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The Invisible War: African American Anti-Slavery Resistance from the Stono Rebellion through the Seminole Wars

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The Invisible War attempts to redress a fundamental misconception lodged in the heart of American historiography: the notion that there was no significant collective resistance to or struggle against slavery by captured Africans who had been forcibly immigrated to the United States from the mother continent. Such a lacuna may stem from the extent to which then-contemporary records sought to disguise the true nature of what are presently called the Seminole Wars––as just another set of Indian wars, rather than a struggle of African resistance to slavery, conducted in alliance with Indian resistance to ongoing colonial encroachment.While academic and public understanding celebrate the heroes of the Underground Railroad for facilitating the movement of Africans towards freedom in the north, there is virtual silence surrounding the more logical, more sizeable, and more politically significant movement of self-liberated Africans southward to free territories in what is now Georgia and Florida. From these southern territories, communities of free Africans were to wage a constant struggle against the slavery-based colonies to the north. Both by force of arms and by example, they represented an ongoing threat to the existence of Anglo-Carolinian-institutionalized slavery. In witness whereof, a scant 40 years after the termination of the Third Seminole War, African fighters would ally with the northern armies during the Civil War in order to finally bring the enslavement system to an end.
While any government at war might censor and reinterpret conflicts in order to quell public fears and solicit support, why has subsequent American scholarship failed to challenge the records, emphases and interpretations of the so-called Seminole Wars? Why hasn't it replaced the old “master-slave” lexicon governing ethnic relations––which reflected Anglo-Carolinian efforts during the enslavement period to codify and legalize the institutions of slavery––with more objective contemporary terminology?
This book challenges contemporary scholars to free the history of African Americans from the lexicon of enslavement, and to set the record of their struggle straight.

ISBN-13: 9780932863508

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Clarity Press Incorporated

Publication Date: 07-06-2006

Pages: 192

Product Dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Y. N. Kly is Professor Emeritus, School of Human Justice, University of Regina, and a former consultant to government and a wide range of ethnic groups on minority issues. Author of five books and numerous articles, he won the Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award in 1990 and 1995 for International Law and the Black Minority in the US, and for A Popular Guide to Minority Rights. He chairs an international NGO in consultative status at the UN.

Read an Excerpt

When a body of scholars finally evolves the capacity to objectively scrutinize our contemporary understanding of the history of African-American peoples––which presently is derived largely from an Anglo-American perspective being brought to bear on pre-existing documents and records produced and maintained by Anglo-Americans over the centuries––they will be shocked at the extent to which that history and its data have been conditioned by what can only be referred to as the victor’s political paradigms. They will be shocked at the degree to which the history of African-Americans was and continued to be written to transmit, promote and justify to succeeding generations both the benefits and liabilities of the then-existing politico-economic order, and the victors’ rabid propaganda of the past.
They will see how the orientation, lies and omissions of the past served to re-enforce and prolong the orientation and lies of the present––not only in defense of past history, but in defense of maintaining inequitable socio-economic and cultural interrelations which unceasing systemic domination has made possible and perpetuated over the centuries.
Such a manipulation of history is an inherent component of victor’s justice. Like victor’s justice, there is victor’s history (known among African-Americans as “his-story”). Victor’s history is the intentional distortion of historical data and events to conform to political dicta which serve the present and future interest of the victor––in this case, the Anglo-American ruling class. It is used to preserve or maintain a collective political or cultural orientation that makes it extremely difficult for a group or nationality to reorientate itself towards a political assertion of its own view of past events, its own successes and capacities and needs, and from that, towards the elimination of oppression, domination or multi-faceted exploitation that have heretofore been entrenched.
The worst cruelty and savagery of victor’s justice in conditioning African-American history does not lie in its academic inadequacy or its emotional foundation. It lies in this manifestation of an intentional effort to validate and promote––rather than repudiate and correct––a history that has facilitated the maintenance of the most vicious racist stereotypes of African-Americans (the others) as descended from “slaves”, a legalized category forced upon captured Africans by the victors.