Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is A White Hating Racist

Racist Democrat Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Following the death of Black American George Floyd who was killed during his arrest by Minneapolis police officers, Democrat rioters have burned and looted businesses, and destroyed parts of cities across America. With political cover by Democratic Party politicians who refuse to condemn their action, those rioters have also vandalized and attempted to remove statues of historic figures across the nation.   

Among those statues which they consider "offensive" are statues of Christopher Columbus, President Ulysses S. Grant, as well as that of escaped black slave Frederick Douglass. Frankly, I've found the targets of their hate and disdain for America a little strange. Whether they know it or not, Christopher Columbus never set foot on North American soil and died thinking he found Asia. 

It is a fact of history that Ulysses S. Grant emancipated a slave that was gifted to him before the Civil War. During the Civil War, Union General U.S. Grant was instrumental in defeating the Confederacy which wanted to keep slavery alive. While president, he fought the Ku Klux Klan which was created by the Democratic Party -- and President Grant used federal troops to put down attacks on freed black slaves that were being murdered and lynched by Democrats who still saw themselves as slave-owners.

As for Frederick Douglass, after escaping slavery he joined the Republican Party becoming a national leader of the abolitionist movement to end slavery. Besides Booker T. Washington and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Frederick Douglass is America's most famous Black social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. So no, tearing down a statue of him, as with Columbus and Grant, makes no sense to an educated person.

While talking about an uneducated person who should sue to get whatever funds she spent on her failed college education, on July 31, 2020, it was reported that the uneducated New York Democrat Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has singled out a statue of Catholic priest Father Damien in the U.S. Capitol, National Statuary Hall, as an example of the "white supremacist culture."

In her video taken at the U.S. Capital, she can be heard saying: "Even when we select figures to tell the stories of colonized places, it is the colonizers and settlers whose stories are told – and virtually no one else. Check out Hawaii's statue."

"It's not Queen Liliuokalani of Hawaii, the only Queen Regnant of Hawaii, who is immortalized and whose story is told. It is Father Damien. This isn't to litigate each and every individual statue, but to point out the patterns that have emerged among the totality of them in who we are taught to defy in our nation’s Capitol: virtually all men, all white, and mostly both.


"This is what patriarchy and white supremacist culture looks like! It's not radical or crazy to understand the influence white supremacist culture has historically had in our overall culture & how it impacts the present day."

In addition to Father Damien's statue, the Capitol houses Hawaii's other contribution to the National Statuary Hall Collection which is a statue of King Kamehameha I who united the Hawaiian islands as one kingdom by 1810. The two statues were gifted to the National Statuary Hall Collection from the State of Hawaii in April of 1969.

I remember listening to Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez say, "The world is going to end in 12 years if we don't address climate change ..." 

Frankly, it was then that I realized how much of a pity it is that Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says things that she knows nothing about. I found it disappointing that she never learned what Mark Twain said, "It’s better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than open ones mouth and remove all doubt".

As for Father Damien, he was not a "white supremacist" as she said. He was born Jozef de Veuster in Belgium. He arrived in Hawaii in 1864 when the islands were ruled by a monarchy. As a Catholic priest, Father Damien conducted missionary work on the islands. And for the last 16 years of his life, he ministered to a leper colony on the island of Molokai.

While serving the Kingdom of Hawaii on Molokai, Father Damien built six chapels at the colony, heard confessions and comforted the sick and dying every day, and was said to have held Mass daily for all there. Father Damien even built coffins and dug graves until he himself contracted the disease and couldn't anymore. For what he did for others, he became Saint Damien after the Vatican canonized him in October 2009.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doesn't care that her slanderous attack aimed at Father Damien is in reality aimed at a compassionate and selfless man, a spiritual hero and an icon of love in Hawaii, a man of courage, a good man who himself died of leprosy after spending his life serving others who had that disease.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doesn't care that, before becoming Queen, Liliuokalani visited Father Damien on Molokai to present him with honors from the Kingdom of Hawaii. Or that in the state of Hawaii, October 11th is Saint Damien Day because of his selfless humanitarian service to those in need.

It's shameful that such a character assassination of Father Damien, a man who ministered to a Hawaiian leper colony, an exceptional person who we all know dedicated his life to others, who died helping those infected with that horrible disease, is attacked simply because he was "White."

Yes my friends, as sad as it is to say about a sitting Congresswoman, I believe Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez aimed her slanderous attack at Father Damien for no other reason other than his being "White." 

It's pathetic that she only sees the color of his skin, and not his great works and deeds. And that, that's what true racism is all about. Yes, that's what true racists do. True racists ignore the content of ones character and focus on the color of ones skin -- Black or White. She's as true a die-hard racist as I've ever seen. She's no different than other White hating racists that I've seen in my lifetime. 

The pure racist who we know as Democrat Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has shown us that she doesn't care what we think of her racism against "Whites." She has shown us all that she has absolutely no shame when falsely and maliciously accusing a "White" historic figure, in this case Father Damien, of being "a white supremacist." 

A good person would feel shame and apologize if they did or said something that was wrong. From what I can see, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is not a good person. 

Tom Correa

Monday, August 3, 2020

It Was Hell On Earth: Andersonville Prison

Andersonville Prison
Camp Sumter, which is better known as Andersonville Prison, was established in February of 1864 and served the Confederacy until May of 1865. As a Confederate prisoner-of-war camp, it was used to hold about 45,000 Union prisoners during the final fourteen months of the Civil War. When first opened, it was only about 16.5 acres in size. Less then four month later, it was enlarged by 10 acres. The stockade walls were 15 to 16 feet high. It was 1,620 feet by 779 feet in size. Imagine putting 45,000 men to live in area that small. 
 
As for it's infamous "Dead Line," a small fence known as "the dead line" was erected about 19 to 20 feet inside the stockade wall to keep the prisoners away from the stockade walls. That 19 to 20 foot area was considered a "No-Man's Land." It's said any of the prisoners who simply touched the "dead line" was shot without warning by Confederate sentries in the guard platforms which were called "pigeon roosts."

The prison was commanded by Confederate Army Captain Heinrich Hartmann Wirz. At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Wirz who was married and 37 years-old, enlisted in the Confederate Army near his Madison Parish, Louisiana, home. He enlisted as a private in Company A, Madison Infantry, 4th Battalion of Louisiana Infantry.

There are a couple of conflicting versions as to how Wirz became a Confederate Army Captain. On version says that he was wounded and cited for bravery, spent three months of rehabilitation at his home, before being promoted to Captain on June 12, 1862. Supposedly, because of his wound, it's said he was assigned to the staff in charge of Confederate prisoner-of-war camps.

Another account says that he was promoted to Captain by Confederate President Jefferson Davis before sending him to Europe as a courier to take dispatches to Confederate Commissioners James Mason in England, and John Slidell in France. Supposedly, Wirz returned from Europe and began working on the staff in charge of Confederate prisoner-of-war camps.

In February of 1864, the Confederate government established Camp Sumter which was intended to hold only 10,000 Union POW in barracks. When Wirz arrived at Camp Sumter, no barracks were being built simply because the Confederacy didn't have the funds to build them. Instead, the prisoners were housed in the open. 

The prisoners gave this place the name "Andersonville", which became the colloquial name for the camp. It soon filled to over 32,000 at its peak. Of course over it's lifespan, it would see about 45,000 Union troops confined there. Severe overcrowding made sanitary conditions completely out of the question. Water was not available, there was a lack of food, and medical treatment and supplies was pretty much non-existent. 

It's said Wirz recognized that the conditions were inadequate and petitioned his superiors to provide more support, but his requests were denied. The Swiss born Confederate officer was 41 years old when he was later tried and executed after the war for war crimes committed at Andersonville prison. In reality, he was executed for conspiracy and murder relating to his command of the camp. 

While Wirz was charged and hanged for what took place there with its overcrowding at four times its capacity, its inadequate water supply, lack of food, and unsanitary conditions, Wirz received little to no support from the Confederate government in terms of food, water, and medical supplies. So yes, the Confederacy itself bears a great deal of responsibility for the death toll at Andersonville. 

And please, don't think it wasn't a hellish place. Among the dead that were left in place for days, the filth and the disease, the only source of drinking water was from a creek which also served as the camp's latrine. It said that it was filled with fecal matter from thousands of sick and dying men. 

Of the causes of death at Andersonville, there were many, including:
  • Abscess - Swollen, inflamed area in body tissues with localized collection of pus.
  • Anasarca - Abnormal accumulation of fluid in tissues and cavities of the body, resulting in swelling. Also known as dropsy.
  • Ascites - Accumulation of fluid in the abdominal cavity.
  • Asphyxia - Loss of consciousness due to suffocation; inadequate oxygen, and too much carbon dioxide.
  • Catarrh - Inflammation of mucus membranes of nose and throat causing increased flow of mucus. (Common cold).
  • Constipation - Condition in which feces are hard and elimination is infrequent and difficult.
  • Diarrhea - Frequent, loose bowel movements. Symptoms of other diseases.
  • Diphtheria - Acute, highly contagious disease. Characterized by abdominal pain and intense diarrhea.
  • Dysentery - Various intestinal inflammations characterized by abdominal pain and intense diarrhea.
  • Enteritis - Inflammation of intestines.
  • Erysipelas - Acute infectious disease of skin or mucus membranes. Characterized by local inflammation and fever.
  • Gastritis - Inflammation of stomach.
  • Hemorrhoids - Painful swelling of vein in region of the anus, often with bleeding.
  • Hepatitis - Inflammation of liver, often accompanied by fever and jaundice.
  • Hydrocele - Accumulation of fluid in the scrotum.
  • Icterus - Characterized by yellowish skin, eyes, and urine. Also known as jaundice.
  • Laryngitis - Inflammation of the larynx.
  • Nephritis - Acute or chronic disease of kidneys, characterized by inflammation and degeneration.
  • Pleurisy - Inflammation of membranes covering lungs and lining of chest cavity. Characterized by difficult and painful breathing. Also known as pleuritis.
  • Rubeola - Measles.
  • Scurvy - Disease resulting from deficiency of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), which is found in fresh fruits and vegetables. Characterized by weakness, spongy gums, and bleeding from mucus membranes. Also known as scorbutus.
  • Smallpox - Acute, highly contagious disease. Characterized by prolonged fever, vomiting, and pustular skin eruptions.
  • Tonsillitis - Inflammation of tonsils.
  • Typhoid - Acute infections disease, characterized by fever and diarrhea.
  • Ulcus - Ulcer.
Of the approximately 45,000 Union prisoners held there over a period of 14 months during the war, nearly 13,000 died. That's 13,000 deaths in just 14 months. The majority died of scurvy, diarrhea, and dysentery. And during its worst months, over 100 men died each day.

