Critical Analysis over Defending Slavery: Proslavery Though in the Old South
Critical Analysis over Defending Slavery: Proslavery Though in the Old South
Finkelman introduces his work by disclosing various sources that supported pro-slavery in the America. He unveils documents by famous politicians like John Calhoun in 1837, who gave a pro-slavery support speech before the Senate Finkelman, (2003). He indicates that some slavery advocates based their argument on slaves as an economic driver. Abolishment of slavery will result in unemployment, hence social instability. In his book slavery have always existed in the society, Romans and Greeks are examples provided. Clergymen support the idea of slavery, basing their argument on the fact that Abraham had slaves and was approved by God. Some lawyers like Dred Scott were pro-slavery proponents and ruled in favor of enslaving blacks and taking their right to fair hearing in courtyards. Finkelman compares poor Europeans and slaves in America and concludes they were better off. They could get better shelter, food and clothing and were treated when sick. Proponents of slavery accrued more benefits than losses from the chosen slaves, on a racial basis Finkelman, (2003). The following is an explanation of the main reasons for supporting slavery, as illustrated on the various theme. The support was based on political, social, and economic concerns.
In the American South, slave labor was the primary economic driver. Stopping slavery was crippling the economy. American South cultivated commercial products like cotton and tobacco. Slaves on planted, harvested, and transported from the farm to the factories for processing. American north supported slavery on the same basis; slaves operated their textile mills. On this ground, both the south and the north had a common interest in slaves Finkelman, (2003). The South produced cotton on their farms; it was bought by textile millers from the north. The northern Americans argued that commercial farming that yielded sugar and tobacco contributed to the development of national economy. The focus on economic gain, compelled Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut to overlook slave trade from Africa as a social vice. He came up with a famous slogan that what benefits apart can benefit a whole. Senator James Henry urged for the recognition of Kansas as a slave territory. The senator proposed that a state value is based on the magnitude of its wealth. “Rich countries recognize by their exports, which signify a state’s surplus produce.” He addressed the Senate to urge for retaining of slaves, to continue boosting Kansas economy Finkelman, (2003). He claimed that halting slavery consequently the economy of England would crumble, for it depended on the raw material like cotton that was produced in the south. For the above reasons, slavery was continued, and more blacks were oppressed.
Finkelman argues that slavery promoted social stability, slaves working for the white master were paid a wage. Ending slavery will render slaves to be unemployed, and this will result in a chaotic environment. Free sales will be homeless and without basic needs that will lead to revolutions and uprisings in the quest for their former privileges as slaves. The French revolution was referenced to show why withholding sales can save the nation from anarchy. Pro-slavery ideas were developed after the civil wars, the author suggests that efforts by the government of abolishing slavery would result in a civil war. A senator from The South called Hammond, suggested the mudsill theory that placed any black person under any white person. The theory suggested that Africans were the only individuals to be used during the agrarian revolution. The African race deserved to be enslaved, and if freed, poor whites and immigrant white people had to replace the black race slavery Finkelman, (2003).
Proponents of slavery According to Finkelman believed that slavery was an ancient act that faced no resistance. Slaves were comfortable in their place, they believed that the society must be a person who becomes a master and the other becomes a slave. The only difference between the ancient and American slavery was that ancient slavery was not biased to enslave races like in this context the blacks. The ancient enslaved those they have concerned, or some people volunteered as slaves. For instance Romans had the slavery concept and accepted it, they saw it as a social class and did not campaign on abolishing it. Greek went for conquests and captured their enemies who became their slaves Finkelman, (2003). They enslaved their enemies in place of killing them which was a fair settlement. Slaves knew their place, and no cases of rebellion were documented. The author indicates that enslavement was a punishment for those who owned a debt, the period of slavery was equally proportional to the magnitude of debt. In the ancient times, Romans could enslave Greeks, Africans, and the opposite are true. In the American slavery, only whites could enslave blacks, and it was purely on a racial basis.
Clergymen proposed that Slavery was not a pagan practice, the Bible recognizes it since it is included in the Ten Commandments. It is indicated that “Thou shall not covet thy neighbors……., maidservant nor a male servant.” God blessed Abraham, and the blessings included maids that he had Finkelman, (2003). The author indicates that in the New Testament, Paul a preacher of the gospel took a personal initiative to return a slave to his master. In the same era, Roman took Jews for slaves, and Jesus did not speak against slavery as a social evil. The Bible talks about fair treatment of a slave, this indicates that owning a slave is not considered a transgression before God Finkelman, (2003). John Calhoun in his speech before the Senate declared that the slavery civilized Africans, and so it’s a positive aspect to being reinforced. Through slavery, Africans improved their moral and intellectual standards, by mere interaction with their white masters. In the Bible, two type of slaves with different privileges have been mentioned. The author notes Hebrews and non-Hebrew slaves who were freed and remained lifetime slaves respectively.
Lawyers like Dred Scott were extreme racist and passed their judgment on purely racist grounds. He gave a ruling that all Africans, slave or no slave was not entitled to stand in a white court and have their fair hearing Finkelman, (2003). The author says that he considered Africans or slaves as properties of their masters who had rights over them. The constitution was an institution that gave a master power over their slaves. By 1670, many legislations that recognized slavery and the master power over a slave had grown so popular Finkelman, (2003). Virginia was among the states where slavery had strongly rooted since the government supported the act. Some legal theorists like Thomas Cobb suggested that Africans were an inferior race and deserved to be slaves. He was a racist and suggested that Blacks whether free or slave have to be subjected to unusual punishment. The author indicates that the lawyer believed that Africans were inherently criminals and that enslavement was their ultimate purpose Finkelman, (2003). He suggested that being ruthless to the blacks or slaves is a mechanism to keep slaves in their position.
The author indicates that poverty level in Europe was rampant and people suffered from diseases and hunger. Slaves in the America were better off since their masters provided them with medical treatment Finkelman, (2003). They were given shelter and food. White masters took care of their aged slaves. Slaves who run away were not cared for since no master claimed their ownership. Finkelman suggests that overlooking all those privileges would lead to social challenges. Some slaves realized they had kind masters and ensured that they remained good slaves that their masters could not send them away.
In conclusion, the proponents of slavery had enough reason to keep slavery going on. They got free service, and cheap labor before the introduction of wage payment as a form of appreciation of one’s slaves. The American slavery was based on institutions laid by the Bible and other ancient facts like Roman and Greek slave keeping. American slave keeping model was different and little concern over the protection of slaves was considered. Africans had been living in darkness and through colonization and slave trade, they experienced a civilization. Some of the premises in the book like in Avery prosperous society, there must be persons who perform the menial job, is true, and this context is the blacks. Those who do the menial duties have little social and economic power. All those defense in support of slavery is since there were movements that were advocating on ending the slavery and slave trade. The slave trade had taken a while before it ended, many Christian and political groups raised against the anti-social activity.
Finkelman, P. (2003). Defending slavery: proslavery thought in the old South; a brief history with documents. Bedford/St. Martin’s.