« Stuff You Missed in History Class

SYMHC Classics: Robert Smalls - From Contraband to Congress

2020-07-04 | 🔗

The second of our 2016 episodes on Robert Smalls. After his daring and impressive escape from slavery, Smalls was considered to be contraband, which was a term used for formerly enslaved people who joined the Union. But this was the beginning of an impressive career as a free man.

Learn more about your ad-choices at https://news.iheart.com/podcast-advertisers
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Give yourself a delicious taste of happy with a Starbucks carnal ribbon crunch Rapid Chino, blended beverage, swirl of ice cold, goodness made for sweet, slow, sipping, your data a treat the Starbucks after order ahead. This episode is I D by Mazda for most of us it's been a little bit since we ve been out on the road, but the Good NEWS is the road is still out there and you can say hello again with a monster. Malta as the best driving and best performing see you ve line up in the market, and I can say this from experience because they invited the podcast cast out California to do an absence. A beautiful derive from palm springs to San Diego, and I was clearly blown away by how intuitively that car responded to me as a driver for more information on the MOSS deceive you line up, including the first ever see Ex Thirty go to Mazda USA Dotcom, Slash, I heart and don't forget explore their strongest finance options.
Happy Saturday, listeners today we are finishing our two part Saturday, classic on Robert Smiles, whose in both the South Carolina, an U S, governments, after escaping from enslavement during the civil war. This episode, originally came out February. Seventeenth, twenty sixteen welcome. Don't you missed in history class a production of I radio hello and welcome to the pond house on Tracy V Wilson and I'm Holly Frey. They were picking you up where we left off in the story of Robert Smalls. So too, very very briefly: recap part one. He was enslaved from birth in the Mckee Household of Beaufort South Carolina pronounced differently from Beaufort North Carolina, even though they are both named after the same person. During this
a war he made a dramatic escape aboard a boat called the planter directly under the noses of the confederate military. His escape was a used to morale and the union and an embarrassment for the confederacy, and it also served to rally other enslaved persons who heard about it. He became something up. Celebrity in the north in a spokesperson for African Americans with the union at the time of his escape rammers miles was only twenty three years old. He was hailed as a hero in the union. newspapers, while the newspapers of the confederacy alternated between strongly denouncing when he done and then kind of downplaying it, while simultaneously casting tons of blame on the white soldiers than officers that had failed to stop him. Those officers who had left the boat overnight. I were indeed courtmartialed, although it was eventually thrown out on a technicality from a time
reach. The union blockade aboard the planter, Robert smiles and his family were free. They were considered to be contraband, which is a term that was used to describe morally enslaved people who joined the union, but this was just the beginning. Being of an impressive career as a free man when he reached the onward, which was one of the ships in the union blockade. Robber, small, is reported to have said till his tenant J, F Nicholas, who was in command quote. I thought this ship might be of some use to Uncle aim. I have some guns. The confederates took away from fort, so her and the planter was in fact extremely useful. She was fast and road very high in the water. So she was easy get in and out of shallow areas, while still carrying lots of men or cargo mirth smiles himself was a huge asset to the union as well references to his competence, intelligence and risk
worse. Fulness are all over the letters and papers of the union. Officers and soldiers who encountered him in the words of an Well, Samuel, F du Pont quote this man. Robert smiles is superior to any who has yet come into lines intelligent, as many of them have been. His information has been most interesting and portions of it of the utmost importance. I shall continue to employ Robert as a pilot aboard the planter for the inland waters, which he appears to be very familiar pilot by the way Dupont referring to him. That way was a promotion because he was slave. The highest rank that smells could hold under the confederacy was wheelman. He would eventually become the planters captain used the word wheelman with also, basically what we have to Oh pilots, therein slaved like he, was doing islets and its job, but they wouldn't call him that because he was enslaved
His familiarity with the inland waters was of huge certain strategic importance to the union he knew where minds had been laid. He knew which spots were likely to be used as ambushes. He knew which routes were used by smugglers. He basically Broadway have a mental atlas of the islands, rivers and sounds as well as confederate fortifications and the area robber small was happy to lend all of this knowledge to the union. Doing so meant that he was working against slavery rather than for it, as had been the case when he was forced to work for the Confederacy Roberts Valve military service. Union began pretty much immediately, but he couldn't actually join the Union Navy to do that, a person had to be literate in spite of that the Marquis family had been pretty lenient with him during his enslavement. They hadn't allowed him to learn to read, said work groundless,
