Skip to comments.Vanity - Some facts I didn't know about slavery
Posted on 03/22/2008 3:58:29 PM PDT by Mr Rogers
Due to the recent hullabaloo involving Wright's sermons and liberation theology, I did some reading about slavery in the US, and discovered a number of things I hadn't heard before.
1 - Jefferson's original draft of the Declaration of Independence criticized King George for permitting the slave trade:
"He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating it's most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. this piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them by murdering the people on whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.(3)
Jefferson's committee wanted to keep this passionate paragraph, and Adams considered it the best part. But Congress struck it from the Declaration, substituting the vague and self-serving charge "He has excited domestic insurrections among us."
This was a political compromise required to get the southern colonies to agree.
2 - Just 4 years after winning the Revolutionary War, the Constitutional Convention debated slavery in the US. Many wanted to immediately ban the importing of slaves, but that would cost the votes of the southern states. As a compromise, importing slaves was permitted for another 20 years. In 1808, as soon as Congress could legally do so, importing slaves was outlawed.
"The Founding Fathers, however, could not resolve the issue of Slavery which divided the Colonies and was preventing agreement on the remainder of the Constitution. Accordingly, they made the decision to keep the status quo and leave it to future generations to resolve this issue. As a result, the original Constitution contained four provisions tacitly allowing slavery to continue for the next 20 years. Section 9 of Article I allowed the continued "importation" of such persons, Section 2 of Article IV prohibited the provision of assistance to escaping persons and required their return if successful and Section 2 of Article I defined other persons as "three-fifths" of a person for calculations of each state's official population. Article V prohibited any amendments or legislation changing these provisions until 1808, thereby giving the States then existing 20 years to resolve this issue. The failure to do so led to the Civil War."
Note the slave holders outsmarted the anti-slavery forces. In most places, banning the importing of slaves ended slavery - the death rate was too high for it to be self-sustaining. Slaveholders in the south, however, adjusted the proportions of male/female and improved living conditions. This allowed them to breed more slaves, and the slave population increased greatly after importing slaves was banished.
3 - The 3/5th person rule was NOT a statement that blacks were not really people. Slaveholders WANTED blacks counted as people, because their states would be represented in Congress based on the number of people present. Anti-slavery folks were appalled, and wanted no slaves to be counted as people, since they couldn't vote for themselves. Again, this was a compromise position.
4 - Very few of the slaves taken from Africa ended up in the USA - only about 600,000 out of 10 million or more. The vast majority went to South America or the Caribbean. It is a bit of a reach to criticize the US Government for failing to end slavery in Brazil!
5 - Independent US government really began with victory in 1783, with the last British troops leaving New York City on November 25, 1783.
Just 4 years later, slavery opponents tried to end the importing of slaves.
25 years later, importing slaves became illegal. By that time, many northern states had outlawed slavery.
82 years after the USA began, slavery ended.
It has now been 143 years since slavery was outlawed. 36% of the USA's history allowed slavery, although it was strongly contested.
This year, 2008, celebrates 200 years since it became illegal to import slaves. It was only legal for 11% of our total history.
Lynching - From Wikipedia:
"In the 1870s, Democrats regained power through affiliated militia terrorism of black and white Republicans, assassination of community leaders and political activists, and intimidation and restriction of voters at the polls. Even after the Democrats regained power throughout the South, between 1880 and 1951 the Tuskegee Institute recorded lynchings of 3,437 African-American victims, as well as 1,293 white victims.
...After increased immigration to the US in the late 19th century, Italian-Americans also became lynching targets, chiefly in the South. On March 14, 1891, eleven Italian-Americans were lynched in New Orleans after a jury acquitted them in the murder of a New Orleans police chief  David Hennessy. The eleven were falsely accused of being associated with the Mafia. This incident was the largest mass lynching in U.S. history. A total of twenty Italians were lynched in the 1890s. Although most lynchings of Italian-Americans occurred in the South, Italians did not immigrate there in great numbers. Isolated lynchings of Italians also occurred in New York, Pennsylvania, and Colorado.
Particularly in the West, Chinese immigrants, East Indians, Native Americans and Mexicans were also lynching victims. The lynching of Mexicans and Mexican Americans in the Southwest was long overlooked in American history. Attention became focused on the South. The Tuskegee Institute, which kept the most complete records, noted the victims as simply black or white. Mexican, Chinese, and Native American lynching victims were recorded as white.
