North and South
The Conflict Between the North and the South
Who was in the Right?

Part II

Slavery and the South

(This article is an abridged version of a larger soon to be published work.)



The Subject of Slavery

       What is slavery? In the most fundamental sense, slavery is the doing of another’s will over and above one’s own will and desire, whereby the consequences of not obeying are more unwelcome than the obedience exacted. In this most basic sense, slavery is necessary for salvation, for all of us, to be saved, must obey the will of God over our own will and desire: “Not my will, but Thy will be done” (Luke 22:24). Otherwise, we shall be condemned: “To them who do not obey the gospel of Jesus Christ [they] shall suffer eternal punishment” (2 Thess.1:8-9). In this sense, we must be slaves of God and obey His gospel if we wish to attain the happiness of Heaven.

       Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Savior of all those who obey Him (see Hebrews 5:9). Those who do not obey God’s Will will not be saved. Christ also exercises His authority over us through other men whom He has appointed. This means that we must also submit our wills to Christ’s representatives on earth, for Our Lord declared: “He who hears you, hears ME; he who rejects you, rejects ME” (Luke 10:16). Thus are we commanded to “obey your prelates, and be subject to them” (Hebrews 13:17).

       Though the Lord Jesus called His disciples His brothers, nevertheless, when teaching the relationship His followers were to have with Him, He often stated that “a slave is not greater than his master” (see Matt.10:24; John 13:16; 15:20). Our Lord was referring to His followers, and He used the basic sense of slavery: obedience to another’s will over our own.

       Because of the influence of the revolutionary notions of (false) liberty and equality, most persons misunderstand the real nature of slavery. They do not realize that we are all slaves one way or another. Men deceive themselves in believing they are totally free. Think about it: To do whatever you want anytime you feel like it is simply to be a slave to your own desires and passions. It also leads to spiritual death. It is simply slavery to our fallen nature. As God has warned us: “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end leads to death” (Proverbs 16:25).

       We were not created to live according to our own will, but to do the will of God. God has revealed that every person is either a slave of error and sin, or a slave of righteousness and truth. There is no avoiding this fact of life. There is no one who is not a slave one way or another.

“Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to any one as slaves of obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16).

       In other words, everyone either lives as a slave of sin, which leads to spiritual death, or as a slave of obedience to God’s will, which leads to righteousness and eternal life. The followers of the Revolution do not know or believe this; they promote and believe a great deception. Catholics need to understand this truth and not be trapped by the deceptions of false freedom. True freedom is found precisely in having someone of authority over us and for us to know and do our duty before God. Without true freedom, we become full of pride, and disorder dominates our life. The false “Enlightenment” ideas of liberty and equality disrupt God’s designed order.

       True freedom (from sin, error, and spiritual death) comes from humble obedience to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Master, and His yoke is easy compared to the yoke of sin and the world. The yoke that is choking men today is that of the anti-Christian idea of false freedom. It is a deception that fools men into thinking they do not need to be obedient to someone beyond themselves, or that they do not need an authority over them in self-restraint. The false notion of “freedom-liberty” is what most hold today, and as a result, it keeps them from having a proper understanding of slavery. (see The Declaration of Independence: A Traditional Catholic View)

Church Teaching & Slavery

       We want to try now to understand slavery as the term is commonly meant. Throughout history slavery has been the subjection of one human being to another as a captive, or as a prisoner of war (or a descendant of such a one), or by purchase, or finally, simply as a result of racial prejudice. Slavery in all these forms was present in ancient times among nearly all cultures. The Church historically did not condemn slavery in and of itself, though she has always solemnly condemned certain aspects of it when they existed, like slave-trading, the breaking up of families, and of course, cruel and inhumane treatment of slaves.

       Though slavery is not itself an evil, there have been types of slavery that are unjust and which the Church absolutely condemns as a grave sin. Other forms she has recognized as just. The Church has from the beginning condemned as unjust and immoral the type of slavery which is based only on race: Pope Eugene IV condemned it in 1435 and excommunicated its practitioners, should they not free their slaves, and so did Pope Paul III in 1537. It also was condemned by Popes Gregory XIV, Urban VIII, Innocent XI, Benedict XIV, Pius VII and in 1839, by Gregory XVI (the latter also condemned the slave trade, but he did not condemn all form of slavery as some mistakenly say).

       For slavery to be just, there must be some morally just reason for it; there must be what is called a “just title” to it. Otherwise, the slavery is unjust and an evil. The four just titles of slavery which the Church has consistently approved are, as mentioned above: capture in a just war; just condemnation for crime; being born of a slave into the state of slavery; the sale and purchase of one already justly enslaved. The above mentioned popes all recognized “just title” slavery (or servitude).

       This all may seem strange and wrong to us. If so, it is because we have been influenced by the condemned revolutionary idea of freedom and equality, and not the Christian understanding. Remember one of the most fundamental laws of nature is inequality. One of the facts of created nature is that natural beings are unequal in perfection and, thus, are distributed according to a hierarchical order of dignity, of duty, of ability, of power, and therefore, of authority and status. Since individual men are created unequally both physically and intellectually, the necessary consequence is that there is an inequality in power and authority, and thus status. Therefore, servitude (or slavery) as a state in life, even if unwanted, is not necessarily an evil. Since this is the way God of created nature, it is how it should be, and any attempt by men to subvert or change the natural order of the created universe can only result in tragedy among men and society. Those who promote or are simply influenced by the Revolution do just that, and they work against God’s order.

