Oh. My. God. Thanks to LoriAdorable’s Twitter stream, I learn that in the early 1800s, pro-slavery authors reacted to the anti-slavery classic Uncle Tom’s Cabin by writing their own pro-slavery propaganda. I guess that makes sense. What’s really cool is that you can go ahead and read one of those pro-slavery books, in all its glory. Excerpt from the introduction:
When we have seen the dark and horrible pictures drawn of slavery and exhibited to a gazing world, we have wondered if we were one of those favoured individuals to whom the fair side of life is ever turned, or whether we were created with a moral blindness, incapable of distinguishing its lights and shadows. One thing is certain, and if we were on judicial oath we would repeat it, that during our residence in the South, we have never witnessed one scene of cruelty or oppression, never beheld a chain or a manacle, or the infliction of a punishment more severe than parental authority would be justified in applying to filial disobedience or transgression. This is not owing to our being placed in a limited sphere of observation, for we have seen and studied domestic, social, and plantation life, in Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. We have been admitted into close and familiar communion with numerous families in each of these States, not merely as a passing visiter, but as an indwelling guest, and we have never been pained by an inhuman exercise of authority, or a wanton abuse of power.
On the contrary, we have been touched and gratified by the exhibition of affectionate kindness and care on one side, and loyal and devoted attachment on the other. We have been especially struck with the cheerfulness and contentment of the slaves, and their usually elastic and buoyant spirits. From the abundant opportunities we have had of judging, we give it as our honest belief, that the negroes of the South are the happiest labouring class on the face of the globe; even subtracting from their portion of enjoyment all that can truly be said of their trials and sufferings. The fugitives who fly to the Northern States are no proof against the truth of this statement. They have most of them been made disaffected by the influence of others– tempted by promises which are seldom fulfilled[.] Even in the garden of Eden, the seeds of discontent and rebellion were sown; surely we need not wonder that they sometimes take root in the beautiful groves of the South.
In the large cities we have heard of families who were cruel to their slaves, as well as unnaturally severe in the discipline of their children. (Are there no similar instances at the North?) But the indignant feeling which any known instance of inhumanity calls forth at the South, proves that they are not of common occurrence.
We have conversed a great deal with the coloured people, feeling the deepest interest in learning their own views of their peculiar situation, and we have almost invariably been delighted and affected by their humble devotion to their master’s family, their child-like, affectionate reliance on their care and protection, and above all, with their genuine cheerfulness and contentment. (emphasis throughout is from the original author)
Wow. Just … wow. I’m both fascinated and appalled.
* How can this inform us about racism and racial justice in the modern day?
* What parallels can be drawn to other social justice movements like feminism, animal rights, global human rights, etc?
* Or whatever else you want to talk about, as usual ….