Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Frank McWhorter: An American Dreamer



Frank, and only "Frank" for many years, was born into slavery during the American Revolution on a plantation in South Carolina. In 1795 his owner, George McWhorter, moved to Kentucky, taking Frank with him. A few years later, Frank married Lucy, a slave on a neighbouring plantation. It was not unusual for owners to hire skilled slaves and split the proceeds. Sharing the profits was not benevolence but good business. A capable slave who earned nothing would have no incentive to produce quality products. Therefore, potential customers for the slave's work would have no incentive to rent the slave. The owner would lose this opportunity to earn additional income from his valuable "asset." These assets were expensive. Aside from the high purchase cost, asset maintenance required that the owner provide slaves with food, clothing, medical care, and strict supervision for their entire lives. There were other costs, like the occasional services of pricey slave catchers. So, to recover costs on the rental market, the owner needed slaves with a reputation for good service, which the owner transacted by giving the slave a cut of the earnings. Frank was a valuable asset, though his skill was not typical. Frank, instead, had management and business skills. He often managed George McWhorter's plantations and started and ran several small businesses.

The most profitable was saltpetre works he built during the War of 1812 when saltpetre was in great demand as a component of gunpowder. It was not unusual for such enterprising slaves to save their money and buy their freedom. From the owner's point of view, selling slaves, and their freedom was sometimes a good business decision, especially when cash was short. A good slave could quickly bring in $800, a large sum in those days. Selling also relieved the owner of maintenance costs. For the slave, of course, buying freedom was far more than a mere business transaction, and the very need to buy freedom was far worse than appalling. Nevertheless, one tiny saving grace of the vicious system was that this possibility existed.
Frank took advantage of it. In 1817 Frank bought his wife Lucy's freedom; two years later, he bought his own, after which Frank became "Free" Frank. Frank Jr., the eldest son of Free Frank and Lucy, had escaped slavery to Canada, undoubtedly, a fascinating story if we could only learn more if it. Frank Jr. could not safely return to the United States so long as he was a fugitive, so, in 1829, Free Frank bought Frank Jr.'s freedom in exchange for his saltpetre works. Frank Jr. could safely return to his family. The following year, with Frank Jr. and three freeborn children, Free Frank and Lucy left Kentucky for Illinois, where they bought a farm. Up to this point, the story is remarkable on many levels, though not particularly unusual. The story became uncommon in 1836. For starters, Free Frank had been able to buy a farm and settle his family in southern Illinois, a virulently racist state where free blacks had almost no rights except the right of transit. They could enter for a while and then leave. There was little else they were allowed in that or most states of what we now call the Midwest. Then, it would seem that Frank had unique personal qualities that allowed him to skirt certain legal niceties. Next, Frank prevailed on the Illinois legislature to pass a law that would grant him limited citizenship. He took McWhorter as his official last name, legally married Lucy, and founded a town he named, meaningfully, New Philadelphia. Over the next several decades, Frank McWhorter worked his farm, started other businesses, promoted the city, served as mayor, and bought the freedom of at least 16 more family members. Blacks and whites both settled in New Philadelphia, building what was then an extreme rarity in Illinois or anywhere else in the North: an integrated society. Integration was the norm right down the school. Frank McWhorter died in 1854 at the age of seventy-seven. However, the town continued under the leadership of his son Solomon for several more decades.
Until the citizens of New Philadelphia learned the meaning of government intervention and central economic planning, that is why New Philadelphia, Illinois, though only a tiny part of the American story. The American story contains millions of such remote regions. We need to know at least some features to see the whole. The Hannibal and Naples Railroad was financed through bond sales by Pike County. It ignored surveyor recommendations and made an expensive detour around New Philadelphia. There is no record of why it chose to do so. However, there is every reason to believe that a private line, with its own money at risk, would neither have ignored the cheaper route nor ignored the commercial potential of New Philadelphia. Since the line's backing through public support, public prejudices overruled private interests.
