Social Media – Boon or Bane? The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Does anybody even use those words anymore?  A boon is something that is helpful or beneficial while a bane is something that is the cause of great distress or annoyance.

Wow, where to begin?!

I have written numerous times about the effects of social media on us as individuals and society in general.  There is also the issue of false information that is spread, intentionally and unwillingly.  It was revealed that during the last election cycle that Russia used social media, buying ads to drive discontent and stir up mischief.  Also the censoring of posts and sites of conservatives is well known, including the recent blocking of my personal blog.

The first smartphone was not the iPhone, but Simon released by IBM over 15 years before Apple’s first product hit the shelves.  Of course it was not anything near what the average smartphone is today, but it paved the way for the future.  The advent of open Wi-Fi and LTE have made constant connectivity not only desired, but expected.  We’ve all seen this in real life…

kids-on-phones

Can someone explain to me how this improves us as citizens, friends, relatives, fellow employees and families?

Because I try to be an optimist, I will work backwards and try to end on a positive note, the good as well as some promising alternatives..

The Ugly

I’ve mentioned some of the ugly already.  Facebook for one has what they call community standards.  Many have had posts removed with an explanation that it does not meet community standards, yet the post does not violate any of the stated standards.  Websites blocked, pages removed, members blocked (put in Facebook jail) in most cases due to political views and posting, while vile language, nudity, vicious verbal attacks, and outright “fake news” sites all thrive.  Perhaps part of this is due to the fact that “conservatives” often have a live and let live attitude while progressives tend to report (tell momma) things.

Facebook seems to use AI, artificial intelligence and algorithms to monitor the site.  If a post or site is removed, there is no one to talk to, no appeal.  Mark Zuckerberg recently announced “that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.”  Zuckerberg also stated in his post, “We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us. That’s why we’ve always put friends and family at the core of the experience. Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness.”  Excuse me while I call BS.

Facebook is about making money.   That’s fine, I believe in the free market and capitalism.  They have been changing the algorithms over the past couple of years, if a business or blog has a page with 20,000 followers, only 200-300 followers saw the posts – that is unless you paid Facebook to advertise and “reach more followers”.  It’s their business and they can make their choices, as can we to either pay or look at other options.  More on that later.

There has been a definite “coarsening” of our society by social media.  The anonymity of social media has encouraged people to be rude, vile and vulgar.  This is not just between polar opposites on the political scale, but those who disagree within the left and right.  Of course there is the use of social media as a means of communication for terrorists and criminals.  Sexual predators and financial scams are common.

The Bad

There are thousands of groups and pages on Facebook that are dedicated to politics, from Tea Party types to those like Occupy Democrats.  They do have something in common, influence.  They are trying to energize a base.  While this is not all bad, it’s more in how it is done.  Memes, headlines, and posts are designed so people draw a conclusion without knowing the facts – truth has no agenda.  News can be fake, or misleading yet because it fits the reader’s ideas and beliefs (confirmation bias) it is freely shared without reservation or verification.

Research shows that up to 90% of the sites clicked on social media stay on the page about 30 seconds.  If it is an article, there is no way it is read properly.  Yes, most people get all their news and information in memes, headlines and Tweets of 140 characters or less.

Do you see yourself as a political warrior, informing all your friends of the evils of “the other side”?  Maybe you have a group or page where like minded folks can share info or do battle with  the other side?  Have you ever analyzed what you might accomplish doing this?  How is it working?

insanity-doing-the-gzugym

There has also been an increase of people engaging in a cyber relationship, ultimately allowing this digital connection to consume them while ignoring or abandoning reality.  While I am concentrating more on the political aspect of social media, there is a huge problem growing in this area.  Problems also can arise when people connect from their past and believe they can pick up where they left off, forsaking their current commitments.  People also have a tendency to share things that might should be kept a little more private, you know, TMI.

The Good

Connecting with old friends, staying in touch and sharing events.  I was able to reconnect with one of my best friends from junior high before he passed away from cancer.  We even got to see each other a few times in person.  I have taken the effort to meet some people I had developed a bond with through social media.  I have gained much more than a cyber friend, I have gained some very close friends, people who I would drop everything to help if they needed it and they would do the same for me.

Members can share recipes, arts and crafts, ideas that save time, space and money.  It is a good way for a business to market a service or product.  It has also proven an asset to people searching for more liberty, such as when Egypt rose up against the Muslim Brotherhood.

I stopped trying to engage people and concentrated on education and motivation several months ago.  While I feel I was making some sort of positive impact, it was very limited.  It seems as I mentioned above, too many have learned to just read a headline and move on.  It’s easy to feel that because you have 5,000 friends, your page has 20 or 50 thousand likes or your group has 50 or 100 members that you have something going.

Honestly, overall I do not see very much good in most social media and certainly not in the main ones we recognize.  It is a time thief, just as money wasted cannot be recovered, time lost is lost forever.  Most of us could use a lesson in setting aside the phone, tablet or computer and turning our attention to something more profitable.  I do admire the number of friends I have who have never set up any sort of social media account.  While that might seem impossible, there are still more people not on social media than are.

Some Alternatives

A quick Google search for alternative social media gives you a mind blowing number of newer and different sites.  One link lists 61 while another offers 74 social sites.  From music, to dating, to genealogy, to neighborhoods.  Since my interest is more in the politics and informational arena, a forum for sharing and discussing is something where many of us feel left out.  Are there options where posts won’t land us in “jail”, or have us blocked from posting because our conservative views are offensive?   Actually, there are.  You may or may not have heard of them.

InfinitySN (infinitysn.com).  There seems to be some sort of problem with the site.  It was supposed to be up late last summer and it is not yet operational.  There are all sorts of rumors about what the problem is, but suffice it to say, is is not working at this date.

Conservative Junction (conservativejunction.com).  From the “about “page”, My vision for starting Conservative Junction was so that it can become a become a facilitator or conduit of information between Conservatives online and those on the ground. A place to get reliable and truthful Conservative information and to serve as a platform for Conservative causes nationwide.  They have an integrated social media site within their blog.

Tea Party Community (teapartycommunity.com).  TPC is strictly a social media site that is a “safe place” for conservatives to post and comment without fear of “punishment”.  This is not to say these are just echo chambers with no disagreement, there is.  There is simply more of a feeling that free thought is allowed.  I have had issues signing in at times, see more on this below.

Codias (Codias.com).  Another good alternative that uses a system of points to encourage participation to increase your ranking in the community.  I believe the site shows a lot of promise, but on occasion you are not able to sign on Codias as with TPC.  There is option on each of these three to write your own blog posts as well without building one on WordPress or similar.

Freebird (freebird.is).  I saved my new personal favorite for last.  First, I told you above that some of these sites have issues with being able to sign on, certainly death for a social media site that hopes to grow and become a major player.  The founder of Freebird told me that many conservative sites are continually attacked, by hackers and by progressives who try to shut them down by complaining to the hosting and server companies.  I was told that Freebird moved its servers to Iceland and have not had any issues since.  I replied it was ironic an American social media organization has more freedom in Iceland than in the US.  Let that on sink in.

