Saturday, July 04, 2015

Happy Independence Day! Three Signers of the Declaration of Independence Were Incarcerated Here at Castillo de San Marcos

In 1776, the British colonists burned the Declaration of Independence and effigies of John Adams and John Hancock here in St. Augustine, Florida, where three of the signers were later imprisoned, while allowed to walk around town relatively unmolested in this, the 14th colony. During the British period, South Carolina patriots, including Declaration of Independence signers Thomas Heyward Jr., Arthur Middleton, and Edward Rutledge were brought here and held in the Castillo San Marcos (then called Saint Marks).

In the movie and Broadway musical "1776," the character of Edward Rutledge has a key role, blocking Thomas Jefferson's draft language on slavery, singing about the involvement of New Englanders in the "Triangle Trade":


Molasses to rum to slaves
Oh, what a beautiful waltz
You dance with us, we dance with you
In molasses and run and slaves
Who sail the ships out of Boston
Laden with bibles and rum
Who drinks a toast
To the Ivory Coast
"Hail Africa, the slavers have come"
New England with Bibles and rum
And it's off with the rum and the Bibles
Take on the slaves, clink clink
Then hail and farewell to the smell
Of the African coast
Molasses to rum to slaves
'Tisn't morals, 'tis money that saves
Shall we dance to the sound
Of the profitable pound
In molasses and rum and slaves
Who sail the ships out of Guinea
Laden with Bibles and slaves
'Tis Boston can boast
To the West Indies coast
"Jamaica, we brung what ye craves"
Antigua, Barbados
We brung Bibles and slaves
(Gentlemen, you mustn't think our Northern friends merely see our black slaves as figures on the ledger. Oh, no, sir. They see them as figures on the block. Watch the faces at the auctions, gentlemen. White faces on African wharves. "Put them in the ships. Cram them in the ships. Stuff them in the ships." Hurry, gentlemen! Let the auction begin!)
(Gentlemen, do you hear? That's the cry of the auctioneer.)
(Slaves, gentlemen! Black gold. Living gold. Gold from:)
Guinea, Guinea, Guinea
Blackbirds for sale!
Ibo, Ibo, Ibo, Ibo
(Look at the faces in the crowd, gentlemen. White faces. New England faces. Seafaring faces. Faces from:)
Boston, Boston, Boston
Blackbirds for sale!
Handle them, fondle them
But don't finger them!
They're prime! They're prime!
Molasses to rum to slaves
Who sail the ships back to Boston
Laden with gold, see it gleam
Whose fortunes are made
In the triangle trade
Hail slavery, the New England dream
Mr. Adams, I give you a toast
Hail Boston
Hail Charleston
Who stinketh the most?

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