How Did Slavery Ever Become A Legal Institution?

In the beginning, and for several decades afterward, slavery was not primarily a governmental institution, neither in Europe, nor the United States.

Initially, the enslavement of Africans was almost all done privately.

There were, to be sure, a handful of governmental charters, but in the early days, the preponderating number of slaves were traded by private entrepreneurs who exchanged rum, spices, and other items to tribal chiefs for Africans whom these same tribal chiefs had already enslaved. In essence, they were relocated.

Make no mistake, however: the European traders were indeed responsible for perpetuating that barbaric institution; but they were not the people responsible for “enslaving the tribe that had lost a war or the man who had fallen into debt or the child sold by the family,” as historian Roger McGrath put it. That blame goes directly to the tribal African chiefs.

In fact, for a very long time slavery was not recognized as a legal institution in the colonies of this country. Thus, the first Africans weren’t, strictly speaking, slaves but rather indentured servants.

The fact of it becoming a legalized institution in the United States was actually brought about by a black man named Anthony Johnson, himself an erstwhile slave back in Africa, and then an indentured servant in the American colonies. After his indentured servitude had expired, Mr. Johnson was granted land in Virginia, where he subsequently acquired several indentured servants of his own – among them, one John Castor, an African who had been sold to him while already in the American colonies.

It was these same men, John Castor and Anthony Johnson, both black, who were initially responsible for the institution of slavery becoming recognized legally in this country.

When John Castor’s years of indentured servitude were finished, he was not immediately granted his freedom. And so he sued for it, as well he should have, as you and I would have too.

But Anthony Johnson, his owner, fought back, alleging in court that John Castor had never entered into what they called a “contract of indenture” but had been bought in toto as a slave in Africa. In a landmark decision, in 1654, the high court of the colony of Virginia found in Anthony Johnson’s favor, pronouncing that “John Castor was a servant for life.”

Chilling words, which no human should ever have to hear.

This was a monumental and precedent-setting case, later cited to weariness by the Southern colonies, so that slavery was soon officially institutionalized.

The fact that two black men are in large part the authors of American slavery is a piece of American history well worth teaching, no matter how postmodern the curriculum.

It is also a fact that black Americans held slaves all throughout the Civil War.

“In 1860, some 3,000 blacks owned nearly 20,000 black slaves. In South Carolina alone, more than 10,000 blacks were owned by black slaveholders. Born a slave in 1790, William Ellison owned 63 slaves by 1860, making him one of Charleston’s leading slaveholders. In the 1850 census for Charleston City, the port of Charleston, there were 68 black men and 123 black women who owned slaves. In Louisiana’s St. Landry Parish, according to the 1860 census, black planter Auguste Donatto owned 70 slaves and farmed 500 acres of cotton fields” (“Slavery’s Inconvenient Facts,” Chronicles, November 2001).

In terms of total population, white or black, the majority of people of either color did not own slaves in the south. In fact, “75 percent of Southerners neither owned slaves themselves nor were members of families who did” (Ibid).


  • Elle

    February 8, 2010

    I often questioned how much of the work force in this era was slavery or actual up and up straight labor for hire.

    Can I have permission to e-mail Sharpton a copy of this?

    On the subject of reparation’s, my ancestors were Vikings. Guess I better bust out my checkbook and write half of Scandinavia a check.

  • Bryan

    February 8, 2010

    This beats that shit you posted yesterday.

    I always wondered what I ever did to deserve the sort of scorn that I get as a white guy. After all, my ancestors immigrated in the early 1900’s, so I can’t even claim to have a history here that involved slavery. It’s all very silly.

    Interestingly, there are a couple of other things I don’t quite understand…

    First off, slavery was an active business between Europeans and Africans. I think people have a misunderstanding; thinking that white people went off with nets into Africa and captured Africans. A vast majority of slaves were sold or traded by other Africans, and many of them were already slaves since that was common practice in tribal conflicts (i.e. captured enemies were made slaves). Yet, the white man was demonized for what he did and the Africans become the eternal victims.

    Second off, as far as the Atlantic slave trade went, British North America (the future US) only received 4.4% of the total slaves. Otherwise most went to Spanish territories. Brazil alone took 35.4%.. Yet who’s the bad guy in the world? How often do you hear about slave reparations in Brazil or any of the former Spanish empire? You don’t. It’s all about the evil United States. Go figure.

  • Eldon Hoffert

    February 8, 2010

    “This beats that shit you posted yesterday.”

    Wrong!!! This is one of the worst thing Harvey’s ever posted.

    Even if there were 20,000 slaves owned by blacks in the South, how in the world does this metigate our government’s responsibility in this? Still, with 4 million slaves in the South, the 20,000 represents only a tiny percent of the overall figure, but man o man, does it make you right-wingers feel good about yourselves.

