While most Americans could walk around freely without identification papers, the situation was far different for African Americans for much of the nation’s history.
Slaves who left their home plantation — for example when they were hired out — were required to carry written slave passes or metal identification tags that were similar to soldiers’ dog tags. The tags were typically stamped with the person’s occupation and the year he or she was hired out, according to the Smithsonian magazine.
Slaves who escaped, were freed or bought their own freedom would try to get freedom papers or certificates of freedom. They lived in constant fear of being kidnapped and sold into slavery, according to the University of Pittsburgh.
Free African Americans in Pennsylvania, for example, would go to court and apply for a certificate of freedom. They had to prove they were born free or had been freed, often using legal documents like manumission or emancipation papers. If the court was satisfied, it would issue a certificate with a detailed description of the person, including skin shade, hair texture and any scars, according to the University of Pittsburgh.
Because kidnappers might find and destroy the free person’s papers, free African Americans often registered their papers with a county deeds office, the university said.
Sometimes free people without legal papers would be confined in jails on suspicion of being escaped slaves. They would have to try and get witnesses to come to their defense and swear that they were in fact free, the university said.
Excerpt from https://mailtribune.com/news/since-you-asked/oregon-drivers-licenses-issued-in-1930s
One of the things most baffling to those of us who can “see”, is just how people can support the state when it is so obviously immoral and against the best interests of the vast majority of people. One would expect, given all the terrible things that government has done, that people would be far more receptive to the idea of shrinking the size and scope of government, but suggestions of this nature are almost universally met with scorn.
Things like propaganda, forced and compulsory education, and media manipulation can certainly explain part of it. But I’ve always noticed that when I attack the state, most people will respond as though I’ve just kicked their inner child in the balls. To most, the state takes on the role of a father figure, a sometimes stern institution that is fundamentally looking after their best interests. Propaganda in and of itself is simply not strong enough to have this kind of thought-stifling effect.
No, there is something more powerful at work here. I believe one large part of this is a kind of psychological defensive mechanism, Stockholm Syndrome, where hostages come to identify with and have generally positive feelings towards their captors. From Wikipedia:
“Stockholm syndrome, or capture-bonding, is a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with them. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors for an act of kindness.”
The name Stockholm Syndrome comes from an instance in 1973 where two bank robbers held several bank employees hostage in Stockholm. During the standoff, the hostages bonded with their captors, and ultimately ended up defending their actions. In fact, they came to view the police as the ones who were acting dangerously, rather than the robbers who were holding them hostage.
An even more dramatic instance came one year later, with the abduction of Patricia Hearst. At the age of 19, she was kidnapped by a left-wing urban guerrilla movement called the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA). They locked her in a closet, tortured, and occasionally raped her for several weeks. Just two months after her abduction, she was actively involved with the SLA and committed bank robberies with the organization. Despite opportunities to escape, she did not. For more on Patty Hearst and the implications of her experience, see this.
While Stockholm Syndrome may result in people behaving in seemingly irrational ways, it is actually a perfectly rational response to certain circumstances. When under the power of a dangerous person, there are survival benefits to developing traits that would be pleasing to the captor. A more submissive and less antagonistic attitude may result in more favorable treatment.
A study by Graham et al (1994) suggests four conditions that are necessary for Stockholm Syndrome to appear. As elucidated by Harry Elliot of the Stanford Review:
“Psychological precedent would suggest that four conditions are required for Stockholm Syndrome to develop. First, the criminal must pose a serious threat to the victim. Second, the victim must be isolated from outside influences. Third, the victim must feel completely unable to escape his captivity or to defend himself. Fourth, the victim must feel that some compassion has been shown. This does not entail a bank robber offering burgers and cookies to a hostage, but simply means that captors have not been as aggressive as they theoretically could.”
Michael Huemer adds a fifth condition (a kind of corollary to the third one above): The hostage cannot overpower or defend himself from his captor.
The relationship between a state and its citizens is comparable to that of a hostage and his captors, at least with regards to these conditions. Let’s look at them each individually.
