Barry’s Blog # 418: Veterans’ Day – or “Sacrifice of the Children Day”? Part Two of Two

You can’t stop me. I spend 30,000 men a month. – Napoleon

I would rather have a dead son than a disobedient one.  – Martin Luther

¡Que viva la muerte! – Francisco Franco 

Yes, the desire for vengeance and the hope of glory and promotion are two convincing explanations for why commanders would override their natural, paternal concern for the men under their command. But these answers don’t go far enough to satisfy me. After all, this was world war, and the carnage had not relented (except for the first Christmas) for four years.

Christmas Truce 1914

Old men had been making these decisions and – maybe more of a mystery – young men had been obeying them with few exceptions all this time. Neither economics nor religion nor dialectical materialism nor even psychology can explain the source, the intensity and the mutual culpability of this madness. Only mythological thinking can get us to the core.

My book Madness at the Gates of the City: The Myth of American Innocence attempts to understand the enduring power of the foundational myth underlying all Western culture, the narrative of the killing of the children. This story is first articulated in Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac to prove his loyalty to God in the tale known as the Aqidah. It then moves through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and blossoms in the twenty centuries of abuse, betrayal and the profound depression – or unquenchable desire for vengeance – that characterize modern history and modern families. Most specifically, it provides a template for every ensuing generation of young men who, desperately but unconsciously seeking to die to their boyhoods and be reborn as men, go willingly to the literal death that older men have planned for them. It is about powerful but uninitiated men indoctrinating uninitiated, powerless men into the worship of a vengeful god, and later of his substitute, the national state.

These stories are absolutely central to Western consciousness. They show us how long it has been since initiation rituals broke down. For at least three millennia, patriarchs have conducted pseudo-initiations, feeding their sons into the infinite maw of literalized violence. Indeed, it was their great genius – and primordial crime – to extend child-sacrifice from the family to the state. Boys eventually were forced to participate in the sacrifice. No longer comprehending the idea of surrender to a symbolic death, they learned to, in a sense, overcome death by inflicting it on others, to kill for some great, transpersonal cause or ideology.

Ultimately dying for the cause became a more meaningful act than to kill for it. Within the suffocating confines of monotheism and patriarchy, martyrdom became an ethical virtue that every believer must be prepared to emulate. “Uniquely among the religions of the world,” writes Bruce Chilton,

…the three that center on Abraham have made the willingness to offer the lives of children – an action they all symbolize with versions of the Aqedah – a central virtue for the faithful as a whole.

By the late 19th century, with nationalism replacing religion as a central unifying factor, the sky gods of Greek myth, Ouranos and his son Kronos came to rule the unconscious of modern man. For three or four generations, as Robert Bly taught, relations between fathers and sons had been changing fundamentally when men left their homes and farms for the factories. Fathers became absent fathers, and sons found themselves without close role models – just as the entire Western world was becoming subject to the most rapid technological changes in history. It was a period comparable only to our own.

One Frenchman (who was fated to die in the first weeks of the Great War) wrote that the world had changed more since he had been in school than it had since the Romans. In the thirty years between 1884 and 1914, humanity encountered mass electrification, telephones, automobiles, radio, movies, airplanes, submarines, elevators, refrigeration, public education, radioactivity, feminism, Darwin, Marx (who wrote, “All that is solid melts into air”), Picasso and Freud. It is particularly ironic that just as modern people were learning of the unconscious, they found themselves forced to act out the old myths of the sacrifice of the children.

Now everyone was judged by how useful they were under capitalism. In 1900 George Simmel wrote that existence in the urban factories had diminished human passions in favor of a reserved, cynical attitude. This had created a compensatory craving for excitement and sensation, which for some was partially satisfied by the emerging consumer culture. But others needed something even more extreme, more Dionysian, to make them feel alive. The mass euphoria of belligerent nationalism provided it.

Ouranos had been in the ascendant. But he soon evoked his opposite. As a group, the generation of older men of 1914 were embodying Kronos, the god who ate his own children. The pace of technological change simply exceeded humanity’s capacity to understand it, and the pressure upon the soul of the world exploded into world war.

How did this play out on the battlefield? Any honest military historian will admit that the generals (or in this context, the ritual elders) learned absolutely nothing in those four years. They began in August 1914 by exhorting the troops with Dulce et Decorum est Pro Patria Mori and then sending wave after wave of boys just out of high school against massed, fortified machine guns. A million died in just the first four months. Yet four years later, in late 1918, tactics hadn’t changed at all. The poet Wilfred Owen (who would die in the last week of the war in yet another senseless and suicidal assault) described the terrible irony of the soldiers’ experience:

Dulce et Decorum est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime.


Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin,
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues –
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.

These are profound mysteries. Perhaps the old men did learn some things, even if none would dare articulate them: that myth trumps fact; that they remained free to enact these horrific narratives; that far from being punished, the worst of the warmongers would go on to live with the highest honors and privileges – and that the story would go on unchanged.

On November eleventh, 1943, the Nazi S.S. memorialized the 25th anniversary of the armistice with a display – uncommon even for them – of gratuitous cruelty. They forced the 40,000 residents of the Terezin ghetto in Czechoslovakia to stand at attention in a freezing, rainy field all day for a head count that didn’t happen until late afternoon. Anyone who moved was shot. Three hundred collapsed and died before they were allowed to return to their barracks.

It had to end in 1945, we’d like to think.

Certainly, twenty years after the end of the Second World War, after Korea, the generals had finally learned that it was useless to send infantry against machine guns, right? Wrong. Throughout the Viet Nam war, the U.S. Army’s primary tactic – “search and destroy”, or “target acquisition” – was the sacrifice of infantry units to flush out the concealed enemy. Helicopters intentionally dropped troops into “hot zones,” where they were often pinned down by enemy fire. They defended themselves until air strikes hit the enemy positions, and then the American survivors left the terrain to the enemy’s survivors. No actual ground was liberated or acquired, and few precautions were taken. Sociologist William Gibson writes,

Story after story…concerns commanders who knew large enemy formations were in a given area but did not tell their subordinates because they did not want them to be cautious.

In countless other examples, the Army expended American lives to force the North Vietnamese off steep mountains for no discernable purpose. The 1987 movie Hamburger Hill depicts the nine-day assault on “Hill 937”, designated as such because it’s height was 937 meters, and costing 72 American lives and hundreds of wounded. The film ends with a victory celebration. What it doesn’t show, however, is that most of the North Vietnamese escaped and that the Americans abandoned the hill two weeks later.

Abandonment and betrayal (mythologically, Ouranos and Kronos) became the primary metaphors understood by hundreds of thousands of Americans, even if they’d never heard a Greek myth. Psychologist Jonathan Shay writes that the soldier’s common experience was violation of the moral order, or betrayal. He quotes one veteran: “The U.S. Army…was like a mother who sold out her kids to be raped by (their) father…”

In the decades after the end of that war, American elites, with the assistance of Hollywood filmmakers, made a determined effort to rehabilitate its criminal memory as (at worst) an honorable crusade and (at best) a tragic “mistake”. In the public mind the veteran was now either a violent thug or a victim – not of a culture that ate its children, but of liberal politicians and cruel Vietnamese torturers directed by scheming Russian overlords.

I invite you to consider, however, whether the war was really a mistake. Cui Bono, follow the money. Great fortunes were made, as they would be made during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and as they are being made right now while the U.S. intervenes in Ukraine, Yemen and Ethiopia and funnels billions to the arms industry.

Perhaps more importantly, the mythic fix is in as well, in the shape of the “good war”. The public remembers Viet Nam as a tragic mistake conducted by men who had the very best of intentions. It remembers Iraq and Afghanistan in precisely the same mythic terms. It will remember Ukraine in the same way. The myth of American innocence is being reconstituted and revived for yet another generation of old men who are already anticipating the next opportunity to feed more young men into Kronos’ gaping maw.

All this leads me to suggest that when you consider speaking to a veteran today, think before you do. What precisely will be your intention? Will it be, as veteran James Kelly writes, “…an empty platitude, something you just say because it is politically correct”? Will it “…massage away some of the guilt at not participating themselves”? Will it be “…almost the equivalent of ‘I haven’t thought about any of this’”? Kelly also writes:

After all, despite the various reasons that people join the military, from free college to a steady paycheck to something much more patriotic or idealistic, there is one thing we all have in common: Our passion for our country and your rights and freedoms that we swore to protect.

May it be so, and may passion for country grow into passion for the Earth.

Full disclosure: I acknowledge that I am not a veteran, and I have no concrete, felt understanding of a veteran’s experience, let alone the experience of combat, wounding or trauma, or even of their family’s pain. But I must tread – lightly but firmly – into this “morass” (to coin a phrase). I sincerely hope that Mr. Kelly would support this statement: We fought to defend your free-speech right to completely disagree with our reasons for fighting.

Myth and politics (radical politics) can meet. Howard Zinn, who became a pacifist after serving as a bombardier in World War Two, put Veterans Day in what I consider to be its proper perspective:

Our decent impulse, to recognize the ordeal of our veterans, has been used to obscure the fact that they died, they were crippled, for no good cause other than the power and profit of a few. Veterans Day, instead of an occasion for denouncing war, has become an occasion for bringing out the flags, the uniforms, the martial music, the patriotic speeches reeking with hypocrisy. Those who name holidays, playing on our genuine feeling for veterans, have turned a day that celebrated the end of a horror into a day to honor militarism. As a combat veteran myself, of a “good war,” against fascism, I do not want the recognition of my service to be used as a glorification of war. At the end of that war, in which 50 million died, the people of the world should have shouted “Enough!” We should have decided that from that moment on, we would renounce war… war in our time – whatever “humanitarian” motives are claimed by our political leaders – is always a war against children…Veterans Day should be an occasion for a national vow: No more war victims on the other side; no more war veterans on our side.

How often does the statement “Thank you for your service” serve as a personal apology for the knowledge of how shameful the nation’s actual treatment of vets has been? No one really knows how many veterans have (or had) “passion for their country,” or how many believe that it is a sweet and noble thing to die for it. But the mythmakers and gatekeepers are going to extraordinary lengths to convince you that they do, and to marginalize anyone in media who disagrees. Caitlin Johnstone writes:

Don’t say “Thank you for your service” to veterans. Don’t pretend to agree with them when they claim to have fought for your freedom and democracy. Openly disagree with people who promulgate this narrative. Treat Veterans Day and Memorial Day as days of grieving and truth-telling, not celebration and glorification…“But Caitlin!” you may say. “What about World War Two veterans?” Well, fine, but…do you notice how far back you had to reach in U.S. history to find a war in which veterans arguably fought for a just cause?…There are no war heroes. There are only war victims.

To counter the onslaught of what really is fake news, imagining a new way of being requires a reframing of “the old lie”. One step would be to rename Veterans Day as Armistice Day and celebrate its original meaning. As Chelsea Manning tweeted,

Want to support veterans!? Stop sending us overseas to kill or be killed for your nationalist fairy tales. We can do better.

If America were to miraculously awake from its 400-year dream of innocence and denial and speak honestly for once, we might admit that Veteran’s Day is really Sacrifice of the Children Day. Here’s an alternative to “Thank you for your service”: I can never know what you went through, but if you’re willing to speak about it, I’m willing to listen. And if possible, I’m willing to share your grief.

Yes, praise the vet, not the war. Praise real elders like Howard Zinn, not the con men who avoid military service and feed a bloated defense budget. Praise grief processions, not parades of military hardware. Praise a veteran’s willingness to help us change, not romanticization of his battles. Praise the desire for initiation, not the sacrifice of the children. Praise commonalities, not otherness.

My name is Francis Tolliver. In Liverpool I dwell
Each Christmas come since World War One I’ve learned it’s lessons well
That the ones who call the shots won’t be among the dead and lame
And on each end of the rifle we’re the same
– John McCutcheon, “Christmas in the Trenches”

Some related essays of mine:

A Truce for Christmas

Myth, Memory and the National Mall

Redeeming the World 

Thank You for Your Service

The Myth of the Good War

To Sacrifice Everything

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Barry’s Blog # 417: Veterans’ Day – or “Sacrifice of the Children Day”? Part One of Two

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. – It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country. – Quintus Horatius Flaccus (Horace)

If any question why we died, tell them, because our fathers lied.  – Rudyard Kipling

So if you love your Uncle Sam
Bring them home, bring them home
Support our boys in Vietnam
Bring them home, bring them home – Pete Seeger

My good sir, what are you doing? Don’t you know the armistice goes into effect at 11:00 o’clock? – German officer under a white flag, to American officer

We’ll be back in twenty years. – Another German officer

Veterans Day was established in 1954 to celebrate all U.S. military veterans. In our modern memory, however, it has lost its connection with its original name, Armistice Day, which marks the anniversary of the end of World War I in 1918 and is still observed as such in Belgium, France, Brittan and many other countries. In 1938 Congress had made Armistice Day a holiday explicitly dedicated to perpetuating world peace. The shift from that stance to one praising those who fight, taken during the Cold War, should tell us much about the American psyche and the American empire. And an honest look at why so many died for so little might just compel us to consider renaming this holiday once again.

We cannot imagine the extent of the suffering. The Western Front stretched from Switzerland to the North Sea. Casualties on both sides averaged 2,250 dead and almost 5,000 wounded every day. Over four years, 3,250,000 were killed and 7,750,000 were wounded there. Total losses – including the Eastern Front, the Balkans, Austria, Italy, Turkey, the Middle East and Africa – were 8,400,000 dead and 21,400,000 wounded (of which seven million were permanently maimed), bringing total casualties to almost thirty million. Another 6,300,000 civilian deaths were attributed to the war. Then, the Spanish Flu, spreading before the end of the war and certainly exacerbated by it, killed an additional 25-50 million people.

Some soldiers refused to fight. Of 112 French divisions, 68 had mutinies. Fifty men were shot by firing squads. Three of those executions became the basis for Stanley Kubrick’s antiwar masterpiece, Paths of Glory, in which a pompous general castigates his soldiers for retreating and talks of “patriotism.” Kirk Douglas, the officer who defends his men, enrages the general by quoting Samuel Johnson: “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

This essay is about that last day of the war – actually, it’s about the last six hours. After arguing for three days, emissaries of the belligerents signed the armistice document at 5:00 AM on November 11th, agreeing that fighting on the Western Front would formally end at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. That left six hours, during which all the French and British generals and most of the Americans insisted on advancing everywhere, taking as much ground as possible (even though the armistice clearly demarcated what the new boundaries would be) and punishing the Germans until the very last moment.

I was reminded – brutally – of what happened during those last hours when I viewed Netflix’s new production of All Quiet on the Western Front. The new film departs from both Erich Maria Remarque’s book and the classic 1930 film in two significant ways:

1 – Most of the story takes place during the last three days of the war, regularly cutting back and forth between the ongoing carnage suffered by 18-year-olds in the trenches and the well-dressed, well fed diplomats and generals negotiating the precise terms of the armistice document in a finely-furnished rail car. It’s a clear contrast and an indictment of the old men who always send young men to sacrifice themselves.

2 – It depicts certain German generals as being so humiliated by the terms of the armistice and the personal loss of honor that, unwilling to surrender, they order a final, bloody attack on the allies. It ends with the protagonist dying, not from a sniper’s bullet on an “all quiet” morning (as in the 1930 film), but from wounds he suffers in those final, frenzied moments.

Both the original film and this new one are deeply anti-war and should be required viewing for all high school students. But any film presents a narrative with a point of view, and I was bothered by this one, because those last scenes invert history. It wasn’t the authoritarian Germans who flung thousands of boys at massed machine guns and artillery, knowing full well that the armistice had already been signed. It was the democratic French, British and Americans.

Hostilities on the Eastern Front had ended months before. Everyone was hearing rumors that the German Kaiser had abdicated and left the country, that Germany had become a republic, that Berlin was already a scene of revolutionary riots. German artillery had fallen silent in many places, only firing in response to Allied artillery. Some German troops were retreating toward home. Several units had mutinied. Over ten thousand had surrendered in the last week.

But the Allied generals insisted on more artillery bombardments and yet more mass infantry attacks, often uphill, over open ground – against entrenched machine guns – that should not stop until precisely 11:00 AM. They threatened to court martial any field commanders who might consider the humane decision to disobey, avoid any useless casualties and keep their men in the trenches until the shooting stopped. A few did just that, risking their careers, but the commanders of nine of the sixteen American divisions obeyed, sending their men forward. Some of the attacks began as late as 10:00 AM, and some units who had not heard the ceasefire order kept fighting (and dying) until 4:00 PM.

According to the most conservative estimates, during those last hours following the signing of the armistice, all sides on the Western Front suffered over 2,700 deaths (including at least 320 Americans) and 11,000 total casualties, 10% more than would occur on D-Day, 26 years later. “There was, however,” writes Joseph Persico, “a vast difference”:

The men storming the Normandy beaches were fighting for victory. Men dying on Armistice Day were fighting in a war already decided.

Why the mad, final advance and utterly unnecessary slaughter on 11/11/11? There seem to be two obvious themes here, and a third that requires a greater imagination of us.

The first is simple, understandable vindictiveness and the desire for maximum vengeance on the part of the French, whose farms, towns, forests and cities had been churned up for four years, and whose people had died in the millions.

The second, regrettably, was a final opportunity for glory and the possibility of career advancement. Accounts written by many of the senior officers such as Douglas MacArthur and George Patton make this quite clear. Patton, at least, was honest about his martial vocation:

We can but hope that e’re we drown

‘Neath treacle floods of grace,

The tuneless horns of mighty Mars

Once more shall rouse the Race.

When such times come, Oh! God of War

Grant that we pass midst strife,

Knowing once more the whitehot joy

Of taking human life.

We need to go deeper.

Read Part Two here.

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Barry’s Blog # 416: Who is an American? A Timeline, Part Eight of Eight

Part Eight: 2010-Present

We have got to make the white population uncomfortable, because that is the only way to get their attention. – Bill Russell

2010-2017: Immigrants file over 1,200 sexual abuse complaints against ICE agents, only 2% of which it will investigate. Over $3.2 billion is spent over the past decade to resolve nearly 40,000 claims at 25 of the nation’s largest police and sheriff’s departments.

2010-Present: Over 230 bills will be introduced in state legislatures to institutionalize an unfounded fear of Islam and Muslims, and to foment a climate of intolerance toward them.

2011: DHS completes some 650 miles of border walls and fences. The government will later admit that illegal border-crossers had simply found new routes, that the fences had been breached thousands of times, and that the Secure Fence Act had caused at least 1,000 additional deaths. California first observes “Fred Korematsu Day.” Whites believe they are victims of racism more often than Blacks. Native tribes are running 460 gambling operations, with annual revenue of $27 billion. At its height, the NYC “stop and frisk” program stops 685,000 people in one year. Worldwide, multi-racial Occupy movements protest the corporate control of national economies, while polls report that most Americans support racial profiling.

2012: Most whites again do not vote for Obama. Trayvon Martin is murdered in Florida. An Arizona Border Patrol officer shoots across the border, killing a Mexican teenager.  Six people are murdered in a racially motivated attack at a Sikh temple.  Obama announces that he will stop deporting undocumented immigrants who match certain criteria included in the proposed DREAM Act. He initiates the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which will eventually register 750,000 young people who entered the country as children, the vast majority of whom speak fluent English, have no connection to the countries of their birth, and have committed no crimes. Meanwhile,  2,000-3,000 non-citizen veterans, promised that they would automatically become citizens through their service, face deportation.

2013: Asserting that racism is history, the Supreme Court strikes down the heart of the Voting Rights Act and enables states to again disenfranchise minorities. Florida re-introduces chain gangs. The Black Lives Matter movement begins. Black women are four times more likely than white women to die from pregnancy-related complications. Black women and girls account for 33% of all women killed by police. Loving vs Virginia is first cited as a precedent in federal court decisions regarding same-sex marriages. Realtors inform blacks who are looking for rentals 11% fewer rental units than they show whites, and black homebuyers are shown 20% fewer homes.

2014: Police murder Michael Brown and Tamir Rice, sparking mass protests. California stops sterilizing prisoners. In the Flint water crisis, 6,000-12,000 primarily black children face elevated blood lead levels. The percentage of churches throughout the nation with at least 20% diversity rises from 7.5% in 2000 to 13.7%. A million black children live in “extreme poverty” (a family of three with disposable annual income of less than $7,000). The “Blue Lives Matter” countermovement convinces Louisiana to make targeting police a hate crime. Protesting construction of a new telescope, Hawaiian activists occupy the road to Mauna Kea. Over 900 anti-Semitic incidents are reported.

2015: Citing the 1901 Insular Acts, Obama opposes full voting rights in areas with four million Americans (almost all of them people of color) living in Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands, thus ensuring a Republican victory in the next election. A racist murders nine Blacks in a South Carolina church. North Carolina protects Confederate monuments. Blacks make up 67% of Ferguson’s population but 93% of those arrested. The Army is 20% black, but ten of its bases (all in the South) are named after Confederates. The Confederate flag flies over the South Carolina capitol. Louisiana’s Angola prison holds thousands of inmates, 75% of whom are black. Most are serving life sentences; a third were convicted by non-unanimous juries. Convicts sue and achieve small improvements in treatment, but not air conditioning.

The National Park Service develops a narrative of the Reconstruction period and erects a marker documenting the 1866 Memphis massacre. The Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage.  Virginia establishes a compensation fund for victims of involuntary sterilization.

2016: Hillary Clinton is the first woman to run for President. When Trumpus arrives for a rally, Black drivers are more likely to be stopped by police, especially in counties with higher racial resentment & when his speeches include more racial references. The 2015-2016 campaign rallies cause 10,000 additional stops of Black drivers. The Border Patrol grows to 62,000 employees, with a $14 billion budget. The Supreme Court denies birthright citizenship to American Samoans. The murder rate for Native American women is 10 times the national average. Colin Kaepernick kneels during the National Anthem at football games, starting a movement to bring attention to police brutality. Team owners collude to blackball him. The North Carolina KKK parades in celebration of Trumpus’ election. Three-quarters of whites say police treat all racial and ethnic groups equally. The FBI reports on a fictional “black identity extremist” movement. Police murder Alton Sterling.  Native activists lead mass protests on the Standing Rock Reservation. Militarized police using water cannons clear an encampment in the path of the DAPL oil pipeline. Obama denies a construction easement, but Trumpus will reverse his decision. The National Museum of African American History opens in Washington. Eighteen states are spending more money on prisons than on colleges and universities. Over 50% of Latinos say they have experienced discrimination.

