Walter Hoye

Archive for November, 2013|Monthly archive page

Winny v. Whitesides (1824)

In Abortion, Special Edition on November 25, 2013 at 12:00 am
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Without Life, Nothing Matters.

Freedom Suit Series

“Anyone who kidnaps someone and either sells him as a slave or still has him when he is caught must be put to death.” — Exodus 21:16, New Century Version (NCV) 

Freedom suits are legal petitions filed by slaves for freedom. Between America’s colonial period and the American Civil War, a number of civil actions were brought to courts of law that challenged both the moral maxim and legal legitimacy of JUST-SUBJECTION 1 and WRONGFUL-ENSLAVEMENT 2 in America. This series of columns will explore those lawsuits and expose lessons that can be engaged by the Body of Christ and the Pro-Life movement today, in the wake of the 1973 United States Supreme Court (USSC) decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton.

White Space Holder


Fugitive Slave Law 1850

Winny v. Whitesides (1824) established Missouri’s judicial criteria for freedom.
If a Slave Owner took a Slave to free territory and established residence there, the Slave
would be free. Winny’s case for freedom was allowed under the provisions of the 1789
Northwest Ordinance
and gave rise to the phrase: “Once Free, Forever Free.” 3


Northwest Ordinance Of 1789

“There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said territory.” — Northwest Ordinance; July 13, 1787, Section 14, Article 6 4

Map Of The Northwest TerritoryArticle VII of the United States Constitution stipulated that nine (9) states had to ratify the United States Constitution for it to be adopted.5 In June of 1788 New Hampshire became the ninth (9th) state to ratify our Constitution.6 In July of 1789, our newly created United States Congress reaffirmed the Northwest Ordinance of 1789 (with slight modifications).7 In August of 1789 our first President George Washington signed the Northwest Ordinance of 1789 into law.8 The Northwest Ordinance of 1789 set up how the territories could make new States and forbade Slavery in the federal (i.e., northern) territories. While the ordinance did prohibit Slavery, it did not emancipate the Slaves already held by Slave Holders within the territory.9 By the 1820s the Pro-Slavery Lobby was working overtime to legalize Slavery.10 While the Pro-Slavery Lobby fought valiantly for the virtue of Slavery, the Pro-Slavery Lobby failed. However, after closer examination, it is easy to see that the Pro-Slavery Lobby merely failed on paper and not in practice. In the end, the Pro-Slavery Lobby employed the ancient art of compromise, and a deal was struck. “Indentured Servants” 11,12 were allowed and while Slaves could not be bought or sold,13 this enabled Slaveholders to bring their Slaves into the territory under the status of “Indentured Servants.” Slave Kidnapping PosterTo sweeten the deal, the compromise also allowed for the recapture and return of any runaway Slaves who just “happened” to venture into Slave Holding Territories.14 This compromise worked for the Southern states for two (2) reasons. First, the Pro-Slavery Lobby knew Slavery would be legal south of the jurisdiction of the Northwest Ordinance, that is to say the Ohio River.15 Thus, with most Slave States in 1790 located south of the Ohio River, the balance of the number of Free States versus the number of Slave States would not be affected. Second, (and in my earnest opinion, the most important reason), the Pro-Slavery Lobby did not want to compete with the then Free States over tobacco as a commodity crop. The Pro-Slavery Lobby knew that growing tobacco was very labor intensive and that tobacco could only be grown profitably with Slave Labor.16 Truly the love of money is the root of all evil (1st Timothy 6:10).


Missouri Compromise Of 1820

“I was losing interest in politics, when the repeal of the Missouri Compromise aroused me again. What I have done since then is pretty well known.” — Abraham Lincoln, December 20th, 1859 17

Missouri Compromise 1820

In 1820 the Missouri Compromise was passed by the Democratic Congress as congressional policy.18 This allowed and promoted Slavery in close to half of the federal territories, the very opposite of what the Northwest Ordinance stated.19 This is where our Congress officially started promoting Slavery in an effort to preserve the balance of power in Congress between Slave and Free States.20 The Missouri Compromise admitted Missouri (already compromised) as a Slave State and Maine as a Free State.21 Furthermore, with the exception of Missouri, this law prohibited Slavery in the Louisiana Territory north of the 36° 30´ latitude line.22 While on paper the Missouri Compromise of 1820 was a mutual concession between two (2) parties, Elektra Tig (Lawyer and Historian) notes that an “overwhelming majority of southern senators and a slim majority of southern representatives voted in favor of the compromise.” 23 Tig goes on to say that “to the North, the Compromise of 1820 was not a compromise. It was not even an armistice. It was a defeat. Of those northern legislators who voted, 82% of Senators and 86% of Representatives voted against compromise or against the key concession they were asked to make.” 24 Clearly, when truth is at stake, the art of compromise is the practice of illusionists.


Winny v. Whitesides (1824)

“We are clearly of the opinion that if, by a residence in Illinois, the plaintiff [ Mrs. Whitesides ] lost her right to the property in the defendant [ Winny ], that right was not revived by a removal of the parties to Missouri.” — Justice George Tompkins, Missouri Supreme Court 25

Winny v. Whitesides, Phebe Suit

St. Louis Courthouse, Credit: Missouri Historical SocietyWinny, a “Negro Girl” and Slave, was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Whitesides.26 Between 1794 or 1795, the Whitesides took Winny from Carolina to Illinois, which in 1795 was within the 1789 Northwest Ordinance Territory.27 The Whitesides then resided in Illinois until about 1798 or 1799.28 After which the Whitesides moved to the Missouri Territory.29 In 1818 Winny filed suit to win her freedom in the Superior Court of the Missouri Territory.30 The basis of Winny’s argument was that her residence in the Northwest Territory made her free.31 The jury decided in Winny’s favor and awarded her the sum of $167.50 in damages.32 In response Mrs. Whitesides, that is to say Phebe Whitesides now a widow and sole owner of Winny, appealed the judgement against her to the Missouri State Supreme Court.33 In the end, Winny and her nine (9) children won their freedom as this time the Missouri State Supreme Court ruled in her favor. It was this decision that firmly established the legal precedent of “Once Free, Forever Free.” 34 However, by 1852 the ever vigilant Pro-Slavery Lobby in Missouri led a now Pro-Slavery Missouri State Supreme Court to deny Dred Scott his freedom in the Dred Scott v. Irene Emerson case.35 This decision marked the end of the “Once Free, Forever Free” doctrine.36 Book Cover: Dred Scott And The Dangers Of A Political CourtIn 1854, the Missouri Compromise was repealed by the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which some say “may have been the single most significant event leading to the Civil War.” 37 By 1857 the Missouri Compromise was declared unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court in their notorious Dred Scott decision. 38 In their Scott decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that Black Americans, whether Slave or Free, could not be citizens of the United States of America, that Black Americans had no standing to sue in a federal court and that Congress did not have the authority to prohibit Slavery in the territories.39 The United States Supreme Court Dred Scott decision not only upheld the earlier de facto end of the 1824 precedent “Once Free, Forever Free,” it drove the proverbial nail in the coffin deeper by legally establishing the South’s “Once A Slave, Forever A Slave” doctrine as the law of the land.40 If it is true, that compromise weakens a reputation or a principle by accepting standards that are lower than desirable, then the United States Supreme Court Dred Scott decision is the logical conclusion to the Northwest Ordinance of 1789 and the Missouri Compromise of 1820.


Open Letter To The Church

LESSON: Compromising On Principle Compromises Culture.

A Lesson We Can Learn From The Case Of Winny v. Whitesides

“Compromise is meant for those competing interests, NOT for the core principles of the country that the Constitution exists to protect and secure. When the principles of our free nation under God are under siege, it is a time for confrontation, not compromise.” — Star Parker 41

Sign: You Can't Compromise On PrinciplesWhen the issue at stake does not contradict the Word of God, that is to say biblical principles and|or biblical convictions, but is rather a matter of differences in mode or methodology, there is no need to be dogmatic. We are free to be flexible. We are free to allow the law of expediency to operate. However, in doing so, we must never allow our mode or methodology to mask or manipulate our theology. For example, in Acts 21:18-26, the Apostle Paul agreed to the compromise proposed by James (the son of Alphaeus) and the Elders of the church at Jerusalem. Paul did so because the compromise did not contradict the Word of God nor did it conflict with the fundamentals of the faith. It’s clear that the Apostle understood the righteous relationship between principle and practice and the world of difference between mode, methodology and theology. As God’s missionary to the Gentiles (Acts 13:47), Paul knew that while our opinions may change, the Word of God never will.

