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"Slavery, or the 'Peculiar Institution'" Topic


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Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2021 4:15 a.m. PST

Slavery was not a benign institution, and the slaveholders themselves referred to it as their 'peculiar institution' and not 'slavery.'

To own, or attempt to own, another human being is both reprehensible and monstrous no matter how anyone attempts to paint it. And it caused a murderous civil war. And the object of slavery was to make a profit on the crops the slaves worked.
From The Battle Cry of Freedom by James McPherson:

'The greatest danger to American survival at midcentury, however, was neither class tension nor ethnic divisioin. Rather it was sectional conflict over the future of slavery.'-7.

'To many Americans, human bondage seemed incompatible with the founding ideals of the republic. If all men were created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights including liberty and the pursuit of happiness, what could justify the enslavement of several millions of these men (and women)? The generation that fought the Revolution abolished slavery in states north of the Mason-Dixon line; the new states north of the Ohio River came into the Union without bondage. South of those boundaries, however, slavery became essential to the region's economy and culture.'-7-8.

'By midcentury this antislavery movement had gone into politics and had begun to polarize the country. Slaveholders did not consider themselves egregious sinners. And they managed to convince most non-slaveholding whites in the South (two-thirds of the white population there) that emancipation would produce economic ruin, social chaos, and racial war. Slavery was not the evil that Yankee fanatics portrayed; it was a positive good, the basis of prosperity, peace, and white supremacy, a necessity to prevent blacks from degenerating into barbarism, crime, and poverty..-8.

The Second Great Awakening of the first third of the 19th century, a 'wave of Protestant revivals' produced abolitionism, and proclaimed that 'the most heinous social sin was slavery.'-8.

'…there is not a respectable system of civilization known to hisotry whose foundations were not laid in the institution of domestic slavery.'-Senator Robert Hunter of Virginia.

'Instead of an evil,' the institution of slavery was 'a positive good…the most safe and stable basis for free institutions in the world.'-John C Calhoun.

The investment cycle of the southern economy was described by a northerner, as noted by Sir Charles Lyell in his two-volume study in 1846, Second Visit to the United States, 'To sell cotton in order to buy negroes-to make more cotton to buy more negroes, 'ad infinitum' is the aim and direct tendency of all the operations of the thorough going cotton planter.'

Regarding the outlawing of the slave trade by the United States in 1807 and those who wanted to reestablish the slave trade believed as stated by three interesting southern opinions:
'…we are entitled to demand the opening of this trade from an industrial, political, and constitutional consideration…with cheap negroes we could set the hostile legislation of Congress at defiance. The slave population after supplying the states would overflow into the territories, and nothing could control the natural expansion.'-a delegate to the 1856 commercial convention.'

'Slavery is right, and being right there can be no wrong in the natural means of its formation.'-a delegate to the 1858 convention.

'If it is right to buy slaves in Virginia and carry them to New Orleans, why is it not right to buy them in Africa and carry them there?'-William Yancey.

Bill N13 Jun 2021 5:01 a.m. PST

Chumming the waters?

rustymusket Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2021 5:05 a.m. PST

When in high school, my daughter wrote a research paper comparing slavery to indentured service which existed at that time, also. I don't remember the details, but it was interesting to hear what her research turned up and how they compared and contrasted.

14Bore13 Jun 2021 5:58 a.m. PST

Alexander Solzhenitsyn actually goes through quite a bit on the Russian serf life in Gulag Archipelago. Reading it seems their situation is a good step up from slavery but still under power of the upper class and libel to punishment and selling, breakup to others or army.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2021 6:26 a.m. PST

Chumming the waters?

Actually, no.

I was attempting to bring the subject where it ought to be instead of the American Revolution forum. Not a 'chum' merely a transfer.

See what happens…

cavcrazy13 Jun 2021 6:46 a.m. PST

At what point would the industrial revolution have ended slavery? Does anyone think industrialization would have ended slavery or do you think that the South would have still fought to keep the institution of slavery?

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2021 7:21 a.m. PST

I have heard Eli Whitney blamed for the war, as his inventions made cotton profitable and made the northern industry ditto, with interchangeable parts.

Otoh, there were some industrial plants (Tredegar Iron Works, most famously) that used slave labor and seem to have been profitable.

