ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
Washington had no children of his own to inherit his peculiar abilities and traits of character
The Family Life of George Washington
By Charles Moore
(Houghton Mifflin Company, 1926)
Pages 148 ff.
“At six months of age, my father became the Child of Mount Vernon, the idol of his grandmother and and object on which was lavished the caresses and attention of the many distinguished guests who thronged that hospitable mansion. His beautiful sister Nelly often observed: ‘Grandmamma always spoiled Washington.’ He was the pride of her heart; while the public duties of the Veteran prevented the exercise of his influence in forming the character of the boy, too softly nurtured under his roof, and gifted with talents which, under sterner discipline, might have made him more available for his own and his country’s good.”
So wrote Mrs. Robert E. Lee of her father, George Washington Parke Custis [1781-1857], of Arlington, in 1859, two years after his death. Here is, indeed, a case in which the sins of the children are visited on the parents–and quite unjustly. If Mr. Custis did not in his own person realize the fond wishes of his progenitors and his descendants, at least he rendered two services which will cause his name to shine in the history of his country. His recollection of Washington, in the form of newspaper articles, written as the spirit moved him during a period of thirty years, give to posterity the most authentic, consistent, and intimate account of the personal, family life of Washington . . .
Therefore we may overlook the disappointment and chagrin of his relatives that as boy and man unconquerable indolence prevented G.W.P. Custis [1781-1857] from realizing the great expectations centered in him . . . .
In Nov, 1796, Pres Washington wrote from Philadelphia to young Custis, then a student at Princeton College, enclosing a ten-dollar bill ‘to purchase a gown, etc., if proper. At the time Washington was sixty-four years old and Custis was fifteen. . . .
Washington had no children of his own to inherit his peculiar abilities and traits of character, but he strove to impress on his wife’s children and grandchildren those ideas and ideals which the experience of an arduous life had instilled in him. In these endeavours he had to content with the erratic Parke and Custis blood . . . .
This letter gave Washington great satisfaction, but his complacency was rudely shattered a month later by a note from President Smith the contents of which may be inferred by the reply thereto:
Your favor of the 18th instant . . . filled my mind (as you naturally supposed it would) with extreme disquietude. From his (Custis’s) infancy I have discovered an almost unconquerable disposition to indolence in everything that did not tend to his amusements; and have exhorted him in the most tender and parental manner often, to devote his time to more useful pursuits. His pride has been stimulated and his family expectations and wishes have been urged as inducements thereto. In short, I could say nothing more to him now by way of admonition, encouragement or advice that has not been repeated over and over again.
Custis did not return to Princeton. In March Dr. Stuart (his mother’s husband) took him to Annapolis and entered him at Saint John’s College.
In commending Custis to President McDowell, indolence of mind was Washington’s charge against the boy, adding, “I know of no vice to which this inertness can be attributed. From drinking and gaming he is perfectly free, and if he has a propensity to any other impropriety it is hidden from me. He is generous and regardful of truth.” Washington was correct as well as sincere. As Custis was at sixteen, so he remained to the end of his days. . . .
Five weeks having elapsed without a letter from Annapolis, the family heard disquieting rumors in Alexandria that Custis was “devoting much time and paying much attention to a certain young lady.” Washington’s admonition was: “Recollect the saying of the wise man, ‘There is a time for all things,’ and sure I am this is not a time for a boy of your age to enter into engagements which might end in sorrow and repentance.” . . .
Custis did not return to Annapolis in the September of 17898. he was ready to go because the family wished it; but his reluctance was so great that Washington knew the uselessness of a further stay there. In his hopelessness the perplexed “father of his country” sends to Dr. Stuart this confession of futility in his dealings with his foster son:
What is best to be done with him I know not. My opinion has always been, that the university of Mass. would have been the most eligible seminary to have sent him to; first, because it is on a larger scale than any other; and, secondly, because I believe that the habits of the youth there, whether from the discipline of the school, or the greater attention of the people generally to morals, and a more regular course of life, are less prone to dissipation and excess than they are at the colleges south of it. . . .
What schools could not do for young Custis, Washington hoped the camp accomplish . . . Washington selected Alexander Hamilton and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney as major-generals, and the latter took upon his staff young Custis, who had already been commissioned a cornet of horse.
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For July 1st through August 31st 2011
#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane
#10 – Covenant: A Thriller by Brandon Massey
#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva by Ashley and JaQuavis
#12 – Don’t Ever Tell by Brandon Massey
#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide by Ntozake Shange
#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree
#15 – Homemade Loves by J. California Cooper
#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper
#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber
#18 – Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare
#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King
#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey
#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe
#22 Thug Matrimony by Wahida Clark
#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark
#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber
#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter
#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson
#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History by Ahati N. N. Toure
#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley
#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell
#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore
#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit by RM Johnson
#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins
#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell
#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard
#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris
#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice
#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields
#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class by Lisa B. Thompson
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By Melissa V. Harris-Perry
According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel. The selfless Mammys behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own familys needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.
Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.
As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.
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This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label ‘trafficked’ does not accurately describe migrants’ lives and that the ‘rescue industry’ serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. “Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality.”Lisa Adkins, University of London
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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posted 29 June 2008