Berättelsen

Den lite kända tunnelbanan som sprang söderut till Mexiko


Underjordiska järnvägen gick söderut såväl som norrut. Lyckligtvis var slaveri också olagligt i Mexiko.

Forskare uppskattar att 5000 till 10 000 människor flydde från bondage till Mexiko, säger Maria Hammack, som skriver sin avhandling om detta ämne vid University of Texas i Austin. Men hon tror att det faktiska antalet kan vara ännu högre.

"Det här var hemliga vägar och om du blev fångad skulle du bli dödad och lynchad, så de flesta lämnade inte många rekord", säger Hammack.

Det finns några bevis på det tejanos, eller mexikaner i Texas, agerade som "konduktörer" på den södra vägen genom att hjälpa människor att komma till Mexiko. Dessutom har Hammack också identifierat en svart kvinna och två vita män som hjälpte förslavade arbetare att fly och försökte hitta ett hem åt dem i Mexiko.

Mexiko avskaffade slaveriet 1829 när Texas fortfarande var en del av landet, delvis som fick vita, slavinnehållande invandrare att kämpa för självständighet i Texasrevolutionen. När de väl bildade republiken Texas 1836 gjorde de slaveriet lagligt igen, och det fortsatte att vara lagligt när Texas gick med i USA som en stat 1845.

Förslavade människor i Texas var medvetna om att det fanns ett land i söder där de kunde hitta olika nivåer av frihet (även om skuldförbud i Mexiko existerade, var det inte samma sak som lös slaveri). Hammack har upptäckt en flyktig vid namn Tom som hade blivit förslavad av Sam Houston. Houston var president i republiken Texas som kämpade i Texasrevolutionen. När Tom väl kommit över gränsen gick han med i den mexikanska militären som Houston kämpat mot.

Flyktiga förslavade människor kom till Mexiko på många olika sätt. Några gick till fots, medan andra red hästar eller smög ombord på färjor på väg till mexikanska hamnar. Berättelser sprids om förslavade människor som korsade floden Rio Grande som skilde Texas från Mexiko genom att flyta på bomullsbalar, och flera Texas -tidningar rapporterade i juli 1863 att tre förslavade människor hade rymt på detta sätt. Även om detta inte var logistiskt möjligt var bilden av att flyta till frihet på en symbol för slaveri stark.

LÄS MER: Hur den underjordiska järnvägen fungerade

Men det var inte bara slaver i Texas som fann frihet i Mexiko. "Jag har hittat individer som tog sig hela vägen från North Carolina, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama", säger Hammack.

Slavägare visste att slaver slapp till Mexiko, och USA försökte få Mexiko att underteckna ett flyktigt slavavtal. Precis som den flyktiga slavlagen från 1850 hade tvingat fristater att återvända flyktingar söderut, ville USA att Mexiko skulle återvända till flyktade förslavade människor till USA. Men Mexiko vägrade att underteckna ett sådant fördrag och insisterade på att alla förslavade var fria när de satte sig fot på mexikansk mark. Trots detta hyrde några amerikanska ägare av förslavade fortfarande slavfångare för att olagligt kidnappa flyktingar i Mexiko.

Det är oklart hur organiserad den södra "underjordiska järnvägen" var. Hammack säger att vissa slaver kan ha hittat till Mexiko utan hjälp. Andra bevis tyder på att tejanos, särskilt fattiga tejanos, spelade en roll för att hjälpa flyktingar att komma till Mexiko.

Hammack och forskaren Roseann Bacha-Garza har också identifierat en blandrasfamilj från Alabama som flyttade till södra Texas nära Rio Grande och hjälpte slaverna att fly till Mexiko. Hustrun, Matilda Hicks, var en tidigare förslavad kvinna. Hennes man, Nathaniel Jackson, var son till mannen vars plantage hon arbetade på.

Dessutom reste några norra abolitionister söderut för att hjälpa slaverna att nå Mexiko.

"Jag har stött på avskaffande från norr som skulle till Mexiko för att begära Mexiko för att låta dem köpa mark för att etablera kolonier för flyktiga slavar och fria svarta", säger Hammack. I början av 1830 -talet begärde Quaker -abolitionisten Benjamin Lundy aktivt en uppmaning till den mexikanska regeringen om att tillåta kolonier att upprättas för, jag gissar vad vi skulle överväga nu, flyktingar.

Lundys plan att starta en fri koloni i Mexikos Texas -region motverkades när den separerade från Mexiko och legaliserade slaveri. Senare, 1852, begärde Seminole -grupper som inkluderade förslavade slaver människor framgångsrikt en begäran till den mexikanska regeringen om mark. "Det tillhör fortfarande deras ättlingar och de bor kvar där än i Mexiko," säger Hammack.

Dessa och andra flyktingar som flyr från slaveriet genom den södra "underjordiska järnvägen" gynnades alla av Mexikos vilja att ge dem en tillflyktsort.


Story of the Underground Railroad till Mexiko får uppmärksamhet

HOUSTON-Under sin undersökning av amerikanska inbördeskrigets historia i södra Texas stötte Roseann Bacha-Garza på de två unika familjerna till Jacksons och Webbers som bor längs Rio Grande. Vita män ledde båda familjerna. Båda deras fruar var svarta, emanciperade slavar.

Men Bacha-Garza, en historiker, undrade vad de gjorde där i mitten av 1800-talet.

När hon grävde in sig i muntliga familjehistorier hörde hon en oväntad historia. De två familjernas rancher fungerade som ett stopp på den underjordiska järnvägen till Mexiko, sade ättlingar. I hela Texas och delar av Louisiana, Alabama och Arkansas arbetar forskare och bevarandeförespråkare för att sammanställa historien om en i stort sett bortglömd del av amerikansk historia: ett nätverk som hjälpte tusentals svarta slavar att fly till Mexiko.

"Det var verkligen meningsfullt ju mer jag läste om det och desto mer tänkte jag på det," sa Bacha-Garza om den hemliga vägen.

Liksom den mer välkända Underground Railroad i norr, som hjälpte flyktiga slavar att fly till norra stater och Kanada, gav vägen i motsatt riktning en väg till frihet söder om gränsen, säger historiker. Förslavade människor i djupa söder tog sig till denna närmare väg genom oförlåtliga skogar och sedan öde med hjälp av mexikanska amerikaner, tyska invandrare och svartvita par som lever längs Rio Grande. Mexiko hade avskaffat slaveriet 1829, en generation före president Abraham Lincolns Emancipation Proclamation.

Men hur organiserad tunnelbanan till Mexiko var och vad som hände med tidigare slavar och de som hjälpte dem är fortfarande ett mysterium. Vissa arkiv har sedan förstörts av brand. Webbplatser kopplade till rutten sitter övergivna.

"Det är större än de flesta insåg", sa Karl Jacoby, meddirektör för Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race vid Columbia University, om vägen.

Slavägare tog ut tidningsannonser med belöningar och klagade på att deras "egendom" sannolikt var på väg till Mexiko, sa Jacoby. Vita texaner förvisade mexikanska amerikaner från städer efter att ha anklagat dem för att ha hjälpt slavar att fly.

Slavfångande mobbar vågade sig in i Mexiko bara för att möta väpnat motstånd i små byar och från Black Seminoles-eller Los Mascogos-som hade bosatt sig i norra Mexiko, säger Jacoby, författare till "The Strange Career of William Ellis: The Texas Slave Who Became a Mexikansk miljonär. ”

Flyktade slavar antog spanska namn, gifte sig i mexikanska familjer och migrerade djupare in i Mexiko - försvann från rekordet och historien.

Historiker har känt till den hemliga vägen i flera år. ”Texas Runaway Slave Project” vid Stephen F. Austin State University innehåller en databas med bortsläppta slavannonser som beskriver spårets omfattning. Federal Writers 'Project of the Depression-era Works Progress Administration samlade historier som en del av dess Slave Narrative Collection, inklusive sådana från tidigare slavar som öppet talade om tunnelbanan till Mexiko. Den tidigare Texas -slaven Felix Haywood sa till dem som intervjuades 1936, till exempel att slavar skulle skratta åt förslaget att de skulle springa norrut för frihet.

