(There are two videos of this post in the column to the left. I had to divide this into two parts because of the length YouTube allows for videos.)

Slavery has been in the news lately thanks to what Rush Limbaugh did not say about it. As noted in my post yesterday, the attacks on Limbaugh have been utterly shameless, and it is impossible to respect any person that would stoop to such scandalous depths as to smear anyone with such an accusation. But, for the record, and since I don’t have a radio program and have no intention of running for office, I want to give a brief overview of slavery—the truth about it, something you will never hear from the mainstream media or anyone on the left.

Slavery is—was—an economic system, just like capitalism, socialism, or mercantilism. Since every society in human history prior to the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century was agricultural, slavery was very common, all over the world, as a cheap—free—form of labor. Quite often, captives of war were sold into slavery. It was never terribly efficient, simply because the slave had no incentive to work other than to avoid punishment, which, quite often, was incentive enough. In some places, like in the American South, slaves could be rewarded for good labor/behavior with a new suit of clothes, a weekend pass, that sort of thing. But still, a slave never enjoyed the fruits of his own labors, thus the motivations were all outward.

As noted, slavery existed everywhere. Folks, it is no surprise that slavery existed in North America and in the United States; indeed, it would have been surprising had it not. Initially, slavery existed in all of the 13 original American colonies/states. It died out in the North simply because it didn’t pay, not because of some superior moral virtue of the people of that region. In fact, slavery is not condemned by any of the world’s major religions—Judaism, Christianity, or Islam. They all regulate it, but none condemn it because they all arose in a cultural environment where slavery was simply accepted. About one in three people in the Roman empire were slaves. Jesus never said a word about it, at least not as recorded in the Bible, but He and his apostles did counsel proper treatment of all men, and the apostle Paul had some direct things to say about slavery in his letters to Ephesus and Colossae. What is interesting here is that slavery, again, was simply accepted as a cultural norm. When Onesimus, a slave of Paul’s Christian friend Philemon, ran away (nobody ever liked being in slavery), the apostle sent him back with a letter counseling Philemon to accept the slave back without punishment. Paul did not tell his slave-owning friend that he was a wicked sinner and that he needed to free all his slaves immediately. Indeed, Paul told the slave owner to forgive the slave for running away. Not exactly modern American leftist democratic philosophy.

Slavery still exists today is some more remote parts of the world, but it is a sex slavery, not agricultural. The institution died for two reasons. First, the principles of Western civilization that “all men are created equal.” It is noteworthy, not that the West had slavery, but that it was the first major civilization to turn against it. And when it did so, it was against the strong wishes of Africans, Muslims, and others who were getting quite wealthy, thank you, selling slaves to western plantations. The second reason slavery ended was the Industrial Revolution. When people started working for wages, they did not want competition from free labor. Again, slavery worked fairly well in an agricultural society, when nearly everyone made their living off the land. But when a larger and larger number of people began working for wages, they demanded the end of slavery. Yet, even so, when Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862 (which, incidentally, did not free one single slave), there were riots in the North against it, as northern workers feared that the freedmen would gravitate to that region and take jobs for cheaper wages than whites would work. Besides, northerners didn’t like “darkies” any more than Southerners did; Alexis de Tocqueville said the North was more bigoted than the South. Three Northern states, prior to the Civil War, wrote it into their state constitutions that they would not even let blacks into their state. The myth of Northern love for blacks is just that—a myth perpetuated by Northern historians to justify the Civil War and continue to bring shame and reproach upon the Southern states. Folks, these two regions of the country have never gotten along, even in the earliest colonial times. The New England colonies were settled largely by English Puritans. The Southern colonies were settled largely by English aristocrats. Those two groups fought a civil war in England in the 1640s and they fought another one in America in the 1860s. The roots of the conflict were that deep. And they still exist.

A few words about the American “Civil War.” Actually, that is a misnomer. A “civil war” is a conflict between two factions who are fighting for control of the same government. That isn’t what happened in the United States. The South wasn’t trying to take over the federal government, they were trying to leave it. It was perfectly acceptable to the Southern Confederacy that the Northern states have their own government based in Washington, D.C. All the South wanted was to be left alone. They no longer consented to the government of the Union, so they left—which, incidentally, they had every right to do. If the American colonies could secede from the British empire, and if Texas could secede from Mexico, then why couldn’t the South secede from the United States? If government is by the “consent of the governed,” and the governed no longer consent to it, then why can they not establish a government that that do consent to? So, it wasn’t a “civil war” at all. It was a War for Southern Independence, but of course, you’ll never hear a Northern historian call it that. Only a few of us Southerners who really understand why the South left the Union in the first place.

And that war was not started over slavery. While slavery did play a role in why seven of the eleven Southern states seceded (but not the other four), the war was not over slavery. It was, like most wars, fought over money. Abraham Lincoln made it very clear, on the very day that he became President, that he had absolutely no intention of interfering with the institution of slavery in the states where it existed. “I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so,” he said. He also made it very clear, when he called for troops to attack the South, that the war was not for the purpose of ending slavery; it was to keep the Union together. Why? What is so sacred about artificial lines drawn on a map? The main reason the North couldn’t let the South go was that the Southern states were paying the largest part of the federal revenue—over 80% at times, and the majority of that money was being spent in the Northern states. The South had one-third of the population of the United States, but was paying 80% of the taxes. They didn’t consider that terribly fair, or constitutional, and they had a point in both cases. So Lincoln couldn’t let them leave. When someone asked him why he didn’t just let the South go, he responded, “Where, then, shall we get our revenue?” Lincoln did not change the purpose of the war—or, better, add the second purpose of ending slavery—until almost a year and a half after the hostilities began. The war was lasting much longer than he had anticipated and a whole lot more men were dying than he ever expected. So, why not go ahead and use the opportunity and end slavery as well. Interestingly, across the ocean, up until Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the South held the high moral ground in the conflict. Britain and France could not understand why Lincoln would go to war to destroy the South’s democratic decision to form their own government. All the Southern states wanted was to be free from a government they didn’t want to be in. Isn’t that what George Washington and Thomas Jefferson did? But when Lincoln added ending slavery as an intent of the war, he gained the upper hand. It was a brilliant move on his part. Yet condemned by some of his own people. Lysander Spooner, who was a rabid New England abolitionist, vociferously condemned Lincoln for the war. What good does it do, Spooner asked, to free four million people only to enslave another nine million? And, folks, if people are forced into a government they do not want to be in…that is not freedom.

Thus, the war did not start out to end slavery. It started over money. Indeed, when the Southern states seceded from the Union, the mayor of New York City wanted the city to secede with them because New York was the major shipping point for Southern cotton. Folks, New York City became the largest city and most important shipping port in America by shipping slave-grown Southern cotton overseas. You think those Yankees cared where that cotton came from when it was making them rich? The Morgans, Tiffanys, Lehmans and many others got wealthy off Southern cotton. They had no qualms about it.

It’s not terribly surprising that slavery has been demogogued in modern America for political purposes. One would expect that from the political left and Northern states. Yes, we are all happy that slavery has ended. It is a blight on our history, though again, an understandable one to anyone who takes the time to study and comprehend the historical record.

The worst thing about American slavery is that it brought the ancestors of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to this country.