Interesting

Have there been any instances of US states trading land, not related to the creation of a state?

Have there been any instances of US states trading land, not related to the creation of a state?



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Have there been any instances where one US state has exchanged or ceded land to another US state, subject to the conditions below? If so, what led the exchange?

Conditions:

  • I'm asking about states, not territories
  • The exchange or cessation is not related to the creation of a state or territory
  • It's voluntary
  • It's not the result of something like a border dispute, due to inaccurate maps at the time of demarcation
  • It's not the result of a shifting river or other natural feature used for demarcation
  • It's a "significant" amount of land--so let's say at least a few square miles (I'm more interested in larger land exchanges but don't want to list an arbitrary number here--this is more to exclude the type of exchange where I read that Minnesota gave 20 acres of land to North Dakota in 1961 here.

I couldn't find any examples in a quick look over the wikipedia page on territorial evolution of the US, but perhaps I missed something or the page isn't comprehensive.

Edit: Perhaps these conditions seem arbitrary, but I'm looking for any cases where, for example, land was exchanged for money or other land which is mutually beneficial for both states, without explicitly limiting myself to those circumstances. This question was influenced by reading about the Toledo War where Michigan gave up the Toledo strip to Ohio in order to gain statehood, but got the upper peninsula from congress in exchange. Maybe there were times when already incorporated states had similar land gain?


Ellis Island, part of New York State, was expanded significantly over the years by fill. There was no problem with the original demarcation or surveying, but the water surrounding the island was within New Jersey, which claimed ownership of that reclaimed land. The Supreme Court eventually ruled that New York had jurisdiction to the original island and New Jersey to the fill land. The states then made a voluntary agreement to draw a borderline, i.e., to identify the territory to be ceded to New Jersey. New York had to abandon its claim to the fill, including the entire perimeter. The cession was a significant 22.8 acres.


The Wikipedia article on West Virginia makes it appear that Berkeley and Jefferson counties were not originally part of the state and subsequently (but in quick sequence) asked to be annexed to it, which was allowed. Whether this counts as a "voluntary" transfer from Virginia to West Virginia will depend on your perspective on the Civil War. Also, the Wikipedia article is ambiguous. You'd have to do a bit more digging to see if this was really a post-WV-statehood transfer.

Two major land changes that don't quite meet your criteria but that did have a significant impact on long-standing state borders are the Platte Purchase, which added over 3,000 square miles to Missouri 16 years after it became a state, and the reversion to Virginia in 1846 of the District of Columbia west of the Potomac… only 31 square miles, but a very important 31 square miles.


No Longer Nomads: The History of Real Estate

For almost half of human history, our ancestors moved with the four-legged food supplies of their respective areas, leaving only trace signs of their lives: a cave painting here, some stone axes there, and the odd carved trinket in the belly of a saber-toothed tiger.

Key Takeaways

  • A home to live in seems like a given in modern society, where people either own or rent their abode.
  • Historically, however, human culture evolved from nomadic tribes and wandering shepherds.
  • The advent of private property and land ownership set the stage for the modern system of real estate.

9 Richard NixonPakistani Genocide Of Bangladesh

In 1971, tensions were flaring between the military government of Pakistan and the government of India. India and Pakistan have had issues for centuries, but due to increasing problems between the countries, there seemed to be war on the horizon. Pakistan at the time was a close economic and political ally of the United States, while India held a lesser position. Despite the Muslim dictatorship of the country, President Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger decided to provide economic and military support for Pakistan in the event of a war (which there was later that year).

However, the weapons which were secretly given to the Pakistani government were used for a much more sinister purpose&mdashthe genocide of the Bengali people. It&rsquos estimated that nearly 200,000 people were killed by Pakistan, and according to documents by the State Department, neither Nixon nor Kissinger seemed to care. The slaughtering did nothing to stop the United States from continuing its support. The private US investments (many of the companies which were in Pakistan donated money to the Nixon campaign) seemed to be more important than the lives of the Bengali people.

At the time, the Indian government was receiving support from the Soviet Union, and the White House Tapes revealed the feelings of the president: Nixon once said that India needed &ldquoa mass famine.&rdquo When Kenneth Keating, a Republican serving as ambassador to India, confronted Nixon about the suffering of the Bengali people, Nixon called him &ldquoa traitor.&rdquo Finally, this all came to a head when India and Pakistan went to war. The cost of Nixon&rsquos support for Pakistan was the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives in the region, for which he showed a callousness which displayed his lack of remorse for his lethal actions.


The Sheikh Jarrah property dispute and the false claim of Israeli land discrimination

(May 23, 2021 / JNS) The real estate dispute in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood has played a crucial role in international accounts of the recent fighting between the State of Israel and the Hamas terrorist organization ruling the Gaza Strip.

The Sheikh Jarrah dispute concerns several eviction orders issued by Jerusalem’s Magistrate Court, upheld on appeal by Jerusalem’s District Court and awaiting a ruling by Israel’s Supreme Court on a request for a final appeal. The controversy has been widely misreported as an effort by the State of Israel to evict a number of Palestinian Arab families from their ancestral homes in a purely Palestinian Arab neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem. The more prosaic truth is that the eviction orders are the result of a decades-long legal battle by the owners of private property in Sheikh Jarrah to recover possession of their land from squatters and tenants who have not paid rent for decades the State of Israel has never been a party to the legal proceedings.

Among the many false claims made with respect to the Sheikh Jarrah controversy, perhaps most devastating is the charge that Israeli law permits Jews to reclaim ownership of lands they owned in eastern Jerusalem prior to 1948, but denies Palestinians the right to reclaim ownership of lands they owned in western Jerusalem or elsewhere in Israel until 1948.

This description of Israeli law is false in every particular.

• Israeli law does not grant anyone a right to simply reclaim sequestered property on the basis of pre-1948 ownership.

• Israel has released sequestered property on many occasions, including a one-time release in 1970 of property sequestered by the Jordanian Custody of Enemy Property.

• The one-time release in 1970 was not a granting of ownership to those whose title had been extinguished in 1948, but a relinquishing of custody to the property owners at the time.

• All owners or former owners of sequestered properties are guaranteed several rights by Israel, including the right to compensation and the opportunity to request release from sequestration.

• Jews and Palestinian Arabs have the same rights to compensation or to request release. The laws are neutral.

• Jews benefited more from the release of property sequestered by the Jordanian Custodian due to Jordanian discrimination, but Palestinian Arabs have benefited more from other Israeli releases and compensation than Jews.

• Most sequestered property has never been and will never be returned to the former owners (including property sequestered by the Jordanian Custodian of Enemy Property), because Custodians have the right to transfer title. However, former owners are entitled to financial compensation.

• Israeli practices regarding sequestered property fit customary patterns of international law and international practice.

Background to the dispute

The context for the property dispute is the larger Arab-Israeli conflict. Sheikh Jarrah, like the rest of eastern Jerusalem, has gone through a series of rulers in the last century. Like all of Israel, it was part of the Ottoman Empire until World War I. Britain conquered the land during World War I and was charged with reconstituting the Jewish homeland in the territory designated by the League of Nations and Allied Powers as the new British Mandate of Palestine. When Israel declared its independence in 1948, Jordan (then called Transjordan) invaded and occupied eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank. Following Jordan’s attack on Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967, Israel terminated the Jordanian occupation and united eastern Jerusalem with the rest of the city.

While property law remained remarkably stable during the transitions from Ottoman to Mandatory to Jordanian to Israeli rule, property rights have been affected by widespread sequestration of “enemy property.”

Sequestering enemy property—that is, seizing control of the private property of enemy civilians during conflicts—is a common practice that was nearly universal at the time of Israel’s independence. The official commentary to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, for instance, observed that “in nearly all countries engaged in a war, property belonging to enemy subjects is put into the hands of a Custodian of Enemy Property and no longer remains at the disposal of its owners.”