2017: Police murder Philando Castille. White supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia protest removal of a Confederate monument, provoking conflicts with anti-fascists and one death. Racists harass a Palestinian bakery in Oakland. Trumpus rescinds protections for transgender students. The West Virginia Supreme Court rules that the state’s hate crime law does not cover anti-gay assaults. Attorney General Sessions reverses Obama’s policy to stop charging low-level nonviolent drug offenders with severe mandatory sentences. Nevada, Illinois and Virginia ratify the ERA, but only after the deadline has expired. Further litigation will keep the Amendment in limbo.

2017-2019: Trumpus calls for building more walls, stopping all Muslim immigration (except for Saudi Arabia and other client states), removing citizenship from American-born children of non-citizens, ending DACA, imprisoning migrants in old internment camps, sending the military to stop Central American migrant caravans and pardoning Joe Arpaio. The Supreme Court rules that immigrants can be detained indefinitely. Comprehensive Health Services pays a $3.8 million fine for double-charging the government for its services but continues to charge $750 per detainee per day. Eleven statues in the Capitol Building commemorate Confederates, including several in uniform. Taxpayers are paying $40 million/year to support Confederate monuments. Melania Trump’s parents are the beneficiaries of “chain migration.”

2018: Homeland Security stops referring to the U.S. as a “nation of immigrants.” The Justice Department replaces the term “undocumented immigrant” with “illegal alien” and announces that 100% of border-crossing cases will be criminally prosecuted. The Border Patrol separates 3,000 children from their parents, including from those legally applying for asylum. A White House official says, “The children will be taken care of – put into foster care or whatever.” The Supreme Court lifts an injunction against enforcing the Muslim travel ban. Sixty percent of Republicans agree that increased demographic diversity would “weaken American customs and values.” Forty-seven percent of them agree that “there is a group of people in this country who are trying to replace native-born Americans with immigrants who agree with their political views.” Eight percent of white students attend high-poverty schools while 45% of Blacks and Hispanics do. Eleven people are murdered at a Pittsburg synagogue. The foreign-born population reaches its highest share since 1910, and the new arrivals are more likely to be college-educated and Asian. Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland are the first Native American women elected to Congress. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp improperly purges 340,000 (mostly Black) voters, assuring himself the governorship.

2019: Trumpus declares a national emergency, giving him the power to direct $6 billion from other federal agencies for his border wall, closes all international offices of Citizenship and Immigration Services and bars all asylum seekers who pass through a third country. The government repeatedly prosecutes a humanitarian volunteer for providing food and water to immigrants in the desert. It spends $3.8 billion on new contracts related to “unaccompanied alien children.” Immigration officials use secretive and unreliable gang databases to deny asylum claims and remove live interpreters from immigration courts. Homeland Security admits that its use of abhorrent conditions is to deter immigrants from entering the country. Over half of the 20,000 Border Patrol agents, including its Chief, are members of Facebook groups that post hatred of immigrants.   Defying Congress, ICE opens three new migrant jails. Top executives of a “nonprofit” contracted to jail migrant children receive million-dollar paychecks. DHS disbands a domestic terror intelligence unit that had monitored hate groups. The government detains a record-breaking 70,000 children. The U.S. now has the world’s highest child incarceration rate. The Justice Department argues against providing soap, toothbrushes or beds for detained children. The Border Patrol orders agents to not hug children or even to allow siblings to hug each other. Investigators reveal a DHS intelligence-gathering operation in the San Diego-Tijuana area targeting journalists, immigration attorneys, and advocates working with the migrant caravans. The government revives a clause that kept Nazi-Era refugees out of the country. A federal judge rules that the FBI list of “known terrorists”, which has grown to over a million people, including thousands of American citizens, is unconstitutional. The New York Times publishes the 1619 Project.

Blacks, 13% of the population, are 24% of the poverty population. The NAACP warns Blacks to carry bail money with them if they travel to Missouri. Florida re-enfranchises ex-felons and then essentially re-institutes the poll tax. A racist burns down three Black churches in ten days. Flint still has 2,500 lead service pipes. Over 90% of adults with gang enhancements (additional prison time or release conditions tacked on to sentences) in California prisons are either Black or Latino.  82% of Blacks support reparations, while 75% of Whites do not.

Asian American students sue Harvard over race-based discrimination. The national women’s soccer team sues for gender and pay discrimination. Joy Harjo becomes the first Native American Poet Laureate. California apologizes for its genocide of Native Americans. Congress exonerates the Port Chicago Fifty. The number of interracial marriages as a proportion of new marriages increases from 3% in 1967 to 19%. Women now account for over half of the college-educated labor force.

2020:  The Border Patrol invites the press to watch it detonate explosives on the Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in southern Arizona, just as the chair of the Tohono O’odham Nation is offering testimony in Washington regarding the administration’s desecration of O’odham lands. Many U.S. citizens and permanent legal residents of Iranian descent are detained and interrogated when trying to return home from Canada. Trumpus tries to add a census citizenship question as part of a strategy for altering the population numbers used to divide up seats in Congress and the Electoral College. Polls find that a majority of Americans see an “invasion” at the southern border. The State Department discourages travel by foreign women who are pregnant to decrease “birth tourism”, (traveling to the U.S. solely to give birth in the country so that their child qualifies for citizenship). Over 130 applicants for asylum sent back to El Salvador are killed upon arriving. Although children are typically entitled to special protections under the law, including the right to have their claims adjudicated, federal agents are expelling asylum seekers as young as 8 months, citing the risk of COVID-19.  The government drastically increases fees for immigrants and asylum seekers. Trumpus calls the coronavirus “Chinese virus” and “kung flu”.  Fifty-five percent of white women support him.

Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd are murdered, leading to a multi-racial uprising that spreads to 2,000 cities and towns in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. An estimated 15-25 million Americans participate in the demonstrations, making them the largest in U.S. history. Activists call for defunding the police. In Kenosha, Wisconsin, Kyle Rittenhouse shoots three anti-racists, two fatally. He will be acquitted and meet with Trumpus. Citigroup  concludes that the nation could have been $16 trillion richer if not for racial inequities in education, housing, wages and business investment over the past 20 years. Black workers have lost $113 billion in potential wages because they couldn’t get college degrees. The housing market lost $218 billion in sales and $13 trillion in business revenue never flowed into the economy because Blacks couldn’t access bank loans. Black-owned homes are more likely to be assessed at higher values relative to their sale price. Blacks pay 13% more in property taxes than white families in the same financial situation.  Latinos (almost 20% of the population and 25% of U.S. box office) are featured in under 1% of the stories told by entertainment media. Israeli police and military have been providing training to hundreds of police from 13 states. While only 9% of blacks agree that police do a good job of treating different racial groups equally, 42% of whites agree that they do a good or excellent job. Over half of the 264 police deaths in the “line of duty” can be attributed to Covid-19. Forty-eight police officer deaths were by gunfire, 44 due to traffic crashes. Over a quarter of wrongful convictions result from false confessions (almost half in New York state). Trumpus establishes a “1776 Commission” to counter the publicity generated by the 1619 Project.

Three Southern states remove their statues of Confederates from the U.S. Capitol. The Supreme Court rules that half of Oklahoma is Native American land. The Washington football team changes its name. Deb Haaland becomes the first Native American Cabinet secretary. North Dakota ensures that Indians are eligible to vote despite lacking ID’s with residential addresses. A federal court shuts down the Dakota Access pipeline, but the government opens the Alaskan refuge to drilling. The victims of the Flint water crisis win a $641 million settlement. Philadelphia apologizes for its 1985 aerial bombing of a black neighborhood.  The Supreme Court strikes down Louisiana’s non-unanimous jury law. Pete Buttigieg is the first openly gay cabinet secretary.

2021: Mounted Border Patrol agents intimidate children on a Texas riverbank. Deportation of children increases by 30% under Joe Biden. During his four-year term, Trumpus used Title 42 to remove 500,000 asylum seekers. In under a year, Biden deports almost 700,000. Nearly 20,000 minors are returned to Mexico, 3/4ths of them unaccompanied by adults. In one nine-day period, the administration expels 4,000 Haitians, including hundreds of families with children, without allowing them to seek asylum. Altogether, Biden deports 20,000 Haitians in his first year, nearly as many as were deported during the previous 20 years.

Nineteen states enact 33 laws to make it harder for minorities to vote. Georgia criminalizes offering water to people in voting lines and reduces the number of voting drop off boxes in Atlanta from 107 to 25. The Supreme Court rejects D.C. voter representation in Congress. The Senate refuses to consider legislation on the filibuster or voting rights. Thirty-eight states have “Stand Your Ground” laws. Fox News mentions “critical race theory” 1,300 times in four months, provoking nine states to pass anti-CRT legislation. Oklahoma enacts a bill to protect drivers who run over protestors. A dozen states introduce similar measures. Thirty five states attempt to stop BDS boycotts against Israel.  Texas, Idaho and Oklahoma pass laws allowing residents to sue abortion clinics, doctors, nurses and even people who drive woman to get abortions. School districts in 26 states ban 1,648 books (713 in Texas). The most challenged books include Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer, Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye.

Native American life expectancy drops by 4.7 years during the Covid pandemic, three times that of whites. The Department of Agriculture rejects hundreds of loan applications from Black (42%) and Asian (37%) farmers while denying only 9% of white applications. Rejections increase under Trumpus but also in Biden’s first year. The USDA admits that nearly all the billions in federal farm bailouts to offset the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic have gone to white farmers.

Antioch, California apologizes to descendants of early Chinese immigrants for forbidding them to go outside after sundown in 1851 and then burning down its Chinatown in 1876. The Cleveland baseball team drops the name “Indians”. Biden restores protection to the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. California offers compensation to surviving victims of its 70-year forced sterilization program. A federal court holds that the Constitution’s Citizenship Clause applies to persons born in American Samoa. Prior to this point, since many laws required citizenship as a condition for public employment, 100,000 “non-citizen national” American Samoans could not work as police officers, firefighters, paramedics or public school teachers. They couldn’t be court reporters in Utah, optometrists in New Mexico or funeral home directors in Oklahoma. As servicemembers they couldn’t vote for president, serve in specialized services or become officers. New York City bans qualified immunity for police who use excessive force.

2022: The Supreme Court strikes down Roe vs Wade. A Republican congresswoman calls the decision a “historic victory for white life”. Idaho’s abortion ban gives more rights to the rapist’s family than to the pregnant victim. Ohio denies abortions to at least three minors who had been raped. Women turn to Mexico for abortions. Nearly 400 police officers respond to the shooting of Latino children in Uvalde, Texas without intervening. COVID-19 drives violence against Asian Americans, who sue a Northern California County, alleging racism in traffic stops and enforcement of cannabis-related property liens. Florida instructs civics teachers to teach students that slaveowners Washington and Jefferson opposed slavery. A federal court upholds an 1890 Jim Crow law in Mississippi. Twenty-two Republican state Attorneys-General sue the administration for pushing schools to follow anti-discrimination practices.  A North Carolina town hires a Black woman as city manager, prompting its entire, all-white police force to resign. House Republicans unanimously refuse to investigate Nazis in the military. The Justice Department concedes that five thousand deaths in jails, prisons, and police custody have gone uncounted in the past three years. A northern California sheriff’s department discloses that 47 deputies have failed psychological exams going back to 2016.

 Nine migrants drown in one day trying to cross the Rio Grande. The administration claims to have reunited 400 migrant families separated under Trumpus. Biden criticizes Texas and Florida for sending thousands of migrants to Washington, Massachusetts and New York,  but his administration prepares to finish building the border wall. Counting all types of civilian security personnel, the U.S. has 1.2 million police. Two Harvard professors call for hiring 500,000 more of them.

A federal court denies relief to 80,000 first-time DACA applicants who have been waiting for over a year. Immigration Services keeps their $495 applicant fees. Border agents lie that a two-year old asylum seeker is “looking for work”. The U.S. rejects over 90% of Afghans seeking to enter the country, including relatives of those who had aided the occupation of their country. Biden accepts 100,000 Ukrainian refugees, shortly after deporting thousands of Haitians.  Yuma’s Border Patrol confiscates and discards the headwear of 60 Sikh men.

Florida passes a “Don’t Say Gay” Law. Anti-LGBTQ hate surges online. A federal judge rules the government cannot require companies to cover the cost of HIV prevention drugs.  A group of Georgia mothers alleges that by not being allowed to read sexually explicit material aloud at school board meetings, they themselves are being censored. Arizona bans recording of law enforcement within eight feet. Following the raid on Trumpus’ Mar-A-Largo, Republicans call for defunding the FBI. Oklahoma charges 26 women with felony child neglect for using cannabis during their pregnancies. Conviction can result in life in prison. DeSantis appoints a white county commissioner in Florida’s only predominantly black county; the man resigns after photos surface showing him in a Klan outfit. Biden requests $37 billion to hire 100,000 new police officers. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett signs a $2 million book deal with Penguin Random House.

California asks Indian tribes to bring back the once-prohibited practice of lighting controlled burns to help prevent devastating wildfires. The Gullah Geechee people of the Georgia Sea Islands win compensation because the state had failed to provide adequate services to members of the community.  Patricia Guerrero becomes the first Latina Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court. The Supreme Court rules that the government can suspend Trumpus’ “Remain in Mexico” policy. A Federal court requires the administration to proactively reconsider denied visa applicants to Muslims and Africans. Congress requires the military to report on white supremacy in the ranks. Florida voters oust a judge who had ruled that a 17-year-old isn’t mature enough to have an abortion but is mature enough to have a baby. Federal judges block Ron DeSantis’ “Stop Woke” Act and rule that the Americans with Disabilities Act applies to the transgender community. Mary Peltola becomes the first Alaska Native American elected to Congress. Brown University acquires the papers of Mumia Abu-Jamal. The bison population has been brought back up to around 500,000.  The Department of Veterans Affairs announces that it will provide abortions, even in states that have outlawed them. Congress finally passes an anti-lynching law and bans discrimination against black hairstyles. Ketanji Brown-Jackson is the first Black woman Supreme Court Justice. Jim Thorpe is reinstated as the sole winner of his 1912 Olympic golds. Mary Bethune is the first African American to have a state-commissioned statue unveiled in the U.S. Capitol. Anna May Wong is the first Asian American woman to appear on a U.S. coin. Lloyd Austin, the first Black Secretary of Defense, orders that nine army bases that honor the Confederacy be renamed.

Today:

Of 245 million adults, 220 million are eligible to vote. Over twenty million – at least half of them people of color – cannot vote. This includes most prisoners, ex-felons, territorial residents and college students on campuses not in their home districts. The more African Americans a state contains, the more likely it is to ban felons from voting. The average state disenfranchises 2.4% of its voting-age population but 8.4% of blacks. In fourteen states, the share of blacks stripped of the vote exceeds 10%, and in five states it exceeds 20%. Over 60% of Republicans want the U.S. declared a Christian nation. In the last two years, at least 130 bills have been introduced across 42 states that would increase the involvement of law enforcement in the voting process. Of those bills, 28 have passed in 20 states.

Police kill 1,200 people per year.  Blacks are three times more likely to be killed by police than whites, even though they are 1.3 times more likely to be unarmed than whites. Every 28 hours, a person of color is shot dead by a policeman, a security guard or a self-appointed vigilante. 43% of the shootings occur after incidents of racial profiling, and 80% of the victims are unarmed. Over 98% of police killings do not result in an officer being charged with a crime. Over 20% of Medical Examiners reported having been pressured by an elected official or appointee to change the cause of death. One in six L.A. deputies is in a gang. Litigation related to their excesses has cost the county over $50 million. Two thirds of Americans aged 15-34 treated in emergency rooms suffer from injuries inflicted by police or security guards.

Blacks and Latinos constitute 67% of the total state-prison population. The Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is California’s largest state agency, with over 54,000 employees servicing nearly 161,704 inmates and 104,872 parolees. The prison guards’ union is the strongest in the state. One in every thirty adults is in the corrections system. With 5% of the world’s population, the U.S. has a quarter of its prisoners. Blacks are incarcerated in state prisons at over five times the rate of whites. 80,000 prisoners dwell in solitary confinement, one third of whom, because of this treatment, are or will become psychotic. One in seven incarcerated people are serving life sentences, and 2/3rds are people of color. Three hundred veterans are on death row.

Blacks are seven times more likely than whites to be falsely convicted of serious crimes, and they are imprisoned longer before exoneration. Innocent Blacks are 7½ times more likely to be convicted of murder than innocent whites. Seven million people (3.2% of the adult population) are currently under some form of correctional supervision. Around 50 million people have criminal records. Louisiana imprisons a higher percentage of its people than any democracy on earth.  Five thousand persons there, 2/3rds of them Black, are serving life without parole, and 344 have served over two decades.

Black drivers in Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego are 2-5 times more likely than white motorists to get pulled over by sheriffs for traffic violations. These sheriff patrols spend significantly more time conducting these proactive stops than they do responding to calls for help.

The U.S. is the only nation that sentences people to life without parole for crimes committed as minors (currently, nearly 1,500), and ignores any international laws restricting the juvenile death penalty.  Over 500,000 Americans work in corrections. Around 63,000 inmates work for over 4,000 companies that have benefited from cheap prison labor.  Federal law prohibits persons with drug convictions from being on or near the premises of public housing and maintains a lifetime ban on welfare benefits for persons with drug convictions.

The U.S. has spent $100 billion on border and immigration control since 9/11. Legal immigrants are at their highest level ever, at 37,000,000. 50,000 Irish reside in the country illegally. Migrants from nations targeted by the U.S. (Venezuelans, Cubans and Nicaraguans) are automatically eligible for asylum. Cubans still receive preferential treatment. Some of them receive “humanitarian parole” and can wait for a year in the U.S. before applying for permanent residency, with 98% of those who enter on the southern border staying in the country. Most other migrants are forced to wait in Mexico or elsewhere for immigration judges to decide on their applications for asylum. Haitians continue to be routinely deported. Mexicans and Central Americans make up over 90% of all immigrants imprisoned for unlawful entry and reentry.

All five American Territories continue to send non-voting delegates to Congress, and their residents still cannot vote for President. Representatives of the 9,000 American Samoans in Utah challenge the denial of their voting rights; the Biden administration asks the Supreme Court to leave the Insular cases intact.

Nearly 10% of California’s residents are prisoners, parolees, felons or undocumented immigrants whose lives are diminished by limitations upon the right to vote, restricted employment opportunities, and exclusions from welfare benefits. Congress has greatly expanded the list of offenses that can lead to deportation for legal immigrants. Minor criminal violations and everyday legal infractions, ranging from shoplifting to traffic violations, now routinely trigger one of the state’s most consequential sanctions— deportation.

Indigenous, Latino, Pacific Islander and Blacks all have significantly higher COVID-19 mortality rates than either White or Asian Americans. After decades of white flight and neglect by state officials, predominantly Black Jackson, Mississippi lacks drinking water.  Three plaques above the entrance to a science hall at West Point Military Academy honor the KKK and Confederate generals Lee and Stuart. The Catholic Church has still not rescinded the Doctrine of Discovery. Nine states have banned race-based affirmative action. Seven still ban atheists from holding office.  Chapter 7 of Title 8 of the United States Code is still headed, “Exclusion of Chinese.” A white Georgia school bus driver is fired for pushing two young black kids to the back of the bus.  The largest federal housing program is the mortgage interest deduction, a continued subsidy to many racially exclusive suburbs.

Some insurance companies are refusing to provide coverage for police departments unless they change their policies on matters such as body cameras and chokeholds.  A majority of citizens in Florida, New Mexico, Hawaii, Maryland, Nevada, Texas, California and the District of Columbia are no longer Caucasian. Union popularity hits a 57-year high. For the first time in its history, the United States has a Native American, a Native Alaskan, and a Native Hawaiian serving in the House of Representatives. California removes the term “Squaw” from place names.

To be continued.

I would like to see the government admit that they were wrong and do something about it so this will never happen again to any American citizen of any race, creed, or color…If anyone should do any pardoning, I should be the one pardoning the government for what they did to the Japanese-American people…One person can make a difference, even if it takes forty years. – Fred Korematsu

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Barry’s Blog # 415: Who is an American? A Timeline, Part Seven of Eight

Part Seven: 2000-2010

…the ultimate measure of health in any community might well reside in our ability to stand in awe at what folks have to carry rather than in judgment at how they carry it. — Father Gregory Boyle

2000-2010: Since officers have qualified immunity and police unions protect perpetrators,  New York City will pay $964 million to resolve excessive force and brutality claims, including seven times for one officer. The country will lose a third of its manufacturing jobs during the decade.

2000: The Osage Nation sues the Department of the Interior for fraudulent management of their assets, settling in 2011 for $380 million. Alabama is the last state to repeal its anti-miscegenation law. The census allows respondents to list themselves in one or more of fifteen racial/ethnic identities. California, followed by twelve other states, requires insurance companies to report on their roles in slavery. The South posts its first black population increase in over a century. Joseph Lieberman is the first Jew to be nominated for Vice-president. Almost two million ballots are disqualified because of faulty vote-counting machines. The Supreme Court throws the election to George W. Bush.

Congress requires the states to report all deaths in prisons or police custody. But it provides no funding or enforcement mechanism, so the Bureau of Justice Statistics must rely on 18,000 local agencies to provide the data voluntarily. Many states will collect data in a haphazard fashion, with little verification. Only 36 states will report data every year. By 2014, BJS will be recording data for fewer than half of arrest-related deaths nationwide. Congress will try to strengthen the law in 2016, but the Trumpus administration will sabotage the effort, allowing only 20% of jails to report any deaths at all in a given year. One that does, Hampton Roads Regional Jail in Virginia, will report 68 deaths between 2003 and 2018, sparking a federal investigation that finds “The jail’s practice of subjecting prisoners with serious mental illness to prolonged periods of restrictive housing…shows deliberate indifference to their health and safety.”

2001: Whites murder nineteen Sikhs, Muslims, Arabs and South Asians in response to the 9/11 attacks. The DREAM (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) Act, which would grant residency status to qualifying foreign immigrants who had entered the U.S. as minors, is first introduced. Congress will debate it for the next 16 years, until Trumpus rescinds it. The No Child Left Behind Act prioritizes student testing over racial integration and requires military recruiters be granted the same access in schools as college recruiters.

