Straight Dope Message Board

Straight Dope Message Board (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/index.php)
-   Great Debates (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/forumdisplay.php?f=7)
-   -   Why did we free the slaves? (https://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=875714)

puddleglum 05-20-2019 10:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Little Nemo (Post 21650846)
I don't think it was slavery itself that caused the south's economic problems. Slavery made the plantation system possible and it was that system which hurt the south's economy.

The plantation system concentrated all capital into agriculture at a time when industrial manufacturing was taking off. The south basically decided to stay out of the part of global economy that was growing and, as a result, they got left behind.

And the plantation system concentrated most of the south's wealth into a small group of plantation owners, which left everyone else, white and black, relatively poor. Living in the south didn't just suck if you were black; it was also a bad place to live if you were white and didn't happen to own a plantation. The southern middle class was poorer than the northern middle class. And this resulted in white immigrants choosing to move to places outside the south (and it led to a lot of white southerners doing the same).

This is not correct. The plantation system was very efficient. Cotton was so valuable that the land which could grow it was very valuable as well. The larger the plantation the greater economies of scale could be which could produce more cotton. The economic problem was two fold, first it was very hard work in a horrible climate and so most people would not want to do it if they had an alternative, the second was that tropical diseases killed most of the immigrants who would have made up the workforce. African slaves solved both these problems because they had no alternatives because they were not free to choose and they had resistance to tropical diseases.

The economy of the south could not have replicated the economy of the north because the concentration of people needed for a manufacturing economy could never have been achieved because so many people would have died of disease. Also the cotton growing land was too valuable to be used by subsistence farmers.

Thudlow Boink 05-20-2019 10:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by WillFarnaby (Post 21651345)
There were plenty of arguments against slavery. The hardcore religious folk believed enslaved persons cannot seek salvation. They must be free to choose salvation.

In addition to what others have said: Many of the defenders of slavery argued that bringing Africans to America to be slaves was a good thing because it exposed them to Christianity and this allowed them to be saved.

Kimera757 05-20-2019 01:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink (Post 21652348)
In addition to what others have said: Many of the defenders of slavery argued that bringing Africans to America to be slaves was a good thing because it exposed them to Christianity and this allowed them to be saved.

Which is ironic, considering

Quote:

Pope John VIII commands under penalty of sin that all Christians who hold other Christians as slaves must set them free.
873 AD.

Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeli...#Ancient_times

Urbanredneck 05-20-2019 02:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nava (Post 21652034)
It's an example of a very common tendency to include ourselves in good stuff but distance ourselves from bad: we did good, they did badly. "Look at what your child did!" never precedes a pretty picture. When the team we follow wins, "we won"; when it loses, "the team lost".


But yeah, it's important to avoid that emotional insertion whenever one is trying to be factual and those facts being recounted didn't really include one.

I remember getting into an argument about what "WE" did to the indians (he was using WE to refer to himself included). Thing is he was from Britain (heavy accent and all) and I pointed out really the British had little to do with it (at least post 1776). Now if we are talking what the British did to the IRISH, then he should use the word "WE". But leave an American issue out of it.

clairobscur 05-20-2019 02:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Barack Obama (Post 21648994)
I understand there was less of a need for slavery up north due to factories but that can't be the entire reason.

I suspect it's a big, big reason. Chattel slavery appeared when landowners couldn't find a crowd of famished peasant who would work for a pittance, hence began to have an economical use for slaves. It ended when slavery began to be unprofitable.

Of course, the ideals of the enlightenment probably played a part, but it's notable that slavery wasn't abolished when those ideals took hold (look at the American founding fathers, who were big on this enlightenment thing, but with a blind spot for slavery), but only with the progress of industrialization and farming machinery.

Urbanredneck 05-20-2019 02:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by puddleglum (Post 21652344)
This is not correct. The plantation system was very efficient. Cotton was so valuable that the land which could grow it was very valuable as well. The larger the plantation the greater economies of scale could be which could produce more cotton. The economic problem was two fold, first it was very hard work in a horrible climate and so most people would not want to do it if they had an alternative, the second was that tropical diseases killed most of the immigrants who would have made up the workforce. African slaves solved both these problems because they had no alternatives because they were not free to choose and they had resistance to tropical diseases.

The economy of the south could not have replicated the economy of the north because the concentration of people needed for a manufacturing economy could never have been achieved because so many people would have died of disease. Also the cotton growing land was too valuable to be used by subsistence farmers.

Not just cotton. Those are the same conditions in sugar cane fields and maybe a bit worse. Also to an extent - tobacco.

Really ALL crops in the 1800's and even later required massive amounts of labor. Think about "The Grapes of Wrath" in the was about fruit pickers and that was the 1930's!

Urbanredneck 05-20-2019 02:14 PM

Just a side note. Here is a listing of prices for USED John Deere cotton picker/stripper. As a farm person myself I can tell you they cost more than a conventional combine used to harvest say corn or soybeans or wheat. Notice prices start at $93,000 for a 14 year old picker and $430,000 for one only 5 years old! New ones are in the $600,000 range. I could buy a used regular combine for less than $100,000.

And you thought YOUR fancy car was worth alot!

clairobscur 05-20-2019 02:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by monstro (Post 21649317)
I like how it's "we" when it comes to freeing the slaves, but it's always "they" when it comes to owning them.


It's not specific to slavery. Because it isn't as common over here, I notice that Americans use a lot "we" in reference to historical events they of course had no part in ("We won the war against Japan" "We declared independence").

And indeed I also noticed that it becomes much much less common when it comes to negative events ( "Why did they decide to intern the Japanese Americans?").

Urbanredneck 05-20-2019 02:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by clairobscur (Post 21652750)
I suspect it's a big, big reason. Chattel slavery appeared when landowners couldn't find a crowd of famished peasant who would work for a pittance, hence began to have an economical use for slaves. It ended when slavery began to be unprofitable.

Of course, the ideals of the enlightenment probably played a part, but it's notable that slavery wasn't abolished when those ideals took hold (look at the American founding fathers, who were big on this enlightenment thing, but with a blind spot for slavery), but only with the progress of industrialization and farming machinery.

That depends.

Are you only talking slavery for farm hands? What about the need for cheap domestic labor.

People today dont realize that taking care of a family back in the day was hard WORK. A wife spent sometimes 8 hours a day just doing meals. Now think about the difficulty doing laundry (you want work - try using a damn washboard!), making and sewing clothes, churning butter, making your own bread, gardening, and just general things like sweeping the floor and dusting.

Back in about the 1920's my grandmother "worked out" as a domestic for little or sometimes no pay - just room and board. It was one of the few "jobs" she could find in a rural area especially for women.

The famous slave turned scientist George Washington Carver's mother was bought as a slave to be a domestic for an elderly couple. In his case little George was later adopted by his owners/parents.

Urbanredneck 05-20-2019 02:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by puddleglum (Post 21652344)
This is not correct. The plantation system was very efficient. Cotton was so valuable that the land which could grow it was very valuable as well. The larger the plantation the greater economies of scale could be which could produce more cotton. The economic problem was two fold, first it was very hard work in a horrible climate and so most people would not want to do it if they had an alternative, the second was that tropical diseases killed most of the immigrants who would have made up the workforce. African slaves solved both these problems because they had no alternatives because they were not free to choose and they had resistance to tropical diseases.

The economy of the south could not have replicated the economy of the north because the concentration of people needed for a manufacturing economy could never have been achieved because so many people would have died of disease. Also the cotton growing land was too valuable to be used by subsistence farmers.

It was.

Thing is growing cotton over time burns out the soil because it doesnt replace the lost nitrogen. It was already happening across the south and accelerated later in the 1870's and beyond.

THEN along came the boll weevil which also wiped out the cotton crops.

As I understand it some plantation owners were already selling off excessive slaves or just freeing them because the plantations didnt have the income to support them.

clairobscur 05-20-2019 02:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Moriarty (Post 21650266)
The answer, of course, is that it was obviously an odious and dehumanizing practice that was damaging to society. Anybody exposed to it would have to realize it. Slavery meant routine violence; it meant treating fellow people as property. And it meant a constant obsession with these things.

OK, so if it was so obvious and all these things, how comes it wasn't abolished earlier? How comes it was instated in the first place? There must have been something happening that made people support the abolition at some point while they didn't before, no?


