Thursday, February 23, 2017

Slavery and Freedom by J. R.

“Slavery and Freedom: The American Paradox” written by Dr. Edmund S. Morgan is a detailed article that analyzes the rationality of our nation’s founders, and the important role slavery played in the long journey not only to freedom, but developing the United States of America. Morgan argues two misconceptions many American’s hold. The first misconception is that Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, was a hypocrit. For how could a man that praised the god given right of life and liberty to every man, not in actuality grant such rights to every man. Edmund further clarifies the misconception of hypocrisy by explaining Jefferson’s denotation of the word freedom is as follows “It was freedom that sprang from the independence of the individual. The man who depended on another for his living could never truly be free.” (pg. 123, 18-20) Jefferson’s illogicality allows the colonies use of slave labor, and the eventual increase in slave trade. Jefferson also feared the ”landless urban workman”, the man working for another to make money whom were very poor in contrast to the commonwealthman. Jefferson’s ideology on freedom was shared with the many other Englishmen of Virginia, thus spurring a long, insincere, period of slavery in the state of Virginia.

Author’s Purpose:
Dr. Edmund S. Morgan’s purpose is to shift many current misconceptions on the history of freedom and slavery in U.S history. There are many preconceived (or better yet taught) notions about the founders of our country and the role they played in slavery. Morgan writes from a third-person point of view making the population of Virginia the focal point of his article. The intended audience can encompass a wide array of readers. The article not only caters to well-versed historians, but to those who do not know much about the history of the United States. The author acts as a narrator with a bias, however this bias is utilized to amplify his argument. The audience hears many short accounts of racism and slavery over the years ranging from 1500 to 1780. As a part of the audience it becomes apparent that, while the author takes the Virginia white English male populous voice into great mention, the audience rarely hears from the standpoint of the slave. The article focuses on the white English male’s complicity over slavery.

Class Work:
In class we discussed the Stono Rebellion that occurred in 1739. In Spanish controlled Florida, there was the first all black settlement in St. Augustine. The Spanish announced that any slaves who ran away and reverted to Catholicism would be free to live at Fort Mose. This word caught wind to the Northern English colonies. The British feared the slaves would rebel, and to hinder their travels the British would execute slaves in public, for all to see. In December 9th, in South Carolina, two shopkeepers were killed and two neighboring plantations were lit on fire. A group of 20 African slaves banded together in a coalition and started a rebellion. They traveled south, beating drums to signal other slaves to join them. Their army grew to about 100 slaves. About 20 miles outside of Charleston there was an English militia waiting for them. Most of the rebellion died, those that were captured were tortured with the most severe punishments. Some of the captured slave’s heads were dismembered, put on pikes, and posted on the highway as a warning to discourage other slaves from rebelling. This lead South Carolina to pass stricter slave codes. One of which being any white person who saw an unescorted black person was obligated to report them immediately. The article implied that the slaves and the homeless poor almost never rebelled. Perhaps the heavy fear of rebellion was limited to Virginia, but the article insinuated the white man’s fear of revolution. The Stono Rebellion now enlightens the reader, post article, that there in fact was rebellion and that the Virginians had some credibility for their fear.

Class Discussion:
One particular question we discussed interested me. It was on the topic of debt. Thomas Jefferson “was a debtor all his adult life.” (pg. 123, 28) Debt played a critical role in the development of slavery and the continuance of slavery. Thomas Jefferson believed that he could not free his slaves until he was out of debt. To Jefferson it was a double-edged sword. To free the slaves he must get out of debt, but the only way he could get out of debt was by utilizing the slaves to pick his crop. His debt was crippling him morally. He chose not to free his slaves on financial grounds.

Other Questions:
I am left wondering the other states and their road to abolition. While Virginia, during the 1700’s had around 40,000 slaves, may not have been the state with the most severe death rate or severe treatment of African slaves. I personally would have liked to hear small narratives from other states during the same time period (minus the Stono Rebellion). My last question is how a state can go from being solely reliant on slaves to abolishing slavery all together. Was there a severe change of heart – of morality? Morgan mentioned this idea in his article, yet it is the one concept that doesn’t quite fit to the overall tone of the article.

Slavery and Freedom by K. J.

