It’s just astonishing what some people say and think:
One could actually argue that slavery increased the quality of life for the blacks who were brought over here. In many cases, they had it a lot better off than poor whites.
And yet somehow the poor whites didn’t see it that way.
And what does our friend from Florida say about that?
That’s a reality that infuriates White-Southern-hating flogger-types, when mentioned.
Ah, yes. The “slavery wasn’t so bad” position … offered by a white person. Nothing new here.
As for how our Confederate heritage advocate from Pensacola feels about the American people:
We live in a nation of dumbed down ignoramuses.
Nice to see how she holds her readership in high esteem.
I can see their point, given all the poor whites who were begging to be taken into slavery and all the northern blacks who were fleeing south to be re-enslaved….
” I have always thought that all men should be free; but if any should be slaves it should be first those who desire it for themselves, and secondly those who desire it for others. Whenever [I] hear any one, arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally.” Speech to One Hundred Fortieth Indiana Regiment, March 17, 1865, “Abraham Lincoln, “Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln” Roy Basler, ed. Vol. 8, page 361 http://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/lincoln/lincoln8/1:778?rgn=div1;view=fulltext.
Maybe the real problem is that these poor white people resent their status in life … so they resent black people.
I’m not sure how much, if at all, poor whites troubled their thoughts with whether or not blacks were happier under slavery or Jim Crow or not. That’s more of an upper class attempt to avoid confronting the inherent conflict between the natural rights philosophy which gave birth to the US and the institution of slavery. I think the white powers that be have always tried to use a combination of a spurious status on one hand and a mixture of resentment and fear on the other to keep poor whites in line, both before slavery and after. The spurious status is the the dogma that because one is white one is superior, by definition, to everyone who is black. The resentment and fear is the belief that, without slavery and/or Jim Crow, blacks would compete with and squeeze poor whites out of what little they have plus the propaganda claiming that white women were in danger from black men. The ruling class worked very hard to prevent poor whites and blacks from finding common ground.
I’m talking about today. I sense that some poor white folks today are whining about how blacks had it so good during slavery.
Don’t know who “she” is and “ignoramuses” may be a bit strong, but “she” is not that far off on the “dumbing down” of America. Here we are a few days short of a national election and I would bet that more Americans know the contestants on “Dancing with the Stars” than candidates running for governor, state legislatures, state supreme courts and the U.S. Congress. It is estimated that only about 40% will vote. Back in the 60s, Chet Huntley spoke at North Central College and I still remember his comments about the future of television. He was concerned that the entertainment side would create a vast intellectual wasteland in which people would be so interested in “pop” stuff that they ignored important national issued. Guess what Chet? We have arrived. The future you foresaw is here.
Will we ever be able to discuss slavery in a rational, logical, non-PC-driven manner? For most of the blacks who were brought here from Africa, slavery most certainly *did* improve their quality of life. If you know anything about conditions in Africa at that time, the fact that many, if not most, African blacks were materially better off as American slaves should not be the least bit shocking. Needless to say, this is *not* the same thing as saying that slavery was morally acceptable or justifiable.
In fact, a number of Northern labor and human rights advocates made the point that many slaves were materially better off than many Northern factory workers. If you want a refreshingly frank, factual discussion on this fact from an ardently liberal historian, see pp. 124-132 of Susan Dunn’s book DOMINION OF MEMORIES: JEFFERSON, MADISON, AND THE DECLINE OF VIRGINIA (New York: Basic Books, 2007).
I present a detailed look at the conditions of slavery in “Slavery and Southern Independence: Did the Confederacy Deserve to Survive?”:
Being willing to acknowledge that most slaves were treated humanely is not the same thing as defending slavery itself. If my daughter were kidnapped and held for a year until I paid the ransom demand, and if I learned that her abductors did not mistreat her while they held her captive, I would be willing to acknowledge that they treated her humanely. But, I would never condone their act of abducting her, and no honest, rational person would accuse me of defending abduction as a valid means of getting money.
Invariably, when one presents evidence–and there is plenty of it–that most slaves were treated humanely and that many slaves were materially better off than many Northern industrial workers, one is instantly accused of defending slavery itself and of ignoring the cruelty that some slaves suffered. So if one were to point out that most husbands do not beat their wives, would any rational person claim that this was ignoring the fact that some husbands do beat their wives, much less that it was justifying wife beating? Of course not.
“For most of the blacks who were brought here from Africa, slavery most certainly *did* improve their quality of life.”
By “brought here”, we must suppose you do not mean the 50%, give or take, of Africans who died during capture, embarkation, and transit to the New World. Their “quality of life” sucked. (Although the quality of life certainly improved for the schools of sharks who followed slave ships waiting to feed on the bodies of Africans tossed overboard.)
We must also suppose you do not mean the great majority of those slaves who survived capture, embarkation and the Middle Passage only to work in the plantations and mines of Central and South America, where life expectancy was about two years. Their lives were pretty sucky.
So, if you are referring the relatively tiny percentage of enslaved Africans who were “lucky” enough to survive all that nasty capture/transit stuff to eventually work in North America, you might, just might, have a point.
Of course, that would be easy for me…a 21st-Century white guy…to say from the comfort of my home.
Also, there’s the point that the worst treated Northern factory worker could legally marry and have children and not fear that, while the worker was at the factory, the factory owner would sell off the spouse and children to parts unknown. The factory worker also had something precious: hope for a better life, if not for him or herself, for their offspring and/or descendants.
Let’s face it: this isn’t a discussion about the living conditions of black people. If slavery was so much more wonderful than freedom, we’d have no need for a fugitive slave act, and poor white southerners would have been embracing George Fitzhugh.
No, it’s a discussion about how loving and caring slaveowners were, and how they were more caring than northern factory workers. Indeed, you could find these claims in proslavery arguments in the nineteenth century. As you might suspect, those arguments were written by white people who thought slavery was a wonderful thing. Griffith and Chastain agree that slavery wasn’t so bad after all (after the trite disclaimers that oh, yes, it was evil …but …).
“For most of the blacks who were brought here from Africa, slavery most certainly *did* improve their quality of life. If you know anything about conditions in Africa at that time, the fact that many, if not most, African blacks were materially better off as American slaves should not be the least bit shocking.”
Patently false. Please provide documentation for this extraordinary, ridiculous claim.
Which is why so many, when they had the opportunity, fled to Union forces in the neighborhood. No wonder most were forbidden to become literate – they must have been pretty stupid to abandon that cozy lifestyle for the penalties of freedom. You did read p. 132 of the Dunn book, didn’t you? Talk to us of the “myths” to which she referred.
Oh, John, I’m not even talking about slave conditions in America (with which I agree with you); I’m talking about conditions in Africa in the late 18th and early 19th century. Every neo-Confederate automatically assumes Africa was some horrible hell hole, yet none of them demonstrate even remote understanding of the conditions in those kingdoms.
Christopher: Mine is in response to the substance of the Griffith post. And i agree that there are some folks floating around “conditions in Africa” as a comparison without pointing to documented facts or providing definitions. .
Incidentally, one of our Florida friend’s other favorite assertions (about “white people have done more to help the whole human race than any other group”) is getting some interesting discussion over at Yo, Is This Racist?
If that’s “discussion”, we’re in big trouble.
Very informal criticism, yes. It’s a popular forum.
This blogger responded thoughtfully, I thought:
IF anyone is interested… our quote of the week is on Twitter.
Anonymous said: One could actually argue that slavery increased the quality of life for the blacks who were… tmblr.co/ZIFacw1UjC3uR
2:00pm – 3 Nov 14