As for lack of food, by 1864, the entire Confederacy was in dire straits when it came to food and supplies. Some might not realize it, but because of the Union blockade of sea-ports, Union attacks on the South's food producers, and their attacks of the South's supply-lines, the Confederacy was starving by 1864.

So while there was a lack of food for the prisoners, it was not that much better by then for the Confederate personnel guarding them or the Confederate Army as a whole. And think about this, how would anyone justify taking prisoners more rations when the general population of most Southern cities which were shelled into ruins were actually starving. For example, just a year earlier during the Siege of Vicksburg -- it's said the people there were eating rats to get by.

As for attempted escapes, Confederates after the war testified that 351 prisoners escaped through tunnels. The Union Army knew of less than 40 that made their way back to Union lines. It there were 351 POW who made it out, no one really knows if they returned home without notifying the Union Army, or if they simply died. Most believe they simply died. 

Remember, these men were weak from starvation and escape was fairly impossible because of their poor health. If a prisoners was caught trying to escape, the small rations they were already getting was cut, they were put working in chain gangs, or simply shot and killed. And believe it or not, the prisoners played dead as a way to escape. 

Because the dead amounted to around a hundred per day, some of the dead were not moved for days. Of those moved, the guards found that some of the prisoners would pretend to be dead to be carried out to the row of dead bodies outside of the walls. It's believed that as soon as night fell the men would get up and try to get away. Because of their poor health, those who tried it usually didn't make it. It's said when Captain Wirz found out about the prisoners playing dead, he ordered all of the dead to be examined by surgeons before any of the bodies were taken out of the camp. This backed up the dead in the camp, which of course created more disease. 

As for the clothing of the dead, because their clothing was often falling to pieces, clothing was often taken from the dead. John McElroy, a POW who survived Andersonville, later wrote, "Before one was fairly cold, his clothes would be appropriated and divided. And I have seen many sharp fights between contesting claimants."

Uncooked food was eaten because very little wood was given to the prisoners for warmth or cooking. This, along with the lack of utensils, made it almost impossible for the prisoners to cook the meager food rations they received, which consisted of poorly milled cornflour. Because of that, during the summer of 1864, Union prisoners suffered greatly from hunger, exposure and disease. Within seven months, buried in mass graves were those who died. 

All in all, survival for a prisoner in Andersonville really depended on who one knew. It's said a prisoner with friends inside Andersonville was more likely to survive than a loner. Prisoners with friends could get some food even if it were meager, clothing even if it were off the dead, have shelter in the way of sharing a tent, moral support, traded for their needs, and of course had protection against other prisoners who would kill to stay alive.

That bring us to a group of POWs who called themselves the "Andersonville Raiders". Those were prisoners who attacked their fellow inmates to steal food, clothing, shoes, and anything else of value. They resorted to primitive alliances and used primitive weapons such as clubs to kill to get what they wanted. 

To combat the Andersonville Raiders was a group that called themselves "Regulators". It's said they caught all of the Raiders, and tried them in a make-shift court run by a Regulators' judge in front of a jury selected from the prisoners. That jury, upon finding the Raiders guilty, set punishment that included being beaten, being stoned or flogged, running the gauntlet, spending time in the stocks, being sent to the guards to be outfitted with a ball and chain. And yes, it's recorded that in at least a half a dozen cases, Andersonville Raiders were hanged.

Union soldier John Ransom was a POW who survived Andersonville. Ransom was a typesetter at a newspaper before the war. While at Andersonville, he kept a diary. Ransom wrote in his diary on June 26, 1864: 

"They die now like sheep, fully a hundred each day. New prisoners come inside in squads of hundreds, and in a few weeks are all dead. The change is too great and sudden for them." 

Union Army Sergeant Major Robert H. Kellogg of the 16th Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, wrote about his time as a POW starting in May 2, 1864. He wrote:

As we entered the place, a spectacle met our eyes that almost froze our blood with horror, and made our hearts fail within us. Before us were forms that had once been active and erect;—stalwart men, now nothing but mere walking skeletons, covered with filth and vermin. Many of our men, in the heat and intensity of their feeling, exclaimed with earnestness. "Can this be hell?" "God protect us!" and all thought that he alone could bring them out alive from so terrible a place. 

In the center of the whole was a swamp, occupying about three or four acres of the narrowed limits, and a part of this marshy place had been used by the prisoners as a sink, and excrement covered the ground, the scent arising from which was suffocating. The ground allotted to our ninety was near the edge of this plague-spot, and how we were to live through the warm summer weather in the midst of such fearful surroundings, was more than we cared to think of just then.

Andersonville was liberated in May of 1865. Over the next months, news of the hellish conditions at Andersonville would come forward. As news of the death camp reached the newspapers, Northerners were outraged at the South. 

Famed American poet Walt Whitman summed up the feelings of all after hearing of the miserable conditions and high death rate in the camp. He wrote, "There are deeds, crimes that may be forgiven, but this is not among them."

Today, the Andersonville National Historic Site, located near Andersonville, Georgia, preserves the former Confederate prisoner-of-war camp. The National Prisoner of War Museum opened in 1998 as a memorial to all American prisoners-of-war. The cemetery there is the final resting place for the Union prisoners who died while being held at Andersonville as POWs. It's said to contain 13,714 graves. Of those, 921 are marked "unknown".

The prisoners' burial ground has been made a National Cemetery. And while I as a Veteran would never think of being interned there, because it is a National Cemetery, it's also used as a burial place for more recent veterans and their dependents. Imagine that.

Tom Correa

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Were Freed Slaves Repatriated Back To Africa?

"Departure of  colored emigrants for Liberia", The Illustrated American, 1896
A reader wrote to ask if the federal government ever made it possible to return blacks back to their homelands in Africa. She asked, "why weren't slaves returned to Africa after being freed?"

From what I gather, toward the end of the Civil War, one of the biggest questions being asked was what to do with all of the freed slaves? There were those who wanted to know if the United States could really be a home to free blacks and freed slaves? Many wanted to know, would freed slaves want to return to Africa?

Let's keep in mind that we the people of the United States won our freedom from England at the end of the Revolutionary War in 1783. A mere 25 years later in 1808, President Thomas Jefferson stopped the importation of African slaves into the United States. From 1808 to 1861, African slaves brought into the United States were done so illegally. My point is that Americans were working on getting rid of slavery for decades.

The most population idea in the early 1800's was repatriating freed slaves back to Africa, or somewhere other than the United States that appealed to them. In a letter to Edward Coles, on August 25, 1814, Thomas Jefferson suggests the "expatriation" of slaves from the United States. He and others at the time were already looking at plans for "emancipation with colonization." That is, to give freed slaves their own homeland outside the U.S. since most had no idea what part of Africa they come from.

In that 1814 letter, Jefferson wrote, "I have seen no proposition so expedient . . . as that of emancipation of those slaves born after a given day, and of their education and expatriation at a proper age."

Did Thomas Jefferson abhor slavery and want to create a homeland for returning freed slaves? I believe he did, and would eventually decide that Africa was the best destination for them to have their own country. After leaving the presidency, he would give his support to a group to see that happen.

That group was the American Society for Colonizing the Free People of Color in the United State, more commonly known as the American Colonization Society. The group was formed in 1816 to send freed slaves back to Africa. Besides the support of former-president Jefferson and sitting President James Madison, the American Colonization Society had other very prominent members including Francis Scott Key, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, as well as future presidents James Monroe and Andrew Jackson.

What may be surprising to some is the fact that many of the members were slave-owners at the time. While many slave-owners opposed freedom for slaves until they would be able to find another source of cheap labor, those slave-owners who were members of the American Colonization Society viewed repatriation as a way to avoid rebellions. Their motive for repatriation was just one of several political motives of those belonging to that group.

Fact is, there were several in Washington D.C. who saw the murderous turmoil that took place in Haiti in 1804 during that slave rebellion and subsequent massacre there as a warning to the United States. Others were affiliated with the group were also connected to religious groups and anti-slavery groups that simply wanted to abolish slavery. They saw repatriation to Africa as a solution for America that was long overdue.

While some depict the organization as being run by Quakers, from what I can tell, that's not true as they were multi-denominational. Quakers at the time did expose the belief that free-born blacks and freed slaves in the United States would have a better chance of obtaining a fuller measure of freedom in Africa. Remember, this was 50 years before President Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation.

At this point, I don't want to mislead my readers by making you think that creating a colony in Africa for the purpose of repatriating freed slaves back to Africa was either Thomas Jefferson's or that group's idea. It was a notion that was thrown around by various religious groups and anti-slavery organizations for years in the United States and England.

It was the British who had "colonized" a settlement in Sierra Leone in what was called the "Province of Freedom". The British had been transporting freed slaves to Freetown, Sierra Leone, since its creation by the British in 1787. So no, the idea of resettling freed slaves in Africa through "colonization" of an area was not new. As for those who think "colonization" was always done to conquer, they should look at Freetown, Sierra Leone, and the large number of freed slaves that were settled there. 

As for the American efforts to do something similar, according to the Encyclopedia of Georgia History and Culture, "As early as 1820, black Americans had begun to return to their ancestral homeland through the auspices of the American Colonization Society."

The American Colonization Society worked to secure land in West Africa, actually right next to the British colony of Sierra Leone. The American Colonization Society founded the colony of Liberia in 1821. That colony of Liberia became the nation of Liberia in 1847. Between 1821 and 1861, the American Colonization Society had migrated approximately 20,000 free-born blacks and freed slaves back to Africa.

While we should all recognize that the West African country of Liberia was founded by Americans specifically for free people of color to return to, although not the exact location where they were sold into slavery by African chiefs, we should also note that only a relatively few thousand freed slaves decided to emigrate back to Africa when given the chance to do so.

It should also be understood that not all freed slaves wanted to go back to Africa. In fact, many prominent black Americans at the time regarded the American Colonization Society with a great deal of hatred. One such black activist was James Forten who wrote attacked the group a year after its creation in 1817, writing, "We have no wish to separate from our present homes for any purpose whatever".

