I wish all of my dear family, friends, and kindred spirits whom I have come to know through social media many blessings on Thanksgiving. May you and your families know peace and the warmth of good food and happy memories!
While I will celebrate with my family and rejoice in my many blessings, my heart feels heavy for those who are not as fortunate. As our country faces a crisis in its future direction, so many things we take for granted are at risk…our rights have been undermined by a oligarchic takeover of our government as we slowly slip into fascism. So many issues of our times have been hijacked by sensationalism as a tactical diversion to keep us at odds with one another, and the majority of people have willingly given up their freedoms without realizing it.
For those who know me well, you know I am an ardent advocate for the rights and freedoms of all people and animals. I guess it’s in my DNA. I thought this was a good time to remind myself and share with you a part of my family history which explains my passion for the rights of others as well as animals. I hope you will find it interesting…
On my maternal side of the family, we can trace our American roots to the colonization of this country, arriving shortly after the Mayflower. My grandmother Ada (Ida) was born a Southwick and my great-grandfather Robert Southwick fought in the Civil War, entering at the age of 12.
“Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick were the early immigrants to colonial America and devout Quakers who, along with their children, were severely persecuted for their religious beliefs.’
“Lawrence and Cassandra were married 25 January 1623/4 at Kingswinford, Staffordshire, England. Along with their four surviving children, John, Josiah, Mary, and Daniel, the Southwicks emigrated to Salem, Massachusetts, sometime between mid-1637 and early-1639 when they were admitted to the First Church in Salem. Lawrence was one of the first glassmakers in America, and practiced his craft in the part of Salem now known as Peabody, which was the first glass manufacturing district in America. Lawrence left the industry in 1642, and turned his attention to animal husbandry at which he was very successful.’
“In 1657 the Southwicks were put in jail for hosting two visiting Quaker preachers, John Copeland and Christopher Holder. Lawrence Southwick was found to be a member of the First Church of Salem and was released to be dealt with by the leaders of that church. Cassandra remained in jail for seven weeks and was fined forty shillings for possessing a paper written by their two visitors. The paper was considered heretical by Governor John Endicott and others.’
“In 1658 the Southwicks and their son Josiah were put in jail for twenty weeks for being Quakers.’
“In 1659, the two youngest of the Southwick’s children, a daughter named Provided Southwick and a son named Daniel Southwick, were sentenced to be sold as slaves in the Barbadoes for unpaid fines – fines related to their being Quakers. The sentence was not carried out, however. The entire family went to Shelter Island, New York together.’
“In 1660 Lawrence and his wife Cassandra died within three days of each other on Shelter Island.
“A plaque in Southwick Hall at University of Massachusetts Lowell commemorates “Royal Southwick, Lowell’s anti-slavery Quaker senator and manufacturer and a descendent of Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick who were despoiled, imprisoned, starved, whipped, banished from Massachusetts Bay Colony and persecuted to death in the year 1660 for being Quakers.”
“The Ballad of Cassandra Southwick is a poem written by American Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier in 1843. It details the religious persecution of Cassandra Southwick’s youngest daughter Provided Southwick, a Quaker woman who lived in Salem, Massachusetts and is the only white female known to be put up at auction as a slave in the United States.
“The ballad’s foundation is based on a remarkable event in the history of Puritan intolerance in early colonial America. In 1659, the youngest son and daughter of Lawrence and Cassandra Southwick, who themselves were imprisoned, deprived of all property and ultimately banished from Massachusetts Bay Colony, were fined £10 each for non-attendance at church, which they were unable to pay due to the severity of the family’s legal and financial hardships.’
“The case of Daniel and Provided Southwick was presented to the General Court at Boston, which issued an order signed by Edward Rawson empowering the treasurer of Essex County “to sell the said persons to any of the English nation at Virginia or Barbadoes to answer said fines.” An attempt was made to sell Daniel and Provided at auction, but none of the shipmasters present were willing to take them to the West Indies.”
Excerpts from The Ballad of Cassandra Southwick
To the God of all sure mercies let my blessing rise today,
From the scoffer and the cruel He hath plucked the spoil away;
Yes, he who cooled the furnace around the faithful three,
And tamed the Chaldean lions, hath set His handmaid free!
Last night I saw the sunset melt though my prison bars,
Last night across my damp earth-floor fell the pale gleam of stars;
In the coldness and the darkness all through the long night-time,
My grated casement whitened with autumn’s early rime.
—John Greenleaf Whittier
So there you have it! The ancestor of a white teenaged girl who was persecuted for her religion and imprisoned, to be sold into slavery! Thank goodness for the integrity of those sea merchants who refused to do so. And Lawrence, who gave up his glassmaking for animal husbandry, runs through my veins as well.
This is why I am the outspoken defender of those who are persecuted. I am outraged at every story I read daily–and there are more and more every day–where someone or an animal has been abused or killed. We have become numb to the horrors of it all in order to stay sane and survive, but at what cost? If we give up our passion for the rights of others, we become as inhuman and inhumane as those who commit these acts.
We have a government represented by those who no longer care for the neediest, who publicly flaunt our laws while making us pay for minor infractions, who are morally bankrupt–and we enable them!
Thanksgiving–a time we celebrate as we envision our pilgrims sitting down with the indigenous peoples sharing a meal in peace–has been violated this year by our country’s failure to honor ancient tribal treaties! As the people gather at Standing Rock to protect their water rights and ancestral sacred grounds, they are being assaulted and abused in the name of corporate interests! The buffalo herds are being held in pens without food or water. Our environment is being raped. I am outraged!
So on this Thanksgiving Day, while I sit at table with my beloved family, know that my heart grieves and stands with those at Standing Rock and all who are oppressed, that there is no real peace in my heart as I witness the slow death of a world which is in danger of losing its soul.
What gives me hope is knowing that most people are inherently good and kind, but often uninformed or misinformed by those with an agenda. We must stand together and face our common humanity and fight those who use us as pawns to further their own agendas. We must for the sake of our future generations, just as those seamen saved a young girl from slavery! I would not be here to fight this good fight if my ancestors had not fought the good fight at the founding of this country.