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tv   Robbins House  CSPAN  July 15, 2017 1:50pm-2:01pm EDT

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for our own life and being in the driver seat of our own destiny by this act of civil disobedience. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern on c-span's q&a. >> just across the street from the minute men historic park is the robbins house. it tells the story of three generations of african-americans and their fight for civil rights. this started in the 18th century. every year,: millions of people visit northridge, and many often visit the robbins house. were unaware of slavery existed in the north. many people believe slavery was entirely a southern institution and that the racial problems that stem from an existed only in the american south. the robbins house reminds people that those problems and issues not only were endemic in the north but also that they continue all the way through the present day.
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the robbins house was a historic house built sometime in the 1820's that was originally owned by the children of caesar robbins, a former enslaved man from the area. he is believed to of been born around 1785, possibly in chelmsford. we actually do not know a lot of fact about his life, so we have to examine the lives of other slave men and women from the same era and drug details -- theiretails from experiences. we do not know if he was born into a life of slavery. it's possible but also possible he was born in africa and brought here as a child and sold as a slave. we do know that around 1760, he was living with the family of john robbins. we know because his name appears on a military role listing soldiers who served in the french and indian war up near fort ticonderoga. serve, for slave men to in the military in the 1700s. it became increasingly more common the closer we get to the american revolution. by the time we get to the
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american revolution, massachusetts has a long history of allowing free and slave men of color to serve. caesar did serve in the revolutionary war from this era. he served three different tours of duty. the first was in march of 1776. he seems to appear on a role listing soldiers who march to boston and roxbury went george washington and the continental army seized dorchester heights. we know caesar was there during that military engagement. once washington and the army c dorchester has fortified, the british army eventually had to abandon it. during that time period, he appears to just be a standard militia soldier. the militia was composed of all adult men able to bear arms. slave owning was not extremely common in this area. it did not pervade every level
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of society. most slave owners from the upper echelons of society, so they tend to be town and civic leaders, ministers, officers in local militia companies, large time merchants, or sometimes even farmers who have a little more wealth and property. those are the type of men that owned slaves. enslaved people really depend on where they live. enslaved men and women who lived in boston lived very different lives than enslavement of women who lived in concord. concord, the most common form of enslaved labor for men was farm labor. they tended to work on the farm, just sort of manual labor, doing all the general farm tasks. sometimes that meant they worked enslavedngside their owners and their enslaved owners' children. other times, that meant that they did the majority of the labor themselves. the most common examples were men and women enslaved to local ministers. they were charged with running
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the day-to-day business of the family, food, clothing, and the day today life . exactly whenknow caesar gain his freedom, unfortunately, but we do know again that he served three different tours of duty during the american revolution. it's possible three tours of duty gave him his freedom and independence, but it's also possible he was free at the time. what this military service did do was allow him to earn money. he was paid. we know this because there are received from the time he served , and it is in 1779 he first appeared. he is married here for the first when we reallyis start to understand his life after the revolution. he was married three times in
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concord and ultimately had five children. one of his children was peter roberts -- peter robbins. it was an incredible undertaking to purchase a house for $260 in 1823. it really signifies peter robbins' part of a small farmer class in the general area. there is no mortgage deed for the house. it appears he paid cash for the house. unfortunately, we do not know where he earned the money. he may have heard it from farm labor over the years and saved continuously until he had enough money to purchase the house or property, but we do not know. the deed for the house is signed 1823, and the date indicates it was already a standing structure at that time, so we believe it was built sometime before that date. the deed also indicates peter robbins is allowed to live here but also that his sister susan and her husband are also allowed to live in the house. jack harrison and his wife, susan, and peter robbins and his wife lived here until 1837.
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it does not have a lot of living space, so it was probably quite busy inside the house at all times. peter and his first wife never had children, but jack and susan had several children. we know of four who lived to adulthood. they all lived together in this house side-by-side for more than 10 years. had two roomsuse separated by a fireplace. on one side of the house is where the garrison since -- garrisons lived. on the other side is where the robbins lived. since the house is small, they -- it's clear that had a lot of contact. the children of formerly enslavement in massachusetts are able to purchase a house and property in concord. susan robbins mary's jet garrison. jet garrison is a runaway slave from new jersey. they build a family and life for themselves here in concord where they live in the robbins house, have children who grow to
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adulthood. some of the most important children who grow to adulthood are john garrison junior and their daughter, ellen garrison. ellen garrison, his granddaughter, is born in this house in 1823, and she comes of age during a time when anti-slavery and evolution are in their infancy but growing strong. she learns quite a bit about social activism from a very young age. she takes these early lessons she learned during her childhood in concord and builds them into a life dedicated to teaching and activism. we know she moved in to boston when she was about 18 years old. later on, we find her in newport, rhode island, where she is teaching at a private school. it's during that time she writes for the american missionary association requesting their sponsorship to become a teacher, teaching the children of freed slaves.
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she begins teaching in a school .or freedom children of color she teaches in 1865 through 1868. she moves to virginia and teaches in another school and moves back to maryland to continue her work teaching. during that time, almost 100 of .er letters survive in these letters, she emphasizes her dedication to education and social activism. the six, ellen attempts to challenge the nations first civil rights act. when she was entering a baltimore train station, she was forcibly removed by a railroad security guard who did not want a woman of color sitting in a waiting with white women. using this experience, she attempts to bring a court case, forcing the court to enforce the civil rights act, which guarantees freedom and equality
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for all individuals. unfortunately, the case was thrown out of court, but its actions like hers during this time that eventually lead to the adoption of the 14th amendment. the last african-american family to live in the house 1868. between that time and the 21st entry, the house was moved several times and eventually ended up down the street. in 2009, the house was scheduled for demolition. a group of citizens was asked to look into saving and relocating the house. robbins house preserves the legacy and history of slavery not only here in concord but also in massachusetts and the north in general. by locating directly across the street from northridge, the town of concord's emphasized that the struggle for independence and equality that began april 19, 1775 did not end there and in fact continues all the way through present day. the house is a visual reminder
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that enslavement and women lived in concord alongside free white men and women who fought for independence in the revolution, struggle to end slavery during the abolitionist movement in the civil war and engaged in the civil rights movement in the 20th century. >> our cities tour staff recently traveled to concord, massachusetts, to learn about its rich history. to learn more about concord and other stops on our tour at you are watching american history tv all weekend every weekend on c-span3. >> coming up, academy award-winning will maker oliver stoned joins two authors to examine president john f. kennedy's assassination and what the panel has called the national security state. they also discuss america's involvement in vietnam and the cold war and how national security policy is limited during those


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