Researchers estimate 597 Mexicans were lynched between 1848 and 1928. Mexicans were lynched at a rate of 27.4 per 100,000 of population between 1880 and 1930. This statistic was second only to that of the African American community, which endured an average of 37.1 per 100,000 of population during that period. Between 1848 and 1879, Mexicans were lynched at an unprecedented rate of 473 per 100,000 of population."
During a 70 year period, roughly 3400 blacks were lynched. That was undoubtedly evil, but how does its impact compare to this:
"WASHINGTON - Nearly half of the nations murder victims in 2005 were black, and the number of black men who were slain is on the rise.
A majority of the black murder victims were relatively young between 17 and 29, the Justice Department said in a study released Thursday.
The departments Bureau of Justice Statistics report offers a snapshot of racial disparities among violent crime victims. Black people represented an estimated 13 percent of the U.S. population in 2005, the latest data available, but were the victims of 49 percent of all murders and 15 percent of rapes, assaults and other nonfatal violent crimes nationwide.
Most of the black murder victims 93 percent were killed by other black people, the study found. About 85 percent of white victims were slain by other white people."
From other statistics presented in the story, nearly 8000 blacks were murdered in 2005 alone. This means some 7400 blacks, mostly young men, were murdered by other blacks in just one year.
During the 70 years without a federal anti-lynching law, 3400 black men were murdered by whites. In 2005 alone, over twice that number were murdered by other blacks.
Not to mention that Latinos are something like 35% of our population, now. They may well wind up the majority before too long.
I suggest everyone re-read US History. Every time I hear some pundit talking about segregation and whites only drinking fountains I am reminded of my father. He was born in 1923, graduated from high school, and never attended a segregated school. He also never encountered a whites only water fountain. People like to look at race relations in the south and assign that behavior to every state. It just was not that way everywhere.
Of course slavery was and is an abomination and still is today in Africa and other places. I detest it and did in no way mean to diminish it's sin.
The only way to end all this discussion is today March 22, 2008 free all slaves black, white whatever living in the Untied States and jail all slave owners whether they be black or white or whatever.
Then and only then will this be over.
There you go again with facts getting in the way of preconceived notions.
Whoa Nellie....slow down. Remember that Latinos just passed up blacks (last year, iirc) as the most populous minority, and blacks are only 13% of the population.
I assume you mean 1800’s instead of 1880’s (since the later is post-Civil War (to use the northern term)). Otherwise the sentence would make no sense.
That aside, I do agree with your sentiments.
Based on college classes taken and independent research I have done over the years, it is clear that nearly all of the rank and file soldiers (along with a smaller but still significant number of their officers) of the Confederate States were not slave owners. Whether or not they personally agreed with the institution of slavery was a moot point; at the time, the “peculiar institution” was legal and a part of the economy of the South. Rather, they were men who responded to a summons to colors issued by their elected state governments and they responded as good citizens are expected to do and usually do when the state calls them to service.
In discussing this subject, I often point out that if a reasonable person sat down and wrote out a list of the possible ways to bring slavery to an end in the South, fighting a devastating war that destroyed the economy of the South, killed hundreds of thousands of able bodied men on both sides, corrupted government processess in the North and the South, and created a century or more of spiteful bitterness in the South would surely have to rank toward the bottom (if not be at the very bottom) of such a list.
So how is it that the very worst choice is the one that happened?
(BTW, is it reasonable to assume that your male Georgia ancestors, if able, did serve in one of the Confederate armed Forces?)
I’m not sure that I understand what you’re saying. I attended a segregated public school in New Orleans in 1960. They still had “Whites only” drinking fountains and lunch counters. I got to see the desegregation of NO firsthand.
It became obvious to Cleburne that the Confederate States were losing the war because of the drain on manpower and resources they were facing.
In 1864, he dramatically called upon the leadership of the Army of Tennessee and put forth a proposal to emancipate slaves and enlist them in the Confederate Army to secure Southern independence.
This proposal was met with extreme hostility by many, and was officially suppressed on order of Confederate President Jefferson Davis.
Some have suggested that this was the reason that Cleburne would not receive further promotions, but the fact that he was not a West Point graduate and that he was Irish were also contributing factors.
Wouldn’t you just love to see Bill Cosby debate Wright!
While Wright raves & rants, BC would have the audience rolling in the aisles with logical, rational, & moral responses that make Wright look like a fool & a fraud.
Has anybody heard anything from Bill Cosby on this Wright thing?
It varied, but it was real. For example, my Mom told us about growing up in Indiana. In the county where she lived, it was illegal for a black man to remain in the county overnight. She said violators would either be jailed, or just beaten and hauled out of the county. She said this changed when she was in her early teens - so around ‘35.
