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Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of ten of America's presidencies and who has edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. We get over 5 million article visits a year. See for full contents of our site

January 3, 2009




Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whatever else, to say that slavery was "at the heart of the pre-independence America" is simply another example of 'liberal white guilt' silliness. Slavery was practiced only within the southern states of the US, by less than five percent of the landowning or farming populace. Slavery itself was neither explicitly enshrined, nor to be fair, explicitly repudiated in the Constitution. Slavery was certainly a major component of the agricultural plantation economy; but to make the claim that it was at "the heart" of the politico-social reality of America either prior to the drafting of the Constitution, the War of Independence, or frankly, at any other point in US history prior to the Civil War is absurdist overstatement.

January 4, 2009 11:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, really?
Then explain this:

By the late colonial period, the average slave-owning household in New England and the Mid-Atlantic seems to have had about 2 slaves. Estates of 50 or 60 slaves were rare, though they did exist in the Hudson Valley, eastern Connecticut, and the Narragansett region of Rhode Island. But the Northern climate set some barriers to large-scale agricultural slavery. The long winters, which brought no income on Northern farms, made slaves a burden for many months of the year unless they could be hired out to chop wood or tend livestock. In contrast to Southern plantation slavery, Northern slavery tended to be urban.
Slaveholding reflected social as well as economic standing, for in colonial times servants and retainers were visible symbols of rank and distinction. The leading families of Massachusetts and Connecticut used slaves as domestic servants, and in Rhode Island, no prominent household was complete without a large staff of black retainers. New York's rural gentry regarded the possession of black coachmen and footmen as an unmistakable sign of social standing. In Boston, Philadelphia, and New York the mercantile elite kept retinues of household slaves. Their example was followed by tradesmen and small retailers until most houses of substance had at least one or two domestics.

Want more?...

Massachusetts was the first slave-holding colony in New England, though the exact beginning of black slavery in what became Massachusetts cannot be dated exactly. Slavery there is said to have predated the settlement of Massachusetts Bay colony in 1629, and circumstantial evidence gives a date of 1624-1629 for the first slaves. "Samuel Maverick, apparently New England's first slaveholder, arrived in Massachusetts in 1624 and, according to [John Gorham] Palfrey, owned two Negroes before John Winthrop, who later became governor of the colony, arrived in 1630."
...Most, if not all, of the limited 17th century New England slave trade was in the hands of Massachusetts. Boston merchants made New England's first attempt at direct import of slaves from West Africa to the West Indies in 1644, but though the venture was partially successful, it was premature because the big chartered companies still held monopoly on the Gold Coast and Guinea.

Not satisfied, yet?

African slaves were noted in New Hampshire by 1645. They concentrated in the area around Portsmouth. Furthermore, as one of the few colonies that did not impose a tariff on slaves, New Hampshire became a base for slaves to be imported into America then smuggled into other colonies. Every census up to the Revolution showed an increase in black population, though they remained proportionally fewer than in most other New England colonies.
A commonly accepted date for the end of slavery in New Hampshire is 1857, when an act was passed stating that "No person, because of decent, should be disqualified from becoming a citizen of the state." The act is interpreted as prohibiting slavery. By a strict interpretation, however, slavery was outlawed only on Dec. 6, 1865, when the 13th amendment went into effect. (Ratified by New Hampshire July 1, 1865.)

The list goes on and on...

January 4, 2009 12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But 11:14 is largely correct in maintaining that black slavery was pretty peripheral to the expanding nation and to its economic makeup *as a whole*, 12:03. Most revisionists don't much care to face that, but it's a fact nonetheless. And while, according to some, facts may be 'stupid things' (not to mention inconvenient at times) they remain facts nonetheless.

I find it interesting that you went to the trouble of citing the long passages above, but gave no indication as to your sources; which omission, while possibly inadvertent, doesn't serve you well in backing up your case, as it tends to suggest they might be suspect or skewed.

January 4, 2009 6:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you do realize that the passages cited are, in fact, active links to the original the original sources?

January 4, 2009 7:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you do realize that the passages cited are, in fact, active links to the original sources?

January 4, 2009 7:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, no; as someone who's in my seventies and not enormously computer savvy, I have been known to miss these things; but having now checked, I have to admit my initial guess was correct; I don't place any particular faith in a pretty obviously agenda-driven Internet site as being an overly trustworthy historical source.

January 5, 2009 7:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

want more?
try going to Google and select the Advanced search option. in the "all these words:" field try entering 'New England' or 'Northern Colonies'. in the "this exact wording or phrase:" field enter the word 'slavery'.
the New England/slavery combination will generate 1,880,000 other sites, Northern Colonies/slavery brings up 82,700 sites for your perusal.

so sad you were not able to appreciate the links posted. as something of a history buff and former New England resident, the data presented is consistent, as well as corroborative, with observations and study i have made in the area over several decades. the numbers become more impressive when one considers that at the time of the American Revolution the population was merely 3 million. today the census estimates the US population to be over 345,000,000, providing a ratio of 115:1. thus, relatively speaking, the 674 slaves resident in New Hampshire during the post-revolution period would translate as an equivalent of 77,510 resident today

as for you, what citations do you offer the rest of us for your creative interpretation of history?

January 5, 2009 10:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two points:

1.) Your information, while of some interest (though still suspect in my opinion) doesn't alter the crux of my argument that slavery was not central to the economic or social realities of pre-Civil War America as a whole;

2.) It does not answer very well the charge I've made to you that information gleaned from the Internet is not usually terribly reliable by tossing up yet more Internet sites and links. I have no more reason to believe that the information to be found on them would be any more unbiased or relaible than what you've placed here so far.

Sorry. You will have to do better than this.

January 5, 2009 5:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

again, I ask you what are your credentials, and, sources for the creative representation of history that you elect to submit to the rest of us?
you have to do better, my friend

January 5, 2009 7:30 PM  
Anonymous Clean coal companies said...

What a great variety of topics! You summary sections were interesting to read and did a nice job of putting your work into perspective.

January 5, 2009 11:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't chosen to "submit" you to anything, my friend. To phrase your defense of your preferred revisionist version of history in such a manner is just further evidence of a fairly non-serious turn of mind, which makes your own posturings as some type of expert on this subject just that much more suspect. Which takes me by no surprise coming from one whose chief source of information on history seems to issue mostly from the somewhat-less-than-reliable Internet.

And I note that you've still been unable to answer my main contention, which is simply that black slavery was not "at the heart" of the American socio-econimico-political scene pre Civil War, but actually quite peripheral, those 674 'slaves' residing in pre-Revolutionary New Hampshire notwithstanding. And what on earth does your (absurdly overstated) estimate of what their numbers might be by today's equivalent have to do with anything? One comes to suspect your math skills are about as faulty as your skills at historical interpretation.

January 6, 2009 8:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Other than League of the South rantings, what sources can you cite to justify your incredible assertions, 8:48.
As a matter of perspective, would you be so kind as to tell us what exactly is your opinion of the presidency of Abraham Lincoln and how do you feel regarding the adulation felt for Martin Luther King?

January 6, 2009 1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A thinly veiled ad hominem attack just makes it the more plain to me, 1:11, that you cannot answer my initial point, and would seemingly suggest that you aren't capable of very clear or rigorous thought, period, since those sort of responses are usually the resort of the desperate. A pitiful example of what passes for knowledge from those who rely on the Internet for the mainstay of their information on any subject.

January 6, 2009 1:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

uh.. nice post.

December 11, 2009 12:08 PM  

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