According to international law and practice, when enemy property is sequestered, the Custodian takes control but not ownership of the property. The Custodian has the right to dispose of the property, including the right to make someone else the owner or to assign title to the state for public use. Sequestered property that is not sold, given away, or assigned to the state for public use, is generally returned to the owners after the conflict. In practice, most sequestered property is never returned. Owners are not entitled to compensation for the sequestration, but they may have a right to compensation after the conflict if they fail to get the property back.

Sequestration was used by all the various rulers of the territory in question. The British Mandate of Palestine utilized its Trading with the Enemy Ordinance to sequester properties of civilians of enemy states, mostly German. Jordan (established 1946) and Israel (established 1948), the two states that emerged from the British Mandate, both inherited the British Trading with the Enemy Ordinance. Israel made little use of the Ordinance, instead relying primarily on the newly enacted Absentee Property Law of 1950. Jordan used its Trading with the Enemy Ordinance widely in order to seize all land owned by Jews in the territory it occupied.

The land of Israel has been conquered and reconquered, and it is full of assets that were sequestered as enemy or absentee and abandoned property. Jerusalem’s facility for pre-trial detention, for instance, is located on property that was owned by the Russian czars, but that was sequestered by the Ottoman Empire during World War I, with title eventually passing to the British Mandatory government and later the State of Israel. The first attorney general of the British Mandate of Palestine resided in a house that had been sequestered from German civilians as enemy property the residence is now a privately owned property in Jerusalem’s German Colony neighborhood.

The Sheikh Jarrah properties that are subject to the current lawsuits were sequestered by the Jordanian Custodian of Enemy Property in 1948, but released from sequestration by Israel in the aftermath of the 1967 war.

Israeli law does not allow Jews or anyone else to reclaim ownership of land they vacated in 1948.

Those who claim that Israeli law permits Jews to reclaim ownership of lands they owned in eastern Jerusalem prior to 1948 are apparently referring to paragraph 5 of the Law and Administrative Arrangements Act of 1970, which gave a one-time instruction to the Israeli Receiver to release land in Jerusalem that had been sequestered by Jordanian Custodian of Enemy Property to the rightful owners. The release took place shortly after the passage of the law.

Neither the Law and Administrative Arrangements Act of 1970, nor any other Israeli laws, give an ongoing right to reclaim ownership. Release under paragraph 5 was a one-time instruction that applied to a limited number of sequestered properties.

Moreover, the instruction in paragraph 5 was ethnically neutral. The law does not mention Jews or Arabs—it ordered the release of property held by the Jordanian Custodian, whatever the ethnicity of the owners. Formally, the Jordanian Custodian of Enemy Property sequestered all property of all Israeli citizens in areas occupied by Jordanian forces during the 1948 war in practice, Jordanian forces expelled Jews and not Arabs from the areas they occupied.

The instruction in paragraph 5 excluded cases where the Jordanian Custodian granted someone else title to the land, or where the Jordanian government took title to the sequestered lands for public use. This means that, in practice, most property sequestered by the Custodian was never returned to its former owners, and the owners received only a right to monetary compensation. The land that was released by paragraph 5 was land that was held in custody by the Custodian without final termination of the rights of the pre-sequestration owners.

Israeli law does not deny to Palestinians or to anyone else the ability to obtain the release of properties from which they fled in the 1948 war.

Israeli law grants everyone—Palestinian, Jewish or of any other ethnicity—the right to request the return of sequestered property, and the law authorizes such releases.

In claiming that Israeli law denies Palestinian Arabs the ability to obtain properties they left behind in the war, critics are apparently referring to Israel’s 1950 Absentee Property Law, which sequestered primarily enemy abandoned property—i.e., property abandoned by those fleeing the war zone who decamped to territory controlled by enemy states. The Absentee Property Law places no limitations based on ethnicity. The law directs the Israeli Custodian of Absentee Property to sequester absentee property and to hold it until a future date. Where the Custodian transfers title to the sequestered property, the Custodian is directed to keep the money received in the sale as compensation for the owners.

Paragraph 28 of the Absentee Property Law authorizes the Israeli Custodian of Absentee Property to release sequestered property to the pre-sequestration owner or to swap sequestered property with the owner.

The law is ethnically neutral. It does not target Palestinian Arabs or exclude Jews. However, the enemy states referenced by the Absentee Property Law have expelled nearly all their Jewish populations, or never permitted Jewish residents to begin with. Therefore, in practice, the law overwhelmingly applies to Palestinian-Arab, rather than Jewish absentees.

There have been many transactions in which the Custodian has utilized the authority of paragraph 28 to release or swap sequestered property, with such released or swapped property going to the pre-sequestration owners, most of whom are Palestinian Arabs.

Israel has settled a large portion of the claims related to the Absentee Property Law. In 1973, three years after enactment of the Law and Administrative Arrangements Act of 1970, Israel adopted the Absentee Property (Compensation) Law 1973, which grants a right to financial compensation (in lieu of the property itself) to residents of Israel (inclusive of eastern Jerusalem) for property sequestered by the Israeli Custodian of Absentee Property. According to figures released in 1993, as of that time, the Custodian for Absentee Property had already successfully settled nearly 15,000 claims for compensation or land swaps.

Israeli law concerning sequestered property reflects common, lawful international practices.

Given that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians (and most of the Arab world) hasn’t yet ended, Israel is following customary practice in postponing the final resolution of many Palestinian (and Jewish) property claims until a comprehensive peace deal is achieved. It is worth remembering on this score that there is an enormous amount of Jewish property that was seized around the Arab world, including in Iraq and Egypt, the disposition of which also awaits a final resolution.

At the same time, Israel’s one-time release of sequestered properties to individual Jews and Arab claimants, its release of sequestered Jordanian “enemy property” 50 years ago, and its payment of compensation in lieu of releasing property, likewise reflect common practice.

Most of the sequestered properties—whether sequestered by the Ottoman Empire, British Mandate, Israel or Jordan—have not been and will never be returned to their former owners because title was assigned to someone else before the resolution of the conflict.

Israel reserves money for financial compensation to those whose property was sequestered and will never be returned. In many cases, compensation has already been paid in others, compensation has been offered but not accepted and in yet others, compensation has been deferred to a future peace deal and the end of the conflict. The Israeli Custodian of Absentee Property no longer has custody of most of the land sequestered 70 years ago.

Where sequestered property has been released, the relevant Custodians have exercised case-by-case judgments (reviewable in court) that have not been based on ethnicity.

The legislatively ordered release of properties sequestered by the Jordanian Custodian of Enemy Properties in the early 1970s also reflects common practice. One of the central purposes of sequestration, according to the Max Planck Encyclopedia of International Law entry on the subject, is “ensuring that enemy property is not used directly or indirectly against the State in which the property is situated.”

When Israel terminated the Jordanian occupation of eastern Jerusalem in 1967, it took custody of property that Jordan had sequestered due to its connection with the “enemy state” of Israel. It would be absurd to expect Israel to maintain sequestration of the property pending peace between Israel (as itself) and Israel (standing in the place of Jordan).

Although Jordan’s discrimination against Jews and their property rights necessarily meant that releasing sequestered Jordanian Custody property benefited Jews more than Palestinian Arabs, Israel took several steps in 1970-1973 to benefit other owners and former owners of sequestered property that were of greater benefit to Palestinian Arabs than to Jews, most notably the legislated right to financial compensation.

There is no evidence that a rule of international law requires states to release all sequestered property at once, or not at all.

Avi Bell is a professor at the University of San Diego School of Law and at Bar-Ilan University’s Faculty of Law.

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The Last Adam

God provided the solution—a way to deliver man from his wretched state. Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 15 that God provided another Adam. The Son of God became a man—a perfect Man—yet still our relation. He is called “the last Adam” ( 1 Corinthians 15:45 ) because he took the place of the first Adam. He became the new head and, because He was sinless, was able to pay the penalty for sin :

Christ suffered death (the penalty for sin) on the Cross, shedding His blood ( “and without shedding of blood there is no remission,” Hebrews 9:22 ) so that those who put their trust in His work on the Cross can come in repentance of their sin of rebellion (in Adam) and be reconciled to God .