Sign: You Can't Compromise On PrinciplesIn Revelation 2:12-17 Christ shares with us the sin of the church at Pergamum, then the capital of Asia Minor. Pergamum was known for its rampant idolatry. Pergamum hosted the altar of Zeus and was the center of Caesar worship. Idolatry, wickedness, and sexual immorality were commonplace. The sin of the church at Pergamum was not the evil in the city, but rather her toleration of the evil within her midst. It’s clear from the biblical record, that the leadership of the church at Pergamum not only pardoned the “teaching of Balaam (Revelation 2:14) who taught Balak how to make the people of Israel sin,” but also the “teaching of the Nicolaitans” (Revelation 2:15) who believed man can freely partake in sin because God understands the needs of our flesh. Because the leadership at the church of Pergamum conceded and compromised on biblical standards to accommodate the corrupt culture of the city, the message of Christ to the church at Pergamum was to change their hearts and repent.

Civil War SolidersYOU CAN’T FIGHT FOR BOTH SIDES! “Have you ever heard the story of the guy who could not decide what side he wanted to fight for during the Civil War? He put on the coat of the North and the trousers of the South, and guess what? He got shot at from both sides! This is what happens to the compromiser, the person who tries to live in two worlds. It’s one miserable place to be.” 42

No Compromise Cartoon

Pro-LifeAs I think about the Pro-Life movement, could it be true, that compromise has left us feeling like our plate is half-empty instead of half-full? Could it be true, that whatever we gained by compromising yesterday, we have lost today? Could it be true, that whatever we have gained by compromise, we will have to make more compromises to keep it? Could it be true, that compromise breeds compromise? Could it be true, that what we have lost by compromise is greater that what we would have gained if we had refused to compromise? Could it be true, that compromising a little has led us to compromising much? Could it be true, that our non-compromise positions of yesterday are just not enough to compensate for our compromised positions of today? Could it be true, that the great British preacher, G. Campbell Morgan, was right when he said: “It is a remarkable thing that the church of Christ persecuted has been the church of Christ pure. On the other hand, the church of Christ patronized has been the church of Christ impure.” 43 Could it be true, that by compromising our principles we compromised both our culture and our future?

Yeah, I think it could.

Brothers, we need to talk.


Note(s):

 In my very, very strong opinion, THE BIBLE DOES NOT JUSTIFY SLAVERY. If pastors (christian leaders) of the South taught their congregants to obey the Mosaic laws that criminalized kidnapping human beings, the harsh treatment of servants, the return of runaway servants and without preferring the rich over the poor or men over women, held everyone accountable for their own actions in the public square, slavery would not have existed.

Kidnapping


Deuteronomy 24:7 says: “If someone kidnaps a fellow Israelite, either to make him a slave or sell him, the kidnapper must be killed. You must get rid of the evil among you.”

Harsh Treatment


Exodus 21:26,27 says: “If a man hits his male or female slave in the eye, and the eye is blinded, the man is to free the slave to pay for the eye. If a master knocks out a tooth of his male or female slave, the man is to free the slave to pay for the tooth.”

Runaway Servants


Deuteronomy 23:15-16 say: “If an escaped slave comes to you, do not hand over the slave to his master. Let the slave live with you anywhere he likes, in any town he chooses. Do not mistreat him.”


The New Testament speaks equally as strong against the kidnapping of human beings (which is the basis of slavery) as the Old Testament. Please read the Apostle Paul’s warning against false teaching in 1st Timothy 1:8-10 (NCV): “But we know that the law is good if someone uses it lawfully. We also know that the law is not made for good people but for those who are against the law and for those who refuse to follow it. It is for people who are against God and are sinful, who are unholy and ungodly, who kill their fathers and mothers, who murder, who take part in sexual sins, who have sexual relations with people of the same sex, WHO SELL SLAVES, who tell lies, who speak falsely, and who do anything against the true teaching of God.


“Perhaps the most compelling argument AGAINST SLAVERY in the New Testament is Paul’s letter to Philemon, in which the Apostle asks Onesimus (a fellow Christian) to free his Christian slave.

Reference(s):


01. A paradox noted by Edlie Wong in her book “Neither Fugitive Nor Free” (2009), slave states had statutes that provided for slaves to sue for “wrongful enslavement”, based on slave laws that established “just subjection”, page 5 and 153 (http://bit.ly/17xS6Ty).
02. Ibid.
03. St. Louis Circuit Court Historical Records Project “History of Freedom Suits in Missouri” (http://bit.ly/1eSaxXk).
04. The Northwest Ordinance, TeachingAmericanHistory.org is a project of the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University (http://bit.ly/IiMRwX).
05. Article Seven of the United States Constitution, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/MuSoPw).
06. New Hampshire, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/aD7R74).
07. Steve Straub, “The Northwest Ordinance of 1787”, The Federalist Papers, December 17th, 2012 (http://bit.ly/UDZUcf).
08. Ibid.
09. Charles G. Mills “Did the Old South Change its Mind?”, The Confederate Lawyer
January 13, 2012 (http://bit.ly/I6dBkF).
10. William Earl Parrish, Perry McCandless, William E. Foley, “A History of Missouri: 1820-1860”, page 287 (http://bit.ly/1az7KyR).
11. David Brion Davis and Steven Mintz, “The Boisterous Sea of Liberty”, 2000, page 234 (http://bit.ly/18rP2sH).
12. Paul Finkelman, “Evading the Ordinance: The Persistence of Bondage in Indiana and Illinois”, Journal of the Early Republic, Vol. 9, No. 1, Spring 1989, page 21 (http://bit.ly/17REizP).
13. George Washington And Slavery, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/c2TXi6).
14. Marcus D. Pohlmann, Linda Vallar Whisenhunt, “Student’s Guide to Landmark Congressional Laws on Civil Rights”, page 14 (http://bit.ly/17NPDpV).
15. Fredericksburg.Com, “American Civil War, A Nation Divided. Slavery In The Territories” (http://bit.ly/1i0qSLU).
16. Northwest Ordinance: Prohibition Of Slavery, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/18U86MD).
17. The History Place: Abraham Lincoln, Short Autobiography 1859 (http://bit.ly/18rZAYA).
18. Freedom Fighter Moe’s Blog, “Northwest Ordinance 1789 and Missouri Compromise 1820” (http://bit.ly/1e5ilBr).
19. Missouri Compromise, The Library of Congress (http://1.usa.gov/xwfvR2).
20. This Day In History, “March 3rd, 1820: Congress passes the Missouri Compromise” (http://bit.ly/ezegsM).
21. Ibid.
22. Missouri Compromise, The Library of Congress (http://1.usa.gov/xwfvR2).
23. Elektra Tig, “The Missouri Compromise: Compromise, Armistice or Defeat?” (http://bit.ly/Gw0Mo).
24. Ibid.
25. Robert Moore, Jr., “A Ray of Hope, Extinguished: St. Louis Slave Suits for Freedom” (http://bit.ly/1g0amqL) or St. Louis Circuit Court Records “Harriet Scott vs. Irene Emerson” (http://bit.ly/1h62Xt4).
26. Winney a free blackwoman vs. Phebe Pruitt, Washington University In St. Louis, Court Records (http://bit.ly/18sac9U).
27. Elektra Tig, Winny v. Whitesides I: A Suite for Freedom (http://bit.ly/1bGNlEJ), Winny v. Whitesides II: The Northwest Ordinance (http://bit.ly/1dmnNDS), Winny v. Whitesides III: Recognition of Status Conveyed By Foreign Law (http://bit.ly/1el5Dzd), Winny v. Whitesides IV: Residence vs. Transit (http://bit.ly/19MmYw5).
28. Ibid.
29. Ibid.
30. Ibid.
31. Ibid.
32. Ibid.
33. Ibid.
34. Tim McNeese, “Dred Scott V. Sandford: The Pursuit of Freedom”, page 85 (http://bit.ly/I6EYey).
35. Missouri State Archives , Missouri’s Dred Scott Case, 1846-1857″ (http://on.mo.gov/8Yr703).
36. Freedom Suit: History, (http://bit.ly/1e5Hzje).
37. U.S. History, Pre-Columbian to the New Millennium, The Kansas-Nebraska Act (http://bit.ly/17ShLmH).
38. Missouri Compromise, The Library of Congress (http://1.usa.gov/xwfvR2).
39. Dred Scott, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/DJQ4B).
40. Ibid.
41. Star Parker, “Compromise in politics? No, confront” (http://bit.ly/17pDRzu).
42. Greg Laurie, “The Danger of Compromise”, Article By A new Beginning (http://bit.ly/Hup9xy).
43. Ibid.

Jackey Wright

In Abortion, Special Edition on November 18, 2013 at 12:00 am
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Without Life, Nothing Matters.

Freedom Suit Series

“Anyone who kidnaps someone and either sells him as a slave or still has him when he is caught must be put to death.” — Exodus 21:16, New Century Version (NCV) 

Freedom suits are legal petitions filed by slaves for freedom. Between America’s colonial period and the American Civil War, a number of civil actions were brought to courts of law by STRONG BLACK WOMEN that challenged both the moral maxim and the legal legitimacy of JUST-SUBJECTION 1 and WRONGFUL-ENSLAVEMENT 2 in America. This series of columns will explore those lawsuits and expose lessons that can be engaged by the Body of Christ and the Pro-Life movement today, in the wake of the 1973 United States Supreme Court (USSC) decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton.

