The end of slavery in the USA

This video says about itself:

The History of Slavery In America (part 1 of 3)

Slavery in the United States began soon after English colonists first settled Virginia in 1607 and lasted as a legal institution until the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1865. It continues illegally to this day.

Before the widespread establishment of chattel slavery, much labor was organized under a system of bonded labor known as indentured servitude. This typically lasted for several years for white and black alike, and it was a means of using labor to pay the costs of transporting people to the colonies. By the 18th century, court rulings established the racial basis of the American incarnation of slavery to apply chiefly to Black Africans and people of African descent, and occasionally to Native Americans. A 1705 Virginia law stated slavery would apply to those peoples from nations that were not Christian. In part because of the success of tobacco as a cash crop in the Southern colonies, its labor-intensive character caused planters to import more slaves for labor by the end of the 17th century than did the northern colonies. The South had a significantly higher number and proportion of slaves in the population. Religious differences contributed to this geographic disparity as well.

From 1654 until 1865, slavery for life was legal within the boundaries of much of the present United States. Most slaves were black and were held by whites, although some Native Americans and free blacks also held slaves; there were a small number of white slaves as well. The majority of slave holding was in the southern United States where most slaves were engaged in an efficient machine-like gang system of agriculture. According to the 1860 U.S. census, nearly four million slaves were held in a total population of just over 12 million in the 15 states in which slavery was legal. Of all 8,289,782 free persons in the 15 slave states, 393,967 people (4.8%) held slaves, with the average number of slaves held by any single owner being 10. The majority of slaves were held by planters, defined by historians as those who held 20 or more slaves. Ninety-five percent of black people lived in the South, comprising one-third of the population there, as opposed to 2% of the population of the North. The wealth of the United States in the first half of the 19th century was greatly enhanced by the labor of African Americans.

Here are Parts 2 and 3 of that video series.

By Shannon Jones in the USA:

Huge turnout for viewing of Emancipation Proclamation in Michigan

23 June 2011

Over 21,000 people poured through the Henry Ford Museum in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn, Michigan earlier this week to view the original Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862, some waiting in line for up to seven hours. The great interest evoked by the exhibit testifies to the continued deep-going attachment of wide layers of the population to the democratic principles embodied in the proclamation.

The document was only on view for 36 hours as part of an ongoing exhibit at the museum commemorating 150 years since the start of the American Civil War. Because of its age and delicate condition the proclamation is only available for public viewing for a very limited time each year. The document is normally stored at the National Archive in Washington DC. The last time it travelled to Michigan was 1948.

The proclamation, issued in the midst of the Civil War, freed slaves in the rebelling states of the southern Confederacy, setting a course toward the general abolition of slavery in the United States.

Contrary to the claims of some critics that the document was little more than a paper bullet since it formally only freed slaves in areas still under Confederate rule, it had a decisive impact on the course of the war. It turned it from a war to preserve the union into a war of liberation, leading to one of the largest property transfers in world history. As a consequence, some 4 million slaves valued at $3 billion gained their freedom. In equivalent US dollars that would amount to several trillions.

The proclamation not only freed slaves, but also called for their recruitment into the union army to participate in their own liberation. Further, the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation raised the stature of the United States internationally. By transforming the Civil War into a war against slavery Lincoln attracted to the side of the North workers and progressive-minded intellectuals in Europe. It complicated the position of governments such as that of Great Britain who contemplated intervention on the side of the Confederacy.

The issuing of the proclamation quickly led to the collapse of slavery even in the Border States, where slaves, ignoring the “fine print” of the document, fled the plantations.

Brazil’s Labour Ministry reported today that a supplier for Spanish clothing transnational Zara had subjected workers to slave-like working conditions: here.

Agribusinesses are preventing rural workers in South Africa from forming unions and obliging them to work with pesticides without proper safety equipment, a US-based human rights watchdog charged today: here.

U.S. Civil War Took Bigger Toll Than Previously Estimated, New Analysis Suggests: here.

On June 22, 1865, the final shot in the Civil War was fired, effectively putting an end to chattel slavery in the continental United States and dumping the carcass of that accursed system in the deepest tomb of history. Or, so we thought. Down in Dixie, as well as up North, the horrors of slavery have once again scratched and clawed their way out of the hole we thought we’d left them in. The victories of the workers, soldiers and slaves of the past are being encroached upon: here.