Thus, only descendants of the first man Adam can be saved.


Kansas

Kansas, situated on the American Great Plains, became the 34th state on January 29, 1861. Its path to statehood was long and bloody: After the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 opened the two territories to settlement and allowed the new settlers to determine whether the states would be admitted to the union as 𠇏ree” or”slave,” North and South competed to send the most settlers into the region. This quickly led to violence,and the territory became known as 𠇋leeding Kansas.” Kansas has long been known as part of America’s agricultural heartland, and is home to the major U.S. military installation Fort Leavenworth. In 1954, it became a battleground of the civil rights movement when the landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case was decided in the Supreme Court, ending the doctrine of “separate but equal” in public schools. Kansas is also known for its contributions to jazz music, barbecue and as the setting of L. Frank Baum’s classic children’s book The Wizard of Oz.

Date of Statehood: January 29, 1861

Capital: Topeka

Population: 2,853,118 (2010)

Size: 82,278 square miles

Nickname(s): Sunflower State Wheat State Jayhawk State

Motto: Ad astra per aspera (“To the stars through difficulties”)


There's Never Been A Good Argument Against D.C. Statehood

Josh Burch remembers the exact moment he realized how absurd it is that Washington, D.C., isn’t a state. In 2011, during a tense round of negotiations over federal spending, then-President Barack Obama gave in to Republican demands and agreed to ban the city government from funding abortions in the nation’s capital.

“John, I’ll give you D.C. abortion,” Obama reportedly told then-House Speaker John Boehner in a move that incensed the city’s political leadership and residents like Burch. More than 90% of the District voted for Obama, and residents overwhelmingly supported abortion rights. Now their rights were being traded away, and they didn’t even have a representative in Congress who could try to stop it.

“It felt like a betrayal,” said Burch, a statehood activist with the local group Neighbors United for D.C. Statehood. “That put me over the edge.”

Over the last decade, Burch and a litany of local activists have reinvigorated the decadeslong movement to win statehood for D.C. His group and others have taken the fight from the streets of D.C. to Congress, while newer groups of activists have launched a nationwide movement to increase awareness of the District’s plight and ramped up pressure on lawmakers to do something about it.

The District is now closer to statehood than it ever has been before. In April, for just the second time in history, the House of Representatives approved legislation that would make D.C. the 51st state . Unlike the previous effort , which was dead on arrival in a GOP-controlled Senate, this one at least has a fighting chance in an upper chamber controlled by a slim Democratic majority. Although the odds are still long, President Joe Biden has backed the push, throwing the weight of the White House behind statehood for the first time ever.

In response, opponents of D.C. statehood have recycled the same old arguments against it and come up with new ones. Congressional Republicans argued during House hearings this year that D.C. is not worthy of statehood because the founders didn’t intend for the capital to be a state because the District does not have landfills, car dealerships or an airport or because it is too small to warrant full representation in our government.

Many of these arguments are easy to refute: The founders have all been dead for two centuries, and many things about the United States, including the abolition of slavery and the enfranchisement of women and Black people, are different from what they initially enshrined in the Constitution. The current bill would carve out a federal district that includes the Capitol, White House and National Mall to meet constitutional requirements. D.C. has landfills and car dealerships. And its 700,000-person population is larger than Wyoming’s or Vermont’s.

“They have no good argument against D.C. statehood,” Burch said recently. “Period.”

But those and other arguments persist, even as they fail the most basic test: None of them address why D.C. residents, nearly half of whom are Black, are undeserving of statehood and the full rights to representation that it brings.

‘It’s Just A Political Ploy For Democrats To Gain Senate Seats’

Jamal Holtz also remembers when he reached the tipping point. A D.C. native, he watched the fight over the Affordable Care Act play out in Congress more than a decade ago, hoping the bill would pass so his uninsured mother would have easier access to health care. But as Democrats and Obama urged Americans to push their representatives to vote for the controversial bill, Holtz realized that his family didn’t have anyone to call.

“My advocacy ended at the mayor’s office,” Holtz, an organizer with the 51 for 51 campaign for D.C. statehood, said. (51 for 51, a coalition of D.C. and national voting rights groups, advocates for changes to Senate rules that would allow D.C. to gain statehood through a simple majority vote, bypassing the 60-vote filibuster threshold that would currently block it.)

“I was disenfranchised from our democracy, from having a voice in the Senate, and a voice in the government that’s supposed to represent me,” he said.

Were D.C. to become a state, its residents would almost certainly elect two Democratic senators and a Democratic representative (D.C. currently has one nonvoting delegate, Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat and one of the District’s fiercest statehood advocates). For that reason, Republicans have cast the statehood push as a purely partisan ploy meant to bolster Democratic majorities in Congress.

Even if it were such a scheme, the Constitution does not say that only one political party’s voters are worthy of representation. Other states were also created for purely partisan reasons. And Republican opposition to D.C. statehood is just as partisan, if not more so, than Democrats’ support for it.

But the worst part about that argument is that it ignores the real underpinnings of the statehood movement. D.C. residents do not support statehood because of whom they’d elect. They support statehood because they want the right to elect someone, period. They want full political representation in the democracy in which they live and the basic rights that come along with it.

“Statehood is truly, at its core, a racial justice and voting rights issue,” Holtz said. “You have American citizens in a country that preaches democracy but doesn’t practice democracy.”

Roughly 46% of D.C.’s residents are Black. Another 11% are Hispanic or Latino, meaning that the District’s second-class status disenfranchises a majority-minority population. The arguments Republicans have made against statehood, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said after the House vote, boil down to “bigotry, bigotry, bigotry.” It’s for this reason that advocates like Holtz and 51 for 51 want the Senate to reform filibuster rules, which have historically been used to thwart civil rights legislation, at least to exempt a statehood bill from its 60-vote threshold.

D.C. residents are currently excluded from the political fights that take place in Congress, whether they’re over health care, gun laws, affordable housing or any number of issues that affect the District as much as they do the rest of the nation. But the disenfranchisement runs even deeper than a lack of representation in Congress or the District’s routine use as a convenient bargaining chip, as it was for Obama and Boehner.

In 1973, D.C. wrestled some control away from Congress through the Home Rule Act, which allowed for the formation of a city council and the election of a mayor. Still, the elected representatives Washingtonians do have lack full governing authority, since the Home Rule Act also gives Congress the ability to block any law the District’s government passes.

In 2014, for instance, D.C. residents voted overwhelmingly to legalize marijuana possession and use, but Congress blocked its full implementation , leaving D.C. in an odd purgatory ― marijuana is legal to possess, but not to sell at dispensaries or otherwise ― solely because Republicans exercised the sort of control over D.C. that they cannot in states that have passed similar laws.

The view that statehood is all about Senate control also obscures the work D.C. activists like Burch and Holtz have done simply to make Democrats care about statehood. The party that had filibuster-proof control of the Senate and a huge House majority under Obama barely put any effort into getting D.C. congressional representation, much less statehood. And a decade ago, when an outraged Burch began pushing statehood in meetings with lawmakers on Capitol Hill, he couldn’t find a single Senate Democrat willing to put his or her name on a bill.

In 2012, former Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) agreed to introduce legislation that would allow D.C. residents to approve the creation of a new state via ballot referendum. But it was a largely symbolic gesture ― Lieberman introduced it two weeks before the end of the congressional session and his subsequent retirement. Just three Senate Democrats joined him as co-sponsors.

While Burch’s group and other statehood advocates were busy trying to boost support among lawmakers in Washington, Holtz and 51 for 51 took the movement onto the campaign trail. During the 2020 Democratic presidential campaign, 51 for 51 held events in early primary states to bolster support for statehood not just among Democratic candidates but among rank-and-file voters, too.