New Philadelphia's vibrant, integrated community, founded and led by free blacks, was cut off from the new railroad-based economy. It disappeared from Illinois and almost from history. History does not repeat itself but certainly, rhymes. New Philadelphia is more a story of how public finance enabled public prejudice to move when the government once again took on building transportation infrastructure. America's national freeway project would bear many similarities to its national rail project of the nineteenth century. The direct phrase was used, building white roads through black businesses. As New Philadelphia in the nineteenth century, so Nashville in the twentieth. Nashville's relatively vibrant and safe black business district for a freeway. For New Philadelphia, the government avoided the best route to cut off the city. In the case of Nashville, it accomplished the same by doing the opposite. Central planners ran through instead of around the historically-black business zone. It added an extraneous jog to the freeway to go right through and destroy the black business district of Nashville. Black business people challenged the government in court. The court found it in their favour but said it was too late to do anything. Similar construction patterns occur in every American city. Building the new government freeways, leaving crime and drug-ridden minority neighbourhoods in their wake, would become no-opportunity zones for the people born there during the next half-century.
Grant it, and no one can do enough research to know exactly the motivations of anyone at any time. However, we can review legislation of a particular period and at least get a feeling about the will of the voting majority. For example, a quick sampling of the Black Codes from the great State of Illinois can give us a clue about the voting public's attitude when Frank created New Philadelphia.
SUMMARY OF THE ILLINOIS BLACK CODES, 1818–65 The State of Illinois observed the Illinois Black Codes from 1818 until the passage of Amendment XVII in 1867. After 1853, Illinois prohibited all African Americans from entering the state. A summary of the Illinois Black Codes: • The right to vote was denied to all African Americans. • No African American was permitted to reside in Illinois without a Certificate of Freedom. • Any African American without the necessary certificate was deemed a runaway slave and was subject to be sent back into slavery or sold to the highest bidder. • All African Americans entering the state were required to post a $1,000 bond. • If any slave or indentured servant was found more than ten miles from the home of their master without a pass, they were subject to be taken before a justice of the peace and "punished with stripes [lashes], not exceeding thirty-five, at his discretion." • All contracts created between a master and his indentured servants during the servant's time of service were void. • African Americans could be jailed and beaten if they gathered in groups of three or more. • African Americans and Native Americans were not permitted to testify against a white person in court. • African Americans were not permitted to serve in the militia. • Any person that harboured an African American without a bond or a Certificate of Freedom was subject to a fine of $500. • Slaveholders could not bring slaves into Illinois in order to free them. • African Americans from other states could not remain in Illinois for more than ten days. They could be arrested, jailed, fined, or removed from the state if they did. • The Illinois Constitution permitted limited slavery at the salt mines in Massac County and allowed slavery introduced by the French to continue; however, the children of these slaves were free when they reached adulthood.
The State of Illinois, the same state Lincoln migrated to and held political power for many decades before becoming President, legalized these codes. Lincoln never once made proposals for changing the codes.- Similar codes were in many Northwestern and New England states, even Massachusetts. And if racism satisfies as an answer, then accept it turn out the lights and sleep well.
However, if the reader wonders how Frank overcame all the above obstacles and created a heaven on Earth, a need exam the root cause of his success will be more satisfying: lack of central economic planning. Frank's economic imagination created a nineteenth-century opportunity zone before the window was closed by the financial planners. Today, a warning for all of us bowing to the altar of public-private partnerships.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Travel Considerations for Armed Citizens


by Art Joslin, J.D., Director of Legal Services

Hopefully, folks will begin to travel in May as we head into more excellent weather (hopefully). More specifically, May will bring thousands of patriotic Americans to Houston, Texas, for the 2022 annual membership meeting of the National Rifle Association. This is a great time to remind us about reciprocity and travelling with your firearms.

In the early 1960s, a few states entered the driver's license compact. This compact between states gave driver's license reciprocity to those states that entered it. This allowed drivers to travel in conditions in the agreement and have driver's license reciprocity between their home state and the state they travelled to. Eventually, all states had driver's license reciprocity.