The Colored American was an African-American newspaper published in New York City from 1837 to 1842 by black Americans Samuel Cornish, Phillip Alexander Bell, and Charles Bennett Ray. The Colored American focused on "the moral, social, and political elevation of free colored people and the peaceful emancipation of slaves." The Colored American viewed colonization as a means of "defrauding" blacks of the rights of American citizenship.

A backslash against the plans for repatriation was that free-born blacks and even freed slaves began to view their ancestral homeland with contempt. In fact, blacks at the time dropped the use of the word "African" in the names of their organizations. Instead of "African American," organizations like the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People which was formed in 1909, simply used the term "Colored People" or "Colored American." 

Frederick Douglass was a black American who escaped from slavery in Maryland to become a social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer, and statesman. He became a leader of the abolitionist movement and said of the colonization plan, "Shame upon the guilty wretches that dare propose, and all that countenance such a proposition. We live here, have lived here, have a right to live here, and mean to live here."

In contrast to Frederick Douglass' opinion of repatriation was that of black American abolitionist Martin Delany who is credited with slogan of "Africa for Africans." Delany was born as a free person of color in what is today West Virginia. He was an abolitionist, journalist, physician, writer, and was a Union Army officer who fought in the Civil War. He is believed to be the first proponent of "Black Nationalism". He believed black Americans deserved their own country in Central and South America. He believed that their own country in Central and South America was "the ultimate destination and future home of the colored race on this continent." 

Another notable member of the American Colonization Society was Abraham Lincoln. He was an advocate of their efforts to settle freed slaves in Liberia. As a matter of fact, for a long time, President Lincoln was in favor of returning former slaves to Africa. But he didn't stop with the idea of expatriating freed slaves to Africa, he saw them settling in an American colony in Central America. 

This is now where Linconia comes in. Linconia was the name of a proposed Central American colony which former slaves could be resettled. In fact, by 1862, President Lincoln had picked the Chiriquí Province in Panama as the perfect location to start a colony in Central America. 

During the summer of 1862, President Lincoln was in the midst of all sorts of problems pertaining to the Civil War. Though that was the case, he is said to have invited a group of prominent black Americans to the White House to discuss his plan to colonize a part of the Chiriquí Province in Panama. His plan was only in the preliminary stages. Even though that was true, his plan was not met with a favorable reaction from almost all there. Even after assuring them that the area he chose "had evidence of very rich coal mines, and among the finest harbors in the world," no one liked the idea. 

The name "Linconia" was suggested for the colony by Kansas Republican Senator Samuel Pomeroy in 1862. Pomeroy is said to have came up with the idea after President Lincoln asked the Senator and the Secretary of the Interior to work on a plan to resettle freed slaves outside the United States. It's said he saw the name "Linconia" as being similar to the name of Liberia's capital Monrovia which was derived from the name of American President James Monroe.

Though the plan was not met with open arms, Sen. Pomeroy was part of the team that headed the project and sought 100 freed slave families to travel with him to the Chiriquí Province as "Pioneers." Pomeroy would ultimately find over 500 families willing to be "Pioneers." It's said he was both disappointed and angry when their trip scheduled for October of 1862 was canceled, and the plan was scrubbed. 

While Sen. Pomeroy and others, to include Secretary of State William H. Seward, did in fact get permission from the Republic of New Granada and the area's landowner which was the Chiriquí Improvement Company to come and evaluate the prospective territory, the nations of Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras felt threatened by the United States. 

While unfounded as they were at the time, there are some who say those nations saw the American colony of Linconia as unwanted American influence in Central America. Some say those Central American nations didn't want the influence of former black slaves in their region. Keep in mind, they too remembered the massacre in Haiti in 1804. 

The Haiti Massacre of 1804 was carried out against the French population and French Creoles that stayed in Haiti after the Haitian Revolution that same year. Earlier in 1804, General Jean-Jacques Dessalines assumed dictatorial power there. Under orders from Dessalines, squads of soldiers, mostly former black slaves, moved from house to house torturing and killing entire families. The massacre in Haiti took place from early January and through April of 1804. In all, it's believed that the death squads massacred about 5,000 innocent people. It was genocide. And later that same year, General Dessalines proclaimed himself Emperor Jacques I of Haiti. It was most fortunate for Haiti that he was killed two years later.

Because of their concerns of such things taking place in Central America, the nations of Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Honduras informed Washington D.C that they opposed President Lincoln's plan to create a colony in Panama. It's said that Secretary of State Seward informed those nations that no plan of a colony there would take place without the consent of all concerned. Because of their response, Secretary of State Seward advised President Lincoln of the growing disdain for the plan by all of the parties involved. President Lincoln decided to abandon the idea for a colony in Central America.

As for the American Colonization Society, it continued to operate with the help of the federal government which provided minimal support through the Freedmen's Bureau. And yes, there are those on both ends of the spectrum when it comes to seeing what the American Colonization Society actually did. Some say their efforts were in reality pro-slavery while others say the organization worked to free slaves to repatriate back to Africa -- thus making it an anti-slavery group.

While there are scholars who look at their role, there is no mistaking that the Americans Colonization Society was part of the spark which generated the Back-to-Africa Movement of the 1800's. The Back-to-Africa Movement of the 1800's took the 19th century view that Americans of African ancestry should return to the continent of Africa because it was their real home. 

No, not return to their specific homelands where their ancestors were sold into slavery by their tribe's Chiefs, homelands which were by then unknown, but to the continent of Africa. In general the Back-to-Africa Movement of the 1800's was an overwhelming failure. Yes, in the very same way that the American Colonization Society ended as a failure. 

Even though a colony for freed slaves in Central America did not materialize, President Lincoln is said to have believed that the federal government should return former slaves to Africa if they wanted to return to Africa. Union Army General Benjamin F. Butler once claimed that President  Lincoln told him of the black soldiers, "I believe that it would be better to export them all to some fertile country with a good climate, which they could have to themselves." Supposedly, President Lincoln told him that in 1865 months before being assassinated. 

Some say he publicly abandoned the idea of creating a colony after speaking about it with Frederick Douglass who told the president that "America is their homeland, not Africa." Others say President Lincoln thought it immoral to ask black soldiers to fight for the Union, but then ship them to Africa after their military service had ended. We do know that later in the war, President Lincoln abandoned the idea of colonization and came to believe that freed blacks had a legitimate claim to citizenship in America. He believed that so much, that he publicly supported all blacks getting the right to vote.

Since we live in a climate where race is now always a question, and I'm called a racist with almost everything that I write these days, there are those who will say President Lincoln had racial motivations for wanting freed slaves repatriated to their homeland. Those people will ironically assume that because he never gave up the idea of repatriation for free blacks, that that somehow made President Lincoln a racist. They dismiss the many options that he tried using to free slaves.

For example, the same year that President Lincoln is looking into creating a colony for freed slaves, he signed a bill ending slavery in the District of Columbia. On April 16, 1862, the District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act became law a little more than 8 month before President Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation.

The District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act ended slavery in our nation's capital. It provided for immediate emancipation by compensating former owners who were loyal to the Union, and included an option to the freed slaves which was the availability of volunteering to join a colony of  former slaves outside the United States. It also paid up to $100 for each person choosing emigration. In the months to follow, the federal government paid of up to $300 each for slaves, which were said to be worth over $1,000 each, to freed the slaves of 930 former slave-owners. In all, former owners were paid to release almost 3,000 slaves.

The District of Columbia Compensated Emancipation Act of 1862 was one of many efforts attempted by President Lincoln to emancipate slaves. It's said both free-born blacks and freed slaves greeted emancipation with great jubilation in the District of Columbia. For many years afterward, the people of  the District of Columbia celebrated every April 16th as Emancipation Day with parades and festivals.

The naysayers, those who see racial problems where there are none, they cannot see the efforts of men like Abraham Lincoln who actually worked to free those in bondage. They also cannot see others like President Lincoln who belonged to the American Colonization Society believing that returning freed slaves back to Africa was in effect an attempt at righting a wrong perpetrated upon a race of people.  

Those who want to twist and spin history to fit their own hate for President Lincoln and others usually do so while purposely ignoring his and the efforts of others to right a wrong. For me, I believe that President Lincoln looked at all options when it came to ending slavery and stop the injustice of people in chains. I believe that after examining and exhausting all options including that of efforts at colonization which had been tried by others, President Lincoln issued the executive order we know as the Emancipation Proclamation. 

Tom Correa

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

So How Did The Spanish End Up In California?


Every once in a while, I'm asked a short question that takes a long answer. This one comes from a reader who tells me that her family enjoys the California Vaquero ranching traditions of days gone by. She wants to know how the Spanish ended up in California. 

Spanish conquistadors were the first people from another continent to arrive in California. Some confuse their arrival in California as simply a quest for land and expansion. In fact the Spanish monarchy sent those conquistadors to look for gold, silver, spices, and valuables, while looking for a shortcut to the East Indies. Believe it or not, Spain's arrival in the Americas and later in California was all about looking for a shorter route to Asia.  

What was Christopher Columbus looking for when he reached the Caribbean? Asia. Some folks simply don't understand that Columbus was not looking for a new continent. The known world did not know the Western Hemisphere, the geographical term for the half of Earth, actually sat between Europe and Asia. He was simply trying to find a shortcut to Asia for Spain.  

Did he fail in his quest to find that route? Yes, because he never did find what he sought -- and Spain needed. While he, like many explorers of that age were truly fascinated by the works of Marco Polo and believed the earth is round, it is a fact that Columbus stumbled into the Bahamas purely by accident. It's true. Christopher Columbus, the man who was the son of an Italian wool maker, a man who went to sea and later ended up studying navigation and mathematics in Portugal, found the Caribbean island that he named Hispaniola by accident.

The Spanish monarchy provided him with crews for three ships -- the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria. On August 3, 1492, he set sail from Spain. On October 12th of that same year, his ships found land. But it was not the East Indies, which is the lands of South and Southeast Asia. 

When he made landfall, he really believed that he had reached India. In fact, that's the reason why he called the natives who he encountered "Indians." He believed he had found the land that he was looking for. In reality, it was not the land of spices and riches that he had hoped for. But that didn't stop him from believing that he found Asia.