strict in regarding his literacy. He was instead made essentially a civilian contractor for the army and then detailed back over to the navy during this The war smiles participated in seventeen different military engagements aboard the planter abortive ironclad ship called the key cook and other ships as well, but in addition to this time and combat thanks to the famous followed in the wake of his escape. He also did a lot of diplomatic fund raising and recruitment work for the union, for example, after it took Port Royal South, a line on the union wide its residents to grow cotton. They needed cotton for the war effort, but most of the people live there had until the arrival of the union been enslaved on a cotton plantation continuing to RO, cotton felt like doing the same thing for a different master, so a lot of people had planted food crops instead smells was in the negotiate he was familiar with. The people
in the area and he was bilingual able to speak. Both English and go go up is an English based Creole that draws from several west african languages and is spoken in the sea. Eyelids of South Carolina in Georgia. Smiles was able to negotiate a temporary compromised that allowed the growing of both cotton and food crops, his powers of waving were directed at the union government as well have we mentioned in the previous instalment of this story. General David Hunter had on of occasions, tried to free I'll, be enslaved persons in places where he was in command and the federal permanent had on both occasions shut this down, arguing
it was at the Congress or the president ends. Labour is not a general acting off on his own. In August, eighteen sixty two hunter met with smiles on the subject of recruiting African Americans into the union military. Although Hunter had been encouraging the acceptance of enslaved persons who reach union lines into military service in areas that were under his command, this was not official military policy hunter made arrangements for small to go to washing They see travelling with Reverend Mansfield French to speak with a secretary of war at when Stanton and with other members of Lincoln's cabinet smiles met with the Secretary of war on August. Twenty, if then, he met with the Secretary of the Treasury and after that, he and Reverend French met directly with Abraham, Lincoln Others, including Frederick Douglass, had already advised the president to encourage the recruitment of black soldiers into the union. Army smiles advised the same and said that he would
Cruet, ten thousand men himself, if the president allowed it. Ultimately, the president and the Secretary of WAR authorizing enlistment of black troops into the union army on August, twenty fifth eighteen, sixty two Roberts malls added recruiting black troops into the rest of his military work. He is reported to have recruited five thousand people, but I had been really find documentation of how that number was related and he did all of this war time work. While the south had placed a four thousand dollar bounty on him, along with an eight hundred dollar bounty on his wife or children, smiles continued his Terry Service. After the civil war becoming a major general of the South Carolina militia, he also moved into political service, which is what we will talk about after a brief word from a sponsor support for stuff. You missed in history class comes from our friends that right
mortgage by Quicken Loans home today is so much more than it was yesterday, but it rocket mortgage home is still about you during challenging times or I'll experiencing the top priority. A rocket mortgage is the health and safety of the communities they serve and wildly they're changing quickly every day. One thing that will never change as their teams commitment to giving you the best mortgage experience possible. That's why, if you need mortgage support, their team of experts is there to answer stones and offer solutions. They understand that hardships happen they are here to help. But does that mean working with you to save money on your mortgage or finding a new way to navigate payments. If you have questions the team racket, mortgage has answers, they may have port in your home, is to you because you are important to them. You need mortgage assistance. The home loan experts at rocket mortgage are available to help twenty four hours a day. Seven days a week from there to yours, the team at rocket mortgage is with you visit rocket mortgage dot com. Flash three to learn more call for costs for
in conditions. Equal housing lender licences of these states M S, consumer access that org number thirty. Thirty separate vote is brought you buy. Indeed, what is it twenty mean for small businesses. You have to do more with less the tar. and suddenly every single higher is critical, but there are fewer resources to find the right people. Indeed here to help. Indeed, com, is the number one job site in the world because indeed gets you the best people fast and unlike other sites, indeed give you full control and payment flexibility over your hiring. You only for what you need. You can pause your account at any time and there are no long term contracts plus, indeed provides powerful tools to make your search. The much easier with seventy, percent of online job seekers visiting. Indeed, each month indeed is
going to get you that important hire you need just like they have for over three million businesses. Right now, indeed, is offering our listeners a free. Seventy five dollar credit to boost your job post, which means more quality candidates, will see it fast try, indeed out with a free seventy five dollar credit at indeed dot com, slash history: this is their best offer available anywhere, go right now two. Indeed, dot com, slash history terms and conditions, apply, offer valid through September thirtieth, So before we get the Robert smells time in the South Carolina legislature. We mean to set stage a little bit with what happened after the end of the civil war, because his political career directly parallels other events in: U S, history, the two biggest most
