Aborted 13th Amendment I

Lead: With the Union in disarray Congress in the early months of 1861 passed an amendment to the Constitution that quite possibly could have permitted slavery in the United States to continue indefinitely.

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

Content: It was the "secession winter" and melancholy had descended over the City of Washington. A split in the Democratic Party and the resulting four way election of 1860 had given the Presidency to Abraham Lincoln but he was a minority President elected by less than forty percent of the popular vote. In December South Carolina seceded, six other states followed. The repudiated and politically impotent James Buchanan sat in the White House.

 

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John Paul Brown in Kansas

Lead: John played a very small role in struggle to bring the territory of Kansas into the Union as a Free State, The role he did play was a bloody one.

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

Content: In 1856 settlers were pouring into Kansas from North and South. At first, the pro-slavery Southerners, mostly from nearby Missouri were in the majority. Gradually, free-soil advocates began to arrive in larger numbers. Congress had decreed that a vote by a majority of settlers could determine whether the territory would become a free or slave state. Whoever got there first with the most determined the outcome.

 

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Amistad II

Lead: When the schooner Amistad, filled with mutinous slaves, came to anchor off Long Island in August 1839, its passengers became pawns in a political struggle.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The slaves had been illegally imported from West Africa into Cuba. Purchased in the Havana slave market by planters Pedro Montes and José Ruiz, they were being taken to plantations on Cuba’s north coast. On July 1st during the night, the slaves broke free, killed the Captain, ran off the crew, wounded Montes and took command of the ship. Their leader was a commanding figure in his 20s whom the Spanish called Cinque. They demanded to be returned to Africa, but Montes tricked them, sailing east during the day and north at night. This explained the meandering course, which eventually brought them to Long Island by the end of August. When Cinque sent a party ashore there seeking food and water, only 43 of the original 53 slaves had survived.

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1808 End of Slave Trade I

Lead: The founders thought they had a solution to the problem of slavery in the new United States. They thought it would make the thing go away. In this they were wrong.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: One of the important debates at the Constitutional Convention that met in Philadelphia in 1787 was over the question of slavery. Though the delegates were cautious men of property, anxious to preserve the prerogatives of wealth and status, many were disturbed about the institution of slavery. It was seen to do violence to the egalitarian principles on which the American Revolution had been fought, detrimental to the character of slave and slave-holder alike, a social and practical danger to society as a whole, and was at that time correctly thought to be economically inefficient.

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Amistad I

Lead: The passengers of the slave ship Amistad, remembered in print and film, were swept up into the caldron of national dispute as America decided what kind of nation it would be.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Unfinished business. When the founders of the United States declared their independence and then later established their national compact, they left several matters of great import for future generations to decide. Among the most important issues needing resolution was the running moral sore of slavery. To be fair, in the late 1700s only a very few, usually very radical thinkers even considered restricting the practice let alone advocating an end to slavery. It had been part of life since the beginning of human existence. 

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Amistad III

Lead: Accused of mutiny and murder, the passengers of the slave ship Amistad faced a formidable array of opponents, not the least of which was the President of the United States.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: After overwhelming their captors off the coast of Cuba in the summer of 1839, the slaves on Amistad sailed their ship north to New England. They were arrested and held for trial. Political pressure from all sides almost immediately began to engulf them. Abolitionists adopted them as a cause, supplied their legal counsel, and began teaching them English and seeking their conversion to Christianity. The Spanish government wanted them returned to Cuba for trial. This would have meant almost certain execution. President Martin Van Buren was up for re-election and needed the votes of pro-slavery Southerners. He wanted the case to go away. In the meantime, the prisoners with their powerful leader Cinque, had become a national sensation, provoking an outpouring both of sympathy and disdain.

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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.

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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.

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