CONDITION 1: THE AGGRESSOR POSES A SERIOUS AND CREDIBLE THREAT TO THE VICTIM.
Governments, quite clearly, pose a serious and credible threat to their citizens (as well as citizens of other governments). Consider that the US government possesses enough military might, most obviously in the form of nuclear weapons, to kill everyone on the planet many times over.
Imagine what would have happened if the United States pushed just a little bit harder against Russia in the recent spat in Ukraine. While I hardly expect a massive nuclear war to break out (I would consider that exceedingly unlikely), it is certainly within the realm of possibility. We came dangerously close during the Cuban Missile Crisis. In fact, the US government has already used two nuclear weapons against large civilian populations in Japan.
It’s not as though the whole world needs to be destroyed either. More “mundane” war crimes are committed so often it would be pointless to try and document them. Most of the victims of modern war are civilians. These civilians are not the people who decide to get involved in the war in the first place; regardless of their beliefs, their lives are at the whim of the decisions of the ruling elite.
Moving away from war, there is also the very credible threat of having legal action taken against civilians by the state. For disobeying the law, there are threats such as fines and jail time. Increasingly, outright violence and brutality are used to subdue “criminals”, which includes a huge number of people who have committed victimless “crimes”, or even nothing illegal at all. Much of this enforcement is arbitrary or directed at minorities.
CONDITION 2: THE VICTIM CANNOT ESCAPE.
Escape from a given state is costly. It requires isolating yourself from your family and friends, sacrificing your job, and needing to get used to a different society.
But even then, you are then just the subject of a different state. If a hostage has the ability to escape his captor, only to become the hostage of some other captor, is that really escape?
In the US, it is particularly challenging to extricate yourself from the captors that are the US government. Even moving abroad does not exempt you from being subject to the US tax regime, one of the strictest tax systems in the world. The only other country that does this is Eritrea, a banana republic that garners little sympathy for these evil policies.
In order to cast off the yoke of the IRS, you would need to renounce your US citizenship, which is a surprisingly challenging process. In fact, just recently, the State Department increased the fee for renouncing citizenship from $450 to $2350. This would put that option out of reach for the nation’s poor.
CONDITION 3: THE VICTIM CANNOT OVERPOWER OR DEFEND HIMSELF FROM HIS CAPTOR.
Let me start by saying that I believe individuals have immense power to make a difference, and to help fight against the state. If I did not believe this, I wouldn’t be writing this right now.
Consider Edward Snowden, who revealed some of the most damning evidence yet of how the government abuses its powers and spies on American citizens. The official reaction to this (and even much of the public’s reaction) has been extremely negative. And more than a year since these revelations, he is still stuck living in Moscow, while the American national security state has hardly receded one iota.
CONDITION 4: THE VICTIM PERCEIVES SOME “KINDNESS” (OR RELATIVE LACK OF ABUSE) FROM HIS CAPTOR.
Most people, even those who are strongly opposed to many government policies, still view the government as their benefactor.
This makes sense, because the state performs numerous functions that could easily be seen as being generous and helping people out. The police still are occasionally used to protect the rights of the innocent from other criminals, and then there are things like welfare, safety regulations, etc., which are “benefits” that people receive from government. These “kindnesses” can dupe people into viewing the state as a positive institution that actually cares for and protects people, like a captor who gives his hostage some food, or a rare liberty.
And in America, the relative freedom that we have compared to certain countries today, as well as the historical record of governments throughout time, is often perceived as a “kindness” (lack of abuse). We are like dogs who are ecstatic after getting upgraded from a five foot leash to a ten foot one.
Of course, this is just for the common people. In a “democratic” system like we have in America, powerful individuals and special interests can secure real (not merely illusory) benefits from the state’s machinery. These people (say, the Morgan and Rockefeller families) would more accurately be considered the captors rather than the hostages. The recent scandal involving Goldman Sachs being exempt from federal regulations should make this fact abundantly clear.
