Myths About Slavery and Lynching

John Press, American Renaissance, February 15, 2018

The truth can help set us free.

References to slavery and lynching are a powerful way to shame whites. We must therefore know the truth about these practices.

First, of the estimated 12,000,000 blacks who were brought to the Western Hemisphere, only some 500,000 were brought to what became the United States—about 5 percent. [i] It was not necessary to import more than that because slave population grew naturally. [ii] Whereas most American slaves died of old age, life expectancy on a Caribbean sugar plantation was often seven to nine years. Many owners in South America also worked their slaves to death. [iii]

Muslims imported more black slaves to the Middle East and over a longer period than North Americans did, but there are few blacks in the region today. [iv] That is because Muslims frequently castrated slaves, [v] and when Muslim owners impregnated black concubines, they often killed the babies. [vi]

Only 6 percent of Southerners owned slaves, and half of the owners had five or fewer. Only a small number of Southerners were slaveholders because, just prior to the Civil War, the purchase price of a slave was about $23,000 in today’s dollars. [vii] A slave with artisan skills could cost up to the equivalent of $56,700. [viii] Whites had an incentive to keep their expensive “property” healthy.

On small farms, whites usually worked alongside their slaves [ix] and there were cordial relations between the races. [x] Before the future President Andrew Jackson built his mansion called The Hermitage, he and his slaves lived in modest quarters just 30 or 40 feet apart.

There were several routes to freedom for black slaves, and the 1860 census counted 224,963 free blacks living in the South (6 percent of all Southern blacks). [xi] Why didn’t they move to the North, where there were also communities of free blacks? Presumably, because free blacks could live comfortably in the Antebellum South.

June 6, 1864 – A family of blacks feeds their donkey. (Credit Image: © BuyEnlarge/ZUMAPRESS.com)

When we consider the lives of American slaves, we must compare them with contemporary historical standards, not current ideals. In 1842, a German visitor to Manchester, England, noted that he had seen so many people missing limbs from industrial accidents that it was like, “living in the midst of the army just returned from a campaign.” [xii]

In the industrializing American Northeast in 1820, children aged 15 and under made up 23 percent of the largely white labor force. [xiii] They frequently worked 12 to 14 hours a day. Over 50 percent worked in what we would consider hazardous conditions, [xiv] and both boys and girls in factories were subject to beatings and other cruel treatment. [xv] The horrors in mines were notorious.

Yes, the white child was free and the black child was not, but for many American children, it was better to be a slave.

It is therefore not surprising that one ex-slave told interviewers, “In slavery times, a poor white man was worse off than a nigger.” [xvi] “I’d rather be a nigger than a poor white man” was a common saying among slaves. [xvii] The majority of elderly ex-slaves interviewed in the 1930s did not find slavery that onerous, and many were nostalgic for the slave era. [xviii] As for breaking up families, slave families were largely intact. [xix] They were certainly more intact than in modern America.

The Middle Passage was horrific, but ocean voyages were dangerous for everyone. Comparable percentages of slaves and white crewmembers died during the trip. [xx] Africans—not whites—captured virtually every slave sold to the New World, and slavery ended in Africa only because of the efforts of abolitionist whites. Slavery has been a nearly universal practice and continues in remote corners of the Muslim world today. [xxi] The West is special only in that it came to the unprecedented conclusion that slavery was immoral, and put an end to it.

Lynching is another historical practice used to shame whites. Over the entire period of lynching, 72.7 percent of victims were black, while almost all the rest were white. [xxii] The number of lynchings peaked in 1892 at 230. Of that number, 161 were black. This means that in 2016, in Chicago alone, more blacks were killed by other blacks than were lynched in any year throughout the entire United States. [xxiii]

Black lynch mobs occasionally lynched blacks, and there is at least one recorded case of blacks lynching a white—in 1914 in Clarkesdale, Tennessee, for raping a black woman. In 1872, in Chicot County, Arkansas, a black mob broke three white men out of jail and riddled them with bullets. [xxiv] It is also largely forgotten that the majority of lynchings were not random acts; many victims—probably most—had committed the crime of which they were accused. [xxv] I believe a reawakening of pride in America and in whites is vital to our civilization’s survival. This cannot happen if such things as slavery and lynching can be used to shame us. An accurate understanding of the past is an essential part of our reawakening.