    Gee, Harvey, this really is surprising to hear. You’ve really shed some light on this. But of course, there was a huge best-selling novel a few years back called The KNown World by Edward P. Jones. Book clubs all over the U.S. (but perhaps not Colorado) jumped all over it. I read it too, even in Utah. It tells the story of a black slave owner in Virginia. The characters are so rich and the story is very compelling, but the thing that I got from it was that slavery-–even black-owned slavery-–was only possible with a goverment system willing to back it up.

    And your beloved Consitution and your wonderful Bill of Rights were useless when it came to this instituion. I think that’s why you’re so pisssed. Perhaps if you’d put down Human Action and read some slave narratives you’d be less hell bent on twisting the minds of your adoring tyros. Jackass.

  • Redmond

    February 8, 2010

    Great post Ray

    To Eldon 

    The founding fathers knew very well that slavery was something that could tear their newly founded country apart.

    Delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 hotly debated the issue of slavery.  George Mason of Virginia argued eloquently against slavery, warning his fellow delegates:
     “Every master of slaves is born a petty tyrant.  They bring the judgment of heaven on a country.  As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, they must be in this.  By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, providence punishes national sins by national calamities.”

    But because of the rights guaranteed in those beloved documents, it was inevitable that the institution of slavery would end.

    I don’t think that Ray is trying to absolve the US government of responsibility in participating in the horrible institution of slavery, merely that there is plenty of blame to go around. But it jis worthy to note that it is the same government that ended it, and at the cost of miilions of lives.

    I think it is also worthy to note that slavery continues to exist around the world. It is telling that these countries do not have the respect for individual rights that we in the west do.

    Continuing to focus on the crimes of the past, I think is counterproductive. If every culture had to repay their “debt” to all of those who they at one time oppressed, where would it end? Would the Italians repay all of Europe for the Roman empire? Should the north repay the south for destroying their economy? Given the levels of poverty we see in the south, I think a good case could be made for wealth transfers. And look at the poor whites of the appalachia, who are almost all descended from poor white indentured servants from England. Who pays for their multigenerational poverty?

    And in the case of reparations how exactly would it work? Would only poor blacks recieve reparations, or rich ones as well? What of poor blacks whose families were once rich but then let themselves fall into poverty? What of people of mixed race? Would they be neutral as they are descended from both oppressor and oppressed? Would the payments be made from the tax base of the US which is comprised of millions of people who had nothing to do with slavery? Or could we track down all of the descendents of the slave owners and get them to write a cheque? The problem with persuading people to help someone else through guilt is that resentment will inevitably form and grow. Better to do it out of love. Love of freedom, liberty and justice for all.

    I have a better idea, I think everyone who is not a pure blooded Native American should immediately be expelled from the continent, and returned to their ancestral homeland. People of mixed blood would be expelled to Antarctica. As my German ancestors were expelled from eastern Europe after the second world war. That would solve everything. Actually it wouldn’t – since the Native Americans crossed over ther land bridge from Europe and were responsible for the extinction of the the north American megafauna, they should be expelled as well. Actually since humans are the only animal that can oppress another, best that we all just dissapear.

    I am continually stunned by the way that the DWEEMs are made to be responsible for all the ills of the world. Especially since it is they who gave so many the reasons and ideas they needed to throw off the yoke of oppression. Their ideas are enshrined in the American constitution. The DWEEMs gave the world individual rights and freedom for all. But with that freedom came great responsibility, personal responsibilty. Everyone wants the freedom, but none of us want the responsibility. Some in the west have apparent decided that the problems of the world are caused by too much freedom. This is a grave mistake. Plenty of would be tyrants would like to relieve you of the burdens of personal responsibility, but only at the cost of your personal freedom. Witness what is happening in Great Britain today.    

    Focussing on the past does not allow us to truly deal with the injustices of the present, it merely puts salt in old wounds. Wounds that can never heal. The criminals of the past cannot be punished, and the victims of the past will never have restitution. They are all dead. We must remember the crimes of the past so they are not repeated. But attempting to right those wrongs is counterproductive.

    It is much better to focus on the crimes and injustices of the world today, and preventing the crimes of the future. There are injustices happening today, rights are being trampled on and people are being exploited. Down the street, in the next state, around the world. What are you doing to help them? 

    In today’s cult of the victim, everyone is oppressed and an oppressor, everyone is victim and victimizer. Everyone is guilty and no-one is, we all have an excuse. 

    Please think of this the next time you celebrate the loss of personal freedom, or revel in shame being heaped on those who do not deserve it.

    Best regards.   

  • Redmond

    February 8, 2010

    Postscript – I meant DWEMs

    Dead White European Males

    sorry bout that.

