the memory palace - The Wheel

In a terrible summer often filled with stories about monuments to terrible men, here is a story about an American hero. Build monuments to Robert Smalls. Originally released on February 10th, 2016. The Memory Palace is a proud member of the Radiotopia Network. Music * Julia Rovinsky plays Phillip Glass’ Metamorphosis I, from her album Dusk. * There’s an excerpt from Paul Drescher’s “Casa Vecchia,” from the Mirrors: Other Fire album. * There’s a chunk of Jose Gonzalez’ “Instrumental” from his

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Content Keywords: Robert Smalls
00:00:02
Quick favor, we are conducting our annual radiotopia listener survey and I'd be super grateful. If you could take a few minutes to fill out the questionnaire going to head to survey. PRX. Org / memory in you're going to tell us what you think about the show Elvis learn a little bit more about you which will really in turn up the show Thrive. You have to listen to if you do you will truly help us out head over to survey. Pierre x.org memory.

00:00:35
You got the time in your hands where you going to go? Thanks.

00:00:46
The record this on a strange kind of bad microphone and a strange not very good vacation in the strange and truly terrible year here in the United States and elsewhere. We have spent a lot of time talking about mine memorials to terrible men the summer.

00:01:02
This is a story of a deserving one in this is the best I can do is a memorial if you get something out of storage you want to share it and share his story. Please do leave after the new story next time in barring emergencies new story straight through to the end of the year so that we don't seem to borrow emergencies very well these days so I'll keep my fingers crossed the meantime, the story is called the wheel.

00:01:25
This is the Memory Palace Anita man.

00:01:48
What if they just took the boat we could do it it would be dangerous. But what if they just took the boat?

00:01:57
They had two men there were eight of them for sod they were good Sailors and they could keep their mouth. Shut. They have them at the truth be told Robert could probably handle it all in his own you worked in all sorts of ships Schooners and slips side-wheel steamer is like the planter.

00:02:14
Just let him get his hands on the wheel.

00:02:18
In Robert Smalls new these Waters. He'd been sailing in 4 years do every Inlet every island. He could read the tithes into it the shifts in the currents. He couldn't read read they didn't teach slaves to read but he taught himself to interpret the nautical charts not to be Nathan not around to hear you've been piloting the planter for months moving Confederate soldiers and supplies up and down the coast he knew where all the mines were around the channel out of Charleston tell he'd been there when they lay them down.

00:02:51
You can do it.

00:02:52
Good what if they just talked about?

00:02:58
It had started as a joke, one of the other slaves worked in the planter.

00:03:04
But the joke stop being funny.

00:03:07
He started talking about it at night started making plans. They were a year into the war a year since Fort Sumter there at the mouth of the harbor put up. Jeff Davis is flat. But the Yankees were closing in they take him back to you for the island. Just off the coast Robert's mother was there now he was born there. She had been to two generations of native-born slaves for Buford Island.

00:03:35
Should be safe there now free, even if the Yankees stuck to their word, but who could say you can control with Abe Lincoln with you? You couldn't control much. He wasn't the man at the wheel. But if they took the boat, they can go straight to Buford but they wouldn't even need to they took the boat. They just need to make it to the blockade not far off the coast where the union gunboats lay and wait they have to pick the moment. They have to put enough distance between the planter in the shore before anyone raise. The alarm did go right by for Johnson right by Fort Sumter itself. They have to get there before dawn real someone would notice there weren't any white faces on board and that would be bad if they got cost.

00:04:20
Couldn't get caught. They would blow the planter and themselves up before they got caught.

00:04:27
But they could just take the dog.

00:04:32
Robert talk to Hannah his wife the hotel maid he'd met when his owner of mr. McKee brought him to work in his house in Charleston. Robert's mother had to convince the man to let the van 12 year old boy get a job made $16 a month. You got to keep one but he saved for years and when he met Hannah and they've had a baby named Eliza, he was somehow able to buy them by his own wife and child from their owner for $800. But he knew that did nothing to ensure their safety his mother made sure he knew that taught him. That is a boy made sure. He knew that their life a relative ease in the Master's house was nothing like Freedom. Was it an impermanent thing? She took him to watch men and women and girls and boys his age younger sold at auction prodded humiliated distributed. She sent him into the field to the whipping post to see in to understand that his life was not his own not here.

