In honor of Confederate History Month, I present a group of emancipated Louisiana slaves. The following letter was written by Colonel George Hanks, who commanded a Union Corps composed entirely of black troops. Hanks was attempting to raise money for the education of freed slaves:
To the Editor of Harper's Weekly:
The group of emancipated slaves whose portraits I send you were brought by Colonel Hanks and Mr. Phillip Bacon from New Orleans, where they were set free by General Butler. Mr. Bacon went to New Orleans with our army, and was for eighteen months employed as Assistant-Superintendent of Freedmen, under the care of Colonel Hanks. He established the first school in Louisiana for emancipated slaves, and these children were among his pupils. He will soon return to Louisiana to resume his labor.
Rebecca Huger is eleven years old, and was a slave in her father's house, the special attendant of a girl a little older than herself. To all appearance she is perfectly white. Her complexion, hair, and features show not the slightest trace of negro blood. In the few months during which she has been at school she has learned to read well, and writes as neatly as most children of her age. Her mother and grandmother live in New Orleans, where they support themselves comfortably by their own labor. The grandmother, an intelligent mulatto, told Mr. Bacon that she ad "raised" a large family of children, but these are all that are left to her.
Rosina Downs is not quite seven years old. She is a fair child, with blonde complexion and silky hair. Her father is in the rebel army. She has one sister as white as herself, and three brothers who are darker. Her mother, a bright mulatto, lives in New Orleans in a poor hut, and has hard work to support her family.
Charles Taylor is eight years old. His complexion is very fair, his hair light and silky. Three out of five boys in any school in New York are darker than he. Yet this white boy, with his mother, as he declares, has been twice sold as a slave. First by his father and "owner," Alexander Wethers, of Lewis County, Virginia, to a slave-trader named Harrison, who sold them to Mr. Thornhill of New Orleans. This man fled at the approach of our army, and his slaves were liberated by General Butler.The boy is decidedly intelligent, and though he has been at school less than a year he reads and writes very well. His mother is a mulatto; she had one daughter sold into Texas before she herself left Virginia, and one son who, she supposes, is with his father in Virginia. These three children, to all appearance of unmixed white race, came to Philadelphia last December, and were taken by their protector, Mr. Bacon, to the St. Lawrence Hotel on Chestnut Street. Within a few hours, Mr. Bacon informed me, he was notified by the landlord that they must therefore be colored persons, and he kept a hotel for white people. From this hospitable establishment the children were taken to the "Continental," where they were received without hesitation.
Wilson Chinn is about 60 years old, he was "raised" by Isaac Howard of Woodford County, Kentucky. When 21 years old he was taken down the river and sold to Volsey B. Marmillion, a sugar planter about 45 miles above New Orleans. This man was accustomed to brand his negroes, and Wilson has on his forehead the letters "V. B. M." Of the 210 slaves on this plantation 105 left at one time and came into the Union camp. Thirty of them had been branded like cattle with a hot iron, four of them on the forehead, and the others on the breast or arm.
Augusta Boujey is nine years old. Her mother, who is almost white, was owned by her half-brother, named Solamon, who still retains two of her children.
Mary Johnson was cook in her master's family in New Orleans. On her left arm are scars of three cuts given to her by her mistress with a rawhide. On her back are scars of more than fifty cuts given by her master. The occasion was that one morning she was half an hour behind time in bringing up his five o'clock cup of coffee. As the Union army approached she ran away from her master, and has since been employed by Colonel Hanks as cook.
Isaac White is a black boy of eight years; but none the less intelligent than his whiter companions. He has been in school about seven months, and I venture to say that not one boy in fifty would have made as much improvement in that space of time.
Robert Whitehead--the Reverend Mr. Whitehead perhaps we ought to style him, since he is a regularly-ordained preacher--was born in Baltimore. He was taken to Norfolk, Virginia, by a Dr. A. F. N. Cook, and sold for $1525; from Norfolk he was taken to New Orleans where he was bought for $1775 by a Dr. Leslie, who hired him out as house and ship painter. When he had earned and paid over that sum to his master, he suggested that a small present for himself would be quite appropriate. Dr. Leslie thought the request reasonable, and made him a donation of a whole quarter of a dollar. The reverend gentleman can read and write well, and is a very stirring speaker. Just now he belongs to the church militant, having enlisted in the United States army.
