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When Native Americans Briefly Won Back Their Land

November 1, 2019 in History

By Erin Blakemore

A proclamation by King George III set the stage for Native American rights—and the eventual loss of most tribal lands.

They came from near and far: Native American chiefs and representatives of various tribes bearing gifts for a historic meeting. Their destination was Fort Niagara in New York, where dozens of Nations would meet to negotiate a new alliance with the British.

Months earlier, in 1763, George III had announced that the colonies would no longer seize Native lands or purchase it without treaties. For the first time, Native Americans’ rights to their own tribal lands had been recognized in the laws of one of North America’s colonial conquerors.

Two thousand Native Americans gathered at Niagara to celebrate the proclamation and to announce their intention to be peaceful toward British colonists. Decades before the first Indian reservations were established in the United States, colonial Britain created a vast “Indian Reserve” across thousands of miles of its newly expanded territory.

Starting in 1763, no English settlers could legally travel through or acquire land west of the Appalachian Mountains—a massive swath of territory recently gained from France during the French and Indian War.

French and Indian War Leads to Reshuffled American Map

Map of the British dominions in North America according to the Treaty of Paris in 1763.

The proclamation was a watershed for Native American rights. But the tribal members who commemorated the proclamation with wampum belts and other offerings had no idea that the agreement had set the stage not just for the American Revolution, but the eventual loss of most of their lands.

Native Americans had been losing land slowly but surely throughout British colonial rule. “Each treaty expanded the area for colonial occupation and reduced the land base of different tribes,” notes geographer Charlie Grymes. With growing territory came a growing British desire to live and farm along the colonial frontier.

But the British had a rival with the same goal: the French, who made claims in the Ohio River Valley beginning in the 1850s. The valley was a fertile area whose waterway held major trade promise, and the British wanted to claim it for the crown. Armed conflict began in 1754, and in 1756, Britain formally declared war on France. After a rocky start, Britain prevailed, and in February 1763 the war ended with the Treaty of Paris.

The treaty reshuffled …read more

Source: HISTORY

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After the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman Led a Brazen Civil War Raid

November 1, 2019 in History

By Alexis Clark

Tubman applied intelligence she learned as an Underground Railroad conductor to lead the Combahee Ferry Raid that freed more than 700 from slavery.

They called her “Moses” for leading enslaved people in the South to freedom up North. But Harriet Tubman fought the institution of slavery well beyond her role as a conductor for the Underground Railroad. As a soldier and spy for the Union Army during the Civil War, Tubman became the first woman to lead an armed military operation in the United States in what is known as the Combahee Ferry Raid.

By January 1, 1863, when the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect, Tubman had been in South Carolina as a volunteer for the Union Army. With her family behind in Auburn, New York, and having established herself as a prominent abolitionist in Boston circles, Tubman, at the request of Massachusetts Governor John Andrew, had gone to Hilton Head, South Carolina, which had fallen to the Union Army early in the war.

Tubman Becomes Military Leader

During the Civil War, Harriet Tubman served as a spy and militia leader with the Union forces.

For months, Tubman worked as a laundress, opening a wash house, and serving as a nurse, until she was given orders to form a spy ring. Tubman had proven herself invaluable at gathering clandestine information, forming allies and avoiding capture, as she led the Underground Railroad. In her new role, Tubman assumed leadership of a secret military mission in South Carolina’s low country.

“First and foremost, her priorities would be to defeat and destroy the system of slavery and in doing so, to definitely defeat the Confederacy,” said Brandi Brimmer, a history professor at Spelman College and slavery historian.

Tubman partnered with Colonel James Montgomery, an abolitionist who commanded the Second South Carolina Volunteers, a black regiment. Together, the two planned a raid along the Combahee River, to rescue slaves, recruit freed men into the Union Army and obliterate some of the wealthiest rice plantations in the region.

Montgomery had around 300 men, including 50 from a Rhode Island Regiment and Tubman rounded up eight scouts, who helped her map the area and send word to the slaves when the raid would take place.

“She was fearless and she was courageous,” said Kate Clifford Larson, historian and author of Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman, Portrait of an American Hero. “She …read more

Source: HISTORY