Posts filed under Free Culture

Now Available: full text of “Slavery in Auburn, Alabama” (1907)

Shared Article from Fair Use Blog

Now available: full text of “Slavery in Auburn, Alabama” (19…

Now available on the Fair Use Repository website: I have just made available the full, transcribed text of Slavery in Auburn, Alabama, a small 18pp bo…

Charles Johnson @ blog.fair-use.org


From the Fair Use Repository blog:

Now available on the Fair Use Repository website: I have just made available the full, transcribed text of Slavery in Auburn, Alabama, a small 18pp booklet from the Alabama Polytechnic Institute Historical Studies (published by Auburn University, then known as Alabama Polytechnic Institute) written by Meriwether Harvey.

I found the booklet on the shelves at the Auburn University RBD Library, an aging, decaying reprint booklet carefully tucked into a protective grey cover, and decided that this document of local history deserved preserving. So I have spent the past couple days reading and transcribing the text into digital form.

The booklet was written in 1907, and its viewpoint very emphatically reflects the views common among wealthy white families and former slaveholders (like the Harveys) in and around Auburn, Alabama, a small college town in what was then rural East Alabama. It is romanticized, although concerned enough with points of detail and description that that only causes a problem in some parts of the booklet. At times, the text is oblivious, or frankly racist. It makes some blanket claims about the local slave trade that are almost certainly self-serving lies told by the author’s sources. However, the booklet seems to have been based primarily on first-hand interviews with slaveholding white families and a few interviews with African-American residents who had been born under slavery, and whether intentionally or unintentionally provides fascinating points of detail, and anecdotes reflecting the reminiscences, the self-justifying fantasies, and also the anxieties of white slaveholders in East Alabama, as well as some of the range of experiences of slavery in east Alabama, and the operation of the slaves’ economy, despite its frustrating limitations.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about over at the Fair Use Blog. The first several pages of the booklet are concerned with fairly minute descriptions of typical slave quarters on a large plantation in the Auburn area — based, apparently, on the recollection of local planters — and the schedule of the customary workday, as well as some scattered observations on different planters’ different practices about garden patches, hiring out, self-hiring, and the economy of slaves’ own market activities. Then, toward the end, we get some observations on religion and literacy and some fascinating, sometimes eerie glimpses of plantation life:

Corn shucking was another great occasion in the negro’s life. The owner would have all his corn hauled up and thrown on the ground at the crib door in a big pile; then he would invite his neighbors’ negroes to come to his house on a certain night to a corn shucking. Only the men were invited; as they came they could be heard in the distance singing corn songs. I have tried to record some of these songs, but I find they were a jargon; they had no real words, only a tune. Some disinterested man would lay a long pole in the middle of the pile; then two negro men would choose sides, as is done today in spelling matches, and the two sides would enter into a contest to see which could first finish their side of the pile. The leader, dressed in a stove pipe hat and feather, walked up and down on the pile and gave out the corn song. The whole crowd answered him in the chorus. As they shucked, they would throw the corn into the barn in front of them and the shucks behind. When they had finished about half of the pile, corn whiskey was passed; thus they worked till eleven o’clock, when [13] they had a big plain supper. After eating the put the shucks in pens made for the purpose. By twelve they had finished, and then the frolic began. They danced about the great bonfire that had been burning all the time behind them, so that they might have sufficient light to shuck the corn, the lights and shadows making a strange and ghostly scene. After the supper the owner of the plantation, the giver of the corn shucking, or sometimes the overseer, was seized and carried about on the shoulders of some of the negroes. The other negroes followed, all singing at the top of their voices. About two or three o’clock in the morning they all went home.

–Meriwether Harvey, Slavery in Auburn, Alabama (1907)

And Harvey finishes up with a de rigeur white slaveholder-centric discussion of the treatment of local slaves and their apparent loyalty. Leading into the topic, we have the bland assertion of the good old Moonlight and Magnolias propaganda line:

The treatment of slaves was generally good because the negro was property and was cared for as such. I have interviewed only one man who ever saw a slave unmercifully beaten. . . .

