Tag Archives: National Museum of African American History and Culture

The Journey to Emancipation: the Germantown Protest, 1688


NMAAHC -- National Museum of African American History and Culture

Lonnie Bunch, museum director, historian, lecturer, and author, is proud to present A Page from Our American Story, a regular on-line series for Museum supporters. It will showcase individuals and events in the African American experience, placing these stories in the context of a larger story — our American story.A Page From Our American Story“Pray, what thing in the world can be done worse towards us, than if men should rob or steal us away, and sell us for slaves to strange countries; separating housbands (sic) from their wives and children.” — from The Germantown Protest (against slavery).

In 1565, the Spanish colony of St. Augustine, in what is now Florida, became the first permanent European settlement in North America. Among the settlement’s population were some of the first enslaved Africans brought to the New World.

The first permanent settlement of African slaves in British Colonial North America arrived in Jamestown, Virginia, via a Dutch slave trading ship in 1619. It wasn’t long before the American colonies found themselves economically dependent on slave trading and enslaved labor.

Emancipation Proclamation Reproduction
Reproduction of the Emancipation
Proclamation at the National Underground
Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.

More than two hundred years later, on January 1, 1863, in the midst of our civil war, Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation would free slaves in the rebellious southern states. The Proclamation, along with the voices and actions of individuals such as Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, William Lloyd Garrison, and others, would ultimately lead to the passage of the 13th Amendment two years later, ending slavery in the United States and freeing nearly four million African Americans.

Reaching that milestone, however, was a long, painful, and bloody process. One of the earliest recorded actions toward ending slavery was taken by a small group of Quakers in Germantown, Pennsylvania Colony, in 1688.

Before slavery truly became institutionalized in the colonies, some Africans were sometimes treated more like indentured servants who were freed once their service ended or debt had been paid, a practice employed at times by various early Dutch and Spanish explorers and settlers. However, this changed dramatically in 1641 when Massachusetts became the first British mainland colony to legalize slavery. From that time forward, colonial slave laws became more restrictive, further codifying the institution.

Not everyone was blind to slavery’s immorality. Although slavery played a major role in the economy of colonial Rhode Island, there were some who tried to temper the practice with a 1652 law that placed restrictions on slave owning and prohibited enslavement of any person for more than 10 years. However, the effect was limited. Slave holders simply sold anyone nearing the deadline and took ownership of new slaves, thus continuing the cycle.

3b43018r.jpg
Bas-relief portrait of Francis Daniel Pastorius,
c. 1897. From the Library of Congress.

In 1688, Francis Daniel Pastorius, and three of his fellow Quakers, drafted the first, formal anti-slavery resolution in America. The resolution raised objections to slavery on both moral and practical grounds during a period when Pennsylvania Quakers were nearly unanimous in their acceptance of the practice.

The decree is referred to as “The Germantown Protest,” or “1688 Germantown Quaker Petition Against Slavery.” It articulated themes of justice and equality that would be echoed throughout the long, painful period of slavery in America.

The authors’ premise was based on the biblical “Golden Rule” — treat others as you wish to be treated. Additionally, the authors recognized that colonial slave treatment mirrored the persecution Quakers had seen in Europe, and, to an extent, in the colonies.

“There is a saying, that we should do to all men like as we will be done ourselves; making no difference of what generation, descent, or colour (sic) they are… To bring men hither [to America], or to rob and sell them against their will, we stand against.”

Sadly, “The Germantown Protest” did not spark a significant change in the Americas against slavery. Even within Quaker communities the declaration was ignored, at least initially. But a seed had been planted. A belief shared silently by many was given voice.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. While it is tempting to view the Proclamation solely through the lens of Civil War events, in order to grasp the full context and importance of Lincoln’s decision, we must examine the issue of slavery in the North American colonies from its beginnings. From the Spanish colony in St. Augustine, to the first Dutch ship sailing into Jamestown, and to the Civil War waged to end it, slavery was a 300-plus year institution in America, leaving scars, fortunes, and repercussions we deal with still today.

dd-enews-temp-lonnie-bunch-2.jpg All the best,

Lonnie Bunch
Director
 

P.S. We can only reach our $250 million goal with your help. I hope you will consider making a donation or becoming a Charter Member today.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is

