Monarchs of Minstrelsy

Monarchs of Minstrelsy

Monarchs of Minstrelsy

Monarchs of Minstrelsy -- Extremely rare book that provides some clues about the beginnings of the term, "Jim Crow." Original 1911 FIRST EDITION of “Monarchs of Minstrelsy” by Edw. Le Roy Rice. The book was published by Kenny Publishing Company.  The book measures 8 1/4 x 10 1/2” and is complete with 366 pages + Advertisements. 
BACKGROUND: This book is an entire history, up until the year it was printed, of the Minstrel Stage and the most notable Blackface Performers. Blackface was an important performance tradition in the American theater for roughly 100 years beginning around 1830.  In both the United States and Britain, blackface was most commonly used in the minstrel performance tradition, but it predates that tradition, and it survived long past the heyday of the minstrel show.  The minstrel show, or minstrelsy, was an American entertainment consisting of comic skits, variety acts, dancing, and music, performed by white people in blackface or, especially after the Civil War, black people in blackface. White blackface performers in the past used burnt cork and later greasepaint or shoe polish to blacken their skin and exaggerate their lips, often wearing woolly wigs, gloves, tailcoats, or ragged clothes to complete the transformation. Later, black artists also performed in blackface.  Stereotypes embodied in the stock characters of blackface minstrelsy played a significant role in cementing and proliferating racist images, attitudes and perceptions worldwide. In some quarters, the caricatures that were the legacy of blackface persist to the present day and are a cause of ongoing controversy. This book chronicles the most prominent blackface performers beginning with “Daddy” Rice (born in NYC on May 20, 1808 died September 19, 1860).  Thomas "Daddy" Rice introduced the earliest slave archetype with his song "Jump Jim Crow" and its accompanying dance. He claimed to have learned the number by watching an old, limping black stable hand dancing and singing, "Wheel about and turn about and do jus' so / Eb'ry time I wheel about I jump Jim Crow." Other early minstrel performers quickly adopted Rice's character. This book is profusely illustrated throughout with drawings and photographs. 
HISTORY ABOUT JIM CROW -- Dr. Ronald L.F. Davis states: The term Jim Crow is believed to have originated around 1830-32 when a white, minstrel show performer, Thomas "Daddy" Rice, blackened his face with charcoal paste or burnt cork and danced a ridiculous jig while singing the lyrics to the song, "Jump Jim Crow." Rice created this character after seeing (while traveling in the South) a crippled, elderly black man (or some say a young black boy) dancing and singing a song ending with these chorus words:

"O, Jim Crow's come to town, as you all must know,
An' he wheel about, he turn about, he do jis so,

An' ebery time he wheel about he jump Jim Crow."

The first time Rice performed this song was in an old theatre on Fifth Street in Pittsburgh. The effect was electric. The thunderous applause that followed was never heard before within the shell of that old theatre. With each succeeding couplet and refrain the uproar was renewed.

Dr. Davis goes on to say: Some historians believe that a Mr. Crow owned the slave who inspired Rice's act--thus the reason for the Jim Crow term in the lyrics. In any case, Rice incorporated the skit into his minstrel act, and by the 1850s the "Jim Crow" character had become a standard part of the minstrel show scene in America. On the eve of the Civil War, the Jim Crow idea was one of many stereotypical images of black inferiority in the popular culture of the day--along with Sambos, Coons, and Zip Dandies. The word Jim Crow became a racial slur synonymous with black, colored, or Negro in the vocabulary of many whites; and by the end of the century acts of racial discrimination toward blacks were often referred to as Jim Crow laws and practices. Although "Jim Crow Cars" on some northern railroad lines--meaning segregated cars--pre-dated the Civil War, in general the Jim Crow era in American history dates from the late 1890s, when southern states began systematically to codify (or strengthen) in law and state constitutional provisions the subordinate position of African Americans in society. Most of these legal steps were aimed at separating the races in public spaces (public schools, parks, accommodations, and transportation) and preventing adult black males from exercising the right to vote. In every state of the former Confederacy, the system of legalized segregation and disfranchisement was fully in place by 1910. This system of white supremacy cut across class boundaries and re-enforced a cult of "whiteness" that predated the Civil War.