2001-2002: The FBI entraps large numbers of impressionable young men of color and then prosecutes them as terrorists.

2002: Congress creates the Department of Homeland Security, which by 2017 will have 240,000 employees, a $40 billion budget and persistent allegations of waste, brutality and fraud. Drafted partially in reaction to the controversy surrounding the 2000 election, the Help America Vote Act mandates that the Election Assistance Commission improve and certify voting equipment. 

2003: Congress creates the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), which will eventually have 20,000 employees and a $7.6 billion budget. It will detain about 34,000 people on any given day, in over 500 detention centers and jails nationwide, and deport two million people.

The American school system is nearly as segregated as it was in 1960. Eighty percent of Latino students and three-quarters of black students attend schools that are majority nonwhite. A sixth of all black students attend schools in which minorities make up 99% of the population. The percentage of black students attending majority white schools is at its lowest point in fifty years. Minority high schoolers are performing at academic levels equal to or below those of three decades ago.  Police use racial profiling to stop Black and Latino drivers on the basis of less evidence than used in stopping white drivers, who are searched less often even though they are more likely to be found with illegal items. The resultant fines, arrests, legal fees and time spent in court mean that people of color have even less disposable income relative to whites. In New York City alone, the stop-and-frisk program will make over 100,000 stops per year between 2003 and 2013. Ninety percent of those frisked will be Black or Latino.

The Supreme Court rules that a Law School can consider race as a plus-factor when evaluating applicants and maintains the prohibition on the use of quotas. Fourteen states still retain their sodomy laws. Conviction in Idaho can result in life imprisonment until the Supreme Court strikes down all such laws.

2004: The National Museum of the American Indian opens on the National Mall. Bush allows the ban on assault weapons to expire; mass shooting deaths will increase by 239%.

2005: DHS’s bogus national database of “critical terrorist targets” grows to 300,000 localities, including thousands of non-critical sites such as doughnut shops and petting zoos. Indiana will have more than California and New York combined. Surveys find that 35% of foreign-born Hispanics and 36% of Blacks hold strong antisemitic beliefs. North Carolina apologizes for its mass sterilization program; several states follow suit. Congress gives gun manufacturers immunity from legal liability.  Operation Streamline  initiates a “zero-tolerance” approach to unauthorized border-crossing by engaging in criminal prosecution of immigrants. Up to 70 people are tried together, sometimes wearing shackles in the courtroom. The number of prosecutions will increase from 4,000 annually in the early 2000s to 16,000 in 2005, 44,000 in 2010 and 97,000 by 2013. The Minuteman Project, a borderlands militia, claims 1,000 members. The Real ID Act waives local laws that interfere with construction of physical barriers at the borders. Fred Korematsu dies.

2006: California apologizes for deporting Mexicans between 1925 and1931. The Secure Fence Act authorizes additional fencing, vehicle barriers, checkpoints, lighting, cameras, satellites and drones. Conservatives claim that undocumented immigrant mothers are having children in the U.S. (“anchor babies”) only to gain citizenship. Three months after Hurricane Katrina, 20% of whites deny that the government’s failure to respond had anything to do with race. Ninety percent of Blacks disagree.

2006-2017: The nation’s largest police departments will fire 1,900 officers for misconduct. But on appeal, they will be forced to reinstate over 450.

2006-2020: Over 1,200 women are arrested for self-induced abortions and other claims of fetal harm.

2007: Over 9,500 children are still attending Indian boarding schools. High School students in Ashburn, Georgia attend their school’s first racially integrated prom, while their parents protest. The Supreme Court prohibits the use of racial classifications in student assignment plans to maintain racial balance. Four states officially apologize for slavery and Jim Crow, followed in the next nine years by five others.

2008: Congress estimates that Homeland Security has wasted roughly $15 billion.   Barack Obama wins the presidency even though most white voters do not vote for him. Pennsylvania convicts two judges are for sending children to for-profit jails in exchange for kickbacks. The recession increases racial disparities when long-term patterns of discrimination and fraud provoke the subprime mortgage crisis. While 6.2 % of qualified whites had received high-risk mortgages, 21% of blacks had. Wells Fargo had motivated loan officers to aggressively market in minority neighborhoods. Women of color were the most likely to receive subprime loans. Banks will foreclose on 240,000 black homeowners. In Washington they are 20% more likely to lose their homes than whites with similar incomes. The net worth of black households will decline by 53%, compared to 16% for white households. Twenty percent of whites say their ideal neighborhood is all white, 25% say it has no blacks, 33% say it has neither Hispanics nor Asians and only 25% say they would live in a neighborhood where half of their neighbors are black. A California State University fires a Quaker for refusing to sign a loyalty oath without inserting a reservation that her defense of the state and country would be done “nonviolently.”

2009: The KKK burns a cross in a black Alabama neighborhood. A Louisiana official denies a marriage license for an interracial couple. Obama refuses to revive the Fairness Doctrine. A local insurance risk pool warns the 60-officer Maywood, California Police Department that it will lose its coverage if it does not enact a dozen changes focused on reducing violent encounters with the public. When police fail to do so, the risk pool pulls its coverage, and the department disbands.

2009-2016: Obama will deport 2.5 million immigrants, 40% with no criminal conviction. Following police murders of unarmed black men, blacks and whites protest together in Oakland, Anaheim, Ferguson, Charlotte, Baltimore and Milwaukee.

2010: In the Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court allows corporations and unions (with far fewer assets) to spend unlimited money on political ads, finding that funds not being spent in coordination with a candidate’s campaign “do not give rise to the appearance of corruption.” States introduce 1,400 immigration measures – exceeding the total of the previous ten years – and 246 become law. The United Nations determines that the Doctrine of Discovery is the foundation of the violation of indigenous human rights. An “End Racial Profiling Act” is defeated in Congress. Arizona bans Ethnic Studies programs from schools. Nearly 60% of African Americans are living in the South – the highest percentage in 50 years.

Read Part Eight here.

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Barry’s Blog # 414: Who is an American? A Timeline, Part Six of Eight

Part six: 1950-2000

As long as you are south of the Canadian border, you are South. – Malcolm X

1950: Congress bars immigration by communists or fascists, (by now, the Nazi scientists have all been naturalized) requires communists to have their literature stamped as propaganda, bans them from holding passports or government jobs and establishes a board to investigate persons suspected of joining their groups, members of which cannot become citizens. Immigrants found in violation can have their citizenship revoked. The government builds six concentration camps to hold anyone deemed a threat during state emergencies. Truman appoints a former head of the Japanese internment camps as Commissioner of Indian Affairs.  Amendments to the 1948 Displaced Persons law eliminate the preference for farmers and extend the total allotment of visas to 400,000, including 80,000 Jews. The State Department allows war criminals to remain U.S. citizens. When Soviet bloc countries request their extradition, Washington refuses. A 1954 revision of the law will eliminate the critical prohibition that had made suspected war criminals ineligible for U.S. visas. California requires state employees to subscribe to a loyalty oath that specifically disavows radical beliefs. The University of California fires 31 faculty members who refuse to sign it. They sue and are rehired. Louisiana erects a monument near the site of the 1873 Colfax Massacre. Its inscription claims that the mob violence that killed 150 Blacks “ended carpetbag misrule” in the state.

1950-Present: The median household in public housing earns 57% of the national median income. That number will fall to 41% by 1960, 29% by 1970 and 17% by the 1990s, when, relatively speaking, residents will be three times as poor as they had been in the 1950s.  The G.I. Bill finances 90% of the 13 million houses constructed in the 1950s. Southern politicians ensure that 98% of those homes go to whites, even in the North. Only one Black family can buy a home between 1950 and 1960 in the white neighborhoods that dominate California’s San Fernando Valley. Of 350,000 federally subsidized homes built in Northern California between 1946 and 1960, fewer than 100 go to blacks, as do none of the 82,000 homes built in Levittown, New York. People of color remain locked in the inner cities, their dwellings and businesses often torn down to make room for the interstates that will shuttle whites to the suburbs. Over 100 Black churches will be bombed or burned across the South.

1951: Pope Pius XII first uses the phrase “right to life”, launching the modern anti-abortion movement. State restrictions grow tighter, leading to a black market in abortions. Truman establishes a committee to ensure that employers working for the federal government comply with all previous non-discrimination laws. The Martinsville Seven, a group of young black men, are accused of raping a white woman. When the Supreme Court twice refuses to hear the cases, they are executed. They will be pardoned 70 years later.

1952: Congress abolishes all racial immigration restrictions and allows Japanese and  Korean Americans to naturalize. However, these countries receive only small annual quotas. The law defines three types of immigrants: those with special skills or relatives of U.S. citizens who are exempt from quotas; average immigrants; and refugees. It again bars suspected subversives, even those who had not been active for decades. The Supreme Court rules that alien land laws in over a dozen states are unconstitutional. The Air Force is the first branch of the military to fully integrate.

1953: The Refugee Relief Act admits more Southern Europeans, including 60,000  Italians, 17,000 Greeks and 45,000 from communist countries, after thorough security screening and proof of guaranteed homes and jobs. President Eisenhower fires 5,000 federal employees as suspected homosexuals. Congress begins a 13-year period of disbanding Native tribes and selling their lands. The largest tribes terminated are the Menominee Nation in Wisconsin and the Klamath in Oregon. Over a hundred Native groups in California lose federal protections and services. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Jews convicted of spying for the Soviet Union, are executed. Illegal abortions are not reported, but the Kinsey Report asserts that 90% of premarital and 24% of married pregnancies are aborted. Vice President Richard Nixon imposes on government contractors the primary responsibility for desegregating their own companies, thus ensuring minimal outcomes.

1953-1973: The CIA, working with the Bureau of Prisons and the Public Health Service, begins Project MK-Ultra, an illegal human experimentation program that administers hallucinogenic drugs to hundreds of unsuspecting men, generally African Americans.

1954: Ellis Island closes. Operation Wetback deports over 250,000 Mexicans annually. The Border Patrol changes its language from “policing unsanctioned laborers” to “policing criminal aliens.” Agribusiness, however, continues to recruit cheap labor. The continuation of illegal immigration, along with public outcry over many U.S. citizens removed, dooms the program.

The Supreme Court declares racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional, overturning the “separate but equal” doctrine. Two months later, the first White Citizens’ Councils form in opposition. By 1957, these councils, operating in 30 states with 250,000 members, will use social pressure and economic retaliation to intimidate supporters of integration. The massive resistance successfully prevents integration as parents transfer over 500,000 children to private schools, or “segregation academies”. In the five Deep South states, all 1.4 million Black schoolchildren will attend segregated schools until 1960. By the 1964-65 school year, fewer than 3% of the South’s black children will attend school with white students, and in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina that number will be below 1%.

1955: The Southern states phase out the use of chain gangs. Martin Luther King Jr. leads a bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama.  Emmett Till is murdered. Congress designates all Border Patrol officers as customs inspectors and gives the organization primary authority over drug interdiction between official ports of entry. The INS begins to strip-search all detainees upon entrance to immigrant detention facilities and detains migrants for longer periods to run criminal background checks on all deportees. Testing Enovid, the first birth control drug, doctors conduct unethical experiments on Puerto Rican women without consent or full disclosure of risk. Many experience severe side effects and three die.

1956: King’s home is bombed. A mob blocks school integration in Mansfield, Texas. The original GI Bill ends, having supported nearly 8 million World War II veterans with education and 4.3 million home loans worth $33 billion. As employment, college attendance and wealth surges for whites, disparities with their black counterparts widen. The first Mexican American in 36 years is elected to the Texas legislature.

Construction of the Interstate Highway System begins, frequently through minority neighborhoods, allowing more whites to retreat to the suburbs. Detroit will lose 60% of its population. In Los Angeles, a single freeway cutting through the mixed-race Boyle Heights will destroy 2,000 homes. In Beverly Hills, whites will successfully block construction of another freeway. Land values in neighborhoods bisected by freeways plummet, adding to generational wealth disparities, while communities suffer from air pollution. Those (mostly minorities) who lose their houses are not entitled to assistance from the government in relocating to new homes. The government will not require that new housing be provided for those forced to relocate by future interstate highway construction until 1965. But by then the interstate system will be nearly complete. The Border Patrol reinvents immigration control as crime control. Officers are instructed to substitute the term “wetback” with “criminal alien”. The Narcotics Control Act imposes life imprisonment and even the death penalty for certain offenses and makes drug conviction a trigger for deportation for immigrants.

1956-1958: California terminates 41 Native Rancherias. Long-term FHA policies that guaranteed loans to builders of working-class suburban subdivisions – with explicit requirements that blacks be excluded – result in a situation in which housing projects for whites have many unoccupied units, while those for blacks have long waiting lists. Eventually, as whites continue to leave the inner cities, almost all public housing will be opened to blacks. But industry such as automakers close many downtown assembly plants and relocate to rural and suburban areas to which black workers have less access. Good urban jobs become scarcer and public housing residents become poorer. Every metropolitan area in the nation suburbanizes, with all-white subdivisions surrounding an urban core where African Americans are concentrated.

1957: Utah becomes the last state to permit Native Americans to vote. Construction of the Kinzua Dam floods Seneca traditional lands protected by treaty. In a suburb of Chicago 6,000 whites attack 100 blacks picnicking in a portion of a park that had previously been white-only. Congress establishes a Civil Rights Division in the Justice Department. Raphael Cruz (who will later be father to Ted Cruz) leaves Cuba and obtains political asylum in the U.S.

1958: 94% of whites disapprove of inter-racial marriage. Residents of Little Rock, Arkansas vote to close their public schools rather than comply with federal desegregation orders. Eisenhower will deploy federal troops to escort the students to school. A Virginia court sentences Mildred and Richard Loving to a year in jail for their interracial marriage. They appeal, ultimately to the Supreme Court.

1959: Twenty-one black teenagers burn to death in an Arkansas reform school. Organizers of an American fashion show in Russia remove scenes that feature black and white models together after forty fashion editors protest the representation of racial integration. Eleven of the top twenty-five TV shows are westerns, which comprise a quarter of all prime-time network hours.

1960: A mob riots against integration of a New Orleans elementary school. Landowners in Greene County, Alabama evict 75 black families attempting to register to vote. In Fayette County, Tennessee, 700 blacks who register are evicted. Yale ends its unwritten policy to restrict its Jewish student body at 10%. Interracial marriage is illegal in 31 states.

1960-1980: The 1960s will see 160 riots. Of the one million persons displaced from their homes by the Interstate Highway Program, 3/4 will be black. A fifth of all black housing in the nation is destroyed for highways even as the government expands housing for whites. As public schools in the Deep South desegregate through federal court orders, private school enrollment increases by over 200,000. The South’s 11% share of the nation’s private school enrollment increases to 24%.

1961: Residents of largely black Washington receive the right to vote in presidential elections but can only elect a non-voting delegate to Congress. Whites riot when the University of Georgia integrates. Mobs attack the freedom riders in Alabama. A Virginia judge upholds racial segregation in courtrooms.  Birmingham closes its parks rather than permit integration. President Kennedy establishes yet another committee to force companies to comply with anti-discrimination orders, and a Commission on the Status of Women.

1962: New Mexico allows natives to vote in state elections.  Chicago has over 100 “blockbusting” real estate companies actively changing the racial status of two blocks/week. Readers Digest and Look publish sensational stories about welfare cheaters. Illinois is the first state to decriminalize sodomy. New Orleans segregationists bus Blacks to New York as the “Reverse Freedom Riders”. The Supreme Court strikes down an anticommunist loyalty oath in Florida.

1963: Over 700 Black children protest segregation in Birmingham, beginning a movement that sparks widely publicized police brutality. All the white students withdraw from the newly integrated Tuskegee High School. Five days later, terrorists bomb a Birmingham church, killing four Black girls. Such bombings are so common that some nickname the city “Bombingham.” The next month, hundreds of Black Selma residents attempting to register to vote are met with violence by state and local officials. Louisiana merchants protesting integration deny service to all members of the military, regardless of their race. Dr. King comments: “The most segregated hour in this nation is Sunday at 11:00 am”. The March on Washington is the decades-long culmination of a mass movement against racial and economic injustice.

1964: The 24th Amendment bans poll taxes. Two-thirds of California voters support Proposition 14, which allows property sellers and landlords to openly discriminate. Integrated groups of pastors attempting to enter segregated churches on Easter Sunday in Mississippi are beaten and jailed. Three civil rights workers are murdered in Mississippi. Over 7,500 whites protest integration of New York City schools. Patsy Mink is the first woman of color elected to Congress. President Lyndon Johnson pressures defense contractors to sign voluntary affirmative action agreements; many corporations in the South largely ignore him. The Civil Rights Act aims to end discrimination in all firms with 25 or more employees, as well as public schools, hospitals, libraries, etc. It has 70% public approval. Johnson’s War on Poverty funds welfare and employment programs, food stamps, Head Start, Medicare and Medicaid. The Supreme Court strikes down two state loyalty oath requirements. Similar decisions will follow in 1966 and 1967.

1965-1982: More Americans will go to prison than between 1865 and 1964.

1965: The Voting Rights Act enfranchises racial minorities. The Immigration and Nationality Act abolishes “national origins” as the basis for quotas and welcomes immigrants from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. It gives priority to relatives of U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents and professionals and other individuals with specialized skills, but for the first time it limits immigration from Mexico to 20,000/year. This results in the beginning of large-scale illegal immigration. The INS continues to deny entry to homosexuals on the grounds that they have a “constitutional psychopathic inferiority.” Blacks riot in Watts (Los Angeles). Malcolm X is assassinated. Cezar Chavez and Dolores Huerta lead the United Farm Workers in their first agricultural strike. Alabama State Troopers and the Ku Klux Klan attack 300 nonviolent protesters on a bridge in Selma. The Supreme Court declares sex a private affair. The government lists 235 deaths from abortion attempts. In the last major literary censorship battle, Boston bans W.F. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch.

Mid-1960s:

Issur Danielovitch

No longer needing to appear to have Anglo-Saxon names, film actors begin to use their real, ethnic names. At its peak, urban renewal displaces 50,000 families annually.

1966: Congress allows Cuban immigrants and their immediate families to become permanent U.S. residents in one year, while other immigrants must wait five years to apply. “White Supremacy” is the motto of the Alabama Democratic Party. Huey Newton and Bobby Seale found the Black Panther Party in Oakland. When Panthers march armed in Sacramento, California quickly passes strict gun control. Alabama forbids school desegregation. Blacks are assigned to combat units in Vietnam in greater numbers than their percentages in the population. Making up 11% of the forces, their casualties are over 20%. Black leaders convince Johnson to order that Black participation be cut back. By 1969, Black casualties will drop to 11.5%. Medicare functions as an effective integration tool; within a year of its passage, no American hospitals or doctors’ offices are segregated. The Supreme Court prohibits tax payment and wealth requirements for voting in state elections.

1967: In Loving vs. Virginia the Supreme Court rules that Virginia’s interracial marriage ban violates the 14th Amendment, but interracial marriage is still illegal in 16 States. The Court justifies qualified immunity for police officers from being sued for civil rights violations. The Detroit uprising is the worst of sixteen major race riots. Police arrest 7,000 people. The Bracero Program ends. Thousands of “Sundown Towns” still exist.

1967-1973: Twelve states liberalize their abortion laws. The FBI spends years monitoring Aretha Franklin. 

1968: Dr. King is assassinated; 125 riots follow across the country. Two days later, Oakland police murder Black Panther Bobby Hutton. The Supreme Court prohibits racial discrimination, including blockbusting, in private housing markets. The Fair Housing Act declares housing covenants illegal and permits blacks to access previously white neighborhoods. But it prohibits only future discrimination, without undoing the previous 35 years of government-imposed segregation. William Shatner and Nichelle Nichols perform American TV’s first interracial kiss on “Star Trek”. The Young Lords model themselves after the Panthers as a civil and human rights organization for Puerto Ricans and other Latinos. Spreading to thirty cities, they will be repressed by the COINTELPRO program. Congress increases the FBI’s budget by 10% to fund police training, mostly for riot control, and prohibits interstate firearms sales except by licensed manufacturers and dealers. Over a third of Puerto Rican women have been sterilized, often without their knowledge or consent.

1969: President Nixon’s Operation Intercept requires customs agents to search every vehicle entering the U.S. for drugs. It throws border crossings into chaos and ends after three weeks. The Stonewall riots in New York begin the modern fight for LGBT rights. HUAC becomes the House Committee on Internal Security. FBI Director Hoover describes the Panthers as “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country” and covertly sabotages them with surveillance, harassment and the assassination of Fred Hampton. By 1982, at least 20 Panthers will be dead. The administration lobbies against expanding welfare and proposes a Family Assistance Plan requiring all welfare recipients except mothers with children under age three to find work.

1970-1980: Newark, Dayton, Tallahassee, Cincinnati, Detroit, Los Angeles, Washington and New Orleans elect their first black mayors.

1970: Congress passes the Equal Rights Amendment and sends it to the states with a seven-year deadline to acquire ratification. The Family Planning Services and Population Research Act is intended to assist poor people with limiting the size of families. But over the next six years the Indian Health Service will single out full-blooded Indian women of childbearing age, sterilizing 3,400 of them, often without their knowledge. Mississippi police open fire at Jackson State College, killing two black students and injuring dozens.  The 1970s will see 16 riots. Hawaii is the first state to legalize abortion. Los Angeles police riot against the Chicano Moratorium, killing four.The IRS removes tax-exempt status from segregated private schools. To retain that status, schools must publish non-discrimination policies and not practice overt discrimination. Many refuse to comply. Native Americans in Massachusetts found the first National Day of Mourning as a counter-celebration to Thanksgiving.

1971: Massacre at Attica prison. The 26th Amendment lowers the voting age to 18. Alaska Natives contest the state’s violation of native land rights by opening their lands for lease to private oil companies. Congress ultimately gives them a land grant of 44 million acres and $962 million in compensation for giving up claims to nine-tenths of Alaska. For the first time since 1902, the five “Civilized” tribes win the right to elect their own leaders and reconstitute their own tribal government systems.

Nixon declares a “War on Drugs,” which will shape crime policy and – through the loss of voting rights for ex-offenders – every presidential election for the next half century. The prison population will increase from 200,000 to 2.2 million, 60% people of color. Blacks will be incarcerated in state prisons at five times the rate of whites. With only 5% of the world’s population, the U.S. will have 25% of the world’s prisoners, nearly half for nonviolent drug offenses.