If things that probably come to mind about the end of the civil war are that the states that had succeeded, rejoined the union and slavery was abolished, but it wasn't just a sum As the war is over. There were one country again and also there's no more slavery. There needed to be a plan for the former confederate states to demonstrate their loyalty to the United States and their also needed to be a plan to address the social, political and economic inequality that stem from the institution of slavery and try to rebuild damage to the nation and its infrastructure that has been caused by the war itself. These plans and the years which they played out became known as reconstruction. There is way too much reconstruction. Straight, to cover in one episode or even hand episodes. So this is an extremely basic overview, the grand idea,
behind reconstruction was to rebuild and unify the nation and to offset the inherent disadvantages that African Americans faced because of the institution of slavery, but a lot went wrong. First, there was significant back and forth between President Lincoln and Congress about what the plan should be Lincoln's plan boil down to the states abolishing slavery and ten percent of their eligible voters swearing an oath of allegiance Congress that, like this, was not enough and pass the way, Davis Bill which set a significantly higher bar for readmission, one that the president felt was too. hi, so he refused to sign it a much bigger. Issue was that when Abraham Lincoln Republican had run for re election in eighteen, sixty four, he had selected Democrat Andrew Johnson of Tennessee, as is running mate, and the hope that it would bring him the support of Democrats and perhaps voters with pro confederate leanings, along with strategies, this worked in Lincoln was re elected by a landslide, but that meant that
Abraham, Lincoln was assassinated. Johnson became president the same traits that had led some voters to support Johnson's. Vice presidency also led him to undermine some of the most important elements of reconstruction. He granted an amnesty that affected numerous Ex confederates, many of whom were then elected to the new governments of the southern states He set standards for readmission to the union that didn't do much to address the issues. Congress was trying to fix tv civil rights legislation. Although Congress adopted it over his veto, he ultimately declared that the? U and was restored, even though many of the rebelling states have actually done one or more of the very basic things that they were expected to do to be readmitted to the union as a side no Johnson was also the first president to be impeached for dismissing Edwin Stands Secretary of war, which violated the tenure of office act and to be clear.
bridesmaid to try to bring about equality after the civil war between one thousand eight hundred and sixty five and one thousand eight hundred and seventy, the thirteenth fourteenth and fifteenth amendments to the US constitution, which are known as the reconstruction amendments were ratified. The 13th of olive slavery The fourteenth, which we have talked about in a lot of episodes on this, show all citizens due process and equal protection under the law and the fifteenth gave all male citizens the right to vote, regardless of quote race, color or previous condition of servitude in eighteen, sixty five. The Friedman bureau was also established with the help of providing education, medical care and assistance with labour contracts to previously enslaved person but none of this was as broad a far reaching or effective, as Congress had hoped at the conclusion of the war. Sometimes people talk the failure of reconstruction, but really reconstruction was never given a chance to succeed. The election of former
better. At leaders to southern state, governments led to their governments actively working against reconstruction, many past explicitly discriminatory laws and policies, most immediately as early as November of eighteen, sixty five governments and former confederate states or passing black codes, which eventually evolved into Grit Jim Crow Laws, which nine African Americans basic legal rights and protections. All of this was playing as Robert Small became a community and political leader first in view first and then in South Carolina after the war smiles his and there too surviving children returned to Buford. He had been awarded fifteen hundred dollars for the capture of the planter, for quote rescuing her from the enemies of the government. It also saved
of his pay, as well as other financial awards that he got from various aspects of his service. He used six hundred and fifty dollars of this money to buy the former key home, which would which has since been sold to another family at a time action from mayor. He used some of his money to help establish businesses and to help other black families establish businesses of their own. He acquired land and property. Helped build a black owned railroad in Charleston. He also use his new found wealth to assist its former owners who had been financially ruined by the war. He purchased a small house for the keys and he helped their children find jobs after Henry Mickey died smiled at small had Missus MC he cared for in his own home. So I want to be clear here. This turn about does not somehow negate the fat.
