10 Lies You’re Told About American Slavery

Slavery remains one of the most uncomfortable subjects in the history of the United States of America. Indeed, it can hardly be relegated to being only American “history” as we’ll soon see in greater depth. There are large groups of historical revisionists that have a vested interest in trying to downplay it or reshape it in a way that’s more comfortable for their agendas. There are also some people that have grown up with overly simplistic versions of slavery in the past and its current state. We here at TopTenz will strive do our small part to push back against both.

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Text version: http://www.toptenz.net/10-lies-youre-told-american-slavery.php

Coming up:

10. “Abolitionism was a Popular Northern Movement”
9. “The American Civil War was Not About Slavery”
8. “Slaves Fought for the Confederacy”
7. “Slaves were Rarely Killed by Labor”
6. “Freed Slaves Took Control of Southern Governments After the American Civil War”
5. “Slaves Were Only Owned by the Wealthiest”
4. “Even if the South Won the Civil War, Slavery Would Have Ended Shortly After”
3. “The First Slaves in America Were White People!”
2. “Slavery was a Southern Problem”
1. “Slavery is Illegal in America”

Source/Further reading:


Slavery remains one of the most uncomfortable
subjects in the history of the United States Of America. Indeed, it can hardly be relegated to being
only American “history” as we’ll soon See in greater depth. There are large groups of historical revisionists
that have a vested interest in trying to downplay It or reshape it in a way that’s more comfortable
for their agendas. There are also some people that have grown
up with overly simplistic versions of slavery In the past and its current state. We here at TopTenz will strive do our small
part to push back against both. 10. “Abolitionism was a Popular Northern Movement” The idea that Union armies marched with the
intention of freeing slaves is integral to The romanticization of the American Civil
War and the lionizing of Abraham Lincoln, As seen in speeches like the one that Jeff
Daniels gives in film Gettysburg. It gave a long, grueling war a sense of purpose
that was meant to help everyone feel better About the end result. It’s also not really what the situation
actually was like in the North. The New York Times reports that as recently
as 1860 an abolitionist movement called the Liberty Party ran a candidate that didn’t
win a majority in a single county. The largest abolition newspaper in the country
only had a circulation of around three thousand At a time when the combined population of
the Northern states was more than twenty million. Even among the black population that joined
the Union Army, the vast majority were former Slaves recently freed by the army they joined. When the Emancipation Proclamation was signed
in 1862, it led to a spike in desertions among Union troops, some of whom were explicit about
how emancipation was the motivating factor. In brief, it could hardly have been said that
the average soldier would have been moved By a speech about freeing slaves. 9. “The American Civil War was Not About Slavery” In order to defend fetishizing the Confederate
flag (or rather the Army of Northern Virginia’s Battle flag) and other aspects of America’s
confederate heritage, the lie has been spread That the Civil War was fought over the rights
of States, not the freeing of slaves. There are a number of aspects that can be
cited to support this claim, such as the fact Lincoln himself denied that the war was about
slavery in the early days since, as said,

Many people in the North were opposed to the
idea of fighting a war to end slavery. However, the Southern states all included
in their Declarations of Causes for their Rebellion that it was either the “superiority
of white races” or the issue of slavery. South Carolina, the first state to secede,
charged the North with the crime of “…elevating To citizenship, persons who, by the supreme
law of the land, are incapable of becoming Citizens…” Mississippi’s called slavery “the greatest
material interest in the world.” However much people today might try to muddy
the waters, back then the motivation for the Rebellion was crystal clear. 8. “Slaves Fought for the Confederacy” When someone wants to claim the American Civil
War was about defending homes instead of slavery (more on this later) they would be in line
with common revisionist rhetoric to say that Slaves and black people fought rank and file
with their white associates. After all, who could deny the need for white
people to defend their home state if even Black people and slaves would set aside their
differences for it? The problem is that for the longest time,
the Confederate government wouldn’t have It. All black people, even those free born, were
banned from serving as soldiers in the Confederate Armies for almost the entire war. They served as camp followers that had to
cook and clean as slaves, but they were not Permitted to take up arms. When the Confederacy tried desperately to
create black regiments in 1865, it was with The offer of freedom instead of to defend
the South, and it happened so late in the War that they were never able to see combat. 7. “Slaves were Rarely Killed by Labor” The logic of this one is pretty straightforward
and seemingly sound: Since a slave is likely Going to be expensive, it’s in the best
interest of the owner to treat them well to Make sure they can get more years of relatively
less grudging work out of them. Noam Chomsky described how a prevailing argument
among slave owners was that industrial wage Workers had it worse than a slave because
“we take care of our slaves. You only rent them.” However, it wasn’t an approach that actually
appealed to slave owners going by the available