You seem to assume that people had always realized how horrible it was, but I think you fail to realize how we accept easily what is a normal part of our culture. You have to make an effort to abstract yourself from this. For instance, if one century down the road PETA has won the day, someone will write about us (and you) that raising animal for meat is so obviously odious that...etc.... saying exactly the same thing about eating meat as you wrote here about slavery. But you probably don't feel this way (at least, if you do, you're an exception) and even probably don't spend much time even considering the moral issue of meat eating.

Mr. Miskatonic 05-20-2019 02:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Urbanredneck (Post 21652795)
It was.

Thing is growing cotton over time burns out the soil because it doesnt replace the lost nitrogen. It was already happening across the south and accelerated later in the 1870's and beyond.

THEN along came the boll weevil which also wiped out the cotton crops.

Yes, but The situation was made worse by the Confederacy trying to overproduce cotton during the civil war in hopes that the British would break through the blockade and they’d have huge supplies to trade.

Didn’t work out that way, and more fields were damaged from cotton crops.

Quote:

As I understand it some plantation owners were already selling off excessive slaves or just freeing them because the plantations didnt have the income to support them.
Didn’t happen. That’s Lost Causer apologetics. Sure, there was always a plantation selling excess slaves here and there because of supply or mismanagement but slavery was still rolling strong into the Civil War.

Urbanredneck 05-20-2019 02:50 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Moriarty (Post 21650266)
The answer, of course, is that it was obviously an odious and dehumanizing practice that was damaging to society. Anybody exposed to it would have to realize it. Slavery meant routine violence; it meant treating fellow people as property. And it meant a constant obsession with these things.

Slavery meant devoting considerable resources to guarding against the type of slave rebellion that marked Haiti, which creates a state of constant fear and agitation, in addition to expense.

And the standard of “slave”’ included the proverbial “one drop”, so many many slaves were not even that dark skinned. I read recently of a woman who escaped from George Washington, and she is described as having freckles! Think Mya Rudolph, perhaps. Today, we celebrate the beauty of people like Rashida Jones, but she would have been considered inherently inferior. Lots and lots of slaves were deemed mere property by a painfully ridiculous metric.

There were lots of slaves who were the the children of their masters; these kids would have looked like their fathers. How can that enslavemet not rot the proverbial soul?

Slavery is like societal sanctioned abuse. The people who lived it realized it, even as some continued trying to justify it.

And yet slavery was practiced in every culture. Most likely at some time in the past your ancestors either were slaves or owned slaves.

But your above statements apply even to modern day cases of slavery. Look at this article of an American family who owned a slave (from the Phillipines) from the 1940's to just recently. If you read the story, yes, it rotted the family. The kids grew up angry at their parents for keeping the woman. But they were in a bind because they didnt know what to do with her once they "inherited" her.

clairobscur 05-20-2019 02:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Urbanredneck (Post 21652787)
That depends.

Are you only talking slavery for farm hands? What about the need for cheap domestic labor.

No difference. The famished peasant will also work as a servant for a pittance, and be all the more happy since it tends to be a permanent position, contrarily to field work that is seasonal, hence guarantying him board and food all year long.

If your idea was that slavery could still have been profitable for domestic work, hence when why was it abolished if it's mostly for economical reasons, I would argue two things :

- If slaves are only used for domestic work, there's a lot less need for them, so the cost of abolishing slavery is much lower

-Your grandmother history of working for just room and board and no pay shows in fact that slaves weren't economically useful anymore, even for domestic work. There was at this point an abundance of free manpower compared to the needs.

Urbanredneck 05-20-2019 03:11 PM

But then, if your a person who enjoys "Everyday Low prices" on things like food and clothing, your also probably supporting something made by a slave. If that is a lowly child worker in India working for Nike to a Florida fruit picker picking oranges for Tropicana, your benefiting from the low cost of a person who's life and labor conditions are little better than a slave. HERE is an article on it.

fedman 05-20-2019 04:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MEBuckner (Post 21649667)
Oregon was fundamentally a free state, and its constitution upon admission to the Union had the provision that

But the next section read

Discussed in more detail at the Oregon Encyclopedia's article on Black Exclusion Laws.

and Oregon at one time had KKK legislature

Little Nemo 05-20-2019 04:07 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Urbanredneck (Post 21652859)
And yet slavery was practiced in every culture. Most likely at some time in the past your ancestors either were slaves or owned slaves.

True. But most societies eventually figured out that slavery was wrong and ended it voluntarily. The south was pretty much the only exception; they kept slavery right up to the point where other people forced them to give it literally at gunpoint.

Urbanredneck 05-20-2019 04:37 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Little Nemo (Post 21653045)
True. But most societies eventually figured out that slavery was wrong and ended it voluntarily. The south was pretty much the only exception; they kept slavery right up to the point where other people forced them to give it literally at gunpoint.

Actually no. Please refer back to my posts above where I discuss modern day slavery in the US.

smiling bandit 05-20-2019 08:36 PM

So, I've been working on a Civil War history and I do have some things to say. One of the really complicated issues that comes up a lot is that everything about the Antebellum and Civil War Eras was that they were insanely complicated. There's no simple answers to anything if you look beyond the surface, and it's more than just the usual level of complication in historical events.

So, to be up-front, I apologize if I confuse anything here. I want to avoid talking out of both sides of my mouth, while being succinct about the facts. And some statements made in this thread are wrong in more than one way at the same time.

If I get any facts wrong, I am more than open to correction. But I think my arguments can stand up to scrutiny. I want to also emphasize that while I chose the quotes below as a starting point to disagree with, I am not attacking any posters and respect that it's a complex issue. I could have easily picked others but I think the issues raised below are important enough to comment and expand upon.

Quote:

Originally Posted by puddleglum (Post 21652344)
This is not correct. The plantation system was very efficient. Cotton was so valuable that the land which could grow it was very valuable as well. The larger the plantation the greater economies of scale could be which could produce more cotton. The economic problem was two fold, first it was very hard work in a horrible climate and so most people would not want to do it if they had an alternative, the second was that tropical diseases killed most of the immigrants who would have made up the workforce. African slaves solved both these problems because they had no alternatives because they were not free to choose and they had resistance to tropical diseases.

Part true, part nonsense. The climate of the South is (shockingly) pretty warm, and historically I think one of the greatest boons to the Southern economy was Air Conditioning. But disease wasn't so much worse in the South and it *isn't* tropical until you get down as far as Miami. Slavery was, however, more or less copied and imported from early British colonies in the Caribbean, where those statements were more accurate.

The question about plantation efficiency is much more complicated. It most definitely would *not* have been as efficient for the planters in the absence of slavery, however. You could, and some did, hire free laborers. But free men demanded far higher wages compared to the pitiful food, shelter, and clothing afforded to slaves by most plantation masters. After the War, freed slaves were effectively able to get at least three times as much for their labor as beforehand - even in a very racist society that wanted to stamp down on them. Slavery basically allowed planters to pay an up-front amount to virtually zero-out their labor cost, AND enforce cruel discipline upon those laborers at the same time.

One other issue (not just directed at you) is that we are often only thinking of the cotton plantations since they featured so prominently. But the early slave system was focused on tobacco or sugar; cotton came later. This was one reason that Virginia lost a lot of its economic importance and Kentucky outright rejected the Confederacy - they were not as significant in the cotton economy compared to states along the Black Belt* and the Mississippi River. South Carolina, either a coincidence or not, happened to have both some of the richest sugar and rice plantations along the coast and a rich central strip of land suitable for cotton plantations.

*The name is a description of the soil, not the poor souls who were forced to work it.

However, cotton plantations could absolutely be run with free labor - it just wasn't anywhere near as profitable. This was economically a big part of the why the Civil War occurred. Those planters were becoming increasingly elite and took home the lion's share of the wealth produced in the South. They had the leisure and education to dominate the political system. Smaller farmers were increasingly pushed off valuable land as planters reinvested in land and slaves.

Quote:

The economy of the south could not have replicated the economy of the north because the concentration of people needed for a manufacturing economy could never have been achieved because so many people would have died of disease. Also the cotton growing land was too valuable to be used by subsistence farmers.
This is partly true, but mostly irrelevant. The South as a whole didn't need to *replicate* the Northern economy to diversify, and some regions did so to some degree. Also, the idea that disease was such a dire threat that other people couldn't possibly survive is just... silly. Slaves and planters alike lived along areas rife with Yellow Fever epidemics, but that failed to kill everyone off. Even the centers of the southern economy would have probably been the same regardless, because they sprang up at major transportation loci, just as the in the North - and these as often away from swampy land as not.

