Friday, January 11, 2013

Emancipation Proclamation and Watch Night

January 1, 2013 was the 150th anniversary of the signing of one of the most important documents in American History; The Emancipation Proclamation.

Stamp Available at

The night of December 31, 1862, churches, praying trees,  and other public meeting areas were the congregating points for slaves and freed blacks awaiting  news that President Lincoln had signed the long awaited Emancipation Proclamation. While the Proclamation did not free all slaves, if did facilitate the beginning of the end of slavery as America knew it in the 1800s.

Frederick Douglas declared the Proclamation to be "the first step on the part of the nation in its departure from the thralldom of the ages."

99 days earlier Lincoln had promised that a proclamation
freeing slaves in the "states in  rebellion" would be signed, sparking the creation of "watch night," where the people faithfully waited and watched.  In Boston, a line of messenger, or runners, spread out from the telegraph office to the Tremont Temple, where Douglass and hundred of others were awaiting the glorious news that Lincoln had signed the document that promised to bring the black Americans that much closer to the freedom they so desired.

When the news arrived in the wee hours of January 1, 1863, it was a time of jubilee for those engaged in the watch night. The news was greeted by sermons, cheers, songs, prayers, quiet contemplation, and much celebration throughout the states.

Watch nights have continued through today, in many churches across America. Many families continue the use of "watch night" as a way to honor those that came before. An amazing example of this is on

Fast forward to 2013  - we need to remember that 150 years later SLAVERY STILL HAS NOT BEEN ERADICATED.  
In the 1800s, slavery was an acceptable commercial transaction performed in the light of day and in public; now slavery is an ugly, silent, secretive, multimillion dollar a year business. 

Do something today to help fight slavery. 

Join one of the many organizations that work tirelessly to eradicate slavery in the 21st century 
See how many products you use have connections to slavery - you will never look at household items the same way again.
Protest the advertising of adult services on such sites as - these types of sites are known promoters of child trafficking sex traders

Here's to a new year - let's see what we can do to end slavery in 2013!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

John Brown's 2nd Great Grand Uncle - Samuel Higley

 Samuel Higley was the first blacksmith awarded the right to manufacture steel for use in the America's, and the first to strike non English coins for use in America.

John Brown's 2nd Great Grand Uncle was Samuel Higley (1687 - 1737), ninth child of John Higley (1649 -1714) and Hannah Drake Higley (1653 - 1694). The Higley family resided in Simsbury Connecticut and were leading citizens held in high regard.

Samuel graduated from Yale in 1714. He apprenticed for eleven years with Drs. Samuel Mather and Thomas Hooker  until qualified to practice medicine on his own. In the 1700's physicians were not highly paid, and it was not unusual for them to have another skill or occupation outside of medicine.  Samuel was schoolteacher and blacksmith.

He married Abigail Bement (1700 - 1746) on September 19, 1719. They had three children: Jonathan (1721-1771), Ann (1724-1761) and Abigail (1733-1810).

In 1728, Samuel was awarded the exclusive right to make steel in the Colony for ten years. Normally everything that could be manufactured and imported from England was forbidden to manufacture in the colonies. So the judgement to allow Samuel to manufacture all steel to be used in the colonies was a very big deal. From the declaration:
"with great pains and cost, found out and obtained a curious art, by which to convert, change, or transmute common ore into good steel, sufficient for any use, and was the very first that ever performed such an operation in America."
 Samuel's land in Simsbury included a copper mine, from which 97-98% pure copper was extracted. In 1736 Samuel began minting the very first coins not minted in England. This was a violation of the laws of the land, but the Higley Copper, as the coins came to be called, were in use as an equivalent to 3-pence coins for many years. The Higley family manufactured coins from 1737 until 1739. The coins were made from such pure copper, that future generations smelted down the coins for use in gold-smithing. The Higley Copper is now a very rare coin, and worth upwards of $285,000 each!

Samuel Higley was declared dead after his cargo ship carrying copper ore to England, was lost in the Atlantic during May 1737.