I’ve never encountered a ‘whites-only’ water fountain, but we lived in Selma Alabama in ‘65-’66. My Dad was military, and anyone involved with the federal government was disliked in Selma. We gave up trying to shop or eat in Selma - no one would wait on us. We bought from Sears Roebuck, ate at home, and took trips to Ft Walton for a break.
I don’t mean to minimize what blacks encountered. If I had been a black teen growing up in the early 60s, I probably would have followed Malcolm X. However, that emphasizes the distance we’ve gone since 1965. In a poll taken in 1960, close to 95% of whites said they would move if a Negro moved next door. That is incomprehensible today.
And in any case, as my Mom used to say, “Hate is for losers.” - that, and, “The best revenge is success.” If someone despises you or hates you, you can return in kind - or you can refuse to play their game, focus on success, and let your progress be your revenge.
Would that Rev Wright would preach like that!
“...is it reasonable to assume that your male Georgia ancestors, if able, did serve in one of the Confederate armed Forces?...”
- - -
Yes, there were several, and other than their brief military service,
they were just plain old common folks trying to make a living.
Wow, those are some statistics.
OK white people we are not doing our share of the murders, PICK IT UP!
Yeah, I’d like to know when the ancestors of Egypt are going to offer reparations to my Jewish ancestors for the slavery and having to put those humongous freakin’ pyramids up??? That had to have been hundreds of years before any Africans got sent to North America so my claim must come FIRST!
True. At times, as many as 75% of the population of some colonies were under terms of indenture, during the early colonial period.
Last time I looked NO was still in the South. I am saying that while conditions for blacks were far from perfect in the other states, they were far better than in the former slave states.
There are all sorts of trivia bits about slavery that are under-researched, or at least not as well known as they should be. For example:
1) Before 1800, slavery was only in the province of the wealthy, and well over half the slaves in the US were domestic servants. It was polite and genteel compared to the near death camp conditions found in French Haiti, where troublesome slaves were sent. It was losing popularity and fading from fashion to own slaves. Owning a slave was a very expensive proposition, a thousand dollar slave being like a million dollar thoroughbred racehorse today.
2) After 1800, the invention of the cotton gin turned slavery into a profitable entrepreneurial enterprise. A single slave could double the size of someone’s cotton production, and the resulting crop would pay for the purchase of more slaves. This reanimated the slave trade. And these middle and lower-class people had none of the gentility towards their slaves as did the upper classes, so the lives of slaves considerably worsened. Soon the vast majority were field workers instead of domestic servants.
3) While the slave ships’ officers where white, a large percentage of the crews were black. This enabled negotiations with African tribal leaders who wished to sell slaves but would kill whites on sight.
4) In parts of the South, corporal punishment of slaves was frowned upon, and sometimes could only be legally administered by a Sheriff’s Deputy, most of whom were not thrilled with the idea, either. In South Carolina, an insane woman who owned slaves barely escaped lynching for torturing and murdering some of them. One of the worst threats that could be made against a slave was that they “would be sold down the river”, to the delta sugar cane farms, which was the hardest work around.
5) Plantation crops, like any crops, require seasonal labor only, for things like plowing, planting, weeding and harvesting. So what did slaves do the rest of the year? Plantations consumed a great deal of fresh water, chopped wood for energy, raised farm animals, and did lots of food processing and preparation. Typically, plantations also had building-height water towers that needed to be filled. Many of the things that plantations needed were hand made instead of purchased, so this suggests a very wide range of skills and activities.
6) In the cities, most slaves were domestic servants, for obvious reasons, but there were also substantial numbers of freedmen. To a great extent, there were two different city administrations, one white and one black, a model that survived into the 1940s in much of the US.
7) Wealthy white landowners, who were often in arranged marriages for economic reasons, institutionalized the keeping of octoroon (1/8th black) mistresses. Such relationships were formal, and wealthy young men would attend the New Orleans “Octoroon Ball”, hoping to select a lucky octoroon debutante, who would then live well in her own apartment in the city and be supported by him.
Any children of such relationships, while they couldn’t prosper in the South, were semi-adopted by the landowner’s family, and would be sent North to become an entrepreneur, where being 1/16th black would not matter. Some of these entrepreneurs became quite wealthy, to the mutual benefit of them and their adoptive family.
8) In 1821 the American Colonization Society founded and eventually sent some 30,000 freemen to Africa, to found the nation of Liberia. It is noteworthy that the organization was finally dissolved in 1964.
Also, it was conservative republican preachers that lobbied Lincoln and the same type that started the NAACP...
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.