To my Loving Grand daughter,
I am writing to you as I account for the events that happened last year, 1831, and also to inform you of what demarcated some of America's most crucial moments in my time. The one thing that I most definitely remember from last year is the solar eclipse that was metaphorical to the numerous changes that occurred here in the United States. In particular, before the occurrence of this eclipse, there was a prevalent belief among a majority of us, especially we, the immigrant minorities, that an eclipse was a critical sign of changes. This year, true to the common belief and change predictions by most of us, held true, as in this year alone, massive changes that ranged from the very first Nat Turner's revolution to the congressional fights against slavery and tariffs.
While you may already be worried about the outcome of all the events that conspired throughout the year, let me introduce you to what this year meant to the history of the United States. With reference to the religious changes, massive religious conflicts dominated the north. As many of us immigrants were considered poor and inferior, for a long time, a great liberation came to many of us this same year when Nut Turner, of Virginia, led a band of slaves in a massive and an intense revolt against their white masters. The fact that the minorities were proving to their masters that they were now ready to stand and fight for their rights, the dominant white community was filled with their dire prophecies, and for this reason, towards the end of last year, laws in Virginia began to debut the future of slavery. To us, the great relief came when we realized that this future that was granted to us would be of great economic importance.
Also, still in the north, the issue of putting an end to slavery was prevalent and this culminated with the appearance the renowned newspaper, The Liberator, by William Lloyd Garrison. According to many anti-slavery advocates, this appearance of this newspaper was an indication of significant changes to most of us since it would serve as the dominant as well as the rallying voice against the abolitionist movement.
Contrary to what was happening in the north during this time, the South, especially the State of Georgia, was undergoing massive political changes which merited the occurrence of changes in the political systems. I remember the existence of a group that was commonly known as the Cherokees, and that was one of the civilized tribes who despite having adopted the native white's way of living, perceived themselves as an independent entity. Based on this case, one of the most significant political events that happened in the South was the event where the State of Georgia began to promote the federal government to expel this group. Besides, following a court case that was initially signed by President Andrew Jackson in 1930, last year saw a court ruling against the Cherokees.
Changes in the political systems were also experienced early last year, and as many would say, the prophesies and the beliefs of the eclipse were finally coming true. The reason why I say this is that a majority of the people in the south, especially, those in South Carolina took what was deemed as a sour pride in the nullification doctrine. And as history had predicted, the doctrine of nullification signified a resistance to the power of the federal government to impact the ongoing slavery negatively. Although a lot of the people that I associated with during the occurrence of this event, begged to differ with me, I still am of the opinion that the interference of slavery by the federal government created a lawlessness atmosphere that could incite the slaves against their masters.
To me, having witnessed some of these great and overly significant changes that turned the lives of us, the minorities, around gives me a genuine impression of the seismic shift that took place in the American perception of national and state changes. A few people, such as your grandfather, who considered themselves historians and patriots to their immigrant nation may have attributed the changes in the national mood to the elections loss of John Quincy Adams to Andrew Jackson. For me, however, I like to perceive things from a broader perspective than just the usual and therefore, in my opinion, the broad array of national and state changes that appeared in this particular year suggested a more fundamental aspect than just an end of a certain presidency term. This, in essence, was exemplified by the fact that these fundamental national changes are a revelation of a veritable watershed as a period that borrowed from the revolutionary founding that was passed and also one which would essentially be ranked through the creation of divided tensions was created.
At this point, you probably are wondering why it is I have to tell you all these things. Is that right? I however hope that the writings in my letter will not be in vain as I will, in one way or the other, help you come to terms with the crucial moments that marked the history of the United States as well as the implications that these had on the lives of the minority groups, like us. Having mentioned this, I would, therefore, like to take you through the next and most significant political change that did have not only positive impacts on the rights of the oppressed but also their lives as a whole. This has to be the constitutional changes. More specifically, in this same year, which was deemed the year of the eclipse, William Lloyd Garrison frequently vilified the American Constitution. This, to me, was indeed the funniest and overly hypocritical changes of them all. Why? You may ask? It was because Garrison, through his livid tirades perceived the US constitution as "an agreement with hell," simply because it accommodated slavery.
While most of the dominant whites and some of us, the minorities who lived in fear of execution by the authority if we failed to follow their authoritative rule, thought that Garrison was just trying to be a 'hero'; the truth of the matter is not so. Instead, Garrison was the ultimate man of the people, owing to the fact that he was able to see and interpret what not so many Americans saw. Just like the foreign visitors in the country at the time, Garrison questioned the irony of slavery being condoned in a nation that had a constitution that espoused freedom.
Having pointed out the important details from yester year, I hope that this letter gets to you in good faith and it is my hope and trust that this will be informative not only to your academics but also, to your overall understanding of your history as an individual.
Masur, Louis P. 1831: Year of Eclipse. Hill and Wang; Reprint edition, 2002.
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