Finally, there was never a question of just :subsistence farming:" because Americans were, and are, a highly commercial people. Just about the first thing we ever did when moving into a new area was to try and hook into global trade networks. Even if all we were growing was corn, we'd find a way to turn it into liquor and sell it somewhere.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Little Nemo
True. But most societies eventually figured out that slavery was wrong and ended it voluntarily. The south was pretty much the only exception; they kept slavery right up to the point where other people forced them to give it literally at gunpoint.

I think this is a very optimistic appraisal of history. The major slaveholding states in the New World mostly only saw it abolished during massive Civil Wars of their own, and as often at gunpoint as not. See Haiti or Venezuela. States which abolished slavery more or less peacefully tended not to have a lot of slaves in the first place, and/or the slavery was kept on under the table for decades thereafter (see Mexico for the former and Cuba for the latter).

Quote:

Originally Posted by ftg
In Ken Burns' Civil War, there was a quote given about traveling on the Ohio River. The towns on the North side were bustling while the ones on the South side were moribund.

I believe you may be correct in describing the quote, yet I am not certain this is accurate. Northern Kentucky along the Ohio was not itself stronghold of slavery or the cotton trade. Louisville, for instance, was apparently the 10th most populous city in the entire nation in 1850, and already a center of horse racing and trading. It is true that slaves being sold down the Mississippi often went through Louisville - but that was because it was already a major commercial entrepot.

Quote:

Originally Posted by ftg
The North attracted most immigrants and boomed economically. Immigrants couldn't compete well with the existing slave economy in the South so they avoided it and the South stagnated compared to the North. (This all contributed to the South's anti-immigrant stance, something that continued with the KKK and into today.)

I believe this is incorrect; if I understand right you are conflating the early organization with its later revival. The anti-immigrant groups around the Civil War were very much Northern in character (I was literaly writing on this yesterday.) In the North, the Know-Nothings were a major rival to the Republicans in the early years, but eventually the slavery issue led to the former being wiped out and their voters jumped to the latter. There was a tiny, powerful rump left over in the South, true, but I don't think it was a major factor in the original. There weren't very may Catholic immigrants in the South at this time, but as far as I'm aware they were arguably more accepted than in the North. Certainly the major anti-imigrant leaders were very much Northern and the major riots against them also in the North.

The later revival in the early 20th century of "Those Not Very Nice People"* was a bit different and incorporated both racism and xenophobia. Indiana, for instance, did not have a significant African-American population, partly because of early racism, but it did have a lot of Catholics. "Those Not Very Nice People" were as happy to target Notre Dame as anything.

*They did some Not Very Nice things to relatives of mine and I won't even name them in public, out of disgust.

Little Nemo 05-20-2019 09:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by puddleglum (Post 21652344)
This is not correct. The plantation system was very efficient. Cotton was so valuable that the land which could grow it was very valuable as well. The larger the plantation the greater economies of scale could be which could produce more cotton. The economic problem was two fold, first it was very hard work in a horrible climate and so most people would not want to do it if they had an alternative, the second was that tropical diseases killed most of the immigrants who would have made up the workforce. African slaves solved both these problems because they had no alternatives because they were not free to choose and they had resistance to tropical diseases.

The economy of the south could not have replicated the economy of the north because the concentration of people needed for a manufacturing economy could never have been achieved because so many people would have died of disease. Also the cotton growing land was too valuable to be used by subsistence farmers.

No, the plantation system was not very efficient. Yes, it produced cotton. But people found that other non-plantation system produced greater yields of cotton. And other forms of agriculture produced more crops and higher profits. And cotton production was terrible to the soil so it wasn't sustainable. As an investment it was poor; plantation owners would have made more money by selling off their plantations and investing the money in some better industry. And as I noted, plantation agriculture damaged the overall economy.

Little Nemo 05-20-2019 09:13 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Urbanredneck (Post 21653119)
Actually no. Please refer back to my posts above where I discuss modern day slavery in the US.

Are you aware that slavery is now illegal?

Little Nemo 05-20-2019 09:22 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Urbanredneck (Post 21652787)
The slave turned scientist George Washington Carver's mother was bought as a slave to be a domestic for an elderly couple. In his case little George was later adopted by his owners/parents.

No, he wasn't. Moses Carver bought George. When slavery was abolished, he kept George. There is no indication that Moses regarded George as his son or that George regarded Moses as his father. George just worked on Moses' farm for food and shelter (essentially the same way he would have worked if slavery had remained legal). The only difference is that George had the legal right to leave, which is what he did when he was eleven.

Urbanredneck 05-21-2019 04:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by smiling bandit (Post 21653476)
So, I've been working on a Civil War history and I do have some things to say. One of the really complicated issues that comes up a lot is that everything about the Antebellum and Civil War Eras was that they were insanely complicated. There's no simple answers to anything if you look beyond the surface, and it's more than just the usual level of complication in historical events.

Very true. Very complicated.

Could you also discuss trade tariffs and export taxes?

As I understand, the federal government was financed thru tariffs and import/export taxes. The south sold cotton but those sales had export taxes placed on them which mostly went to the federal government in Washington DC. The north also produced many goods but those were not shipped overseas and therefore were not subject to export taxes. The benefits of those taxes mostly went to northern states. Wasn't Fort Sumter's function to not just protect the harbor, but also to collect taxes on exported goods?

Sorry I dont have a cite. I will look for one later.

Urbanredneck 05-21-2019 04:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Little Nemo (Post 21653550)
No, he wasn't. Moses Carver bought George. When slavery was abolished, he kept George. There is no indication that Moses regarded George as his son or that George regarded Moses as his father. George just worked on Moses' farm for food and shelter (essentially the same way he would have worked if slavery had remained legal). The only difference is that George had the legal right to leave, which is what he did when he was eleven.

Well as I understand it, the Carvers bought Georges mother and George was only a baby at the time. Shortly after slave catchers kidnapped Georges mother and baby George so Moses paid another slave catcher to go find them. He only returned with George. The Carvers indeed raised George (and taught him to read and write). Yes, George left when he was 11 but that was because no school in his area (southern Missouri) would allow black children in the upper grades so he moved to Kansas and later went to college in Iowa where the domestic skills he learned under the Carvers (cooking and cleaning) was how he paid his room and board thru the upper grades and even into college.

Nava 05-21-2019 04:59 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by smiling bandit (Post 21653476)
the idea that disease was such a dire threat that other people couldn't possibly survive is just... silly. Slaves and planters alike lived along areas rife with Yellow Fever epidemics, but that failed to kill everyone off. Even the centers of the southern economy would have probably been the same regardless, because they sprang up at major transportation loci, just as the in the North - and these as often away from swampy land as not.

Malaria was endemic throughout Europe, from Spain to Sweden, until the massive dessication projects that started during the 18th century and went on until the late 20th, when they were stopped by the push to preserve wetlands for wildlife conservation. A lot of illnesses that we think of as "tropical" are so nowadays because that's the area where they haven't been eradicated but, back at the time of the ACW, were widespread through much-greater areas than they are today. Others which we now think of as "mild" or relatively rare were much more frequent and more deadly before antibiotics, but again not restricted to tropical areas: thyphoid epidemics were common. As smiling bandit says, it's not as if the tropics were deadly and the areas with moderate temperatures were healthy.

Nava 05-21-2019 05:09 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Urbanredneck (Post 21653832)
Well as I understand it, the Carvers bought Georges mother and George was only a baby at the time. Shortly after slave catchers kidnapped Georges mother and baby George so Moses paid another slave catcher to go find them. He only returned with George. The Carvers indeed raised George (and taught him to read and write). Yes, George left when he was 11 but that was because no school in his area (southern Missouri) would allow black children in the upper grades so he moved to Kansas and later went to college in Iowa where the domestic skills he learned under the Carvers (cooking and cleaning) was how he paid his room and board thru the upper grades and even into college.