The strategy was simple: If they could get ordinary Democratic voters to support statehood, they could push it to the top of the party’s agenda. The dueling pressure campaigns worked. Nearly every major Democratic presidential candidate, including Biden, supported statehood during the 2020 primary, and when Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) introduced legislation to make D.C. a state this year, 44 other Democrats eventually signed on as co-sponsors. (51 for 51 has also organized campaigns targeting some of the five Democratic holdouts in their home states.)

In the process, the activists also attracted a new coalition of supporters, including local and national voting rights groups that have taken up the cause. D.C. statehood, they have argued to lawmakers, voters and anyone else, is part and parcel of Democrats’ broader effort to protect and expand voting rights , a fundamental aspect of improving and protecting American democracy ― especially for the Black and brown voters most vulnerable to Republican efforts to curtail voting rights nationwide.

“The reason why the Democrats are pushing it now is because people in D.C. have organized and demanded it,” Burch said. “The movement is what’s created this opportunity, not the national Democratic Party.”

‘Just Give D.C. Back To Maryland’

An increasingly popular “compromise” among Republicans is for the residential neighborhoods of Washington, D.C. to simply join Maryland .

The retrocession of D.C. to Maryland has been promoted by the likes of Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Mitt Romney (R-Utah), the libertarian activist group FreedomWorks and a number of GOP congressmen, including Maryland’s lone Congressional Republican, Andy Harris.

The argument here is that retrocession of residential D.C. would fulfill the goal of providing its residents with the congressional representation that they are currently denied. D.C. citizens would become Maryland citizens and, therefore, gain the representation of Maryland’s two senators and, based on the size of the city, their own congressman.

Retrocession proponents tout this solution as a natural return of the land Maryland gave up to create the Federal District. They argue that it is no different than when Congress passed a law to retrocede one-third of the District’s land to Virginia in 1846. But the comparison to the 19th-century retrocession of Alexandria to Virginia only serves to highlight the differences between the two situations ― and the one similarity in both calls for retrocession.

What is different from the Virginia retrocession is that this time, D.C. doesn’t want to become a part of Maryland, nor does Maryland want D.C. to join it. D.C. residents have voted twice, in 1980 and 2016, in support of referenda to join the union as its 51st state. One 2016 poll found just 28% of Marylanders supported D.C. joining the state.

“[D.C. residents] don’t particularly want to do that, and Maryland doesn’t particularly want to do that. It’s not what they want. They want their own autonomy, which they are entitled to, and Maryland . doesn’t want to impose itself,” Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, a Democrat, told the Washington Examiner in January.

Established in 1790, Washington, D.C., has existed and built its own unique culture for longer than many of the states represented by those who seek its retrocession into Maryland. Collins’ home state of Maine was a part of Massachusetts for 30 years after the District was founded. Romney’s Utah did not enter the union until 1896 ― and was part of Mexico when the District came to be.

“The last time D.C. was a part of Maryland, Florida belonged to Spain,” Burch said.

Beyond respecting the wishes of District residents, the vast majority of Maryland’s politicians do not want D.C. to join the state as it would transform the state’s politics, which are dominated by the suburbs that surround D.C. and Baltimore. The admission of D.C. would introduce a second major city to the state and tilt the state’s politics away from the suburbs and toward D.C. and Baltimore, the latter of which is often in conflict with state politicians from both parties who direct resources toward rural, suburban and exurban areas.

Most recently, the Baltimore Sun accused Republican Gov. Larry Hogan of waging a “War on Baltimore” as he attempted to redirect funds away from the city’s planned new public transit project and toward highways.

This is the opposite of what happened when Congress retroceded the city of Alexandria from the District back to Virginia. That only happened after the Alexandria Common Council voted for retrocession in 1840 and the Virginia legislature voted unanimously to readmit the parcel of land previously ceded to the District in 1846. This was a mutually accepted agreement, not an edict from the federal government.

Well, sort of. The city of Washington voted against retroceding its land on the Virginia side of the Potomac River. And, most importantly, free Black residents throughout the District, in any of its three cities of Alexandria, Georgetown or Washington, were not allowed to vote.

At the time, the District was a Southern slave city with increasingly strict Black codes, which placed apartheid restrictions on free Black residents, open slave markets and a police force that frequently arrested Black people, free or enslaved, and sold them into slavery. But in the 1830s, a movement of freed Blacks and white abolitionists, including some members of Congress, began a campaign to end slavery in the District.

It was this abolitionist effort that led Alexandria’s white population to seek retrocession back to Virginia so they could preserve slaveholding there. The abolitionist alliance’s efforts were eventually quashed when Congress banned the acceptance of any abolitionist pamphlet or letter from the public and forbade any member of Congress from freely speaking such positions on the floor of the House or Senate.

Nonetheless, the white residents of Alexandria saw that their power to enslave could be threatened in the District and they did not want to take any chances of losing what they believed to be their right to own human beings.

Alexandria’s Black residents, who were not allowed a say in the matter, understood the grim situation of retrocession best.

“We expect that our school will all be broken up [and] our [privileges] which we have enjoyed for so [many] years will all be taken away,” Moses Hepburn, a free Black businessman, wrote at the time.

Hepburn was right. The Black schools in Alexandria closed within a year of the city’s retrocession.

“In-migration of free black people essentially stopped, and many longtime residents left the city,” historians Chris Myers Asch and George David Musgrove write in “ Chocolate City: A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation’s Capital,” adding that “by 1850, Alexandria’s free black population had dropped by almost 30% from its 1840 high.”

Where Alexandria’s retrocession to Virginia aimed to protect white power by escaping the growing movement to end slavery, efforts to retrocede the District to Maryland today, against both of their wills, would deny the creation of the only Black plurality state in the country.

One action sought to protect white power by allowing Alexandria to leave the District the other abolishes the District in a manner that would prevent Black power.

“Retrocession equals suppression,” Holtz said. “It’s just an opportunity to avoid truly giving D.C. residents the representation they deserve. Retrocession is only furthering the more than 200 years of erasure of the 700,000 mostly Black and brown D.C. residents who have their own culture and their own history. It would be whitewashing us.”

‘D.C. Statehood Requires A Constitutional Amendment’

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, one of the few Republicans whom statehood advocates believe could be sympathetic to their cause, has not taken a position on the current effort. But in the past, she has backed a separate plan: Rather than granting D.C. full statehood, Murkowski previously proposed a constitutional amendment that would give it a voting member of the House of Representatives.

That was a popular strategy in 2009 when Murkowski first introduced such an amendment . That year, the Senate passed ― and Obama, congressional Democrats and many D.C. lawmakers backed ― legislation that would have given the District congressional representation. The bill never received a vote in the House because the coalition supporting it fell apart , thanks to an amendment to the Senate legislation restricting D.C.’s ability to limit gun possession and ownership in the District.

This is the dynamic D.C. faces: Even when it comes close to gaining new rights, others are curtailed.

Representation without statehood isn’t as popular an idea anymore, but it’s a lens into other problems with other anti-statehood arguments: Much like retrocession, granting D.C. a congressional representative was seen as a compromise meant to address some of the potential pitfalls of statehood that opponents have dreamt up, like the possibility that D.C. would exert undue influence on the federal government.

And as with Murkowski’s original push, arguments persist today that statehood requires a constitutional amendment rather than simple congressional legislation. Following the amendment process, the theory goes, would bulletproof statehood efforts against any legal problems, including those Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) cited in coming out against the current push.

But constitutional amendments weren’t required to form other states, including those whose founding ― like Manchin’s West Virginia ― were legally and constitutionally dubious.


1619-1741: Slavery and slave rebellion in the US - Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn's history of slavery and slave revolts in the United States from 1619 up until 1741.

