Monday, June 26, 2017

The Nature and History of Slavery By Shobal Vail Clevenger 1903

The Nature and History of Slavery By Shobal Vail Clevenger 1903

See also: When Blacks Owned Slaves, by Calvin Dill Wilson 1905 and A History of White Slavery by Charles Sumner 1853 and When the Irish were Slaves, article in The Month 1890

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Ants enslave one another and domestication can be a species of slavery; the cuckoo takes advantage of the lack of intelligence of other birds to make them nurses for the cuckoo young. Monkeys make pets of smaller mammals. The oriole and ox-pecker are willing servants of the ox it rids of ticks.

The slave-making instinct is inborn, inherited, habitual; it is part of the grabbing nature which every animal shows in some form. When the animal evolves enough to get his living at the expense of other animals, he proceeds to do so. Man tries to make everything else minister to his comfort, and naturally tries to use his fellow men and women. He can be defined as a two-legged animal who tries to make all other animals and men serve him.

"Slavery exists by the law of nature," says Aristotle, meaning that it was everywhere to be found. "It enabled the thinking and leisure class to rise," says Bagehot.

Slaves universally, of all kinds, political, religious, and otherwise, are required to believe that God gave them to their masters.

Puffendorf had taken the ground that slavery was founded on contract. Voltaire said: "Show me the contract, and if it is signed by the party to be the slave, I may believe you."

Slavery exists from the grossest forms of body stealing to the more subtle forms of mental dominating, in some places abolished but in other places still existing. The ants still capture aphides and the Arabs hunt Africans.

Both England and America passed through degrading periods when slavery, not alone of Africans, but, under various pretexts of all kinds and nationalities, even their own, were practiced.

I personally knew a Baptist clergyman in Nashville, Tennessee, whose mulatto slaves bore an unmistakable resemblance to him, and were recognized as his children, and when the Civil War broke out he was confident that the United States would succeed in freeing all slaves. So he sold his own children to planters living farther South. He suffered no loss of respect among his neighbors, who were aware of the financial stroke.

In the latter years of Henry I. the practice of kidnaping men for the Irish slave market was in full career and formed the most lucrative branch of trade at Bristol. A hundred years later than Dunstan, the wealth of the English nobles was said to have sprung from breeding slaves for the market. It was in the reign of the first Norman king that slavery was suppressed in its last stronghold, the port of Bristol.

In 959 slavery began to be modified, kidnaping and the sale of children were prohibited. The slave was exempt from toil on Sundays and holy days. Athelstane placed free and slaves on the same plane of responsibility for crime. The slave trade from ports was prohibited, and both church and state endeavored to stop slavery altogether. But the decrease of slavery went on side by side with an increasing degradation of the bulk of the people. The freeman became a degraded villein, dependent upon a lord. In America the presence of negro slaves degraded the white peasants until it was proposed in earnest to enslave these white free men also, as they were not fit to be free. The Virginia newspapers of 1858 to 1862 argued in that way.

"Christianity in the early ages never denounced slavery, but filled the minds of both masters and slaves with ideas utterly inconsistent with the spirit of slavery." But the bible as taught in
the Southern States advised the slave to "be content in the lot to which the Lord had called him," and in other ways was expounded as justifying slavery from Christian standpoints. The Spaniards made use of the aboriginal Rahamans to lure them into slavery. They told them that they would take them in ships to the heavenly shores to meet their relatives, and 40,000 were sent to perish in the mines of the island of Hispaniola. Columbus spoke of these natives as gentle, inoffensive and always smiling.

Bartolome de las Casas, who became a priest in 1510, deserves great credit for standing alone in his denunciation of human slavery in the West Indies by the Spaniards. He was hated, thwarted and entrapped in many ways.

The Portuguese introduced slavery into Brazil in the seventeenth century, and it was not abolished until Sept. 28, 1871, long after the American civil war. The terms of the Brazilian emancipation were that "the children of slave mothers were free after serving their owners 21 years as apprentices." A general liberation mania followed, indicating that the people were better than their rulers.

Many are the pretexts for practicing slavery and various are the names under which it exists. Transportation, penal colonies, extradition, contract systems, peonage, villeinage, prisoners of war, apprenticeship, and so on indefinitely, all such terms are connected with slavery pure and simple, however disguised. The present Siberia and the island of Saghalien, colonies of Russia, are horrible slave regions for convicts.