Our civil rights don’t stop at the state line. The first ten amendments to the Bill of Rights are considered our civil rights. My right to free speech, the fifth and fourteenth amendments, the right to a jury trial, and the right to counsel isn’t left at the state line. They are rights endowed by our Creator and not by any government. If this is so, why isn’t our Second Amendment also listed among those civil rights we can take with us? Consider this: if I possess these rights, shouldn’t I be the one to decide where I take them? Yeah, I know…we could write volumes about the issue. Let’s leave this question to the Attorney-of-the-Month Q & A.

Let me continue with my analogy to driver's license reciprocity. Some states have different motor vehicle codes when driving from state to state, although most jurisdictions have adopted the Uniform Vehicle Code. A cursory study of firearm travel laws across the United States can spin a person’s head.

When travelling to each state, you need to know the laws of each jurisdiction and have studied the regulations before your trips. For example, when my son and I travelled on camping trips to the Appalachian Trail in June last year, we carried firearms. We carry under LEOSA, the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act. LEOSA is a federal law that allows law enforcement to carry firearms in all fifty states under certain conditions. We travelled through Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, and Vermont. Guess which state wouldn’t let us carry?

While planning for this trip, I spent about an hour researching the various carry laws of each state to which we travelled. I found some interesting facts to which I paid attention if we were questioned on our LEOSA carry. All the states I mentioned above, except New York, allowed us to carry without issue. A constitutional carry state, Vermont allowed us to carry with only a driver's license. At least one state restricted us from bringing our guns into our motel room, whether we posted “no guns” or not. The law left that restriction up to the innkeeper. Maryland wasn’t as restrictive as I expected, but we could hike into Vermont and camp and hike fully loaded.

Here is an interesting note: we had an extra day to stop and visit Niagara Falls on our trip back through the People's Republic. I stopped to talk to a New York police officer. He was, in fact, a commanding officer. I asked about carrying under LEOSA, and he responded, “What’s that?” I explained it, and he said he had never heard of it. Yes, true story. What’s the point of the story? Even those who are supposed to know often don’t know. He said if we are going on the boat, just lock our guns up in one of the storage lockers. Unbelievable.

Make sure your information comes from reliable sources. Don’t take advice from Internet lawyers. They might be correct, but if they’re not, who suffers the wrath of the legal system? However, the Internet does have a few well-researched websites that have taken great pains to bring accurate information to the concealed pistol carrier. One such website is https://handgunlaw.us.

New York, among others, is not a preemption state, so individual government units can restrict the carrying of weapons in their jurisdiction. There are so many disjunct laws across the United States that it can be a harrowing experience. If you are travelling through a particular state, do you know if you can carry in their state parks, national parks, motel rooms, campground domiciles, rest areas, or houses of worship? The list goes on and on, almost forever.

Until we get national carry reciprocity or constitutional carry in this country, spend some time doing your own research before travelling. A great place to start to search is the website I mentioned earlier. Actually, browse each state’s website and read their laws, restrictions, where to carry, etc. PRINT this information. Do this for each state or jurisdiction you will visit. Place their printouts in a folder and keep them with you. Careful study of this material will hopefully keep you out of trouble. Is that guaranteed? Of course not, but it is a great place to start. If they are not sure they can carry, I teach my students then do not carry. Please don’t be the guy (or gal) who starts spouting their Second Amendment rights, hoping to try your case on the street, because your words will fall on deaf ears while the jail cell closes behind you. When you must make changes in your carry-travel arrangements, do it before hitting the following state line or jurisdiction, not five miles in.

When you fly, make sure you have called ahead to ask the airline you’re booked on how their procedure works. I usually take an extra gun lock if I need to make someone happy at the airline or TSA (Transportation Security Administration). I don’t usually give endorsements, but I have found Delta to be one of the best in this regard, in my experience. I try to fly Delta almost exclusively because of the ease of transitioning through this process.

Allow me to relay an exciting story. I once travelled from Detroit to Las Vegas with my firearm. It’s important to note this was before 9-11. In Detroit, I was told I would need to go to the security office to retrieve my checked bag that contained my gun. I did just that, but there was no bag and no weapon. I went back to the baggage claim area, and there was my bag and my gun. Anyone could have grabbed it and taken it off. Apparently, there was a gun in the bag because the airline had placed a bright orange sticker on the outside of the pack with big letters that said FIREARM. Fast forward to my last trip a few weeks ago. I had to go to TSA and retrieve my bag and gun as special baggage. It was much safer now. I’ve also had the experience of teaching the TSA agent the correct procedure of checking that the firearm isn’t loaded and that the magazine is empty.