I think the south would have fought to keep the white race in charge, but perhaps not slavery per se. One reason is that tobacco and cotton, by exhausting the soil, required planters to MOVE regularly to fresh land. They needed a labor force that could be moved also. They also needed the west, which was the proximate cause of the war. Southern capital was, short term, locked into slavery, and cotton was profitable enough. But in the long term capital can and will move as old methods lose their profit margins.

Slavery changed a lot between the 17th century and 1865, and we should assume it would have continued to change, though it is hard to anticipate just HOW.

Martin Rapier13 Jun 2021 7:23 a.m. PST

Slavery still exists of course, although it tends not to be quite so aligned along race lines these days.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2021 7:24 a.m. PST

There was a point, around 1676 (Bacon's Rebellion) when southern labor was maybe 50/50 indentured versus chattel slavery. The advantages of slavery (to the masters) were a permanently unfree labor force; the disadvantage of indentures was that they often were armed (since the planter did not want to be the only man with a gun when the Indians attacked) and were therefore hard to control.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2021 7:27 a.m. PST

Martin, the paradox is that slavery in Latin America was LESS racially based but far more deadly than in the English colonies and then the US. Part of that is climate, but part is English versus Iberian attitudes towards race. And possibly also Protestantism vs Roman Catholicism.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2021 7:59 a.m. PST

Eugene Genovese's work is paramount, on many aspects of slavery. ROLL JORDAN ROLL:the World the Slaves Made is required, and if you can only read one book on the subject, this is it.

See also link Race and Slavery in the Western Hemisphere: Quantitative Studies (Quantitative Studies in History) Hardcover – March 21, 1975

Slavery in the southern US was different in many key ways (better in some ways, worse in others) when compared with slavery at the same time in the Latin American colonies and countries. This provides useful context.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2021 8:10 a.m. PST

And I wonder whether slavery today is less racially based? My sense of it (someone who knows bettr can correct me) is that slavery in Africa is mostly Arabs enslaving blacks. And of course the Ughers in China. And historically the Slavs?

14Bore13 Jun 2021 9:49 a.m. PST

Alexander Solzhenitsyn squarely puts the entire Gulag system as slavery and its built on ethnic as well as political and flat out grabbing anyone out of the population. Any country with a Gulag system is still using them as slaves.

Col Durnford13 Jun 2021 10:09 a.m. PST

Some folks don't seem to understand that when they say the "means of production is owned by the state", that the citizens are also considered "means of production".

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2021 11:08 a.m. PST

The "chain gangs" in prisons were slave labor, pretty much, and not good things. Indeed, in the Georgia prison in which I have taught, there is TOO LITTLE useful work to do, in reaction against the bad old days of chain gangs. Inmates do routine cleaning and occasional roadside litter pickup and kitchen pollce, and there is a machine shop they rotate through to learn welding and metalwork, but at most those activities fill only three or four hours a day. Many of the men have told me they'd be happy with more to do. Somewhere between the gulag, and nothing, there is a place for productive work.

McWong7313 Jun 2021 4:47 p.m. PST

I would have thought chain gangs are convict labor, not slave labour.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2021 4:53 p.m. PST

Yes, of course, but the black convicts during segregation were about as helpless as slaves had been. Not that the whites in COOL HAND LUKE had it much better.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2021 6:24 p.m. PST

Note the wording of the 13th Amendment.

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

That allows chain gangs, unfortunately.

Col Durnford13 Jun 2021 7:40 p.m. PST

Chain gangs did produce some pretty good songs.

Breaking rocks in the hot sun….

I been working on a chain gang….

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP13 Jun 2021 7:54 p.m. PST

Public opinion today would be strongly against chain gangs, and the Georgia state system is very sensitive about it, to the point that legitimate work that could provide skills and some income is prohibited. About a third of the inmates are indigent, and depend on charity even for soap and shampoo. Some paying work would be very much to their benefit. When they move to a transition center their last year, they do get to work and save some money.

Dn Jackson Supporting Member of TMP14 Jun 2021 3:36 a.m. PST

"Slavery still exists of course, although it tends not to be quite so aligned along race lines these days."

Slavery based on race is a relatively modern thing. Prior to the 17th century, (the 3,000 years of human history before that), slavery was based on whoever you were fighting at the time. Africans were made slaves not because of racial bias but because Africa was where it was fairly easy to take people into slavery.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP14 Jun 2021 6:49 a.m. PST

Dn Jackson, I agree in part, but the Romans did not enslave the Italians they conquered, but welcomed them as citizens. The widespred slavery began with the conquests outside of Italy. That slavery did indeed range from Greeks to Ethiopians, as I don't think the Romans thought of race as we do. They thought US versus the barbarians, which is everyone not us. Same deal with the Greeks. Ancient empires were city-states writ large (Athens, Rome), except maybe for Alevander.