Freebird operates more as a political discussion forum.  You do not build alliances or friends, you simply jump in and start posting, sharing and commenting.  There is an incentive badge program to encourage members to get involved.  This is not a conservative only sounding board, there are those on the left who will comment, but I have yet to see anything devolve into the hateful comments seen on the larger sites.  There is also a place to post videos, memes and just chat.  You don’t have a “page” of your own as such since this is built around discussion, in fact they have an arrangement so an online publication can use Freebird as their discussion forum rather than something like “Disqus”.

Check them all out and decide for yourself.  It makes no sense to stay with the likes of Facebook and Twitter when there are welcome alternatives.  I used to share my history posts on Instagram as well, until they began to strip any reference to my blog.  Honestly, they have done me a big favor.  The traffic on my blog has skyrocketed since I quit worrying about Facebook and concentrated elsewhere.

 

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You Are Malicious, Abusive and Offensive

I’ll admit, that was news to me.  I’ve been told that in person I can be intimidating because of my size and the way I articulate my argument, but never that I was malicious, abusive or offensive.  However, I must be because the Facebook algorithm said I was.  Or perhaps it was a snowflake that could not bear the threat of history and constitutional posts.

The bottom line is that Facebook blocked my blog site.  If I try to post something with a link to my blog, Facebook tells me it is protecting me from entering a dangerous site.  Even more interesting is when I responded to their prompt if I thought this message was in error, I can tell them this is just a personal blog, there is no nudity, vulgarity or other vile comments…I am not selling anything and I receive no compensation.  It tells me that while my message will not be read by anyone it does help improve the Facebook experience.  Things that make you go Hmmmmmm.

I started this article three days ago.  I have changed it multiple times.  I was away from home all day on Tuesday.  My wife and a granddaughter went to a school to hear a constitutional lesson on the genealogy of the Constitution.  That evening the same speaker gave a public talk on the sovereign duty of the states.  While I study the constitution, our founding fathers, and their writings, what I learned that day was more in what I saw than what I heard.

I was there to represent Founder’s Keep, an educational organization.  A small number of adults, local interested individuals, and administrators, along with kids in 6-12 grades, were in attendance at the school. The school is a rural central school, I estimate about 100 children were present.  They were very polite, well behaved, very respectful – and generally seemed genuinely interested in what the speaker had to say.  It was uplifting to see our future generation take an interest in educating themselves in the history of liberty.

That evening we were in a large facility that was set up to accommodate about a thousand people.  As I mentioned before, the speaker’s topic was to be the Sovereign Duty of the States.  Krisanne Hall is a nationally known speaker, the event was fairly well advertised.  The crowd numbered about 50.  Krisanne delivered her message as if there were 10,000 in the audience.  The people who came were obviously invested in the nation’s future.  I spoke personally with many of them; homeschoolers, veterans, business owners and even a local radio talk show host (who happens to call his show The Voice Of Reason)

Now, for the school to introduce a curriculum where they can add this sort of teaching to the kids will require approval of the state board of education.  Why?  Control.  Control learning about history???  Perhaps this is similar to Facebook blocking my site which tells the truth of our history?  I applaud the administration for their efforts and I pray they are successful.

In the past several years I have noticed that at typical political events (and this was not political) such as the Tea Party, 912, etc the attendees are in their 50s and older.  For the most part, the evening event was no exception.  However what does it say about our nation’s state in a city of over 300,000, only 50 will make the effort to come out on a Tuesday evening?  Perhaps it’s easier to log onto Facebook and complain there?

I don’t know what the answer is.  What I do know is that we are fighting battles on several fronts.  Apathy is huge, but it reveals itself in different ways.  For instance I know younger people who are extremely knowledgeable of the constitution and founding principles, but are busy living their lives and will not take the time to go out and get involved.  That was me, and like me, they will in time wake up to the realization of that mistake.  We battle the uninformed (ignorant), we battle those who think our Constitution is dynamic, fluid; a living and breathing document that changes with society.  We battle those who drink at the water trough of Karl Marx.

The battle is not on social media.  Social media gives us a false sense of importance, a false sense of accomplishment, a false sense of reality.  In reality, Facebook has done me a big favor.

It is very clear Facebook is no friend of the Constitution or our history.  While they embrace the aspects that allow it to operate freely, they have made a choice to deny that to some of their customers in the name of security.  Sounds much like a quote by Benjamin Franklin.  If we accept their treatment of us it is no different from what the government does to us, which we have accepted – some grudgingly and some readily.

Our biggest challenge is education and right behind that is motivation.  People don’t eat unless they are hungry, they don’t drink unless they are thirsty.  You don’t fear the bear that you see on TV even though you recognize its power and danger, but when you look up and see you are in between a sow bear and her cubs, the danger is now personal.  We have yet to understand the danger is personal, we see it as a vague distant threat.  It actually has us by the throat and is killing us.  But that’s okay, we’re busy posting on Facebook and Tweeting about Hillary’s emails or the Trump/Russia collusion investigation.

I am going to continue on my malicious, abusive and offensive endeavors to educate and motivate.  Facebook will not be the salvation of the Republic.  If the Republic survives it will be in spite of Facebook.  When my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren look back at my life, let them say I gave my best.  I can do better than Facebook, and we all deserve better.  Click on the embedded link below and listen to Norah.

Norah Jones – American Anthem Lyrics

All we’ve been given

By those who came before

The dream of a nation

Where freedom would endure

The work and prayers

Of centuries

Have brought us to this day

 

What shall be our legacy?

What will our children say?

Let them say of me

I was one who believed

In sharing the blessings

I received

Let me know in my heart

When my days are through

America

America

I gave my best to you

 

Each generation from the plains

To distant shore with the gifts

They were given

Were determined

To leave more

Battles fought together

Acts of conscience fought alone

These are the seeds

From which America has grown

 

Let them say of me

I was one who believed

In sharing the blessings

I received

Let me know in my heart

When my days are through

America

America

I gave my best to you

 

For those who think

They have nothing to share

Who fear in their hearts

There is no hero there

Know each quiet act

Of dignity is

That which fortifies

The soul of a nation

That never dies

 

Let them say of me

I was one who believed

In sharing the blessings

I received

Let me know in my heart

When my days are through

America

America

I gave my best to you

 

America

America

I gave my best to you

 

Thou Shalt Not…………

I’m sure we all recognize those three words from the Ten Commandments in which eight of the ten begin with those words, “Thou shalt not…”  My intention with this piece is not to “preach at” anyone, but to make a connection.  I hope you’ll bear with me as I try to accomplish that.

This was the first time commands and ordinances from God were given directly to the people.  Previously, from the days of Adam, God communicated directly with the patriarchs of the families.  We don’t know just how or what they were told, but it is a reasonable assumption the people understood His expectations of them.

Certainly when Cain killed his brother Abel, he understood it was wrong.  We also know they both offered sacrifices, would they have done that with no direction from God?  But what of the time before sin entered the world?

Adam and Eve lived in absolute freedom, the ultimate liberty.  Since sin was not in their lives, they had one prohibition – they were not to eat the fruit of a particular tree.  Other than that, they were free to do anything.  As James Madison said, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.”