  • Wide Load

    February 9, 2010


    It doesn’t “metigate.” It does however clarify. It also exposes the ludicrous agenda of reparationists, like you. And in response to your astounding final paragraph, the institution of slavery was abolished BECAUSE of the Constitution and not, as you seem to think, in spite of it.

  • Ray

    February 9, 2010

    Redmond: To the wound that never heals.

    I’ll drink to that anytime.

    I like your new website, by the way:

  • Eldon Hoffert

    February 9, 2010

    Who are these reparationists? I don’t know of a single person who takes that shit seriously. It’s a dead issue. I do, however, from time to time, hear it from the right-wing nuts who seek to divide Americans. What’s next, an impassioned, “intellectual” essay on why it is taboo for whites to say “nigger”, but okay for blacks? That would be a great one for all of your rascist Midwestern fan base to get jazzed up over.

    Simple fucks.

  • Dave Cochrane

    February 9, 2010

    @ Eldon: perhaps, as liberals generally do, you would prefer your history to be modified to suit your preconceptions, so you can go on justifying your self-loathing?

    Slavery has existed all over the world, probably since humans existed, and has occured within and across just about all races.

    It still goes on today.

    As abhorent as the practice was and is, the fact is that the poor human lives that are the subject of the above piece, were traded between African slave owners and American (amongst many other nationalities) slave traders. So who do you propose should be compensated now? The decendents of those African slave merchants?

    Sorry Eldon, I’m sure you must think I’m being terribly ‘right wing.’

  • Ray

    February 10, 2010

    Mr. Cochrane is right, Eldon.

  • Eldon Hoffert

    February 10, 2010

    People who experienced slavery in both Africa and the English colonies often say that American-style slavery was far more brutal, far more violent than African slavery. There’s a famous slave narrative by Olaudiah Equiano that sheds some light on this. He makes a distinction between his captivity in Africa and his American experience. Maybe you and your cheerleading squad of racists would like to read this? I’ve cut and pasted a short description of the book. Perhaps you’ll all be interested and buy the book and read it.

    Book Description:

    Olaudiah Equiano’s 1789 narrative tells the remarkable story of his childhood in Africa, his kidnapping and subsequent years as a slave and seaman, and his eventual road to freedom in the Caribbean and in England.

  • Redmond

    February 10, 2010

    Eldon, your point is? Did you even read my post? Or was it too long? Or maybe you couldn’t prepare a relevant answer, and thought you’d just go with an ad hom.

    And what’s up with this Amercan slavery was worse? Is it some kind of contest? Who ever had the ancestors who suffered the most wins! Well I bid holocaust to your western institution of slavery. What you got to counter that?

    Here is an example of suffering that is occouring right now – and what are you doing to address it? And “caring deeply” about people who died 300 years ago doesn’t count.

    When she was 12 years old, rebels attacked her small Sierra Leone village. Kamara lost family and friends, her home and safety, and her hands, which were amputated by two child soldiers involved in the attack.

    So what you got for that one? Spanish conquest of Central America? Remember Kamara is alive –
    she is suffering right now… And for the rest of her life.

    I guess you could call that racist.

  • Redmond

    February 10, 2010

    And I am sorry but slavery is slavery, rape is rape, you can’t say a little bit of slavery is ok.

    I would suggest you go try it out some time, maybe write an “impassioned intellectual essay” on the various kinds of slavery and how they compare in terms of brutality. Would you rather be whipped with a cat-o-nine tails or a bullwhip? How about used as a sex slave, and bore the masters child, or had your children sold when they are 5.

    I can see what you mean, there is definitely some pretty good slavery out there, maybe we should bring it back to North America, maybe we could do a fact finding trip to Africa and see how we could make our slavery more humane.

    Shall I continue? Or do you get the idea?