       What most Americans do not realize is that the United States government still recognizes and allows the practice of “just title” slavery. This is in accord with the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

       The clause, “except as a punishment for crime,” means that it is still legal in the U.S. to make a slave of one who is duly convicted of a crime as punishment for his crime. (It would only be moral if the person was in fact guilty of the crime for which he is duly convicted.) This is nothing other than a form of reparation. Even today, convicts are used for hard labor and we can see them, under armed guards, collecting litter along highways. It has always been the teaching of the Church that “just title” slavery is legitimate and moral. The following canon was affirmed and upheld by Pope Saint Martin I (649-653):

Council of Gangra: “If anyone shall teach a slave, under pretext of piety, to despise his master and to run away from his service, and not to serve his own master with good-will and all honour, let him be anathema.” (Canon III)

       Blessed Pope Pius IX (1846-78) had the Holy Office issue the following instruction to clearly restate the teaching of the Church. It was published shortly after passage of the 13th Amendment abolishing unjust racial slavery in the United States. The Holy Office declared:

“Slavery itself, considered as such in its essential nature, is not at all contrary to the natural and divine law, and there can be several just titles of slavery and these are referred to by approved theologians and commentators of the sacred canons. It is not contrary to the natural and divine law for a slave to be sold, bought, exchanged or given. The purchaser should carefully examine whether the slave who is put up for sale has been justly or unjustly deprived of his liberty, and that the vendor should do nothing which might endanger the life, virtue, or Catholic faith of the slave.” (Instruction 20, June 1866)

       We see, then, that the Church recognizes the difference between just slavery and unjust slavery. This teaching was well known until the 20th century. It has since been ignored.

       Though the Catholic bishops in the South generally did not actively promote slavery as it existed in their states, they did not condemn it either, though they did condemn any and all abuses of the system. However, one bishop, the French-born Bishop Jean-Pierre Augustin Verot of Savannah, Georgia, who condemned the slave trade and the breaking up of families, did make the argument that not all forms of slavery were contrary to the Natural Law, and that if every form of slavery were evil in and of itself, then God Himself would not have mentioned it in His written Word without condemning it. But slavery is not condemned in the Holy Bible, even though slavery was present everywhere during biblical times.

       Slaves [or servants], be obedient to your masters in the flesh with fear and trembling, in the simplicity of your heart, as to Christ… Knowing that whatsoever any good thing man shall do, he shall receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free. Masters, do the same thing to them, and without threatening, knowing that both they and you have a Master in heaven, and that with Him there is no partiality. (Ephesians 6:5, 8-9)

Whosoever are servants [or slaves] under the yoke, let them count their masters worthy of all honor; lest the name of the Lord and His doctrine be blasphemed. But they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather serve them (1 Tim. 6:1-2).

       The argument went that God would not have inspired St. Paul to give such commands if slavery was in itself evil. What was and is evil is how some slave-owners mis-treated their slaves, the slave trade, the breaking up of families, captives from unjust wars made slaves, and slavery based solely on racial prejudice. But the fact that a man can be under another man and must obey the will of his master over his own will is not wrong, but is part of God’s order.

       Catholic Americans (all Americans!) must be reminded again of two very important truths concerning freedom:

1. That because of the so-called “Enlightenment” beliefs promoted by Freemasons and others who rejected and revolted against the traditional Christian social-moral order, the definition of freedom has been distorted to no longer mean primarily the freedom from sin and falsehood and error, or the freedom to do God’s will and practice the True Faith openly. Rather, freedom was redefined as liberty from outside authority (like the Church or a monarch). It was now defined as a liberty to make your own laws, to make up one’s own beliefs, to do and live as one feels or thinks best, and not to be under another’s authority, nor submit to what God’s Law and his Church teach.

2. That there are higher values in this life than freedom. Christians must recognize that doing the will of God in accordance with one’s state in life, whether free or not, is more important than any political, economic, or social freedom. This is why St. Paul the Apostle sent an escaped slave, Onesimus, back to his master (after St. Paul converted and baptized him) and told him to continue to serve his master as a brother in the Faith. Accepting suffering with patience for the love of God and for the conversion of sinners is a much greater value, and is much better for the soul, than being “free” from suffering and injustice. Men living in servitude to others is not intrinsically evil as Americans are taught. (See Appendix I for further Church teaching on this subject.)

       Richard Weaver (1910-1963), the great American social philosopher whose conversion helped spark the resurrection of the conservative-right movement in the political sphere, stated, “liberty is a delusion, since all virtue lies in the performance of a duty” (The Southern Tradition at Bay, p.89). As stated before, to rebel against one’s ruler or master, simply in order to be free, is to break the Fourth Commandment of God. Even if slavery or bondage was always unjust, the Church never tries to correct evils by revolutionary means. When the Church lacks the influence or legislative power to effect desirable solid change, as in the U.S. today, she is patient, long-suffering and gentle. What she cannot change, she tolerates if only to keep the peace.

       If we are not to complain about our state in life, then even more must we not rebel against it. God inspired St. Peter to address slaves by writing: “Slaves be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable” (I Peter 2:18). This is why the great Church Father and Doctor St. John Chrysostom could say without being corrected: “The slave should accept his lot in life, in obeying his master he is obeying God.” Ultimately, slavery is the result of sin. But, as the great St. Augustine declared: “It is a happier thing to be the slave of a man than of lust.”

       Nevertheless, as was the case in Apostolic times, the Church has viewed slavery as a possible source of numerous evils, even if it was not necessarily evil in itself. Despite this fact, most (but not all) bishops in the North supported the Union and opposed slavery. They did so even as those in the South opposed abolitionism and supported the new Confederate government. However, as practiced in a Protestant nation like the U.S., slavery did become a source of numerous evils. Slaves were traded and their families were too often broken up, and they were not considered citizens of the U. S. Thus, slavery in America was often (but not everywhere) a source of evil.