But yes, our modern obsession with race is relatively recent, and we can hope will soon go away.

Col Durnford14 Jun 2021 7:46 a.m. PST

Let's not forget that African slavery could never had happened without the active participation of native African tribes. They (and their Arab allies) did all the hard work of actually taking the slaves and offered them up for sale at the coast.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP14 Jun 2021 12:51 p.m. PST

link

"In their widely lauded book, "The Mind of the Master Class: History and Faith in the Southern Slaveholders' Worldview," historians Elizabeth Fox-Genovese and Eugene D. Genovese note:

"Today, almost everyone views slavery as an enormity and abolition as a moral and political imperative. Yet as recently as two or three hundred years ago, the overwhelming majority of civilized, decent people would not have agreed: Indeed, they would have found such notions surprising."

Doc adds: of course I am among the "almost everyone" who "views slavery as an enormity and abolition as a moral and political imperative." But the collapse of slavery (in the West) happened both quite recently and rather quickly in historical terms.And at a terrible cost. It is the worst sort of ahistorical myopia to act as though the plantation South was some unique aberration, instead of the last hold out of a (happily) dying institution. In the Christian West. It STILL hasn't died elsewhere.

Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP14 Jun 2021 10:27 p.m. PST

Somebody please tell me what the purpose of this thread is? What does it have to do with miniature wargaming.? Is it the beginning of some discussion on critical race theory or something else

Dn Jackson Supporting Member of TMP14 Jun 2021 10:49 p.m. PST

"Dn Jackson, I agree in part, but the Romans did not enslave the Italians they conquered, but welcomed them as citizens. "

That's a fair point doc mcb. However, if you go back a bit further it is the opposite in classical Greece. They kept their opponents as slaves and the Spartans built their society around keeping an entire people as slaves. Perhaps the Romans were an exception to the norm?

"It is the worst sort of ahistorical myopia to act as though the plantation South was some unique aberration, instead of the last hold out of a (happily) dying institution."

The only nit I would pick in this statement is the idea that the south was the last hold out. This wiki page shows that a large number of countries, eastern and western, ended slavery after the USA.
link

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP15 Jun 2021 4:43 a.m. PST

Somebody please tell me what the purpose of this thread is? What does it have to do with miniature wargaming.? Is it the beginning of some discussion on critical race theory or something else

From the forum title page:

For discussion of anything related to ACW miniature wargaming, including history.

History is a part of the discussion, and as slavery was the cause of the Civil War, it is entirely relevant to discuss the 'resident evil' in the US until 1865 on a Civil War forum.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP15 Jun 2021 9:39 a.m. PST

Slavery was A cause of the CW.

"Dr. McBride, tell me in one sentence what caused the CW?"

"Well, Suzy, the Civil War was caused by the inability or unwillingness of the northern and southern states to resolve peacefully within the structure of the federal union the issue of the expansion of slavery into the western territories."

The principle of "multiple causation" applies: complex events have complex causes. The Civil War was one of the most complex ever.

Tortorella Supporting Member of TMP15 Jun 2021 11:56 a.m. PST

Which have not been an issue except because of slavery, correct?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP15 Jun 2021 12:12 p.m. PST

'The greatest danger to American survival at midcentury, however, was neither class tension nor ethnic divisioin. Rather it was sectional conflict over the future of slavery.'-

Slavery was the cause of the Civil War. Without its existence there would not have been a civil war.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP15 Jun 2021 12:34 p.m. PST

That is not certain. Even with a different labor system the south would have been staple crop agriculture and in need of constant expansion. The tariff nearly caused war in the 1830s. Northern and southern cultures were fundamentally different, and while slavery was the biggest difference, it was far from the only one. Consider the Corbin Amendment. If it had been JUST about slavery the north would not have offered it, nor the south declined it.

Au pas de Charge15 Jun 2021 2:02 p.m. PST

Slavery based on race is a relatively modern thing. Prior to the 17th century, (the 3,000 years of human history before that), slavery was based on whoever you were fighting at the time. Africans were made slaves not because of racial bias but because Africa was where it was fairly easy to take people into slavery.