  • Redmond

    February 10, 2010

    As a Canadian and not a Midwesterner, I think “an impassioned, “intellectual” essay on why it is taboo for whites to say “nigger”, but okay for blacks?” would be very interesting. Is it really a taboo? I am sure that all kinds of whites use the word nigger, but I think what  matters is which ones say it front of black people. Eminem anyone? I think it has more to do with social class than anything. The Educated middle class don’t say it because they are exercising a kind of soft racism, and have made a deal with the underclass, we won’t call you names, we’ll give you welfare, and you won’t rob us. Of course they use it amongst themselves and it would probably be considered racist in that sense depending on the context. “Nigger” means more than just a black person, it means a certain kind of black person – and it is used in the pejorative term by black people as well.
    Just ask Oprah what she thinks of the “N” word, or what a politically active poor black person might call her – a house nigger – look it up if you don’t know its meaning.
    And what did Spike Lee call Gansta Rap genre? I believe he called it a minstrel show.
    I think the appropriation of pejorative terms and “owning” the exclusive use of them by “oppressed” groups is an interesting trend and could use an “impassioned intellectual essay” witness the use of “Dyke” by lesbians. It would seem to come out of the social justice/empowerment movement, but since the words continue to hold their pejorative power, I don’t know what this accomplishes.
    The taboo that Midwesterners and Southerners break all the time and particularly galls the left wing educated elite is that they dare to be proud of their whiteness. Anyone enlightened knows that European/white culture is the cause of all of the ills of the world, and no-one should not be proud of it. The ultimate end of reason, rationalism, and the enlightenment was NAZI Germany, it is claimed. And as you know, the founding fathers owned slaves, so that discredits everything they did.
    I would argue this feeling of racial pride is most prominent among white working class and poor who, lacking material wealth or education, and needing something of course to feel proud of, they grasp onto the only thing they have, their whiteness, their history. Of course Aryan nation types obviously take it to far, and are incredibly racist and hateful.
    Of course what these people don’t realize is that there are plenty of reasons to be proud of their European history and culture, but they probably wouldn’t like them very much, as it would undermine their racist beliefs.
    You can see this false shame of European culture in going on in Enlightened Europe. Europe made a deal with the third world – we stay rich, you stay poor, and we wont be prideful of our European culture, our whiteness. but of course all of the racism is still there, just under the surface. Witness the recent banning of minarets in Switzerland. European countries as a rule are very homogeneous places, especially after the continent wide ethnic cleansing of the second world war. And are currently having a hard time integrating their immigrant populations successfully. But of course you always need an underclass. Who wants to be a janitor if everyone has a state provided college degree? Why work when you have 8 weeks of vacation and endless welfare, better to hang out at the cafe and complain about capitalism.
    And of course the Europeans and West in general still exploits and subjugates the third world, the most popular cover is now enlightened environmentalism. Now the third world has another reason to stay poor, in the name of saving the environment. It is all for their own good you see. Luckily India and China see through this and have no interest in our zero growth fantasies.
    Coming back to the movement that discredited the enlightenment, the National Socialist Party of Germany was also Environmentalist, vegetarian, in favour of animal rights, socialists, and of course racists. Unfortunately the only part of their agenda that was discredited was the racist part, but this is because the NAZIs wanted to kill only certain groups, whereas Environmentalists want to eliminate all of humanity through the establishment of a socialist green utopia in which they would reduce population through coercive and possible deadly means. You can see how much more fair and equal that is, can’t you?
    And this is the real reason that the intellectual left, like NAZIs hates the enlightenment and the inalienable rights of the individual. As it is for other would be tyrants,  these rights interfere with their plans of taking their rightful place as the ruling elite of a socialst utopia. For everyones good of course. There is far too much freedom, too much thinking going on, let us do the thinking for you, we have PHDs.
    And ironically the darling of the intellectual left is of course the European Union, a socialists wet dream. Legions of overpaid, unelected bureaucrats making laws that they are not subject to.
    And I bet they would have something to say about the word nigger. 
    How is that for an “impassioned “intellectual” essay”?
    Personally I think the world could use more of them, not less.
    Care to give us one? And not just a few lines of sanctimonious drivel followed by a personal insult?

    And as for dividing the country, I think you are doing a wonderful job already – keep up the good work.

    We await your reply
    Best regards

  • Ray

    February 10, 2010

    Redmond wrote: > I can see what you mean, there is definitely some pretty good slavery out there

    Laugh out loud!

    Just incidentally, now that you have a website, you need to start putting your URL in your comments so that your name links back to it. I’ve taken the liberty of inserting that URL in your comment above.

  • Bryan

    February 10, 2010

    shouldn’t people be seeking reparations for treatment then, rather than slavery? Besides, how do you then judge who was bad to slaves and who treated them ok. I would believe that there were plenty of slaves that were treated at least somewhat ok. Sure, there were probably a lot of brutal, vicious slave owners, but is it fair to lump everybody together as “slave owners” and seek reparations for slavery as a whole? As I said before, if that’s the case, they should be going down to Brazil or Spain and putting their hand out, because brutality aside, they still had the greatest numbers.

  • Eldon Hoffert

    February 10, 2010

    No, Bryan, there were no “Ok” slave owners. The system, top to bottom, was corrupt and vile. The American system, which outlived the British and French systems, seemed most vile. But I can understand why you think this way. After all, you and others who read this site don’t have the balls or brains to challenge the AI.

    You might want to read Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass. He had brutal owners who beat him (Mr. Covey et al.) and the Christian variety (the Aulds) who kept him in the main house but denied him freedom none-the-less in all kinds of horrible ways. Both situations were incredibly cruel.