CONDITION 5: THE VICTIM IS ISOLATED FROM THE OUTSIDE WORLD.
This condition is probably the trickiest one to understand with regards to the state. In a place like North Korea, the comparison is obvious. For a relatively free country like America, it is much more difficult to see.
I would not seriously claim that American citizens are isolated from the outside world in the same way that a hostage is. It’s certainly not the case that we can’t travel and interact with people from other cultures and other countries. In this sense, we are most certainly not isolated.
However, since “outsiders” are subject to their own states, they would find themselves largely in the same situation. It would be as though hostages of a given captor have “outside access” to hostages from other captors. Imagine that you’ve been kidnapped, and the only outside interactions you can have are with hostages of some other psychopath, likely experiencing the same kind of Stockholm Syndrome reaction.
From a game theory perspective, it would make sense then for everyone to reinforce this belief (that government is good), even with foreigners. The idea that “the state” is a legitimate entity helps victims to identify with their own particular state. If it were not a legitimate entity, then how could their own state be considered legitimate?
Finally, most people do in fact still get their information from more local sources, particularly within America. The ignorance and lack of experience with other cultures is truly astounding in today’s globalized world. And almost nobody in America actually travels to other countries in a context beyond taking a Caribbean or European vacation. It’s still quite rare (although luckily it is becoming more common) for Americans to actually experience life in a different country or culture. In this more subtle and non-coercive way, Americans are still quite isolated from the outside world.
As you can see, from the perspective of Stockholm Syndrome, the relationship between a state and its citizens is quite similar to that of a captor and his hostages. This makes it far easier for citizens to identify with their government and become emotionally attached to it. In other words, to become patriotic.
As evidence of this identification, think about how people tend to use the word “we” in reference to government actions. Most people don’t say “The US government is bombing ISIS in Syria”, but rather “We are bombing ISIS in Syria”. This is despite the obvious fact that the speaker almost certainly has no connection to the actual action of the bombing. Even little old anarchist me ends up saying things like this quite often.
The phenomenon of Stockholm Syndrome goes a long way in explaining the observed affinity people have for the institution of the state in general, and particularly their own state.
Did you know she is immune from prosecution? That she has her own personal poet, paid in Sherry wine? Or that she holds dominion over British swans and can fire the entire Australian government?
It’s true that her role as the British head of state is largely ceremonial, and the Monarch no longer holds any serious power from day to day. The historic “prerogative powers” of the Sovereign have been devolved largely to government ministers. But this still means that when the British government declares war, or regulates the civil service, or signs a treaty, it is doing so only on her authority.
And she still wields some of these prerogative powers herself — as well as numerous other unique powers, ranging from the surprising to the utterly bizarre.
MOST FAMOUSLY, SHE OWNS ALL SWANS IN THE RIVER THAMES.
The Queen is presented with a cygnet during a Swan Upping.
Today this tradition is observed during the annual “Swan Upping,” in which swans in the River Thames are caught, ringed, and set free again as part of census of the swan population.
It’s a highly ceremonial affair, taking place over five days. “Swan uppers” wear traditional uniforms and row upriver in six skiffs accompanied by the Queen’s Swan Marker.
“The swans are also given a health check and ringed with individual identification numbers by The Queen’s Swan Warden, a Professor of Ornithology at the University of Oxford’s Department of Zoology,” according to the Royal Family website.
THE SOVEREIGN ALSO HAS DOMINION OVER ALL DOLPHINS IN BRITISH WATERS.
“Rule, Britannia, Britannia rules the waves,” goes a classic British song — and this rule extends beneath the waves, too. The sovereign has dominion over a variety of aquatic animals in British waters.
The Queen still technically owns all the sturgeons, whales, and dolphins in the waters around the UK, in a rule that dates back to a statute from 1324, during the reign of King Edward II,according to Time.
