Deniers of History

Freedom House

Plaque outside Freedom House in Alexandria, Virginia
Plaque outside Freedom House in Alexandria, Virginia | Source

We Cannot Erase the Past

Perception becomes fact in the mind of a person who allows their philosophy to trump documented events in history. The danger occurs when those with skewed vision and blinded by ideology, wish to erase and rewrite the past.

The Price of Ignorance

Naysayers come out of the woodwork when discussing topics of creationism, evolution, global warming, the holocaust, genocide of the North American Indian and slavery. The annals of time should neither be forgotten nor altered. Individuals and groups are relentless in their attempts to rework actual events to fit their own agendas. Ignorance carries an astronomical price and blurring the vision of future generations by misleading information is definitely not the road we should travel down.


Dutch Slave Ship Arrives in 1619

Captain John Smith led an expedition of English colonists in 1607. These settlers landed in Cape Henry, Virginia and established the first English settlement in the Western Hemisphere. Within 12 years (In 1619) a Dutch ship arrived in Jamestown, Virginia and sold 20 African slaves to the European settlers in order to toil in the tobacco fields. Thirty-two years later (1641) Massachusetts became the first colony to legalize slavery. Yes, the bondage of Africans in North America had its onset and the evil stain of bigotry, racism and slavery had begun, as this land bled for centuries.

Founding Fathers

Historic Gadsby Tavern in Alexandria, Virginia
Historic Gadsby Tavern in Alexandria, Virginia | Source

Presidents and Slaves

Interestingly, many of our founding fathers owned, sold and even traded slaves.


George Washington - At one point, he owned 216 slaves.


Thomas Jefferson - Had as many as 141 slaves.


James Madison - Owned 100 slaves.


James Monroe - Owned between 30 to 40 slaves.


Andrew Jackson - Had possession of approximately 160 slaves.


Martin Van Buren - Had 6 slaves.


William Henry Harrison - Did own slaves, but the numbers are vague.


John Tyler - Although he owned slaves he did not allow their families to be broken apart and refused to let his overseers whip his slaves.


James K. Polk - Had 15 slaves.


Zachary Taylor - Owned around 100 slaves.


James Buchanan - Wanted to make Kansas a slave state. He also felt the Constitution should be amended to permit slavery to remain in the states where it already existed.


Andrew Johnson - Had 8 slaves.


Shackles of a Slave

Tools of a slave dealer
Tools of a slave dealer | Source

Chained and Naked 1.5 to 2 Million Died

It has been estimated when the slave trade ended in the 1860s that at least 12 million Africans had been transported to the Americas. Chained, naked, living in rancid filth and crammed into ships men, women and children would spend two to three months on the journey across the Atlantic Ocean. A cycle of insanity occurred when European ships would trade agricultural products, farmed by slaves in the Americas with Africa in exchange for more slaves to be bought and sold. Reports of 1.5 to 2 million African deaths occurred during the horrendous journey across the ocean. With the invention of the cotton gin came an explosion of new southern cotton plantations. Based on Federal census, by 1850 there were 1.8 million slaves laboring in the cotton industry as the total number of slaves in North America totaled 3.2 million.


Humans For Sale

Men, women and children sold like cattle.
Men, women and children sold like cattle. | Source

Indentured for Life

It is unimaginable to comprehend what went through the minds of people being bought and sold on an open market. How does one live knowing they will never be free and that their loved ones can be snatched from them at any given time? Women, men, children and the elderly were forced to work in the fields from sun up to sun down, wearing rags for clothing and surviving off of a basic diet. Conversely, it is beyond comprehension to fathom what went through the minds of a slave dealer. How does one justify the buying, selling and trading of human life?


Sold to the Highest Bidder

A quote from a slave
A quote from a slave | Source

Negroes Wanted

Today tourists flock to the beauty and architecture of Alexandria, Virginia and in particular Old Town. King Street is the main scene for shopping and sightseeing as travelers marvel at the magnificent buildings and brick and cobblestone walkways that lead down to the Potomac River. Two blocks over from King Street and running parallel to it is Duke Street where a small, unassuming three-story brick home stands. The building was known as the Franklin and Armfield Slave Pen and was operated by Isaac Franklin and John Armfield as a “Negro Jail” and subsequently exported more than 3,750 slaves to the Deep South. Not too far away and still on Duke Street was the Bruin Slave Jail. Joseph Bruin partnered with Henry Hill in the sale of slaves to other slave dealers or individuals. Bruin and Hill placed an advertisement in the Alexandria Gazette in December 1845 which read: "NEGROES WANTED: All persons having Negroes to sell will find ready sale and liberal prices for them by calling at the new establishment of BRUIN & HILL."


