Wednesday, January 25, 2017

JOHN WEBBER'S FIGHT FOR EQUALITY VS. THE "GOOD PEOPLE"

(Ed.'s Note: If you didn't have the time to read the pages posted before about John F. Webber and the racial attitudes in the early 1800s before Texas became a state that eventually bacame part of the Confederacy, take time to take a gander. Webber was a white settler who was married to a black slave and had a mixed-race family.

The selections below come from the book written by Noah Smithwick called "The Evolution of a State." That state was Texas and this is the "heritage" of prejudice and cruelty towards blacks and progressive thinking that neo-Confederates take pride in celebrating.

John Webber, a native of Vermont, fought in the War of 1812 and served as a private in Capt. S. Dickinson's company, Thirty-first United States Infantry, from May 23, 1813, to May 31, 1814, during which time he fought in the battle of Shadage Woods.

He was in Stephen Austin's colony as early as 1826 and received a headright on June 22, 1832. Sometime earlier he was married to a slave, Silvia Hector. On June 11, 1834, John Cryer emancipated (sold ) Silvia and her three children to Webber.)

"The Webber family, of corse, could not mingle with the white people, and, owing to a strong prejudice against free negroes, they were not allowed to mix with the slaves, even had they so desired; so they were constrained to keep to themselves."

"Still there wasn't a white woman in the vicinity but knew and liked Puss as Webber's dusky helpmeet was called, and in truth they had cause to like her, for, if there was any need of help, (she) was ever ready to render assistance without money and without price, as we old-timers knew. Webber's house was always open to anyone who chose to avail himself of its hospitality, and no human being went away from its door hungry. The destitute and afflicted many times found asylum there."

(Smithwick tells of Webber's wife taking in an orphaned girl (a "sinner") who was turned away by her kin and a man suffering from rheumatism who they took care of for years.)

"Beneath that sable bosom beat as true a heart as ever warmed a human body."

"By such generous acts as these joined to the good sense they displayed in conforming their outward lives to the hard lines which the peculiar situation imposed on them, Webber and his wife merited and enjoyed the good will, and, to a certain extent the respect, of the early settlers. The ladies visited (her) not as an equal, but because they appreciated her kindness. At such times she flew around and set out the best meal which her larder afforded; but, neither herself nor her children offered to sit down and eat with their guests, and when she returned the visit she was set down in the kitchen to eat alone."

"After the Indians had been driven back...a new lot of people came – "the better sort" as Colonel Knight styled them – and they at once sat to drive Webber out. His (racially mixed) children could not attend school, so he hired an Englishman to come to his home and teach them, upon which his persecutors raised a hue and a cry about the effect it would have on the slave negroes and even went as far as to threaten to mob the tutor....

"The cruel injustice of the thing angered me, and I told some of them that Webber was there before any of them dared to, and I, for one, proposed to stand by him."
"I abhorred the situation, but I honored the man for sanding by his children whatever their complexion. But the bitter prejudice, coupled with the desire to get Webber's land and improvements became so threatening that I at length counseled him to sell out and take his family to Mexico, where there was no distinction of color. He took my advice, and I never afterwards saw or heard of him."

(Webber is buried in a cemetery near Donna, Texas, where he resettled after the Civil War when he returned from Mexico. Joe Cuellar, of Brownsville, the man standing above his headstone, is his distant descendant.)

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

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rita