Columbus sailed from island to island for months in what we now know as the Caribbean, all the while looking for a friendly trading port. What was he in search of? He searched for "pearls, precious stones, gold, silver, spices, and other objects and merchandise whatsoever" found in the East Indies to take back to his Spanish benefactors. 

Disappointed, by January of 1493, he returned to Spain after leaving dozens of men behind in a small settlement on an island which they named Hispaniola. That island is present-day Haiti/Dominican Republic. He returned to Spain after failing to find riches or Asia. He would sail west again later in 1493, 1498 and in 1502. Again and again with a determination to find a direct ocean route west from Europe to Asia. He died never knowing that he had discovered two continents which were to be called the "New World." He died believing he found Asia.

For some reason, people have this idea that Columbus thought he found a New World and that was the prize. That wasn't the case. Asia was the prize because of the riches that Asia held. In the 1400's, reaching Asia from Europe was considered nearly impossible. The land route was not only long, it was seen as filled with all sorts of danger including all sorts of hostile bands and rogue armies.

Portugal was an empire at sea and had solved the land route problem by sailing south along the West African coast and around the Cape of Good Hope. Portuguese conquistadors colonized the African coast and would later meet African Chiefs wanting to sell their own people into slavery. African Chiefs sold their people to Muslims as slaves for centuries before meeting Europeans. Muslim armies having black and white slaves was not unknown to the Portuguese and the Spanish. After centuries of war with the Muslim Moors starting in the 8th century, the Moors were finally expelled from the Iberian peninsula in January of 1492. That was when the Catholic Monarchs defeated the last Moor stronghold of the Kingdom of Granada.

The war with the Moors was costly to all, but especially for Spain in its last ten years in the war for Granada. Because of that, Spain wanted its explorers to find riches to rebuild their coffers. Portugal was seen as a power from the early 1400's, and had already established a sea route around the horn of Africa by the late 1400's. To say the Portuguese explorers didn't get around would be a real understatement since it's believed that a Portuguese explorer arrived in Newfoundland in North America in 1472. Yes, twenty years before Columbus arrived in the Bahamas. 

When Columbus presented his plan of sailing west instead of south and around Africa to reach Asia, both Portugal and England were not interested in bankrolling his expedition. That wasn't the case with Spanish monarchs Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile who were sympathetic to his idea. To them, Columbus' plan made sense considering the world was believed to be smaller at the time. To the known world, if the earth is indeed round, then Asia lay to the west. 

Why not sail west across the Atlantic instead of heading south and around Africa to go east to get to Asia? His logic was sound, even if his math wasn't. Remember, he incorrectly argued that the circumference of the Earth was much smaller than it is in reality. He believed that a journey to Asia would be possible by going west. All he needed to do was prove it. Needless to say, that didn't happen even though Spain backed his efforts for four attempts. And no, Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella did not get any of the riches that were promised them by Columbus.  

After Columbus failed to find his new trade route to Asia in 1492, and instead landed in the Caribbean, there was all of a sudden a whole new set of continents that were completely unknown to every mapmaker in the known world. Whether Columbus knew it or not, he did in fact make every map of the known world complete wrong in 1492. While he didn't know that he didn't get to Asia, his accidental find of the Western Hemisphere changed the way every power in Europe, Asia, and Africa viewed the world. 

Think that's no small feat? Imagine being a mapmaker and needing a name for the places that were recently found and only known as the "New World" -- but no one knew what to call it? And what about the people who assume Columbus did in fact find a place in Asia? Why not call that area "Columbus" after the person who accidentally found it? Remember, no one knew that that part of the world even existed until he happened upon it.  

Well, that's where Amerigo Vespucci comes in. The "Americas" are named after Amerigo Vespucci because he was the first person to recognize North and South America as distinct continents. Remember, these were continents previously unknown to people in Europe, Asia, and Africa. 

Prior to Vespucci's discovery, it's a fact that explorers, including Columbus himself, assumed that the "New World" which he bumped into was actually part of Asia. It was Vespucci that changed that. He made his discovery while sailing near the tip of South America in 1501. As for getting to have his name attached to his discovery, that wasn't Vespucci's doing -- it was done by a mapmaker.

North America and South America are the two continents named after him because a German clergyman and amateur cartographer by the name of Martin Waldseemüller made it happen. In 1507, Waldseemüller proposed that a portion of Brazil which Vespucci was known to have explored with the Portuguese be named "America." The name "America" was considered a "feminized version" of Italian Amerigo Vespucci's first name. Waldseemüller wrote, "I see no reason why anyone should justly object to calling this part ... America, after Amerigo [Vespucci], its discoverer, a man of great ability."

Of course, as with most things, there is a reason why the name "America" stuck. That has to do with  Waldseemüller's maps selling by the thousands. He sold thousands of copies of his map all across Europe. Soon, everyone was calling the newly discovered continents "America". In was in 1538 that a mapmaker by the name of Gerardus Mercator applied the name "America" to both the northern and southern continents of the "New World". Because of that we have "North America" and "South America." And because of those mapmakers, those continents have been known as such ever since. All to name areas on maps previously known as "Mundus Novus" -- which is Latin for "New World".

After the 1492 "discovery," the Spanish began extending their empire into the Caribbean by using using Hispaniola, Cuba, and Puerto Rico as their bases to operate from. During that time, both Portugal and Spain would send their explorers to continue the effort of finding a trade route to Asia. Remember, the "New World" was not seen as the prize. Asia trade and the riches it held was the sought after prize. Those riches were the reason for the Age of Discovery. 

But, while a shorter trade route to Asia was seen as the ultimate prize, those empires would soon start laying claim to the "New World" found by Columbus. For the Portuguese, their influence extended to Brazil by 1500. Not too many years later Portugal established trade with China and Japan. 

Conquistador is the Spanish and Portuguese word for "conqueror." Conquistadors were professional soldiers schooled in European military tactics, firearms, the use of sword and pike, as mounted cavalry and as infantry. They specialized in combat fighting and survival in the worse conditions. While all were soldiers, many were knights, explorers, noblemen, of the Spanish Empire and the Portuguese Empire. 

Conquistadors were not restricted to Spain. In fact, conquistadors in the service of the Portuguese throne expanded the Portuguese Empire to South America, Africa, Asia, India, China, the Persian Gulf, and the East Indies. Spain sent conquistadors to the Americas in search of gold, silver, jewels, and land. The first Europeans to reach California were Spanish conquistadors commanded by Hernán Cortés. 

Hernán Cortés waged a campaign of conquest against the Aztec Empire from 1519 to 1521. From those conquered lands of the Aztec Empire, Spanish conquistadors expanded Spain's holding from Central America to what is today southern and western United States and Mexico. In the Spanish colonial era, Mexico was called "New Spain." Mexico City was founded in 1524 on the site of the ancient Mexica capital of Mexico-Tenochtitlan.

In 1533, Cortés sent conquistadors up the Pacific coast. Believe it or not, he too was looking for a shorter route to Asia. Instead of a shortcut to Asia and the East Indies, his conquistadors found a peninsula which they thought was an island. At first, they thought they found the mythical island of California named in a Spanish book of the time. Because of that, they named it that. Yes, that's how California got its name.

Why did they think it was an island when it wasn't? It's because they assumed the peninsula was actually an island when it was not. What they found was actually Baja California. It was later that Spanish conquistadors exploring the Pacific coast divided California into Baja and Alta California. Baja California later became part of what is now Mexico. 

It wasn't until 1542, that Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo led an expedition from New Spain (Mexico) up the Pacific coast. He and his expedition were the first Europeans to visit Alta California. Alta California became what is today the state of California. And yes, he too was in search of a shortcut to Asia. 

Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo was thought to be Portuguese, but is known to have explored the West Coast of North America on behalf of the Spanish Empire. He was the first European to explore present-day California, navigating along the coast of California from 1542 to 1543. While he went north up the Pacific coast, he is said to have only reached the area known today as San Diego, California.

There was a reason that he only reached as far north as San Diego. The California coast has extremely strong southern ocean currents. It's said that ships used to have to use a zig-zag course when heading north up the coast. Traveling south was done in half the time because it was a straight line south down the coast with the flow of the ocean currents. Spanish explorers, those conquistadors who settled lands for their empire, also struggled against winds that blew from the northeast along the California coast. Because of the combination of strong ocean currents that flowed north to south, and winds blowing sailing ships of the time off course, the steep cliffs and treacherous rocks along the coast threatened ships trying to make that journey.  

As for England's claim to California about that time? It should be noted that Spain had conquered the Philippines, naming them after King Philip II. Spanish ships brought spices and riches from the Philippines to newly created ports in New Spain (Mexico). Those ships carried silver and gold headed for Spain.

England's Queen Elizabeth I sent raider Sir Francis Drake to attack and rob those Spanish ships. Near what is known as Drake's Bay in Northern California, Sir Francis Drake stopped for a short time to repair his ship. He supposedly claimed that land for England. Of course, Spain sent more ships and England never pursued that claim.

Spanish explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno was considered a brave man who made a name for himself in the Spanish military during the Spanish invasion of Portugal in 1580. He was sent to New Spain (Mexico) in 1583. From there he sailed to Spain's holdings in the Philippines. In 1596, Vizcaíno charted Baja California with three ships and a small detachment of troops.

In 1601, the Spanish Viceroy in Mexico City, appointed Vizcaíno as the General-in-charge of a Second Expedition to locate safe harbors in Alta California. In 1602, Vizcaíno led an expedition from Acapulco, Mexico, north up the California coast while looking for a safe harbor. Spanish Manila galleons returning from Manila in the Philippines needed safe harbors on their return voyage to Acapulco.

Besides seeking a safe harbor, Vizcaíno was ordered to map in detail the California coastline which Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo had first explored 60 years earlier. He departed Acapulco with three ships on May 5, 1602. His flagship was the San Diego and the other two ships were the San Tomás and the Tres Reyes.

On November 10, 1602, Sebastián Vizcaíno entered and named San Diego Bay. Then he said north, and named such prominent California coast features as the Santa Barbara Channel Islands, Point Conception, the Santa Lucia Mountains, Point Lobos, Carmel River and Monterey Bay. Yes, the safe harbor he found and named was Monterey Bay.