The Supreme Court rules that federal courts can integrate schools, sometimes requiring the racial composition of individual schools to reflect the composition of their districts. This is generally achieved by busing. White families respond by moving to the suburbs, while many others transfer their children to private or parochial schools. These effects further increase the non-white percentages in many urban schools.

1972: Police arrest a group of activists known as the “Abortion Seven.” Nixon integrates the construction workforce on federally regulated projects. Construction unions protest. The U.S. experiences over 2,500 domestic bombings in just 18 months. In the last major loyalty oath case, the Supreme Court upholds a requirement that State of Massachusetts employees swear to uphold and defend the Constitution and to “oppose the overthrow of the [government] by force, violence, or by any illegal or unconstitutional method”.

1973: Enrollment at Indian boarding schools reaches its highest point, 60,000. American Indian Movement (AIM) activists occupy the Wounded Knee massacre site to support Oglala traditionalists against corrupt tribal leaders. Over 2,000 Indians resist a siege by the FBI, U.S. Marshals and eventually the army, who fire over half a million rounds of ammunition and arrest over 1,000 people. The 10-week standoff ends with 185 Native people indicted on federal charges. Los Angeles County first acknowledges the existence of a gang with 47 members within the Sheriff’s Department.  In magazines depicting welfare, 75% of pictures feature African Americans even though they make up only 35% of welfare recipients. Louisiana changes its life-in-prison sentences from “10/6” to a 20-year minimum. Nixon creates the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and blames the anti-Vietnam War movement and leaking of the Pentagon Papers on Jews.  The Supreme Court legalizes abortion and bans federal agencies from discriminating against disabled candidates.

1973-2005: 413 women will be arrested for self-induced abortions and other claims of fetal harm.

1974: In the largest Indian removal since the 1830s, Congress forces relocation of 12,000 Dine’ who are blocking strip-mining interests. North Carolina is the last state to end its sterilization policy. The government compensates survivors of the Tuskegee experiment. Residents of the District of Columbia regain the right to vote for mayor and city council but still lack voting representation in Congress. The Supreme Court first addresses the issue of school busing, confirming that segregation is allowed if it is not considered an explicit policy of each school district. The Boston School Committee disobeys orders to develop a busing plan. Boycotts and over 40 riots ensue.

1975: The Pine Ridge shootout occurs.  Congress ends the House Committee on Internal Security and calls for decentralizing students from Indian boarding schools to community schools, but many large boarding schools will remain open until the early 1990s. The Civil Services Commission announces that it will consider applications by gay people. Congress restores full citizenship rights to Robert E. Lee. In addition to establishing a permanent ban on literacy tests and other discriminatory voting requirements, amendments to the Voting Rights Act require districts with significant numbers of non-English-speaking voters to be provided with assistance in registering and voting. Latina women initiate a federal class action lawsuit involving large-scale sterilization that occurred without informed consent or through coercion. The Senate’s Church Committee reveals extensive abuses against U.S. citizens by the FBI and CIA, but no one is prosecuted. California allows prison inmates the right to marry, bring civil lawsuits, make wills, and create powers of attorney.

1976: President Gerald Ford terminates Roosevelt’s 1942 internment order and apologizes to Japanese Americans. Over 35 years, North Carolina has sterilized 7,600 people, 40% minorities. A third of Puerto Rican women have been sterilized. The Supreme Court rules that political money is free speech, protected by the First Amendment. It also rules that plaintiffs must prove discriminatory intent behind any challenged action, thus reducing constitutional protections due people of color. Kentucky ratifies the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery. The Hyde Amendment bars the use of federal funds to pay for most abortions. The Supreme Court prohibits racial discrimination in private schools and holds that states do not have authority to tax or regulate Native activities on their reservations. Tribes soon open bingo operations. Ronald Reagan speaks of “welfare queens”.

1977: Racists attack a synagogue in St. Louis. The Equal Rights Amendment receives 35 of the necessary 38 state ratifications, but Phyllis Schlafly mobilizes conservative women in opposition and stalls further votes. Five states revoke their ratification.

1978: The Supreme Court allows corporations to contribute to ballot initiative campaigns. President Jimmy Carter approves $4.3 million to build a fence on the U.S.-Mexico border. White supremacist groups establish camps and train hundreds of vigilantes. Federal authorities ignore them, accost migrants in the desert and investigate the Sanctuary Movement. The militia camps will expand well into the 21st century. The National Socialist Party of America seeks a parade permit in Skokie, Illinois because of the many Holocaust survivors residing there. Skokie refuses to allow it, but the American Civil Liberties Union intercedes on behalf of the Nazis, who march in Chicago. Congress restores full rights of citizenship to Jefferson Davis, 30 years before apologizing to African Americans for slavery. Congress restores basic civil liberties to Native Americans, Inuits, Aleuts and Native Hawaiians, allowing them to practice traditional religious rites and cultural practices.  The Mormon Church allows blacks to be priests. The Supreme Court upholds affirmative action in college admission policy but rules that specific racial quotas are impermissible. Congress finally facilitates the prosecution and deportation of Nazi war criminals and collaborators hiding in America.

1979: The Equal Rights Amendment fails to receive enough support in the states before its deadline. The largest nuclear accident in the U.S. occurs on the Navajo (Dine’) reservation in Church Rock, New Mexico.  The contaminated river groundwater spreads through the Rio Puerco alluvium and the cleanup continues to this day. Klansmen and neo-Nazis murder five members of the Communist Workers Party in Greensboro, North Carolina. Carter requires government agencies to take affirmative action in support of women’s business enterprises. Job growth in the U.S. peaks and begins to decline. Boston attempts to ban the film Caligula. Louisiana removes parole eligibility for anyone with a life sentence.

1980-1990: The Supreme Court repeatedly employs the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause to support white claims of reverse discrimination from affirmative action programs while demanding proof of intent to discriminate before supporting black plaintiffs. A federal court forces Mississippi to stop using “Lost Cause” history textbooks in its schools.

1980-2000: Successive administrations will allow massive immigration of Cubans while turning back those escaping fascism in El Salvador and Guatemala. Defining the Haitian boat people (as opposed to Vietnamese boat people) as economic rather than political refugees allows the government to refuse asylum to thousands. Israelis are another special case, with unlimited immigrant privileges, unique among Middle Eastern countries.

1980: A commission concludes that the internment of the Japanese Americans occurred because of “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership” and that the military had lied to the Supreme Court. The Mariel Boatlift brings 100,000 Cubans to the U.S. and solidifies Republican control in Florida.  The Government offers compensation to the Sioux for taking the Black Hills. The Sioux refuse the award, valued at over $1 billion as of 2011, because acceptance would legally terminate their demand for their return. Calling affirmative action “reverse discrimination”, Reagan reduces funding for equal employment opportunities. However, courts continue to reaffirm hiring quotas.

1981: Reagan cuts welfare (AFDC) spending and allows states to require recipients to participate in workfare programs.

1982: Congress enacts a 25-year extension of the Voting Rights Act. The Supreme Court makes voting easier for people with disabilities. Reagan expands the war on Drugs, further fueling mass incarceration, particularly in targeted Black communities. He triples the federal drug enforcement budget, hires 4,000 additional prosecutors, triples the number of drug cases prosecuted, and doubles the conviction rates for drug crimes.  Albert Sabo, the judge in the Mumia Abu-Jamal trial, is overheard saying, “I’m gonna help ’em fry the nigger.”

1982-1992: The crack cocaine epidemic results in a doubling of the homicide rate for young Black males. Eleven Southern states enroll 675,000-750,000 white students in private schools. An estimated 65-75% of them attend schools in which 90% or more of the student body is white. 

1982-2000: California builds 23 new prisons, compared to twelve built between1852 and 1964.

1983: Corrections Corporation of America becomes the first for-profit prison company, managing 65 correctional and detention facilities. Louisiana repeals its “Negro” definition of “one thirty-second Negro blood”. Over 3,500 segregated private academies operate in the country, with over 750,000 children enrolled.

1985: Reagan attempts a partial border closure with Operation Intercept II. Philadelphia police fire 10,000 rounds of ammunition into a house occupied by MOVE, a black liberation group, before dropping a bomb from a helicopter, igniting a fire that destroys an entire black neighborhood, killing eleven and destroying 61 homes.

1985-present: The war on drugs will disenfranchise over six million people, two million of whom will be black. The more blacks a state contains, the more likely it will be to ban felons from voting. The average state will disenfranchise 2.4 % of its voting-age population but 8.4 % of its blacks. In 14 states, the share of blacks stripped of the vote will exceed 10%, and in five states it will exceed 20%. While 75% of whites will register, only 60% of blacks will be able to. In each Senate over the next 35 years over a dozen Republicans will owe their election to these laws.

1986: The Supreme Court upholds Georgia’s sodomy law.

1987: The Supreme Court rejects a Black man’s death penalty appeal grounded in claims of racial inequality and instead accepts proven racial sentencing disparities as “an inevitable part of our criminal justice system.”

1986: Congress gives amnesty to 3 million undocumented immigrants already in the country. As a compromise, it becomes illegal to knowingly hire or recruit illegal immigrants. Thousands of businesses and individuals will ignore the new law. The Anti-Drug Abuse Act creates a significant disparity in the sentences imposed for crimes involving powder cocaine (used primarily by whites) versus crimes involving crack cocaine (used by minorities), with mandatory minimum sentences set at a 100:1 ratio. Black prison populations swell, while there is little change in the number of whites. Disparities in sentence lengths also increase; in 1986, Blacks receive drug sentences 11% longer than whites, but that disparity will increase to 49%. Congress establishes the National Indian Gaming Commission.

1987: Boston’s school district has shrunk from 100,000 students to 57,000, only 15% of whom are white. A federal court rules that it has successfully implemented its desegregation plan, even though 80% of the student population in 13 schools is either white or black. Reagan’s abolition of the fairness doctrine quickly leads to the rise of right-wing talk radio.

1988: Congress pays $20,000 each in reparation to tens of thousands of Japanese American survivors of the internment camps. The government, however, refuses to pay Japanese Latin Americans. California criminalizes membership in street gangs and imposes greater punishments for criminal offenses committed by members. “Gang enhancements” can add 10 years to a sentence. The process for identifying members is notoriously subjective and can include “frequenting gang areas”. Over 85 percent of people validated as gang members in California are Black or Latinx. Southern senators amend the Fair Housing Act to allow landlords to refuse to rent to anyone with a single conviction for drug dealing. Presidential candidate George Bush uses the Willie Horton case as coded racialized language to defeat Michael Dukakis. The Anti-Drug Abuse Act establishes a long list of retroactively applied “aggravated” felonies that trigger deportation for immigrants, including lawful permanent residents.

1989: A white mob murders a Black teen in Brooklyn. Boston police scour Black communities searching for anyone who fits the description provided by a white man who had lied, claiming a Black man had shot his pregnant wife. South Dakota replaces Columbus Day with Native American Day.

1990: Congress prohibits discrimination based on disability and revises all grounds for immigration exclusion, including homosexuality and language requirements. It increases total immigration to 700,000/year for 1992–94, and 675,000/year after that. It provides family- and employment-based visas and a lottery for immigrants from “low admittance” countries. This benefits Salvadorans by also creating temporary protected status for those unable to return home because of ongoing violence. The Border Patrol begins to erect  barriers south of San Diego, ultimately erecting fourteen miles of fencing. Congress declares that Native Americans are entitled to use their own languages and requires the Attorney General to collect data on crimes committed because of the victim’s race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or ethnicity. This is the first statute to recognize LGBTQ people. Twelve percent of young people now call themselves multiracial. Lake Forest, Illinois finally ends its anti-Jewish and anti-Black housing covenants.

1990-2019: Fifty predominantly black churches will be bombed or burned across the South. Courts began relaxing judicial supervision of school districts, calling for voluntary efforts to achieve racial balance. Partly due to widespread belief in the “welfare queen” stereotype, 22 states pass laws that ban increasing welfare payments to mothers after they have more children. In order to receive additional funds after the birth of a child, women are required to prove to the state that their pregnancies were the result of contraceptive failure, rape, or incest. Seven states will later repeal these laws.

1991: The Supreme Court lifts a desegregation decree, authorizing one-race schools in Oklahoma City. The Los Angeles Times reports on L.A. Sheriff gangs. Bush prevents an attempt to revive the Fairness Doctrine.

1991-1995: The number of unauthorized immigrants sentenced in federal courts increases by 167%, compared with 13% for citizens.

1991 to 2000: The U.S. admits more legal immigrants, (ten to eleven million), than in any previous decade. Criminologists speak of black youth “superpredators” and “crack babies”. Senator Joe Biden introduces the Police Officers’ Bill of Rights

1992: Los Angeles experiences over 1,000 gang-related homicides. A white jury acquits three of the four police officers who beat Rodney King, provoking the Los Angeles uprising. Gangs in Watts establish a peace treaty to challenge police brutality and end the mass violence.  After two years, gang violence will drop by 44 percent. Peace treaties spread to 15 cities, despite repeated attempts by police to undermine them. Presidential candidate Bill Clinton, promising to “end welfare as we have come to know it,” wins the election only because George Bush and Ross Perot split the conservative vote. Berkeley, CA is the first city to institute Indigenous People’s Day as a counter-celebration to Columbus Day.

1993: Clinton begins Operations Hold the Line and Gatekeeper, which focus on intercepting illegal entries at the border. Then, with the “Prevention Through Deterrence” strategy, the Border Patrol attempts to control immigrant movement by rerouting it away from urban ports of entry and into wilderness areas, thus heightening the risks. These programs will cause over 7,000 deaths without halting the mass movement of people. Congress requires state motor vehicle agencies to offer voter registration opportunities. States must offer mail-in voter registration applications and opportunities to register to vote at certain offices and maintain accurate voter registration lists. In its first year, over 30 million people update or complete their registration. Washington state passes the first modern “three-strikes” law mandating life imprisonment, followed eventually by 25 other states. Under such mandatory sentencing laws, black offenders will grow from under 10% in 1984 to 28% of mandatory minimum drug offenders by 1990.  Congressional acknowledgement of federal involvement in the 1893 overthrow of Hawaii’s government serves inspires the Hawaiian Sovereignty movement. The National Holocaust Museum opens in Washington, years before America’s own historical crimes, such as slavery, will be similarly addressed.

1993-2017: Joe Arpaio, Sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County, oversees what the Justice Department will call the worst pattern of racial profiling in U.S. history, including the re-introduction of chain gangs, until he is convicted and removed.

1994: Clinton’s North American Trade Agreement floods rural Mexico with subsidized American corn, bankrupting two million Mexican farmers. The result is a massive increase in migration northward. Following Clinton’s ban on assault weapons mass shooting deaths drop by 43%. California’s Proposition 187, passed by an overwhelming majority of voters, would deny health services, social services and education to undocumented immigrants and mandate that all public employees report anyone seeking services whom they believed might be undocumented. Implementation is halted by the courts.

1995: Clinton institutes the “wet foot, dry foot policy.” For the next two decades, any Cuban caught on the waters between the two nations (with “wet feet”) is summarily returned to Cuba, while one who makes it to shore (“dry feet”) gets a chance to remain in the U.S. and qualify for expedited residency status. Mississippi ratifies the 13th Amendment. Alabama and Arizona re-introduce chain gangs. White flight begins to reverse as returning affluent suburbanites gentrify decayed neighborhoods, raise property values and force poor minorities out.

1996: Clinton authorizes mandatory detention of illegal immigrants. Those convicted of serious felonies are placed in expedited removal proceedings. He also authorizes further border fencing, but environmental concerns slow construction. The number of immigrants in detention increases dramatically.

Congress defines a single conviction of “moral turpitude” or any conviction that carries a minimum sentence of one year as deportable offenses. It also criminalizes online discussion of abortion. Attorney General Janet Reno refuses to enforce the provision, which remains on the books. Nine states begin to ban affirmative action, leading to a 23% drop in the chance of college admission for minority students relative to non-minority students, compared with a 1% drop in other states. The Supreme Court supports racial disparities in conviction rates. Congress replaces AFDC with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, ending individual entitlement for poor families and signifying that no one can make a claim for assistance just because they are poor. “Work first” programs impact Black women in racialized and gendered ways by emphasizing the need to place employment above all else to qualify for support.

1997: A study finds that “the three-strikes law did not decrease serious crime or petty theft rates below the level expected on the basis of preexisting trends.”

1998: Japanese Latin Americans who had sued for reparations ten years before receive $5,000 each.

1999: A Memphis jury finds that the MLK assassination plot was a conspiracy that included “governmental agencies.”

Read Part Seven here.

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Barry’s Blog # 413: Who is an American? A Timeline, Part Five of Eight

Part Five: 1900-1950

History is not the past. History is the present. We carry our history with us. To think otherwise is criminal. – James Baldwin

1900: Most adult men in Manhattan are foreign-born. Courts determine that all persons born in the U.S. or its territories are citizens, except for those born in American Samoa, a U.S. territory, who are considered “non-citizen nationals.” The Assistant Attorney General for Indian Territory reiterates that tribal laws are still in place and are to be enforced. No one pays attention, and the ruling has no effect. Louisiana adopts a new constitution with  restrictive provisions intended to exclude blacks from civic participation, including a poll tax and literacy and property-ownership requirements. Following a riot during which police had encouraged white mobs, New Yorkers form a Citizens’ Protective League to pursue prosecutions against them but are unsuccessful. Women of all races remain barred from voting. Every state now has laws forbidding abortion. Most allow physicians to use their discretion, putting a woman’s decision whether or not to be pregnant in the hands of men.  The Boston Public Library keeps books deemed objectionable in a locked room accessible only to scholars. An estimated 325 bison are left on the plains.

1901: A series of Supreme Court decisions determines that full citizenship rights do not extend to all places under American control, especially islands where people of color live (“savage and “alien races”) who cannot understand “Anglo-Saxon principles.” This permanently excludes Puerto Ricans, Samoans and many others from voting for President.  Delaware finally ratifies the 13th Amendment. Alabama prohibits interracial marriage and mandates separate schools for black and white children. The AFL denounces Chinese workers. The decade will see eleven large race riots.

1902: The government funds 25 non-reservation schools in 15 states and territories, forcibly enrolling 6,000 Native students. Anti-Semitic riots occur in New York City. Congress passes a series of Allotment Acts to further break up communally held tribal lands, force the sale of surplus land to non-Indians, and select disposition of town sites in what is now Oklahoma. Cherokees are given a homestead assignment and “away lands” to reflect land use patterns, but white settlers invade the away lands. Thousands of whites get themselves illegally listed on tribal rolls. The Choctaws and Chickasaws challenge those lists, and remove 3,200 people from the rolls. The Department of the Interior removes all identified mineral-rich lands in Indian Country from the allotment process and releases them to mining companies and the railroads.

1902-1904: Chinese exclusion is extended and then made indefinite.

1903: The Immigration Act adds four inadmissible classes: anarchists, people with epilepsy, beggars, and importers of prostitutes. The Sunday Closing League is formed. Its members patrol the streets looking for violators of the Blue Laws. A Court refuses to allow a resident of the Territory of Hawaii to invoke the Fifth Amendment against self-incrimination. National Geographic publishes the first photos of bare-breasted Filipina women.

1904: The government renews prohibition of the Sun Dance among Plains Indians. The advent of the railroad, which reaches the border city of Brownsville, Texas, makes Anglo expansion onto historically Mexican land possible, shifting the balance of power along the Rio Grande. Tax assessments soar. In just two Texas counties over 187,000 acres of land transfer from Latino to Anglo hands.

1905: The Cherokee, Creek, Seminole, and Choctaw nations create a constitution for a proposed state of Sequoyah, which would be distinct from Oklahoma. Congress ignores them. Real estate agents in Berkeley, CA and Kansas City, Mo begin recording racial covenants to sell house lots in high-end subdivisions. Los Angeles soon becomes the national leader in using such deed restrictions. Jews are concentrated in the garment industry in part because they are frozen out of printing, carpentry, painting, building, and highly unionized fields like transportation and communication.

1906: Atlanta race massacre. Theodore Roosevelt declares in his State of the Union Message, “The greatest existing cause of lynching is the perpetration, especially by black men, of the hideous crime of rape – the most abominable in all the category of crimes, even worse than murder.” The Burke Act dissolves sovereign tribal governments and communal lands and requires the federal government to assess whether individuals are “competent and capable” before granting them their allotted land. Citizenship is not to be granted to Native Americans until the end of a 25-year probationary period. The first of 120,000 Filipino workers (“nationals”, not citizens) arrive in Hawaii. San Francisco’s large Chinatown is destroyed by fire following the great earthquake.

1907:  Anti-Asian riots occur in San Francisco, Bellingham, Washington and Vancouver. Oklahoma becomes a state. Congress again lowers the threshold for immigration exclusions to include “All idiots, imbeciles, feebleminded persons, epileptics…persons who have been insane within five years previous…persons likely to become a public charge; professional beggars; persons afflicted with…loathsome or dangerous contagious disease…” The Expatriation Act decrees that any naturalized citizen residing for two years in one’s foreign state of origin or five years in any other foreign state or any American woman who marries an alien loses their citizenship. Diplomats informally agree with Japan that it will not allow further emigration to the U.S., which will not impose restrictions on Japanese immigrants already present in the country. The Michigan Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church refuses to ordain black bishops. Chicago enacts the first film censorship ordinance. By 1922 over a hundred cities and seven states will empower censorship boards.

1908: Springfield, Illinois race riot. New York City holds voter registration on the Jewish Sabbath and during Yom Kippur as a way of keeping Jews, who are often socialists, away from the polls. The popular stage play The Melting Pot instructs recent immigrants that the route to happiness is through whiteness, individualism, “pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps” and distancing oneself from ethnicity.

1909: Modern policing begins in Berkeley, CA. August Vollmer refashions police along a strictly military model, using tactics previously deployed against Indians and Filipinos. His model is copied across the country by police departments which will often be led and staffed by war veterans. Nativists destroy a Greek immigrant community in South Omaha, Nebraska. The Census Bureau classifies Jews as their own race, Hebrews. Pittsburgh police arrest over 200 Black men for being unemployed and consign them to forced labor.