00:05:31
Sir Robert told his wife it would be dangerous but there were seven men who'd agree to go with him who place their faith in him who would leave at a moment's notice. You wouldn't tell a soul who awaited his command. He told her that she and their two daughters would have to be on that boat did may turn out to be the last thing he ever did but he was going to take that both.

00:05:55
He's going to take the wheel into his own hands and within all of their lives.

00:06:04
The crew of the plants are spent the afternoon of May 12th 1862 loading cargo at a dock in front of the Confederate headquarters and its two dozen armed guards by the end of the workday. The planner was loaded with six heavy cannons, and nearly a thousand pounds of ammunition. The work was exhausting in the ship's Captain its first mate and it's engineer wanted to kick back and head into town.

00:06:28
They left Robert capable Robert dutiful Robert in charge in their absence told him to make sure the planter was ready to cast off at 6 a.m. For routine run the QuikTrip the Supply Fort down the coast up the channel password Johnson at the mouth of the harbor left and hug. The coast in the Way South will save the union blockade in three Confederate semen went off to the bar or the brothel or whatever the night would take them.

00:06:58
At 3 a.m. Robert broke into the Captain's Quarters and stole his uniform is pistols in the broad Straw Hat. He always wore to keep the Sun from his eyes.

00:07:09
By 3:30, his co-conspirators were aboard stoking the Fire and Building up steam.

00:07:16
The engine was loud would certainly wake the Watchman but 3:30 was a reasonable hour if the captain wanted to get an early start.

00:07:23
Smalls dressed in the man's uniform hat pulled down low despite the darkness raise the Confederate flag.

00:07:31
And then they took the boat.

00:07:36
The rendezvous with a small ship bobbing in the harbor and Smalls family in the families of four other Sailors boarded the planter and off they went into the night.

00:07:49
At Fort Johnson an old Revolutionary War battlements built into the hillside at Windmill Point on James Island the Lookouts train their guns in the boat, but Smalls whistled at a signal can you all the codes and they let the planter pass but the tide conspired against them it was Dawn when they came up on Fort Sumter light enough that they can make out the men with their guns ready to sink the ship if anything was a mess and from that distance in that life those men would have been able to make out the race of Robert Smalls, but in the captain's hat pulled low over his face in his collar up high with the same peculiar bearing that the Planters usual Captain was known for they didn't notice and he pulled the cord on the whistle sounding Out code.

00:08:38
boys long in one short and waited

00:08:43
in the man in the Battlement held their fire and by the time anyone at Fort Sumter noticed the planter didn't turn left that it was heading straight out to see they were out of range in Robert Smalls held the wheel and press on toward the black head with a gift. He would tell the union Captain who spotted the planters that charge that the fog who trains his own guns on this Renegade ship. It seemed poised ran through the line until he saw the white flag of surrender in the damnedest thing a handsome 23 real black man in the Confederate Captain's coat in a frilly shirt in 16 slaves men women and children dancing and shouting on the deck of a side-wheel steamer.

00:09:25
And it was quite a gift. It was the boat itself a useful addition to the thin Union Fleet in the guns. Some of which were Union cannons stolen after the fall of Fort Sumter the year before

00:09:38
what the prize was Robert Smalls himself and while his family went off to join his mother and Buford toward the promise of safety in the hope of emancipation Smalls became a sailor for the United States military not a sailor in the United States military for he may have been free may have just freed himself, but he was too black and there were no black Sailors in the United States military, not officially but still he turned all the knowledge. He had gained while under the Yoke of the Confederacy of troop positions in gun placement and codes and supply routes and schedule methods Minds Torpedoes and turned it against them to help plan attack routes. He piloted the planner through the inlet around the islands. You knew so well,

00:10:26
Pulling out enemy positions in points of entry in attack on maps. He had taught himself to read his Commander called him a hero.

00:10:34
He also called him a pleasant looking dorky, but he gave him the wheel.

00:10:42
In Robert Smalls was famous among the Furious Rebels and fearful slaveholders and Southerners who were looking at the slaves in their midst wondering which among them might just take a boat of their own or grab the whip a burn the house down. The $4,000 Bounty was put on Robert Smalls head but a $5,000 reward was authorized by Congress and another 15,000 to be split amongst the band thieves abolitionist brought him to New York and put the young Robert Smalls in front of rapturous crowds the Secretary of War brought to Washington where he was a member of the delegation that met with President Lincoln to argue for freeing and arming slaves. There are people who say that small suede the president that his passion in his heroism change Dave's mind and change the course of the war in there others seem to be ride.

