Uncle Gibb’s New Friends, The Vandals
The former slaves perhaps knew that they were merely exchanging their old “Massa” for a new one, as their grandfathers had done with the British invader 90 years earlier. This time the deed and mule were lies, but the mere promise of something called freedom was sufficient to convince the slaves to betray their old friends and families. The irony is that this dependent and protected government political class of former slaves has yet to gain its freedom in 2009—-its political allegiance and vote continually bought by the demagogues of both parties.
Also, the hypocrisy of the conqueror knew no bounds as Captain Cushing’s (below) own State of New York had long before established Jim Crow laws and disenfranchised blacks; and the rough treatment Uncle Gibb received below probably meant that his Northern saviors though he knew the whereabouts of some buried jewelry. The thumb-torture sometimes worked.
Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
Uncle Gibb’s New Friends, The Vandals:
A large assembly of Negro men, women and children had collected at the boat in order to greet their “saviors,” and to fall upon their necks and kiss them if such liberties should be allowed. Captain [William] Cushing then addressed the sable crowd and informed them that they were free, that they were in all respects equal to the whites and would be so treated. In order to make that this was true he directed that they (the Negroes) should form a procession and give three cheers which they did saying, “God bless Massa Lincum, we’re free” and “Massa Lincum is cumin in a day or two to bring each of us a mule and deed for forty acres of land.” The procession then started to move, and wild cheering for “Massa Lincum.” There were some small United States flags scattered among the crowds which they waved frantically in the air, crying “hallelujah, hallelujah.” The procession then moved through the garrison to Moore Street, a motley crowd dressed in every conceivable style bearing banners of anything that was bright color and they started down Moore Street amid cheering for “Massa Lincum.”
In the procession which had marched around town was “Uncle Gibb,” and his posterity “Uncle Gibb” had been treated during his entire life as kindly as any white citizen in the town. He had a house to live in, plenty of food and clothes, and a horse and dray; and it was difficult to perceive how he had bettered his condition by freedom; but he soon found out as he was brought a prisoner into the Garrison for some alleged offense. Here he was tied up by the thumbs to an oak tree which stood there, and hoisted till his toes barely touched the ground. This was done in full view of his own sister who was cook in an adjoining kitchen, and who fainted and fell at the awful sight. We thus had an opportunity to find out whether the new friends of the colored race were any better than the old friends who had treated him with such kindness.
The ceremony attending the surrender [of the town] having been completed, the boat containing the plunder was dispatched back to the [USS] Monticello, and there being apparently nothing to do on shore, the sailors were given liberty and the officers proceeded to enjoy themselves. The sailors spread themselves over the town, and proceeded first to inspect the public buildings. They broke open the court house and its offices, tore up such papers as they found lying around, among which happened to be the entire record of the Court of Equity and scattered them about the streets. They went to the Academy building in which was a Masonic Hall, and stole the jewels of the Order, and carried them to the ship.”
(Reminiscences, Dr. D.W. Curtis, Special Collections, W.M. Randall Library, UNCW, pp. 33-37)