Michael Harriot Profile picture
Sep 7, 2020 33 tweets 6 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Whenever we talk about reparations owed for the free labor of enslaved people, someone will inevitably argue how few white people owned slaves.

But it's Labor Day, so let me show you how everyone in America profited from slavery.

A thread:
First, we have to remember that the first Americans came here to escape religious persecution, which explains why this country is founded on liberty and freedom.


That's just something we tell kids when they're young enough to believe stupid shit.

It was about money.
The Jamestown settlers were actually owners and employees of a joint-stock company called the Virginia Company of London.

What was their purpose?

Well, aside from money, they wanted to civilize the "infidels and savages"

Their get-rich-quick scheme worked because of slavery
After the American Revolution, the U.S. could've been a poor country. They owed millions to Britain.

How did we pay back our debt?

We sold Native American land

Well, we raised taxes on the richest people, namely the Southern Plantation owners and the northern manufacturers
The plantation owners and the manufacturers made so much profit because very few slave owners offered 401k and medical insurance.

I could talk about Wells Fargo, Barclays, & Brown Brothers Harriman (The largest private investment firm in the US) but let's start with the REAL $$
We like to think of NY as the "financial center" of America but early on, the Dutch actually owned much of NY, so the real powerbrokers were in Philadelphia (born and raised. Trading securities is how they spent most of their days)

In NY, they would let ANYBODY trade ANYTHING
Unlike the market in Philly, anyone could trade in NY. These country NY muhfuckas just met under a buttonwood tree and traded stocks, slaves, securities, slaves, bonds and slaves. (MOSTLY just slaves).

That buttonwood tree became 1 of the biggest slave markets in the WORLD.
But after the Revolution (The American one, not the one started by Prince) 24 of the NY dudes got together and signed the "Buttonwood Agreement." Modeled after the Philly Merchants Exchange, u had to register to trade.

The company got so big, they decided to build a building
They built it near the site of the original slave-trading tree because the area was protected by a huge stone barrier built by the Dutch.

And that's how the New York Stock Exchange came to be built on a little road called "Wall Street"
How did it become the financial center?


For instance, NY Life opened a Wall Street office in 1845. How did a local insurance company make so much money?

Well, when NY Life was struggling, an enterprising agent had an idea on how to create a new insurance market:
He bought ads in Southern newspapers informing plantation owners to insure their property. This wasn't a revolutionary idea because every insurance company sold hazard insurance. But he introduced another kind of policy:

He sold insurance on slaves.
James Ogden, who owned the company, never owned a single slave. He hated slavery. But by 1847, insuring slaves was one-third of his business.

And that's why NY Life is STILL the third-largest insurance company in America.
After the US outlawed the importation of slaves, a businessman named Moses Taylor made so much dough shipping enslaved Africans to the Caribbean that he didn't have a place to keep all of his money, so he took over the National Bank of the City of NY
They built their headquarters at 111 Wall Street and made so much money that they literally financed the purchase of the Philippines, the War of 1812 and underwrote the ENTIRE Civil War.

They also made another great financial acquisition:
In 1825, after enslaved Haitians kicked France's ass, France demanded that slaveowners be repaid for the "theft of slaves." Because the US fucks with France, we let France do it.

They're the only country we let send warships to the Caribbean during the Monroe Doctrine years
NBCNY bought the debt from France & even made US marines seize the gold from Haiti's treasury and bring it to Wall Street. That debt is the MAIN reason Hait, which was one of the richest countries, is now poor.

But that bank is called CITIBANK now.

But EVERY SINGLE AMERICAN made a profit.

Churches were built with slave labor AND received tithing from slave owners.
The railroads were built with it.
EVERY American was able to buy cheap food and clothes because cotton & plants were planted, grown & harvested with free labor.
Even if you didn't own a slave, if you owned a retail outlet, you got more of a markup.
If you built ships, you used cheap labor.
If you were an American, you didn't have to live in a poverty-stricken country because enslaved Africans paid your way.
And some of those slavemasters even profited from the talents of the people they enslaved.

For instance, my great-great-great grandfather was the best blacksmith in the county. He ran his master's blacksmithing shop and made his owner very wealthy.
This is how some enslaved people managed to buy their freedom.

Which brings us the greatest Labor Day Story ever—Mary's Day Off:

How a black woman changed the world.
When Mary was a kid, her masters noticed that she had a talent for drawing and designing. She could look at something and draw it from memory.

So, they taught her how to be a seamstress. They made so much money that Mary was able to stash enough money aside to buy her freedom.
During the Civil War, Amazon wasn't shipping to the South, so Mary basically became the Fashion Nova of Norfolk.

One day, she was probably making a Steve Harvey 32-button suit for some Confederate bigwigs and she overheard them talking and laughing.
Apparently the dudes had seen a CNN report (Confederate News Network) that the Union Navy was building a ship covered with iron. This is before "fake news" was invented, so the dudes had an idea on how they could win the war.

They were going to do it FIRST
Instead of building an iron-coated ship, the South's plan was to take an old US Navy ship they recovered, coat it with iron, and destroy the Union blockades while the North was still building their ironclad.

And they did it!
On March 8, 1862, the Confederacy's USS Virginia started fucking shit up.

It sank the USS Congress and the USS Cumberland. It was about to dogwalk another one, the USS Minnesota, but it got too dark.

They were like: "We'll chill, but we're gonna bust that ass tomorrow."
The next morning, the well-dressed white supremacist Navy went out to finish off the Minnesota (It had already run aground) when out of nowhere came the USS Monitor, a Union ironclad!

How did they know?

Well, Mary had done it.
Mary asked the Confederate engineer for a day off and a "pass" to go visit her old master (She was free, but free black people still couldn't be roaming around like that. The needed documentation from white people)
Then, Mary WALKED to DC.

When she was captured by the Union Army, she asked to speak to the Secretary of War (Coincidentally, this was the first time in US history a black woman had asked to speak to the manager)

They took her!
When she arrived, she pulled out THE ENGINEER'S PLANS, which she had drawn herself (some sources say she traced them because...You know white history goes)

Whatever the case may be, the Union Navy sped up its plans to develop ironclads.
So when the racist side attacked, the USS Monitor sped in and they faced off. By all accounts, it was a draw.

But it was also the first battle between two metal warships of any kind.

And the Navy's switch to an ironclad fleet is what helped win the Civil War.
It changed war forever. No one in the world could come with that wooden ship bullshit anymore.

And because of that, militaries around the world had to develop torpedoes.

When Mary delivered this info, they offered to keep her up north or to escort her back to Va.
Mary was like: "Nah, I don't wanna be seen with all these white dudes. I'll get in trouble."

She was somewhere between 55-70 years old but she WALKED BACK and went to work the next day!

And that's how Mary Louvestre (sometimes its written as Touvestre) spent her day off.
She's one of the few women honored by the CIA.
She changed modern warfare.
She changed the trajectory of history.
And she didn't even get Labor Day off.

Which is why I'm finna chill on the couch.

It's my way of honoring Mary

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I've written about this before but I've never told it here.

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Did you know this week marks 2 of the biggest anniversaries in American history?

Don't worry; it's not your fault. This story may be illegal in your state but 155 years ago this week...

Or 75 years ago...

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You've probably heard me say that SC is the capital of Black America

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Read 30 tweets
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If you were taught that "states' rights" caused a Civil War...
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A thread
America was settled by real estate developers for the Virginia Company of London. Instead of saying "We steal land," the company's mission statement said they wanted to civilize the ignorant savages & teach them about Jesus.

But who was gonna do this?

Well, they had a guy:
Well, they had a guy.

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