1909-1979: Under state eugenics laws, 60,000 residents of California state-run institutions will be sterilized.   Even after 1979, forced or coerced sterilizations will still be performed on people in custody at state prisons.

1910: Slocum, Texas race riot. The Angel Island Immigration Station begins operation in San Francisco Bay to monitor the flow of Chinese entering the country. It will eventually hold hundreds of thousands. By 1915, Japanese immigrants will outnumber Chinese. At Ellis Island on the east coast, only 1-3% of all arriving immigrants will be rejected, while at Angel, due to anti-Asian discrimination, the number will be 18%. While Ellis arrivals enter the country almost immediately, Asians are frequently imprisoned on Angel for many months. Riots in dozens of cities follow the championship victory of black boxer Jack Johnson over a white opponent.  Louisiana prohibits blacks and whites from living together under any circumstances. An appellate court in D.C. rules that an eight-year-old girl cannot attend a local public school because she is 1/16th Black. Nine percent of the population are of German parentage. Over 40% of white farmers in Georgia own land, compared to 7% of the state’s black farmers.

1911: The final massacre of Native Americans occurs in Nevada. Arkansas makes interracial sex a felony, going beyond the “1/16” rule to determine a Black person as having “any Negro blood whatever”. The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York kills 146 sweatshop workers, mostly Italian or Jewish immigrant women. President Taft orders black soldiers out of Texas for protesting segregation. The government outlaws controlled forest burnings in Native communities. For the next hundred years, the Forest Service will focus on putting out fires rather than managing them. Partially as a result, the entire West will experience massive fires every summer. Ishi, the last surviving member of the Yahi tribe, emerges from a northern California forest and lives five more years.

1913: A mob lynches the Jew Leo Frank in Georgia. Several western states enact laws that ban “aliens ineligible for citizenship” from owning land. The Supreme Court upholds these laws.  The 17th Amendment finally gives voters rather than state legislatures the right to elect senators. It conducts intelligence tests on new immigrants. Thirty-five Blacks die in a Mississippi prison camp fire. Los Angeles completes its first aqueduct and begins to export water from the Owens Valley, ultimately turning the lake dry and wrecking the once-lush Paiute reservation. The L.A. Housing Commission laments that Mexican Americans can secure housing only if racial restrictions “were not placed upon every new tract of land where lots are sold.”

1914: The AFL demands that “all races native to Asia” be excluded permanently from the U.S. and urges Blacks to “form colored workers’ unions”. The third edition of Stedman’s Practical Medical Dictionary still includes an entry for “drapetomania”. California allows prison inmates to receive mail.

1915: Alabama bars treatment of Black men by White nurses. The Supreme Court upholds the Expatriation Act of 1907. Under that act, women who lost their U.S. citizenship could apply to be naturalized if their husbands later became American citizens. But since virtually all Asian immigrants are barred from becoming citizens, an American woman who marries an Asian man will still lose her citizenship permanently. Similarly, women of Asian descent born in the U.S. have no means of regaining their U.S. citizenship if they lose it through marriage to a foreigner – even if the foreigner is white – because Asian men and women are ineligible for naturalization in all circumstances. Congress authorizes mounted border guards to pursue Chinese aliens. The Supreme Court decides that free speech does not extend to motion pictures.

1915-1920: The Texas Rangers and vigilantes murder several thousand Mexicans and Mexican American citizens (“Tejanos”) along the borderlands and push many more across the border. Tejanos call this new era of racial segregation “Juan Crow”. 

1916: A government official estimates that three-fifths of Indian children are dying before age 5.  “Patriotic” societies such as the National Security League and the American Defense Society demand compulsory military training at schools, the end of foreign-language instruction and “100 percent Americanism”.

Opposing candidates Woodrow Wilson and Charles Hughes each declare “hyphenated Americans” to be potentially disloyal and view German Americans as potential spies and saboteurs. Winning the Presidency, Wilson orders 110,000 National Guardsmen from state militias to the Mexican border. He shows the film The Birth of a Nation, which presents Ku Klux Klansmen as saviors of white civilization, at the White House. This immediately provokes a vast expansion of the Klan. He goes on to defend racial segregation of government workers, a policy that will harm Blacks for decades. The federal government will require photographs on civil service applications until 1940.

1917: White mobs kill 200 black residents of East St. Louis. Congress bars immigration from the Asia-Pacific Zone and creates new categories of inadmissible persons, including: “alcoholics,” “feebleminded persons,” “persons with constitutional psychopathic inferiority,” “political radicals,” “polygamists,” “prostitutes” and “vagrants.” The government extends citizenship to Puerto Ricans and other territorial residents – but not presidential voting rights. Tens of thousands of rural blacks begin to leave the South in the first Great Migration, with 1.5 million arriving in northern and midwestern industrial cities by 1940. Wilson proclaims all German citizens “alien enemies.” An army manual for war recruits states that, “The foreign born, and especially Jews, are more apt to malinger than the native-born.” The Selective Service Act imposes mandatory conscription. As a result, over 18,000 Puerto Ricans are forced to serve, in segregated units.

Over 200 women, the Silent Sentinels, are arrested while picketing the White House, some of whom go on hunger strikes. Despite representing a quarter of the Navy during the Civil War and the latter half of the 19th century, Blacks’ opportunities in the Navy are abruptly curtailed. They now represent 1.2% of the Navy, and are only allowed in the galleys or coal rooms of ships. Of the 380,000 blacks who serve in the Army, only 40,000 are allowed to see battle. One regiment (the “Harlem Hellfighters”) spends more time at the front than any other American unit. Other units serve honorably in the French army. Black soldiers clash with Houston whites in the “Camp Logan Mutiny,” the only riot in U.S. history to result in more white than black casualties. Nineteen Black soldiers are hanged and 63 receive life sentences. No white civilians are charged. Because of expansions of the Chinese Exclusion Act, fully ¾ of the world’s population is ineligible to become American, based on racial identity.

1917-1925: Four states unsuccessfully attempt to make their anti-birth laws less restrictive.

1918: Porvenir massacre: Texas Rangers and ranchers murder 15 Tejano men. White mobs aided by federal troops and the Ku Klux Klan massacre several hundred Blacks near Elaine, Arkansas. Germans who fail to be fingerprinted are placed in internment camps, along with conscientious objectors. German-language services in churches are disrupted and German-language newspapers are shut down. Churches housing German congregations are painted yellow and schoolchildren are forced to sign pledges promising not to use any foreign language. Citizens of German descent are dragged out of their homes at night and forced to kiss the flag or sing the national anthem. Acts of vigilantism include the tarring and featherings of war opponents and at least one lynching.

The government asserts the power to quarantine any woman suspected of having a sexually transmitted disease. If a medical examination reveals an STD, this can constitute proof of prostitution. Authorities detain 30,000 women and imprison 15,000 with no due process. They can be detained and examined for not being properly attired at beaches; for sitting at restaurants alone; for changing jobs; for being with a man; for walking down a street in a way male officials find suspicious; and for refusing to have sex with police officers. By 1921, every state will institute similar statutes. The program will last into the 1970s, with perhaps hundreds of thousands of women – and only women – being forcibly examined for STDs, many of them sterilized. Each state still has the power to examine and isolate “reasonably suspected” people. Women are allowed to use birth control for therapeutic purposes. Cherokee and Choctaw soldiers serve as the first code talkers. War veterans of Asian ancestry receive the right of naturalization. The Sedition Act criminalizes free speech criticism of the government, which imprisons socialist presidential candidate Eugene Debs.

1918-1931: Sixty wealthy Osage are murdered for land, oil, and timber in Oklahoma.

1919: A hundred thousand Black veterans move north. Subject to racially discriminatory administration of benefits, many are denied medical care and other assistance; some who complain are discharged with no disability pay. At least thirteen are lynched. 

White-on-black race riots occur in Chicago, Washington, Houston, East St. Louis, Omaha, Tulsa, Charleston, and 18 other cities. In the largest strike wave in U.S. history, one in five workers walks off the job. The Palmer raids during the Red Scare result in the arrest of several thousand citizens and deportation of 500 non-citizens. American Indian soldiers and sailors receive citizenship.

1920: The Supreme Court upholds California’s Alien Land Laws. The “100 Percent Americanism” campaign exploits post-war anxieties by promoting the KKK as a defender of the nation from defilement by Blacks, Catholics, Jews, foreigners and “moral offenders.” Within 16 months, it will attract 100,000 new members. Racial terror displaces entire Black communities throughout the South and hundreds of thousands flee, creating a mass migration northward that will last into the 1970s. The 18th Amendment prohibits alcoholic drinks, half a year before the 19th Amendment grants women (but not Native women) the right to vote. Boston is so notorious for banning books that authors intentionally print their books there,  hoping for publicity boosts. Debs, unable to campaign because he is in prison, still receives over 900,000 votes for President. 

1921: The Emergency Quota Act establishes numerical limits “to preserve the ideal of American homogeneity.” It prohibits the immigration of Arabs, East Asians and Indians and restricts the number of immigrants admitted from any country annually to 3% of the residents from that country living in the U.S. in 1910. This ensures that northern Europeans have a higher quota than people from eastern or southern Europe or non-European countries. The number of new immigrants admitted will fall from 800,000 in 1920 to 300,00 in 1921.

In the worst incident of racial violence in American history, white mobs attack blacks in Tulsa, Oklahoma,  destroying 35 square blocks, killing hundreds and injuring thousands. The disaster will influence racialized economic disparities between whites and blacks in Tulsa – and the dozens of places that experience similar violence – for a hundred years.

Three months later, a racially integrated force of 10,000 coalminers fight a private army in the Battle of Blair Mountain, the largest labor uprising in U.S. history and the largest armed uprising since the Civil War. Private planes are hired to drop poison gas bombs on the miners. A hundred are killed. The American Eugenics Society is formed. Soon, the Nazis will copy the American system. The Chicago real estate board expels members who sell to Black families in White neighborhoods. Feminists win passage of an equal rights law in Wisconsin. They will subsequently introduce an Equal Rights Amendment in every congressional session between 1921 and 1972, but it will rarely reach the floor of either the Senate or the House.

1922: Congress allows women to retain their citizenship after marrying a (non-Asian) alien if they stay in the country. The Supreme Court finds a Japanese American who was born in Japan but had lived in the U.S. for 20 years ineligible for naturalization. Various cities implement dress codes on public beaches. Police with tape measures identify women who aren’t covering enough of their legs. Violators may be arrested. A court denies a jury trial to a Puerto Rican, explaining that Congress had determined that Puerto Ricans are not “citizens trained to the responsibilities of jurors”.

1923: White mobs destroy the Black town of Rosewood, Florida, killing 150.  A Klan rally opposing interracial marriage draws a thousand participants in upstate New York. The Mississippi Supreme Court allows a school to expel a Chinese American student,  citing an earlier case in which it had upheld the right to expel children whose great-aunts are rumored to have married nonwhites.

1924: The government grants Native Americans the right to vote. Congress establishes the Border patrol on the Mexican border and further restricts immigration from Eastern and Southern Europe, requiring for the first time that immigrants have visas. This introduces the concept of “having papers” (few of those who immigrated prior to this point would be admitted under these far more stringent standards). It establishes deportation courts for non-white immigrants and Eastern and Southern European immigrants who exceed their national quotas. Subsequent court rulings will determine that Asian Indians are not white and cannot immigrate. It also mandates that quotas are to be filled not by counting immigrants but by counting immigration certificates issued at consular offices abroad. By keeping migrants far from American soil, this prevents them from using the courts to apply for asylum or challenge decisions by consular officials. From this point forward, the main barrier to entering the U.S. will be obtaining a visa, not avoiding a border patrol agent. This ends the period of open borders.

Since persons of mixed white and Native American ancestry are considered white, the law continues to allow Latin Americans (whom Big Agriculture needs as laborers) to immigrate as “whites” in unlimited numbers, despite being ineligible for citizenship. While it spares Mexico a quota, secondary laws, including one that makes it a crime to enter the country outside official ports of entry, give border and customs agents on-the-spot discretion to decide who can enter legally. This turns what had been a routine daily or seasonal event – crossing the border to go to work – into a ritual of abuse with degrading hygienic inspections (kerosene baths and delousing procedures), literacy tests and entrance fees. Virginia passes the first eugenics-based sterilization law, bans interracial marriage and codifies the “1/16th” rule to determine African blood. It makes an exception for several officials who claim descent from Pocahontas. The KKK now has 4 million members nationwide, including thousands of Protestant ministers. It elects several congressmen and state governors. The last victim of the Palmer raids is released from prison.

1925: A North Carolina mob castrates the Jew Joseph Needleman after a woman accuses him of rape. Tennessee bans the teaching of evolution. Ads in the Los Angeles Times boast that “the residents of Eagle Rock are all of the white race.” People of color, effectively excluded from 95% of housing, pay 20% more for the same quality unit. The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the first union led by blacks to receive a charter in the AFL, will grow to 18,000 members, but most AFL unions rigorously continue to exclude blacks.

1925-1936: The government deports nearly two million Mexicans, most without due process, 60% of whom are U.S.-born citizens. President Herbert Hoover’s administration uses the racially coded slogan, “American jobs for real Americans”. Some state laws ban Mexican Americans from government employment, regardless of their citizenship status.

1926: The Supreme Court rules that racially restrictive housing covenants are legal and enforceable. 

1927: The Mississippi river overflows in the most destructive flood in U.S. history. Authorities force 2,000 black men at gunpoint to repair the levees without pay. Planters prevent homeless blacks from boarding evacuation barges to keep their cheap labor force. The Red Cross establishes racially segregated refugee camps. The anarchists and Italian immigrants Sacco and Vanzetti are executed after a prejudiced trial. The Supreme Court upholds a law banning Chinese Americans from white schools.

1928: Following a Florida hurricane, white victims receive proper burial while the bodies of 674 Black victims are bulldozed into mass graves.  Alabama is the last state to abolish its convict leasing system.

1929: Congress allows aliens to register as permanent residents if they can prove they have lived in the U.S. since 1921 and are of “good moral character.” Between 1925 and 1965, 200,000 illegal Europeans will use this law to legalize their status. Thousands of Mexicans are prosecuted for illegal entry and make up 85% of all immigration prisoners. The Bureau of Prison builds three new prisons in the border region. But during the Depression, more people will emigrate from the U.S. than to it. Boston bans Eugene O’Neill’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Strange Interlude.

1930s: Numbers of women equal those of men as legal immigrants. Considering the possibility of war with Britain, the government makes plans to invade and annex Canada. Initially formulated in 1924, “Joint Army and Navy Basic War Plan – Red” is approved under Herbert Hoover in 1930 and updated under Franklin Roosevelt. The plan authorizes the use of chemical warfare and the bombing of Halifax, Montreal and Quebec.

1930: White mobs attack Filipino farmworkers in Watsonville, California after Filipino men dance with white women.  The national unemployment rate for blacks and whites is the same, but by 1965, the black rate will be double that of whites.

1931: Two Black women die after a segregated Georgia hospital refuses care. Historian James Adams coins the phrase the American Dream, defining it as “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.”

1931-1936: The Smithsonian exhumes and carries off 800 Alaska Native remains. The Bureau of Indian Affairs destroys 250,000 sheep and goats without any Dine’ consultation. Civil rights litigators begin to win court victories that desegregate colleges and graduate schools.

1932: Birth control activist Margaret Sanger publishes a book supporting eugenics. The Public Health Service and the Tuskegee Institute persuade 600 black sharecroppers to participate in an experiment examining the effects of untreated syphilis. The infected are not informed and receive no treatment, even after penicillin is discovered. Over 40 years, 128 participants will die. In over 40 other experiments doctors deliberately infect healthy black patients with various diseases including cancer cells. Some experiments recruit black children exclusively. Black doctors will be barred from some chapters of the American Medical Association until the 1960’s.

1933: Nazi Germany passes a eugenics law based on the American system. A Mexican diplomat and several farmworkers are killed during a California labor strike. Frances Perkins is the first woman Cabinet member. Roosevelt prohibits hiring discrimination in public works and defense. In uniting northern liberals and southern conservatives, he maintains silence on the question of race, fearing that the coalition will disintegrate. Southern politicians, who will defeat over 200 anti-lynching bills, support Social Security only if it excludes agricultural laborers and domestic servants. This compromise excludes 2/3 of blacks from welfare state protections.

1934: Congress agrees to grant Philippine independence in ten years, limiting quotas to 50/year. However, in case of labor shortages, It authorizes Hawaii to recruit Filipinos. Between 1946 and 1965, 10-12,000 will arrive there. Congress establishes the Federal Housing Administration to aid the public in buying homes. The Public Works Administration demolishes housing in many integrated neighborhoods and builds explicitly segregated housing instead. The policy creates racial boundaries where they had not previously existed, giving segregation new government sanction. By insuring private mortgages, the FHA causes a drop in interest rates and a decline in the size of the down payment required to buy a house. But its own policies of redlining, withholding of lending from certain communities based on color-coded risk maps and mandating of restrictive covenants ensures that housing subsidies will go almost exclusively to whites. Some developers try to make their housing projects seem less risky by building barriers and even highways to separate them from predominantly Black neighborhoods. Responding to Catholic pressure, Roosevelt formally establishes Columbus Day as a national holiday.

1934-1968: The Motion Picture Production Code, or “Hays Code”, is a set of guidelines for the self-censorship of content that will be applied to most films released by major studios. One of its categories it forbids is miscegenation.

1935: The National Labor Relations Act guarantees the right of private sector employees to organize into unions and engage in collective bargaining. It originally prohibits the government from certifying unions that exclude blacks from membership. That provision is deleted from the final bill, and the government proceeds to certify all-white unions, including the most powerful unions in the construction trades. Not until 1964 will the government deny certification to such groups. The government first uses the term “affirmative action”. Interior Secretary Harold Ickes requires contractors to employ fixed percentages of Black workers and give equal pay for women. The U.S. holds its largest peacetime military maneuvers in history, with 36,000 troops at the Canadian border. Several Ivy League medical schools retain rigid quotas for Jews; Yale accepts 5 of 200 Jewish applicants. Detroit’s major auto manufacturers violate the Civil Rights Act by forcing a clause in union contracts that locks Black workers into de facto segregated job classifications. Blacks account for under one percent of the skilled labor force while making up 42% of the entire workforce. The Supreme Court rules in the case of the “Scottsboro Boys” that African Americans must be included on juries. The Federal Writer’s Project collects over 2,300 firsthand accounts of slavery. Boston police break up a performance of Clifford Odets‘ play Waiting for Lefty, arresting four actors.

1936: Black athlete Jesse Owens wins four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics. Upon the team’s return, Roosevelt invites all white members of the U.S. team to the White House, but not Owens, who writes, “Hitler didn’t snub me; it was our president who snubbed me”. Doctors are allowed to distribute contraceptives across state lines. Colorado orders all its “Mexicans” – anyone who speaks Spanish or appears to be of Latin descent – to leave the state.

1936-1945: The U.S. refuses to admit most Jewish refugees.

1937: Oliver Law is the first African American to command white American troops in battle (in the Spanish Civil War).  Congress creates the Housing Authority. The government begins to build highways and single-family suburban homes with cheap mortgages for whites, while segregating blacks into urban high-rises that will come to be called “the projects”. Some geography books still refer to the entire western hemisphere as “America”.

1938: The House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) investigates alleged disloyalty. A Polish refugee organizes the first “I Am an American Day”, which eventually becomes “Citizenship Day”. The German American Bund  parades in New York wearing Nazi uniforms. Bund leaders refer to Roosevelt as “Frank D. Rosenfeld” and call his programs a front for a Bolshevik-Jewish conspiracy. Two thousand followers of Father Charles Coughlin march in New York protesting potential asylum law changes that would allow Jewish refugees into the country. Forty percent of poll respondents agree that Jews have “too much power in the U.S.” This figure will rise to 58 percent by 1945. The administration expresses concern about the fate of the Jews in Europe but consistently refuse to increase immigration. The government takes control over mineral development on Indian lands. Federally subsidized works projects clear slum populations; New York City alone tears down 9,000 buildings. Most public schools in the country are de jure or de facto segregated.

1939: Over 20,000 people attend a Bund rally in New York’s Madison Square Garden. Five thousand riot in San Antonio to prevent the Communist Party from holding a public meeting.  The SS St. Louis with 936 Jews seeking asylum is refused permission to unload in Florida and forced to return to Europe, where 254 will die in the Holocaust. The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers forces out 600 Black workers. Similar purges occur at New Orleans shipyards and at the Boeing Aircraft plant in Seattle. The Justice Department establishes its Civil Liberties Unit. The government decides that no further planning to invade Canada is required, but War Plan Red will not be declassified until 1974.

1940: Blacks (ultimately, 5-6 million) move north and west in the Second Great Migration to work in war industries. Southern resistance to the loss of cheap labor forces some northern recruiters to act in secret or face fines or imprisonment. Police try to prevent black flight by arresting migrants at railroad stations for vagrancy. By 1960, all major Northern and Western cities will have sizable black populations. Racial antagonisms heighten due to urban overcrowding and segregation. The government will not give an FHA loan guarantee to a Detroit builder unless he agrees to construct a half-mile-long concrete wall to separate an all-white housing development he is constructing from an adjoining black neighborhood to its east. Blacks are not allowed in the Marines or the Army Air Corps. Angel Island closes. Twenty-one states, fearing communism rather than fascism, require loyalty oaths from teachers. Over 500 faculty and students of New York’s universities are interrogated and forty faculty are dismissed. Up to 80% of Latino children in places like Orange County, California attend separate schools.

1941: The U.S. provokes Japan into attacking Pearl Harbor. Roosevelt outlaws racial discrimination in the war industry. But the enforcement body – the Fair Employment Practices Committee – has no authority to regulate employment practices. Southern states refuse to cooperate. The Boston Housing Authority actively segregates the city’s public housing developments and will continue to do so into the 1960s despite repeated court orders.

1942: Roosevelt  forces 125,000 Japanese Americans – as well as 2,200 Latin Americans of Japanese descent, mostly residents of Peru – into concentration camps. Few German or Italian Americans are affected, nor are Japanese Americans in Hawaii, who are deemed necessary to the war effort. Fred Korematsu challenges the policy, but the Supreme Court upholds it.

The government establishes the Bracero Program, which ultimately imports over four million temporary laborers, mostly from Mexico. However, by excluding women, it guarantees that women and children have no access to legal routes of migration and can only follow their men illegally. The result is a bifurcated labor system; one is legal and male, and the other is unlawful, female and young.

