General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson relationship with Afro-Americans and the development of the Field and Home Slaves. Read more
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About this project
I Gregory Newson plan to self-Publish a book about a set of twin slave boys in the ante-bellum south.
They are left motherless due to birth complications, so they are raised in the household of their master, Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Even though Jackson later becomes a Confederate general, before the war he is a southern scofflaw. He flouts the laws forbidding slave literacy by teaching Afro-Americans to read and write. He, also, teaches his slaves the basic tenets of Christianity; that all mankind should have the right to worship and know Christ. Jackson's extraordinary relationship with African Americans in the Slave South and in the Confederacy deserves a book of its own.
Religion and worship was a strong influence to self-justify the actions and behaviors of nobles during the 17th and 18th centuries. Today, it can be extremely challenging to explain to our children how men treated his fellow creatures during America's early development. In some ways this is almost as difficult as teaching our children about “the birds and the bees.”
My thoughts about writing and illustrating my book entitled My Brother's Keeper, The Making of a Black Confederate, came from a statement made by Malcolm X about the field and house slave. I am aware that there are American Universities that have Black study programs, but in my opinion these mainstream programs will not touch or consider an examination about the lineage and evolution of these two types of slaves. The house and field slaves lived radically different lives and in trying to give slavery a “one size fits all” appearance, modern institutions are trying to be so politically correct that it makes them ignore the subtle, and sometimes not so subtle, differences between these two types of bondage. Modern institutions have become unwitting proponents of and specialists in producing a unique form of chicken shit.
As an author and an American I once encountered a question from a white woman that perplexed and disturbed me. She asked about "YOUR National Holiday." She explained, “Martin Luther King Day is coming up and I want to teach my children about him, especially since the civil rights movement is such a huge part of our local history here in Alabama. My dilemma is that my children (ages 4 and 9) are currently completely oblivious to racism. They treat everyone the same and it doesn't even occur to them that anyone would do otherwise. Is there a way to teach them about the positive things that came out of the civil rights movement, while still maintaining their innocence about racism? Or is this a subject best left until they're more mature?”
That certainly is an intriguing dilemma that is unique to America.
Children are not, by nature, racist. Nor are they born with assumptions about people in any definable group. We all begin with a winning trust in others. There is an expectation in children that people will be good to each other, and that life with others will be safe, fun, and full of play. That is the very definition of childish innocence.
Racism is a polarizing force. It is omnipresent like the proverbial elephant in the room that no one sees. I do cynically realize to some people use racism and fear-mongering to which it can give birth, as big business. These groups have a vested interest in perpetuating this divide.
My personal feelings as an author/writer and American about American involvement in the slave trade has not made me feel anger, but the opposite. I am not about to buy a ticket back to Africa, knowing that so many paid a high price to deliver my DNA to these American shores. As a native of this country I, like every American of any other descent, have the ability and right to exercise and define the statement, "Born in the land of the free and home to the brave"
And brave I must BE to bring the first (JUNIOR ADOLESCENT NOVEL for ADULTS) that will assist us in laughing at ourselves as Americans.
Those without intellectual integrity will try to describe my book as Pro-Confederacy Propaganda or consign it to the dustbin of historical deniers. What I have sought to do is to discuss an uncomfortable truth about the choices some slaves felt compelled to make. Looking back past over the Civil Rights ’60, the Jim Crow South, the devastation of Reconstruction, and the horror of the Civil War, it can be hard to understand the rationale for some people to have made some choices that in the comfort of the twenty-first century it is easy for us to say we would never make. However, the reality is that some slaves made the seemingly oxymoronic choice to fight FOR their oppressors. Before that same twenty-first century spectator recoils in horror, they must consider the adage that sometimes “the devil you know is better than the one you do not know.” Quite often slaves did not understand the nature of the war, nor could they fathom the risks and possibilities they would encounter depending upon which side won. This book seeks to explore the frustratingly perplexing dilemma facing slaves, and why different slaves chose different options.
America, please calm down, TAKE A CHILL PILL this story is about two playful children who wonder about and wrestle with the question, "What does freedom mean and feel like? And why are all those white folks on their knees looking up and talking to the sky.”
THIS IS WHAT THE BOOK IS ABOUT
Our story starts in Lexington County, Virginia, where Thomas Jonathan ”Stonewall” Jackson is appointed constable of Lewis County, Virginia. After this honour, in 1851 he is appointed a professor of artillery tactics and becomes a member of the Lexington Presbyterian Church.
Thomas Jackson was a plantation owner at the time and, as such, had considerable property in slaves. This human property included two twin boys who were left motherless during complications surrounding their birth. They are named Jim and David Lewis. Jim was the real personal servant to General Thomas Jackson and David is a fictitious character crafted by the author in order to display better the differing lives of different slaves.
The story is built around the family of Jackson, who maintained his plantation well. He made investments to better his holdings. He respected his property and treated it well, as any intelligent human being would. He was not the type of slave owner to brutalize and abuse his human property although, as will be shown, he did have recourse to harsh punishment when he felt it necessary. Jackson also engaged in teaching blacks how to read and write as early as 1855, and this sets him out as a southern scofflaw. Teaching slaves’ literacy was viewed as one of the most heinous crimes that could be perpetrated in the ante-bellum south. Thomas Jackson even went so far as to organize Sunday school classes in Lexington solely for blacks.