The Spaniards maintained slavery in Cuba up to the time of Weyler's reconcentrado slaughters. Peonage as practiced in Mexico, and also in New Mexico, under the United States government sanction, is slavery. The Boers enslaved the Kaffirs in South Africa, and much of the casus belli there was the freeing of negroes by the English, though the Cornwall mines contain men, women and children who have never seen the sunlight, through being born and dying in Cornish coal mines. A statement that is not recklessly made. There is religious slavery of both mind and body everywhere to enable a privileged class to live upon the labors of the superstitious. Society permits sweatshops to extract the lives of unfortunates, and there are multitudes of other methods of greed being glutted at the expense of others.

The Arabs steal men in Africa for the Eastern market, but England is making headway against this traffic there. In A. D. 1897 the British headed off the slave raiders into Nigeria, and generally through west and South Africa the trade is being suppressed.

Under tricky contracts for labor of convicts South Carolina managed to restore slavery in 1901 to a great extent, even, it is claimed, easily convicting negroes for the sake of making slaves of them.

Penitentiaries and war prison pens, some insane asylums and poor houses are often scenes of brutal opportunity where the slaves are given over to political or military masters, who, being unchecked, reveal their animal ferocity and often resort to abuse of the helpless merely as an exercise. The "Daughters of the Confederacy" are said to have objected to Uncle Tom's Cabin being read or played in the South, as it gave false ante-bellum ideas, such as that slaves were not kindly treated. Slavery favors degeneracy. It places no premium upon generosity or rights of others, individuality or high intelligence; the qualities of manhood, are checked. Slavery reacts badly on the masters by destroying their self-reliance. The most helpless creatures are the red ants, who depend almost wholly upon their black ant slaves. Dependence lessens ability to care for self and tends to helplessness and loss of organs useful to the free state. Luxury degrades and in tropical regions where nature furnishes ease and plenty the mind does not develop readily.

There was slavery among the Hebrews of the old testament, and it was very ancient among the Greeks and Egyptians, and in Rome it was corrupting in the extreme.

There was an uprising of slaves in B. C. 133 in Italy, owing to hunger, cold and general despair.

It was a question whether Rome or Carthage was to afford the slaves to the other. Scipio levelled Carthage in B. C. 146, and enslaved its last inhabitant.

During the seven days of the Saturnalia dedicated to Saturn in ancient Rome, slaves were admitted to equality with their masters.

B. C. 73 there were schools for training gladiators in which there were slaves, abandoned waifs, criminal prisoners and unfortunates generally. Spartacus led seventy escapes from the school at Capua, and gathered a large force of slaves with which he defeated the Roman armies. Finally Spartacus and 35,000 of his insurgents were slain, 6,000 of them being crucified by Pompey. In Gaul slavery of captives was the rule, and under Rome became more systematized and oppressive. Some broke out into brigandage with the free men whose lot was as bad as the slaves. Free may be a mere catch word and not really exist.

In 1085 William of Normandy abolished the death penalty and the slave trade. He loved hunting so much that he swept away villages to make parks for his deer and thousands of peasants were made homeless. He had sixty-eight of these forests. The New Forest in Hampshire was the sixty-ninth, and occasioned the greatest suffering. So it is not likely that his abolition of slavery had any reference to humane considerations.

In A. D. 1100, like all the great revolutions of society, the advance from serfage was a silent one; indeed, its more galling instances of oppression seemed to have slipped unconsciously away. Some, like the eel-fishing, were changed for an easy rent, others like the slavery of the fullers and the toil of flax, simply disappeared. By usage, by omission, by downright forgetfulness, here a little struggle, there by a present to a needy abbott, the town won freedom.

"Mad," as the land owners of England called him, John Ball was, in 1377, the first to preach natural equality. "By what right are they whom we call lords greater folk than we?" "Why do they hold us in serfage?" The popular rhyme of his time asked: "When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentleman?"