According to the article: “This statute is still valid today, and sturgeons, porpoises, whales, and dolphins are recognised as ‘fishes royal’: when they are captured within 3 miles (about 5 km) of UK shores or wash ashore, they may be claimed on behalf of the Crown. Generally, when brought into port, a sturgeon is sold in the usual way, and the purchaser, as a gesture of loyalty, requests the honour of its being accepted by Elizabeth.”
The law is still observed: In 2004, a Welsh fisherman was investigated by the police after catching a 10-foot sturgeon, the BBC reported at the time. The Scottish government also issuedguidance on the law in 2007, writing that “the right to claim Royal Fish in Scotland allows the Scottish Government (on behalf of the Crown) to claim stranded whales which are too large to be drawn to land by a ‘wain pulled by six oxen.’”
Despite not being required to have a license, the Queen is comfortable behind the wheel, having learned to drive during World War II when she operated a first-aid truck for the Women’s Auxillary Territorial Service. (As a result of the Queen’s training, she can also change a spark plug, Time notes).
Queen Elizabeth II isn’t afraid to show off her driving skills, either. In 1998, she surprised King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia (then still a prince) by driving him around in her country seat of Balmoral.
Former British Ambassador Sherard Cowper-Coles recounted the meeting in the Sunday Times: “As instructed, the crown prince climbed into the front seat of the front Land Rover, with his interpreter in the seat behind. To his surprise, the Queen climbed into the driving seat, turned the ignition and drove off. Women are not — yet — allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and Abdullah was not used to being driven by a woman, let alone a queen.”
Cowper-Coles continued: “His nervousness only increased as the Queen, an army driver in wartime, accelerated the Land Rover along the narrow Scottish estate roads, talking all the time. Through his interpreter, the crown prince implored the Queen to slow down and concentrate on the road ahead.”
THE QUEEN DOESN’T NEED A PASSPORT, EITHER.
Unlike other members of the Royal family, the Queen does not require a passport, as they are issued in her name. Despite this lack of travel documents, she has been abroad many times.
SHE HAS TWO BIRTHDAYS.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip travel by carriage during her birthday parade.
When you’re the British head of state, one birthday just isn’t enough. The Queen’s official birthday is celebrated on a Saturday in June, though her actual birthday is on April 21.
“Official celebrations to mark a sovereign’s birthday have often been held on a day other than the actual birthday, particularly when the actual birthday has not been in the summer,” according to the Royal Mint.
Both birthdays are celebrated in suitable style, too. Her actual birthday “is marked publicly by gun salutes in central London at midday,” according to the official website of the British Monarchy. This includes “a 41-gun salute in Hyde Park, a 21-gun salute in Windsor Great Park, and a 62-gun salute at the Tower of London. In 2006, Her Majesty celebrated her 80th Birthday in 2006 with a walkabout in the streets outside of Windsor Castle to meet well-wishers.”
For her “official” birthday celebrations, meanwhile, she “is joined by other members of the Royal Family at the spectacular Trooping the Colour parade, which moves between Buckingham Palace, The Mall, and Horseguards’ Parade.”
SHE HAS HER OWN PRIVATE CASH MACHINE.
Less a “power” and more a perk of the job, a private cash machine for use by the royal family is installed in the basement of Buckingham Palace. It’s provided by Coutts, one of Britain’s most prestigious — and exclusive — banks.
THE QUEEN HAS HER OWN PERSONAL POET.
The poet laureate is an honorary position in British society appointed by the Monarch to a poet “whose work is of national significance,“ according to the official website of the British Monarchy. When first the role was introduced, the appointee was paid £200 per year plus a butt of canary wine. Today the poet laureate is given a barrel of Sherry.
Carol Ann Duffy will hold the position until 2019.
SHE HAS TO SIGN LAWS.
The Queen’s consent is necessary to turn any bill into an actual law. Once a proposed law has passed both houses of Parliament, it makes its way to the Palace for approval, which is called“Royal Assent.” The most recent British Monarch to refuse to provide Royal Assent was Queen Anne, back in 1708.
alt=”queen elizabeth ii parliament house of lords speech WPA Pool/Getty ImagesThe Queen gives the annual Queen’s Speech in the House of Lords.”