That's nowhere near the same as "adoption". Two of my great-grandmothers were raised in their masters' homes from a young age; one of them was sent "to learn her letters and numbers" by those same masters (they had a requirement that the whole household had to be able to read, write and do arithmetic). My brother's mother-in-law, same: her masters were appalled when they found out she hadn't attended school, which at the time was supposed to be compulsory and available for all. Their situation corresponds to the literal meaning of the Spanish word criado: a servant raised in the household. A servant still.

Urbanredneck 05-21-2019 07:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Nava (Post 21653849)
That's nowhere near the same as "adoption". Two of my great-grandmothers were raised in their masters' homes from a young age; one of them was sent "to learn her letters and numbers" by those same masters (they had a requirement that the whole household had to be able to read, write and do arithmetic). My brother's mother-in-law, same: her masters were appalled when they found out she hadn't attended school, which at the time was supposed to be compulsory and available for all. Their situation corresponds to the literal meaning of the Spanish word criado: a servant raised in the household. A servant still.

Well maybe not a real adoption per se but better than just kicking him out to live on the streets.

fedman 05-21-2019 08:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Mean Mr. Mustard (Post 21649266)
While this is true, there were plenty of abolitionists who took this stance not because they believed slavery was wrong, but because they did not want negroes of any sort in the U.S. and its territories.

In other words, stop importing blacks, there are already too many of them about.


mmm

people forget that Lincoln said Blacks are not equal of whites and supported sending them to Liberia (interesting choice since Liberia had legal slavery till 1970?)

fedman 05-21-2019 08:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Urbanredneck (Post 21652795)
It was.

Thing is growing cotton over time burns out the soil because it doesnt replace the lost nitrogen. It was already happening across the south and accelerated later in the 1870's and beyond.

THEN along came the boll weevil which also wiped out the cotton crops.

As I understand it some plantation owners were already selling off excessive slaves or just freeing them because the plantations didnt have the income to support them.

That's where free/slave state debates came in for adding new states

fedman 05-21-2019 08:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by clairobscur (Post 21652750)
I suspect it's a big, big reason. Chattel slavery appeared when landowners couldn't find a crowd of famished peasant who would work for a pittance, hence began to have an economical use for slaves. It ended when slavery began to be unprofitable.

Of course, the ideals of the enlightenment probably played a part, but it's notable that slavery wasn't abolished when those ideals took hold (look at the American founding fathers, who were big on this enlightenment thing, but with a blind spot for slavery), but only with the progress of industrialization and farming machinery.

the reason tobacco was successful in Connecticut was slavery (remember Harriet Tubman was a northern slave)

fedman 05-21-2019 08:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by smiling bandit (Post 21653476)
So, I've been working on a Civil War history and I do have some things to say. One of the really complicated issues that comes up a lot is that everything about the Antebellum and Civil War Eras was that they were insanely complicated. There's no simple answers to anything if you look beyond the surface, and it's more than just the usual level of complication in historical events.

So, to be up-front, I apologize if I confuse anything here. I want to avoid talking out of both sides of my mouth, while being succinct about the facts. And some statements made in this thread are wrong in more than one way at the same time.

If I get any facts wrong, I am more than open to correction. But I think my arguments can stand up to scrutiny. I want to also emphasize that while I chose the quotes below as a starting point to disagree with, I am not attacking any posters and respect that it's a complex issue. I could have easily picked others but I think the issues raised below are important enough to comment and expand upon.



Part true, part nonsense. The climate of the South is (shockingly) pretty warm, and historically I think one of the greatest boons to the Southern economy was Air Conditioning. But disease wasn't so much worse in the South and it *isn't* tropical until you get down as far as Miami. Slavery was, however, more or less copied and imported from early British colonies in the Caribbean, where those statements were more accurate.

The question about plantation efficiency is much more complicated. It most definitely would *not* have been as efficient for the planters in the absence of slavery, however. You could, and some did, hire free laborers. But free men demanded far higher wages compared to the pitiful food, shelter, and clothing afforded to slaves by most plantation masters. After the War, freed slaves were effectively able to get at least three times as much for their labor as beforehand - even in a very racist society that wanted to stamp down on them. Slavery basically allowed planters to pay an up-front amount to virtually zero-out their labor cost, AND enforce cruel discipline upon those laborers at the same time.

One other issue (not just directed at you) is that we are often only thinking of the cotton plantations since they featured so prominently. But the early slave system was focused on tobacco or sugar; cotton came later. This was one reason that Virginia lost a lot of its economic importance and Kentucky outright rejected the Confederacy - they were not as significant in the cotton economy compared to states along the Black Belt* and the Mississippi River. South Carolina, either a coincidence or not, happened to have both some of the richest sugar and rice plantations along the coast and a rich central strip of land suitable for cotton plantations.

*The name is a description of the soil, not the poor souls who were forced to work it.

However, cotton plantations could absolutely be run with free labor - it just wasn't anywhere near as profitable. This was economically a big part of the why the Civil War occurred. Those planters were becoming increasingly elite and took home the lion's share of the wealth produced in the South. They had the leisure and education to dominate the political system. Smaller farmers were increasingly pushed off valuable land as planters reinvested in land and slaves.



This is partly true, but mostly irrelevant. The South as a whole didn't need to *replicate* the Northern economy to diversify, and some regions did so to some degree. Also, the idea that disease was such a dire threat that other people couldn't possibly survive is just... silly. Slaves and planters alike lived along areas rife with Yellow Fever epidemics, but that failed to kill everyone off. Even the centers of the southern economy would have probably been the same regardless, because they sprang up at major transportation loci, just as the in the North - and these as often away from swampy land as not.

Finally, there was never a question of just :subsistence farming:" because Americans were, and are, a highly commercial people. Just about the first thing we ever did when moving into a new area was to try and hook into global trade networks. Even if all we were growing was corn, we'd find a way to turn it into liquor and sell it somewhere.



I think this is a very optimistic appraisal of history. The major slaveholding states in the New World mostly only saw it abolished during massive Civil Wars of their own, and as often at gunpoint as not. See Haiti or Venezuela. States which abolished slavery more or less peacefully tended not to have a lot of slaves in the first place, and/or the slavery was kept on under the table for decades thereafter (see Mexico for the former and Cuba for the latter).



I believe you may be correct in describing the quote, yet I am not certain this is accurate. Northern Kentucky along the Ohio was not itself stronghold of slavery or the cotton trade. Louisville, for instance, was apparently the 10th most populous city in the entire nation in 1850, and already a center of horse racing and trading. It is true that slaves being sold down the Mississippi often went through Louisville - but that was because it was already a major commercial entrepot.



I believe this is incorrect; if I understand right you are conflating the early organization with its later revival. The anti-immigrant groups around the Civil War were very much Northern in character (I was literaly writing on this yesterday.) In the North, the Know-Nothings were a major rival to the Republicans in the early years, but eventually the slavery issue led to the former being wiped out and their voters jumped to the latter. There was a tiny, powerful rump left over in the South, true, but I don't think it was a major factor in the original. There weren't very may Catholic immigrants in the South at this time, but as far as I'm aware they were arguably more accepted than in the North. Certainly the major anti-imigrant leaders were very much Northern and the major riots against them also in the North.

The later revival in the early 20th century of "Those Not Very Nice People"* was a bit different and incorporated both racism and xenophobia. Indiana, for instance, did not have a significant African-American population, partly because of early racism, but it did have a lot of Catholics. "Those Not Very Nice People" were as happy to target Notre Dame as anything.

*They did some Not Very Nice things to relatives of mine and I won't even name them in public, out of disgust.

RE: Mexico, while I enjoyed the series "Lone Star Rising", it's telling that the question was never asked, "why do you want to secede?" because Texas revolted because Mexico had just abolished slavery, which you hear about in history lessons, only courage at Alamo

puddleglum 05-21-2019 11:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by smiling bandit (Post 21653476)



Part true, part nonsense. The climate of the South is (shockingly) pretty warm, and historically I think one of the greatest boons to the Southern economy was Air Conditioning. But disease wasn't so much worse in the South and it *isn't* tropical until you get down as far as Miami. Slavery was, however, more or less copied and imported from early British colonies in the Caribbean, where those statements were more accurate.

