When the heat comes to our part of the world… We have to work harder to cut through the heavy air. We have to think to replenish the water that leaves us so quickly. These are the all-important laws of human existence. Simple and calm life is, because there is plenty of water to go around. And so, it should stand to reason we all make it through these summers together, slowly plodding through the long days…
There are exclamation points in our American history. And there was a time when these exclamation points came to us more slowly – “we” who lived without the modern comforts we now take for granted – electricity – air conditioning – automobiles. Back then, world news came to us in a trickle of headlines that arrived on horseback – stories told from mouth-to-mouth. And because of something that always accompanied the telling of stories – something invariably became lost in the translation – and so back then this world was a place where – somehow – people rationalized an unspeakably (by today’s standards) removed-from-reality attitude toward other humans. We (white people) bought and sold – people. That was an evil that can never be painted over.
Hopefully we have evolved. Hopefully, with this “lesson” behind us, we can all live closer to God – together.
And so it kind of makes me cringe that a place like Fort Gadsden can exist less than 50 miles from the Florida Capital and go so unnoticed – there is this ruin in the jungle that stands for so much hope.
Human beings have come a long way in the past 150 years. But there was that summer not so long ago, and a forgotten place along a river. A place where nearly a thousand souls had gathered in the dead air… Free, they were. Slaves who had freed themselves and come to this place along the big river at the edge of the swamp. They hoped and aspired, but they were a small dream in a big and ugly world unable to deal with the realities of the heat and hostile environs. The wealthy considered themselves deserving of ownership of other humans. This “Negro Fort” along the river posed a threat to the Plantation Ideal. The local landowners banded together, putting in a series of complaints to the American Government. A force was sent to look into the problem… The result – after several days of skirmishes – the most destructive single cannonball strike in history was fired one very hot July day in 1816. The shot hit the powder room in the Negro Fort and the resulting explosion exterminated all but 30 of the 300 people reported to be defending and living in and around the fort. The tales of what happened to the survivors are grim, some were returned to slavery, some were scalped.
I have quietly ridden my bike to this place on many occasions. But never have I written about it. I don’t have all the answers in this world, but I have been quiet all my life… I can not place myself backward in time and right all the wrongs that have occurred under God. But I can go and stand quietly in homage to and in respect of those who fought and stood for liberty and justice in the face of a world that didn’t understand – yet.
This is not the brightest post in this blog – but ride your bike to this place sometime and maybe a certain sense will seep into you… Like it does me, every time i go there.