Information. A slave owner in Louisiana named Bennett T.
Barrow was unremarkable in describing almost Daily beatings and torture for slaves. Food and housing standards were generally
minimal, as much for a show of power as a Means of cutting costs. A slave cemetery that was discovered in 1997
showed that many slaves died before the age Of twelve, and of those that survived into
adulthood, many had lesions in their bones Where their labors literally wore away the
muscles to the bones. It seems that for most people rich enough
to own slaves at all there was enough income That even expensive human labor was disposable. 6. “Freed Slaves Took Control of Southern Governments
After the American Civil War” For a century this lie was used in the South
for policies designed to take away voting Rights from black people. The narrative essentially boils down to how,
after slaves were freed, they immediately Began voting for politicians that were so
vile that they had to be forcefully removed From office for the good of all, exemplified
by the fact the majority of the new elected Leaders were black. The landmark film The Birth of a Nation from
1915 is basically devoted to this falsehood. The truth was that during the high point of
African-American power during the South in The late 1860s, they only had a legislative
majority in South Carolina. Other than that, it was much closer to Mississippi,
where only Roughly 17% of elected legislators were black. What was actually happening was a wave of
terror in the South where black people and Sympathizers were being murdered basically
en masse, particularly black servicemen. In Louisiana alone in 1868 more than a thousand
people were murdered for this reason. In short, the truth was much closer to terrorism
we mostly associate with the Middle East today Being inflicted on freed slaves. 5. “Slaves Were Only Owned by the Wealthiest” As evidence that the average Southern soldier
didn’t fight in the Civil War to defend The institution of slavery, it’s put forth
that the vast majority of them couldn’t Begin to afford a slave. The average price of a slave in 1860 was $800,
which certainly sounds above the pay grade

Of a soldier making $11.00 a month as the
average Confederate private was when they First enlisted, so it sounds even more reasonable. However, you have to consider that among the
people that fought for Southern armies such As the Army of Northern Virginia, slave ownership
was much more common than you think. One in ten soldiers owned slaves. Another twenty-five percent of the soldiers,
who did tend to be only around the age of Twenty-six and naturally wouldn’t have saved
up to buy their own, lived in slave-owning Households. In the officer class, half were slave owners. That’s not even factoring how many aspired
to own slaves, worked on plantations as overseers Or related jobs, or the number who felt that
keeping black people in chains was the proper Order of things. If there were soldiers that fought only for
states’ rights, they certainly were not The overwhelming majority. 4. “Even if the South Won the Civil War, Slavery
Would Have Ended Shortly After” As part of the argument that the Civil War
wasn’t about slavery, some claim it was Dying out on its own. For one thing, the fact that every major trading
partner for the Confederacy had outlawed slavery (and that it was unpopular enough that the
South wasn’t officially recognized) is offered As a sign international pressure would have
led to it being banned. Also, advances in technology would have allegedly
made slavery obsolete. In fact, slavery was so profitable at the
time that an average slave owner could expect A 100% return on their investment within ten
years, and considering the light costs, that Meant each slave was almost pure profit for
decades if they lived to even middle age for The time. And nearly a century later, Nazi Germany put
millions of people into highly profitable Slave labor. Even today some countries still find use for
it. So if the Southern states had indeed become
a separate nation, it would have meant a long Time where millions of people lived and died
as property. 3. “The First Slaves in America Were White
People!” An argument used to downplay the atrocities
of the slavery of black people in America

Is the claim that Irish immigrants were an
overlooked group that also got enslaved. Irish people certainly were put into forced
labor under the more sophisticated sounding Label “indentured servitude,” and doesn’t
that show just how phony and shallow the feelings Of people opposed to slavery of black people
are? However, there were significant, immediately
tangible differences between indentured servants And slaves. Indentured servants still retained basic human
rights such as the fact neither they nor their Children were designated property. It was contractually possible to get out of
indentured servitude through labor, something No slave could hope to get through anything
more than their master’s whim. 2. “Slavery was a Southern Problem” For the average American the first instinct
when the issue of slavery in America is brought Up is to imagine a slave being worked to death
on a plantation while the enlightened Northern States were their only hope of freedom. It helps natives from those states feel that
their hands are much cleaner of the peculiar Institution and allows unambiguous condemnation
of the South as just a bunch of racists. In truth, many Northern states didn’t merely
tolerate Southern slaveholding for a long Time. There were many active participants. Almost all the ships that brought slaves through
the infamous Triangle Trade originally set Sail in New England even well after it was
banned in that region. Northern states also allowed slavery much
later than history textbooks usually admit. In Pennsylvania, for example, there were still
hundreds of black slaves in 1850 even though It had been banned under state law in 1780
because the Gradual Abolition of Slavery Act Allowed them to remain slaves until their
twenty-eighth birthday. So the taint of slavery is much more prominent
on Northern states than a passing knowledge Of history indicates. 1. “Slavery is Illegal in America” As a means to try and put the openly slave
friendly time behind us, revisionists that Want to downplay slavery will mention that
it became illegal more than 150 years ago, So why continue to claim it’s still important? Indeed, Steven Spielberg’s biopic Lincoln
treats the passing of the 13th Amendment to

Outlaw slavery as an unambiguous triumph. Unfortunately, as made clear in Ava Duvernay’s
documentary 13th, the 13th Amendment contains A loophole that allows people to be put into
forced labor as a form of punishment for being Convicted of a crime. While chattel slavery was outlawed by Franklin
Roosevelt in the 1940s to prevent it being Used for Japanese propaganda in WWII, the
amendment is still in place. Duvernay’s documentary also points out that
25% of all people that are incarcerated in The world are in the US and thus vulnerable
to being pressed into slavery. Indeed, in January 2017, Sheriff Thomas Hodgson
in Massachusetts offered local inmates as Slave labor to help build the border wall
with Mexico. So it’s not so much a dirty secret that
slavery is still legal in America as it’s An unpleasant truth hidden beneath the surface
that we’re only now shining a light on.


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