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Andrew Bitner
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Joined: 01 June 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 5962
Posted: 28 July 2020 at 7:21am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Exactly, JB. I think Andy slipped past that point above. We know about half the founders were slaveholders; it won't surprise any that they had few if any qualms about the practice from which they benefited.
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John Byrne

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Joined: 11 May 2005
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Posted: 28 July 2020 at 7:33am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

It is difficult for us, here in the 21st Century, to truly imagine what life was like back then. As difficult, at least, as it would have been for one of our ancestors to imagine the lives we live.

Slavery was business as usual. A "tradition" that dated back thousands of years. And it took every day of those thousands of years for SOME people to start thinking maybe--just maybe, mind you--slavery was bad.

But then what? When a vast economy is based on slavery, who's going to start tearing it down? "Slavery is morally bankrupt, so let's bankrupt the country to get rid of it!" Unlikely.

It took the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution to create an environment in which it was actually CHEAPER to do the work WITHOUT using slaves.

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Andrew Bitner
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Joined: 01 June 2004
Location: United States
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Posted: 28 July 2020 at 7:51am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

The advent of labor-saving technology, especially Whitney's "cotton gin," could have been a game-changer for the South, but there were issues that stood in the way. One seems to have been the pervasive fear of what freed slaves would do if they decided they wanted revenge on the former masters.

I think that there could have been solutions that would have resolved the slavery issue without violence, but none to which all parties would have agreed. Even though the slavery economy was growing less economically sustainable over time, I have a hard time imagining the South giving up its "traditions" without an actual fight.
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John Byrne

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Posted: 28 July 2020 at 8:25am | IP Logged | 4 post reply

"Traditions" can be hard to break down.
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James Woodcock
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Joined: 21 September 2007
Location: United Kingdom
Posts: 5659
Posted: 28 July 2020 at 8:43am | IP Logged | 5 post reply

I have often spoken about how, as a child, I used words I had no idea
the meaning of.
They were terrible words that I would not imagine using now.

I was surrounded by people who used those words. I watched TV
shows that used those words. I used those words.

Many is the time I have questioned whether I would have been a racist
were I to have lived in older times. I donít know. I just donít know.

I like to think, I want to think, that I would have been as enlightened as I
am now. But those early years prey on my mind & leave doubts.

It boggles my mind that there are adults that did not move on from the
thinking I had when I was eight years old.
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Andrew Bitner
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Joined: 01 June 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 5962
Posted: 28 July 2020 at 8:47am | IP Logged | 6 post reply

As JB said above, we have a hard time imagining what life was like back then. In some places, as James notes, things haven't necessarily changed much.

Your surroundings, environment, family and friends have an enormous role in shaping who you are. We all want to believe that we'd find our way to being "good" even if our society is corrupt but it's impossible to say-- and there are lots of people who rationalize even monstrous sins because facing the truth is intolerable.

We all want to be good but it can be extremely hard to know what good is when everything hammered into your head is objectively evil.
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John Byrne

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Joined: 11 May 2005
Posts: 120972
Posted: 28 July 2020 at 9:00am | IP Logged | 7 post reply

As I have told before, the first cat I "knew", which had belonged to people my father knew, when I was about 3 years old, was black and, in a "tradition" in England at the time, was named "N*gger", minus the apostrophe. Meanwhile, my grandfather called anyone who wasn't White a "bloody Black", as if it was one word.

Spending some of my formative years around that, there's a small part of my brain that flinches every time someone uses "Black" to describe a person of sub-Saharan African extraction, while another part, equally small, can't think of the "N-word" as anything other than the name of a cat I played with in infancy.

These are the kinds of things that get woven into our psyches and simply do not want to let go.

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Mark Haslett
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Joined: 19 April 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 4826
Posted: 28 July 2020 at 1:23pm | IP Logged | 8 post reply

Andy: I'd argue that our Independence and then the Civil War were both fought
in large part to end slavery.

**
What a gross misrepresentation of the struggle to end slavery. This point is
such an extremely inaccurate revision of history as to be offensive.

In fact, Britain moved to free the American slaves as a tactic in the war - a
move which helped enflame Revolutionary sentiment throughout the country.
The threat of ending slavery helped push America into that war, so it could win
and end this "threat".

It might as well be argued that the South fought to help free the slaves --when
they surrendered. This ludicrous idea at least matches the facts. After all --
when the South surrendered, the slaves were freed.

Nothing remotely like that occurred in the Revolution. To cast the Revolution as
a war to free slaves is to give massive retroactive false credit to a racist nation
that had countless more heinous acts and painful lessons to go through before
such noble motives would widely take hold.
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John Byrne

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Posts: 120972
Posted: 28 July 2020 at 1:30pm | IP Logged | 9 post reply

And weíre not there yet!
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Vinny Valenti
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Joined: 17 April 2004
Location: United States
Posts: 6973
Posted: 28 July 2020 at 1:40pm | IP Logged | 10 post reply

I follow a lot of groups on Facebook that post photos of familiar locations from over 50 years ago or more. Invariably there's a comment by someone, saying "things were so much better then", or "we should go back to that". Whenever I see them, I can't help but think to myself that the poster is very likely not a minority, or else they would not be feeling that way.
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David Miller
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Joined: 16 April 2004
Posts: 2360
Posted: 28 July 2020 at 5:30pm | IP Logged | 11 post reply

I once heard a supposedly reasonable and mainstream Republicans talk show host explicitly argue that even taking racial injustice into account, America was overall a a better place in the Forties and Fifties, and before.
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Andy Mokler
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Joined: 20 January 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 2770
Posted: 29 July 2020 at 12:27am | IP Logged | 12 post reply

I don't even know what people are trying to argue.  There is no denying that our Constitution was set up in such a way as to allow for changes and it did not endorse slavery.

I think it's very naive to suggest that July 5th, 1776 the forefathers should have released all slaves.  It was a complex situation that was a lot more involved than just flipping a switch and slavery would be over.

But to condemn the GREAT men who established our country and provided a means to eventually free the slaves is clearly viewing the past through the lens of modern sensibilities.  

Maybe the argument can be made that it wasn't done fast enough but let's look at that overnight suggestion.  Let's say they sign the Declaration and the next day, slavery is made illegal.  What then?  Does the US remain a union?  I highly doubt it.  The South would have quickly walked away.  Without the South, does the North stand a chance in rebelling against England?  Probably not.  If the North is defeated by the English and beaten down, the South rises to more prominence and how would that have affected slavery?

It just wasn't as simple as ending slavery because their descendants would find it morally unacceptable.  The whole world had and was practicing slavery for thousands of years up to that point.
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