TDISH: An Empress Takes the Throne

On September 27, 1916, Emperor Iyasu V of Ethiopia was deposed by a palace coup.  His advisors were concerned about Iyasu’s close ties to the Empire’s Muslim minority. In his place, his aunt, Zewditu, took the throne.  She was the first internationally recognized African female head of state.  She modeled her reign after that of Queen Victoria and intended to use her new-found powers to help strengthen the Christian Church in Ethiopia.  Zewditu’s cousin,Tafari Mekonnen (the future Haile selassie_on_time_magazine_cover_1930Selassie) was named Prime Minister.    Mekonnen was a reformer, but Zewditu was quite conservative, worried about giving up too much of the monarchy’s power.  The Prime Minister, however, pushed through reforms such as outlawing slavery and joining the League of Nations.  The Empress focused much of her time to strengthening the Ethiopian Orthodox Church that had been so instrumental in her elevation to the throne.  In 1930, Zewditu’s husband led a revolt against the modernizing Mekonnen in the hopes of consolidating power in the person of the Empress.  Unfortunately, for the ruling family, Zewditu’s husband was defeated and killed at the Battle of Anchem against Mekonnen on March 31, 1930.  Zewditu died under mysterious circumstances two days later as Mekonnen took the throne to rule until 1974 as Haile Selassie I.

Featured Image: “Empress Zewditu.” Public Domain.
Image 1: “Haile Selassie I in November 1930.” By Cover credit: International –,16641,1101301103,00.html, Public Domain.
Source: Tesfu, Julianna. “Empress Zewditu (1876-1930).”

TDISH: Forgotten Fight for Freedom

On Sunday, September 9, 1739, a group of twenty African slaves were toiling away on a road project outside of Charles Town, South Carolina.  While this may not seem out of the ordinary for the southern American colonies, there was something a bit abnormal about today: there was no white overseer present.  Overseers were, for the most part, Christian and Sunday is a day of rest.  This rest, however, did not extend to the “heathen” slaves who were not permitted to be baptized.  On this particular Sunday, one of them, a man named Jemmy, decided enough was enough.  Jemmy had been enslaved when he was captured in his native Angola in Central Africa, but had not let his horrible experience get the best of him.  He spoke with his fellow laborers and convinced them that it was time to fight for their freedom.

The Stono Rebellion Marker, reverse side

The Stono Rebellion Marker, reverse side

Jemmy led his followers from the Stono Bridge upon which they were working to a nearby store where they stole guns and gunpowder and killed the proprietors.  The Stono Slave Rebellion had begun.  Over the rest of the day and into Monday, the men attacked and killed 20 – 25 more whites who had the reputation for treating their slaves poorly and the rebels’ numbers increased to about 100.  One interesting incident during this period of violence involved the slave army coming upon Wallace’s Tavern.  Jemmy’s men did not touch Wallace or his family, but rather killed several families that lived around the inn.  The reason for this was that Wallace was good to his slaves and treated them humanely.

Authorities in Charles Town were understandably worried about this situation.  A militia of about 100 men left the city under the leadership of Lt. Gov. William Bull marched out to meet the uprising.  The colonial militia met up with “Captain Jemmy” and a firefight ensued.  When the smoke cleared 30 of Jemmy’s men lay dead along with about 14 of the Charles Town militia.  The rest of the slaves escaped into the woods.  Over the next few months, many were captured and executed for their role in the Stono Rebellion.  Jemmy’s fate is unknown – he may have been killed in the skirmish or he may have reached Spanish Florida and freedom.  The Stono Rebellion was the bloodiest slave rebellion (for whites) in the history of Anglo-America and led directly to some strong legislation that forbade education, assembly, and other rights to slaves held in South Carolina.

Featured Image: Stroud, Mike. “Front Side of Stono Rebellion Marker.” 15 November 2008.
Image 1: Stroud, Mike. “Reverse Side of Stono Rebellion Marker.” November 2008.
Source: Niven, Steven J. “The Stono Slave Rebellion Was Nearly Erased From US History Books.” The Root. 22 February 2016.

TDISH: 24 Hours and 18 Minutes

On August 28, 1957 at 8:54 PM, United States Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina rose to address the United States Senate.  Twenty-four hours and eighteen minutes alter, at 9:12 PM on August 29, the Senator relinquished the floor.  He had just completed the longest filibuster in US history. Senator Thurmond’s filibuster was an attempt to stop the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957 that was the bill being considered on that date.  So what does someone talk about for over 24 hours?  Here is a sample of what Senator Thurmond spoke about.

  • Thurmond read the voting laws of all 48 states (at the time) in their entirety.
  • Thurmond read the entire United States Criminal Code.
  • Thurmond read the Declaration of Independence.

At the end of his filibuster, Thurmond encouraged his colleagues to vote against the bill.  His filibuster did not have the hoped-for impact.  His long-winded opposition failed to chance a single vote and the Senate passed the bill.

Featured Image: “Strom Thurmond.” By Leffler, Warren K., photographer. – Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection. Call number: LC-U9- 6571-17 [P&P] Digital id:ppmsca 19604, Public Domain.
Source: Hickey, Walter.”The Longest Filibuster In History Lasted More Than A Day — Here’s How It Went Down.” Business Insider. 6 March 2013.

TDISH: Jack Breaks the Color Barrier

On July 4, 1910, in Reno, Nevada, two men stood opposite of each other in a boxing ring – Jack Johnson and Jim Jeffries.  This was no ordinary bout, however.  It was the for the heavyweight championship and it was the first time a Black boxer (Johnson) had stepped into the ring for such an important fight.  Jim Jeffries entered the fight undefeated under the nickname “The Great White Hope” – showing just how racially charged the fight was.  Johnson defeated Jeffries in 15 rounds – a result that triggered race riots.  Johnson broke through a color barrier that later athletes would often get credit for, largely because, after the fight, Johnson was prosecuted and convicted under the Mann Act – based on charges that he had crossed state lines for immoral purposes, i.e., to be with a white woman.  The defeater of the Great White Hope’s reputation was vanquished by the stroke of a judge’s pen.

Flatter, Ron. “Johnson boxed, lived on his own terms.” ESPN.
Featured Image: “Jack Johnson.” By Bain News Service – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3a30007, Public Domain.