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UNTRUE OR TRUE?
SLAVERY IN ST. LOUIS

A ESSAY BY PROFESSOR MICHAEL FULLER, St. Louis Community College

written 20 April 2001
Response to the boycott of Chip Clatto's lecture at the Missouri Historical Society by virtually all the "White" professional Historians and Archaeologists in St. Louis.

Yes, the amateur historians attended and the African American community came to hear the truth. There was a good crowd but the absence of so many "experts" simply indicated that they had already come to a verdict about the Lemp Avenue Archaeological site.

Where were the Missouri Historical Society experts (pronounced Mo'Hiss), UMSL experts (pronounced Uggh'zil), National Park Service historians, Missouri Park Service historians, and City Historic Preservation experts? Too busy that evening or uninterested in listening to the REAL EVIDENCE. Many are paid good salaries to research and interpret/misinterpret slavery to the public!

I am not surprised that they forgot/boycotted Chip's lecture because what Chip has uncovered is very politically incorrect. That is the danger of original research! It can upset beautiful lies. The irony is that Chip Clatto, an African American teacher and scholar, trusted the oral tradition and found the "Ground Truth."

Schools and museums love to tell the beautiful lie about slavery in Missouri. I heard the beautify lie for the first time in 1970. My sophmore year public school teacher at Glendale High School in Springfield, MO taught the beautiful lie about slavery. The teacher was descended from a slave owning family and she made sure that all of her students (White because it was a segregated school) knew that the American Civil War was not related to the issue of slavery because the Southerners treated the NEE'GRAS (a polite way to say another word) with great kindness. The beautiful lie is still taught because class after class of college students are willing to repeat the lie when I ask for it.

My High School history teacher was angry that some history books suggested that slaves were beaten and raped by the owners. Her family treated their slaves like members of the immediate family. Her mother always spoke in hushed tones about how gently the slave women had raised the white children.

Of course the slave mammies were loving to those children because one complaint from the children or Mistress would result in slave children being sold to the merciless plantations in Mississippi that were dreaded by any slave in Missouri. A second complaint would require a whipping and rape. A third complaint would require the enslaved woman be sold "down river" or at least to a plantation where a cruel master could discipline her.

My High School history teacher taught her students that the Underground Railroad was a horrible lie made up by the evil Yankee carpetbaggers as a way of justifying their abuse of the good Southern families. I remember repeating these stories to another High School history teacher, Mr. Bill Wetzel, and watching his face burn red with anger. He did something very courageous. He started to teach his students about Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, and Uncle Tom's Cabin. Mr. Wetzel actually got foolhardy and questioned the validity of the American military intervention in the Vietnam War. He was beaten up in the high school parking lot by some of the patriotic Dads. He probably never thought that any of the students heard his message. I did.

Why was the Lemp Avenue Archaeological site bulldozed on the direct order of the government officials from the City of St. Louis with approval at the State level? Why is the site ignored by the National Park Service even though they are supposed to be documenting and protecting sites exactly like this? Because.... WHITE PEOPLE DON'T LIKE TO HEAR ABOUT SLAVE AUCTION BLOCKS, WHIPPING POSTS, RAPED TEENAGE SLAVE GIRLS, SLAVE PROSTITUTES AND OTHER UNPOPULAR STORIES. White people want to see Shirley Temple stepping and dancing with the old Black Uncle.

Do you think that I am lying? I bring these issues up when I teach Sociology 101 at St. Louis Community College. I bring these issues up when I teach World Religions (PHL 103) at St. Louis Community College. African American students can't believe I will talk about the issue of slavery and some White students have been angered by my portrayal of the inhuman, degrading condition that White slaverowners forced upon the enslaved Africans.

Want some unpleasant evidence?

Go to the slave census of 1860 in St. Louis county and look at all the mulatto slaves. Each slave listed as a mulatto, born in St. Louis, had a raped enslaved African mother and a White Rapist Father.

Think that I am exaggerating? Read this book:

McLaurin, Melton A.
1991 Celia, a slave. University of George Press, Athens.


Celia was 14 years old when she was purchased by John Newsom, a slaveowner in Callaway County, Missouri (not far from St. Louis). He raped her on the ride from the auction to his farm. He raped her day after day for 5 years. She gave birth to 2 slave children for him. He was old enough to be her grandfather. He was a sadist.

We know the story of Celia because she murdered her Master/Rapist after 5 years of sexual slavery. She was found guilty and hanged in Calloway County, MO. Her story is known because she did something unthinkable - she killed her Master. We don't have Civil War images that show the sexually abused slave women. All we have are the images of the whipped men. Can you imagine why? The freed slaves wanted to leave behind the traumas of slavery. Some went into denial. They all knew that talking or writing about these conditions would only get them punished/killed by the white supremist groups. Bet you are sorry you read this essay. It is untrue. One of my high school teachers would tell you it was untrue. Oh, by the way... Don't look at the pictures below...


Look at the enslaved Africans, especially Gordon...




Broadside from Library of Congress

Sojourner Truth image from Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Frederick Douglass chronology

Table of contents from Abolitionist writings