"Allt vi behövde göra var att gå, men gå söderut, och vi skulle vara lediga så snart vi korsade Rio Grande," sa Haywood.

Och 2010 skisserade U.S.National Park Service en rutt från Natchitoches, Louisiana, genom Texas till Monclova, Mexiko, som kan betraktas som en grov väg för den underjordiska järnvägen söderut. Ett lagförslag som president George W. Bush undertecknade sex år tidigare utpekade El Camino Real de los Tejas som ett nationellt historiskt spår och uppmuntrade utvecklingen av partnerskap för att skapa mer förståelse kring denna förbises frihetsväg.

Men den här underjordiska järnvägen börjar bara komma in i allmänhetens medvetande när USA blir mer mångsidigt och fler människor visar intresse för att studera slaveri, säger Bacha-Garza, programchef för University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Community Historical Archaeology Project with Schools i Edinburg, Texas.

Bacha-Garza sa att Nathaniel Jackson, en vit sydlänning, köpte friheten för Matilda Hicks, en svart slav som var hans barndoms älskling, liksom Hicks familj. Jackson gifte sig med Hicks och flyttade från Alabama till Texas före USA: s inbördeskrig. Där, längs Rio Grande, mötte de ett annat biracialt par, Vermont-födda John Ferdinand Webber och Silvia Hector, som var svart och även en tidigare slav.

Undersökningen av den underjordiska järnvägen till Mexiko kommer när USA genomgår en rasräkning kring polis och systemisk rasism. I år räknade också Mexiko sin afro-mexikanska befolkning som sin egen kategori för första gången i sin folkräkning.

Under de senaste 50 åren har områdena African American och Chicano Studies blomstrat med banbrytande forskning och nytt arbete som omdefinierar USA: s erfarenhet. Men sällan interagerar de två fälten utöver spänningar i medborgerliga rättigheter från 1900 -talet, säger Ron Wilkins, en nyligen pensionerad Africana Studies and History -professor från California State University, Dominguez Hills.

Och som ett resultat delas inte berättelser om afroamerikaner och mexikanska amerikaner som arbetar tillsammans för att bekämpa rasism, sa Wilkins, inklusive historien om tunnelbanan till Mexiko.

"Om vi ​​kände till denna historia, skulle vi gå samman och stärka den solidariteten", säger Wilkins, tidigare medlem i Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

Vissa mexikanska amerikanska familjer tycker att de har obehagliga konversationer om ras i kölvattnet av deras nyfunna medvetenhet om tunnelbanan till Mexiko. Ramiro Ramirez, 72, psykolog, rancher och ättling till Jacksons, sa att familjemedlemmar ofta bråkade med varandra när de fick reda på att Matilda Jackson var en före detta slav och att de hade ”svart blod”.

”Jag var väldigt stolt. Men jag var också väldigt arg, säger Ramirez, som bor i gränsstaden Mercedes, Texas. ”Även efter 200 år är rasism väldigt stark. Folk vill inte prata om det. ”

Han sa att han skulle vilja träffa slavarnas ättlingar som med sin familjs hjälp flydde till Mexiko. Han ser dem likna honom mycket, men med olika liv söder om gränsen.


Underground Railroad to Mexico: Den andra flyktvägen från slaveriet

HOUSTON (AP)-Medan han forskade på amerikanska inbördeskrigets historia i södra Texas, stötte Roseann Bacha-Garza på de två unika familjerna till Jacksons och Webbers som bor längs Rio Grande. Vita män ledde båda familjerna. Båda deras fruar var svarta, emanciperade slavar. Men Bacha-Garza, en historiker, undrade vad de gjorde där i mitten av 1800-talet.

När hon grävde in sig i muntliga familjehistorier hörde hon en oväntad historia. De två familjernas rancher fungerade som ett stopp på den underjordiska järnvägen till Mexiko, sade ättlingar. I hela Texas och delar av Louisiana, Alabama och Arkansas arbetar forskare och bevarandeförespråkare för att sammanställa historien om en i stort sett bortglömd del av amerikansk historia: ett nätverk som hjälpte tusentals svarta slavar att fly till Mexiko.

"Det var verkligen meningsfullt ju mer jag läste om det och desto mer tänkte jag på det," sa Bacha-Garza om den hemliga vägen.

I detta foto från 27 september 2017 ser Freedmen ’s Town Preservation Coalition -presidenten Dorris Ellis Robinson, till höger, och Catherine Roberts, vänster, över en modell av Freedmen ’s Town, ett område byggt av frigörda slavar efter inbördeskriget, i Houston. Området tros ha kopplats till tunnelbanan till Mexiko. | Russell Contreras / AP

Liksom den mer välkända Underground Railroad i norr, som hjälpte flyktiga slavar att fly till norra stater och Kanada, gav vägen i motsatt riktning en väg till frihet söder om gränsen, säger historiker. Förslavade människor i djupa söder tog sig till denna närmare väg genom oförlåtande skogar och sedan öde med hjälp av mexikanska amerikaner, tyska immigranter och svartvita par bland raser som bor längs Rio Grande. Mexiko hade avskaffat slaveriet 1829, en generation före president Abraham Lincolns emancipationsproklamation.

Men hur organiserad tunnelbanan till Mexiko var och vad som hände med tidigare slavar och de som hjälpte dem är fortfarande ett mysterium. Vissa arkiv har sedan förstörts av brand. Webbplatser kopplade till rutten sitter övergivna.

"Det är större än de flesta insåg", sa Karl Jacoby, meddirektör för Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race vid Columbia University, om vägen.

Slavägare tog ut tidningsannonser med belöningar och klagade på att deras "egendom" sannolikt var på väg till Mexiko, sa Jacoby. Vita texaner förvisade mexikanska amerikaner från städer efter att ha anklagat dem för att ha hjälpt slavar att fly.

Slavfångande mobbar vågade sig in i Mexiko bara för att möta väpnat motstånd i små byar och från Black Seminoles-eller Los Mascogos-som hade bosatt sig i norra Mexiko, säger Jacoby, författare till William Ellis konstiga karriär: Texas Slave som blev mexikansk miljonär.

Flyktade slavar antog spanska namn, gifte sig i mexikanska familjer och migrerade djupare in i Mexiko - försvann från rekordet och historien.

Historiker har känt till den hemliga vägen i flera år. ”Texas Runaway Slave Project” vid Stephen F. Austin State University innehåller en databas med bortsläppta slavannonser som beskriver spårets omfattning. Federal Writers ’Project of the Depression-era Works Progress Administration samlade historier som en del av dess Slave Narrative Collection, inklusive sådana från tidigare slavar som öppet talade om tunnelbanan till Mexiko. Den tidigare Texas -slaven Felix Haywood sa till dem som intervjuades 1936, till exempel att slavar skulle skratta åt förslaget att de skulle springa norrut för frihet.

"Allt vi behövde göra var att gå, men gå söderut, och vi skulle vara lediga så snart vi korsade Rio Grande," sa Haywood.

Och 2010 skisserade U.S.National Park Service en rutt från Natchitoches, Louisiana, genom Texas till Monclova, Mexiko, som kan betraktas som en grov väg för den underjordiska järnvägen söderut. Ett lagförslag som president George W. Bush undertecknade sex år tidigare utpekade El Camino Real de los Tejas som ett nationellt historiskt spår och uppmuntrade utvecklingen av partnerskap för att skapa mer förståelse kring denna förbises frihetsväg.

Men den här underjordiska järnvägen börjar bara komma in i allmänhetens medvetande när USA blir mer mångsidigt och fler människor visar intresse för att studera slaveri, säger Bacha-Garza, programchef för University of Texas Rio Grande Valley Community Historical Archaeology Project with Schools i Edinburg, Texas.

Bacha-Garza sa att Nathaniel Jackson, en vit sydlänning, köpte friheten för Matilda Hicks, en svart slav som var hans barndoms älskling, liksom Hicks familj. Jackson gifte sig med Hicks och flyttade från Alabama till Texas före USA: s inbördeskrig. Där, längs Rio Grande, mötte de ett annat interracial par, Vermont-födda John Ferdinand Webber och Silvia Hector, som var svart och också en tidigare slav.