It's said that he actually renamed many of the place that Cabrillo had already charted and named in 1542. During his 1602 expedition, Sebastián Vizcaíno was separated for one of his three ships, the Tres Reyes. Its commander was Martín de Aguilar. He is believed to have continued north after losing sight of Vizcaíno. It's believed that that Aguilar reached the coast of present-day Oregon as far as Cape Blanco. Some say Aguilar reached Coos Bay.

When I was in college, I remember being told how Spanish explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno reported that he found "a bay so big that all of the ships of all of the great powers of the world could fit within it." My teacher believed that Vizcaíno was actually reporting his discovery of San Francisco Bay. And though Sebastián Vizcaíno's reports of California were confirmed in the diary of Antonio de la Ascensión, a Carmelite friar and chronicler, a mapmaker, who traveled with Vizcaíno's 1602 expedition, the Spanish government assumed that Vizcaíno was talking about Monterey Bay. Believe it or not, the Spanish government is said to have assumed that Vizcaíno had embellished his discovery of such a large bay. The reason? They believed he did it so to justify asking for more funds for another expedition. Imagine that.

Vizcaíno's voyage did create a desire by Spain to establish a settlement at Monterey Bay. But, as surprising as it may sound today, the Spanish didn't make a move to create settlements in California for the next 167 years. While that is true, there may be a reason for that. In Vizcaíno's reports, he also said something about the California landscape that may be the reason why Spain halted all plans to create settlements in Alta California.

Besides reporting about how it was difficult to reach from the sea because of its jagged coast, Vizcaíno is said to have mentioned California's chaparral. Chaparral is a shrub primarily found in California and in the northern part of the Baja California. It's an extremely hardy plant that grows in California's Mediterranean climate after wildfires. Chaparral covers anywhere from 7 to 10% of the entire state of California depending on what you read.

The name "chaparral" comes from the Portuguese and Spanish word "chaparro" for evergreen oak shrub. Vizcaíno wrote that California is covered with it. For those familiar with chaparral, it is tough to navigate through on horseback. And while it makes extremely dense barriers, chaparral is an impediment to raising cattle. Vizcaíno wrote that because of the chaparral, the ground in California is not good for growing crops. Imagine that? California soil not being good to grow crops?

After Vizcaíno's 1602 expedition north, Spanish explorers didn't return to Alta California for more than 150 years. Spain's reasons for avoiding establishing settlements in Alta California are many. Alta California was seen as being difficult to reach by sea, its deserts and high mountains blocked feasible land routes, hostile Native Indians tribes hindered expeditions, and there was little incentive to settle Alta California because it was seen as being not good for growing crops. Those are the reasons that the Spanish stopped exploring California after Vizcaíno’s expedition.

I find it interesting that Spain's colonization plans for Alta California were canceled by 1608. I also find it interesting that Spanish interest in really colonizing Alta California was revived  because of Russian fur trading and colonization of Alaska in the 1760's. To keep the Russians from expanding south along the North American West Coast, the Spanish took another look at Alta California.

To help them in the settling of that unknown lands, Spain looked to Franciscan missionaries to convert Native Indians to Catholicism as they did for over a hundred years in Baja California. To help the Franciscans do that, the Spanish monarchy funded both the construction and the operation of the missions. Those missions were meant to expand Spanish rule in Alta California. 

The first Alta California mission and military presidio was established in San Diego in 1769 by Franciscan friars Junípero Serra and Gaspar de Portolá. In 1770, the second mission and military presidio was founded in Monterey. The city of Monterey, California, was founded on June 3, 1770. It was the capital of Alta California under both Spain and Mexico. San Jose, California, was the first pueblo founded in Alta California in 1777. Some believe it was Los Angeles, but the pueblo of Los Angeles was founded a few years later in 1781. 

In 1804, Governor Diego de Borica officially divided Alta (upper) from Baja (lower) California's by defining their official borders -- making their border just south of San Diego.  As for the borders with the United States, it was the Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819 between the United States and Spain established the northern limit of Alta California at latitude 42°N. 

By the way, the area encompassing all of what was known as Las Californias, "The Californias," was twice or more the size of Texas at one time. While latitude 42°N remains the boundary between the states of California, Nevada, Utah, Oregon and Idaho to this day, most of the lands of those states grew out of Las Californias.  


As for control of the missions? By Spanish decree, the mission property was to pass to the mission's Native Indian population, the people of their area, after a period of ten years. It was determined that it would take that long for Native populations to become subjects of the Spanish crown. During those ten years, the priests were to act as mission administrators with the land in trust. 

Well, that's not exactly how things worked out. Though the priests would assert that they native population owned the property and the livestock, those Franciscan friars didn't want to relinquish their control over the missions even after Alta California passed from Spain to an independent Mexico in 1822. Sadly, the transfer of property from the Catholic church to the residents of the area never did take place under the Franciscans. And to add to the problems, conflicts between the church and the government kept growing over land boundaries, natural resources, and livestock which was said to be mission properties. 

There were 21 Spanish missions established in California between 1769 and 1833. They were founded by Spain using Catholic priests of the Franciscan order to evangelize Native tribes and make them subjects of Spain. Those missions introduced European fruits, vegetables, cattle, horses, ranching, and technology to that frontier. It was the missions that led to the creation of the New Spain (Mexico) province of Alta California which became part of the Spanish Empire. Mexico won its independence in 1821, and Alta California became a territory of Mexico in 1822. Mexico did not send a Governor to California until two years later in 1824. The friars continued to run the missions until 1833.

Besides the mission system, Spain handed out huge land grants to help populate and stabilize Alta California. What took place during the Spanish rule was carried on later by the Mexican governments when it came to their rewarding retired soldiers in an attempt to keep them in California which was really considered a frontier in those days. Those large land grants, known as "ranchos," were for those retired soldiers to raise cattle and sheep, build local economies, and create a society akin to that in Spain. 

The building of the ranchos, and later the ranching itself, and even the domestic work in the homes of those huge estates were primarily done by peon laborers and Native Indians most of who grew up on the missions and learned farming and caring for the livestock from the friars. The Native Indians who were born in Spanish California, they spoke Spanish from birth. As the mission system was ending, the majority of cared for Native population either returned to their tribes or found work with the ranchos. 

As for the word "peon," it is a Mexican word which originally meant "someone who was an agricultural worker in servitude to his landlord." A peon is also defined as "a person with little authority, often assigned unskilled tasks, or an underling or any person subjected to capricious or unreasonable oversight."

The peons and Native Indians working on a rancho may have been laborers, but many were not seen as unskilled at all. Because of the mission system, most were seen a very knowledgeable of agriculture and livestock. Since hides and tallow from the livestock were the primary exports of California until the mid-19th century, ranchos needed knowledgeable skilled workers. As hide, tallow, wool, and textiles expanded, California leather products were being exported to neighboring United States, as well as to South America and Asia. 

To increase the population of Alta California, Spain sought to relocate some of its subjects from Sonora, Mexico, to that area. They were very few and met with a great deal of animosity by those already there. Many actually returned South. The economy looked promising and the ranchos became very successful, even though trade was restricted to foreigners. In fact, it's said that under Spanish rule and later the Mexican government, ranchos prospered and grew. 

The difference between a California Vaquero, also known as a Californio Vaquero, versus that of a Texas Cowboy in say 1840 was a matter of influence. The Texas Cowboy and his cattle handling techniques were more akin to the Mexican Vaquero culture. In contrast, the California Vaquero's habits and techniques were influenced out of closer ties to the Spanish Vaquero culture of Spain than that of New Spain (Mexico). 

The California Vaquero was unlike the Texas Cowboy in another aspect. While the Texas Cowboy may have been a drifter or seen as an easily replaceable laborer by ranchers in Texas, the California Vaquero was seen as highly skilled who was usually born and bred on the rancho that he worked for. 

The Spanish Vaquero culture of Spain, that of the caballero ranchero, the gentleman rancher, a man of good family, breeding, or social position, flourished in Spanish California. This was the case even though there were really only about 460 large ranchos by way of land grants, that's including the mission property that was lost by 1833. 

It should be noted that after generations of Californios, while some were descendants of the original Spanish explorers, settlers, and those retired soldiers, most were of mixed ethnicities of Spanish and Native American. With the exception of the Franciscan friars, and the government officials and military officers from Spain, there were very few Californios who were actually what anyone would consider of "pure" Spanish ancestry by the time California became part of Mexico in 1822.   

California's mixed ancestry did not stop the California ranchero, the rancher, from trying to live in a style more like that of the wealthy hidalgo nobility of Spain. This included a busy social life. In fact, some have described what took place as a sort of "horse bound party circuit" between the ranchos. Using any reason for a celebration, besides weddings and baptisms, fiestas and fandangos were common place. Rodeos sprang from roundups and soon competition between Vaquero of different ranchos was taking place. Yes, no different than the beginnings of rodeo that were taking place in other parts of the west. 

It's said the California Vaquero generally married young, and raised ranch families. Their children were educated on the ranch, worked along side of the peon and the Native American laborers, learned about farming and livestock whether it was sheep or cattle or goats, learned to ride at very early ages, were taught to work horses, and were raised with the intention of inheriting the family rancho. All of that took place in a completely different environment for raising cattle than that of Texas, Arizona, and Mexico. 

California's milder climate allowed for more intensive grazing with less open range. Cattle in California shipped locally without the need to be driven hundreds of miles to railroad lines. There was no such thing as open ranges or long cattle drives of hundreds of miles to get their cattle to market. Let's keep in mind that as early as the 1840's, Texas cattle were taken over the Shawnee Trail to Iowa, Missouri and Ohio, to get them to markets. In many cases, besides losing cattle to Indians, herds driven to market looked fairly worn out by the time they arrived. That sort of toil and hardship simply didn't take place in California where cattle being driven to local markets had a better chance of keeping their weight and selling for more. 

As for horses, they were extremely plentiful in Spanish California. Horses were so plentiful that those in the wild competed for grazing with the cattle. And in some situations, to stop them from taking grazing from cattle, they were shot for food. Later during the California Gold Rush, it was common for horses to be used as a food source for California Indians. 

Because they grew up with horses, it's said that the California Vaquero were excellent riders, understood horses, and were more patient when it came to the training of horses when compared to the vaquero found in Texas and Mexico. Because of the milder climate, California Vaquero spent more time in the saddle working their horses than others in harsher climates. 