White Space Holder


Mariah Carey As A Field Slave In The Butler Movie

Lee Daniels’ movie “The Butler” upset some people when a photograph of Mariah Carey playing the role of a field slave went viral. The picture caught a barrage of flak from those on social
media who felt that anyone with a complexion like Mariah’s wouldn’t actually have to
work in the field, therefore deeming the illustration inaccurate.
As you can see, even today, skin color is an issue3


Hudgins v. Wright (1806)

“This is not a common case of mere Blacks suing for their freedom; but of persons perfectly White.” 4

Elizabeth Freeman (Mum Bett)

Hudgins v. Wright (1806) was a freedom suit decided in the favor of the Slave Jackey Wright by the Virginia Supreme Court. Jackey sued for freedom for herself and her two (2) children based
on her claim of being descended from Native Americans, instead of Black Americans
as her Slave Master Houlder Hudgins argued for the basis of her legal slavement. 5


Perfectly White

“What more than strong characteristic features would be required, to prove a person White?” 6 — George K. Taylor, Legal Counsel For The Appellees

“The Chancellor (George Wythe) in person viewed the complainants (Jackey Wright and her children) and perceived the youngest to be perfectly White, and that there were gradual shades of difference in color between the grandmother, mother and grand-daughter. Upon his own view, and all the other evidence the chancellor determined the appellees to be entitled to freedom: and moreover, (on the ground that Freedom is every human being’s birthright — according to the first article in the Virginia Bill of Rights, “That all men are by nature equally free and independent“), he laid it down as a general position, that whenever one person claims to hold another in slavery, the onus probandi (i.e., the burden of proof) lies on the claimant.” 7 — Reports Of Cases In The Supreme Court Of Appeals Of Virginia

G. K. Taylor, Esq.Jackey Wright was a slave serving Houlder Hudgins. On Thursday, November 11th, 1806 Jackey sued in the Virginia Court of Appeals (today the Virginia Supreme Court) for her freedom and for the freedom of her two (2) children. 8 Jackey’s case was based on her being descended from multiple generations of Native American Indian women. 9 Jackey and her children appeared “White” 10 by the justices of the Virginia Court of Appeals, which relied on the visual and factual finding of trial judge George Wythe. According to George K. Taylor (Jackey Wright’s legal counsel) Phoebe Wilson (Jackey’s mother) 11 was an Indian 12 and thus Jackey was wrongfully enslaved based on the 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights. Wright herself said Phoebe (her mother) was the daughter of Hannah and granddaughter of Butterwood Nan. 13 Both Hannah and Butterwood Nan were Indian described by witnesses as having “Indian” characteristics, such as long straight hair. 14

Virginia 1662 LawVirginia was one of the first states to acknowledge slavery in its laws, initially enacting such a law in 1661. However, in 1662 the American Colony of Virginia enacted a law of hereditary slavery meaning that a child born to an enslaved mother inherits her slave status. This law would have a profound effect on the continuance of slavery, even after the slave trade was abolished in 1863.

Act XII
Negro Womens Children To Serve
According To The Condition Of The Mother

“WHEREAS some doubts have arrisen whether children got by any Englishman upon a Negro woman should be slave or free, Be it therefore enacted and declared by this present grand assembly, that all children borne in this country shalbe held bond or free only according to the condition of the mother, And that if any christian shall committ ffornication with a Negro man or woman, hee or shee soe offending shall pay double the ffines imposed by the former act.” 15

This law officially recognized “Slavery” as an “Institution” that needed to be defined, controlled and regulated.

Slavery for American Indians in the American Colony of Virginia was outlawed after 1691 and|or 1705 (“depending on judicial interpretation“).16 Houlder Hudgins, the Wright’s Slave Master, argued that Jackey and her children were justly subjected to slavery because Jackey was of mixed race and partial African descent.17 However, Judge Wythe had ruled that, based on the 1776 Virginia Declaration of Rights, there was a presumption that White men and women were born free. Without the benefit of DeoxyriboNucleic Acid (i.e., DNA) Technology,18 Hudgins could not prove his claim that Jackey and her children were the product of African ancestry 19 and consequently born slaves. In the end, Jackey Wright with her blue eyes 20 and her children looked perfectly White and were set free.

Open Letter To The Church

LESSON: Skin Color Still Matters In America

A Lesson We Can Learn From The Case Of Jackey Wright

“By contrast, a person who appeared ‘Negro’ would be presumed a Slave, unless affirmative evidence could prove that she was free. Indians were by default citizens of a free nation; Africans were by default members of an enslaved race.” — Ariela Julie Gross 21

“A nation rises or sinks on the physical or mental quality of its citizens. It cannot thrive when its fundamental structure is based on defective stock, the increase of morons, feeble minded, psychopaths or diseased slum populations.” — Margaret Sanger, Planned Parenthood Founder 22

Skin Color Still MattersSkin color mattered from 1800 to 1866 when Black Codes,23 restricted the Civil Rights and Civil Liberties of Black Americans with no pretense of equality. Skin color mattered between 1876 and 1965 when Jim Crow Laws 24 mandated racial segregation in all public facilities in Southern states of the former Confederacy. Skin color mattered in 1890, as “separate but equal” 25 status for Black Americans was a legal doctrine in United States constitutional law.

Christians And The Color LineSkin color mattered in 1921 when Margaret Sanger founded the American Birth Control League, which later would become the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.26 Sanger’s New York Birth Control Clinic was located in Harlem, staffed by all female doctors and an entirely Black American staff.27 Apparently, skin color mattered to Sanger. Skin color mattered in 1924 when the Virginia General Assembly addressed Margaret Sanger’s concerns for America (see quote above) and community concerns about eugenics and race by passing two (2) laws that reflected the racial presumptions of the American Colony of Virginia’s “Hereditary Slavery Law” of 1662. So on Thursday, March 20th, 1924 the “Racial Integrity Act” and the “Sterilization Act” were passed.28 The “Racial Integrity Act” defined race by the “One-Drop Rule” (meaning any person with “one drop of Negro blood” was considered Black) and required that every person be recorded at birth as either White or Black. As a bonus, the “Racial Integrity Act” safeguarded the purity of the White race by expanding the scope of Virginia’s seventeenth century ban on interracial marriage and criminalized all marriages between White persons and Non-White persons. Furthermore and in concert, with the Sanger inspired “Racial Integrity Act”, the “Sterilization Act” legalized compulsory sterilization of persons deemed to be “feebleminded, insane, idiotic, imbecile, or epileptic.” The “Sterilization Act” was challenged, but ultimately upheld by the United States Supreme Court in the 1927 Buck v. Bell case.29

The Persistence Of The Color LineSkin color mattered in 1968 when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee 30 and when my Dad broke the Color-Line in the National Football League by becoming the first Black American to work in the front office as Assistant Director of Public Relations for the San Diego Chargers.31 To say my life would never be the same, while a very true saying, is nevertheless a gross understatement of my experiences growing up Black in America. From my birth in Detroit, Michigan in 1956 to my incarceration in Oakland, California in 2009,32 skin color mattered. Skin color mattered in the 2008 33 and 2012 34 Presidential elections. Even today, as my wife (Lori) and I work to reach Black Americans with the message of LIFE in the Pro-Life movement, skin color matters.35

John Bull NegroCould it be that victory for the Pro-Life movement will only come when we acknowledge that skin color matters in America? Could it be that victory will only come when we learn to reach across the Color-Lines with compassion (Jude 2236 and with courage (Jude 23)? 37 Could it be that victory will only come when we recognize that in the United States of America where skin color mattersone-size-fits-allcommunity strategies will NOT end abortion? Could it be that victory will only come when we forgive one another, embrace our divinely inspired differences and in love hold on to the Christ-Like sameness of our souls?

Yeah, I think it could.

Brothers, we need to talk.


Note(s):

 In my very, very strong opinion, THE BIBLE DOES NOT JUSTIFY SLAVERY. If pastors (christian leaders) of the South taught their congregants to obey the Mosaic laws that criminalized kidnapping human beings, the harsh treatment of servants, the return of runaway servants and without preferring the rich over the poor or men over women, held everyone accountable for their own actions in the public square, slavery would not have existed.

Kidnapping


Deuteronomy 24:7 says: “If someone kidnaps a fellow Israelite, either to make him a slave or sell him, the kidnapper must be killed. You must get rid of the evil among you.”

Harsh Treatment


Exodus 21:26,27 says: “If a man hits his male or female slave in the eye, and the eye is blinded, the man is to free the slave to pay for the eye. If a master knocks out a tooth of his male or female slave, the man is to free the slave to pay for the tooth.”