In England the numbers of the unfree were swelled by death and crime. Famine drove men to bend the knee in the evil days for meat, the debtor flung on the ground the freeman's sword and spear and took up the laborer's mattock and placed his head, as a slave, in his master's hands. Criminals became crime-serfs of plaintiff or king. Sometimes a father, pressed by need, sold children and wife into bondage. There was a papal doctrine of the condemnation of Jews to perpetual bondage, in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. In Poland the peasant was always the hereditary property of the lord of the manor, as claimed by the nobles, but this is denied by the common people.

Villeinage serfdom from the seventh to the eleventh centuries was the bondage in which were held those who cultivated the soil.

Rome, Italy and the church patronized slavery down to the sixteenth century. The popes issued edicts of slavery against whole towns and provinces. Boniface VIII, in 1294 to 1348; Clement V, against Venice; Sixtus IV against the Florentines; also Gregory XI against the same people, 1375-1378; Julius II against Bologne and Venice. Whoever captured inhabitants of such places had holy permission to make slaves of them. Rome was the last of Europe to retain slavery. The theological claim was made that original sin deprived man of any right to freedom. By 1450, in the seventy years which had intervened since the last peasant uprising, villeinage had died naturally away before the progress of social changes.

The Barbary States relinquished Moslem slavery of Christians in A. D. 1816. The peasants were freed in Hungary and Austria in 1849. Russian emancipation of serfs occurred by order of Alexander II in 1861, whereby twenty-two million serfs and twenty-six million more peasants who were practically serfs, were "liberated." But their condition is as bad as before.

There is no slavery among the Afghans and some other benighted Asiatics. The institution of slavery appears to have been a step toward civilization, for instead of slaughter of prisoners they were enslaved.

In 1381 what was known as the Wat Tyler rebellion occurred in England, precipitated by a tax gatherer's insult to Tyler's young daughter, though the real cause back of it was the practical
serfdom of the people. With 30,000 men he forced from Richard I, the boy king, letters of emancipation, and the king pretended to favor all their demands. Later, with his army of 40,000, Richard revoked his grant of freedom and said: "In bondage you shall abide, and that not your old bondage, but a worse!" Seven thousand men perished on the gallows, parliament trimmed to any breeze, but the land owners refused consent to free their slaves. So no sooner does William "abolish" slavery than it crops up again later. This has been the world's experience, usually a new name is given it just as tyranny, when overthrown, hides itself behind some new disguise.

In 1382 Wyclif headed a movement for intellectual freedom at the same time Wat Tyler fought for bodily emancipation. The one against taxing the mind out of existence, and the other the body out of sustenance.

A. D. 1395 Richard II till 24 years old was enslaved by his guardian uncle, when he asserted himself. So no human being is less than another liable to slavery in some form or other, mental or physical, peasant or king.

The pride and cunning of the pope in enslaving the English people was the theme of Wyclif and the "Lollards" in the time of Henry IV up to A. D. 1413.

In all this "Christian era" persecution of the Jews went on, especially between the time of Edward to that of Cromwell.

The bastile of Paris was originated to protect against English foes in 1356; it was enlarged by Charles V, and after his death made a prison. Charles VI enlarged it still more, and it was finally destroyed by the enraged people June 14, 1789. The people were inhumanly treated by royalty in this prison.

Soldiers committed suicide under Frederick "the great" to escape the severity of his service.

Queen Catherine of Russia put a guard over a flower in her field, and then forgot both flower and sentinel. Until the time of Nicholas III guards had been placed in the same spot, and all had forgotten why he was stationed there.

Pushkin, the Russian poet, wrote: "A horrible thought fills my soul with gloom; here in the midst of flourishing fields and hills, the lover of humanity sorrowfully notes everywhere the pernicious signs of shameful ignorance. Blind to tears and deaf to moans, a scourge of men decreed by fate, a ruling class, unfeeling, lawless, wild, appropriates with ruthless rod the husbandman's labor, property and time."

As the Chinaman was forced to adopt the pigtail by his Tartar conquerors as an indication of inferiority, and he now considers it a distinction, so women, handicapped with dresses, cling to their ancient attire as slaves sometimes fought to perpetuate their own slavery and as some Mormon women laud polygamy.

Darwin dwells upon the enslavement of women being universal and dating from remote periods, and even today fathers sell their daughters in Circassia to Moslem procurers, who resell them to rich men.

