American Bondage

Originally posted by Unitary Moonbat on 11/26/06

…being the conclusion of a four-part, two-author series on human bondage…

First off, let’s have a round of applause for aphra behn, the unimpeachable historiorantrix who so kindly and brilliantly led the last two lectures here in the Cave of the Moonbat.  Fans of astoundingly well-told history will be pleased to note that she’s got a huge role in tonight’s episode, too, as she and I together look at the institution of slavery in post-Revolutionary America.

So join us, if you will, for the conclusion (?) of a saga of unfreedom that began with my report on Ancient Bondage, and continued with aphra’s diaries, Of Slaves and Serfs and Slavery Comes to America.  As our resident expert on the Era of Powdered Wigs and Frilly Collars, aphra will be leading off tonight.  Madame?

Interested speleohistorians can also find entrances to the Cave of the Moonbat at Daily Kos and Never In Our Names

Slavery in the Land of Freedom

In April of 1781, 28 year-old Quock Walker of Massachusetts took a fateful walk away from the farm of his master, Nathaniel Jenniston. Walker believed that he was unjustly enslaved, for he had been promised his freedom at age 25 by his first master, the now-deceased James Caldwell. Jenniston, (who had married Caldwell’s widow and thereby inherited Quock) refused to honor this promise. Was Jenniston right? Was a promise to a slave binding in law?

Walker’s case opened a host of thorny issues about freedom and rights that resonated in post-Revolution Massachusetts. What began as a case about a promise of manumission resulted in three different trials, the last of which resulted in a rather extraordinary statement by the judge. As he gave his instructions to the jury, he invoked the “natural rights” of mankind that weighed so heavily in arguments about the American Revolution:

  . . . [T]hese sentiments [that are favorable to the natural rights of mankind] led the framers of our constitution of government – by which the people of this commonwealth have solemnly bound themselves to each other – to declare – that all men are born free and equal; and that every subject is entitled to liberty, and to have it guarded by the laws as well as his life and property. In short, without resorting to implication in constructing the constitution, slavery is in my judgment as effectively abolished as it can be by the granting of rights and privileges wholly incompatible and repugnant to its existence…

—Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice William Cushing

“…slavery is in my judgment as effectively abolished as it can be by the granting of rights and privileges wholly incompatible and repugnant to its existence…” With only a few words, Cushing (and Quock Walker) helped deal slavery a fatal blow in the state of Massachusetts – on the basis of its fundamental incompatibility with the new state Constitution’s emphasis on freedom and personal liberty. The jury found in Walker’s favor.

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But if slavery was so incompatible with the idea of all men being born free and equal, then how could it continue to exist at all in a new nation dedicated to the proposition that all men are endowed with the natural right to liberty? It’s a question raised in every college survey course on United States history, as incredulous freshmen shake their 21st century heads over the puzzling blindness of 18th century Americans.

But the founders of the Unites States weren’t blind or stupid. The contradictions of slavery in a land of freedom were obvious and troubling-and rumblings over its existence began nearly 75 years before the Revolution.

The Seeling of Joseph: An Early Protest

In 1700, Samuel Sewall published what is believed to be the first anti-slavery essay in English America. Sewall had a history of standing out from the Puritan crowd; in 1697 he had publicly apologized for his role in the Salem Witch Trials (the only judge to do so). His anti-slavery pamphlet was written in support of one Adam, a slave who had brought a Quock-Walker like suit against a master who was denying Adam his long-promised freedom.

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Sewall sided with Adam, and his pamphlet addressed numerous pro-slavery arguments using a mix of legal and Biblical arguments. The Biblical arguments were of special importance for his readers. Although (as we learned in Part One of this series, slavery among the Hebrews was rather different than in colonial America, the very fact that something called “slavery” is referenced in the Bible gave fodder to those who argued that the state of slavery was something approved by God.