Runaway Servants


Deuteronomy 23:15-16 say: “If an escaped slave comes to you, do not hand over the slave to his master. Let the slave live with you anywhere he likes, in any town he chooses. Do not mistreat him.”


The New Testament speaks equally as strong against the kidnapping of human beings (which is the basis of slavery) as the Old Testament. Please read the Apostle Paul’s warning against false teaching in 1st Timothy 1:8-10 (NCV): “But we know that the law is good if someone uses it lawfully. We also know that the law is not made for good people but for those who are against the law and for those who refuse to follow it. It is for people who are against God and are sinful, who are unholy and ungodly, who kill their fathers and mothers, who murder, who take part in sexual sins, who have sexual relations with people of the same sex, WHO SELL SLAVES, who tell lies, who speak falsely, and who do anything against the true teaching of God.


“Perhaps the most compelling argument AGAINST SLAVERY in the New Testament is Paul’s letter to Philemon, in which the Apostle asks Onesimus (a fellow Christian) to free his Christian slave.


Reference(s):

01. A paradox noted by Edlie Wong in her book “Neither Fugitive Nor Free” (2009), slave states had statutes that provided for slaves to sue for “wrongful enslavement”, based on slave laws that established “just subjection”, page 5 and 153 (http://bit.ly/17xS6Ty).
02. Ibid.
03. Bossip Staff “You’re Not Black Enough! Mariah Carey’s Role As A Field Slave In Movie Causes Controversy ‘She Would Have Been In The House’.” Bossip.com is the premier destination for African American popular culture and entertainment, with a voice that’s edgy, viciously hilarious, politically aware-and completely unique. (http://bit.ly/1hBwRXf).
04. Professor Vernellia Randall, Hudgins v. Wrights (1806), “Race and Racism in American Law”, The University of Dayton School of Law (http://bit.ly/17rih02).
05. Hudgins v. Wright (1806), Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/1aPLqTc).
06. Professor Vernellia Randall, Hudgins v. Wrights (1806), “Race and Racism in American Law”, The University of Dayton School of Law (http://bit.ly/17rih02).
07. Lucian Minor, William Walter Hening, William Munford, “Reports of cases in the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia, from October 1806 to October 1809; and in the Superior Court of Chancery for the Richmond District from September 1806 to February 1809”, page 119 (http://bit.ly/1j0y4CX).
08. W&M Digital Archive, Hudgins v. Wright Case Material (http://bit.ly/17pxd9F).
09. Andrew Fede “Roadblocks to Freedom: Slavery and Manumission in the United States South” (http://bit.ly/18shjeP).
10. Ibid. “appeared to be white” (http://bit.ly/19ko7dP).
11. Ibid. “Jackey’s mother, Phoebe Wilson” (http://bit.ly/1aEFvua).
12. John Bailey, “Jefferson’s Second Father” (http://bit.ly/HMR8IS) and Quote: “Taylor told the court that he had witnesses ready to trace Jackey Wright’s lineage back through four generations to a woman called Butterwood Nan, an Indian.” (http://bit.ly/HMR8IS).
13. Hudgins v. Wright, Background, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/1e3IZex).
14. Ibid.
15. Act XII, Laws of Virginia, December 1662, Hening, Statutes at Large, 2: 170, (http://1.usa.gov/pMnhrJ).
16. Hudgins v. Wright, Background, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/1e3IZex).
17. Ibid.
18. DNA Junction, “Friedrich Miescher — 1869 — By collecting and washing out bandages from a local hospital, Miescher isolated what he called the ‘nuclein molecule,’ named after the nucleus in which it was found. At the time, Miescher did not realize it, but he had isolated DNA. Later, it would be determined that the nuclein molecule present in all cells was actually DNA.” (http://bit.ly/185iDb1).
19. 23andMe, “Exceptions to the “One Drop Rule“? DNA evidence of African Ancestry in European Americans” (http://bit.ly/1buOdzN).
20. Wythe Holt, “George Wythe: Early Modern Judge”, University of Alabama Law Review, Volume 58:5:1009, page 1032 “Phoebe’s daughter Jackey was “perfectly white” with blue eyes.” (http://bit.ly/1apDyVZ).
21. Ariela Julie Gross, “What Blood Won’t Tell: A History of Race on Trial in America” (http://bit.ly/172h8JK).
22. Angela Frank, “Margaret Sanger’s Eugenic Legacy: The Control of Female Fertility”, page 13 (http://bit.ly/1apJBK1). See also Clenard Childress, “When Is A Racist A Racist?” (http://bit.ly/17TTrq5).
23. Black Codes, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/4mZM5k).
24. Jim Crow Laws, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/eMhWhO).
25. Separate But Equal, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/7MgcR6).
26. Margaret Sanger, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/Qx1mh).
27. Ibid.
28. Racial Integrity Act of 1924, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/94h4eM).
29. Carrie Buck, was a plaintiff in the United States Supreme Court case Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200 (1927), Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/4Ty2kd).
30. Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/bHW4vx).
31. San Diego Chargers, “Walter Hoye Passes Away” (http://bit.ly/1iadCSm).
32. Henry K. Lee, “Pastor Jailed For Oakland Anti-Abortion Acts”, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer (http://bit.ly/18sKEWl).
33. 2008 Presidential Election “National Exit Polls”, The New York Times , (http://bit.ly/1aEV0ST).
34. Daniel Greenfield, “One Graph That Shows Which Party Really Looks Like America”, FrontPage Magazine (http://bit.ly/12j154o).
35. Betrayal Trauma Series, “Betrayal Trauma” is a theory that tries to predict the degree to which a negative event, perpetrated by a trusted and needed other, will influence the way events (past, present and future) are both processed and remembered. In this seven (7) part series I expose and explain the four (4) reasons why Black leadership struggles with the Pro-Life movement.” To read the series look in my newsletter archive for “Betrayal Trauma” under my 2011 columns (http://bit.ly/aRZHYl).
36. Jude 22, “And of some have compassion, making a difference”, King James Version (http://bit.ly/1aTUYg2).
37. Jude 23, “And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.”, King James Version (http://bit.ly/1aTUYg2).

Elizabeth Freeman (Mum Bett)

In Abortion, Special Edition on November 11, 2013 at 12:00 am
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Without Life, Nothing Matters.

Freedom Suit Series

“Anyone who kidnaps someone and either sells him as a slave or still has him when he is caught must be put to death.” — Exodus 21:16, New Century Version (NCV) 

Freedom suits are legal petitions filed by slaves for freedom. Between America’s colonial period and the American Civil War, a number of civil actions were brought to courts of law by STRONG BLACK WOMEN that challenged both the moral maxim and the legal legitimacy of JUST-SUBJECTION 1 and WRONGFUL-ENSLAVEMENT 2 in America. This series of columns will explore those lawsuits and expose lessons that can be engaged by the Body of Christ and the Pro-Life movement today, in the wake of the 1973 United States Supreme Court (USSC) decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton.

White Space Holder


Elizabeth Freeman (Mum Bett)

This Ruling Informally Ended Slavery In Massachusetts …

Elizabeth Freeman (Mum Bett)

Elizabeth Freeman (Mum Bett), in early life known as Bett and later Mum Bett (circa 1742 — December 28th, 1829), was among the first Black slaves in Massachusetts to file a “Freedom Suit” and win in the Massachusetts Bay Colony county court under the 1780 Massachusetts constitution,
with a ruling that slavery was illegal. 3


Black, Female, Illiterate And A Slave

“She was a strong, courageous, powerful woman who despite the triple disadvantages of being Black, a woman, and illiterate never saw herself as a victim and instead lived a rich and independent life with much of her time and energy devoted to helping others. She continues to be a role model whose story continues to speak to many women today, rich and poor and Black and White.” 4 — Emilie Piper and David Levinson

Elizabeth was born to enslaved parents (native Africans) around 1742 at the farm of Pieter Hogeboom in Claverack, New York. When Hannah (Hogeboom’s daughter) married Colonel John Ashley of Sheffield, Massachusetts, she was sold as a young teenager, along with her sister, to the newlyweds. On the Sheffield plantation Elizabeth was married, given the name “Bett” and her daughter was given the name “Little Bett.” Bett served Hannah and Colonel Ashley until 1781. It is both note worthy and important to acknowledge here that Elizabeth’s husband (name unknown) was killed while fighting in the American Revolutionary War (1775 — 1783).