There is not a country in world history in which racism has been more important, for so long a time, as the United States. And the problem of "the color line," as W. E. B. Du Bois put it, is still with us. So it is more than a purely historical question to ask: How does it start?—and an even more urgent question: How might it end? Or, to put it differently: Is it possible for whites and blacks to live together without hatred?

If history can help answer these questions, then the beginnings of slavery in North America—a continent where we can trace the coming of the first whites and the first blacks—might supply at least a few clues.

Some historians think those first blacks in Virginia were considered as servants, like the white indentured servants brought from Europe. But the strong probability is that, even if they were listed as "servants" (a more familiar category to the English), they were viewed as being different from white servants, were treated differently, and in fact were slaves. In any case, slavery developed quickly into a regular institution, into the normal labor relation of blacks to whites in the New World. With it developed that special racial feeling—whether hatred, or contempt, or pity, or patronization—that accompanied the inferior position of blacks in America for the next 350 years —that combination of inferior status and derogatory thought we call racism.

Everything in the experience of the first white settlers acted as a pressure for the enslavement of blacks.

The Virginians of 1619 were desperate for labor, to grow enough food to stay alive. Among them were survivors from the winter of 1609-1610, the "starving time," when, crazed for want of food, they roamed the woods for nuts and berries, dug up graves to eat the corpses, and died in batches until five hundred colonists were reduced to sixty.

In the Journals of the House of Burgesses of Virginia is a document of 1619 which tells of the first twelve years of the Jamestown colony. The first settlement had a hundred persons, who had one small ladle of barley per meal. When more people arrived, there was even less food. Many of the people lived in cavelike holes dug into the ground, and in the winter of 1609-1610, they were

The Virginians needed labor, to grow corn for subsistence, to grow tobacco for export. They had just figured out how to grow tobacco, and in 1617 they sent off the first cargo to England. Finding that, like all pleasureable drugs tainted with moral disapproval, it brought a high price, the planters, despite their high religious talk, were not going to ask questions about something so profitable.

They couldn't force the Indians to work for them, as Columbus had done. They were outnumbered, and while, with superior firearms, they could massacre Indians, they would face massacre in return. They could not capture them and keep them enslaved the Indians were tough, resourceful, defiant, and at home in these woods, as the transplanted Englishmen were not.

White servants had not yet been brought over in sufficient quantity. Besides, they did not come out of slavery, and did not have to do more than contract their labor for a few years to get their passage and a start in the New World. As for the free white settlers, many of them were skilled craftsmen, or even men of leisure back in England, who were so little inclined to work the land that John Smith, in those early years, had to declare a kind of martial law, organize them into work gangs, and force them into the fields for survival.

There may have been a kind of frustrated rage at their own ineptitude, at the Indian superiority at taking care of themselves, that made the Virginians especially ready to become the masters of slaves. Edmund Morgan imagines their mood as he writes in his book American Slavery, American Freedom:

Black slaves were the answer. And it was natural to consider imported blacks as slaves, even if the institution of slavery would not be regularized and legalized for several decades. Because, by 1619, a million blacks had already been brought from Africa to South America and the Caribbean, to the Portuguese and Spanish colonies, to work as slaves. Fifty years before Columbus, the Portuguese took ten African blacks to Lisbon—this was the start of a regular trade in slaves. African blacks had been stamped as slave labor for a hundred years. So it would have been strange if those twenty blacks, forcibly transported to Jamestown, and sold as objects to settlers anxious for a steadfast source of labor, were considered as anything but slaves.

Their helplessness made enslavement easier. The Indians were on their own land. The whites were in their own European culture. The blacks had been torn from their land and culture, forced into a situation where the heritage of language, dress, custom, family relations, was bit by bit obliterated except for remnants that blacks could hold on to by sheer, extraordinary persistence.

Was their culture inferior—and so subject to easy destruction? Inferior in military capability, yes —vulnerable to whites with guns and ships. But in no other way—except that cultures that are different are often taken as inferior, especially when such a judgment is practical and profitable. Even militarily, while the Westerners could secure forts on the African coast, they were unable to subdue the interior and had to come to terms with its chiefs.

The African civilization was as advanced in its own way as that of Europe. In certain ways, it was more admirable but it also included cruelties, hierarchical privilege, and the readiness to sacrifice human lives for religion or profit. It was a civilization of 100 million people, using iron implements and skilled in farming. It had large urban centers and remarkable achievements in weaving, ceramics, sculpture.

European travelers in the sixteenth century were impressed with the African kingdoms of Timbuktu and Mali, already stable and organized at a time when European states were just beginning to develop into the modern nation. In 1563, Ramusio, secretary to the rulers in Venice, wrote to the Italian merchants: "Let them go and do business with the King of Timbuktu and Mali and there is no doubt that they will be well-received there with their ships and their goods and treated well, and granted the favours that they ask. "

A Dutch report, around 1602, on the West African kingdom of Benin, said: "The Towne seemeth to be very great, when you enter it. You go into a great broad street, not paved, which seemeth to be seven or eight times broader than the Warmoes Street in Amsterdam. . The Houses in this Towne stand in good order, one close and even with the other, as the Houses in Holland stand."

The inhabitants of the Guinea Coast were described by one traveler around 1680 as "very civil and good-natured people, easy to be dealt with, condescending to what Europeans require of them in a civil way, and very ready to return double the presents we make them."

Africa had a kind of feudalism, like Europe based on agriculture, and with hierarchies of lords and vassals. But African feudalism did not come, as did Europe's, out of the slave societies of Greece and Rome, which had destroyed ancient tribal life. In Africa, tribal life was still powerful, and some of its better features—a communal spirit, more kindness in law and punishment—still existed. And because the lords did not have the weapons that European lords had, they could not command obedience as easily.

In his book The African Slave Trade, Basil Davidson contrasts law in the Congo in the early sixteenth century with law in Portugal and England. In those European countries, where the idea of private property was becoming powerful, theft was punished brutally. In England, even as late as 1740, a child could be hanged for stealing a rag of cotton. But in the Congo, communal life persisted, the idea of private property was a strange one, and thefts were punished with fines or various degrees of servitude. A Congolese leader, told of the Portuguese legal codes, asked a Portuguese once, teasingly: "What is the penalty in Portugal for anyone who puts his feet on the ground?"

Slavery existed in the African states, and it was sometimes used by Europeans to justify their own slave trade. But, as Davidson points out, the "slaves" of Africa were more like the serfs of Europe —in other words, like most of the population of Europe. It was a harsh servitude, but but they had rights which slaves brought to America did not have, and they were "altogether different from the human cattle of the slave ships and the American plantations." In the Ashanti Kingdom of West Africa, one observer noted that "a slave might marry own property himself own a slave swear an oath be a competent witness and ultimately become heir to his master. An Ashanti slave, nine cases out of ten, possibly became an adopted member of the family, and in time his descendants so merged and intermarried with the owner's kinsmen that only a few would know their origin."

One slave trader, John Newton (who later became an antislavery leader), wrote about the people of what is now Sierra Leone:

African slavery is hardly to be praised. But it was far different from plantation or mining slavery in the Americas, which was lifelong, morally crippling, destructive of family ties, without hope of any future. African slavery lacked two elements that made American slavery the most cruel form of slavery in history: the frenzy for limitless profit that comes from capitalistic agriculture the reduction of the slave to less than human status by the use of racial hatred, with that relentless clarity based on color, where white was master, black was slave.

In fact, it was because they came from a settled culture, of tribal customs and family ties, of communal life and traditional ritual, that African blacks found themselves especially helpless when removed from this. They were captured in the interior (frequently by blacks caught up in the slave trade themselves), sold on the coast, then shoved into pens with blacks of other tribes, often speaking different languages.

