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By Thomas Fleming

By the time John Brown hung from the gallows for his crimes at Harper’s Ferry, Northern abolitionists had made him a ““holy martyr” of their crusade opposed to Southern slave vendors. This Northern hatred for Southerners lengthy predated their objections to slavery. They have been confident that New England, whose spokesmen had started the yank Revolution, must have been the chief of the hot country. as an alternative, that they had been displaced through Southern ““slavocrats” like Thomas Jefferson.

This malevolent envy exacerbated the South’s maximum worry: a race conflict. Jefferson’s cry, ““We are actually to be pitied,” summed up their dread. for many years, extremists in either areas flung insults and threats, developing intractable enmities. via 1861, just a civil conflict that might kill 1000000 males might keep the Union.

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For a few years, Mary Custis Lee have been a promoter of colonization. She manage a Sunday institution at Arlington within which she and her daughters taught the slaves to learn and write, and she or he suggested them to think about Liberia as a potential place of birth once they grew to become unfastened. In her diary she was hoping that they can “carry the sunshine of Christianity to that darkish heathen kingdom. ” She observed this as an try to do anything “for the advantage of these so solely established upon one’s will and enjoyment. ” Colonel Lee all started hiring out a few of slaves who refused to exertions productively at Arlington to neighboring plantations, the place overseers used to obedience could lead them to paintings, in any other case. This created one other problem—almost all Arlington’s humans belonged to 3 huge households, and so they protested at seeing their relationships disrupted, even if they have been advised it used to be a brief association. Arlington’s proximity to Washington, DC, extra yet one more challenge. Abolitionists have been a variety of within the capital, and so they usually made forays into Virginia and Maryland, pretending to be peddlers or tourists. they'd check with slaves, and in the event that they sensed discontent they might urge them to run away. The Lee relatives came upon of those activists speaking with Arlington’s slaves quickly after Mr. Custis’s demise. nine those uninvited viewers could have had no hassle getting the Arlington’s slaves to inform them that they have been being denied their freedom. The slaves even concocted a touching tale, during which the sick Mr. Custis had summoned them to his bedside and informed them they might be unfastened whilst he died. In 1859, 3 slaves made a touch for freedom—Wesley Norris, his sister Mary, and a cousin, George Parks. They have been stuck in Maryland on their option to the unfastened nation of Pennsylvania and have been again to Arlington. Lee employed them out to plantations in jap Virginia, the place a winning moment get away will be tough. numerous days later, letters seemed within the big apple Tribune. either accused Colonel Lee of ordering his overseer to strip the slaves and whip them on their go back to Arlington. whilst the overseer refused to whip the younger lady, the letter author claimed, “Mr. Lee himself administered the thirty 9 lashes to her. ” Lee’s basically reaction to those tales was once a letter to his son Custis: “The N. Y. Tribune has attacked me for my remedy of your grandfather’s slaves. I shall now not answer. He has left me a nasty legacy. ” Generations of historians have pushed aside those letters as abolitionist propaganda. yet a up to date Lee biographer has came across facts that confident her they're considerably real. In 1866, Wesley Norris released a letter in a Baltimore newspaper, reiterating that he have been whipped. This model passed over the tale of Lee in my view lashing Norris’s sister, Mary. Norris brought up the identify of the constable and different information, together with how much cash Colonel Lee paid the lawman. those extra evidence have confident Lee’s biographer that Norris’s letter was once no longer an abolitionist construction and the former letters have been considerably precise.

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