According to American novelist, Catharine Maria Sedgwick 5 (December 28th, 1789 — July 31st, 1867) who by the way promoted “Republican motherhood,” 6 Bett was strong spirited and had a healthy sense of self. One day (circa 1780), Hannah Ashley, who was raised in the very strict and Christian Dutch culture of the New York colony, was disciplining Little Bett (that is Bett’s daughter) with a heated shovel. In an effort to protect her daughter, Bett stepped in between the heated shovel 7 and her daughter receiving a very deep wound in her arm. While the wound would eventually heal, Bett was scarred for life and left the wound uncovered as evidence of Hannah’s brutal treatment of slaves. Again, according to Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Bett is quoted saying: “Madam (i.e., Hannah Ashley) never again laid her hand on Lizzy [sic]. I had a bad arm all winter, but Madam had the worst of it. I never covered the wound, and when people said to me, before Madam, ‘Betty, what ails your arm?’ I only answered … ‘ask missis!’ 8 [Now] which was the slave and which was the real misses?”

All Men Are Born Free And Equal

All men are born free and equal, and have certain natural, essential, and unalienable rights; among which may be reckoned the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties; that of acquiring, possessing, and protecting property; in fine, that of seeking and obtaining their safety and happiness.” 9 — Massachusetts Constitution, Article 1 (1773)

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” 10 — United States Declaration of Independence (1776)

Sheffield Declaration 1773As a Yale University educated lawyer, wealthy landowner, businessman and leader, Colonel Ashley opened his home to the community. On many occasions, Ashley’s house was the site of political discussions and according to the record, the probable location of the signing of the Sheffield Resolves 11 which predated the United States Declaration of Independence (Thursday, July 4th, 1776). The Sheffield Resolves, also known as the Sheffield Declaration, was a Colonial American petition against British tyranny and a manifesto for individual rights, approved by the Town of Sheffield, Massachusetts, on Tuesday, January 12th, 1773. While it is easy to see how Article 1 of the Massachusetts Constitution (above) was echoed in the most famous line of Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence 12 (above) three (3) years later, it is also easy to understand how such words as “all men are born free and equal” caught Bett’s attention as they were being read at Sheffield’s home.

The 1781 Berkshire County Case Of Brom And Bett vs. Ashley

“I heard that paper read yesterday, that says, all men are created equal, and that every man has a right to freedom. I’m not a dumb critter; won’t the law give me my freedom?” 13 — Elizabeth Freedom (Mum Bett)

Court Order To Free Elizabeth FreemanAfter overhearing discussions of the new Massachusetts State Constitution, the Bill of Rights and that all people were born free and equal in the Ashely’s home, Bett believed the law had to be applicable to her as well. As such, Bett asked for the counsel of a young abolition-minded lawyer named Theodore Sedgwick 14 to help her use the law to sue for freedom. Sedgwick believed slaves were indeed human beings, accepted her case and that of Brom, another of Colonel Ashley’s slaves. Next, Sedgwick recruited the help of the founder of America’s first law school (located at Litchfield, Connecticut), Tapping Reeve. When the case of Brom and Bett vs. Ashley 15 was heard before the County Court of Common Pleas in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, Sedgwick and Reeve argued that the constitutional provision that “all men are born free and equal” nullified the slave system in the state. In the end, the jury ruled in Bett’s favor and found that: “Brom and Bett are not, nor were they at the time of the purchase of the original writ the legal Negro of the said John Ashley.” So in August of 1781, the court assessed damages of thirty (30) shillings, awarded both plaintiffs (i.e., Brom and Bett) compensation for their labor and Bett became the First Black American Woman To Be Recognized As A Legal Person And Set Free under the Massachusetts State Constitution. Although this victory was a lower court decision with very limited influence, the case was a serious blow to slavery in Massachusetts.

Open Letter To The Church

LESSON: Personhood Resonates And Registers In Black America

A Lesson We Can Learn From The Case Of Elizabeth Freeman (Mum Bett)

“Any time, any time while I was a slave, if one minute’s freedom had been offered to me, and I had been told I must die at the end of that minute, I would have taken it just to stand one minute on God’s airth [sic] a free woman.” — Elizabeth Freedom (Mum Bett) 16

Emilie Piper - Mumbet - Story of Elizabeth FreemanClearly, Bett understood what it’s like not to be a legal person in the American colonies and would rather live a single minute free and die, than live her life as a slave17 The fight for personhood is found everywhere in Black American history. Personhood strikes a chord that runs deep in the experiences of Black Americans. The wholly heartfelt desire for Personhood strikes a chord that rings so true and runs so deep in my people that it can even be found in the souls of those who have been violently subjected to slavery since the American Colony of Virginia’s “Hereditary Slave Law” of 1661. The reality is Personhood resonates in the heart, registers in the mind, generates soul searching conversation and has the power to reconcile the very strained relationship between the Pro-Life movement and communities of color. In Black America, Personhood speaks to the need to have the words “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” apply to all human life and not just some human life.

The Book Cover: One Minute A Free WomanToday, Alveda King, daughter of A.D. King and niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. says: “The cause of personhood is the final chapter of the civil rights movement18 And each person who’s spared because of it will receive a priceless gift — the chance to write the chapters of his or her own life story.” Certainly, Bett received this gift from her freedom suit and wrote the last chapters of her life as a free woman. While Bett’s real age is not known, her tombstone estimates that she died at the age of eight-five (85). As such, in December of 1829 Elizabet Freeman (Mum Bett) was buried in the Sedgwick family plot in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Her tombstone, inscription reads as follows:

Elizabeth Freeman's (Mum Bett) TombstoneELIZABETH FREEMAN, known by the name of MUMBET died Dec. 28th 1829. Her supposed age was 85 Years. She was born a slave and remained a slave for nearly thirty years; She could neither read nor write, yet in her own sphere she had no superior or equal. She neither wasted time nor property. She never violated a trust, nor failed to perform a duty. In every situation of domestic trial, she was the most efficient helper and the tenderest friend. Good mother, farewell.” 19

Could it be that victory for the Pro-Life movement will come only when we all work together, hand in hand, as brothers and sisters in the body of Christ? Could it be that victory will only come when there is room at the table and provision made for strategies like Personhood? Could it be that victory in the fight to end abortion on demand anywhere and everywhere it exists in the world, cannot be realized without leadership from members within communities of color? Could it be that victory in the public square, from the righteous reign of Christ on the hearts and minds of men and women, will not come until His Body lives out the reality that “she is not the master or the servant of the state, but rather the conscience of the state?” 20

Yeah, I think it could.

Brothers, we need to talk.


Note(s):

 In my very, very strong opinion, THE BIBLE DOES NOT JUSTIFY SLAVERY. If pastors (christian leaders) of the South taught their congregants to obey the Mosaic laws that criminalized kidnapping human beings, the harsh treatment of servants, the return of runaway servants and without preferring the rich over the poor or men over women, held everyone accountable for their own actions in the public square, slavery would not have existed.

Kidnapping


Deuteronomy 24:7 says: “If someone kidnaps a fellow Israelite, either to make him a slave or sell him, the kidnapper must be killed. You must get rid of the evil among you.”

Harsh Treatment


Exodus 21:26,27 says: “If a man hits his male or female slave in the eye, and the eye is blinded, the man is to free the slave to pay for the eye. If a master knocks out a tooth of his male or female slave, the man is to free the slave to pay for the tooth.”

Runaway Servants


Deuteronomy 23:15-16 say: “If an escaped slave comes to you, do not hand over the slave to his master. Let the slave live with you anywhere he likes, in any town he chooses. Do not mistreat him.”


The New Testament speaks equally as strong against the kidnapping of human beings (which is the basis of slavery) as the Old Testament. Please read the Apostle Paul’s warning against false teaching in 1st Timothy 1:8-10 (NCV): “But we know that the law is good if someone uses it lawfully. We also know that the law is not made for good people but for those who are against the law and for those who refuse to follow it. It is for people who are against God and are sinful, who are unholy and ungodly, who kill their fathers and mothers, who murder, who take part in sexual sins, who have sexual relations with people of the same sex, WHO SELL SLAVES, who tell lies, who speak falsely, and who do anything against the true teaching of God.


“Perhaps the most compelling argument AGAINST SLAVERY in the New Testament is Paul’s letter to Philemon, in which the Apostle asks Onesimus (a fellow Christian) to free his Christian slave.

