GDG- NPS, Slavery and Economies

Jack Lawrence jlawrence at
Thu Jan 5 14:32:47 CST 2012


The point is the slaves were the same as houses to the slave owners.

Economically, they were, as I pointed out earlier, wealth. No one argues 
that. But the wealth was based on slaves.

Socially, they were scared to death that a monster they had created was 
about to devour them (of course, the slaves themselves dispelled this 
boogeyman when they had a chance to turn contraband. there were no 
massacres. they just wanted out of the system.

Watch night is still celebrated in some poarts of the country, I have been 



----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Andy Mills" <amills at>
To: "GDG" <gettysburg at>
Sent: Thursday, January 05, 2012 2:18 PM
Subject: Re: GDG- NPS, Slavery and Economies

> Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
> Jack:
> A nice response.
> But are the slave owners fighting to keep their slaves, or keep their 
> value in those slaves that are make them rich?
> If the federal government decided as a result of the housing bubble to 
> nationalize all private homes to avoid another bubble and people rebelled 
> as a result:  would that rebellion be over houses or the fear of losing 
> your investment in those houses?  There is a distinct difference between 
> the two as one is over the right to own an object and the other is over 
> money and investments and what is perceived to be an invasion of the 
> government to prevent you from making a living by a system that has been 
> around and ingrained in your culture for centuries.
> Please:  before anyone says it, I understand one is comparing an inanimate 
> object to a human being but fortunately, we have no modern example to use.
> Thanks,
> -----Original Message-----
> From: gettysburg-bounces at [mailto:gettysburg-bounces at] 
> On Behalf Of Jack Lawrence
> Sent: Thursday, January 05, 2012 2:13 PM
> To: GDG
> Subject: Re: GDG- NPS, Slavery and Economies
> Esteemed GDG Member Contributes:
> Hello.
> There is, as you point out, a lot more going on here.
> The wealth generated by slavery was not only in the cotton, rice etc that 
> they produced.
> It was also in the slaves themselves. A strong field hand was worth a 
> thousand dollars in 1850's-60's dollars.
> So a man with a thousand slaves had a hundreds of thousands of dollars 
> dollars in wealth out in the fields, no matter how well his crops fared. 
> He could also hire those slaves out, or let a skilled slave, like a 
> carpenter, take on work in town and pay (more likely split) what he 
> earned. He could even hire out the women.
> The south understood that the influx of northern immigrants was producing 
> a body politic that wanted no part of slavery. Even so, the north was 
> willing to tolerate it, to preserve the union. So was Lincoln. In that 
> regard, he was a manifestation of the body politic in it's purest form. 
> What would not be tolerated was the southern demand to allow slavery in 
> territories prior to their admission into the union (bleeding Kansas was 
> all about whether Kansas would be free or slave at admission.)  The 
> Supreme Court was responsible for this when it overturned The Missouri 
> Compromise, which required one slave state be admitted for every free 
> state admitted So the south tried to circumvent this by allowing slavery 
> in the territories prior to admission. Trying to abolish slavery in a 
> state that already had slaves would be difficult to say the least.
> Now, the reason the south wanted the territories to be open to slavery was 
> purely economic. More slave territory meant that more slaves were needed.
> Which meant that if a man owned a thousand slaves worth a hundreds of 
> thousand of dollars, they were worth hundreds of thousands of dollars 
> more.
> Succinctly stated, slavery as practiced in the United States at that place 
> and time was a giant bubble. It was not slavery that was going to go away.
> It was the wealth of the slaves that was going to diminish.
> Your second paragraph, that the matter of slavery in the Civil War is over
> determined is simply incorrect. The only thing going on here is slavery.
> It is true that there was a racial undertone, but it was a created racial
> undertone. Throughout history, for the most part, slavery had been pretty
> much an economic institution.
> In the south, people were taught that Africans were an inferior people,
> somewhere between animals and people. They were too simple to function
> freely. Even the slaves were educated in their dependence on white people.
> Traveling minstrel shows toured the south. They always included three main
> characters, Jim Crow, the typical hard working, carefree negro who 
> prospered
> when he did his masters bidding, Tambo, the joyous musical negro, and Zip
> Coon, the sly negro who was always getting Jim in trouble (think King Fish
> Amos and Andy and ). Just another way to keep blacks in their place.
> Indoctrination was prevalent among white people too.
> Preachers preached it on Sunday (There was even a "Christian Way" to treat
> your slaves dogma), politician orated over the dangers of free negroes and
> civic leaders did the same.
> The message was always the need that slaves had for white masters. But the
> really chilling, insidious, vile message, the one that chilled the 
> populace
> and absolutely convinced them that they need to keep these people enslaved
> was that black slaves craved after, lusted for and, left unfettered, would
> unleash a depravity on white females unseen since the rape of the Sabine
> women. Can you imagine preaching this on Sunday?
> Which, IMHO, accounted for the fierce devotion to the south among southern
> women during the war. (Ok, Butler didn't help much).
> So, at the end of the day, there was no other cause for the war but 
> slavery,
> but slavery itself was a many faceted thing.
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