Sewall, however, used the Bible for negative examples, and entreated his readers to imagine themselves in the position of enslaved Africans, drawing equivalencies between their states:

Obj. 3 The Africans have Wars with one another: our Ships bring lawful Captives taken in those Wars.
Answ. For ought is known, their Wars are much such as were between Jacob’s Sons and their brother Joseph. If they be between Town and Town; Provincial, or National: Every War is upon one side Unjust. As Unlawful War can’t make lawful Captives. And by Receiving, we are in danger to promote, and partake in their Barbarous Cruelties. I am sure, if some Gentlemen should go down to the Brewsters to take the Air and Fish: And a stronger party from Hull should Surprise them, and Sell them for Slaves to a Ship outward bound: they would think themselves unjustly dealt with; both by Sellers and Buyers.

—-Samuel Sewall, The Selling of Joseph at PBS: Africans in America

Sewall’s writings probably had a very small direct effect on the legal status of slavery, but the use of religious and Biblical arguments would prove powerful in the 18th century (and beyond-but that will be moonbat’s territory-ab). In fact, anti-slavery opinion was beginning to spread among one of the most misunderstood religions in early America: the Quakers.

The Quakers (or more properly, the Society of Friends) traced their roots to the English Civil Wars of the mid-17th century, and were one of a number of groups that rejected both hierarchical Anglicanism and the “Bibliolatry” of English Puritans. The Friends emphasized the importance of personal inspiration and that the experience of God (an “Inner Light” in some terminology) could happen to any person, without need for mediators. They rejected social hierarchies, addressing each other using the familiar case and embracing pacifism in the late 17th century. All this was enough to get the Quakers roundly disliked by Puritans and Anglicans alike; it’s hardly surprising that many fled to the relative freedom of England’s colonies (especially Pennsylvania, founded as a refuge for Quakers in the late 17th century).

  It was also enough to make some Quakers question to practice of slavery-for what could be more unequal than the owning of one human being by another?
Chief among the early anti-slavery Quakers was itinerant preacher John Woolman, a New Jersey native who traveled extensively throughout England’s colonies, meeting with Quakers and others whom he urged to abandon the practice of slavery. Recognizing the vast extent of slavery’s influence in everyday like, Woolman urged others to follow his example and not use products of slavery in any way; Woolman eschewed dyed clothing, for example, because dyes were typically processed by slaves. In 1754, he published Some Considerations on the Keeping of Negroes urging others to follow his example.

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Woolman was especially distressed by fellow Quakers who defended slavery and traded in slaves, as he viewed this attitude as fundamentally incompatible with the nature of the Society of Friends. His passionate views and humble manner proved highly persuasive; anti-slavery sentiment grew widely among American and English Quakers in the mid 1700s. They began making some organized efforts to ameliorate the worst of the conditions that they saw around them. In his journals, Woolman despaired over the state of American slaves: 

Many of the white people in those provinces take little or no care of negro marriages; and when negroes marry after their own way, some make so little account of those marriages that with views of outward interest they often part men from their wives by selling them far asunder, which is common when estates are sold by executors at vendue. Many whose labor is heavy being followed at their business in the field by a man with a whip, hired for that purpose, have in common little else allowed but one peck of Indian corn and some salt, for one week, with a few potatoes; the potatoes they commonly raise by their labor on the first day of the week…Men and women have many times scarcely clothes sufficient to hide their nakedness, and boys and girls ten and twelve years old are often quite naked amongst their master’s children. Some of our Society, and some of the society called Newlights, use some endeavors to instruct those they have in reading; but in common this is not only neglected, but disapproved.

John Woolman’s Journal, 1757, available at History Matters

Woolman also recorded his passionate convictions about the spiritual equality of slave and free:

These are the souls for whom Christ died, and for our conduct towards them we must answer before Him who is no respecter of persons. They who know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom he hath sent, and are thus acquainted with the merciful, benevolent, gospel spirit, will therein perceive that the indignation of God is kindled against oppression and cruelty, and in beholding the great distress of so numerous a people will find cause for mourning.

