Tag Archives: US imperialism

William Hogeland – THE AUTUMN OF THE BLACK SNAKE: THE CREATION OF THE U.S. ARMY AND THE INVASION THAT OPENED THE WEST

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William Hogeland has written about the American Revolution era in three previous books, THE WHISKEY REBELLION, DECLARATION, AND FOUNDING FINANCE. His latest book, THE AUTUMN OF THE BLACK SNAKE: THE CREATION OF THE U.S. ARMY AND THE INVASION THAT OPENED THE WEST, published by Farrar, Strouse, Giroux in 2017, goes in depth into the history surrounding the American Revolution, and particularly a major defeat of the new United States, in fact the greatest defeat effected by North American indigenous peoples in the history of this continent. But few have heard about it, much less the individuals who made it happen. William Hogeland, is determined to remedy this.

First a bit of history:  On this date, July 19th, in 1848, the Seneca Falls Convention was convened. It was the first women’s rights convention, eventually leading after more than 7 decades to, among other things, the 19th Amendment granting women’s right to vote in the U.S. DEC564-38.jpg

And on July 19th 1692, 8 people were found guilty of witchcraft and hanged in Salem, Mass., including Rev. George Burroughs, the only minister to be executed. maxresdefault.jpg

But now, we’ll fast forward a hundred years to “more enlightened times,” when the American Revolution had been won, and the power elites of that era were looking West across the Appalachian Mountains to so-called “vacant lands” for speculation and expansion. With only one problem, that being the people who had been living there for millennia didn’t agree that it was vacant.

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A young George Washington explored, surveyed and speculated in lands west of the Appalachians, in the process becoming one of the causes of the Seven Years War – the first global war, causing over a million casualties – and also enhancing his own career and making his fortune.
The tobacco export business required ever more new lands for planting, due to severe, rapid depletion of the soil, hence the lust for more and more new land to plant.

thomas_jefferson.jpgThomas Jefferson provided an evolving legal theory of Free Holding, dating back to the Anglo Saxon invasion of England, and disavowing the right of kings to grant tenure of lands, which had begun with the Norman Invasion. He believed anyone could take and hold any land without the permission of a sovereign, i.e Direct Ownership, as long as it was “vacant” .

His advice to farmers concerning tobacco’s soil depletion: “Better to move than manure.”

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Blue Jacket, a Shawnee leader, rallied his people to resist American Westward expansion.

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Unlike Blue Jacket, Little Turtle believed that without British armaments, the Americans could not be decisively defeated. His efforts to procure them were unsuccessful.

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Joseph Brant, a member of the Six Nation Iroquois Confederacy tried to be a diplomat and go-between among the warring factions – American, Indian and British. His efforts only resulted in ever diminishing trust and respect on all sides.greeneville-wells-1923.jpg

One treaty after another was made and broken by the Americans, although for the most part honored by the Indians. As westward encroachment increased – 10,000 immigrants coming down the Ohio River per month – war was inevitable.

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General Arthur St. Clair, who suffered the greatest defeat by Indians in U.S. history, when as many as 1,200 men, women and children – out of 1,500 – were killed, including most of the officers of the U.S. military.

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St. Clair’s defeat by the Miami Indians at the Battle of the Wabash River Nov. 4, 1791.

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Exact numbers are impossible to determine, but according to David Johnson in Fort Amanda – A Historical Redress (1790-1815):

In a 3 hour battle, of 982 soldiers and 250 civilians, 757 were killed, 413 wounded, 34 unwounded, a Total Casualty Rate of 95%. Placed head to toe, the bodies of those killed at St Clair’s Defeat would measure approximately 4,400 feet.

