Friday, July 8, 2016

Ignorance and Slavery

African-American Sharecroppers
I was doing some research for my new book on Ebenezer Allen when I discovered several interesting articles in The Texas Almanac of 1858. A compilation of "Statistics for all the Counties" lists Negroes, Horses, and Cattle with the number and value. The total value of these three categories is $77,079,593 of which the value of Negroes of $58,123,340 accounts for 75%.  The number of Negroes is given as 113,217 which translates to value of $513 per slave.[1] This is one of the most compelling reasons why wealthy slave owners fought to preserve slavery - the loss of wealth would destroy their fortunes.

The second factor is outlined by an article in The Texas Almanac entitled "African Slavery." The bigotry is evident as is ignorance of the writer. I present the information to illustrate the cruel, idiotic, and self-serving ideas that might have been typical of a large slave-owning Texas plantation owner.

Every citizen of the United States should be the warm friend, the unceasing advocate and the bold defender of the institution of African Slavery, as it exists in the Southern States of the Union. Why?
First: Because the African is an inferior being, differently organized from the white man, with wool instead of hair on his head - with lungs, feet joints, lips, nose and cranium so distinct as to indicate a different and inferior grade of being. Whether this comes from the curse upon Ham and his descendants forever, or from an original law of God, we will not here discuss. But the great fact is as true so that man exists. The negro [sic] is incapable of self-government, or self-improvement, as proven by his universal ignorance and barbarism, though ever in contact with civilized nations, for five thousand years. He has never advanced one step, excepting as a slave to white men. And when civilized and Christianized in slavery, and then freed, he invariably relapses, more or less rapidly, into ignorance and barbarism. Three generations as a freeman find him, in his offspring, a confirmed barbarian. The exception is only where he remains surrounded by white civilization, as in the United States, and then he becomes a petty thief and idle loafer. For proof, look to Jamaica, to San Domingo, Hayti [sic], to his now acknowledged degeneracy in Liberia and to the freed blacks of the United States and Canada. He cannot amalgamate with the white race without producing disease and death to the offspring. The mulatto of the fourth degree, unless bred back into the pure white or black cannot re-produce himself. Hence, the law of God stamps disease and death as the penalty for amalgamation.
Second: As a slave in a mild climate, the negro [sic] is contented, cheerful, obedient and a long-lived laborer. He attains his highest civilization in slavery, receives religious instruction - becomes faithful, trustworthy and affectionate to his white master and superior - yields him willing obedience and enjoys his own highest attainable happiness on earth. For proof, look at the negro in his wild native haunts - in his freed condition, after having been a slave - and after having been a slave - and  at his past and present happy, contented and healthy condition, as a slave in the Southern States.
Third: As a slave, he produces the great staples of cotton, sugar, rice, hemp, tobacco, coffee, &c., which cannot be grown either by white or free labor to meet the demands of the world. Abolish slavery, and we abolish the production of these great staples. Abolish their production, and we break up the commerce of the civilized world - we destroy the manufactories of Europe and America - we destroy their combined shipping interests - we throw the white man of both continents out of employment., and cause anarchy, revolution and internecine wars to usurp the paths of peaceful commerce, progress and Christian advancement. The Northern States, without manufactures, without commerce, would present one universal scene of waste and desolation. “Ruin" would become the watch-word of every civilized State and nation. Relief would only be found, after the total extinction of the negro [sic] and the suppression of anarchy through a military despotism in this now great and prosperous confederacy of free and sovereign States. My space is limited by the publishers of the “Texas Almanac,” and I can but glance at this great question of questions. But to every citizen of Texas let me say - “These are sober, solemn, portentous truths! Look at them! Meet them like men who know their rights!” How meet them, do you say? By placing in the hands of every man and woman possible, one or more of the excellent books written in elucidation and defense of slavery - by convincing every one of the truths herein so briefly stated - and thus, not only rendering the institution a moral Gibralter [sic] as it is, but convincing every white man of the land that slavery is not only a wise, humane, necessary and glorious institution, in which every one [sic], rich or poor, is vitally interested, and thereby sweeping away, once and forever, the low and the unsound misinformed popular feeling of the American people against what is commonly called the “Slave Trade," or the transfer of the beastly, savage negroes [sic] of Africa from their ghastly, paganistic slavery there, to the Heaven-ordained and Heaven- approved system of Christian slavery in this country. Do this: repeal the law of congress: import them in good, well-ventilated ships: look to their health and well-being as a dependent but useful race: break up the present inhuman system of clandestine importation: obey the behests or Heaven to make slaves, like humane Christians, of the heathen: and, in due time, the glorious results will be manifest - for the smiles of Deity will be upon the work. J. H. B. [2]

The article is full of so many bold-faced lies that mock the writer's statement "These are sober, solemn, portentous truths." He ignores the strong manufacturing economy of the North and success of free black men and women. The writer maintains the notion of the benevolent slave owner whose prisoners are "contented, cheerful, obedient." The article would be laughable except for its bigotry disguised as charitable work in helping blacks attain "his own highest attainable happiness on earth." Regrettably, some of these ideas exist today in the minds of racists and taint the ideal of America.

[1] The Texas Almanac of 1858,<>,  p. 48
[2] The Texas Almanac of 1858<>,  pp. 132-133 

See also
[1] Slavery,
[2] Slavery in Early Texas,
[3] Texas Slavery Project, 
[4] African Americans,

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