Please Master Don't Sell My Family

A holding area at Freedom House
A holding area at Freedom House | Source

Emancipation Proclamation

In an ideal world, everything would be equal and racial inequality would end once President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. Sadly, that has not been the case and it seems as though each day brings on a new wave of hatred to groups who are non-caucasian.

African Americans Targeted By Hate

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has issued some alarming, but not surprising statistics on hate groups that specifically target African Americans:


Ku Klux Klan (163)

Neo-Nazi (143)

White Nationalist (128)

Racist Skinhead (126)

Neo-Confederate (36)


Hate Crime Statistics

According to the Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990, hate crimes are “crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, gender or gender identity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity.” States with the highest numbers of hate groups are:


California (77)

Florida (58)

Texas (57)

Georgia (50)

New Jersey (44)

New York (42)


Clothes of a Slave

Freedom House slave, wearing rags and in leg irons
Freedom House slave, wearing rags and in leg irons | Source

Human Bondage Is Not The Answer

Although this article focused on African Americans, it should be noted slavery was not race based. Athens and Sparta used serfs back in the 7th century BC. Rome began the practice of overseers who beat and whipped their slaves for 200 years beginning in the 2nd century BC. From the 6th century to the 15th-century slaves were used all over the world. Due to geography, the Mediterranean region served as the epicenter for slave trading. The Germans and Russians had rounded up so many Slavs that they coined the generic word slave. The Muslim and Arab world also embraced slavery in their households. Finally, from the 15th to the 17th-century European ships deliver slaves to Portugal and Brazil in what appears to be the never-ending business of human bondage.


Oklahoma Wants to Rewrite History

It is 2015 and Oklahoma's Republicans want to rewrite American history. Seriously, Oklahoma! Apparently, the right wing conservatives in Oklahoma are attempting to skip over factual events that helped change and shape this country. These politicians no longer want the Advanced Placement U.S. History classes showcasing such things in our dark past as genocide, oppression, exploitation of humans, and of course, slavery. In the limited scope of the conservative right they claim all that is taught now is "What is bad about America," and there isn't enough emphasis on "American exceptionalism." They dislike America's Founding Fathers being portrayed as "bigots." Well, to these Oklahoma republicans all I can say is, "If the shoe fits, then wear it!" I am appalled by their behavior.

The Evils of Suppression

It is astonishing that there are some who are on the lower end of the economic scale and with limited education who still have the audacity to think they are superior to others. To suppress, demean, belittle and despise another race of people is unconscionable and incomprehensible. Will equality ever be achieved or will we continue to repeat the evils of the past? Only time will hold the answer to this question, but time has shown the superior gene is in our DNA.


Written By: Dennis L. Page


A Shocking Truth

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Comments 15 comments

Hendalea 2 years ago

This is wonderful Dennis... A great summary of our proud history. You are so right about people denying our past and minimizing the effect of slavery. Perfect timing too... after the idiot Team owner, just vomited his hate all over... I no longer think it's just the lower economic folk who feel superior! Great job!


pagesvoice profile image

pagesvoice 2 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border Author

Hendalea - Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on this story. It took me a few days to put together and quite frankly, it was emotionally draining to write. What was really disturbing was visiting Freedom House and standing in the small brick room that held up to 60 slaves for sale at a time. After we left, it took my wife and I several minutes before we even uttered one word to each other.


RonElFran profile image

RonElFran 2 years ago from Mechanicsburg, PA

Slavery has been called America's original sin. And, as recent events have shown so vividly, the racist way of thinking that is the legacy of American slavery is far from dead. It seems to me that there's an uncomfortably large number of people today who have forgotten (or refuse to credit) just how demeaning and immoral slavery was. That's why hubs like this are still needed.


pagesvoice profile image

pagesvoice 2 years ago from New York/Pennsylvania border Author

RonElFran I appreciate your comment after reading my article. I agree that there are those who turn a blind eye to the stain of slavery and the inhumane treatment of those bought and sold as a commodity. Hopefully, with each passing generation we will get better as an accepting society. First we have to let the old guard like Mr. Sterling fade into oblivion.


Perspycacious profile image

Perspycacious 23 months ago from Today's America and The World Beyond

It is sad that more have not made a comment here.