Sin led to the destruction of most of mankind.  As we see people today looking at trying to develop artificial intelligence, we might take note of the similarities with the days of Noah, Nimrod, and the Tower of Babel,  but that lesson is for another day.

God does things in a progression, it takes we humans time to adapt and adjust.  When the time was right, God sent his Son, and in a way there was a reversion back to the days of Adam.

While the Law (the Ten Commandments and related ordinances) was imperfect, it did make it clear what the expectations of God were for us.  God knew it was ultimately in our best interest to DO things freely, by choice, rather than NOT do things out of fear.  The first chapter of the Book of James speaks of this, in verse 17 it details that everything good and perfect comes from above (God).

We are under an expectation of “doing” or being a “doer” rather than “not doing”, but we are free – at liberty to make the choice.  And thus in verse 25 it speaks of the “perfect law of liberty.”  Liberty.  Freedom to make a choice with the understanding of the consequences and rewards of that choice.

This is the model for our Constitution and our laws.

God restrained himself and gave man the liberty to plot his own course understanding the risk/reward of the choice.  The king did not restrain himself, he restrained the people.  The people were free to do as they chose as long as it fell within the restraints placed by the king.

Someone needs to explain to me what we are closer to today, rule under King George III or the Constitution and laws as designed?

Two things brought this to mind, never mind there are literally hundreds of examples.  In recent years a number of states have moved to increase prohibition on gun ownership and lessen the prohibition on marijuana.  The laws themselves and the reaction to them speaks volumes.

There are plenty of federal laws to look at, however I will look at state laws.  I want to make it clear, states do not have the authority to infringe on individual’s rights.  Article IV, Section 2 begins, “The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.”  The Fourteenth Amendment codified and defined it:

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

So as we look at the enumerated powers of the Constitution, we see the federal government does not have the authority to prohibit something like marijuana, and a state does not have the power to infringe on the right to keep and bear arms.

What I find interesting is that many who consider themselves conservative and constitutional want the federal government to control things like marijuana, but not guns.  Progressives want the freedom to have access to marijuana and restrict access to guns.

Now a state could constitutionally restrict access to marijuana, but not guns.  The federal government does not have the authority to restrict either one.

And that brings me back to the “perfect law of liberty”.  Let’s look at the rest of Madison’s quote about angels from Federalist 51: “If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.”

We are to have a delicate balance, and since we are not angels we must have a government with the authority and ability to punish those who violate others rights.  Since government is not made of angels either, it must not have too much power.  Just as the perfect law of liberty given by God, the Constitution puts us in charge of the choice.

Our Republic has seen many efforts by men who want to control behavior, but true control comes from within.  As the early progressive era began we saw increased government, decreased reliance on personal restraint and responsibility.  The belief was that the “right people” could make the best choices.  Eugenics and population control was prevalent in the day; Teddy Roosevelt, HG Wells, George Bernard Shaw and others were all about picking who lived and died – for the good of humanity.  Margaret Sanger started Planned Parenthood.  Men decided who could and could not marry, they made alcohol and drugs illegal.  All this and more was done because men believed government under the right leadership was better than the liberty of the people to make their own choices.

I am under no illusion that anything will change anytime soon.  In fact we have so many generations conditioned for government to care of them, they are incapable of doing so for themselves.  We are seeing an example of that in the recent change in Oregon law to allow self-serve gas.  As I recently wrote in the conclusion of my series on slavery, government has made us all slaves. furthermore, in most cases we like it and expect it.  No, most of us don’t really want liberty, we want a dictator who does what we like.  In the end, that is why half the country is happy with a Republican president and the other half when it is a Democrat.

We have forgotten what true liberty is, we have forgotten just how good the constitution is.  We like the idea of it, but do we really trust it?  Do we really trust ourselves?

 

If Not For God, I’d Have Killed You Years Ago

I was having a conversation with my son-in-law (at the time) about God.  He told me God had never done anything for him.  I replied that indeed He had, that God had kept him alive.  He gave me a questioning look and I continued, “If not for God, I’d have killed you years ago,”  and he knew I meant it.  He had not been good to my daughter and I was not happy with him.

There are two forces at work in the world, good and evil.  Each of us has to make a choice daily as to which road we will take.  Sometimes the choice is easy, and other times it is not.  Sometimes we make the right choice and sometimes we do not.  Things are made more difficult when we do not receive praise or reward for making the right choices or we do not receive punishment or consequences for making the wrong choice.

First, we have to understand and agree that all things good originate with God and all evil originates with Satan.  If you don’t or can’t agree with that then we have nothing further to discuss.

Whether we make the right or wrong choice, it is “our” choice.  Self restraint, personal responsibility, and self reliance are all vital to a people living in a free society.  Our founders understood a very basic principle.  “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.” -Benjamin Franklin

I wrote a two part article entitled “A Bridge Too Far”.  I hope you’ll take the time to go back and read them because I detailed what Franklin meant by “virtuous”.  Our language has evolved over the years and it does not have the same connotation today as then.

Franklin’s statement above deals with the two choices we have, we can control ourselves or we can have someone (or something) control us.  One of Paul Harvey’s famous sayings was that, “With increased freedom and liberty we must have increased personal responsibility.”  In Federalist 51, James Madison stated that, “If men were angels, no government would be necessary”.

Of course men are not angels, but that does not mean they are not capable of self control and self restraint.  Our form of government was designed to allow for maximum liberty and limited control.  The control was limited to protecting the rights and liberties of the citizens.  How did we end up where government decides what cars are legal to sell, which toilet and light bulb we may buy and which healthcare plan we MUST buy, just to name a few? Mostly not just how, but WHY?

Mankind is capable of truly horrible and sadistic brutality.  The attempted extermination of Jews, the starving of the people in Ukraine, the tortures used in medieval times, all in addition to the violence of war and conquering nations.  It is little wonder we see some of the vile comments on social media, vocal insults leave no physical scars.  However, regardless of whether we are vocally or physically abusive of each other we return to the notion that Satan rules when we take God out of the equation.

As we look at our relatively short history we have seen swings in the way the nation in general relates to God.  The Great or American Enlightenment lasted about 100 years from 1714-1818 and played no small part in the Revolution and foundation of our Constitution and Republic.  The Black Robe Regiment, preachers of the early 18th century taught of personal responsibility, liberty, and God given rights giving the people a feeling of purpose and broke the notion that the King was God’s chosen leader.

There was another shorter era during the Civil War, but then there was a concerted effort to remove God begun by the early progressives.

Sir William Blackstone’s philosophy and writings were infused with Judeo-Christian principles. The Ten Commandments are at the heart of Blackstone’s philosophy.  Blackstone’s Commentaries were used as a basis for law and legal decisions.  Blackstone heavily influenced the founders and in some cases is still quoted today.  However, there was a concerted effort to replace Blackstone in the post Civil War law schools.