Reference(s):


01. A paradox noted by Edlie Wong in her book “Neither Fugitive Nor Free” (2009), slave states had statutes that provided for slaves to sue for “wrongful enslavement”, based on slave laws that established “just subjection”, page 5 and 153 (http://bit.ly/17xS6Ty).
02. Ibid.
03. Elizabeth Freeman (Mum Bett), Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/iveMtL).
04. Tammis Coffin, “Elizabeth Freeman’s Life Researched in New Book”, iBerkshires.com. (http://bit.ly/179aQFl).
05. Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/1bj1oQM).
06. Republican Motherhood, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/WXHAg1).
07. Elizabeth Freeman (Mum Bett), “Biography and Trial” Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/17hjscYL).
08. Charles Dickens, William Harrison Ainsworth, Albert Smith, George Cruikshank, “Bentley’s Miscellany”, Volume 34, page 418. (http://bit.ly/17hkvtn).
09. Constitution of Massachusetts “Part the First: A Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts” (http://bit.ly/1hxImPo).
10. The Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, “In Congress, July 4th, 1776 The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America”. (http://bit.ly/bPqF8f).
11. Sheffield Declaration, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/17p1tXj).
12. The Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, “In Congress, July 4th, 1776 The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America”. (http://bit.ly/bPqF8f).
13. Charles Dickens, William Harrison Ainsworth, Albert Smith, George Cruikshank, “Bentley’s Miscellany”, Volume 34, page 421. (http://bit.ly/18jNZad).
14. Theodore Sedgwick, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/NpsnTm).
15. Massachusetts Judicial Branch, “The Massachusetts Constitution, Judicial Review and Slavery”, The Mum Bett Case (http://1.usa.gov/19s2e0n).
16. Charles Dickens, William Harrison Ainsworth, Albert Smith, George Cruikshank, “Bentley’s Miscellany”, Volume 34, page 421. (http://bit.ly/18jPnd1).
17. Mumbet — Story of Elizabeth Freeman, Co-authors David Levinson and Emilie Piper discuss their new book “One Minute a Free Woman, Elizabeth Freeman and the Struggle For Freedom” at the Litchfield History Museum. (http://bit.ly/17pkFUX).
18. Alveda C. King, “The Final Chapter”, California Equal Rights Amendment Campaign (http://bit.ly/1ahwv1A).
19. John Sedgwick, “In My Blood” Six Generations of Madness and Desire In An American Family (http://bit.ly/1deaDVb).
20. Martin Luther King, Jr., “Strength to Love,” Published in 1963. This is a collection of classic sermons preached by Martin Luther King, Jr., page 64. (http://bit.ly/1hZjJZB).

Elizabeth Key Grinstead

In Abortion, Special Edition on November 4, 2013 at 1:31 am
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Without life, nothing matters.

Freedom Suit Series

“Anyone who kidnaps someone and either sells him as a slave or still has him when he is caught must be put to death.” — Exodus 21:16, New Century Version (NCV) 

Freedom suits are legal petitions filed by slaves for freedom. Between America’s colonial period and the American Civil War, a number of civil actions were brought to courts of law by STRONG BLACK WOMEN that challenged both the moral maxim and the legal legitimacy of JUST-SUBJECTION 1 and WRONGFUL-ENSLAVEMENT 2 in America. This series of columns will explore those lawsuits and expose lessons that can be engaged by the Body of Christ and the Pro-Life movement today, in the wake of the 1973 United States Supreme Court (USSC) decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton.

White Space Holder


Elizabeth Key Grinstead

Meet The First Black Woman To Sue For Her Freedom From Slavery And Win …

Elizabeth Key Grinstead

Elizabeth Key Grinstead (born circa 1630 – deceased circa 1665) was the first Black woman
in the North American colonies to sue for her freedom from slavery and win. 3


Daughter of Thomas Key

” … race has been a profound determinant of one’s political rights, one’s location in the labor market, and indeed one’s sense of ‘identity.'” 4 — Michael Omi and Howard Winant

Elizabeth was born about 1630 in historical Warwick County, Virginia (modern Newport News), not far from Jamestown and Williamsburg in the original Virginia Colony. Her mother was a Black slave and Elizabeth was the illegitimate child of Englishman and Burgess, Thomas Key. As an Englishman, a planter, Thomas Key was also a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses during its March 1629|1630 session and represented pre-Revolutionary Warwick County. Key’s wife lived on the Isle of Wight County across the James River. There Mrs. Key owned a considerable amount of property. Both Mr. and Mrs. Key were born in England. The Keys were known as pioneer planters because after having paid their own passage to Virginia before 1616, they remained for more than three (3) years and even survived the Indian massacre of 1622. However, fourteen (14) years later, in a 1636 civil case at the Blunt Point court, Thomas Key was charged with being the father of Elizabeth. While he at first denied being Elizabeth’s father, blaming an unidentified “Turk” (which the English colonists would not have considered a free English subject or a Christian), court testimony from witnesses proved his paternity. As such, Key then took responsibility for Elizabeth and even arranged for her baptism in the established Church of England.

Nineteen (19) Years Of Servitude

“Although indentured servitude was temporary and not inheritable, in many respects servitude was indistinguishable from slavery, masters treated indentured servants like land or chattel, selling or gambling them away at will.” 5 — Taunya Lovell Banks

Sometime before Key’s death around 1636, he put then six (6) years old Elizabeth Key in the custody of Humphrey Higginson by way of a nine (9) year indentured servant contract. Higginson, a wealthy planter in his own right, was expected to act as Elizabeth’s legal guardian until she reached the age of fifteen (15). At that time, which was the “coming of age” for girls in colonial Virginia where young girls often married or started to work for wages, Elizabeth would be free. However, once Key was dead, Higginson did not live up to his commitment to care for Elizabeth as his own. Instead, Higginson transferred (or sold) Elizabeth’s indentured contract to Northumberland County’s first settler, Colonel John Mottram. Around 1640, Mottram took Elizabeth at the age of ten (10) as his servant to the undeveloped county.

Married And A Mother By Common Law

“Under common law the legal identity and status of a wife merged with that of her husband; they became one in the eyes of the law, and that one was the husband.” 6 — United States v. Yazell

At about 1650 Colonel Mottram paid for passage to his Coan Hall plantation in Northumberland County for a group of twenty (20) White young Englishmen as indentured servants. Each indentured person would serve for six (6) years to pay for his passage from England. Among the group was a young sixteen (16) year old lawyer by the name of William Grinstead (also spelled Greenstead). While William’s parents are not known, it is believed young Grinstead learned law as the younger son of an attorney. Interestingly, under English common law, only the eldest son could inherit the father’s real property and in William’s day it was common for the younger son to seek his own fortune in the American colonies. Colonel Mottram, recognizing Grinstead’s value as a lawyer, used Williams for legal representation in matters concerning Coan Hall. It was during this time that Grinstead and Elizabeth Key met. While William and Elizabeth were prohibited from marrying because Grinstead was still serving his indenture and Elizabeth’s future was uncertain, they nevertheless began a relationship and had a son together, whom they named John.

Elizabeth’s Freedom Suit Begins

“In the typical freedom suit there would be no need for an English servant to assert free birth since by the seventeenth century English men and women were presumptively free. Likewise the typical English indentured servant would not have to assert her Christian belief since Christianity also was presumed for English subjects. Evidently, Elizabeth (or the person who drafted the pleadings) understood that her claim was atypical suggesting a sophisticated understanding of community norms.” 7 — Taunya Lovell Banks

After Colonel Mottram died in 1655, the overseers of his estate classified Elizabeth Key and her infant son John as Negro slaves and part of the property assets of the Mottram estate. In an effort to win the freedom of his wife and son, young Grinstead acted as Elizabeth’s attorney and sued the Mottram estate on behalf of his common law wife, Elizabeth, over her status. The lawsuit claimed Elizabeth was not a slave, but a free woman, (an indentured servant who had faithfully served her time) with a freeborn son. According to the record, not only was Elizabeth’s Father (Thomas Key) a free English man, but Elizabeth had served as an indentured servant ten (10) years beyond the terms of her indenture. Again, interestingly and according to Jacob A. France Professor of Equality Jurisprudence at the Francis King Carey School of Law of the University of Maryland, Taunya Lovell Banks,8 at that time “English Subjecthood” and not “Citizenship” was more important for determining social status in the colony and at the crux of the matter. Apparently, in the early seventeenth (17th) century, “children born to English parents outside the country became English subjects at birth. While others could become naturalized English subjects,” there was no clear process at the time in the colonies. Moreover and what was clearly unsettled, was the status of children of such relationships if only one of the parents was an English subject. As foreigners were not considered English subjects. Because Non-Whites were ultimately denied civil rights as foreigners, mixed-race persons seeking freedom often had to establish their English ancestry in court.

Establishing Elizabeth’s English Ancestory

“Thus by asserting that her father was a free Englishman, Elizabeth was arguing that she too was born free.” 9 — Taunya Lovell Banks

In order to establish whether Elizabeth’s father was a free English man, the Court relied on the testimony of witnesses. Again, according researcher and author Taunya Lovell Banks, “the most persuasive evidence” came from Elizabeth Newman, eighty (80) and a former servant of Colonel Mottram. Newman testified that “it was a common Fame in Virginia that Elizabeth a Molletto (sic mulatto), now (e) servant to the Estate of Col. John Mottrom, deceased, was the Daughter of Mr. Kaye (Key); and the said Kaye (Key) was brought to Blunt-Point Court and there fined for getting his Negro woman with Childe, which said Negroe was the Mother of the said Molletto, and the said fine was for getting the Negro with Childe which Childe was the said Elizabeth.” Having proved Thomas Key’s paternity, by common law the Court granted his daughter Elizabeth her freedom. However, needing two (2) more slaves, the Mottram’s estate appealed the decision to the General Court, where the lower court’s decision was overturned. The General Court ruled that Elizabeth Key was indeed a slave because of her mother’s status as Negro.

