Slavery was already a vital part of the national economy and in the decades after the Revolution, slavery's importance escalated, and the institution expanded to where, on the eve of the Civil War, there were nearly 4 million people living in ***** in America.
However, well before that time, slavery had become the foundation of a network of interdependent economic systems throughout the country that rested on the premise that it was acceptable to view black humans as property. The natural consequences of this deeply racist premise were resistance and violence.
But the North was in the perfect position to deal with this. The region's relationship with slavery, though extraordinarily profitable, was a distant one and that distance allowed the North to minimize and even deny its links with the institution that fueled its prosperity.
Have a look see:
Northern merchants, shippers, and financial institutions, many based in N.Y. City, were crucial players in every phase of the national and international cotton trade. Meanwhile, the rivers and streams of the North, particularly in New England, were crowded with hundreds of textile mills. Well before the Civil War, the economy of the entire North relied heavily on cotton grown by millions of slaves-in the South.
New England and the Mid-Atlantic began their economic ascent in the 18th century because the regions grew and shipped food to help feed millions of slaves - in the West Indies.
Even some smaller industries had these distant, but vital, links to slavery. Starting before the Civil War and lasting up to the edge of the 20th century, two Connecticut towns were an international center for ivory production, milling hundreds of thousands of tons of elephant tusks procured through the enslavement or death of as many as 2 million people - in Africa.
In the 1640s John Winthrop, governor of the Mass. Bay Colony got a letter from his brother-in-law Emmanuel Downing, who suggested that a "just war" against Indians could provide the colony with captives to exchange in the West Indies for badly needed "Moores".
So, from the start, the nation's experience with slavery was defined by commerce and violence, in the North as well as the South. We will open our thread in the time and place where the fruits of hundreds of years of slavce labor may have been the most dramatically realized: in New York, as the country tottered on the edge of war.
A. Lincoln had just been elected president, pushing the Southern states over the edge to secession. The disintegration of America inspired a most curious response on the part of New York's mayor: he publicly declared that his city should secede from the Union along with the Southern states, in large part because of New York's economic dependence on the cotton trade.
And even before the 1860 election, Boston-area manufacturers - though some held antislavery views - were desperately currying favor with the Southern politicians and planters whose millions of slaves delivered the product necessary to their wealth and financial survival. These businessmen were, after all, in textiles, and what would they do without cotton?
The North grew rich before the Civil War beyond measure bvy agreeing to live, however uneasily at times, with slavery. Perhaps as a consequence of striking that bargain, Northerners have pushed much of their early history into the deepest shadows of repression. Many of the facts are shocking:
In the first half of the eighteenth century, two major slave revolts occurred in New York City. During the second uprising, with haunting parallels to the hysteria surrounding the Salem witch trials 50 years earlier, 31 black people, all slaves, and 4 white people were either hanged or burned alive at the stake.
In the eighteenth century, even after America won its freedom from Great Britain, even after writing the Declaration of Independence, tens of thousands of black people, were living as slaves in the North. Earlier in that century, enslaved blacks made up nearly one-fifth of the population of New York City.
At the same time that the North was selling food and other supplies to the sugar plantations that blanketed the islands of the Caribbean, thousands of acres of Connecticut, N.Y. and tiny Rhode Island held plantations that used slave labor.
In the century before Congress finally banned the importation of slaves, Rhode Island was America's leader in the transatlantic trade, launching nearly 1,000 voyages to Africa and carrying at least 100,000 captives back across the Atlantic. The captains and crews of these ships were often the veteran seamen of America: New Englanders.
In the decades before the Civil War, New York City's bustling seaport became the hub of an enormously lucrative illegal slave trade. Manhattan shipyards built ships to carry captive Africans, the vessels often outfitted with crates of shackles and with the huge water tanks needed for their human cargo. A conservative estimate is that during the illegal trade's peak years, 1859 and 1860, at least two slave ships,each built to hold between 600 and 1,000 slaves - left lower Manhattan every month.
A Harvard University zoologist was a major figure in the now-discredited field of "race science". His mentor, one of the most eminent physicians in Philadelphia, had a world-famous collection of human skulls that the "ethnologists" said proved that blacks of African descent had the smallest "cranial capacity" among all human s and thus were doomed to inferiority. These influential scientists not only helped justify slavery, they helped solidify the myth of black inferiority. "Race science" could be the most lasting and devastating legacy of the North's involvement in slavery.
Slavery has long been identified in the national consciousness as a Southern institution. The time to bury that myth is overdue. Slavery is a story about America, all of America. The nation's wealth, from the very beginning, depended on the exploitation of black people on three continents. Together, over the lives of millions of enslaved men and women, Northerners and Southerners shook hands and made a country.