Although I dont know what this has to do with the price of grits, it should be recognized the South managed to lead the way in innovative race based slavery as well as racial discrimination, race laws and a whole host of elegant racist fictions, propaganda and organizations to enable generations of good, clean racist fun.


Northern and southern cultures were fundamentally different, and while slavery was the biggest difference, it was far from the only one. Consider the Corbin Amendment. If it had been JUST about slavery the north would not have offered it, nor the south declined it.

But the Corbin amendment was just about slavery and that's exactly why the North offered it. It was too late because the South had already seceded and had decided they now didn't need Northern permission to spread slavery into new territories and even reintroduce importing slaves.

Although I would be interested in learning what other peculiarly Southern institutions the Corbin Amendment was written to serve and protect.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP15 Jun 2021 2:34 p.m. PST

If the preservation of slavery was the goal, accepting the Corwin amendment would have secured it. And would have preserved the Union. But the key was the expansion of slavery into the west, so the Corwin amendment did not give the south what it believed it needed.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP15 Jun 2021 2:38 p.m. PST

I have posted this before, from Mary Chesnut's diary. But no one seems to want to confront it. She and her husband both hated slavery, while owning hundreds. They may not have been typical, but neither were they unique; she herself mentions others who agreed. And they were not exactly insignificant: he was a Confederate general, Jeff Davis' military secretary, and she knitted with Mrs. Davis in the Confederate White House. They were fervent Confederate patriots, and right at the top of southern society, and she says that if we FAIL to secure our independence from the Yankees, AT LEAST we'll be rid of slavery.

July 3 1862  If anything can reconcile me to the idea of a horrid failure after all efforts to make good our independence of Yankees, it is Lincoln's proclamation freeing the negroes. Especially yours, Messieurs, who write insults to your Governor and Council, dated from Clarendon. Three hundred of Mr. Walter Blake's negroes have gone to the Yankees. Remember, that recalcitrant patriot's property on two legs may walk off without an order from the Council to work on fortifications.
July 8
Table-talk to-day: This war was undertaken by us to shake off the yoke of foreign invaders. So we consider our cause righteous. The Yankees, since the war has begun, have discovered it is to free the slaves that they are fighting. So their cause is noble. They also expect to make the war pay. Yankees do not undertake anything that does not pay. They think we belong to them. We have been good milk cows – milked by the tariff, or skimmed. We let them have all of our hard earnings. We bear the ban of slavery; they get the money. Cotton pays everybody who handles it, sells it, manufactures it, but rarely pays the man who grows it. Second hand the Yankees received the wages of slavery. They grew rich. We grew poor. The receiver is as bad as the thief. That applies to us, too, for we received the savages they stole from Africa and brought to us in their slave-ships. As with the Egyptians, so it shall be with us: if they let us go, it must be across a Red Sea – but one made red by blood.

Au pas de Charge15 Jun 2021 2:39 p.m. PST

If the preservation of slavery was the goal, accepting the Corwin amendment would have secured it. And would have preserved the Union. But the key was the expansion of slavery into the west, so the Corwin amendment did not give the south what it believed it needed.

Thus, you believe slavery and the "the expansion of slavery into the west" to be completely different categories? Interesting. Your message is that the South wasnt just interested in merely preserving slavery but also in expanding it? I both concur and said as much.

I thought there would be some other important separate but equal issue.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP15 Jun 2021 3:30 p.m. PST

Not completely different, obviously. Had there been no slavery there would have been no war, maybe. At least not THAT war at that time. But the north was perfectly content, except for the maybe 10% abolitionists, to leave slavery alone where it already existed. The west was the future and would either like the north or like the south. THAT caused the war.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP15 Jun 2021 3:32 p.m. PST

And I have no idea what you mean about a separate but equal issue. Segregation was not as evil as slavery but it was bad enough. It did great harm to everyone in the south and we are well rid of it. Surely that is obvious.

Au pas de Charge15 Jun 2021 6:12 p.m. PST

Somebody please tell me what the purpose of this thread is? What does it have to do with miniature wargaming.? Is it the beginning of some discussion on critical race theory or something else

Seems like quite a few gamers like to rate troops based on their ethnicity, thus it does have something to do with wargaming.

Do certain ideas give you concern? Do you know anything about CRT? I'll wager a lot of people on here dont. Is this a forum where people come to learn or just reaffirm what they already believe?

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP15 Jun 2021 7:46 p.m. PST

Yes, and the purpose of our gaming -- or of mine, anyway -- is to study, to learn, about the reality of the past. It IS possible to do games about political events; simulations of US elections are plentiful.

