13 July 2014

Sailing to freedom

Robert Smalls plaque, Charleston, S.C.
What an adventure movie this story of Robert Smalls would make. What is even better is the happy ending. He became a state legislator and congressman. I've copied the write up by Henry Louise Gates.

Which Slave Sailed Himself to Freedom?
Just before dawn on May 13, 1862, Robert Smalls and a crew composed of fellow slaves, in the absence of the white captain and his two mates, slipped a cotton steamer off the dock, picked up family members at a rendezvous point, then slowly navigated their way through the harbor. Smalls, doubling as the captain, even donning the captain’s wide-brimmed straw hat to help to hide his face, responded with the proper coded signals at two Confederate checkpoints, including at Fort Sumter itself, and other defense positions. Cleared, Smalls sailed into the open seas. Once outside of Confederate waters, he had his crew raise a white flag and surrendered his ship to the blockading Union fleet.
In fewer than four hours, Robert Smalls had done something unimaginable: In the midst of the Civil War, this black male slave had commandeered a heavily armed Confederate ship and delivered its 17 black passengers (nine men, five women and three children) from slavery to freedom.
I took the photos yesterday rather than this morning when some parts of the lowcountry got between 3 - 4 inches of rain.  Stay dry kids!