Now we'll take a look at what the North was shaking on.
"The ships would rot at her docks; grass would grow in Wall Street and Broadway, and the glory of New York, like that of Babylon and Rome, would be numbered with the things of the past."
The answer given by a prominent Southern editor
when asked by The Times (London),
"What would New York be without slavery?"
From the very beginning there were differences of opinion about blacks and the “peculiar institution” that would lend credence to North's position on slavery later on if, in the early years they were joining hands with their black brethren in a show of equality. Of course that is a ludicrous pipedream because no one in those early years considered the blacks as equals.
There was a website that showed very different attitudes in this, “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. I refer to SlaveNorth.com, with annotated sources, if it still exists.
"When the Illinois state constitution was adopted in 1818, it limited the vote to "free white men" and excluded blacks from the militia."
"Indiana's anti-immigration rule was challenged in the case of a black man convicted for bringing a black woman into the state to marry her. The state Supreme Court upheld the conviction, noting that, "The policy of the state is ... clearly evolved. It is to exclude any further ingress of ****, and to remove those already among us as speedily as possible.""
These are just two examples of dozens of others the website provided about all of the northern States with their institutionalised anti-Black bias and segregation.
Michael F. Holt, Ph.D. states on another website, Getting The Message Out, "Several midwestern free states, including Illinois, even passed laws prohibiting free blacks from entering their borders..."
I'm sure most people here are familiar with Lerone Bennett, Jr., editor of Ebony magazine who wrote a book about Abraham Lincoln being a White supremacist. In it, he details the Black Code laws of Illinois, the absurdly proclaimed "Land of Lincoln". There, it was a crime for a Black to settle in Illinois unless they could prove their freedom and post a $1,000 bond, and if they could do that, they were under constant surveillance and could be arrested by any white. They could not vote, sue, or testify in court. These State laws were voted for by Abraham Lincoln while he was a State legislator in January of 1836, according to Mr. Bennett's book, Forced Into Glory. (Naturally here loud cries will be heard of "He changed his opinion later in life." I will even grant that this could be true, but it's also true that it's still on the books what was happening and how Mr. Lincoln voted before "this cruel war" began.)
Hindsight is always 20/20, but I am still looking at the years before the war and I see things a bit differently about the North than the nobility of those marching off "to die to make men free."
Before returning to my original premise of the North and the vast fortunes they were accumulating before the war, almost all having some form of association with the slavery in the South, let me add this:
Whether or not one agreed with human *****, it was protected in the US Constitution. Therefore, all States were legally obliged to honour those provisions that dealt with their sister States who held slaves. The northern States abolitionists were the ones who claimed the right to nullify the Constitution. Even though the northern States had no empathy for the Black race, slavery had been abolished there, further proof that a war was unnecessary for the eventual freedom of the Black race here in the States. For the States knew that slavery was a right reserved for the State to deal with. Or, a Constitutional Amendment could be propounded. But, such a one was not required for the northern States to abolish it within their borders, their lack of empathy for the Blacks notwithstanding.
The northern States would not abide with Article IV, Section 2, Paragraph 3, reflected not a sense of humanity, of moral revulsion to slavery, but instead a growing anti-South hatred & prejudice. Blacks did not matter to the north, but were pawns by which the north stuck it to the South. So, even when Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law, the northern States, reflecting their ethnic-hatred for the South, refused to obey it, again not because of right and wrong, but because of hatred towards the South. Even that reflected their perceived States Right to nullify any federal law they wanted to.
These sites prove very insightful as to the attitude of the North before the war. http://www.slavenorth.com/denial.htm Here states are taken one by one so that you can see the attitudes that were held toward slavery and the South up to the point of war. (As I’ve said, I was anxious to get into this forum so shamefully, I have not checked to see if this site still exists.)
Now back to the North and their industries and their dependence on slavery at certain levels.
It's difficult to overstate the importance of molasses, or more, specifically, of rum, particularly to the New England states.
At different times, Massachusetts and Rhode Island together had nearly 70 distilleries for rum, and New York City had more than a dozen. The Africa trade, however, took only a fraction of the rivers of molasses and rum flowing into and out of the North.
In 1770, Massachusetts and Rhode Island together importated 3.5 million gallons of molasses, which their distilleries turned into 2.8 million gallons of rum. New Englanders drank up most of the rum themselves, but 1.3 million gallons was reexported up and down the Atlantic coast, from Newfoundland to the Deep South. New England distilled more rum than all the rest of North America. The volume drunk was astonishing- an average of 1.5 quarts a week for every adult male! So was the amount of molasses smuggled past customs agents --probably more than 1.5 million gallons in 1770. (On that one and a half quarts a week of rum I don't believe that qualifies for medicinal purposes....but that's just my opinion.)