Exposing Northern Myths

       At the same time, many distortions and falsehoods concerning the South in general, and slavery in particular, have been spread (and still are spread) in many articles, books and films. What most Americans have learned about slavery and the South has come from prejudiced Northern sources, much of it if not out-right myth, full of distortions. The treatment of slaves has been portrayed more often than not as brutal. Let us look at a few facts to show how this was, in general, false.

       The slaves brought from Africa were pagans, with most being animists (i.e. they worshipped animals or things). The slaves imported to America were not captured by whites, but had already been enslaved by other Blacks or Arabs (Muslims). They were often obtained by being rescued from cannibal captors. In other words, many lives were saved. Nearly all would convert to the Christianity of their masters. Now think about it. Would the slaves really have converted to the religion of those who supposedly abused and brutalized them? No, they would not. They would most likely detest the religion of those who abused and brutalized them. But the vast majority of slaves did convert to the religion of their masters. This demonstrates that they were not beaten and brutalized as movies and books have portrayed. In fact, most slaves converted because of the example of their masters, which included how the masters treated them.

       Let us look at another fact. The price of an able-bodied slave at the time just before the war was around $1,000 to $1,500. This is still a large amount of money today, but it was a huge amount back in the 1850-60’s. (The average income-wealth of Southern slave-holders between 1850 and 1860 was only around $3,000.) An able-bodied slave could cost the average white Southerner over one-third of his total income. Think about it. Would slave owners starve, beat or otherwise abuse their much needed and valuable servants? They would never have had productive and successful plantations if they did so. The slaves were foundational to the success of plantations. No, slaves were not mistreated by their owners for the most part. There are, in fact, records of many slaves who had admiration and affection for their masters, who taught many of them to read and write and helped convert them to Christianity.

       We have mentioned before that the influence of the Catholic religion was much stronger in the South than it was in the North. The Catholic Faith had made an impression on many Southern plantation owners to the point that numerous of them, including Protestants, had their slaves instructed in the Catholic religion. (For example: by 1800 there were nearly as many Black Catholics in Pensacola, FL. As there were Black protestants. By 1860, there were 100,000 Catholic slaves in the South, the majority being converts.) Doubtless it was desirable to them that the slaves would be taught not to rebel, but also, with their new found faith and practice of the true religion, their attitudes and work habits improved.

       The Most Reverend Samuel Eccleston, Archbishop of Baltimore, gives witness to this fact in his letter of January 31, 1838, to the Society for the Propagation of the Faith:

“My diocese comprises Maryland and the District of Columbia. I am also charged with the administration of the diocese of Richmond in the state of Virginia. Maryland contains 450,000 inhabitants of whom 102,294 are slaves. The Catholics number 70,000. The district of Columbia contains 40,000 inhabitants of whom 10,000 are Catholics. Virginia has about 1,220,000 inhabitants of whom 470,000 are slaves; the number of Catholics is about 9,000… The slaves of these states also present a vast harvest for apostolic workers. Their souls, redeemed by the same Savior are not, in the eyes of God, less precious than the souls of their masters; and often in their simplicity they are better prepared to receive divine grace and make it bear fruit. I have done some special research on this subject, and I have constantly found that every time a priest had given careful attention to these poor people, his zeal has soon been richly rewarded by their conversion, and by their edifying regularity in frequenting the sacraments. In our towns, many of the Protestant families prefer Catholic servants; in the country many of the Protestant planters who, have in their neighborhood some pious Catholic congregations, seeing how our Religion has influenced the slaves, have more than once sought to have them instructed in our salutary beliefs. I do not think that there is in this country, without excepting the savages, any class of men among whom it would be possible to work more fruitfully…”
Catholic Slaves and Slave Holders

       There were, in fact, a few Catholic religious orders that were slave holders. They knew such was not intrinsically evil if the person(s) met one of the criteria listed above. The Jesuits in Maryland owned slaves, and so did the Ursuline Nuns in New Orleans. Some members of the hierarchy also were slave holders, including Bishop Verot. Many of these slaves eventually converted to the Catholic Faith and in admiration of their masters remained with them as their servants when their status changed after the war.

       It should also be pointed out that the character of slavery in the French-Catholic colonies of the deep South was entirely different from that of slavery in the English-Protestant colonies. No native American Indians were used as slaves. Trading in slaves was not allowed and families were never broken up as they were in the English colonies. Slaves could even choose their own masters! The vast majority of the slaves were in fact treated as kindly as paid servants or as those who were provided room and board in exchange for their service and labor. Their living quarters were often better than that which was provided by the log cabins in which the pioneers lived.

       Many slaves intermingled with the French in social and religious activities. In fact, a mixed race of “Free Men of Color” developed from the union of many French men with black women. They often kept their French fathers’ surnames, inherited property and benefited from French education. These men of color even inherited slaves themselves! Does that mean that they were hypocrites or had no love for their own kind? No, it means that at least in the French-Catholic culture in the South, slavery was not the total evil many have made it out to be. It was a form of servitude. Remember, that the slaves brought over from Africa were pagans who were often rescued from being victims of their cannibal captors. They were brought over to America, then civilized and evangelized, and thereby received much benefit from their servitude. God inspired St. Paul to write:

Whosoever are servants under the yoke, let them count their masters worthy of all honor; lest the name of the Lord and His doctrine be blasphemed. But they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather serve them (1 Tim. 6:1-2).

       St. Paul was writing to slaves. Much good came to them from their servitude to French Catholics. By 1785, over 3000 blacks, most of them slaves, had converted to the Catholic Faith. By 1860, there were some 60,000 Catholic Black slaves. Some eventually became priests or joined religious orders. They would not have converted if they thought either their masters or their situation were evil.

       It has always been recognized that slavery, or servitude, is a state of life in which one can gain many graces. The Saints knew that the true meaning of freedom was not the liberty to break out of a state of poverty or servitude, but the freedom to practice the Faith and do the will of God according to one’s state in life. There have been many blesseds and saints who were slaves, and they accepted their state of life as being in accordance with God’s will.