At the time of World War II, in Alexandria. Virginia, just kitty corner from the Masonic Temple, there was (and could still be?) a train depot with three separate men's bathrooms, and three separate women's bathrooms. The explanation I heard for that multiplicity was "One for whites, one for [American] Indians, and one for 'colored folk'" (my avoidance of the term used at that time) To which was added the comment that American Indians didn't want to use the same bathroom as the third group, and perhaps vice versa, and neither one of those groups was allowed to use the two whites-only bathrooms.


Geri Schinzel 21 months ago

That was a wonderful story of history in slavery Dennis. You are truly gifted.


pagesvoice profile image

pagesvoice 21 months ago from New York/Pennsylvania border Author

I owe you an apology. I haven't been back to review this article in some time and today when I made revisions I noticed your response. Yes, I too was hoping this would get more views, but that's the nature of the beast. Over by the Masonic Temple is where you catch the Metro and I'm familiar with that area. Unfortunately, the more things change the more they remain the same.


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 20 months ago from Somewhere in the universe

And what purpose does it serve to rewrite the history books? Heck, no one reads them anyway. Maybe the book printers just make more money.

I hated history when I was in school, but I did learn a lot from it. I am still amazed at the number of people that repeatedly believe that 'bad" things never happened. That this country was right to just move in and take it away from the indigenous population, then proceed to steal people and make them work as slaves.

Our history is pretty grim, but we do need to learn the lessons that were made by making so many errors.


pagesvoice profile image

pagesvoice 20 months ago from New York/Pennsylvania border Author

Thank you for taking the time to drop in and visit my hub. People who want to rewrite history have an agenda and it is, quite frankly, an unhealthy agenda for this country. By covering up and glossing over the history of this country some believe it will pave the way for their skewed values to be injected back into this country. Rather than learning from the past there is a segment that would willingly go back and repeat some of the things most of us aren't proud of.


LillyGrillzit profile image

LillyGrillzit 19 months ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

Thank you for writing this wonderful article. This is a truth that not many people want to face. Interesting when you talk about changing history; I am not sure if you noticed or not, but a recent change (10 - 20 yrs) is that what we used to know as Mass-Acres (The Killing of Humans to take their Land), are now called "Race Riots." This is why in peaceful demonstrations over racial violence that undercover agents or cops come in and start violence- it is no longer a massacre, it is now a race riot...


pagesvoice profile image

pagesvoice 19 months ago from New York/Pennsylvania border Author

Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on this post. I have heard hints of your reference regarding "Race riots." I find this to be extremely disturbing and wonder who would be the person behind the curtain pulling the levers and why.


LillyGrillzit profile image

LillyGrillzit 19 months ago from The River Valley, Arkansas

I have my theories, but it would seem a hogwash mess of conspiracy paranoia, perhaps we can sit over coffee and discuss it some day - I can give you a most recent example of these findings. I live in Arkansas, blue in a violently red state, but work in a library - so that is my peace. One day a Patron was discussing the Tulsa Race Riots, (now called), but was a virtual massacre to begin with. Perhaps if a person defends themselves against a massacre it is a race riot. I mentioned the Elaine Massacre, and she had not heard of it. I started to Google, then using other databases, could not find it. I went to the Genealogy Librarian, and she said, "Oh, the Elaine Race Riots..." This change in terminology happened I know not when, but it seems recent. I apologize for going on so long, but I peg you as the type of person to be interested in this. Thank you for your long suffering.


pagesvoice profile image

pagesvoice 19 months ago from New York/Pennsylvania border Author

You correctly "pegged me." I will have to look up the "Elaine Massacre" to enlighten myself. I wrote an article here on HubPages about racism and the Orangeburg massacre that happened in South Carolina. This is another example of little media coverage during a time when we heard songs of "Four Dead in Ohio."


The Dirt Farmer profile image

The Dirt Farmer 2 months ago from United States

Your listing of the "Founding Fathers" who owned slaves reminded me of an African American literary critic I once heard discussing Huckleberry Finn and how it reflects the problem slavery still posed for Twain and for the US after Emancipation. Referencing the signing of the Declaration, at which many slaves were present, he said that the US was founded not on the belief that all men are created equal but on irony.


pagesvoice profile image

pagesvoice 2 months ago from New York/Pennsylvania border Author

The literary critic you heard was obviously a very astute individual. Thank you for reading and commenting.

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