Tag Archives: historical

Another Seizure of American Slaves in Bermuda

This is an article I came across while researching my family. In Bermuda, the slave trade was outlawed in 1807, and all slaves were freed in 1834. The following article is about a shipment of slaves, destined for North Carolina, which was diverted to Bermuda due to weather.

The Salem Gazette
Salem, Mass
Friday, 20 Mar 1835

“From the N. York Jour. of Commerce.

Considerable excitement was created in the Southern states a year or two ago, by the seizure and emancipation of a cargo of American slaves which had been driven into Bermuda by stress of weather.

At the last session of the North Carolina Legislature, strong resolutions were passed in reprobation of the act, which was considered nothing less than legalized robbery. However, the same act has since been repeated, and will doubtless be repeated as often as American slaves shall be by accident or otherwise, be found in British ports. If any of our readers need be informed how it comes to pass that cargoes of American slaves are every now and then driven into Bermuda, we can only tell them that a brisk trade in human flesh is carried on by sea, between the Northernmost slave-holding states and the Southernmost, slave-labor being in much greater demand, and the price of slaves much higher in the latter than in the former. The principal mart for the collection and shipment of these slaves is the District of Columbia; the government of which is vested exclusively in Congress.

One of the last cargoes shipped from that District, consisting of 78 individuals, was taken on board the brig Enterprise, of this part, Elliot Smith master, bound for Charleston. But either on account of the Jonah on board or for some other reason, the brig would not go to Charleston, and after being tossed about by winds and waves a sufficient length of time, put into Bermuda about the 20th nit. in distress.

It immediately became known to the inhabitants that there were slaves on board, and accordingly on the following day, at the instance of the “Friendly Society” of colored people of Bermuda, a writ of Habeus Corpus was served upon all the slaves, commanding them to be bro’t before the Chief Justice and answer for themselves whether they would proceed with the vessel to her destined port and continue slaves, or remain at Bermuda and be free. The rest of the proceedings in the case we give in the language of the Bermuda Royal Gazette, received at this office.

The Constable with the Writ went off to the vessel, (then lying about 300 yards from the shore) and requested to see the master, into whose hands the Writ was delivered. He passed to a gentleman on the deck to read it, who when he had done so, observed that the document was not served in the proper form, and on the Constable declining to take it back, it was dropped into the bottom of the boat. The Constable immediately returned to shore to report proceedings.

In the interim the master, having landed, a merchant in the town of Hamilton, who had witnessed the transaction, very kindly intimated to Smith the necessity of his regaining possession of the Writ, which he fortunately succeeded in doing. The master then came to Court, and pleaded very hard, that the compliance which the writ might be deferred till the following morning, but under existing and somewhat suspicious circumstances, the Court was peremptory; accordingly at 9 o’clock PM the whole of the Slaves were marshalled into Court; there were children without a single connexion with them, who had no doubt been torn from the very arms of their parents to gratify man, who is ever inventing means to gain filthy lucre, there were women too, with infants at the breast; and altogether, they presented a scene most degrading and revolting to Christianity.

It has been asserted and we place implicit confidence in our informant, that an attempt was made to tamper with these unfortunate creatures before they left the brigantine, by promising them money if they would but say when questioned that they would rather proceed with the vessel. But how little did the tempter reckon with human feeling (though his anticipations were very great) where such strong interest was concerned; he little thought that the heart of the poor and oppressed colored mortal could, with freedom in prospect, beat with an anxious joy, as that of a white person for any other cause; the result proved how groundless were his expectations. The first man called upon was desired to stand up and turn himself towards his Honor and Chief Justice, who plainly, kindly, and very appropriately addressed him to the Effect;–“…


Giving historians a bad name….

Press Release
January 24, 2011

National Archives Discovers Date Change on Lincoln Record

Thomas Lowry Confesses to Altering Lincoln Pardon to April 14, 1865

Washington, DC…Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero announced today that Thomas Lowry, a long-time Lincoln researcher from Woodbridge, VA, confessed on January 12, 2011, to altering an Abraham Lincoln Presidential pardon that is part of the permanent records of the U.S. National Archives. The pardon was for Patrick Murphy, a Civil War soldier in the Union Army who was court-martialed for desertion.

Lowry admitted to changing the date of Murphy’s pardon, written in Lincoln’s hand, from April 14, 1864, to April 14, 1865, the day John Wilkes Booth assassinated Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC. Having changed the year from 1864 to 1865, Lowry was then able to claim that this pardon was of significant historical relevance because it could be considered one of, if not the final official act by President Lincoln before his assassination.

The images and video are in the public domain and not subject to any copyright restrictions.

 

President Lincoln pardon for Patrick Murphy, a Civil War soldier in the Union Army who was court-martialed for desertion. Records of the Judge Advocate General (Army) National Archives. ARC Identifier: 1839980

 

Close up of altered date and Abraham Lincoln “A. Lincoln” signature from a President Lincoln pardon for Patrick Murphy, a Civil War soldier in the Union Army.

 

Close up of the altered date: Long-time Lincoln researcher Thomas Lowry admitted to changing the date of Murphy’s pardon, written in Lincoln’s hand, from April 14, 1864 to April 14, 1865. Records of the Judge Advocate General (Army) National Archives.

In 1998, Lowry was recognized in the national media for his “discovery” of the Murphy pardon, which was placed on exhibit in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom in the National Archives Building in Washington, DC. Lowry subsequently cited the altered record in his book, Don’t Shoot That Boy: Abraham Lincoln and Military Justice, published in 1999.

In making the announcement, the Archivist said, “I am very grateful to Archives staff member Trevor Plante and the Office of the Inspector General for their hard work in uncovering this criminal intention to rewrite history. The Inspector General’s Archival Recovery Team has proven once again its importance in contributing to our shared commitment to secure the nation’s historical record.”

National Archives archivist Trevor Plante reported to the National Archives Office of Inspector General that he believed the date on the Murphy pardon had been altered: the “5” looked like a darker shade of ink than the rest of the date and it appeared that there might have been another number under the “5”. Investigative Archivist Mitchell Yockelson of the Inspector General’s Archival Recovery Team (ART) confirmed Plante’s suspicions.

In an effort to determine who altered the Murphy pardon, the Office of the Inspector General contacted Lowry, a recognized Lincoln subject-matter expert, for assistance. Lowry initially responded, but when he learned the basis for the contact, communication to the Office of Inspector General ceased.

On January 12, 2011, Lowry ultimately agreed to be interviewed by the Office of the Inspector General’s special agent Greg Tremaglio. In the course of the interview, Lowry admitted to altering the Murphy pardon to reflect the date of Lincoln’s assassination in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2071. Against National Archives regulations, Lowry brought a fountain pen into a National Archives research room where, using fadeproof, pigment-based ink, he altered the date of the Murphy pardon in order to change its historical significance.

This matter was referred to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution; however the Department of Justice informed the National Archives that the statute of limitations had expired, and therefore Lowry could not be prosecuted. The National Archives, however, has permanently banned him from all of its facilities and research rooms.

Inspector General Paul Brachfeld expressed his tremendous appreciation for the work of Plante and the Inspector General’s Archival Recovery Team in resolving this matter. Brachfeld added that “the stated mission of ART is ‘archival recovery,’ and while the Murphy pardon was neither lost or stolen, in a very real way our work helped to ‘recover’ the true record of a significant period in our collective history.”

At a later date, National Archives conservators will examine the document to determine whether the original date of 1864 can be restored by removing the “5”.

# # #

For Press information, contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at 202-357-5300.

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