A million Black men and women will serve in the military, and six million more will work in the defense industry. A white mob riots against integration in Detroit. Police arrest 200 blacks and three whites. Alabama refuses to assist the war effort, because the nondiscrimination clause in federal contracts could require integration. Allison Davis becomes the first Black professor at a major university. White faculty members at U. of Chicago openly debate whether he should be allowed to teach white students.

All Native men are required to register for the draft, even though they cannot vote in many states. The military destroys several Aleut villages, forcibly transports 880 Aleuts 1,500 miles to internment camps in southeast Alaska and holds them throughout the war. One in ten die. The government uses 900,000 acres of Alaska native lands and 16 Indian reservations for artillery ranges and nuclear test sites. Connecticut’s high court upholds the state’s contraceptive ban for married couples.

1943: Congress repeals the Chinese Exclusion Act but limits Chinese immigration to 105 persons/year. Race riots occur in over a dozen cities. Thousands of white servicemen rampage for a week through East Los Angeles, attacking Latinos in the “Zoot Suit Riots.” Police arrest only Latinos. Strengthening its existing ban on interracial marriage, the California legislature requires that all marriage licenses indicate the race of those to be married.

Second-generation Japanese American men from Hawaii and the internment camps (ultimately over 12,000) form the 442nd Infantry Regiment, which will become the most decorated unit in U.S. military history. Navajo, Lakota, Meskwaki, Mohawk, Commanche, Tlingit, Hopi, Cree, and Crow soldiers serve as code talkers, while Japanese and German Americans serve as translators and interrogators. War movies such as Bataan present the “melting pot platoon,” a cinematic convention in which ethnic and racial harmony is predicated upon racist hatred for the Japanese enemy. Other films (briefly) present Russians as allies. The Supreme Court invalidates a West Virginia compulsory flag salute law in public schools.

1944: Roosevelt finally creates a War Refugee Board, and the U.S. takes in more Jewish and other refugees than any other nation, despite resistance by anti-Semites in the State Department. The military (and possibly, Roosevelt himself), however, refuses to bomb the railway lines leading to Auschwitz. 738128 The Port Chicago disaster occurs in Northern California. Following a massive munitions explosion that kills 320 mostly black sailors, hundreds refuse to continue loading ships. Fifty are convicted of mutiny. Congress creates the G.I. Bill to aid returning servicemen with college tuition, low-cost home loans and unemployment insurance. But Southern Democrats insist that individual states, rather than the federal government, administer the program to prevent Blacks from participating. Black military policemen stationed in the South cannot enter restaurants where their German prisoners of war are allowed to eat or use the latrines meant for white soldiers and Germans. Twenty-two unions still refuse to admit Blacks. Boston bans Lillian Smith’s novel of interracial romance, Strange Fruit.

1944-1986: Mining companies blast four million tons of ore out of Navajo land searching for uranium for atomic weapons. Later, when Cold War tensions reduce, the companies will leave, abandoning 500 mines and leaving Native miners with high cancer rates.

1945: The War Brides Act permits immigration of 100,000 Asian spouses and children of American servicemen. Latino families sue Orange County school districts. Although officials claim that Latino students are dirty and infected with diseases that put white students at risk, the case ends with California banning school segregation and provides a precedent for the 1954 Supreme Court Decision.

1945-1959: Operation Paperclip, administered by American intelligence agencies, admits 1,600 German scientists, including many Nazis. The first group lives in El Paso, Texas and their children attend far better schools than local Mexican American children.

1946: Congress grants naturalization rights and small immigration quotas to Asian Indians and Filipinos. The Japanese Latin Americans who had been held in the camps attempt to return to their home countries, which deport half of them to Japan. While polls show that Jews are still seen as a greater threat than any other ethnic group and Congress remains intransigent, President Harry Truman allows 23,000 Jews to enter the country by executive order. Five white men are freed in a Mississippi lynching case, despite a confession. Congress creates the Indian Claims Commission to hear tribal grievances. The last mass lynching occurs in Georgia.

1946-1951: Congress institutes minimum prison sentences for drug convictions with a mandatory minimum of two years for first-time offenders.

1947: The postwar housing boom almost entirely excludes people of color. Veterans’ Administration loopholes allow banks to refuse loans to Blacks. Consequently, only two of 3,200 VA-guaranteed home loans in 13 Mississippi cities go to Blacks. In New York and northern New Jersey, fewer than 100 of 67,000 mortgages support purchases by non-whites. Northern universities delay admitting Black students, while Southern colleges bar them entirely. Fully 95% of Black veterans are shunted off to underfunded, often unaccredited Black colleges that must turn away thousands. Realtors in Chicago manipulate white anxiety through “blockbusting”, deceiving whites into believing that blacks are moving into their neighborhood. They convince whites to quickly sell at a loss, before property values decline. Realtors then sell to middle-class blacks at a premium. Crowds attack Black veterans as they move into Chicago housing developments. Major League Baseball de-segregates.

1948: The Displaced Persons Act purports to admit 200,000 European refugees who have reached certain safe zones in Germany by certain dates. However, it deliberately discriminates against some 250,000 Jews who manage to enter Germany only after postwar pogroms in Poland. The act also adds a list of financial, occupational, and good conduct restrictions. It uses the same device to block the entry of many Catholics from communist countries, who made up 70% of the refugees. The law also stipulates that 40% of those admitted must come from the Soviet annexed countries of Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Belorussia, and Ukraine, and that 30% must be farmers. This further discriminates against Jews, who couldn’t own land, and favored Ukrainians and Belarussians, who could. It also reserves 50,000 slots for Volksdeutsche, descendants of German settlers in Eastern Europe, thousands of whom had collaborated with the Nazi SS. Although the bill blocks the entry of communists, it deliberately neglects to make Nazis and collaborators ineligible for U.S. visas, unless they had already been convicted of war crimes.

Truman integrates the Armed Forces and is the first president to address the NCAAP. He mandates the end of employment discrimination in the federal government, reaffirming FDR’s earlier order. The Supreme Court rules that housing covenants are unenforceable, if not illegal. Developers respond by recording hundreds of thousands of new covenants to restrict minority buyers, including in the new suburb of Lakewood, CA, which by 1960 will have 67,000 residents, seven of them Black. Senator Eastland of Mississippi blocks another anti-lynching bill. Georgia executes a black woman for killing an armed white man in self-defense. 

1948-1960: HUAC engages in a reign of terror that demonizes much political activity and speech as “un-American.” The FBI investigates thousands of citizens, resulting in hundreds fired from government and academia, many suicides and the Hollywood blacklist. 

1948-1973: The CIA’s secret MKULTRA program administers hallucinogenic drugs on hundreds of  unwitting prisoners, disproportionately Black.

1949: Following the Chinese Revolution, the government grants refugee status to 5,000 anti-communist Chinese. Whites riot in Peekskill, N.Y. following a concert by Paul Robeson. The Fairness Doctrine requires broadcasters to air contrasting views on controversial matters of public interest.

1949-1974: Urban renewal policies enable local officials to clear out entire Black neighborhoods. In 1,200 projects, federal subsidies go to over 400 cities, displacing 300,000 families, or 1.2 million people. Over 550 urban square miles are razed. Blacks (13% of the population in 1960) comprise at least 55% of those displaced. New York City’s Lincoln Center displaces 4,000 families, mostly Puerto Ricans.

Read Part Six here.

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Barry’s Blog # 412: Who is an American? A Timeline, Part Four of Eight

Part Four: 1850-1900

You cannot lynch me and keep me in ghettos without becoming something monstrous yourselves. And, furthermore, you give me a terrifying advantage. You never had to look at me. I had to look at you. I know more about you than you know about me. Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. – James Baldwin

1850s-1890s: The “Ley Quinto” Indian scalp bounties in the Mexican state of Chihuahua set a price of $200 for the scalps of warriors. Durango and Sonora pass similar laws. Sonora sets the price at $100 for women and children. To prevent fraud, states officially define “scalps” as one or both ears and the crown of the head. All Mexican nationals and foreigners are eligible to be Indian hunters. Many Texas Rangers supplement their income this way. Hunters are allowed to keep any possessions of those they kill, including livestock. Bounties are advertised widely both south and north of the Rio Grande. Scalpers slaughter any natives they can find, including peaceful tribes. The Mexican laws will not be repealed until 1886.

California’s first American governor announces a “war of extermination” against Indians, appropriating $1.3 million to underwrite genocide. Over 370 massacres occur in California, most with no names. Congress passes legislation to steal prime land from the Plains tribes for white settlement and to confine Indians to undesired land, restrict their movement and make them dependent on the government. Prohibited from leaving reservations, even for traditional food gathering, they receive food rations, but starvation is common.

1851: Tehama, Mariposa  and Wintu Massacres. San Francisco forms its first vigilante committee, initially to suppress Australian criminals. Physician Samuel Cartwright invents a mental illness – Drapetomania – that causes slaves to flee captivity. Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin is publicly burned and banned. By this time, nearly 300 blacks have tried to escape from Indian Territory to Mexico or Kansas Territory. Antislavery activists in Boston forcibly liberate an escapee from federal custody. Similar rescues are later made in New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

1852: Hynes Bay, Wright and Bridge Gulch Massacres.

1853: Howonquet, Yontoket, Achulet and Ox Massacres. The first legal black-white marriage is between Mary King and William Allen, who leave the country immediately for England.

1853-56: The U.S. acquires 174 million acres of Indian lands through 52 treaties, each of which it will subsequently break. Congress includes 43 members of the Know-Nothing party. With its single platform that resists Irish Catholic immigration, it is the first time that large numbers of citizens display intolerance of other white people.

1854: Nasomah, Chetco River and Asbill massacres. Seven states elect Know-Nothing governors and 75-100 congressmen. Massachusetts enacts a nunneries inspection bill.

The Kansas-Nebraska Act, allowing both territories to vote on whether to be slave or free, effectively repeals the Compromise of 1850. Both pro- and anti-slavery supporters convince settlers to move to Kansas to sway the vote. Extreme violence over the next five years leads to the period becoming known as “Bleeding Kansas.”

In Boston a force of 1,600 soldiers is required to repulse a large-scale attempt to rescue a fugitive slave. Its population is now 1/3 foreign born, mostly Irish, leading to the term “paddy wagon”.

1855: Klamath River, Harney, Lupton and Little Butte Creek massacres. California enacts an anti-vagrancy law (also known as the Greaser Act). The slavery issue causes a split between Northern and Southern Know-Nothings. Election riots occur in Louisville.

1856: Grande Ronde, Shingletown, Cascades and Cayuse massacres. North Carolina is the final state to abolish the property requirement for voting. Previously barred Catholics and non-Christians are enfranchised. Some states allow white immigrants not yet naturalized to vote. Know-Nothing presidential candidate Millard Fillmore gets a fifth (800,000) of the popular vote.

1856-1859: Round Valley Massacres.

1857: Mountain Meadows Massacre.  In the Dred Scott case, the Supreme Court decides that no black person, slave or free, can be a U.S. citizen, with “…no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” It also strikes down the entire Missouri Compromise. Oregon is admitted as a state with a law (not to be abolished until 1927) that excludes all Blacks from settling there. The newly formed American Medical Association lobbies to outlaw abortion and midwifery to eliminate competition. Maryland sentences free Black minister Sam Green to 10 years in prison for owning a copy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Rival police forces battle each other in New York City. Shortly after, the nation’s first gang war (involving over a thousand white men) rages across the city.

1858: Fraser Canyon massacre.

1859: Pitt River, Chico Creek and Jarboe massacres. Abolitionist John Brown is executed for attempting to incite a slave rebellion.

1860: Bloody Rock, Indian Island and Pease River massacres. One in seven Caucasians is foreign-born. Of the ten million slaves who have lived in the country, four million are alive. Over 1,700 congressmen have owned slaves.  The last slave ship arrives in Alabama despite the ban on trafficking.  Several states pass ambiguous anti-abortion laws. After 1860 stronger laws will be more vigorously enforced. Most Southern states prohibit educating slaves and bar them from possessing reading material or writing instruments. Some of these laws authorize death as punishment, but 5% of slaves secretly learn to read and write. Due to forced breeding, 57% of slaves are younger than twenty. Some Cherokee and other Oklahoma tribes, owners of 8,000 slaves, choose to fight for the Confederacy.

1861: Horse Canyon and Fort Fauntleroy massacres. Eleven states decide to secede from the Union rather than end slavery. The Union Army organizes itself along national lines, with Irish, German and Italian units. Rebels in California attempt to annex the Mexican state of Sonora for the Confederacy.

1862: Upper Station, Big Antelope Creek, Gallinas Springs and Konkow massacres. The Army Medical Museum collects Indian remains. Some newspapers accuse Jews of financing the Confederacy. General Grant expels Jews from areas under his control (Lincoln rescinds the order a few months later). Minnesota offers a bounty of $200 for the scalp of each fleeing or resisting Indian. Around 1,700 Dakota are force-marched into a concentration camp. The first Homestead Act opens up millions of acres for white settlement, which will ultimately result in 45 million descendants of the recipients.  The Union Army presses liberated slaves into “contraband camps.” Over 185,000 blacks will serve in the army (over 37,000 will die), and 200,000 black civilians will work as laborers, cooks, teamsters and servants, but Congress will not equalize their pay with that of whites until 1864.

Following the massive loss of lives at the battle of Shiloh, the Confederacy passes a conscription act, followed shortly by the “Twenty Slaves Act,” which exempts slaveowners from military service. Up to two thirds of all Southern soldiers will desert from the army during the war, and 300,000 Southerners will the South at the onset of the war to fight for the Union army. Several strikes will break out. In retaliation, the Conscription Act includes a provision requiring conscription for striking workers. Slaveowners in Louisiana, anxious about the specter of emancipation, import Chinese contract workers (“coolies”) to replace black slaves. In response, Congress passes the Anti-Coolie Act, which prohibits citizens from importing these workers.

1863: Bear River and Keyesville massacres. Irish terrorize blacks in the New York City Draft riots.  The hanging of 38 Dakota men at Lincoln’s order, the largest mass execution in U.S. history, takes place the same week he signs the Emancipation Proclamation. The army forcibly removes 1,000 Paiute from California’s Owens Valley 200 miles to Fort Tejon.  Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation frees only those slaves held in the rebellious states. It exempts Tennessee and portions of Virginia and Louisiana, and it leaves slavery wholly intact in the border states of Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky and Missouri. The Union institutes its own conscription draft. Soon after, Irish terrorize blacks in the New York City Draft riots.

1864:. Oak Run, Bloody Tanks and Skull Valley massacres. Colorado militia attack a peaceful Cheyenne village at Sand Creek, killing over 500. The Confederates under Nathan Bedford Forrest massacre 300 mostly Black Union soldiers who had already surrendered at Fort Pillow. The army, under Kit Carson, forces 10,000 Navajo (Dine’) to march 300 miles in winter from their homeland to a concentration camp in New Mexico; 1,500-4,000 die while interned there for four years. Idaho bans interracial marriage, with a 2-year prison punishment, later increased to 10-years. Both Fugitive Slave Laws are repealed.

1865: Three Knolls, Mud Lake, Owens Lake and Grass Valley massacres. The Enrollment Act penalizes draft evasion or desertion with denationalization (loss of citizenship). Up until the war’s end, Southern newspapers continue to advertise slave auctions.

 The 13th Amendment frees 4 million slaves. But since it does not apply to those convicted of a crime, it leads to massive detention and forced labor of Blacks. The “except as a punishment for crime” clause essentially re-invents slavery. “Convict leasing” will continue for another forty years and justify mass incarceration for another century.  Kentucky, Mississippi and Delaware reject the Thirteenth Amendment. South Carolina explicitly prohibits black people from performing any labor other than farm or domestic work. Whites murder over 2,000 blacks in southern Louisiana, 200 in New Orleans. General Sherman’s Special Field Order # 15 confiscates 400,000 acres along the South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida coasts and divides it into parcels of 40 acres on which 18,000 formerly enslaved families are to be settled. After Lincoln’s assassination, President Andrew Johnson reverses the order, pardons certain Confederates, evicts the blacks and returns the land to its previous owners. Johnson’s policies usher in sharecropping, a new practice that soon replaces slavery as a primary source of agricultural labor and Black exploitation.

Southern states enact the first “black codes” to force blacks back onto the plantations as defacto slaves.  Violation requires offenders to pay fines. County courts can hire out those unable to pay until they work off their balances in slavery-like environments with high fatality rates. Refusal to work off debts leads to vagrancy charges, resulting in more fees and forced labor. Since licenses are required for offenders to perform skilled labor, blacks have few opportunities to learn trades. All blacks are subject to local curfews and must carry passes from their employers. Local officials oversee all meetings of blacks, including church. Any blacks desiring to live in town require white sponsors.

Indian Territory is entirely reconstructed. The government justifies taking Native lands as punishment for the tribes having supported the Confederacy, although most had done so under duress. All five tribes are forced to cede the western half of Indian Territory and agree to the construction of two railroads across it. Those Indians who had sided with the Confederacy are the only group of former slaveholders compelled to provide their former slaves with land. The Cherokee, Muscogee, and Seminole are forced to provide citizenship to former slaves and the Choctaw and Chickasaw have the option to adopt the freedmen or provide for their removal from their territory. The Choctaw adopt the freed slaves, but the Chickasaw do not.

1865-1868: At least 34 documented mass lynchings occur during Reconstruction. Whites murder over a thousand blacks in Texas. None of the five hundred who are indicted are convicted.

1865-1872: In the 76 years prior to 1865, the Supreme Court had struck down just two Congressional acts. Between 1865 and 1872, it will do so 12 times. Most of these decisions will rob the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments of their purpose.

1865-1903: Hunters working for the military annihilate the buffalo to deny basic food to the plains Indians. All the Southern states introduce the use of chain gangs.

1866: Circleville  and Memphis massacres. The first Hawaiian leprosy patients are sent to Moloka‘i Colony. Andrew Johnson pardons over 7,000 Confederates. The Ku Klux Klan is founded as a domestic terrorist force serving the interests of the Democratic Party. It will murder at least 10% of the black members of the constitutional conventions of 1867-8. Black veterans in particular are targeted for mistreatment and murder. A White mob attacks a Black voting rights convention in New Orleans, killing 35 Black marchers and three white Radical Republicans. Texas restricts Blacks from testifying in court.  Congress adopts a bill to invade and annex Canada and creates permanent all-Black regiments, to be remembered as the “Buffalo Soldiers”. Florida’s Black Code prohibits blacks from possessing firearms, punishing violators with public whippings. Police are posted at train stations throughout the South to seize black veterans’ guns.

The first Civil Rights Act, passed over Johnson’s veto, declares all persons born in the U.S. (except Indians) to be natural citizens. For the first time, some people other than whites are accepted. A second Homestead Act encourages blacks to participate, but rampant discrimination slows black gains.

1867: Aquarius Mountains massacre.  New Jersey allows voter registration only on the Thursday before election. Buffalo Bill Cody singlehandedly kills 4,000 buffalo. Nathan Bedford Forrest, the butcher of Fort Pillow, becomes the first Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. His statue will stand in Nashville from 1998 until 2021. Johnson offers further pardons to Confederates. Congress passes the Reconstruction Acts, imposing military rule on the South. In ten of the eleven former Confederate states, 80% of eligible Black male voters register to vote.

 1868: Campo Seco, La Paz, Opelousas and Washita massacres. The first Jew is lynched in Tennessee. A white mob in Georgia, armed by the local sheriff, fires upon an election parade, killing two dozen. Hundreds of Black veterans are driven from their homes.

The 14th Amendment establishes equal protection under the law but allows states to decide what crimes will allow the loss of voting rights. The southern states are forced to ratify it in order to regain representation in Congress. The Supreme Court opts for a narrower interpretation of this and the 13th Amendment, focusing on African Americans. For Indians and Alaska Natives, involuntary servitude persists through debt peonage. Before the war, 3/5ths of Southern slaves had been included in calculating Congressional representation.  However, as free persons, all blacks are now counted, and this change significantly enhances Southern power in Congress and the Electoral College. Meanwhile, only eight Northern states allow blacks to vote. Johnson pardons almost all of the remaining Confederates, further establishing the logic of the U.S. racial state: providing civic inclusion for treasonous whites and exclusion for newly liberated Blacks. Oakland becomes the west coast terminus of the transcontinental railroad. Ultimately, thousands of Black Pullman Porters will retire there, transforming the city.

1869: Wyoming Territory is the first to grant women suffrage in state elections. The House of Representatives votes against seating John Menard, the first Black man ever elected to it  (Joseph Rainey will be seated the next year). The first national women’s suffrage organizations are established.

1870-1890: The U.S. Army will engage in over a thousand combat operations against Indians.

1870: Marias massacre. The 15th Amendment establishes black male suffrage but does not forbid literacy, educational tests or poll taxes and does not question the notion that voting is a privilege that states can regulate as they see fit.

Naturalization of black immigrants (but not Asians or Mexicans) is permitted. The 1870s will see 16 major race riots, all of them white-on-black. Utah women, who have previously had the right to vote, lose it. Nearly every black church or schoolhouse in the Tuskegee area is burned. Tennessee prohibits school integration. Hiram Revels of Mississippi is the first African American elected to the Senate. During Reconstruction, 2,000 Black men will serve in elected office in the South (16 in Congress), almost half in South Carolina and Louisiana, where Blacks have had the longest history of political organization. They (briefly) repeal discriminatory laws, rewrite vagrancy statutes, outlaw corporal punishment and sharply reduce the number of capital offenses. Over 90% of Blacks reside in the South but only one percent (30,000) in the region own land.

1871: Kingsley Cave and Camp Grant massacres. Residents of the District of Columbia lose the right to vote for mayor. Congress ends treaty-making with tribes and forbids Western tribes to leave reservations without permission. Congress makes violence infringing on civil and political rights a federal crime. Southern states refuse to comply, forcing the major burden of enforcement onto the federal government. Violence by the KKK in South Carolina forces President Grant to declare martial law. The government indicts over 700 Klansmen in Mississippi, but most receive suspended sentences.

1872: Skeleton Cave massacre. Congress returns the right to hold office to most former Confederates, excluding only 500 leaders, and returns confiscated property. The General Mining Act allows the staking of Indian lands without their consent. Susan B. Anthony is arrested for voting. A single railroad company ships 500,000 bison hides east.