* * *

[i] The African-American Migration Story, PBS, http://www.pbs.org/wnet/african-americans-many-rivers-to-cross/history/on-african-american-migrations/

Berry, Daina Ramey, ‘Slavery in America: Why Myths and Misconceptions Persist,’ Newsweek Magazine, June, 19, 2017: http://www.newsweek.com/slavery-america-popular-misconceptions-627229

[ii] Gates, Henry Lewis, Jr., ‘Slavery by the Numbers,’ The Root, Feb. 12, 2014, http://www.theroot.com/slavery-by-the-numbers-1790874492

[iii] The Abolition Project, On The Plantation, http://abolition.e2bn.org/slavery_69.html

[iv] Gordon, Murray, Slavery in the Arab World, (New York: New Amsterdam Books, 1989), 17.

[v] The History of Slavery in the Muslim World, wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_slavery_in_the_Muslim_world

[vi] Gordon, Murray, Slavery in the Arab World, ((New York: New Amsterdam Books, 1989), 17.

[vii] Williamson, Samuel & Cain, Louis, Measuring Slavery in 2016 Dollars, https://www.measuringworth.com/slavery.php

[viii] Ask Historians, https://www.reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/comments/1dp3cb/how_much_did_slaves_in_america_cost_in_todays/

[ix] Kennedy, James R. & Kennedy, Walter, D., The South was Right!, (Grenta: Pelican Publishing Company, 2014), 83.

[x] Genovese, Eugene, Roll, Jordan, Roll, reviewed by Foseti, https://foseti.wordpress.com/2008/12/21/review-of-roll-jordan-roll-by-eugene-genovese/

[xi] Gates, Henry Lewis, Jr., ‘Free Blacks Lived in the North, Right?’, PBS, http://www.pbs.org/wnet/african-americans-many-rivers-to-cross/history/free-blacks-lived-in-the-north-right/

[xii] Spartacus Educational, Factory Accidents, http://spartacus-educational.com/IRaccidents.htm

[xiii] Whaples, Robert, ‘Child Labor in the United States,’ Economic History Association, https://eh.net/encyclopedia/child-labor-in-the-united-states/

[xiv] Child Labor, http://www.american-historama.org/1866-1881-reconstruction-era/child-labor-america.htm

[xv] ‘Child Labor in Factories: A New Workforce During the Industrial Revolution,’

http://www2.needham.k12.ma.us/nhs/cur/Baker_00/2002_p7/ak_p7/childlabor.html

[xvi] Kennedy, James R. & Kennedy, Walter, D., The South was Right!, (Grenta: Pelican Publishing Company, 2014), 100.

[xvii] Forret, Jeff, Race Relations at the Margins: Slaves and Poor Whites in the Antebellum Southern Countryside, (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2006) ,30.

[xviii] Onion, Rebecca, ‘Is the Greatest Collection of Slave Narratives Tainted by Racism?,’ Slate, July 6th, 2016, http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/history/2016/07/can_wpa_slave_narratives_be_trusted_or_are_they_tainted_by_depression_era.html

[xix] Crawford, Steven, ‘The Slave Family: A View from the Slave Narratives,’ 331, http://www.nber.org/chapters/c6967.pdf

[xx] Wolfe, Brendan, ‘Slave Ships and the Middle Passage,’ Encyclopedia Virginia, the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/Slave_Ships_and_the_Middle_Passage#its3

[xxi] The Middle East and North Africa, The Global Slavery Index 2016, https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/region/middle-east-north-africa/

[xxii] ‘History of Lynchings,’ National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, http://www.naacp.org/history-of-lynchings/

[xxiii] Nolte, John, ‘Black Lives Matter? 2016 Chicago Homicides Surge 57% to 762,’

http://www.dailywire.com/news/12065/black-lives-matter-2016-chicago-homicides-surge-57-john-nolte#

[xxiv] Dwight D. Murphey, Lynching—History and Analysis, (Washington, DC: Council for Social and Economic Studies, 1995), 37.

[xxv] Ibid, 40-42.

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John Press
John K. Press, Ph.D. teaches at a university in South Korea. His latest book is The Quick Guide to Culturist Policy. His website is available here.
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