Karl Marx and the US Civil War: here.

One of the most prominently featured and commented upon films at the 2013 Toronto film festival was 12 Years a Slave from British director Steve McQueen. The movie is based on the 1853 book of the same title by Solomon Northup (born in 1808), a free black man who lived in Saratoga Springs, New York, before he was kidnapped in Washington, DC in 1841 and sold into slavery. He was eventually rescued in 1853: here.

On December 6, 1865, Georgia became the 27th state to pass the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, securing ratification of the measure that abolished once and for all the institution of chattel slavery in the US: here.

Descendant of last survivor of last slave ship to travel from Africa to US tells of pride as forefather’s story is published – 87 years after it was written. Cudjo Lewis told his story to the writer Zora Neale Hurston, but when she submitted her manuscript in 1931 no publisher wanted it: here.

Brazilian MPs approved a constitutional amendment on Tuesday that strengthens punishments for landowners and capitalists who force people into slave-like working conditions.

84 thoughts on “The end of slavery in the USA


    Has the South won the Civil War nearly 150 years after its conclusion?

    BuzzFlash doesn’t ask that question in a technical sense. Robert E. Lee surrendered to the Union forces at the Appomattox Court House in 1865.

    But culturally and politically, in 2011, the Union of the United States more and more is reflecting the values of the Confederacy, minus the institution of slavery, of course.

    Increasingly, states’ rights are superseding the federal government, and many of the states are tilting toward the oligarchs (corporations and the rich). But, of course, even the federal government is siding with supporting the plutocracy and enacting policies that result in low-wage labor. Just replace the lack of accountability of corporations and Wall Street with the free hand of plantation owners.

    Not that the South believed much in a centralized government that provided a safety net. The poor were poor; the sick were sick; and the wealthy were wealthy; that was the natural order of things.

    The South wasn’t just built on slavery, as BuzzFlash has pointed out before. Most whites were poor and worked as sharecroppers, indentured servants or plantation hands. Much of their belief in white supremacy came from the feeling that, although the majority of whites were economically poor, they were “superior” to black slaves. But the economy, overall, was built on cheap labor as compared to economic ingenuity and innovation.

    Baptist Christianity was central to the South, a deeply religious section of the country. The authoritarian paternalistic hierarchy of the Confederacy was considered sanctioned by divine decree. Plantation owners and their extended “work forces” would be right at home with “creationism,” because things didn’t evolve in the South. The ultimate value was on preserving “the Southern way of life,” not evolving. Progress was, thus, a threat.

    If you see some common themes to the modern Republican Party and the conventional wisdom found in the corporate press, it began most recently with the development of the Nixon “Southern strategy” – and the merging of Southern “values” with a corporatist agenda, perfected in the Reagan presidency.

    How would one expect the Southern agenda to value labor, when in the South labor was cheap or, in the form of slavery, literally free (except for the initial “cost” to buy a slave)?

    So, in 2011, we find ourselves at a point when the Confederacy has risen from the ashes to dominate public policy and economic inertia.

    Mark Karlin
    Editor, BuzzFlash at Truthout


  2. Italian diplomat and wife face jail

    UNITED STATES: An Italian government envoy posted at the San Francisco consulate and his wife were arrested and charged on Tuesday with turning a Brazilian woman into an indentured servant after luring the woman to the country with promises of a better life.

    Guiseppe and Kesia Penzato were charged with one count each of forced labour, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.

    Federal prosecutors didn’t identify the plaintiff, who alleges the couple withheld pay and food from her during her three months in their home and that Ms Penzato physically assaulted her twice.


  3. Luther King to get Charleston honour

    United States: The city where the US civil war began is set to host a memorial to civil rights leader Martin Luther King.

    Charleston’s Post and Courier reported today that the city and National Park Service will place the memorial at the four-acre park at the Fort Sumter National Monument Visitors’ Centre.

    The war began in 1861 and led to the abolition of slavery. Mr King helped lead a civil rights movement 100 years later to secure rights for black people and end segregation policies concocted following the 19th-century conflict.


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