the marquise, had owned Robert smiles and his mother and other people, s property, and it doesn't erase the institution of slavery as a whole, but smiles compassionate one of the keys and other white citizens of Buford did wind up earning him. The risk backed of many in the white community robbers also did a lot of work in the area of education. He had begun edging himself through private tutors during the war beckoned Buford, he resumed the practice hiring a tutor waking up at five, a m. morning to study for two hours before the rest of his day began this desire to educate himself carried over to a desire to educate his children and the black community of South Carolina as a whole. He helped form the Buford County schoolboy, in February. Eighteen, sixty seven and was immediately elected chair the School board, then purchase property and established a school
its unsurprising, given that, after this much community involvement after the war, smiles also moved into political leadership. in eighteen, sixty seven, he helped found the Republican Party in South Carolina and he was a delegate at seven. Different republican national conventions, along with men other black civic leaders. He made huge strides and getting South Carolina black citizens would, at this point, outnumbered its white citizens registered to vote. He was elected to be a delegate at South Carolina constitutional convention in eighteen, sixty seven when the constitutional convention, which was one of the requirements for South Carolina to rejoin the union, was convened in eighteen, sixty eight, seventy six of its one hundred twenty four delegates. Black small was appointed to the finance Committee and he also proposed a resolution to set up free public schools that were available to everyone. This resolution ultimately led to the first public schools in South Carolina
that same year he was elected to a two year term in the South Carolina House of Representatives that year The majority of representatives in the South Carolina General Assembly were black and they were nine blackened twenty four white senators and the state Senate. In fact, during reconstruction, south Billina had more black citizens holding public office than any other state South Carolina, also add more black representation in the United States Congress during reconstruction than any other state as well. At the end, his term in the House of Representatives smiles was elected to the south. Carolina state Senate Reserve to terms continuing to focus on education, economic opportunity, an investigation of alleged corruption in the Republican Party from the air smiles. Next stop with the United States federal government, which we will talk about after, their brief sponsor break this next ones, not a history lesson, but is something you should know your
deserve. Dependable comfort and precision when contact lenses deliver no matter what twists and turns but in your day, precision when lenses won't get in your way, bouquet, before dawn, go for. It freelance gig goes all afternoon that to do so. Rise virtual, hang out with friends after dark precision when, really disposable. Contact lenses won't stop you and if we mentioned how easy they are aware, just pop them in when you wake up and go the best part, there's no cleaning involved, simply throw them away for bed and start with a fresh pair. The next day your eyes are going to love them. Don't miss out on contact lens freedom, get started in precision. One contact lenses today with a free, five day, trial at sea. What happens? Dot com? I examined your acquired professional fees may apply available at participating offices. Ask your I care professional for complete where care and safety information prescription only.
