7/01/2008

Slavery Lasted Until World War II

A new book called Slavery By Another Name has been receiving a lot of attention. Contrary to what we learned in school, widespread black slavery in the U.S. South didn't end in the 19th century; rather it lasted until World War II. We're not talking about the 'virtual slavery' of sharecropping practices, but literal slavery of thousands, often for the benefit of large companies:

In March 30, 1908, Green Cottenham was arrested by the sheriff of Shelby County, Alabama, and charged with “vagrancy.” [After a brief trial] Cottenham... was sold. Under a standing arrangement between the county and a vast subsidiary of the industrial titan of the North — U.S. Steel Corporation — the sheriff turned the young man over to the company. He was chained inside a long wooden barrack at night and required to spend nearly every waking hour digging and loading coal. Cottenham was subject to the whip for failure to dig the requisite amount, at risk of physical torture for disobedience, and vulnerable to the sexual predations of other miners...Green Cottenham and more than a thousand other black men toiled under the lash at Slope 12.


1 comment:

Republicae said...

It is interesting to read the very common-sense approach that the South had for emancipation of the slaves, it flies in the face of accepted history or facts. There were many more abolitionist in the South than there ever were in the North and the Southern Abolitionists actually cared about the fate of those they sought to emancipate. Every State in the South already had a "reasonable" manumission program in place to assimilate the freed slaves into society.

The North obviously didn't give a damn about the actual people, they just saw slavery as an issue. The proof that the North, the "liberators" didn't really care much about the actual people they were "freeing" is the fact that after their great war of "liberation" they simply went back North and forgot about those they just set free. The problem is that nearly 400,000 slaves died during the first few years of "emancipation", more would have, along with many poor white Southerners had they not helped each other through that period.

It is interesting to see that the majority of freed slaves in the South chose to remain in the South, they dare not go North because they knew exactly how they would be treated. They were unwanted in the North and even their presence in most Northern States would endanger their lives because of the harsh anti-black laws in Northern States.

Only about 6% of the total white population of the South were slave owners, 3% of those were considered large slave holders with 50 or more slaves. An interesting fact is that among the "freed" black population in the South nearly 25% of the black population also owned slaves. Many of the "freed" slaves enjoyed great wealth, community acceptance and were welcomed into those communities.

It is interesting to note that when the Northern Union Army invaded the South they expected a massive slave uprising, and a huge exodus of slaves fleeing their "brutal" slave masters, it didn't happen, not only that but the vast majority of slaves viewed the Northern Army in the very same way the rest of the South did: as invaders.

Slavery was a dying institution in the South and most of the South realized that fact, but they also knew that to give instant "freedom" was not in the best interest of the slaves. That is one reason why any slave who could prove he or she had the skills and the ability to live free was given their freedom. The fact that the South had already "freed" more nearly 300,000 by the time the North had "freed" 170,000 should say something about what was taking place in the South. The North didn't "free" their slaves, they simply sold off their slave property to Southerners before the laws went into effect in the North.

There is no doubt that slavery was a moral wrong, but when you consider what has happened to those who were "freed" by the North, the horrors of Reconstruction that nurtured racial strife in the South and the struggle of those who decended from "freed" slaves through the years, perhaps there was a better way and just maybe the South had a much better plan than the North did with "freedom" at the end of a bayonet.

Slavery may have lasted another decade, if the Southern plan for manumission would have been allowed to take place this would have been a very different country, not only for the black population but for the entire population. That sounds strange, but after reading the actual accounts of former slaves, of slave owners I have come to that conclusion.

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