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Violence in the Gilded Ages, Then and Now

  • Allyson Hobbs (a1)

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In 1840, Joseph Mallord William Turner, the English painter, created Slave Ship: Slavers Throwing Overboard the Dead and Dying—Typhoon Coming On. The painting has many of Turner's signature elements: sensual imagery, brilliant sunsets, and dramatic landscapes ablaze with color. A closer look haunts the viewer. The scattering of a severed leg, shackles, and chains floating in bloody waters capture the monstrous decision of the captain and crew of the slave ship the Zong (originally named Zorg, which means, ironically, “Care” in Dutch) to throw 132 enslaved men, women, and children overboard, one by one, through cabin windows.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

*Corresponding author. Email: ahobbs@stanford.edu

References

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Notes

1 Transcript of the 1783 court case, Gregson v. Gilbert, quoted in Sharpe, Christina, In the Wake: On Blackness and Being (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2016), 35.

2 White, Richard, The Republic for Which It Stands (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017), 836.

3 Quoted in Paul Krugman, “Why We Are in a New Gilded Age,” New York Review of Books (May 8, 2014). http://www.nybooks.com/articles/2014/05/08/thomas-piketty-new-gilded-age/.

4 Reverend Dr. William J. Barber, “Where Do We Go From Here?” Stanford University, Jan. 17, 2019.

5 White, The Republic For Which It Stands, 279.

6 White, The Republic For Which It Stands, 280.

7 “Mississippi Affairs: The Clinton Riot—The Cruelty of the Whites—Vicksburg Adds to Her Long List of Crimes,” [n.d.]. Box 9-2: General Correspondence, Hichborn to Powers; Folder 70: General Correspondence, Pledfe—Powers. Blanche Bruce Papers, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center.

9 Litwack, Leon F., Trouble in Mind (New York: Knopf, 1998), 284. Also see Gilmore, Glenda, Gender and Jim Crow: Women and the Politics of White Supremacy in North Carolina, 1896–1920 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press 1996), 91118.

10 For example, see William M. Hancock to Blanche Bruce, Aug. 8, 1876. Box 9-1: Family Correspondence, General Correspondence, A to Heywood; Folder 29: General Correspondence—Hamilton to Hancock. Blanche Bruce Papers, MSRC. Hancock continues, “With this kind of protection the Democracy will allow the Colored voters to exercise their right of franchise. … If we are going to have protection we ought to know it now, for the Colored voters can not be induced to come out and register unless they know that protection will be afforded them in their right to vote.” Emphasis in the original.

11 “The Case Fairly Stated: The Limited Rights of the Colored Race, To Be Protected as Citizens, But Driven from Office,” New Orleans Times, Aug. 30, 1875. Box 81-2: P. B. S. Pinchback Papers; Folder 54: Pinchback, P. S., Clippings. Pinchback Papers, MSRC.

12 P. B. S. Pinchback, untitled speech [n.d.]. Box 81-2: P. B. S. Pinchback Papers; Folder 45: P. B. S. Pinchback. Speech. On effect of Hayes-Tilden campaign [n.d.]. Pinchback Papers, MSRC. Blanche Bruce's brother, H. C. Bruce, echoed Pinchback in a letter dated Nov. 14, 1876: “The greatest excitement prevails here among all classes, but more particular among the colored people. They believe that slavery is to be reestablished. They are not alone in this belief. Thousands of Rebels—even up here think the same.” See H. C. Bruce to Blanche Bruce, Nov. 14, 1876. Box 9-1: Family Correspondence, General Correspondence, A to Heywood; Folder 3: H. C. Bruce—Family Correspondence 1876–1877. Blanche Bruce Papers, MSRC.

13 Albert D. Thompson to Blanche Bruce, Dec. 8, 1875. Box 9-3: General Correspondence, Randolph—Zimmerman; Folder 93: General Correspondence, Thompson to Tobin. Blanche Bruce Papers, MSRC.

14 W. F. Simonton to Blanche Bruce, Dec. 3, 1875. Box 9-3: General Correspondence, Randolph—Zimmerman; Folder 81: Simonton, W. F. Blanche Bruce Papers, MSRC. The complete quotation is this: “P.S. Any place you can obtain for me that will enable me to live away from this at this time Hell on Earth [illegible word], will be acceptable.”

16 White, The Republic For Which It Stands, 848.

17 Julie Bosman and Joseph Goldstein, “Timeline for a Body: 4 Hours in the Middle of a Ferguson Street,” New York Times, Aug. 23, 2014, https://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/24/us/michael-brown-a-bodys-timeline-4-hours-on-a-ferguson-street.html (accessed: Aug. 19, 2019).

18 Kia Gregory, “Killing Us Softly: How Videos of Police Brutality Traumatize African Americans and Undermine the Search for Justice,” The New Republic, Feb. 13, 2019, https://newrepublic.com/article/153103/videos-police-brutality-traumatize-african-americans-undermine-search-justice (accessed Aug. 19, 2019).

19 Gregory, “Killing Us Softly.”

21 Jaeah Lee and AJ Vicens, “Here Are 13 Killings by Police Captured on Video in the Past Year,” Mother Jones, May 20, 2015, http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/05/police-shootings-caught-on-tape-video/ (accessed Aug. 19, 2019.

22 “#SayHerName: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women,” http://www.aapf.org/sayhernamereport/ (accessed Aug. 19, 2019).

23 Sam Levine, “Seattle Police Shot Charleena Lyles Seven Times, Autopsy Finds,” The Guardian, Aug. 30, 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/aug/30/charleena-lyles-seattle-police-shooting (accessed Aug. 19, 2019).

24 Kanya Bennett, “Say Her Name: Recognizing Police Brutality Against Black Women,” June 14, 2018, https://www.aclu.org/blog/criminal-law-reform/reforming-police-practices/say-her-name-recognizing-police-brutality.

26 Mike Cason, “Group Complains about Alabama Decision to Disallow Public Housing IDs for Voting,” AL.com (Nov. 4, 2014),.https://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2014/11/group_complains_about_alabama.html.

27 Adam Liptak and Michael Wines, “Strict North Carolina Voter ID Law Thwarted After Supreme Court Rejects Case,” New York Times (May 15, 2017), https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/15/us/politics/voter-id-laws-supreme-court-north-carolina.html.

28 Greg Bluestein, “Now as Governor-Elect, Kemp Points to Georgia's Future,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitutional, Nov. 17, 2018, https://www.ajc.com/news/state--regional-govt--politics/now-governor-elect-kemp-points-georgia-future/lAUMopeRIda2i4Ur9MML9I/ (accessed Aug. 19, 2019.

29 Quoted in White, The Republic For Which It Stands, 860.

30 Rankine, Claudia, Citizen: An American Lyric (Minneapolis, MN: Graywolf Press, 2014), 55.

Violence in the Gilded Ages, Then and Now

  • Allyson Hobbs (a1)

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