JIM CROW LAWS: The phrase "Jim Crow Law" first appeared in 1904 according to the Dictionary of American English, although there is some evidence of earlier usage. The origin of the phrase "Jim Crow" has often been attributed to "Jump Jim Crow," a song-and-dance caricature of African Americans performed by white actor Thomas D. Rice in blackface, which first surfaced in 1832 and was used to satirize Andrew Jackson's populist policies. As a result of Rice's fame, "Jim Crow" had become a pejorative expression meaning "African American" by 1838, and from this the laws of racial segregation became known as Jim Crow laws. The Jim Crow laws were state and local laws in the United States enacted between 1876 and 1965. They mandated de jure racial segregation in all public facilities, with a supposedly "separate but equal status for black Americans. In reality, this led to treatment and accommodations that were usually inferior to those provided for white Americans, systematizing a number of economic, educational and social disadvantages. Some examples of Jim Crow laws are the segregation of public schools, public places and public transportation, and the segregation of restrooms, restaurants and drinking fountains for whites and blacks. The U.S. military was also segregated. These Jim Crow Laws were separate from the 1800–1866 Black Codes, which also restricted the civil rights and civil liberties of African Americans. State-sponsored school segregation was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education.  Generally, the remaining Jim Crow laws were overruled by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

- An April 29, 1905 edition of The Freeman newspaper. with article about "The Jim Crow Negro." In the article, the author is describing the recently published 12-page booklet by J.W. Cromwell by the same title. In it the writer states, "The author...does not claim to have discovered anything new about us, but modestly says he intends to indulge in a description and give  verdict of this class of negroes..."

BACKGROUND: Edward C. Cooper founded the Indianapolis Freeman, the first black illustrated newspaper, in 1888. It was the VERY FIRST National Black illustrated newspaper and its motto (in the masthead) reads: "A National Colored Weekly Newspaper." Subsidized by the Republican Party for some of its existence, the Freeman enjoyed large circulation because of its news coverage’s variety and scope and its attention to black culture. It is similar in appearance to the NY Daily Graphic but concentrates on news and events of particular interest to the national Negro Community. In the 1890s, the Freeman acquired a reputation as the country’s leading black journal. Black press historian, I. Penn Garland, called it “The Harper’s Weekly of the colored race.” The Freeman achieved this status with a team of correspondents covering issues and events of interest to African Americans across the nation. In 1889, Mississippi correspondents wrote of opportunities in the Yazoo Delta Region and encouraged blacks to migrate to Arkansas, Kansas, and Texas. The Freeman provided extensive coverage of the 1893 Cincinnati conference on black progress and reported on discrimination and prejudice, such as the 1892 incident in Harrisburg, PA, where painters went on strike because they did not want to work with a recently employed black man. In 1897, the Freeman also reported on lynchings in the South, providing information on victims’ race and other statistics starting from 1885. Always a strong advocate of blacks’ rights, the Freeman ran an 1889 editorial predicting that black Americans, growing tired of meekly waiting for their rights, “will cease to bend their knees in supplication.” The editorial cited the actions of past black figures--Toussaint L’Ouverture, Crispus Attucks, Nat Turner--as examples of black assertiveness against adversity. Cooper sold the Freeman to George L. Knox in 1892. Although the paper leaned toward the Republican Party, Cooper also had shown an independent streak, even endorsing Grover Cleveland in 1888. Under Knox, however, the paper became more strictly partisan, a party organ for Indiana Republicans. With the coming of World War I (WW I) and the 1920s resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan (which dominated Indiana politics), Knox broke away from the Republican party, and the Freeman became a strong advocate for black rights, supporting the NAACP, calling for a ban on Birth of a Nation in 1915, and adopting a strong and persistent anti-lynching campaign. During WW I, the paper editorialized on the hypocrisy of a nation fighting a war to save democracy at the same time it tolerated blatant racism in its laws and institutions. The Freeman also covered extensively the wartime achievements of black Hoosiers. In the 1920s, the Freeman experienced economic problems; in 1927, it folded.

Send a Message

An email will be sent to the owner

Contact Us

Follow Us