Notes: Episode 8, American Expansion (Part 2)

As with every show, I’ll list any corrections or clarifications here. If there’s anything I’ve overlooked, please contact me by email or in the comments and I’ll edit the notes to reflect the new information.


6:32 – Bolívar led more than just his namesake country of Bolivia to independence; he was also instrumental to the independence movements of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. It really is a tragedy that he’s not better known, as few military and political leaders have had more single-handed influence on the fate of a continent.


13:03 – The Dominion of Newfoundland existed as an independent state (though still part of the British Commonwealth) from 1907 to 1948, at which time it was incorporated into Canada. The short history of the Dominion saw it distinguishing itself in both World Wars through courageous service, but ultimately political and economic problems made continued independence a non-viable course.


33:04 – When I said that the issues of slavery and abolition hadn’t really come to public attention before the annexation of Texas, I gravely misspoke. Slavery and its continued existence had been an issue since the founding of the United States, and was never put to rest as an issue until the Emancipation Proclamation ended the institution. Ignoring the other problems that existed for people of colour in the United States after the Civil War in order to keep this from turning into a full essay’s worth of information, the stretch of time in question was marked by an uneasy truce between those who were content with the status quo (both free and slave systems existing in approximately equal amounts) and those who would like to abolish slavery altogether. Those from slave-holding states weren’t so much looking to convert the free states as to simply be left alone. With Texas being added as a slave-state, abolitionists saw any chance to affect change starting to slip away, as it would be nearly impossible to make the constitutional changes necessary to free the south. This brought rhetoric about whether or not the slave-states should be left alone to the forefront of national discourse and ultimately led to the Compromise of 1850. It was simply a matter of increased visibility.


36:04 – Another mis-step when trying to discuss race relations – who would have guessed it would be this tricky? When I said that it was easy to live as a free person of colour in the north before the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, I intended only to compare it to life after the new act was put into place. Before 1850, most northern states had a form of personal liberty law that put the burden of proof on slave hunters that an individual really was an escaped slave and not a free citizen, usually in a jury trial. Obviously this was much more difficult to do than after 1850, when the new Fugitive Slave Act circumvented these laws by requiring only a signed affidavit from a master to convict an individual, forbade a trial, and promised a fine of $1000 (about $28,000 today) for anyone who stood in their way. So to re-cap: certainly not a paradise before 1850, but much safer than after.

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