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How was the morality of slavery tolerable? What was in the mind of slave holders?

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by Tennessee_Mountainman, Feb 9, 2017.

  1. Dedej

    Dedej Corporal

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    I apologize if you felt that I stereotyped you in any way. Just thought of my own parents (who happen to be from Alabama) and how they relate to things and conversations. It wasn't meant to be out of line or make you feel like I was looking down or being rude. That is not who I am as a person.

    Also, I don't and/or did not assume your ancestors owned or participated in slavery. I said that my comment was not meant as any disrespect for "those whose ancestors" participated -- not specifying anyone in particular. I always preface that because I never know - and want to be respectful at all times -- especially to one's ancestors.

    I only said Alabama - due to your location on your profile. I was born and raised in Michigan and I live in Atlanta. But, my parents are natives of Alabama. I still stand by my statement on being honest and truthful on what slavery was and was based off of. I also respect your response and opinion.

    Thanks for your comment. Best to you :smile:
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2017

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  3. highplainsdrifter59

    highplainsdrifter59 Private

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    No offense taken.
    Alabama has enough to squabble about between Alabama vs Auburn...geeeessssh!
    But..I am a native Georgian, Atlanta is my birth place, I hope you enjoy a now very versatile city.
     
  4. Dedej

    Dedej Corporal

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    Great! I am happy to hear that :smile: I was worried.

    And yes, I love Atlanta. The city and the natives have been wonderful to me!

    Thanks again :smile:
     
  5. John S. Carter

    John S. Carter Corporal

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    Can it be said that what we have just as what was occuring in the North was assimulation where one is condition though teaching ,religion ,and associations to accept the thoughts or reasoning of that society.This is done though generations .They would also that anyone that threatens that society is a threat to the whole.Some did manage to escape that control but they were rare.
     
  6. ForeverFree

    ForeverFree Captain

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    It is correct to call it racist.

    This is the definition of racist from my dictionary app:

    a person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudice against people of other races, or who believes that a particular race is superior to another

    This is exactly what we saw in the antebellum South. Africans were considered an inferior race that could be exploited by superior Europeans. This is from the infamous Dred Scott decision:

    It is difficult at this day to realize the state of public opinion in relation to that unfortunate race which prevailed in the civilized and enlightened portions of the world at the time of the Declaration of Independence and when the Constitution of the United States was framed and adopted. But the public history of every European nation displays it in a manner too plain to be mistaken.

    (Negroes) had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect, and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold, and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic whenever a profit could be made by it.

    This opinion was at that time fixed and universal in the civilized portion of the white race. It was regarded as an axiom in morals as well as in politics which no one thought of disputing or supposed to be open to dispute, and men in every grade and position in society daily and habitually acted upon it in their private pursuits, as well as in matters of public concern, without doubting for a moment the correctness of this opinion.​

    The Dred Scott decision posited that Negroes were "beings of an inferior order" and "so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect." The negro could thus "justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for (the white man's) benefit," to be "bought and sold, and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic whenever a profit could be made by it."

    Such talk is the textbook example of racist speech. Antebellum whites did not just think Africans and their culture were silly or funny. As the Scott decision shows, negroes were seen as an "inferior order" who had no rights, and could be bought and sold like merchandise. We should call-out such behavior for what it was.

    - Alan
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2017
  7. Mint Julep

    Mint Julep Corporal

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    More like the entire nation.
     
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  8. ForeverFree

    ForeverFree Captain

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    That is not exactly correct. The northern states had abolished slavery because they saw it as morally troubling by the time the Civil War began. There was racial prejudice in the North, but it did not manifest itself in allowing negroes to be enslaved.

    Se below for some docs from the Antebellum Era:

    Pennsylvania, An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery, 1780
    WHEN we contemplate our abhorrence of that condition to which the arms and tyranny of Great Britain were exerted to reduce us; when we look back on the variety of dangers to which we have been exposed, and how miraculously our wants in many instances have been supplied, and our deliverances wrought, when even hope and human fortitude have become unequal to the conflict; we are unavoidably led to a serious and grateful sense of the manifold blessings which we have undeservedly received from the hand of that Being from whom every good and perfect gift cometh. Impressed with these ideas, we conceive that it is our duty, and we rejoice that it is in our power to extend a portion of that freedom to others, which hath been extended to us; and a release from that state of thraldom to which we ourselves were tyrannically doomed, and from which we have now every prospect of being delivered.

    It is not for us to enquire why, in the creation of mankind, the inhabitants of the several parts of the earth were distinguished by a difference in feature or complexion. It is sufficient to know that all are the work of an Almighty Hand. We find in the distribution of the human species, that the most fertile as well as the most barren parts of the earth are inhabited by men of complexions different from ours, and from each other; from whence we may reasonably, as well as religiously, infer, that He who placed them in their various situations, hath extended equally his care and protection to all, and that it becometh not us to counteract his mercies.