The question about plantation efficiency is much more complicated. It most definitely would *not* have been as efficient for the planters in the absence of slavery, however. You could, and some did, hire free laborers. But free men demanded far higher wages compared to the pitiful food, shelter, and clothing afforded to slaves by most plantation masters. After the War, freed slaves were effectively able to get at least three times as much for their labor as beforehand - even in a very racist society that wanted to stamp down on them. Slavery basically allowed planters to pay an up-front amount to virtually zero-out their labor cost, AND enforce cruel discipline upon those laborers at the same time.

One other issue (not just directed at you) is that we are often only thinking of the cotton plantations since they featured so prominently. But the early slave system was focused on tobacco or sugar; cotton came later. This was one reason that Virginia lost a lot of its economic importance and Kentucky outright rejected the Confederacy - they were not as significant in the cotton economy compared to states along the Black Belt* and the Mississippi River. South Carolina, either a coincidence or not, happened to have both some of the richest sugar and rice plantations along the coast and a rich central strip of land suitable for cotton plantations.

*The name is a description of the soil, not the poor souls who were forced to work it.

However, cotton plantations could absolutely be run with free labor - it just wasn't anywhere near as profitable. This was economically a big part of the why the Civil War occurred. Those planters were becoming increasingly elite and took home the lion's share of the wealth produced in the South. They had the leisure and education to dominate the political system. Smaller farmers were increasingly pushed off valuable land as planters reinvested in land and slaves.



This is partly true, but mostly irrelevant. The South as a whole didn't need to *replicate* the Northern economy to diversify, and some regions did so to some degree. Also, the idea that disease was such a dire threat that other people couldn't possibly survive is just... silly. Slaves and planters alike lived along areas rife with Yellow Fever epidemics, but that failed to kill everyone off. Even the centers of the southern economy would have probably been the same regardless, because they sprang up at major transportation loci, just as the in the North - and these as often away from swampy land as not.

Finally, there was never a question of just :subsistence farming:" because Americans were, and are, a highly commercial people. Just about the first thing we ever did when moving into a new area was to try and hook into global trade networks. Even if all we were growing was corn, we'd find a way to turn it into liquor and sell it somewhere.

Plantations were more efficient, according to Time on the Cross, total factor productivity for large plantations using gang system slave labor was 39% higher than on free farms. This massive advantage meant that the large plantation could outcompete any other type of farm.

Cotton was by far the most important crop in the slave economy. More of the slaves in the US by the 1850s were being used to grow cotton than every other purpose combined. The world demand for tobacco was declining in the early 19th century and prices were going down so less tobacco was being planted. Likewise, rice can only be grown in a very particular type of land which was only on the coast and thus could only ever be a small part of the economy. Sugar was so difficult to harvest and produce that more slave died producing it then could be replaced naturally. Since importing slaves was banned this meant that there would have been no way to get enough slaves to maintain large sugar production.

Disease in the south was much worse than in the rest of the country. British soldiers stationed in Charleston during the Revolution said that the Carolinas were a heaven in the spring, a hell in the summer, and a hospital in the autumn. Around 50% of union troops in the south came down with malaria and about 10,000 died from it every year during the war despite the availability of quinine. Because of the amount of disease immigrants shunned the south and by 1900 only 6% of immigrants lived in the entire south. It just made no sense to move to a part of the country where malaria was endemic and it is a horrible disease even when not fatal. Thus population density was very low, in 1900 North Carolina had 39 people per square mile while Pennsylvania had 140 people per square mile.

GuyTanzer 05-21-2019 04:13 PM

Maybe slavery was just plain wrong, on any number of levels. There's nothing quite like trying to build an economy on:

kidnapping,
rape,
torture,
murder, and
a theft of fruits of labor that would have embarrassed Heinrich Himmler.

But other than those, maybe it wasn't so bad, eh? And the people defending this mostly claimed to be Christians. A curious concept, that. "Mostly" since I do include Judah P. Benjamin - who, being Jewish, might have thought back to how Yahweh reacted when the Jews were slaves. A double cognitive dissonance over ice and a sprig of mint, please.

smiling bandit 05-21-2019 06:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Urbanredneck (Post 21653826)
Could you also discuss trade tariffs and export taxes?

Yes, but it's somewhat off topic so I'll keep it short. The tariff issue sort of indirectly caused the Civil War by a set of odd coincidences.

The Tariff of Abominations (Tariff of 1828) was ridiculously punitive and seriously threatened the economy of the South. This sparked South Carolina's original headstrong plunge into the Nullification Crisis. In and of itself, it would just be an oddball historical episode, but that in turn saw John C. Calhoun reinvent himself as the Father of Southern Sectionalism. And basically right at the top of Calhoun's agenda until his death was protecting plantation slavery.

Calhoun bears a lot of the blame for the Civil War. He spent something like twenty years persuading Southerners - or at least the elite - that the slave system had to be protected at all costs whatsoever. Calhoun was in many ways an Apostle of Freedom, or at least Jeffersonian principles, but he was seemingly incapable of recognizing that the African-American forced to serve him deserved it no less. His interests depended on him not understanding it. As far as I know, he never advocated Secession and probably thought it would have been a disaster, but it's hard to escape the fact that an ocean of blood was spilled protecting his ideas.

As far as it goes, the Tariff issue wasn't 100% dead by the time of the Civil War, but it also wasn't a massive deal. More-agricultural states usually wanted a lower tariff; manufacturing states (definitely Pennsylvania) wanted a higher one, and there was enough electoral give and take that they weren't bad. IIRC, the Confederate Constitution had a clause that the Tariff was for "revenue only" and not for Protectionism, but there wasn't much to force that in practice. Slavery, not tariffs or any of the other minor issues, was the big concern North and South.

Quote:

Originally Posted by fedman
RE: Mexico, while I enjoyed the series "Lone Star Rising", it's telling that the question was never asked, "why do you want to secede?" because Texas revolted because Mexico had just abolished slavery, which you hear about in history lessons, only courage at Alamo

I disagree. That was one reason for it, but a much, much bigger one was that the Mexican government sort of went mad and managed to piss off so much of the country that around a third of it (not including California) went into revolt practically overnight. Parts broke away and never rejoined, including Texas. There was way more to it than just slavery, although I don't deny that was an element.

Dangerosa 05-21-2019 06:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Asuka (Post 21650396)
Pretty much, European countries "abolished" slavery before the US did but it was very much in name only. In their African colonies you had legitimate slavery going on well until those countries gained their actual independence in the 1950's and 60's. Belgium officially abolished slavery in 1890 but then you still had the horrors of the Congo Free State going on until 1908. British and French colonies extensively utilized slave labor in their colonies in both the world wars due to "national emergencies" as well.

It was legal to hold Roma in chattel slavery in Romania until - not so coincidentally, 1863 (I might be off by a year or two). This is also about the time that Russia started looking at serfdom (which is functional slavery, though tied to land and therefore doesn't have the horrors of buying and selling people and splitting up families). From the mid 18th century there was a movement in Europe and the Americas that slavery in all its forms was immoral - and where it didn't have a lot of economic impact, it was abolished. But where it did (like in Czarist Russia, the American South, the Caribbean and South America or the Belgian Congo) it took a LOT longer.

Little Nemo 05-21-2019 07:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by fedman (Post 21654166)
the reason tobacco was successful in Connecticut was slavery (remember Harriet Tubman was a northern slave)

Tubman was a slave in Maryland, which is literally below the Mason-Dixon line.

Little Nemo 05-21-2019 07:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Urbanredneck (Post 21653826)
Very true. Very complicated.

Could you also discuss trade tariffs and export taxes?

As I understand, the federal government was financed thru tariffs and import/export taxes. The south sold cotton but those sales had export taxes placed on them which mostly went to the federal government in Washington DC. The north also produced many goods but those were not shipped overseas and therefore were not subject to export taxes. The benefits of those taxes mostly went to northern states. Wasn't Fort Sumter's function to not just protect the harbor, but also to collect taxes on exported goods?

Sorry I dont have a cite. I will look for one later.

Export taxes are illegal in the United States. It's in the Constitution. You can only tax imports. So cotton never had an export tax placed on it.

Moriarty 05-21-2019 08:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by clairobscur (Post 21652828)
OK, so if it was so obvious and all these things, how comes it wasn't abolished earlier? How comes it was instated in the first place? There must have been something happening that made people support the abolition at some point while they didn't before, no?


