Robert Smalls was an African American politician who was born in the year 1839. He was natured in slavery in a bungalow at the adjacency of his master Henry McKee’s household in Beaufort on Prince street, South California. His parentage fatherhood was not known but it was alleged to be Henry McKee.
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He grew up in the metropolitan under the inspiration of the Lowcountry Gullah culture of his mother Lydia Polite was also an incarcerated of the McKee’s. His mother was serving in Master Henry McKee’s territory as a house help under slavery where it is assumed that they felt in love with the master and conceived which later led to the viability of Smalls but there was no clear information about the tale.
At his teenage age, probably 12, Robert Smalls was sent to Charleston as a laborer where all the wages and remuneration from the labor was paid to his master who was allegedly his father. His chores were to work in a hotel as a service man and thereafter, worked as a lamplighter in the streets of Charleston almost throughout his youthful stage. Furthermore, he had passion and love over the sea in the Charleston which eventually made him to secure work on the Charleston docks and wharves as a stevedore, sail maker, and eventually become a wheelman in the sea regardless of the dishonor the slaves where accorded despite the titles he had in the sea harbor. He humbled himself throughout the chores he was running in the sea shore that saw him the most knowledgeable pilot across the Charleston harbor.
At his mid teenage when he was 17 years, he proposed to Hannah Jones for marriage. Jones was also one of the incarcerated hotel maid in Charleston in the year 1856. Hannah was older than him by 5years and had had two daughters of her own before bearing another two children with Robert Smalls to whom one passed on at the age of two. Robert Smalls showed his tribute to the master by continuing serving as a slave in his own father’s territory for that substantial period of time.
It was at this juncture, April 1861 that America woke up into a Civil War which began with a battle of Fort Sumter near Charleston Harbor. At the tumble of the civil war, Smalls was given the responsibility to bullock the Planter that was affiliated with armed troops. He was mandated to deliver reports, throngs and supplies, to inspect the sea ways and finally to lay mines. Smalls however coxswained the Flowerpot throughout the port of Charleston and further onto the extended rivers along California, to the coastlines of Florida. In the Charleston waterfront, Robert Smalls and the Planter’s team were able to cross-check the slant of the Federal obstruction ships in the outer anchorage over 6 miles far away from the Charleston seaport. He had confidence and composed himself with content to the Planters crew and proprietors, at some point around 1862 where he began planning on how he can escape from the slavery. He broadly discussed the issue with other fellow slaves whom they were together with an exception of one whom he never had loyalty and trust over him
In 1862, the Planter had was navigated ten miles to the southwest of Charleston to facilitate its dock at the Coles Island located along River Stono which was earlier on pulled to pieces. They took large weapons including guns and conveyed them to a fort in Charleston anchorage. Moreover, while in Charleston, the crew had encumbered 200 pounds of riles and 20 cords of kindling onto the Planter. Eventually, the three confederate officers who had accompanied the Planters were court-martialed and later on two of them were convicted and their verdict was later outlooked. As a result, this gave Smalls and the other seven slaves who had planned for an escape in Charleston to the Union Blockade ships. Robert Smalls therefore in their escape plan faked to be captain Relay by wearing his uniform and hat. He therefore sailed the Planter the Southern Wharf and harbored in another wharf to pick his wife Lydia and the child and the entire families of the other crew men they were together. He managed to all this out of his expertise and confidence he had gained under the slavery of McKee’s.
Robert Smalls therefore guided the ship through all the five confederate harbor forts without any episode has he gave the exact signals at all the checkpoints the same way as being commanded by Captain Relay. Smalls imitated captain Relays habits and manners, straw hat on the deck to fool the affiliated bystanders from the shore and the forts. in addition, Smalls went further and navigated the Planter past Fort Sumter in the morning straight to the Union Navy fleet where he intended to declare that they have totally surrender the hostage of the Planter. He raised a white piece of sheet to hover high in the Planter to signify their submission to withdraw their solidarity from the captivity. In the process, the Planter was spotted by the USS crew to which they were almost firing it until they spotted the white sheet flying high at the ship.
At that moment, the captain of the Onward, John Fredrick Nickels lodged the Planter where Robert Smalls asked him for a United states flag to display to raise it next to the white sheet that made him successfully surrender the Planter and its cargo to the United States Navy which made the escape deal to go through without more constrains though it was not that easy.
After the escape plan going true, Robert Smalls was now conversant with the whole Charleston regions, he surprised the federal officers by disapproving their calculations and brought to their attention that the area had only remained with few soldiers to shoulder the responsibility of protection after majority of them being sent to Virginia. He also brought to their attention that the southern Charleston was greatly abandoned without any substantial protection. As a result, the Coles Island was captured by the Union forces peacefully few days after Robert Smalls escape with his seven bears and their families.
The story of Robert Smalls is so daring, heroic and amazing and therefore it has the ability to make a compelling play that most people are yearning to watch. The reason to the holistic proposal is that the struggle and achievements of Robert Smalls never ended at the point of success of his escape plan but it acted as the motivation and morale to his political progress.
As he turned 23 years of age, he began gaining familiarity in the North of California as a result of the tribute he received from his heroic daring exploit as reported by a newspaper in the US congress. He tireless initiated projects in New York that was aimed to improve the living standards of the ex-slaves which was eventually outlooked by Admiral Dupont and he resolved back to serve the Union Navy. At this stage he had dared to meet president Abraham Lincoln with the major aim of convincing him and the secretary of war Edwin Stanton to allow the black men to participate in wars for the union. He then managed to persuade president Abraham Lincoln and his request was successfully approved were Edwin Stanton signed an order allowing over 5000 African Americans to participate in the Union forces at Port Royal named first and second South Carolina regiment meaning the colored soldiers.