John Woolman’s Journal, 1757, available at History Matters

Woolman traveled to England to raise support for his views among Quakers (and increasing numbers of Anglicans there.) He died there on one of these tours, in October of 1772, mere months after a key English legal case finally settled the issue of slavery’s existence – or non-existence – in English law.

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The Somerset Case

James Somerset was an American slave whose master took him to England in 1769. Somerset escaped in 1771, was captured and shipped off to Jamaica. Anti-slavery activist Granville Sharp took an interest in the case and helped Somerset get a writ of habeas corpus before the Court of King’s Bench. (Historiorantrix:Ah, habeas corpus. There’s a reason BushCo hates it so much. Because a writ of habeas corpus forces the court to explain why it “has the body,” it’s impossible for it to co-exist with arbitrary imprisonment. Which helps keep you and me-and James Somerset- out of Cheneys chains.-ab.)

In February 1772, the court finally finished hearing arguments in the case, many of which centred around the inconvenient fact that no law made by Parliament recognized the legal existence of slavery in England. Nor did English common law (based on precedent rather than formal statute) make provision for slavery. As arguments for Somserset emphasized, (and as we learned in Part Two of this series), English courts had ruled against slavery’s legal existence in England in 1569, making the famous statement that “England was too pure an air for a slave to breathe in.”

In light of this, the Chief Justice of the King’s Bench, Lord Mansfield, ruled that slavery could not exist under English law-for its nature was so inimical to the natural state of thing that it could only exist if established in what he called “positive law”-actual statute. In other words, you can’t just have slavery by custom alone. The Somerset case did not abolish slavery in England’s colonies, where laws regarding slavery certainly did exist. But it gave a boost to arguments that slavery should be abolished -or at least the slave trade restricted. For that seemed to be the evolving position on slavery, the “moderate” position, the reasonable-sounding no-brainer solution: abolish the slave trade, if not slavery itself, and that would get rid of the institution.

The anti-slave-trade position that allowed men and women who thought of themselves as “humane” slave holders to blame the evils of slavery on someone else (those awful slave traders). It allowed for a gradual disappearance of slavery, too. The argument went that if the supply dried up, why then, the practice would slowly die out. Not everyone liked the idea-those who made their money in the slave trade most notably-but it was persuasive enough that Rhode Island abolished the trade in 1774. Virginia attempted to follow suit, but was blocked by the British Privy Council.

Slavery and the Revolution

As lovers of the film 1776 may well recall, the stymying of Virginia’s anti-slave trade measure almost made it into the Declaration of Independence as one of the colonists’ complaints against King George. Jefferson considered this interference with the gradual reduction of the slave trade a real grievance:

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of INFIDEL powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce. And that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people on whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off former crimes committed against the LIBERTIES of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the LIVES of another.

Nifty, huh? While we don’t know exactly why this was stricken from the draft, but Jefferson left a note in his memoirs blaming the excision on North and South alike:

The clause, too, reprobating the enslaving the inhabitants of Africa was struck out in complaisance to South Carolina and Georgia, who had never attempted to restrain the importation of slaves, and who, on the contrary, still wished to continue it. Our northern brethren also, I believe, felt a little tender under those censures; for though the people had very few slaves themselves, yet they had been pretty considerable carriers of them to others.

-as quoted in the Life of Jefferson

Did Jefferson’s accusations that the British were fomenting slave rebellions have any basis in fact? Yes and no. American slaves quickly heard of the 1772 Somerset case, and seem to have made increased attempts to escape to British shores and freedom; in 1773, a Virginia master advertised for his runaway slaves Bacchus and Amy, who were making for Britain, “where they imagine they will be free.” In 1774, a conspiracy was discovered among Virginia slaves to aid the British soldiers “when they arrive.” Before shots had ever been fired at Lexington and Concord, American slaves were clearly planning their own bid for freedom.