Royal Assent is different than “Queen’s consent,” in which the Queen must consent to any law being debated in Parliament that affects the Monarchy’s interests (such as reforming the prerogative or tax laws that might affect the Duchy of Cornwall, for example). Without consent, the bill cannot be debated in Parliament.
Queen’s consent is exercised only on the advice of ministers, but its existence provides the government with a tool for blocking debate on certain subjects if bills are tabled by backbench rebels or the opposition.
It has been exercised at least 39 times, according to documents released under the Freedom of Information act, including “one instance [in which] the Queen completely vetoed the Military Actions Against Iraq Bill in 1999, a private member’s bill that sought to transfer the power to authorise military strikes against Iraq from the monarch to parliament,” The Guardian reported in 2013.
SHE CAN CREATE LORDS.
The Queen has the power to appoint Lords, who can then sit in Parliament, the upper house in Britain’s legislative system. Like many other powers, this is exercised only “on the advice of” elected government ministers.
SHE DOESN’T HAVE TO PAY TAX (BUT SHE DOES ANYWAY).
She does still play a part after an election, however, when she calls on the MP most able to form a government to do so.
This caused some worry ahead of this year’s General Election. It once looked as if the Conservatives might not have a majority (but would be the largest party) and would try to form a government. Meanwhile, it was feasible that Labour could form a majority, despite having fewer seats, by entering into a coalition with multiple other parties.
In this situation, the Queen would have been stuck between a rock and a hard place. Every year, she opens Parliament with the Queen’s speech, which lays out the government’s plans. But to give David Cameron’s speech would arguably be to tacitly endorse his government — while staying away would send the opposite message.
At one point, The Times was told by sources that she planned to “stay away” if Cameron failed to secure enough MPs, but the Palace later had an about-face. “Royal sources confirmed she would lead proceedings, even if there was a risk the speech would be overthrown the following week because the Tories had failed to muster enough backing from smaller parties,” The Times subsequently reported.
Sure, they no longer ride around on horseback wooing maidens with their tales of valour, but Britain still retains knights. Like Lords, they are appointed by the Queen — and she knights them personally.
The individuals knighted are decided by ministers, the BBC reports, “who present her with a list of nominees each year for her approval.”
SHE IS EXEMPT FROM FREEDOM OF INFORMATION REQUESTS.
All information about the royal family is exempt from Freedom of Information requests. The exemption was made after a legal battle between The Guardian and the government to have letters from Prince Charles sent to Whitehall ministers made public. The so-called black spider memos were recently released, but the change means the same can’t happen in the future.
SHE CAN IGNORE OR OVERRULE MINISTERIAL ADVICE IN “GRAVE CONSTITUTIONAL CRISIS.”
While the overwhelming majority of the Queen’s prerogative powers are devolved to her ministers, there is one exception that allows her to wield power herself. Only “in grave constitutional crisis,” the Sovereign can “act contrary to or without Ministerial advice.” With no precedent in modern times, it’s not clear what would actually constitute this, but the possibility remains.
THE QUEEN HOLDS THE ABILITY TO FIRE THE ENTIRE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT.
As the head of state in Australia, the Queen has certain powers over the government. In 1975, for example, the Queen’s representative in the country at the time, Gov. Gen. Sir John Kerr, fired the prime minister in response to a government shutdown.
“[Kerr] appointed a replacement, who immediately passed the spending bill to fund the government, Max Fisher wrote in The Washington Post. “Three hours later, Kerr dismissed the rest of Parliament. Then Australia held elections to restart from scratch. And they haven’t had another shutdown since.”
IN ADDITION TO THE UK AND AUSTRALIA, THE QUEEN IS ALSO THE HEAD OF STATE IN ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA, THE BAHAMAS, BARBADOS, BELIZE, CANADA, GRENADA, JAMAICA, NEW ZEALAND, PAPUA NEW GUINEA, SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS, SAINT LUCIA, SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES, SOLOMON ISLANDS, AND TUVALU.
