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Was Jane a Slave? (Part 1 of 5)

Dr. Quincy Newell is the first non-Mormon scholar we’ve had on Gospel Tangents.  Of course, I had to ask why she was interested in Mormon history in the first place!

GT:  I think one of the things that’s most perplexing to me, and I think to my listeners as well, you’re not Mormon!

Quincy:  No, I’m not.

GT:  Why in the world are you studying Mormonism?

Quincy:  I am interested in religion in the American West, and Mormons are a huge part of that story.  I’m also interested in the experiences of religious and racial ethnic minorities. So thinking about sort of how those different factors in identity intersect and how they shape people’s lives. So that’s why I got into the study of Mormonism.

Dr. Newell has just come out with a book on early black Mormon pioneer Jane Manning James.  It’s called “Your Sister in the Gospel,” and is published by Oxford University Press.  I was curious about Jane’s relationship to slavery.

Quincy:  Jane was not a slave. She was very particular in making sure that everybody knew that. She was born free in Connecticut, in about 1820. Her mother had been enslaved, and she said that her maternal grandmother had been brought from Africa as an enslaved woman as well. So Jane certainly had slavery in her background. She knew about it. She experienced it. She knew people who had been enslaved. But she herself was not enslaved at any point. That’s a status symbol, I think, for her. So she was very particular in making sure that people who knew her, people who heard about her, knew that she was not enslaved, and that was important to her.

GT:  But her mother was a slave. How did that work?  I think there was a law or something that you were emancipated a certain age or something. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Quincy: Yes, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to get all the details right off the top of my head. But Connecticut passed a set of laws that basically instituted a kind of gradual emancipation.  I don’t remember the year in which they were passed, but Jane’s grandmother was too old, and was never emancipated. The legislature in Connecticut decided they didn’t want owners of slaves to dump their aged slaves on the public trust and make the public responsible for maintaining them. So they remained enslaved for the rest of their lives. But there was a date that anybody born after that date was to be emancipated by, I think, their 25th birthday, something like that. So Jane’s mother was eligible for that emancipation, and for that reason, she probably was emancipated in around 1810 or so. Jane was born about 10 years later, so she was born free. But she certainly knew relatives who would have remained enslaved for the rest of their lives.

We will get more acquainted with both Jane and Quincy in our next conversation.  Check it out!

Dr. Quincy Newell of Hamilton College has published a biography of black Mormon pioneer Jane Manning James.

Don’t miss our previous conversations about Jane with Margaret Young!

002:  Combating Racism

001: “Is There No Blessing for me?

 

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Can Anything Good Come from…Warsaw? Yes! (Part 7 of 7)

This is our final conversation with Brian Stutzman, and we’ll talk about Warsaw, Illinois today.  Brian thinks this should be a must-stop for church history buffs.  We’ll also discuss how Brian came to love the city, and how he came there and how he would like to restore the city to its historic roots.

Brian:  I drove into town and saw this building.   It says Thomas Sharp, Warsaw Signal.  Little did I know that the Lutherans help fund that building.  How ironic. In 1987, there was a Mormon historian from Nauvoo named Michael Trap. He came down and he gathered some people together and says, “You know what, you got some history here. Maybe it’s the dark side of Mormon history. But let’s take this old grocery store.”  I think it was built in 1880, “and we’ll raise some money and we’ll make it look like it would have an 1840. We’ll get an old press in here.”

So I really enjoy getting to know the good people.  They had me speak at their historical society last year when my book was in the first edition. There’s a ton–1550 people, we had over 100 people together at the high school and I gave a little presentation on the overview of my book. This sweet old lady comes up and says, “Will you move here to Warsaw?” Because I told them at the end of my presentation I said, “You need to promote your town. You’ve got a story to tell. There’s a tragic triangle here. Thousands, millions of people know about Nauvoo. Thousands, millions of people know about Carthage. Nobody’s heard of Warsaw. When people go, they’re only seeing two thirds of what they should see.  You need to come down.  You need to invite LDS tourists to come here. You need to have a sign that says this is where Willard Richards and Brigham Young we’re going to build a Mormon community at our request that people of Warsaw’s request, even though the local histories, including 1880 Thomas Greg said that they almost fell into the hands of the Mormons.”

He also tells about a beloved Mormon family in Warsaw.  Check out our conversation, by signing up to our free newsletter to hear the final part.  Go to https://www.GospelTangents.com/newsletter and I will send you a secret link to hear the conclusion!

Brian Stutzman has ideas for a Mormon history tour of Warsaw, Illinois!

 

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Warsaw: Boom or Bust?

Following the acquittal of the murderers of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, what happened to the town of Warsaw, Illinois.  Was it a boom-town, a bust, or both?  Brian Stutzman will answer that.

Brian:  After the church left the area in 1846-47, and moved West, Warsaw prospered for about 30 years because of these rapids. The lightening had to happen. Then in 1877, the government spent $4.5 million at the time and built an eight mile canal on the other side of the river from Keokuk north and it made it so most river boats didn’t have to stop anymore at Warsaw they could just march right up the Mississippi. Within a couple decades, the population of Warsaw went from 4500 down to 2000. Now imagine a frontier town with houses and buildings and stores and hotels for 4500, and all of the sudden, within a couple decades, you’re down to 2000.  You’ve got a lot of empty real estate. That continued to decline.  Today there’s 1550 people on the last census. They’ve got a lot of old, decrepit broken-down buildings.

Brian also tells a chilling story about early Mormon convert Dan Jones.

Brian: They’re lying on the floor and Joseph offers his arm to Dan for a pillow. They’re sitting there talking about life and death and asked if they were ready to die. They suspected that the end might be there. Dan says, “Well, I think I’m ready to die.”  Joseph gives his last prophecy. He gives it to Dan Jones, who was converted because of Thomas Sharp and had just talked to Frank Worrell.  Joseph says, “Dan you will yet see Wales and fulfill the mission appointed to you.”

Brian  This is that night. The next morning Dan Jones is in the jail.  Joseph says, “I’m not feeling good about things. Will you go and get my attorney down in Quincy?” Dan says, “Sure, I’ll leave,” and as he leaves. He goes down the stairs and gets on his horse, and as he leaves he’s shot at by some anti-Mormon mobster. He gets so turned around, he actually takes the wrong road out of town, not to Quincy and he later learns that there was a mob of several hundred people just down the road waiting to kill him, if he went down to Quincy.  The mob was on the correct road. Dan got confused and turned and went down the wrong road and it saved his life. Otherwise, he would have been killed.

Check out our conversation….

Warsaw experience both a boom and a bust following the Mormon exodus from Illinois.

Don’t miss out other conversations with Brian!

310: Kangaroo Court at Carthage

309: Gov. Thomas Ford’s Role in Martyrdom & Trial

308: Profile of Anti-Mormon Thomas Sharp

307: The Warsaw-Nauvoo Rivalry

306: The Anti-Mormon Triangle: Warsaw, Carthage, Nauvoo