00:11:32
point out that Lincoln had already made up his mind at that point that he had already presented the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet month or so before

00:11:42
but there was an August day in 1862. When a 23 year old former slave met the president of the United States in each man new the other by reputation in must have had a moment when each internally assessed the other man in the flash against the one they had seen in some crosshatch drawings in Harper's.

00:12:03
By Wars and he had been in 17 battles were told he had piloted an ironclad which took 90 shells in an assault on Fort Sumter. He was awarded for his heroism. He was given formal command of the planter in a rank in a pension and when Charleston surrender, he was at the wheel again bringing the planter back to that dock in front of the Confederate headquarters. He was mobbed inhaled is the Conquering Hero he basically was

00:12:36
He returned home to Beaufort Island where his mother had been born a slave where he had been born a slave in the cabin behind their masters house?

00:12:46
And then he bought that house bought the whole Plantation.

00:12:51
With the money he got in for taking the boat.

00:12:55
Any live there with his family until his death in 1915.

00:13:04
But before he died during the 54 years since he passed Fort Sumter in the Shimmer of Dawn and headed out to the open ocean Robert Small spot to keep hold of the wheel.

00:13:16
They call it reconstruction of the name is never sad, right?

00:13:21
It wasn't rebuilding it wasn't merely a clearing of rubble the patching offences or new coat of whitewash and a neoclassical Plantation pillar. The order of things had been upended hundreds of years of violence and oppression in theft and murder in unconscionable acts in the name of what take your pick order progress Capital Chase.

00:13:47
Reddit

00:13:49
there are no charts to follow no way to know what lay ahead.

00:13:54
Robert Smalls, try to do his part and try to lead the people on Buford Island through the fog. You learn to read you founded the first Public School in South Carolina. Can you go she ate it for better working conditions in the Fair Labor practices for former slaves. He was elected to the state legislature and made those rules law and he served five terms in the United States Congress where he fought to desegregate public transportation in the military to stop the tax code from favoring the wealthy and punishing the poor to give women the right to vote. He was one of the most powerful and effective black politicians in the 19th century in that brief period before the clan and its conspirators in the state Governors and their conspirators defrauded and threatened and lynched votes away from men like him.

00:14:43
We stepped out boxes. We shot Negroes. We are not ashamed of it.

00:14:49
That's what South Carolina's Governor or Senator said in 1913 finally back on what he'd achieved during that time while Robert Smalls is trying to keep his hands on the wheel.

00:15:03
There was a day I'll tell you the story, but I'm not entirely sure what a law means.

00:15:09
There's a day sometime in there after the world has been undone when it should have been remade but instead of got reconstructed.

00:15:18
It was a day. Let's say it was summer.

00:15:22
Somehow when a picture of the smallest living in that plantation house there on Beaufort the white pillars the wraparound porches the whole thing the picture summer sea breeze taking the edge off this Walter.

00:15:34
Famous woman in old white woman walked up The Path toward the house passed the empty slave quarters the overgrown lawn flecked with wildflowers.

00:15:45
I came up the front stairs.

00:15:47
Maybe the kids were reading on the porch.

00:15:50
Maybe Hannah Smalls was playing piano inside by the open window.

00:15:55
The woman was acting strangely. She had dementia Robert was the one to recognize her.

00:16:02
She was the wife of the man who wants around him. He died some years before.

00:16:08
Is your she was confused?

00:16:10
She said this was her home.

00:16:13
But it was different somehow.

00:16:15
So different now.

00:16:19
small sticker in

00:16:21
And she live there comfortably until her death.

00:16:48
Memory Palace is written and produced and stuff by me you follow me on Twitter at the Memory Palace on Facebook. Same idea. I'm going to be doing some touring this year. I'm going to do some live shows in the Midwest and Toronto in May should be ready to announce those dates in the next couple of weeks. And then East Coast will Northeast swing in the fall check the space for updates or at the Memory Palace. Org. I do have one other thing to ask you guys. I am in the market for a very specific person. I'm looking to hire my first research assistant.

00:17:42
They this person needs to be in the Los Angeles area for a number of reasons with an academic background in either history American history American studies that sort of thing someone who brings a lot of knowledge to the table as well apply to research skills. You might be able to work for the Memory Palace part-time. So if you know anyone like that if you are someone like that hit me up through my website. Never stops at work and thanks.

00:18:36
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