RESOLVED: Slavery in the U.S. was wrong. Now get over it.

Apparently someone recently uncovered evidence that 400 of the 650 laborers working on the Capitol building in the 1790s were enslaved blacks. Two black members of Congress (one Democrat, one Republican) have introduced that recognizes contributions by slaves in the construction of the Capitol and calls for a task force to study the history of slave laborers in the construction of the building. (SOURCE)

Okay, let me come clean: I’m white – mostly British ancestry with about 1/4 Danish. My family history in the U.S. goes way back. I’m in my 30s. I don’t have a prejudiced bone in my body. I work with and around African-Americans and have good relationships with many of them. Most of them are very nice; some are jerks (in exactly the same proportions as whites, I might add). I view people as individuals, not as elements of classes or groups.

Now the politically incorrect part: Is it wrong for me to be sick and tired of being constantly reminded of American Black slavery in the 17- and 1800’s? After all, I wasn’t involved in it, and neither were my ancestors.

Yes, the U.S. slave trade was a horrible thing. Yes, it resulted in unspeakable atrocities being committed upon innocent people. Yes, it was hypocritical of the Founding Fathers to write about all men being “created equal” when in fact they weren’t.

But, for crying out loud – slavery ended 145 years ago! (And, I might add, due to the spilled blood of a lot of white people, an ancestor of mine included.) Why can’t someone – the President, for example – just come out and say, “Yep, we were wrong. It’s over now. Now lets move on, people.”

Since the end of slavery and dawning of the civil rights movement, the situation for African-Americans has improved dramatically. I can say without reservation that the United States offers more economic and social freedom to Blacks than any other country in the world. There is a large and thriving Black middle class. With some exceptions, this is a wonderful country for people of ALL races.

Is it now possible to focus some energy on the dozens of countries where the plight of Blacks is far worse than it is here? Places like the Sudan, where Black slavery still exists? Places like Rawanda and the Congo, where Blacks are slaughtering each other? Places like South Africa, where, despite the end of apartheid, most Blacks still live in poverty and HIV/AIDS is approaching plague-like proportions?

I’m just tired of the collective guilt. Is that so wrong?


(And please don’t squeeze the Charmin.)

How does this work?

RM Mentock… just how many black slaves do you see in the US? Or ANY slaves, for that matter?


I think that qualifies slavery in America as “over”. Unless you want to count sweatshops and such, which are, of course, illegal.

It’s a weird situation, MrWhipple. I tend to agree with you, and would add that not only does misplaced white guilt contribute to it, but also racism from African-American leaders who want to somehow stick it to the white population any way they can.

It’s not about reparation. As you pointed out, slavery was abolished and the civil rights effort still continues. Progress may be slow (too slow for some), but things are still moving in the right direction. You also pointed out that few, if any other countries have done as much for a minority population in their (usually longer) histories than the US has done for its black population, and by extension, every other minority.

I don’t feel beholden to anyone whose ancestors may or may not have been slaves. Hey, my ancestors in this country were colonists under the British crown. I’m sure my family was oppressed in some way. Can I get reparation from Lizzie and Chuck?

My point here is, everyone’s ancestors were oppressed in some way or other. If you look hard enough, you’ll find it.

Time to give this kind of thing a rest. I really believe it impedes the progress of racial equality and civil rights.

Is that all Mr. Whipple wanted? Well, an American president did say “Yep, we were wrong. It’s over now. Now lets move on, people.” I think it was in the nineteenth century, though.

I’m not American , but I don’t see why the coloured people in America shouldn’t talk/bring up slavery a lot . I hear a lot of Americans bring up there past a lot . If somebody talks about removing freedoms away ( guns for example ) , there is usually a lot of talk about the founding fathers and how they got you the freedoms by paying with the blood of Americans .

I don’t see much difference in bringing white past up and bringing coloured past up . Ok , white past might be more positive and uplifting but coloured past is as valid and important .

As far as I’m aware it’s not all roses for coloured people in America . They are more likely to be arrested and even executed . Aren’t more of them caught in a poverty trap per capita than white people ? If this is true , and please correct me if I’m wrong , then it is even more understandable that they still bring up slavery after such a long time . I would guess that in a few hundred years Jewish people will be still talking and arguing about the holocaust ( and rightly so )

It is also worth mentioning that a lot of Americans talk quite a bit about there heritage and how their family got to America . These stories are usually success stories ( at least after a generation or two ) . Why can’t the coloured people talk and even argue about the circumstances that brought their relations to America . It might be a little bit uncomfortable for you but hey it happened .

Was flipping through the channels on the TV the other night and caught a snippet of a stand up comedian’s act on the Comedy Channel. His little joke went something like this…

I know you white folks out there aren’t the same white folks that enslaved my ancestors, lynched them, denied them access to jobs and housing, or harrass us black folks just for driving a car…but you gotta admit…you do fit the profile.


I can’t imagine why someone would be upset over a bill which proposes to recognize the people who built the building. They aren’t asking to rename it, or have it torn down, or for money, or anything else. All they appear to be asking is, “Hey, when people walk into the Rotunda and see the paintings and the sculptures and reminders of all the white men who made this country great, can we maybe have a plaque dedicated to the black folks who put the building up?”


I have a question that might be more appropriate for a new thread altogether–are there any countries that DIDN’T have slavery? The U.S. was hardly alone–in fact, of course, slavery was well established in Africa and among American Indians.

England, South and Latin America, Egypt . . . Where didn’t slavery exist at one time or another? Anywhere?

Hey, the Civil War ended 145 years ago too. Get over that!