Blackstone based his principles on “Natural Law”, as in our Declaration’s assertion of “the laws of God and nature’s God”.  The theory was that God created man with free will and also set him in a world with certain immutable laws of human nature.  Man also had the god given ability to reason.  Human laws are therefore to be the product of people comprehending God’s purposes and fashioning their own regulations of human conduct to reflect the Divine will.

In 1859, Darwin published The Origin of Species.  People who could not bear to think of embracing God had been looking for something to anchor their beliefs.  Darwinian evolution gave them just that.  

The president of Harvard (Charles Eliot) hired Christopher Langdell as dean of Harvard’s law school.  He began to introduce evolution into the teaching of law, and to do this he changed from using Blackstone’s Commentaries to using case law and studying the writings of judges.  This began a slow change in American jurisprudence that would set the stage for progressive successes decades later.  If people evolved, then so should the law.

Another notable influence in this time frame was SCOTUS Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes.  Serving on the highest court for 30 years (1902-1932), he penned an article in The Harvard Law Review 1897 titled “The Path Of The Law”.  Holmes broke from Blackstone and any idea morality and natural law and that truth was to be determined by judges.  “I often doubt whether it would not be a gain if every word of moral significance could be banished from the law all together, and other words adopted which could convey legal ideas uncolored by anything outside the law.

Also, the era that brought us Woodrow Wilson also brought us John Dewey and his influence on education.  Darwin was no small influence on Dewey who helped usher God out of education and evolution and situation ethics in.  Government and elites became our “god”, telling us what was good and evil spawning eugenics to control the quality of the population and the likes of prohibition to be our conscience rather than personal responsibility and self control.

In the 1950’s we had another resurgence of putting God back in our national lives, adding “In God we trust” as the national motto and to our money. “Under God” was added to the Pledge.  However, the attacks on reading the Bible in school which began in the 1920’s revived in the 1960’s along with the attacks on prayer.  It has come to the point a cross or nativity scene throws some into a conniption.

Is something like the 10 Commandments so offensive we must remove them?  What is there about not stealing, lying, cheating and murdering so offensive?  Perhaps it is the fact it comes from a higher being rather than ourselves?

It seems to this writer that the conclusion is rather basic.  We as people need to have some sort of control over our actions.  Ideally this control comes from within.  For instance, I did not kill my son in law…not because it was illegal and I might go to prison, but because God tells me is it wrong and I stand to pay a much stiffer penalty than jail.  Progressives for the most part cannot fathom the idea of God, so to them control must come from government.  Progressives are not against making life and death choices for others using eugenics, abortion and other population control measures – thus they further the idea of taking the place of the Creator.  

The departure from God in our society has been a slow deliberate one, one which we have embraced in many ways.  It is my hope and prayer that we can stop and reverse this train before we run out of track.

Peace On Earth, Good Will Towards Men

Most of us will recognize that phrase from the Gospel of Luke 2:14, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.  This of course is a proclamation of the birth of the Messiah and what his appearance on earth will mean to mankind.

As I sit this Christmas Eve, surrounded by family cooking, making candy and enjoying each other, I reflect on another time this phrase was used.

Some 30 years after our revolution, Thomas Jefferson was reflecting on the situation in Europe – specifically the British Empire after the war with Napoleon.  England was in a serious economic recession and the national debt was hanging around the national neck like a large stone on a man drowning in the sea. The constant wars and expansion of the empire had driven the debt to an unsustainable level and Jefferson believed the situation to be ripe for an English revolution similar to America’s.

“I turn, however, with some confidence to a different auxiliary, a revolution in England, now, I believe unavoidable. The crisis so long expected, inevitable as death, altho’ uncertain like that in it’s date, is at length arrived. Their government has acted over again the fable of the frog and the ox; and their bloated system has burst. They have spent the fee simple of the island in their inflated enterprises on the peace and happiness of the rest of mankind. Their debts have consequently accumulated by their follies & frauds, until the interest is equal to the aggregate rents of all the farms in their country. All these rents must go to pay interest, and nothing remains to carry on the government….

Our wish for the good of the people of England, as well as for our own peace, should be that they may be able to form for themselves such a constitution & government as may permit them to enjoy the fruits of their own labors in peace, instead of squandering them in fomenting and paying the wars of the world. But during these struggles, their artists are to become soldiers. Their manufactures to cease, their commerce sink and our intercourse with them be suspended. This interval of suspension may revive and fix our manufactures, wean us from British aperies, and give us a national & independent character of our own. I cannot say that all this will be, but that it may be; and it ought to be supplicated from heaven by the prayers of the whole world that at length there may be “on earth peace, and good will towards men.” No country, more than your native one, ought to pray & be prepared for this. I wish them success, and to yourself health and prosperity.”

Jefferson believed that once the forces driving the quest for power were removed and the people were free to pursue their interests, there could be “Peace on earth and good will towards men.”  He thought the anger and frustration of the people would surely encourage them to rise up.  He compared the situation to Aesop’s fable of the frog and the ox.  In an effort to become as large as the ox, the arrogant frog blew himself up till he burst.

Jefferson fantasized over the exile of the monarchy after a revolution, no doubt he had no love lost for the crown.  Is there a lesson for us here as well?

The cause of the national debt is not as important as the debt itself.  With $20.6 trillion in debt and growing at nearly half a trillion a year, we are not much different from the English of the early 19th century of which Jefferson spoke.  When you factor in the unfunded liabilities of the US government at $109.3 trillion, there is little hope we or our posterity will escape disaster.

We as a people live in great debt as well.  Our economy is based on spending and borrowing rather than saving and producing.  The borrower is a slave to the lender (Proverbs 22:7), whether that is an individual or a nation.

Recently, we were told we should celebrate a “bold” tax reform, there was zero reduction in spending.  As long as the albatross of debt is hanging around our collective necks, can there ever truly be “Peace on earth and goodwill towards men”?

The letter from Thomas Jefferson to William Sampson from which this quote is taken can be found here: https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/03-11-02-0018

 

Slavery – Then and Now – The Final Chapter

In Part One we looked at the early days of slavery in the western hemisphere, Part Two looked at the era up to the Civil War and in Part Three we covered the post war era and reconstruction.  Please understand this is not intended to be a detailed study of slavery, but a high level view of slavery and the years since.   Part Four concentrated on the turn of the century and into the 20th century and the progressive era.  Today, we will look at the years and some events leading to the Civil Rights movement and up to today.

Technology always has a positive and a negative impact.  The invention of the cotton gin in the late 18th century did not reduce the need for slaves, it increased the need as more and more acres were planted because the processing was so much faster.  The development of modern tractors, cotton strippers, and other equipment in the 20th century meant a landowner could farm more acres with less help.  The need for sharecroppers and tenant farmers diminished, throwing more black families into desperate situations.

From abolition, to Reconstruction, to anti-lynching laws, the 14th and 15th Amendments, the Civil Rights Act of 1875, and the Civil Rights Acts of 1957, 1960, and 1964, there is no radical break in the Republicans’ civil rights history.  While not entirely consistent, there is a definite line from Abraham Lincoln to Dwight D. Eisenhower.  At the same time there was unwavering opposition to all of these efforts and a similar line from John Calhoun to Lyndon Baines Johnson, the latter being a radical about-face for Johnson and the Democrats.