The conditions of capture and sale were crushing affirmations to the black African of his helplessness in the face of superior force. The marches to the coast, sometimes for 1,000 miles, with people shackled around the neck, under whip and gun, were death marches, in which two of every five blacks died. On the coast, they were kept in cages until they were picked and sold. One John Barbot, at the end of the seventeenth century, described these cages on the Gold Coast:

On one occasion, hearing a great noise from belowdecks where the blacks were chained together, the sailors opened the hatches and found the slaves in different stages of suffocation, many dead, some having killed others in desperate attempts to breathe. Slaves often jumped overboard to drown rather than continue their suffering. To one observer a slave-deck was "so covered with blood and mucus that it resembled a slaughter house."

Under these conditions, perhaps one of every three blacks transported overseas died, but the huge profits (often double the investment on one trip) made it worthwhile for the slave trader, and so the blacks were packed into the holds like fish.

First the Dutch, then the English, dominated the slave trade. (By 1795 Liverpool had more than a hundred ships carrying slaves and accounted for half of all the European slave trade.) Some Americans in New England entered the business, and in 1637 the first American slave ship, the Desire, sailed from Marblehead. Its holds were partitioned into racks, 2 feet by 6 feet, with leg irons and bars.

By 1800, 10 to 15 million blacks had been transported as slaves to the Americas, representing perhaps one-third of those originally seized in Africa. It is roughly estimated that Africa lost 50 million human beings to death and slavery in those centuries we call the beginnings of modern Western civilization, at the hands of slave traders and plantation owners in Western Europe and America, the countries deemed the most advanced in the world.

In the year 1610, a Catholic priest in the Americas named Father Sandoval wrote back to a church functionary in Europe to ask if the capture, transport, and enslavement of African blacks was legal by church doctrine. A letter dated March 12, 1610, from Brother Luis Brandaon to Father Sandoval gives the answer:

With all of this—the desperation of the Jamestown settlers for labor, the impossibility of using Indians and the difficulty of using whites, the availability of blacks offered in greater and greater numbers by profit-seeking dealers in human flesh, and with such blacks possible to control because they had just gone through an ordeal which if it did not kill them must have left them in a state of psychic and physical helplessness—is it any wonder that such blacks were ripe for enslavement?

And under these conditions, even if some blacks might have been considered servants, would blacks be treated the same as white servants?

The evidence, from the court records of colonial Virginia, shows that in 1630 a white man named Hugh Davis was ordered "to be soundly whipt. for abusing himself. by defiling his body in lying with a Negro." Ten years later, six servants and "a negro of Mr. Reynolds" started to run away. While the whites received lighter sentences, "Emanuel the Negro to receive thirty stripes and to be burnt in the cheek with the letter R, and to work in shackle one year or more as his master shall see cause."

Although slavery was not yet regularized or legalized in those first years, the lists of servants show blacks listed separately. A law passed in 1639 decreed that "all persons except Negroes" were to get arms and ammunition—probably to fight off Indians. When in 1640 three servants tried to run away, the two whites were punished with a lengthening of their service. But, as the court put it, "the third being a negro named John Punch shall serve his master or his assigns for the time of his natural life." Also in 1640, we have the case of a Negro woman servant who begot a child by Robert Sweat, a white man. The court ruled "that the said negro woman shall be whipt at the whipping post and the said Sweat shall tomorrow in the forenoon do public penance for his offense at James citychurch. "

This unequal treatment, this developing combination of contempt and oppression, feeling and action, which we call "racism"—was this the result of a "natural" antipathy of white against black? The question is important, not just as a matter of historical accuracy, but because any emphasis on "natural" racism lightens the responsibility of the social system. If racism can't be shown to be natural, then it is the result of certain conditions, and we are impelled to eliminate those conditions.

We have no way of testing the behavior of whites and blacks toward one another under favorable conditions—with no history of subordination, no money incentive for exploitation and enslavement, no desperation for survival requiring forced labor. All the conditions for black and white in seventeenth-century America were the opposite of that, all powerfully directed toward antagonism and mistreatment. Under such conditions even the slightest display of humanity between the races might be considered evidence of a basic human drive toward community.

Sometimes it is noted that, even before 1600, when the slave trade had just begun, before Africans were stamped by it—literally and symbolically—the color black was distasteful. In England, before 1600, it meant, according to the Oxford English Dictionary: "Deeply stained with dirt soiled, dirty, foul. Having dark or deadly purposes, malignant pertaining to or involving death, deadly baneful, disastrous, sinister. Foul, iniquitous, atrocious, horribly wicked. Indicating disgrace, censure, liability to punishment, etc." And Elizabethan poetry often used the color white in connection with beauty.

It may be that, in the absence of any other overriding factor, darkness and blackness, associated with night and unknown, would take on those meanings. But the presence of another human being is a powerful fact, and the conditions of that presence are crucial in determining whether an initial prejudice, against a mere color, divorced from humankind, is turned into brutality and hatred.

In spite of such preconceptions about blackness, in spite of special subordination of blacks in the Americas in the seventeenth century, there is evidence that where whites and blacks found themselves with common problems, common work, common enemy in their master, they behaved toward one another as equals. As one scholar of slavery, Kenneth Stampp, has put it, Negro and white servants of the seventeenth century were "remarkably unconcerned about the visible physical differences."

Black and white worked together, fraternized together. The very fact that laws had to be passed after a while to forbid such relations indicates the strength of that tendency. In 1661 a law was passed in Virginia that "in case any English servant shall run away in company of any Negroes" he would have to give special service for extra years to the master of the runaway Negro. In 1691, Virginia provided for the banishment of any "white man or woman being free who shall intermarry with a negro, mulatoo, or Indian man or woman bond or free."

There is an enormous difference between a feeling of racial strangeness, perhaps fear, and the mass enslavement of millions of black people that took place in the Americas. The transition from one to the other cannot be explained easily by "natural" tendencies. It is not hard to understand as the outcome of historical conditions.

Slavery grew as the plantation system grew. The reason is easily traceable to something other than natural racial repugnance: the number of arriving whites, whether free or indentured servants (under four to seven years contract), was not enough to meet the need of the plantations. By 1700, in Virginia, there were 6,000 slaves, one-twelfth of the population. By 1763, there were 170,000 slaves, about half the population.

Blacks were easier to enslave than whites or Indians. But they were still not easy to enslave. From the beginning, the imported black men and women resisted their enslavement. Ultimately their resistance was controlled, and slavery was established for 3 million blacks in the South. Still, under the most difficult conditions, under pain of mutilation and death, throughout their two hundred years of enslavement in North America, these Afro-Americans continued to rebel. Only occasionally was there an organized insurrection. More often they showed their refusal to submit by running away. Even more often, they engaged in sabotage, slowdowns, and subtle forms of resistance which asserted, if only to themselves and their brothers and sisters, their dignity as human beings.

The refusal began in Africa. One slave trader reported that Negroes were "so wilful and loth to leave their own country, that they have often leap'd out of the canoes, boat and ship into the sea, and kept under water til they were drowned."

When the very first black slaves were brought into Hispaniola in 1503, the Spanish governor of Hispaniola complained to the Spanish court that fugitive Negro slaves were teaching disobedience to the Indians. In the 1520s and 1530s, there were slave revolts in Hispaniola, Puerto Rico, Santa Marta, and what is now Panama. Shortly after those rebellions, the Spanish established a special police for chasing fugitive slaves.

A Virginia statute of 1669 referred to "the obstinacy of many of them," and in 1680 the Assembly took note of slave meetings "under the pretense of feasts and brawls" which they considered of "dangerous consequence." In 1687, in the colony's Northern Neck, a plot was discovered in which slaves planned to kill all the whites in the area and escape during a mass funeral.

Gerald Mullin, who studied slave resistance in eighteenth-century Virginia in his work Flight and Rebellion, reports:

Slaves recently from Africa, still holding on to the heritage of their communal society, would run away in groups and try to establish villages of runaways out in the wilderness, on the frontier. Slaves born in America, on the other hand, were more likely to run off alone, and, with the skills they had learned on the plantation, try to pass as free men.

