As neo-confederates celebrate the sesquicentennial anniversary of South Carolina's act of treason in defense of slavery, I am grateful for a link to Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic.
Coates tells the story of Robert Smalls, an escaped slave who commandeered a confederate warship, four pieces of artillery, and a naval code book and turned them over to the Union Navy, and then went on to accept a commission in the Union Navy, to take command of a vessel under heavy enemy fire and steer it to safety. Captain Smalls was the first Black man to command a ship in the United States Navy, and received a medal for his bravery. He also received a $1,500 share of the prize money for the captured Confederate ship, which it seems he plowed into a successful campaign for the U.S. Congress, where he served for at least three terms.
Go read the whole thing. Then wonder as to why it is that he did what he did if the Civil War wasn't about slavery, if the Confederate propaganda about how good the southerners were to their darkies was worth any credibility.
You've never heard of Captain Robert Smalls before. This guy is a massive American hero and what he did must have took some massive stones.