Because of both the California climate and the unique culture, the California Vaquero developed a different style of riding. For example, the Texas style of riding was more like the Anglo riders in America than that of the California Vaquero style. That again has to do with the influence of Mexico on Texas versus the influence of Spain on California.

The California Vaquero is said to have had a much more horse and livestock handling culture with a stronger direct Spanish influence more so than that of Texas which had more of a Mexican influence. It is said that from those California ranchos, the cattle ranchers, and their lifestyle, came a unique Californio culture. And imagine, this all came about because Spain was looking for a shortcut to Asia.

Of course, it really should be noted that the California Vaquero were being called "buckaroos" by English-speaking newcomers to California as early as the mid-1820's when our American traders showed up on the scene. Since "Va" is pronounced as "Bah" in Spanish, the word "buckaroo" is the anglicized version of the word "Vaquero." It's actually the same as how "McCarty" reins are the English language miss pronunciation of "Mecate" reins. No, that type of reins were not named after anyone by the name of McCarty.  

For Americans arriving in California, besides seeing a Mexican government in constant change and turmoil to the point of being completely ineffective and corrupt, they learned that the Californio Vaquero were not above teaching their ways of horsemanship. But, Americans wanting to learn their ways had to understand that they needed to speak Spanish. Even though trade with the United States was becoming more and more common by the 1830's and 1840's, few in California knew how to speak English. 

As time progressed, some California Vaquero traditions held while other sadly died away. Today, the "buckaroo" style of riding shares many similarities with the California Vaquero of days gone by. And yes indeed, today the words "buckaroo" and even "vaquero" are still used in some places out West -- especially by those American Cowboys living the California Vaquero ranching traditions.

Tom Correa

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Howard Zinn Was An Anti-American Fraud


A few of my readers have asked if I've ever heard of Howard Zinn. A few of you have asked for my opinion of him. I gather I'm being asked this question because his work is being taught in colleges and universities around the United States these days. He is part of the reason that so many college students seem to hate America these days.

For the record, I have read some of his works while doing research. Frankly, I see Zinn as just a fraud. I have never found anything that he wrote to be honest. I find that his work as a supposed historian is for those who hate America. He fills a need for those looking for reasons to hate our country. He published all sorts of slanderous fantasies, purely fabrications, to justify his hatred of America. And the fact is, those who hate America love his anti-Americanism. His hatred for America feeds those who feel the same.

I'm asked if I think Howard Zinn lies in his books. From what I can see, he fabricates reasons that events took place and then attempts to pass his assertions off as fact. He tries to get his readers to believe that what he says actually took when what he says is not why the actual events took place. Yes, that's called "re-writing history."

And really, his preposterous ramblings of why things took place the way he says they did are criminally dishonest. I've read some of them and saw for myself that his findings are totally unfounded, not credible at all. Most are his baseless opinions. Of course, I think he was being intentionally dishonest to meet his Leftist political agenda of victim-hood and anti-Americanism.

Let's be real here, I'm just a writer who reports what I find interesting in history. My belief about reporting history is pretty simple: Just tell the truth about what I've found.

I believe true historians should call balls and strikes as they really happened. They should be honest, accurate, and fair. Americans love fairness. We love people who are fair. That's why most of America is not watching CNN and MSNBC. Americans don't see them as being fair or impartial. Most see their stories as falsehoods to attack people who don't share their political leanings.

Reporting history should be like reporting the news when it's reported honestly and objectively. Don't insert your own believe system, political leaning, or biases. State facts, not hearsay, half-truth, lies, and don't spread unfounded myths.

If historians give us the facts, then we'll be in a position to draw our own correct conclusions of what took place. To do this, historians should not try to interpret what they think took place. If parts of a story are unknown, they are not known. Don't try to guess what took place. And certainly, don't fabricate facts.

As for sources, use original sources whenever possible. Don't rely on what others have written or said. Their source could be wrong or suspect at best. Verify information. Gather, update and correct information. Avoid supposition, speculation, and conjecture. Above all, never deliberately distort facts to fit one's agenda. Americans don't like it when it appears an umpire is rooting for one team over another.

Being impartial is something Americans should expect from umpires, referees, reporters, and historians. Without impartiality, without objectivity, whatever a historian says simply does not matter.

Howard Zinn's hatred for the United States stopped him from being an impartial and objective historian. He was once heard saying, "Objectivity is impossible, and it is also undesirable. That is, if it were possible it would be undesirable, because if you have any kind of a social aim, if you think history should serve society in some way; should serve the progress of the human race; should serve justice in some way, then it requires that you make your selection on the basis of what you think will advance causes of humanity."

Did you get that? For him, teaching, or reporting history has to have "a social aim." That history "should serve justice." That you as a historian should report your findings "on the basis of what you think will advance causes of humanity."

Since Howard Zinn admired Communist leaders Joe Stalin and Mao, what do you think his idea of advancing causes means? Fact is, when anyone reads his read his drivel and his bio, you see that Zinn was a Socialist and an avowed Communist. It wouldn't surprise you to find out that he really did belong to the Communist Party in the late 1940's.

Howard Zinn hated the United States for all sorts of reasons. As for the idea that he lied in his books because he wanted his slanderous version of history to make America the great nation that he envisioned, he wanted a Communist America. He hated many things about the United States including our Capitalist system and our military -- which some say was because of what he himself experienced in the Army Air Corps during World War II. 

Zinn was a self-proclaimed Democrat Socialist Anarchist, an anti-War Democrat who visited Hanoi during the Vietnam War and sided with the people who were killing American troops. He called for America's withdrawal from Vietnam, while knowing full-well that the South Vietnamese would not survive against the North Vietnamese backed by the military might of the Soviet Union and Communist China. He is said to have blamed the United States for the Communist invasion of the South. Some say he celebrated when South Vietnam fell to the Communist in 1975.

In 1985, it was revealed that the Communist victors killed over 2.5 Million South Vietnamese people in their Re-Education Camps created to indoctrinate all in the Communist order. Zinn refused to admit that he was wrong about the Communist threat after the world found out about the mass extermination, the genocide. Instead, being the good follower of Communism, Zinn acting as a Communist propagandist practiced the art of making the false moral equivalence of excusing the killing fields and Communist genocide by saying the policies of Communist regimes were no worse than that of the United States.

Howard Zinn excused murderous Communism as a means to an end. All in all, he was a die-hard Communist who supported the goal of spreading Communism no matter what it costs in blood -- or how many people were enslaved by totalitarian masters. Of course, his hypocrisy like those on the Left today was obvious to all. We know this since he saw nothing wrong with making money from selling his anti-American rubbish. And he did, since several like-minded Communist university professors used his books in their classes, his anti-Americanism made him wealthy.

What's my opinion of Howard Zinn? Based on what I've found, Howard Zinn was a Communist and fraud who passed himself off as an authority of American History.

In reality, his fictional accounts of what took place in history were all of his own creation. Reading his accounts of historical events doesn't depict what really took place. It's all fabrications on his part with nothing supporting his assertions. When talking about someone deliberately distorting facts to fit one's agenda, that's Howard Zinn and the work of a warped Leftist mind.

I believe his works were all meant to push a narrative of people being victimized by America policies, all while supporting his love of Communism. He did so to influence the weak minded who are easily swayed to hate America. Sadly, he was influential in shaping the way many students in America see our nation today.

As for the Communist United States that Zinn envisioned? We can all thank God that we have never surrendered our nation to such a horror. While today there are many Leftists students in America who will dote on every word of anti-Americanism from that fake historian, they should realize that they are being played for fools.

Howard Zinn was fired from Spelman College, but his Leftist leanings were a perfect fit at Boston University. From what I can see, he must have had very little respect for young people, especially college students. After all, Zinn as the Communist propagandist that he was, he must have assumed that those who read and believed his work were very stupid, gullible, weak minded, and hated America as much as he did.

Since those who espouse Communism see people who believe their brand of false information as useful idiots, he must have thought he was influencing impressionable fools and dummies too stupid to know they were being sold lies. He must have seen them as easy to deceive, easy to manipulate and take advantage of, easy to use to further his agenda of anti-Americanism.

Tom Correa

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Indian Treaties And The Ponca Mistake

Moni Chaki (Ponca Chief Standing Bear)
When I first started working on this a few years ago, I wanted to talk about how treaties don't usually stand the test of time. If there's one thing that rings true throughout the history of mankind: Treaties are promises made, but seldom kept. We know that one of the very first treaties was inscribed on a stone block around 2100 BC regarding a border agreement between the rulers of Lagash and Umma in Mesopotamia -- and it was broken by war.

More recent in our history was the Treaty of Paris which ended the American Revolutionary War. Representatives of King George III of Great Britain and representatives of the newly formed United States of America signed that peace treaty in Paris, France, on September 3, 1783. Yes, thought July 4th, 1776, was the day we declared our Independence -- September 3, 1783 was the day when we won our Independence and became a nation.

That treaty set the boundaries between the British Empire and the United States on this continent. Believe it or not, it even included details regarding fishing rights, restoration of destroyed property, and returning prisoners of war. Less than 30 years later, that peace treaty meant absolutely nothing.

In fact, when the War of 1812 broke out, the British invaded the United States to take back what they believed was rightfully theirs. The British actually torched most of Washington D.C. to show the Americans that the Treaty of Paris was null and void.

We all know that the pages of human history are filled with good intentions. When it comes to treaties, man's history is littered with treaties that were painstakingly sought yet later broken. For me, I was in the Marine Corps in 1975 when I saw first hand how nations make treaties and break them to fit their own plans, political agenda, or desire for conquest.

In the case of what took place in 1975, it was the violation of the Paris Peace Accords which was the peace treaty that ended the Vietnam War. In January of 1973, I had just turned 17 years-old and had started the paperwork to enlist in the Marine Corps. Later that same month, the Paris Peace Accords was signed. That peace treaty was supposed to establish peace in Vietnam and end the Vietnam War. 

The treaty agreed to remove all remaining American forces from Vietnam. The negotiations that led to the treaty, like other treaties throughout history, actually started years before it was agreed upon. As with most treaties, all concerned sought to ensure that it benefited them. 