–Meriwether Harvey, Slavery in Auburn, Alabama (1907)

But then there’s the part where you say it, and then there’s the part where you take it back:

. . . A great many negroes would run away; some of them were chronic runaways, and were so seemingly without any cause whatever. A few of these chronic runaways were chained at night. Certain people all through the country kept fox hounds for tracking runaway negroes, who would go off into the swamps and woods. It was often impossible to catch them in any way except with dogs. They were seldom bitten by the dogs when over taken; they would climb a tree if one was near at hand, but if they were caught on the ground, the dogs were so trained that they circled around the negroes, without going close to them. Negroes always aided a runaway by slipping to him something to eat. Mr. H. never had a negro to lie out more than three days, and never offered more than ten dollars as a reward for his return. Mr. B., with the aid of another man, caught a negro who had been in the woods seven years. He advertised the negro, and in due time returned him to his master. . . .

. . . The overseers were men selected for their practical farming ability, and their business was to oversee the negroes and look after the farm and the planting. Sometimes an overseer was discharged, or brought to trial, when he mistreated a negro. One of Mr. W. H.’s overseers whipped two of his negroes, who hid in the swamp. Some of the other negroes came from the plantation to Auburn to tell their master. He decided the whipping unjust and paid the overseer up and let him go.

When an overseer was hired it was understood that he was to ride the country as a patrol; also the young white slave-owners of the neighborhood patrolled on certain nights. A negro was not allowed to leave his master’s plantation without a pass stating where he was going and when he was to return. This had to be signed, either by the overseer or the master. If the negro was caught away from home without a pass, he was whipped with a leather strap by these patrols. The usual punishment for being away from home without a pass was ten to twenty lashes, but in exceptional cases thirty-nine lashes might be given. These patrols went usually Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons and nights, but they also went out any night when they thought they might catch negroes roving about. They patrolled the roads, visited the plantations, and searched the cabins; if a negro was caught in a cabin away from home, he was taken off a good way from the negro quarters and whipped. Of course the whipping depended upon the offense, the mood of the patrol, and the negro whipped. Sometimes people who did not own negroes would catch a negro without a pass and beat him badly, but the regular patrol did not do this.

The negroes were punished as a rule, by whipping; the whip was a leather strap so that it would not cut the skin. The foreman was the boss and did the whipping, but the owner, or overseer, was there to witness it. On some plantations the overseer did the whipping, but the master was usually present. . . .

Slavery was not without its dark side. There were near Auburn several instances of cruel treatment to slaves. In one case they were not properly fed, in another, they were not sufficiently clothed. How far this was due to the lack of means of the masters is now hard to determine. In some cases they seem to have been overworked. In one or two they were treated roughly and punished severely. In one case a slave stabbed his master, but did not kill him. The slave was tried and hanged. Public opinion disapproved of cruelty on the part of masters. One man was indicted three times for ill treatment of his slaves, especially for failing to supply them with sufficient food and clothing. He was fined each time.

–Meriwether Harvey, Slavery in Auburn, Alabama (1907)

Pirating textbooks isn’t just against the law, it’s a good idea, too

Here’s a recent story from the Washington Post, informing us that More students are illegally downloading college textbooks for free.

Shared Article from Washington Post

More students are illegally downloading college textbooks for fr…

Students upload them (also illegally) to help others save money.

washingtonpost.com


It’s hard (if not impossible) to know just how prevalent this practice is, but some college students around the country are uploading their expensive college textbooks onto the Internet so other students can download them for free and avoid the hefty fees that are sometimes more than $200 a book.

Vocativ.com has a story titled “Why College Students are Stealing Their Textbooks,” which notes that some students are even downloading them for ethics classes.

The cost to students of college textbooks skyrocketed 82 percent between 2002 and 2012, according to a 2013 report by the U.S. General Accountability Office, the research arm of Congress. As a result, students have been looking for less expensive options, such as renting books — and, now, finding them on the Internet, uploaded by other students.

In August, an organization called the Book Industry Study Group, which represents publishers, retailers, manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, librarians and others in the industry, released a survey of some 1,600 students and found, according to a release on the data, that “students continue to become more sophisticated in acquiring their course materials at the lowest cost as illicit and alternative acquisition behaviors, from scanned copies to illegal downloads to the use of pirated websites, continue to increase in frequency.”