1873: Cypress Hills massacre. Whites massacre 150-280 blacks in Colfax, La.  Newspapers first use the word “communist”. The Federal Comstock laws criminalize use of the Postal Service to send contraceptives, abortifacients, sex toys or personal letters with any sexual content. Half of the states will enact similar laws. Boston officials follow by banning anything that they find to be  inappropriate, leading to the phrase “banned in Boston”.

1874: A white militia overthrows an integrated Louisiana government. White mobs massacre Blacks at political meetings in Mississippi and Alabama. Alabama restores former Confederate leaders to legislative and executive authority, ending Reconstruction in the state and mandating school segregation.

1874 – 1983: Congressional white supremacists will use the filibuster against civil rights and anti-discrimination bills in 1874, 1875, 1945, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1954, 1957, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1966, 1968, 1972, 1976 and 1984, anti-lynching litigation in 1921, 1922, 1925, 1935 and 1938, the creation of a monument to Black World War I soldiers in 1926, an extension of the Voting Rights Act in 1982 and the creation of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day federal holiday in 1983.

1875: Sappa Creek and Clinton massacres. New York and Boston crowds welcome Confederate military units. The Page Act bars entry of Chinese, Japanese, prostitutes, felons, and contract laborers, to “end the danger” of cheap labor and Chinese women, “…few of whom,” says President Grant, “are brought to our shores to pursue honorable or useful occupations.” The American Medical Association argues that Chinese immigrants carry deadly disease. The Supreme Court rules against women’s suffrage. The Civil Rights Act provides for equal treatment in public accommodations and transportation and prohibits exclusion from jury service. It will be struck down eight years later, and no new Civil Rights legislation will be enacted until 1957. Dances are finally banned in New Orleans’ Congo Square.

1876: Thousands of municipalities (“Sundown Towns”) begin to exclude non-whites, and in some cases, Jews, after sunset. The Supreme Court overturns the only three convictions resulting from the Colfax massacre. It rules that the Fourteenth Amendment protects citizens only from state action and not from violence committed by private individuals, heightens the burden on prosecutors by demanding proof of intentional discrimination and reinforces the belief that Blacks should not be permitted to bear arms, notwithstanding the Second Amendment. These new limits on the constitutional authority of Congress to control racist violence changes the balance of power in favor of state and local police, prosecutors, and courts, who can now enforce white supremacy without fear of federal oversight. The Justice Department drops 179 Enforcement Act prosecutions in Mississippi alone. Mob terror against Republicans picks up across the South. Mississippi strengthens convict leasing. Recently amnestied Confederate veterans regain political control through terror and intimidation. In the presidential election the national platforms of both the Democrats and the Republicans single out “Mongolian” immigration as a problem.

1877: Big Hole and Buffalo Hunters massacres. White San Franciscans riot against Chinese residents. Jews can finally vote and hold office in all states, though they still face obstacles if voting is held on Saturdays or if they don’t speak English (there are no Yiddish translations of ballots). Many courts continue to judge the veracity of witnesses based on their Christian beliefs and don’t allow Jews to swear oaths according to their own religious customs. The Compromise of 1877 finally settles the Presidential election, resulting in the removal of federal troops from the South, the end of Reconstruction, the beginning of the Jim Crow era and a new wave of violence that overwhelms the few remaining protective structures for Black people.

1878-1930: Over 6,500 people, overwhelmingly African American, will be lynched.

1879: Fort Robinson massacre. The Carlisle Indian Industrial School becomes a model for others to be established by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. It utilizes forced assimilation to Christian culture and abandonment of Native American traditions. A federal judge rules the Ponca tribe are “people” who can bring petitions for habeas corpus, and that Indians who had severed their relationships with their tribes cannot be ordered to a reservation against their will. Nearly 40,000 black “Exodusters”  settle in Kansas and Oklahoma, creating many Freedman’s towns.  Henrietta Wood receives $2,500, the largest verdict ever awarded for slavery reparations.

1880: Louisiana mandates that the votes of only nine of twelve jurors are enough to convict a defendant, thus nullifying the votes of any black jurors and condemning thousands. The 1880s will see seven major white-on-black race riots.

1882: The U.S. Navy bombards Tlingit villages in Alaska. The Chinese Exclusion Act   suspends immigration of Asian laborers for ten years and prohibits “any convict, lunatic or idiot ” from entering the country. Prior to this date, nearly anyone except for the Chinese and Japanese who crossed the borders had been considered legal. It is possibly the first time in recorded history that a country denies entrance to people based exclusively on their skin color or country of origin and will remain in effect until 1943. The term “illegal immigrant” is first used. New York City police arrest 137 persons for violating the Sunday Laws, or Blue Laws,  which are still in effect in many states.

1883: The Supreme Court declares the Civil Rights Act of 1875 unconstitutional, legitimating segregation and racial violence, and upholds criminalization of interracial sexual relationships.  The Religious Crimes Code deprives Indians of their first amendment rights and bans their dances and ceremonies, including the Sun Dance, the Ghost Dance, potlatches, and the practices of medicine persons. It gives Indian agents authority to use imprisonment and the withholding of rations to stop any cultural practices they deem immoral or subversive. Courts of Indian offenses are created to replace Native governance. Intellectuals introduce the term “eugenics.” Hula performance is revived in Hawaii.

1884: San Francisco public schools deny admission to Chinese American children.

1885: Rock Springs massacre and Tacoma Riot. The Alien Contract Labor Law prohibits importing of any foreigners to perform labor, including “professional actors, artists, lecturers, or singers (and) persons employed as strictly personal or domestic servants.”  Ohio allows voters to register on only seven select days during the year.

1885-1888: Racist mobs lynch several uniformed Black “Buffalo soldiers”. Over 100,000 Chinese  work on the railroads, in agriculture and mining and as domestics and service workers.

1885-1908: All 11 former Confederate states rewrite their constitutions to restrict Black voting rights using poll taxes, literacy tests and felon disenfranchisement. In Louisiana the number of Black registered voters drops from 130,000 during Reconstruction to 5,000 by 1900 and 1,000 by 1904.

1886: White mobs in Vancouver and Seattle riot against Chinese residents. Idaho expels its 4,000 Chinese residents. 

1887: Hell’s Canyon Massacre. The Thibodaux Massacre leaves 60 Blacks dead and ends unionized farm labor in the South for decades.  The Dawes Act grants citizenship to Native Americans who disassociate themselves from their tribe and subdivides communal landholdings into individual allotments. Utah is the second territory to allow women to vote, but Congress repeals woman’s suffrage there. The Indian Affairs Commissioner bans Native languages in schools. Plantation owners force Hawaiian King Kalakaua to sign the “Bayonet Constitution”.

1888: The Supreme Court affirms (and will repeatedly re-affirm) that corporations have all the rights of people.

1889: Oklahoma’s first “land rush” occurs as the federal government opens nearly two million acres to settlement. Additional land rushes will occur in 1891 (twice), 1893 and 1895.

1890-1920: Eleven million rural people move to the cities of the North and the Midwest as twenty million European immigrants arrive.

1890: Buffalo Gap, Stronghold and Wounded Knee massacres. Whitecappers force blacks in mixed-race areas to move out. As a result, Oklahoma becomes quite segregated, with some formerly mixed towns becoming all-white. The government assumes control of immigration and constructs the Ellis Island Inspection Station. It will eventually process 12 million immigrants, who will become the ancestors of 100 million Americans. The Bureau of Immigration is created to enforce federal immigration laws, especially the ban on Asians. All reservations in Indian Territory are annexed into the new Oklahoma Territory. Mississippi amends its constitution to permanently disenfranchise people who commit certain crimes they believe are more likely to be committed by Black people. They do not include murder and rape, which will not be added until 1968. The 1890s will see nine major (white-on-black) race riots.

1891: A New Orleans mob lynches a group of eleven Italian Americans, whom they call “white niggers”. The word “Mafia” enters the American lexicon. Federal officers forcibly take Indian children from their homes and reservations. In Oklahoma territory a land lottery is held instead of another land rush. Night riders attack Jews in Louisiana and Mississippi. Congress prohibits immigration by polygamists.

1892: The Geary Act extends the Chinese Exclusion Act, requires all Chinese to carry resident permits on penalty of deportation and prohibits them from testifying in court. The Supreme Court upholds it.  The Commissioner of Indian affairs imposes prison penalties for those who repeatedly participate in religious dances or act as medicine people. Congress recommends establishing Columbus Day as a national holiday because of “the devout faith of the discoverer and for the divine care and guidance which has directed our history and so abundantly blessed our people.”

1893: White planters and businessman overthrow the Hawaiian monarchy. The Supreme Court decides that the government’s right to expel foreigners is “absolute” and that “the provisions of the Constitution, securing the right of trial by jury, and prohibiting unreasonable search and seizures, and cruel and unusual punishment, have no application” in such cases. It first establishes the uniquely marginal, political category of “illegal alien”. For the first time since slavery, an entire category of people can be imprisoned without a trial by jury.

1895: Federal authorities imprison 19 Hopi leaders on Alcatraz Island for opposing the government’s forced education and assimilation of indigenous children. The United Daughters of the Confederacy is founded.

1896: The Plessy vs Ferguson decision (“Separate but equal”) legalizes segregation. The teaching of the Hawaiian language is prohibited in schools. A white mob murders an interracial couple in Louisiana.

1898: White supremacists stage a military assault on the last bastion of biracial government in the South, killing scores of Blacks and driving thousands out of Wilmington, North Carolina.  The Supreme Court rules that a child born in the U.S. of parents of Chinese nationality is a citizen.  The Curtis Act breaks up tribal governments and communal lands in Oklahoma. White settlers are given license to ignore tribal laws, evade permit taxes, fence lands illegally and refuse to vacate lands claimed by Native allottees. The “Five Civilized Tribes” who had suffered the Trail of Tears lose control of over 90 million acres. The U.S. annexes Hawaii. The convict lease system supplies 73% of Alabama’s entire state revenue.

1898-1934: Congress creates the nation’s only “Institution for Insane Indians”, the Canton Insane Asylum, confining many for resisting government regulations or to steal their mineral rights. For the first two years, there are no doctors or nurses. Tourists come to view the “insane Indians.” At least 121 patients die.

1899: The Oklahoma Legislature prohibits the practices and healing ceremonies of native medicine men. The American Federation of Labor (AFL) admits the rigidly all-white International Association of Machinists.

Read Part Five here.

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Barry’s Blog # 411: Who is an American? A Timeline, Part Three of Eight

Part Three: 1800-1850

What is ghastly and really almost hopeless in our racial situation now is that the crimes we have committed are so great and so unspeakable that the acceptance of this knowledge would lead, literally, to madness. The human being, then, in order to protect himself, closes his eyes, compulsively repeats his crimes, and enters a spiritual darkness which no one can describe. – James Baldwin

1800: Slaves revolt in Virginia.

1800-1801: Congress allows the Sedition and Alien Friends Acts to expire. But the Alien Enemies Act remains in effect. It will be revised  in 1918 and remains in effect today. Congress extends Virginia’s and Maryland’s slavery laws to the District of Columbia.

1802-1803: Thomas Jefferson signs the Georgia Compact, which creates Alabama and Mississippi from land that was formerly part of Georgia. As compromise, he promises to extinguish title to Cherokee lands in Georgia. Any lands to be vacated by Indians will become the possession of the state. The Louisiana Purchase provides western land for Indian resettlement and determines that millions of people will become unknowing subjects of American rule, if not citizens. All presidents thereafter encourage Indians to emigrate west. The question of slavery now becomes both geographical and highly political.

1802: Slaves revolt in North Carolina.

1803-1857: The Supreme Court will strike down only two federal statutes, compared to the 22 it will strike down between 1992 and 2002.

1805: Canyon del Muerto massacre.

1807:  The kidnapping of Africans escalates dramatically. Anticipating a constitutional ban on the transatlantic trade, traffickers in Charleston import over 40,000 Africans. Ohio prohibits blacks from testifying in cases involving whites. New Jersey, which had previously allowed wealthy, unmarried (white) women to vote, disenfranchises all women.

1808-1829: North Carolina prohibits slaveowners from legally freeing their slaves; many Quakers move away to free their slaves in “free states.”

1808-1860: Congress prohibits the further importation of slaves and forbids Americans to engage in the international slave trade but does not ban slavery itself. The domestic slave trade emerges to fill the void. Virginia will transition from a slave-dominated tobacco plantation society into a more diverse economy needing fewer slaves. At the same time, slave demand in the West couples with the excess supply of slaves in the Upper South and the cotton boom in the Deep South propelled by the invention of the cotton gin. This will link the price of cotton with the price of slaves for the next fifty years. The potential profit to be made from selling Blacks already enslaved in the country skyrockets and results in the trafficking of millions – including many free Blacks kidnapped and sold – and fuels a massive increase in the Deep South’s enslaved population. Some slave owners breed their slaves to produce more workers. Two of the largest breeding farms are in Richmond and Maryland. At least 30,000 (possibly as many as 300,000) slaves are transported hundreds of miles west and south to New Orleans by riverboat, on foot and eventually by train. The nation’s slave population will increase fourfold. Cotton exports will grow from 100,000 bales to over a million, comprising half of all U.S. exports and driving Britain’s industrial revolution. As a result, slaves become a legal form of property used as collateral in business transactions or to pay off outstanding debt.

1811: Slaves revolt in Louisiana.

1812-21: Six western states join the union with full white male suffrage. Maryland will exclude Jewish Americans from state office until the law requiring candidates to affirm a belief in an afterlife is repealed in 1828.

1813: Tallushatchee, Hillabee and Autossee massacres.

1815: Andrew Jackson promises free blacks who join him equivalent pay to whites, while enslaved men are promised freedom. Around 900 freemen and slaves fight at the Battle of New Orleans. Afterwards, Jackson reneges on his promise and sends the enslaved men back to their masters.

1817: The Cherokee Nation makes its first land exchange, accepting a western tract in present-day Arkansas for one in Georgia. Most Cherokees refuse to emigrate.

1818:  Chehaw massacre. Virginia disestablishes its official state religion.

1819: Congress creates a fund to “civilize” Native Americans. The Cherokee Nation passes slave codes that regulate the slave trade, forbid intermarriage and prohibit slaves from owning private property.

1820: The U.S. first compiles immigration statistics. From this date, no nation will contribute more legal immigrants than Mexico. The Missouri Compromise regulates slavery in the western territories and recognizes that Congress cannot impose upon states seeking admission to the Union conditions that do not apply to those states already in the Union. After Missouri’s admission in 1821, no other states will be admitted until 1836 when Arkansas will enter as a slave state, followed by Michigan in 1837 as a free state. In California, 20,000 Indians live in virtual slavery on the Catholic missions.

1821: New York State ends its denial of citizenship to Catholics. Connecticut punishes the use of  herbs to induce abortions with life imprisonment.

1822: Whites burn down the Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Over half of the goods shipped from New York to Europe are being produced by Southern slave labor. Denmark Vessey’s slave revolt in South Carolina is prevented.

1823: Skull Creel massacre.  The Supreme Court decides the first  case to set the foundation for Indian law, invoking the Doctrine of Discovery as a foundation for Indian removal and seizure of Native lands. The title to land ownership lies with its “discoverer,” not the long-term inhabitants.

1824:  Fall Creek massacre. The Office of Indian Affairs is formed.

1826: Dressing Point massacre.

1827: The New Jersey Supreme Court permits the sale of black children as so-called “apprentices.” Georgia begins to nullify Cherokee laws and appropriate Cherokee lands. The Supreme Court refuses to enforce the treaties. New York abolishes slavery, but allows non-residents to have slaves in the state for up to nine months.

1828: The beginning of “Jacksonian Democracy”. Barriers such as property requirements preventing white men from voting fall across the nation. Voters, not state legislatures, begin to choose presidential electors. Nowhere else in the world can such a large proportion of the (white) population exercise the franchise. At the same time, some states add new restrictions preventing blacks and women from voting. Some northern states that had permitted free black citizens to vote now strip them of that privilege or add property requirements that effectively bar them from voting. Georgia abolishes the independent government of the Cherokee and extends state law over their territory.

1829: Irish immigrants riot against free blacks in Cincinnati. That city requires black residents to adhere to earlier laws aimed at preventing fugitive slaves and freedmen from settling in Ohio. The first wave of thousands of blacks leave for Canada. Gold is discovered in Cherokee territory in Georgia. The ensuing gold rush increases whites’ determination to see the Cherokee (who are forbidden to dig for gold) removed.

1830: The Hawaiian royalty, influenced by Protestant missionaries, bans public hula performances. North Carolina makes it a crime for free persons to teach literacy to slaves and mandates the death sentence for repeated dissemination of an anti-slavery pamphlet.

1830-1839: The Indian Removal Act demands relocation of all Native Americans to west of the Mississippi River. The Cherokees contest it. The South again favors robust federal action. The Supreme Court decides for the Cherokees, but Jackson ignores the decision. The Army then forces tens of thousands of the civilized tribes and other indigenous peoples into concentration camps (called “emigration depots”) and then onto what will become known as The Trail of Tears.

1831: Following Nat Turner’s slave rebellion in Virginia, white mobs kill hundreds of blacks. Virginia requires black congregations to meet only in the presence of a white minister. The Choctaw are the first to be forcibly relocated to Indian Territory. Thousands – nearly one-third of the Choctaw Nation – die on the 500-mile journey.

1831-1853: The Supreme Court decides additional cases in favor of aboriginal rights. Most will not be enforced.

1832: Bad Axe massacre.  Alabama claims sovereignty over the Muscogee and Cherokee people and bars tribal customs.

1833: Massachusetts ends taxation of Catholics to support state-supported Protestant churches.

1834: Lyman Beecher preaches three violently anti-Cathlolic sermons in Boston, prompting a mob to burn down a convent school. A wave of church burnings follows in New England and the Midwest. Alabama bans free Blacks from living in the state.

1834-1880: The native population will plummet from 150,000 to 18,000.

1835: The “Native American” Party appears in New York City. Missouri requires free Blacks to apply for a license to remain in the state. A white mob attacks abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison in Boston. The Treaty of New Echota establishes terms for the Cherokee Nation to cede its territory in the southeast and move west and guarantees them the right to send a delegate to Congress, which will fail to do so. They bring most of their 1,500 slaves with them on the Trail of Tears. One Cherokee leader, Joseph Vann, owns 400.

1835-1842: Escaped black slaves and freedmen (“Black Seminoles”) in Florida ally with the Seminoles in the Second Seminole War.

1836-1860: The sensational, pornographic book Disclosures of Maria Monk: The Hidden Secrets of a Nun’s Life in a Convent Exposed becomes second only to Uncle Tom’s Cabin as antebellum America’s most popular book, selling 300,000 copies. Some 270 books, 25 newspapers and 13 magazines carry the anti-Catholic message. Most other best-sellers will be captivity narratives written by white women formerly kept captive by Indian tribes.

1836: The Texas Rangers are founded to fight Indians and capture slaves who escape to Mexico. David Crockett and the other defenders of the Alamo become America’s first martyrs for the cause of manifest destiny and westward expansion.

1837: Miwok and Johnson massacres. Congress prohibits direct payment to tribes for ceded lands. The Whitecapping movement begins in Indiana as whites form secret societies to deliver frontier justice.  The House of Representatives prohibits any discussion of the abolition of slavery in its chamber. The rule will remain in effect until 1844.

1838: Boston establishes the first urban police force.

1840: Council House, Clear Lake and Red Fork massacres. Due chiefly to the slave trade, New Orleans becomes the fourth-largest city in the country, and the richest.

1840-1860: James Sims, the “father of gynecology”, pioneers new medical techniques by conducting them on unanesthetized female slaves.

1841: Whereas previous legislation to help encourage settlement of the West on public lands had no racial restrictions, Congress now stipulates that the General Pre-Exemption Act is for Whites only. The first black Catholic church is founded. Baptist churches allow blacks to become leaders and preachers, but Anglican or Episcopal churches do not. The Supreme Court frees the Africans who had taken over the slave ship Amistad and allows them to return to Africa. Other slaves seize the brig Creole in the Bahamas. The U.K. which had already abolished slavery, frees the 17 blacks, provoking an international incident with the U.S. Eventually claims for losses of slaves from Creole and two other American ships transporting enslaved persons will be repaid to their owners, along with other claims dating to 1814.

1842: Black slaves revolt against their Cherokee owners in Oklahoma.The Supreme Court affirms that federal law supersedes any state measures that attempt to interfere with the Fugitive Slave Act. But since the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793 remains largely unenforced, thousands of slaves pour into free states via networks like the Underground Railroad.

1843: 3,800 Indians (including 800 Black Seminoles) have been shipped from Florida to the Indian Territory.

1844: New Jersey removes anti-Catholic provisions from its state constitution. Anti-Irish mobs in Philadelphia burn churches and kill thirteen. The Oregon Territory passes its first “Black exclusion” law banning free Blacks from moving there. Violators are to be whipped. Nativists attack Catholic Irish in Philadelphia, burning churches in the first of two multi-day riots that result in two dozen deaths

1845: Massachusetts makes any form of attempted abortion illegal. The first Jewish member of Congress, Lewis Charles Levin founds the American Republic Party, later known as the Native American Party.

1846-1860: A million and a half Catholic Irish arrive, 50,000 of whom (including many U.S. citizens) are deported back to Ireland. Thousands are drafted into the army, but when the U.S. invades Mexico, 200 Irish desert, join the Mexican army and form the “Saint Patrick Battalion.”  Irish-Black tensions increase. Irish American organizations actively oppose abolition of slavery. The foreign-born population more than doubles. The underground railroad comes into existence to assist slaves escaping to the North.

1846: Sacramento River, Klamath Lake, Temecula and Sutter Butte massacres.

1847: Taos,  Tulea, Kern and Maidu massacres. In Mexico City, General Winfield Scott hangs fifty members of the Saint Patrick’s Battalion.

1848: Brazos River massacres. The first call for women’s suffrage takes place at Seneca Falls, New York.

1849-1869: Californians will murder 9,000-16,000 Native Americans.

1849: Battle Creek massacre. Charles Reason becomes the first African American college professor. 