In the colonial papers of England, a 1729 report from the lieutenant governor of Virginia to the British Board of Trade tells how "a number of Negroes, about fifteen. formed a design to withdraw from their Master and to fix themselves in the fastnesses of the neighboring Mountains. They had found means to get into their possession some Arms and Ammunition, and they took along with them some Provisions, their Cloths, bedding and working Tools. Tho' this attempt has happily been defeated, it ought nevertheless to awaken us into some effectual measures. "

Slavery was immensely profitable to some masters. James Madison told a British visitor shortly after the American Revolution that he could make $257 on every Negro in a year, and spend only $12 or $13 on his keep. Another viewpoint was of slaveowner Landon Carter, writing about fifty years earlier, complaining that his slaves so neglected their work and were so uncooperative ("either cannot or will not work") that he began to wonder if keeping them was worthwhile.

Some historians have painted a picture—based on the infrequency of organized rebellions and the ability of the South to maintain slavery for two hundred years—of a slave population made submissive by their condition with their African heritage destroyed, they were, as Stanley Elkins said, made into "Sambos," "a society of helpless dependents." Or as another historian, Ulrich Phillips, said, "by racial quality submissive." But looking at the totality of slave behavior, at the resistance of everyday life, from quiet noncooperation in work to running away, the picture becomes different.

In 1710, warning the Virginia Assembly, Governor Alexander Spotswood said:

Mullin found newspaper advertisements between 1736 and 1801 for 1,138 men runaways, and 141 women. One consistent reason for running away was to find members of one's family—showing that despite the attempts of the slave system to destroy family ties by not allowing marriages and by separating families, slaves would face death and mutilation to get together.

In Maryland, where slaves were about one-third of the population in 1750, slavery had been written into law since the 1660s, and statutes for controlling rebellious slaves were passed. There were cases where slave women killed their masters, sometimes by poisoning them, sometimes by burning tobacco houses and homes. Punishment ranged from whipping and branding to execution, but the trouble continued. In 1742, seven slaves were put to death for murdering their master.

Fear of slave revolt seems to have been a permanent fact of plantation life. William Byrd, a wealthy Virginia slaveowner, wrote in 1736:

The system was psychological and physical at the same time. The slaves were taught discipline, were impressed again and again with the idea of their own inferiority to "know their place," to see blackness as a sign of subordination, to be awed by the power of the master, to merge their interest with the master's, destroying their own individual needs. To accomplish this there was the discipline of hard labor, the breakup of the slave family, the lulling effects of religion (which sometimes led to "great mischief," as one slaveholder reported), the creation of disunity among slaves by separating them into field slaves and more privileged house slaves, and finally the power of law and the immediate power of the overseer to invoke whipping, burning, mutilation, and death. Dismemberment was provided for in the Virginia Code of 1705. Maryland passed a law in 1723 providing for cutting off the ears of blacks who struck whites, and that for certain serious crimes, slaves should be hanged and the body quartered and exposed.

Still, rebellions took place—not many, but enough to create constant fear among white planters. The first large-scale revolt in the North American colonies took place in New York in 1712. In New York, slaves were 10 percent of the population, the highest proportion in the northern states, where economic conditions usually did not require large numbers of field slaves. About twenty- five blacks and two Indians set fire to a building, then killed nine whites who came on the scene. They were captured by soldiers, put on trial, and twenty-one were executed. The governor's report to England said: "Some were burnt, others were hanged, one broke on the wheel, and one hung alive in chains in the town. " One had been burned over a slow fire for eight to ten hours—all this to serve notice to other slaves.

A letter to London from South Carolina in 1720 reports:

Around this time there were a number of fires in Boston and New Haven, suspected to be the work of Negro slaves. As a result, one Negro was executed in Boston, and the Boston Council ruled that any slaves who on their own gathered in groups of two or more were to be punished by whipping.

At Stono, South Carolina, in 1739, about twenty slaves rebelled, killed two warehouse guards, stole guns and gunpowder, and headed south, killing people in their way, and burning buildings. They were joined by others, until there were perhaps eighty slaves in all and, according to one account of the time, "they called out Liberty, marched on with Colours displayed, and two Drums beating." The militia found and attacked them. In the ensuing battle perhaps fifty slaves and twenty-five whites were killed before the uprising was crushed.

Herbert Aptheker, who did detailed research on slave resistance in North America for his book American Negro Slave Revolts, found about 250 instances where a minimum of ten slaves joined in a revolt or conspiracy.

From time to time, whites were involved in the slave resistance. As early as 1663, indentured white servants and black slaves in Gloucester County, Virginia, formed a conspiracy to rebel and gain their freedom. The plot was betrayed, and ended with executions. Mullin reports that the newspaper notices of runaways in Virginia often warned "ill-disposed" whites about harboring fugitives. Sometimes slaves and free men ran off together, or cooperated in crimes together. Sometimes, black male slaves ran off and joined white women. From time to time, white ship captains and watermen dealt with runaways, perhaps making the slave a part of the crew.

In New York in 1741, there were ten thousand whites in the city and two thousand black slaves. It had been a hard winter and the poor—slave and free—had suffered greatly. When mysterious fires broke out, blacks and whites were accused of conspiring together. Mass hysteria developed against the accused. After a trial full of lurid accusations by informers, and forced confessions, two white men and two white women were executed, eighteen slaves were hanged, and thirteen slaves were burned alive.

Only one fear was greater than the fear of black rebellion in the new American colonies. That was the fear that discontented whites would join black slaves to overthrow the existing order. In the early years of slavery, especially, before racism as a way of thinking was firmly ingrained, while white indentured servants were often treated as badly as black slaves, there was a possibility of cooperation. As Edmund Morgan sees it:

As Morgan says, masters, "initially at least, perceived slaves in much the same way they had always perceived servants. shiftless, irresponsible, unfaithful, ungrateful, dishonest. " And "if freemen with disappointed hopes should make common cause with slaves of desperate hope, the results might be worse than anything Bacon had done."

And so, measures were taken. About the same time that slave codes, involving discipline and punishment, were passed by the Virginia Assembly,

Morgan concludes: "Once the small planter felt less exploited by taxation and began to prosper a little, he became less turbulent, less dangerous, more respectable. He could begin to see his big neighbor not as an extortionist but as a powerful protector of their common interests."

We see now a complex web of historical threads to ensnare blacks for slavery in America: the desperation of starving settlers, the special helplessness of the displaced African, the powerful incentive of profit for slave trader and planter, the temptation of superior status for poor whites, the elaborate controls against escape and rebellion, the legal and social punishment of black and white collaboration.

The point is that the elements of this web are historical, not "natural." This does not mean that they are easily disentangled, dismantled. It means only that there is a possibility for something else, under historical conditions not yet realized. And one of these conditions would be the elimination of that class exploitation which has made poor whites desperate for small gifts of status, and has prevented that unity of black and white necessary for joint rebellion and reconstruction.

Around 1700, the Virginia House of Burgesses declared:

It was a kind of class consciousness, a class fear. There were things happening in early Virginia, and in the other colonies, to warrant it.


3rd Gear: GM Has Maps

GM unveiled a new maps product yesterday for its cars, called Maps+. It is intended for people who don’t use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. It will be a software update for around 900,000 model year 2018 and newer Buicks, Chevys, Cadillacs, and GMCs.

For current owners of compatible vehicles that previously did not have navigation built in, Maps+ brings a connected ecosystem of voice assistants, navigation and apps into a singular experience.

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Maps+ was developed to meet driver needs and preferences while keeping hardware capabilities of different vehicles in mind. Drivers can start Maps+ navigation with Alexa Built-In1 voice control and listen to music or podcasts using the system’s integrated audio apps. A single-box search offers intuitive access to points of interest, shops, restaurants, parking and more. With features including embedded speed limit alerts and low fuel recognition to route drivers to a nearby station, Maps+ fully complements drivers’ lives on the road. Driver choice is at the core of this in-vehicle experience and drivers can take advantage of Maps+ or decide to project their favorite smartphone apps in their vehicle.