Undersökningen av den underjordiska järnvägen till Mexiko kommer när USA genomgår en rasräkning kring polis och systemisk rasism. I år räknade också Mexiko sin afro-mexikanska befolkning som sin egen kategori för första gången i sin folkräkning.

Under de senaste 50 åren har områdena African American och Chicano Studies blomstrat med banbrytande forskning och nytt arbete som omdefinierar USA: s erfarenhet. Men sällan interagerar de två fälten utöver spänningar i medborgerliga rättigheter från 1900-talet, säger Ron Wilkins, en nyligen pensionerad Africana Studies and History-professor från California State University, Dominguez Hills.

I detta 27 september 2017 foto är kullerstensgatorna i Freedmen ’s Town, ett område byggt av emanciperade slavar efter inbördeskriget i Houston. Området tros ha kopplats till tunnelbanan till Mexiko. | Russell Contreras / AP

Och som ett resultat delas inte historier om afroamerikaner och mexikanska amerikaner som arbetar tillsammans för att bekämpa rasism, sa Wilkins, inklusive historien om tunnelbanan till Mexiko.

"Om vi ​​kände till denna historia, skulle vi samlas och stärka den solidariteten", säger Wilkins, en tidigare medlem i Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

Vissa mexikanska amerikanska familjer tycker att de har obehagliga konversationer om ras i kölvattnet av deras nyfunna medvetenhet om tunnelbanan till Mexiko. Ramiro Ramirez, 72, psykolog, rancher och ättling till Jacksons, sa att familjemedlemmar ofta bråkade med varandra när de fick reda på att Matilda Jackson var en före detta slav och att de hade ”svart blod”.

”Jag var väldigt stolt. Men jag var också väldigt arg, säger Ramirez, som bor i gränsstaden Mercedes, Texas. ”Även efter 200 år är rasism väldigt stark. Folk vill inte prata om det. ”

Han sa att han skulle vilja träffa slavarnas ättlingar som med sin familjs hjälp flydde till Mexiko. Han ser dem likna honom mycket, men med olika liv söder om gränsen.


HISTORIKFAKTA: Första järnvägsbanan i söder under 100 år

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Medan de flesta amerikaner är bekanta med Underjordisk järnväg som hjälpte södra slavar att fly norrut före Inbördeskrig, nationens första hemliga väg till frihet sprang i mer än ett sekel i motsatt riktning.

LIKE ’ Nyheter En ’s FB -sida för att hålla dig uppdaterad om svarta nyheter från hela världen

Historier om den mindre kända “railroad ” kommer att delas 20-24 juni kl. National Underground Railroad Conference i St. Augustine, Fla. Sympatisörsnätverket gav tillflykt till dem som flydde från sina herrar, inklusive många amerikanska indianer som hjälpte slavar att fly till det som då var det spanska territoriet i Florida. Det varade från strax efter grundandet av Carolina Colony 1670 till efter den amerikanska revolutionen.

De flydde inte bara till söder utan till Mexiko, Karibien och det amerikanska väst.

Och “railroad ” hjälper till att förklara åtminstone delvis varför slavens ättlingars varaktiga kultur – känd som Gullah i South Carolina och Geechee i Florida och Georgia finns#längs nordöstra Floridas kust.

Det är en fascinerande historia och de flesta människor i Amerika fastnar och de fastnar antingen 1964 och Civil Rights Act eller så fastnar de på Inbördeskrig, ” sa Derek Hankerson, som är en ättling från Gullah och en liten företagare i St. Augustine, Fla. Vi har längtat efter att dela dessa historier. ”

Eftersom det finns få rekord är det okänt hur många afrikanska slavar som kan ha rymt längs järnvägen. Men drömmen om frihet i Florida spelade en roll i 1739 Stono Rebellion utanför Charleston, den största slavupproret i brittiska Nordamerika.

Slavar började troligen fly mot Florida när South Carolina grundades 1670, säger Jane Landers, en historiker vid Vanderbilt University som har forskat mycket om ämnet. Det första omnämnandet av rymda slavar i spanska rekord var 1687 när åtta slavar, inklusive ett ammande barn, dök upp i St Augustine.

Spanien vägrar att lämna tillbaka dem och ger dem istället religiös fristad, och den politiken formaliserades 1693. Det enda villkoret är att de som söker helgedom konverterar till katolicismen.

Det var ett totalt skifte i Karibiens geopolitik och efter det får alla som lämnar ett protestantiskt område för att begära fristad det, säger Landers.

Detta löfte om frihet spelade en viktig roll i Stono -upproret, när en grupp på ett tjugotal slavar slog till mot en butik, samlade vapen och andra vapen, i september 1739.

Mark Smith, en historiker vid University of South Carolina, sa att slavledarna var från det som nu är Angola i Afrika. De var katolska, eftersom deras hemland vid den tiden var en portugisisk utpost. Och de tros ha varit soldater i sitt hemland.

De skulle ha känt till ryktet om frihet i spanska Florida och bestämmer sig för att starta upproret den 9 september, högtiden för födelsedagen för den välsignade jungfru Maria.

“De har en vit flagga, som inte är en övergivningsflagga. Det är en flagga för att fira Maria, och de ropar `` Frihet. '' De gör inte uppror precis som slavar, utan som katolska slavar, sa Smith.

Minst 20 vita dödades i upproret. Milisen kom senare ikapp slavarna och 34 av dem dödades. Några som flydde hittades och avrättades senare, även om vissa tydligen tog sig i säkerhet i Florida eftersom det finns rapporter om fler slavar som anlände till St. Augustine under de följande dagarna, sa Landers.

Gullah -kreol talas fortfarande i kyrkor i nordöstra Florida, sa Landers.

Hankerson, som växte upp med berättelser om den underjordiska järnvägen, sa att rymda slavar fick hjälp av amerikanska indianstammar inklusive Creeks, Cherokees och Yemassee. De avancerade också djupare in i Florida och fann tillflykt med Seminoles.

Med undantag för cirka 20 år när britterna höll St Augustine mellan slutet av det franska och indiska kriget och slutet av den amerikanska revolutionen, förblev den spanska helgedomspolitiken till 1790 då utrikesminister Thomas Jefferson övertygade den spanska kronan att avsluta det. Många flyktiga flydde under kaoset och våldet i revolutionen, och att hålla den korridoren öppen kunde ha tömt de södra kolonierna av slavar, sa Landers.

Till skillnad från den underjordiska järnvägen som gick norrut, var det tidiga nätverket mer informellt: Varken slavarna eller de inhemska stammarna som hjälpte dem lämnade skriftliga poster, och det fanns ingen kyrklig struktur som Quakers organiserade insatsen, sa Landers. Det är okänt exakt hur många som stannade bland de amerikanska indianerna eller hur många som dog.

Britterna såg slavar som egendom och arbete för sina plantager och erbjöd belöningar för deras återkomst.

Däremot sa Landers att spanjorerna tror att urbefolkningen och afrikanerna kunde konverteras och som sådana var människor och hade familjer och själar att rädda. ”


LibertyVoter.Org


The Fugitive Slave, målad av John Adam Houston.

Underjordiska järnvägen gick söderut såväl som norrut. För slavar i Texas måste tillflykt i Kanada ha verkat omöjligt långt borta. Lyckligtvis var slaveri också olagligt i Mexiko.

Forskare uppskattar att 5000 till 10 000 människor flydde från bondage till Mexiko, säger Maria Hammack, som skriver sin avhandling om detta ämne vid University of Texas i Austin. Men hon tror att det faktiska antalet kan vara ännu högre.

"Det här var hemliga vägar och om du blev gripen skulle du bli dödad och lynchad, så de flesta lämnade inte många rekord", säger Hammack.

Det finns några bevis på det tejanos, eller mexikaner i Texas, agerade som "konduktörer" på den södra vägen genom att hjälpa människor att komma till Mexiko. Dessutom har Hammack också identifierat en svart kvinna och två vita män som hjälpte förslavade arbetare att fly och försökte hitta ett hem åt dem i Mexiko.