Sainted Slaves:
Saint Onesimus (1st century), St. Serapia (+ 119), St. Ariadne (+ 130), St. Felicitas (or Felicity; + 203), St. Callistus (who later became a pope! + 222), St. Ammonaria (+ 250), St. Moseus (+ 250), St. Symphorosa (+257), St. Frumentius (+ 380), St. Moses the Black (+ 405), St. Julia of Corsica (+ 450), St. Martinian (+ 458), St. Brigid (+525), St. Fidolus (or Phal: + 540), St. Tigernach (+ 549), St. Eugene (+ 618), St. Bathildis (+ 680), St. Zita (1218- 1278), St. Benedict the Moor (1526-1589), Venerable Peter Toussaint (1766-1853), Blessed Isidore Bakanja (18??-1909), Blessed Josephine Bakhita (1869-1947)

       There also were saints who were slave owners!

Sainted Slave Holders:
Saint Philemon (1st century), who owned St. Onesimus, St. Apollonius the Apologist (+ 185), St. Perpetua (+ 203), who owned St. Felicitas, St. Pontian (+ 236), St. Murcurius (+ 250), St. Anastasius (+ 251), St. Pontius (+ 258), St. Proculus (+ 304), St. Helena (+ 330), St. Artemius (+ 363), St. Juventinus (+ 363), St. Maximinus (+ 363), St. Pammachius (+ 410), St. Melania (+ 439), St. Pulcheria (+ 453), St. Bathildis, Queen of France (+ 680)

     Saints like Martin de Porres, a “man of color,” Peter Claver, and Blessed Antonio Galvao, spent their lives helping and serving slaves in South America, not to free them, for they knew it was a sin against the Fourth Commandment to incite rebellion against one’s masters. They knew the slave’s duty was to convert their masters to the True Faith in order to save their souls. Other saints, such as St Raymond Nonnatus and St. Vincent de Paul, voluntarily became slaves in order to ransom other Christian slaves from Muslim Moors.


Non-white Slave Owners

       A fact of American history which is generally not recognized, or is purposely ignored, is that there were many non-whites who owned slaves. There were Indian slave holders, free black slave holders, and slave holders who were Mulattos (persons with one black parent and one non-black parent). This was not rare. It was common throughout the South. It also demonstrates that slavery in America was not strictly based on racial prejudice since there were black slave-holders. Here are a number of examples of this fact:

- When the first federal census was conducted in 1790, the children and grandchildren (then grown) of a particular African-born slave woman owned several rice plantations and more than 310 slaves in the Charleston area.

-The 1830 national census counted nearly 3,800 black slave owners who between them held more than 12,700 slaves! Even in New York City that year, eight free "men of color" (as they were called) owned 17 slaves!

-The 1850 U.S. census showed that in South Carolina, for example, 64.3 percent of NON-white heads of households listed slave holdings, and 71.3 percent held such in 1860! To contrast this fact, fewer than 15 percent of white household heads where slave holders. This proves that, at least in South Carolina, the percentage of non-white household heads holding slaves was much greater than that of whites.

-The 1860 U.S. census counted nearly 262,000 free non-whites in the slave-holding Southern states. This included more than 80,000 free blacks in the New Orleans area, and a large number of them were slave holders.

-The 1860 census showed also that in Charleston, South Carolina, alone there were some 130 Black and Mulato slave owning families.

-In 1861, in only six central counties of Virginia, 169 free Blacks owned around 146,000 acres, averaging 870 acres each. Their combined slave holdings amounted to more than 700 slaves! These facts also demonstrate that slavery in America was not based on racial bigotry.

- In the west, there was a Choctaw Indian planter on the Red River with a holding of 500 slaves. Only a handful of white planters in the entire South had holdings as large as that.

       There were a number of black regiments from New Orleans that fought for the Confederacy. These facts demonstrate that the South was not a land of “Negro haters” as books, movies and many history texts have claimed.

The Hypocrisy of the North

       Apart from misinformation, there is much hypocrisy concerning slavery and the North. For instance, the slave trade was not abolished in the District of Columbia until 1850, and even then slavery still existed in and around the capital right up to and during the war. (We will see that this is one fact which shows that the war was not fought over slavery.)

       Many Americans have read the writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882: a man who denied the divinity of Christ and rejected the truth of the Blessed Trinity, among many other revealed truths). His writings concerning the South and slavery have influenced the attitudes of many, even to this day. Yet his ideas are based on the anti-Christian revolutionary “Enlightenment” ideas of equality and liberty which were condemned by the Church (see the U. S. Constitution: A Traditional Catholic View… for documentation) Emerson is a classic example of Northern hypocrisy as he expressed much hatred for the South because of its slavery, but said nothing of Northerners who ran the slave trade (illegal after 1820) from New England, and whose own great-grandfather, Cornelius Waldo, was a successful slave merchant in Boston.

       The student of history should know that slaves were brought to America primarily in Northern ships. The slave ships were captained and crewed by men from the North; they were owned by northern men (most of whom were Jews), and the slave trade was financed by Northern banks. In other words, the North was indeed involved in slavery. Even after 1808, when slave trading from foreign lands (mainly Africa) was no longer legal, it was Northern-owned and operated ships which were involved in the “black market” of illegal slave trading. The flag these ships flew was the United States’ flag. Thus, the flag most known in slave trade ports in Africa, the Caribbean, and South America, was the U. S. flag, NOT the Confederate flag! This fact was embarrassing to some.

