Pastor Roger Anghis
November 14, 2010
Discovering America’s Christian Heritage
Part 20 Black Patriots Pt. 1
Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children
So far we have looked at a history that most of us have not been taught. This part of the series will show a side of America that most of us have never heard about either. Growing up in the 50’s I was never told this history. I was taught that whites always hated blacks, that early America was 100% supportive of slavery and that all blacks in America were slaves. We will learn about black patriots that fought side by side with white patriots, black educators, black doctors, black preachers and the truth about how our Founders really felt about slavery. It is NOT what we were taught.
One of the most impressive stories that we were never told was about Richard Allen, a black preacher, that founded the first black denomination in America. He was raised as a slave in Delaware and was saved by a Methodist minister that was traveling through Delaware. Richard Allen became a zealot about Christianity and eventually convinced his owner to accept Christ. At that point the owner would no longer ‘own’ slaves so he freed all of his slaves. Richard Allen went to Philadelphia and began preaching there. Philadelphia had a population of around 40,000 people and he preached to 2,000 a week. His congregation was white people. In some places today a black preacher won’t preach to a predominately white crowd and visa versa. He became a soldier in the Revolutionary War and during the 1793 Yellow Fever epidemic most doctors left Philadelphia for fear of catching it leaving one doctor to treat the whole city. That doctor was Benjamin Rush. He had two people that helped him care for the city and bury the 120 people a day that died and those two men were Richard Allen and Absalom Jones, a black Bishop with the Episcopal Church. Here are blacks and whites working together with no regard as to the color of skin.
I will be using the term black as opposed to African-American because I believe, as did Teddy Roosevelt, that there is no room in America for hyphenated names. Roosevelt may not be the best person to stand with but even a broken clock is right twice a day. We are either Americans or we are whoever our ancestors were. My ancestry is German, but I am not a German-American. I am simply an American.
The history of blacks in America begins in 1619 when the first ship of slaves arrived. Their political history begins in 1787, the year that our Constitution was written. Many have stated that the Constitution is a pro-slavery document because of the 3/5’s clause in Article 1, Section 2 that they claim states that blacks are only 3/5’s of a person. When reading the actual wording in Article 1, Section 2 I find it hard to come to that conclusion, but some people can read anything into our Constitution. This claim can be debunked by Frederick Douglas who did and in depth study of that claim. Douglas was born into slavery and was a slave until he escaped to New York. He served as a minister at Zion Methodist church in Massachusetts and studied under abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison who taught him that the Constitution was a pro-slavery document and for a period of time believed it himself. He later began to study the Constitution and the men that wrote it and discovered that there was an entirely different meaning and declared that the Constitution was an anti-slavery document. He understood that the 3/5’s clause dealt with representation, not a person’s worth. The basis of the 3/5’s clause was the demand from the southern states to count all people, including slaves as the slaves were up 50% of the population in some states thus increasing the pro-slavery representation in Congress.
The Northern states did not like that idea as the Southern state considered slaves only as property. The Northern states then debated this concept of counting ‘property’ for representation by declaring that they would count their houses, cattle, horses, etc. The agreement that was settled on was the slaves would only count for 3/5’s for representation, i.e. instead of 30,000 slaves getting one representative, it took 50,000 to get one representative, thus the 3/5’s clause. The Northern states had no problem counting free blacks and they knew that the more anti-slavery representation in Congress the sooner slavery would be abolished. Many are not aware that there were many anti-slavery Founders including George Washington. Yes, he did have slaves but he didn’t like slavery and it was illegal in Virginia to free slaves. Washington almost went broke keeping his slave families together because he would not separate them. When he died he did free them but they went back into slavery because of the laws of Virginia at that time. Free blacks in the North and the South were given full citizenship rights, even the right to vote.
When questioning why so much of the heritage of blacks in early America has been left out of our history lessons I believe that you have to look at the bigger picture. In the early part of the 20th century the revisionist historians began to nullify our true heritage by painting our Founders in a different light, leaving out much of what really happened and concentrating on theoretical history.
They showed our Founders as hypocritical by stating that they were slave owners, yet the Declaration of Independence states that ‘all men are created equal.’ This seems a proper assumption until you look at the fact that Britain required America to participate in slavery. We had passed anti-slavery laws but King George vetoed them. Granted, there were many that wanted slavery, but the majority of the Founders did not. When it came to discussing the truth about the blacks and why they have been left out of history lessons for the last 100 years is grounded in the fact that in the late 1700’s the blacks were very religious people. Religion is the biggest obstacle for the revisionists. They have to devoid history of the importance of religion to be able to discredit our Founders, the Constitution and everything else our Founders stood for. Because if you talk about blacks then you will have to talk about Christians and they don’t want to talk about Christians at least as far as putting them in a good light.
One black that you never hear of is Wentworth Cheswill. He was the first black elected to office in America. He was elected in 1775. Most people think that the first black elected to office was elected in the 1970’s. Wentworth was a constable, assessor, and judge but what he did that you never hear about is the night Paul Revere made his famous ride, Wentworth went north as Revere went west. This is a perfect example of black and white working together for the common good. It is too bad that this is not taught in our schools anymore.
Another black that has been left out of history is James Armistead. He was a free black during the Revolution and operated as a double spy giving General Marquis De Layfayette good information and General Cornwallis bad information and with this system they got General Cornwallis isolated on the peninsula at Yorktown where Cornwallis’s ship couldn’t feed his reserves and effectually helped end the Revolutionary War. He is in several paintings with General Lafayette shown holding a horse and it looks like he is the General’s slave, but in textbooks no explanation is given as to who he is. An assumption keeps the real truth silent and untold.
In 1789 Congress passed the Northwest Ordinance which prohibited slavery in any federal territory. In 1808 Congress abolished the slave trade. This history is not taught because it shows that the Founders for the most part, were not in favor of slavery, a fact that the revisionists do not want to be known. In the 1820’s we began to see a reversal in the anti-slavery position. Most of the Founders were dead and the Democrat party was in control of Congress. In 1820 the Missouri Compromise was passed which allowed slavery in almost half of the federal territories. This is the first time since the Declaration of Independence that Congress officially promoted slavery.
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In 1850 the Fugitive Slave Law was passed by the Democrats that required northerners to return escaped slaves back into slavery or face enormous fines. This law opened the door for slave hunters to kidnap free slaves in the north and sell them in the south. This law caused up to 20,000 free blacks in the north to leave America and go to Canada to escape the possibility of being kidnapped and sold in the south as a slave. Then in 1854 the Democrat Congress passed the Nebraska Act which allowed slavery where it had previously been forbidden. Because of this law in 1854 anti-slavery democrats, Whigs, ‘free soil’ advocates and emancipationists formed a new party to combat the trend toward slavery. That party was called the Republican Party. It was called this because they wanted to return to the freedom and equality that had been set forth in our founding documents. We have lost much of our history, though it is right in front of us. Our responsibility is to educate the people about who we really are and that can only be done when we know where we came from.
© 2010 Roger Anghis - All Rights Reserved
Pastor Roger Anghis is the Founder of RestoreFreeSpeech.org, an organization designed to draw attention to the need of returning free speech rights to churches that was restricted in 1954.
President of The Damascus Project, TheDamascusProject.org, which has a stated purpose of teaching pastors and lay people the need of the churches involvement in the political arena and to teach the historical role of Christianity in the politics of the United States. Married-37 years, 3 children, three grandchildren.
Web site: RestoreFreeSpeech.org