Wednesday, March 5, 2014

"How the End of Slavery Led to Starvation and Death for Millions of Black Americans"

“He who only sees the obvious, wins his battles with difficulty; he who looks beneath the surface of things, wins with ease.” – Sun Tzu


I quite often encounter people who lack analytical ability and can only look at the surface of things. They appear to be run by their feelings more than anything else.

Let's take slavery. It would have been best if slavery had never existed in the U.S. I still am mystified as to why it was ever allowed in a supposedly free country. But the fact is, it was.

Many people can only point-and-sputter: "Slave owner! The Founding Fathers were slave owners! Evil!" They're especially outraged by Thomas Jefferson.

They don't realize Jefferson hoped slavery would be gone in his lifetime and his measure to end the importation of slaves failed by one vote. He used to buy slaves to reunite families.

I also have asked people what would have happened if slaves were immediately freed? Who would hire them? How would they eat? Where would they live, especially during the winter?

The simple-minded never consider those things. To them, free them, then forget about them. Thomas Sowell called these people "the Anointed," meaning their beliefs are based on self-congratulation...then they forget about the problem.

Neither do they know that there was a lot whites who were indentured servants, which was worse than slavery.

This article is from the Guardian and is written by Paul Harris. Its title is "How the end of slavery led to starvation and death for millions of black Americans"


"Hundreds of thousands of slaves freed during the American civil war died from disease and hunger after being liberated, according to a new book.

"The analysis, by historian Jim Downs of Connecticut College, casts a shadow over one of the most celebrated narratives of American history, which sees the freeing of the slaves as a triumphant righting of the wrongs of a southern plantation system that kept millions of black Americans in chains.

"But, as Downs shows in his book, Sick From Freedom, the reality of emancipation during the chaos of war and its bloody aftermath often fell brutally short of that positive image. Instead, freed slaves were often neglected by union soldiers or faced rampant disease, including horrific outbreaks of smallpox and cholera. Many of them simply starved to death.

"After combing through obscure records, newspapers and journals Downs believes that about a quarter of the four million freed slaves either died or suffered from illness between 1862 and 1870. He writes in the book that it can be considered 'the largest biological crisis of the 19th century' and yet it is one that has been little investigated by contemporary historians.

"Downs believes much of that is because at the time of the civil war, which raged between 1861 and 1865 and pitted the unionist north against the confederate south, many people did not want to investigate the tragedy befalling the freed slaves. Many northerners were little more sympathetic than their southern opponents when it came to the health of the freed slaves and anti-slavery abolitionists feared the disaster would prove their critics right.

"'In the 19th century people did not want to talk about it. Some did not care and abolitionists, when they saw so many freed people dying, feared that it proved true what some people said: that slaves were not able to exist on their own,' Downs told the Observer.

"Downs's book is full of terrible vignettes about the individual experiences of slave families who embraced their freedom from the brutal plantations on which they had been born or sold to. Many ended up in encampments called 'contraband camps' that were often near union army bases. However, conditions were unsanitary and food supplies limited. Shockingly, some contraband camps were actually former slave pens, meaning newly freed people ended up being kept virtual prisoners back in the same cells that had previously held them. In many such camps disease and hunger led to countless deaths. Often the only way to leave the camp was to agree to go back to work on the very same plantations from which the slaves had recently escaped.

"Treatment by union soldiers could also be brutal. Downs reconstructed the experiences of one freed slave, Joseph Miller, who had come with his wife and four children to a makeshift freed slave refugee camp within the union stronghold of Camp Nelson in Kentucky. In return for food and shelter for his family Miller joined the army. Yet union soldiers in 1864 still cleared the ex-slaves out of Camp Nelson, effectively abandoning them to scavenge in a war-ravaged and disease-ridden landscape. One of Miller's young sons quickly sickened and died. Three weeks later, his wife and another son died. Ten days after that, his daughter perished too. Finally, his last surviving child also fell terminally ill. By early 1865 Miller himself was dead. For Downs such tales are heartbreaking. 'So many of these people are dying of starvation and that is such a slow death,' he said.

"Downs has collected numerous shocking accounts of the lives of freed slaves. He came across accounts of deplorable conditions in hospitals and refugee camps, where doctors often had racist theories about how black Americans reacted to disease. Things were so bad that one military official in Tennessee in 1865 wrote that former slaves were: 'dying by scores – that sometimes 30 per day die and are carried out by wagonloads without coffins, and thrown promiscuously, like brutes, into a trench.'

"So bad were the health problems suffered by freed slaves, and so high the death rates, that some observers of the time even wondered if they would all die out. One white religious leader in 1863 expected black Americans to vanish. 'Like his brother the Indian of the forest, he must melt away and disappear forever from the midst of us,' the man wrote.

"Such racial attitudes among northerners seem shocking, but Downs says they were common. Yet Downs believes that his book takes nothing away from the moral value of the emancipation.

"Instead, he believes that acknowledging the terrible social cost born by the newly emancipated accentuates their heroism.

"'This challenges the romantic narrative of emancipation. It was more complex and more nuanced than that. Freedom comes at a cost,' Downs said."

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's the same with the apartheid in South Africa. For example life expectancy decreased after the end of the apartheid.

Just read: http://iluvsa.blogspot.com/2011/06/how-many-blacks-died-under-apartheid.html

It's the same with feminism, women get less happy instead of getting happier.

Bob Wallace said...

Why am I not surprised about what I read at your link?

Quartermain said...

The abolitionists and the reconstructionists are the ideological ancestors of the cultural Marxists who are more concerned with looking good to others than being good.

RobertW said...

All in all, except for the occasional sadistic owner, the black underclass were far better off under slavery than they are today. They had work, purpose and community. Now they have none of those things.

Glen Filthie said...

Slavery gets a bad rap just like anything else the liberals turn their 'intellect' to. Listening to them you would think slaves lived in Hell. Rape, murder, theft - all were common atrocities perpetrated on blacks and it justifies all the crime and theft they do today.

Fact is slave owners treated them fairly well. They would no more abuse a slave than they would a horse or a dog. Happy slaves were productive. Unhappy ones weren't.

Consider the modern negro today that resides in Detroit, New Orleans or Baltimore: the 'good' ones are working minimum wage jobs flipping burgers or mopping floors. The 'bad' ones are selling drugs, getting by on welfare, or doing NOTHING...and blaming Whitey for their unhappiness. When blacks are put in charge of their own nations and communities - they fail. Always. Mortality rates go through the roof, as does unemployment and corruption.

And before ya say it - it ain't racist if it's true.

Anonymous said...

We should have picked our cotton (and assembled our automobiles) ourselves.

A slave population is a poison pill.

These days, our Chamber of Commerce and corporate leaders want to import x million low-wage mestizos. Greed never learns.