       On February 18, 1847, the U. S. Consul to Brazil, Henry A. Wise, sent a report to President Zachary Taylor about the use of the U. S. flag by Americans (Northern slave merchants) while engaged in the illegal African slave trade. He said:

“You have no conception of the bold effrontery and the flagrant outrages of the African slave trade, and the shameless manner in which its worst crimes are licensed here, and every patriot in our land would blush for our country did he know and see, as I do, how our citizens sail and sell our flag to the uses and abuses of that accursed practice” [i.e. slave trading].

       The worse condition slaves had ever experienced was not during their lives a labor in the South, but those endured during their long trips –sometimes more than a year- on Northern slave vessels. This was known as the "middle-passage." Black Africans captured be either stronger tribes or Arab Muslims would be brought to the coast and sold/traded for rum and guns which were manufactured in New England. From Africa they were taken on Northern owned and run ships, that were captained and crewed by Northerners, whose expedition was financed by Northern (slave) merchants. During the voyage they were jammed between decks with no privacy at all. Many became ill and diseased. During the trip the sick slaves, who were near death or with a contagious disease, were thrown overboard. Estimations are that more than 33per cent of the enslaved Africans on these ships (waving the American flag) died before their ships ever reached their destinations.

       Such treatment was never found on the plantation. Any good planter/farmer knows that if he allowed more than one third of his labor to die, his plantation would not last, but fail. If not for humanitarian reasons, then for simple economic and practical ones, the Southern slaveholder treated his labor much better than Northern slave traders. Unlike the Northern slave trader who paid for his slaves with cheap rum and guns, the Southern plantation owner had to pay hard cash to the Northerners for his slaves. For this reason, he would take good care of his costly labor.

       One might retort back that if it were not for the Southern demand, then the Northern slave trade would have died out. But such an objection is based not on the facts. It was not the American South where most of the slaves were taken. More than 90 percent of African slaves were bought and then sent elsewhere, either to Arabian (Muslim) lands, central Africa, like Angola, Nigeria, and Cameroon (Kamerun), or to the Caribbean and South American countries. Thus the American South can not be blamed for the African slave trade market. All Southern States had outlawed slave importation by 1820. Yet the Northern slaves merchants kept making money by continuing the slave trade beyond U. S. borders. Thus, captured Africans came to hate the Stars and Stripes, not the Stars and Bars. (Remind someone of this next time you here negative comments about the Confederate flag of St. Andrew's Cross.)

       (As a side note: Let it be known also that the tragedy of the "middle passage" was not exclusive to blacks. The White slaves brought over on the English slaveships also were jamned together under the decks, placed in chains and shackles, and suffered from disease and death. Here are a few specific examples: On an English ship bound for the American colonies in 1638 only 80 of the original 350 White slaves taken on arrived alive. "We have thrown over-board two and three in a day for many days together," wrote Thomas Rous, a survivor of the trip. The Betty London, a British ship carrying 100 White slaves in 1685, arrived at the colonies with only 49 left. Only two-thirds of the White slaves on board the English slaveship Justitia bound for Maryland from London in 1743 survived that journey. Yes, the slave merchants were the real evil.)

Industrial Slavery

       It should also be recognized that the North had its own form of slavery. In the midst of the Industrial Revolution, the North used free black men and former slaves for cheap labor in their industries and factories. These blacks were not much different in social status from slaves. They were treated like dirt, under paid, and in some places could not spend what little money they earned except in overpriced company stores!

       Even after the war, blacks were still being brought over from Africa, not as slaves, but to be used as cheap labor in northern factories. Again, they were brought in Northern ships owned by Northern banks and operated by Northern merchants. Though they were paid, it was not much. That is, they were cheated of just wages and were worked just like slaves. Thus, the industrial North was involved in the sin of defrauding laborers of their just wages. (This is one of the sins which cry out to Heaven for vengeance).

       The majority of these laborers could not afford housing as well as food and clothing with what they were paid. Many had less for themselves and their families than Southern slave families! While slave holders, having paid a great deal of money for their laborers, were naturally interested in caring for them in order for them to do their work, factory owners had no such worry. They had paid nothing for their factory workers. If some of the factory workers died from poor food, lack of medical care, or overwork, they could be replaced at little or no cost to the factory owners. There were numerous Northern factory towns where fathers would be separated from their families sometimes for weeks, or even months at a time.

       It is a fact of history that black laborers of the North were never known to feel the affection for their bosses that many former black slaves felt for their former Southern masters. The situation in the industrial North was so bad that a prominent Irish Catholic, Congressman Michael Walsh of New York, declared in 1854 in the House of Representatives:

“The only difference between the Negro slave in the South and the wage slave of the North is that the one has a master without asking for him, and the other has to beg for the privilege of being a slave.”

       The North had many large factories which used women and children, even young children, as cheap laborers. Many of the jobs were difficult and even dangerous. Families were often divided by transporting members many miles away from home and one another, and making them stay at the plants, sometimes six days a week. This labor was employed with a pay so minimal as to be considered an abuse. Thus, men of the industrial North were again guilty of defrauding laborers of their just wages. The racial bigotry against Blacks in the North kept them from social and economic advancement, and this directly contributed to the increasing poverty of free Blacks.

Northern Racial Bigotry

       The student of history needs to know that Northern abolitionists were often more prejudice against blacks than most anyone in the South. In the South blacks had a place in society as slave, servant, and even as slave owner. It was normal to see slaves driving wagons into town, often many miles, to purchase supplies for their master’s plantation. House slaves, as well as black servants, were a common sight at social gatherings. And, as already mentioned, it also is a fact that many persons of mixed blood -those born of one black parent and one non-black parent- also were slave owners. (This fact is often ignored in history books.) Yet, many abolitionists and state legislators in the North did not want blacks living among them or mixing at all with them as a part of their society.

       Here are a few examples of this prejudicial attitude displayed by Northern state laws.

