Estimated reading time: 6 minute(s)
Francis Scott Key (1779–1843) is best known as the author of the Star Spangled Banner, the national anthem of the United States, which concludes with the lyric, “O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.” But the Key family derived their entire sustenance from the two dozen Africans who worked without compensation on the Key plantation in Maryland. As a result of their captives’ suffering, the Keys were able to finance higher education for their own children, including law school for Francis. Francis Scott Key bought his first human being in about 1800, and by 1820 he had six, by 1840 he had eight.
The American Colonization Society was formed in 1816 to facilitate a swift return to Africa for Black people who had been unchained. All the historical heavyweights signed on to the colonization effort: Henry Clay and James Madison were early leaders, while Gen. Marie Joseph Paul Lafayette, James Monroe, and Francis Scott Key supported the concept. Most Blacks in leadership rejected the “back to Africa” concept, but for whites it soon became the most popular and final solution to their Black “problem.”
As a lawyer Key was a pure mercenary. He represented several slaves seeking their freedom in court, as well as several white slaveholders seeking the return of runaways. He used his position as U.S. Attorney to suppress abolitionists. In 1833, Key caused a grand jury to indict the editor and the printer of an anti-slavery publication. In 1836, Key indicted a man for having a trunk full of anti-slavery pamphlets. He called it “seditious libel” that encouraged slave rebellion. Key, in his final address to the jury, said:
“Are you willing, gentlemen, to abandon your country, to permit it to be taken from you, and occupied by the abolitionist, according to whose taste it is to associate and amalgamate with the negro? Or, gentlemen, on the other hand, are there laws in this community to defend you from the immediate abolitionist, who would open upon you the floodgates of such extensive wickedness and mischief?”
The question is not why Colin Kaepernick sat down–the question is Why did any Blacks stand up?
[From the new ebook, The Hidden History of New York: A Guide for Black Folks] http://noirg.org/store/
(Source: NOI Research Facebook page)