Women’s suffrage in the early 20th century was also an issue building in support, and that culminated in the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920.  Also in the 1920’s, two men were born who would be influential in the quest for civil rights for blacks and who had very different ideas for a solution.

Malcolm X converted to Islam during a stint in prison.  He became a force in the civil rights movement, however his message was one of black nationalism and violence as necessary.  While originally associated with the Nation of Islam, he became disillusioned by its leader Elijah Muhammad and his sexual exploits with several women.  After leaving NOI, he was marked for assassination and on February 21, 1965 he was killed by three members of the Nation of Islam.

Martin Luther King took a different course, had a larger and more positive impact, yet suffered the same sort of early end.  King’s message of peaceful disobedience and his “dream” of integration “…that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character” resonated because it made sense.  At least to many.

On the political side, things were also building.  In 1955 Rosa Parks’ refusal to take a back seat led to a boycott of the city bus system, and the court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education Topeka II (desegregation of education) were landmark events.  Then in 1962, the court desegregated transportation in Bailey v. Patterson.

In 1964, LBJ signed the Civil Rights Act into law.  After 100 years of fighting equal access and rights, a Democrat, a southern Democrat at that signed the legislation.  Consider that if we look at legislators in a North vs South, or Union vs Confederacy, there is a clear picture.  90% of the House and 92% of the Senate from the North voted in favor.  However, for the South only 8% of the House and 5% of the Senate voted in favor of the Act.

There is a famous quote that has been attributed to LBJ, “I’ll have those niggers voting Democratic for 200 years.”  While it was not in writing, it was reportedly overheard as it was spoken to two southern governors.  One thing is agreed, it is certainly something he was capable of saying.  Another quote by LBJ to Senator Richard Russell included in a biography of the president:

“These Negroes, they’re getting pretty uppity these days and that’s a problem for us since they’ve got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this, we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference.”

The laws can be changed, but hearts take longer.  By the late 60’s when I was in high school I saw very little in the way of racism.  There were a few blacks in our school and I saw no difference in the way they were treated.  I’ve known and worked with people who were very racist, and there is no reasoning with them.

Despite having racists on both sides of the spectrum who seem intent on keeping things stirred up, such as the likes of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who make a living off of the divisions, we as a nation had moved forward quite well.  At least until the presidency of Barack Obama, but then that is not the subject of this article.  We’re here to talk about slavery.

Up to this point, I have not defined the term.

Slave: a person who is the legal property of another and is forced to obey them.

a person who works very hard without proper remuneration or appreciation.

a person who is excessively dependent upon or controlled by something.

I would be remiss if I did not discuss modern day slavery as it exists around the world.  There is some debate as to the total number of slaves today, from 12.3 to 27 million.  We are well aware of the Islamists to have taken sex slaves in the middle east, but sex slavery is very widespread.  Forced labor is more common than we know.  People are lured with a trip to America from a very poor situation, are chained and made to work with no hope of freedom.

One man who was undercover reported he was offered a 10 year-old-girl to own for domestic work and sex for $100.  He talked the price down to $50.  In Romania, he was offered a down syndrome girl in exchange for a used car…worth about $1500.  Understand that in today’s money, a good black slave in 1850 sold for $40,000.  While the world population is much higher, the total number of slaves in the world today is higher than it was in 1850, and that is just in the traditional definition of slave.

We cannot have this discussion without looking at ALL the definitions of slave.

As we look back at the third definition of slave and at the words of LBJ, we should add those who are dependent on the government.  Since Obamacare has become the law, plus the government assistance ushered in largely under LBJ, over half the population is living on or helped by a government program.  According to census data, 49.2% of the population is on at least one program, and since the healthcare law about 10 million more are receiving assistance on premiums or are on Medicaid pushing us over 50%.

Granted, about 42 million are on social security and Medicare, and they paid into those programs for most of their lives…but they are mandated into those programs by force.

Consider taxes and government agencies.  Certainly we must pay taxes. But the tax codes and laws are written to favor some and punish others.  Do we really own property or just rent it?  If we do not pay property taxes (rent paid to government) are we not evicted?  What about due process?  If the IRS decides we owe taxes then we are guilty and if we do not prove we are innocent, we are punished.

Remember I spoke of the value of a slave to the master or owner?  While some slaves were harshly punished, that was the exception rather than the rule due to the value of the asset, the slave.  The government master does not recognize we the people as an asset with any value.

What of the Federal Reserve policy of “Quantitative Easing”, digitizing or printing money and diminishing its value, creating inflation, and shrinking the Dollar by 97% since its inception?  What of the excessive waste and spending by the government running up debt to be paid by future generations?  What of an economy based on spending rather than saving and producing?

The slave ships are long gone as are the auction blocks where men, women, and children were sold to the highest bidder.  Gone are the cotton and tobacco fields full of workers.  Yet there are two evil slave owners who now hold a far greater number of slaves.  There are those who sell lives for sex or work as well as those who buy and use them.  Finally, there are those we elect to go the big plantation, those we willingly send to be our masters.

There is an interesting correlation.  The proponents of slavery such as John Calhoun asserted that slavery, rather than being a “necessary evil”, was a “positive good”, benefiting both slaves and slave owners.  It is clear that the politicians in Washington believe themselves better suited to make decisions for us than we would otherwise make.

The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower becomes the lender’s slave. –Proverbs 22:7 NASB

So I see we have two questions to ask ourselves.  Do we really want to be freemen? Free as in the slaves after the Civil War, would we be able to make it if we were?

Slavery – Then and Now – Part Four

In Part One we looked at the beginnings of slavery in the western hemisphere, Part Two covered the era up to the Civil War and Part Three looked at the post war era and reconstruction.  Today we will look at the turn of the century and into the 20th century.  If you missed any of these installments simply click on the “part” number and the link will open.

For southerners, insult was added to injury with the “carpetbaggers” and “scalawags” plus the occupation by the Union Army.  Northerners who came down to take advantage of the situation (carpetbaggers) and southerners who were Republicans or sympathetic to Reconstruction (scalawags) were not well thought of to say the least, as the cartoon depicts.  The KKK was formed in Tennessee in 1865 after the defeat in the war.  Bitterness was widespread, and everywhere was a reminder of what had been and the new reality.

lynching

After Reconstruction, the plight of the former slaves got worse instead of better.  The sharecropper arrangement was little better than being a slave.  Those who had a marketable skill could find jobs in some cases, and for agriculture a tenant arrangement was a much better option.  However none of these was ideal and many blacks found themselves desperate for survival.  Disease and starvation were not uncommon.  Those who sharecropped or tenant farmed were dependent on the quality and quantity of the harvest, and they often were dependent on the landowner for mules and equipment.  With no assets they couldn’t borrow to make it through tough times.  Sharecropping and tenant farming became the dominant form of farming in the cotton south until the 1950s.

former slave

The tremendous upheaval of society, millions of former slaves now free trying to survive and the end of Reconstruction set the stage for the end of the 19th century.  The southerners labeled this post reconstruction period “Redemption”, a time in which white democrat dominated state legislatures enacted Jim Crow laws and, beginning in 1890, disenfranchised most blacks and many poor whites through a combination of constitutional amendments and electoral laws.  Bitter memories of the war and Reconstruction were major factors in imposing a period of white supremacy known as “The Age Of Jim Crow.”