The maps offering will be included in GM’s various subscription Connected Services plans . It’s not clear to me how this will be superior to Apple or Google’s products, but, then again, in-car navigation is one of those technologies that, if you had told me in the ‘90s when I was a kid they would exist, I would absolutely not have believed you. We were still getting TripTiks from AAA and printing out MapQuest directions back then.


Land Reparations & Indigenous Solidarity Toolkit


This is a brief guide for Resource Generation members and other folks with access to land to support in education and resource sharing around land reparations. We hope these resources can support us in taking collective action towards land repatriation to Indigenous people in the ongoing struggle against colonization. This is not a comprehensive guide, but rather a starting point. This guide was compiled by the RG Land Reparations Group in 2018.

There is no blueprint for how to work towards land reparations and land returns to the Indigenous people of this land. Every region, location, and tribe is different in the history of colonization, and in the political landscapes of Indigenous struggle and organizing. This brief guide is a compilation of some educational resources on colonialism, decolonization and solidarity, and links to some inspiring case studies and examples of settler descendants who have returned land to Indigenous people, as well as some initial questions/best practices to consider when beginning to think about working towards land repatriation to Indigenous people.

Wealth is based in finite resources. Wealth, even what’s based in the stock market, is ultimately tied concretely to land. “Land” here means all the world’s resources and ecosystems that keep us alive and well — water, vegetation, food, minerals, buildings, and more. The life-blood that flows from land is finite, tangible, vital. It is currently, especially in the U.S., almost exclusively privately controlled by individuals or corporations whose ownership the law is designed to protect. Land is controlled this way because of European colonization. The historic and ongoing theft and control of land, real estate, and resources has led to the extreme concentration of wealth among a small group of people that exists today.

In Resource Generation’s mission — to be working toward the equitable distribution of wealth, land, and power — we name the “equitable distribution of land.” This is a tactic and a specific outcome that young people with wealth are well positioned to influence. As an economic justice organization, focusing on this reparation of resources is one fundamental way we can contribute to and strengthen the holistic project of decolonization — but it must be in concert with other aspects of anti-colonial practices and principles, which are determined and led by Indigenous people. Decolonization and “the equitable distribution of land” is simultaneously about Native sovereignty, self-determination, and rights and about the Earth and its resources being sustained, cared for, and lived with symbiotically. Colonization disrupted the communal responsibility to land inherent in Indigenous nationhood, and turned land into a private commodity for wealth extraction and accumulation. Therefore, a decolonial lens of returning land to Indigenous nations, not just individuals, is necessary to avoid reproducing those dynamics. To talk about true “redistribution of land” with a decolonial lens is seeking to address the question, “what would it look like to truly tend to the harm of wealth extraction done by colonizers [US-focus in RG but this is worldwide]?” Another way of putting this is – we are trying to get to the root causes of injustice .

Colonialism is both a root and result of racism and capitalism. A primary cause of the racial wealth divide is colonialism: white Europeans’ theft of land, resources, human bodies and their labor. In order to end racial capitalism, we must disrupt and end colonization.

Colonialism is a root cause of many other “isms” and injustices.

  • Colonization by white Europeans brought indentured servitude targeting poor people from Europe, Asia, the Caribbean and elsewhere that laid the groundwork for ongoing exploitation of the working class.
  • Colonization is at the root of racism. White Europeans justified land theft and genocide by asserting that they were a scientifically superior class of human beings.
  • Colonization by white Europeans introduced a strict Christianity-backed patriarchy that created and enforces gender roles and binary with the use of sexual violence, transphobia, and homophobia.
  • Colonization by white Europeans imported and amplified a culture of greed and an economy of capitalism that led to the enslavement of Africans and seeded our current penal system.

U.S. colonialism and imperialism has shaped the history and present lives of Black, Latinx, Asian, and Arab people in the U.S. and abroad. Non-Native people of color have a different relationship to settler colonialism than descendants of White Europeans. Be it from forced migration through slavery, economic migration due to U.S. extraction of resources in South America, U.S backed imperialist land grabs, refugee resettlement due to U.S. wars abroad, non-Native people of color in the U.S have suffered from colonialism and imperialism, and have also been brought into the settler-colonial project that is the United States. As a community that is vastly majority settlers, we have a responsibility to center and work in solidarity with Native folks.

This new guide is designed to support members in partnership with movement leaders to support Indigenous and Black land access in the continued exploration of ways to distribute land, wealth and power.

Educational articles around colonialism and decolonization:

Some questions and best practices to consider:

1. What is the history of any land you indirectly/directly have access to? What Indigenous people historically or currently inhabit that land, and what is the history of how it was stolen? (Get started by checking out this decolonization homework from the Catalyst Project and this map of Native land)

2. Who are the Native people/communities where you live or where the land you have access to? What is the political landscape of both recognized and unrecognized tribes where you live? Are there any local efforts that are led by Indigenous people?

3. Start the slow process of building relationships with Native people where you live. Be patient. This work is relational and because of colonization Indigenous people and struggles are often less visible/invisible. Are there local events or cultural centers you can show up to? Are there individuals you are connected to that you can build relationship with?

4. What are the visions and struggles of Indigenous people/tribes in the area you live or have access to land in? Show up and support the visions and struggles that are ongoing. This might be fundraising for land or other resources, or inviting local tribes to utilize land that you have access to. De-commodifying land in the long term and returning lands to disenfranchised and Native people is ideal, and we must be working within the visions and struggles of Indigenous people/tribes.

5. What does informed consent look like in the offer for donation or transfer of land? Acknowledging that land transfers/land repatriation can be complex, can you consider and discuss how there can be a choice on behalf of the donation recipient of whether to accept the offer, and how to support the entire process and success ongoingly if so.

6. Learn about the specifics of what is possible as far as land transfers. Land can be transferred to individuals or cooperatives of individuals, collective ownership and control is important for maintaining long-term control of land, as private ownership is more vulnerable to dispossession. There are different ways donors can transfer land to land trusts- donation vs title transfer vs charitable sale. Learn about different options and discuss with partners. (See the guide below from the Sustainable Economies Law Center about different options for how to transfer land.)

Case studies/examples:

Below are several examples of current or recent land return efforts. This includes organized fundraisers for land return, as well as individuals who have returned land to Native communities.

Land returns

• Mashpee Wampanoag (Cape Cod) — Native Land Conservancy was founded in 2012 in Mashpee, Massachusetts, and is the first Native-run land conservation group east of the Mississippi, and this story about the first parcel of land donated to the Native Land Conservancy by an individual

• Wabanaki (Maine) — First Light Learning Journey A collaboration of 25 non-Native conservationists controlling 2 million acres in Maine, and Wabanaki tribal members to build towards collective awareness of Native land left and move towards land resourcing sharing with Wabanaki people. Notes on process here .

Land taxes, cash & other returns

• Sogorea Te Land Tax : land tax in Bay Area, traditional Ohlone land, for non Indigenous people to pay into the Shuumi Land tax to acknowledge the history of colonization, land theft and the Ohlone community.

• Duwamish Real Rent : Land tax in Seattle area

• There are currently many Indigenous-led, land-based anti-pipeline camps seeking on the ground support, supplies and legal support, such as The L’eau Est La Vie Camp .

Legal Reference Resource:

This guide covers different land transfer mechanisms, including full value sale, charitable (bargain) sale, full donation, donation of a remainder interest, revocable transfer on death, donation by bequest, and sale or donation of easement.

Legal Note: While Sustainable Economies Law Center made every effort to reference and confirm the information in this guide, tax and real estate law are complex areas of law that change frequently and vary depending on context. As a result, you should not rely on this guide as a substitute for legal advice from a lawyer familiar with your particular circumstances.