Discharge Petition #14 Filed by Oscar De Priest Regarding H. Res. 236, a Resolution to Prevent Discrimination, 01/24/1934 - 03/05/1934
Item from Records of the U.S. House of Representatives. (04/01/1789 -)
This resolution and discharge petition from Representative Oscar De Priest, a Republican from Illinois, attempted to end racial discrimination in the House of Representatives’ Restaurant. De Priest introduced H. Res. 236 to the House, which called for the creation of a special committee to investigate the House Restaurant’s refusal to serve two African Americans, one of whom was a member of his staff. When the resolution stalled in the Rules Committee, De Priest successfully used a discharge petition to move the bill out and onto the House floor.
Don’t forget to check out the National Archives’ future exhibition “Making Their Mark: Stories Through Signatures,” opening to the public on March 21, 2014!
Descendants of Solomon Northup encounter a record of his enslavement at the National Archives:
Solomon Northup was a free man when he was abducted and sold into slavery in 1841. He survived to recount his story in a memoir, 12 Years A Slave, which is now a motion picture. Yesterday, a few of his descendants viewed the document that marks the beginning of Northup’s journey into slavery—a slave manifest from the brig Orleans. Number 33 on the list of slaves bound for New Orleans is Plat Hamilton, the alias chosen for Northup by his kidnappers.
The descendants of Solomon Northup say they were aware of his story as they grew up, but seeing the actual documentation was an emotional experience. Today’s Washington Post has a story about their visit: http://t.co/b1Pz534rTS
The slave manifest is on display at the National Archives through March 30.
One of the descendants, Vera Williams, works at the National Archives. You can read her personal story (http://go.usa.gov/B68G) or learn how she and Clayton Adams walked in the footsteps of her great-great-great-grandfather Solomon Northup (http://go.usa.gov/B68z).
Photo: Northup descendants Clayton Adams and Vera Williams find his name on the slave manifest at the National Archives. (Photo by Jeff Reed)
This slave manifest for the brig Orleans, which includes Solomon Northup listed as Plat Hamilton on line 33, is now on display at the National Archives.
In 1841, Solomon Northup, a free-born African American from New York, was kidnapped by two white men and enslaved for 12 years in the deep South before he could prove his legal right to freedom. He later wrote about his ordeal in his book “12 Years A Slave” which was made into a movie.
Abducting free blacks for sale into slavery was outlawed in most of the United States. However uneven law enforcement, the marginal rights of free blacks, and mounting demand for slaves after the end of the transatlantic slave trade made kidnapping an attractive and potentially profitable prospect that encouraged the creation of a reverse underground railroad.
Kidnappers gave their victims aliases to hide their true identities. Northup recounted that he first heard the name he would be known by as a slave, “Plat Hamilton,” in New Orleans when it was called from this slave manifest (line 33) for the brig Orleans. Victims who insisted that they were free often faced severe beatings or even death. Northup accepted his identity as “Plat” because “[He] was too costly a chattel to be lost … [and] knew well enough the slightest knowledge of [his] real character would consign [him] at once to the remotest depths of Slavery.”
Vera Williams, a direct descendent of Solomon Northup works at the National Archives. You can read her personal story or learn how she walked in the footsteps of her great-great-great-grandfather.
"Serg’t. Stephen A. Swails particularly distinguished himself for coolness and bravery; he is a man in every way competent to do credit in a higher position, and I with pleasure recommend him for a Second Lieutenancy in this Regt."
Letter from Colonel Edward Hallowell to the Governor of Massachusetts, 2/24/1864
Regimental and Company Books of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment (Colored) Regiment, 05/13/1863 - 09/01/1865. Records of the Adjutant General’s Office
Recognizing the abilities of Sgt. Stephen A. Swails, Col. E. N. Hallowell recommends that Swails be promoted to second lieutenant and Massachusetts Governor John A. Andrew commissioned Swails on March 11, 1864. However, the War Department would deny this request because Swails is “of African descent.” Swails would eventually be granted his promotion in 1865 and his seniority adjusted to May 14, 1864—the day he was assigned duty as a second lieutenant.