Many of the aims of the more radical Republicans during Reconstruction were either unfulfilled or undermined.  Turn of the century SCOTUS rulings upheld the changes in state constitutions and laws preventing most blacks from voting in the south until the 1960s.  Federal enforcement of the 14th and 15th Amendments never happened until legislation was passed in the mid 1960s as a result of the Civil Rights Movement (1955-1968).

sharecroppers

Sharecroppers after eviction during the depression, 1936

In 1915, there was a revival of the KKK in Georgia.  In many ways, the KKK was much like Al Qaeda or ISIS.  There was not a centrally controlled organization.  It was an idea and its efforts were carried out by like minded individuals and groups located throughout the south.  This regeneration of the Klan was more than anti-black, they stood and acted against Roman Catholics, Jews, foreigners and organized labor.  Their methods of intimidation included cross burnings, bombings, beatings, shootings and of course lynchings.  At the federal level, there was never an anti-lynching law passed.  Every single one was blocked by Democrats.

Blacks may no longer have been owned by a slave owner, but they had a new master, and as we learned in Part One, blacks were and are not the only slaves.

Slave Photo

I believe at this time there were largely three forces as work; those who genuinely wanted to improve the plight of the former slaves, those who wanted to maintain a separation and those who wanted to take advantage of the situation for ulterior motives.

In the post slavery years, two powerful voices rose up among the black community, Frederick Douglass and Booker T Washington.  Of course Douglass gained attention well before the Civil War with his book, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, in 1845, and eventually other books and newspapers.  Douglass was an adult in slavery while Washington was a young boy during the Civil War.  Booker put himself through school and later founded Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute which became Tuskegee University.

Both of these men were controversial in their own ways and certainly they were complex individuals.  I’d encourage you to do some research on them.  I cannot possibly mention all the important figures of this time, my intent is a high level overview of the progression of slavery and its aftermath.

Booker-T-Washington-Quotes-2

While progress was being made in some cases, the southern states were digging their heels in, although perhaps it would more appropriate to day Democrats.  The 1896 SCOTUS case of Plessy v Ferguson ruled that “separate but equal”, segregation, was legal.  There was a move by Democrats to repeal the 14th and 15th amendments, and the “pro Klan” movie Birth of a Nation was the first ever movie played at the White House when Woodrow Wilson was president.

Woodrow Wilson brought Jim Crow to the north.  Wilson immediately after inauguration moved to segregate the railway mail service and eventually the military.  Wilson and many of his contemporaries were committed eugenicists, and as such believed that blacks were genetically inferior to whites.  Of course this was also the time period in which Margaret Sanger began her work which led to Planned Parenthood and an attempt to stop the growth of the blacks at the source.  We view Adolf Hitler as evil, yet many in this country shared his beliefs.  I’m not saying here that Hitler was not evil, I’m saying he had plenty of company.

I sometimes wonder if Hitler had not done what he did, what might have occurred here in this country.  A nation founded on liberty and freedom rounded up and interred well over 100,000 people without due process, one that embraced the idea of “social Darwinism” to determine a person’s worth.

Some notable quotes by Woodrow Wilson:

“Segregation is not a humiliation but a benefit, and ought to be so regarded by you gentlemen.”

“The white men were roused by a mere instinct of self-preservation—until at last there had sprung into existence a great Ku Klux Klan, a veritable empire of the South, to protect the Southern country.”

“[Reconstruction government was detested] not because the Republican Party was dreaded but because the dominance of an ignorant and inferior race was justly dreaded.”

E.L. Godkin, the founder and editor of The Nation wrote in 1900 that “the Declaration of Independence no longer arouses enthusiasm; it is an embarrassing instrument which requires to be explained away.  The Constitution is said to be “outgrown.’”  Those who once “boasted that it had secured for the negro the rights of humanity and citizenship” now listen “in silence to the proclamation of white supremacy” and make “no protest against the nullifications of the 15th Amendment.”

Things were building to a crescendo in the black community, a pressure cooker that was about to pop and let off some steam.  Another prominent figure was to emerge, and along with some dedicated Republicans the “Civil Rights” era ushered in a sea change in America.  In our final part of the series we’ll look at the Civil Rights Era to today.

 

Slavery – Then and Now – Part Three

When I first began this series I planned for three parts.  I decided after part two it would take four or even five!  In Part One we looked at the early beginnings of slavery in the 17th century, then in Part Two we looked at the explosive growth and some interesting facts up to the Civil War.  Today we will look at the post war years.

If you were to look at census records prior to the Civil War, you will find five columns:

The number of free White males and females aged, respectively

The number of male and female slaves aged, respectively

The number of free colored males and females aged, respectively

Number of foreigners not naturalized

Number of persons (including slaves) engaged in agriculture, commerce, and manufactures

You should note that slaves are not assumed to be “colored” and that coloreds are possibly free.

African American male casting his vote in a DC election_jpg

In part two I discussed how there were a number of free blacks who were slave owners.  This of course complicated things more than it solved anything in some ways.  For example, each state determines its voting laws.  Some states allowed free blacks to vote, others did not.  Certainly by the middle of the 19th century, race became a huge determining factor in many cases.  The picture depicting black men voting is of a Georgetown election in Washington DC.

The emancipation of the slaves was an enormous shock to a nation that had been built on slave labor  Whether indentured by force or lifetime servitude…that ended almost overnight.  If you had a contract for someone to serve for a period of time, that was over.  If you owned a slave, they were free.  Now these were significant financial investments you suddenly lost.  Regardless of the feelings of slavery and its horrors, significant assets were now gone and you had no way to operate your farm or business.

The initial Emancipation Proclamation freed only the southern slaves.  Any slaves held in the north were not free until the 13th Amendment to the Constitution in 1865.  Being a slave at least gave you a place to live and food to eat.  What do you do now?

The Republic of Liberia was started as a settlement of the American Colonization Society (ACS) under the idea black people would face better chances for freedom in Africa than in the United States.  Between 1822 and the Civil War, 15,000 from the US and about 3200 from the Caribbean settled in Liberia.  The Liberian Constitution and flag were based on the US Constitution and flag, and in 1848 Joseph Jenkins Roberts (a free born black from Virginia) was elected as the nation’s first president.  It was believed that the repatriation of blacks to Africa would be better in the long run than simply making them free in America.  No doubt, there was likely racism involved in that belief…and those coming from America did not integrate well with the tribal native population.

Of the 4 million now free slaves in the US, most were suddenly faced with a much different burden, survival.  There were no jobs.  There was no housing or shelter beyond what they had as a slave.  Remember, the average slaveholder had 10 slaves and now without slave labor, they could not suddenly start paying wages on top of the investment they had already made.  The economy was having to make a huge adjustment.  Many farms made sharecrop arrangements, allowing the now free slaves to stay and work.  This agreement allowed the landowner to keep the farm going and not have to pay out of pocket for wages.  The sharecroppers would keep (typically) two thirds of the crop to be sold as their wages.  In most cases this was no improvement over their previous situation…in fact if a crop failure occurred, they had to bear the loss.