     -Massachusetts had a law ordering every Black, Mulatto, or Indian who came into the state and remained for two months to be whipped publicly. This law remained in effect up to 1834 and accomplished its purpose: keeping "undesirables" out. (However, there were plenty to be found after 1834, and in 1860 attempts were made to expel blacks from Boston.)

     -Illinois passed a law in 1853 to prevent free Blacks from "coming into this State and remaining ten days, with evident intention of residing in the same."

     -Indiana's constitution stated in 1853 that "...no negro or mulatto shall come into or settle in the state..."

     -The State of Kansas' first constitution, adopted in 1855, not only outlawed slavery, but barred ALL Blacks from the state! In other words, the reason it outlawed slavery was not for any moral reasons, but because the state legislators did not want any Blacks at all living in the state.

     -Oregon's 1857 constitution declared that "No free Negroe or Mulatto, not residing in this state at the time of adoption [of the State's constitution]... shall come, reside, or be within this state."

     -After the war between the North and the South Blacks were allowed to vote, yet as late as 1867, New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio had by overwhelming majorities voted against allowing Blacks to vote.

    Northern abolitionists wanted slavery ended not for any righteous reasons, but out of just plain prejudice towards blacks and hatred of Southern culture. They even wanted blacks shipped out of America! These were not the radical sentiments of a few individuals. A group known as the American Colonization Society, and financed by northerners, was organized in 1817 to help freed and escaped slaves settle, not in America, but in a new African country established just for this purpose. The land the Society purchased was then named Liberia (a variation of liberty). Its capital was named Monrovia, after the President of the day, James Monroe. Eventually some 11,000 blacks were shipped to Liberia. However, the Society lacked the approval of many black Americans, free or slave, for they could see that the organization was bent on getting rid of blacks, not helping them in America.

       Even when the war was over, the Federal government did not treat blacks well. Union and Confederate black veterans who applied for pensions were often denied, or reclassified as mere laborers. Another example of hypocrisy in the North is this: New England abolitionists made themselves out to be concerned about the plight of slaves 500+ miles away in the South, but right in their midst were poor and starving Irish and German-Catholic immigrants whom they not only did not care about, but were seen by them as a plague. Not simply did the abolitionists not help these immigrants, they made matters worse by refusing to give them employment.

       As already mentioned, there were many Black slaveholders. In central Virginia during the war 169 free blacks owned arounf 146,000 acres, averaging 870 each. Their combined slaveholdings amounted to more than 700 slaves. Unfortunately, when the Union armies came through, supposedly to help the Blackman, and despite the fact that these farms and plantations were owned and run by blacks, the soldiers nonetheless destroyed their crops, their homes, and all of the livestock they didn't take for themselves. Another example was the situation in Charlestown, South Carolina. In 1860, more than 120 free blacks owned slaves with more than $1.5 million in taxable property, $300,000 represented slave holdings. Again, this much valuable property, owned and managed by blacks was needlessly destroyed by Union soldiers. These and other blacks -free and slave- supported the Southern cause and made every effort to protect their land from being destroyed by invading Northern/Union troops. (We document in Part III of this series, "Lincoln and the Policies of the North," the efforts of Northern troops to force black slaves to join the Union side.)

Senate Bill 45

       One last and significant example will underline the fact Northerners did not so much seek to help the black slave as deprive the South of its main source of labor while attempting to keep the black man from populating the North. The wide-spread prejudice and bigotry of Northern whites is apparent in a piece of legislation proposing to send blacks elsewhere to keep them from coming north.

       Union senators and those they represented were nervous about former slaves coming north after the war. Many thought blacks were inferior, and had no desire to have them living and working with them. So the idea of settling blacks in a territory somewhere in the South was attractive to many Northerners. This attitude went all the way to the President. Lincoln himself told a delegation of Northern black leaders in August, 1862, “We have between us a broader difference than exists between almost any other two races.” He then added, “It is better that we separate.”

       In January, 1863, Senate Bill 45 was introduced by Republican Senator James Henry Lane, a favorite of President Lincoln, “to set apart a portion of the state of Texas for the use of persons of African-descent.” The region was to be known as the (all-black) “Territory of the Rio Grande.” Dividing Texas in half, the new territory would be the southwestern half of Texas. (The approval of Texas for this was never sought!)

       The bill sat for a time while a new Committee on Territories was formed. Finally, in February, 1864, Bill 45 was sent to the newly formed committee which reviewed it and gave it approval. Now all it had to do was to pass through the Senate to receive final approval by Congress.

       The language of the bill revealed the true Northern attitude toward blacks. It stated that the “admixture of African blood with our race” would produce “an illegitimate and inferior population.” Near the end Bill 45 also declared, “it is but just that they [blacks] should concentrate southward for our good.”

       Fortunately, less prejudiced members of Congress wanted to hold off on the bill and address it later. The Senate then postponed voting on the measure in order to deal with more pressing matters, particularly the war. Senate Bill 45 never came up again. This bill is a clear example of the hypocrisy of the North concerning black slaves.

       Interestingly, there were occasions in both New York and New England where a few abolitionists were attacked by mobs who disagreed with their positions on slavery. In fact, in 1860, attempts were made to expel blacks from Boston. Clearly, there was much hypocrisy in the North, and these examples also show that the North itself was divided.

       The student needs to recognize these facts of America’s history so as not to have a distorted view of the North, the South in general, and of slavery in particular.