    This is the problem with The Anti-socialist and his morbid essays–he offers the factoid that black slave owners kept slaves (even if this was less than 1 percent on the overall population) as an apologist of all things Americana. This is a right-wing, love-it-or-leave-it tactic that denies reality or any reasonable effort to understand or troubled (and great) history.

    I just returned from Turkey and I was shocked that the Turks refuse to admit their role in the Armenian genocide. In fact, the government of Turkey works everyday to minimize their role in that historical event. I could not wait to get back to the U.S. where we are at least wiling to look at ourselves with something close to objectivity. Americans don’t bullshit about who we are–at least most of us, save Harvey here, who by the way, just returned from his annual sojourn to Six Flags over Georgia. I can’t wait to hear about that shit.

  • Redmond

    February 10, 2010


    Why are you ignoring me? I mean I am spending alot of my free time responding to your posts, and you act like I am not even here? What is it? Afraid of my arguements? Don’t worry, I’ll be gentle…

    And what is up with your stereotypical bashing of working class white pastimes? Let me guess, you’ll be slandering us with our love of NASCAR and Larry the Cable guy next.

    Speaking of sterotypes, I bet you live in an urban area, frequent independent bookstores, wear a cowboy shirt and glasses. Occasionally “ironically” sport a mesh cap, and have never killed an animal. Possibly, you are also a vegetarian, maybe a vegan, but wear leather shoes.

    Am I close?

    Eldon, when did you stop caring?

    Oh and by the way Socialism didn’t end Slavery, American Capitalism did, although Lincoln was a statist. Pretty much all socialism has done so far is murder one hundred million people and saddle the EU with incredible amounts of debt, which they may never be able to pay off, and may one day end their socialst super state. Certainly the Corporatism, mixed with Keyensianism and the federal reserve printing mountains of fiat currency has bankrupted the USA – thank you Socialism.

    By the way Ray, how do I insert hyperlinks into my post? I haven’t figured that out yet, I was too busy cleaning my gun during posting 101.

  • Bryan

    February 11, 2010

    I don’t condone slavery, but it was acceptable practice at the time. When I say “ok” slave owners, I mean that as a comparison. There were slave owners who probably beat and tortured their slaves. In comparison, there were more than likely slave owners who were at least decent to the slaves. Didn’t Jefferson have slaves? I doubt he was out there beating the piss out of them…

    Granted, it doesn’t make it right, but not much has been right when you look back through history. But the question I still have is why it is we are being punished for what WE did, when really, there are many more guilty parties throughout history. Should the Jews seek reparations from Egypt for enslaving them and forcing them to build pyramids? What about the Romans? I mean, hell, the Romans forced slaves to fight to the death for their entertainment. Should reparations be made to the families of those people?

    Sadly, American slave history is a big black mark on us, while slave ownership/treatment throughout other periods of history are simply looked at from a historical perspective and are accepted as a sign of the times.


    Is it because we’re such spineless pansies that we decided to feel guilty about it? Other cultures in history accepted the things their ancestors did as a sign of the culture and the times, but don’t sit around feeling bad for what their ancestors did 200 years ago. Why do we? Why do we look at it and apologize over and over again and offer to pay people money for something an ancestor did to another ancestor?

    My god, there’s nothing more ludicrous! We need to get past this crap. Slavery was and is reprehensible, but neither you nor I did it and we have nothing to feel bad or guilty about. Look at it as history, hopefully learn from it and move on, damnit!

  • Redmond

    February 11, 2010

    Let me second that comment Bryan, in fact I already made that point, but Eldon seems to be ignoring my posts.
    Let me extend my previous analogy, the rape in America is so brutal, the rape in Africa is such a kindler, gentler rape.
    And the Armenian genocide? Cmon man quit livinig in the past, even Hitler knew that no-one would care about that one
    The intellectual west wants to crush the spirit of the enlightment, because it interferes with their plans of becoming the technocratic elite. And guilt is a great way of controlling people! That is why organised religion is so obsessed with it.
    Witness the latest drivel about the west owing a debt to the third world, of all of the co2 we have pumped into the air – did you read the proposed Copenhagen accord? It said: we stay rich, you stay poor! Get in line and do your part for the planet! Remind you of anything? The kings and priest class stay rich and the serfs stay in their place!!!
    Dude there is a fog around your head – you gotta break through!
    On the subject of the overuse of past crimes to control humanity, you might find this article illuminating   

  • BedazzledCrone

    February 11, 2010

    Just a few comments

    Actually British capitalism ended slavery earlier & without a civil war – it no longer made economic sense and they didn’t have a bunch of biblical literalists using the Noah story to justify the institution (watch Mississippi Burning for that argument).

