach us if they could.  They can.

Ohiyesa also said, "Among us all men were created sons of God and stood erect, as conscious of their divinity."  It matters not whose God he refers to... that's a statement that cannot be denied.  Another way to think of it is "all opinions stink."  I cleaned that up a bit, but pulled out the idea, I think.  Another bad choice of words... still, all opinions matter.