But active British encouragement of those slaves did not come until 1775, when royal governor Lord Dunmore of Virginia made a famous Proclamation: “all indented Servants, Negroes, or others (appertaining to Rebels,) free that are able and willing to bear Arms, they joining his MAJESTY’S Troops, as soon as may be, for the more speedily reducing this Colony to a proper Sense of their Duty, to his MAJESTY’S Crown and Dignity.” British lines were soon full of runaway slaves, eager to fight for their freedom.

Weird Historical Sidenote: Some 6,000 of the slaves and free blacks who fought for the British were granted land in Nova Scotia after the Revolution. Sadly, the Black Loyalists found that the lands they were granted were often inferior to those lands granted white Loyalists.  A group of ex-slaves led by African-born ex-slave millwright Thomas Peters cut a deal with the British Sierra Leone company to establish a colony at Freetown.

Slaves and free blacks also served the Patriot cause, although the Southern leaders of the Revolution were somewhat reluctant to let them do so. (In fact, George Washington banned their recruitment when he took command of the Continental forces in 1775). In some cases, allowing slaves to serve did not seem to reflect the slaves’ own choices; New Jersey allowed masters to send their slaves to replace themselves in the militias of 1777. Maryland and New York began accepting slaves into their forces in 1780 and 1781 respectively. Some states sent all-black units of slaves and free men; Massachusetts’ “Bucks of America” regiment was commanded by the only black commissioned officer in the Continental Army, Samuel Middleton.

Meanwhile, the Continental Navy recruited blacks and whites alike from the earliest days of the war. U.S. Navy Commodore James Barron wrote in his memoirs of several slaves who served in Virginia’s naval forces: “courageous patriots who… in justice to their merits should not be forgotten.” He mentioned by name four slaves: Harry, Cupid, Aberdeen (later freed by the Virginia General Assembly) and a “noble African” pilot: “Captain” Mark Starlins. 

Slavery and Industry in the New Nation

Did the Revolution fulfill its promise of freedom for black Americans? Yes and no. Obviously, the institution was not outlawed throughout the nation. Southern states passed a variety of laws confirming the legal provisions of their various slave codes, often modeled on classical Rome and the provisions of the Code of Justinian. Generally speaking, these continued the colonial restrictions that we learned about in Part Three. The United States Constitution did not explicitly protect slavery, but made provision to kinda-sorta count slaves in the population (as 3/5s of a person for representation and taxation purposes). It also put off the national prohibition of the slave trade for twenty years.

But by 1786, all states north of Maryland had abolished slavery, or at least the slave trade. The logic of the Quock Walker case seemed inescapable in the North (where relatively few slaves lived anyway); the inalienable right to liberty could not co-exist with slavery.  Yet just as the inhabitants of the Northeastern states began to abolish slavery in their midst, they were unwittingly providing fuel for its expansion, growth, and continuance, thanks to the spread of the Industrial Revolution.

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The Slater mill, opened in 1793, was the first commercially successful cotton-spinning mill in the United States. By 1808, when the United States finally banned the importation of new slaves into its territories, textile mills were becoming a more and more common feature of the New England landscape. While other industries were also gradually industrialized through the 19th century, the production of cotton cloth would be the first and most extensive industry in the young United States.

Textile mills and other industries gradually became associated with their own forms of unfreedom-“wage slavery,” crushing workloads, grinding poverty and more. But their growth also helped fuel the expansion of agricultural slavery in the southern United States. For where would all the cotton come from to feed the mills of the North, if not the South? As industry came to dominate the landscape of the industrial North, so “King Cotton” was enthroned in the slaveholding south.

Historiorant:  Damn, she’s good, ain’t she?  Let’s hear it once again for aphra behn!  — u.m.

