An Important Anniversary

Two hundred years ago today, the United States banned the importation of slaves. And, 145 years ago today, the Emancipation Proclamation took effect. (HT: Instapundit.) It’s worth remembering not only all those who suffered under the unjust and “peculiar” institution of slavery, but also all those who had the moral vision, courage, and persistence to bring about its abolition.

4 thoughts on “An Important Anniversary

  1. While your other posts are well researched, this one is ignorant – as is the article that you have linked to.
    Anti-slavery movement in Europe and America happened for one single reason – Haiti. Haiti was the first successful revolt of slaves in modern history. It sent shivers down the spine of every slave owning society.

    Restrictions on slavery were imposed in Britain because of Haiti. It was economic warfare. Haiti was contributing major wealth to the French – and Britain wanted to undercut the generation of French economic gains from Haiti. The key to Haiti’s wealth slave labour. Hence, the British pressure to ban slavery. It had nothing to do with human rights. While slavery was being abolished, the same Britons were committing genocide in Australia, New Zealand, and Africa. India was de-populated by famines due the colonial tax system.

    Britain promptly replaced slavery with indentured labour – which was only slightly more expensive (initially) but was far more cheaper in the long run. Also, Britain had India – a huge slave colony to fall back on.
    Coming to America, the opposition to slavery was racial. Just imagine if Black slave population in the American South became like Haiti – more than 60% – maybe rising to 80%. Another Haiti would have very well happened in Southern American South too.

    The liberation of Blacks in the USA happened only in 1970s. It took non-violent protests (Martin Luther King) and violent threats (Malcolm X) for some kind of real emancipation and equity to come in. Remember, Eisenhower (a Southerner himself) reluctantly sent in the National Guard to Little Rock, Arkansas for some kind of desegregation. The Mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas closed own the school rather desegregate. It took another legislation by JFK in 1964 to enforce desegregation.

    So, factually, emancipation of Blacks in the USA is 30+ years ago event and not 200 years ago as your posts seems to make out.

  2. Thanks for bringing the significance of the Haitian revolution to my attention. I’m not sure, however, what you find “ignorant” in this post. Are you saying that no one “had the moral vision, courage, and persistence to bring about [slavery’s] abolition”? There were anti-slavery societies before the beginning of the Haitian revolution in 1791; the Quakers founded one in Philadelphia in 1783, for example, and British judges had declared that slavery could not exist within Britain itself a decade earlier. Locke and Rousseau had already provided powerful moral arguments against slavery.

    Moreover, even after the Haitian revolution, the chief abolitionist argument was moral, not merely prudential. Lincoln did not end slavery because he feared an uprising; he ended it because he found it morally repugnant.

    Admittedly, emancipation from slavery did not solve all of America’s racial problems. But I think it’s a mistake to think of it as insignificant. In fact, the progress made by African-Americans between 1863 and 1876 was remarkable. The backlash that was allowed to triumph when federal troops then left the South, however, was a huge setback. Many of our problems today probably trace more to that backlash than to slavery itself.

  3. philo, your comments show an attempt of “white people” to minimize their wrong doings. It is similar to omission in history classes of african resistance to slavery during the beginning of it. Of course, and it was this people of light skin who stood against slavery that, metaphysically, saved european soul. But I guess if the government didn’t abolish slavery, it would have ended in a very ugly fashion.

    But sure, let’s commemorate the end of a very sad time in human history that still has it consequences implanted in our minds. And if you want to commemorate it on the day of political power abolishment go ahead. Some commemorate it on the day of haitian rebellion and in France it is commemorated on May 10th. But don’t forget, light skinned people originated from europe took a lot from dark skinned people originated from africa. Don’t continue this mistake by trying to take this victory of self liberation.

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