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A Short History of Slavery in America
2020 Politics is attempting to use 20/20 hindsight merged with historical reality, to rewrite history. History helps us learn from the past so that we do not repeat the atrocities and mistakes of the past. The current Democratic Party has a short memory where history is concerned. In 1861 reacting to the election of Abraham Lincoln, Members of the Democratic Party seceded from the Union which resulted in the Civil War. Over 650,000 soldiers died as a result of that decision. The KKK a radical group founded by members of the Democratic Party. It was an overreaction to reconstruction and the situation in the post war south. The organization was disavowed and abandoned by its founders as a reaction to the racial violence which followed. The 20th century KKK is a different organization founded solely on white supremacy. A notable member of this KKK, was Democratic Senator Harry Flood Byrd Sr. The KKK is a radical hate group and is disavowed and abhored by most Americans, because its extreme racial views exclude the rights of non white citizens. The lesson of history is that any group with a radical racial bias that does not respect the rights of others should be also classified as a hate group. As such its members and supporters should be legally responsible for its actions wen they become destructive and violent. Racial bias needs to be curtailed wand when it refuses to respect the rights of others it needs to be classified as a hate group and its supports need to be financially responsible for the actions of the group.
Today, we all agree that slavery was wrong. It is also wrong to blame today's Americans for the actions that their predecessors thought was appropriate. Slavery was a legal and standard method of doing business in every country in the world prior to 1792. Even so, in 1789, the framers of our constitution recognized that slavery was a problem and made provisions to phase it out. Slavery has been a fact since man first conquered his neighbor and forced him into servitude. Reparations cannot be fairly accessed if it is based solely on race. Slave trafficking and slave ownership are equal opportunity professions and have included members of all races and all sections of the country.
The beginnings of slavery in America is linked to Virginia in 1619. However, Columbus introduced African slaves to the New World in 1492. At the time the Slave trade between Africa and the rest of the world was controlled by the Portuguese and their African partners. The first 20 Africans were indentured servants with the same rights as white indentured servants, they received land at the end of their indentures and form the basis of negro freeman in Virginia.
The Virginia House of Burgesses first codified Slavery in 1652. However, The status of Black people in the colonies was changed by the passage of the Virginia Slave Codes of 1705, which stripped away the rights of black people and legalized slavery. Servitude in Virginia begins in 1607. Many Europeans who arrived in the colonies paid for their passage by becoming indentured servants. Indentured servants agreed, or in many cases were forced, to work with no pay for a set amount of time, often to pay off a debt and could legally expect to become free at the end of the contract. These original indentures were for three years, after which many former servants would become Ancient Planters, with great landholdings.
Abraham Peirsey was a stockholder and Cape Merchant of the Virginia Company. He, Capt. William Tucker, the Virginia envoy to the Pamunkey Indians,, and. Governor Sir George Yeardley purchased the majority of the original Africans in 1619. Lacking specific laws. This original group of Africans were sold as indentured servants, and not slaves. Some of them did eventually obtain their freedom. The first back child born to indentured servants in Virginia was born free. According to the 1624/25 Muster, Abraham Peirsey was the second wealthiest man in Virginia. Peirsey’s Hundred included twelve dwellings, three storehouses, four tobacco houses, and housed a total of 57 people, including 29 servants and seven Negroes belonging to Peirsey as indentured servants.
As a country, our little steps towards freedom began when the constitution provided for a phasing out of slavery over time. The negro slaves were emancipated by Abraham Lincoln in 1864 and given the right to vote with the 14th Amendment. Women had to wait until 1918 for the right to vote. Until recently we had come a long way working to right the wrongs of our predecessors. When my father was growing up lynching was still occurring, in the south. The question of whether Blacks had souls was still debated. Martin Luther King and others slowly helped us see the need for a change in attitudes.Recently, partisan politics has thrown away most of the positive changes of the past 200 years and reversing the work of Martin Luther King and others. Race rage and Violence has replaced constructive change and trust. Minorities, radicals, fringe groups and a radicalized political party are holding our nation hostage, challenging an election, obstructing the transition, condoning abuse of power by elements of the FBI, the intelligence community, the house of representatives, immigration, destroying public safety and the police departments over the actions of a few misguided individuals, destruction of monuments and removal of statues and portraits of founders and leaders of the past because they offend powerful minorities and radical agitators.
During the civil war, most white solders did not own slaves nor were they related to slaveholders. They fought a system which sought to tell them what to do. We all agree that slavery was wrong. It is also unfair and wrong to penalize today's descendants for actions that were legal and their predecessors’ thought were appropriate. The world has changed. Prior to 1792 slavery was a worldwide phenomenon which had been common for thousands of years. It still exists today in many parts of the world. Slave ownership was generally a small part of a individuals life experience. and certainly not a reason to disregard and ignore their many contributions to our country. The slave owners often were restricted as to how slaves could legally be freed, and the freed slaves were restricted as to where they could live after manumission . Slaveholders were among those who fought to eliminate the practice.
Robert E Lees father-in-Law, Parke Custis was a member of the American Colonization Society, which was formed to gradually end slavery. Custis’s will in 1857 directed that all his slaves be freed. which resulted in an impossible legal situation with years of frustration by the slaves who expected to be freed and the executors who could not find a way to free them under the prevailing Virginia laws. Robert E Lee, served 32 years in the US Army. Lee had never owned more than a couple of house slaves. Before leaving to serve in Mexico, Lee had written a will providing for the manumission of the only slaves he owned. Lee was ultimately made executor of his wife’s fathers’ estate. He was unable to find a suitable overseer and had to take a 2 year leave of absence from the US Army to try and to free or dispose of hundreds of slaves.
The Civil War resulted in over 620,000 casualties and the destruction of two-thirds of the Souths capital value. After the Civil War, merchants, farmers, Soldiers, Judges, and civil servants had to swear an oath of allegiance to regain their right to vote and hold office. After the War the reconstruction took its toll on all residents of the South. Racial discrimination and inequality were not regional problems alone. It continued to be a national problem and concern through most of the 20th Century.
There is no fair way to resolve problems when you change the rules after the fact. It is difficult even to access the blame 150 years later. Not all slaves were treated the same. Some owners were tyrants and others more compassionate. Local laws were abusive. Slavery was not localized in the South it was practiced throughout the country. Today Descendants of victims not only want reparations for slavery, they insist on the destruction of the memorials, memorabilia and other recognition of the founders, leaders, and solders of our country. Reparations cannot be based on race, because both slave trafficking and slave ownership included members of all races and all sections of the country. Linking the reparations to descendants who were not involved in the abuse is unfair. A tax or governmental benefit would penalize everyone.