The Cotton Kingdom

2000 years before Samuel Slater illegally memorized the plans for textile machinery and escaped to America to seek an industrial-sized fortune, slaveholding Romans had feared that incorporating labor-saving devices which “did the work of three men” would lead to a surplus of slaves with nothing to do, and thus might lead to economic ruin and societal discord.  As the turn of the 19th century approached, a similar faith in the underlying unprofitability of slavery led at least a few folks to the conclusion the institution was doomed for the very reasons predicted by the Romans: that machines would make outright slavery obsolete.  From the purely economic perspective of a ruthless bastard, it made more sense to pay a pittance to a few wage slaves and let them fend for their dirty little selves than it did to pay upwards of $1200 for a prime field hand, whose purchase carried with it the obligation to feed, house, and clothe him (however minimally) for the rest of his life.

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Then another of those pesky inventors stepped in, producing a machine that overnight transformed a heretofore expensive product into something as commonplace as, well, cotton.  Upon graduating from Yale, Eli Whitney in 1793 had traveled to Georgia, where, appalled by the poverty, he was told that the squalor might be alleviated if only someone could find a means of extracting the seeds from the fiber of the short-staple cotton plant, the cleaning of which created three pounds of seed for every one pound of fiber.  The demand for cotton was increasing with every textile mill built in the North, but it was still a highly unprofitable crop for most plantation owners to grow, given the intensive labor required to bring it to market; separating those aforementioned seeds out of the fiber by hand, for example, required about 20 slave-hours of work to produce a kilo (2.2 lbs) of useable cotton.

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According to legend, Whitney solved the problem in 10 days.  He called his machine a cotton “gin” – short for engine (Historiorant: ?and United Airlines thought it was onto something by naming a spinoff “Ted.” Pshaw.) – and they sold pretty briskly, at least at first.  The problem for Whitney, and the reason he didn’t amass a vast fortune as a result of his creation, was that the device was easy to replicate, and many off-patent and homemade gins cut into the inventor’s profit margin (don’t worry – he later did okay for himself by popularizing the concept of interchangeable parts).  Whitney’s problems were not shared by plantation owners, however, who quickly capitalized on the gin by converting their fields – long exhausted by intensive rice and tobacco cultivation – to a suddenly-profitable plant with the ability to grow in crappy soil.

Slavery Unchained

It might have been Northern mills that issued the initial pleas for more and cheaper cotton, but it was the factories of England that truly became reliant on Southern agriculture.  By 1840, cotton amount to 50% of all American exports, and fully 1/5 of England’s population was engaged in the textile industry.  In the decade prior to the Civil War, the American South produced about half of the entire world’s supply of cotton, with around 75% of England’s stockpiles originating there.  This led some Southerners to believe that the economic might of their cash crop might actually forestall war with the North, or at least end it in their favor – they granted that the U.S. Navy might stifle shipping, should it come to that, but reckoned that mobs of the newly-out-of-work in England would pressure the king and Parliament to intervene on the South’s behalf.

The emergence of cotton as the first economic king of the industrial age led to the rise of a “cottonocracy” in the South, but as might be expected, the wealth of the boom didn’t exactly trickle down to the lower rungs of the socioeconomic ladder.  In 1850, only 1,733 families owned more than 100 slaves, and these families were the ones than ran things – to the exclusion of virtually everyone else.  Educated at places like Yale (John C. Calhoun) and West Point (Jefferson Davis), the leading “planter aristocrats” celebrated the return of quasi-feudalism by venerating the works of Sir Walter Scott, to whom Mark Twain ascribed at least partial blame for the Civil War, by impassioning Southerners to fight on behalf of a “sham civilization.”

