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Palo Verde Valley Blythe/Quartzsite Times | Blythe, California and Quartzsite, Arizona

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12/11/2012 5:00:00 PM
Book provides glimpse of slavery and plantation owners
Rosita Smith
Palo Verde District Library

BLYTHE - The crops were in. The rain was coming down making the roads impossible to navigate. Plantation owners along the Mississippi's German coast were gearing up for the Christmas festivities and the Mardi Gras celebrations that would follow. It was time for the rebels to activate their pact.

Charles, Quamana and Harry met on that Sunday in 1811. They came well-armed for battle with a powerful set of revolutionary ideas, well-honed skills and a complex organization of insurrectionary cells prepared to attack as soon as the word was given.

Manuel Andry's northernmost plantation was hit first followed in quick succession by the Deslondes, Tre-pagnier, Bernoudy and Meuillion plantations; the Kerner and Henderson plantation; and the Fortier plantation further south as the rebel army of slaves slashed, burned and pillaged their way toward New Orleans.

Some plantation owners chose to stay behind to try to save their plantations. Others fled in terror. Some slaves stayed by their master's side but a large contingent chose to join the rebels.

The rebel army, now numbering several hundred strong, marched toward New Orleans.

New Orleans' Governor Claiborne took frantic action to secure the city. In a report to his superiors he referred to the revolt as just a little scrimmage, not worth being assigned to the history books. And so the revolt disappeared into the ether.

But January 8, 1811, is the missing link that joins the slavery trade and the Mississippi plantation lifestyle together; the link that provides the foundation upon which much of our current laws and lifestyles originate.

Without knowing about the plantation daily routine and slavery contributions to society 200 years ago, we cannot understand the whys and wherefores of some of our cultural customs today.

American Uprising is the gripping tale of the initial group of 500 slaves whose march represents the largest act of armed resistance against slavery in the United States.

Author Daniel Rasmussen started this tome as a senior thesis. Harvard Professor, Philip Fisher, encouraged Rasmussen to enlarge it into a book, a task that took three years.

The result is a well written, well researched book that graphically lays out the life of a slave and the life style of a plantation owner in the antebellum days of the Mississippi cotton trade.

American Uprising can be found on the Palo Verde Valley Library's new non-fiction book shelves under 976.303 RASUM

The Palo Verde Valley Library welcomes winter visitors. There are public computers that one can sign up to use for an hour a day.

If you have your own laptop there is wireless connection available. If you like to read a book the "old fashioned way," visitors can get a library card to use while they visit the Palo Verde Valley area.

The library is at the corner of Chanslorway and Broadway. It opens each day, except Sunday, at 10 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m. weekdays.

On Saturday the library closes at 4 p.m. All times are California times.

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