The above video from Prager University provides a really good overview of the issue of Slavery and the Civil War.
A question to ask: many in the South at the time claimed they would be more supportive of Emancipation if it weren’t for the economic cost of giving up their slaves. So, what would have happened if the North had paid for freeing the slaves? The cost of doing so was said to be far too high at the time, but I’m pretty sure that it wouldn’t have been as costly as the war that resulted.
We often point to how the Northern States all eliminated slavery on their own as an example of their great virtue and morality.
Not really: the abolition of slavery in the North wasn’t some great altruistic moment. It had an economic basis: slavery wasn’t a critical to the Northern economy, and slaves were not a good investment. The economies of scale needed to make slavery viable (as found in the South) was rarely possible in the North.
Also, the process of emancipation in each Northern state was done in a way where the cost to slave owners was minimized. Economics mattered. Owners were not going to give up their slaves without some sort of return on their investment. And, there was an out: even though [usually] not legal, I suspect many or most marketable Northern slaves that were due to be emancipated were instead sold into states that still had slavery. (As happened to Sojourner Truth’s son Peter.)
And, why was the possible expansion of slavery into the West such an issue? The answer is that for it to remain economically viable, slavery had to constantly expand. A big part of the slave trade, especially in states where the land was farmed out, was the breeding of slaves. Breeders needed markets to sell their slaves. And, as land became depleted through Cotton and Tobacco farming, more and more new land was needed.
Abraham Lincoln was right: we couldn’t permanently remain half slave and half free. But, he well knew this was not just a moral argument, it was also an economic (and political) one.
Finally, the economic, institutional, and societal structures; and the biases; that worked together to create and maintain the institution of slavery all still exist. We don’t call it slavery any more, but it is still with us. And, it is still within us.
As long as any Person of Color does not have the same chance for making as good of a life for themselves as any White Person has, slavery will survive. If everyone in this country is to have the right to become what God has called them to be, then Black Lives must matter as much as White Lives do.
This is why #BlackLivesMatter. And, until they do matter, none of us are truly free.
Copyright (c) 2017, Allen Vander Meulen III.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.