Season’s Greetings … NMAAHC


National Museum of African American History of Culture
Season's Greetings
National Museum of African American History of Culture
As you reunite and celebrate with your loved ones this holiday season, I want to thank you for all that you have done to help build the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
With your support, 2013 has been a great year for the Museum. The future museum site is a frenzy of activity as we continue to raise the walls and support columns. To date, we’ve collected over 23,000 artifacts including two large pieces — a Southern Railway railroad car (segregated) and a guard tower from Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola — that will be a part of our inaugural exhibition on segregation.  All of this progress is thanks to friends like you.
I wish you and your loved ones peace and joy this holiday season and into the New Year.

Lonnie G. Bunch Sincerely, Signature Lonnie G. Bunch Director

Happy Thanksgiving … Edison R. Wato, Jr. National Museum of African American History and Culture.


NMAAHC -- National Museum of African American History and Culture -- Happy Thanksgiving

As Thanksgiving approaches , we are thankful for all that you have done to help build the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Thanks to the help of friends like you, we broke ground in February 2012, and construction is well underway.
In fact, just this past weekend, we installed two signature objects, a Southern Pacific railway car and a 1930s-era guard tower from the Louisiana State Penitentiary, as part of the museum’s inaugural exhibition on segregation.
We are on track to open our doors in late 2015 thanks to your commitment to supporting and sharing African American history and culture with generations to come. From all of us here, we wish you a very happy Thanksgiving.
Sincerely, Edison Wato signature Edison R. Wato, Jr. Membership Program Manager

Lonnie Bunch on 60 Minutes | Sunday, Dec. 1st


NMAAHC -- National Museum of African American History and Culture

Lonnie Bunch Lonnie Bunch Director

Hello Charter Members and Friends of the NMAAHC,

We hope that you all have the opportunity to enjoy some special time with family and friends over the next few days!

Also, we would like to inform you, our valued Charter Members and supporters, that Lonnie Bunch, museum director, will appear on CBS News’ 60 Minutes this Sunday, December 1st at 7:00PM ET. Lonnie was interviewed by Scott Pelley for a feature on the 150th anniversary of the Capitol Dome and its upcoming restoration. His interview helps tell the story of African Americans’ contributions to the building of our nation’s capital, the dome, and Philip Reid, the enslaved man who helped raise the Statue of Freedom at the top.

Thank you and have a wonderful holiday!

Edison R. Wato, Jr. Membership Program Manager Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture

NMAAHC and A Southern Railway … segregated


NMAAHC -- National Museum of African American History and Culture

WITNESS THE INSTALLATION OF THE MUSEUM’S FIRST OBJECTS INTO THE MUSEUM ON THE NATIONAL MALL
A Southern Railway (segregated) car built in 1920 and a 1930s-era guard tower from the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.
Sunday, November 17, 2013 7:00 AM Trucks arrive with guard tower. 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM Prison guard tower installation. 10:00 AM Trucks arrive with railway car. 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM Railway car and wheels installed.
Please note: This is a multi-layered operation and the schedule is subject to change.
Guard Tower at Angola Prison Guard Tower at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola
Where: Our construction site located at Constitution Ave and 14th Streets NW, Washington, DC Metro: Smithsonian or Federal Triangle
The National Museum of African American History and Culture will install two of its signature objects in the museum’s Constitution Avenue construction site on Sunday, Nov. 17. The objects are the Museum’s Southern Railway railroad car (segregated) and a 1930s-era guard tower from the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.
A convoy of trucks will transport the 80-ton rail car and the 21-foot tall guard tower to the museum’s Constitution Avenue construction site. Cranes will lower the objects 60 feet below ground level into the museum where they will be kept while the building’s upper floors and roof are completed. Both objects will be featured in the museum’s inaugural exhibition on segregation.
You are welcome to view these events from the grassy hill on Madison Drive across from the site. This is a non-ticketed, informal viewing area that will be open to the public.

Segregated railroad car before refurbishment. Railroad car before refurbishment. Segregated railroad car refurbished. Refurbished railroad car.
Photos and videos will be available after the installation.
Please be advised that a section of Constitution Avenue NW will be closed to vehicular and pedestrian traffic during this time.