Thinkage

“If slavery was outside of US history, for instance—if indeed it was a drag and not a rocket booster to American economic growth—then slavery was not implicated in US growth, success, power, and wealth.  Therefore none of the massive quantities of wealth and treasure piled by that economic growth is owed to African Americans.  Ideas about slavery’s history determine the ways in which Americans hope to resolve the long contradiction between the claims of the United States to be a nation of freedom and opportunity, on the one hand, and, on the other, the unfreedom, the unequal treatment, and the opportunity denied that for most of American history have been the reality faced by people of African descent.  Surely, if the worst thing about slavery was that it denied African Americans the liberal rights of the citizen, one must merely offer them the title of citizen—even elect one of them president—to make amends.  Then the issue will be put to rest forever…the other half is the story of how slavery changed and moved and grew over time…From 1783 at the end of the American Revolution to 1861, the number of slaves in the United States increased five times over, and all this expansion produced a powerful nation.  For white enslavers were able to force enslaved African-American migrants to pick cotton faster and more efficiently than free people…The returns from cotton monopoly powered the modernization of the rest of the American economy, and by the time of the Civil War, the United States had become the second nation to undergo large-scale industrialization.  In fact, slavery’s expansion shaped every crucial aspect of the economy and politics of the new nation—not only increasing its power and size, but also, eventually, dividing US politics, differentiating regional identities and interests, and helping to make civil war possible. “The idea that the commodification and suffering and forced labor of African Americans is what made the United States powerful and rich is not an idea that people necessarily are happy to hear.  Yet it is the truth.” -- Edward E. Baptist, We still lie about slavery

 

"Eldorado" by Edgar Allan Poe

Patrick L. Dean Does H.P. Lovecraft