Overturned But Not Over By Long Shot

“[I]f a villain taketh a free woman to wife, and have issue between them, the issues shaIl be villains. But if a nief [bondwoman] taketh a free man to her husband, their issue shall be free.” 10 — Sir Edward Coke’s British Jurisprudence

Unable to see his wife and child denied freedom, William took Elizabeth’s case to the Virginia General Assembly, which appointed a committee to further investigate the matter. Ultimately the Virginia General Assembly sent the case back to the lower court for retrial. In the end Elizabeth won her freedom on three (3) counts of which the most important was that, by English common law, the status of the father determined the status of the child. Clearly, Elizabeth’s father (Thomas Key, a man of considerable reputation who expressly desired his wishes for his acknowledged daughter Elizabeth be carried out) was a free Englishman and that Elizabeth herself was a practicing Christian. Additionally, the case was strengthened by other cases that held Black Christians could not be held in servitude for life. Furthermore and to drive the point home regarding the status of the father determined the status of the child, the court ordered the Mottram estate to compensate Elizabeth with corn and clothes for her lost years.

On 21th July 1659 This Certificate Was Published In Open Court 11

“I Capt. Richard Wright administrator of the Estate of Col. John Mottrom deceased doe assigne and transfer unto William Greensted a maid servant formerly belonging unto the Estate of the said Col. Mottrom commonly called Elizabeth Key being nowe Wife unto the said Greensted and doe warrant the said Elizabeth and doe bind my Selfe to save here [i.e., her] and the said Greensted from any molestation or trouble that shall or futurely arise from or by any person or persons that shall pretend or claime any title or interest to any manor of service [original torn] from the said Elizabeth witness [my ha]nd this 21th of July 1659 Test William Thomas, Richard Wright, James Austen.”

The Aftermath Of The Victory

“Elizabeth’s life, even as a servant, was probably more comfortable than most slaves due to the efforts of her father, Thomas Key, who undertook several actions to protect Elizabeth from the unscrupulous and greedy members of the Virginia colony. He placed her in a relatively comfortable servitude setting and provided written instructions about her care and status. In this respect she was luckier than most Anglo-African children of her era.” 12 — Taunya Lovell Banks

Although William fought and won the court battle for his wife’s (Elizabeth) and son’s (John) freedom, Grinstead could not marry Elizabeth until he completed his indenture, which occurred in 1656. Accordingly, the marriage between William Grinstead and Elizabeth Key was one of the few recorded marriages in the seventeenth century between an Englishman and a free Black woman. Together they had two (2) sons before William died early in 1661. As a widow Elizabeth Grinstead later remarried, to the widower John Parse (Pearce). Upon his death, she and her sons John and William Grinstead II inherited 500 acres, which helped secure their future.

Legally Discouraging Holy Matrimony With Black Women 13,14

“Under a 1642 law free Black women had special burdens unlike free Englishwomen. The statute provided that the labor of Black, but not White women was taxed, thus marriage to a free Black woman automatically increased the tax burden of the family without regard to the husband’s race. Arguably the financial burden colonial Virginia’s tax laws placed on free Black women may have decreased their chances of marrying, and may be one reason why despite an equal sex ratio between Black women and men, many free Black men, at least on the eastern shore, married White women. In addition, when you consider the implications of the later 1662 law tying perpetual slavery to the wombs of Black women, you have another factor discouraging free men, Black or White, from selecting Black women as wives.” Very clearly, William Grinstead Loved Elizabeth Key!

The Aftereffects Of The Victory

When humans considered mere chattel by law can exert power or influence the law, these humans become dangerous, thus Elizabeth Key and others like her who resisted their enslavement were dangerous women!” — Taunya Lovell Banks 15

Because White men did not want to be held responsible for the children they fathered with Black women, the need for the means to be relieved from both the moral and legal responsibility of having children with slaves presented itself. Consequently and as historian Edmund S. Morgan16 may suggest, a harsher scheme of racial slavery evolved, resulting in “a hardening of racial lines” and contributing to a growth in a clear “commitment to democracy, liberty, equality” and finance for White men. You see, unlike slaves, White servants and free workers could not be stripped naked and whipped to death without legally actionable repercussions. As such, it was quickly determined that the law was the perfect tool to justify rake, raw, rogue and reprobate behavior. So in order to both accommodate the unrestrainable sexual desires of wealthy White men and to facilitate the propagation of Christianity, the law was manipulated as detailed by historian William Waller Hening17 below:


December 1662

“Whereas some doubts have arisen whether children got by any Englishman upon a Negro woman should be slave or free, be it therefore enacted and declared by this present Grand Assembly, that all children born in this country shall be held bond or free only according to the condition of the mother; and that if any Christian shall commit fornication with a Negro man or woman, he or she so offending shall pay double the fines imposed by the former act.”

September 1667

“Whereas some doubts have risen whether children that are slaves by birth, and by the charity and piety of their owners made partakers of the blessed sacrament of baptism, should by virtue of their baptism be made free, it is enacted and declared by this Grand Assembly, and the authority thereof, that the conferring of baptism does not alter the condition of the person as to his bondage or freedom; that diverse masters, freed from this doubt may more carefully endeavor the propagation of Christianity by permitting children, through slaves, or those of greater growth if capable, to be admitted to that sacrament.”

September 1668

“Whereas it has been questioned whether servants running away may be punished with corporal punishment by their master or magistrate, since the act already made gives the master satisfaction by prolonging their time by service, it is declared and enacted by this Assembly that moderate corporal punishment inflicted by master or magistrate upon a runaway servant shall not deprivate the master of the satisfaction allowed by the law, the one being as necessary to reclaim them from persisting in that idle course as the other is just to repair the damages sustained by the master.”

October 1669

“Whereas the only law in force for the punishment of refractory servants resisting their master, mistress, or overseer cannot be inflicted upon Negroes, nor the obstinacy of many of them be suppressed by other than violent means, be it enacted and declared by this Grand Assembly if any slave resists his master (or other by his master’s order correcting him) and by the extremity of the correction should chance to die, that his death shall not be accounted a felony, but the master (or that other person appointed by the master to punish him) be acquitted from molestation, since it cannot be presumed that premeditated malice (which alone makes murder a felony) should induce any man to destroy his own estate.”


“An Act For Suppressing Outlying Slaves” (1691) 18

Transcription From Original

April 1691

“And be it further enacted by the authoritie aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That if any English woman being free shall have a bastard child by any negro or mulatto, she pay the sume of fifteen pounds sterling, within one moneth after such bastard child be born, to the Church wardens of the parish where she shall be delivered of such child, and in default of such payment she shall be taken into the possession of the said Church wardens and disposed of for five yeares, and the said fine of fifteen pounds, or whatever the woman shall be disposed of for, shall be paid, one third part to their majesties for and towards the support of the government and the contingent charges thereof, and one other third part to the use of the parish where the offence is committed, and the other third part to the informer, and that such bastard child be bound out as a servant by the said Church wardens untill he or she shall attaine the age of thirty yeares, and in case such English woman that shall have such bastard child be a servant, she shall be sold by the said Church wardens, (after her time is expired that she ought by law to serve her master) for five yeares, and the money she shall be sold for divided as is before appointed, and the child to serve as aforesaid.

And forasmuch as great inconveniences may happen to this country by the setting of negroes and mulattoes free, by their either entertaining negro slaves from their masters service, or receiveing stolen goods, or being grown old bringing a charge upon the country; for prevention thereof, Be it enacted by the authority aforesaid, and it is hereby enacted, That no negro or mulatto be after the end of this present session of assembly set free by any person or persons whatsoever, unless such person or persons, their heires, executors or administrators pay for the transportation of such negro or negroes out of the countrey within six moneths after such setting them free, upon penalty of paying of tenn pounds sterling to the Church wardens of the parish where such person shall dwell with, which money, or so much thereof as shall be necessary, the said Church wardens are to cause the said negro or mulatto to be transported out of the countrey, and the remainder of the said money to imploy to the use of the poor of the parish.”


Open Letter To The Church

LESSON: You Cannot Legislate Morality!

