Three Black Men: The Truth About Slavery


The Truth About Slavery

Businessman Tonye Anyanwu explains slavery begins with black men selling black people.


The United States broke the chain of slavery as an institution and overcame great trials and tribulations because of the practice, but it is stained by the institution’s legacy more than other nations primarily because it was founded as a world without it, according to scholar, economist, and author Thomas Sowell.

It is also true that the United States would probably not have survived if the Founding Fathers took on slavery at the same time they took on the British.

Thomas Sowell said:

“Although slavery in the United States was referred to as a ‘peculiar institution’, slavery was, in fact, one of the oldest and most widespread institutions on Earth.”

A brilliant black intellectual, Thomas Sowell reviewed the history of slavery in his well-researched book Race and Slavery: A World View.

“Slavery was ‘peculiar’ in the United States only because human bondage was inconsistent with the principles on which this nation was founded. Historically, however, those principles were peculiar, not slavery,” Sowell continues.

It was a practice that ran across religions. Christians, Jews, Moslems, and others exempted themselves from slavery while engaging in the practice. The Catholics ended it for the Bosnians.

Over the centuries, 25 million slaves were transported from Africa for slavery. Africans themselves enslaved their own for purposes of agriculture, domestic, military, commercial, and government enterprises.

Their Fate

Working slaves to death was common, from building infrastructure in Iraq to Nazi camps or to sacrificing them on Roman altars; the practice continued, remarkably, even among free people throughout the world and over the centuries. The United States was not unique in this.

There were endless modifications of slavery, and a caste system existed within it. The variations were great, and some wealthy owners, even with this unbridled power, had to use money and other incentives to get slaves to perform.

Free blacks and whites who established underground railroads made the costs of slavery higher. Slaveholders knew this and made these areas inhospitable to free blacks, utilizing highly discriminatory practices. They also restricted the education of slaves, but, in doing so, they raised their costs.

Slaves tended to become proficient tradesmen as a result.

The cost of keeping slaves in the US was much higher than in other countries, and it was common for Southern plantation owners to hire manual laborers, usually Irish immigrants, to do work that was considered too dangerous for slaves to do.

Laws in the antebellum South prevented slaves from purchasing their own freedom or for owners selling them as had been the practice in other nations, even when it was mutually beneficial.

While Thomas Sowell doesn’t deal with the issue of free blacks owning black slaves, it was a fact that blacks owned black slaves and gloried in hiring indentured whites.

Despite determined opposition, slavery was abolished in much of the world in less than a century.

Slavery was abolished in the House of Commons on February 27, 1807, despite all odds. By the mid-1820s, being pro-slavery was a political liability in Britain. In the early 1820s, Britain pleaded with the Ottoman Empire to abolish its slave trade within its dominions. In 1847, they passed laws to do exactly that. The British added sea patrols to monitor and end the slave trade.

Slavery Did Not Economically Advance Regions

Slavery didn’t economically advance regions. That was certainly true of the South. There was no visible evidence of slave owners investing the profits or contributing to economic development.

Counterproductive attitudes towards work were one downside of slavery for slaves and slave owners. “Work is for Negroes and dogs,” Sowell writes, is a Brazilian expression. People saw themselves as above working.

There were no signs of cultural advancement in the South.

As for the moral issues, Sowell describes them as complex.

The issue wasn’t whether the creation of slavery was evil for people born into it. The options of what to do about it were a fact of life.

Sowell writes, “A much larger and more powerful United States was shaken to its foundations by the Civil War, generations later. Had the United States split over the issue of slavery when the Constitution was written in 1787, it is by no means clear that the North would have prevailed militarily or that either region would have survived. Moreover, none of this would have ended slavery, but only sacrificed a nation for some futile phrases.”

Moral consciousness led to laws in the North against slavery.

Distorting Slavery

Sowell believes the present day is sucking slavery into ideological passions, distorting it in the process.

To focus on the enslavement of Africans by Europeans, he says, would mean ignoring slavery worldwide of all peoples. Another distortion is to blame the current societal problems of blacks on the legacy of slavery when, in fact, more black children were raised in two-parent homes in the early twentieth century.

Free Blacks achieved high levels of literacy by the 1850s. What has changed? Sowell condemns the intelligentsia who excuse disdain for education as “acting white” and blame it on the legacy of slavery.

In addition, Sowell says to say slavery was based on race would be “putting the cart before the horse.” Race and slavery have been related in much of the world, however.

Slavery is a testament to the terrible abuses of unbridled power. Ultimately, it gave people a “keener appreciation of freedom.”


“The undeniable truth is that neither slavery nor Jim Crow nor the harshest racism has decimated the black family the way the welfare state has,” said the late George Mason Professor Walter Williams in a column he wrote for The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

There is little evidence to support the idea that slavery, racial discrimination, and poverty caused the problems of today’s black Americans, the economics professor wrote.

The number one problem is the weak family structure:

In 1960, just 22 percent of black children were raised in single-parent families.
Fifty years later, more than 70 percent of black children were raised in single-parent families.

According to the 1938 Encyclopaedia of the Social Sciences, that year, 11 percent of black children were born to unwed mothers. Today, about 75 percent of black children are born to unwed mothers. That can’t be a legacy of slavery; it can’t be some delayed reaction.

As Professor Williams said, the bottom line is that the black family was stronger the first 100 years after slavery than during what will be the second 100 years.

All blacks were poor originally, but now 30 percent are poor. Two-parent black families are rarely poor.

Only 8 percent of black married-couple families live in poverty. Among black families in which both the husband and wife work full time, the poverty rate is under 5 percent. Poverty in black families headed by single women is 37 percent.
It’s the welfare state that decimated the black family, he concludes.

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