Black Ancestors : Which Slave Sailed Himself to Freedom?

MsInterpret

Well-Known Member
REGISTERED MEMBER
Apr 21, 2007
8,783
5,420
Washington
Which Slave Sailed Himself to Freedom?


divider-full-length.jpg


Robert-Smalls-51713-575se.jpg

Harper's Weekly, 1862​
Editor's note: For those who are wondering about the retro title of this black-history series, please take a moment to learn about historian Joel A. Rogers, author of the 1934 book 100 Amazing Facts About the Negro With Complete Proof, to whom these "amazing facts" are an homage.
(The Root) -- Amazing Fact About the Negro No. 32: Were there any successful slavery escapes by sea?
Two weeks ago, we saw how Henry Box Brown mailed himself to freedom by carriage, steamer and train. This week, we meet a man who took a more direct route through the very waters where the Civil War began, Charleston Harbor, S.C., from which, incredibly, he sailed himself, his family and the fellow slave members of his crew to freedom.
Just before dawn on May 13, 1862, Robert Smalls and a crew composed of fellow slaves, in the absence of the white captain and his two mates, slipped a cotton steamer off the dock, picked up family members at a rendezvous point, then slowly navigated their way through the harbor. Smalls, doubling as the captain, even donning the captain's wide-brimmed straw hat to help to hide his face, responded with the proper coded signals at two Confederate checkpoints, including at Fort Sumter itself, and other defense positions. Cleared, Smalls sailed into the open seas. Once outside of Confederate waters, he had his crew raise a white flag and surrendered his ship to the blockading Union fleet.

In fewer than four hours, Robert Smalls had done something unimaginable: In the midst of the Civil War, this black male slave had commandeered a heavily armed Confederate ship and delivered its 17 black passengers (nine men, five women and three children) from slavery to freedom.

Robert-Smalls-generic_250se.jpg

Sailing From Slavery to Freedom
Our story begins in the second full year of the war. It is May 12, 1862, and the Union Navy has set up a blockade around much of the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. Inside it, the Confederates are dug in defending Charleston, S.C., and its coastal waters, dense with island forts, including Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War were fired exactly one year, one month, before. Attached to Brig. Gen. Roswell Ripley's command is the C.S.S.Planter, a "first-class coastwise steamer" hewn locally for the cotton trade out of "live oak and red cedar," according to testimony given in a U.S. House Naval Affairs Committee report 20 years later.

Pictured: Robert Smalls (Library of Congress, c. 1870).

After two weeks of supplying various island points, the Planter returns to the Charleston docks by nightfall. It is due to go out again the next morning and so is heavily armed, including approximately 200 rounds of ammunition, a 32-pound pivot gun, a 24-pound howitzer and four other guns, among them one that had been dented in the original attack on Sumter. In between drop-offs, the three white officers on board (Capt. C.J. Relyea, pilot Samuel H. Smith and engineer Zerich Pitcher) make the fateful decision to disembark for the night -- either for a party or to visit family -- leaving the crew's eight slave members behind. If caught, Capt. Relyea could face court-martial -- that's how much he trusts them.

At the top of the list is Robert Smalls, a 22-year-old mulatto slave who's been sailing these waters since he was a teenager: intelligent and resourceful, defiant with compassion, an expert navigator with a family yearning to be free. According to the 1883 Naval Committee report, Smalls serves as the ship's "virtual pilot,"but because only whites can rank, he is slotted as "wheelman." Smalls not only acts the part; he looks it, as well. He is often teased about his resemblance to Capt. Relyea: Is it his skin, his frame or both? The true joke, though, is Smalls' to spring, for what none of the officers know is that he has been planning for this moment for weeks and is willing to use every weapon on board to see it through.

READ MORE: http://www.theroot.com/views/which-slave-sailed-himself-freedom?page=0,1
 

Create an account or login to comment

You must be a member in order to leave a comment

Create account

Create an account on our community. It's easy!

Log in

Already have an account? Log in here.

Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
Clyde C Coger Jr African American History Culture : ‘Shock, repulsion’ as group targets NYC's slave roots African American History Culture 0
Clyde C Coger Jr African American History Culture : Untold history of women-led slave revolts African American History Culture 0
R Black Poetry : EXODUS#4 One day Moses observe how the HEBREWS served pharaoh with slave labor the people needed a savior MOSES had nothing great to say as he awaken Black Poetry - Get Your Flow On! 0
Clyde C Coger Jr African American History Culture : Statue in Boston of Abraham Lincoln with freed slave kneeling at his feet is removed African American History Culture 1
Clyde C Coger Jr African American History Culture : Genetic impact of African slave trade revealed in DNA study African American History Culture 1
Fine1952 African American History Culture : Juneteenth - Another Slave Holiday African American History Culture 84
Clyde C Coger Jr Black Positive People : The African slave who taught America how to vaccinate itself from smallpox Black People Doing Positive Things 2
Clyde C Coger Jr African American History Culture : Last known survivor of transatlantic slave trade discovered thanks to new historic research African American History Culture 0
Clyde C Coger Jr African American History Culture : Slave cemetery poses questions for Florida country club African American History Culture 4
C Black People : The Slave Is In Your Mentality!!! Black People Open Forum 0
Clyde C Coger Jr African American History Culture : The slave who won reparations African American History Culture 0
Clyde C Coger Jr African American History Culture : America's last slave ship could offer a case for reparations African American History Culture 2
Clyde C Coger Jr Black Sports : DeAndre Hopkins almost skipped game over Bob McNair's 'inmate' comment: 'Feels like I'm a slave' Black Sports 0
Kemetstry Black People : BLACK DIVERS SEARCH FOR SLAVE SHIPS Black People Open Forum 5
Clyde C Coger Jr Law Forum : How Slave Owners Dictated the Language of the 2nd Amendment Law Forum - Prisons - Gun Ownership 0
Destee Ghana : Ghana marks 400 years since American slave trade Ghana 1
Clyde C Coger Jr Black Positive People : 1st black priest in US, ex-slave, positioned for sainthood Black People Doing Positive Things 1
Clyde C Coger Jr African American History Culture : She Survived a Slave Ship, the Civil War and the Depression. Her Name Was Redoshi African American History Culture 0
Clyde C Coger Jr African American History Culture : International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade African American History Culture 1
Perfection Black People Politics : ◙ Black Revolts & Revolutions ▒ More on American Negro Slave Revolts Black People Politics 0
Perfection Pan-Africanism : In Context Series: Slave Names and Naming in Barbados, 1650-1830 Pan-Africanism - African Diaspora 0
Perfection Black People Politics : ◙ Black Revolts & Revolutions ▒ Anatomy of a Slave Insurrection- Shipwreck of the "Vautour" (1725) Black People Politics 0
Perfection Black People Politics : ▶Speaking of Black Women◀ Aunt Jemima Explained--Old South, Absent Mistress, and the Slave in a Box Black People Politics 0
Perfection Black People Politics : ◙ Black Revolts & Revolutions ▒ The Texas Slave Insurrection of 1860 Black People Politics 0
IFE Black People Politics : The Libyan Slave Trade Has Shocked the World Black People Politics 5
Clyde C Coger Jr Libya : Africans are being sold at Libyan slave markets. Thanks, Hillary Clinton Libya 3
Clyde C Coger Jr African American History Culture : How slave labor built and financed major U.S. cities African American History Culture 1
Al D Black People : The Black Sea Slave Trade Black People Open Forum 0
Clyde C Coger Jr African American History Culture : Slave Uprising Leader NAT TURNER Included on Richmond Monument, Amid Confederate Statue Controvesy African American History Culture 4
Clyde C Coger Jr Black Positive People : Ava DuVernay Pays Tribute To Michelle Obama's Slave Ancestor Black People Doing Positive Things 0
jamesfrmphilly Black People : woman-visits-her-slave-cabin-birthplace-at-the-african-american-museum Black People Open Forum 0
jamesfrmphilly Black People Politics : 12-years-a-slave-writer-defends-absence-of-black-women-on-new-show-about-racism Black People Politics 4
Liberty Black Education / Schools : NJ Elementary School Faces Backlash Over Slave-Auction Poster Assignment Black Education / Schools 0
jamesfrmphilly Black People Politics : andre-iguodala, slave mentality ???? Black People Politics 2
MS234 Black People : Slave Mentality of Whites And The Killing It Causes Black People Open Forum 11
Kemetstry African American History Culture : JACK DANIELS FORMULA ATTRIBUTED TO SLAVE African American History Culture 2
Clyde C Coger Jr African American History Culture : The slave who taught Jack Daniel how to make whiskey African American History Culture 3
Al D Black People : The Perpetual Slave Part 1 Black People Open Forum 7
Liberty Black Women : Feminism, How To Know If You Are A Slave, & OOW Births Black Women 87
ASHANTA Black Poetry : To Breed A Slave Black Poetry - Get Your Flow On! 0
Clyde C Coger Jr African American History Culture : TACKY’S REBELLION: 1760 SLAVE UPRISING IN THE CARIBBEAN (JAMAICA) African American History Culture 0
Clyde C Coger Jr African American History Culture : TED-Ed: The Atlantic Slave Trade: What Too Few Textbooks Told You African American History Culture 1
Kemetstry African American History Culture : SUCCESSFUL SLAVE REVOLT African American History Culture 0
OldSoul OldSoul : Slave Catchers Resistors 1 Deal with the Devil OldSoul 0
AACOOLDRE Brother AACOOLDRE : The Slave Trade AACOOLDRE 0
RAPTOR Black People : Affleck demanded PBS program hide his slave-owning ancestor Black People Open Forum 12
TruthHitman Black Hebrew Israelites : 2 European Maps Showing Hebrew Communities Before the Slave trade Black Hebrew Israelites Study Group 0
Fine1952 African American History Culture : France-US-Britain-Pueto Rico -- Slaveowners Paid Reparations, Slave Ignored African American History Culture 0
Aluku African American History Culture : Who Was Responsible For The Slave Trade? African American History Culture 38
Aluku African American History Culture : 664 Slave deliberately drowned by Dutch Captain African American History Culture 0
Similar threads


















































Latest profile posts

$1 Billion Black dollars in 30 days
Destee wrote on Marcchris's profile.
Hi @Marcchris ... Welcome Welcome Welcome!!! :wave: ... Thanks for joining us AND becoming a Premium Member! :cheerleader: ... I am honored. Please make yourself right at home! Much Love and Peace.
Destee wrote on rhymebad's profile.
I Love You! :love:
Destee wrote on dunwiddat's profile.
Good to see you Sister! :cheerleader:
Kemetstry wrote on dunwiddat's profile.
Where have you been hiding ?
Top