En slavauktion i Austin, Texas.

Mexiko avskaffade slaveriet 1829 när Texas fortfarande var en del av landet, vilket fick vita, slavinnehållande invandrare att kämpa för självständighet i Texasrevolutionen. När de väl bildade republiken Texas 1836 gjorde de slaveriet lagligt igen, och det fortsatte att vara lagligt när Texas gick med i USA som en stat 1845.

Enslavade människor i Texas var medvetna om att det fanns ett land i söder där de kunde hitta olika nivåer av frihet (även om indentured servitude existerade i Mexiko, var det inte detsamma som chattel slavery). Hammack har upptäckt en flyktig vid namn Tom som hade blivit förslavad av Sam Houston. Houston var president i republiken Texas som kämpade i Texasrevolutionen. När Tom väl kommit över gränsen gick han med i den mexikanska militären som Houston hade kämpat mot.

Enslavade människor kom till Mexiko på många olika sätt. Några gick till fots, medan andra red hästar eller smög ombord på färjor på väg till mexikanska hamnar. Berättelser spreds om förslavade människor som korsade floden Rio Grande som skilde Texas från Mexiko genom att flyta på bomullsbalar, och flera Texas -tidningar rapporterade i juli 1863 att tre förslavade människor hade rymt på detta sätt. Även om detta inte var logistiskt möjligt var bilden av att flyta till frihet på en symbol för slaveri stark.

Fugitive Slave Acts (TV-PG 1:57)

Men det var inte bara slaver i Texas som fann frihet i Mexiko. …läs mer


Söder till frihet

Underjordiska järnvägen sprang också söderut-inte tillbaka mot slavägande stater utan bort från dem till Mexiko, som började begränsa slaveriet på 1820-talet och slutligen avskaffade det 1829, ungefär trettiofyra år före Abraham Lincolns emancipationsproklamation.

Det här kan vara historia, men det kommer som nyheter för många som deltar i utställningen "Pathways to Freedom" på Detroits Charles H. Wright Museum of African History, visad till och med 31 mars. "De flesta är förvånade", säger Patrina Chatman, museets kurator för utställningar. Även om det finns riklig dokumentation, för att inte tala om folklore, som rör nätverket av guider och fristäder som hjälpte förslavade människor att fly till frihet i norra stater och Kanada, är rekordet mindre rikligt om den underjordiska järnvägen som ledde till Mexiko.

"Dessa historier berättades inte", säger Patricia Ann Talley, "eftersom dessa historier hamnade på spanska." Men även i Mexiko är historierna inte allmänt kända, fortsätter Talley, en infödd i Detroit och afroamerikan som bor i Mexiko och som initierade utställningen "Pathways to Freedom" med Candelaria Donaji Mendez Tello, en afro-mexikan. De två träffades på en fredsfestival i Mexiko 2010 och blev vänner. Fram till dess, säger Talley, "Jag har aldrig tänkt på afro-mexikaner." Utställningen, som delvis finansieras av Michigan Humanities Council, betonar svarta amerikaners och svarta mexikaners gemensamma erfarenheter och historia. "Jag insåg inte", säger Talley, "hur riklig den afrikanska rasen är i Mexiko", men hon fick snart veta att ännu fler afrikaner fördes till slavar till koloniala Mexiko än till kolonialamerika.

Med slaveriet kom önskan om frihet, och det är där berättelsen om "Pathways to Freedom" vänder och justerar sin lins mot Mexiko. "När jag hör termen" Underground Railroad "tillämpas klagar jag inte", säger historikern Sean M. Kelley, "men det var inte i närheten av så välorganiserat" som den mer kända operationen som ledde till Kanada. Kelley, docent i historia vid Hartwick College i Oneonta, New York, har skrivit om slaveri längs gränsen mellan Texas och Mexiko.

Flyktvägar till Mexiko "var kända bland slavar i Texas", säger Kelley, och så var den politiska verkligheten att "det finns den här andra republiken och de har blivit av med slaveriet." Mexiko vann självständighet från Spanien 1821 efter ett långvarigt uppror och började vidta åtgärder mot slaveri och förbjöd det slutligen 1829 genom förordning av dåvarande presidenten Vicente Guerrero, som själv kan ha haft afrikansk härkomst.

Även om Mexiko förbjöd slaveri, höll Texas, då en koloni i Mexiko, fast vid sina slavar. Faktum är att slaveri var en av orsakerna till revolutionen som ledde till Texas självständighet 1836. Texas släpptes in i USA 1845 som slavstat och antalet slavar där ökade exponentiellt.

De flesta av de slavar som flydde till Mexiko kom från Texas, och i mindre utsträckning Louisiana, konstaterar Kelley, precis som en överväldigande av de som flydde norrut kom från platser i grannområdena i norra delstater. Resan till frihet i Mexiko, även från Texas, var "lång och svår och farlig", säger Kelley. Precis som det inte finns några fasta siffror om hur många slaver som flydde till Kanada - uppskattningar varierar från 30 000 till 100 000 - finns det inga tillförlitliga siffror om hur många som flydde till Mexiko. En Texas Ranger under artonhundratalet satte siffran på fyra tusen men "kvantifiera detta kommer aldrig att hända", säger Kelley.

Underground Railroad som ledde till Mexiko hade ingen känd analog till Harriet Tubman, en före detta slav, som på ett tiotal resor ledde ett sjuttiotal människor till frihet, men Texas hade sina egna befriare. "Det fanns medverkan från Tejanos [latinska texaner] och några av tyskarna" som hade bosatt sig i Texas, säger Kelley.

Och oavsett om det är på spanska eller engelska, producerade Southwest -versionen av Underground Railroad minst en oförglömlig berättelse: historien om mannen som flöt till frihet över Rio Grande på en bomullspinne. Kelley ifrågasätter det ("jag vet inte ens om bomull flyter") men finner kontot "betydande bortom" någon autentisering. "Historien finns, det betyder något", säger han, att en man kunde segla till frihet på just den vara som föranledde hans slaveri.

Martin Kohn är författare, teaterkritiker, redaktör, sångare-gitarrist och journalistlärare vid Michigan State University.


Ett kapitel i amerikansk historia som ofta ignoreras: Flykten av flyktiga slavar till Mexiko

Roseann Bacha-Garza (vänster), en gränslandshistoriker, står med Olga Webber-Vasques vid graven till dennes farfars morfars far, avskaffande John Ferdinand Webber, på familjens kyrkogård. John Burnett/NPR dölj bildtext

Roseann Bacha-Garza (vänster), en gränslandshistoriker, står med Olga Webber-Vasques vid graven till dennes farfars morfars far, avskaffande John Ferdinand Webber, på familjens kyrkogård.

På en bortglömd kyrkogård i utkanten av Texas i Rio Grande-deltaet säger Olga Webber-Vasques att hon är stolt över sin familjs arv-även om hon bara har lärt sig hela historien.

Det visar sig att hennes farfars morföräldrar, som är begravda där, var agenter i den föga kända underjordiska järnvägen som ledde genom södra Texas till Mexiko under 1800-talet. Tusentals slavar flydde från plantager för att ta sig till Rio Grande, som blev en flod av befrielse.

"I don't know why there wasn't anything that we would've known as we were growing up. It amazes me to learn the underground deal — I had no idea at all," says Webber-Vasques, 70, who recently learned the story of her forebear John Ferdinand Webber from her daughter-in-law who has researched family history.

"I'm very proud to be a Webber," she says.

The flight of runaway slaves to Mexico is a chapter of history that is often overlooked or ignored. As the U.S. Treasury ponders putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill to commemorate her role in the northbound underground railroad, new attention is being paid to this southbound route.

Alice Baumgartner, a historian at the University of Southern California, is at the forefront of a burst of recent scholarship. A number of researchers are expanding knowledge of the important role that Mexico played in providing a refuge for enslaved people.

Alice Baumgartner, a historian at the University of Southern California, is the author of a groundbreaking new book, South to Freedom: Runaway Slaves to Mexico and the Road to the Civil War. Paul Luke dölj bildtext

Alice Baumgartner, a historian at the University of Southern California, is the author of a groundbreaking new book, South to Freedom: Runaway Slaves to Mexico and the Road to the Civil War.