Almost as soon as it was signed, the North Vietnamese Communist violated it's provisions. In fact, for the next two years, the Communist North Vietnamese, supported by the Soviet Union and Communist China, frequently broke that agreement only to be met with weak response by South Vietnamese forces who by then were not supported by the United States military. We promised to support them, but we didn't because by then the politicians here didn't care if the result would be wholesale slaughter and Communist enslavement or oppression.

In fact, it was only a couple of months after that peace treaty was signed that fighting broke out there. That was March of 1973. The Communist North Vietnamese started an offensive to increase their control and acquire more of South Vietnam by the end of that year. It was two years later when North Vietnamese Communist launched a massive offensive to conquer all of South Vietnam. They defeated South Vietnam on April 30, 1975.

I was there as a part of Operation Frequent Wind when that took place. I remember how we all worked as hard as we could to get as many friendly South Vietnamese out of that country. We all knew the Communist would kill anyone who had been in the South Vietnamese government, friendly to Americans, or who they saw a threat to their indoctrinating the South, enslaving the South, to accept Communism. 

The people of South Vietnam wanted to live free but were conquered by the Communist that year. For the next ten years, it was a closed nation. No one knew what was really taking place there. But that changed in 1985. Ten years after the Fall of Saigon, a European news agency reported about the Communist Re-Education Camps. I remember watching the reports, and was shocked to hear that millions of South Vietnamese had been exterminated in those camps by the Communists.

Some estimates say the prison camps held a million to two million inmates for Communist indoctrination. That may be the case considering reports say there were more than 400,000 former South Vietnamese military officers and enlisted personnel placed in those camps. Along with them were tens of thousands civilians who worked for the South Vietnamese government, thousands of teachers, nurses, doctors, writers, farmers, businessmen, political activists, and all sorts of others who the Communist saw as threats to their creating a perfect Communist slave state.

Moving pass my justifiable hate for Communism, as I said before, treaties are broken all the time by everyone. No, contrary to some, not just the United States. Does that make it okay? Of course not. But, whether it's okay or not has nothing to do with that fact that it has happened over and over and over again for as long as man has walked this earth. By the way, for you who will write me saying that's a baseless opinion, it's not. It is a conclusion that anyone would come to when looking at history. And if you don't think Native Americans broke treaties and its just the United States that did so, here's one example of tribes breaking a treaty just so they would be able to wage war on age old enemy tribes.

The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 was signed on September 17, 1851, between United States treaty commissioners and representatives of the Arapaho, Arikara, Assiniboine, Cheyenne, Crow, Hidatsa, Mandan, and Sioux Nations. The treaty set traditional territorial claims, and the United States government acknowledged that all the land covered by the treaty was considered Indian territory. The federal government did not claim any part of it. 

In return, the tribes guaranteed safe passage for American settlers on the Oregon Trail, and allow for the building of roads and forts on those lands. This was in exchange for a 50 year/$50,000 annuity to be paid in cash to each tribe. My friends, $50,000 in 1851 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $1,664,896.10 today (2020).

The treaty was meant to be effective and create a lasting peace among the eight tribes since each of them waged war on the others at different times. Sadly, that treaty was broken before it could get ratified by the Senate. Fact is, while the ink was still wet, the Sioux and Cheyenne violated that treaty when they joined forces to wage war against the Crow Indians. Over the next two years, that was a very bloody war. 

The U.S. government made about 370 treaties with various Native American nations. All were painstakingly negotiated over and signed by U.S. Commissioners and tribal leaders starting in 1788 until 1868. Of those treaties, the U.S. Senate ratified most Indian treaties that were negotiated with tribes from the Atlantic to the Pacific. No, treaties with tribes were not restricted to only western tribes. At least 45 of those treaties were never ever ratified by the Senate simply because they never truly went into effect -- such as the case with the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 because it was violated so quickly. 

Did those treaties, among other things, promise permanent lands, money, food, clothing, seeds, shovels, and recognition of the Indian tribes as nations? Yes. Many of the treaties did all of that and much more. Sadly, mostly because of politics and changes of administrations at the time, most of those treaties made promises that our federal government didn't keep. We will talk more about that in a minute, but really it's a sad history that many tribes saw as a betrayal of trust between them and the United States for good reason.  

Fact is, treaties became so hard to keep for one reason or another that the U.S. Congress ended treaty-making with Indian tribes in 1871. Since that time, agreements with Indian tribes has been left to Congressional Acts, and even Executive Orders. Why was the treaty policy with Indians changed? Frankly, I believe it had to do with an unsupported by government bureaucracy, and the Peace Commission which I talk about in a minute or so. It also had to do with situations changing for one unforeseen reason or another.

For example, one unforeseen event was the Pike's Peak Gold Rush. In 1858, the federal government failed to stop the flood of miners and settlers into Colorado during the Pike's Peak Gold Rush. So besides the Sioux and Cheyenne fighting the Crow Indians, the flood of Americans into the area was a big factor why the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 didn't hold together. 

Soon, the very people who the tribes agreed to allow to pass through their lands -- then decided to stay and take over Indian lands in order to mine them. Gold fever brought in thousands who had zero respect for the U.S. government, U.S. troops trying to keep them out, treaties made, whether or not they were violating treaties, and certainly didn't respect the property that belonged to the tribes. 

Another thing took place in regards to resources. Just as what took place in California in 1849, the flood of gold seekers and opportunists competed with the tribes for water and food in the form of game. Soon, the tribes were being driven out because of limited resources. All of this resulted in horrors and years of war. 

While most agree that this was all because of the federal government not enforce the treaty to keep out the gold hungry emigrants, and we now that scenario is also what would kill the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, I can't help but wonder if the U.S. Army was even capable of keeping out such a huge influx of people determined to come in. While I'm not trying to get political here, even with the capabilities and technologies that we have today in comparison to what was available to our 19th century cavalry in 1858 or 1868, the federal government has had a hard time securing our Southern border with Mexico. That's today. Knowing this, knowing how difficult it is to keep out those who don't belong here in today's world with all of the modern technology at our disposal, it makes me question whether blaming the government for not keeping out the gold seekers is really justified.

I was recently reading about the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868. I am not too surprised that there are people alive today who really think that treaty is still in effect even though it was broken and violated, and screwed-up when it was made. 

How many broken treaties, treaties that were signed and violated, yet are considered by some to still be in effect? Who knows. The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 is interesting to me for a number of reasons. I was recently contacted by someone who told me that it is in fact still in effect -- even though it was broken, violated, became null and void after the Little Big Horn, and obsolete in today's world. And no, he didn't know about the screw-up when it was made. He didn't know about the Ponca mistake.

What Is The Ponca Mistake?

In 1868, the United States signed a peace treaty with the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota Sioux tribes, and the Arapaho. Known as the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, the treaty established the Great Sioux Reservation. It's lands were west of the Missouri River while also designating the Black Hills as "unceded Indian Territory."

Troubles with that treaty started immediately. Not between the United States and the Sioux tribes, but between the Sioux and the Ponca Indians. This has to do with the screw-up that I've been talking about. Yes, the Ponca mistake. It was a mistake that pit tribe against tribe, and later caused a real problem of credibility for the Sioux who has claimed the Great Sioux Reservation as stipulated in that treaty.

Fact is, in Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, the federal government screwed-up and mistakenly included all Ponca lands in the Great Sioux Reservation that the U.S. gave to the Sioux. This mistake created conflicts between the Ponca and the Sioux who used the Fort Laramie Treaty to claim the land as their own. The Sioux told the Ponca that their ancestral lands where now theirs because the U.S. government said so. To make matter worse, the federal government didn't fix the problem. Instead, they made it worse by forcing the removal of the Ponca Indians from their own ancestral lands -- and relocating them to Oklahoma.

If we look at who was there first, the Ponca had claimed to the Black Hills and what became the Great Sioux Reservation simply because the Ponca Indians were there ages before the Sioux ever arrived. The Sioux were newcomers to that area in comparison to the history of the Ponca, and yet it was the Ponca who lost their lands to the Sioux who were willing to use American laws and treaties to deny the Ponca their ancestral rights. Yes, the Sioux denied the Ponca their ancestral lands using the mistake made by the federal government.

Why the mistake? Let me explain. There were many small Indian nations such as the Ponca, Omaha, Osage, Kansa, and Quaqaw tribes in the South Dakota and Nebraska areas. The Ponca, Omaha, Osage, Kansa, and Quaqaw tribes once lived in a large area east of the Mississippi River long before Christopher Columbus ever found the Bahamas in 1492. Many of those five tribes moved west while being chased out by other warring tribes. Yes, many tribes chased others tribes off their lands the exact same way that they United States chased tribes off their lands. 

As for the Ponca and Omaha Indians, they were allies and split from the other three tribes around 1500. They went by following the Des Moines River to its headwaters, then they moved northeast. They crossed the Missouri River and ran into the Arikara Indians. They waged war against the Arikara Indians, eventually driving the Arikara out of the area. That was the west bank of the Missouri River. That area is included in what is today the state of Nebraska.. 

Not to long after defeating the Arikara in a horrible war, the Ponca and Omaha separated. Some speculate they separated sometime around 1600.  By 1700, the Ponca were living on lands where the Niobrara River flows into the Missouri River. We know this because they are listed on maps from 1701, and were known by fur traders at the time. 

Around 1789, the Ponca Indians living near the mouth of the Niobrara River lost a lot of their people from a smallpox epidemic. Records from the Lewis and Clark expedition talk about their numbers of Ponca Indians at only about 200 by 1804. While it's said that the Ponca tribe was never that large, it's believed that they only numbered 800 between 1800 and 1900,

The Ponca Indians signed their first treaty with the United States in 1817. They signed another treaty with the U.S. government in 1825. That treaty was to get help to stop the wars between the tribes. Another treaty with the U.S. government was signed in 1858. In the 1858 treaty, the Ponca gave up parts of their land to the federal government.

It was that 1858 treaty that granted the Ponca Indians a permanent reservation home on the Niobrara River. The Ponca did reserve a small area for the tribe to occupy. They agreed to move to the reserved area within one year after ratification of the treaty. They were promised that the new reservation would become their permanent home. 

In return for the land, the U.S. government promised them protection against hostile tribes which threatened to exterminate them. And there was more, the federal government promised to provide them with 30 year annuities in the form of cash, schools for ten years, a mill to grind grain and one to saw timber, and federal employees in the form of an interpreter, a miller, a mill engineer, and a farmer. In an 1858 report by the Commissioner for Indian Affairs at the time, he stated that the mission of the treaty was to "colonize and domesticate" the Ponca Indians.