"Slavery and Freedom The American Paradox" talks about the struggle  America had trying become a Nation of the free, but one-fifth of the population was  enslaved  and did not receive any Rights. Morgan wanted to show how that the words that America is built on Liberties and Freedom for all had a much different meaning .  There was a huge distrust of the poor in the 18th century. Jefferson thought if a person was dependent on another man, meaning if they do not own land and or cannot provide for themselves then that person cannot be consider a freeman. After indentured servants finished their  term the newly freedmen would get small parts of land from various ways  if possible and started growing  Virginia cash crop Tobacco. But since the former indenture servants  had a problem of not being able to sell their harvest. Which caused the poor population to grown. A growing Landless  laborer (poor) class was the biggest fear of Jefferson which triggered the switch from indentured servants to slavery. Morgan wanted to show that America had to  rely on slavery because they wanted to be equal to other nation but promoted Freedom to all creating a huge paradox.

Morgan wanted to show the point of views of the thinking behind slavery in Virginia in the 18th century; What exactly pushed the indenture servants labor force to the slave work force.  We heard the voices of the early founders of the nation and their opinions while building the young nation. I wanted to hear how England viewed the American during this time period.

A important piece I remember from class is the Stono Rebellion documentary we watched in class. The Stono Rebellion was a organized slave uprising with about 50 slaves in North Carolina September ,9 1739. The slaves robbed an ammunition   store and started killing and burners houses down on route to Florida. The uprising was subdue and the slaves was caught and murdered, but the Negro Act was approved right after the rebellion limiting slaves rights. Slaves could no longer grow food for themselves, earn money, organized, or learn to read. Seeing  the impact and how the colonials population was caught off guard showed why the push to slavery was happening in early America.

Class Discussion
In class we talked a lot about Jefferson and his distrust of the poor. Part of this distrust was from his trip to France and seeing all the beggars on the street, and the abundance of poor people which he did not want in America. It was a common England fear. We also talked about how Jefferson and Washington was in debt  all of the time, but  Jefferson feared national debt up there with landless laborers. In class we also found out how the Tobacco selling worked where agents in England would sell the harvest and ship back goods from England.

Other questions
I wanted to know more about the causes of death  when the settlers first got to Virginia which stunned  the growth of settlers . Learning about how the Spanish Colonies offered freedom for slaves escaping America heading to Florida. I want to know or here a personal stories of one of rogue slave that made it through and how life in the Spanish colonies was like.

Slavery and the Making of America by M. L.

Dr. James O. Horton, a former professor at George Washington University and historian at the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institute, speaks about the importance of the slave trade to the Americas. Dr. Horton sheds new light on the slave trade and provides the argument that the slaves should not just be remembered and shown pity as an oppressed, senseless people but respected and thanked for the huge amount of economic and cultural prosperity that the slaves brought to the region. The best example that Dr. Horton brings up is the rice industry in the Carolinas. There was no existing rice industry in Europe or the then colonies. The climate was perfect for rice farming though and the only easily accessible rice farmers were Africans. Without the rice farmers that came to the Carolinas and other regions for other purposes, there is a valid argument that could be made that the America we know today would not be.

There are three main points that Dr. Horton tries to convey in his presentation. The first is that the slave trade lasted longer than just the 30 years prior to the Civil War which is the time frame in which most people, especially Americans think of. The slave trade to the Americas started in the 1600’s and didn’t end until the 1880’s when Brazil finally closed its slave trade. The second point that Dr. Horton gets across is that the slaves that came across the Atlantic were at the time “skilled” labor. The third point is that the slave trade was larger than just what would become the United States. A majority of slaves were actually going to South American countries and the Caribbean.

            One of the main questions discussed in class was “why were no slaves going to Europe?” The conclusions drawn were that one; Europe simply did not have the labor demand that the new world did. Although farming was done in Europe they were mostly small family owned operations that just served the local area. The new world farms however were large commercial farms that required large labor forces to work long hours doing hard manual labor. The second; Europe already had a “free labor” system employed through the apprentice system of labor.

In class we looked at a video and illustration and number table that visually showed the magnitude of the slave trade and really emphasized the broad perspective of the slave trade. Coming out of class there are no real burning questions although my interests were peaked.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Slavery and the Making of America by C.V.

