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‘Mystic Forces’
The Unfathomable Mystery of American Westward Expansion
A Discussion of Herbert Asbury’s The French Quarter: An Informal History of the New Orleans Underworld, 1936, Perseus, NY, Chapter 3, Down the River to Dixie, pages 73-113
Asbury begins with some raw numbers:
-1787, with a peace treaty signed with England, there were only 12,000 people beyond the Appalachians for the very good reason [I will add] that Indian Tribes allied to England had kept the runaways on the plantation and that those tribes were largely defeated during the Revolution.
-1800, there was now 380,772 people west of the mountains
-1820, 2,000,000 were across the mountains, causing an entire shift of geopolitical gravity that has made no sense to historians who all believe that the United States served the common man. So that they attribute the flight of most men out of the country of their birth, where there was much land to be had, into a dangerous wilderness defended by fierce warrior tribes. One historian opined that man must ever chase the setting sun “like a squirrel in a cage,” and others spoke of “mystic forces” and “far-seeing powers.” But the real reason why the First Americans moved west in such huge numbers, was because in the north they were being replaced as wage hands by indentured German servants, driving wages down and making work unavailable, to the point were by 1812, runaways were only bringing 6 cents. It was this labor replacement pull of voluntary German servants, fleeing nations crushed in the Napoleonic Wars, that would form the the basis for the myth of indentured servitude in earlier ages, which was in fact a posthumous fantasy.
The first tell was the 1783 Northwest Ordinance outlawing slavery in the Ohio Country, and the United States constitution overturning that in 1787.
The second tell was that many of those who settled north of the Ohio River in the west were from south of it in the east, and had crossed the mountains on a Northeasterly migration that makes no sense to historians who believe in the myth of “White supremacy” as being for all white men and not just the elite and who believed that only African were enslaved.
Most of the “white” population fled the east like it was diseased, yet it was the best land in the world and fairly empty. These were “Free Soil” folk who fled the slavery of others because it made their own prosperity impossible due to a suppression of the free labor market by unfree labor.
The third aspect had nothing to do with bondage and was the winter of 1816, which fairly emptied New England and sent those people south and west into the Ohio Country and beyond all the way to the Pacific. The answer, had Asbury known to look for it, was to realize that the means by which early Louisiana was staffed by kidnapping victims and convict laborers for a half a century, was the means by which the English-ruled plantations were staffed for twice and thrice as long.
Below find some anecdotes concerning rebellious activity in Late Stage Plantation America in New Orleans and environs.
River pirates on the Mississippi were generally white and very savage. There were also Indian pirates who were usually led by white men and would use flour to lighten their skin tone and appear to be white men and ask for help as a ruse. In an earlier time and further east, it was only necessary for an Indian to appear to be a white man by not putting on face paint or cutting the scalp lock and to dress like a white man.
In 1827-28 a mixed-race gang of criminals, which have been characterized as African American freedom fighters, hatched a plot to burn down New Orleans so that they could loot it in the panic. “Two Negroes and two white men” were arrested and the rest fled to the swamps. I too characterize this as an insurrection, for the American underclass has been so thoroughly mistreated for all the hundreds of years of its history, that I regard such actions as insurrections against the system even if they are also criminal acts against innocent citizens. But to characterize it as only African American is not even rational.
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