Faneuil Hall memorial for slave-trade victims proposed

WGBH reports.



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Right Place For It?

Yes, I know slaves were sold on Merchants Row, but Irish people did not starve to death in front of Walgreens and Jews, Gypsies, and Gays were not murdered outside the Bell In Hand.

The late 1990’s Memorial Blitz in town had as much to do with memory as it did with the attempt to settle old scores by Mattapan (Jewish) vs Dorchester (Irish) teenage rivalries of the 1940’s. Both the Holicaust and Famine memorials are terribly designed kabuki pieces that say as much about the politics of Boston as they do the tragedies they memorialize.

Faneuil Hall is a crass tourist haven. Can one really ponder the meaning of slavery in the midst of the sale of push up bras and ice cream?

The Beacon Street side of the Common might be a better place for this to juxtapose the sale of humans with the righteousness of the freeman and former slaves who embody the Shaw / 54th Mass. Memorial.

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kabuki pieces?

I don't understand ... what is Japanese about these two memorials?

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I disagee

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I mean, I'm in lockstep with you about the memorials to events that occurred thousands of miles away on another continent, but this one, if done right, could be very appropriate. I mean, it's a better idea than renaming Faneuil Hall (which, it should be noted, is named after the guy who put up the money to build the building.) I would depend on how the memorial was done. If it tries to overwhelm a space, it could be bad, but reading the general outline, I think it could work.

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you've hit on it..

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But backwards.

Maybe it's not that statues and memorials are wrong for a crass tourist junk space, but crass tourist junk is wrong for a statue and memorial space. Not that only memorials can go there, but it could easily be a more dignified space.

Nothing says the flimsy faneuil/quincy market garbage has to be there.

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Holocaust Memorial

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The Irish Famine memorial is pretty meh, but the Holocaust Memorial is, imo, extremely well designed, so I don't konw what you're on about.

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Yeah, better to hide our

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Yeah, better to hide our monuments away where no one will see them. Great idea.

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I must disagree... to the memorial designs. The Irish one, while controversial, is actually rather obvious and the message appears to be that the US is the land of freedom and opportunity denied the Irish in the old country. The potato famine destroyed the tuber crop for several years, but it was actually the Crown's deliberate control of the wheat crop, and the denial of any of it to feed the Irish, that led to the genocide.
The army had to be fed. It was also that time honored technique that was used by Stalin in the Ukraine in the thirties.
Ya, it's controversial, but hardly rises to the level of kabuki theater.

The Holocaust Memorial, on the other hand, I consider (my two cents...) to be a stunning and subtle emotional masterpiece. It works most effectively for those who are unfamiliar with what it is, or stumble upon it accidentally, knowing what it is but knowing nothing of the design. I knew it was there, but was unfamiliar with the design.
From a distance, it takes on the aspect of a gently shaded corridor of some sort. As I got closer, I believed I was looking at a screened corridor because I was able to detect the square patterning on the glass. For a moment, I took it as a type of sun block to shade those people inside.

Then I got close enough to discern the elements of the etched glass...

It's almost the opposite of the Irish Famine Memorial.

The Lincoln Emancipation Memorial in Park Square has its critics. 'Lincoln is in a superior position to the slave', goes some criticism. Well, of course. The slave population, as ugly as it sounds, was a population of chattel, a population of property. It was the blood and suffering of the Civil War and the grim determination of President Lincoln that freed the slaves in this country.

A point to remember is that the Abolitionist Societies formed here in the 1830's, but the Commonwealth abolished slavery within the state in the 1780's.
As far as singling out Peter Faneuil (who died in the 1740's), well, it's a bit more complicated than that...
"...there is not a House in Boston, however small may be its means, that has not one or two.”[2] Peter Faneuil’s economic prosperity though, gave him the means to enslave a greater number of individuals. According to the appraisal inventory taken of Faneuil’s estate after his death, Faneuil enslaved five people..."

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Slavery began early in MA

Governor Winthrop decreed it legal in the 1630s ... so it was legal for around 150 years.

Slavery was an enormous component of the sugar and rum trade as well.

