6 comments on “A Fall Walk Among Ypsilanti’s Soldiers of Black Liberation

  1. Dave,

    Don’t get too homesick. It turned winter over the weekend. No sun now until May. Sherman issued the order he did not out of any radical altruism, but as a way of relieving the pressure on his movements from the many thousands of former slaves that had joined his March to the Sea. He wanted to turn north into the Carolinas (which he did) to hit the cockpit of the Confederacy. He couldn’t afford to have so many hangers on as it would slow his movements. So he issued the field order. A fascinating example of how these things can happen.



  2. Thanks for the response, I was unaware of the Georgia Coast case. Interesting. I should mention your pictures have had me slightly homesick. In general, I can’t complain about the weather in California but there are some of those fall days in Michigan that just have no comparison…


  3. Dave,

    Thanks. I have not heard of anything like a Toledo Soviet! And I grew up in Ohio. You have my interest and I’ll check it out. The Labadie is one of my very favorite places. There aren’t enough life times to learn all that I’d like.

    On why no land reform. I am no authority and that is a very complicated question, but it is exactly the right question. The place where there was land reform happened was under Sherman on the Georgia Coast. Field Order #15 broke up the plantations around the Sea Islands and is where we first heard of “40 acres and a mule”. Not surprisingly this area returned a black member to Congress well after the end of Reconstruction (the great Civil War Hero Robert Smalls).

    A combination of racism in the white working class, the failure of the abolitionist movement to transform itself after emancipation, the financial crisis of the 1870’s, land grabs in the west (which alleviated demands from white sharecroppers), the divided Republican Party and, most importantly, a violent and organized counter-Revolution by white landowning southerners to reclaim their authority all combined to end the Revolution. With disastrous consequences.

    One can only imagine what might have been for the young Republic if the Plantation system had been truly broken up. DuBois, Foner, and our dear departed Peter Camejo have written well on this subject among many others. The failure to follow through damned this country for generations. A reminder to all revolutionaries: stopping half way gets you killed (metaphorically or for real).



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  5. Thanks for sharing your research and the fall pictures. While the subject is intrinsically interesting, it is also heightened by the passion and respect that you show it. I know from my own archival research how much still remains below the surface. Have you ever, for example, seen anything (secondary historical literature) written about the 1919 soviet of Toledo? There are some materials in the Labadie. Who knew. I have found that even recent history becomes quickly distorted and buried. In terms of number of workers, percentage of workers and number of strikes the workers upsurge in the US that began in the late 60s and continued through the mid 70s is easily comparable to the 1930s. Yet it is barely discussed in left-leaning labor literature. Even when it is, say briefly in a book like Brecher’s Strike! it usually mentions it as petering out in the economic crisis of 73. Actually it didn’t peak till a year later and then it continued a couple more years. That events like this are barely known or discussed boggles my mind.
    I do have one question for you as a civil war buff. Why was there no land reform, or why did it fail? It seems to me that land reform should have been well within the capability of reconstructionist governments and should have been the obvious thing to do, yet it didn’t happen, did it? Then we end up with over half a century more of slavery in everything but name.


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