    Slavery has not existed since human began to roam the earth. Slavery seems to have started when homo sapiens began to settle down as agriculturalists. The commodification of human beings into property began with the idea of private property. There is an argument that the control of women under the social system called patriarchy was the model used by males to begin slavery (see Gerda Lerner, The Creation of Patriarchy). In the beginning of land acquisition by force, men (including male children) were put to death. This gradually changed to making them (and their wives and children) into slaves. Was that progress? Maybe it was. If you were alive, you might be able to run away, or gain your freedom. Dead is dead.

    There isn’t a social system that human beings have created that doesn’t have problems. There is a downside to all of them. And right now in the U.S., we can see the downside of capitalism with ever increasing poverty. However, capitalism in one form or another has been around for millenia (even, it seems, the idea of logos). And capitalism has allowed for the growth of a middle class, the growth of education, the growth of independent thought, and for the growth of unions (which is another topic related to slavery – ever heard of the “company store”).

    Slavery isn’t unique to capitalism, in fact, it is in the capitalist countries that the freedom of thought can happen that ends these kinds of injustices. I agree that we cannot forever be feeling guilty about the past and trying to make right the wrongs of the past – we can’t in any case. As anyone who has had a personally devastating incident in their past should be able to tell you. Money, apologies, restitution don’t take away the pain – ask survivors of the residential schools systems in Canada and the United States. Slavery in its purest form – the actual owning of another human being – is unacceptable in western societies. And I say yeah!!! for the collective us. We have other things to worry about.

    Blogs like this one and the new “Peace, Order and Good Government” ( blog try to point out the real dangers inherent in the “fascism” of the left. It is as dangerous as the fascism of the right, maybe more so, because it tries to induce “moral panics” to make people conform to their agendas. Nothing like making the people think that they are “doing the right thing” to make them follow the leader.

  • Greg

    February 11, 2010


    “we can see the downside of capitalism with ever increasing poverty.”

    What is the evidence supporting this statement? I suspect you misunderstand the cause of poverty. There are copious amounts of evidence to the contrary.

  • Redmond

    February 11, 2010

    Hmm Bedazzled Crone

    “Slavery seems to have started when homo sapiens began to settle down as agriculturalists.”

    I think is a bit of a reach. Slavery existed in nomadic Native American Tribes as well. Humans hold value, so people will use them to their ends in anyway they can.

    “And right now in the U.S., we can see the downside of capitalism with ever increasing poverty”

    The Americans aren’t Capitalists, they are corporatists – the sooner you realize that, the sooner all this starts to be clear – that will give you an idea of what capitalism is.

    Mussolini Said
    “Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power”

    “Basically, National Socialism and Marxism are the same,” said Adolph Hitler.

    Using those two definitions the USA as it stands today is corporatist/fascist/socialist.

  • Dave Cochrane

    February 11, 2010

    Eldon said: “The American system, which outlived the British and French systems, seemed most vile.”

    Seemed most vile to whom exactly, Eldon? And based on what evidence, exactly? Are you saying that slavery is vile, but ALL THINGS BEING RELATIVE, you’d rather be enslaved by, say, an Arab than an American?

    Sorry, but I’m in a foul mood this evening. I brought home a bottle of wine, and it’s not very pleasant. You would consider it a very “right wing” bottle of wine, Eldon.

  • Dale

    February 11, 2010

    The original article appears to espouse facts about the beginning of slavery in the U.S., and observes slavery wasn’t racist, i.e. not just whites enslaved blacks. So, what’s all this reparation nonsense?

    Greg, the Crone is short on evidence for that statement, but it seems to me the government and its oppressive taxation is responsible for at least some poverty. If we had less government and more laissez-faire capitalism, I suspect we’d have less poverty, not more.

    And Dave, perhaps your wine was from France, which would make us wonder if it was a “left wing” bottle. After all, can you name a “pleasant” left winger?

  • Redmond

    February 12, 2010

    Oh one other thing bedazzled crone,

    You need to get past left and right, capitalism and socialism.

    Humans live in a binary world – freedom or oppression.

    I am for any one who gives me more freedom.

    I am against anyone who oppresses me.

  • BedazzledCrone

    February 12, 2010

    Redmond said
    “Slavery seems to have started when homo sapiens began to settle down as agriculturalists.”
    I think is a bit of a reach. Slavery existed in nomadic Native American Tribes as well. Humans hold value, so people will use them to their ends in anyway they can.”

    TheCrone says: Native North American peoples came across the land bridge and possibly the Atlantic (see the video: America’s stone age explorers: where did the first Americans come from? for a quick anthropological run down on the minimum of 4 human movements into the Americas). Nomadic tribes sometimes had slaves, however, in general, they were counterproductive to constant movement (one anthropological reason why pigs were banned in semitic nomadic groups – see Marvin Harris, Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches). They preferred to kill the people that they overran. These groups already had a hierarchical system of “governing”. The world was already “domesticated” by the time they arrived in North America (with my apologies to the Midewin believers – not that they would be reading this blog). Slavery (rather than death) seems to have arrived with creation of larger groups of people that required added labour force and land because homo sapiens learned how to cultivate crops leading to surplus goods.