All the above are Commonwealth Realms, or former British colonies. The British sovereign retains the position she holds in the United Kingdom, that of head of state. As in Britain, this is largely a ceremonial role from day to day.
SHE’S THE HEAD OF A RELIGION.
alt=”queen elizabeth ii canterbury cathedral kent Chris Jackson/Getty ImagesThe Queen visits Canterbury Cathedral in Kent.”
Queen Elizabeth II is the head of the Church of England, Britain’s state religion first established after King Henry VIII split away from the Catholic Church in Rome in the 16th century.
An interesting side effect of this is that the Sovereign must be a confirmed member of Church of England. Catholics and those of other religions may not ascend to the British throne. If Prince Charles converted to Islam, for example, he would be unable to become king after Queen Elizabeth II dies.
SHE GETS TO GIVE AWAY SPECIAL MONEY TO THE ELDERLY.
Maundy money is a special kind of silver coin the Queen gives away to pensioners every year at a UK cathedral every Easter in a special ceremony. The number of recipients corresponds with the Sovereign’s age. This year, for example, she will be 89 when Easter rolls around, so she will give maundy money away to 89 pensioners.
The coins are technically legal tender, despite coming in unconventional 3-pence and 4-pence denominations. But given the coins’ rare status, they tend not to enter general circulation.
SHE’S ALSO IMMUNE FROM PROSECUTION.
All prosecutions are carried out in the name of the Sovereign, and she is both immune from prosecution and cannot be compelled to give evidence in court.
“Although civil and criminal proceedings cannot be taken against the Sovereign as a person under UK law, the Queen is careful to ensure that all her activities in her personal capacity are carried out in strict accordance with the law,” according to official site of the Monarchy.
If the monarch did commit a grievance offence, he or she would almost certainly be forced to abdicate. There is at least one precedent of the Courts’ prosecuting the Sovereign. In the 17th Century, King Charles I was tried for treason following the English Civil War. He said “no earthly power can justly call me (who am your King) in question as a delinquent.” The Court disagreed and had him executed.
THE QUEEN HAS THE RIGHT TO BE CONSULTED, TO ENCOURAGE, AND TO WARN HER MINISTERS.
Hungerford has to present a red rose to the Sovereign in exchange for its fishing and grazing rights.
The Duke of Atholl must pay by way of a rose whenever the Sovereign calls. This most recently happened during the reign of Queen Victoria, so it’s unclear whether the rose has to be any particular colour.
If the Sovereign passes near Kidwelly Castle in Wales, the tenant has to provide a bodyguard in full armour. This is complicated slightly by the fact the castle is a ruin.
The Marquis of Ailesbury owns Savernake Forest and is required to produce a blast on a hunting horn should the Sovereign pass through the Forest. This last happened in 1943.
Similarly, the owner of Dunlambert Castle in Northern Ireland has to produce a blast on an ancient bugle.
AND LASTLY, MANY LANDOWNERS MUST ALSO PAY A “QUIT-RENT” — A KIND OF TAX ON THEIR PROPERTY PAID TO THE MONARCH. SOME ARE PRETTY UNUSUAL.
The owner of Sauchlemuir Castle must set out three glasses of port on New Year’s Eve for the grandmother of James IV of Scotland. (For reference, James IV served from 1474 to 1513.)
The owner of Fowlis must deliver — when required — a snowball in mid-summer.
The City of Gloucester pays for its holdings of Crown Lands by providing an enormous eel pie.
Great Yarmouth must provide a hundred herrings baked in 24 pasties to the Sheriff, who then sends them to the Lord of the Manor — who then sends them to the Sovereign.
The Duke of Marlborough has to present a small satin flag with a Fleur de Lys on August 13, the anniversary of the Battle of Blenheim.
The Duke of Wellington has to present a French Tricolour flag before noon on June 19 — the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo.Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/weirdest-powers-queen-elizabeth-ii-british-sovereign-prerogative-swans-dolphins-2015-5