A “This Day” Piece (August 21)
Awaiting orders to detrain at Camp Shelby, a quartet of Japanese-Americans swing out to the accompaniment of a Hawaiian ukulele. (Source, photo and caption above: United States Library of Congress)
On this day (among many other things):
Hawaiian Statehood was made official, at a signing session attended by Vice President Richard Nixon, as well as, of course, the signer of the document, President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
The Lake Nyos disaster occurred in the nation of Cameroon, when an undetermined force, likely volcanic in nature, released a large volume of carbon monoxide, killing over 1700 people. The story was slow to filter out of Africa, first appearing on the NYT front page August 25, 1986.
Nat Turner’s Rebellion, August 21, 1831
The excerpt below is transcribed as recorded in the nineteenth century; the writer using the speech-habits of the day.
Story from the Indianapolis Journal, July 10, 1892
NAT TURNER’S REBELLION
Aged Colored Man Who Remembers the Celebrated Insurrection of Slaves
Knew the Leader Well—Story of the Uprising and Its Prompt Suppression by the Whites—Leaders Hanged
It is not often that anything in the way of a good “feature” escapes the combined vigilance of the reporters of the Indianapolis dailies, but every now and then, they lose a bird, and the shock awakens them to the fact they are not infallible. In the dull days of summer, a loss of this kind is especially grievous.
The other day a lady was reading a novel named “Judith”, which includes in its pages incidents connected with the slave uprising in Virginia, led by a negro named Nat Turner. The family—it was the family of C. C. Foster—talking about the book, attracted the attention of an old colored man who has been with Mr. Foster many years. He is an active man and doesn’t appear to be any more than fifty-five or sixty, and yet his recollection at times runs back into the past a most marvelous distance. Uncle Daniel Boone, for that is his name, didn’t know his age and couldn’t even guess within gunshot of the date.
“Does that book say something about old Nat Turner, way back in Virgininy?” asked Uncle Daniel. “I knew him. I was there at the time he was stirring all the colored people up, but I wasn’t in any of the murders. I tell you it made a powerful excitement among the white people and the darkies were under ’spicion for a long time. I was just a man, twenty-one at the time of Nat Turner’s rising.”
Here was the key to Uncle Daniel’s age. The Turner insurrection occurred in 1831, and as he was twenty-one then, he must be eighty-one now. He is a clear-headed old man, and after such a lapse of years and such a wonderful change in the condition of the black race in the country, it would be worthwhile to hear from him a history of the rising and the impressions it made upon him as a slave. Every now and then colored orators and newspapers refer to this rebellion in a vague way which shows they have little information on the subject, and this is not to be wondered at, as Virginia historians have either altogether slighted this page in the annals of the Old Dominion, or touched it slightingly as though they thought the less said about it the better, and as if, during slavery days, it was an episode in the history of the peculiar institution that was dangerous to dwell upon. A Journal reporter, hearing of Uncle Daniel, started, the other day, to look him up. An illustrator went along, and full preparations had been made for a “feature”. But it was not to be. Uncle Dan had left the city to take up his residence in Cleves, O, where he has an easy job overlooking a farm.
(Cleves is a town in Hamilton County, near Cincinnati.)
(2019, Stephanie Foster)