You seem to assume that people had always realized how horrible it was, but I think you fail to realize how we accept easily what is a normal part of our culture. You have to make an effort to abstract yourself from this. For instance, if one century down the road PETA has won the day, someone will write about us (and you) that raising animal for meat is so obviously odious that...etc.... saying exactly the same thing about eating meat as you wrote here about slavery. But you probably don't feel this way (at least, if you do, you're an exception) and even probably don't spend much time even considering the moral issue of meat eating.

I disagree with your analogy, largely because the conditions in which modern animals are kept, and the circumstances of their slaughter, is not front and center in the lives of modern people who consume meat.

Slavery, on the other hand, was a cultural institution whose adherents were immersed in its circumstances. And, as I tried to lay out, that meant being constantly aware of its barbarism. If you live in a slave holding America, you are readily aware of the success of Haiti, where slaves revolted; there is always an undercurrent of potential rebellion in the air, leading to the need for constant vigilance and suspicion. If you live in a slave holding society, you are readily familiar with the use of the "lash" to maintain discipline and order. If you live in a slave holding society, you are readily knowledgeable of the degree with which men committed infidelity by raping their slaves, and readily saw men disown their progeny because of their 'mixed blood'.

In a slave holding society, slaves and free people mixed together, albeit in a strict social hierarchy. So, everybody in a slave holding society could see that slaves suffered, both physically and emotionally, under bondage. Those who supported the practice either did so out of cruelty or out of pity; I think you may be surprised to see how often the slave society tried to explain that they "had" to keep slaves in bondage and that it was "necessary", as opposed to believing in it as a moral virtue.

Consider the "cornerstone speech", when Confederate VP Alexander Stevens explains the basis for the confederacy. First, it is worth noting that he concedes the great weight of pressure to end the practice

Quote:

The new constitution has put at rest, forever, all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institution -- African slavery as it exists amongst us -- the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson in his forecast, had anticipated this, as the "rock upon which the old Union would split." He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether he fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with, but the general opinion of the men of that day was that, somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away...

The errors of the past generation still clung to many as late as twenty years ago. Those at the North, who still cling to these errors, with a zeal above knowledge, we justly denominate fanatics. All fanaticism springs from an aberration of the mind -- from a defect in reasoning. It is a species of insanity. One of the most striking characteristics of insanity, in many instances, is forming correct conclusions from fancied or erroneous premises; so with the anti-slavery fanatics; their conclusions are right if their premises were. They assume that the negro is equal, and hence conclude that he is entitled to equal privileges and rights with the white man. If their premises were correct, their conclusions would be logical and just -- but their premise being wrong, their whole argument fails. I recollect once of having heard a gentleman from one of the northern States, of great power and ability, announce in the House of Representatives, with imposing effect, that we of the South would be compelled, ultimately, to yield upon this subject of slavery, that it was as impossible to war successfully against a principle in politics, as it was in physics or mechanics. That the principle would ultimately prevail. That we, in maintaining slavery as it exists with us, were warring against a principle, a principle founded in nature, the principle of the equality of men."
Then, after criticizing those against slavery, he attempts to justify it. But not as virtuous, per se, but necessary, as ordained by God.

Quote:

It is the first government ever instituted upon the principles in strict conformity to nature, and the ordination of Providence, in furnishing the materials of human society. Many governments have been founded upon the principle of the subordination and serfdom of certain classes of the same race; such were and are in violation of the laws of nature. Our system commits no such violation of nature's laws. With us, all of the white race, however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law. Not so with the negro. Subordination is his place. He, by nature, or by the curse against Canaan, is fitted for that condition which he occupies in our system. The architect, in the construction of buildings, lays the foundation with the proper material-the granite; then comes the brick or the marble. The substratum of our society is made of the material fitted by nature for it, and by experience we know that it is best, not only for the superior, but for the inferior race, that it should be so. It is, indeed, in conformity with the ordinance of the Creator. It is not for us to inquire into the wisdom of his ordinances, or to question them. For his own purposes, he has made one race to differ from another, as he has made "one star to differ from another star in glory."
The great objects of humanity are best attained when there is conformity to his laws and decrees, in the formation of governments as well as in all things else. Our confederacy is founded upon principles in strict conformity with these laws. This stone which was rejected by the first builders "is become the chief of the corner" -- the real "corner-stone" -- in our new edifice. [Applause.]
See? Slaveholding was clearly a moral quandry. The slave holders had to contort themselves into absurdities in order to justify the practice. In fact, they were deathly afraid of counterarguments, even in the form of passive abolitionist writing. Slavery was abhorrent, and people regularly remarked that it was so.

So, how come it wasn't abolished earlier? How come it was instituted in the first place? Because greed and wealth regularly overcomes morality. And, at some point, the institution itself became a commodity that was hard to untangle - much of the consternation about abolition was about compensating the loss of "wealth", for example. So, entrenched greed helped get it started, and ongoing greed, couple with inertia, fought its demise. But its demise was the elephant in the room for decades before it came to pass.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Urbbandredneck
And yet slavery was practiced in every culture. Most likely at some time in the past your ancestors either were slaves or owned slaves.

You are correct (I can trace my lineage on my father's paternal side to a pre-revolutionary American who included a slave in his will; a great* uncle later died fighting for the Confederacy), but I am not sure your point. No country to my knowledge openly practices slavery anymore; while the incentives to practice it (e.g. the greed of relying on undervalued labor) persist, the horrors are so obvious that nobody even tries to justify it with twisted logic anymore. Where it is found, it is underground and hidden.

Urbanredneck 05-22-2019 11:07 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dangerosa (Post 21655440)
It was legal to hold Roma in chattel slavery in Romania until - not so coincidentally, 1863 (I might be off by a year or two). This is also about the time that Russia started looking at serfdom (which is functional slavery, though tied to land and therefore doesn't have the horrors of buying and selling people and splitting up families). From the mid 18th century there was a movement in Europe and the Americas that slavery in all its forms was immoral - and where it didn't have a lot of economic impact, it was abolished. But where it did (like in Czarist Russia, the American South, the Caribbean and South America or the Belgian Congo) it took a LOT longer.

Well look at England itself where you had peasants working the land of an overlord and a wealthy class who exploited the common people. That all changed with books like "Common Sense" by Thomas Paine who argued that people were really all equals and wanted representative government. Look at the British navy at the time where men were rounded up and forced to serve with brutal discipline applied. That only stopped because of numerous mutinies and changes in policy. I believe that's what lead to the creation of the House of Commons which was supposed to represent the will of the people as opposed to the House of Lords which members had inherited titles. I think also the British government were afraid the French revolution which overthrew the monarchy might spill over.

Well my point is many people thought their lives were little better than slaves and wanted change.

clairobscur 05-22-2019 01:36 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Moriarty (Post 21655554)
I disagree with your analogy, largely because the conditions in which modern animals are kept, and the circumstances of their slaughter, is not front and center in the lives of modern people who consume meat.

When you eat meat, you don't realize you're consuming the flesh of a dead animal? You don't see all the dead chickens in the supermarket?

The hypothetical 2119 guy would have no issue showing that you "have to contort themselves into absurdities in order to justify the practice" and could easily quote many people acknowledging that meat eating is "a moral quandary" . Any argument you could advance would be seen as as bad as the ones you're denouncing wrt slavery. And of course, the fact that many of your contemporaries, like the heroic members of PETA, have easily discerned how terrible the practice was show that you have to be willingly blind to deny it. You can't even hide behind ignorance.

All your life you've been told that slavery was wrong, you've heard only arguments against slavery, you've seen all arguments in support of slavery being dismissed out of hand, ridiculed and presented as horrible. Slavery has only be shown to you in its worst aspects. White people in the south were raised with the exact opposite discourse. They had learned that all arguments you find excellent were flawed, and all arguments you find terrible were valid. They had learned that black people weren't at all like white people, and that slavery benefited them.

You can't assume that these people were perceiving slavery, from a moral point of view, in the same way you do. Not anymore than you perceive meat eating in the same way my hypothetical 2119 guy would. I mean, you had the blood of these murdered animals dripping from the corner of your mouth and you deny that it's in your face? In fact, you don't even deny that eating the flesh of innocent animals killed horribly just to satisfy your perverse appetite is a moral problem. Clearly you realize it, and know what an horrible, heartless and immoral person you are, and know that your pathetic arguments are just a fig leaf to hide your shame.