The Southern Plantation

       Americans have been taught that the life of a Southern slave was horrible and cruel; that slaves suffered terribly and were bitter towards their masters. But this is in fact not true. Such views are part of the Northern (and politically “correct”) myth concerning the South and slavery. One way of determining the truth is from the testimony of former slaves. During the early 1930s the U. S. government obtained testimonies from many of the last surviving Black slaves of the Old South. These testimonies are contained in an official U. S. document entitled, The Slave Narratives. These are first-hand accounts by former slaves of their experiences under their Southern masters. Another official government document that contains first-hand testimonies from former slaves is The Official Records: War of Rebellion (the title gives away its Northern bias). This is the official report of the U. S. government concerning the War for Southern Independence. From both documents it has been determined that more than 70 percent of the statements of former slaves about the relationship with their former masters are positive. Thus, though Americans have been taught that slaves were brutally treated under evil Southern masters, the fact is that from all the testimony gathered from former slaves, less than 30 percent said anything negative about the relationship between slave and master.

       The distortions and lies of the abolitionists were so distorted and misleading that in 1861 a slave from Georgia, named Harrison Barry, wrote and published a defense of slavery and the South. His pamphlet is entitle Slavery and Abolitionism, as Viewed by a Georgia Slave. He pointed out the over-all good conditions for slaves on their plantations, as well as the exaggerations and errors of the abolitionists. He wrote that “abolitionist agitators are the worst enemies of the Slave.” He believed that Southern Slaves were in a much better condition than if they had remained in Africa. This work caused quite an uproar in the North, for it also exposed the numerous exaggerations found in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The idea that a slave could read and write was just as shocking to Abolitionists (and other Northerners) as was the fact that he was defending Southern slavery.

       The household slaves were taught skills to maintain the high standards of Southern hospitality and refinement. In a letter by Charles Colcock Jones of Georgia, in Autumn of 1861, he describes his and other households as “generous homes … [where the hospitality there extended was profuse and refined.” He continues, describing the slaves of his own home:

“Daddy Jack was the major-domo [the one who takes the place of the household head wjen he is absent]. Patience and Lucy were the chambermaids. Phoebe and Clarissa were the seamstresses; Marcia was the cook; Gilbert was the carriage driver; Flora and Silvy were the handmaidens. Jupiter and Caesar were the gardeners, and sundry younger servants were commissioned to sweep, scrub, and run errands. Niger was the fisherman, and there was a lad to bring the weekly mail.”

       Many “outdoor slaves” were not simply crop pickers who were supposedly denied by their masters from obtaining any skills. On every large plantation, as well as on many moderate and small ones, certain slaves were taught important skills, like carpentry, shoemaking, bricklaying, blacksmithing, and more. General John Mason, son of the colonial leader George Mason, gave witness to the many skills taught to the slaves. He states:

“It was much the practice with gentlemen of slave and landed estates… so as to organize them as to have considerable resources within themselves; and to employ and pay very few tradesmen and to buy little or none of the coarse stuffs used by them… thus my father had among his slaves carpenters, coopers, sawyers, blacksmiths, tanners, curriers, shoemakers, spinners, weavers, and knitters, and even a distiller.

       This was not rare. One may notice from this the fact that this plantation was quite self-sufficient. No one had to go into the nearest town or city that often to obtain supplies. Some of the larger plantations were in fact like small communities, even towns. The Redcliffe estate in South Carolina is a prime example of such self-sufficiency. On this large plantation, with some 400 slaves, were a gristmill, a forge, a wheelwright shop, a hospital and a church among numerous supply buildings. Redcliffe grew not only cotton, but also corn, wool, vegetables, and grapes. It was not much different from a medieval European manor.

       The slaves here were proud of their work and their many skills. Their attachment to the land and their masters completely confounded Union soldiers when they came and tried to incite the slaves to rebel against their masters. But it did not work. The slaves jealously guarded their crops and stores of food they had worked hard to grow. The Black families had been there for generations. They considered it their homeland as much as their masters. Such attachment was not rare, but was in fact, the norm.

       Those with small farms of less than ten slaves worked and sweated all day right along with their slaves. Such toiling together year-in-and-year-out often created bonds of friendship and respect. They shared break-times together, even sharing apple cider from the same pitcher (something a Northern would never consider). Bonds such as these would not have formed if masters had treated their slaves brutally.

       One of the Northern myths concerning the South and slavery was that it was common practice to mistreat, underfeed, and overwork slaves. But the facts were different. The following is a typical example of the set rules for the management of a cotton plantation and the care of the slaves. This one was in Coahoma County, Mississippi, given by the owner, J. W. Fowler:

The health, happiness, good discipline and obedience; good, sufficient, and comfortable clothing; a sufficiency of food being indispensably necessary to successful planting, as well as for reasonable dividends for the amount of capital invested, without saying anything about the master’s duty to his dependents, to himself and his God. I do hereby establish the following rules and regulations for the management of my prairie plantation, and require an observance of the same by any and all overseers I may at any time have in charge thereof to wit:
    Punishment must never be cruel or abusive, for it is absolutely mean and unmanly to whip a Negro from mere passion or malice, and any man who can do this is entirely unworthy and unfit to have control of either man or beast.
    My Negroes are permitted to come to me with their complaints and grievances and in no instance shall they be punished for so doing. On examination, should I find they have been cruelly treated, it shall be considered a good and sufficient cause for the immediate discharge of the overseer.
    Prove and show by your conduct toward the Negroes that you feel a kind and considerate regard for them. Never cruelly punish or overwork them; never require them to do what they cannot reasonably accomplish or otherwise abuse them, but seek to render their situation as comfortable and contented as possible.
    See that their necessities are supplied, that their food and clothing be good and sufficient, their houses comfortable; and be kind and attentive to them in sickness and old age. See that the Negroes are regularly fed and that their food be wholesome, nutritious, and well cooked. See to it that you attend to everything that conduces to their health, comfort and happiness. (The Annals of America, vol.8, pp.478-479)

       Such rules were virtually absent for the Northern factory laborers. Of course, not all masters were always just, but the majority were. Thus, contrary to the Northern myth that dominates American history texts, the relationship between slaves and their masters was often one of respect and affection. One Northern historian gives witness to this fact:

“Visitors often registered surprise at the social intimacy that existed between masters and slaves in certain situations. A Northerner saw a group of Mississippi farmers encamped with their slaves near Natchez after hauling their cotton to market. Here they assumed a ‘cheek by jowl’ familiarity with perfect good will and a mutual contempt for nicer distinctions of color” (Kenneth Stampp, The Peculiar Institution: Slavery in the Antebellum South, p.323)

       Most often the relationship between slave and master went well beyond that of laborer and boss. Richard Weaver provides us with a sense of this relationship.