Mexico represented liberty

Baumgartner's groundbreaking new book, South to Freedom: Runaway Slaves to Mexico and the Road to the Civil War, was published late last year. She says Mexico in the 19th century is often regarded as "a place defined by poverty and political instability and violence" — and is rarely given credit for its role in providing a safe haven for runaway slaves.

"This history is to me most surprising because it shows us the side of Mexico as a place that actually was contributing to global debates about slavery and freedom," Baumgartner says.

From the 1830s up to emancipation, she estimates 3,000 to 5,000 enslaved people fled south and crossed over to free Mexican soil. That is far fewer than the estimated 30,000 to 100,000 enslaved people who crossed the Mason-Dixon line to reach free northern states and Canada.

But from the vantage of an East Texas plantation, liberty was a lot closer in Mexico.

Enslaved sailors and stowaways from New Orleans and Galveston, Texas, jumped ship in Mexican ports. Slaves drove wagons of cotton to market in Brownsville, Texas, and then slipped across the muddy river to Matamoros, Mexico. But their main mode of transportation was on horseback traversing the vast, feral stretches of South Texas down to the border.

"Sometimes someone would come 'long and try to get us to run up north and be free. We used to laugh at that," said former slave Felix Haywood, interviewed in 1937 for the federal Slave Narrative Project.

Haywood was 92 at the time, blind, white-haired and weather-beaten. He was born into slavery and as a young man tended cattle and sheep for ranchers around San Antonio.

Former slave Felix Haywood, 92 years old when he was photographed in San Antonio in 1937, told an interviewer, "All we had to do was to walk, but walk south, and we'd be free as soon as we crossed the Rio Grande." Library of Congress dölj bildtext

Former slave Felix Haywood, 92 years old when he was photographed in San Antonio in 1937, told an interviewer, "All we had to do was to walk, but walk south, and we'd be free as soon as we crossed the Rio Grande."

"There wasn't no reason to run up north," he continued in the interview. "All we had to do was to walk, but walk south, and we'd be free as soon as we crossed the Rio Grande. In Mexico, you could be free. They didn't care what color you was — black, white, yellow or blue. Hundreds of slaves did go to Mexico and got on all right."

Pathways to get to the Rio Grande

While the northbound underground railroad depended on a network of people who sheltered and aided fugitive slaves, the southern route was more informal.

"We didn't have a conductor like a Harriet Tubman, and we didn't have a certain station like they did in Philadelphia where they could live and make some money," says Roseann Bacha-Garza, a borderlands historian at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and one of the few experts on the southern route to freedom.

"What we did have down here were pathways that people could follow to get to the Rio Grande."

There were, however, abolitionists on the border who could be counted on to help Black people escape the southwestern extreme of the slave South.

In the Webber Cemetery lie the remains of John Webber and his wife, Silvia Hector Webber. The cemetery is situated just north of the twisting Rio Grande, near the town of Donna, Texas.

Webber was a white settler new to Texas who fell in love with Hector, an enslaved woman. They had three children together, and he bought their freedom from his business partner. They homesteaded in the hamlet that now bears his name — Webberville, east of Austin.

But Texas was still a slave state. And the suffocating racial codes of antebellum Texas eventually drove the family away. They moved to the Rio Grande Valley, where they bought a ranch just downstream from another interracial abolitionist family — Nathaniel Jackson and his African American wife, Matilda Hicks Jackson.

Both the Webbers and the Jacksons were well-known in the clandestine grapevine of runaways.

President Biden Takes Office

Biden Administration Will 'Speed Up' Efforts To Put Harriet Tubman On $20 Bill

Nationell

Descendants Of Native American Slaves In New Mexico Emerge From Obscurity

Utbildning

Texas Students Will Soon Learn Slavery Played A Central Role In The Civil War

"They knew they were sympathetic to their cause," Bacha-Garza says. "The families had their own licensed ferry landings on their properties, which made it very easy for them to shepherd these runaway slaves across the river into free Mexico."

The breakneck flight from an East Texas cotton plantation to the border was a perilous journey. Runaway slaves had to survive the Nueces Strip, the 160-mile expanse between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande. It's the same treacherous ranchland where today immigration agents find the scattered bones of unauthorized migrants who perished on the trek north.

"It's a dry, parched landscape. There's not many trees. No matter what time of year, it is hot, hot, hot," Bacha-Garza says. "No running streams, snakes, scorpions. It was not an easy trip, but it was a doable trip."

Kyle Ainsworth, project director of the Texas Runaway Slave Project, searches for notices about fugitive slaves in 19th-century Texas newspapers. His project is housed at the East Texas Research Center at Stephen F. Austin State University. John Burnett/NPR dölj bildtext

Kyle Ainsworth, project director of the Texas Runaway Slave Project, searches for notices about fugitive slaves in 19th-century Texas newspapers. His project is housed at the East Texas Research Center at Stephen F. Austin State University.

Back then, the borderlands were different from the rest of slaveholding Texas. A white man, his Black wife and their children could live in peace.

"Along the river, you don't see the deeply ingrained racism because the river has been home to a mixture of people — mestizos, mulattoes," says Francisco Guajardo, CEO of the Museum of South Texas History in Edinburg. "The river is a place of tolerance, believe it or not. The racial codes were not enforced down here because there was nobody to enforce them."

Most fugitive slaves in Texas did run south — a fact known, in part, through the painstaking work being done by the Texas Runaway Slave Project, housed at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches. Researchers looked through nearly 19,000 Texas newspapers from the 1840s through the 1860s.

"And it's from this research that we've been able to find so much about runaway slaves escaping to Mexico," says project director Kyle Ainsworth.

On his computer, he reads an item in the Galveston Weekly News from May 11, 1858. "$25 Reward. Ran away on the 19th of April, from W.T. Stevens' plantation . a Mulatto Boy, named Tom, about 28 years old. . Was raised in Milam county, Texas . and he is supposed to be there or on his way to Mexico."

Researchers are learning about the flight of enslaved people to Mexico by unearthing notices like this one that appeared in the Galveston Weekly News in 1858. East Texas Digital Archives/Stephen F. Austin State University dölj bildtext

Mexico began to gradually abolish slavery soon after it declared independence from Spain in 1821. The Mexican Congress fully outlawed slavery in 1837, well before the United States did so with the 13th Amendment in 1865.

Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836 and eventually joined the U.S. as a slave state. Mexico lost again in the Mexican-American War, and the Rio Grande became the southern boundary of the United States.

Baumgartner says Mexico's abolition of slavery exerted a gravitational pull on enslaved people in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi as King Cotton was expanding.

So while Mexico lost huge expanses of its territory in the wars, she says its anti-slavery position gave it a sort of "moral capital."

"Mexico was much less powerful than the United States, but anti-slavery gave it a way to find victory in defeat. The United States being this aggressive, slaveholding conquering nation and Mexico as this country that could actually stand upright before the civilized world for its anti-slavery positions."

Mexico did have a system of forced labor even after it abolished slavery. Hacienda owners depended on debt peonage to keep their workers in bondage, and some considered that a form of slavery.

But many Mexicans were sympathetic to fugitive slaves from Texas and the United States, according to María Hammack, a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Austin.

In fact, Mexicans would often put up a fight against vigilantes and bounty hunters from Texas looking for escaped slaves who had crossed over the river to free Mexican soil.

"Mexican authorities at times would help the now-free men and women in Mexico from being taken and returned back to the United States," says Hammack, who is writing her dissertation on the Webber family and how fugitive slaves gained freedom in Mexico.

Moreover, Mexican laborers working in Texas befriended slaves and acted as guides to help them escape south. This happened so often that enslavers came to distrust any Mexican.

"Under Texas law, Mexicans and enslaved persons were not allowed to be found together or to collaborate or even speak to each other," Hammack says.

She says that when she was growing up in Los Mochis in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico, she never learned about the outsize role that her country played in Texas slavery.