Keep in mind that firearms are not allowed in the sterile areas of the airport. This means you cannot carry a firearm beyond the entry point to stand in line at TSA. Airports set their own rules on this, so be aware. When I was a bodyguard for the sales reps with LeVian jewelry, we had a special entrance through which we could travel. Of course, I had to be squeaky clean to get that approval. Most times, if we had been accosted, I would have had to use hand-to-hand skills to guard the rep. Were people after the agent? They wanted the 10 to 12 million dollars of cut and unmarked diamonds he had in his bags. The people I mentioned, whom we considered the most significant threats, were drug cartels that could convert the diamonds to easy cash on the black market.

It is difficult to comprehend the vast scheme of gun laws that change from state to state and jurisdiction to jurisdiction. For example, in Michigan, you may not carry a firearm into a church, house of worship, or another religious meeting unless you have the permission of the presiding church official. However, Governor Ron DeSantis signed Florida’s “Church Carry” law in 2021. HB-529 allows concealed carry into churches, houses of worship, etc. HB-529 still enable churches to exercise their private property rights where guns are concerned. Still, this bill allows concealed carry until otherwise notified, unlike Michigan, where one cannot carry in a church unless told they can carry. A subtle difference perhaps, but a difference, nonetheless.

Other restricted locations in some states may include a national park located in that state. As of this writing, the federal government allows the state government in which a national park is located to enforce their state laws about carrying guns. For example, in Bryce Canyon, located in Utah, as long as Utah has reciprocity with your state and you are legally allowed to carry in your state, you carry in Bryce Canyon. Keep in mind that some larger national parks cover more than one state. Simply because you enter one state and exit the park in another does not mean you are in legal possession of your firearm. Keep in mind that you cannot carry in federal buildings, which means no guns in any building in a national park. These can include the visitor center, ranger station, information booth, or another outbuilding.

Another important aspect of travelling with guns is magazine capacity. You may drive through one state where you can carry your firearm but cross into another state where you may carry your firearm, yet suddenly, you are subject to the second state’s magazine capacity restriction. Usually, the capacity is limited by the number of rounds the magazine can carry, not the number you have placed in them. For example, if I am in a state with a ten-round magazine capacity limit and I only have ten rounds in my fifteen-round magazine, I violate the law.

When we think of travel, we usually consider driving and flying. But what about the confusing restrictions on trains and buses? Amtrak rules are very similar to conditions on transporting firearms on any commercial airline, with a few minor differences. You must contact Amtrak at least 24 hours before departure and make a notification you are planning to transport a gun. The firearm must be in a locked, hard-sided case to which you retain the key. Check-in no less than 30 minutes before departure. Firearms may only be transported in your checked baggage with no firearms in a carry-on bag. Greyhound does not allow the transport of firearms of any kind, at any time, on any bus…period.

When people travel for pleasure, they sometimes avoid airports and choose to go in an RV. Transporting your gun with you in your RV can be tricky, too. Generally, if your RV is not hooked up to utilities and you are on the move, it is considered like an automobile, and the state law about guns in cars applies. You would still be subject to state laws that may require concealed carry permits, etc. When stationary and hooked up to utilities, an RV is considered your home for that stay. Ensure the campground or park you stay at allows firearms; you could be in violation if they don’t.

It’s easy to see now why laws can be confusing when it seems each jurisdiction has set rules on carrying a firearm in their locale. Make one minor mistake or even misinterpret the law and commit what seemingly is a petty offence and you can land in jail. After attorney’s fees, bail, fines and costs, you’ve dropped $5,000 and missed out on your travel time.

Be careful, be safe, and check and double-check every jurisdiction you enter. It will save you time and hassle when wading through the mud pit of firearm laws.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Why are American seniors being targeted this way?