       The landholder, if he belonged to tradition, would not concede that his servants meant nothing more to him than the value of their labor, nor did the servant ordinarily envisage the master as nothing more than the source of employment. The master expected of his servants loyalty; the servants of the master interest and protection. Each working in his sphere went to make up the whole, through which there ran a common bond of feeling. It was a type of the corporative society, held together by sentiments which do not survive on a money-economy” (, p.55)

       The point here is that the relationship of Southern master and slave would not have survived if it was merely based on an economical level. There was a real authentic cooperative relationship. Slaveholders took care of their slaves. They paid for their medical bills and their clothing. For their labors, slaves received not only free room and board, but a certainty of security that many distressed and starving families in Europe and in the large cities of America, did not have and would greatly appreciate. Most slaves knew that their life on the plantation was a source of continuing care and protection. As one contemporary Catholic leader noted:

“It is truly remarkable how gay, cheerful, and sprightly are the slaves of the South. I do not hesitate to say that they seem to be better contented than their masters; assuredly more so than the sullen and gloomy population found in the workshops and factories of large cities. The master therefore gives an equivalent.” (Most Reverend Agustin Verot, Bishop of Florida, 1861)

       There were masters who even encouraged the development of talent among slaves who had any. The playing of musical instruments at family celebrations was not just done by hired muscicians, but also by slaves. The most famous being “Blind Tom” Bethune, who dazzled audiences with his virtuoso piano performances. In honor of his master whom he greatly admired, “Blind Tom” adopted his surname from him.

       It was mentioned already that many slaves converted to the religion of their masters. They would not have done so if they held bitter feelings towards their masters. There are a number of cases where slaves chose their master and mistress, or their master’s older children, as their godparents at Baptism. Such an honor can only be a sign of esteem and admiration.

       Looking at photos of white children playing with the black children, or sitting upon the lap of an old black man telling them stories; or seeing the family portrait with the black servants right there in the picture, reveals that often they were treated more like family that what the Northern myth in American history books tell us. There were plenty of slaves who were freed before the war broke out, yet refused and preferred to stay with their adopted family.

       Here are some more facts we are never told: Many slaves owned guns for hunting, had plots of land to raise food either for themselves or to sell for profit! Would the slaves been allowed guns if their masters treated them brutally? In Memorials of a Southern Planter(New York, 1900, p.234), Susan Dabney Smedes gives witness to the fact that slaves made money from selling their own crops. She reported that during the siege of Vicksburg a party of Grant’s soldiers stopped at the large plantation of Thomas Dabney. They took all the money from every Negro on the plantation. “Uncle Isaac had buried eighty dollars in gold, -the savings of years. This he was forced to unearth. He had lately bought a new silver watch, for which he had paid forty dollars. This was taken from him."

       Simon Phillips, a former slave in Alabama, explodes the Northern myth Americans are taught today with what he wrote:

“People has the wrong idea of slave days. We was treated good. My Massa [master] never laid a hand on me the whole time I was wid him… Sometimes we loaned the massa money when he was hard pushed.”

       In this (admittedly) long article you have read numerous facts about the South in general, and Southern slavery in particular, that most Americans have not been taught. The Northern victors of the war had to hide these facts from the general population in order to attempt to justify their aggression towards the South. When seen in light of the war between the kingdom of Satan and that of the Kingdom of Christ on earth, it is clear that the Revolution to over-throw the traditional Christian and social moral order that began in the middle of the 18th century was extended not by the South's effort to retain its culture and way of life by separating from the Union, but by the U.S. government's war to destroy the South entirely, and the distortions and lies used by the Northern victors to blacken the South and her people, to demonize the character of slavery (and hide its own involvement in it and the extension of the slave trade well beyond her borders), and thus distort the entire issue. Unfortunately the facts of the great conflict are still purposely distorted nearly everywhere today. But truth will win in the end.

Next is Part III, Lincoln and the War-time Policies of the North.


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Sources:

-The Annals of America, Vols. 8 & 9, Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., Chicago, London, 1968;
-Bound Over: Indentured Servitude and the American Conscience, John Van Der Zee, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1985
-Life and Labor in the Old South, U. B. Phillips, Boston: Little Brown and Company, 1929;
-The Negro in Colonial New England, 1620-1776, Lorenzo J. Greene, New York: Kennikat Press, Inc., 1966;
-Slave Ships and Slaving, George F. Dow, New York: Kennikat, Press, Inc., 1969;
-The Southern Plantation, Francis P. Gaines, New York: Columbia University Press, 1924;
-The Southern Plantation Overseer, John Spenser Bassett, Northhampton, MA: Smith College Press, 1925;
-The Southern Tradition at Bay, Richard M. Weaver, Arlington House, New Rochelle, NY, 1968;
-They Were White and They Were Slaves, Michael A. Hoffman, II, Coeur d’Alene, ID: Independent History and Research Co., 1992
-Traders, Planters, and Slaves, David W. Galenson, New York, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1986
-White Servitude in America, David W. Galenson, New York, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1981

***COMING SOON***

Part III: Lincoln and the War-Time Policies of the North
Part IV: The “Reconstruction” of the South



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