A large photograph of the whole group which you reproduce has been taken, and cartes de visite of the separate figures. They are for sale at the rooms of the National Freedman's Relief Association, No. 1 Mercer Street, New York, or I will send them by mail on receipt of the price: $1 for the large picture, 25 cents each for the small ones. The profits to go to the support of the schools in Louisiana.
The class divide is already toxic, and is fast becoming unbridgeable. You’re probably part of the problem.
1. The Aristocracy Is Dead …
For about a week every year in my childhood, I was a member of one of America’s fading aristocracies. Sometimes around Christmas, more often on the Fourth of July, my family would take up residence at one of my grandparents’ country clubs in Chicago, Palm Beach, or Asheville, North Carolina. The breakfast buffets were magnificent, and Grandfather was a jovial host, always ready with a familiar story, rarely missing an opportunity for gentle instruction on proper club etiquette. At the age of 11 or 12, I gathered from him, between his puffs of cigar smoke, that we owed our weeks of plenty to Great-Grandfather, Colonel Robert W. Stewart, a Rough Rider with Teddy Roosevelt who made his fortune as the chairman of Standard Oil of Indiana in the 1920s. I was also given to understand that, for reasons traceable to some ancient and incomprehensible dispute, the Rockefellers were the mortal enemies of our clan.
As long as there is easy access to guns, there’s no way parents, teachers, and other specialists can thwart every violent teenager.
The 17-year-old who killed 10 people at Santa Fe High School, in Texas, allegedly used his father’s shotgun and .38 revolver. After a firefight with police, he surrendered, saying he did not have the courage to kill himself, as he had planned, Governor Greg Abbott told reporters.
In the hours after the May 18 attack, some students were shocked that Dimitrios Pagourtzis felled his classmates and two substitute teachers with buckshot. He played defensive tackle on the football team. He made honor roll. He is not known to have a criminal record, according to Abbott. Just the day before, he had been joking around with friends on a field trip to a waterpark. Others found him disturbing, often wearing a trench coat, said his classmates, and, on that day, a black T-shirt with the haunting message BORN TO KILL.
How leaders lose mental capacities—most notably for reading other people—that were essential to their rise
If power were a prescription drug, it would come with a long list of known side effects. It can intoxicate. It can corrupt. It can even make Henry Kissinger believe that he’s sexually magnetic. But can it cause brain damage?
When various lawmakers lit into John Stumpf at a congressional hearing last fall, each seemed to find a fresh way to flay the now-former CEO of Wells Fargo for failing to stop some 5,000 employees from setting up phony accounts for customers. But it was Stumpf’s performance that stood out. Here was a man who had risen to the top of the world’s most valuable bank, yet he seemed utterly unable to read a room. Although he apologized, he didn’t appear chastened or remorseful. Nor did he seem defiant or smug or even insincere. He looked disoriented, like a jet-lagged space traveler just arrived from Planet Stumpf, where deference to him is a natural law and 5,000 a commendably small number. Even the most direct barbs—“You have got to be kidding me” (Sean Duffy of Wisconsin); “I can’t believe some of what I’m hearing here” (Gregory Meeks of New York)—failed to shake him awake.
Something is missing in the lives of today’s adolescents: that magical coming-of-age feeling when a whole world opened up.
For nearly a century, coming of age in America meant getting behind the wheel. A driver’s license marked the transition from childhood and dependence to adult responsibility and freedom. To many, it was a far more important milestone than voting or legal drinking. It was the beginning of a new world—of cruising down Main Street to meet with friends and compete with rivals; the ritual of being picked up for a date and making out while “parking”; and of the pleasures and frustrations of repairing, souping up, customizing, or racing a car.
This world, familiar to anyone who has seen American Graffiti, the 1973 paean to teen driving, was unique to the U.S. No teens in any other country in the world shared American teens’ level of enthusiasm for all things automotive. This was in part because in the mid-20th century there was a wealth of available cars—cheap used ones from the late 1920s—as well as the fact that by 1940, American teenagers were more likely to be attending high school than working. Elsewhere, 16-year-olds rode bikes or buses and had jobs. Practically nowhere else on earth did teens have the means—and, as high-school students and not full-time workers, the time—to join the adult world of automobility. And they did so on their own terms, partially emulating their elders who had cars, but also by using cars to craft their own personal styles and escape their parents’ control.
A new report that Roger Stone sought damaging information on Clinton from Julian Assange is the latest in an increasingly complicated chronology.
