Op-ed: scarlet 'S' for slavery

Red Harvest

2nd Lieutenant
Apr 10, 2012

If you believe advances in farm equipment would have made slavery obsolete, then it would have been much later than you suppose. It wasn't until the 1950's that the mechanical cotton harvester became practical and finally began to replace manual pickers.

Jim Crowe laws, share cropping and lack of automated pickers were not coincidences. Slave or near slave labor results in a high economic hurdle for automation.

p.s. From what I recall combined peanut harvesters were also slow to develop.


Feb 29, 2012
Advances in farm equipment is what kept slavery alive and slaves in demand. The huge fortunes to be made in Cotton only became possible after the invention of the cotton Gin in 1793.


Banished Forever
-:- A Mime -:-
is a terrible thing...
Don’t feed the Mime
Aug 17, 2011
Birmingham, Alabama
Wow the Confederate Naval Jack never flew from the mast of a slave ship?????? Oh well live long enough see and hear everything I guess. I really enjoy reading the threads on this site and I spend more time reading than posting. I believe human nature forces some or perhaps more of us to find and credit one region or the other with the at least 51% or more of the blame for slavery in North America and in doing so assigning the lion's share of the blame to the side with the 51% for the lives lost in the ACW.

Don't get me wrong I applaud the excellent contributers who venture beyond the 19th century to the early days of colonization of both regions and what those earlier folks did to promote and utilize slavery to better thier lot in life in the new world. But shouldn't we go back further still to the Europeans who purchased slaves from Black Africans who first captured and sold slaves on the shores of West Africa? Are we losing sight of the fact that it was sugar that sparked the driving need for slaves in the new world not cotton?

Why is it no one ever credits or blames the ancients for thier long lived practice of slavery? Ever hear someone say OMG you're Italian? Did you know your ancestors the Romans murdered and enslaved people for hundreds of years? Many believe slavery would still exist in the South if the ACW never happened........ I strongly disagree. I believe slavery would have died a natural death in the face of the Industrial Revolution specifically due to advances in farm equipment. Alas we can only speculate on how and when that would have occured. But one thing that is certain is over 600,000 Americans would have passed on more of thier strengths and hard work to a growing nation.

Nobody's naval flag ever flew from a slaver, except when captured as a prize. All the Confederate flags flew as a symbol of a slave republic or as a symbol of the military arm of that slave republic. The best that one can say for those flags is that we honor the sacrifice those that died or were wounded under those flags, their courage and tenacity but not their original purpose.

In a 1907 letter, (John Singleton)Mosby explained why he fought on the Confederate side, despite disapproving of slavery. While he believed the South had seceded to protect slavery, he had felt it was his patriotic duty to Virginia. "I am not ashamed of having fought on the side of slavery—a soldier fights for his country—right or wrong—he is not responsible for the political merits of the course he fights in ... The South was my country."​

The Italians are descended from folks that invaded Rome and wiped the Latins off the face of the earth during several invasions.

Slavery and factory work coexisted in the Civil war. Most of the cannon and other iron implements for the CSA were made at furnaces and factories staffed by slaves. In the cotton off season, slaves were rented out to businesses. The reason slaves were not used extensively in the Industrial Revolution was that free workers were cheaper and required no capital investment. A worker dies in an industrial accident, too bad get the next one in line. A slave dies and you are out the capital investment. Estimates for the end of slavery sans the Civil War vary from the 1880s to the 1950s.

Sugar Slavery died out in the 1830 by government laws in the Caribbean. The big question is why the US South figured that a slave republic was a good thing.

At the end of the day, no matter who bought/sold/traded or profited from slaves before, in 1860 there were 4 million bonded servants in the South; in 1866 there were no slaves.


Lt. Colonel
Member of the Year
May 18, 2011
Carlisle, PA
Advances in farm equipment is what kept slavery alive and slaves in demand. The huge fortunes to be made in Cotton only became possible after the invention of the cotton Gin in 1793.

I couldn't agree more. The relatively low profitability of slave labor and lack of major cash crops are the reasons why many of the FFs saw slavery as on the slow road to extinction. The cotton gin completely changed that. Much more cotton could be gathered with less labor and allowed slavery to become much more profitable and changed slavery's path.