Moriarty 05-22-2019 03:39 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by clairobscur (Post 21657027)
When you eat meat, you don't realize you're consuming the flesh of a dead animal? You don't see all the dead chickens in the supermarket?

Yes to both questions. But the meat is inert and cleanly packaged. Buying it at the store, cooking it, and eating it doesn't evoke the realities of its harvesting.

That's not possible with regard to slavery. It's not as if slave society only saw slaves after they had been removed from the objectionable aspects of their lives. To the contrary, to interact with slavery was to interact with its most horrid parts.

To extend the analogy, it'd be like if anybody in 2019 who wanted to eat chicken had to go to a slaughterhouse and wade through the cages before getting their bird. At that point, it becomes undeniable what conditions are being used, and what sacrifices are being made, to provide the food. The way we have it now lets those things be forgotten, or not even considered.

Quote:

All your life you've been told that slavery was wrong, you've heard only arguments against slavery, you've seen all arguments in support of slavery being dismissed out of hand, ridiculed and presented as horrible. Slavery has only be shown to you in its worst aspects. White people in the south were raised with the exact opposite discourse. They had learned that all arguments you find excellent were flawed, and all arguments you find terrible were valid. They had learned that black people weren't at all like white people, and that slavery benefited them.
Perhaps this is where we fundamentally disagree. My argument is that the people raised in a slave society, in fact, heard arguments against slavery and saw it in its horrid state. Your comments suggest that they had not been exposed to such things.

In actuality, there was plenty of access to abolition arguments (Uncle Tom's Cabin was a huge bestseller). And (again, I repeat myself) being immersed in slavery was, on its own, evidence that slavery was brutal. People were regularly abused; families regularly split up; people regularly dehumanized. You seem to suggest that the people in slave society didn't see these things, or weren't aware that they happened. I would say that this was impossible.

Quote:

You can't assume that these people were perceiving slavery, from a moral point of view, in the same way you do. Not anymore than you perceive meat eating in the same way my hypothetical 2119 guy would. I mean, you had the blood of these murdered animals dripping from the corner of your mouth and you deny that it's in your face? In fact, you don't even deny that eating the flesh of innocent animals killed horribly just to satisfy your perverse appetite is a moral problem. Clearly you realize it, and know what an horrible, heartless and immoral person you are, and know that your pathetic arguments are just a fig leaf to hide your shame.
First, I don't eat animals when their blood is still dripping. Maybe that's just me.

More pointedly, I just don't think the morality of slavery was as ambiguous as you suggest. If we were to analogize it to eating meat, we would need to up the amount of people anguishing over being a carnivore, such that every person had to reconcile personally with their opinion on the subject.

Little Nemo 05-22-2019 04:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Urbanredneck (Post 21656604)
Well look at England itself where you had peasants working the land of an overlord and a wealthy class who exploited the common people. That all changed with books like "Common Sense" by Thomas Paine who argued that people were really all equals and wanted representative government. Look at the British navy at the time where men were rounded up and forced to serve with brutal discipline applied. That only stopped because of numerous mutinies and changes in policy. I believe that's what lead to the creation of the House of Commons which was supposed to represent the will of the people as opposed to the House of Lords which members had inherited titles. I think also the British government were afraid the French revolution which overthrew the monarchy might spill over.

Well my point is many people thought their lives were little better than slaves and wanted change.

Common Sense was published in 1776. The French Revolution began in 1789. The Royal Navy mutinies occurred in 1797. None of these were factors in the creation of the House of Commons, as that body had been around for centuries before this.

clairobscur 05-22-2019 06:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Moriarty (Post 21657324)
Yes to both questions. But the meat is inert and cleanly packaged. Buying it at the store, cooking it, and eating it doesn't evoke the realities of its harvesting.

Don't you know the reality of harvesting? For instance would a slave owner who never set food in his plantation but knows that slaves are working there, never seeing a flogging but knowing people are flogged be off the hook according to you?

You're too focused on the realities of harvesting, probably precisely because of our current views. Most people are bothered by how animals are raised, and object to that, or pass laws about that, while they aren't really bothered by the fact that we eat meat in the first place and kill animals for this purpose. But my hypothetical 2119 guy would see it as just another horrid aspect of the whole killing animal to eat them thing.

The equivalent for slavery would be : "buying slaves, and forcing them to work doesn't evoke the realities of their capture and transportation". But of course you won't think for an instant that the only problem with slavery was their transportation. Or imagine that slaves were slaughtered and eaten. Would you think for an instant that not actually witnessing their slaughter and just eating them would be an excuse?

And anyway it was just an example. It doesn't need to exactly reflect any aspect of slavery. My point is that you absolutely don't view things in the same way my 2119 guy does. Eating meat doesn't appear to you as something horrid and unthinkably evil as it is "obviously" to him. And someone born in 1850 wouldn't see slavery as something horrid and unthinkably evil, either.




Quote:

Perhaps this is where we fundamentally disagree. My argument is that the people raised in a slave society, in fact, heard arguments against slavery and saw it in its horrid state. Your comments suggest that they had not been exposed to such things.
But you have been exposed to the realities of meat eating. You've seen the carcasses, handled the meat, cooked it, eaten it. You know perfectly well that they were living creatures and that they've been killed just so you could eat them. You very probably have heard the arguments against meat eating. You just dismissed them, thinking that it wasn't really a serious moral issue and that it was just normal to eat meat.

Once again it's not an exact parallel to slavery, just an example. My guy thinks that killing animals to eat them is horrible, in the same way you think that enslaving people is horrible. He probably couldn't stand the thought of having a piece of meat in the plate in front of him, let alone eat it. He's going to wonder : "how could they do something like that? No sensible person would stand eating meat, knowing it comes from murdered animals. They had to know that what they were doing was horribly wrong. People were saying so already, so they knew. They just were evil."

Quote:

People were regularly abused; families regularly split up; people regularly dehumanized. You seem to suggest that the people in slave society didn't see these things, or weren't aware that they happened. I would say that this was impossible.
I'm not saying that. I'm saying that you know that animals are killed so that you eat their meat and it doesn't bother you much because you have been raised this way and can think of plenty of arguments that justify this. Maybe you think that there are some excesses but if we could fix them and make sure that animals are treated a bit better and slaughtered more humanely, it will be fine. But the 2119 guy will have none of this : you're fucking killing innocent animals!

And similarly the 1819 guy might think that there are some unfortunate aspects to slavery, like the one you describe, and maybe if we could fix them, things will be fine. Slavery will be humane. What else can you do? I mean it's not like black people don't need guidance and supervision. What do you want? Let them free when they're unable to control their animal passions, and are so prone to violence and rape? They wouldn't even be able to direct their own life, anyway. What next, let them vote when they don't have the intellect to understand even basic issues? Slavery benefits everybody, including them. They're servile by nature (your previous even mentioned that). And that's as god ordered. And frankly...you think you know better than god?

It's not just excuses. People really believed that. They believed that it was in the order of things for black to be slaves, as you think it's in the order of things to kill animals for meat. You really shouldn't assume that they found obvious that slavery was undoubtedly wrong. They absolutely weren't raised with the same values, beliefs and assumptions you have. Think of the American founding fathers who were neither uneducated simpletons nor unfamiliar with the enlightenment ideals, nor devoid of moral sense and who still thought that slavery was acceptable. And owned slaves themselves.


Quote:

First, I don't eat animals when their blood is still dripping. Maybe that's just me.
When I eat a steak, there's still blood in it. And anyway my 2119 guy never eaten one, so his mental image of it might not be perfectly accurate. Especially since he has probably be exposed to material depicting the most repugnant aspect of it. If you know it, there's a scene in "the return of the king" when one of the character is eating, and it's depicted as repugnant and rather frightening, even though he's only eating a fruit. No doubt that movies set in the 2010 will show repugnant and evil eaters with bloody juices dripping on their chins while they laugh maniacally and discuss about how they enjoy thinking of the animal terror and suffering.


Quote:

More pointedly, I just don't think the morality of slavery was as ambiguous as you suggest. If we were to analogize it to eating meat, we would need to up the amount of people anguishing over being a carnivore, such that every person had to reconcile personally with their opinion on the subject.
Are you sure that ordinary people in the random southern town were anguishing much? And anyway, once again, it's not supposed to be a perfect parallel in all aspects. There are always "differences". For instance when people made comparisons between gay marriage and miscegenation laws , they too were told it was "different". My point was to try to show you that moral views are highly dependent on culture, hence that you can't assume that 1819 people had the same views as 2019 people.

