Coard

Jeffrey Epstein, top, a financier who now faces sex-trafficking charges in New York. Sally Hemings, below left, with Thomas Jefferson; and an image of kissing and whipping.

— Sources: New York State Sex Offender Registry via AP; Karen Cookson/The Daily Gazette; Monticello.org

Jeffrey Epstein is a monster. He is a pedophile. He is a pimp. And in connection with a 53-page federal indictment in 2007 and FBI accounts involving around 40 women and girls, he is also a convicted sex-offending felon.

As sexually despicable and perverted as Epstein is, many- if not most- of the white men who enslaved and raped Black folks here in the Thirteen Colonies and the United States of America from 1619-1865 were much worse. Not only did they systemically rape Black women and girls (as well as Black men and boys), they did so with impunity. In other words, it was legal for white men to rape enslaved Black people.

Each of the Thirteen Colonies as well as subsequently each of the pertinent admitted territories and states had its own “slave codes,” which were various laws imposing brutal restrictions on Blacks by whites. But the common denominator in those laws was that enslaved Black women, men, and children were considered not as human but as property.

Among other outrageous human rights violations mandated by these codes, Blacks were not permitted to testify in criminal or civil court against whites. For example, when a white man (or woman) raped an enslaved Black person, not only could the ravaged victim not file criminal charges, that victim also couldn’t sue in civil court for personal injury or emotional distress. However, assuming the “owner” wasn’t the rapist, that owner could (if preferred) sue the perpetrator for “property damage.” WTF?!

In editor Merril D. Smith’s Encyclopedia of Rape, published last year, Yale University archivist and librarian Dannell Moon pointed out that slavery in this country encompassed wide-ranging rape and sexual abuse.

Nell Irvin Painter, a professor, historian, and former president of the Organization of American Historians, described what went on in this unrelenting and all-consuming viciously exploitative sexual hell as “soul murder” for the victims, with the resulting trauma often leading to deep depression and irreversibly low self-esteem. Painter passionately expanded upon this concept in her 1995 scholarly article, Soul Murder and Slavery: Toward a Fully Loaded Cost Accounting.

It should be noted that as horrifically dispiriting as these rapes were to the victims, they were exceptionally profitable to the victimizers and their enablers. Ivy League professor and prolific author Edward E. Baptist in a 2004 academic essay, Cuffy, Fancy Maids, and One-Eyed Men: Rape Commodification and the Domestic Slave Trade in the United States, explains that many enslaved females, known as “fancy maids,” were sold at auctions and forced into concubinage or prostitution that was euphemistically referred to as “the fancy trade.” And this trade resulted in higher purchase prices than those for healthy young Black male skilled laborers and field laborers.

By the way, the “slave-owning” rapists of yesterday weren’t exclusively the stereotypical creepy hillbilly sort like the degenerates in the movie “Deliverance.”

They also included politically influential people with power similar to that of today’s Jeffrey Epstein. And no one’s more politically influential than a U.S. president. During their lifetime, the following twelve presidents enslaved Black people (and the last eight did so while in office): Martin Van Buren with one, Ulysses S. Grant with five, Andrew Johnson with eight, William Henry Harrison with eleven, James K. Polk with 25, John Tyler with 70, James Monroe with 75, James Madison with approximately 100-125, Zachary Taylor with approximately 150, Andrew Jackson with approximately 150-200, Thomas Jefferson with 267, and George Washington with 316.

And what do you think many or most of those powerful unattractive white men did to those powerless attractive Black women and girls? You certainly don’t think Thomas Jefferson was the exception, do you?

As U.S. Envoy and Minister to France, Jefferson began living there periodically from 1784-1789. He took with him his oldest daughter Martha and a few of those whom he enslaved, including James Hemings. In 1787, he requested that his daughter Polly join him. This meant Polly’s enslaved chambermaid, 14-year-old seamstress Sally Hemings (James’ younger sister), was to accompany her. Both Sally and James were among the six mulatto offspring of Jefferson’s father-in-law, John Wayles and his enslaved “domestic servant” Betty Hemings.

Sally and James were half-siblings of Jefferson’s late wife, Martha Wayles Skelton Jefferson (meaning Thomas Jefferson and Sally were technically related). Jefferson, after repeatedly raping Sally while in Paris, impregnated her. Their first child died after she returned to America. But she had six more of his children at Monticello.

And don’t forget about West Ford whose descendants say is George Washington’s mulatto son. And here’s why. Washington and Ford are spitting images of each other as historic drawings of both in their early 20s clearly prove. Log onto westfordlegacy.com to see them. Furthermore, Ford’s mother, Venus, was “owned” by Washington’s brother and sister-in-law at the Bushfield Plantation which Washington visited several times, including around July 1784-January 1785 when Ford was conceived. Moreover, Venus said Washington was Ford’s father. In addition, Ford became Washington’s personal attendant at the Bushfield Plantation during Washington’s frequent visits there when they would go riding and hunting together and attend church together- until all that abruptly ended when Washington became president in 1789.

And it wasn’t just presidents actually or probably raping enslaved Black women and girls. It was likely many or most of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence since 41 of them were enslavers. And of the 55 signers to the U.S. Constitution, 25 were enslavers.

Lydia Maria Child, a white abolitionist and women’s rights activist, declared in 1861, ”[M]y [Black] sisters in bondage... are suffering wrongs so foul, that our ears are too delicate to listen to them.... I... hope that every man who reads this narrative will swear solemnly before God that, so far as he has the power to prevent it, no fugitive from slavery shall ever be sent back to suffer in that loathsome den of corruption and cruelty.”

Harriet Jacobs- the first Black woman to write a narrative about slavery- authored Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, which was published in 1861 under the pseudonym Linda Brent following her escape from North Carolina to New York. In it, she wrote, “My master, to my knowledge... [was] the father of eleven slaves.... But did the mothers dare tell who was the father...? Did the other slaves dare to allude to it, except in whispers among themselves? No, indeed! They knew too well the consequences.”

Elizabeth Keckley, the mulatto daughter of a raped mother, penned a riveting book, Behind the Scenes; Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House, published in 1868. In it, she recounted the “savage efforts... [of a white man] to subdue my pride” and added, “I was regarded as fair-looking for one of my race, and for four years a white man... had base designs upon me. I do not care to dwell upon this subject, for it is one that is fraught with pain. Suffice it to say, that he persecuted me for four years, and I... became a mother. The child of which he was the father was the only child that I ever brought into the world.”

Keckley condemned America’s brutal racism that created and promoted her rapist’s constant assaults by concluding, “If my poor boy ever suffered any humiliating pangs on account of birth... he must blame the edicts of that society which deemed it no crime to undermine the virtue of girls in my then position.”

She’s right, you know.

And when I say America’s history of monstrous systemic legal “slave rape” is much worse than Jeffrey Epstein’s history of monstrous predatory illegal rape, I’m right, you know.

Michael Coard, Esquire can be followed on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. His “Radio Courtroom” show can be heard on WURD96.1FM. And his “TV Courtroom” show can be seen on PhillyCam/Verizon/Comcast.

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