–Valerie Strauss, More students are illegally downloading college textbooks for free
Washington Post, 17 September 2014.

Well, good. The textbook industry is an obscene racket, predicated on extraordinary costs and a maze of perverse incentives, controlled by a tightly organized cartel of copyright-monopolists, gargantuan institutional sellers and gargantuan institutional buyers, throwing every ton of their incredible weight onto the shoulders of students, tollgating and massively hampering the dissemination of knowledge.

Pirating textbooks isn’t just a good idea. It’s a mitzvah. Burn the domming industry to the ground. Knowledge can and should be free.

See also.

I Thought Forking Was A Feature

Shared Article from blog.codinghorror.com

Standard Markdown is now Common Markdown

Jeff Atwood @ blog.codinghorror.com


This week in coding: the ethos of Intellectual Property forces smart people to waste an incredible amount of time and effort dealing with trivial, unproductive bullshit.

How Intellectual Property promotes the progress of science and the useful arts (cont’d)

Fun fact: So under the current copyright law, almost all books held under copyright by their original authors stay under copyright for the entire life of the author, plus 70 additional years after the death of the author. For works of corporate authorship, the company that owns the copyright holds it for either 95 years from the date of first publication or 120 years from the date of creation, whichever expires first. To put that in perspective, Paul Avrich’s books on the Russian Anarchists (published in 1967) Voltairine de Cleyre (published in 1978) will become available in the public domain in 2,076 CE — just over 10 years after the invention of warp drive and First Contact with the Vulcans.[1] But at least we’ll be prepared, because the first episode of Star Trek will have finally come out of monopoly a few years before, in September 2061.[2]

Abolish Intellectual Protectionism.

See also.

  1. [1]N.B.: Or, you can pirate a copy of The Russian Anarchists from Libcom now.
  2. [2]Assuming that large media companies make no efforts before 2061 to extend corporate copyright terms even further. Which they almost certainly will.

Help Fair Use Repository make every issue of THE LIBERATOR available in full, online, for free!

From time to time I have mentioned my ongoing project of making full issues of William Lloyd Garrison’s The Liberator available at fair-use.org. The Liberator is big (52-53 issues every year, for 35 years!) and the project has progressed at a slow pace. But I’m happy to announce that that should be picking up — thanks to a break from other obligations, a fundraiser to cover the costs through the Molinari Institute, and generous contributions from supporters all over the Internet the Liberator scanning project has added 105 new issues to the online archive, and should be able to proceed much more quickly and steadily from here on out — it’s on pace to get every issue of The Liberator available in full, online, for free, by the beginning of August 2014. Want to help make that happen?

Here’s the deal. When the fundraiser project started, thanks to occasional scanning when I had the time to volunteer, fair-use.org had ten years’ worth of The Liberator online: Volumes I.-IX. (1830-1839) and Volume XXI. (Jan.-Dec. 1851). In order to finish the remaining 25 years’ worth of issues this summer — instead of sometime around 2019 — we’re raising funds through our fiscal sponsor, the Molinari Institute — in order to get the scans online and begin to prepare an extensive, open, free and researcher-friendly archive and index for anyone who wants to learn more about radical abolitionism and the history of American social movements. The fundraiser will cover the labor costs for the scanning and the increased web hosting costs for what’s likely to become a very widely used web resource.

Thanks to generous donations from 8 donors, the Liberator Scanning Project has already raised over 10% of the goal — $246 out of the projected $2,000 budget. And thanks to those donations, I’ve already been able to add two new volumesVolume X. and Volume XI. of The Liberator (1840-1841) — to the online archive at fair-use.org/the-liberator. The project is on track to add the next two volumes (XII. and XIII.) by the end of this week.

About the project:

The goal is to make every issue of The Liberator, from 1831-1865, available in full, online, for free, and to add free tools to aid students and researchers in searching through the archives of the paper.

