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September 28, 2006

Sins of the father

Here's a family picture, circa early 1900's
front l/r George, Anna, Norris, Linsey. Back Ulysses, Robert Greenville
In the front, from left to right, George Click, Anna Haywood Click (my great-great grandmother) Norris Click, Linsey Click (my great-great grandfather). Back, Ulysses Samuel Click (my great grandfather) and Robert Greenville Click.

Not exactly a rich group of folk. Hardworking, but far from rich.

Clicks were brought to the New World, through England, in 1697 as bond slaves. They were sold to work on a Virginia plantation. Being a bond slave was not much different than a chattel slave except that bond slaves could "work off" the bond and earn their freedom.

It took approximately sixty years for my family to do so.

By the time of the first 1780 census, Clicks were living in Kentucky -- rural farmers, sawmill operators, coal miners and an occassional teacher (James Kenton Ellis). A good deal of the family still lives in Kentucky today.

Who knows where any of the descendents would be if the first bond slaves weren't brought and sold in the New World? Certainly some died in bondage, other descendents have had a hard scrapple life, from serving the Union in the Civil War through the Great Depression and all the vagaries that decades of time bring.

Click sawmill at the mouth of Arkansas Creek

But there comes a time when family history is but just an interesting, anecdotal look at a country's history, with no direct effect on an individual in 2006. It is an interesting tidbit that William Jennings Bryan wrote a "thank you letter" to James Bartley Click thanking him for riding his mule six miles to vote for him in the presidential election of 1896 when James was 106 years old, but my daughter's grades in college are entirely of her making.

So I have yet to understand the continued popularity of the so-called "slave reparations" movement, in the news yet again.

CHICAGO - Lawyers for slave descendants asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to revive a landmark reparations case that demands 17 of the nation's insurers and banks publicize and pay for their roles in the country's slave trade.

The case, which names Wall Street behemoths JP Morgan Chase & Co., Aetna Inc., Bank of America, Lehman Brothers and others, says the companies' predecessors issued loans to slave owners and, in some cases, owned, insured and transported slaves — all at a financial profit that helped ensure their success today.

"We were left in poverty. My family's hardship and free labor was not in vain," said Antoinette Harrell, a genealogist from Kentwood, La. who clutched raw cotton as she spoke inside federal court Wednesday.

No, Antoinette, you were not left in poverty, anymore than I was by our families' shared past as non-citizens. Slavery was pernicious and an admittedly permanent blot on our nations history. However, the institution of slavery was ubiquitous in all of human history from about the time humans formed rival tribes and raided each other for captives. Leave aside the fact that the institutions that are being targeted for "reparations" were engaged in an activity fully legal at the time, there is something unseemly about the demand from individuals who are free agents in American society calculating ...
...the current day "market value" of the company-owned slaves would be at least $850 million.
This less looks like mere acknowledgement of historical ties and more a case of unbridled greed (in the true meaning of the word "greed"... ie coveting the wealth of others).

And the "reparations" movement had better come to grips that, in accordance with their template, there are a lot of others in this country with as many family claims to wealth as theirs.

As a descendent of bond slaves and Union Civil War soldiers, I'd be happy to serve a lawsuit on the "reparations" movement to share their ill-gotten gains with me.

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Posted by Darleen at September 28, 2006 07:42 AM


Stellar piece of blogwork you got there, Ms. Darlene Click. I'm going to share this with my extended family of slaves. Props to P. Holmzah for the link.

Posted by: Yiddish Steel at September 28, 2006 07:59 PM

Wow, that piece should be in a magazine Darleen.

I had no idea where you were going with this when I started reading and the twists and turns in the story were quite enjoyable.

Very well put together!

Posted by: Digger at September 29, 2006 12:52 PM

Excellent piece, Darleen.

Click sawmill at the mouth of Arkansas Creek

Yes, I admit it, I absentmindedly clicked the picture thinking something would happen, like it would enlarge or something. I really need to get more sleep.

Posted by: Feisty at September 30, 2006 02:12 PM

Excellent story Darleen. And very well set up.

Posted by: Hugh Slatery at October 1, 2006 07:29 AM