On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that longtime Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone tried to solicit information about Hillary Clinton from WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in September 2016. At the time, the Journal reported, Stone wrote to Randy Credico, a New York radio host who had interviewed Assange, and asked Credico to ask Assange for “any State or HRC e-mail from August 10 to August 30, 2011.”
Like Stone, Trump seemed to believe that damaging information about Clinton could be found in the emails that she sent using her private email server, and later deleted. “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Trump said during a press conference in July 2016.
Will Moon Jae In achieve a breakthrough—or will his peace offensive blow up in his face?
To be in South Korea in mid-May—when North Korea released American hostages and Donald Trump announced his summit in Singapore with Kim Jong Un and the leaders of China, Japan, and South Korea gathered in Tokyo to talk denuclearization and reconciliation on the Korean peninsula—was to feel as if the spring of 2018 might be one of those moments when history, after plodding along for decades, suddenly moved very fast.
And pushing it along was South Korean President Moon Jae In, who had lobbied hard for talks between Trump and Kim and whose diplomatic investment seemed to be paying off as the summit approached. Even last week, when history seemed to come to a screeching halt as Trump canceled the summit, Moon kept pushing, holding his own surprise summit with the North Korean leader on Saturday. Moon had been blindsided by Trump’s decision, but he was moving to reassert control over what he still hopes could be a historic breakthrough for peace on the Korean peninsula. Human history, one of Moon’s advisers told me recently in Seoul, “is ... governed by certain law of heavenly mandate. There is a time for peace—that is a dictate of nature. And Moon Jae In is following that heavenly mandate.”’
This month, many of the nation's best and brightest high school seniors will receive thick envelopes in the mail announcing their admission to the college of their dreams. According to a 2011 survey, about 60 percent of them will go to their first-choice schools. For many of them, going away to college will be like crossing the Rubicon. They will leave their families—their homes—and probably not return for many years, if at all.
That was journalist Rod Dreher's path. Dreher grew up in the small southern community of Starhill, Louisiana, 35 miles northwest of Baton Rouge. His family goes back five generations there. His father was a part-time farmer and sanitarian; his mother drove a school bus. His younger sister Ruthie loved hunting and fishing, even as a little girl.
Philosophically, intellectually—in every way—human society is unprepared for the rise of artificial intelligence.
Three years ago, at a conference on transatlantic issues, the subject of artificial intelligence appeared on the agenda. I was on the verge of skipping that session—it lay outside my usual concerns—but the beginning of the presentation held me in my seat.
The speaker described the workings of a computer program that would soon challenge international champions in the game Go. I was amazed that a computer could master Go, which is more complex than chess. In it, each player deploys 180 or 181 pieces (depending on which color he or she chooses), placed alternately on an initially empty board; victory goes to the side that, by making better strategic decisions, immobilizes his or her opponent by more effectively controlling territory.
Several new studies suggest yogurt might reduce inflammation—a process linked to different types of diseases.
A couple years ago, I was taking a swim with my very pregnant friend when I asked her if it was hard to keep straight all of the doctors’ health recommendations for expectant mothers.
Not really. For practically every symptom, she said, their recommendations were roughly the same: “Take a walk, eat a yogurt.”
It was another example of the Cult of Yogurt. Even though some varieties have more sugar than a Twinkie, perhaps no other man-made food is so often recommended by medical professionals—and to treat such a wide variety of ailments.
Whenever I’ve been prescribed antibiotics, I’ve always been told to eat a yogurt so that the antibiotics don’t eat up all the “good” bacteria in my system and leave me with a yeast infection. (Recently, I interviewed a doctor who suggested this is bogus; there’s no way for the yogurt cultures to make it all the way down there.)
Justin Trudeau’s government has started rejecting more refugee claims from migrants who cross the U.S.-Canada border on foot.
It may seem paradoxical. Last year, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appeared to issue an open invitation to refugees with a tweet declaring, “to those fleeing persecution, terror & war ... #WelcomeToCanada.” This year, his government is working hard to deter thousands of people who are walking over the U.S. border to seek asylum in Canada.
Canada has begun granting refugee status to fewer irregular border crossers—that is, people who walk into the country without going through a designated port of entry. Since President Donald Trump was elected, over 27,000 people have crossed into Canada overland. (By comparison, only 2,000 people did this in 2016.) In 2017, the country granted refugee status to 53 percent of such border crossers, but that number was down to 40 percent in the first three months of this year, Reuters reported. Did Trudeau change his mind about Canada’s welcoming posture in general? Or is something else at work here?