María Hammack, a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Austin, has unearthed the story of Silvia Hector Webber, an enslaved woman who became an abolitionist in the Texas-Mexico borderlands. John Burnett/NPR dölj bildtext

María Hammack, a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Austin, has unearthed the story of Silvia Hector Webber, an enslaved woman who became an abolitionist in the Texas-Mexico borderlands.

"I didn't know that Mexico was a safe haven for individuals to find freedom in the 19th century."

It wasn't until a couple of years ago that Texas changed the way students learn about the Civil War. They're now taught that slavery did play a central role in the war.

But slaveholding was also a driving force in the Texas Revolution, and historians note that this is still downplayed in celebrations of Texas Independence Day. On Tuesday, the state marks 185 years since declaring independence from Mexico.

Historians point out that some enslaved people saw Mexican troops as their liberators and that slaves fled to the ranks of the retreating Mexican army, hoping to make it to free Mexico, after the decisive Battle of San Jacinto, near present-day Houston.

Educators in Texas may be eager to include the southbound underground railroad into their classrooms, if Alaine Hutson is a barometer. She's a history professor at Huston-Tillotson University, a historically Black college in Austin.

While Hutson says she knew Mexico had outlawed slavery before the U.S. did, she did not know the full history of the southbound route to freedom.

She says this new material fits into a theme she always emphasizes with her students — that African Americans throughout history have been architects of their own liberation, like the former slave turned abolitionist Silvia Hector Webber.

"African Americans during slavery, after slavery, during Reconstruction, during Jim Crow and after Jim Crow, and some would say into the new Jim Crow, have always tried to decide as much about our fate as possible," Hutson says.

"And so it was nice to see that African Americans in Texas had the opportunity to help people get away to Mexico. And so Silvia and her family were doing that here in Texas."

Hutson began teaching this history to her African American studies class at Huston-Tillotson this year. During a recent Zoom class, she asked her students to reflect on it.

"The thing that really caught my eye was that African Americans were going to another country and actually treated better, knowing we had freedoms in Mexico that we didn't have in the United States," says Duntavian Thomas, a 24-year-old kinesiology major from Nacogdoches. "As soon as African Americans touched down on Mexican soil, we were free."


Myth Battles Counter-Myth

The appeal of romance and fancy in stories of the Underground Railroad can be traced to the latter decades of the 19th century, when the South was winning the battle of popular memory over the meaning of the Civil War — sending Lost Cause mythology deep into the national psyche and eventually helping to propel the Virginia-born racist Woodrow Wilson into the White House. In the face of a dominating Southern interpretation of the meaning of the Civil War, many white Northerners sought to preserve a heroic version of their past and found a useful tool in legends of the Underground Railroad.

Often well-meaning white people crafted “romantic adventure stories — about themselves,” as Blight puts it, stories that placed white “conductors” in heroic and romantic roles in the struggle for black freedom, stealing agency from supposedly helpless and nameless African Americans (who braved the real dangers), a counterpart to popular images of a saintly, erect Abraham Lincoln bequeathing freedom to passive, kneeling slaves. With the collapse of Reconstruction in 1876 — often blamed on supposedly ignorant or corrupt black people — the winning of freedom became a tale of noble, selfless white efforts on behalf of a downtrodden, faceless, nameless, “inferior” race.

Much of contemporary misunderstanding and myth about the Underground Railroad originated with Wilbur Siebert’s 1898 study. Siebert interviewed nearly everyone still living who had some memory related to the network and even traveled to Canada to interview former slaves who traced their own routes from the South to freedom.

While Siebert ignored the most fanciful stories he heard, he placed far too much emphasis on the work of so-called white conductors and depicted the experience as a very systematic and interrelated series of way stations and routes — which he traced in detailed maps — not unlike a railroad line or system of rail lines. As David Blight remarks, Siebert “fashioned a popular story of primarily white conductors helping nameless blacks to freedom.”


A Chapter In U.S. History Often Ignored: The Flight Of Runaway Slaves To Mexico

In a forgotten cemetery on the edge of Texas in the Rio Grande delta, Olga Webber-Vasques says she's proud of her family's legacy — even if she only just learned the full story.

Turns out her great-great-grandparents, who are buried there, were agents in the little-known underground railroad that led through South Texas to Mexico during the 1800s. Thousands of enslaved people fled plantations to make their way to the Rio Grande, which became a river of deliverance.

"I don't know why there wasn't anything that we would've known as we were growing up. It amazes me to learn the underground deal — I had no idea at all," says Webber-Vasques, 70, who recently learned the story of her forebear John Ferdinand Webber from her daughter-in-law who has researched family history.

"I'm very proud to be a Webber," she says.

The flight of runaway slaves to Mexico is a chapter of history that is often overlooked or ignored. As the U.S. Treasury ponders putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 bill to commemorate her role in the northbound underground railroad, new attention is being paid to this southbound route.

Alice Baumgartner, a historian at the University of Southern California, is at the forefront of a burst of recent scholarship. A number of researchers are expanding knowledge of the important role that Mexico played in providing a refuge for enslaved people.

Mexico represented liberty

Baumgartner's groundbreaking new book, South to Freedom: Runaway Slaves to Mexico and the Road to the Civil War, was published late last year. She says Mexico in the 19th century is often regarded as "a place defined by poverty and political instability and violence" — and is rarely given credit for its role in providing a safe haven for runaway slaves.

"This history is to me most surprising because it shows us the side of Mexico as a place that actually was contributing to global debates about slavery and freedom," Baumgartner says.

From the 1830s up to emancipation, she estimates 3,000 to 5,000 enslaved people fled south and crossed over to free Mexican soil. That is far fewer than the estimated 30,000 to 100,000 enslaved people who crossed the Mason-Dixon line to reach free northern states and Canada.

But from the vantage of an East Texas plantation, liberty was a lot closer in Mexico.

Enslaved sailors and stowaways from New Orleans and Galveston, Texas, jumped ship in Mexican ports. Slaves drove wagons of cotton to market in Brownsville, Texas, and then slipped across the muddy river to Matamoros, Mexico. But their main mode of transportation was on horseback traversing the vast, feral stretches of South Texas down to the border.

"Sometimes someone would come 'long and try to get us to run up north and be free. We used to laugh at that," said former slave Felix Haywood, interviewed in 1937 for the federal Slave Narrative Project.

Haywood was 92 at the time, blind, white-haired and weather-beaten. He was born into slavery and as a young man tended cattle and sheep for ranchers around San Antonio.

"There wasn't no reason to run up north," he continued in the interview. "All we had to do was to walk, but walk south, and we'd be free as soon as we crossed the Rio Grande. In Mexico, you could be free. They didn't care what color you was — black, white, yellow or blue. Hundreds of slaves did go to Mexico and got on all right."

Pathways to get to the Rio Grande

While the northbound underground railroad depended on a network of people who sheltered and aided fugitive slaves, the southern route was more informal.

"We didn't have a conductor like a Harriet Tubman, and we didn't have a certain station like they did in Philadelphia where they could live and make some money," says Roseann Bacha-Garza, a borderlands historian at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and one of the few experts on the southern route to freedom.

"What we did have down here were pathways that people could follow to get to the Rio Grande."

There were, however, abolitionists on the border who could be counted on to help Black people escape the southwestern extreme of the slave South.

In the Webber Cemetery lie the remains of John Webber and his wife, Silvia Hector Webber. The cemetery is situated just north of the twisting Rio Grande, near the town of Donna, Texas.

Webber was a white settler new to Texas who fell in love with Hector, an enslaved woman. They had three children together, and he bought their freedom from his business partner. They homesteaded in the hamlet that now bears his name — Webberville, east of Austin.

But Texas was still a slave state. And the suffocating racial codes of antebellum Texas eventually drove the family away. They moved to the Rio Grande Valley, where they bought a ranch just downstream from another interracial abolitionist family — Nathaniel Jackson and his African American wife, Matilda Hicks Jackson.

Both the Webbers and the Jacksons were well-known in the clandestine grapevine of runaways.

"They knew they were sympathetic to their cause," Bacha-Garza says. "The families had their own licensed ferry landings on their properties, which made it very easy for them to shepherd these runaway slaves across the river into free Mexico."