His sequential daring activities which includes his fighting efforts as a pilot on both the CSS Planter and the Ironclad gunship, he was in the forefront of the Union ships in destroying the mines as the fulfilment of his plans while he was in the slavery. Furthermore, Smalls helped the Union army in the destruction of the rail bridge within the harbor area. Robert Smalls on his series of events being the first African-American to fight a civil war and emerged victorious and was appointed to the rank of Major General of Militia in one of the territories in the United States. The story therefore is so dramatic and can make such a nice captivating play.
Robert Smalls never had time to consider any retaliation in his missions. He made comeback to the Beaufort the village where his mother and him were enslaved. To admit that he was such a dedicated man, he dared on McKee and purchased the mansion that was owned by his master during his childhood. Moreover, his determination saw him owning the same house where he used to be treated as a slave. It is actually thematic that Smalls did it intentionally this time round as a revenge on the things he went through in the past. It is therefore pleasing and urging to watch all these happenings on a play to bring out the reality of what was going on throughout the course of his life. The most interesting part of his life sounds fantastic and seems to be well illustrated when produced in a play. His family life martialed his daring act as he commandeered the ship with his entire family that was so risk to the extent that they could be fired as a result of stealing the warship and escaping from slavery. Moreover, he married two wives starting from Hannah Jones, in the year 1857 in Charleston south California who gave birth to two children to whom eventually one passed away at the age of two years due to ailment from smallpox. In the year 1883 Hannah also died and Smalls got married to Annie Elizabeth Wigg in the year 1890and gave birth to one son called William Robert Smalls before Annie dying in the year 1895.
In addition, Robert Smalls never stopped in the family life. He continued building his heroic reputation this time round as a political leader in the African-American municipal. He established the Beaufort county in the South Carolina republic where he served on the Beaufort school where he was the founder to establish the first school intended for the overlooked African-American children. At this juncture, Robert Smalls was now becoming more famous out of his daring historical acts that was trending all across the sectors that he developed interests. With all the tributes he offered to the people of Carolina, he decided never to stop but instead he ventured into politics at the era of reconstruction after the civil war. He seemed to be a man of luck, he managed to be elected as the leader of the Low Country to head the South Carolina constitutional convention in the year 1868. Since he was development oriented leader, he took initiative upon his efforts and build a public school to serve the education thirsty among the children of South Carolina and made sure that he protected all the rights of each African-American. He made sure that wherever he is left to deliver a service to the people, he is willing to take risks that might even cause the loss of his life. He served as the leader of the two houses in the year 1868 in South Carolina where he was elected to serve the legislature in the US congress between the year 1869 to 1889. He made sure that he never left a place worse than he found, he therefore made sure that within his five years as the congress man, he pushed the bill that was calling for the creation of Parris Island Marine Base in South Carolina due to his passion in the navy. Smalls achievements are so interesting through is dynamic adventures ranging from slavery, Union Army, politics and education and emerging victorious in all the activities he undertook. He therefore showed that he is unstoppable when he was dedicated to work hard to get something.
At this time of the divisiveness in the United States of America, the story of Robert Smalls is the right story to be heard due to his motivation, heroism and determination that inspires almost every resident in the United States.
First and foremost, Robert Smalls showed a lot of bravery in all what he was going through and still made it. He had parentage disputes where his father is not clearly known but was alleged to be the master his mother was serving. He was born under slavery with the minimal freedom but he could still keep his dream alive. He actually did tremendous job by feeling the discrepancies of the other captives and bravely made a plan to deliver all the enslaved families out of the hands of the Henry McKees. He persevered in a cottage behind the master mansion with his mother but he never lost hope. The story is so inspiring and motivational hence should be taken into concern by those individuals who are free and have their all-time to make into something better if a slave can do the same. It is the right time for the story to be heard at this stage.
Secondly, Robert Smalls showed a lot of consistency in the attempts he was making in his endeavors. After the election he participated being disputed in the year 1888, he never allowed it to go in vain but he eventually secured a political post as a collector of customs for the port of Beaufort. He secured this political appointment from president Benjamin Harrison to which he maintained this position for twenty years with excellent work. While in this position, he sustained his power in the republican party in South Carolina. This was because of his service deliverance being noteworthy. This time is the correct time to narrate the story of Robert Smalls in the United States and the entire world to teach people on how consistence and perseverance earns tributes.
Another virtue that was upheld by Smalls that makes the story fascinating and worthy to be told is the immeasurable patriotism he had over the African-Americans they were together in the slavery. He was concerned a lot with their captivity that he took initiative to take the risk of planning for the escape deal which was not that easy. The undertake was live worthy but he never minds losing his on in the attempt of stealing the war ship and surrendering it to the Union Army. He did all these because he had passion and love for the African-American captives.
He also showed the highest democratic levels, this is significant from the case of redemptions that occurred in the year 1876 which they were successful but attempts were made to falsely charge and convict Smalls and forcing him out of office after rejecting to take bribe. It is worthy enough that the to ascertain the story of the Smalls as an exemplary to the American leaders who are bribe oriented than delivering services to the people who have landed them to the jobs as representatives.
In addition, the challenges that Smalls faced starting from his childhood, he was despised and discriminated not because of his personality but because he was an African American. Since he was a one man unstoppable, he disapproved them to the despise ascend by making it all through from the age of twelve till his death while still unstoppable. He showed them that the alleged African-Americans also can do it better than the whites. The story at this particular time is recommended to be told to condemn those white American natives who are discriminative to the African-Americans due to race and color and instead, embrace the brotherhood and good living with each other.
Koenig, R. (2017). Be Free or Die: The Amazing Story of Robert Smalls’ Escape from Slavery to Union Hero.
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