  • Phase I. is to scan every issue from every year of The Liberator from microfilm sources and to make facsimile PDFs available online for free at fair-use.org/the-liberator. If the fundraiser is fully funded, we should be able to add about two new volumes’ worth of facsimile PDFs each week, and complete Phase I by August 2014.
  • Phase II. is to prepare a free, online hypertext index of The Liberator, similar to the Individuals and Titles and Periodicals sections of Wendy McElroy’s indispensable Comprehensive Index to LIBERTY. The index will provide an easily searchable, easily browseable and interlinked complete table of contents for every issue of The Liberator and an index of names, book titles and periodical titles appearing in its pages. If we reach our stretch goals for the fundraiser, then the fundraiser will cover most of the labor cost for Phase II as well as for the scanning project. After Phase I is complete, I should be able to work out a plausible timeline for completing Phase II, but my guess at this point is that it could possibly be completed by the end of the year.
  • Phase III. would be to begin to transcribe individual articles and columns from the PDF facsimiles into lightweight, standards-based, linkable searchable HTML. This will be an immense amount of work and systematic effort to complete it will be a bit down the road. We’ll do another round of fundraising to support the Phase III transcriptions once Phase I. is complete and Phase II. is in progress.

About The Liberator

Garrison’s Liberator, running from 1831–1865, was the most prominent periodical of radical Abolition in the united states. Proclaiming, in the first issue, that:

. . . I am aware, that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire, to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hand of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; — but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present. I am in earnest — I will not equivocate — I will not excuse — I will not retreat a single inch — AND I WILL BE HEARD.

Together with the circle of black and white radicals that his paper attracted, Garrison’s Liberator helped to organize, and offered a forum for, the Abolitionist movement that spent the next 35 years working for the immediate emancipation of all slaves, condemning racial prejudice and “American Colorphobia,” and insisting that emancipation could only truly come about by inspiring a radical moral and social transformation. It urged a politics of radicalizing conscience, and denied that electoral gamesmanship, partisan politics, or political compromise would ever bring about liberation on their own. In the age of the Fugitive Slave Acts, the Garrisonians denounced the united states Constitution as a weapon of the slavers, “A Compromise with Death and an Agreement with Hell.” Rejecting the use of either political or military power as a means of overcoming the slave system, they argued for Disunion (“No Union with Slaveholders, religiously or politically”), holding that the Northern free states should secede from the Union, thus peacefully withdrawing the Federal economic, political and military support that the Slave Power depended on, and (they argued) driving the slave system to collapse, by kicking out the Constitutional compromises that propped it up. Garrison and his circle, in the face of condemnation from more conservative anti-slavery activists, also constantly drew parallels and connections between the struggle against slavery and other struggles for social liberation, taking early and courageous stances in defense of women’s rights and international peace.

What You Can Do To Help

If you enjoy this project or find the materials useful, you can help support the work and speed up the on-going progress with a contribution to the project, in any amount, through the Molinari Institute — the not-for-profit sponsor of the Fair Use Repository. They can accept credit card donations through GoFundMe.com and also Bitcoin donations to bitcoin:18Bojnp2UG3iDpXT9CxjutjsXQjWgbmSCW.[1]

Please share this notice far and wide! We can finish this project on a small budget, but we need your help in getting the word out. A link here will work fine; or you can link directly to the GoFundMe.com fundraiser page at www.gofundme.com/8tb288

If you have access to microfilm and scanning equipment, you could also help the project immensely by contacting us at fair-use.org about hosting any alternative page-scans of some issues — as with any 19th century periodical, many of the issues that I’m scanning already had blemishes, tears or folds on the pages when they were preserved in microfilm, and if any parts of the text are illegible in our edition (the American Periodical Series microfilm collection, University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, Mich., as found in the Auburn University Libraries in Auburn, Ala.) I’d love to have alternative page-scans of those issues from other sources.

Thanks for anything you can do. And as always, read, cite, and enjoy!

Shared Article from blog.fair-use.org

Fair Use Blog » Blog Archive » The Liberator in Full Online…

Rad Geek @ blog.fair-use.org


  1. [1]If you send us a BTC contribution, please contact Fair Use Repository to let them know who you are, what you donated and where they can reach you, so that we can send you a thank-you and, if you want, keep you up to date with the progress of the project!