This episode of stuffy, missed in history classes, brought to you by Starbucks Coffee with golden turmeric. It's the taste of coffee, of blended, with turmeric, ginger and cinnamon. So you can get a really lovely balanced cup of coffee. You'll, get more from your morning, an more from the cup of coffee that you love. I know every morning I have to have my cup of coffee, or I will be awful, learn about Starbucks Coffee golden turmeric by visiting at home that Starbucks dot com. Slash more that's at home that Starbucks dot com, slash more
in eighteen. Seventy four Robert Smalls was elected to the United States House of Representatives representing a majority black district. That included Beaufort County South Carolina between one thousand eight hundred and seventy five and one thousand eight hundred and eighty six. He served five non consecutive terms in the House of Representatives. He continued to work for the social and economic interests of South Carolina, especially its black citizen. He advocated for a navy base to be built in Royal South Carolina, which wound up becoming a significant contributor to the state's economy. He also championed the bill that required the federal government to return land that have been confiscated for non payment of taxes which allowed residents of South Carolina and many other states to buy the land in a low cost. This measure led the black citizens of Beaufort County Zoning, most of the land there and one thousand eight hundred and seventy six one more time
in seventy six Robert smiles proposed an amendment to an army reorganization bill which would have integrated the United States armed forces. Although his efforts weren't successful, they did demonstrate that people were genuinely attempting to desegregate the United States armed forces long long before President Truman signed executive order, nine thousand nine hundred and eighty one in nineteen. Forty eight, however, during the same years and intense, is violent. Backlash against reconstruction was growing, more pronounced and severe. In many southern states, the White Supremacist Organization, the Ku Klux Klan, had been established in sixty six in by one thousand eight hundred and seventy. Is it really spread throughout the south? In eighteen? Seventy six armed white men killed several black members of the militia near Hamburg
Billina, and that same year, elections in South Carolina were overrun with violence and voter intimidation in an effort to remove black officials from power and eighty Seventy seven republican Weatherford be Haze, took office as president of the United States after an incredibly long and controversial presidential election. His opponent Democrat Samuel day till then had won the popular vote, but when it came to awarding electoral votes. The results reported by the republican and democratic parties in three different states did not match up. Consequently, it without the Congress to decide how to a lot the electoral votes from these states. In the end, a compromise was reached. Rutherford B behaves would become press but as commander in chief of the army, he would have to issue the order to withdraw federal troops, which had been part of the reconstruction effort from the south. By this point,
A lot of the early strides towards equality that had been made during the earlier years of reconstruction had already been erased, as states had passed, black codes and other discriminatory laws, state and local governments that had briefly become a lot closer to reflecting them. Racial make up of their consent whence didn't anymore, voter intimidation and violence against black citizens at the hand of white citizens were really on the rise governments all where the south returned to being mostly to entirely white. With many of the white government leaders having ties to the former confederacy, a lotta people feel like this withdrawal of of the federal
troops was really the final nail in the coffin of reconstruction, and it was against this backdrop that in eighteen, seventy seven Robert Smalls was accused, tried and convicted of accepting a bribe. The case boiled down to a man named Joseph Woodruff, who claimed that he had bribed smalls with five thousand dollars on January 19th, one thousand eight hundred and seventy three a key piece of evidence, was a check dated the 19th, which was made out to quote cash or bearer and not to Robert Smalls. Another was a handwritten note, written in pencil date of the eight the day before the check with no signatures on it, in spite of the fact that none of what we just said really adds up and the fact that there are a lot of other inconsistencies and unreliable witness testimonies involved in this trial. Smiles was found guilty. The conviction was upheld on appeal
but he was later pardoned. Although the South Carolina press continued to use the issue against him for the next two years. At this point, most historians agree that this was really an effort to try to keep small out of office and not a crime that he had committed at any even though he was running in an overwhelmingly black republican congressional district small lost in the race? For the? U S, house, in eighteen, seventy, eight to White Democratic George Tillman. He continued to work within the Republican Party in the face of ongoing harassment and threats and imitation. He lost children again in eighteen. Eighty, although the results of the eighteen eighty election were heavily contested and the House of Representatives Ultimately decided to cede small instead more than eighteen months into the two year term in eighteen. Eighty two smiles with
from the race in favour of another republican candidate in part because his own political support from voters hadn't yet recovered from the bribery charge. Rubber small wife Hannah died in eighteen. Eighty three small later married, a woman named, Annie Wig, and they had a son together who they named William Robert Annie died a few years into their marriage in eighteen. Eighty four Robert smiles ran against White Confederate veteran, William Elliot Senior, and one at this gerrymandering had guaranteed that all, but one of South Carolina districts had a majority white population, so black representation in the south in government and in South Carolina representatives to the federal government had dropped dramatically. eighteen. Eighty six Elliot defeated. Small in the race for the House of Representatives, although he was nominated in subsequent years
