The Black Historian... George Washington Williams...

5fish

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George Washington Williams was a black historian who wrote a book about history and no one knows him. He brought Leopold II, horrors in the Congo to light, He was the first black member of the Ohio State House... He was a veteran of the Civil War...


Williams spent only one term in political office, partly because he saw little chance of reelection and partly because he increasingly desired to write history. His first text, The History of the Negro Race in America (1882), received largely favorable reviews. Public reaction was amazement at the extent of this two-volume work on African Americans, who were thought to have little history, and because its author was African American. His second book, A History of the Negro Troops in the War of the Rebellion (1887), received similar but generally better reviews.


His impression of Williams is telling: Du Bois subsequently described him as “the greatest historian of the race.” So if you enjoy history and have never heard of him, you should.

Fortunately, the late historian John Hope Franklin’s impressive decades-long excavation of Williams has unearthed the details of Williams’ life and achievements. And despite that, he still seems oddly absent among popularly known Black intellectuals and academics
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While Franklin’s work provides Williams’ rich story in detail, he was born free in Pennsylvania in 1849, and joined the Union army at just 14 years of age. After the Civil War and service in Mexico, Williams turned his attention toward education, addressing a letter requesting admission directly to the founder of Howard University. The lack of polish in the letter reveals the incompleteness of Williams’ education but simultaneously demonstrates how far Williams would come in a rather short period.
 
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5fish

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Here is a review of Washington's work on slavery in America, his views are today's views...


His thought...

"I have brought the first volume down to the close of the 18th Century, detailing the great struggle through which the slavery problem passed. I have given as fair an idea of the debate on this question, in the convention that framed the Constitution, as possible. It was then and there that the hydra of slavery struck its fangs in the Constitution; and once inoculated with the poison of the monster, the government was only able to purify itself in the flames of a great civil war. . . . Unable to destroy slavery by constitutional law, the best thought and effort of this period were directed against the extension of the evil in the territory beyond the Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri Rivers. . . . [H]aving pledged the Constitution to the protection of slave property, it required a superhuman effort to confine the evil to one section of the country. Like a loathsome disease it spread itself over the body politic until our nation became the eyesore of the age, and a byeword [sic] among the nations of the world. The time came when our beloved country had to submit to heroic treatment, and the cancer of slavery was removed by sword.4"
 
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