The breakneck flight from an East Texas cotton plantation to the border was a perilous journey. Runaway slaves had to survive the Nueces Strip, the 160-mile expanse between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande. It's the same treacherous ranchland where today immigration agents find the scattered bones of unauthorized migrants who perished on the trek north.

"It's a dry, parched landscape. There's not many trees. No matter what time of year, it is hot, hot, hot," Bacha-Garza says. "No running streams, snakes, scorpions. It was not an easy trip, but it was a doable trip."

Back then, the borderlands were different from the rest of slaveholding Texas. A white man, his Black wife and their children could live in peace.

"Along the river, you don't see the deeply ingrained racism because the river has been home to a mixture of people — mestizos, mulattoes," says Francisco Guajardo, CEO of the Museum of South Texas History in Edinburg. "The river is a place of tolerance, believe it or not. The racial codes were not enforced down here because there was nobody to enforce them."

Most fugitive slaves in Texas did run south — a fact known, in part, through the painstaking work being done by the Texas Runaway Slave Project, housed at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches. Researchers looked through nearly 19,000 Texas newspapers from the 1840s through the 1860s.

"And it's from this research that we've been able to find so much about runaway slaves escaping to Mexico," says project director Kyle Ainsworth.

On his computer, he reads an item in the Galveston Weekly News from May 11, 1858. "$25 Reward. Ran away on the 19th of April, from W.T. Stevens' plantation . a Mulatto Boy, named Tom, about 28 years old. . Was raised in Milam county, Texas . and he is supposed to be there or on his way to Mexico."

Mexico began to gradually abolish slavery soon after it declared independence from Spain in 1821. The Mexican Congress fully outlawed slavery in 1837, well before the United States did so with the 13th Amendment in 1865.

Texas won its independence from Mexico in 1836 and eventually joined the U.S. as a slave state. Mexico lost again in the Mexican-American War, and the Rio Grande became the southern boundary of the United States.

Baumgartner says Mexico's abolition of slavery exerted a gravitational pull on enslaved people in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi as King Cotton was expanding.

So while Mexico lost huge expanses of its territory in the wars, she says its anti-slavery position gave it a sort of "moral capital."

"Mexico was much less powerful than the United States, but anti-slavery gave it a way to find victory in defeat. The United States being this aggressive, slaveholding conquering nation and Mexico as this country that could actually stand upright before the civilized world for its anti-slavery positions."

Mexico did have a system of forced labor even after it abolished slavery. Hacienda owners depended on debt peonage to keep their workers in bondage, and some considered that a form of slavery.

But many Mexicans were sympathetic to fugitive slaves from Texas and the United States, according to María Hammack, a doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Austin.

In fact, Mexicans would often put up a fight against vigilantes and bounty hunters from Texas looking for escaped slaves who had crossed over the river to free Mexican soil.

"Mexican authorities at times would help the now-free men and women in Mexico from being taken and returned back to the United States," says Hammack, who is writing her dissertation on the Webber family and how fugitive slaves gained freedom in Mexico.

Moreover, Mexican laborers working in Texas befriended slaves and acted as guides to help them escape south. This happened so often that enslavers came to distrust any Mexican.

"Under Texas law, Mexicans and enslaved persons were not allowed to be found together or to collaborate or even speak to each other," Hammack says.

She says that when she was growing up in Los Mochis in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico, she never learned about the outsize role that her country played in Texas slavery.

"I didn't know that Mexico was a safe haven for individuals to find freedom in the 19th century."

It wasn't until a couple of years ago that Texas changed the way students learn about the Civil War. They're now taught that slavery did play a central role in the war.

But slaveholding was also a driving force in the Texas Revolution, and historians note that this is still downplayed in celebrations of Texas Independence Day. On Tuesday, the state marks 185 years since declaring independence from Mexico.

Historians point out that some enslaved people saw Mexican troops as their liberators and that slaves fled to the ranks of the retreating Mexican army, hoping to make it to free Mexico, after the decisive Battle of San Jacinto, near present-day Houston.

Educators in Texas may be eager to include the southbound underground railroad into their classrooms, if Alaine Hutson is a barometer. She's a history professor at Huston-Tillotson University, a historically Black college in Austin.

While Hutson says she knew Mexico had outlawed slavery before the U.S. did, she did not know the full history of the southbound route to freedom.

She says this new material fits into a theme she always emphasizes with her students — that African Americans throughout history have been architects of their own liberation, like the former slave turned abolitionist Silvia Hector Webber.

"African Americans during slavery, after slavery, during Reconstruction, during Jim Crow and after Jim Crow, and some would say into the new Jim Crow, have always tried to decide as much about our fate as possible," Hutson says.

"And so it was nice to see that African Americans in Texas had the opportunity to help people get away to Mexico. And so Silvia and her family were doing that here in Texas."

Hutson began teaching this history to her African American studies class at Huston-Tillotson this year. During a recent Zoom class, she asked her students to reflect on it.

"The thing that really caught my eye was that African Americans were going to another country and actually treated better, knowing we had freedoms in Mexico that we didn't have in the United States," says Duntavian Thomas, a 24-year-old kinesiology major from Nacogdoches. "As soon as African Americans touched down on Mexican soil, we were free."

And finally today, decades after legendary singer Billie Holiday last took the stage, she is back in the spotlight. Hulu just released "The United States Vs. Billie Holiday," a film about the jazz icon starring Andra Day and directed by Lee Daniels. And while many people might know Holiday's struggles with addiction from previous treatments of her life, this film focuses on something else - the way Holiday was targeted by federal authorities, both for her addiction and for her activism through her art, especially her insistence on singing the famous anti-lynching anthem "Strange Fruit."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "STRANGE FRUIT")

BILLIE HOLIDAY: (Singing) Black bodies swinging in the Southern breeze. Konstig frukt som hänger från poppelträden.

MARTIN: The film is based in part on reporting for the book "Chasing The Scream: The First And Last Days Of The War On Drugs" by Johann Hari. It's about why and how certain drugs came to be criminalized in the U.S. Hari served as an executive producer of the new film, and when we spoke, he told me how he learned about how Holiday became the focus of the anti-drug war.

JOHANN HARI: And one of the questions I asked myself was just, well, when did we even start going to war against people with addiction problems? When did we get the idea that was a good idea? And I learned about this man, Harry Anslinger, who's probably the most influential person who no one's ever heard of. And our film is really the story of the collision between him and Billie Holiday.

So in 1939, she walks on stage at a hotel in midtown Manhattan, and she sings that incredible song that you just played a clip from, "Strange Fruit." It's the idea that in the South, there's this strange fruit that hangs from the trees. It's the bodies of Black men who'd been murdered. And sometime later, after she first performed this song, she received a warning to stop singing it. And she refused. And the next day, she was arrested. And this is part of this epic conflict that took place between Billie Holiday and her bravery and Harry Anslinger.

So Harry Anslinger invented the modern war on drugs. He's the first person to ever use that phrase. He was the head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, and he really built the drug war around two groups he hated intensely. The first was Black people. The second was people with addiction problems. So to him, Billie Holiday is the incarnation of everything he hated. She's a Black woman standing up to white supremacy. And because she'd been horrifically abused as a child, she had an addiction problem. And the film is really the story of her brave resistance to him.

MARTIN: But why do you think it is that he was so fixated on Black people and drug use? And that - you point out that there were other - you know, white people who had - white celebrities, white socialites - who similarly had these problems, but he didn't have the same kind of disdain for them or hatred for them. Varför tror du att det är det? I mean, just - he just thought that white people who fell into addiction somehow were what? It was a mistake, whereas with Black people, it was somehow genetic or something? Like, can you unpack that a little bit?

HARI: I think we've seen that more recently if you compare how people reacted to - the general public reaction to the rise of crack addiction in the 1980s and early 1990s and the rise of opioid addiction in more recent years. Those are comparable tragedies with comparable causes, mostly lying in despair, right? The opposite of addiction is connection. Of course, there's been a racialized way of interpreting this. In fact, one of the reasons the drug war is created is as a way to suppress Black people quite consciously.