A Lesson We Can Learn From The Case Of Elizabeth Key Grinstead

“Thus the existence of mixed-raced children was seen as a threat to the very existence of the colonial community’s and English nation’s identity. Elizabeth’s father, understanding the unscrupulousness of his fellow colonialists, tried to protect his offspring from the cruelties of American indenture as well as possible enslavement. His efforts coupled with those of Elizabeth and her advocate resulted in her freedom.” — Taunya Lovell Banks 19

First and foremost, in the midst of the horrors of being Black and female in the American colonies in the seventeenth century, we find Elizabeth Key boldly fighting for her freedom against all odds. Elizabeth Key is recognized as being the first person, male or female, to sue for her freedom and win.20 The record is clear, that not only did she free herself, but Elizabeth also gained the freedom of her newborn son. In so doing, Elizabeth planted hope in the heart of slaves everywhere, that they too could be free. Elizabeth’s life story stands out in the annuals of Black American history, as not only a bright light in a very dark world, but also a testament to the intestinal fortitude of Black women standing up for justice in the midst of unimagineable, and perhaps for some unforgivable injustice. Moreover, the record is also clear that Elizabeth did not win her battle alone. Thomas Key (Elizabeth’s Father), after first denying his paternity and yet at the same “understanding the unscrupulousness of his fellow colonialists,” manned up to his fatherhood and tried to protect his daughter Elizabeth. Further still, William Grinstead fell in love with Elizabeth at Coan Hall,21 became her husband, fathered their sons John and William Grinstead II 22 and spent the rest of his life fighting for the freedom of his family.

Yes, the record is indeed clear that both Black and White Christians worked together to manifest the righteousness of God in the American colonies of the seventeenth century. First we have a strong Black woman fighting for her freedom. Second we have a wealthy White colonialist coming to grips with his Christian responsibility as a father and upon recognizing the reality of the immoral mindset of his fellow “church going” colonialists, fighting until his death for the freedom of his daughter. Third and finally we have a color blind husband and lawyer, loving his wife and children and faithfully fighting until his death for his family. Wow! What a model for both the Pro-Life movement and the Church today! Just look at what God can do, when we accept the reality of His righteous reign, the reality of the sin in our midst (1st Peter 4:17) and love one another enough to live and labor together as one Body in Christ to effect His Will on earth.

Could it be, that the Body of Christ will not see victory, until we understand that judgement must begin in the Church (1st Peter 4:17) and both acknowledge and repent from the evil in our midst? Could it be, that the Body of Christ will continue to lose ground, until we learn to work together as brothers and sisters in Christ to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the most vulnerable population among us, that is to say until we meet the needs of women and children (James 1:27)? Could it be, that the Body of Christ will continue to languish in the lamentation of bitter weeping (Jeremiah 31:15) from the millions upon millions of Rachels weeping for their children, until we get that Rachel is weeping because her children are not? Could it be, that the Body of Christ will continue to suffer loss in the public square, until we stop leaning more on legislating morality, than we do on the everlasting mercy and grace (Psalm 100:5, 1st Corinthians 15:10) of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ to advance His kingdom?

Yeah, I think it could.

Brothers, we need to talk.


Note(s):

 In my very, very strong opinion, THE BIBLE DOES NOT JUSTIFY SLAVERY. If pastors (christian leaders) of the South taught their congregants to obey the Mosaic laws that criminalized kidnapping human beings, the harsh treatment of servants, the return of runaway servants and without preferring the rich over the poor or men over women, held everyone accountable for their own actions in the public square, slavery would not have existed.

Kidnapping


Deuteronomy 24:7 says: “If someone kidnaps a fellow Israelite, either to make him a slave or sell him, the kidnapper must be killed. You must get rid of the evil among you.”

Harsh Treatment


Exodus 21:26,27 says: “If a man hits his male or female slave in the eye, and the eye is blinded, the man is to free the slave to pay for the eye. If a master knocks out a tooth of his male or female slave, the man is to free the slave to pay for the tooth.”

Runaway Servants


Deuteronomy 23:15-16 say: “If an escaped slave comes to you, do not hand over the slave to his master. Let the slave live with you anywhere he likes, in any town he chooses. Do not mistreat him.”


The New Testament speaks equally as strong against the kidnapping of human beings (which is the basis of slavery) as the Old Testament. Please read the Apostle Paul’s warning against false teaching in 1st Timothy 1:8-10 (NCV): “But we know that the law is good if someone uses it lawfully. We also know that the law is not made for good people but for those who are against the law and for those who refuse to follow it. It is for people who are against God and are sinful, who are unholy and ungodly, who kill their fathers and mothers, who murder, who take part in sexual sins, who have sexual relations with people of the same sex, WHO SELL SLAVES, who tell lies, who speak falsely, and who do anything against the true teaching of God.


“Perhaps the most compelling argument AGAINST SLAVERY in the New Testament is Paul’s letter to Philemon, in which the Apostle asks Onesimus (a fellow Christian) to free his Christian slave.

Reference(s):

01. A paradox noted by Edlie Wong in her book “Neither Fugitive Nor Free” (2009), slave states had statutes that provided for slaves to sue for “wrongful enslavement”, based on slave laws that established “just subjection”, page 5 and 153 (http://bit.ly/17xS6Ty).
02. Ibid.
03. Elizabeth Key, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/w504mD).
04. Michael Omi and Howard Winant, “Racial Formation In The United States: From The 1960s To The 1990s 1 (1994); see also Howard Winant, Racial Conditions 13-21 (1994)”, page 1. (http://bit.ly/16IgVOb).
05. Taunya Lovell Banks Dangerous Woman: Elizabeth Key’s Freedom Suit — Subjecthood And Racialized Identity in Seventeeth Century Colonial Virginia (http://bit.ly/1bAD6mJ). Specifically see, William M. Wiecek, The Origins of the Law of Slavery In British North America, 17 Cardozo L. Rev. 1711, 1755 n.157 (1996); supra note 2, at 1720-21. See also Edmund S. Morgan, American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Virginia 333 (1975); supra note 95, at 127-29 (referring to treatment of servants during the boom period).
06. See United States v. Yazell, 382 U.S. 341, 361 (1966) (Black, J., dissenting) (explaining the common law rule). (http://bit.ly/1dnVbGU).
07. Taunya Lovell Banks Dangerous Woman: Elizabeth Key’s Freedom Suit — Subjecthood And Racialized Identity in Seventeeth Century Colonial Virginia (http://bit.ly/1bAD6mJ).
08. Taunya Lovell Banks is the Jacob A. France Professor of Equality Jurisprudence at the University of Maryland School of Law where she teaches constitutional law, torts, and seminars on law in popular culture (film or literature), citizenship and critical race theory. (http://bit.ly/16MJVic).
09. Taunya Lovell Banks Dangerous Woman: Elizabeth Key’s Freedom Suit — Subjecthood And Racialized Identity in Seventeeth Century Colonial Virginia (http://bit.ly/1bAD6mJ).
10. Sir Edward Coke, Lord Coke, “A systematic Arrangement Of Lord Coke’s First Institute Of The Laws Of England 322, § 187.123a (J.H. Thomas ed., 1836) [hereinafter Coke’s First Institute]’. See Taunya Lovell Banks Dangerous Woman: Elizabeth Key’s Freedom Suit — Subjecthood And Racialized Identity in Seventeeth Century Colonial Virginia (http://bit.ly/1bAD6mJ).
11. Warren M. Billings, “The Old Dominion In The Seventeenth Century, A Documentary History Of Virginia, 1606-1689” (http://bit.ly/17X6Ibu).
12. Taunya Lovell Banks Dangerous Woman: Elizabeth Key’s Freedom Suit — Subjecthood And Racialized Identity in Seventeeth Century Colonial Virginia (http://bit.ly/1bAD6mJ).
13. Ibid.
14. Today, strategies discouraging marriage is alive and well. The script is the same only the faces of the actors have changed. Star Parker, Founder and President of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education (CURE) puts it this way: “Playing the race card instead of promoting free markets, discouraging marriage with a welfare state and a homosexual agenda, and hampering economic opportunity with complex tax codes, these liberals have caused the destruction of our African-American communities for almost 50 years.” (http://bit.ly/HEhvR4).
15. Ibid.
16. William Waller Hening, “Virginia Slave Laws”, Digital History ID 71, 1662 (http://bit.ly/16vMDsw).
17. Ibid.
18. Encyclopedia Virginia, Primary Resource, “An act for suppressing outlying slaves” (1691). “In April 1691, the General Assembly passed “An act for suppressing outlying slaves,” designed to deal with the problem of runaway slaves. It came in the wake of alleged slave conspiracies in, among other places, Westmoreland County in 1687 and 1688.” (http://bit.ly/16ner1m).
19. Taunya Lovell Banks Dangerous Woman: Elizabeth Key’s Freedom Suit — Subjecthood And Racialized Identity in Seventeeth Century Colonial Virginia (http://bit.ly/1bAD6mJ).
20. Elizabeth Key-Grinstead, “Slavery Activist And Radical Woman”, WordPress.Com (http://bit.ly/17xvv9u).
21. Patrick Jones is descendant of Elizabeth Key Grinstead, Frequent Traveler Ancestry, Sunday February 19th, 2012, (http://bit.ly/UOU3lJ).
22. Elizabeth Key, Wikipedia (http://bit.ly/w504mD).