The hogsheads of molasses and rum were transported by water like almost everything the North traded in, and the revenue from shipping rivaled the value of West Indian exports. Shipbuilding became a major industry both in New York City and in New England. John Winthrop himself financed the construction of the Massachusetts Bay Colony's first ship, The Blessing of the Bay, launched in 1631. By 1700, Boston and nearby towns were turning out 70 ships a year -- the most in number and tonnage in the Western Hemisphere.
This industry employed hundreds of shipwrights, carpenters, sailsmakers, and ironworkers, not to mention lumbermen. Two thousand trees, mainly oak and pine, were cut to build a single decent-sized ship. The ships were sold, often to West Indian buyers, or kept for Massachusetts's own fleet. In the early 1700's, Boston's adult male population had risen to only about 1800. Incredibly, though, nearly one-third of Boston's men owned shares in at least one oceangoing vessel.
Every voyage risked shipwreck or seizure, but it was a business venture and the trade--legal or illegal-- shifted with the tides of war and taxation.
Fortunes and families were bound together by trade. A social register of New England families and families from elsewhere in the North that derived wealth from the West Indies slave islands would include hundreds of thousands of names, depending on where the qualifying bar is set. In the 18th century, Boston merchant Peter Faneuil (endower of Faneuil Hall) had a plantation on French St. Domingue. Before its slaves rebelled, Sainte-Domingue (now Haiti) had supplanted Barbados and Jamaica as the world's richest colony.
The Winthrop family was not left out. John's youngest son, Samuel, eventually acquired a plantation on Antigua and became president of its ruling council. a Winthrop cousin named Turner owned a 400-acre plantation on Barbados.
Plantation slavery created tremendous wealth in the New World and the Old. It was the engine of the colonial Atlantic economy.
The evidence that New England, the cradle of American civilization, was rocked by this slave economy had been there from the start, provided by John Winthrop as early as 1648.
A single entry from the Puritan's journal revealed the origins of New England's wealth and that of much of the rest of the North. In between reporting interruptions to the beaver and fish trade and complaining about New England's reputation as a "poor, barren place," Winthrop gave the real news:
"It pleased the Lord to open us a trade to Barbados and other islands in the West Indies."
A picture (p.54 in Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery,by Anne Farrow, Joel Lang, and Jenifer Frank of The Hartford Courant, Ballantine Books, New York, 2006) states:
"This advertisment from the June 6, 1780, The Connecticut Courant and the Weekly Intelligencer (a predecessor of today's Hartford Courant shows the shape of colonial trade in a nutshell. New England imported molasses, and rum and sugar in lesser amounts, from the West Indies. The Lisbon wine often was exchanged for New Englandfish. The "**** wench" for sale may not have been bought in Africa with New England rum, but her ancestors likely were. In 1780, slavery had been practiced in Connecticut for more than a century and the state's slave population had grown to about 5,000. The Connecticut Courant and the Weekly Intelligencer."
I’m stopping for now. Unfortunately I have to WORK!
Excellent post. I'll read and comment on each in the order you post them, starting with this first one (mind you, these comments are being posted before I've read any of the others).
Perhaps a moderator can move me to a different forum, if he feels the need.
As I have looked through the forums I have participated on I have watched helplessly as the slavery issue eventually becomes the only issue that divided the nation and forums bog down on this issue and never discuss any other aspects at all.
I intend to show how the North profited from slavery, and promoted it; how they got every penny's worth they could extract before deciding that it should be done away with.
These are the first items I’m using to join in this thread. I intend to show how the North profited from slavery, and promoted it; how they got every penny's worth they could extract before deciding that it should be done away with.
I’m delighted to be joining your forum but I will be listing my thoughts , which will include all the vast fortunes which were built from the ground up on the backs of slavery; I'm sure there will be plenty of room for disagreement but I do hope that I don't derail you too far from your original supposition.
began to campaign against the expansion of slavery into the territories. Why he embarked on this apparent about-face I have yet to uncover.
Actually it does make a lot of sense. I'm glad you posted it as the little bit of research I did to refresh my memory of parts of it filled in some gaping holes that I had in my knowledge from point A to point Z.
I hope this makes some degree of sense, but remember it's really just speculation.
Of all of the positions of political correctness that have taken place over the last 175 or so years, making the actual story of slavery known to the general public will be the least likely to happen. The social engineers have gotten far too much mileage out of it to let it go.
The time to bury that myth is overdue.