    So much of the origins of our civilization is interpretive until we start to get written materials. We have some idea of what happened from about 5,000 years ago with the origins of writing (which began, as far as we can tell, to keep track of commodities, although stories figure prominently from the early days of writing). Prior to that we need to interpret village structures, plant remains, burial remains; all the tools of anthropology in its broadest sense if we want to understand how humans lived. Ultimately, what I was talking about were human groups that tended to hunt and forage and move from place to place when the pickings became slim. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of years ago.

    We cannot assume that human beings always had “value” in the sense that they were considered commodities. Human beings, if present company is any indication, resist being owned. It requires force, indoctrination, and serious socialization processes (including religious justifications) for people to accept slavery. The history of slavery is always the history of resistance. Even the Sumerians complained about runaway slaves. For me, that indicates that long before slavery existed, people did not think of themselves and others as commodities to be bought and sold. Somewhere in the past, all indications are that there was a major shift in how humans set up their interrelationships. From my research, this seems to have started when people started to settle down in groups. Why would they settle in groups? Because they had found ways to have stable food supplies. (& might I add, gave men way too much time on their hands [smiley face])

  • Dave Cochrane

    February 12, 2010

    @ Dale: it was sarcasm, my friend, based on the observation that Eldon seems to think that the definition of “Right Wing” is “anything unpleasant.”

    Sure, I have some pleasant left-wing friends – delightful company as long as the subject doesn’t turn to politics or Green issues. We have a mutual agreement to avoid such topics! Not that I am “right-wing” myself, although my philosophies have some commonalities with The Right, and just about nothing in common with The Left. Like Redmond, I value freedom.

    And if you had experienced the way this wine attacks ones taste buds (and I mean *attacks*), you would throw out any notion of it being French.

  • EJ

    February 13, 2010

    Great post Ray, and thanks for your work.

    Slavery, or more to the point, violation of the 13th ammendment is alive and well in the US with the public’s full support.

    Can a person be locked up, denied counsel, never charged with a crime, never brought before a jury, denied habeas corpus for months on end in today’s court system? It happens every day in this country. In fact, you all endorse this behavior as well.

    So if you think you don’t tolerate indentured servitude or slavery, you all are hypocrites. You all say no big deal in this instance. So don’t get so condesending talking about slavery here and conclude it is a thing of our distant past.


  • Redmond

    February 13, 2010

    Hey EJ

    Great point, I think we also need to look at the debt slavery that so many Americans are being put into as well now. The credit card companies are charging interest rates that only a few years ago would have been considered loan sharking. Add to that, they new this crash was coming and so had congress pass laws that made it harder to declare bankruptcy on said debt. Absolutely criminal. AIG and Goldman Sachs just pulled off the biggest rip off in history with Geithner and paulson giving themselves waivers to steal. And the millions of Americans are now saddled with houses that will likely never regain their value. Sold to them by people who knew they could never pay, and were just exploiting them to make a fast buck. America has just become the biggest ponzi scheme in the world.

    All we need is debtor prisons to come back, and the slavery will be complete.

  • EJ

    February 13, 2010

    Debtors prisons are already here!

  • EJ

    February 13, 2010

    For instance, if you were court ordered to pay a million dollars to another person and you couldn’t. We lock you up for non payment an put you on work release at first. If you refuse the yoke, we lock you up for months at a time, hoping you will surrender to the court by that time.

    Happens every day, right under your nose.

  • EJ

    February 13, 2010

    Locked up to pay money you don’t have to a private citizen. Indentured servitude by definition eh Ray?

  • Ray

    February 13, 2010

    That’s right, my man.

    That’s absolutely right.

  • Redmond

    February 14, 2010

    Christ I had no idea!!!

    That is completely f’d I just read a New Yorker piece about America was so great cause they had gotten rid of debtor prisons.

    Cant you just declare Bankruptcy?

  • Ray

    February 16, 2010

    The good reader Greg sent me a link to the following podcast, which is worth listening to:

  • EJ

    February 17, 2010

    This happens every day in our child support ‘system’. What is most sad here is that the majority of child support is owed to the state. And they can make up the rules with administrative law. And they can lock you up if you don’t pay enough.

    A worthy constitutional amendment would be to demand that money paid by displaced parents for child support go, 100%, to the kids.

    The potential for contempt here is enormous.

    Incredible that we haven’t abolished involuntary servitude.

