Thursday, March 19, 2009

Slave Trade Video

In that class [Group Prejudice] we watched a video [I didn't catch the name of it] that was EXTREMELY interesting today. It was about a family that was very prominent a long time ago that was the LEADING family of the slave trading during the slave trade period. So huge that they actually continued trading during the time when slave trading was illegal with a political pardon from former President Thomas Jefferson as a result from their support for his campaign. The master mind behind the whole process was James DeWolf. This family that did the video has MY EXACT LAST NAME. I'm sitting in class getting ready to take notes on the movie and heard my last name and was really taken aback. I had to make sure the spelling was the same and it is. I don't know of any family members that live on the east coast but my Dad doesn't either so who knows if they are my ancestors. I plan on doing some research. Anyways. . .more on the video. James DeWolf was a Senator that began trading using rum as a resource to trade for the slaves. They got their towns people to buy shares into their adventures and they eventually established a bank, got insurance for their expeditions, and then got boats and set off to Ghana and Cuba. The family on the video goes through a lot of research where they go from Rhode Island to Connecticut to Ghana to Cuba and back. They point out that the North was more influential and had a bigger impact on the slave trade during those times then the South did. They actually controlled it more the only difference was that they didn't have huge plantantions up in the North where tons of slaves worked. Northerners bought only one or two slaves and had them work in their mansions or help build stone walls. Surprise surprise right because American History throughout all the education levels teach that basically the South controlled everything that there was to do with the slave trade and the North was really slaves saving grace. The family learned that their ancestors would go down to Ghana and Cuba and trade for PEOPLE with things like rum, sugar, clothing, or basically whatever they would take which was obvisouly next to nothing. I thought the best part of the video was where the family actually visits a slave fort. They tour the fort and learn about the procedures that went on there. They went down to the dungeons where the slaves where held in like 15 feet x 30 feet rooms shackled together in complete darkness without whatever clothing they had on their back if any. Their tour guide said it was especially terrifying for some because they were right next to the ocean so they could hear it outside and those who were from inland had no idea what the noise was. When the slaves arrived at the fort they would be baptized, their tour guide said "Saved into slavery in the name of the Lord." We did not get to see the familys tour of Cuba cuz my teacher cut the program short however I'm going to try and find it so I can watch the rest of the program.

My thoughts on this program are that it's CRAZY! First, I'm really interested in finding out if I'm related in some kind of way. Second, I found it really surprising that this family established such a huge legacy but the thing about the legends is that its not about being prominent slave traders. It's about being prominent in the community, policitians, artists, priests, etc. The whole idea of their involvement in slave trade is ignored. And today, there's seems to be an air that the family is not trying to TARNISH that name or the legacy. James DeWolf was actually the second richest man in the U.S. at one point in time during this time. They were responsible for 10,000 slaves being traded and I think it was 1.5 million of the slaves that were traded have descendants still alive. I think that is like flooring to me. I think visiting the fort was so suprising and it hit a connection with me because it's something I would like to experience. I want to see what it's like there. I wondered while watching this movie if other countries or cultures practice remembering those who were traded? Do they have certain holiday like things or special rituals or something? I was also really surprised to learn how active the North was actually involved. I think I fell my whole life for the whole idea of the North being the saving grace and I'm so happy that I had my eyes opened and remembered that the Civil War was not about slavery and freeing blacks, it was a political attempt to try and stifle the South and their ability to produce because that was their main source of income and production so the North wanted to end that and unite the countries production. Even if I'm not related to this family this movie has inspired me to do or find out about my own family history because I know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about it and I think that everyone should learn their family tree [no matter dsyfunctional you think your family is lol]. A girl in one of my classes said she was suprise to hear that this family was basically SO SHOCKED to learn that their family was involved in slave trade and she said that she would be surprised to hear about a family that WAS NOT involved, but my response was I think they were shocked because of the fact that they were the LEADING FAMILY for the WHOLE SLAVE TRADE. That's freaking crazy. I couldn't believe how much freaking money they made. Ridiculous numbers that were big then, but even bigger these days. I was also suprised at how long the whole thing lasted. It went through 3 generations. That's a really long time!!! I never heard anything about forts on the coasts of where the slaves where being held so I was also really suprised to learn that were atleast 70 forts that countries were continously fighting for control over. Finally, during one part of the video they showed two of the slaves graves that worked for the family. It was really touching and really felt like that whole experience brought that family closer to what they're ancestors did. I overall thought this movie was absolutely amazing and they published a book that's out too that I also don't know the name of but I will probably read. When I find this things out I throw them up here so if your interested you can take a look too. I will also update you on how my expedition through my family history goes. [=

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