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Figures from 1850 paint a picture rather different from the general perception of the antebellum South as a place of magnolia blossoms, mint juleps, and pillared mansions.  All told, only about 25% of Southerners owned slaves or belonged to a slaveholding family; of these, over 2/3s owned fewer than ten slaves each.  Thus, the plantation aristocrats possessed the majority of the slaves, but the smaller slaveholding farmers – who often labored in the fields beside the people they owned – represented the larger number of actual masters.  It also means that were the South to go to war with the North over this issue, it would have to rely on the support on the three-quarters of its white population who didn’t own slaves.

The American Dream is a powerful force in shaping the opinions of the poor, though, and it was the aspiration of many subsistence-level whites in the South to someday own a slave or two.  The very fact that this was possible provided an incentive for poor whites to support the institution as a whole, despite the unlikelihood of their personally ever undergoing a rags-to-riches transformation.

Historiorant:  It’s by that very appeal – the off-chance that one will wind up being the hero in a Horatio Alger story – that the Oxified One can get legions of dittoheads, most of whom are never going to have to worry about the financial-planning ramifications of leaving their heirs an inheritance of a million dollars or more, to repeat the “Death Tax” mantra over and over.

Support of slavery also served to served to affirm their own ideas regarding the supremacy of the white race; no matter how wretched a poor white farmer’s life might be, he could take a twisted, mean kind of comfort from the knowledge that at least he was superior to someone.  Pandering to this belief, a body of “scholarly” work developed, and provided an academic sheen to things as abhorrent as the “Mudsill” theory:

In all social systems there must be a class to do the menial duties, to perform the drudgery of life. That is, a class requiring but a low order of intellect and but little skill. Its requisites are vigor, docility, fidelity. Such a class you must have, or you would not have that other class which leads progress, civilization, and refinement. It constitutes the very mud-sill of society and of political government; and you might as well attempt to build a house in the air, as to build either the one or the other, except on this mud-sill. Fortunately for the South, she found a race adapted to that purpose to her hand. A race inferior to her own, but eminently qualified in temper, in vigor, in docility, in capacity to stand the climate, to answer all her purposes. We use them for our purpose, and call them slaves. We found them slaves by the common “consent of mankind,” which, according to Cicero, “lex naturae est.” The highest proof of what is Nature’s law. We are old-fashioned at the South yet; slave is a word discarded now by “ears polite;” I will not characterize that class at the North by that term; but you have it; it is there; it is everywhere; it is eternal.

— James Henry Hammond, in a speech to the US Senate (March 4, 1858) via pbs.org

Still, support for slavery was not uniform across the South: hundreds of miles from the nearest plantations, in the highlands of Western Virginia and in isolated valleys throughout the Appalachians, “mountain whites” nurtured hatred for plantation owners and blacks alike.  Political fallout from the passions of these groups included the admission as a state of West Virginia to the Union in 1863, and the entire Presidency of Andrew Johnson.

Setting Oneself Up For Disaster

In a sense, the South became a slave to its own system of slavery in the fourscore and some odd years prior to the Civil War, as increasing dependence on a single commodity asserted the inevitable consequences.  “Land butchery” quickly exhausted the soil in over-cultivated fields, causing planters to look for virgin lands in places like Texas, Kansas, and (perish the thought) Cuba, even as smaller farmers gave up, sold their family plots to the big guys, and moved west or north.  This led to overspeculation in both land and slaves – something that burned Andrew Jackson in his later years – and to a resentment of Northern merchants, who were seen as growing fat off Southern labor while hypocritically condemning its basis.  Finally, and perhaps not surprisingly, the South’s continued adherence to slave labor persuaded most of the incoming European immigrants to debark in the North, vastly increasing its workforce and productive capacity and leaving the South in the demographic dust.