Life on the reservation was tough for the Ponca Indians. While "life being tough on a reservation" is heard a lot when talking about Indian reservations in general, part of the reason that they had it tough had to do with the Sioux. For the Ponca Indians, giving up hunting and taking up farming was not a major problem for them. They planned on doing so, and saw it as something that could be done.

The problems that they had on the reservation had to do with a general failure of the federal government to live up to its promises. Their problems farming had to do with drought and locust. Their big problem had to do with the Sioux. The Sioux killed the Ponca livestock, destroyed their crops, and waged a war against them with the federal government refusing to step in to stop it. 

The Ponca signed their last treaty with the U.S. government in 1865. In that treaty the Ponca agreed to move their reservation to the east and south of where they were located. In that treaty, the Ponce Indians gave up most of its 1858 reservation in exchange for lands surrounding them south of the Niobarara River and Ponca Creek. They were also given islands in the Niobrara River which were next to their new reservation lands. In all, the 1865 treaty guaranteed them a reservation of 96,000 acres in Knox and Boyd Counties in present day Nebraska. 

The 1865 treaty was very specific in that it stated its reasons for being agreed upon. It states the agreed up move of the Ponca was to return them to their ancient burial grounds, to return their traditional lands, and to relocate the Ponca tribe away from the Sioux who were attacking them from the West. So in the hopes of avoiding further war with the Sioux, the Ponca moved. As for holding up their end of the treaties, the Ponca Indians were known to have kept up their part of the treaties to the letter. In fact, it's said that unlike the Sioux who violated their treaties by conducting raids and attacking Americans outside of their reservation lands, the Ponca never stole from, attacked, or killed Americans.

As for the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, when the federal government signed that treaty with the Sioux, that treaty created the Sioux reservation, That treaty included most of South Dakota west of the Missouri River. By mistake, the U.S. government screwed-up the 1868 treaty with the Sioux by also including the southern boundary of the South Dakota area which were already lands reserved for the Ponca Indians in the 1865 treaty.

Yes, it's true, two different tribes were granted the same land by treaty with the U.S. And because that was done, the U.S. government literally gave the Ponce land to the Sioux. 

How could that happen? Well, it appears that the Fort Laramie Treaty Commissioners who had either forgotten about the provisions of the 1865 treaty with the Ponca, or were simply ignorant of what the 1865 treaty contained. 

Who was the Fort Laramie Treaty Commissioners? The members of the commission included:
Nathaniel Green Taylor, former Methodist minister and commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs; Senator John B. Henderson, chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, sponsor of the bill that authorized the commission; Samuel F. Tappan, journalist, abolitionist, and activist, chair of the investigation into the Sand Creek massacre; John B. Sanborn, former U.S. Army Major General, , and former member of the commission organized by Alfred Sully to investigate Fetterman's defeat; U.S. Army Brevetted Major Generals Alfred Terry and William S. Harney; U.S. Army Major Gen. Christopher C. Augur, Commander of the Department of the Platte; and U.S. Army Lt. Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, Commander the Division of the Missouri. 

Known as "The Indian Peace Commission" or the "Great Peace Commission," they were a group created by an act of Congress on July 20, 1867, "to establish peace with certain hostile Indian tribes." From 1867 and throughout 1868, the commissioners negotiated with a number of tribes -- to include the Arapaho, Bannock, Cheyenne, Comanche, Kiowa, Kiowa-Apache, Navajo, the five bands of Sioux, and Snake Indian tribes. 

In short, the treaties were designed to put the tribes to reservations in an effort "to remove, if possible, the causes of war; secure, as far as practicable, our frontier settlements and the safe building of our railroads looking to the Pacific;  and to suggest or inaugurate some plan for the civilization of the Indians." Yes, with the purpose of "civilizing them." But also to encourage assimilation, and transition their individual cultures away from nomadic and to an agricultural existence. 

The Peace Commission was formed because the Indian Wars were expensive. They were also formed because the debate over what was known as the "Indian question" which focused on steering the U.S. away from a state of constant war in the West. The U.S. Congress, which can't usually decide on anything, concluded that peace was a lot more preferable to complete extermination which was being advocated by some political and military leaders in Washington D.C. at the time. And believe it or not, the commission was authorized to raise a Volunteer Army of 4,000 men to move the tribes by force if the treaty process failed. 

In all, because language barriers adversely affected negotiations, the question was asked if the tribes even know what they were agreeing to in the treaties. Some believe they didn't fully understand most of the provisions they agreed to. Of course, besides the challenge regarding communications, the Peace Commission assumed that the tribal leaders could act on their tribes' behalf. In fact, that wasn't the case at all. Tribal leaders had no power because tribes made decisions by consensus. That meant those chiefs who were negotiating for their tribes, really did so without any sort of authority to make their people adhere to the treaties. 

To compound the problems from the U.S. government side of the equation, the Commission acted as a representative of Congress -- but what they agreed upon was not always what government bureaucrats saw as right or needed. Because of that, some treaties that were agreed to saw no movement in Washington D.C. or were rejected outright by some departments. And really, even for those treaties that were ratified by the Senate, treaties that promised benefits such as food and supplies, they were often delayed or not provided at all by departments in the federal government that purposely dragged their feet doing what they were tasked to do. 

All of these factors, lack of communication, lack of leadership, and the actual sabotage of the peace effort within the U.S. government bureaucracy, are many of the reasons why the Indian Peace Commission is seen as a failure. The Peace Commission's efforts went for not as the conflict started up again. For a brief moment in 1868, it seemed as though peace may have been achieved. But really, that's probably the feeling of most who accomplish such agreements. 

It is easy to see that treaties were unsupported by government bureaucracy and situations changing. All are part of the reasons why Congress stopped the practice of treaty making with tribes in 1871. The other reasons that the Congress stopped the practice of treaty making has to do with two official reports which came out as a result of the failure of the Peace Commission. Those reports recommended: (1) the U.S. government stop recognizing tribes as sovereign nations, (2) refrain from making treaties with Indian nations, (3) use military force against those tribes who refused to relocate to reservations, and (4) move the Bureau of Indian Affairs from the Department of the Interior to the Department of War. So yes, the treaty system collapsed. And what followed was a prolonged Indian War.

Is it possible for treaties to simply become obsolete or archaic? Well, many treaties of days gone by contain obsolete commitments or obsolete requirements. Many of the provisions regarding supplying food, water, blankets, plant seeds, needles, flannel shirts for Indian women, became part of a bygone era. Besides becoming unnecessary in many cases, many provisions of treaties ended up being fulfilled or were superseded by state or federal legislation. Issues such as education, health, welfare, the homeless, drug use, poverty, business opportunities, revitalization, and others, extend way beyond treaty requirements or what treaties ever covered years ago. 

Here's another aspect of today versus yesterday when it comes to treaties. A lot of services provided to Native American Indians by the Federal Government are provided to some Native American Indian groups which never had treaties with the United States. Not having a treaty hasn't stopped federally recognized tribes from getting assistance today.

So now, you're probably wondering what happened after the Ponca Indians' land was given to the Sioux by mistake. Well, the Sioux waged war over that land since the U.S. government now said it was theirs. And to make matter worse, the U.S. government decided to relocate the Ponca to Oklahoma. 

When Congress decided to relocate several northern tribes to present-day Oklahoma in 1876, the Ponca were one of those tribes. on the list. After refusing to go because the land there was unsuitable for farming, the Ponca Indians were moved to the Indian Territory by force in early 1877. Once there, times were hard for the Ponca Indians. It is said that they fought malaria, a shortage of food, and were not used to the hot Oklahoma climate. It's said one in four of their tribe died within the first year.

Standing Bear v. Crook (1879)

Ponca Chief Standing Bear protested the tribe's removal. There's a story about how the Chief's eldest son, Bear Shield, was on his deathbed when Standing Bear promised that he would one day bury him on their tribe's ancestral lands. To do that, to fulfill his promise, Chief Standing Bear left the reservation in Oklahoma and traveled back the Ponca homelands given to the Sioux. Some say it was the Sioux who contacted the U.S. government and had Chief Standing Bear arrested.

When he was confined at Fort Omaha, the newspapers got a hold of the story of the Ponca Indian Chief returning to his tribes rightful ancestral home to find a place to bury his son. Soon there were many well-meaning people who took his side. Two were prominent attorneys who offered their services pro bono

Through those attorneys, Chief Standing Bear filed a habeas corpus suit challenging his arrest. General Crook was named as the formal defendant because he was holding the Ponca Chief under color of law. In what is considered a landmark case of Standing Bear v. Crook (1879), the U.S. District Court in Omaha, Nebraska, established for the first time that Native Americans are "persons within the meaning of the law" of the United States, and that they have certain rights as a result. This was an important Civil Rights case. In fact, Ponca Chief Standing Bear was the first Native American judicially granted their Civil Rights under American law.

By 1881, the federal government returned 26,236 acres of Knox County, Nebraska to the Ponca Indians. It's said only half of the tribe left their homes in the Indian Territory and returned north. 

As for the Ponca tribe today, in the 1960's the federal government terminated the tribe which was listed as the Northern Ponca from their listings. The government distributed its land by allotment to tribal members, and then sold off the rest. It's believed that fraud was involved when members were tricked into selling off their separate allotments over the years. 

The Ponca Indian tribe has worked hard to reestablish its cultural identity and improve its place in the world today. Seeking recognition and legitimacy is a tough task, but their labor was rewarded on October 31, 1990, when the Ponca Restoration Bill was signed into law by President George H. W. Bush. Today, the Ponca is a federally recognized tribe.

I find it interesting that some question the legitimacy of the Ponca Indians being in the north before the Sioux or many other tribes. Back in the 1930s, an archeological dig excavated a prehistoric Ponca village. Among the items unearthed were large circular homes up to sixty feet in diameter, located a couple of miles along the south bank of the Niobrara River. 

The good news today is that the Ponca are recognized as the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska with over 2,780 tribal members. Their tribe is today headquartered in Niobrara, Nebraska. Sadly though, even though their history proves they belong there, the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska is the only federally recognized tribe in Nebraska without its own reservation. That is something that should be remedied. 

Tom Correa