 

The House on Coco Road w/Damani Baker & Belvie Rooks

This film is so many things. It’s a family history of sorts, hence the title, THE HOUSE ON COCO ROAD, but it’s also a chronicle of the historic revolution in the tiny island of Grenada by the New Jewel Movement (Joint Endeavor for Welfare, Education and Liberation), co-founded by Maurice Bishop and Bernard Coard, and the destabilization under the Ronald Reagan regime, leading to the invasion and overthrow of the government there. As if that weren’t enough, it also chronicles the rise – and government repression of – revolutionary Black Activism in the United States, featuring Angela Davis and her sister, Fania Davis, as well as the director’s mother, Fannie Haughton. I don’t know how they got this all into a mere 79 minutes, without making it feel rushed or overfull, but the result is a beautiful, important film rich in both historical facts and emotional, social and cultural realities.

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Damani Baker is a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, who is one of Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 new faces in independent film”. His career spans documentaries, music videos, museum installations and advertisements. Some of Damani Baker’s documentaries include The House on Coco Road, which revisits the events and circumstances of the 1983 U.S. invasion of Grenada, and Return, an award-winning film that explores the genius of traditional African medicine. He directed music videos for Maiysha’s single “Wanna Be”, which was nominated for a 2009 Grammy,  and Morley’s “Women of Hope”, inspired by pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi. His first feature documentary, Still Bill, was on the life and music of Bill Withers.  His current projects include over 10 films for museums in Nigeria and Chattanooga, Tennessee. These films include interviews with President Bill Clinton, Dr. Kofi Annan and President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.  In addition, he is a professor at Sarah Lawrence College’s Film and New Media Department, the director of the Quest forGlobal Healing Film Series in Bali, Indonesia and media collaborator with the International Budget Partnership, tracking government transparency through budgets around the world.

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Belvie Rooks is a producer of The House on Coco Road. She is Co-Founder of Growing a Global Heart. She is a writer, educator and producer whose work weaves the worlds of spirituality, feminism, ecology and social justice. She is a former board member of Bioneers, The Urban Habitat Program, and the Positive Futures Network/Yes Magazine, and is currently Chair of the Board of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, as well as a board member of the Institute for Noetic Sciences, and the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation. She is a Core Faculty member of Holy Names University’s Culture and Spirituality Program.
Her published works have appeared in a number of books, publications and anthologies including: The Same River Twice: Honoring the Difficult by Alice Walker (Scribner); My Soul is a Witness: African American Women’s Spirituality (Beacon Press); she was Co-Editor of Paris Connections: African American Artists in Paris, which was an American Book Award winner.

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Fannie Haughton is Damani Baker’s mother, whose family moved from share cropping in Louisiana to Los Angeles in the 1950s. After having been told she “wasn’t college material”, she did very well at Cal State LA & transferred to UCLA, where she met Angela Davis, becoming her Teaching Assistant, as well as life long friend and supporter. After experiencing the repression of Black Activists and the deteriorating situation in urban America in the Ronald Reagan presidency, she moved her young family to Grenada in 1982.

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Angela Davis was a young political activist and philosophy professor at UCLA, when she refused to disavow her membership in the Communist Party & was fired under the Ronald Reagan governorship. She was prosecuted for conspiracy involving the 1970 armed take-over of a Marin County, CA courthouse, in which 4 people were killed, but she was acquitted.

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Fania Davis is Angela Davis’s sister and good friend of Fannie Haughton. They considered fleeing to Cuba to avoid the repression associated when Angela went under ground after being accused of conspiracy in the George Jackson/Marin County courtroom take over.

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As Governor of CA, Ronald Reagan ordered the firing of Angela Davis from UCLA, as well as other repressive measures, including the closing of most of the state’s mental institutions, without providing for the displaced inmates.

As president, in Ronald Reagan’s imagination, the 10,000 airstrip being built on the tiny island of Grenada (12 mi x 21 mi, population 100,000) with international assistance to increase tourism, and with private firms from the U.S., Britain doing much of the work, could only be explained as Soviet/Cuban militarization. He ordered destabilization of the new government and then, an invasion by the US military.

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9 year old Damani Baker’s experience was quite the opposite. Grenada was a place safe for children, where the Prime Minister, Maurice Bishop, was like an uncle, women had positions of power and health care was a right. He & his family hid under their bed during the 3 days of US bombardment of what had been their paradise.

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