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Some more info here:

"As discussed in the section of this website entitled John Adams and the Massachusetts Constitution, the Constitution of 1780 was preceded by a constitution drafted by the legislature and rejected by the voters in 1778. The constitution proposed in 1778 would have recognized slavery as a legal institution, and excluded free African Americans from voting. The Constitution of 1780, in contrast, contained a declaration that "all men are born free and equal, and have . . . the right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties." "
(emphasis mine)

"It is generally agreed that African slaves first arrived in Massachusetts in the 1630's, and slavery was legally sanctioned in 1641. During the colonial era, numerous laws were passed regulating movement and marriage among slaves, and Massachusetts residents actively participated in the slave trade. Historians estimate that between 1755 and 1764, the Massachusetts slave population was approximately 2.2 percent of the total population; the slave population was generally concentrated in the industrial and coastal towns.

"As the rhetoric supporting independence of the colonists from Great Britain intensified in the colony of Massachusetts, some noted the glaring inconsistency of arguing for the rights of Englishmen while owning slaves. For example, James Otis, a leading proponent of colonial independence, wrote in a highly regarded and influential 1764 pamphlet that "The colonists are by the law of nature freeborn, as indeed all men are, white or black.""

Slavery was a normal component of all of human history until the Colonial Era here. I think the government of England outlawed slavery in 1806. Nope, just looked it up. The trade was abolished, slavery was abolished in 1833, except for the East India Company.

Trade in captured Native Americans was common from the beginning, with various tribes aligning with various fur traders, trading captives for rum, rifles, stuff like that. It was happening in Georgia in 1690, so with the time between 1780 and 1865, puts Georgia comfortably ahead of the Commonwealth in the 'years of slavery' game, Oglethorpe notwithstanding...

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slaves won their own freedom

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Slaves freed themselves by engaging in a general strike, the first in US history, and through centuries of rebellion, the final act came with support of a multi racial army of mostly poor immigrants marching to the tune of John Brown's body. Lincoln passed an emancipation proclamation that didnt emancipate the remaining slaves under union territory, he does not deserve the credit. Read Dubois or David Roediger's "Seizing Freedom"

Also slaves were not cattle, they were seen as cattle, they were men women and children with agency and they used it to fight for their freedom in ways big and small.

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They should put it on George

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They should put it on George's Island in the spot formerly occupied by the Confederate memorial.

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Faneuil Hall Marketplace is crass

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Faneuil Hall itself is not. Beautiful and historic building. I think a memorial near the Hall itself would be an appropriate place.

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How about a statue of William Carney

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A man who was born a slave and fought as a member of the fighting 54th during the civil war and although wounded refused to let the American flag touch the ground. He was a proud American who received the congressional medal of honor and deserves a statue as a hero we should all be proud of.

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Just listen

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Just listen to all of the hate that comes out when something is proposed for a certain people. The topic was totally buried.

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Excellent Proposal

This is serious win all around

A landmark does not get renamed (for valid, but obscure reasons).

There is a chance to discuss why some thought it should IN CONTEXT of the larger issues of slavery in Massachusetts. Those being:
1. it existed here for longer than in Georgia
2. it existed here, and it wasn't kinder or gentler than any other place (reference to a certain Charlestown landmark - rotting burned gibbeted body)
3. why it existed here and what Boston's enduring role in the slave trade itself was
4. how it ended here, with a lawsuit and ruling according to a new Constitution.

I for one think tourists and school kids should know these things - that Boston wasn't just a hotbed of Abolitionism, but also an early adopter of slavery itself, with an early economy partly dependent on kidnapping and selling humans out of Africa. This is a high value use of space to teach some history and address the concerns of those who would rename this place in a constructive manner.

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Gibbeted, not burned

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I think you're mixing up two executions in #2, both of which involve enslaved women being burned at the stake. Mark (the enslaved man who was gibbeted in Charlestown) was not burned. In 1681, an enslaved woman named Mariah (Maria?) was convicted of arson and burned at the stake. An enslaved man named Jack was convicted of a separate arson the same day. He was hanged, then his body was destroyed in the fire that had killed Mariah. Generations later, an enslaved woman named Phillis and an enslaved man named Mark were convicted of poisoning their owner in 1755. Phillis was burned at the stake, and Mark was hanged. Mark's body was then hung up in chains long enough to serve as a landmark when Paul Revere later recounted his famous ride.

There's a Hub History podcast about the two cases, if anyone is interested:

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