Most people assume that there objective morals (and of course, that their current morals are the correct ones). So for instance, they think that slave owners were objectively, not subjectively, wrong. But you push that further by believing that not only they were objectively wrong, but also that they knew it. You're assuming that they had not only your morals but also your knowledge (black people are no different from white people, for instance) and your world views (for instance : who cares what god says?). You have to assume that everybody who was supporting slavery (and that's a lot of people) was lying, and didn't believe a thing of what they were saying or writing. Does it really seem credible to you? It's easier to assume that people who do things that you don't like are just evil, but typically they aren't.

fedman 05-22-2019 08:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Little Nemo (Post 21655528)
Tubman was a slave in Maryland, which is literally below the Mason-Dixon line.

my bad, should have Sojourner Truth

Urbanredneck 05-23-2019 01:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by clairobscur (Post 21657626)
Don't you know the reality of harvesting? For instance would a slave owner who never set food in his plantation but knows that slaves are working there, never seeing a flogging but knowing people are flogged be off the hook according to you?
.

I just want to point out about your arguments, yes, most people didnt know the reality of slavery. Abraham Lincoln didnt know the reality until a trip to New Orleans where he witnessed a slave auction and saw a slave family torn apart that he realized the true horrors of slavery. Up until then while he had seen many slaves, he thought they were just poor people like himself.

Similar the book "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was the first book that told people of the horrors of slavery. Many think that book started the abolitionist movement and thus the war.

Moriarty 05-23-2019 02:09 PM

Clairobscur, let me begin by noting that I understand and appreciate your point that a person must be aware that other cultures (and other eras) may have different viewpoints and perspectives which cause them to reach different conclusions about what is moral and just. And it is a mistake to presume that all people, across all places and times, would be uniform in their thinking.

Where we disagree is in the culture of antebellum America. To extend it to the meat eating analogy, we'd need to be in a society whose founding documents wrestled with the issue of eating meat (such that famous compromises had to be made to get the document even executed), about half of the country would have outright outlawed meat consumption, popular media was all about the issue of how meat was being prepared, there were regular news reports of sabotage and vandalism of farms and factories where meat was harvested, and people were so fearful about freeing livestock that vegetarians were brutalized, attacked, and discriminated against.

Point being, the antebellum south was simply did not exist in a world where the morality of slavery was merely a fringe concern of radicals; it was the leading issue of the day. It's value and efficacy were undeniably at issue.

I think the reason I continue this debate is because I used to believe as you've stated, which is that the antebellum south was a place and time where people were not confronted with the moral questions about slavery, and so people accepted it because they had not yet considered whether it was just or sustainable. That's just not true - go back to the founding of the country and you'll discover that, by the Civil War, this issue had been percolating for over 80 years.

Quote:

So for instance, they think that slave owners were objectively, not subjectively, wrong. But you push that further by believing that not only they were objectively wrong, but also that they knew it.
In retrospect, I should have been more careful with my words. It's not that slavery was 'objectively wrong', and they knew it. Rather, it was 'objectively brutal and barbaric', and they knew it. That's my point, as the OP had asked why slavery ended. There are obviously a lot of reasons behind it, but one (the one I raised) was that slavery was quite tenuous, because it was undeniably cruel and inhumane. Even if people believed it was 'just' (usually because it was ordained by God), it was marked by a need for constant enforcement.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Urbanredneck
most people didnt know the reality of slavery. Abraham Lincoln didnt know the reality until a trip to New Orleans where he witnessed a slave auction and saw a slave family torn apart that he realized the true horrors of slavery. Up until then while he had seen many slaves, he thought they were just poor people like himself.

Similar the book "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was the first book that told people of the horrors of slavery. Many think that book started the abolitionist movement and thus the war.

I don't think these statements are remotely accurate. Lincoln's father moved the family from Kentucky to get away from slavery. The idea that Lincoln didn't know the reality until he want to Louisiana suggests that he was never exposed to the abolitionist rhetoric of the very places he was reared. Yes, it is true that his early perspective was that of a poor person competing with slave labor, and he has remarked that the sight of a slave auction was memorable for its inhumanity, but I think that merely proves my point; any American of the era was impacted by slavery such that he had to consider it, and when in a slave holding part of society the sight of slave treatment was jarring and unsettling.

And, while Uncle Tom's Cabin was certainly a national bestseller, and spurred the discussion, it is crazy to suggest that it started the abolition movement. Uncle Tom's Cabin was published in 1852. The Liberator, an anti-slavery newspaper, started publishing in 1831. Nat Turner led a revolt that same year. The American Antislavery Society was started in 1833. Frederick Douglass started publishing his anti-slavery journal The North Star in 1847. That's without even getting into the states that had already outlawed slavery or the groups that had been pushing for abolition for generations.

Sailboat 05-25-2019 12:20 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Moriarty (Post 21650266)
The answer, of course, is that it was obviously an odious and dehumanizing practice that was damaging to society. Anybody exposed to it would have to realize it. Slavery meant routine violence; it meant treating fellow people as property. And it meant a constant obsession with these things.

Slavery meant devoting considerable resources to guarding against the type of slave rebellion that marked Haiti, which creates a state of constant fear and agitation, in addition to expense.

Bruce Catton used a wonderfully evocative phrase to describe this constant fear of uprising by the enslaved people:

Quote:

… Dig down far enough and one always found it: the old terror, coiling and uncoiling in the dark, demanding an everlasting wall to protect one race from intimacy with another. The only wall so far devised was slavery, and it was high enough but so fragile that it had begun to crumble on the plains of Kansas where it did not even exist; and now its final fall was certain.

Dangerosa 05-29-2019 11:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Urbanredneck (Post 21656604)
Well look at England itself where you had peasants working the land of an overlord and a wealthy class who exploited the common people. That all changed with books like "Common Sense" by Thomas Paine who argued that people were really all equals and wanted representative government. Look at the British navy at the time where men were rounded up and forced to serve with brutal discipline applied. That only stopped because of numerous mutinies and changes in policy. I believe that's what lead to the creation of the House of Commons which was supposed to represent the will of the people as opposed to the House of Lords which members had inherited titles. I think also the British government were afraid the French revolution which overthrew the monarchy might spill over.

Well my point is many people thought their lives were little better than slaves and wanted change.

Feudalism in England was very different than serfdom in Russia in 1840 or slavery in the U.S. in 1860. In England, your tenant farmers had a right to leave and find another farm to work, or go to sea, or into the army, or take up a trade - and often did. The English peasantry was, by standards of the time (and time being from the Early Middle Ages on to today), relatively mobile. Working for a bad landowner meant that your workers left, and went to work for a guy on a nearby estate, or a few estates over. By the late 1700s, with the Industrial Revolution, England completely changed and you had no ties to the land at all.

Most of Western Europe was far more in the English model than the Russian model - serfs were tied to the land and had no right to leave it. Moreover, in the Russian model, you didn't have a choice - in the English model, you could apprentice your son out to a blacksmith and free him from the land - in the Russian model, the Boyer who owned the land gave you, and your children, your roles.

Yes, for English peasantry, life was difficult - but it wasn't slavery at all. They could get up and leave for a better situation - and did. Which made it actually a fairly fine example of capitalism.

fedman 05-30-2019 08:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Urbanredneck (Post 21652859)
And yet slavery was practiced in every culture. Most likely at some time in the past your ancestors either were slaves or owned slaves.

But your above statements apply even to modern day cases of slavery. Look at this article of an American family who owned a slave (from the Phillipines) from the 1940's to just recently. If you read the story, yes, it rotted the family. The kids grew up angry at their parents for keeping the woman. But they were in a bind because they didnt know what to do with her once they "inherited" her.

I think Sudan only recently abolished slavery; African countries like Liberia didn't abolish slavery until 1970

Tzigone 05-30-2019 06:49 PM

Quote:

So some of the biggest abolitionists were poor white southerners.
What percentage? Because from all the documentation I've seen on the attitudes of poor southern whites (letters, diaries), the vast majority were not abolitionists.


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 10:01 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2018 STM Reader, LLC.