1788

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The Doctors' Riot and the Rise of Black Churches

WARNING: the following story has become distorted over the years, so use care.

The Doctors' Riot is not a riot of doctors. The rioters are hunting down doctors and beating the tar out of them. Doctors have been grave-robbing mostly black cemeteries in New York because... well... because they can. They need cadavers for teaching purposes. Black people are complaining but everything is on hold as the new Constitution is debated. Churches and the law want to draw a distinction between the sacred and the secular. Cemeteries remain a gray area. Churches see the maintenance of graveyards as a sacred duty. Doctors see graveyards as a medical resource center. Thus, when a child sees the body of his dead mother at the local hospital, he tells his father who digs up his wife's grave and finds her coffin empty. Armed men enter the hospital. They collect any bodies they find and rebury them. Then they beat the living snot out of any doctor they find. It's a riot, sure enough. In its aftermath, the black community decides that if they need help in the future, they are going to have to help themselves. The help they received from white churches was insufficient. Black churches in America are forming up. [1] [2] [3]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
FYI, burial rituals are complex. See your local religious expert for details. This controversy was partly the result of the American Revolution. The British had freed escaped slaves and when the British evacuated New York, they took Crown royalists with them but no slaves. Thus an extremely large portion of New York (maybe 20%?) consisted of freed or abandoned black slaves. That made the riot very large... larger than Shays' Rebellion. Churches at the time separated black people from the rest of the congregation because of an erroneous reading of the Bible. Maybe they could have worked it out over time, but maybe not. The Riot pulled the curtain way. By the next year, New York outlawed grave-robbing, but all that did was to wipe the smirk off of the faces of doctors, and forced them to be more careful when they robbed a grave. A memorial remains near the site of the Negroes Burial Ground, now called the African Burial Ground National Monument. [4] [5]

The Tyranny of the Majority

John Adams has published his "Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America". One of his arguments is that government should be a mix of a governor, a senate and elected representatives. It is a mistake to have a single assembly of elected officials for government since over time, the majority will push out the minority. Friends will take the place of opponents. Judges will be replaced by those sympathetic to the majority. In some cases, people will give up honor for advancement, power and money. The basic self-love of the majority drives government to support only those who love them back. Only those willing to bend the knee will ever get their way. A new nobility will be created in near perpetuity. Adams calls it "the tyranny of the majority." And he contends that frequent elections will not fix it. (Does any of this sound familiar?) [6] [7]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
I was astounded by the Supreme Court argument that term limits on the House and Senate were not needed because at any election the voters could simply "term-limit" an official by voting for someone else. In reality, this rarely happens. The establishment only supports its own. If it is not Bob the Good Old Boy, then it is Sue the Good Old Gal. If Ralph the Radical comes anywhere close to winning, the establishment will make sure his election tanks. Frequent elections or term limits are not the full answer because the establishment will simply substitute Bob for Sue or Sue for Bob, but never Ralph the Radical. (No one likes Ralph. He can't reach across the aisle and get things done.) I don't want a King. I don't want to get things done unless people who hate each other agree that it is a good idea. Then I can feel reasonably sure that it really is a good idea. The original Constitution was not a perfect answer. It was one possible answer that needed tweaking, but over more than 200 years we have tweaked it a little too much and we need to back it out to an earlier revision... one that was still working.

In Other News

  • The Threshing Machine is patented and it puts a lot of people out of work. The Swing Riots of 1830 will be caused by too efficient processing of grain. ("Swinging" is the old way of threshing.) [8] [9] [10]
  • New Hampshire is the 9th state to ratify the US Constitution. We now have a national government. [11]
  • Bread riots in France. A factory owner said that bread should be made cheaper. The workers assumed he meant by lowering wages. His factory is now a smoking ruin. [11] [12]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1788, Wikipedia.