Yours smiles did not return to elected office. After this point in eighteen, eighty nine, he was appointed collector of customs at the port of Buford in eighty Ninety five South Carolina Governor Benjamin are Tillman urged the state to convene another constitutional convention to revive the state constitution, and it did because of all work that had been done to gerrymander the state intimidate, lack voters and get black people out of public office. Nero All of the delegates to the constitutional convention were y know black delegates work. and to the committee on the rights of suffrage. It was this committee that as many barriers to black citizens voting as possible without directly contradicting the fifteenth amendment to the United States Constitution. Over the strenuous objections and counter proposals of the six black republican delegates to the constitutional convention. South care,
I now adopted a new constitution and under this constitution, in order to vote, people had to pass illiteracy test, pay a pull tax and own at least three hundred dollars worth of property being convicted of a number of crimes, including arson, burglary and robbery. Also stripped people have the right to vote combined. These stipulations in the state constitution stripped most black citizens have the right to vote, which continue to be the case until the passage of the Voting Rights ACT of nineteen sixty five also included in the eighteen. Ninety five constitution: the establishment of segregated schools, Robert smiles,
continue to hold his customs post until one thousand nine hundred and twelve, when he was reappointed by William Howard Taft, but not confirmed by the Senate. By this point, his health was really poor and the Beaufort Customs House closed after he left. He died at the age of seventy six in nineteen fifteen in the 1940s camp, Robert Smalls, which was part of the Great Lakes Naval training center and was created to train, I may be seamen while the Navy was segregated was named after him and nineteen seventy six Robert smiles, beef at home was added to the national register of historic places. He was awarded the palmetto cross on May thirteenth, two thousand to the one hundred fortieth anniversary of his capture of the planter in recognition of his service to the south,
line. A militia, an army transport ship was christened. The major General Robert smiles on April twenty first, two thousand for at various points. Multiple schools in view for county have borne robber, small name, Robert smiles Middle school, which is now rubber smiles International academy, still does in twenty fourteen. Some of its alumni protested that its logo, which featured a man with a face that was darker on one side and later on the other wearing what appeared to be revolutionary war era, garb didn't accurately represent who Robert smells was, The logo was temporarily change to a g for generals, which was their school mask up, but the greater discussed was still ongoing at the time we recorded this episode to end
quote from the man himself. Well, my race needs no special defence for the past history of them in this country proves them to be equal of any people anywhere. All they need is an equal chance in the battle of life. That is Robert smiles. I had a surprisingly difficult time researching this episode, because you can find lots of children's books about Robert smiles in a typical public library. There are a lot of them. There are also numerous like rigorous academic work. for adults, about Robert smiles and to get any of them. I had to go to a university library, like public library, only had that you'd like to children's book level stuff. It's a trend that frustrates me like. I am glad that their children's books
Yet all of these people in these stories that's great and I'm glad at their available for free at the public library, that's great, but it kind of sacks slash really set when a lot of these stories are looked at as like inspirational stories for children. There. Then things or adults to study seriously, also so If you were her interested in learning more about rabbits miles, that's your backs that I had to go to a unit. The library to get our gala statesmen, Robert smiles from slavery to Congress by Edward a Miller and yearning to breathe free Robert smiles. of South Carolina and his family of by Andrew Billingsley, and they are both really good Thank you so much for joining us today for this Saturday classic. If you have heard any kind of female
as there may be a facebook. You are l during the course of the absurd that might be obsolete. It might be doubly obsolete because we have changed our Emil address again. You can now reach us at history, podcast that I heart radio, dot com and we're all over social media. At missed in history- and you can subscribe to our shadow on Apple pod cast Google Podcast, the Iheart Radio APP and wherever else who was in the bud gas documents than history class production of Iheart radio for more five cap, heart radio method by her radio haven't my or what Were you listen to your favorite, Joe.
I am Devon leering and I'm Carolina Barlow and we're here to tell you to dumping break up with your boyfriend, and we want you to listen to our pine cast true romance every week where we talk about our love, lives and the love lives of others. Please join our axes, who we know will also be listening like Kyle Kyle are you there has life now? You look good, though me Oh my god, please. I haven't even gotten a haircut like three months. Ok, please help us pay for Caroline Psychiatrist bills by listening on the Iheartradio, app apple podcasts or wherever you listen to podcast by women is a new show brought to you by the Seneca women Podcast network, and I heart radio. We bring you. Spiralling stories in shared learning to help you successfully navigate today's environment benefit from the expire
since a legendary entrepreneurs, as well as everyday women in business who found success their own way you're real world NBA design, for the new now Kim as and you can listen to made by women on the ice. Radioactive apple pod casts Ruby. Listen to your favorite shows