The slave twins’ different personalities become evident after Jim takes the beating for stealing an apple pie from his master Jackson's window. Later Thomas Jackson learns that David committed the act, not Jim. He is filled with wonderment at this brother, who took a beating for his twin without revealing the truth. As a sort of reward for his fidelity to his brother and his apparent strong moral character, Jackson makes Jim a house slave and his brother David becomes a field slave. Concurrently, both boys are introduced to Christian Bible study.
Many slave owners based the righteousness of slavery on the idea that a race of Americans should be in bondage at that time. To this end, they twisted the beauty of the Bible to justify their basest material desires. “Man had no right to challenge the decisions of the Almighty”. Thomas Jackson and others therefore accepted this interpretation of God's decree, even though many viewed the system of enslavement without enthusiasm. At the same time many fervently believe that all God's children regardless of color, had equal right to seek the kingdom of heaven. These were disparate positions that few could hope to reconcile.
Life for a slave was very different depending on whether they were a field slave or a house slave and herein laid the basis for Jackson’s feeling that he had rewarded Jim by making him a house slave. Field slaves and house slaves were different in many ways and my book will highlight the development of our twin boys into manhood and showcase how their different situations on the plantation altered the characters.
On January 1, 1863 when the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect it freed more than three million slaves. It was two years into the war and the north was in need of more troops. Although not considered citizens, former slaves were willing to fight for the Union and David Lewis escaped northward and joined the Union Army. Once within the Union Army, David is made a Negro spy. This historically accurate portrayal of the use of African Americans shows how their services were utilized to infiltrate the South.
At that same time, Jim Lewis, Davis's twin brother became a self-proclaimed Christian soldier. He volunteered his life and limb to the service of Stonewall Jackson and his Confederate Army.
This truth about former slaves in service to the Confederacy has always been surrounded by lies. Many twenty-first century Americans abhor the Confederate flag or show it undue honor as a symbol of patriotic rebelliousness. The result has been the vilification of Black Confederates.
These men are almost uniformly treated as stooges of their masters. Thus, they are seen as either stupid or evil, or both. The result has been that any attempt to honor this service is a veiled effort to glorify the cause of slavery. This blatant use of the race card in today's society in order to advance political agendas is a tired and seemingly endless game that is itself perhaps the saddest legacy of the Civil War. Let us sit back and laugh at the human need to have indentured servants or slaves that impeded our ability to be self-reliant.
This is a graphic full color Junior adolescent novel for young adults. We are here trying to Kickstart an incredible one of a kind fiction American history tale. It will be a hardcover novel that will include 32 pages of full color illustrations by author Gregory Newson. Working with me, is historian Dominick J. Reisen, who will serve as developmental editor. He holds a degree in history from Bard College and has written on the history of the early American Republic. Most recently he edited Otsego County in the Civil War: First Hand Accounts and War Experiences, which was nominated for the Lincoln Prize. He was a founder and served as the first president of the Otsego County Historical Association. His book Middlefield and the Settling of the New York Frontier: A Case Study of Development in Central New York, 1790-1865 received wide praise.
This should be a really quick turnaround time for a Kickstarter as the book is 40% completed. I expect to release within a week of the Kickstarter completing deadline date and I expect books to begin shipping books in June 2014.
If the Kickstarter is successful the book will be published in a hardbound edition with companion website, where readers can find out what part of the book is true and the other parts implanted from other real facts of slave owners’ families.
A Limited Edition signed hardcover edition with 32 pages of full color Gregory Newson illustrations will be available.
I plan to make available signed limited un-framed wall size prints, sizes, 8 ½ x 11”, 11” x 17” and 22" x 18". These will be full color prints
Funding is earmarked for: Printing Costs and Freight, Editing, Shipping, ISBNs/Barcodes, Taxes/Fees, and general expenses related to the production and promotion of the book. My Brothers Keeper: The Making of a Black Confederate.
And any additional funding after the goal of $3,000 has been met will go to promoting a national tour of art exhibition to galleries or museums to showcase and exhibit giclée art prints for the book, to raise funds for causes, and the book will be made available at such events, the Additional funding will be earmarked for; Frame for giclée prints, packaging and shipping of framed giclée artwork, Freight shipping charges, airline tickets, hotel accommodations and local transportation, marketing brochures and developing website for on-going discussions about the Afro-American slave participation in the Civil War. For more information after 2/17/2014 go to: www.NewsonPublishing.com
Risks and challenges
I think the biggest risk and challenge for me, or anyone trying to tackle this type of subject, is the feeling that it has been over 200 years living with this dark side of American history, "let’s move on".
Since the idea is thought provoking, the left and right will never be completely satisfied with the book's characters. The thought that Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson had a deep respect and compassion for black people will strike many as is absurd. This side of his character is in reality and its telling in this way will possess some humor so it can be digestible. The reader will constantly be reminded that this is a fictional story, with real story components based on thorough research and fact.
As author and artist I hope the supporters know that I am proud to be an American citizen. As an upstanding citizen, I feel it to be my duty to show all aspects of slavery and the Civil War. This truth may not be comfortable to view, but it is part of our common past and to ignore or deny it does a great disservice to all of the Americans who lived through it.
I'm hoping if this book gets funding to do a book about the black slaves that were turned into Union spies, the name of my book; "The Slow Spy"Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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Your choose of any color illustration page and receive a 16” x 22” color signed by Artist giclée print; these giclée prints are made on matte-finish, double-ply acid-free mat board for a stunning visual and textural experience (though it's not recommended you touch it too much!). Must be frame immediately upon arrival.
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