Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Six "Black U.S. Presidents"


Would Barack Obama be the first black president of the United States? In the 19th and 20th centuries, the standard for determining one’s race was, one drop of black blood, made you black, socially and in the eyes of the law. So if we use this measuring stick, it would appear that there are other U.S. presidents who would have been considered black, mulatto (the Spanish word) or Creole (the French term). Were there other "black" presidents? Some historians have reason to believe people don't really understand the genealogy of past U.S. Presidents. Recent research shows that at least six other former U.S. presidents had black ancestors and that Thomas Jefferson, the nation's third president, was considered the first black president, according to historian Leroy Vaughn, author of Black People and Their Place in World History. Here’s what his research found:

1. Thomas Jefferson the third elected president, who served two terms between 1801 and 1809 was described as the “son of a half-breed Indian squaw and a Virginia mulatto father,” as stated in Vaughn’s findings. Jefferson also was said to have destroyed all documentation attached to his mother, even going to extremes to seize letters written by his mother to other people. Only in recent years did the family of Thomas Jefferson acknowledged he was the father of the (5 or 6) children born to a slave on his plantation, Sally Hemmings.

2. President Andrew Jackson, the nation’s seventh president, was in office between 1829 and 1837. A renowned African-American historian J. A. Rogers, author of the “Five Black Presidents” wrote that Andrew Jackson Sr. died before his son, President Andrew Jackson Jr., was born. The president’s mother then went to live on the Crawford farm, where there were Negro slaves and one of these men was Andrew Jr.’s father, Rogers wrote. Vaughn cites an article written in The Virginia Magazine of History that Jackson was the son of an Irish woman who married a black man. The magazine also stated that Jackson’s oldest brother had been sold as a slave.

3. Abraham Lincoln, the nation’s 16th president, served between 1861 and 1865. Author Vaughn, states Lincoln had very dark skin and coarse hair and his mother allegedly came from an Ethiopian tribe. His heritage fueled so much controversy that Lincoln was nicknamed “Abraham Africanus the First” by his presidential opponents and cartoons were drawn depicting him as a Negro. In a book, titled “The Hidden Lincoln” written by William Herndon, Lincoln’s law-office partner, said that Lincoln’s father of record, Thomas Lincoln, could not have been Lincoln’s father because he was sterile from childhood mumps and later was castrated.

4. President Warren Harding, the 29th president, in office between 1921 and 1923, apparently never denied his ancestry. According to Vaughn, William Chancellor, a professor of economics and politics at Wooster College in Ohio, wrote a book on the Harding family genealogy. Evidently, Harding had black ancestors between both sets of parents. Chancellor also said that Harding attended Iberia College, a school founded to educate fugitive slaves. Professor Chancellor says the Justice Department agents allegedly bought and destroyed all copies of this book. Harding suffered nervous breakdowns at the age of 24 and had to spend some time in a sanitarium. Between 1889 and 1901, Harding paid five “protracted” visits to the J. P. Kellogg sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan “to recover from fatigue, overstrain, and nervous illnesses.” Some speculate his illness was due to the pressure of not fully disclosing his black heritage and living as “white”.

5. Calvin Coolidge, the nation’s 30th president, served between 1923 and 1929 and supposedly was proud of his heritage. He claimed his mother was dark because of mixed Indian ancestry. This notion was disputed by Auset Bakhufu, author of “The Six Black Presidents” who said in her book that by the 1800s, the New England Indians hardly were pure Indian, because they had mixed so often with blacks. Coolidge’s mother’s maiden name was “Moor” and in Europe the name “Moor” was given to all blacks just as “Negro” was used in America. It later was concluded that Coolidge was part black.

6. The last elected “black” president was Dwight David Eisenhower who served from 1953 to 1961, the 34th president. Eisenhower’s mother, Ida Elizabeth Stover was a mullato woman making Eisenhower part black. Eisenhower as president moved military integration from a law to reality. He battered Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus with federal force to desegregate Little Rock’s Central High School. He was the first President to elevate an African- American to an executive position in the White House. He established the first regulations to prohibit racial discrimination in the federal workforce. He was the first President since Reconstruction to meet with Civil Rights leaders in the White House. After turning the U.S. Armed Forces into an integrated military where blacks and whites could fight in the same baton then live in barracks side by side, he helped turn Washington D.C. which had once been as segregated as any place in the South, into an integrated nation‘s capital. To find out more visit: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08036/854713-51.stm

Research info gathered at: http://www.wikipedia.org/

Now, here's one of my poems that's black and white:


Real Life, Transcending The Rule Book

She insists Adam & Eve must have had a dog.

She never had any pets of her own as a child. She would
often become violently ill at merely the sight of anything

as hairless as a Chihuahua. We both wanted to sleep
with Lassie when we were ten. I longed to grow-up to be

as strong and robust as Rin-Tin-Tin. Instead, by the time
I reached twenty-one I had become a ninety-five pound

weakling. I could vote, but no dogs were allowed on the
ballot. That was about the time I learned how to point my

tail in a straight line and raised one paw at the same time.
I suppose it was one way of compensating for not having

a he-man’s body. She has never cared much for my skillful
tail-pointing and thinks my strange laugh resembles the

present-day Hyena. I tell her I’m more wolf than anything
and she just frowns. And when we get tired of pounding

nails in the dog house we put on our leashes, bring out the
sheet music of mistranslated text, and dig-up the bone of

our falsetto voices. Then, we proceed to carefully sniff our
way through an entire cantata by Scarlatti.


Poem first published at: http://thepotomacjournal.com/
Poem Copyright by Maurice Oliver. All Rights Reserved.

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