"Members of the Nation’s first Negro Navigation Cadets, who will receive their commissions in the Army Air Forces on February 26th, visited City Hall as guests of Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia this afternoon. They are shown on the steps of City Hall as the mayor greeted their commanding officer, Maj. Galen B. Price.", 02/16/1944
The Emancipation Proclamation will be on display for just three days this month: February 15, 16, and 17 as part of the National Archives’ celebration of Black History Month.
Due to its fragile condition, it can only be displayed for a limited time each year. The document will be on display in the new David M. Rubenstein Gallery in the National Archives Building in Washington, DC.
By the President of the United States of America:
Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:
"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.
"Photograph of a color guard of black children holding flags and a wreath at the entrance to the Lincoln Memorial., 02/12/1947"
Abbie Rowe, photographer. From the series: Photographs Relating to the Administration, Family, and Personal Life of Harry S. Truman
Photo from a ceremony commemorating Abraham Lincoln’s birthday at the Lincoln Memorial in 1947.
Happy Birthday Jackie Robinson! January 31, 1919 - October 24, 1972
Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. [Former National Baseball League player, Jackie Robinson with his son.], 08/28/1963
Rowland Scherman, photographer.
Born 95 years ago today, Jackie Robinson broke the color line in Major League Baseball when he debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 15, 1947. This decision would not only integrate baseball, but would help the country work to achieve equal rights for all. Civil Rights leader, Martin Luther King, Jr., once commented to baseball pitcher Don Newcombe, “Don, you and Jackie will never know how easy you made my job, through what you went through on the baseball field.”
Before becoming famous, Lt. Jack R. Robinson was court-martialed at Camp Hood, Texas, because he refused to move to the back of the bus after being told to do so by a bus driver and disobeying an order from a superior officer. Robinson was acquitted of all charges and received an honorable discharge, but this was not the only experience he would have in fighting discrimination.
Many of these milestone events from Robinson’s life are documented in primary sources from the National Archives.
On January 18, 1966 Robert C. Weaver became the first African American Cabinet member when he was sworn in United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Secretary Weaver was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson five days earlier on January 13, 1966.
Photograph of Swearing In of Robert C. Weaver as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, 01/18/1966
Happy Birthday, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
January 15, 1929 - April 4, 1968
Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C. [Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking.], 08/28/1963
Rowland Scherman, photographer. From the Records of the U.S. Information Agency
See all our previous Martin Luther King, Jr. posts, and the recent series from the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Robert Weaver becomes the first African American Cabinet Member
Today in history, January 13, 1966, Robert C. Weaver was nominated as Secretary of Housing and Development by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Weaver became the first African American Cabinet member when he was sworn in as head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on January 18 of that year.
Photo: Informal gathering after the Swearing-In of Dr. Robert Weaver and Dr. Robert Wood as Secretary and Under Secretary respectively of Dept. of Housing and Urban Affairs. Photo ID #A1765-20A.
-from the LBJ Library
A free screening and discussion of the Mildred and Richard Loving story, tonight, January 9 at 7pm at the National Archives!
A racially charged criminal trial and a heart-rending love story converge in this 2007 documentary film about Mildred and Richard Loving.
On Thursday, January 9, at 7 p.m. watch a free screening at the National Archives in Washington, DC. Attorney Phil Hirschkop (who pled the case in front of the US Supreme Court) will discuss the film. (77 minutes.)
The marriage of Mildred (who was part African American black and part Native American) and Richard (who was white) was declared illegal in 1958 by their home state of Virginia. They refused to leave one another and, with the help of the ACLU, pursued their right to happiness.
Their case reached the Supreme Court, which in 1967 struck down laws against interracial marriage in this country. With newly discovered footage of the Lovings and their lawyers, first-person testimony, and rare documentary photographs, this film takes us behind the scenes of the legal challenges and the emotional turmoil of the landmark case.
In 1940, as the U.S. Government prepared for possible American involvement in the war that was raging in Europe, the U.S. military braced for a large number of casualties. In June 1940, the Surgeons General of the Army and Navy asked the American Red Cross and the National Research Council to find a way to stockpile massive blood reserves that could be used by the armed forces in the event of war. The American Red Cross called upon the leading experts in the field of blood collection and preservation, including Dr. Charles R. Drew, who had taught at Howard University’s College of Medicine. The project Dr. Drew supervised paved the way for a national blood program that operated throughout World War II, providing 13 million pints of blood and plasma to wounded U.S. soldiers.