Seems only fair if African-Americans aren’t allowed to talk about their painful pasts, you shouldn’t be allowed to either.

Rather I should have said:

Seems only fair if African-Americans aren’t allowed to talk about their painful pasts, you shouldn’t be allowed to yours either.

Except that the form of slavery as practiced in 18th century North and South America and the Carribean was unique in the world in that it was a racially defined slavery. In most of the previous forms of slavery, it was unheard of for people to be enslaved for generations; most forms of slavery lasted the life of the enslaved person but few were extended into the lives of their progeny. It wasn’t merely that black people were enslaved, its that they were treated as pack animals and bred as such. Other forms of enslavement, especially those as practiced in West Africa and in the Americas at the time did not remove the humanity from the enslaved the way in which that in the New World did.

What I wonder is if the builders were not slaves, but simply employees if we would have the same fervor to recognize them as such?

I would agree with you, pldennison, on principal here, but since I doubt very much that we care about who built it as opposed to the current political views of their… ah, working conditions, I have an issue with this one as the type of pandering that I cannot stand about the far left.

I agree with the OP in most cases. It’s over. Let’s try and move on. Remembering is good, but reparations are unnecessary, IMHO.

Yer pal,

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Mustapha said:

I didn’t say people shouldn’t be able to *talk * about their pasts, I’m just tired of stories of their dead ancestors (none of whom they knew personally) being used as a club to beat today’s white people.

(Jesse Jackson, I’m talking to you. And Al Sharpton, that’s your phone ringing.)


I don’t see any here saying that blacks shouldn’t remember their heritage. The old saying goes, those who do not learn from the past are destined to repeat it. But I agree that it’s time to stop making middle- to upper-class white men feel guilty for something they had no part in. My father has traced his family tree back to the Revoltionary War, and in all the research, we cannot find any clues that any of my anscestors ever owned slaves. Hell, no one even owned enough land to justify buying slaves to work it.

I agree there is still a long way to go to bridge the cultural gap and make everyone in the US equal, but bringing up pains of the past and making people feel guilty for it is not the way to do it. The fact is, not all blacks in this country are even descendants of slaves, yet can still claim slavery as part of their heritage because they’re black.

Basically, what I hear people saying (not necessarily here, but in other similar conversations), “A long time ago, white people owned black people, and since I’m black you owe me equality and an apology.” That’s BS. You’re owed equality because you are a human being living in the United States of America. End of story. Heritage has nothing to do with it. I don’t feel anyone is owed an apology because no one I know has ever been a slave.

I say we need to start the Equal Rights movement over, but without the racial crutches. Don’t fight for equality and rights because you’re black, Asian, Hispanic, or whatever. Fight because you’re an American, and ALL Americans have those rights. Erase the labels of African-American, Asain-American, Irish-American, Martian-American, etc and let’s start over as Americans, plain and simple. Different labels divide people, not unite them.

You want equality? Write your Congressman and Senator. Tell then to stop setting aside token months like Black History Month and Native American History Month and start pressuring your school systems to incorporate these things into our curriculum. Education is what we need, not more plaques and ceremonies. If we learn about each other, the uncertainty and fear will eventually die down and equality is more easily achieved.

All I can say, BratMan, is WORD.

Over the last 224 years we (the U.S.) have slowly slid from a belief in individual rights and individual worth to group rights and group worth. E.g., “I am special because I’m ________ (fill in the blank: African-American, gay, disabled, etc.), therefore I deserve special protection not afforded to other groups.”

I am not saying that there are not abuses against such individuals that need to be corrected, but I’m tired of recognizing people simply because of their group affiliation. People should be honored because of their moral acts, not because they happened to be born in a certain group.

One of my ancestors fought in the Civil War on the Union side. He participated in combat at Gettysburg and was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for capturing the Confederate flag in battle. I honor his heroicism. I couldn’t care less (and don’t even know) if he was Irish, Swedish, Turkish, or Philipino.

We should remember and uphold all people of all races who act courageously and morally. My role models are simply moral people, rather than people who happened to look like me.


No, you have every right to be sick and tired of it.

Well, he did say that, repeatedly, except that was about an entirely different matter. :smiley:


Yes! Unfortunately, the affirmative action movement and slavery reparation movement will not let us forget about problems long since solved.


There seem to be two issues being debated in this thread. I took Whipple’s OP to be one directed at the current movement for actual monetary reparations to black Americans. Perhaps I was wrong. Still, I agree with Satan in that putting a magnifying glass over the builders of a building because many of them were slaves is hypocritical and hypercritcal. Unless it’s done for every building in the country, whether built by slave labor or union workers, it smacks of pandering. Is there a plaque for the Chinese workers who endured unimaginable hardship in building the Transcontinental Railroad?

My original reply addressed the idea of reparation for slavery. To sum up my feelings on the matter, I think it’s insane.

No one should forget that there was slavery in this country, and that terrible wrongs were done. But keeping memory alive to prevent something happening again is quite another thing from one group “owing” another group because of race alone.

I think the practice of saying “Dude, you owe me 'cuz your great-grandfather wronged my great-grandfather” is traced back to the human desire to place blame, combined with the desire to get something for nothing.

If you hear people like Jesse Jackson talk, you’d think slavery was only abolished last night. But after 145 years, there’re no slave owners left, and only those who consider pre-1865 to be the good ol’ days are nutcase KKK fanatics.

I would like a citation as to what groups of people are seeking “special” rights, as you assert. I can buy people wanting EQUAL rights (which is not afforded to some groups even to this day, let alone in our history), but I don’t hear about people wanting SPECIAL rights.

Please show me an example of this.

Yer pal,

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