I once designed a game, to be played by a European history class in a single period, of the Peterloo Massacre. It was pretty easy to give player briefings and "victory conditions" that would lead to violence between the demonstrators and the cavalry. I was stumped about how to score it until I realized that what happened on the tabletop didn't really matter; what counted was what was reported in the newspapers. So I appointed the two slowest dimmest students to be reporters, and victory was based on what they told their readers (in a story handed in next day) had happened. Which, predictably, bore no relation to what had actually gone on.

Dn Jackson Supporting Member of TMP15 Jun 2021 11:22 p.m. PST

"Although I dont know what this has to do with the price of grits, it should be recognized the South managed to lead the way in innovative race based slavery …"

I would point out that the Caribbean and South America had far more African born slaves than the American south.

Dn Jackson Supporting Member of TMP15 Jun 2021 11:25 p.m. PST

As to the cause of the Civil War….I think I could make a decent argument that it was inevitable. I read David McCullough about 20 years ago and was struck by how civil war almost broke out during his presidency.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP16 Jun 2021 3:05 a.m. PST

The large majority of Africans were brought to Latin America, where many of them died long before their natural lifespans. Today the majority of African-descended people in the western hemisphere are in the US, because there conditions allowed them to reproduce.

There are degrees of evil.

Au pas de Charge16 Jun 2021 4:43 a.m. PST

I would point out that the Caribbean and South America had far more African born slaves than the American south.

Along with the Wiki link you posted about abolishment of slavery timelines, are these arguments that antebellum South made to justify slavery?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP16 Jun 2021 4:46 a.m. PST

Today the majority of African-descended people in the western hemisphere are in the US, because there conditions allowed them to reproduce.

You might want to compare population and descendants in the Caribbean and Brazil to figure out how the descendants of African slaves got there. It might be an interesting short study.

Au pas de Charge16 Jun 2021 4:47 a.m. PST

The large majority of Africans were brought to Latin America, where many of them died long before their natural lifespans. Today the majority of African-descended people in the western hemisphere are in the US, because there conditions allowed them to reproduce.

I know you dont expect US African Americans to give thanks for this? Surely the reason for this is partly because the slave trade was limited and the lack of new imports made the then current slave population more valuable.

There are degrees of evil.

Are there also degrees of the "truth"?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP16 Jun 2021 5:48 a.m. PST

Yes, there are degrees of 'truth.' And many of those degrees of truth are based on 'ideology' which is never a good thing. Ideologues generally cause trouble and that trouble can lead to violence and death.

‘The historian must not try to know what is truth, if he values his honesty; for, if he cares for his truths, he is certain to falsify his facts.'-Henry Adams.

Definition of an 'ideologue':

1."an adherent of an ideology, especially one who is uncompromising and dogmatic."

2."an often blindly partisan advocate or adherent of a particular ideology."

Again, there is a great difference between the degrees of 'truth' and facts when studying, discussing, and writing about history. The two terms are not synonymous.

Au pas de Charge16 Jun 2021 8:05 a.m. PST

I think at a minimum, an ideologue, while annoying, can at least represent a certain purity of intent.

More sinister is a faux ideologue; one who claims to be say a strict interpreter of the Constitution when it is good for what they want but when the Constitution doesn't go in their favor, suddenly cast around for any scrap of authority they think will still give them their way. This is a sort of moral relativist in ideologue's clothing.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP16 Jun 2021 8:24 a.m. PST

Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP 14 Jun 2021 10:27 p.m. PST
Somebody please tell me what the purpose of this thread is? What does it have to do with miniature wargaming.? Is it the beginning of some discussion on critical race theory or something else?

I could be wrong, but I think the OP wanted to drag this "discussion" which had hijacked several threads on the AWI board to an ACW board that was better suited.
I hope the quarantine holds.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP16 Jun 2021 9:50 a.m. PST

The Greek word for "sin" is "missing the mark", i.e. not hitting the bulls-eye. Obviously a shot that misses by an inch is less bad than a shot that misses by a foot, though both are "misses" or in moral terms "sins." The same applies to truth, which is one, and is of God. No work of history will perfectly capture the truth, what really happened. But some attempts will come closer than others. So there are not degrees of truth, but there are degrees of untruth.

Personal logo doc mcb Supporting Member of TMP16 Jun 2021 9:51 a.m. PST

And Adams is still wrong, and facts that are not truthful are not facts.

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