See Also

References

  1. Swan, Robert J. (October 2000). "Prelude and Aftermath of the Doctors' Riot of 1788: A Religious Interpretation of White and Black Reaction to Grave Robbing". New York History (New York State Historical Association) 81 (4): 417-456. http://www.jstor.org/stable/23181722. Retrieved 18 March 2016. "In 1788, four years after British withdrawal from New York City, an unusual civil disturbance occurred, generally but inappropriately known as the Doctors' Riot. It would have a significant and enduring impact upon American society and culture. In religion, it would influence that part of the Constitution regarding separation of church and state and commence the decline of centuries of religious orthodoxy. In medicine, the State Supreme Court would out line an irrevocable but practical relationship between surgeons and the community, facilitating the growth of education in surgery and anatomy. Further, it laid the foundation for a black church movement.". 
  2. Curse of Ham - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 16 May 2016. “The story's original objective was to justify the subjection of the Canaanites to the Israelites, but in later centuries, the narrative was interpreted by some Jews, Christians, and Muslims as an explanation for black skin, as well as slavery. Nevertheless, most Christian denominations and all Islamic and Jewish sects now strongly disagree with such interpretations due to the fact that in the biblical text, Ham himself is not cursed and race or skin color is never mentioned.”
  3. The Gory New York City Riot that Shaped American Medicine. Smithsonian Magazine (June 17, 2014). Retrieved on 16 May 2016. “There are conflicting accounts of how the riot began, but most place the start outside New York Hospital, where a group of boys playing in the grass saw something that upset them—and then incensed the city. In some tellings, the boys saw a severed arm hanging out of one of the hospital windows to dry. In other versions, one of the boys climbed a ladder and peered into the dissecting room, where a surgeon waved the severed arm at him. In yet other versions, the boy’s mother had recently died, and the surgeon told the boy the arm had belonged to his mother. In this version of the tale, recounted in Joel Tyler Headley’s 1873 The Great Riots of New York, the boy ran off to tell the news to his father, a mason, who went to the cemetery and exhumed his wife’s coffin. After finding it empty, he marched on the hospital with a group of angry worker friends still carrying their picks and shovels.”
  4. New video: Planned Parenthood abortionist jokes about harvesting baby’s brains, getting 'intact’ head. LifeSite News (October 5, 2015). Retrieved on 17 May 2016. “Dr. Amna Dermish, an abortionist with Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, told undercover investigators she had never been able to remove the calivarium (skull) of an aborted child 'intact,' but she hopes to. 'Maybe next time,' the investigator said. 'I know, right?' Dr. Dermish replied. 'Well, this'll give me something to strive for.'”
  5. African Burial Ground National Monument - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 17 May 2016. “Historians estimate there may have been 15,000–20,000 burials in what was called the 'Negroes Burial Ground' in the 1700s. The site's excavation and study was called 'the most important historic urban archeological project in the United States.'”
  6. Tyranny of the majority - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 25 March 2016. “The phrase 'tyranny of the majority' was used by John Adams in 1788. The phrase gained prominence after its appearance in 1835 in Democracy in America, by Alexis de Tocqueville, where it is the title of a section. It was further popularised by John Stuart Mill, who cites Tocqueville, in On Liberty (1859). The Federalist Papers refer to the broad concept, as in Federalist 10, first published in 1787, which speaks of 'the superior force of an interested and overbearing majority.'”
  7. Adams, John. Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, A. Printed for J. Stockdale. 
  8. Andrew Meikle: Overview of Andrew Meikle (2016). Retrieved on 10 May 2016. “Meikle was the inventor of the threshing machine (1789), which proved rather more successful. He worked as a mill-wright at Houston Mill, on the family estate of John Rennie (1761 - 1821) at Phantassie, East Lothian. Rennie collaborated with Meikle installing his machinery in other mills.”
  9. Andrew Meikle (1719-1811) engineer and inventor of the threshing machine, the predecessor of the combine harvester. Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame (2015). Retrieved on 10 May 2016. “Fixed and mobile threshing mills as such are things of the past, but Meikle's invention is now more important than ever, for every combine harvester (the universal harvesting machine throughout the world) incorporates a threshing machine recognisably descended from Meikle's prototype of 1786. There are few, if any, mechanical devices of Scottish origin which have had such an immediately transformative effect on a major industry and the supply of food, and had such a lasting impact on economy and society.”
  10. American Cyclopaedia (1873). Retrieved on 10 May 2016. “In 1786 Andrew Meikle, a Scotchman, made an improvement on Leckie's machine by substituting a drum or cylinder with beaters attached to the circumference. He also applied rollers, connected by suitable mechanism to the driving gear, for feeding in the straw. When operated, the drum was set in rapid motion by water or other power; the sheaves of grain, unbound and placed between the rollers, were fed in; and the beaters, revolving with great velocity on the periphery of the drum, beat out the grain from the heads and partially separated it from the straw. A patent was procured in Great Britain in 1788, when Mr. Meikle constructed the first working machine, and added many new improvements, among which was the attachment of a fan mill, by which the grain was separated and cleaned from both straw and chaff.”
  11. 11.0 11.1 Grun, Bernard. The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events. Simon and Schuster, 366-367. 
  12. Réveillon riots - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 17 May 2016. “Protests began after rumors spread that the owner had made a speech stating that workers, many of whom were highly skilled, were to be paid lower wages and, as a result, there would be lower prices. Workers were concerned with food shortages, high unemployment, and low wages after a difficult winter in 1789. However, Réveillon was known for his benevolence towards the poor and actually stated that bread prices should be brought down to those that people could afford (below 15 sous a day) but his comments were misinterpreted as wage restrictions.”

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