A race will not advance if one-half is held in slavery as women are by men to a gross extent in such places as Turkey, where the Sultan Abdul Hamid, the oppressor, is the son of an Armenian woman, a race that has been terribly oppressed. What can the union of a tyrant and a slave result in but an Abdul Hamid, the fox, the wolf, the coward jackal, who trembles at the idea of his subjects having education or liberty. So Rome has opposed instruction to children as unfitting them to be controlled in their minds and bodies. The revenues of that gigantic political organization, the Catholic church, came from devotion and superstition imposed upon by a luxuriating priesthood among a people too blind to see for themselves.

The greatest freedom should be permitted to women and natural selection will determine what station they are fitted for. No theorist has ever predicted it.

Woman suffrage dates from 1790-1849; since Mary Walland takes high rank in prosperity on account of it. France lacks advance owing to its subordinating women. When they can legislate France will surprise herself by the consequences.

Woman suffrage dates from 1790-1849, since Mary Wallstonecraft published her "Vindication of the Rights of Women" in London, in 1790. the movement has gradually grown. In 1840 a World's Anti-Slavery Convention was held, and woman's enfranchisement was taken up.. The meetings were sometimes mobbed and insulted, and also denounced by the pulpit. The movement was split in two by rejection of women delegates. The following date certain advances:

1842, Women in the medical profession.
1865, Higher education of women in England.
1869, Progress in Europe and America.

The world over, in Damascus and London, New York and St. Petersburg, women are paid about one-half what men receive for the same service; because advantage is taken of their being weak physically, and unable to assert their rights.

Louis XIV schemed to strengthen the position of the royal bastards by imposing a tax on marriage licenses so exorbitant that the matrimonially inclined preferred living in what was wedlock to their consciences, but concubinage in law. The extortion went to coffers by which the extravagances of the Ducs and mademoiselles were supplied.

Sweat shops are many, where starv1ng men, women and children toil, upon eye-straining work, such as sewing and making cigars, underpaid, sick, abused and even robbed of their scanty earnings by men who are "respected members of churches and society."

Homes are multitudinous where servants are deprived of decent comforts, roomed in foul, damp basements, with no time from their work to clean their own sleeping places. Practically many housewives thus unintentionally, but nevertheless effectually, murder their servants, legally and without compunctions. "Doctor, if that girl is sick, please send her at once to a charity hospital; she cannot stay here," is an often heard request from a palatial domicile, concerning some over-worked servant.

Among dangerous handicrafts it has been estimated that the feather workers for women's hats inhale fine feathers and are occasionally suffocated by them, that 70 per cent of needle polishers, 80 of flint workers, 40 of grindstone makers, and 36 per cent of stone cutters end consumptive. Glass workers, diamond cutters, millers, phosphorus and lead workers suffer also in various ways.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the factories tended to prolong the working day, but legislation began in the nineteenth century against it. The usual trick was to knock out the noon rest and then by candle light child and female labor was brought in.

Voltaire held that a government would be worthy of Hottentots in which it permitted to a certain number of men to say: "Let those pay taxes who work; we ought not to pay anything because we are idle."

It is difficult for all and impossible for some to be convinced of our common animal existence. "Fine feathers make fine birds." Strip some of them and what puny, helpless things they are. Similarly with the wealthy, their glitter, finery and power seem to cast them in a better mould than the ordinary. A physician who is familiar with practice among one class of people is often puzzled upon encountering another class as though diseases differed between the rich and poor. Ex-President Benjamin Harrison in a will contest in Richmond, Indiana, asked me on the witness stand if the Chicago asylum was not for the pauper insane, to intimate that knowledge secured among that class could not avail with the wealthy insane. The inability of classes to feel for each other comes of their separation. The miserable sufferings of a pauper dying neglected in a poor house awaken pity only among higher developed persons. Those who can feel sorrow only for tales of pain among wealthy dying amid luxurious surroundings have not evolved to their best capabilities.

In 1903 there were 19,000 slave children estimated in Chicago working 15 to 18 hours a day, and often the parents were to blame. When the Wilkesbarre, Pennsylvania, miners were asked by the arbitration committee how much they were paid per ton they said they did not know, as the settling was made too complicated for them to understand and they took whatever was given them, which enabled a bare existence. Child slavery is said to be taking the place of former negro slavery in the cotton factories of the south, often controlled by northern capital.

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