Huge numbers relocated north and west, some as individuals and families, some as groups.  There was certainly tremendous resentment on the part of many in the south.  Resentment over the loss of their way of life as well as the racism issue.  Additionally, reconstruction brought the “carpet baggers” from the north to “re-integrate” the southern states into the union.  One freedman, Houston Hartsfield Holloway, wrote, “For we colored people did not know how to be free and the white people did not know how to have a free colored person about them.”  Certainly a time of adjustment, reconstruction lasted until 1877.  Most southerners considered this time very humiliating.

Slaves in most cases were not educated at all.  In the years following emancipation, they eagerly took advantage of schooling, often a class would have three generations sitting together learning to read and write.  In some cases, large groups relocated for a new start, hopefully away from the problems in the south.  One such community was in my state of Kansas, Nicodemus.

Ho for kansas

As these groups moved west, they generated a new term.  “Exodusters”, and the movement became known as the “Exodust Movement”.  The Nicodemus Town Company was incorporated in 1877 by 6 black and 2 white Kansans.  It is the oldest of about 20 such towns formed after reconstruction.  Located in the northwest part of the state, it was a rough go for anyone regardless of color.  By 1880 the community reached a population of 500, however the tough conditions, crop failures as well as resentment by some white residents brought the population down to 200 by 1910.  While many abandoned their homestead claims, county plats show several still owned property in the area well into the 20th century.

Before the end of reconstruction a number of blacks were elected to federal public office.  Both Senators from Mississippi were black and 21 congressmen were elected.  Remember, prior to the 17th amendment, Senators were selected by the state legislature.  Like it or not, the Democrat Party became the home of the racists, of the Ku Klux Klan.

blacks in congress

I would encourage you to check out the biographies of these early black politicians.  One, Robert B Elliot, left the US House to serve as Speaker of South Carolina’s House of Representatives.  Jeremiah Haralson supported amnesty for former confederates and opposed the use of federal troops to quell violence in the 1876 election.  There is no denying their importance in these early days following the Civil War.  There is also no denying that when reconstruction ended in 1877 a growing animosity against the blacks in the south led to poll taxes and literacy tests designed to prevent blacks from voting and the growth of the KKK and lynchings of both blacks and whites.

From 1882 to 1968, a total of 4,743 people were lynched.  Of this number 3,446 were black, or about three fifths of the total.  Many of the lynchings were for supposed rapes, although if a black man and a white woman were found together, it was assumed rape even if the two were a couple.  Many of the whites were in the west for crimes of theft or murder, although many were lynched for supporting blacks or being anti-lynching.  There is an interactive map where you can see every recorded lynching and the circumstances.

The nation was growing, in population and area.  The economy was moving from one that was slave based to employee based.  There were many dynamics at work in these post war years and into the 20th century.  In part four we will look at this period, stay tuned!

 

Thanksgiving, A Time Of Introspection and Reality

I have actually seen more thoughtful posts on social media this year, not so much of “Happy Turkey Day” and more mention of things for which people are thankful.  It’s a nice break from the back and forth of politics and petty arguments.

I am thankful I was taught at an early age to be thankful and respectful of my situation and opportunities with which I have been presented.  I am thankful I have been blessed so much; physically, spiritually, emotionally, and that I was trained to recognize the difference between good and bad opportunities.  Life has not always been easy and it might become much more difficult in the future, but I have learned to adapt and persevere.

I have also learned that many people, in fact most, have not had the foundation of learning to help them reach their potential.  As I have researched for my writing, I have also learned this is nothing new or unusual.  We have been told many times in many ways that we are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past if we do not know the lessons of history, and it is hard to know those lessons when there has been a coordinated effort to hide or distort the truth.

Today we will read many accounts of the “First Thanksgiving” in Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts.  There of course are the accounts that leave out the truth of that situation, that the community was set up under a socialist compact.  The first two and a half years nearly killed them all.  It was only after adopting private property rights, personal responsibility and free market principles that the community began to thrive.

However yet another lie told in that story is often neglected.  It was not the “First Thanksgiving”.

The Plymouth Colony was founded in 1620 after William Bradford and the settlers arrived from Europe.

After two and a half months at sea, the ship Margaret entered Chesapeake Bay on November 28, 1619.  They were to settle on an 8,000 acre tract of land, Berkeley Hundred.  The weather was stormy and it was a week before they actually made landfall at their destination on December 4.

When the passengers (35) and crew (7) had disembarked, they knelt in prayer.  The colonists were brought safely to Virginia by Captain John Woodlief, and he came with written orders from the Berkeley Company.  It declared that their arrival must “be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God.”

It was all about thanks and prayer, not food.

In reality they were unable to keep the day perpetually.  On March 22, 1622, the Powhatan Indians attacked Berkeley and other nearby settlements killing 347 people.  Captain Woodlief survived, however Berkeley was abandoned and her history mostly lost.

In 1931, retired president of William & Mary, and also son of President Tyler, Dr Lyon G Tyler was doing research on early Virginia history.  He discovered the Nibley Papers, documents and records of John Smyth of Nibley, Gloucestershire, giving details about the settlement of Berkeley in 1619.  They had originally been published in 1899, but their significance had remained unnoticed.

A plantation was eventually built on the site in 1726 and does retain the Berkeley name and the first Thanksgiving is not its only claim to fame.

Berkeley is the birthplace of Benjamin Harrison V, signer of the Declaration of Independence.

Berkeley is the birthplace of William Henry Harrison, ninth president of the United States, and the ancestral home of his grandson, Benjamin Harrison the twenty third president of the United States.

During the Civil war, the mansion was occupied by Union General McClellan’s army.  While there, General Daniel Butterfield composed “Taps” and it was first played there by bugler OW Norton.  A side note is that a drummer boy with McClellan’s forces, John Jamieson, returned and purchased the plantation and 1400 acres.  John’s son restored and still owns the plantation.

I hope you enjoyed the history lesson, and I hope you all have a wonderful day – and days to come.  We all are greatly blessed and highly favored.

 

 

Slavery – Then and Now – Part Two

In Part One, I looked at the earliest examples of slavery and how it evolved during the 17th century.  I found it interesting that I saw at least one comment that suggested I was rewriting history, I suppose because the facts did not align with their understanding of history, and that I was trying to diminish the evils of slavery.  If one were to read this series in its entirety, it will be clear that is not the case.

As the colonies grew in population and a robust agricultural industry exploded, there was a need for labor.  Once owners learned they could keep slaves indefinitely, that became a tremendous financial advantage.  No longer did a land owner have to find new slaves after the indenture contract was over.  Plus, any children born were automatic slaves as well.  These could be sold or used as the farm grew, they were an asset.