    We esteem it a peculiar blessing granted to us, that we are enabled this day to add one more step to universal civilization, by removing as much as possible the sorrows of those w ho have lived in undeserved bondage, and from which, by the assumed authority of the kings of Great Britain, no effectual, legal relief could be obtained. Weaned by a long course of experience from those narrower prejudices and partialities we had imbibed, we find our hearts enlarged with kindness and benevolence towards men of all conditions and nations; and we conceive ourselves at this particular period extraordinarily called upon, by the blessings which we have received, to manifest the sincerity of our profession, and to give a Substantial proof of our gratitude.

    SECT. 2. And whereas the condition of those persons who have heretofore been denominated Negro and Mulatto slaves, has been attended with circumstances which not only deprived them of the common blessings that they were by nature entitled to, but has cast them into the deepest afflictions, by an unnatural separation and sale of husband and wife from each other and from their children; an injury, the greatness of which can only be conceived by supposing that we were in the same unhappy case. In justice therefore to persons So unhappily circumstanced, and who, having no prospect before them whereon they may rest their sorrows and their hopes, have no reasonable inducement to render their service to society, which they otherwise might; and also in grateful commemoration of our own happy deliverance from that state of unconditional submission to which we were doomed by the tyranny of Britain.

    SECT. 3. Be it enacted, and it is hereby enacted, by the representatives of the freeman of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in general assembly met, and by the authority of the same, That all persons, as well Negroes and Mulattoes as others, who shall be born within this state from and after the passing of this act, shall not be deemed and considered as servants for life, or slaves; and that all servitude for life, or slavery of children, in consequence of the slavery of their mothers, in the case of all children born within this state, from and after the passing of this act as aforesaid, shall be, and hereby is utterly taken away, extinguished and for ever abolished.

    Minutes from the case of Commonwealth v. Nathaniel Jennison, which abolished slavery in Massachusetts (1783)
    "As to the doctrine of slavery and the right of Christians to hold Africans in perpetual servitude, and sell and treat them as we do our horses and cattle, that (it is true) has been heretofore countenanced by the Province Laws formerly, but nowhere is it expressly enacted or established. It has been a usage -- a usage which took its origin from the practice of some of the European nations, and the regulations of British government respecting the then Colonies, for the benefit of trade and wealth.

    But whatever sentiments have formerly prevailed in this particular or slid in upon us by the example of others, a different idea has taken place with the people of America, more favorable to the natural rights of mankind, and to that natural, innate desire of Liberty, with which Heaven (without regard to color, complexion, or shape of noses) features) has inspired all the human race. And upon this ground our Constitution of Government, by which the people of this Commonwealth have solemnly bound themselves, sets out with declaring that all men are born free and equal -- and that every subject is entitled to liberty, and to have it guarded by the laws, as well as life and property -- and in short is totally repugnant to the idea of being born slaves. This being the case, I think the idea of slavery is inconsistent with our own conduct and Constitution; and there can be no such thing as perpetual servitude of a rational creature, unless his liberty is forfeited by some criminal conduct or given up by personal consent or contract.

    Vermont Constituion, Chapter I, Article 1, 1793
    That all persons are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent, and unalienable rights, amongst which are the enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and pursuing and obtaining happiness and safety; therefore no person born in this country, or brought from over sea, ought to be holden by law, to serve any person as a servant, slave or apprentice, after arriving to the age of twenty-one years, unless bound by the person's own consent, after arriving to such age, or bound by law for the payment of debts, damages, fines, costs, or the like.

    - Alan
     
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  9. BillO

    BillO Captain

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    Ever rode a horse or chain up your dog? Did you ask permission?
     
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  10. WJC

    WJC First Sergeant

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    Certainly answers at least part of the question posed in the OP.
    There is in Lee's comment and in so much of the statements by others in the period a strong religious view. For some it was that slavery was acceptable because it appears so often in the Bible: God must approve of it.
    For others it was the belief that this world 'is what it is', that if God wanted it changed he would do it himself; efforts by humans to create a better world were futile: there can be no perfect world.
     
  11. WJC

    WJC First Sergeant

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    There were, I suppose, as many reasons as there were slaveholders.
    For some, it was not seen as "immorality" it was seen as a service to the inferior Black. To others it was much like an addiction: realizing it is wrong but unable to get out of it because of legal restrictions on freeing slaves or the fact that in the slave economy, freeing one's slaves was giving away one's life savings.
     
  12. Hoseman

    Hoseman Private

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    I believe, overall, that it was a practice that continued because it was simply the way things had always been done. A young child was born into a society where the practice had occurred during his grandparents time, his parent's childhood and then his as he came into the world. This is not saying it was right but just an accepted, normal practice in the 19th century. I am sure many considered it wrong at the time but simply accepted it as part of their lives and their world in which they were born into. I am sure many also adopted similar views as Lee. There are many practices that were accepted as normal throughout history that, today, we view as horrible or barbaric. They did not have the luxury of looking backward using 21st century knowledge and morales.
     
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