Slavery in the United States

Karl Marx, Republican

Via a Tweet from Ned Resnikoff, this letter from Karl Marx, congratulating President Lincoln on his re-election.

We congratulate the American people upon your re-election by a large majority. If resistance to the Slave Power was the reserved watchword of your first election, the triumphant war cry of your re-election is Death to Slavery. From the commencement of the titanic American strife the workingmen of Europe felt instinctively that the star-spangled banner carried the destiny of their class. The contest for the territories which opened the dire epopee, was it not to decide whether the virgin soil of immense tracts should be wedded to the labor of the emigrant or prostituted by the tramp of the slave driver? … The workingmen of Europe feel sure that, as the American War of Independence initiated a new era of ascendancy for the middle class, so the American Antislavery War will do for the working classes. They consider it an earnest of the epoch to come that it fell to the lot of Abraham Lincoln, the single-minded son of the working class, to lead his country through the matchless struggle for the rescue of an enchained race and the reconstruction of a social world.

Obama a Descendent of the First Slave

Is President Obama a descendent of the first American slave? According to a team of geneologists, working with, Obama is an 11th generation descendent of John Punch, an African indentured servant sentenced to slavery. Moreover, these roots come by way of his mother, a white Kansan whose roots contain at least one African forebearer. The New York Times explains:

Health Care Is Slavery?

Rand Paul’s debut on the national stage was marked by a firestorm over his comment that he would have voted against the Civil Rights Act, on account of the fact that it intruded on a business’s “freedom” to discriminate against black people. Since then, Paul has been circumspect about commenting on anything related to civil rights. However, it seems that the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act has caused the Kentucky senator to throw caution to the wind. Via ThinkProgress:

The Madwoman in the Attic

Awhile back, I wasted an evening watching the 2011 film version of Jane Eyre, something that every former lit major should avoid. I loved the novel for its depiction of the vivid, rich inner life of a proud introvert who is passionately engaged in her life despite the fact that she knows it to be outwardly pathetic. The movie, unable to reproduce the character's inner liveliness, reduced the story to a melodramatic and utterly unlikely romance between a poor orphan and an arrogant nobleman. I had wasted marital chits on a movie that I hated as much as my wife knew she would. (Sports movies, here we come. Sigh.)

Are You Eating Fish Caught By Slaves?


According to sociologist Kevin Bales, who founded and directs the new abolition group Free the Slaves, an estimated 27 million people are enslaved around the world today—more than were ever enslaved at any single time in history. The United Nation's International Labour Organization estimates are a more modest 12.3 million—which is still a shocking number of people forced to labor against their will, unable to walk away, for no compensation. Much of the reporting on this phenomenon has been on women forced to work in the sex trades. But the U.S.

Bachmann And Lincoln

There's a pretty vigorous discussion thread on my Bachmann post, but I want to follow up with a couple of points. Some folks argued that the fact that Bachmann endorsed the authors in question doesn't inherently mean she shares their distorted view of slavery. This is a mistake, as Ryan Lizza explains that to whatever degree she agrees with each individual point, she certainly agrees with the idea that slaveovers who refused to free their slaves might do so for "benevolent" reasons.

Bachmann's Views On Slavery Are Worse Than You Thought

Months ago, there was a small controversy over Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann signing a pledge put forth by social conservatives in Iowa that stated "black child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African American baby born after the election of the USA's first African American President."

Real Talk Monday, Continued: The Founding Fathers.

Michele Bachmann has interesting ideas about the Founders and slavery:

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) had an interesting take this weekend on America's first European settlers, who she said "had different cultures, different backgrounds, different traditions."

Your Daily Dose of History.

Via Sociological Images, by way of The New York Times, is the last slave census taken in the United States, dated 1860:

Slavery and the Confederacy, Cont.

As a quick addendum to last week's post on the Confederacy and slavery, I wanted to highlight a few passages from the Constitution of the Confederacy, which is mostly like the United States Constitution, with a few important differences. Namely, slavery. Here is Article I, Section 9:

No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.

Article IV, Section 2, clause 1:

"Our Position Is Thoroughly Identified With the Institution of Slavery."


Next year marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War, and while some white Southerners have chosen to commemorate it with an acknowledgment that the war was absolutely about slavery, others would rather revel in the fantasy that the "peculiar institution" had nothing to do with it:

"Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery."

As a follow-up to Adam's post below, here's a useful roundup of quotes from Confederate Declarations of Secession -- unlike their latter-day apologists, they made no pretense that secession wasn't about slavery.