1850: The Compromise of 1850 abolishes the slave trade in the nation’s capital (home to one of the largest slave markets) and allows territories recently acquired from Mexico to decide whether or not to allow slavery.  For the third time, the South embraces national power over state’s rights when the Second Fugitive Slave Act levies harsher punishments ($1,000 and six months in jail) for interfering in the capture of runaways and authorizes judges to issue verdicts that cannot be challenged. Free Blacks accused of being escapees may not testify in their own defense. Even so, hundreds of armed blacks in Detroit force the owner of a fugitive to allow his freedom to be purchased. A second wave of 20,000 freedmen flees to Canada, which refuses to extradite them.

Federal Judges hear over 800 land-title cases, most ignoring the principle of aboriginal rights. The Donation Land Act provides free land to all white or mixed-blood Indigenous settlers who arrive in Oregon Territory. The law, which grants 320 acres to unmarried male citizens and 640 acres to married couples, split equally between them, is one of the first to allow married women to hold land under their own name. Massachusetts and Connecticut re-enact voter literacy tests, attempting to curtail immigrant Democratic Party voting power. The Supreme Order of the Star Spangled Banner is formed, better known as the “Know-Nothing” party. Its mobs beat up opposition voters in several cities.

Congress imposes a tax of $20/month on foreign miners. California is admitted to the Union as a free state and immediately passes the Indian Slavery Act.  It provides that Indians “found loitering and strolling about” can be enslaved without notice and cannot testify on their own behalf. Fort Utah and Bloody Island massacres.

Read Part Four here.

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Barry’s Blog # 410: Who is an American? A Timeline, Part Two of Eight

Part Two: The 18th Century

I consider a woman who brings a child every two years as more profitable than the best man of the farm. What she produces is an addition to the capital, while his labors disappear in mere consumption. – Thomas Jefferson.

1704: Apalachee Massacre.  South Carolina creates the first slave patrols, which serve to apprehend and return runaway slaves to their owners and deter slave revolts

1705: Several colonies including New York pass laws to prevent runaways from fleeing to Canada. Virginia limits the civil and land rights of Indians and Africans, based on blood degree: 1/2 Native ancestry = mulatto; 1/8 African ancestry = Black. Any servant who is not a Christian and who accompanies a white master will be considered a slave. It is illegal for any minister to preside over a marriage of a white person and one of color. Any slave who participates in an interracial marriage is whipped, branded, or disfigured.

1706: Reverend Cotton Mather teaches Northern slaves that they are sinners, that slave owners perform the “greatest kindness” by overseeing their conversion to Christianity and that their property will be unaffected by conversion.

1712: French troops kill 1,000 Mesquaki (Fox) People near Detroit.  Tuscarora massacre.  Slaves revolt in New York City.

1713: Fort Neoheroka massacre. 

1718: Parliament passes the Transportation Act, which results in the expulsion of over 50,000 convicts and paupers, a quarter of all British emigrants to North America during the eighteenth century.

1723: Virginia removes all penalties for the killing of slaves during “correction.”

1724: Abenaki massacre.  New Hampshire authorizes scalp hunting. 

1730: Chawasha and Fox Fort massacres. 

1731: Slaves revolt in Louisiana.

1739: Slaves revolt in South Carolina – the Stono rebellion.

1740: Following the unsuccessful Stono Rebellion, the Negro Law of South Carolina codifies white supremacy. It prohibits enslaved Africans from growing their own food, learning to read, moving freely, assembling in groups, or earning money. It authorizes white slavers to kill slaves for being “rebellious.” Other colonies copy the law.

1745: Russian fur traders enslave Unangan (Aleut) people. Walden massacre. 

1747: Chama River massacre. 

1759: St. Francis massacre. 

1763: Susquehannock and Conestoga massacres. 

1766: Aleut massacres. 

177o: South Carolina is importing an average of 3,000 enslaved Africans annually.

1771: Bloody Falls massacre. 

1774: Spanish Peaks and Yellow Creek massacres.  The Continental Congress leaves it to each state to decide who shall be a voting citizen.

1776: George Washington allows slaves to earn freedom through service, and 5,000 blacks join the Revolutionary Army. The Declaration of Independence refers to Native Americans as “savages”.

1776- 1860: Abortion is viewed as socially unacceptable but remains legal in most states.

1780: Thomas Jefferson writes, “…if we are to wage a campaign against these Indians, the end proposed should be their extermination, or their removal beyond the lakes of the Illinois River.”

1782: The Pennsylvania militia massacres 96 Gnadenhutten pacifist Christian Lenapes.   The motto E Pluribus Unum (Out of many, one) appears on the Great Seal of the United States.

1783: The revolutionary war ends. Treaties define U.S. territory with no reference to Native people. In the first example of reparations, Belinda Royall successfully sues for a pension from her former slave master. 

1784: White veterans receive land as a reward for their service, while most free Black veterans do not. Russians massacre 200-300 Alutiiq (Sugpiaq) people at Refuge Rock. 

1787: Massacre of Cherokee peace chiefs.  The new government identifies Indian tribes as sovereign nations and establishes the first formal treaties. The Constitution ensures that the international slave trade cannot end for twenty years and grants states the power to establish standards for voting rights. White, Protestant, adult, property-owning males (about 6% of the population) are the only group allowed to vote. Some states require membership in a specified religion. The “Three-fifths Compromise”, which counts three out of every five slaves as people, gives the South a third more Congressional seats and electoral votes than if slaves had been ignored. As a result, these states will have disproportionate influence on the presidency and Supreme Court for over fifty years. After the Civil War, when former slaves count as full persons, the Southern states will gain twenty congressional seats. Concerned that the New England states, which have abolished slavery, will harbor runaways, Southern politicians see that the Constitution includes a “Fugitive Slave Clause” (Article 4, Section 2, Clause 3) which states that “no person held to service or labor” would be released from bondage in the event they escaped to a free state.

1789: Congress insists that Americans hold possession of all territory east of the Mississippi River, argues that tribes which had supported the British forfeit any claim to territory and places the Secretary of War in charge of Indian affairs.

1790-1800: Nearly 100,000 immigrants enter the country, including 20,000 Catholic refugees fleeing political repression in France, Santo Domingo (Haiti) and Ireland.

1790: All foreign “free white persons” are naturalized, and only two years residency is required before one can become a citizen. Freed male slaves can vote in four states. Women carry the legal status of their husbands. Property-owning women can vote in New Jersey only. New York is the only state with no restrictions on civic participation based on religion. The nation’s first census recognizes six categories: (1) the head of each household; (2) free white males over sixteen; (3) free white males under sixteen; (4) free white females; (5) all other free white persons by sex and color; and (6) slaves. Freed blacks begin to found their own churches.

1791: The first Constitutional Amendment stipulates that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. However, since it only specifies what the federal government can or cannot do, not what the states can do, establishment does not immediately disappear everywhere. Congregationalism will continue in New England. The Second Amendment gives citizens the right to bear arms, primarily to allay fears of armed black uprisings. Virginian Robert Carter begins to free his 500 slaves and is forced to leave the state. Slaves revolt in Louisiana.

1792: Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson claims that the European Doctrine of Discovery is international law, applicable to the new U.S. government as well.

1792–1856: Various states abolish property qualifications for white men but retain them for blacks. Tax-paying qualifications will remain in five states until 1860 and survive in Pennsylvania and Rhode Island into the 20th century. Free black males lose the right to vote in several Northern states.

1793: The white South, usually vocal in defense of local rights, favors robust national action on the subject of slavery. The first Fugitive Slave Act authorizes local governments to seize and return escaped slaves to their owners and impose $500 penalties on anyone who aids in their flight. Slave owners and their “agents” receive the right to search for escapees within the borders of free states. In response, several Northern states pass laws prohibiting state officials from aiding in the capture of fugitives. Abolitionists begin to organize clandestine resistance groups and networks of safe houses. In America’s first rape trial, a wealthy man is acquitted of raping a teenager.

1795: The government extends the residency requirement to five years and encourages Indians to embrace mainstream white customs so they can assimilate into American society. The Cherokee, Muscogee, Seminole, Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes do so, becoming known as the “five civilized tribes.” Slaves revolt in Louisiana.

1796: The first economic depression, or panic, occurs, as they will in 1796, 1815, 1837, 1857, 1873, 1890, 1901, 1907, 1920, 1929 and 2008.

1798: Congress raises the residency requirement to 14 years. Federalists, accusing Republicans of being in league with France against their own country’s government, pass the four Alien and Sedition Acts. The Alien Enemies Act permits the government to arrest and deport all male citizens of an enemy nation in the event of war, while the Alien Friends Act allows deportation of any non-citizen suspected of plotting against the government, even in peacetime. Only ten years after freedom of speech becomes part of the Constitution, the Sedition Act restricts speech that is critical of the federal government and results in the prosecution of many newspaper owners.

Read Part Three here.

 

 

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Barry’s Blog # 409: Who is an American? A Timeline, Part One of Eight

Part One: The Beginning

History…does not refer merely, or even principally, to the past. On the contrary, the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do. — James Baldwin

Item # one: June 2019. A Salvadoran father and his daughter drown trying to cross the Rio Grande River. Salvadoran-migrant-and-daughter_16b9288a435_base Children endure inhuman conditions in concentration camps while their parents are deported. Toddlers are brought into court without translators. Mothers are told to drink from toilets. How, we wonder, can our government treat people with such gratuitous cruelty? Has it ever been this bad? Surely, say the pundits and many innocent liberals, this is not who we are!

Item # 2: July 4th, 2019. While Trumpus and his stormtroopers churn up the National Mall and the streets of Washington with military hardware, I take a break from writing and go for a walk in Oakland’s Mountain View Cemetery. KorematsuGrave-768x768 A series of chance turns takes me to the grave of Fred Korematsu, the Japanese American who fought his conviction for evading internment in World War Two concentration camps for forty years.

Item # 3: June 2021. On “Meet the Press”, Chuck Todd mentions Critical Race Theory:

…parents are saying, “Hey, don’t make my kid feel guilty”…And I know a parent of color is going, “What are you talking about?”

Nikole Hannah-Jones responds:

You said, “parents,” and then you said, “parents of color.”

Item # 4: January 2022. Mitch McConnell snorts,

African American voters are voting in just as high a percentage as Americans.

But I’m not here to only bash Republicans; that’s too easy. Consider Joe Biden’s infamous “praise” of Barack Obama in 2007:

I mean, you got the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.

If you don’t get the irony, you really need to read this and take some time – lots of time – to consider how the nation has determined exactly who is privileged to live within the pale of “us” – the good, the true, the exceptional, the innocent – and who is not, how often those definitions have changed, and how violently whites have responded to them.

As I write in “The Myth of Immigration”:

…the immigrant plays a curiously ambiguous role in the narrative of American innocence. Immigrants are outsiders who in aspiring (or threatening) to be in transition to becoming insiders, force insiders to question something we quite ambiguously refer to as the American Dream. To the Paranoid Imagination, however, they threaten to pollute that dream.

A further ambiguity is that their condition is qualified by their skin color (and of course, for generations, by their gender, their sexual preferences and the degree of choice they had to come to this land – as conquerors, slaves, indentured servants, refugees, unskilled workers, graduate students or anti-communists). The story of American immigration announces a welcome to all that is enshrined on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” There may be no poetic line better known in the entire world. But this story – the Melting Pot, or the Ellis Island myth – is rife with such contradictions that for centuries its adherents have required an entire mythology to resolve them – a massive, ongoing, national, cognitive dissonance. Myths are powerful. When facts meet myth, it is the truth that must change to fit the myth.

One could also argue for the simple statement that the story of American immigration has always been about those (white) people who were welcomed and those others, including the conditionally white, who were merely tolerated.

Immigrants – those who are just arriving, and especially those of darker skin – also provide a convenient mirror for those who desperately need to convince themselves that they are the real Americans, that they are “nativists.” Such people consumed the earliest versions of the myth of American Innocence, in which the story, quite early on, utterly forgot about the actual, original inhabitants of the land.

We mythologists think in terms of the growth and triumph of a grand story Americans tell themselves about themselves, followed by its tantalizingly slow dissolution, along with the sense of how newer, more inclusive stories have yet to be formed. Individual people have always populated this story, have suffered, risen up against it or perpetrated inconceivably terrible violence to reconfirm it. But seen from this perspective – and we have to – all the players in this play, whether innocent or guilty, have been the victims of historical, generational trauma. And, as players in this story, they embody it for all of us. We are all Americans. No one is completely innocent, and no one has completely escaped the trauma.

Mythologists understand that every national narrative has its shadow, the part of the story we have suppressed so deeply that we’ve forgotten it, perhaps out of fear of what I have called the “return of the repressed” (see Chapter Four of my book). The shadow of E Pluribus Unum insists that we can’t speak about how we became one people without considering settler colonialism, genocide, slavery, capitalism and the construction of “whiteness.” We must address how those privileged enough to achieve entrance within the pale were granted permission to help determine who was outside the pale, how some might be admitted within the pale, and how they might be forced to impale others on the projection wall of otherness. We must understand how defining others as outside has been the primary way in which most of us have known who we are on the inside.

The Myth of American Innocence, built up as it was on a mountain of contradictions, is inherently unstable. In every generation, groups of people – the “Others” – rise up to point out these flaws in the national story and demand inclusion. In reaction, privileged groups circle the wagons to reaffirm the old stories, occasionally making the minimal possible effort to modify them.

Why should everyone become familiar with these events? What’s the big deal? Perhaps in looking at them from the perspectives of women, people of color, Native Americans, Muslims, people of unconventional sex or gender, disabled people or very recent immigrants, we can understand the base mode of American identity (white, male, Christian, able and heterosexual), why so many of us cling to it so tenaciously, why so many are so deeply threatened by anyone who questions it, why they persist in seeing people as “the Other”, and why they go to such efforts to try and maintain this story, even to the extent of supporting con-artist politicians and preachers who steal them blind. This of course is the story that Howard Zinn told in A People’s History of the United States. For a related story – how intellectuals, especially professional historians, have and continue to go to such great lengths to ignore or discredit writers like Zinn, see my essay, Old White Men: Historians as the Gatekeepers of American Myth.

We can read this story depending on the deeper narratives we subscribe to. Optimists will claim, “Look how far we’ve come!”, while pessimists (or realists) will see repeated examples of oligarchs persistently manipulating the dreams and desires of millions for their own purposes. Yes, it has been this bad before, and no, we cannot become who we were meant to be (if we can still think in such terms) without fully acknowledging who we are and who we have been.

So here is a detailed timeline of how America has negotiated that fine line – the border – between “us” and “them.” It’s a long and exhausting list, but I suggest that it falls into the “Don’t look away! Bear witness!” category. These events happened to real people. Notice two patterns of events that have regularly pointed out the discrepancies between values and norms, or between official policy and actual behavior, or between mythic narrative and reality:

1 – The regular occurrence of mass, genocidal violence (the word “mob” appears 25 times, “riot” 38 times and “massacre” 122 times), almost exclusively perpetrated by white people.

2 – The activity of the Supreme Court (composed for most of its existence by old, white – and for its first 70 years, primarily slave-owning – men) in the intermittent expansion and contraction of definitions of who is and who isn’t an American with full rights and freedoms:

Please take your time as you read, and consider Thom Gunn’s poem at the National AIDS Memorial in Golden Gate Park:

Walker within this circle, pause.
Although they all died of one cause,
Remember how their lives were dense
With fine, compacted difference.

The 16th and 17th Centuries

1452: Pope Nicholas V issues the papal bull Dum Diversas, which authorizes Portugal to conquer Saracens and pagans and consign them to “perpetual servitude”. Further bulls will determine that European powers may claim land not inhabited by Christians. France and England will also use this “Doctrine of Discovery” to justify their claims on the New World.

1507: Books begin to use the word “America” to describe the entire New World.

1521: African slaves revolt for the first time in the New World, in Santo Domingo.

1525-1866: 12.5 million African slaves (30% of whom are Muslim)  will be shipped to the New World, of whom 10.7 million will survive the Middle Passage, disembarking in North America, the Caribbean and South America. 388,000 will be shipped directly to North America. They will produce ten million offspring, of whom four million will be alive at the start of the Civil War.

1537: Pope Paul III forbids the enslavement of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

1539: Hernando de Soto executes 200 Timucuan warriors in the Napituca massacre.

1540: De Soto massacres 200 Choctaw at Mabila.

1541: Francisco Coronado massacres 200 at the Moho Pueblo.

1585: The English first attempt to establish a colony on Roanoke Island off the coast of present-day North Carolina.

1599: The Spanish massacre 800 Pueblo people at Acama.

1600-1800: Over half of all immigrants to the British colonies will arrive as indentured servants or slaves.

1601: Spaniards massacre 900 Tompiro Pueblo people.

1605: Following earlier explorers and traders, the French under Champlain map the area around Plymouth Harbor. They encounter a native settlement called Patuxet, a large cluster of Wampanoag villages on the site of the future Plymouth Colony, with a population of 12,000.

1607: The English establish Jamestown.

1610: The English massacre several dozen Paspahegh people near Jamestown.

1611-1618: Virginia law institutes capital punishment for speaking ill of the King or missing church three times.

1614: The first interracial marriage in what will become the U.S. is between Pocahontas and John Rolfe.

1616-1619: Diseases introduced by the Europeans decimate the coastal Native population from Maine to Rhode Island. The English seize the opportunity:

There hath, by God’s visitation, reigned a wonderful plague [that has resulted in] the utter destruction, devastation, and depopulation of that whole territory, so as there is not left … any that do claim or challenge any kind of interest therein. We, in our judgment, are persuaded and satisfied, that the appointed time is come in which Almighty God, in his great goodness and bounty towards us, and our people, hath thought fit and determined, that those large and goodly territories, deserted as it were by their natural inhabitants, should be possessed and enjoyed by such of our subjects. – King James I, The Great Patent of New-England 

1619: The first African slaves arrive. Virginia recognizes the Church of England (Anglicanism) as its official religion.

1620: When the Pilgrims settle at Plymouth, they discover that “the ground was strewn with the skulls and bones of thousands of Indians who had died and none were left to bury them”. The epidemics kill 75-90% of the native population. New pestilences will continue to visit the native communities – the “Great Smallpox Epidemic” of 1633, the “Universal Sickness” of 1645, the “Plague and the Pox” of 1650-51, and the “Bloody-Flux” of 1652.

1622: The Powhatan uprising kills a sixth of the English settlers, who retaliate by ordering the extermination of all Powhatans. In the Pamunkey Massacre, the English poison the wine at a peace conference with Powhatan leaders, killing 250.

1623: Massachusetts Puritans massacre the Wessagusset.

1624: Of the 300 children shipped from Britain to Virginia between 1619 and 1622, only 12 are still alive. One-fifth of New England immigrants are indentured servants.

1626: African slaves revolt for the first time on mainland North America, in South Carolina.

1627: Carib slaves are brought to Jamestown from the West Indies. The Puritans ban maypoles.

1630: Virginia sentences a white man to be flogged for “defiling his body in lying with a Negro.” 

1636: Harvard College is founded. Connecticut Puritans kill 400-700 Pequot people in the Mystic River massacre.

1638: Puritans force the Quinnipiac onto the first reservation. 

1640: Raritan massacre.  The first African is sentenced to slavery for life in Virginia.

1641: The Dutch governor of Manhattan offers a bounty for Indian scalps. The Puritan churches are radically democratic, rejecting centralized authority. Their Massachusetts Body of Liberties is the first modern bill of rights, but it justifies slavery, which will be legal in the state until 1780.

1643: The Dutch kill 500 Lenape and Wappinger people in the Pavonia and Pound Ridge massacres. 

1644: Massapequa massacre.

1650: Puritans ban William Pynchon’s book The Meritorious Price of Our Redemption.

1656: The first Quakers arriving in America are beaten and imprisoned. Any ship arriving with Quakers on board is fined and forced to return them. Any male Quaker caught in Massachusetts will lose his right ear. Four will be hanged.

1657: New Netherlands upholds the Dutch Reformed Church and refuses to allow other denominations to establish churches.

1661: The Spanish outlaw Pueblo ceremonies in New Mexico.

1662: Virginia determines the free-or-slave status of all people born in the colony according to the race of the mother only and removes any penalties for raping Black women. With this change, enslaved people are forever, while servants completing their indenture will be freed with money and land. Slaves begin to outnumber indentured servants.

1663: Slaves revolt in Gloucester County, Virginia.

1667: Virginia law declares that baptism of slaves does not exempt them from bondage. Theologians cast blacks as the Biblical Children of Ham, whom God cursed to become slaves to whites.

1669: Virginia removes criminal penalties for enslavers who kill slaves resisting authority.

1670-1680: Of 5,000 indentured servants transferred to Virginia in the decade, 241 will manage to acquire their own land.

1670:  When Anthony Johnson, one of the original Africans from 1619, dies, his lands are given to a white colonist, even though Johnson has children who expect to receive their legal inheritance. This decision is considered legal because, as a black man, Johnson is not considered a citizen of Virginia and has no right to land ownership.

1675: The Great Swamp Massacre. 

1676: Occaneechi, Peskeompscut and Narragansett massacres. Bacon’s Rebellion occurs in Virginia. The alliance between white and black indentured servants nearly destroys Jamestown. Upon regaining control, the government responds by hardening the racial caste system to divide the two races from subsequent united uprisings. Indentured servitude is discontinued; one is now either white or a slave.

1680: The Pueblo Revolt drives the Spanish out of New Mexico. Concerned about rebellion, Virginia prohibits slaves from gathering in large numbers.

1688: The Spanish massacre the O’odham people.

1689: The Spanish destroy the Zia Pueblo, killing 600. England bans the persecution of Quakers in the colonies. Descendants of Indians and escaped slaves begin to flee from the South Carolina Lowcountry to Spanish Florida seeking freedom and gradually form the Gullah culture of the coastal Southeast. They develop the Afro-Seminole Creole, which they speak with the growing Seminole tribe. Communities of black Seminoles were established on the outskirts of major Seminole towns.

1691: Virginia outlaws marriage between blacks and whites.

1692-1693: Authorities accuse over 200 people in the Salem, Mass. area of practicing witchcraft and execute twenty. Philadelphia police are empowered to stop and detain any Black person seen wandering about.

1693: The Salem witch trials occur. Philadelphia police are empowered to stop and detain any Black person seen wandering about.

1693-1704: The Spanish re-conquer New Mexico. The American colonies are importing over 20 million pounds of mostly slave-grown tobacco per year to England.

Read Part Two here.

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