None of this, of course, changed anything at the “Negro cabin” level, except to seal the slaves’ status as one of protected (and exceptionally valuable) property.  Slaveowners who fed their chattel on as little as 10 cents a day were wont to risk the life of a slave on something as dangerous as, say, draining a swamp or blasting a tunnel, since they were “death on niggers and mules” – gangs of expendable Irishmen were usually hired instead.  The value of slaves was further increased by the ban on importation enacted in 1808; after that, the slave trade in the United States became both domestic and, somewhat by necessity, self-sustaining.  Female slaves who bore ten or more children were prized as “rattlin’ good breeders,” while on a macro scale, a large shift in agricultural patterns (brought about in part by soil exhaustion in Virginia) saw thousands of Old South slaves “sold down the river” to the massive cotton plantations of the lower Mississippi Valley.

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Still, slavery – or, more precisely, the extension into new territories thereof – tainted nearly every political debate in the first half of the 19th century (I tried to touch on some of these issues in American Politics, ca. 1824-1848, American Politics, ca. 1850, and Bleeding Kansas – u.m.).  Calls by abolitionist activists in the North increased in both stridency:

I do not see how a barbarous community and a civilized community can constitute a state.  I think we must get rid of slavery or we must get rid of freedom.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1856

and in religious imagery:

That all those laws which are now in force, admitting the right of slavery, are therefore, before God, utterly null and void; being an audacious usurpation of the Divine prerogative, a daring infringement on the law of nature, a base overthrow of the very foundations of the social compact, a complete extinction of all the relations, endearments and obligations of mankind, and a presumptuous transgression of all the holy commandments; and that therefore they ought instantly to be abrogated.
American Anti-Slavery Society’s Declaration of Sentiments

from their more humble (if equally fiery) beginnings around the Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati, Ohio.  There, back in 1833, a preacher named Theodore Dwight Weld had joined forces with Lyman Beecher – a preacher himself, as well as father of future Uncle Tom’s Cabin author Harriet and rifle-toting Kansas settler Henry Ward – to preach against the sin of trading in human flesh.  After they were expelled for organinizing an 18-day debate on slavery in 1834, Weld and his fellow “Lane Rebels” spread out across the South, preaching like it was the Second Great Awakening all over again.  Within a few years, they became both the inciters and targets of violence – William Lloyd Garrison was dragged through the streets of New York by the “Broadcloth Mob” in 1835; the Rev. Elijah P. Lovejoy (no fan of Catholic women) was killed by anti-abolitionists in 1837 – as their from-the-finges cries for the end of bondage slowly moved the Northern consciousness toward their point of view.  It would not be until well into the Civil War, however, that ambitious politicians quit distancing themselves from the likes of Garrison, Lovejoy, and the Beechers.

Epilogue, Apologies, and Historiorant

What?  No biography of Frederick Douglass?  No Harriet Tubman or Underground Railroad

Alas, the fires are burning low here in the Cave of the Moonbat; I’m afraid I’m going to have to draw the curtains on this (already epically-long) diary, and direct the gentle reader to a few other HfKs for a continuation of the tale.  I’d be honored if you’d check out American Politics, 1856-1860, aphra behn’s American Women’s History, 1820-1860, the Election of 1860, and April, 1861 for a more in-depth look at how the “slavery issue” played out on the frontier and in Washington; see Lincoln at War – 1861, 1862 – Shiloh and Emancipation, and 1863 – Battles, Leadership, and Riots for (some of) how the debate played out on the battlefield.

It turned out, of course, that the lingering aftereffects from two and a half centuries of race-based slavery would not be undone by war or amendment; only time, the slowly-moving wheels of jurisprudence, and the steadily opening minds of successive generations could do that.  Enlightenment faces an uphill battle in this instance, though – the concept of people owning other people may very well predate human civilization itself, and is still with us in the modern day (to say nothing of modern America).  As always, the first step in fighting a human rights obscenity is to learn more about it – to that end, I’d recommend visiting the human-dignity-minded folks at Never In Our Names – and to share your knowledge of human bondage in the discussion thread below.

And last but certainly not least, profuse thanks once again to aphra behn, who redefines what an outstanding partner in historical collaboration should be.  Three cheers for Lady Behn!

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