Homer Plessy and Separate but Equal

Lead: On June 8, 1892 a New Orleans shoemaker tried to roll back the onrushing tide of resurgent white supremacy and he lost.

Intro.: This is "A Moment in Time."

Content: Homer A. Plessy was born a month before the Union Navy took New Orleans out of the Civil War in 1862. His parents were free, French-speaking, Roman Catholic blacks part of a racial and social mix that lent that port city such a rich cosmopolitan flavor. In few places in the pre-war deep South were people of color offered the chances for advancement they had in New Orleans and in the two decades after the South's defeat these opportunities continued to grow. In the years following the end of reconstruction, the white majority began to take back the rank and privilege denied them by a victorious north. Gone were the Federal troops which protected and registered black voters. Vanished were the Black Republican majorities in the state legislatures. Disappearing also at this time was the consensus in the North that had help forge the Union victory. Weary of war and the expense of Reconstruction, northerners were losing interest in the civil rights of blacks. One Illinois paper put it, "The Negro is now a voter and a citizen. Let him hereafter take his chances in the battle of life."

Nat Turner, Slave Rebellion III

Lead: In the summer of 1831, Nat Turner, a religious mystic convinced that God had called him as a prophet, led a group of followers on a bloody rampage through south-side Virginia in the most serious slave rebellion in U.S. history.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Nat Turner was a gifted and powerful, mesmerizing slave preacher. Nearly all his life Nat Turner could read and write. His owners from the early days encouraged him to read those portions of the Bible that tell slaves to live lives of dutiful and submissive obedience. Yet, he also read subversive portions of the scriptures that gave him hope that one day he might achieve freedom. By the mid-1820s, Nat Turner was attracting large groups of slaves to his preaching services on Sundays near Cross Keys in Southampton County or down near the North Carolina border.

Nat Turner, Slave Rebellion II

Lead: Even as a child, people could tell Nat Turner was exceptional. His intelligence and physical presence marked him for leadership in the slave community of south-side Virginia.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Benjamin Turner owned a small plantation outside the town of Cross Keys in the Virginia county of Southampton, nestled on the North Carolina border 70 miles southeast of Richmond. His land was heavily forested and only about 100 acres were under cultivation. It was enough, however, for him to afford to keep slaves, the mark of status in the South, and in 1799 he bought a slave woman freshly arrived from Africa. He named her Nancy and in the next year she gave birth to Nathaniel.

Nat Turner, Slave Rebellion I

Lead: In August 1831 the southside Virginia county of Southhampton was convulsed by the deadliest slave rebellion in North American history. One of roots of the rebellion was Southern white ambivalence about slavery.

Intro. : A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Despite the growing economic dependence upon slave labor in the American South after the Revolution, there was powerful ambivalence among many Southerners about the institution of slavery. It mocked the philosophical foundation of the republic itself, violating the principles animating the Declaration of Independence. Many religious groups were increasingly vocal about the immorality of slavery. Quakers, anti-slavery Baptists, and, before 1800, Methodists vigorously denounced the practice and encouraged slave owners to manumit their slaves. In the North, slavery was gradually eliminated by custom, sentiment, and legal prohibition, so that the South became increasingly isolated in the national debate.

Frederick Douglass II

Lead: Born a slave, Frederick Douglass became one of the most articulate spokesmen for abolition in the pre-Civil War era.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: After escaping from slavery as a teenager, Douglass began to speak to church audiences throughout the North about the horrors of slavery. "I've come to tell you about slavery. Other abolitionists can tell you something about slavery; they cannot refer you to a back covered with scars." William Lloyd Garrison, the crusading newspaper editor, hired Douglass as a lecturer and audiences of whites flocked to hear his eloquent and compelling denunciation of America's peculiar institution. So effective was Douglass on the speaking circuit that his handlers began to fear attempts to recapture him and take him back South. Therefore, they sent him on a two-year European tour. He returned after twenty-one months, an international celebrity.

Frederic Douglass I

Lead: "All the other speakers seemed tame after Frederick Douglass. He stood there like an African Prince, majestic in his wrath."Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Elizabeth Cady Stanton knew her activists. It was an age of moral agitation and she would go on to great fame at the side of Susan B. Anthony in the service of women's rights. That day in the mid-1800s when Frederick Douglass spoke to an antislavery meeting in Boston, Stanton was as moved as the rest at the sound of his voice and the moral imperative of his message.

Douglass was an escaped slave. Raised by his grandmother on a Chesapeake Bay plantation, at the age of six he began his work under Captain Aaron Anthony, the white farm manager and, so some of the slaves said, Frederick's father. In later years, he would make vivid to audiences throughout the North the picture of life as a slave.

The Mason-Dixon Line

Lead: The most famous boundary in United States history originated in a eighty year dispute between two colonies.

Intro.: "A Moment in Time" with Dan Roberts.

Content: One of last parts of Colonial Maryland along the Chesapeake Bay to attract settlers was northeast of present day Baltimore. The soil was there heavier and not as hospitable to the growth of tobacco as in the southern reaches of the Bay. This area was good for the cultivation of wheat and corn and as trade with the hungry West Indies expanded, the area began to draw more development. Unfortunately, this brought Maryland into conflict with Pennsylvania. Lord Baltimore's charter promised Maryland land up to the fortieth parallel which in 1632 was the southern border of New England, but in the meantime the government in London had made other promises particularly to William Penn and by the 1730s it was obvious that these grants were in conflict with the Maryland charter. For instance the principal city of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, was significantly south of the fortieth parallel.

Nebraska and the Homestead Act

Lead: Born of the slavery controversy, the State of Nebraska enjoyed explosive growth after the Civil War in large part due to a policy made in Washington.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In 1854 the Congress of the United States, in response to those desiring a railroad to the Pacific Coast, an expansion in the number of states, both slave and free, and a solution to the growing number of emigrants wishing to settle in lands west of the Mississippi, passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The legislation enshrined the concept of "squatter sovereignty," and created two new territories which could choose whether they would be slave or free states. Nebraska would enter the Union in 1867 but first it had to grow a bit. The two factors that contributed to its expansion were the construction of the railroads and an Act passed by Congress during the Civil War.