    We had it beat, but we let it back in, for a reason, the kids!

  • EJ

    February 17, 2010

    Wow, what a good listen. We are only special, relative to history, if we appreciate the 13th ammendment.

  • BedazzledCrone

    February 17, 2010

    Oh my God, Ray I just listened to the link on BLITZ (well not all of it – see below). If ever there was a case to force someone to take my course on Ancient Greece or Women’s History pre-industrial, that’s it. “Women didn’t do anything because they had slaves”??? was about where I stopped. So Dan (of Hardcore History – the podcast) thinks that people are “evil” – his talk was so full of moralistic judgments that it hurt me to listen to him. Now I just have to listen to his “Hardcore History” podcast called “Suffer the Children”. I only hope the answer to his question “Could widespread child abuse and bad parenting in earlier eras explain some of history’s brutality?” is a resounding yes – maybe it will get some people to think about the impact of child abuse. And it is not just bad parenting in the past – let’s define bad parenting – there’s lots of it around today.

    And this relates to slavery, because if there ever was a group in our society who are slaves, it’s children – that is they have absolutely no rights. They are owned lock, stock, and barrel by their parents or the state. And Americans don’t want to give up their inalienable right to own their children. Just read their reasons for not signing the UN Charter on the Rights of the Child. And they sure as hell don’t want to sign the provisions that would force them to let a 15 year old child “enemy combatant” be treated like a child. See the case of Omar Khadr – not that the Canadian government is doing anything about his case either. The man has been in Guantanamo since he was 15 years old.

    However, let’s get a grip on what slavery really is. Say that I owe a hell of a lot of money on my credit cards. Well, I would work (assuming, of course, in this climate that I have work) and pay them off. I would have gotten myself into the debt hole. Nobody forced me to take out a credit card. It might not have been a good choice, but we all make bad choices and suffer the consequences. It’s not frigging slavery.

    So are people suggesting that the government step in and regulate the big banks and the big credit card companies? Maybe they should start by stopping those ridiculous bonus people get for moving “money” around by computers and creating non-existent wealth based on producing absolutely nothing. Would probably be a step in the right direction. On the other hand, how about the government step in and give people jobs – there are plenty of things to be fixed, roads and stuff. Then they can start spending money again. Then they can buy food, pay rent or mortgages, buy stuff that is produced. Then maybe one could think about laissez faire capitalism as a way to run an economy.

    I really do have to comment on the Capitalism blog.

    And EJ is so right about the child support system, as he describes it. It is not like that in Canada. At least in Ontario, if there is a child support judgment made, and the man fails to pay (most of the time it is the men who fail to pay their child support), the state pays the child support to the mother and goes after the father. The father’s wages can be garnisheed right off the top of his paycheck. It doesn’t always work as well as it could, but at least the money doesn’t go to the province. On the other hand, the taxpayers do foot the bill for the legal costs. From my perspective, its all part of the dues paid to have an equitable society where children have a shot at getting supported.

  • BedazzledCrone

    February 17, 2010

    Another interesting blog on Slavery from the British point of view. The comments are most interesting. Some of the same issues that come up in this blog, particularly on the part called The Rise and Fall of Slavery.

  • Ray

    February 18, 2010

    Those comments are interesting, BedazzledCrone.

    Almost as interesting as Post-WW2 Demythologizing Weltanschaaungs.

    And WD-40.

  • BedazzledCrone

    February 18, 2010

    So what kind of comment can one make to WD-40? I laughed my head off.

  • BedazzledCrone

    February 18, 2010

    I have already ready it, BTW

  • EJ

    February 19, 2010

    So, it is OK that there we still like peonage, in certain situations? Ha on you who can’t read an ammendment to the constitution.

    If it is OK in this instance, then beware the will of the majority in all corners of your life.

  • CatBallou

    April 9, 2017

    I’m sorry but this information is erroneous. The first documented slave owner was Hugh Gwynn, a white man, in 1640. The first slave was John Punch. Anthony Johnson did not own a slave until 1654, a full 14 years later, due to a loophole in the law. Slavery was already established by that time. Yourevisionist historians are really laughable.

  • Ray

    April 10, 2017

    “Yourevisionist historians are really laughable.”

    Thank you!

    I regret to inform you, however, that I’m neither historian nor revisionist. I’m a bartender.

    It’s interesting to note that your issue with me is not over my revisionist cocktology, nor does it concern my questionable inebriology, but hinges rather upon the question of who was first — and not the case itself, which was indeed one of the very first legal sanctions of slavery, as I’m sure you would agree. (But what about the 1634 Barbados-to-Boston slaves?)

    I leave my article as it was written a long time ago.

    Thank you for dropping by with your sloppy comment, which I found quite laughable.

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