    “Slavery and The Making of America” is a presentation given by James O. Horton. In the presentation Horton talks about how slavery is an integral part of America’s history and how it has been perceived until now. Horton’s focus is less on the egregious acts that happened because of slavery and more on how it helped America to become what it is today. Horton offers information that people may or may not have know about slavery and then goes on to debunk false evidence or talk more in depth on things that traditional schools may have only talked slightly about. Horton gives examples such as people only really thinking about slavery as happening close to the civil war, Giving a rough estimate of a total 25 or so years of slavery, and then talks about how slavery has been happening as far back as the 1540s.

Author’s Purpose:
Horton’s purpose is to enlighten people who have been either to ignorant or just improperly informed to the true history of slavery. Horton voices few opinions on the topic rather he provides statistics and historical facts to be as clear as possible. Horton takes a stance that most people listening in the audience and watching him are not informed of what slavery really is. This is a great communicative form of speech that allows people at all different intellectual levels to understand what he is trying to say. Horton’s main point to get across is people think about slavery in a different way than they should.

Class Work:
The most memorable piece of work in class was the map that showed the amount of slave ships each year transporting slaves to The New World. The map was an extremely solid way of visualizing the mass amount of slavery that had happened. Tying back to Horton’s Presentation of how not only the baffling amount of slaves there were but, also showing how long ago it had started. The map also did an excellent job of showing how most of the slaves were transported from the coast of Africa which had been a topic that Horton had brought up of how many coastal Africans would enslave and sell inland Africans to the Europeans and other slave owners. Lastly both the animated and paper handout map we got worked to show how many slaves went to where. Seeing that in Southern America and the Caribbean had nearly triple the amount of slaves then Northern US helped to clarify how not only was America affected by slavery but, most of the western world as well

Class Discussion:
In the in class lecture/discussion there were many great questions brought about. Some that stuck out was how in a younger grade people are taught to think of slaves almost as helpless children rather than workers. However, when Horton talks about slaves he mentions that they had skills and knowledge that the slave owners needed, showing that thinking of the slaves as helpless makes them seem weak when in reality they needed to be exceptionally strong of will and knowledgeable in whatever they were assigned to do. Another great question was how there was an extreme amount of slave ships going to the Caribbean despite it being such a small landmass. Horton never brings this up however, in class it was answered to be that most slaves who went to the Caribbean had ended up dying.

Other Questions:
While not being a question, I believe that one idea not brought up was how different Horton’s presentation was from traditional things that talk about slavery. Horton never outright focused on how negative slavery was and I believe this is because he understands that the audience (hopefully) already know how dreadful slavery is. Therefore, instead of spending time on that topic he uses his time and effort on explaining things that people may either never have known about slavery or going into more detail of certain things that happened. In doing this Horton has created a very captivating presentation that can inform many people and change minds for the better.

Slavery and the Making of America - by F. H.

The Slavery and the Making of America Blog
James O. Horton explained why slavery made a big part of America and cleared some misconceptions about the history of slavery most people thought were true using his book as the biggest piece of evidence. America was built on slavery and the economy thrived greatly from slave labor. The Southern Colonies invested more into slavery than the Northern Colonies because their land was fertile for growing crops - such as cotton or rice - as compared to the North. Thus, the North abolished slavery early on in America’s history unlike the South which thrived on slave labor; the Southern economy boomed.
Horton is speaking from several points of views. When he talks about his book, it is in second person. When he talks about the history of slavery itself, he speaks in third person. He barely uses his own personal experience, but it is first person.
From the documentary about the Mayflower and the Colonies abusement of using the Native Americans for their own personal benefits: they took land unjustly, killed Native tribes, and converted Natives to the Puritan religion and treated those natives as second class citizens. Slavery just benefitted the South - free labor, economy boomed, and slaves were treated horribly. Both relate because they both expanded America into what it has become today. It may not have been the best moments in American history, but it helped shape America into the country it is today.
If America had not used slavery to develop the country, we would not have been able to trade with other countries. When Lincoln was elected President and declared the Emancipation Declaration for the Civil War, the North would not have won if it were not for African-Americans willing to fight for their freedom against the slave-populated South.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Blog Posts

Students will submit blog posts via Canvas and the instructor will move them to this blog.