Basketball legend, Wilt Chamberlain, died today at age 63.
Richard (“Dick”) Gregory was born on this day.
On this date in 1814, General Jackson Reneges On His Promise: General Jackson, on order to prepare to meet Packenham, the British General, in the contest at New Orleans, came into the plantation fields to enlist 500 Negro slaves. These are General Jackson comments: “Had you not as soon go into battle and fight, as to stay here in the cotton-field, dying and never die?” Then he promised, “If you will go, and the battle is fought and the victory gained on Israel’s side, you shall be free.” James Roberts, one of the slaves who heard Jackson’s words explained that they seemed like “divine revelation.” He expressed the feelings of many of his fellow slaves: “In hope of freedom, we would run through a troop and leap over a wall.” Jackson departed with 500 of Calvin Smith’s slaves, a costly contribution of valuable property. Smith encouraged the general to emphasize the promise of freedom as an incentive to faithful and courageous service and was relieved that his slaves, not his sons, were enlisted. “If the [N]egroes should be killed,” Smith reasoned, “they are paid for, but if my children should go and get killed, they cannot be replaced.” Jackson’s officers understood this perspective and encouraged planters to provide black troops for the war. “I glory in your spunk,” Captain Brown, one of Jackson’s assistants told Smith. “Let us have as many [N]egroes as you can spare, for we are sure that those [N]egroes you give us will gain victory.”
But after the battle was won and “sixty or seventy or more of the colored men were killed…[who] were, without doubt, as Jackson himself acknowledged, the instrumental cause of victory,” Jackson told the men to “go home to your masters.”
ON this date in 1972, 46 Black and white sailors injured in race riot on the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk of North Vietnam.
On this date in 1945, Jesse James Payne was lynched in Madison County, Florida.