If you look at the early documents, as I did, around the foundation of the drug war, you know, it's founded in this extreme racial hysteria. It's this belief that Black people and Latinos are using drugs, forgetting their place, in inverted commas, and attacking white people. And this absolutely informs how Harry Anslinger thinks about Billie Holiday, that she's forgetting her place, right?

This is a - this is his worst nightmare. She's a Black woman standing up to white supremacy and persuading other white people. This, to him, is a nightmare, and he had a long record of using his power to try to suppress speech he didn't agree with. He did this with scientists who criticized his policies. And I think it's pretty clear it was one aspect of why he so viciously goes after Billie Holiday. You have to account for, why is the most vocally anti-racist person, Billie Holiday, the person he most viciously persecutes? I mean, he even gloats about it in his writing. After she died, he writes gloatingly, well, there'll be no more "Good Morning Heartache" for her.

MARTIN: Wow. Wow. I confess I never heard this name before. I mean, I think people know a lot about prohibition - right? - prohibition against alcohol. And they know a lot about those figures. And then they know that - they know kind of that there was this war on drugs, which I think people associate with Richard Nixon. Why do you think Harry Anslinger's role in this is not so well known or the origins of this is not so well known?

HARI: It took three transformations in consciousness for us to be able to see Billie Holiday the way that we do in this film. One - and the story of what Harry Anslinger did to Billie Holiday. One is a transformation in how we see race. Your listeners don't need me to explain how that transformation's been happening. One is a transformation in how we think about addiction.

So Harry Anslinger was one of the pioneers of the idea that addiction is a moral failing, right? If you're addicted, you party too hard. You indulged yourself. That's why this happened to you. Increasingly - and the best scientific evidence that I go through in my book, Chasing The Scream" - shows that addiction is, in fact, a response to deep pain and suffering.

And the third transformation, I would say, is a transformation in how we think about sexual abuse. One of the reasons - I think the main reason - that Billie had the addiction problem she had is because she was a survivor of horrific sexual abuse. Again, you can see very clearly why someone who had survived such a terrible thing would need to anesthetize themselves, initially with alcohol, later with heroin.

MARTIN: It sounds like this story really haunts you.

HARI: Yeah. This is really close to my heart because, you know, some of the people I most love have addiction problems. A very close relative of mine at the moment is struggling with addiction problems. And I know this might sound a bit grandiose, but I really feel like what the people who made this film have done - Lee Daniels, the amazing director, Andra Day, the goddess who plays Billie Holiday, Suzan-Lori Parks, who wrote the amazing screenplay - I feel like in some way, we have avenged Billie Holiday.

Now, it's not enough. The vengeance should have come in her lifetime. She should have been vindicated then. But we weren't ready to listen. The wider society was so lost in its hatred of Black people, of addicts, of so many groups. But I feel like now when we remember Billie Holiday, we won't remember, oh, the genius who was brought down by her flaws. We will remember the genius who was not only a genius in music, but a genius in life and a moral genius who saw ahead, who saw what had to be done.

And if we had listened to Billie Holiday then, there would be a lot of Black people who were killed who'd still be alive, a lot of Black people who were imprisoned who would have lived free lives, and a lot of people who died of addictions who would have lived to recover and have good lives. I think it's time we started really listening to Billie Holiday.

MARTIN: Johann Hari is the author of "Chasing The Scream: The First And Last Days Of The War On Drugs." He's also an executive producer of the new movie "The United States Vs. Billie Holiday," which is out now on Hulu.

Johann Hari, thanks so much for talking with us today.

HARI: Oh, it's such an honor to be on your show. Thank you so much.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALL OF ME")

ANDRA DAY: (Singing) All of me, why not take all of me? Can't you see I'm no good without you? Take my lips. I want to lose them. Take my arms, I'll never use them. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.


Story of the Underground Railroad to Mexico gains attention

HOUSTON — While researching U.S. Civil War history in South Texas, Roseann Bacha-Garza came across the two unique families of the Jacksons and the Webbers living along the Rio Grande. White men headed both families. Both of their wives were Black, emancipated slaves.

But Bacha-Garza, a historian, wondered what they were doing there in the mid-1800s.

As she dug into oral family histories, she heard an unexpected story. The two families' ranches served as a stop on the Underground Railroad to Mexico, descendants said. Across Texas and parts of Louisiana, Alabama, and Arkansas, scholars and preservation advocates are working to piece together the story of a largely forgotten part of American history: a network that helped thousands of Black slaves escape to Mexico.

“It really made sense the more I read about it and the more I thought about it,” Bacha-Garza said of the secretive route.

Like the more well-known Underground Railroad to the North, which helped fugitive slaves flee to Northern states and Canada, the path in the opposite direction provided a pathway to freedom south of the border, historians say. Enslaved people in the Deep South took to this closer route through unforgiving forests then desert with the help of Mexican Americans, German immigrants, and biracial Black and white couples living along the Rio Grande. Mexico had abolished slavery in 1829, a generation before President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.

But just how organized the Underground Railroad to Mexico was and what happened to former slaves and those who helped them remains a mystery. Some archives have since been destroyed by fire. Sites connected to the route sit abandoned.

“It’s larger than most people realized,” Karl Jacoby, co-director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race at Columbia University, said of the route.

Slave owners took out newspaper ads offering rewards and complaining that their “property” was likely heading to Mexico, Jacoby said. White Texans banished Mexican Americans from towns after accusing them of helping slaves escape.

Slave-catching mobs ventured into Mexico only to face armed resistance in small villages and from Black Seminoles — or Los Mascogos — who had resettled in northern Mexico, said Jacoby, author of “The Strange Career of William Ellis: The Texas Slave Who Became a Mexican Millionaire.”

Escaped slaves adopted Spanish names, married into Mexican families and migrated deeper into Mexico — disappearing from the record and history.

Historians have known about the secretive path for years. “ The Texas Runaway Slave Project ” at Stephen F. Austin State University includes a database of runaway slave advertisements that detail the extent of the trail. The Federal Writers' Project of the Depression-era Works Progress Administration gathered stories as part of its Slave Narrative Collection, including ones from former slaves openly talking about the Underground Railroad to Mexico. Former Texas slave Felix Haywood told those interviewed in 1936, for example, that slaves would laugh at the suggestion they should run north for freedom.

“All we had to do was walk, but walk south, and we'd be free as soon as we crossed the Rio Grande,” Haywood said.

And in 2010, the U.S. National Park Service outlined a route from Natchitoches, Louisiana, through Texas to Monclova, Mexico, that could be considered a rough path of the Underground Railroad south. A bill that President George W. Bush signed six years earlier designated El Camino Real de los Tejas as a National Historic Trail and encouraged the development of partnerships to create more understanding around this overlooked freedom road.

But this Underground Railroad is just starting to enter the public's consciousness as the U.S. becomes more diverse and more people show an interest in studying slavery, said Bacha-Garza, a program manager for the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley's Community Historical Archaeology Project with Schools in Edinburg, Texas.

Bacha-Garza said Nathaniel Jackson, a white southerner, purchased the freedom of Matilda Hicks, a Black slave who was his childhood sweetheart, as well as Hicks' family. Jackson married Hicks and moved from Alabama to Texas before the U.S. Civil War. There, along the Rio Grande, they encountered another biracial couple, Vermont-born John Ferdinand Webber and Silvia Hector, who was Black and also a former slave.

The examination of the Underground Railroad to Mexico comes as the U.S. is undergoing a racial reckoning around policing and systemic racism. Also, this year Mexico counted its Afro-Mexican population as its own category for the first time in its census.

Over the last 50 years, the fields of African American and Chicano Studies have boomed with groundbreaking research and new work redefining the U.S. experience. But rarely do the two fields interact beyond 20th century civil rights tensions, said Ron Wilkins, a recently retired Africana Studies and History professor from California State University, Dominguez Hills.

And as a result, stories about African Americans and Mexican Americans working together to fight racism are not shared, Wilkins said, including the history of the Underground Railroad to Mexico.

List of site sources >>>


Titta på videon: Den glada tunnelbananföraren på röda linjen (Januari 2022).