I said in Part One, we can normally “follow the money” when we want to get to the bottom of an issue.  Slaves were cheaper than employees and there was money to be made in their import and as they procreated.  Farm work was very hard and people could make more doing other things, and society easily accepted slavery as a necessary evil.  Slaves did things others would not – sound anything like our illegal immigration problems?

SlaveTrade-58d199915f9b581d72a541c9

If we look at the world today, we see more people are employed by small business than by large corporations.  Slavery was no different.  More slaves were held by small farms and business than by large plantations.  We have this vision of all these huge plantations with hundreds of slaves, task masters cracking a whip and beating the slaves into submission with regularity.  If you think about it, this does not make sense.

A slave was a valuable asset.  Did some get beaten and even killed?  Certainly!  But does it make any sense to beat and kill a valuable asset?  In 1680, slaves comprised  less than 1/10  of the total southern population but by 1790 had grown to ⅓.  After the Revolution the southern slave population exploded to 1.1 million in 1810 and nearly 4 million in 1860.

In spite of these numbers, slaves were still typically a minority.  Only in South Carolina and Mississippi did slaves outnumber free persons.  Most southerners owned no slaves and most slaves were held in small groups, not on large plantations.  Slaveholders totaled less than ¼ of white southerners and half of these held fewer than five and less than 1% owned more than 100.  By 1860 the average number of slaves held together was about 10.  (Information from Historical Statistics of the US 1970)

While race became a major factor in many cases, it was not a controlling one in all cases.  Crispus Attucks is generally considered the first casualty of the Revolution.  Crispus was a free black, a former slave.  Although a slave, James Armistead was a central figure in the colonies fight for freedom.  Prince Whipple is depicted in the famous painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware.  Prince was from a wealthy family in Africa and was sent by his father to America for an education.  These and many other examples can be found here.

Another issue that has to be mentioned is black slave owners.  I mentioned in Part One how the first permanent slave owner was black.  Those who would try to minimize the importance of this will say black slave owners were simply blacks who had earned their freedom and had purchased their own family members.  That is certainly true in some cases.  However black slave owners do not fit the narrative we have been fed in history, so it is simply left out.  Records of blacks who owned slaves give us the truth.

According to Black Masters: A Free Family of Color in the Old South, Justus Angel and Mistress L. Horry, of Colleton District, South Carolina, each owned 84 slaves in 1830. In fact, in 1830 ¼ of the free Negro slave masters in South Carolina owned 10 or more slaves; eight owning 30 or more.  According to the US Census, there were 261,988 free blacks living in the south.  10,689 of this number lived in New Orleans and according to Duke University professor John Hope Franklin, 3,000 of these free blacks owned slaves.

In 1860 Louisiana, there were at least six blacks who owned more than 65 slaves, the largest owning 152.  Another owned over 100, this at a time when the average slave owner held 10 slaves.  In South Carolina, 125 free slaves owned slaves.  In fact in Charleston of the $1.5 million in taxable property owned by free blacks, $300,000 was slave holdings.

There were extensive laws regarding slavery, and in many ways these protected the slaves as much as the owners, even if indirectly.  You will frequently hear people ask why, if Jefferson was against slavery did he not at least free his slaves upon his death.  Slaves were an asset.  If you had any debt upon your death, assets had to be sold to satisfy your debts.  Jefferson had significant debts at the time of his death, legislation prevented them from being granted freedom.

slave auction

Manumission was the term for freeing a slave.  Again, follow the money.  If you owned a slave that suffered a permanent injury or illness, you could not just free them to absolve yourself of their care.  If you chose to free a slave, you would have to come before a judge and swear that the slave was sufficiently educated and trained so as not to become a burden on the community.  Imagine if owners could free their old, infirm, or criminal slaves!  Some states required free slaves to be relocated to another state to to the colony formed in Africa, Liberia.

Farming is not a 365 day a year operation.  There are times of the year when farm help would be idle, so slaves were hired out to work other jobs.  Sometimes the farm might, for example, have a saw mill.  When farm work was not needed, then lumber could be cut for sale, furniture made and sold, women might make clothing and so forth and a blacksmith shop would do outside work.

We have to understand that this culture and society was deeply ingrained over more than 100 years, it had evolved and adapted, laws written and changed.  We fought a revolution and wrote two “constitutions”.  We ultimately fought a Civil War.  Ask a southerner and it is the “War of Northern Aggression”, and a northerner will say it was fought to end slavery.  The truth is somewhere in the middle.

There are many examples of blacks, free and slave, who fought for the Union side of the Civil War.  There were also blacks who fought for the Confederacy.  The numbers on the Confederate side are vague, and likely less than 1% of the soldiers (3,000-6,000) wearing gray were black.  Certainly, many more blacks fought for the Union.  In fact by the end of the war about 10% of Union soldiers were black.  The list of black American heroes of the Civil War is long and impressive. All the more impressive is that many of these men not only fought bravely against the enemy but also against occasional racism in their own army. Admirably, their response to racist opposition did not include personal animosity, bitterness, or hate, but rather an increased determination to prove wrong the misconceptions. (https://wallbuilders.com/black-history-issue-2006/)

black troops

We have to try and put ourselves in the society of the day, and that is very hard to do.  Is there anything in today’s society you find unjust, that you’d like to change?  If so, why don’t you change it?  Let’s say the government controlled healthcare system.  Polls show a majority of people do not like it.  Yet it has not been repealed or even changed has it?  It’s not so easy is it?  Slavery was the 18th and 19th century Obamacare in a sense.  It was something many people knew needed to be changed, but it was so ingrained in society the fix was not an easy one.

The founders spoke out against slavery, they knew it did not start overnight and would not end overnight either.  Henry Laurens, John Jay, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and John Quincy Adams (to namen a few) all spoke out against slavery.  Jefferson introduced legislation to end slavery.  In response to some southerners who quoted scripture to justify slavery, the then president of the Continental Congress Elias Boudinot responded:

[E]ven the sacred Scriptures had been quoted to justify this iniquitous traffic. It is true that the Egyptians held the Israelites in bondage for four hundred years, . . . but . . . gentlemen cannot forget the consequences that followed: they were delivered by a strong hand and stretched-out arm and it ought to be remembered that the Almighty Power that accomplished their deliverance is the same yesterday, today, and for ever.  (The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States)

The southern states would never have ratified the Constitution had slavery been forbidden.  The ⅗ clause was itself a compromise.  It was NOT a determination that a slave equaled ⅗ of a person.  Locke’s Second Treatise of Government declared government was to protect Life, Liberty and Property (or estate).  This was changed to Persuit of Happiness, so as not to give slave owners a foothold in the Constitution saying they had a right to their property – slaves.  The southerners wanted slaves counted for representation, but not allow them to vote.

In the end, we survived the founding of the colonies and the slavery that was brought to us by the British.  The founders tried to minimize its impact.  Congress and Great Britain  abolished the African slave trade in 1807.  (Southerners actually supported the ban – again for financial reasons – their held slaves increased in value as did their offspring.)  We fought a war that, regardless of the reason, ended slavery, and that brought on a whole new list of problems.  After the war, where did all the now free blacks go?  What did they do to survive?  We will look at that issue in Part Three.